How my transition impacted my health - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

How my transition impacted my health

It’s been nearly three years since I officially ended my Active Duty service. The first six months of my transition were rough. After speaking to a lot of fellow former service members, I realize that my experience is not an outlier, but rather, it’s the norm.


Hardest part about the military… logging into sites that don’t take a CAC card.

(Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

Civilian stress vs. Military stress.

In the Marine Corps, I was trained to deal with all sorts of tactical stresses. But civilian stresses? Not so much. When it came to work, insurance, or liberty, I could blame Uncle Sam for everything:

  • “Sorry, can’t make that baptism/wedding/ graduation/ (insert family event here). I have to move to Japan for work.”
  • “Yeah, the healthcare system is fugged; I’m on Tricare though, watch anything good on Netflix lately?”
  • “I put my name on a list to live off base, but if it doesn’t work out, we’ll just be put in the tower, end of story.”
  • “I PCS in June. I’ll either go to Camp LeJeune or get sucked into the vortex that is the Pentagon. Not much I can do.”

In the military, every moment of my life was planned out for me, until suddenly… it wasn’t. When I “got out,” all I had was choice, and I didn’t always make the right ones. In fact, it sometimes seemed like there were no right choices–just varying degrees of wrong.

There wasn’t a big picture for me anymore.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Robert Knapp/Released)

I lost my sense of purpose.

I was actually embarrassed about these realizations for a long time. I was a Marine Corps Officer. I did alpha stuff for a living. There are literally thousands of movies made about my old job.

How could I fess up to being lost and stressed? It felt like I would be admitting defeat to an enemy that hundreds of millions of Americans deal with every single day. That’s not very alpha.

On top of the stress and state of general lostness, my sense of purpose was gone. I felt that my time in uniform had been helping the greater cause. I was helping people. At the very least, I was impacting my Marines’ lives and helping them become better every day.

It’s a lot harder to become excited about sending emails and filing TPS reports in the civilian world when it seems that the only people that are being helped are the company owners or stockholders. That’s not really a mission statement I can get behind.

1 turns into 10 very quickly.

(Photo by Quentin Dr on Unsplash)

My health suffered.

I had spent the most testosterone-packed years of my life under the government’s thumb. I signed up at 17. For a decade, I was expected to be: sober, on time, awake at 0600, on-call 24/7, and never take more than 96 hours of liberty/leave.

As soon as I was let off the leash, I had some catching up to do. I slept when the sun was up and spent all night howling at the moon for months. It took a toll on my body; I gained weight, I lost energy, and I got sick a lot.

My cornerstone was gone.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

Worst of all, I stopped training.

Staying up late and spending all day stressing about “coulda, shoulda, wouldas” made me lose sight of the one thing I actually had control over. Me. More specifically, my training and diet.

This was the hardest-hitting of all my issues because it made everything else worse. It’s a lot harder to stay healthy if all you’re putting into your body is junk food and not moving.

Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Without it, I was living in a state of chronic stress.

I had the all too common reaction to physical training that I’ve seen dozens of times first hand. No more PFT…no more PT for me. The overwhelming majority of us do it. It’s like the military induces some traumatic memory of what exercise is supposed to make us feel like as well as how much we should hate ourselves for not working out.

It becomes a physical punishment when we train and a mental punishment when we don’t train.

Recognizing that it doesn’t have to be either one of those punishments was the key to me getting back in the gym.

Great advice.

(Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash)

Combating civilian stress with training.

I knew I had to make changes. I wasn’t in the position to come up with some grand overarching ethos that would cure all my woes. I needed something simple.

I started by making my training mandatory. I knew it made me feel better. Having stress hormones pumping through my veins 24/7 was the literal reason I felt like I was failing. Training hard helps relieve some of that cortisol and frees up the body to actually repair itself. That was the state I needed to get into regularly if I ever wanted to think clearly enough to actually turn my business into a success.

I started losing some of the extra fat I had put on, I got stronger, my performance increased, but the most important benefit of training hard was that I didn’t hate myself anymore.

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Getting your sense of purpose back.

My military service was a high-point in my life, but it isn’t the summit I need to plant my flag on. That’s much higher, and I have a lot more work to do. I was great then, but I’m greater every day that I decide to train and sink my teeth into another bite-sized piece of life.

