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DataMike
04-16-2001, 07:25 AM
Yesterday at Easter brunch my nephew who is attending Purdue told the following tale:

On the top of every Federal flag pole is a ball called the truck, the truck is designed to break into 13 pieces representing the 13 original colonies. Inside the truck is 3 bullets of different calibers. At the base of the flag pole is a box which contains weapons to fire the bullets as well as a sabre. Apparently, if you're the last person around during some kind of violent outbreak, you could use these items to defend yourself/the country.

Anyone able to verify this either way?? I've searched the archives and the net in general and could find nothing.

Thanks!

Erroneous
04-16-2001, 07:58 AM
It sounds like a load of crap to me.

I mean really, think about it: what's the point of these stashes if no one knows that they exist? And if the situation is such that you're resorting to digging up a freaking sabre, do you really think it's going to make much difference as far as defending the country goes? I really doubt that such a system is in place.

Of course, now the very next person is probably going to come in and say that a flagpole weapon stash saved their life, and give a detailed history of the incorporation of weapon stashes into flagpoles throughout America. Oh well.

Freedom
04-16-2001, 08:24 AM
My understanding was that there is a book of matches in the flag pole at the headquarters of every military base. If there are three bullets of different calibers, then I would guess that would be to use in whatever weapon you already have. There is no way in hell that there are weapons in Federal flagpoles.

So now I'm seeing the marks of an urban legend....


Possibly believable story....

Slight variations.....

Duck Duck Goose
04-16-2001, 08:42 AM
"Possibly believable"? [insert emoticon of extreme incredulity and amusement] A..

Here's a picture of a flagpole truck.

http://lingoinc.com/Truck.htm

Here's another version.
http://flagpoles.com/fcbta.html

More light. The "truck" is the pulley that holds the ropes. The "ball" is the decorative ball on top of the "truck". Pix of both.

http://usflag.com/accessories/hardware/hardware3.htm

The biggest one this website has for sale is 12" in diameter.

Okay, first of all, the "truck" is either cast bronze or cast iron, depending on manufacturer. Flagpole balls are metal, too, with an anodized coating, whether gold, copper, whatever.

I think your friend means the BALL is designed to break into 13 pieces. First of all, the ball is metal--how are you supposed to get it open to get the bullets in there? You'd have to cut it open with a welding torch. Or is it supposed to have perforations or something? Don't see any mention of it on any of these websites. It would have to be manufactured that way at the foundry. (Oooh, are they secret perforations, known only to the Illuminati?) :D

And just who, exactly, is doing this? The federal government? Your local sheriff? Who are the public-spirited citizens climbing flagpoles all over America and putting bullets in them? Or is it just "they"? Oooh, I love it when it's "they"...

At the base of most flagpoles is a big cement pad. Is there perhaps a secret trap door in the pad, concealing the box with the weapons? Or are the 3 guns and the sabre buried in the dirt a little farther away, the better to rust quietly over the years?

And only 3 bullets? Doesn't sound like much to fight off the Commie Hordes. Oh, wait, each Yank bullet is worth 20 Commie bullets, right?

So lemme see if I have this right--you're gonna save America from the Commies with 3 guns, each of which has only 1 bullet. And when your 3 bullets are gone, you're gonna eliminate the rest of 'em with your sabre. And you can use the matches to blow up their ammunition dump...

BTW, Snopes doesn't even mention it. I supposed it's beneath their notice.

The Duck's vote: "load of crap". :D

Freedom
04-16-2001, 08:47 AM
"Possibly believable"? [insert emoticon of extreme incredulity and amusement] A..





You'll notice that my story involved military bases and a book of matches.


I consider that possibly believable.

DataMike
04-16-2001, 08:49 AM
Oh yea, I forgot the matches. They are supposed to be in truck(ball) as well.

DDG>>>
Well, my nephew claims the ball is called the 'truck'...guess he's wrong. I am thinking the whole thing could be false as well. However, I NEED PROOF. You didn't provide any proof, just conspiratorial ramblings and links to websites that sell flag accessories. I am not looking for OPINIONS, just PROOF.

Thanks!

