Declassified Government Photos Show A Different Side To History Than You Already Know
By | November 22, 2022
History books have one story to tell, but have you ever wondered if there's more to the well known tales that we learn in school? Each year, photos and files are declassified by governments across the world that prove that there's more to history than what you've been taught. The following photos have been recently declassified and colorized... they'll change how you see history forever.
The following chilling declassified photos from history may not be suitable for all eyes. The colorization process will help you feel like you're in the middle of a true conspiracy theory... just make sure you know how to find your way out.
If you're looking through the history books for the following stories and colorized photos you're not going to find them. Look closer to find out how history really played out...
During World War II a mysterious, multinational group of pilots were christened the Flying Tigers before the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The volunteer group was made up of pilots from each branch of the U.S. military who flew in Curtis P-40B Warhawks adorned with Chinese colors. It was strange to see a group like this before America entered World War II.
The members of the Flying Tigers may have been military, but they weren't an official American squardon. Instead, they were members of the Republic China Air Force and were given contracts that ranged from $250 a month to $750 a month. The group was disbabed on July 4, 1942. Their records are still intact.
Following the disastrous end of World War I for Germany the country went into hyper-inflation. By 1923, the German Mark held an exchange rate of one trillion Marks to one dollar. The Mark was considered to be useless by everyone across the world, and especially in Germany.
Not only did the hyperinflation crisis lead to extreme poverty, but it also caused a kind of mass hysteria known as zero, or cipher stroke. People suffering from this peculiar mental disorder had a strange need to write an infinite stream of zeroes. It's theorized that this was simply a way for people to process the horrible situation.
JFK, moments before his assassination
When President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, it was one of the most traumatic events in American history. At the time no one had ever seen anything like that happen. And the fact that it was being reported in real time was truly harrowing for people around the country.
President Kennedy wasn't the only person to suffer from the sting of a bullet that day. James T. Tague was shot by a stray bullet meant for the president while standing in the traffic of the caravan. He told ABC:
I was standing on the triple underpass at the time and was wounded by a fragment that bounced off the pavement. It certainly didn't sound like a rifle shot. It was a loud cannon-type sound and it stung me on my right cheek. I wondered what had just happened and a man in a suit who turned out to be a deputy sheriff in plain clothes ran up and asked what had happened. Across the street people were sobbing, 'His head exploded.' The policeman said 'Whose head?' It was the president's. Then he looked at me and said, 'You have blood on your face.'
What mysteries could this monkey have seen on his brief trip through the cosmos? Did any of it make sense to Sam, a rhesus monkey, as he was blasted past the stars on the rocket Little Joe-2? Or was he simply terrified and holding on for dear life?
During his trip through space Sam was weightless for three minutes. His survival paved the way for the successful NASA space program that followed in the 1960s, specifically the Project Mercury program - the first human space flight. If only Sam the monkey knew just how important his dangerous and horrifying work was.
A heavily redacted official FBI document discussing UFOs
This redacted file from the FBI definitely says something about the existence of unidentified flying objects. We've seen that the military created their own secret crafts that were mistaken as crafts piloted by UFOs, but this document seems to show that there are some UFOs that the government is still unsure about. Or at the very least there are crafts that the government doesn't know about.
Many of the government's reports on UFOs are similar to this one, they're almost completely blacked out with very little information left over for the public to read. What don't they want the public to see? Is there real information about extra terrestrials or is it just somewhat embarrassing?
Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War
No one in the government wants to inherit their position because of an assassination but Lyndon B. Johnson inherited more than a presidency, he inherited a war. When the problem in Vietnam fell into Johnson's lap he implored Congress to draft a resolution that gave him the authority to send the military into Vietnam without actually saying that the US was at war. On August 4, 1964, the White House claimed that the North Vietnamese military had attacked the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin - but all was not as it seemed.
Prior to the attack on the Maddox, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the head of U.S. forces in Vietnam, tutored the Vietnamese military on how to carry out raids on the North Vietnamese. Reports following the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin stated that North Vietnamese PT boats had “mistaken Maddox for a South Vietnamese escort vessel." Months later, Johnson was officially elected to the presidency and sent soldiers into combat without declaring war.
Wedding rings that Nazis removed from their victims
In World War II the Nazis did much more than fight to take as much of Europe as they could, they tried to wipe out an entire group of people simply because they were different. The Nazis didn't just commit genocide, they committed every indignity that they could to their victims. This photo taken after the Allied Forces liberated Buchenwald is absolutely chilling.
