Thursday, April 18, 2013

Norden Bombsight, the Nazis, and NCIS

     We just watched an NCIS rerun with Robert Wagner.  As I'm sure all of you know, he is my all time favorite actor.  The story reminded us of a real life adventure that was told to us by Colonel Norman Vaughan in the Sleepy Dog Cafe in Trappers Creek, Alaska.

     We sat at a booth, drank black coffee, with the 90-something year old adventurer.  He regaled us with his 1928 adventures with Admiral Byrd, told us how he arrived in Alaska at the age of 67, with $5.00 that he tucked between two socks in his shoes.  He stayed at the Y, borrowed a shovel and started removing snow.  He was homeless and raised himself to a multimillionaire through hard work and ingenuity.   He was not very successful in  marriage though with 3 divorces and 4 wives.

     To get to the Norden Bombsight.  This was a technological breakthrough for precision high altitude bombing during WWII.  In fact, the technology was also used in Korea and Viet Nam instead of the area bombing that was advocated by our European Allies.  The bombadiers were told to guard it with their lives rather than let it fall into the hands of the enemy.  They were told to shoot it and burn it.

     A bomber went down in Greenland and U. S. intelligence indicated that the bombsight was intact and that the Nazis were trying desperately to find it and remove it.  Because of Colonel Vaughan's experiences in Antarctica, he was asked to get it. He led a successful and dangerous mission to rescue the top secret Norden bombsight from the American planes forced to land in Greenland.  And thus prevented it from landing in the hands of the Nazis.

     Now, to NCIS and Robert Wagner.  We just finished watching the show entitled "Broken Arrow" that had, as its plot, a downed bomber with a hydrogen bomb that had been missing for years.  Through intrepid detective work and the help of Robert Wagner's character, the NCIS team found the submerged hydrogen bomb and kept it out of enemy hands.  Not that the bomb itself would work, but the nuclear material would still be viable.

     Norman Vaughan has since died but NCIS owes him a debt of gratitude.  By the way, he was a very charming and handsome man with connections to the Philadelphia area.  He played professional football with the Frankford YellowJackets.

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