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  • Los Angeles, 1942, just a few months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • Panic was in the air.

  • People imagined another attack, but this time on the city of angels, a place which was churning

  • out aircraft with impressive speed.

  • Folks envisioned the Hollywood hills on fire, people fighting in the streets, and then it

  • came, the fateful day.

  • February 25.

  • Coastal radar picks up an unidentified flying object about 125 miles west of Los Angeles.

  • Oh God,” the radar technician thinks, “It's heading straight for the city.”

  • Half an hour later and more radars pick up the object.

  • Air-raid sirens fill the air.

  • Citizens of LA watch in horror as anti-air artillery and .50 caliber rounds fire above

  • their heads.

  • The Japanese are here, they think.

  • They imagine their houses on fire.

  • Their windows being shot to pieces.

  • This was the Battle of Los Angeles, and we imagine many of you have never even heard

  • of it.

  • It's just one fact of many you are going to hear today, part of a history lesson that

  • will blow you away.

  • Settle in, secure your position and watch the facts fly by.

  • 50.

  • Battle of Los Angeles: Continued.

  • Ok, so we couldn't just leave it there.

  • You're thinking, there was a Battle of Los Angeles and no one even told me about it.

  • I must have missed that bit in my high school history class.

  • It's not quite as it seems.

  • It is certainly true that people feared that the Japanese might move an aircraft carrier

  • closer to the USA and start an invasion from there.

  • In Oakland schools were closed because of this fear.

  • There were blackouts, too.

  • In Seattle businesses were smashed up by angry mobs because they left their lights on, making

  • them a bullseye for fearsome Japanese bombers.

  • The situation got hairier on February 24, 1942, when U.S. Naval Intelligence warned

  • that an attack might be imminent.

  • At 2.25 am the next day the sirens sounded, and a blackout was ordered.

  • The 37th Coast Artillery Brigade started firing .50-caliber machine guns and anti-aircraft

  • shells.

  • Imagine being there, imagine seeing that as you rubbed your sleepy eyes early in the morning.

  • But nothing came.

  • Not one Japanese plane was spotted.

  • Buildings and cars were damaged, and five people died, three in car accidents related

  • to the chaos and another two people's hearts gave out during that very stressful hour of

  • hearing gunfire.

  • The next day the headlines were all about this Los Angeles attack, or non-attack.

  • But what had actually happened?

  • Some media saidwar nervesand others called it a false alarm.

  • But the people, the people were rightly concerned.

  • Was there something the government wasn't telling them?

  • They had to wait to get answers.

  • After the war ended the Japanese stood up and said, “Hey guys, we never went anywhere

  • near Los Angeles.

  • You were all tripping.”

  • To cut a long story short, that flying object that had been picked up by radar was an off-course

  • weather balloon.

  • The Battle of Los Angeles had been part-panic, part missing balloon.

  • Some folks said the object was an alien UFO, but we won't get into that today.

  • 49.

  • So, that was more of a story than a hard fact, and there will be many more insane stories,

  • but let's have a look at some facts, too.

  • The U.S. army is massive, absolutely massive.

  • In total, it contains around 1.4 million personnel, a few more people than the country of Estonia.

  • But it's not the biggest army.

  • That would be the North Korean army, at around 2.2 million personnel.

  • 48.

  • Believe it or not, the U.S army is actually older than the U.S. Americans celebrate the

  • birth of their nation on July 4.

  • The year the nation was established was 1776, but the date that the army was established

  • was June 14, 1775.

  • It makes sense really.

  • If they were gonna kick out those damned imperialist Brits they needed an army to do it, well the

  • French helped a bit, too, as did some heroic foreign military leaders that we'll talk

  • about later.

  • 47.

  • We just said that the army employs about 1.4 million people, with some of them being in

  • the reserves.

  • Still, that means it is the second largest employer in the USA behind Walmart, which

  • employs around 2.3 million people.

  • Amazon is a long way behind, employing something close to 800,000 people.

  • 46.

  • 16 of the 45 U.S. presidents have served in the U.S. army.

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower served in the army in both world war one and world war two.

  • Theodore Roosevelt is the only president to have won the distinguished Medal of Honor

  • for his service in the army.

