Task Force W: History

Task Force W: History

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After the Bay of Pigs disaster President John F. Kennedy created a committee (SGA) charged with overthrowing Castro's government. The SGA, chaired by Robert F. Kennedy (Attorney General), included John McCone (CIA Director), McGeorge Bundy (National Security Adviser), Alexis Johnson (State Department), Roswell Gilpatric (Defence Department), General Lyman Lemnitzer (Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Maxwell Taylor. Although not officially members, Dean Rusk (Secretary of State) and Robert S. McNamara (Secretary of Defence) also attending meetings.

At a meeting of this committee at the White House on 4th November, 1961, it was decided to call this covert action program for sabotage and subversion against Cuba, Operation Mongoose. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy also decided that General Edward Lansdale (Staff Member of the President's Committee on Military Assistance) should be placed in charge of the operation.

The CIA JM/WAVE station in Miami served as operational headquarters for Operation Mongoose. The head of the station was Ted Shackley and over the next few months became very involved in the attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. One of Lansdale's first decisions was to appoint William Harvey as head of Task Force W. Harvey's brief was to organize a broad range of activities that would help to bring down Castro's government.

Rush to Disaster: Task Force Smith

There should be, somewhere in the annals of American military history, a compendium of battlefield disasters. If so, among them would be a little-known engagement that marked America’s earliest involvement in the Korean conflict and presaged what was to follow. It was known as the Battle of Osan, fought bravely but futilely by a badly outnumbered battalion of U.S. Army infantry and artillery known as Task Force Smith.

At dawn on June 25, 1950, communist North Korea crossed the 38th parallel and surged into the democratic Republic of Korea the People’s Army of in what the United Nations termed “an unprovoked act of aggression.” Ever since the United States and the Soviet Union split Korea in two after World War II, each side had postured, threatened reunification by force and engaged in border spats. This latest action seemed at first to be just one more incident in a five-year standoff marked by mutual threats and hostility.

By June 30, having realized the true scope of the invasion, President Harry S. Truman had ordered General of the Army Douglas MacArthur—supreme commander for the Allied powers in occupied Japan—to commit ground troops to Korea. MacArthur immediately sought authorization to “move a U.S. regimental combat team to the reinforcement of the vital area discussed and to provide for a possible buildup to a two-division strength from the troops in Japan for an early counteroffensive.” Truman approved, and MacArthur instructed Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, Eighth Army commander, to order the 24th Infantry Division—then stationed in Japan—to Korea with all possible speed. Walker, in turn, conveyed preliminary verbal instructions to division commander Maj. Gen. William F. Dean.

The immediate problem was there was not an established regimental combat team (RCT) in Japan, nor were there enough C-54 cargo planes in the country to transport such a unit and its equipment. The respective commanders chose not to spend time improvising a regiment-sized combat outfit or waiting for more planes, fearing that such delays would compromise MacArthur’s plan for rapid deployment.

Instead, they decided to send a small delaying force to “contact the enemy.” The rest of the 24th Inf. Div. would follow by sea, entering Korea through the port of Pusan. Instead of the called-for full-strength regimental combat team, the delaying force comprised a single understrength infantry battalion totaling barely 400 men. When this tiny force departed for Korea—for what would certainly be a hostile engagement with a numerically superior foe—it would go without the tanks, forward air controllers, combat engineers, medical support, air defense, military police, or signal and reconnaissance platoons indigenous to a standard RCT.

The one thing the Army did right was to pick a good man to lead the unit.

Thirty-four-year-old Lt. Col. Charles B. Smith was a seasoned combat veteran. A 1939 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he’d been stationed at Oahu, Hawaii, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and he fought in the Pacific throughout World War II. Now he was to command the first American combat unit to meet the enemy in the Korean War.

As Smith later recalled, on the night of June 30, 1950, he was awakened at his quarters at Camp Wood on the island of Kyu¯ shu¯, Japan, by a phone call from Colonel Richard W. Stephens, commander of the 21st Inf. Regt., 24th Inf. Div. “The lid has blown off,” Stephens said. “Get on your clothes and report to the command post.” There Smith was ordered to take the makeshift infantry battalion—centered on the regiment’s 1st Battalion, minus companies A and D—to Itazuke Air Base.

General Dean was waiting at Itazuke. He ordered Smith to stop the North Koreans as far from Pusan as he could and to “block the main road as far north as possible.” Dean also directed Smith to seek out Brig. Gen. John H. Church, deputy commander of U.S. Army Forces in Korea (USAFIK), once he landed, then added, “Sorry I can’t give you more information. That’s all I’ve got.”

Smith’s written instructions followed later in the day in a formal operations order: “Advance at once upon landing with delaying force, in accordance with the situation, to the north by all possible means, contact enemy now advancing south from Seoul towards Suwo ˘n and delay his advance.” What Walker and Dean neglected to tell Smith was that the enemy he had been ordered to delay was, in fact, the flower of the invading North Korean People’s Army (NKPA).

