The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 16, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that allied Sabre jets had shot down 11 enemy MIG-15s this date and damaged six others in one of their largest single-day bags of the war, the largest since the previous September when 13 of the enemy jets had been destroyed and four others damaged. The record for the war was set the previous July 4, when 13 MIGs were destroyed and one probably destroyed, with seven others damaged. Capt. Manuel Fernandez shot down his 14th MIG, to regain the position of the top ace jet pilot, only a few hours after Capt. Joseph McConnell had tied him by shooting down his 13th enemy jet.

In the ground war, U.N. infantrymen, backed by heavy artillery fire, killed or wounded an estimated 1,300 of about 4,000 Chinese troops, most of the action occurring in the sector east of "Sniper Ridge", where South Korean troops had fought off a regiment of Chinese in dark trenches, in the bitterest fighting of that size in several months. Another 206 enemy casualties were inflicted by the South Korean troops when three companies of Chinese troops, comprised of about 500 men, assaulted "Sniper Ridge" and "Jane Russell Hill" on "Triangle Hill". Allied observers said there was nothing to indicate that the attacks had been coordinated, and some said that they were probably the result of hit-and-run tactics designed to kill U.N. troops, the losses of whom were not disclosed. There were also some smaller clashes on the central front, but other parts of the front remained quiet, limited only to patrol activity.

The U.S. Fifth Air Force said that between May 9 and 15, its fighter pilots had destroyed 11 enemy MIGs and probably destroyed two others, with damage to seven. The Air Force said it had lost no planes in aerial combat or to enemy ground fire during the same period, but a Thunderjet and a Corsair had been lost to "other causes".

In the Panmunjom sector, near the site of the truce negotiations, now recessed for three days, a woman's voice was heard crooning to allied troops via loudspeaker: "Come on over. We're having a big dance tonight."

The three-day recess in the truce talks, sought by the allies, had come after the Communists had angrily accused U.N. negotiators of destroying the basis of the negotiations with their new counter-proposal for exchange of prisoners, the remaining issue barring a truce. Chief U.N. negotiator, Lt. General William Harrison, charged the Communists with trying "to coerce unwilling prisoners to return to unwanted masters". He had asked for the three-day recess for "administrative reasons", declining to elaborate. The State Department, in a formal statement, defended the "fundamental humanitarian principle" of allowing prisoners to choose whether they would go home. It said that there could be no compromise of that principle and that there could be no truce which would condemn some of the prisoners to "indefinite captivity". India, Britain and Canada had brought pressure on the U.S. to reach an agreement on the basis of the Communist proposal of May 7, but General Harrison refused comment on that criticism.

In Waidhaus, Germany, Associated Press correspondent William Oatis, who had been imprisoned by the Communist Government in Czechoslovakia for two years on a ten-year sentence imposed for alleged spying on behalf of the U.S., was released this date. His trial had been denounced by the State Department as a travesty. Czechoslovakia's President Antonin Zapotocky had pardoned Mr. Oatis on the basis of a petition from the reporter's wife sent to the President six months earlier, asking for mercy and that her husband be returned to her. Mr. Oatis had been freed from a Prague prison during the morning and was driven immediately to the German border by the U.S. charge d'affaires in Prague. Upon arrival, he was greeted by a colonel of the U.S. Seventh Army and a large group of journalists, photographers and villagers from the border town of Waidhaus. Associated Press reporter Richard O'Malley asked Mr. Oatis how he had been treated while in captivity for 25 months, and he had responded that they treated him "pretty good, but it's great to be out." He said he received no newspapers during his time in prison and that he had been completely cut off from the world. He had been sentenced July 4, 1951, while former boss of the Czech Communist Party, Rudolf Slansky, was still in power, since tried for treason and executed, a fact of which Mr. Oatis had not been aware. He said that until this date, he had been unaware that his release was pending. He also said that he did not understand why he was a famous person, when told of the fact by the A.P. reporter.

Mrs. Oatis, in St. Paul, Minn., said that she had been so accustomed to expecting bad news that when good news occurred, she did not know quite how to react, saying she had difficulty making herself believe that her husband was finally coming home. The two had not seen one another in 35 months, since Mr. Oatis had left London for his new assignment in Prague and she returned home for a visit with her family. She made seven trips to Washington and New York during his imprisonment to talk directly with State Department and A.P. officials. She expressed gratitude to the State Department and the A.P. for their help during the time of her husband's imprisonment.

Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson said the previous night that the Administration's economy program was based on more effective defense for less money and that previously, the Government had been spending too much. Joint Chiefs chairman General Omar Bradley, however, had said earlier the previous day that the cost of preparedness would continue high, at the rate of three billion dollars per month, for a long time to come, and that those who would place economy ahead of security in response to wishful thinking with regard to Communist peaceful intentions, had a gloomy prospect ahead. Both men had spoken in honor of Armed Forces Day, with Secretary Wilson seemingly responding to some of General Bradley's statements.

In Cairo, the Egyptian Government accused British forces in the Suez Canal Zone of trespassing beyond the limits of their area to conduct "movements into peaceful villages". The communiqué said that the Government had also received a report the previous day that British garrison troops had stopped a bus and kidnapped nine passengers, including four members of the Egyptian armed forces, and that the whereabouts of those persons remained unknown. Egypt had canceled the treaty with Britain in 1951 and Premier Mohammed Naguib had threatened that Egypt would use force, if necessary, to oust the British garrison from the Zone. Britain had refused to recognize the unilateral cancellation of the treaty but offered to negotiate the dispute.

Senator Joseph McCarthy urged U.S. allies in Korea to shoulder more of the costs of the war, and indicated that he had instructed his staff to draft an amendment to the pending State Department appropriations bill which would cut the proposed 30-million dollar U.S. share of operating U.N. agencies. He said that it would reduce the U.S. contribution to the same percentage of other nations participating in the Korean War and would thereby induce those other nations who were not contributing enough to the war effort to increase their support of regular U.N. activities as a means of offset. The Senator said that the U.S. had contributed 95 percent of the money and men to the war and that if U.S. contributions were cut to the 5 percent which the other nations had been contributing, perhaps the U.S. could obtain more financial cooperation from the allies. The U.S. was presently contributing 35 percent of the cost of operations of eight U.N. organizations and also contributing to 21 related international groups.

The House Armed Services Committee launched an investigation into whether the nation's two million military reservists were being fairly treated and adequately trained.

In Washington, Representative John McMillan of South Carolina was acquitted in a judge trial on a charge that he had violated the law by acquiring an oil lease to government-owned lands. The law forbade a member of Congress from contracting with the Government, but the Congressman contended that he was within his rights as a citizen in leasing the property and that it was not pursuant to a contract within the meaning of the law, a position with which the court had apparently agreed.

In Naples, Italy, an audience, expecting to see Ava Gardner accompanying the main performer, Frank Sinatra, booed, shouted and voiced disapproval, prompting the singer to walk off the stage in a huff. Ms. Gardner had been billed to appear with her husband at the matinee performance, but Mr. Sinatra only sang. Police forcibly cleared the theater. At the subsequent evening performance, he sang only one song to a half-filled house and then walked off stage, with his manager explaining to the audience that he had left because of a "financial disagreement" with the theater manager. At that point, another uproar occurred in the audience, quelled only after the police chief sent in his chief of riot police to discuss matters with Mr. Sinatra and the theater managers, after which Mr. Sinatra returned, saying to the audience in a Neapolitan dialect, "Take it easy." Ms. Gardner had left Naples for Milan the previous day.


In Boston, the condition of radio and television star Arthur Godfrey, who underwent surgery on his right hip to implant a new ball and socket joint the previous day, was described as satisfactory. His right hip had been reduced shortly after an automobile accident in 1931, in which he had suffered 27 fractures, including to his hips, but attempted reduction of his left hip had been unsuccessful.

That was why Mr. Godfrey was always known as the original hippie.

On the editorial page, "A Suggestion for the City Council" indicates that if the new City administration adhered to the customary procedure, one of the first things it would do would be to select public improvement projects to be carried out in the ensuing two years, in the hope of leaving their mark on the city, though, it suggests, probably few citizens could tell which Council had been responsible for certain major projects.

Wile politics could not be completely kept out of the mix, it proposes a capital expenditures budget which would be carried forward year to year, as suggested in an article in the current issue of Popular Government, by Philip P. Green, Jr., an assistant director of the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill. He had explained in great detail how capital expenditure budgets were set up and how they worked. It quotes the explanation from the article, and indicates that it was comprised of three main sections, a detailed list of projects to be undertaken during the coming year as part of the regular budget, a second program, not so detailed but with priorities assigned to be undertaken during the ensuing five years, and a third list of projects without priority, to be initiated sometime after that initial six-year period. The latter two categories were flexible, with some plans to be dropped and some moved forward in time, and new ones added.

