America’s Most Decorated Female Spy Finally Gets the Recognition She Deserves

There are many great heroes of WWII who have become household names by now, their exploits immortalized in movies, TV shows, and books. One name most people haven’t heard, however, is Virginia Hall.

Today, that changes, though Virginia herself might not be too happy about becoming a household name. As she liked to say, “Many of my friends were killed for talking too much.”

Since it’s been over 70 years since she worked as a wartime spy, and she’s no longer living, it’s probably safe – and high time – to talk about her contributions.

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Unsung Hero of #DDay , #virginiahall , the only American woman to win the Distinguished Service Cross 🎖 : “for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as an American Civilian Intelligence Officer in the employ of the Special Operations Branch, Office of Strategic Services, who entered voluntarily and served in enemy-occupied France from March to September 1944. Despite the fact that she was well known to the Gestapo because of previous activities, Miss Hall established and maintained radio communications with London headquarters, supplying valuable operational and intelligence information. With the help of a Jedburgh team, she organized, armed, and trained three battalions of French resistance forces in the Department of the Haute Loire. Working in a region infested with enemy troops and continually at the risk of capture, torture, and death, she directed the resistance forces with extraordinary success in acts of sabotage and guerrilla warfare against enemy troops, installations, and communications. Miss Hall displayed rare courage, perseverance, and ingenuity. Her efforts contributed materially to the successful operations of the resistance forces in support of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in the liberation of France.” 🎖

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Hall was born in 1906 to a wealthy Baltimore family who expected her to educate herself and then marry into more money. She had other ideas, wearing bracelets of (live) snakes to school, becoming an avid hunter, and taking pride in being “capricious and cantankerous.”

She was educated at Radcliffe and Barnard before traveling to Paris and falling in love with France, a love that would change the course of her life. Once she’d gone overseas, Hall became set on becoming a diplomat, said Sonia Purnell, the author of a forthcoming book on Hall.

“She wanted to be an ambassador. She got pushed back by the State Department. She applied several times.”

While working in a secretarial capacity at a U.S. consulate in Turkey, Hall had a hunting accident that cost her her left leg below the knee. She persevered through a long and painful recovery, and learned to maneuver on a wooden leg.

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With the anniversary of D-Day (officially known as Operation Overlord) approaching, we at the MI Library would like to acknowledge Virginia Hall. Virginia Hall established the Cosne resistance in the weeks preceeding D-Day overcoming reluctance from others to work for a woman! She had overseen coordination of airdrops that supplied explosives, weapons and other forms of support equipment. This resistance set about destroying railroad lines, bridges and disrupting communications. Virginia's force grew to more than 1,500 men by the 4th of June 1944 and after D-Day. Hall died at the age of 77 in July 1982. She committed to the cause, placed the mission above accolades, practiced sound operational security and effectively used the resources available. Hall routinely overcame hurdles, often in the face of life threatening circumstances. —————– To receive or renew a remote user account: Navigate to our website at https://www.ikn.army.mil/apps/milibrary Click on the ‘Remote Registration’ button in the left column Open the form and enter all requested information Using your Enterprise Email account, send the completed registration form to us at the address provided on the bottom of the form. You can also come into the MI Library at Building 62723, Hatfield St, Fort Huachuca, AZ 85613 and our phone number is (520)-533-4100! —————– Christopher G. Nason Military Intelligence Library and Museum where, "Intelligent action leads to peak performance and proper planning!" —————— #dday #operationoverlord #virginiahall

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Another Hall biographer and ex-CIA officer, Craig Gralley, believes that losing her leg was a turning point in her life.

“She had been given a second chance at life and wasn’t going to waste it. And her injury, in fact, might have kind of bolstered her or reawakened her resilience so that she was in fact able to do great things.”

She was living in France when WWII broke out, and immediately jumped into the fray, volunteering to drive a French ambulance. As her beloved France was overrun, Hall fled to Britain and quickly fell in with British intelligence. After a bit of training, she found herself back on French soil and working as a British spy in 1941.

Hall posed as a reporter for The New York Post and saw many in her network arrested and even killed. The Gestapo had her number and knew they were in search of a woman with a limp, but Hall was a natural at the spy game – like many women who were an active part of the resistance, she exploited her female-ness and her “cripple-ness” to fly under the radar.

“Virginia Hall, to a certain extent, was invisible,” says Gralley. “She was able to play on the chauvinism of the Gestapo at the time. None of the Germans early in the war necessarily thought that a woman was capable of being a spy.”

Hall operated largely in Lyon, which put her in the path of Klaus Barbie, otherwise known as “the Butcher of Lyon,” but thankfully she was never counted among the thousands tortured and killed by his forces. He was aware of her, however, posting signs around the city that featured a drawing of her and the words “The Enemy’s Most Dangerous Spy – We Must Find And Destroy Her!”

