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tv   Book Discussion on Lost Destiny  CSPAN  July 27, 2015 7:00am-8:00am EDT

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you're reading this summer. you can postit on our facebook page. >> up next military historian alan axelrod, aphrodite/project anvil intended to stop germany's missile attacks on london. >> good evening i'm tony clark from the carter lie -- it talks
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about other autoors, you know, harper lee is releasing the book the second book that harper lee wrote while i wish we had harper lee here, we do have the author, she moved in next door and she where i say about harper lee and getting to know her. the book is called the mockingbird next door that's june 18th. mark your calendar, july 15th president carter will be signing, just signing a full life here. later in the year, diana nyad who swam from florida -- or from cuba to florida. we have a wonderful list of authors. i happen to be one of those who -- who grew up in oklahoma
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during the 50s and 60s and got caught up in the kennedy campaign and all as a kid coming home from high school, i remember then president kennedy the motorcade going by, he had been to roberto s. kerr's funeral. i have followed the kennedys all along. and to me it is fascinate to go hear the story of the kennedy that everybody -- the family had planned to be the candidate for president. alan got doctorate in english from the university of iowa, he has written a gazillion books. he's done this whole series what might be referred to as ceo books, napoleon, gandhi, win stone churchill ceo.
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he has done military books like bradley the great general series eisenhower on leadership. tonight' takes into a fascinating time of world war ii drones, and perhaps the best known political family in this country's history. please join me in welcoming him alan axelrod. [applause] >> well, thank you all for coming. i think just to orient you as to what the subject of this book is it's probably -- it's probably ghost today this, butt le met just read two photographs from the flat copy. which i wrote by the way. on august 12th 1944 kennedy jr.
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aired one of the most glamorous fortune and big brother to freshly minted pt109jfk, b24 liberator bomber. part of the mission was aphrodite project anvil. lieutenant doolittle ca car -- leader pack it had planes with a dozen tons of high explosives and fly them by remote control directly into the concrete german launch sites of the b1s and b2s. the catch was that live pilots were need today get these flying bombs off the ground. joe, jr. was the first nay --
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aif yator and it killed him. so i'm going to read some passages which are sort of stringed together but i think will make sense and we are going to get to the fateful and fatal mission itself. although tail number 52271 now designated more simply t11 the number painted had been modified for radio control in philadelphia that would still plenty of work to be done at dunkeswell. the aircraft had to be stripped bare inside and out to make sure it wouldn't be compromised by
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dozen explossist. all of the gun turds were removed and the gesture that the appearance that it was not totally defensive. the silver aircraft received a coat of white paint to hide visibility even further. very soon after they arriefed -- arriefed in july they met kennedy with commanding officer jim sunshine, smith and willy at long last explain it had mission joe had volunteered for. they began describing what they had done, that's the navy designation of the b24. how it had been fitted by a system which it could be radio controlled to climb bank, descend and dive, it could not
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be claim take off or land on its own and it wouldn't be allowed to even if it could. they told kennedy that it would be loaded with 21 thousands 70 pounds of torpex, torpedo explosion in 347 pine crates. this they said was 12 times the explosive load of a single b1 bomb. the weapon first used against london about three weeks earlier. the explosives would be carefully tied down and fused. his mission the pair told kennedy would be to take the aircraft up and fly it in a designated pattern during which he and one crew member would prepare it to handoff who would fly the robot plane into a weapon facility in the coast of
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france. before handing it off kennedy and the crew member would bail out. at that point the amigos was over for them. and though, yes, before handing off control and before bailing out they would have to arm the explosive payload. now, joe kennedy arrived at this ref basis -- base which the navy shared with the army air force right after four army missions to do this same kind of thing to fly robot airplanes. in fact, by the time joe took off a total of six army missions had failed with two killed and