Smith’s truncated battalion—dubbed Task Force Smith after him— comprised two undersized rifle companies, B and C, and half of the headquarters company. Supporting them were half a communications platoon a 75mm recoilless rifle platoon with only two of the four requisite weapons two 4.2- inch mortars six 2.36- inch bazookas and four 60mm mortars. Nearly all the weapons were of World War II vintage.

Each Task Force Smith soldier carried 120 rounds of .30-caliber rifle ammunition and enough Crations for two days. Most of Smith’s 406 men were 20 years old or younger, and only a fraction of the officers and enlisted men had seen combat.

Upon landing in Korea, Smith and his men were driven the 17 miles to the rail station in Pusan, where cheering locals lined the streets, waving banners and streamers as the soldiers passed. From Pusan the train took the small force to Taejo ˘n, arriving on the morning of July 2. There Smith met with Church and gathered U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) army officers. “We have a little action up here,” Church said, indicating a northerly point on a map. “All we need is some men up there who won’t run when they see tanks. We’re going to move you up to support the ROKs and give them moral support.” Church was fully aware the “little action” into which he was sending Smith and his makeshift battalion would pit them against at least two regiments of the NKPA’s 4th Inf. Div., supported by a tank regiment—some 5,000 men and three dozen tanks. It is not known why he failed to inform Smith of this or the fact that the enemy advance had just taken the city of Suwo ˘n and routed several South Korean divisions, leaving no intact ROK army units in the vicinity for Smith to support. Church apparently felt—as had Dean and Walker before him—that a “demonstration of resolve” by two understrength American rifle companies would be sufficient to encourage ROK units and discourage the entire NKPA. Smith, however, was a professional soldier, and he was determined to find out just what lay in store for his men.

After meeting with Church on July 2, Smith set out north by jeep toward Suwo˘n with his principal officers, looking for a likely place to establish a defensive position. As they drove north over miles of rough road, thousands of dispirited refugees and retreating ROK troops passed them in the opposite direction.

Three miles north of Osan the road dipped and bent slightly toward Suwo ˘n. At right angles to the road ran an irregular ridge of hills. The highest hill peaked at around 300 feet, commanding the railroad line to the east and offering a line of sight nearly the entire eight miles north to Suwo ˘n. It was there Smith established his position.

Smith set up his command post in Pyeongtaek, some 15 miles southeast of Osan. On July 4 elements of the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion—134 men and a battery of six 105mm howitzers under the command of Lt. Col. Miller Perry—arrived in Pyeongtaek to bolster the task force. The two officers made a final reconnaissance of the position north of Osan, noting viable positions for the howitzers. Smith submitted his choice of site to headquarters and received orders to “take up those good positions near Osan you told General Church about.”

In many ways the position was optimal, given the situation. It offered good cover and observation, and it controlled the approaches to Osan. However, the enemy had a clear path to flanking Smith, who with his limited force could do little more than deploy his men in a “refused flank” —a line of troops bent back on itself to prevent such an attack.

Just after midnight on July 5 Task Force Smith moved out of Pyeongtaek in dozens of trucks and commandeered vehicles. In blackout conditions, with fleeing ROK troops and civilians clogging the road, it took more than two and a half hours to cover the 12 miles to Osan. They drove on in a pouring rain, reaching their position at 3 a.m. Worse still, the sky showed no sign of clearing, eliminating any possibility of air support.

Smith’s infantrymen began to dig in and set up their weapons in the rain-soaked predawn hours, forming a mile-wide defensive line that flanked the road. Meanwhile, Perry’s men used jeeps to tow all but one of their howitzers up a steep hillside some 2,000 yards to the rear of the infantry and then camouflaged them. The remaining gun Perry placed halfway between the battery and the infantry position to cover the road against enemy tanks. The men strung telephone wires between the artillery and infantry positions. Smith emplaced the four .50-caliber machine guns and four bazookas with his infantry and positioned the mortars 400 yards to the rear. The infantry parked its vehicles just south of their position, while the artillerymen chose to conceal their trucks farther back toward Osan—a decision that would prove fortuitous after the battle.

By first light the men were in position, their situation as good as Smith could make it. “Gentlemen, we will hold for 24 hours,” the commander told his men. “After that we will have help.” Smith was unaware that neither Church nor Dean had made any provisions to come to his aid. As far as the generals were concerned, the mission was simply a delaying action that required no further support. Smith’s tiny force was soon to be as isolated as the men at the Alamo or Thermopylae—and just as outnumbered.

Smith and his men did not have to wait long for the enemy. At around 7:30 a.m. observers spotted eight Soviet-made T-34/85 tanks of the NKPA’s 107th Tank Regiment rolling directly toward them. At 8:16 a.m., at a range of 4,000 yards, the American artillery fired on the forces of North Korea for the first time—to no effect whatsoever. The standard 105mm rounds merely bounced off the tanks. Perry’s battery had only six high-explosive antitank (HEAT) rounds, all assigned to the forward howitzer.