It concludes that the arguments put forward in the article by Mr. Green, which it says were too numerous and varied to list, had convinced the newspaper that the system had worked well elsewhere and would work well in Charlotte, and so commends it to the new City Council.

"Time for a Change" indicates that the emphasis presently in Washington was on reorganization, as almost every Cabinet-level Department had already been reorganized or had reorganization in the works, with the one exception of the Post Office. It indicates its expectation that the Republicans, who had criticized the patronage system regarding postmasterships prior to their assuming power, would promptly put forward remedial measures in line with those recommended by the Hoover Commission.

The Post Office continued to be rife with bureaucracy and red tape, as well-documented by the Commission and supported by a report issued a few days earlier by the Government Accounting Office, which made a number of findings, which the piece quotes. It finds that the time was right for Republican leadership to carry out its platform pledge of implementing the Hoover Commission recommendations for improving Government efficiency and eliminating waste. Insofar as the Post Office was concerned, that meant removal of appointments of postmasters from politics, decentralization of the Postal Service, updating the budget and accounting procedures, and enacting into law a requirement that the Postmaster General would be a non-political appointee.

"Where Will We Put the Stars?" indicates that Tom Fesperman of The News had written a story about the removal of the flag from the old Chamber of Commerce offices, causing the editors to ponder the flag in terms of where the proposed additional two stars for Hawaii and Alaska would be placed. For 150 years, even after 1912, when New Mexico and Arizona had become the 47th and 48th states and stars were added accordingly, the flag had been inaccurate as its stars included Ohio, which had entered the Union in 1803, but had not technically done so because its admission papers had not been properly forwarded to Congress, an oversight which was now being remedied. Technically, there should have been only 47 stars on the flag at present, but it wonders how the flag designers would have fit 47 stars into a geometrically pleasing arrangement. It suggests that the fact of Ohio's exiguous documentation had been known for a long time and the flag designers simply did not want to have to trifle with 47 stars.

It finds that if Hawaii and Ohio were finally admitted, there would be 49 states, with seven by seven stars working out nicely on the flag, but if Alaska joined the union, there would be a problem. And if Puerto Rico were to become a state, 51 stars would cause a designer's nightmare.

It suggests that perhaps Ohio might be hurried into the union and then the country should limit the number of stars to 48, no matter how many additional states joined, or, it suggests, perhaps there were better flag designers than the editors.

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "Navy Beans", indicates having read with interest a letter from a former sailor who had written that he missed the old Navy chow, confirming the notions of those in the Army who complained bitterly that the sailors lived off the fat of the land, confirming also the beliefs of World War I veterans who complained that the armed services had become a picnic for the pampered youth of the present. It would also confirm the impression of landlubbers that a sailor's life was jolly, "yo-ho-ho and a bottle of chili sauce."

It concludes: "The old salt may stick to his hard tack, but it's a harder task to please the young fry who has once had a taste of the sea."

Drew Pearson indicates that the chief pride of the Army was the atomic cannon being tested in Nevada, a test for which the Army had been preparing for about two years and had even released the secret of atomic artillery before it was supposed to have been revealed. But the cold facts indicated that atomic artillery was largely a source of pride while being a waste of taxpayer money, as experiments with the artillery in Nevada cost seven million dollars on the first shot and three million per shot thereafter for each atomic shell. The cost had caused great controversy within both the Atomic Energy Commission and the Pentagon regarding whether atomic artillery was worth the candle. Each test burned precious fissionable material as if it were as cheap and plentiful as common gunpowder, and 90 percent of the fissionable material was wasted in artillery shots, compared to only 30 percent in an atomic bomb. Thus, some atomic experts charged that the only reason for atomic artillery was to let the Army get into the atomic act. The Army was so eager to do so that it had proposed to the AEC that the atomic shells for the test be carried across the U.S. alternately by boat, truck and rail, to dramatize the event to the American people and obtain all the publicity it could. The AEC had turned down the proposal as too dangerous, at which point the Army proposed that a dummy bomb be carried across the country for the same purposes.