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one pilot his arm was ripped off as he bailed out of the plane. then it was joe kennedy's turn to try. many of the army personnel at first field, ref base, made no attempt to hide resentment of small pb4y1. lieutenant had a humbher and more professional attitude. he was interested in the navy's approach. when he walked up to the aircraft he was impressed. the equipment was clearly far more sophisticated than anything the army had produced. but then forest's eye lighted on what was call it had arming panel, it was a very made shift
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circuit board out of plywood. jimmy, this looks like something you'd make with a number two erector set. he knew a dangerously joint when he saw one. most of all he knew what a piece of junk looked like. he appreciate that had the success of the mission the lives of the air crew held the life and limb of every man on the air base depended on that plywood please. all smith could say was that it came straight from the naval aircraft factory of philadelphia
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which certainly knew what it was doing. getting no satisfaction from the navy forest brought concerns in the officer's club that evening. the colonel listened. what did either of them know about the navy's arming panel? securing a martini from autre he fixed eyes on forest it's their problem. as an army officer knows is even wider than that dividing a full colonel from aa general. it was time for forest to shut up and he knew it but he couldn't stop himself. it's a matter of conscious with me he explained and they've got it wrong, they are going to try to blow a load of ten actually 12 tons of torpex with an arming system that is about as safe as
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a basket full of rattlesnakes. instead he did something worst raising the fresh martin any he proposed his toast torques you and your wild imagination twhen navy blouse -- blows up, give me a ring. either the army would succeed before he got a chance to fly his mission or the war would end. on august 6th one source was eliminated when two air corps failed miserably and doolittle himself grounded operation aphrodite, which is the air force version of this vision. now the rational for including
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living personnel aboard a robot was twofold. the double azone system had not been design today take off on. it had actually succeeded in taking off and even landing by radio control but its system was far from full proof. there was a high possibility of failure and that brings up the second rational. no way was anyone in charge going to trust radio remote control the guy of plane load explosives and then over a portion of engine land that included several densely populated cities, even london was not far. so kenny is wait to go take off day after day goes by and they
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are fogged in, it's too cloudy. this mission is a mission in which the robot plane has to be controlled in the case of the navy two controlled planes, ventura, twin engine planes. at all times the control plane has to be able to see visually the robot plane from thousands of feet away. so you can't have any clouds and if you're flying out of england it's pretty hard to find a day that doesn't have clouds. so the hours and days went by, ceiling visibility remained i -- elusive. kennedy and jim simpson which was his roommate at the ref base
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watched. that's the way it was in the segregated america in the days. formed a human chain tanned aircraft hatch. the first man lifting a pine box lined with beeswax then twisting at the hips passing it slowly to the next man in the chain and passed it on. the work was much harder than it looked. gracefully passed, 50 pounds of wax paper of what looked like butter, prim rose in color. at the end of the chain was a man feet firmly planted on the tarmac, head sticking up through the open hatch, hands extended, palms up wait to go receive each other as it came to him.
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taking it, he would have to turn face forward then slide it on to the deck of the aircraft. ideas directed by a white naval officer carried each box forward one on top another filling every conceivable space beginning where the co-pilot seat should have been then working back box upon box. the loading went ahead like a slow motion machine smooth and precise until the man caught in the lip of the hatch and lost his grip. the box slipped down and hung up briefly and slid free falling forward the tarmac. it had to hurt at the very least it meant a broken toe but
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whatever pain he endured he kept loading and not another crate slipped. the explosive walton abby had redeveloped from a recipe tnt and ult ra fine aluminum power to produce explosive. tnt 40% together these generated the initial release of energy while the aluminum power 18% made the explosive last longer and enhance destructive force. beeswax was thrown in to reduce sensitivity to shock six-foot drop would have at the very least butt the effectiveness of the bee wax buffer to the test.
