Back in the 60s, the U.S. Army employed scientists to sneak into Omaha stockyards and spray cows with deodorant. The logic behind this was to test how easy it would be for Soviet agents to spread hoof-and-mouth disease among American cows.
Unfortunately, I can't find any more info about this operation, which is a shame because it raises so many questions. For instance, the important part of the operation must have been to see how easily they could gain access to the stockyards. So then, why bother to deodorize the cows? Was it just to add a touch of realism? Why not spray them with paint so that they could later count the "infected" ones?
From the U.S. Navy's Polar Manual (4th ed., 1965):
Number 26: Do not touch cold metal with moist, bare hands. If you should inadvertently stick a hand to cold metal, urinate on the metal to warm it and save some inches of skin. If you stick both hands, you'd better have a friend along.
The whole list is pretty interesting and worth a read. You can download the entire manual from the Defense Technical Information Center (PDF - 33 MB).
In October 1969, the U.S. Command in Vietnam issued a directive titled "Let's Say it Right" to the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN). The directive forbid military press officers from using certain terms and provided a list of acceptable terms in their place.
For instance, instead of referring to "free firing zones" in which anything that moved was considered enemy and could be fired at, officers were supposed to say "pre-cleared firing zones." And instead of "lull" they were supposed to refer to "light and scattered action."
A military spokesman said that the directive was actually just a "style sheet" whose purpose was to "get everyone using similar words."
Some more of the "no-no" words (as AFVN officers described them) were listed in this NY Times piece:
Not weird, as many of you are well aware, but worth passing on. A day in November is not the only time we should remember to say:
To all of you who served or are serving in the military, thank you for your service. Your sacrifices should never be forgotten.
Intelligence Average of GIs Going Up
HEIDELBERG, Germany — The intelligence average of American troops in Germany is going up.
Reason: The draft.
Officers in the U.S. Army's European Command headquarters here say Army intelligence averages go up every time there is a military draft.
"With the draft, we get the extremely brilliant persons, as well as the average or slightly below average persons," one officer explained. "The 'brilliant' persons usually do not enlist in the Army as a private."
Example from 1960 of the military's gift for stating the obvious.
No luck in tracking down the referenced pamphlet. Doesn't seem that the Navy saved copies of all the thousands of pamphlets it published over the years.
The Sikeston Daily Standard - June 3, 1960
Anchors Aweigh. In Washington, a U.S. Navy pamphlet titled Executive Future: Officer Candidate School in the Navy, comments: "Aircraft carriers are the backbone of a naval task force. They are slower than planes, but, of course, faster than fixed land installations."
February 1967: Munich resident Helmut G. Winter was sick and tired of the noise of military aircraft flying low over his house. So he built a catapult and started launching Bavarian potato dumplings at the planes.
In one week he launched 120 dumplings. He never managed to score a direct hit. But eventually both the West German Luftwaffe and American pilots conceded defeat and agreed to a flight path that avoided his house.
Reportedly, he gave the Americans a model of his dumpling cannon as a gesture of thanks, inscribed "As a souvenir and a warning — Helmut G. Winter, The Bavarian Dumpling Shot." I bet this model has now been lost or thrown away, instead of being in a museum where it belongs.
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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