The Marine Corps made it easy to feel like I was part of something bigger and helping people. Military service isn’t the only option in life to help other people though. By taking care of myself first, getting my training in line, and staying healthy, I’m able to take all the skills and discipline I gained from my service and directly apply them to my current mission.

I know that objectively my life looked fine, but internally, I felt like I was crumbling. Plenty of us live our whole lives with that feeling. I’m lucky that I managed to shift my perception after only six months of the vicious cycle.

Maybe it took you years.

Maybe you’re still in it.

Maybe you never served in the military, but you experienced a different transition that made you feel helpless, alone, and chronically stressed.

It doesn’t matter. Our perception is our reality. If your reality isn’t great, the only thing you can do is change your perception.

The best perception shifter I know of is…training hard.

If you aren’t training, start training.

If this resonates with you at all, I’d love to hear your story no matter what stage of the process you’re currently in. This link will take you to a survey that will allow you to do just that.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force awards Boeing $1.2 billion for 8 F-15EX fighters

The U.S. Air Force has awarded a contract to acquire its first fourth-plus-generation F-15EX fighter aircraft from Boeing Co.

The service said Monday that the nearly $1.2 billion contract will cover eight jets, including initial design, development, test and certification, plus spare parts and support equipment, training and technical data, and delivery and sustainment costs.


“The F-15EX is the most affordable and immediate way to refresh the capacity and update the capabilities provided by our aging F-15C/D fleets,” Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, said in a release. “The F-15EX is ready to fight as soon as it comes off the line.”

In January, officials posted a presolicitation notice with the intent of awarding two sole-source contracts, one for the F-15EX and the other for its F110 engines. The move initiated the Air Force’s first fourth-generation fighter program in more than 20 years.

Last month, the Air Force awarded General Electric a 1.4 million contract for the first, unspecified number of engines; however, Pratt Whitney — which makes the current F-15 Eagle engine — can also submit designs at its own expense after the company pushed back on the service’s sole-source objective.

According to Boeing, the F-15EX will be able to “launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet long and weighing up to 7,000 pounds.” The company has said the fighter will be equipped with better avionics and radars and could carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles.

“The F-15EX is the most advanced version of the F-15 ever built, due in large part to its digital backbone,” said Lori Schneider, Boeing’s F-15EX program manager. “Its unmatched range, price and best-in-class payload capacity make the F-15EX an attractive choice for the U.S. Air Force.”

The service said the aircraft’s most significant upgrade will be its open mission systems architecture, allowing the plane’s software to be upgraded and installed more easily compared to its aging F-15C/D cousin, which the service has been on a quest to replace.

Officials voiced concerns in 2017 about the older Eagle model’s longevity.

“We are already having serious problems with that airframe, with metal fatigue within the longerons on the side of the aircraft,” then-Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said during a forum in May 2019.

Senior defense officials with the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office told reporters that they arrived at the Boeing-made F-15EX decision because the aircraft would help keep a “robust industrial base” and provide “a higher-capacity” combination alongside Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Air Force expects to keep a well-rounded mix of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft through the 2030s, including the F-35A, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor, A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-15 Eagle/Strike Eagle, officials have said.

“One of the considerations was the diversity of the industrial base,” a senior defense official said at the Pentagon on March 22, 2019. “Maintaining a diverse industrial base is in the best interest of the Department of Defense. The more diversity, the more competition … and the better prices we have.”

The Air Force plans to purchase a total of 76 F-15EX aircraft over the five-year Future Years Defense Program, known as the FYDP, officials said Monday. It intends to build an inventory of at least 144 aircraft over the next decade.

The first eight F-15EX aircraft will be based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for the testing wing at the base. The first two aircraft are expected to be delivered in fiscal 2021, and the remaining six in fiscal 2023, the release states.

“When delivered, we expect bases currently operating the F-15 to transition to the new EX platform in a matter of months versus years,” Holmes said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

​The best military games we played at gamescom and PAX West

In the summer, gamescom and PAX West bring out the best in gaming announcements as developers and publishers get the hype trains rolling right into the holiday season. This year was no exception. There are a lot of great games on the horizon, but this year, we’ve got our eyes glued on three shooter titles specifically.

Here are the games, in no particular order, that await your itchy trigger finger.


