From the Archives: The Cold War

Last Veterans Day we explored photos from World War II.

Now I’m taking you to the Cold War, the period of time from 1946 to 1991. The World-Herald library has a great collection of photos from Korea, Vietnam and the Strategic Air Command base in Bellevue. And we were lucky to have hundreds of Cold War veterans submit photos and stories for our latest book, “At War, At Home: The Cold War.”

Below is a sampling of some of the photos from the book, our archives and other sources.

President Harry S. Truman marches in a parade in downtown Omaha in 1948. The military parade was the longest in Omaha’s history at the time and was in honor of the 35th Division’s reunion. Truman rode in a car for about a block, then got out just west of 19th Street and walked to the reviewing stands, leading the men he commanded in World War II. JOHN SAVAGE/THE WORLD-HERALD

Tensions were high over the possible use of nuclear bombs. This illustration shows the predicted “Death Circles” in Omaha. “Survival Under Atomic Attack” was a pamphlet distributed in 1951. The World-Herald reprinted the the material and provided an account of an imagined nuclear attack in Omaha, with 16th and Farnam Streets as “Point Zero.”


June 25, 1950, marked the start of the Korean War. It lasted until July 27, 1953.

The caption on the photo in this 1950 World-Herald edition said: “The Nebraska Cornhusker” will do more than live up to its name when its one thousand pounds of steel and explosives are dropped on a North Korean target from an Air Force B-29 Superfort. The B-29 combat crew members from Nebraska adding their initials to the bomb are, left to right: 1st Lt. Robert M. Smith, 26, a pilot from McCook; Major Chester Turbak, 34, a radar operator from Edgar; and Cpl. William Hughes, 20, a gunner from Auburn. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE


World-Herald Sports Editor Thad Livingston’s father, Gene, provided us with several photos taken by the Marine Corps that spotlight the day-by-day activities of a unit in Korea.

Gen. Pollock visits with an American prisoner of war. U.S. MARINE CORPS

Chaplain James T. Callahan, USNR, holds mass for the men of I Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. The Mass was held immediately behind the front lines. U.S. MARINE CORPS

The description on the back of the photo read: Dr. Lt. Edward J. Broaddus, right, observed it is kids like this starving girl that suffer when there is no food. Grown-ups need only enough food to exist – children need food to grow. This child, comforted by an aged friend, was barely alive when she arrived at the clinic. The medics rushed her to a Marine field hospital where the girl soon recovered after care and nourishment. U.S. MARINE CORPS

A bullet-ridden American helmet and liner lie in the ruins of Yongsan, symbols of bloody fighting in which U.S. Marines and 2nd Division infantrymen recaptured the Korean town and drove the enemy back to the Naktong River line. U.S. ARMY


Many stories of bravery came from the war. Edward “Babe” Gomez was a 19-year-old Omahan who died while saving his buddies. His last letter home read:
I’m writing this on the possibility that I may die in this next assault. You will hear about it before getting this letter and I hope you don’t take it too hard. … I am not sorry I died because I died fighting for my country and that’s the number one thing in everyone’s life, to keep his home and country from being won over by such things as communism.

I am very proud to have done what little I have done. … Be proud of me, Mom, because even though I’m scared now, I know what I’m doing is worth it.

Tell Dad I died like a man he wanted me to be. I hope this doesn’t break your heart — I love you.

The kids, remind them of me once in awhile and never forget, kids, fight only for what you believe in — that’s what I’m fighting for.

All my undying love,


Babe Gomez, standing, in Korea in 1951 with Oscar “Challo’’ Franco of Arizona, right, and an unidentified member of their machine gun unit. Franco was among the buddies Gomez saved by shielding them from a grenade. GOMEZ FAMILY

Matiana and Modesto Gomez, parents of Pfc. Edward “Babe” Gomez, receive their son’s Medal of Honor from Brig. Gen. Verne J. McCaul at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Omaha in 1952. BILL BILLOTTE/THE WORLD-HERALD


Another one of the many stories is that of John Rice. Rice was Native American who served in World War II,  re-enlisted and served in Korea, where he was killed at age 36. After a Catholic and military graveside service, officials at the private Memorial Park cemetery in Sioux City, Iowa, learned that Rice was a Winnebago. The cemetery’s bylaws prohibited the interments of non-Caucasians. His casket was taken off the grave site and temporarily stored in a shed.

Sgt. John Rice

The incident triggered national coverage and drew personal intervention from President Harry Truman, who offered Rice’s widow, Evelyn, burial for her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

Rice was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in 1951. He is believed to be the first Native American laid to rest at Arlington. DAVID HENDEE/THE WORLD-HERALD


John Machian holding a copy of “Stars and Stripes” announcing that a truce was signed, ending fighting in Korea. SUBMITTED PHOTO


Some of you may remember the civil defense drills, evacuation practices and radiation scares of the 1950s.

