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When the Japanese Bombed North Dorr, Michigan

Anjali DeSimone

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The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor is one of the most remembered events in American history. That started the war between the U.S. and Japan, and essentially made the world war happen. What is not as widely known, is that the Japanese sent other kinds of bombs toward the mainland United States, and some of them actually landed in the states. One of them landed and exploded in North Dorr, Michigan.

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It was a rather ingenious project the Japanese came up with. They launched 9,300 balloons loaded with fire bombs. They hoped they would travel the jet stream and land in the pacific northwest, causing forest fires. The Japanese hoped this would cause panic at home, and distract from the actual battles of war.

The balloons were filled with nitrogen to keep them afloat. The balloons carried a metal bomb. The balloons were sent upward into the Jet stream, and had a control device that kept them between 30,000 and 38,000 feet.
In 1944, the Japanese had 10,000 of these balloons prepared. They launched 9,300 of them from the island of Honshu. It took a couple of months, but some of them did reach the United States. Many fell harmlessly into the ocean, and only 300 have been confirmed to have landed. As far as is known, there were no injuries as a result of the 300 that did reach the continent.

Most were found along the pacific coast as expected, but a few made it further inland. Some have been found in Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Montana.

The U.S. government had a news blackout, and news organizations cooperated. They did not want the Japanese to know any had reached the mainland., The Japanese also hoped Americans would talk about it, and they could learn from that how to make them better. The news blackout worked, because the Japanese stopped launching the balloons early in 1945, thinking they were not working.

The bombs kept coming for awhile though, and two of them made it as far as Michigan. One landed near Detroit and another one landed in North Dorr, which is near Grand Rapids.

In 1945, three young boys saw a balloon falling to the ground, and they could tell it would land near them. They managed to get someone to drive them in the direction of the balloon, and they found it in a field. The bomb had exploded, and the platform it was on had turned black. They brought the balloon home.

Finally the army was notified. The Government took the balloon away and told the family to never speak of it again. They were told to act like it never happened, and they did that.

It was several years later before the information was declassified. The boys then found out what they had found that day in a field. The balloon was taken to an intelligence center in D.C. to be studied. It was then sent to New Jersey to a research facility.

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How the Gardner Heist Shocked America’s Art Scene

Cynthia Brooke

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There is something almost mythical about the world of fine art. When amazing works of art are created, we gather around and stare in wonder. When those same works of art mysteriously vanish in the middle of the night, well, that’s an entirely different story. Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Museum is located in Boston. The building hosts Mrs. Gardner’s incredible art collection which includes works by Zorn, Whistler, and Sargent. The mansion itself is equally fascinating as it was designed by William T. Sears in 1903. However, for all the history that the building possesses, what is missing has people talking the most. On March 18th, 1990, two mysterious strangers impersonated policemen in order to steal 13 of the most valuable paintings in the world.

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The brazen art heist, dubbed the Gardner Heist, has baffled law enforcement to this day. The crime involved two thieves dressing up as police officers. The men then forced themselves into the museum after hours, overpowering the local guards. In the dead of night, the two thieves stole more than $500 million worth of art. From Vermeer and Rembrandt to Manet, Flinck, and Degas, an entire collection of historical artwork vanished into thin air. For the past thirty years, the FBI has been chasing the ghost of the crime, failing to find a resolution.

The Gardner Heist is considered the largest art-related crime in American history. Following the heist, a $5 million reward was put out for information that led to the return of the artwork. The Museum has since been sent on wild goose chases that have not led to any resolution. In 2017, the museum decided to double the reward to $10 million. Steve Kidder is the president of the board at the Gardner Museum, and he had this to say, “We are the only buyer for these works. They belong in their rightful home.”

What makes the Gardner Heist so fascinating is the fact that there has been no such resolution. In order to keep the stolen paintings in good shape, the thieves would have needed to keep the paintings in a room set to 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a 50% humidity rating. It is hard to believe that a pair of thieves would have the resources or the knowledge to keep the paintings in such good shape unless, of course, they’d already been sold to a private buyer.

Arthur Brand is one of the lead investigators on the Gardner Heist. Brand is considered to be one of the finest art detectives in the world. In fact, Brand has been granted the title of, Indiana Jones of the Art World’. Brand has had several successes in finding lost art, most notably recovering work stolen from the Sheringa Museum of Realist Art. Brand calls the Gardner Heist the ‘Holy Grail’ of the art theft world. Brand has worked alongside the FBI in order to pool information. The common belief among law enforcement is that the paintings have remained in the United States over the past thirty or so years.

Brand believes that the paintings have long since left the continent, claiming that he has evidence that the works have found their way to Ireland. Still, Brand isn’t largely concerned about who stole the work or where the paintings are. Brand’s sole goal at this point in time is to recover the priceless art. Brand says, “It’s about getting these pieces back. The art is world heritage!” While Brand is passionate about recovering the artwork, there have still been no new leads in the case. At some point in time, we might have to accept that the work is gone.

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History

Here Are 5 Facts About The “Band Of Brothers” That You Did Not Know!

Anjali DeSimone

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Since its initial airing back in 2001, the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers has only continued to gain in popularity. Now that later generations are accessing the miniseries on their favorite apps and devices, the men of E Company have become a regular topic of discussion.

They answered the nation’s call as members of the 101st Airborne Division (506th Parachute Infantry Regiment). They were one of the elite forces of World War II but there is still much to be learned about each of these brave men and the battles that they fought. Read on to learn some little known facts about each of these soldiers…..