When Nazis brought in their victims they took their money, their gold fillings, and any jewelry that they could find as long as it was gold. It's hard to imagine that the Nazis thought that they could add to their war chest with this collection. It's clear that this was just another horrific decision on the part of the German military.
American troops wade toward the beaches of Normandy on D-Day
The images of battle are not always what people back home want to see when they're reading about the war. Images like this photo from June 6, 1944, shows the infinite grim possibilities facing soldiers on D-Day. It's not the kind of thing an army wife wants to see.
Taken in the heat of the invasion, this photo gives the audience the same view that the soldiers had as they exited their boat. Images like this may no reside in the National Archive, but many of the men who survived this battle longed to forget the dangers of storming Normandy. Seeing this declassified photo in color is just a stark reminder of how real the war really was.
Pablo Escobar and his son posing in front of the White House
How does the most well known drug dealer on the planet and one of the FBI's ten most wanted criminals get to walk right up to the White House and have his picture taken? Well with a personal wealth of around $30 billion you can do whatever you want. Taken in 1981, this photo shows just how untouchable the notorious drug lord really was.
At the time, Escobar was trying to go legit... sort of. He had a seat on the Medéllin city council and he was a substitute Congressman which may have allowed him to have a diplomatic passport. However, it's just as likely that Escobar was using fake passports, it's not like he didn't have the money to pay for them. Oh to be a fly on the wall when the FBI first saw this photo.
So few have gone to the moon, can you imagine leaving your personal belongings up on the big gray rock in the sky? When astronaut Charles Duke traveled to the moon on his third and last trip on the Apollo 16 mission he left a portrait of his family on the surface. This made Apollo 16 a family affair.
Thanks to the vacuum of space, the family photo and Duke's bootprint have basically remained in stasis since April 23, 1972. It's fascinating to think that this photo will be on the moon long after everyone in it is long gone. They stand as a message and a welcome to anyone who's fortunate enough to tread on our sister in space.
Cold war photo kept under wraps
Taken in 2000, this recently declassified photo is exactly the kind of thing that the American public doesn't want to know about. It's easy to believe that following the end of the Cold War everyone just got rid of their weapons of mass destruction but that's hardly the case. Each barrel in this chilling photo is full of toxic agents stored at a chemical weapons site in the Saratov region of Russia.
At the time, Russian officials denied the existence of a chemical weapons program but remarks by Soviet chemical weapons scientist Vladimir Uglev suggest otherwise. He told the Guardian that in the '90s two officers that he worked with at the site died due to accidents with the chemicals on the premises. However, he noted that it was unlikely that anyone would be able to track down the chemicals.
Saddam Hussein following his capture
When Saddam Hussein dipped out of the public eye after the 2003 invasion of Iraq he became the number one target in the country. Between July and December 2003, the JSOC carried out hunfreds of operations just to find this heinous dictator. When they discovered Hussein's whereabouts the JSOC didn't wait long to strike.
Operation Red Dawn was carried out in Ad-Dawr, Iraq when multiple units made their way through two different areas before finding nothing. But then one member of the group kicked a piece of the floor away and found a spider hole and out popped Hussein. The former leader of Iraq was captured with little resistance along with his bodyguards.
Police officers mask up for the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918
The pandeminc of 1918 was a quick burning, destructive, and chaotic flu that wiped out a large swath of the world's population. People were told to wear masks but in many instances some folks just straight up refused. It was all due to the lack of accurate research into the illness.
Historian John Barry explained that during the flu of 1918 there was an extreme amount of disinformation going around:
The press did not treat the 1918 flu seriously during the outbreak, for reasons that are very different than today. There was real fake news coming out of the U.S. government about the 1918 flu. As a general rule, the media was extremely complicit with the U.S. government in telling those lies... There was no partisan division over the 1918 flu. It was to no one's political benefit to try to expose the truth about the pandemic then.
Atomic bomb test dummies sit down for dinner, 1953
In the 1950s, the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union edscalated to the point that America began preparing to unleash nuclear fury on its former ally. To accurately test the explosive power of these devices, military scientists set up department store mannequins to see just how much a blast would destroy. The tests proved that an atomic bomb works in mysterious ways.
The homes of Yucca Flat, Nevada, weren't just filled with mannequins. Researchers turned them into actual homes complete with food in the kitchen and clothes in the closets. Through these strange tests the U.S. military discovered that through careful planning there wouldn't be a total loss should the Soviet military decide to strike.
