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One-man bomb database could have enormous impact

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Long after the last shots are fired and treaties signed, communities that were once the target of enemy bombs must live with the danger of potentially deadly ammunition, but one man’s hobby could soon bring relief to innocents all over the world and fresh perspective for historians.

Some people take up knitting, others woodworking, but Lieutenant Colonel Jenns Robertson thought it would be interesting to compile a database of every bomb dropped by U.S. forces in the last century. Combing through handwritten records and multiple databases in his spare time, the result was THOR, Theater History of Operations Reports, which is being greeted with excitement the world over for its ability to review and sometimes rewrite history, as well as save lives in places like Germany and Korea.

“This type of information is critical to our efforts,” said Major General Walter D. Givhan, the deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. “I was in Vietnam last week looking at old sites and talking with Vietnamese officials on how we can expedite this work [clearing cluster bombs]. It will really help us to be able to refine what we know about where the strikes were made, where we might find unexploded ordnance, so we can focus our efforts there.”

Considering that the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement has spent $2 billion in the last twenty years doing this work all over the world, the database is something of a godsend, yet it’s also illuminating to historians.

Initial analysis of THOR has raised at least one intriguing possibility in that regard: airstrikes, not tanks, may have been most responsible for the Allied breakthrough against the German Army at El Alemein in Egypt in the fall of 1942, a major turning point in the war against Nazi Germany.

It just goes to show that pursuing knowledge, no matter how crazy it might initially seem, is a worthwhile way to wile away the hours.

Full story at Boston.com.

New perspectives on history.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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