When the T-34s came within 700 yards of the infantry Smith ordered the 75mm recoilless rifles to open fire. Despite scoring several direct hits, they had no better luck. Nor did the 2.36-inch bazookas, firing repeatedly at practically pointblank range. Second Lt. Ollie Connor alone fired 22 rockets from a distance of 15 yards, to no effect. Had the Americans been armed with the more powerful 3.5-inch bazookas then being fielded to U.S. units in Germany, the outcome would have been dramatically different.

The Army maxim of the day regarding tank warfare was, “The best defense against the tank is another tank.” Without tanks of its own, Task Force Smith could have at least used anti-tank mines, but again there were none in Korea. For reasons that remain unclear, they were left on the airstrip in Japan as the task force prepared to deploy.

The T-34s soon opened fire on the Americans with their turret-mounted 85mm guns and 7.62 machine guns. The heavy barrage initially sent some of Perry’s gun crews scurrying for cover, but they soon returned to their howitzers. As the tanks began to roll through Smith’s position, American fire—in all likelihood HEAT rounds from the lead howitzer—finally had an impact, damaging the lead two T-34s. One caught fire, and as its three-man crew emerged from the turret, one of them fired on a U.S. machine gun emplacement, killing an assistant gunner. He was the first American ground soldier killed in action in Korea. Return fire killed the three North Koreans.

The forward howitzer crew engaged the third tank through the pass, but the Americans had expended their six HEAT rounds, and the tank quickly knocked out the gun. Perry’s remaining howitzers disabled two other tanks, but more were on the way. Twenty-five additional T-34s followed the initial eight-tank enemy column in intervals. Perhaps fearing that Smith’s men represented only the forward position of a much larger force, the tanks did not stop to engage the infantry but simply fired on them in passing. Some did not bother to fire at all. Unfortunately for the Americans, the tanks’ treads had cut the telephone wires, severely hampering communication between Smith and the artillery. Two hours after the first tank approached, the last passed through Smith’s position, leaving some 20 Americans dead or wounded, including Perry, who was hit in the leg by small-arms fire after trying in vain to get the crew of one disabled tank to surrender.

An hour later Smith saw what he estimated to be a six-mile column of trucks and infantry, led by three tanks, approaching along the road. These were the 16th and 18th Regiments of the NKPA’s 4th Division, some 5,000 men in all. Inexplicably, the earlier tank column had neglected to alert the infantry to the waiting American ambushers. When the convoy closed to within 1,000 yards, Smith and his men “threw the book at them,” as he later put it. The North Koreans reacted by sending the three tanks to within 300 yards of the ridgeline to shell and machine-gun Task Force Smith’s positions. A 1,000-man enemy skirmish line sought to advance but was driven back by American fire.

Though Perry’s battery, cut off from communication with forward observers, was unable to provide supporting fire, Smith’s infantry fought on for more than three hours. The American infantrymen inflicted punishing casualties on the advancing enemy but were eventually flanked and subjected to heavy fire. Nearly surrounded and almost out of ammunition, Smith realized withdrawal was the only option.

It was during the withdrawal the Americans suffered their greatest casualties. Those who attempted to carry wounded out of the firestorm were cut down. Completely exposed to enemy mortar and machine-gun fire, many of the men broke and ran, leaving their heavy weapons and at least two dozen wounded behind. As the advancing North Koreans came upon the injured Americans, they shot them where they lay or bound and executed them.

When the advance columns of T-34s had passed through, they had destroyed the infantry’s vehicles, so Smith’s surviving infantrymen ran through nearby rice paddies, desperate to find the rear. The withdrawal quickly turned into a rout. The artillerymen still had their trucks, and after disabling the remaining howitzers, they drove off toward Ansong, picking up dozens of scattered infantrymen as they went. Survivors would straggle into headquarters, singly and in small groups, for days afterward. Smith reported 150 of his infantrymen and 31 officers and men of Perry’s artillery force dead or missing— around 40 percent of the task force. The butcher’s bill could have been much higher had the North Koreans—who had orders not to stop until they reached Pyeongtaek—chosen to pursue Smith’s little force, they could have wiped it out.

In time a new Army slogan was born: “No more Task Force Smiths.” Over the past six decades it has been the norm to lay blame on convenient targets for the defeat of Task Force Smith—poor training, faulty leadership, inadequate equipment—while ignoring the chief underlying causes of the fiasco.

A claim that the men of Task Force Smith were poorly trained is fiction. The soldiers in occupied Japan received the same extensive training given all American troops. Writes one Army historian of the period, “The units that were deployed to Korea were as disciplined as any unit sent to combat in the Second World War.” At the time of Task Force Smith’s deployment the Army’s evaluation program had rated the battalion “tested and ready for combat.” The proof was in its performance. Dramatically outgunned and outmanned more than 10-to-1, the U.S. troops had confronted two regiments of enemy infantry and three dozen tanks, had held their ground for more than six hours and had killed some 42 North Koreans and wounded 85. The fact the GIs took out four tanks with limited antitank weapons and retained discipline under heavy fire speaks volumes.