Michael

Duck Duck Goose
04-16-2001, 09:09 AM
Okay, I'll grant you the flagpole installer guys dropping a book of matches into the ball when they hoist it up there, but the rest of it? Pfui. :D

Upon reflection I realize that you could climb up there and take the ball off and drop bullets into it without having to cut it open, but the big question is, of course--why?

Eh, Mike, proof of what? Proof that there actually are bullets in flagpole balls? There is no such proof, because it's an Urban Legend. A Google search for "flagpoles bullets", "flagpole bullets", "flagpoles bullet", "flagpole bullet" turned up no facts or "proof", just alternate versions, similar to this one.

http://afscme.org/publications/alepnews/alp99111.htm
The ball at the top of the flagpole is called a “truck.” On an official government installation, inside the truck is a .45 caliber bullet, a .38 caliber bullet and a bullet for an M-16 rifle.

In the event the truck falls and hits the ground, it is designed to break into 13 pieces, representing the original colonies.

At the base of each flagpole on an official government installation is a box buried in concrete. This box contains one saber, a .38 caliber pistol and a book of matches. In the event the enemy overtakes the last government installation, the survivor is to defend the Flag with the saber and pistol and burn the Flag with the matches so that the enemy cannot capture it.
The ball at the top of the flagpole is not called the "truck". It is called the "ball". Notice that in this particular version, you're given 3 different bullets but only 1 gun.

There is, however, "proof" on the other side of the fence.

http://nava.org/qa6.htm
From the Flags of the World web site FAQ page #3 <http://fotw.digibel.be/flags/faq3.html#usa>: What is in the "ball cap" on top of a flagpole flying the U.S. flag?

Nothing. There is a persistent rumor left over from the Cold War that the "ball"-type finials atop poles flying U.S. flags contain a razor or similar instrument, so that the U.S. flag may be destroyed in the event of a successful enemy attack to prevent its capture by the enemy. No evidence for this has ever been found. It's just a legend.

To which I add: At West Point, plebes who are "know-it-alls" are usually asked this question repeatedly until they break and beg for the answer, and this version is a little different than the above. They are told it contains a match, a bullet and a grain of rice in case of a successful enemy attack. The rice will sustain the soldier to do what needs to be done; the match is used to destroy the flag so it will not be captured; the bullet is used for the same purpose so the soldier will not be captured.
Dave Martucci

And yes, if you read this whole website, the first guy responding does seem to be under the impression that the "truck" and the "ball" are the same thing--but that's not what the manufacturers say. That was the point of my cites. You can refer colloquially to the whole assembly as the "truck" but it's not correct. If you order a "truck" from usflag.com you'll get a pulley, not a ball.

And again, I don't see any mention of the balls being designed to fall to the ground and break into 13 pieces. Or is that only for "secret government issue" flagpole finials? :D

Or go climb a few flagpoles. Let us know what you find. :D

Bonnie
04-16-2001, 07:10 PM
BTW, Snopes doesn't even mention it. I supposed it's beneath their notice.

Ahem. Of course, contemporary legend expert Jan Brunvand himself has written about "The Tale of the Truck." He discusses this piece of military folklore, explores the usage of the word "truck" in this context, and gives examples of this tale's many variants in his latest book, The Truth Never Stands in the Way of a Good Story (pp. 156-158).

Brunvand prefaces with, "[p]erhaps the oddest military legend of all that I have encountered, and one that defies neat classification, is 'The Tale of the Truck,' a wholly implausible story, but still one that's often told as true. It combines horror, patriotism, and whimsy and may actually be just a military prank that survives in the form of a quasi-legend told during training."

That Brunvand recognizes this tale as (mostly) allegorical and gives the thumbs-down on its literal truthfulness is good enough for me.

-- Bonnie

Sue Duhnym
04-16-2001, 07:28 PM
What kind of idiot would climb a flagpole when under fire?

I guess he'd have just about all day to dig up that sabre...maybe they should put a shovel in the ball instead.