The crash site at Roswell
There's no piece of American history that's quite as infamous as the crash in Roswell, New Mexico. In the summer of 1947 a "flying disc" allegedly crashed on a ranch in the area leaving a large amount of debris. Much of the wreckage was brought to Sheriff George Wilcox of Roswell, who then brought what was in his possession to Colonel William Blanchard, the commanding officer of the Roswell Army Air Field.
In spite of the fact that the RAAF released a statement detailing the recovered debris of the flying disc, they quickly changed their story. Army officials said that there was no "saucer," and instead stated that the wreckage was from a weather balloon. It wasn't until 1994 that the U.S. Air Force released a report stating that the weather balloon story was false. They argued that the debris was actually from a spy plane, but who's to say what's true?
Emergency response team at the Pentagon following the attacks of September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001, the unthinkable happened as terrorists hijacked four planes before flying two of them into the Twin Towers in New York City, and another into the Pentagon. 125 people lost their lives inside the building and another 64 were killed on American Airlines Flight 77. Some theorists believe that a missile was fired at the Pentagon to create even more havoc.
Researchers have reported that claims of a missile being fired at the Pentagon are false. Any and all damage done to the federal building on that horrible day occurred when the hijacked plane hit its tarket. Even with video of the events circulating there are still theorists who believe otherwise...
Gawkers after the JFK assassination
When President Kennedy was assassination on November 22, 1963, as his car passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, all eyes were on the Lone Star State. Witnesses to this horrible event couldn't forget what they'd seen and felt that day. Some screamed, some cried, and some took photos and grainy 8mm footage.
Jenyce Gush spoke to ABC about witnessing the assassination when she was only 14-years-old, she said that after witnessing the shooting she fled to a loca drugstore to escape the chaos:
It was like a moment frozen in time. It was so quiet and I looked at the store manager and she had tears running down her face. I remember putting my hands on my face and felt the tears. How could that have happened? I was heartsick.
Project 1794: The Air Force had a supersonic flying saucer
It turns out that UFOs exist, they just may not be piloted by little green men. In the 1950s, the military went forward with Project 1794, a mission to construct a flying saucer that could top out at speeds "between Mach 3 and Mach 4, a ceiling of over 100,000 ft. and a maximum range with allowances of about 1,000 nautical miles." Did the government accomplish their goal?
Unfortunately, costs got in the way of the project coming to fruition. Costs of the prototype were calculated to be around $3,168,000, which is about a cool $26 mil thanks to inflation. By 1960, the dream of an American UFO was put on ice.
Pre World War II aircraft listening devices
Today, the military can track aircrafts and vehicles through radar as well as through cameras and cyber security. However, during World War II the militaries of the world had to use a variety of acoustic means to monitor aircraft. This photo shows Japanese Emperor Hirohito observing a collection of listening devices meant for fidning enemy crafts.
These devices worked like a personal radar machine. Each user used a pair of headphones that were jacked in to a set of vertical and horizontal horns that received the sound of an antagonistic craft. The user moved the horns until the sound was focused on the exact direction of the plane. It wasn't super specific but it worked.
Atomic bomb preparations on Tinian Island
On August 9, 1945, the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan. This recently declassified photo shows U.S. military workers making final preparations for the bomb's journey to the Pacific. Positioned on Tinian Island in Guam, the workers are checking the casings on the bomb, seemingly uncaring about its nuclear passage.
Every bomber group on the island took part in deadly combat missions. Aside from the two missions that dropped atomic bombs on Japan, there were soldiers who detonated deadly "pumpkin bombs" on variuos targets. It was believed that at least 50 atomic bombs would be needed to defeat Japan, with the men of Tinian Island sticking around for much of the war.
Hiroshima after the atomic bomb
Prior to August 6, 1945, Hiroshima, Japan was the headquarters of the Second General Army and Chūgoku Regional Army. Everything changed that day when the atomic bomb known as "Little Boy" was dropped at 8:15 a.m. 70,000 people were killed as the explosion ripped across the area, destroying everything in its path.
