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The Correspondence of Curtis Lemay

By: Rhiannon Roberts

While stationed at Offutt AFB, Nebraska; Lt. Gen. Curtis Lemay coordinated the Korean War effort through diligent command of the SAC or Strategic Air Command; the founding of this particular organization was to support bomber aircraft with nuclear capabilities. The following correspondence is from Lt. Gen. Lemay and Brig. Gen. Robert H. Terrell that concerns new weapons tactics that would eliminate the threat of North Korean retaliatory efforts that had been eliminating the accuracy of B-29 bombers.

One device in particular, known as the M-17 anti-ricochet device, developed by the Japanese; was created to prevent the accuracy of North Korean flak launched on American bombers. However this was only after several series of testing were completed that proved it would be successful in the ensuing battles. The following photographs are evidence of the B-29 conducting these tests.

The last two letters are from Lt. Gen. Lemay to Brig. Gen. James E. Briggs; who was the commanding officer of the Far East Air Force (FEAF) based out of Okinawa, Japan. These letters indicate that while North Korean flak had created a sense of urgency to establish a method that could be used to counter their effectiveness, coordinating a testing location for the M-17 anti-ricochet device proved difficult.

This information was taken from the following and has been declassified for public viewing on March 28, 2013:
Record Group 342
Boxes 1-6 (FRC)
Entry 342-53-7010
NND 001872/64444

Curtis Lemay_2



By: Rhiannon Roberts

The Korean War officially ended on July 27, 1953 with an armistice agreement signed by Lt. Gen. William Harrison Jr., Representative of the United Nations; and Gen. Nam II, Representative for the People’s Republic of China and North Korea. While the world had waited with bated breath for some reprieve from the deadliest conflict since World War II, many world leaders had attempted to establish a mutually beneficial way of ending the war for several years prior to the final armistice. To many this intense desire for reconciliation originated from the failure of each side making any lasting advances into the territory of the opposition. From 1951-1952 these attempts toward resolution centered on the establishment of a contract outlining specific points that each side would agree to abide by. While in the end the acceptance of these drafts had proved unsuccessful, they had, however; paved the way for the armistice that has created an essence of peace on the Korean Peninsula for the last 60 years.

Please see attachment for the “Current Draft of the Armistice Agreement Revised 10 April 1952”. Special attention should be made to the section on page 26, in which the intended signature parties were Kim Il Sung, Peng Teh Huai and Gen. Matthew Ridgeway.

While several issues pertaining to territorial rights, as well as the legality of civil liberties for the affected population prevented a quick resolution, other topics that were equally important such as the presence of the United States military in Japan; created an equal cause for concern. (Article 16)

The importance of these resolutions is that even with the citizens of Korea living today in a constant state of ready preparedness for continuing the war; the fundamental guidelines initiated by the founders of the armistice agreement have been long-lasting. Therefore, they have prevented up to date, a new surge in hostile forces within the volatile region. Let us hope that the success continues for 60 more years.

This information was taken from the following and has been declassified for public viewing on March 28, 2013:
Record Group 342
Boxes 1-6 (FRC)
Entry 342-53-7010
NND 001872/64444

Armistice Draft 1952



by Ms Sarah Anderson

The photo was found tucked away in a folder describing the U.S. Army-Marine Corps Steering Group requirements for hostile mortar locating equipment for use in South Vietnam.  

Miss Hostile Mortar

According to the report, during World War II and Korea “hostile mortars caused a greater percentage of casualties that any other weapon employed by the enemy.”  This system would target the hostile mortars before or shortly after they began firing.  Unfortunately, after field testing in Vietnam the system proved unsatisfactory.  Despite Miss KQP-1′s best efforts, the project was recommended for termination in December of 1966.”

The folder makes no mention of the woman.  Anyone recognize this bombshell beauty?

HMS REID: UD-WW 1391

RG 544 US Army Materiel Command HQ, R & D Cntrl File 68; Box 1 Folder 12





Thank you Ms. Anderson for finding this great document this morning. This declassified document needs no introduction.  The document can be found in Record Group 43 within the Council of Foreign Minsters: General Records, ca. 1945-1955, box 290.  The Record Entry 617693 and ARC ID 1488684.