  • During the Spanish-American War heled a desperate and gallant charge up San Juan

  • Hill”, risked life and limb under a barrage of enemy fire, and then he jumped into a trench

  • and killed a man, making it possible for the boys behind him to advance.

  • 45.

  • We guess some of you have at one point have owned a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, but we

  • also guess that you didn't know they were the brainchild of the U.S. army.

  • That's right.

  • There used to be a thing called the United States Army Air Corps, which was the flying

  • part of the army before the US Air Force was created.

  • In 1929, there was a guy that was tasked with working with a glasses producer to make glasses

  • that would make life easier for pilots.

  • His name was John A. Macready, Colonel John Macready.

  • He was up to the task, and he got working on some glasses that wouldn't fog-up like

  • goggles and at the same time would reduce the glare from the bright blue sky.

  • In the late thirties the Ray-Ban Aviator glasses were patented, and the rest is history.

  • 44.

  • The U.S. army created the world's first submarine.

  • This was called the Turtle, and it was introduced in 1774 when the army was fighting the British

  • during the American Revolutionary War.

  • While the vehicle looked pretty cool, it never really did what it was supposed to do.

  • That was to affix explosives to British warships in New York Harbor.

  • They never pulled that off, and then poor old Turtle sank into the sea when it was aboard

  • a vessel.

  • 43.

  • It's thought that about 2.1 million soldiers fought for The Union during the Civil War.

  • What's maybe quite surprising is that about one quarter of them were immigrants.

  • If you count the sons of immigrants that fought, then it is closer to half the army's population.

  • 42.

  • During the Second World War the brand Coca-Cola was already a kind of symbol that represented

  • the American Way.

  • And you know what, American soldiers fighting abroad really pined for stuff.

  • Most of them couldn't get their hands on Coke.

  • Coca-Cola Company president Robert W. Woodruff heard about this and decided it wasn't good

  • enough, so he made a promise.

  • He told soldiers that wherever they were, they would be able to get a Coke for the cost

  • of five cents.

  • But he needed the help of General Dwight Eisenhower to get the Cokes to them.

  • Together they cooked up a plan to get those addictive cans of tooth-rotting liquid to

  • the soldiers.

  • Coca-Cola opened up a bunch of plants overseas, but it went one step further when it introduced

  • people calledTechnical Observers”.

  • These Coke workers wore army uniforms and looked the part, but they weren't actually

  • military.

  • They were only there to make sure the plants were built and those soldiers got their fix.

  • It actually boosted morale a lot, with one soldier writing this in a letter:

  • Dear Folks, You'll never guess what I had to drink this evening.

  • Not whiskey, not gin, not Calvados, not beer, but good old fashionedCoca-Colain

  • the bottle that's made to fit the hand.”

  • Suffice to say, Coca-Cola did ok out of the deal, too.

  • It had entered Europe and it wasn't about to leave.

  • 41.

  • There are some sources that will tell you that the US army pioneered modern guerrilla

  • warfare, but that's debatable.

  • A lot of armies could claim that, but it is certainly true that the man named General

  • Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion was an excellent guerrilla warfare tactician.

  • This guy, also credited with being the man that led the first special forces in the US,

  • got his nickname because he'd take militiamen into the swamps where they'd wait in hiding

  • for Loyalists and British regulars.

  • They didn't fight the regular way, but would jump out of the swamps and kill.

  • His men, who weren't paid and supplied their own arms and sometimes food, frightened the

  • hell out of their enemy.

  • So we don't get in trouble, we should add that he was despised by many and criticized

  • for being more than harsh to his men and someone who committed many atrocities.

  • 40.

  • From the years 2006 to 2020, 17,645 active-duty personnel died serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

  • 39.

  • 53,402 U.S. soldiers died in combat during World War One, and most of those served in

  • the army.

  • 38.

  • The war that saw the most deaths in the U.S. was the Civil War.

  • When you count Union soldiers as well as Confederate soldiers the number of deaths is between 755,000

  • - 800,000 victims, which was about 449 per day.

  • That makes it the worst war that U.S. soldiers have ever fought in.

  • Ok, now for something even more surprising.