In spite of the pure destruction caused by the bomb, the U.S. military attempted to hide the effects of the attack on the Japanese people. Dutch writer and editor Ian Buruma explained:
News of the terrible consequences of the atom bomb attacks on Japan was deliberately withheld from the Japanese public by US military censors during the Allied occupation—even as they sought to teach the natives the virtues of a free press. Casualty statistics were suppressed. Film shot by Japanese cameramen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings was confiscated. Hiroshima, the account written by John Hersey for The New Yorker, had a huge impact in the US, but was banned in Japan. As [John] Dower says: 'In the localities themselves, suffering was compounded not merely by the unprecedented nature of the catastrophe ... but also by the fact that public struggle with this traumatic experience was not permitted.'
An early version of Mount Rushmore
This early design of Mount Rushmore shows off the grandeur and majesty of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt surveying the great plains of America, but it doesn't show one of the most intriguing parts of the sculpture. Hidden inside the mountain is a 75 by 35 foot room meant to explain Mount Rushmore to future civilizations. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum worried that viewers would forget its meaning in the future.
While explaining why he created an incomplete chamber filled covered in red numbers that provide instructions for further removal of rocks and holes for dynamite, Borglum said:
You might as well drop a letter into the world’s postal service without an address or signature, as to send that carved mountain into history without identification. Each succeeding civilization forgets its predecessor. Civilizations are ghouls.
CIA photograph of Soviet cruise missile
Modern surveillance tactics used the U.S. military can take the form of anything from cyber attacks to photos taken from low flying planes. During the 1960s, the CIA put their spies on the ground to take photos of what their Cold War enemies were doing. Few of those photos have been declassified, but this one shows just how undercover American spies would go to attain information.
Taken by Dino A. Brugioni while he was a member of the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center, he took part in numerous international incidents. While speaking with PBS he explained exactly how he did his job:
The scan team were people who were very familiar with the whole area. What drew their eye was that certain objects didn't belong... The photographs were passed to a backup team of missile people... I had a looseleaf binder that had all kinds of information on Soviet missiles. It had photographs taken in the streets of Moscow, it had material from Penkovsky.
When the Navy wanted to get to the bottom of the effects of nuclear weapons on their warships they decided to straight up drop an atomic bomb on their biggest ship. On July 1, 1946, the Navy went to Bikini Atoll and dropped an implosion-type atomic bomb over a small fleet. Five ships were sunk d=uring the test and the radiation from the bomb dissapated relatively quickly.
The ships may have not have suffered longterm from the radiation, but the goats, pigs, and mice in the area were significantly effected. Following the test, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported:
A large ship, about a mile away from the explosion, would escape sinking, but the crew would be killed by the deadly burst of radiations from the bomb, and only a ghost ship would remain, floating unattended in the vast waters of the ocean.
In the 1960s everyone had their eyes peeled for a UFO and this research vehicle had alien-truthers of the day racing to say that they had an encounter with a real deal creature from another planet. This declassified photo of NASA's Lunar landing Research Vehicle Number 1 gives viewers an up close and personal look at the way the United States helped astronauts train for space travel. It just so happens that it looks like something from Mars.
The vehicle was created as a way to simulate a lunar landing, complete with a vertically mounted engine. It also had the ability to the simulated gravity of the moon. Apollo 11 astronaut and first person to walk on the moon noted that without the help of the Lunar landing Research Vehicle his mission wouldn't haven't been succesful.
American POWs during the Bataan death march
This declassified photo of American prisoners of war marching through the Bataan Peninsula shows the true horrors of war. On April 9, 1942, a mix of 75,000 US and Filipino troops surrendered to the Japanese military on the Bataan Peninsula after three months of brtual fighting. The surrendered troops were then rounded up and forced to walk 65 miles to the opposite end of the Bataan Peninsula.
The men were separated into groups of 100 and the trek took five days to complete in its emtirity. No one knows how many troops died, but it's estimated that thousands of men lost their lives due to the treatment of their captors. The men who survived were taken to POW camps where thousands more of them died from malnutrition and starvation.
The plane responsible for multiple UFO sightings
Many of the UFOs seen by unsuspecting stargazers in the 1950s and '60s were actually piloted by Earthlings, CIA agents to be exact. In a recently declassified collection of photos and information, the CIA admitted that their U2 aircrafts were often mistaken for visitors from another planet throughout the 1950s. Many of the reports came from people in commercial airplanes.
In the 1950s, commercial airliners flew at altitudes around 10,000 to 20,000 feet and U2s were flying around 60,000 feet. Pilots and passengers alike on commercial planes who saw the U2s were rightfully confused about what they were seeing. It's believed that sightings of the U2 planes led to the creation of Air Force's Operation Blue Book, the code name for the systematic study of unidentified flying objects from the early '50s until 1969.