:rolleyes:

LokiTheDog
04-17-2001, 01:29 AM
Originally posted by Duck Duck Goose
To which I add: At West Point, plebes who are "know-it-alls" are usually asked this question repeatedly until they break and beg for the answer, and this version is a little different than the above. They are told it contains a match, a bullet and a grain of rice in case of a successful enemy attack. The rice will sustain the soldier to do what needs to be done; the match is used to destroy the flag so it will not be captured; the bullet is used for the same purpose so the soldier will not be captured.
Dave Martucci


This is the version I got as a question when appearing before the board for soldier of the quarter at Ft. Campbell back in 1998. I can't recall which of the board members asked the question but the board was comprised of First Sergeants, Command Sergeants Major (proper grammar?), and maybe a company or battalion commander or two... I've repressed most of those memories. I don't think it is meant to be taken literally, but perhaps they actually do this as a symbolic act. It wouldn't be too expensive, difficult, or dangerous to bury a small box with those items inside and cover it with the concrete for the base of the flag.
Personally I took it as sort of a parable or fable ( which could be misconstrued as an urban legend when taken out of context, i.e. outside of a military setting). I don't recall ever actually being told what the single bullet was for, I just decided that was what I would use it for. Why kill one soldier out of a wave, when you can illustrate your defiance of the invaders and your loyalty to the country and create a psychological impact that would affect many. It seems like somehwere in my copy of Sun Tzu The Art of War there was a story about a general who sent a line of troops to the front to wait on the enemy. When the enemy had gotten almost into melee range, these elite troops drew their sabres and disembowled themselves, shocking the enemy with their loyalty and causing them to flee. (my memory sucks and I can't find a quote after thumbing though the book so I may have just conjured that one).
Anyway, the board wasn't asking the question to see if you knew what the "right" answer was. Those who didn't know what the hell they were talking about got no points for the question, those who gave a rote reply got a point or two, and those who showed some deeper understanding of the symbolism got a few more.

Sorry I don't have a definite answer of whether the truck story is true or not. Just pray no one ever has the need to find out.

LokiTheDog
04-17-2001, 01:56 AM
Originally posted by Bonnie
[quote]
Of course, contemporary legend expert Jan Brunvand himself has written about "The Tale of the Truck." He discusses this piece of military folklore, explores the usage of the word "truck" in this context



That was the funny thing about the board question, it was phrased so that you thought they were referring to a vehicle. The question made no sense if you weren't "in the know". It was phrased something like, "What's buried beneath the truck at the top of the flagpole outside of DHQ?".
I think it was sort of a means to see if you had studied any military history, or taken any interest in the Army outside of your required duties. You know how all fraternal orders have some kind of knowledge ( secret handshake, password call and reply, etc... ) to seperate the members from the outsiders and make them feel special, part of the brotherhood.
I bet they can hardly contain themselves every time some private ( or better yet some sophomoric SGT ) replies with, " Uhhhh... you caint park your truck on top of no flagpole, where woodja put your chock blocks at?"

Monty
04-17-2001, 10:47 AM
Loki:

That was one obviously piss poor promotion board. Now, if someone served in a 11, 13 or 19 series MOS, then not getting that freebie point or two wouldn't make much difference, but when I was a 75B1L/SP4, that point would've been a career ender for some due to the promotion point cutoff scores and "high year tenure" limits to get to 75B2L/SP5 "back in the day" before all the SP5 and SP6 got converted to NCO.

The two times I appeared in front of the promotion board, the questions were topical, professional, and based on fact. All the questions were.

As to the grammar of "Sergeant Major":

Singular - Sergeant Major
Plural - Sergeants Major
Singular Possessive - Sergeant Major's
Plural Possessive - Sergeants Major's

-Monty, PN1, USN (Ret) and formerly SP5 (75B2LVN), USA & SGT (75B2LVN), USAR

Lundboat1
06-29-2016, 10:41 PM
My brother is a cadet at West Point and it is common legend that in the ball of the flagpole there are three things inside incase the post is under attack and you are the last American alive; bread so you won't die hungry, wine so you won't die thirsty, and a revolver with 6 bullets so you can kill as many tangos as you can before being killed. My grandmother also dated a few cadets back in the 1950's and she said she heard about this legend many times.

beowulff
06-29-2016, 10:49 PM
This thread is 15 years old, and no banned posters - that must be some type of record!

Declan
06-29-2016, 11:26 PM
I can speak for some flag poles, that the ball breaks into two pieces, and not 13.

Company that I worked for anodized the poles and hemispheres.