While there, she recruited everyone she could, from nuns at the convent where she was staying to a local brothel owner who helped by passing along information the prostitutes gathered from German troops. She organized the resistance in Lyon, providing safe houses and intelligence that altered the course of the war on French soil.

Even though she constantly changed her appearance, the Nazis got close enough in 1942 to send her into hiding in Spain. To get there, she walked 50 miles a day for 3 days in heavy snow, over the Pyrenees Mountains.

With a wooden leg. Remember?

Gralley, who considers himself in good shape, tried making the trek and found it exhausting.

“I could only imagine the kind of will and the kind of perseverance that Virginia Hall had by making this trek. Not on a beautiful day, but in the dead of winter and with a prosthetic leg she had to drag behind her.”

A snafu with her passport had her wasting 6 weeks in a Spanish jail before being released back to Britain. All Virginia wanted to do was to return to her work in France but the British refused her request, fearing her life.

The American OSS, however, had no such qualms – though Purnell points out that Hall did take precautions before returning to occupied soil.

“She got some makeup artist to teach her how to draw wrinkles on her face. She also got a fierce, a rather sort of scary London dentist to grind down her lovely, white American teeth so that she looked like a French milkmaid.”

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Observances of the 75th anniversary of D-Day are properly focusing on the troops and the architect of Operation Overlord, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who freed Europe from Hitler and his Nazi hordes. One person—a woman—has not received the credit she deserves for her efforts with the French Resistance. Without her daring and heroism, the war would most assuredly have been prolonged and many more lives would have been lost. Her name was Virginia Hall and her story is told in a new book by Sonia Purnell titled “A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II.” The title does not exaggerate Virginia’s contributions to the Allied victory. Never have I read anything like it. Every page is compelling and demands not just to be read, but absorbed. Every act reflects incredible bravery. This is what heroism looks like. Virginia’s actions, along with the men who gave their lives for the freedoms that France, the rest of Europe, and America enjoy today, should never be forgotten. Sonia Purnell has ensured Virginia Hall’s place in that great pantheon. Tap our stories to see more stories from #DDAY75 and read Cal Thomas’ full book review.

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Back in France, she worked with resistance fighters to blow up bridges, sabotage trains, and reclaim villages ahead of advancing Allied troops.

The war ended and Virginia Hall, like all of the fighters abroad, returned home. She brought with her a French-American soldier (now her husband) and a penchant for keeping her mouth shut.

Her niece, Lorna Catling, recalled meeting her aunt after the war in a conversation with NPR.

“She came home when I was 16, and she was pale and had white hair and crappy clothes.”

And as for the war?

“She never talked about it.”

Both the British and the French recognize Hall’s contributions, though only in private. She declined public accolades in the States, too, claiming she’d rather remain undercover.

William Donovan, the OSS chief, bestowed the Distinguished Service Cross on Hall – the only civilian to receive such an honor during WWII – and only her mother witnessed the ceremony.

She joined the CIA and worked there for 15 years, though she did not thrive and wasn’t happy being stuck behind a desk, CIA historian Randy Burkett tells NPR.

“As you get higher in rank, now it’s all about money and personnel and plans and policy and that sort of bureaucratic stuff. …Was she treated properly? Well, by today’s standards, absolutely not.”

She retired in 1966 without ever having spoken publicly about her experiences as a WWII spy, and died in 1982 without the public realizing who she was or what she had contributed to the successful war effort.

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🕵🏻‍♀️ A Woman of No Importance. 🕵🏻‍♀️ . . 🕵🏻‍♀️ Here's the thing. Virginia Hall deserves WAY more credit than what she received. . . 🕵🏻‍♀️ This woman pretty much single handedly dove into enemy territory, built a resistance empire, and TORE SHIT UP on the Nazis. All the while being disregarded and disrespected by many of her male counterparts (shocker). That didn't stop her though, she refused to give a crap about any of them. She disregarded them right back, straight up left them and refused to work with them. Why put herself and others in danger because of chauvinistic nonsense? . . 🕵🏻‍♀️ This woman was a badass in the most incredible way and I'm disappointed that I haven't read more about her before now. A beautiful person, changing her name and appearance numerous times (see what I did there), an amputee, crossed the Pyrenees during winter and survived!? She was THE most wanted woman in Europe by the Nazis AND NEVER GOT CAUGHT! . . 🕵🏻‍♀️ After all that, she came back and joined the CIA (no small feat despite her experience) and was STILL underutilized. — "In its own secret report on her career, the CIA admitted that her fellow officers 'felt she had been sidelined — shunted into backwater accounts — because she had so much experience that she overshadowed her male colleagues, who felt threatened by her.'" 🙄😡😑 . . 🕵🏻‍♀️ So much more to say but I'll let you pick it up and read it. Sonia Purnell has done incredible research and truly put together this fascinating and eye-opening book about one of the most important women in history. Virginia paved the way for so many others that came after her, even in indirect ways. Not only for women, but the government, the CIA, secret service and more should all be eternally grateful. . . 🕵🏻‍♀️ Anyway, this week's #sundaywiththeselftimer is my appreciation for this book and me wishing and dreaming I was half the badass Virginia was. 💪 #powerfulwomenrepresent . . #awomanofnoimportance #soniapurnell #virginiahall #bookreview #bookrecommendation #readingwanderwoman #readingww2019 #readingwanderreviews #badasswomen #womeninhistory #sundayselfieshelfie

