Captain Marvel Troops for America! (Dec, 1941)

Apparently the only thing it takes to turn characterless, shiftless hillbillies into go-getting super soldiers is a proper diet and Jai Alai. Jai Alai, as any Mad Men viewer will tell you, is the sport of the future(video).

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Captain Marvel Troops for America!

“Super Shock Troops” For The Army Will Soon Be In Action! Vitamins Are The Magic That Produce Them!

by W. M. Kimball

THE gray-clad ship moved into the quiet evening shadows of the secluded cove near Willapa Bay.

Three boats dropped from the davits. In each of them 20 men sat straight, alert on the thwarts. Purring motors beached the boats silently. The shadows were blackening, but the 60 men leaped ashore sure-footedly, their cat-eyes piercing the gloom. They were assured men—tall, lean, brown, certain of every movement.

An observer might have whistled in awe to look at them—and with good reason. For these were the United States Army’s “super-shock troops” going into action! The Captain Marvels of America!

Each of them had the strength of ten men. Into each, scientists had instilled the cold, fighting ferocity of a black jaguar. They were “made to order” fighting men, the culmination of all of mankind’s laboratory research—the cream of American manhood whose powers had been heightened and multiplied infinitely by a special course of training and forced vitamin feeding under the supervision of Army physicians and nutrition specialists.

On the beach they gathered about their leader, a squat, compact man with a maple leaf on his shoulder. Their equipment was on their backs, packed in light plastic cases. All were dressed in the same misty blue-green uniforms that blended with the Pacific Coast scene of their special mission—a mission that meant protection for the vital plane, power and water supply plants that extend from Canada to Lower California on the Coast. Their equipment was as unusual as the men, themselves; it was especially designed for this particular service: shin-high boots, calked semi-pliable soles; tough rayon ski-pants strapped tight at the waist over a rayon and wool jacket; a long knife at one thigh, a stubby automatic rifle on the other.

Slots in belts held extra ammunition; waterproof containers for tools, flares—and three tubes of pale, concentrated vitamins!

A special squad of eight men carried an even more unusual weapon, shaped like a monstrous claw but made of rattan woven to form a long, narrow, curving basket. This weapon was an adaptation of the cesta—the throwing device used in the Basque game of Jai Alai. These eight men with cestas constituted the super-grenade throwing squadron of the patrol—and more about them later.

The major spoke as the men gathered about him.

“I suppose you have guessed the purpose of this mission,” he said. “G-2 (Military Intelligence) reports an impending attempt to land sabateurs on the North Pacific Coast. Pacific Patrol reports an enemy aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Alaska. We have reason to believe an attempt will be made to land perhaps a hundred men on the beaches somewhere in the region of the Columbia Estuary. Their purpose will be to infiltrate; to cripple the Bremerton Navy Yards, the Boeing plane factory and the important power lines.

“These invaders are to be eliminated.” The major spun on his heel and walked toward a tall stand of fir that rose beyond the rocks skirting the beach. Three troopers went with him. The others shouldered packs and ran swiftly, two-by-two, spreading north and south from the major’s chosen point of command.

Sixty men had a job to do! Sixty men were to protect a coast-line of 20 miles!

But the major had supreme confidence in them. He knew what their training had been. He knew their super-capabilities. He knew the story behind the training of these Captain Marvel troops.

Do these Super Troops sound fantastic to you? Do they sound like something out of the fertile imagination of a comic book artist? Well, listen to what Colonel Albert P. Clark, head of the Fort Lewis, Wash., Base Hospital, said recently in a dispatch quoted by the Associated Press: “Let me personally select 5,000 men and feed them a specially prepared diet for sixth months and I can produce a small army of unbeatable men—men who will still fight with their bare fists after all their weapons are gone!”

Colonel Clark knows whereof he speaks. For the army is doing just exactly what he proposed, at this very minute—is producing actual “super troops” with the idea of forming divisions of shock troops who could turn Hitler’s “panzers” into “pansies” in no time!

How is it being done? Let’s take a look at a little building down in the Tennessee Mountains, where the government started research several years ago on the subject of the relationship between food and the personality and abilities of mankind.

The results of this research in the Tennessee Mountains have only recently been made public. The findings of scientists of the U. S. Health Service here undoubtedly are going to alter the lives of every one of us and of our children in the very near future.

The Health Service combed the hill country and got together a group of underfed and under-nourished “hill billies”—people who had lived most of their lives on salt pork and corn bread. They were as shiftless, lazy, lackadaisical a bunch of folks as you could find.

We cannot expect here to detail all of the many experimental plans which the Health Service applied, all of the disappointments they met, nor all of the technical details of their research.

We can, however, tell you this: After several years of experimenting with diet, the Health Service turned these character-less hill people into strong, healthy, ambitious, thriving, energy-filled citizens, all of them a credit to the community!

It was all done by scientific feeding of diets containing the proper vitamins, proteins and minerals.

But here is the amazing ending of this experiment: After having accomplished this miracle of scientific feeding, after having turned the hillbillies into “go-getters,” the researchers then put them back on their old diet of salt pork and corn bread—and, in a few short weeks, turned their subjects back into shiftless hill-billies again!

