ruthless foreign power bent on subjugating the U.S. invaded Texas
That spring, as the U.S. military continued to battle North Koreans
in Southeast Asia, Americans back home tended to see a Communist
behind every bush. And in the Lone Star State the Cold War suddenly
turned hot -- at least on paper.
World events unfolded rapidly, but with television in its infancy
and the internet decades away, news spread slower than it does today.
That being the case, the screaming bold type spread across the front
page of the April 3, 1952 edition of the Lampasas Dispatch surely
startled many local residents.
“Texas Made A Nation: Aggressor Win Ends Bondage,” read the banner
In an era when the Soviet Union and Red China seemed bent on taking
over the world, and nuclear war appeared all but inevitable, the
first paragraph of the weekly newspaper’s lead story bore chilling
“An Aggressor Military Government Group assumed control of Lampasas
today when the 56th Militia Governmento Sekcio commanded by Regimentestro
(Colonel) Alton M. Schiepstock, raised the Aggressor Flag at the
County Court House at 9 a.m.”
The next paragraph quoted the new leader offering “the helping hand
of friendship” after his government had finally broken “the bonds
by which the filthy, capitalistic, Wall Street, war mongers have
enslaved you since 1845….Long live the Texas Peoples Republic and
the glorious Aggressor Nation.”
In other words, another nation had invaded the U.S., taken control
of Texas, and made it an “independent”
country. Actually, the Dispatch article noted that the U.S. had
been under attack since 1950, with the Carolinas and California
already under Aggressor control.
Of course, the helping hand of friendship extended by the new Aggressor
official came veiled in an iron glove. The regimentestro wanted
the people of Lampasas
to know that the military mission he oversaw included restoring
order, eradicating “the few remaining traces of decadent U.S. influence…and
to insure that civilians do not mistakenly interfere with the Aggressor
who bothered to look more closely would see that the newspaper’s
front page bore the bogus date of “Juvember 33, 1969” along with
a caution that the issue was “For Maneuver Purposes Only…This Publication
Created for Operation Longhorn…Not Intended For General Distribution.”
Fortunately, a few people saved copies of this unusual publication
for posterity’s sake.
Publisher-editor Ward Lowe explained the fake stories in his “Around
Town” column, concluding: “ Remember that this article [and others
in that issue] has described a mythical country and enemy. If, however,
you happen to notice a remarkable resemblance to any past or potential
enemies of our country it is not purely coincidental.”
Not much has been written about Operation Longhorn, but the exercise
ranked as one of the largest in U.S. history. It involved more than
115,000 troops, thousands of military vehicles from tanks to transport
trucks, hundreds of aircraft and cost taxpayers roughly $3.5 million
or about $30.3 million in 2013 dollars.
The maneuver unfolded across a 60 by 30 mile area generally west
Fort Hood hosted the large-scale war game, with much of the air
traffic using Goodfellow Air Force Base in San
Soldiers and airmen trained in the use of chemical and nuclear weapons,
the basic scenario being that U.S. forces were fighting to recapture
Central Texas from the heretofore successful Aggressor nation’s
military. The fighting was not for real, but there were casualties.
Tragically, 10 men died in the exercise, and others suffered injuries.
Reading between the lines of the written artifacts associated with
the maneuver – the phony newspaper page, brochures, flyers, posters
and signs – the exercise was as much a U.S. propaganda campaign
as military readiness training.
For instance, the Dispatch also featured a page-one story listing
18 new laws local residents had to obey now that the Aggressor nation
had “freed” Texas from its capitalistic
The edicts included a 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew; confiscation of all
government property and all privately owned vehicles; government
control of local news media; closure of all schools pending the
appointment of “Valid Centralist Party Members” as teachers; churches
closed until pastors could be “screened;” and on and on in that
totalitarian vein. And just to rub it in, the list of rules noted,
“It is customary for all civilians to remove their hats and bow
when passing an Aggressor Soldier.”
Basically, freedom as it had been enjoyed prior to the invasion
was over, even though the new rules were touted as affording even
more freedom. Penalties for violations ranged up to death.
Fortunately for the good people of Lampasas County, the U.S. Army
– primarily the troops based at Fort Hood – defeated the Aggressor
forces (played by the venerable 82nd Airborne Division) and liberated
© Mike Cox
- June 18, 2013 column
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