(Deep Silver)

‘Metro: Exodus’ (PS4/XBO/PC)

I’ll admit, getting some time with Metro: Exodus at gamescom was my first hands-on experience with the lauded series, but it wasn’t my first rodeo in the virtual apocalypse. Despite this minor detail, I was able to jump right in and start exploring the newest title set in a grim future.

It was explained to me that Exodus moves the Metro series away from its traditional, predominantly underground setting into a more balanced mixture of surface and subterranean exploration. The demo environment that I explored was well designed, rich with details to remind players they’re playing a post-apocalyptic RPG. Hidden in the environment (and on corpses) are materials you can use to craft a variety of helpful consumables. One of the coolest features put on display was the ability to customize weapons to fit different situations.

Combat was smooth and accommodates a variety of different gameplay styles. Instead of stealthily picking off my opponents, I tend to lean toward going full Rambo on every enemy in sight, but both approaches seem to get the job done. After a quick developer assist (I explored a little too much and got lost — did I mention how great the environments are?), I dispatched the demo’s boss mob by spending all of my ammo and finishing it off with a very satisfying melee strike.

Exodus seems like a perfect fit for fans of Bioshock, Dead Space, Far Cry, and other shooter RPGs.

(The Farm 51)

‘World War 3’ (PC)

World War 3 is an upcoming Battlefield-like multiplayer shooter developed and published by The Farm 51, a small indie studio based in Poland. While WW3 is themed around a theoretical conflict, it’s based on real-world tensions in Eastern Europe.

Gameplay is straightforward enough, but fine-tuned. There’s a good balance of combat classes, weapons, consumables — everything you’ve come to expect from a modern shooter. What stands out about this game, however, is that nearly everything is customizable and the array of selections is huge. Configure your own load out using everything from dozens of different types of head accessories to a variety of mounted vehicle weapons. With a little sleuthing, I even found that one of the more creative developers snuck a nuclear warhead into the mix — just for fun.

The developers on the floor reiterated several times that everything in their game (well, maybe not the nuke) will be unlockable through playing and not microtransactions. While it seems a little unfair to compare this game to AAA giants, like Battlefield, everyone I chatted with at PAX and gamescom seemed ready to draw the comparison. Regardless of whether the title can measure up to multi-million dollar blockbusters, the best part about this game is the indie price. Early access opens up for PC gamers on Steam later this year and gamers can expect to drop between and to join in on the international conflict.

(EA DICE)

‘Battlefield V’ (PS4/XBO/PC)

Speaking of AAA titles, World War II is back with EA’s latest title, Battlefield V. EA DICE, longtime developers of the Battlefield series, is hoping to provide a vastly new and improved experience over their original title, Battlefield 1942, which celebrated its 16th birthday this week.

This launch comes on the heels of EA trying to recover from bad publicity stemming from the overwhelmingly pay-to-win gameplay that shipped with Star Wars Battlefront II. It seems EA has learned a little bit from their last release as they’ve made it a point to announce that Battlefield V will not feature any loot boxes or other forms of game-altering monetization. This statement may help soothe the ruffled feathers of the recently upset playerbase, but it also leaves the door wide open for DLCs and other types of traditional paid content.

During my brief time with the game, there’s no question that it’s a solid tribute to previous games in the series but, at the same time, there haven’t been any groundbreaking changes made. This fact didn’t seem to matter much for the masses of gamescom attendees who happily lined up and waited for up to 5 hours just play a single match. That being said, there’s a lot left to be announced and much of the game’s content is still hidden away, including the new, not-yet-demoed “Battlefield Royale” mode and the single-player campaign.

They say you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken — and there are a lot of people out there just waiting for their next Battlefield fix, which they’ll get on November 20, 2018.

MIGHTY MOVIES

7 amazing war books written by the men who fought there

We regularly read about wars both past and present. Yet there are few of us who truly know what it’s like to be there. The accounts below are told by the brave men and women who fought on the front lines, as well as those intrepid reporters who documented war in person. From World War II to the battlefields of Vietnam, these seven works provide insight into the triumphs and terrors of armed conflict.


7. We Were Soldiers Once… and Young

We Were Soldiers Once… and Young examines Ia Drang, one of the most significant and brutal battles of the Vietnam War. Written by Lt. Col. Harold Moore, with the help of journalist Joseph L. Galloway—the only journalist on the ground at la Drang—the book tells the harrowing tale of the American soldiers who never gave up, despite the devastation that surrounded them.