At a recent meeting of military atomic experts, the Army representative had asked whether the Army would risk stockpiling atomic shells near the front during a military engagement, out of concern that the enemy might overrun the front and capture the shells, with the Army replying that they would be maintained safe behind the lines and flown to the front as needed. But that highlighted the fact that there was no reason why a plane could not fly a bit further and drop an atomic bomb on the enemy instead of landing the plane, unloading an atomic shell which would then be fired from a land-based cannon. The Air Force argued that an airplane might as well do the job at a much cheaper cost. Furthermore, the Army intended to use spotter planes to direct atomic artillery fire, and those spotter planes could just as well be used to drop the bomb. The Army had countered that the atomic cannon was more accurate than atomic bombing from the air and could be executed in any kind of weather, but atomic scientists had replied that planes could drop an atomic bomb within 100 feet of a target, just about as close as an atomic cannon could accomplish. They also said that atomic shells should never be fired in bad weather as wind and and rain might become contaminated with radiation and carry it back to U.S. troops. In Nevada, the AEC would not permit an atomic test in any form of bad weather.

The Army also claimed that the atomic cannon was mobile, but it was so heavy and cumbersome that it could cross few of the world's existing bridges, requiring the construction of special bridges and roads for its transport in most areas. An atomic scientist had responded sarcastically that an atomic cannon was not more mobile than an airplane. Nevertheless, the Army had sought 100 atomic cannons and a large stockpile of shells, and while the Navy and Air Force had been cut to the bone in their budgets, the Army was the only branch which had a proposed increase, at 1.5 billion dollars. The fact had caused some Pentagon officials to carp that they had wished the President had served in their branch rather than in the Army.

Mr. Pearson concludes that if the military budget was to be cut without endangering national security, it had to be done based on the efficiency of weapons, and the atomic cannon did not appear to qualify.

Marquis Childs indicates that about a half-dozen men had the power to determine the levels of spending for armament in the Eisenhower Administration, that they had produced a set of figures which called for a cut of five billion dollars to the Air Force budget, which Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had said would mean an "interim goal" of 120 air groups instead of the 143 which had been the target for nearly the previous three years. Others indicated that the cut would be so severe that only 110 groups could be provided, and production of jet bombers, which took 5 to 7 years, could not be periodically interrupted by starts and stops in spending. The same half-dozen men who set the spending levels had claimed that the new level would bring security, as the President had also indicated. But to get behind the figures and that accompanying pledge of security was difficult.

Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, who had been Secretary of the Air Force and thus had more expert knowledge on arms and security than any other Senator, had on March 11, in speaking before the Philadelphia Bulletin Forum, put a series of questions to the Administration, seeking to know the facts regarding the number of jet bombers, the number of long-range submarines, and the atomic capability of the Soviet Union, as well as the Government's estimate of a Soviet atomic D-day, and whether the U.S. defense program would be sufficient to meet it. A few days after the speech, the Senator sought out Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, to relay the questions to the President, which Senator Saltonstall did by way of a letter, asking whether the increased defense program had meant actual improvement in security. The President had replied, expressing only in generalities his concern for both security and a sound economy. Senator Symington then sent his questions directly to Secretary Wilson, seeking more specific responses, but got only more generalities, the Secretary expressing that there was a problem from a security standpoint in attempting to provide a full report on the subject, particularly annoying to the Senator, as it suggested that Congress could not be trusted with classified information. Moreover, much of the information he had sought dealt with Russia's strength and thus was not secret information. In addition, Soviet military intelligence had long previously recorded many of the deficiencies in the West's defense system, having recently printed that there were only 12 Sabre jets patrolling the entire European and Middle Eastern border of the free world, and thus would be aware of most or all of the information sought.

Senator Symington, as would other Democrats such as Senator Richard Russell, would shortly begin criticizing the cuts in the defense budget. Most Democrats were expected to support the full amounts proposed by the final Truman budget for the following fiscal year and oppose the cuts proposed by the Eisenhower budget. The scenario suggested that defense expenditures might become a party issue, which could be reflected in the following year's Congressional campaigns, with Democrats contending that Republicans were compromising security for economy.