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Recently, her public moment has arrived: three books have been published and two movies are in the works, so Americans are finally going to know Virginia Hall in the way she deserves (if not the way she would have wanted).

As Sonia Purnell muses, “Through a lot of her life, the early life, she was constantly rejected and belittled. She was constantly just being dismissed as someone not very important of of no importance.”

Just one more example of “a woman of no importance” putting her head down and managing to change the world for the better, anyway.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

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8 Great Facts That Will Send Your Brain Into Overdrive!

Attention! Attention! You will engage in some brain power exercises starting RIGHT NOW.

You’ve been a little lazy lately (haven’t we all?) and it’s time to kick that brain into overdrive!

3…2….1…GO!

1. I did not know that

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2. Disgusting!

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3. A wonderful idea

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4. Survivors

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5. Thank God

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6. Dum Dums

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7. Man of culture

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8. Wow

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Brain power!

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A Look Inside the U.S. Military’s “Doomsday Plane,” Built to Withstand the Aftermath of a Nuclear Blast

The plane is officially known as the U.S. Air Force’s E-4B, but most people just call it the “doomsday plane.” The aircraft is used to take the Secretary of Defense all over the world, and it is a monster of an airplane. The plane is also known as the National Airborne Operations Center.

The E-4B is almost six stories tall, has four enormous engines, and can withstand the immediate aftermath of a nuclear explosion. How’s that for technology? A member of the U.S. Air Force said, “It’s like a backup Pentagon. There’s always one plane on alert and ready to go 24 hours, seven days a week.”

Just like its sister aircraft Air Force One, the E-4B is like a flying command center, and many of the plane’s capabilities are classified. There are four “doomsday planes” that have been in operation since 1980, and they are based at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

The aircraft truly is a marvel of technology. The large hump on top of the E-4B is called a “radome” and houses satellite dishes and antennas that allow people onboard to contact submarines, ships, aircraft, and phone lines anywhere in the world. Because of the humongous fuel tanks and the ability to refuel while flying, the E-4B can stay in the air for several days without ever having to land.

The plane can accommodate up to 112 people. It has three levels, 18 bunks, 6 bathrooms, a briefing room, and a conference room. Interestingly, the E-4B is not up-to-date technologically and relies on analog technology.

A crew member said, “It’s a common misconception, but this plane doesn’t have digital touch screens in the cockpit or elsewhere. The conditions that this plane is meant to fly in call for analog, since digital tech would fry during a nuclear war.”

Yikes…

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Someone Just Designed a Stamp That Lets You Legally Replace Andrew Jackson With Harriet Tubman on $20 Bills

The $20 bill has been the subject of quite a lot of controversy lately. President Andrew Jackson’s visage has graced the bill ever since 1928, but in 2016, plans were announced to replace him on the bill with an image of abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently announced, however, that the plans for the 2020 rollout of the Tubman bill would be delayed at least 8 years due to concerns about counterfeiting.

And people are not happy about it.

And, of course, The Onion weighed in on the issue with this brilliant headline.

But then the story took an unexpected turn.

An artist named Dano Wall took it upon himself to create a stamp that replaces Jackson’s face on the $20 bill with Tubman’s likeness.

As you can see, the Tubman stamp perfectly fits over the image of Jackson. Wall is calling the use of the Tubman stamp an act of “civil disobedience.”

Wall said,

“I was inspired by the news that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, and subsequently saddened by the news that the Trump administration was walking back that plan. So I created a stamp to convert Jacksons into Tubmans myself. I have been stamping $20 bills and entering them into circulation for the last year, and gifting stamps to friends to do the same.”

Wall added, “My goal is to get 5,000 stamps out there. If there are 5,000 people consistently stamping currency, we could get a significant percent of circulating $20 bills (with the Tubman) stamp, at which point it would be impossible to ignore.”