A defense drill at an unidentified Omaha grade school in 1955. THE WORLD-HERALD

Postal clerk J.F. Poulicek, left, learns how to use a radiation-detecting instrument from W.L. Staley, assistant superintendent of training, at the main Omaha Post Office in 1961. THE WORLD-HERALD

Dennis Defrain brings dairy cows out from the fallout shelter after two weeks in 1963. The shelter was in Elkhorn, Neb., and owned by J. Gordon Roberts. The cows held up well after two weeks. THE WORLD-HERALD

President John F. Kennedy came to Offutt Air Force Base on Dec. 7, 1962. He inspected the Strategic Air Command’s underground command post and reviewed the U.S. strategic war plan. Here Kennedy and Gen. Thomas Power, followed by aides, leave the command post. ROBERT PASKACH/THE WORLD-HERALD


The Vietnam War lasted from Nov. 1, 1955, to April 30, 1975. Howard Silber, who was the The World-Herald’s military affairs reporter, traveled to Vietnam in 1964 and 1966.

During his first visit to Vietnam, Howard Silber stands with a Vietnamese soldier. THE WORLD-HERALD

Airman Robert Briseno of Lavaco, Texas, stands guard as a B-52 returns from mission at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam in 1966. HOWARD SILBER/THE WORLD-HERALD

Preparation of bombs to supply a Vietnam mission by SAC’s B-52 bombers from Guam in 1966. The last step was to attach the fins, as seen in background. HOWARD SILBER/THE WORLD-HERALD

In 1966, Capt. William Pratt points to patches where his aircraft, the “Gooney Bird,” was hit by ground fire. HOWARD SILBER/THE WORLD-HERALD

The 1966 caption with this photo read: “Lining up for lollipops … Sergeant Trudeau is standing near the center of picture. Colonial Moffatt is in front of the sergeant.” Between 2,000 and 3,000 packages were sent from Nebraska and western Iowa after The World-Herald reported on an orphanage’s needs. HOWARD SILBER/THE WORLD-HERALD

Pfc. James G. Moles, left, and Pfc. Edward R. Creager were among the 150 Marines stationed on Hill 22 in January 1966. HOWARD SILBER/THE WORLD-HERALD


Mercy High School freshmen Diane Gigliotti, left, and Jo Anne Glynn, along with Sister Mary Theodore sort through primers to send to Sgt. David Lancaster at the 38th Aerospace Recovery Squadron near Da Nang, Vietnam. “I read about Sgt. Lancaster teaching children to speak and read English. He’s not even a teacher, just a person doing his part to help. I thought the least I could do would be to gather a few books for him to use,” said  Sister Theodore. TOM ALLEN/THE WORLD-HERALD

From left, Gary, Gregory and Kelly Sage from Niobrara, Neb., died when their ship collided with an Australian aircraft carrier in 1969. Their deaths reminded many of the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, who died during or shortly after the sinking of their ship in World War II. It was said that President Roosevelt had issued that brothers were not to be assigned to the same ship after the Sullivan deaths in 1942. However, the Navy said there were no written orders and its policy allowed brothers to serve together if they requested. The Sage brothers had asked to do so. FAMILY PHOTO


The Strategic Air Command (SAC), Tactical Air Command (TAC) and Air Defense Command (ADC) became the three major combat commands of the United States Air Force on March 21, 1946. In 1948, Gen. Curtis LeMay moved SAC to the Offutt Air Force Base. Here’s a look at the base through the years.

The first postwar World’s Fair of Aviation was held at Offutt in 1946.

A 1912 airplane and a 1912 automobile provided sharp contrast to the sleek 600 mph aircraft on display at the fair. The 1912 models engaged in a race that was easily won by the 60 mph plane. It was flown by Billy Parker, head of the Phillips Petroleum aviation department. He built it in 1912. THE WORLD-HERALD

Some of the 25,000 people who attended. Most of the crowd sat on the airport grass. THE WORLD-HERALD


The 1961 open house at Offutt Air Force Base. Civilians used equipment ramp of a C-14 transport plane to view the inside. YANO MELENGAGIO/THE WORLD-HERALD

The new SAC War Room in 1963. THE WORLD-HERALD

Brig. Gen. Melvin Bowling, at left on the phone, and the crew of the Looking Glass airborne command post in 1975, the command post’s 15th year in the air. U.S. AIR FORCE

President Jimmy Carter follows SAC commander Gen. Richard Ellis through the underground command center in 1977. Following Carter are Defense Secretary Harold Brown (with glasses) and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (hand on hip). THE WORLD-HERALD

The U.S. military rolled out its top brass, an Air Force band and Army artillery for a 1992 ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base to mark end of the Strategic Air Command and the birth of the U.S. Strategic Command. JAMES R. BURNETT/THE WORLD-HERALD


Click here to see more photos from our new book, “At War, At Home: The Cold War”

You can also see photos from World World War II here: From the Archives: Veteran’s Day. They are from the pages of “At War, At Home: World War II.”

I just want to end by saying THANKS to all the men and women who have bravely served our country. Happy Veteran’s Day to all of you!

Jolene McHugh

About Jolene McHugh

I was a graphic artist prior to coming to the Omaha World-Herald in 2007, and now I’m a photo imaging specialist, which means I prepare photos to print properly in the newspaper. I also have the incredibly fun task of restoring old photographs from our massive library. My favorite part of my job is getting lost in the history and stories behind the photographs. Many of the archive photos have little or no information attached, so I need to properly date and identify the people and places in them. Researching the stories is a bit like being on a historical scavenger hunt. The largest challenge I face is restoring photos we run in our books. Our newest book, “At War, At Home: The Cold War” is filled with hundreds of old photographs, and most of them small and in poor condition. I live in Omaha with my husband, one of my daughters and three very furry Maine Coon cats.
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