Those concerned about the cuts seriously compromising adequate rearmament hoped that it would not become a partisan issue, and were hoping for Republican support on test votes, probably an unrealistic hope, as the Republicans were nearly completely under the control of Senate Majority Leader Taft, and straying from that fold would not be taken lightly by the Republican leadership.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that for several different reasons, involving primarily secrecy, the intelligence branches of the U.S. armed forces had agreed that the Soviets were producing a good all-weather jet fighter, fully equipped with tracking radar. It was a somewhat belated recognition by the Air Force, as British intelligence sources had begun to report the existence of such a jet a long time earlier, and various indices, including electronics industry progress and aluminum output in Russia, had pointed toward an increase in Soviet aircraft production, which would allow for the new types.

The all-weather jet would replace the MIG-15, which was a day fighter without tracking radar, as the main weapon of Soviet air defense, presently comprised of between 3,500 and 4,000 MIGs, compared to 1,800 "cats and dogs" in the U.S. aerial arsenal. The process of replacement would take at least two years and probably three, perhaps four, and as the new jets were phased into home defense, the old MIGs would be phased out and shipped to the satellite countries for tactical air and forward air defense. The effect of the replacement would be far-reaching. Even presently, Soviet air warning was dense and elaborate, as compared with the rickety "radar fence" in the U.S. The Soviet weakness was in the MIGs, being day fighters, leaving the Russians exposed to night and bad-weather attacks. That weakness would be transformed into strength by the new jets. The transition would likely be complete between late 1955 and 1957, at the latest.

The Strategic Air Command, the retaliatory striking force of the U.S., was relied on to deter Soviet aggression, and its big planes were the primary means of exploiting the country's only real military advantage, in atomic and thermonuclear weapons. If SAC became unable to deliver those weapons to enemy targets, by virtue of Soviet air defense, the U.S. military planning would cease to make sense, and the new Soviet jet fighters would result in SAC not being any longer able to do its assigned job, without a much improved SAC, able to match the improved Soviet air defenses.

Presently, SAC was comprised of 40 air groups instead of the 57 set as the SAC minimum within the 143-group Air Force target program, and of those 40 groups, only three presently had modern jet bombers, consisting of medium-range B-47's. The long-range jet bomber, the B-52, was still far from operational usefulness. The main strength of SAC was presently comprised of obsolescent B-50s and B-29s in the medium-range category, and equally obsolete B-26s in the long-range category. The present SAC force could penetrate an air defense system which did not operate at night or in bad weather, but could not get by the proposed all-weather jets equipped with tracking radar.

Replacement rates of the B-50s and B-29s with usable B-47s and B-52s were presently unsatisfactory, and had been so even under the Truman Administration's higher allocation of funding for the Air Force. The Truman program would have left the country with at least two B-50 groups in 1956, while replacement of the B-36s with B-52s was to have taken even longer, and the long-range groups were not scheduled to have been fully modernized until 1959-60.

For those reasons, SAC commander, General Curtis LeMay, had begun to demand an emergency effort more than a year earlier to strengthen SAC, asking for 14 new groups of B-52s, at an additional cost of ten billion dollars. He favored the more costly B-52s instead of B-47s because of the dependence of the medium-range B-47s on overseas airbases, arguing that the country could no longer build its hopes on airbases located near the centers of Soviet power as Soviet power was growing too fast. The General's request had been rejected but his argument had gained strength with each passing month, especially after news of the new Soviet all-weather jets had become known. Thus, one of the last acts of former Secretary of Defense Robert Lovett and Secretary of the Air Force Thomas Finletter had been to ask for funds for a second B-52 production line, to speed the replacement of the B-36s. But cutbacks and slowdowns were now the rule for strategic air within the whole defense program, and the 57-group goal for SAC would inevitably have to be scrapped, along with the 143-group air program generally. B-47 production facilities were likely to be reduced and a second production line for the B-52 would almost certainly be abandoned, with the result that the necessary effort to improve SAC to match the Soviet all-weather jet fighters would not be undertaken.

The Alsops conclude that where it would leave the U.S. when SAC could no longer perform its assigned function, and consequent military planning was thrown off course, no one could explain.

Robert C. Ruark is glad that Ernest Hemingway had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea, as the critics had him on the ropes for his prior novel, the title of which he forgets, thinks it might have been "Over the River and Into the Trees". The piece, except for the reference to the Pulitzer, essentially repeats a piece which appeared on the subject the prior August 29, and so needs no further elaboration.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links
Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>—</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date Links-Subj.