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Archive for April, 2009

17 April
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Bay of Pigs [On This Day]

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In 1961, about 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. In the photo, Lawyer James Donovan (R) in Miami after the return of the ransomed Bay of Pigs prisoners, which he arranged. Image credit: LIFE

What Went Wrong
The first major error occurred on April 15, 1961, when eight B-26 bombers left Nicaragua to bomb Cuban airfields. The operation failed to destroy the entire arsenal of planes, leaving most of Castro’s air force intact. The CIA had used obsolete World War II B-26 bombers, and painted them to look like Cuban air force planes. As news broke of the attack and American complicity became apparent after photos of the repainted planes became public, President Kennedy cancelled the second air strike.

On April 17, the Cuban-exile invasion force, or Brigade 2506, landed at beaches along the Bay of Pigs and immediately came under heavy fire. The planes left unharmed in the earlier air attack strafed the invaders, sank two escort ships, and destroyed half of the exile’s air support. Bad weather hampered the ground force, which had to work with soggy equipment and low stores of ammunition.

During the next 24 hours, Castro had 20,000 troops advancing on the beach and the Cuban Air Force continued to control the skies. As the situation grew increasingly grim, President Kennedy authorized an “air-umbrella” at dawn on April 19, which called for six unmarked American fighter planes to help defend the Brigade’s B-26 aircraft flying from Nicaragua. But the B-26s arrived an hour late (most likely due to time zone confusion) and were shot down by the Cubans. The invasion was crushed later that day. Some exiles escaped to the sea, while the rest were killed or rounded up and imprisoned by Castro’s forces. Almost 1200 Brigade members had surrendered and more than 100 had been killed. [jfklibrary.org]

Learn more:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Pigs_Invasion
Politics of Illusion: The Bay of Pigs Invasion Reexamined
Decision for Disaster: The Battle of the Bay of Pigs
Decision for Disaster: Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs

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16 April
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How to Subscribe to History Podcast

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Today I moved the feeds over to google.  It should automatically redirect everyone but just incase here are the feeds for your reference.  Thanks for listening and reading! Image credit: Colleen AF Venable

This feed is for the blog:
feed://feeds2.feedburner.com/Historyonair

This feed is for the podcast only:
feed://feeds2.feedburner.com/HistoryPodcast1

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16 April
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Texas City Disaster [On This Day]

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In 1947, America’s worst harbor explosion occurred in Texas City, Texas, when the French ship Grandcamp, carrying ammonium nitrate fertilizer, caught fire and blew up, devastating the town. Another ship, the Highflyer, exploded the following day. The explosions and resulting fires killed more than 500 people and left 200 others missing.  Learn more at Wikipedia.

Update July 5:  We also have podcast on this subject and a more in-depth article on the Texas City Disaster.

Lots more after the jump…

Read more…

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15 April
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Ronald Reagan: a secret FBI agent?

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Yep, seems so…

Documents released in 2001 revealed that Ronald Reagan served as a secret FBI snitch during the Red Scare (we already knew he named names during the hearings, but now we also know that he snuck around behind his friends’ and members’ backs and destroyed their lives):  It was revealed last week that the future President played another role as well: as a secret FBI informant, code name T-10. According to an article published in the San Jose Mercury News, documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that Reagan and his first wife, Actress Jane Wyman, provided federal agents with the names of actors they believed were Communist sympathizers. [Boing Boing]

Image credit:  LIFE Magazine in Google Search

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14 April
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Bizarre History of White House Pets

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In light of this week’s newest four-legged White House resident please check out mental_floss’s Top 5 Bizarre Presidential pets, like…

Herbert Hoover wanted to put a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and…a gator in the Oval Office? It’s true. Hoover owned a slew of dogs, but those weren’t his only pets. His second son, Allan Henry Hoover, owned a pair of gators that were occasionally allowed to wander around the White House grounds. [mental_floss]

Image Credit:  White House Blog

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10 April
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Ride Through the Streets of Barcelona in 1908

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Interesting look at what life was like back when. Look at all the people walking and biking! Found on Neatorama.

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09 April
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Doughnuts

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Adolph Levitt invented the doughnut machine in 1920. Before that, doughnuts were made one by one in a frying pan. His machine dropped dough rings into fat, browned them, flipped them and cooled them. He called it the Wonderful Almost Human Automatic Donut Machine. It took him and an engineer 12 tries to perfect, but once he did, they sold like hotcakes – er, doughnuts – and the industry hasn’t been the same since. [mental_floss]

Image credit:  bunchofpants

More…
The Donut Book
Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut

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08 April
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Blackbeard the Pirate’s Sword Discovered

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A ship discovered off the coast of North Carolina in 1997 has been identified by experts as the Queen Anne’s Revenge, a ship used by the pirate Blackbeard. The ship was originally named Le Concorde before the pirate seized it from its French crew in 1717. Artifacts, such as this apothecary weight featuring two fleurs-de-lis, helped to identify the ship as Blackbeard’s. [Neatorama]

Also featured on io9.com Image credit:  TCM Hitchhiker

More…
Blackbeard: America’s Most Notorious Pirate
Blackbeard: The Real Pirate of the Caribbean
National Geographic: Blackbeard – Terror at Sea: DVD

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07 April
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AHA Takes Notice

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After four years of podcasting history the American Historical Association (AHA) has finally taken notice of History on Air.  Today they mentioned us on their blog:

History on Air
Started in 2005, History on Air features over one hundred different podcasts on a wide range of historic people, places, and events, including:  Benedict Arnold, John Brown, the Crimean War, the six wives of King Henry VIII, cave paintings, and more.

While I don’t believe we have ever had a podcast on cave paintings, I do appreciate the fact that the AHA finally taking notice of our little podcasts.  Somehow, I feel the podcast is more official now.  Thank you AHA!

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07 April
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Timeline Software

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I used BeeDocs Timeline 3D to create the animated timeline used in our last podcast.  For those of you who want to play with timelines for free (BeeDocs Timeline is $40 or so, but well worth it) you might want to give timetoast a try. Image credit: choreographics

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