1. Captain Ronald Speirs

The series and book spent some time focusing on the role that Speirs played in the Brecourt Manor attack. German cannons had been firing on the troops at Utah Beach prior to this counterattack. While the series hinted that he was responsible for the killing of a German POW platoon, this was not likely.

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He was also one of the few men in the army to have made a combat jump in Korea and in World War II. Many do not know that Speirs served as a Red Army liaison as well. After this assignment was complete, he also served as a liaison to the Royal Lao Army before the Vietnam War broke out. 

2. Albert Blithe

Those who have read the book remember the story about Blithe losing his eyesight. He was shot in the neck during a Normandy patrol but the series and book were both incorrect when it came to addressing his fate. The book and series implied that Blithe died as a result of this wound.

In fact, he lived on after World War II and even served in Korea as well. Blithe was also not a southerner, as the series portrayed. He was actually from Philadelphia and did not speak with a southern accent. 

3. Edward “Babe” Heffron

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“Wild Bill” Guarnere was a close friend of Babe’s, as the two men both hailed from the city of Philadelphia. After the series aired, Babe and Wild Bill began to give tours of the famous battle sites together. The actor who played Babe looks nothing like him, though.

Robin Laing is a Scotsman with a gentle appearance. Meanwhile, Babe looks like more of a tough guy. The real Babe even makes an appearance in the actual series. He had a cameo as a Dutchman who was seen drinking wine during the Eindhoven liberation. 

4. Herbert Sobel 

Brilliantly played by none other than David Schwimmer of Friends fame, Sobel was detested by the other men in the E company. They viewed him as a coward who was too interested in going by the book. The famous scene where Sobel sends the men up Mount Currahee after a massive pasta dinner is 100 percent true.

However, Sobel is also credited by many of the men in the company for his unorthodox training techniques. They did not like him but they certainly respected him. He survived a suicide attempt in 1970 that cost him his eyesight and died in a VA facility of malnutrition 17 years later.

5. “Why We Fight”

One of the most famous episodes of the series, “Why We Fight” focused on the E company’s liberation of an SS camp in Germany. The episode concludes with German citizens assisting the men in burying the dead, forcing them to confront the true horrors of the regime that had risen to power.

There was just one issue: the men had never liberated any such camp. The producers added the liberation as a means of conveying the horrors of this war. They did not wish to solely focus on the experiences of the E Company.

If these facts were as amazing to you as they were to us, be sure to pass them along to your friends and loved ones. Let’s all do our part to keep our nation’s war history alive and well in the years to come! 

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The MOH Marine Who Carried An Aircraft Machine Gun On Iwo Jima

Cynthia Brooke

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There is no doubt the United States marines are all heroes that should be celebrated but some of them take their patriotism and heroic acts to a higher level. Unfortunately, not all these heroes are celebrated the way they should be celebrated and some of their achievements only get noticed or publicized after their demise.

One of such heroes is Corporal Tony Stein who can best be described as the hero of Iwo Jima. He virtually single handled took out a lot of Japanese soldiers who had laid siege for American troops in Iwo Jima in 1945 during the Second World War. Since this article is meant for casual readers, it has been written in a simplified form devoid of too many military terms. Corporal Tony Stein recently received the Medal of Honor posthumously. The medal was given to his widow. However, not many are aware of why he was nominated for the award. 

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This is why this article has been written to bridge the knowledge gap. Stein was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1921 to Jewish immigrants from Austria. He was enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve shortly before his 21st birthday. He initially served in the Marine Corps paratrooper unit. Thereafter, he fought in the Pacific Theater on several occasions. During this period, he had started exhibiting some extraordinary courage, intelligence, and patriotism that are worthy of emulation. 

One of his impressive achievements was taking out five Japanese snipers in a single day. Tony Stein was definitely a handful for the Japanese troops. For his military prowess, he got promoted to corporal in 1944 shortly after the paramarines were disbanded and was assigned to the 5th Marine Division where he was the assistant squad leader.

One of the most effective weapons then was a variant of M1919 that was meant to be used on patrol aircraft and bombers. Although it is a lighter version of M1919, it is much more destructive than M1919. While M1919 could output 400 rounds per minute, this improved version could do up to 1350 rounds per minute and Corporal Tony Stein was astonishing with it.

Due to its level of destructiveness, the weapon was dubbed “The Stinger” and there were only six of them but Stein was in custody of one them. And you bet it was utilized to capacity by the young marine. In fact, it was his mastery of the use of this machine that won him the highly coveted Medal of Honor.

He made the best of the beast when his unit hit Iwo Jima on February 1945. He singlehandedly wiped out several Japanese troops with the weapon. When he ran out of ammunition, he would run back to the beach to resupply himself without his boots and helmet so that he could run faster. He made 8 of such trips and during some of them, he would help a wounded marine get back to safety. In some cases, when they had to lie low to avoid continuous enemy fire, he would courageously stand up and take some destructive shots at the enemies’ location to obliterate them and he often did it successfully with his stinger.

To underscore how close he was told death, in Iwo Jima, his stinger was shot out of his hands twice but he would pick it up and continue to do what he did best until the Japanese troops had to retreat in defeat. 

Unfortunately, Corporal Tony Stein was taken out by a sniper not long after. He was being treated when he heard that his unit had been pinned down so he left the medical facility to join them. May be it was because he wasn’t fully fit or it wasn’t just his day. The great Corporal Tony Stein was taken down by a Japanese sniper.

It is quite heartwarming that his achievements, courage and patriotism didn’t go unnoticed and unrewarded. His Medal of Honor was presented to his widow about a year ago. The least you can do to celebrate this war veteran is to share the story of his sacrifice and contribution to America. 

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