6. This Kind of War

The book that Defense Secretary James Mattis recently recommended in response to rising tensions in North Korea, This Kind of War analyzes the Korean War—as told by a man who was there. Often referred to as “the forgotten war,” Fehrenbach, who served as a U.S. Army officer during the war, provides a powerful reflection on its destruction and how unpreparedness led to the loss of so many lives.

5. Valor in Vietnam

Looking at the Vietnam War through the lens of those who were there, Valor in Vietnam offers 19 different stories of triumph and tragedy. Presented in chronological order, the accounts are emotional, intense, and personal.

4. Goodbye Vietnam

William Broyles’ memoir covers his life from the time he was a college student—hoping not to be drafted—to his service in Vietnam and his return to the country years later, in an attempt to come to terms with the bloody war. Though he was enrolled at Oxford when the Vietnam War began, Broyles realized he could not let his class or education stand in the way of his civic duty. He subsequently enrolled in the marines. And while he survived, he wasn’t able to move on until he confronted his past and returned to the former battlefields of Vietnam.

3. Eyewitness to World War II

This military bundle includes three books from Richard Tregaskis, a World War II reporter who bridged the gap between the soldiers on the front lines and those waiting at home. Including Guadalcanal Diary, Invasion Diary, and, John F. Kennedy and PT-109, Tregaskis, who travelled with the Allies during WWII, recounts the bravery and sacrifice he witnessed.

2. Special Ops

Orr Kelly, a journalist who served as a war correspondent in Vietnam, tells the stories of the military’s elite forces. The bundle includes Brave Men, Dark Waters; Never Fight Fair!; Hornet; and, From a Dark Sky. From the Navy SEALs to the US Air Force Special Operations, Kelly details the courage and resilience of these unique fighters. In Never Fight Fair!, the Navy SEALs tell us, in their own words, about the history of their special force and what it takes to be one of the elite.

1. In Pharaoh’s Army

A National Book Award finalist, In Pharaoh’s Army chronicles Tobias Wolff’s experiences as an army officer in the Vietnam War. Present during the Tet Offensive, one of the largest military campaigns that took place during the war, Wolff tells his story and how it has affected him both in and out of Vietnam.
Articles

Here’s the most influential US general you never heard of

Depiction of the Battle of Monterrey in September 1846 during the Mexican-American War. (Image date: ca. March 2, 1847.)


Winfield Scott, the longest serving general officer in the history of the United States Army, served an astonishing 53 years in a career stretching from the War of 1812 to the Civil War. Known as “Ol’ Fuss and Feathers” for his elaborate uniforms and stern discipline, he distinguished himself as one of the most influential U.S. commanders of the 19th century.

Born in Virginia , he briefly studied at the College of William and Mary before leaving to study law, and served for a year as a corporal in the local militia. He received a commission as a captain of artillery in 1808, but his early career was less than auspicious. He vehemently criticized Senior Officer of the Army James Wilkinson for allegations concerning treason, and after a court-martial was suspended by the Army for a year.

After being reinstated, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel as the War of 1812 was getting underway. Serving in the Niagara Campaign, he was part of surrendering American forces during the disastrous crossing of the river into Ontario and exchanged in 1813.

After his successful capture of Ft. George, Ontario in 1813, he was promoted to brigadier general at the exceptionally young age of 27. He played a decisive role at the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane, earning him acclaim for personal bravery and a brevet promotion to major general, but his severe wounds during the second battle left him out of action for the rest of the war.

Following the war, Scott commanded a number of military departments between trips to Europe to study European armies, whom he greatly admired for their professionalism. His 1821 “General Regulations of the Army” was the first comprehensive manual of operations and bylaws for the U.S. Army and was the standard Army text for the next 50 years.

After serving in a series of conflicts against the Indians, including the Blackhawk, Second Seminole and Creek Wars. When President Andrew Jackson ordered the Cherokee removed from Georgia and other southern states to Oklahoma in 1838-39, Scott commanded the operation in what became known as the “Trail of Tears,” when thousands of Cherokee died under terrible conditions during the long journey.