Cheyenne Mountain Military Complex
This rarely seen military complex hidden deep within the Cheyenne Mountains isn't home to just anyone. It's where hundreds of government officials work around the clock to maintain one of the most secretive military installations on the planet. Aside from the few photos that exist of this place, no one outside of the government officials that it's made for will ever see it.
The researchers and scientists working inside this rocky lab constructed behind 2,500 feet of granite have one job. They collect and analyze data from a global surveillance system so they can warn government officials about missile threats against North America. It's a lonely job but it's one of the most important in the country.
Hitler after conquering Austria
This absolutely horrifying look at Nazi Germany was taken in March 1938 after the annexation of Germany. What was referred to as a peaceful co-opting of a country was actually accomplished after Austrian Nazis overthrew their government. Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg tried to work out a compromise with Hitler, but things didn't swing his way.
What followed the chancellor's attempt at a compromise turned into the end of Austria as a free nation. Multiple Nazi faithfuls were installed in the government, the chancellor resigned, and it essentially became a German state. This photo shows the beginning of one of the worst eras of the 20th century.
President Kennedy with CIA Director John McCone
As the director of the CIA from 1961 to 1965, John McCone worked incredibly close to President Kennedy. It's believed that after the president's assassination that McCone played a major part in covering up the real story of what happened. He even told the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination.
Philip Shenon, a former Washington and foreign correspondent for the New York Times, believes that McCone came close to perjury when he spoke with the Warren Commission. In 2013, the CIA declassified a document stating that McCone and other CIA officials kept "incendiary" information about the assassination under wraps. Even worse, McCone and his followers in the CIA were dedicated to keeping the agency focused on the "best truth." We'll never know what really happened.
Mysterious balloons from a CIA file on UFOs
The declassified files of any government agency turn up some of the most strange inventions, vehicles, and conspiracies. This balloon contraption belonging to CIA is one of the more strange concepts that can be found in these rarely seen photos and documents. So just what was the balloon for?
In any story of UFOs there's always a mention of weather balloons and swamp gas, these may be the "weather balloons" that the CIA speaks of. However they weren't often used as stand-ins for UFOs. In some instances they were used as a safe way to drop massive amounts of propaanda over enemy territory. Weather balloons may have gone out of style with the Cold War, but today the same jobs would likely be given to a drone.
President Nixon visits the quarantined Apollo 11 crew
When Apollo 11 returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, Neil Armston, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin, weren't able to just go home. They had to quarantine inside of a mobile quarantine facility until they were transported to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory for an examination. After all, they had just returned from space and no one knew what was out there.
President Nixon was so excited that the Apollo 11 crew had returned safely from their mission that he rushed down to meet the men regardless of whether they had space cooties or not. As excited as the Apollo 11 crew must have been to meet the president, they were likely just ready to get out of their quarantine and eat some real food. But hey, there's nothing wrong with meeting the president every once in a while.
Early pioneer of aerial recon photography
World War I changed modern warfare forever. Not only did this chilling battle speed up gas mask, fire fighting, and chemical weapon technology, but it was the first time that aerial photography was used to gather information about ones enemy. Times were changing and militaries across the world had to keep up.
Today, regular people can take aerial photography without too much of a hassle. During World War 1 it was a dangerous business to lug around a giant camera on an airplane while trying to get the perfect shot. That being said, when something worked out it really worked out.
Astronaut in reduced gravity simulator
Long before NASA sent their astronauts into space there were a ton of technical questions about what would happen and what someone could expect after leaving Earth's atmosphere. To get to the bottom of outer space NASA started testing their men at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. There, they tested variations on gravity, the amount of time someone could spend alone in space, and what kind of food someone could eat in space.
Taken in 1963, this photo shows researchers doing their best to parallel the feeling of weightlessness. The most important thing that researchers learned at Langley was just how much energy a person expends while in space. It's tests like the one in the photo that made sure astronauts could survive outside the atmosphere.
The electric lightbulb has been around since the early 19th century. However, it was Thomas Edison who turned a dangerous and wonky technology into something that we still use today. His incandescent bulbs not only much more efficient than the other bulbs at the time, but they were far more efficient.