Some accused Smith and his officers of failing their men, but nothing could be further from the truth. The task force’s officers, from Smith on down, made all the right decisions regarding terrain and tactics. And despite the mad scramble for survival at the close of battle, their men acquitted themselves well in an impossible situation, due in large measure to the example set by their officers.

A charge that the firepower employed by Task Force Smith was inadequate for the mission is true the condition of much of the equipment was disgraceful. Even the howitzers had earlier been condemned and were no longer allowed to fire over friendly troops. Yet the men under Smith and Perry used the worn artillery pieces and other weapons to their fullest capacity.

U.S. Army Major John Garrett conducted extensive research into the battle and wrote “Task Force Smith: The Lesson Never Learned,” a monograph published in 2000 by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College’s School of Advanced Military Studies. In it Garrett convincingly argues that the real responsibility for the mission’s failure lay not with the men who led or comprised Task Force Smith but with the “senior leaders of the 24th Infantry Division, Eighth U.S. Army and higher headquarters who failed to provide the proper operational leadership.…Task Force Smith was deployed to the Korean theater without any concept of how and why it was to be employed.”

Facing a Senate committee MacArthur later said of the Battle of Osan: “I threw in troops from the 24th Division…in the hope of establishing a loci of resistance around which I could rally the fast-retreating South Korean forces. I also hoped by that arrogant display of strength to fool the enemy into a belief that I had a much greater resource at my disposal than I did.” It was a naive and ultimately disastrous gambit, reflective of the hubris that convinced experienced general officers that a small force of American warriors could deter entire NKPA tank and infantry regiments. In all likelihood the North Koreans initially had no idea they were facing an American defensive force. And once they did, it clearly made no difference their tanks simply rode over and through the Americans. As Garrett wrote, “This brave tiny force was placed in front of the absolute strongest part of the North Korean Army…not out of ignorance of the situation, but out of the thoughtless pride of MacArthur and the failure of any other commander to correct or even see the blunder.”

Nor did the Army learn from Osan. Task Force Smith would not be the last American force precipitately thrown into combat with tragic results in the early days of the Korean War. An oft-repeated quote describes insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Sadly, the results would be the same each time.

Ron Soodalter is the author of Hanging Captain Gordon and co-author of The Slave Next Door. For further reading he recommends South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, by Roy Edgar Appleman, and the monograph “Task Force Smith: The Lesson Never Learned,” by Major John Garrett.

Originally published in the July 2014 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.

The History of NABJ’s LGBTQ+ Task Force Part 1

In 2005, the National Association of Black Journalists made history. At its winter Board meeting, held in a hotel conference room in the shadow of JFK Airport and in the middle of a deluge of snow, the organization affirmed its queer and trans journalists by approving the formation of the LGBTQ+ Task Force. This was 16 years after Thom Morgan was elected the organization’s eighth and first openly gay president. To some, the decision was blasphemous, a sign of equality for members of the NABJ family who didn’t need or deserve such recognition. To many others, it was a momentous occasion, one of those that doesn’t necessarily come with much fanfare but had an unspeakable impact.

By many accounts, the founding of the task force began NABJ’s formal efforts to make the organization more inclusive, to let Black gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and trans journalists know that it could be a home for them, too. Fifteen years later, President Dorothy Tucker continued this work by declaring “NABJ will be a safe space for all” in an open letter released to members last November.

Written in response to concerns raised by members of the LGBTQ+ Task Force, Tucker committed the organization to doing better by and for Black queer and trans journalists. The organization’s Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy was also updated to reflect sexual orientation in the existing categories of gender expression and gender identity and sensitivity training was conducted last December for the Board and made available to the membership.

In doing so, she marked what many have described to me, as the current co-chair of the Task Force along with Femi Redwood, as a hopeful new era for the organization. But even the need for such a statement by Tucker telegraphs that perhaps much hasn’t changed in the decade and a half since the Task Force was founded.

To find out, I revisited those earlier years, interviewing NABJers who were present along the Task Force’s now 16-year journey. Read them HERE.

Task Force 2

For the 2022 International History Olympiad, we are introducing a new event which showcases how history impacts important issues of the present: the Task Force. Two separate Task Forces will be offered. The first will focus on the conservation of endangered languages, and the second topic will be determined in the coming months details will then be posted on this page. The Task Force on Language Conservation will only be open to Varsity and Junior Varsity students, though the second Task Force will also be open to Middle School students.

In advance of the Task Force, students who plan on participating will write a 1200-1600 page paper detailing the efforts being made to document, conserve, and revitalize a particular endangered language (a different one of which will be assigned to each student). Students will also listen to online speakers, read articles, and familiarize themselves with the topic in advance of the Olympiad.

At the actual Olympiad, students will then come together in their age division groups, present their findings, listen to additional presentations, analyze further materials, and then draft a slate of recommendations on the topic.

The Task Force will be an application-only event with a field cap of 15 students in each division. Details on how to apply will be forthcoming in early 2022. Students will be evaluated not only through their own presentations, but on how well they collaborate in the group (hint: talk less, listen more!) and the merits of their contributions to the final report.