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21 170 pounds would be loaded into t11, e -- e almost exactly one year later. kennedy's pb4y1 would be the single most destructive explosive weapon in military history. kennedy and simpson did not wait for the final crates to be loaded. lets get out of here. t11 was loaded and ready by dawn on august 11 joe bruted as he listened that was general george patent jr. he took comfort in the fact that patent was not pushed toward any sites but doubted that the coastal troops who defended the sites could
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hold out much longer. august 12 cloudy, another day there was fog but kennedy and the others noted it was just ground fog rising than a foot off the earth. there was a strong likelihood that the clouds were part and the sky will clear. as they ate their breakfast they heard familiar wine of starter followed by the could have -- belonged to t11 the crew chief was starting the check. he had been told to prepare for a mission that day. holding their own anticipate in check, it was driven with blue.
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rosie pulled to tell there was a final briefing, that was hours away. villain and bradfield bounced from the operation mission pitched in to perform thorough preflight with villain focusing on all the important radio equipment. at 10:30 joe was handed the latest forecast. it looked promise and at the target not ha jump pilot he really needed to know. he was going to bail out long before the drone unpiled went to its target. joe had written to his mother and father on august 4th. the day after the first four failed aphrodite, i am working on something different, it is
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terribly interesting. he wrote a sentence designed to delay parental an -- anxiety. don't get worried about it. there's practically no danger. but assured his mother he volunteered for about two and a half times the missions he was supposed to fly and then he decided today this on top of that. but assured his mother and father that -- that when i tell you the whole story, i think you will agree that it was the mission worth staying for. all the boys who did go home now wish they had stayed over. with time on his hands so much time it seemed at 10:30 joe phoned hurst second wife of william randal hurst a good
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friend, she kept an apartment at the exclusive hoi -- hotel. i'm about to go into my act, he told her, if i don't come back, tell my dad despite my differences that i love him very much. like so many utterances that end up counting among the person's last, it is both moving and touching, it is also propleksing despite our differences. what did joe mean by that? >> it sounds like the statement of a son that had fallen out with his father, but nothing of that kind happen. joe, jr. had been slavish in toeing his father's, there was no argument over that issue. while his father wanted to secure staff although he clearly recognized dangers.
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it was joe sr. that pinned them on the uniform. perhaps, the feeling never put into words that the exembassador relently defeatism and what often seemed a cynical content for heroism and even democracy all sentimentses that he presentation -- expressed. at 15:00. gathered that served at the briefing which he shed. the primary commanded by rosie lyon, the guy who actually controlled the drone from the mothership the secondary flown
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by harry. b17 flying navigation plane and carrying commander smith as an observer mosquito photo plane flown by fdr's son colonel elliot ros velt assign today document the bailout. little friends assign today provide security. seated up front were bud willy. joe carefully taking notice on the knee pad he would carry with him into the cockpit. joe was already familiar with its outline. he was to take off which was 23 minutes southeast. it was expected that anderson and ventura control plane would
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have established radio control by the time t11, even sew kennedy and willy would remain on board as passengers to ensure that control was maintained and operational. a 20 minute flight. during this time kennedy and willy would continue checking all controls before anderson turned t11 south to the departure point that would take the drone across the english channel. they flew above approaching point designated bailout point willy would test with a safety lamp when he was satisfied he would reniewf wire safety and move it to arm position. assuming all went as it should, willy would squeeze through the doorway, this was the only way out. joe would follow in thely
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pulling the manual, both men would parachute down short distance north of dover. what i cover is they are parachuting through a tiny opening, pushing themselves opening for the nose wheel in a plane that's going 200 miles per hour at this point 1500 feet above the ground. when paratroopers bailed out over normandy the plane was going at about 100 miles an hour and they were going out of a big door relatively speaking. in the navy's project anvil the two control aircraft worked
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together closely. anderson was to dive t11 to altitude bellow horizon. anderson ventura would be within flag range. he would be quite close to the coast by the time the shooting started. anderson would transfer control the demline in the secondary ventura. should sheer off away from the coast and away from the flag. one more b17 crew attended the briefing commanded by joeys roommate and long time co-pilot simpson assigned to scout the area mimoyak this much fared had been the objective of aphrodite mission 515.