  • 37.

  • The U.S. army used to use the Swastika as a symbol.

  • You heard that right.

  • The 45th Infantry used to pin it on their sleeves, but they only did that to honor their

  • native American brothers in arms.

  • What you have to remember is that before Adolf Hitler hijacked that symbol, it was used for

  • thousands of years in many different cultures and was a symbol of good luck.

  • For instance, in Sanskrit it means, “conducive to well-being.”

  • That's why you can still see it today all over Asia, something that surprises less educated

  • travelers.

  • It won't surprise you, though, because now you know where it came from.

  • Needless to say, when Hitler started using it the 45th Infantry dropped it.

  • 36.

  • Batteries, the US army needs them, and any soldier will tell you that they weigh quite

  • a bit.

  • You see, if you want to go on a mission you need to power stuff.

  • It takes around 400 pounds (181 kg) of batteries for 30 men going on a 3-day mission.

  • You can actually find a slew of articles talking about the army's battery problem.

  • 35.

  • In the late 1960s, the army introduced something called the Walking Truck, or if you want to

  • get technical, the Cybernetic Anthropomorphous Machine.

  • The giant robot had four big legs and while it looked like something from a sci-fi movie

  • it wasn't exactly nimble.

  • The plodding machine was designed to solve the army's age-old problem of carrying stuff.

  • Like in the movie Alien, a person would sit inside it and control with their feet and

  • hands.

  • It weighed 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) and travelled at 5 miles per hour (8 km/h).

  • While it looked like a good idea, it wasn't.

  • It was so tiring to operate that a person could only move for a short amount of time.

  • 34.

  • Only 28 percent of folks aged 17-23 in the US qualify to serve in the army.

  • It has high standards.

  • One recruiting commander said this about those standards, “We don't want to sacrifice

  • quality.

  • If we lower the quality, yes we might be able to make our mission, but that's not good

  • for the organization.”

  • 33.

  • In 2020, the Pentagon's budget meant $178 billion would go to the Army, $207.1 billion

  • for the Navy and Marine Corps, a further $191.8 billion for the Air Force, and just $15.4

  • billion for the Space Force.

  • 32.

  • Who first looked at the Grand Canyon and thought, wow, nice, can't wait to tell everyone about

  • this and put it on a map?

  • It was the army.

  • You see, the US army was responsible for mapping much of the USA.

  • In the early 1800s the US government wanted to map the entirety of the USA, which was

  • no easy feat.

  • The Lewis and Clark Expedition was the solution, and that was led by the U.S. army.

  • 31.

  • George Washington didn't actually want to be the commander of the army.

  • He didn't think he was up to the task.

  • He was happy when the war was over, but then he resigned.

  • This is what he told Congress: “Happy in the confirmation of our independence

  • and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable

  • nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in

  • my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task.”

  • A man of humility!

  • As you'll soon see, there were many more great military leaders.

  • 30.

  • After World War Two and for many years on, the US army had a dump-athon.

  • In total, the army admitted to secretly dumping 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas

  • agents in the sea.

  • Also thrown in were 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, landmines and rockets, and with that

  • 500 tons of radioactive waste.

  • It was revealed that storage was expensive and dangerous and destroying was difficult,

  • so overboard the stuff went.

  • 29.

  • During World War One the German military was unhappy with the US Army.

  • It didn't much like the shotguns the army were using, claiming that being hit by a shotgun

  • was unnecessarily painful.

  • 28.

  • The US hasn't fully banned the use of landmines.

  • Under President Obama there was a ban on the use of landmines except for the defense of

  • South Korea, but under the Trump administration restrictions were lifted.

  • In 1997, the Mine Ban Treaty was signed by most countries, but the US, along with China,

  • Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan and Russia did not sign.

  • 27.

  • The problem with landmines is that they tend to kill your own.

  • In 1997, the New York Times cited a Pentagon report that said thousands of US army soldiers

  • in the Vietnam and Korean Wars were killed or severely injured by American-made land

  • mines.

  • Ok, sorry to sound so depressing.

  • We promise something amusing soon.

  • 26.

  • Who doesn't like a good dog story?

  • The US Army during World War One