In 1954, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) began a program to encourage the private reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel as part of a program to commercialize the nuclear fuel cycle. New York State became interested in the AEC privatization program as a way to promote industrial development within the State. By 1961, New York State’s Office of Atomic Development acquired 3,300 acres in Cattaraugus County with the intent of establishing a spent fuel reprocessing facility.

The AEC announcement also created interest within the business community, and the Davison Chemical Company, W.R. Grace and Company and American Machine and Foundry (AMF) set up Nuclear Fuel Services Inc. (NFS) to pursue the spent fuel reprocessing venture. Negotiations among NFS, AEC, and New York State on the operation of the plant were completed in 1962, and construction began in 1963. The plant was completed in 1966 at a cost of about $33 million. NFS was licensed as the operator, and the New York State Atomic Research and Development Authority (a predecessor agency of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) was licensed as the owner.

NFS reprocessed 640 metric tons of spent fuel between 1966 and 1971. Sixty percent of this fuel was from the N-reactor at Hanford – supplied by AEC under a baseload contract with NFS. During the time it operated, the facility experienced operational difficulties, higher than expected worker doses, and unplanned releases of radioactive material to the environment. In addition to spent fuel reprocessing, NFS established two radioactive waste disposal areas at the Center – a commercial radioactive waste disposal facility, and a separate facility that was used for the disposal of high-activity reprocessing waste with radiation levels that were too high to be buried in the commercial disposal facility.

After operating the facility for six years, NFS halted reprocessing operations in 1972 in order to make modifications to the plant. NFS expected that these modifications would cost $15 million. During the shut-down period, new regulatory requirements were issued by the AEC related to earthquake and tornado protection and waste management. NFS estimated that meeting these new requirements could cost $600 million, and NFS informed New York that it was withdrawing from the reprocessing business and intended to turn the facility over to the State. At that time, the facility contained 750 spent fuel assemblies that had not been reprocessed, 600,000 gallons of liquid high-level radioactive waste (HLW) stored in steel tanks, the highly contaminated Main Plant Process Building, and two radioactive waste disposal areas that contained almost 3 million cubic feet of waste in unlined trenches.

New York State refused to take possession of the facility because the facilities did not meet the requirements for transfer to the State. Congress held hearings, directed the GAO to investigate the issues, and directed DOE to study options for the future of the Center. These activities eventually led to Congress passing the West Valley Demonstration Project Act in 1980.

In 1982, in accordance with the West Valley Demonstration Project Act, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) took control of about 200 acres of the site and began the process of solidifying the liquid HLW wastes, and in decontaminating and decommissioning the facilities used in the solidification project. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is responsible for management of the shut down commercial radioactive waste disposal site and the balance of the Center. NYSERDA, as the owner, is also the licensee for the site.

As part of the decision making process for site cleanup and decommissioning, DOE and NYSERDA jointly issued an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for completion of the project. In 1996 a draft EIS was released which contained no preferred alternative. Numerous comments were received and the agencies agreed to issue a revised draft with a preferred alternative. The West Valley Citizen Task Force (CTF) was formed in 1997 to provide broader public participation in the EIS and decontamination and decommissioning processes. The CTF issued a report in 1998 addressing what it felt should occur and has been meeting regularly since then. Members of the CTF are drawn from local government, community and environmental organizations, representatives of elected officials and the Seneca Nation of Indians.

A Draft EIS was released for public comment in November 2008. The Decommissioning Plan was also delivered to NRC in December 2008. A Final EIS, Record of Decision and New York Finding Statement were released in the spring of 2010. A phased decision making approach was selected. Phase 1 of decommissioning activities is underway. The core of that work will be the relocation of 275 HLW canisters to a new on-site interim storage system demolition and removal of the Main Plant Process Building, Vitrification Facility, and the source of the North Plateau Groundwater Plume removal of the low-level waste water treatment system, the four operating lagoons, and one closed lagoon shipment and disposal of all of the project-generated low-level waste and transuranic waste and removal of numerous ancillary facilities. In order to address some technical issues identified in the EIS, a Phase 1 Studies Process was developed by DOE and NYSERDA with subject matter experts engaged and an Independent Scientific Panel formed. The agencies plan to make a Phase 2 decision in 2020. There is presently no disposal facility for the high-level radioactive waste at West Valley, or for the West Valley transuranic waste.

Work Accomplished Since 1980 and Work Planned for Phase 1 Decommissioning – Facility Disposition

DOE, through its contractor CH2MHill B&W West Valley, LLC (CHBWV), is moving forward with the Phase 1 Decommissioning – Facility Disposition. This contract is for the relocation of the HLW canisters, demolition of the Main Plant Process Building and Vitrification Facility to ground-level, shipment and disposal of low-level waste, and removal of ancillary facilities.