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it was a mystery at this point. it was rumored to be very possibly a guided missile that could fly across the atlantic ocean and hit washington or new york. it was rumored to be the so called america bomber that could hit targets on the american east coast, but it really was was a 330-foot canon that would be implanted in one of these bunkers and would fire a huge and it would have enough range to hit london and the idea was that they were going to aim something like 50 to 75 at london and bomb it 24/7 with high explosives, varying the
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range. they could vary the range by changing the charge and so they would eat up london at this stage of the war. well did the name mimoyak mean anything to joe kennedy? it was a populated by 50 souls and quite easy to over look. passed within two miles of mimoyak. in any event most of the briefing focused on the work of the control pilots, not on the fate of the jumpers kennedy and willy, their tasks are quite straightforward. anderson had to locate the bunker and demline had to guide
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t11 into the bunker's main doorway. the target 15 by 16 feet was the one place in which the structure was most vulnerable. assumingassuming the bunker could be located, everything manufacture had to be timed with upmost precision, the object to target at 19:00 7:00 when the sun would be behind do illuminating the bunker. demline felt so much of the burden of success or failure was intense le keyed up when they filed out of the briefing shack. you got your insurance all paid up yes joe? he must have regretted. grinning broadly he delivered an answer worthy of a rich man's
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son, i have twice as much as i need nobody connected with me needs it. was the comeback ironically, or the truth. he gave a warm handshake, i won't say i'll see you but so long. they were routine as any highly dangerous enterprise in time of war. the launch of anvil mission was no day occurrence. in the military organization fighting in the defense of dem academy -- democracy mechanics gis of all ranks mingled up to and including the top broses.
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by 17:00 hours everyone had been watching. villain, the radio expert climbed aboard to check the radio and checked the pilot. outside the aircraft mechanic performed a walk around. the three men were all expected to fly this mission and had been bunked by bud willy. what is clear however that none of them surrendered a stake in the mission. perhaps no u.s. military combat plane had been so meticulously
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preflighted. when cep dye and willy arrived by jeep it must have struck them and onlookers to add their walk around. it's what a pilot and co-pilot do and so they did it, pausing to shake hands with commander smith. shook hands with dye lane and bradfield. kennedy nodded and acknowledgment and followed willy into the aircraft via the nose wheel doorway. even though they carried very little with them, willy also carried a checklist for the radio control handoff, it was a tight squeeze. joe on the pilot seat and willy secured near the nose doorway.
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only the pilot had a seat. joe took his seat and willy standing behind him began reading the standard reflight checklist. confirmed that all personnel vehicles and other objects were clear of the big bombers propel lors. joe began the start-up se qens -- for 1200-horsepower it was pretty dramatic. the pitch slowly from scream. a cloud of smoke and lured into
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life. next followed it by number two. after pausing a second or two to read tis instruments and listen to engines, joe raised the fist and put both thumbs up. two ground crew man pulled free on both sides of the plane and dragged them away. bradfield stepped up and with the finger of left hand loaded to 65,000-pound takeoff weight as an impatient parent would summon a toddler. with that rapidly turning engine now put out of sync with the
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others began the draum beat of interference waive. joe knew very well to go. bradfield pointed out nevertheless. straightening he snapped a textbook navy salute. first off two ventura motherships one after the other within one thousand feet. anderson put the radio control equipment while t11 stood simpson who had not yet exited the drone stood behind kennedy to observe the results. when anderson moved his peter stick, this is a joystick, this was -- in this manner each
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control command was checked. joe and willy were clear today -- cleared to take off and they would not be riding 12 tons of torpex in vain. satisfied with the test simpson reached out to willy, the men shook hands. i wish i were going with you. you'll make the next one joe assured him. if i don't come back, you can have the rest of my eggs, referring to the stash in the treasure chest fresh eggs were like gold in wartime england and joe kennedy made it his business to collect eggs for himself and all of his friends so they always had fresh eggs for breakfast.
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observed the execution of the mission's final stages. along with another b17 designated as navigation plane, forest personal aircraft, elliot roosevelt mosquito. most of the mustang fighter escorts preceded t11 into the air taking off in groups of three, then it was finally joeys turn. joe throttled up engine and turned while they listened. no instrument was more sensitive and trained than human error. number three was next and four. bradfield insisted that number three did not sound right.
