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YOUR DAILY TREACHER: NYT: ‘Airplanes Took Aim’ on 9/11.

Yes, terrorists did it. Islamic terrorists. That’s what happened. Saying so doesn’t make you a racist, and avoiding it won’t keep Islamic terrorists from striking again.

I’ll never understand the mindset. They know Islamic terrorists did it. Yet their first impulse was to say that the “airplanes took aim.” As if nobody would notice. They had to be publicly shamed into grudgingly admitting even a partial truth about what really happened.

And they still think they’re better than us.

Read the whole thing.


Was no one flying the planes? Were they motivated by anything in particular?

For a newspaper of record, the NYT sure seems to miss an awful lot of historical context.

UPDATE: The tweet has since been deleted, but screencaps are forever.

THE TRAGIC BEGINNINGS OF MODERN FIRE SCIENCE: On this day in 1949, the infamous Mann Gulch Fire claimed the lives of 13 young firefighters.

Lewis & Clark had stopped by Mann Gulch and given it its name on their westward journey in 1805. One hundred and forty-four years later, its location in the wilds of Montana was almost as remote as it had been then.

The fire had been spotted by James O. Harrison, a college student working over the summer as a ranger and fire lookout for the National Forest Service. Harrison had been a smoke jumper—a firefighter who leaps out of airplanes to stop remote wildfires—the previous year, but he had decided the job was too dangerous. Once Harrison alerted the Forest Service, a crew of elite smoke jumpers was dispatched from Missoula to fight the fire.

At first, the fire didn’t seem that impressive. Fifteen smoke jumpers, led by 33-year-old Wagner “Wag” Dodge, parachuted out of a Douglas DC-3 into what had become one of the hottest days of the year. Harrison was already on the scene to help. Despite the wind and heat, with their backs to the Missouri River, their position seemed relatively safe as they moved in to bring the fire under control.

But the fire crowned. Now it was in two places. And suddenly, their escape route toward the river was cut off. To get away from the rapidly advancing flames they would have to run up a steep hill toward a rocky ridge. Fire runs much faster uphill than it does on level ground.

Only four made it to the top. Of those, only two—Walter B. Rumsey (21) and Robert W. Sallee (17)—managed to scramble through a crevice in the rocks to safety. Meanwhile, Wag Dodge had a different idea. Recognizing that he could never make it up the hill in time, he lit the grass around him in an effort to create a safe zone that the main fire would pass over. He yelled to the crew to lie down with him inside the zone. But they didn’t understand him. Or they thought him a fool. They kept running.

Dodge survived (only to die a few years later of cancer). But 13 died—including Robert J. Bennett (22), Eldon E. Diettert (19), James O. Harrison (20), William J. Hellman (24), Philip R. McVey (22), David R. Navon (28), Leonard L. Piper (23), Stanley J. Reba (25), Marvin L. Sherman (21), Joseph B. Sylvia (24), Henry J. Thol, Jr. (19), Newton R. Thompson (23), and Silas R. Thompson (21).  Many were WWII veterans who had survived the war, but not the peace.

There was a public outcry over the tragedy. We need to know a lot more about how fires behave and how to best control them, people argued. We need better training and better equipment. And, of course, they were right. We needed all those things; we’d always needed them.  And soon after Mann Gulch Fire, we started getting them. In that sense, the deaths of these young heroes were not in vain. Our willingness to study fire in a serious manner took a giant leap. So, in time, did our knowledge. While fighting wildfires remains frighteningly dangerous, no doubt lives have been saved as a result of that willingness to learn from tragedy.

(My gentleman friend knows that over the last couple of years I have become a bit obsessed with Cry, Cry, Cry’s song about the fire—entitled Cold Missouri Waters. I blame Powerline’s Scott Johnson for this. Scott posted a video of the song a couple of years ago. I’ve probably played it 150 times since them. The Mann Gulch Fire was also immortalized in Norman Maclean’s Young Men and Fire.)