The researchers recite the case of one woman in particular of this group. When she arrived at the health center, her nature was so vicious that she frequently became embroiled in fights with her friends and with the scientists. She refused to do any work whatsoever. But after a few months of proper diet, fortified with vitamin “shots,” she became a perfect lady, co-operative, lovable, willing to work and level-tempered! Deprived of her vitamin-full diet, she once more relapsed to her former snarling, shiftless self.

Then, to complete the cycle of wizardy, the health experts once more changed the hill-billies into “go-getters” by means of diet and vitamin shots.

Now getting closer to our American shock troops, consider the RAF pilot they call “Carrots.” His photograph has been carried in all the newspapers. It was not his red hair that won him his nickname, but his habit of munching on carrots. “Carrots” has the reputation of being the best night fighter in the RAF. Why? Because he can see better in the dark than most of his pals. Why can he see better? Scientists will tell you it is because carrots are a particularly rich source of Vitamin A. And Vitamin A is a preventative of “night blindness.” Heavy shots of it will increase the ability of anyone to see in the dark!

What happened to the Tennessee mountaineers to change their personalities completely? Principally, Vitamin B-1 and its complexes. In the army, they call the Vitamin B complexes the “Morale Vitamin.” The Morale Vitamin promotes fearlessness, willingness to battle for a cause, endurance, unusual strength. It also heightens intelligence and perceptibility.

In conjunction with feeding of the Morale Vitamin, a forced feeding of calcium is also used. In the health service tests, from two to four times the amount of calcium that an average person ordinarily eats was fed. Calcium accelerates the rate of development and maintains a higher level of adult vitality, it was found.

Scientists have discovered that measured administrations of the male sex hormone also adds to the combativeness of the soldier.

Should our shock troops also be protected against wounds? They are being fed heavy dosages of Vitamin K, the anti-hemorrhage vitamin. The K element cuts down excessive bleeding in wounds and enables the blood to coagulate more quickly.

There seems to be no end to the magic of modern administrations. For instance, scientists have just recently discovered that they can restore your gray hair to its normal color—with vitamins! One of the B complexes, known as para-aminobenzoic acid, will do it.

Hitler, as usual, was the first to recognize the value in war of diet and vitamin concentrates. As a matter of fact, Hitler is using diet as a two-edged weapon. The rations of the German army are built on the lines of a simple peasant diet—whole meal, vegetables, potatoes, cheese, skimmed milk and dried fruit. These foods are vitamin-rich, mineral-and protein-rich, and contain elements which America’s white flour and highly refined foods, until recently, have lacked. Germans have also developed the famous Bratling Concentrate of foods—soy beans, meat and vegetables—which will not lose its value even though kept in cans. The Panzer troops also get highly concentrated vegetable and fruit juices and vitamin derivatives.

That is one edge of Hitler’s two-edged diet sword. The other is more terrifying. By depriving his conquered people of foods containing the Morale Vitamin, B-1, he is deliberately attempting to demoralize whole races of people and deprive them of their “will to victory.”

Dr. Thomas Parran, Surgeon General of the United States, and Paul V. McNutt, federal health and welfare coordinator, along with the Department of Agriculture’s economists and nutritionists, already have started a nation-wide campaign to make our entire populace conscious of these amazing forward strides in the knowledge of the importance of diet. Dr. Parran and Mr. McNutt have set a definite goal in this campaign. The government’s goal is to induce Americans to eat 70 to 100 per cent more fresh fruits and vegetables, 35 per cent more eggs, 20 per cent more milk and 10 per cent more butter. Great retail food chains, such as the A. & P. Tea Company, have been enlisted in this campaign. The A. & P., in particular, has conducted an eight-months’ educational drive and reported recently that American housewives in this time have stepped up their buying of foods containing the essential A, B and C vitamin foods by an average of 18 per cent.

By the end of this year, every grocer in America will be supplied with sample menus, sample diets for persons in every walk of life.

Out at Fort Snelling, in Minnesota, a platoon of soldiers have been on experimental diet for several months now. The same things are being done to them that were done to our Tennessee mountaineers—only with further refinements of technique. Preliminary reports—which haven’t been too freely publicized by our cagey military men— indicate amazing results from these tests. These experimental “shock troops,” it has been found, have overcome the fear connected with parachute jumping, have increased their vitality and combativeness as well as their endurance and perceptibility.

Recently, a special detail of the U. S. Marine Corps was formed. Known as the “Amphibious Detail,” this is a detachment of especially selected strong men who will be used to storm enemy positions in landing parties—on assignments which are too tough even for the ordinarily tough Marine Corps. The “Amphibious Detail” is being fed the same scientifically designed super-diet that is being tested on the experimental platoon at Fort Snelling. The “Captain Marvel troops” are on their way—rapidly!

So now let us go back to our fictional “Captain Marvel men,” who are guarding the Pacific Coast against invasion, and watch them in action!