The artist also said he’s been careful to avoid any legal issues: “The basic gist of it is you can’t render a bill illegible. You can’t cover any text or numbers or anything on it to serve as an advertisement. … Anything outside of that — if the bill is still fit for circulation is fine. You can write on it and mark in any way.”

The stamps that Wall designed are currently sold out on Etsy ,but it looks like there are a bunch of other options as well (take a look at THIS PAGE). And I’m sure Wall will have more back up soon!

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5 Far-Out Facts About Legendary “Rocketman” Elton John

Music icon Elton John’s biopic, Rocketman, is in theaters and  72-year-old singer/songwriter/showman extraordinaire is also in the middle of a three-year-long farewell tour. Safe to say, he’s got a lot going on!

In celebration of his final bow from the stage and the new film based on his life, here are 5 facts about the man, the myth, the legend: Elton John.

1. He’s had the same songwriting partner for over 50 years


John and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin have been a team since 1967. Together, the duo is responsible for over 50 Top 40 hits and over 225 million records sold.

2. He released four albums in one year

Between October 1970 and November 1971 John was extremely prolific, releasing four albums – an unheard of number in today’s musical era. He released Tumbleweed Connection, Friends, the live album 17-11-70, and Madman Across the Water during this period, the latter of which featured his enduring hit, Tiny Dancer.

3. That’s not his real name

John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, in England. He grew up being called “Reg” or “Reggie” but he legally changed his name in 1972 and didn’t want any association with his birth name after that. John said, “Reg is the unhappy part of my life. If my mother can call me Elton, then everybody else can.”

4. He shared the stage with John Lennon in Lennon’s last ever performance

On November 28, 1974, Elton John convinced John Lennon to join him onstage during a concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden for three songs, including Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and I Saw Her Standing There. It was Lennon’s last public performance.

5. He was a bonafide hit-making machine

During the 1970s, Elton John was on a serious roll. He recorded 15 hit singles between 1973-1976, including fan favorites Don’t Go Breaking My HeartRocket ManCrocodile Rock, and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.

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Epic Twitter Thread Reverses the Roles of Women and Men Throughout History. This Is a Must-Read

Twitter is a place full of strange and interesting things. While it’s usually a place for random, funny thoughts and memes, there are also threads like this one that actually make you think.

Author A.R. Moxon recently posted an epic Twitter thread where he laid out an alternate history and future where the roles of men and women have been reversed. Moxon’s thread makes it abundantly clear that although women have made a lot of headway in recent years, we still have a long way to go and history has been one-sided in terms of power, to say the least.

Here’s the tweet that started the conversation. Let it sink in…

45 male presidents in a row…wrap your head around that. And think of how it must feel to be on the other side and be accused of “identity politics” for simply wanting to have your voice heard.

Moxon continued with his conversation.

There’s no doubt there’s a whole lot of controversy surrounding the Supreme Court right now. How will it look in the next several years? What laws will be passed?

Think about this: women in the U.S. have had the privilege to vote FOR LESS THAN 100 YEARS. Pretty hard to believe when you think about it. When both of my grandmothers were born, women were not allowed to vote. Sobering.

Would that be ok? I think we all know the answer to that question.

And there was more…

These tweets are all crazy hypotheticals, but let it all sink in and think about what women have had to endure in our country.

A pretty powerful Twitter thread, don’t you think? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below.

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10 Awesome Facts That’ll Rock Your World

Are you ready to ROOOOOOOCK????!?

With facts, that is.

Just look at the gentlemen of Black Sabbath above. You know they’re ready for some serious factinating. So let’s rumble, y’all!

1. Fascinating

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2. Which house do you belong to?

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3. Cool!

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4. Beautiful

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5. Sign me up!

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6. BFF

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7. Get on board!

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8. Sea Peoples

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9. Trouble makers

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10. Strange…

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Now you’re rockin! With facts, I mean…

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8 Seriously Stupendous Facts To Impress Your Friends

I’m the type of guy who has never once come across a fact I didn’t like. I love collecting bits of random information, it’s a habit that’s helped me win many a trivia content in my day!

Today, I’m giving the gift of facts to you. Enjoy!

1. It’s that fast

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2. The Can Opener

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3. Feisty kitties

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4. For comfort

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5. Decoys

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6. The best

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7. Brilliant idea

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8. Figure it out

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#TotallyStupendous

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10 Facts That’ll Totally Open Your Eyes

They say you learn something new every day, but just in case you didn’t today, we’ve got you covered!

Here are 10 incredible facts that you can use to smarten up with right now!

1. Let’s be official about it

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2. Wow!

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3. I’d like to see one of those

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4. Doesn’t sound right…

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5. I don’t know if I want one of these…

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6. First Amendment

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7. As they should

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8. Awwwwww

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9. That comma is important

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10. Trippy

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See what I mean?

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