Inititally, Edison used carbon filament in his first incandescent bulb. It didn't take long after his first bulb-related patent was granted that he came up with a plan the use carbonized bamboo instead. These bulbs still serve as the basis for what we use today, it's just a shame that the researchers who worked on the original bulbs don't get credit for inspiring Edison.
A prototype for the ejectable chair
Ejector seats have long been a part of the lore of the super spy, but knowing that the technology actually exists is genuinely exciting. The ever-expanding and large budget that the U.S. military has to play with allows them to follow their bliss when creating tools that may or may not have practical applications. Hence, the ejectable chair pictured here.
This declassified photo shows the chair in mid flight, which more or less proves that it works. However, it's unclear if the seat would actually be something that can be used in a real world scenario or if it would have to be applied in only the most extreme of circumstances. Since we don't hear about soldiers and spies ejecting themselves from their cars all day every day it's safe to assume that this seat never made it past the testing stage.
The first nuclear bomb
This declassified photo may not show any sensitive information but it does shed light on the people we rarely think about when it comes to atomic weaponry. These are just regular workers making sure that the literal nuts and bolts of The Trinity Test are taken care of. Tensions were already high on this test site (nothing like nuclear radiation to raise your blood pressure) but on July 16, 1945, Los Alamos scientists were ready to pull their hair out before the detonation of their first plutonium bomb.
We often hear about the researchers and scientists at Los Alamos, but it's rare to photos of the workers who made the atomic dream into a reality. These guys put their bodies on the line to make sure that there wasn't a massive incident in the desert. We don't know their names, but thanks to this declassified photo we know their faces.
The "Fat Man" bomb
Most Americans know the names "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" as references to the bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Their construction was mired in secret, with "Fat Man" being the second plutonium, imposion-type bomb ever constructed after "Gadget." It was designed at Los Alamos Laboratory with a weight of 10,300 pounds, hence the name.
Following the bombing of Hiroshima, the military saw that Japan had no desire to surrender. Rather than go back to their ground game they decided to drop "Fat Man" F31 on the city of Kokura. However, due to weather constraints a change in plan was made and the town of Nagasaki was chosen in mid-flight. The decision killed nearly 40,000 people.
An advanced airplane or the UFO taken to Area 51?
In the middle of the Mojave Desert stands one of the most mysterious military bases on the planet - Area 51. This site has long been believed to be the place where science fiction and science fact meet. While it's not clear if there are extra terrestrials or UFOs of alien origin on the base, there's definitely advanced flight technology housed on this site.
This declassified photo shows an A-12, one of the precursors to the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane. These crafts already look fascinating, but it's shown here upside down which makes it look even more alien. The A-12s first came to Area 51 in 1962 and they were so top secret that local air traffic controlers were told to submit written reports about "unusually fast, high flying planes" instead of reporting them as UFOs over the air.
Senator John McCane after he was shot down in Vietnam
When John McCain was taken as a prisoner of war on october 26, 1967, he had every right to believe that his life was over. The future senator was in the middle of his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam when his bomber was hit with a missile as he flew over Hanoi. After his capture he spent five years as a prisoner of war.
McCain used his ejector seat to escape the craft, but with a broken leg and two broken arms there was little to do when he was pulled from the water by men from Noth Vietnam. He was beaten, stabbed with a baynoet, and after the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was an admiral in the U.S. Navy they devlivered him to a prison camp known as "The Plantation." U.S. Air Force Major George "Bud" Day told ABC his thoughts when he first saw McCain at the prison camp:
I was just astounded at his condition. I took one look at him and mentally said to myself, ‘They’ve dumped this guy on us to die so they can blame it on our neglect.’ He was emaciated. His eyes really had that fevered bright death look. He stunk. He just hadn’t been washed or cleaned since I had no idea when. I never expected him to make it through the night. But he did. Dying was not his plan.
Pilot attempting to fight fatigue
Long combat missions, lenghty flights, and everything in between means that pilots aren't able to tag out and take a nap when they're at the helm. To make sure that pilots are up for the rigors of a US military flight, the United States Air Force trains their people to fight fatigue at all costs. In the 1940s, the military was just figuring out exactly how to keep their men sharp
In 1943, the Air Service Newsletter discussed fatigue and how their pilots were attempting to stay ahead of it. One entry reads:
Pilots are instrcuted to use oxygen above 10,000 feet: If they fail to do so and become fatigued because of chronic anoxia the remedy lies not in pills, but in more thorough education and more comdfortable oxygen equipment... It is now clear that fatigue as it is seen today in combat flyers is no simple state that can be described in terms of cause and effect. Rather, it is produced by the many unpleasant stimuli about which one is accustomed to gripe.