Winfield Scott

In 1841, Scott was made Commanding General of the U.S. Army, a position he would serve in for 20 years. When President James Polk ordered troops to territory disputed with Mexico along the Texas border, Scott appointed future president general Zachary Taylor to lead the expedition while he stayed in Washington. This was under pressure from Polk, who worried about Scott’s well known presidential aspirations. When the Mexican War subsequently broke out, Taylor grew bogged down in northwest Mexico after an initial series of victories, and it became clear that the northern route to Mexico City was no longer viable. Scott decided to personally lead a second front in order to break through to the Mexican capital.

Scott and his army’s landing at Vera Cruz, Mexico marks the first major amphibious landing by a U.S. army on foreign soil, and they seized the strategic port after a short siege. Roughly following conquistador Hernan Cortes’s historical route to Mexico City, U.S. forces won a series of victories against generally larger Mexican armies. Scott showed great skill in maneuver warfare, flanking enemy forces out of their fortifications where they could be defeated in the open. He successfully gambled that the army could live of the land in the face of impossibly long supply lines and after six months of marching and fighting, the U.S. seized the capital, putting the end to most resistance. The campaign had been a resounding success, with no less an authority than the Duke of Wellington, hero of Waterloo, declaring him “the greatest living general.”

Scott was an able military governor, and his fairness towards the conquered Mexicans gained him some measure of popularity in the country. But his vanity and political rivalry with Taylor, along with intercepted letters showing a scathing attitude towards Washington and Polk, lead to his recall in 1948.

Scott’s presidential aspirations were dashed when he badly lost the 1852 election to Franklin Pierce after a lackluster campaign. Continuing as commander of the Army, he was only the second man since George Washington to be promoted to Lieutenant General. By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, however, Scott was 75 years old and so obese he couldn’t even ride a horse, and Lincoln soon had him replaced by general George B. McClellan. His strategic sense had not dulled. His “Anaconda Plan” to blockade and split the South, first derided by those seeking a quick victory, proved to be the strategy that won the war.

Scott was a vain man, prone to squabbling with other officers he held in contempt, and his political aspirations lead to great tensions with Washington during the Mexican War. His command of the “Trail of Tears” put him at the forefront of one of the most disgraceful episodes in the U.S. treatment of Native Americans. But his determination to turn the U.S. Army into a professional force, his immense strategic and tactical skill, and a career that spanned over five decades makes him one of the most influential figures in U.S. military history.

 

Intel

This is how secure the US Bullion Depository really is

This inconspicuous building just off the Dixie Highway may not seem too tough — until you realize it’s one of the most secure locations in the world. There’s a reason why “Fort Knox” is synonymous with high-end security.

The U.S. Army post around the U.S. Bullion Depository, Fort Knox, isn’t that much different from any other military installation. To gain entry, a civilian can sign onto post at the visitor’s center. But even troops stationed there can’t just casually swing by the depository.

Not much is truly known about the inner-workings of the depository; there certainly are no photographs or schematics available. What is public knowledge is only what’s visible from the outside, interviews resulting from the 1974 tour, and first-hand accounts from the former, extremely-select handful who’ve set foot inside.

The greatest Bond film of all time, ‘Goldfinger,’ had to make everything up for the movie. But it does serve as the basis for how most people perceive the depository.
(United Artists and Eon Productions)

From the outside, you can see the many fences that lay between the building and the highway. Several of them are said to be electrified. Each corner of the building has a guard tower manned by an unspecified amount of security guards who watch over each sector. The land between the fences is also said to be mined.


Construction on the building itself was completed in December, 1936, and the known building materials include 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 4,200 cubic yards of concrete, 750 tons of reinforced steel, and 670 tons of structural steel. All of this for a 2-story-tall building with a 1-story basement — sounds pretty secure, right?

In addition thousands of pounds of steel and stone, there’s an entire battalion of U.S. Mint Police that cover the place.

One can also assume you wouldn’t be able to just dig right into it either.
(Warner Bros.)

The politicians and journalists who were granted access to the building in 1974 entered through the 20-ton steel door and got to look into one of the many compartments. That compartment held 36,236 gold bars, stacked from floor to ceiling. At the time, the gold was valued at $42,222 per Troy oz., which meant they got to see $499.8 million of gold.