Declan

Czarcasm
06-29-2016, 11:47 PM
My brother is a cadet at West Point and it is common legend that in the ball of the flagpole there are three things inside incase the post is under attack and you are the last American alive; bread so you won't die hungry, wine so you won't die thirsty, and a revolver with 6 bullets so you can kill as many tangos as you can before being killed. My grandmother also dated a few cadets back in the 1950's and she said she heard about this legend many times.Did the legend happen to mention who shimmied up the flagpole every few days to change out the moldy bread? :dubious:

Derleth
06-30-2016, 02:24 AM
Did the legend happen to mention who shimmied up the flagpole every few days to change out the moldy bread? :dubious:It's hardtack. Guaranteed to be as edible in a century as it was the day it was fired... uh, baked.

Boyo Jim
06-30-2016, 08:05 AM
It's hardtack. Guaranteed to be as edible in a century as it was the day it was fired... uh, baked.

I heard that in modern times the bread was replaced by Hostess Twinkies. They will be good until the heat death of the universe.

robby
06-30-2016, 09:31 AM
My brother is a cadet at West Point and it is common legend that in the ball of the flagpole there are three things inside incase the post is under attack and you are the last American alive; bread so you won't die hungry, wine so you won't die thirsty, and a revolver with 6 bullets so you can kill as many tangos as you can before being killed. My grandmother also dated a few cadets back in the 1950's and she said she heard about this legend many times.Right, and we tell new plebes at Annapolis and new sailors in the fleet lots of urban legends as well, not to mention pranks like telling them to fetch some shoreline, or relative bearing grease, or a bucket of prop wash, or a water hammer, or put them on the mail buoy watch. ;)

Chronos
06-30-2016, 04:14 PM
No, no, see, not only does the ball break into 13 pieces, but they're in the shape of the 13 colonies. And the Massachusetts piece is actually a revolver, that fires a Delaware-bullet. That's why they made those states those shapes, didn't you know?

Jophiel
06-30-2016, 07:41 PM
and a revolver with 6 bullets so you can kill as many tangos as you can before being killed.
That number would apparently be no greater than "six".

TonySinclair
06-30-2016, 08:02 PM
That number would apparently be no greater than "six".

Not if they're lined up just right.

Monty
06-30-2016, 08:07 PM
Here (http://crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us!ful.html#inball) is a fun discussion dismissing these myths about the flag pole/truck/ball.

P-man
06-30-2016, 10:46 PM
None of that is right. It contains matches and directions for burning the flag if it's about to be captured by the enemy.

BobLibDem
07-01-2016, 07:34 AM
Snopes has a little to say about related myths. (http://snopes.com/military/flagball.asp)

Amateur Barbarian
07-01-2016, 08:26 AM
So you're the last man/woman/cadet left defending America.

The "tangos" are coming over the hill.

You retrieve these secret weapons and supplies 30-50 feet off the ground by...?

leahcim
07-01-2016, 08:39 AM
The "tangos" are coming over the hill.

You retrieve these secret weapons and supplies 30-50 feet off the ground by...?

And what if they want to Salsa instead?

gnoitall
07-01-2016, 09:00 AM
None of that is right. It contains matches and directions for burning the flag if it's about to be captured by the enemy.Which is also why all American flags are secretly made from guncotton. Because matches aren't reliably going to ignite a huge flag made of polymer fiber or untreated cotton on the best of days, let alone in the wind or rain.

Czarcasm
07-01-2016, 09:30 AM
Snopes has a little to say about related myths. (http://snopes.com/military/flagball.asp)From that link: Rob Dalessandro, of the U.S. Army Center for Military History at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., says noncommissioned officers take this legend so seriously that at promotion boards, soldiers are asked how far the pistol is buried from the flagpole: "In some they're pretty specific: It’s six paces, the pistol from the flagpole and some of them even mention a cardinal direction." Dalessandro, however, says no Army document formalizes this ritual.