Since 1980 major work accomplished at WVDP by DOE and its contractors includes:

  • Vitrification of liquid high-level radioactive waste into glass. This glass is now encased in canisters and stored on-site in 275 ten-foot tall stainless steel canisters awaiting a long-term storage solution. At this time there is no operating national long-term storage facility receiving high-level radioactive waste.
  • Removal of the equipment used in the vitrification process, and shipment of most of this waste for off-site disposal.
  • Removal of 125 spent nuclear fuel assemblies from a storage pool and shipment to the Idaho National Laboratory for storage.
  • Decontamination of a number of areas within the Main Process Plant Building. More than 100,000 cubic feet of low-level waste has been shipped for disposal.
  • Infrastructure reduction through demolition of unnecessary building and facilities.
  • Ongoing environmental monitoring and characterization of contaminated areas.
  • Installation of a drying system for the High Level Waste Tanks and Vaults.
  • Installation of a geomembrane cover on the NRC Licensed Disposal Area.
  • Installation of Permeable Treatment Wall along leading edge of the North Plateau Groundwater Plume.

NYSERDA is responsible for the State-Licensed Disposal Area (SDA) a 15-acre portion of the site where solid radioactive wastes were buried. In the 1970s and 1980s, water infiltrated the burial trenches and, because of the clay soil, these trenches began to fill with water. NYSERDA installed a geomembrane covering the SDA to prevent additional infiltration as well as a subsurface barrier wall to prevent groundwater from moving into the trenches. The cover has eliminated infiltration of precipitation and snow melt. NYSERDA actively manages and monitors the SDA.

The following work was anticipated to occur now through 2020 if sufficient funding were available:

Joint DOE/NYSERDA Activities:

  • Conduct Phase 1 Studies Process.
  • Prepare a Supplemental EIS for Phase 2 decisions.
  • Arrive at a Phase 2 decision by 2020.
  • Complete high level waste canister relocation to a newly constructed storage pad at WVDP.
  • Process, ship and dispose of all legacy low-level waste off-site.
  • Demolition and removal of the Main Process Plant Building and the Vitrification Facility.
  • Reduce infrastructure through demolition or removal of additional structures.
  • Remove source area of North Plateau Groundwater Plume under Main Process Plant Building once it is demolished.
  • Removal of the low-level waste water treatment system.

Task Force W: History - History

In 1983, the Governor's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect was created by Executive Order to bring a coordinated statewide effort to solving the problem of child abuse and neglect. The Task Force was charged with the responsibility of making recommendations to improve the State's response to child maltreatment and to educate communities and professionals about the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

In 1996, the legislature established by statute the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect to continue the work of the Governor's Task Force and expanded its mandate. The Task Force was authorized to study and develop recommendations regarding the most effective means of improving the quality and scope of child protective services provided or supported by State government including the practices and policies of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

Under the law establishing the Department of Children and Families, the 24 member Task Force&rsquos membership consists of cabinet level officers including the Commissioners of the Departments of Children and Families, Human Services, Education, Community Affairs, Corrections, Health and Senior Services, the Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Public Defender and the Superintendent of State Police, or their designees, a county prosecutor, two members of the Senate and the General Assembly, representing both political parties and 13 public members appointed by the Governor.

In 2007, the statute of the NJTFCAN was again revised to include the following expanded purpose:

The purpose of the task force is to study and develop recommendations regarding the most effective means of improving the quality and scope of child protective and preventative services provided or supported by State government, including a review of the practices and policies utilized by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency and Division of Family and Community Partnerships in the Department of Children and Families in order to:

Why Nellis Air Force Base held its first ever drag show

(Task & Purpose photo illustration / Coco Montrese Facebook page)

Nellis Air Force Base made history last week for hosting its first ever drag show, where guests from the local Las Vegas drag scene performed and took attendees through the history and significance of drag within the LGBT+ community.

The event was planned by the Nellis Air Force Base Pride committee, which is composed of volunteers from across the base focused on diversity and inclusion initiatives, said Nellis spokesman Lt. Col. Bryon McGarry. It was sponsored by the Nellis Top 3, a private group meant to “enhance the morale, esprit de corps, of all enlisted personnel assigned to the [99th Air Base] Wing and to facilitate cooperation between members of the top three enlisted grades,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

“Ensuring our ranks reflect and are inclusive of the American people is essential to the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the military,” McGarry said. “Nellis Air Force Base is committed to providing and championing an environment that is characterized by equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.”

The event sent some ripples among social media commenters who saw the drag show as a fatal flaw in America’s national security program. The right-wing news site Breitbart covered the promotion of the event, kicking off anguish from commenters.

“Trinity [sic] and Tobago could probably take us over at this point,” said one commenter on Twitter, reacting to a flyer promoting the event, which was held on Thursday, June 17.

“On a global stage we are being laughed at,” said another.

The concerns echo similar voices who have raised doubts over the Navy’s inclusion of the book How To Be an Antiracist on its reading list and West Point teaching a seminar called “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.” Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed those doubters in a hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

“I’ve read Mao Zedong, I’ve read Karl Marx, I’ve read Lenin, that doesn’t make me a communist,” Milley said in response to questions from two Republican lawmakers about the teaching of critical race theory at West Point.

“What is wrong with understanding — having some situational understanding about the country that we are here to defend?” Milley asked.