The rest of the security measures are up for speculation. The Fort is rumored to be outfitted with laser wire and seismographic sensors to ensure no one approached undetected. The corridors can, apparently, be flooded at a moment’s notice. And security measures are constantly re-worked to improve and re-improve before anyone knows better.

There’s one thing we know for sure about the inside: There really is gold in there and it gets audited yearly.

Articles

How going to war brings out the best and worst in people

Sebastian Junger is not a military veteran. He makes that clear, but he sure sounds like one. Maybe it’s because he’s covered conflict zones from Sierra Leone to Nigeria to Afghanistan as a journalist. It’s safe to say he’s seen more conflict than many in the United States military.

If there’s an expert on modern warfare and the long-term effects of those who live it, that person is Sebastian Junger.


He sees war and its effects through the lens of an anthropologist. This not only gives him the perspective to look back on his homecoming—and the homecomings of U.S. troops—to see the problems and abnormalities with how societies deal with their combat veterans, it allows him to put those ideas into words. Some words returning and transitioning veterans may not have ever known to use.

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“We try hard to keep combat at a distance,” he says in the new PBS documentary Going to War. “But when we talk about war, we talk about what it means to be human.”

In Going to War, Junger and fellow author Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War) examine the paradox of fighting in combat: how the brotherhood and sense of purpose contrast with the terror, pain, and grief surrounding the violence and destruction. It starts with the training. Whenever young men (and now women) are placed in a situation where they would be fighting for their lives, the training would diminish perceptions of the individual in favor of the group.

“If you have people acting individualistically in a combat unit, the unit falls apart and gets annihilated,” Junger says. “So you need them to focus on the group. The training, beyond firing a weapon, is an attempt to get people to stop thinking of themselves.

This is not just the U.S. military. This is every military around the world.

The United States is “orders of magnitude” more capable than most. What the U.S. is having trouble dealing with is what comes after its veterans return home and then to civilian life. For returning vets, sometimes the problem is returning to an unearned hero’s welcome.

Only about ten percent of the military will ever see combat. Those who don’t still get the welcome home, but feel guilty for feeling like they never did enough to earn that accolade.

For those who were in combat, the experience of being shot, shot at, and watching others get killed or wounded is a traumatic experience that our increasingly isolated society doesn’t handle well.

When veterans leave the military, separation becomes a more apt term than we realize. Our wealthy, individualistic modern society rips military veterans from their tribal environment while they’re in the military and puts them back into a cold, unfamiliar and far less communal world.

Junger thinks a fair amount of what we know as PTSD is really the shock of a tribal-oriented veteran being put in an individualized environment.

Going to War did a fantastic job of capturing the experience of fighting in a war and then coming home,” Junger says. “For me one of the most powerful moments wasn’t even on the battlefield.

Junger goes on to describe what, for him, is the most poignant story out of a slew of emotional, true stories of men fighting nearly a century of wars:

“A young man, a Marine describing his final training, a ruck march. They had heavy packs and the guy had an injury so he couldn’t walk very well. Another guy comes along and carries his pack for him, so the second guy is carrying 160 pounds maybe, and says ‘If you’re not gonna make it across the finish in time, then neither will I. We’re gonna do it together or fail together.’ And that is the central ethos to men in combat in the military.”

For more of Sebastian Junger and his thoughts on war and the men and women who fight it, be sure to download or listen to this podcast. If you still can’t get enough Junger (and we totally get understand), check out his amazing books or our previous podcast with him where we talked about his latest book, Tribe.

Going to War airs on PBS on Memorial Day at 9 p.m. Eastern. Check your local listings.

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Intel

Here’s how modern nukes compare to their first generation versions

The nuclear blasts over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan were extraordinarily powerful explosions. Their combined power yielded an equivalent of about 36,000 tons of TNT.


Only sixteen years later, the Soviets designed a bomb 3,000 times more powerful at 100,000,000 tons of TNT. Fearing devastation beyond control, they toned it down a bit and tested the bomb at 50,000,000 of TNT. Till this day, the “Tsar Bomba”is the largest man-made explosion, ever.

The bomb detonated at an altitude of 4,2000 meters. The unprecedented explosion was expected to measure 51.5 megatons. In reality, its power was estimated at between 57 and 58.6 megatons, according to the video below.

About 2,000 nuclear tests and 125,000 weapons were made since the first nuclear detonation on July 16, 1945. This video tracks their evolution.

