As the oldest branch of the United States Military, the Army has been involved in plenty of crazy moments. There have been several wars since the US Army was created in June of 1775. With more than 240 years of history, it’s not very surprising that the Army has had so many insane moments. Here’s a look at some of the craziest moments over the history of the United States Army.
Imaginary Inflatable Tanks Division
The D-Day landings may have been the best moments in Army history, but a top-secret mission was also going on and it was far crazier. A mission to help mislead German intelligence was going on during the Normandy Camp gain, which included inflatable equipment. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops used designers, artists, actors and audio-technicians to create inflatable equipment and make the Nazis think there was a combat division in the area.
This ruse actually worked more than 20 times and caused the Germans to redeploy forces in order to counter the fake division. It’s estimated that the inflatable tank division may have saved thousands of lives during WWII.
The Benedict Arnold Moment
It’s a unique story how the name Benedict Arnold became another way to say “traitor.” Arnold tried to sell the defenses under his command to the British during the Revolutionary War. This wouldn’t have been such a crazy moment for the U.S. Army, if Major General Arnold wasn’t so important before he flipped sides.
Arnold has won the Battle of Saratoga and had helped to lead forces in assistance of the French. He also helped to capture a major fort, the guns at the fort and build the naval fleet. He later sank the naval fleet he built, however.
Patton would be the modern equivalent, as he fought through North Africa and Germany before switching sides when the Battle of the Bulge happened. He became a traitor due to his German wife.
Paratrooper Raid Rescues 2,000 Prisoners
During WWII, the Imperial Japanese were known as a very hostile group with their war prisoners. Before Japanese troops could execute prisoners in 1944 and 1945, American and Philippine guerillas launched a very daring paratrooper raid. They liberated more than 2,000 prisoners from Los Banos, Philippines. No paratroopers were killed and only a few casualties were suffered.
A total of 2,147 prisoners were freed and Colin Powell stated he doesn’t think any airborne unit will be able to rival this raid in the future.
Defeated the SS with Nazis and Prisoners on the Team
May of 1945 was an odd moment when Germany was falling apart and the war in Europe was coming to an end. Allies were trying to secure war crime evidence the Nazis were trying to destroy. This led to one of the strangest battles of World War II.
The Itter Castle in Austria was stormed by American tankers because of the high-profile prisoners of war held here. Drunk SS soldiers tried to kill the POW’s, while the Americans offered help with defeating Wehrmacht so the SS couldn’t kill the witnesses and the POWs.
U.S. soldiers teamed with local resistance fighters and German soldiers to help save the lives of the prisoners. The fight lasted about six hours and after U.S. reinforcements arrived, the SS members were pushed back.
12-Year-Old Becomes Sergeant
The Union Army allowed John Lincoln Clem to unofficially join at the age of 10 as a drummer boy. He did fight a few times and ended up becoming a national celebrity when he turned 12 years of age. At the Battle of Chickamauga, Clem killed an officer with a sawed-off musket and escaped when the Confederate colonel tried to capture the young boy.
He escaped from other pursuers and was hit in the hat by enemy fire three times. He made it across Union lines and became the younger-ever, non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army in history. Later Clem was captures in a different battle and traded back to the Union before he was wounded twice. In 1864, he accepted a discharge from the Army at the age of 13.
An Imagined Attack Fought Off by Army Gunners
In 1942, the Battle of Los Angeles took over the skies with searchlights and anti-aircraft fire. Every gun crew member was trying to shoot down Japanese planes that they though were bombing the city. However, there was never an air attack.
Blinking lights were seen in the sky and unknown objects were found on the radar. This led military leaders to believe an air raid was happening. Gun crews started firing and left clouds of smoke over the one-hour engagement, which wasted 1,400 rounds.
Longest Battle in American History Fought By the Army Alone
A battle lasting from September 1944 to February 1945 was fought by the U.S. Army without help from any other branch of the military. This was the longest single battle in the history of the country and lasted about five months. It was fought over control of the Hurtgen Forest.
The battle was fought by the 9th Infantry Division, which marches into the forest to flush out German defense. The impassable roads and thick trees made it very hard for attackers as artillery shells and mortar exploded trees, which speared into American soldiers.
Even with heavy losses, the 9th fought only and the 3rd Armored Division tanks came to help. Another nine divisions including a tank battalion and a Ranger battalion came to help. The battle ended in February of 1945 and became the longest in American history.
The US Army has been involved in many crazy moments over the years. These are a handful of the craziest.