Rather than being a national security risk, drag is a broad term for “ostentatiously exaggerated” cross-dressing, “ironically playing up imitations of the opposite sex,” according to the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture.

While the practice dates back to at least the Elizabethan era in England, it really took off in the 1920s with performers like Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich, women who popularized male dress for women, according to the encyclopedia. Drag took on a political connotation after the Stonewall rebellion in New York City in 1969, which was led by cross-dressers and drag queens and is considered the start of the modern gay rights movement.

“Drag is essentially action, not identity,” the encyclopedia writes. “It shakes up all rigid definitions for gender and sexuality, parodying the stereotypes of femininity and masculinity.”

And while Thursday’s show was the first ever to be hosted by Nellis Air Force Base, drag is not new to the military. Just check out this photograph taken in Germany just 10 days after World War II ended in Europe, where about 60 soldiers put on a drag show all on their own.

“These are all GI’s. There aren’t any girls in the show,” wrote the original owner on the back of the photo.

GI show in Eschwege, 1945, (Museum of Jewish Heritage photo / Gift of Eric Zimmerman, Yaffa Eliach Collection donated by the Center for Holocaust Studies)

More recently, Joshua Kelley, a yeoman 3rd class in the Navy, made a name for himself performing as Harpy Daniels in drag in front of excited crowds.

“I’ve been accepted everywhere I go,” he told Navy Times in 2018. “Those outside my command don’t know I’m the drag queen who slayed on the ship. To most sailors, I’m just YN2 Kelley. Once they find out I’m Harpy Daniels, I’m praised as an inspiration and see so much joy in their reactions for simply being who I am.”

Now, in 2021, Nellis Air Force Base seemed to have a positive reaction to the drag show: about 180 members of the Nellis community attended the event, McGarry said. While there aren’t currently plans to hold another drag show, base leaders are supportive of events that “reinforce the Air Force’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion toward recognizing the value every one of our Airmen bring to the team,” he added.

One person in particular who seemed to appreciate the show was Coco Montrese, who was one of the special guests at Nellis last week. Montrese was the 2010 Miss Gay America, and she has also appeared on the reality TV Show RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“Y’all we just did the first drag show on Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. How freakin amazing is that?” Montrese told her fans on Instagram afterwards. “And the men are lovely on this Air Force base.”

“Thank you dahhlin!” wrote one Instagram user. “The show was amazing.”

The Strange Disappearance of Admiral Wilcox

Man overboard” is perhaps the most chilling phrase one can hear on board a ship. And when those words were heard on the morning of 27 March 1942, one of the most baffling incidents in U.S. naval history began. To this day it has never been satisfactorily resolved.

That morning, a U.S. Navy task force was zigzagging through the wintry North Atlantic, bound for a rendezvous with Royal Navy ships near Scapa Flow, off the north coast of Scotland. The 13-ship task force included the battleship Washington (BB-56), the aircraft carrier Wasp (CV-7), two heavy cruisers, and eight destroyers. In command was Rear Admiral John W. Wilcox Jr., on board the Washington. Almost four months after the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, this tiny armada was the strongest force the U.S. Navy could muster in the Atlantic.

On the Washington’s bridge, Lieutenant (junior grade) William Fargo, officer of the deck, tried to see through the snow and freezing spray, alert for any indication of an enemy assault—from the sea, under the sea, or the air. Forward of the bridge, the barrels of the 16-inch guns were glazed with ice. Waves slammed over the ship’s bow, drenching the deck with icy water.

On the fantail, a lookout shivered in his foul-weather gear. His eyes swept the gray waves and the battlewagon’s wake for anything out of the ordinary. According to the ship’s log, at 1031 came the heart-stopping cry: “Man overboard!” The fantail lookout could see a man in the water. The Washington and all other ships in the task force were under radio silence, so Captain H. H. J. Benson ordered the message to be relayed to the other ships by whistle and flags.

Two of the task-force destroyers closed toward the flagship’s wake. The cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37), in the murky light some distance behind, signaled that a man could be seen in the water, apparently swimming toward a life ring. But moments later, the destroyer Livermore (DD-429) reported sighting the man floating face down in the raging, heaving sea. Neither ship could recover him. The question on board the Washington, and all the other task-force ships, from skipper to seaman, was the same: Who was the man overboard?

A roll call of every officer and seaman was made, in all 2,000 men, and every man of the Washington’s crew was accounted for. Captain Benson ordered a recount, and this time he ordered officers to sight each man in his charge as his name was called. After all, there was no doubt that someone had fallen overboard—no fewer than six officers and men on three ships had seen the man struggling in the water.

The task force plowed through sea and weather, and the missing man was long-since lost now. But who was he? The second head count was the same as the first. All officers and men were accounted for. Benson still believed there was an error, but he nonetheless ordered that the report be submitted to Admiral Wilcox.

An officer took it to the admiral’s cabin. The Marine sentry on duty outside opened the door—and the cabin was empty. Where was the admiral? The ship was searched. He was not on board. The answer to the puzzle suddenly was clear. Only one man was not listed in the ship’s muster rolls—Admiral Wilcox—who had to be the missing man.