What were those mysterious cestas with which eight of our super troops were equipped? Not long ago, the War Department had official observers at the Jai Alai courts in Brooklyn, N. Y. These observers watched the super-handball game played by the Basques and Spaniards with great interest. The cesta—the elongated, curved basket—is strapped to the player’s wrist. Catching the hard, goat-skin Jai Alai ball in the cesta, the players hurl the ball back with a force that is almost unbelievable. The ball is thrown with such force that frequently a player, hit by it, is killed outright!

The War Department observers made no bets on the Jai Alai game. What they were actually watching with such interest was the manner in which the cesta was used.

Think of what a strong man, equipped with a cesta, could do with a hand grenade!

Imagine the power with which a Captain Marvel Trooper could throw a super-grenade, so equipped!

Our Captain Marvel troopers ran easily through the brush and within an hour were stationed at their assigned posts. The major and his three men faded into the terrain like stalking cats and soon had their listening post established.

Midnight. One a. m.

“Planes, sir,” said the trooper at the “ears.” “Sounds like three, probably two-motored transport—150 miles.”

Minutes passed. The listener began to grin. “They are holding their course. They will be here in a few minutes.”

From the treetop came “Jim’s” voice.

“Three planes—flying boats, sir. About three miles out. Flying low . . . Ooops! There’s a landing flare.”

“Considerate of them. Sure they are hostile ships, Jim?”

“They’re hostile craft all right. I know the cut of their wings. Seem to be landing about two miles out. Coming down now, sir.”

“Right. Tell the boys”—this to the radio operator —”they must make contact within one hour. Let them land before we attack. Two cestamen to each plane. These planes must be destroyed.

Just beyond the heaving wave line that marked the shoals, not 200 yards from shore, the big water bird stopped. Little figures began popping out of a hatch. In the still night air the major heard the soft plop of the rubber boats as they hit the water.

Behind him he heard the quiet tread of his three men.

Jim dropped a round pellet into the pod of the cesta. His arm swung. The ball-like bomb left the basket with a swish and creak of the rattan. The terrific snap of the throw tripped a firing device inside as the super bomb hurtled toward the flying boat beyond the breakers.

The first bomb touched off the fireworks. It blasted a wingtip off the invader.


The major’s battle cry froze the landing party into a huddle. Four machine rifles raked them— two from each flank, crossing their fire.

Thirty men were in the invading party. Ten troopers faced them. The troopers accounted for eight in the first onslaught. Then the invaders dropped to the ground—a dozen of them gained the shelter of the rocks, whipped out wicked automatics and began a counter fire. Two leaped into the sea and started to swim toward the plane.

A flare went up from the plane, lighting the shore and the scattered Marvel men. The plane’s forward gunner let loose.

A trooper, fourth in the major’s crew, stepped out from behind a rock, set up a tall, limber tripod on the apex of which was swiveled a short barreled one-pounder. A cartridge the size of a corncob was in the breech as he pressed the trigger. The plane’s gut turret dissolved in splinters. Three more blasts and the hull caved in. The plane began to settle.

Four troopers raced for the rock that sheltered the invaders. They leaped on top as one man, fired twice below them and then plunged straight into the struggling mass. Thuds, screams, two pistol cracks and then silence. The last trooper out of the melee packed the leader, trussed like a pig, over his shoulder.

Southward rifle fire crackled over the less frequent of explosions of the super bombs. Flames lit the sky to the north.

To the south sounded four sharp explosions— then a devastating roar. Then the night was quiet again. The invader had been “eliminated.”

  1. wyogold says: April 17, 201210:48 am

    Is this just wartime propaganda about Uncle Sam’s Supermen or did people actually believe this crap? I mean, come on! Just feed moar vitamins to teh soldiers and they turn into Ethan Hunts?

  2. quadibloc says: April 17, 201212:16 pm

    The first issue of Captain America probably appeared on shelves in February of 1941, as it was the March, 1941 issue… so we can’t credit this article for inspiring it.

  3. D says: April 17, 201212:50 pm

    More interesting is what they “sort” of predicted:

    1. The grenade thrower pretty much captures the idea of how an M203 would function. It throws a grenade a long way, with accuracy.

    2. Night vision (they say eyes, we’d say goggles), and it’s relevance to night time attacks.

    3. That stealth and ambushing would be very important in future conflicts

    4. That it’s better to attack someone’s infrastructure, rather then their soldiers.

    5. The “1 pounder on a tripod” sounds sort of like a MK-19 grenade launcher, only they weren’t ambitious enough to say it was fully automatic.

    As to if it’s hokum or not – they surely over-stated the capabilities (“strength of ten men”) but, the basic idea that good nutrition is an important part of making a good soldier is something that’s been well understood for a long time. It’s not unreasonable that taking someone who was previously malnourished and under-fed and giving them lots of high quality food and vitamins might very well cause some nearly “miraculous” turn arounds. And alot of people in 1930’s and 1940’s america were, in fact, malnourished.

  4. Hirudinea says: April 17, 20125:52 pm

    In the future all soldiers will play jai-alai!

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