Digging holes here and there in American history.

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Friday, December 12, 2014


In 1944, the Navy rescued Louisiana Tech and its football program.

World War II turned collegiate athletics upside down as young men swapped athletic uniforms for military ones, joining the service to fight in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific.

Louisiana Tech was not immune. Student athletes who would have been playing college football instead were serving their country, forcing Bulldog football to be discontinued during the 1943 season. Professors were joining the cause as well while coeds were signing up with the Red Cross, the WACs—Women’s Army Corps—and the Navy WAVES—Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.
V-12 sailors and Marines and other students leaving chapel, Louisiana Tech, 1944

Legendary Bulldog head coach Joe Aillet even changed roles in 1943 as the University put football on the backburner as the flames of war spread across the globe. Aillet did his

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


The year 1955 saw American consumerism skyrocket with the opening with the first McDonald’s Restaurant and the debut of Disneyland. Fast food, including the first TV dinners, and canned Coca-Cola attested to the growth of the country’s standard of living since World War II. Ownership of a car became the mandatory status symbol for American families. But the development of nuclear weapons by the Soviet Union troubled everyone.

In the 1950s, the Cold War was steadily building with many Americans convinced nuclear war with the Soviet Union was inevitable. Some military officials even advocated a first strike to take out the Soviets, although it would mean the annihilation of some American targets in retaliation.

In 1955, the U.S. military conducted a large training exercise encompassing a substantial portion of Louisiana. The purpose of “Operation Sagebrush” was to evaluate the effectiveness of military operations in a nuclear war. The largest joint Army and Air Force maneuvers since World War II involved nearly 150,000 troops.

A provisional army, meant to represent U.S. forces, was built around the 1st Armored Division and an opposing force was created around the 82nd Airborne Division. Air Force bombers, fighter planes, and other aircraft crisscrossed Louisiana’s skies, stirring great interest among the many citizens who had never seen a helicopter.

Many communities throughout Louisiana were inundated with troops and airmen. Ruston saw the arrival of an ordnance detail of the Air Force’s 727th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron in October before the maneuvers began. As many as 700 airmen

Monday, August 25, 2014


     The recent efforts to integrate women into America’s combat units signify a far different attitude than the enormous resistance they faced during World War II.  Female participation in the U.S. Armed Forces during the global conflict was a major turning point in the military’s relationship with women. 
     Facing a worldwide, two-front war, the United States followed the example of Great Britain and supplemented it all-male fighting force with women in numerous noncombatant roles. Women served in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps, Women's Army Corps (WAC), and in the Navy (WAVES), Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. Although not officially members of the armed forces, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) provided critical support for the war effort by ferrying airplanes. Other women worked with the military through organizations such as the American Red Cross, the USO, and the Civil Air Patrol.
     At the beginning of World War II, the United States had no facilities, staff, or regulations in place to handle enemy prisoners. Hastily constructed POW camps popped up across America, mostly in the South and Midwest.  One of the largest was near Ruston but its first inhabitants were not enemy POWs but some of the first American women affiliated with the U.S. Army. Due to the initial slow influx of captured soldiers, the facility first served as a basic training base for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. 
     President Franklin Roosevelt set a goal of enlisting 25,000 WAACs by June 30, 1943. WAAC recruiting exceeded the objective by November 1942 and the sole training center at Fort Des Moines, Iowa reached its capacity.  New training centers opened at Fort Devens, Massachusetts; Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia; and Camp Ruston.
New WAAC recruits arrive at Camp Ruston, 1943.  (U.S. Army photo)

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