That is just...sad.

robby
07-01-2016, 09:41 AM
Right, and we tell new plebes at Annapolis and new sailors in the fleet lots of urban legends...That should be "sea stories," of course. :smack:

Sea stories may be tall tales, but they can be distinguished from urban legends or fairy tales by the following rule of thumb:

Fairy tales begin with "Once upon a time..."
Sea stories begin with "OK, this is a no sh*tter..." ;)

Me_Billy
07-01-2016, 10:37 AM
The FACTS from a flag pole company....

http://customflagcompany.com/blog/2015/3/24/22h7xkrydtlxvjt4iqqoqklzwb8hy6

Amateur Barbarian
07-01-2016, 10:55 AM
Sea stories may be tall tales, but they can be distinguished from urban legends or fairy tales by the following rule of thumb:

Fairy tales begin with "Once upon a time..."
Sea stories begin with "OK, this is a no sh*tter..." ;)
And then there's "I read this on FB/Pinterest/Snapchat/Twitter, and..."

robby
07-01-2016, 11:08 AM
The FACTS from a flag pole company....

http://customflagcompany.com/blog/2015/3/24/22h7xkrydtlxvjt4iqqoqklzwb8hy6
...We install many flagpoles and flagpole balls and many at military bases and we have not run across any items except the bolt that attaches the ball to the rest of the pole.
This is obviously disinformation to keep the Commie hordes from being tipped off to the existence of our secret flagpole caches.

...what is in the truck, there is a round of ammo - this is to take the last shot, a match to bro the flag if the base is over ran, and a grain of wheat to replant the fields. This is the most sound and logical explanation of what is in the Truck.
Well, that is indeed a sound and logical explanation. I'm convinced. :D

Yllaria
07-01-2016, 11:14 AM
Not if they're lined up just right.Deadpool is not a documentary.

Blue Blistering Barnacle
07-01-2016, 11:20 AM
That should be "sea stories," of course. :smack:

Sea stories may be tall tales, but they can be distinguished from urban legends or fairy tales by the following rule of thumb:

Fairy tales begin with "Once upon a time..."
Sea stories begin with "OK, this is a no sh*tter..." ;)

I like to begin. "This is a true story. ..."

At the end I may acknowledge, "Well, it truly is a story."

But then I am largely a landlubber and occasional freshwater sailor.

Raguleader
07-01-2016, 11:29 AM
Two points to address some of the practical concerns of getting at the supply stash hidden in the ball at the top of the flagpole:

First, you don't get to the top of the flag pole, you get it down to you. It's a Captain America test of ingenuity to see if you're smart enough to be allowed access to the ball.

Second, the ball only opens for those who are worthy. It's a sort of Thor thing.

That said, the only thing I've ever known to be concealed inside of flagpoles is radio verticals (cite: I saw it advertised on a ham radio supply store website the other day as a means of erecting a radio antenna without annoying the neighbors as much).

gnoitall
07-01-2016, 01:18 PM
Two points to address some of the practical concerns of getting at the supply stash hidden in the ball at the top of the flagpole:

First, you don't get to the top of the flag pole, you get it down to you. It's a Captain America test of ingenuity to see if you're smart enough to be allowed access to the ball.With the additional way-beyond-Captain-America test of ingenuity of getting the top of the flagpole down to you without lowering the flag. Because if you're going to fight to the death to defend the flag, the stupidest opening move you could make would be to signal surrender by striking your colors. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Striking_the_colors)

Amateur Barbarian
07-01-2016, 02:10 PM
With the additional way-beyond-Captain-America test of ingenuity of getting the top of the flagpole down to you without lowering the flag. Because if you're going to fight to the death to defend the flag, the stupidest opening move you could make would be to signal surrender by striking your colors. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Striking_the_colors)
Yes. It would have been interesting to see Skinny Stevey's solution had the flag been the Stars and Stripes and not a regiment or camp rag. :D

Gatopescado
07-01-2016, 02:21 PM
Not if they're lined up just right.

Deadpool is not a documentary.

I killed two rabbits and injured a third with one shot once. Just sayin'....

Raguleader
07-01-2016, 08:02 PM
Yes. It would have been interesting to see Skinny Stevey's solution had the flag been the Stars and Stripes and not a regiment or camp rag. :D

He pulls the pin, pushes the pole, and uses his body to keep the flag from hitting the ground.

Spiderman
07-01-2016, 09:34 PM
I killed two rabbits and injured a third with one shot once. Just sayin'....

I call bullshit.
Know why?
You didn't begin with, "Once upon a time" or "OK, this is a no sh*tter (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showpost.php?p=19447418&postcount=30)". :dubious:

Rick Kitchen
07-01-2016, 09:42 PM
Are the contents of the flagpole different if there is yellow fringe on the flag?

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