Johnston Atoll, the secret Air Force base
The remote location of Johnston Atoll, a once thriving United States Air Force base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has led to a vast web of conspiracies about this small island. Created in 1935 as a small naval island, it was constructed in 1941 to house just around 1,000 men. There were barracks, a radio station, and an underground hospital.
Secret bunkers embedded in the side of a mountain
During the Cold War the government officials and military higher ups were just as worried about a Soviet Nuclear attack as the rest of America. While suburbanites went out and bought bomb shelters, the most important members of the government were given the option of stashing away in a bunker like the one seen here. Extending deep into the side of a mountain, no explosion can penetrate these walls.
The most famous of these bunkers is the shelter carved into the Cheyenne Mountains. Construction began in 1961 and by 1966 the bunker was not only ready to keep the government's top brass safe, but it held the operation known as NORAD. At the time this place was ready for anything: EMP blasts, enemy combatants, and even earthquakes and floods.
The first diving suit
The first diving suits constructed in the 18th century were good for a few things, just not long term diving. Initially they were used for slavage missions as well as spending brief periods of time under water. These suits were nowhere near as advanced as the suits we have today (or even the suits from the early 20th century).
Early human-shaped atmospheric diving suits helped maintain pressure inside the suit. Or at least that's what they were supposed to do. Many divers who tested early ADS technology like the one seen in this photo were forced to deal with the rigors of decompression in spite of the best efforts by researchers and inventors.
Operation Highjump brought American forces to the Arctic ❄
On August 26, 1946, the US military began its mission to keep an eye on the Arctic. Known as "Operation Highjump," this strange, year long program saw the United States Navy train their personell for chilly conditions while attempting to figure out if it made sense to build and maintain Arctic bases. Critics of this plan believe that there was another, more sinister reason behind the trip.
Even though the Navy denied that they were trying to establish a presence over the largest area of the Antarctic and spread American sovereignty to far flung areas of the globe, that's exactly what they were doing. In an interview with Lee van Atta of International News Service, Admiral Richard E. Byrd explained:
The most important result of [his] observations and discoveries is the potential effect that they have in relation to the security of the United States. The fantastic speed with which the world is shrinking... is one of the most important lessons learned during [the] Antarctic exploration. I have to warn my compatriots that the time has ended when we were able to take refuge in our isolation and rely on the certainty that the distances, the oceans, and the poles were a guarantee of safety.
Construction of the Berlin Wall
Little has thrown the entire world into an existential spiral like the construction of the Berlin Wall. Following the end of World War II Germany was split into four "allied occupation zones" with the Soviet Union claiming East Germany while the United States, Great Britain, and France took the west. Berlin proved to be a special problem.
Situated 100 miles within the eastern half of the country, it was still split between the Soviets and the Allies. By 1948, the Soviets created a blockade of West Berlin to starve out the west, but the Allied forces continued to supply West Berlin with food, fuel, and whatever else was needed from the air. By the late '50s the Soviets finally tired of dealing with the west and decided to first erect a fence, and then a wall on June 15, 1961. Save for a few Christmas summits, the wall stood until the late '80s when people on both sides refused to be locked away from one another.
Apollo 17, the final mission to the Moon, 1972
One of the biggest and most wide reaching cocnspiracy theories on the planet is that the six Apollo missions that brought United States astronauts to the moon were faked. Supposedly, the astronauts who traveled to the moon were either filmed in a studio or took part in a mass misleading of the public. Declassified photos from NASA look to prove those theories wrong.
Not only is there a ridiculous amount of third-party evidence that proves that the landings did happen, but in the 2000s the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took hi-def photos of the Apollo landing sites. This is one of those stories where you either have to choose imperical evidence or go with your gut. Did the moonlandings really happen? Look to the stars for an answer to that one.
Inside a classified military base
It's hard to keep a military base a secret in this day and age. Today, you can easily find the location of Area 51 and even a few unlisted black sites, but you'll really have to work to find the country's deep underground military bases. Each of these bases is unique and genuinely mysterious.
The Pine Gap base in Australia is one of the most important US intelligence centers outside of the country. It's used to collect mountains of digital data through a ridiculous amount of computer hardware. If there's anything else happening at this site no one is going to know about it until more information is declassified.