On Saturday, July 25, 1959, USMC Lt. Col. William Rankin and Lt. Herbert Nolan of the US Navy, flying from Weymouth Naval Air Station in Massachusetts to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, encountered an unusually high cumulonimbus cloud, or ‘thunderhead’. As experienced pilots, Rankin and Nolan both knew the unmistakable dangers of the tall, powerful storm clouds; their classic anvil shape and furious natures are commonly associated with pounding rains, destructive winds, and tornadoes. However, having previously confirmed with meteorologists that there was no frontal activity in the area, the two pilots climbed up to 48,000 feet to fly over the isolated storm.
In February of 1945, US Marines attacked the rocky Japanese island of Iwo Jima, whose name literally means 'Sulfur Island'. American military strategists planned the invasion as the first assault on one of Japan’s “Home Islands” in World War II, and its success would deny the Empire the use of the island for early warning purposes and as an emergency landing strip for its damaged aircraft, while providing the United States with the same advantages. On February 9, US Navy battleships and B-24 heavy bombers from the 7th Air Force began an intense bombardment of the Japanese troops garrisoned in the island's fortified bunkers which lasted for ten days.