NATO Notice D7-D.N/8, September 16, 1951



by Mr. James Carroll

IEA Area Subject Files (RG 306 U.S. Information Agency – Record Entry ID: HS1-65869038. Finding Aid: UD-2010 44). Records that have been recently declassified include cultural presentations, fairs, expositions, and educational and cultural exchanges.

While recently processing declassified materials at the National Archives, College Park location, I came across some fascinating photos and supporting documents related to Lionel Hampton.  Okay, I admit it, some younger folks reading this may scratch their heads and mumble “who?”  But, as I learned, Mr. Hampton was an American icon and jazz legend who rubbed elbows with presidents and spread American goodwill (and great jazz) around the world.

In 1969, when Mr. Hampton was already a “rock star” of the jazz world, and in his early 60’s, he was tagged by then-President Nixon to travel to the Far East, including gigs in Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan. The U.S. State Department facilitated the tour. Mr. Hampton, known as “The Hamp” traveled with his band on a month-long tour, giving performances which were well received, while meeting foreign royals and learning more about other cultures and traditions. His instrument of choice was the vibraphone, but he also played piano and percussion.

President Nixon sent a letter to Mr. Hampton and his wife Gladys as they embarked on their Far East journey.  In it he wrote, “I am delighted to hear that you are traveling again to the Far East to continue the effort which all of us share in creating understanding and goodwill between Americans and people everywhere.  Mrs. Nixon joins me in wishing you and Mrs. Hampton every success in your latest venture as Ambassador of Goodwill.” 

Sadly, at the outset of the tour, former President Eisenhower died, and the news was relayed to the Hamptons, who were friends of the late president. Mr. and Mrs. Hampton knew President Eisenhower and had performed at both of his inaugural balls. It was Eisenhower who in 1957 officially bestowed upon Lionel Hampton the title “American Goodwill Ambassador.”

The Far East tour was a huge success! One of the documents in the Archives described his time in Thailand: “Lionel Hampton has a charisma all his own.  His personality reaches out to people and they react favorably. He is completely cooperative and equally engaging to the Thai public whether playing clubs, giving jazz workshops, performing for the Royal Household or touring the markets and landmarks of the city.”  In Tokyo it was reported that “Hampton was joined onstage by leading Japanese jazz musicians for a rousing jam session.”  He used music as a bridge between national cultures; they were all speaking the same language: Jazz.

In 1936, Mr. Hampton became part of one of the first racially integrated jazz groups, The Benny Goodman Quartet. The group would go on to record and tour to large audiences around the country.  Yet, Mr. Hampton would become a superstar in his own right, headlining his own big band.  Some of their hits included: Stardust, Toledo Blade, Flying Home, and Hamp’s Boogie Woogie. A little known fact not publicly known about Mr. Hampton was that the music he made helped pave the way for rock ‘n’ roll.

Mr. Hampton worked with many young rising African-American musical legends, such as Charles Mingus, Dinah Washington, and Wes Montgomery.

Over the course of his illustrious life, Mr. Hampton would receive awards and accolades, including numerous honorary doctorates in Music, Humanities, and Fine Arts and the presidential Medal of Freedom.  The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho is named in his honor. This year’s festival is February 20-23.  Lionel Hampton passed away in 2002, at the age of 94, yet his legacy continues to inspire new generations of musicians.

So, we’ve introduced you to Lionel Hampton and described part of his legacy, alive at the National Archives.  Now, go check out some of his music! I think he’d really get a kick out of that.

Additional NARA references of interest:

  1. Lionel Hampton Memories of Japan (motion picture/film).

(Archival Research Catalog) ARC ID: 48561. Local ID 306-2107

  1. Lionel Hampton Interview (sound recording). ARC ID: 134842. Local ID: 306-EN-71-4542.
  2. Nelson interview with Lionel Hampton before European Trip 3/3/1971. (sound recording). ARC ID: 134731.  Local ID: 306-EN-71-2676.

 

http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/new-arc.html

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