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villain disagreed and seeing how agitated bradfield seemed he shouted over the engine noise good thing you're not on the plane. bradfield signaled to joe and waived him up into the cockpit villain still in the jeep listened as joe again throttled each engine up and down. he saw the mechanic nob number three sounded just fine. by now it was approaching 18:00 6:00 time to take off. joe waisted no time, but he did not rush to take off itself.
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joe was always meth -- pushed all the throttles forward for full power. joe released them. the aircraft rolled forward. to villain it seemed that joe would never rotate take off. he watched ang -- the main wheels followed. villain and bradfield watched as they spun in the air before joe tapping the breaks stopped them and retracted the gear. as the war of four big engines diminished with distance the radio man and mechanic began cheesier of every man in the
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runway. the rest followed into the blue. the time was 7:52, eight minutes to 6:00. the two men were relieved at least that the aircraft had neither exploded nor crashed on take off and left with plenty of time to get to its target, for once the gods of war. it was precisely into the mission. the initial checkpoint that joe radio spade flush the autopilot was set and t11 was ready for handoff to the mothership. relying on combination of radar an direct visual reports from
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co-pilot in addition to video fed to him from the camera in t 11's nose anderson steered and turned left towards the next checkpoint beckels. anderson used the time and miles to check each of the controls essentially running the check they had run on the ground. so far it was textbook had there been a textbook for something no one had ever done before. five minutes north anderson radar showed t11, it was veering too far east, too soon flying into the channel coast. at this point t11 was passing over. ros velt maneuvered mosquito and began taking pictures. forest approached in his p38 given commander smith huddled in
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the glass nose a clear view. one of the gems of the coast. home to wide variety of water birds, flat landscape quiet contemplation. new delight wood. at 18:20 20 minutes past 6:00, anderson went the work, seeking the put the drone back on course. 12-mile error was unacceptable. anderson nudged the peter stick left and t11 exploded. a second later by another.
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elliot roosevelt was closest to t11, but he did not see very much. pulling at control he sheered away from the fire ball. ros velt's mosquito stood on its wing and a sharp turn away from the blast. lyon did not look to the right but heard co-pilot with grunt. ventura rolled rough over the blastway rising and falling hard like a fast moving old truck in a road gone suddenly bad. in is secondary ventura control pilot demline saw nothing but the -- video chaos of a lost
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signal. it was commander james smith who had the clearest view from the nose from forest p38. all came to him at the time that nothing larger than a basketball could have survived for blast. demline moved away from the control console. he staired through the wind screen. by this time one appearing to rise into the sky. demline later describe it had imagine as the biggest explosion he ever saw until the pictures of the adam bomb. less than a thousand feet outside of new delight wood and a little town was shepherds
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cottage, home of ada westgate passing the time of day is just what she was doing when the sky cracked open, something like lighting flash and so she would have thought it. ada turned from her neighbor and dashed into the house. her first thought was of her cousin inside. he had come to live her after a b1 destroyed the flat in london, there was he was under her front door. stunned to be sure, thankful for that invent other -- inventory of loved ones, she took hold of
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her niece asked her please to run upstairs to fetch her coat, she need today check -- to check the house. she called from above the ceiling is all down. that's it. [applause] >> >> it's a great opportunity now for you to ask questions of alan as i said since we're recording this, please wait for the microphone to come, so please just raise your hand. questions? >> were they grooming joe kennedy to run for political office, that's the story i've always heard that they were
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grooming him rather than his brother john? >> yes. and, in fact, both joe and rose, his wife, thought that joe, jr. who was this adonis of a man had a much better chance of surviving into maturity than his sickly brother jack and based on iq tests and performance they thought joe was for more intelligent and jack not so much. they certainly loved jack but -- and they gave him a good education but joe jr. was to fulfill the unfulfilled