In a later board of inquiry, it was revealed that shortly before the admiral was spotted in the water, several men had seen him on deck. They reported that he looked pale, and a couple of men thought he acted confused while trying to get from one part of the ship to another.

The board of inquiry determined that “The loss at sea of Rear Admiral Wilcox was not caused in any manner by the intent, fault, negligence, or inefficiency of any person or persons in the naval service or connected therewith. . . . John W. Wilcox, Junior, late Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy, died on March 27, 1942, in the line of duty and not as the result of his own misconduct.”

Alonzo Tucker

This page is dedicated to sharing information and resources related to the Alonzo Tucker Memorial Project and the Alonzo Tucker Task Force, a steering committee created to serve as a platform for gathering diverse community input about a memorial for Alonzo Tucker in Coos Bay. Here, you will find the Alonzo Tucker Task Force Newsletter, the Alonzo Tucker Memorial Survey Report, links to further information about the Alonzo Tucker Memorial to be placed at the Coos History Museum, and more.

UPDATE: The Alonzo Tucker Memorial Survey is now closed, but please view the report created from the survey responses below. Thank you to everyone who participated in this survey.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: An Equal Justice Initiative plaque acknowledging the lynching of Alonzo Tucker and lynching throughout the United States will be placed on the Coos History Museum grounds and unveiled on Juneteenth.


Alonzo Tucker Memorial Survey Report

Click here to view the report and summary of the Alonzo Tucker Memorial survey responses.

Oregon Remembrance Project

Click here to learn more about the Oregon Remembrance Project and the Alonzo Tucker story.

Equal Justice Initiative

Click here to learn more about EJI and the Community Remembrance Project.

Alonzo Tucker Task Force Newsletter

The City of Coos Bay, the Coos History Museum, the Oregon Remembrance Project, the Alonzo Tucker Project, and a constituency of Coos County community members have convened a task force to determine which form an Alonzo Tucker memorial should take. The determined course of action is to continue Coos Bay’s partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative from Montgomery, AL.

Our collective memory and our collective consciousness hold power. What we choose to remember as well as how we choose to remember history is a reflection of the soul of our society. Bryan Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, says that “truth and reconciliation are sequential.” In order to get to reconciliation, we must first engage in the requisite truth telling. We have chosen to embark on this campaign of truth and reconciliation by placing a physical memorial to the history of lynching and to Oregon’s only recorded African American victim of lynching, Alonzo Tucker. Through placing this physical memorial, we are permanently installing this history into our collective knowledge and setting the course for our relationship with history in a way that compels us to learn from that history.

In April 2018 the Equal Justice Initiative opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice , our nation’s first memorial to the history of lynching. In conjunction with the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the Equal Justice Initiative has implemented the Community Remembrance Project, which aims to work in the communities where lynchings took place to find healing and reconciliation through a sober reflection on history. Coos Bay completed Phase 1 of the Community Remembrance Project on February 29, 2020 when we held a soil collection ceremony from the spot where Alonzo Tucker was shot. Two jars of soil were collected that day. One jar is now on display at the Coos History Museum with a panel on Alonzo Tucker and the other is now on display at the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum in Montgomery. The Alonzo Tucker Task Force has now decided to complete Phase 2 of the Community Remembrance Project, the installment of a historical marker. The historical marker is two-sided, one side will tell the story of lynching in America as a whole and the other side will tell the story of Alonzo Tucker. The rectangular marker is 7ft tall and 42in x 39.5in wide. The Equal Justice Initiative will pay for the marker and all shipping expenses. It will be up to the Alonzo Tucker Task Force to raise funds for the installation costs.

Coos Bay will be joining the growing list of other communities across the country that have made this history a permanent installation in their community. We find reconciliation for this lynching not by our acts of remembrance but by how those acts of remembrance change us. We find reconciliation not by our knowledge of lynching but by what we do with that knowledge. We find reconciliation not by reflecting solely on the past but by critically evaluating the present. Only through a critical examination of history can the past illuminate our present and guide us toward our future.

– Written by Taylor Stewart (Oregon Remembrance Project)

Additional Information

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Coos Bay and the Coos History Museum

Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Coos History Museum waterfront development and placement of Alonzo Tucker memorial

EJI Soil Collection Project General Guidelines as a reference for the soil collection event that took place on February 29, 2020

EJI Historical Marker Guide as a reference for the historical marker that will be placed at the Coos History Museum


Our commitment to our Free & Local roots remains strong. Hunger Task Force believes in its crucial mission to distribute food to hungry children, families and seniors who have fallen upon difficult times, and not to charge our network partners for the food our community has generously donated for free. Hunger Task Force is continually adapting its policies to align with the needs of the community. We are generously supported by thousands of donors— both individuals, foundations and corporations, helped by more than 16,000 volunteers, and driven by hundreds of local community advocates each year.

Watch the video: Helping Hotels In Need: Hotel Task Force with Peter Wenzell