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political ambitions of his father. and these were ambitions that his father were for destroyed essentially while in his two years as embassador to the court of st. james saying that democracy is over and the world is coming to end and the germans are going to win and we better get rid of democracy. he said this publicly and newspapers. he wasn't going to get elected and he knew it. but the answer to your question is yes. >> had they ever considered using a different plane for such a very explosive mission? it seemed like it was very not well constructed for what they were wanting today. what was the rational for using the plane that they did? >> well, air force -- army air
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force did something even risky. b17s and loaded them with explosives. do b24 was pretty much brand new. the reason it was used, they were actually quite sturdy t real reason it was the biggest thing they had you could just pile it full and full of explosive. one of the problems they had that these planes were intended to carry loads. these were stacks and stacks of weight that were piled to the overhead and there was a real problem in flying the planes with gravity having been altered. this was a mission that was done
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in the same spirit as -- as jimmy doolittle's to tokyo raid in the beginning of the war. taking weapons that weren't intended to be used this way and using them in the hope that it would work. in fact, the air force want today -- wanted to keep the program going because it would save pilot's lives during the invasion of japan. were was this the last attempt or were they ever successful in attacking the missile base? >> this was actually the second to last attempt that the navy made and there were several in all there were 18 attempts,
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flights. the last of them, they gave up try to go hit the bunkers. these bunkers they were try to go hit had already been abandoned by the germans. from the air they were so -- they were built in such a way that they looked like they were still functional and the germans realizing this put people out there to do busy work and move around and decoy the bombers. but to decoy bombing missions over it. there was one german said he want today turn into the gray yard he wanted to fly over there to shoot them down.
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and never succeeded in doing any damage to anything. one amputation, midair am -- amputation and it was in vain. yeah. >> did they ever determine what caused to explode with a short of some kind? >> not with any certainty at all and, in fact, there was much talk about a cover-up.
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.. >> it could also have been there was a safety device, i won't go into the whole explanation but there was a safety device that was supposed to hold back a sill nowed. a sill nowed is like an
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electromagnet that has a switch in it, and this safety device was supposed to mechanically hold it back precisely to prevent a premature detonation. but in holding it back while current was flowing through it, it would get request very hot. and, you know if you plug in an iron and you've got a bad circuit that you're plugging in, the wire from the iron gets quite warm. well the wire from this sill nowed went right to a fuse, and it could cook off the to have pension and ignite it. so there was half a dozen things that could have gone wrong. you're sitting on 12 tons of high explosive in an airplane not built to do that with a lot of, you know, crappy circuit board and radio that's in
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primitive shape. it's amazing it didn't happen more often. >> one last question here. >> how did the family receive the news of his death? >> it's very well documented and they received it at least according to -- these are memoirs of teddy kennedy edward kennedy. they were in hyannisport. jfk was still recovering from the pt-109 experience, back injured, all kinds of stomach problems. they were all sitting out on porch. bing crosby crooning, "we'll meet again" was in the background, and two navy chaplains and a civilian priest came up the driveway, and they knew what was going to be said. and joe sr. was up in the
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bedroom at the time napping. his wife got him and according to teddy he just fought back tears and ran back upstairs. and there was this great concern in the navy community that joe who was anti-war even at this point, that joe was going to find scapegoats to punish for the death of his son. he didn't seem to even make inquiries as to what exactly had happened. it's a strange kind of thing. they took it, they accepted it. but joe sr. was very -- but joe was very much a changed man after it. he was not he lost all interest in politics and public speaking. he never talked on the phone again. he was always on the phone before that. never wrote letters. he was clearly a broken man. >> as we've heard, it is a
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fascinating story. we have copies of "lost destiny" for sale in the lobby. alan's going to be signing copies, and if you buy more than one, he'll sign every one of them. [laughter] so please, join me in thanking alan axlerod. [applause] >> thank you very much. >> thank you. and if you'll join us in the lobby, thank you all very much. [inaudible conversations] >> interested in american history? watch american history television on c-span3 every weekend. 48 hours of people and events that help document the a


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