Watch:

Now This, YouTube

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

4 reasons military brats make better adults

There’s definitely something different about growing up a military brat. There are obvious things like always being the new kid, living all over the world and missing huge chunks of time with your service member parent. Life was a bit harder for you, harder to you perhaps. But with hard things come some major perks in the adult world.

Here are 4 reasons military brats make better adults:

1. You’re a master infiltrator

Do you know what most people are awful at? What creates that dry lump in throats of even the top business professionals? Walking into a room not knowing a soul and having to work that room of strangers. Life taught you not just to work the room, but how to infiltrate foreign camps and dominate the space. Military kids know how to read groups and people like a cheap deck of cards.

Jumping off the deep end into the unforgiving social circles of middle and high school as the newbie pays off in spades as an adult. Trial and error networking in the formative years. Getting it wrong as a kid a time or two saves major face when Tom from the office is profusely sweating from anxiety while you’ve got a drink in hand pulling out stories from your diverse life deck like a boss.

2. You’ve got contacts

Growing up in the same little town with the same group of friends is as American as apple pie. It’s what’s glorified in the sitcoms, and what you think you’re missing out on. But you’ve been wrong. Life today is international. Staying put is a thing of the past. Lucky for you, you have two generations of contacts all working in different states or even countries around the world to tap into for a reference or internship. If your family ETS’d in Kansas, but NYC is more your speed, the likelihood you already know someone there is far greater than Susan, whose territory ends at the cornfield. Be nice, grow your network and wait for those big doors to open.

3. You’ve got perspective

What’s the biggest value add potential employers are looking for in addition to a degree? Perspective. And you, you globetrotting, hardship enduring military brat have it in spades. You have actual firsthand knowledge of economies, well-planned cities or progressivism that works because you lived it.

Living it and just reading about it are two very different things. It may have sucked moving time and time again as a kid, but with the right spin, you can become ten times more valuable than a local ever could be.

4. You’re just a better human

There are two kinds of people. The people that peak in high school, and the ones who unapologetically kick ass as an adult. Not sticking around a place long enough to establish your pre-real-world social hierarchy is painful, only until you realize that all your strife and struggle can and will make you a better adult.

You’ll be the one making the point of saying hello to the new guy in the office. You’ll be the one to see “different” as potential versus problematic. You will view the world through a much better, much bigger lens than your peers. You will be nicer overall because you endured a heck of a lot more things as a kid that has prepared you to face the hardships of life head-on.

No doubt growing up as a child in the military is quite the experience. There is, however, a tremendous amount of hope that all of those experiences can and will make military children the best damn adults around. Here’s to you military child.


Articles

This guy got kicked out of both Soundgarden and Nirvana before becoming a Green Beret

The mindblowing journey of Jason Everman took him from being the guy who got kicked out of both Nirvana and Soundgarden to U.S. Army Special Forces to Columbia University philosophy grad.


Only the most devoted Nirvana fans remember Everman, who became the band’s fourth member when he joined as second guitarist for the Bleach album tour in 1989. While a lot of fans loved the metal guitar flair he brought to their sound, things didn’t go well in the van and the band abandoned a tour in New York City they fired him. His tenure in the band yielded exactly one recording session, a cover version of “Do You Love Me” that appeared on a long out-of-print KISS tribute album.

Everman (far left) with Nirvana (pre-Dave Grohl).

During his brief time in the band, Everman (who was the only guy who’d ever held a job and was therefore the only one with any cash) paid the long overdue $606.17 bill for the Bleach recording session so the band could release the album. They never paid him back.

That blow was quickly softened when he was asked to join Soundgarden (a band he preferred to Nirvana) as their bass player shortly after returning to Seattle. That gig lasted about a year before he was fired again for what sounds like the crime of being moody on the bus.

Everman (far right) with Soundgarden.

Everman kicked around, took some jobs and played in another moderately successful band before deciding to join the Army. He was in basic training at Ft. Benning when Kurt Cobain killed himself and a drill sergeant recognized his photo from an article about Cobain’s death.

Those of us who worked at Nirvana’s record company at the time knew Jason as “the metal guy” (Kurt’s description) and no one had much idea what had happened to him, although there were incredibly vague rumors that he had something to do with the military.

“Something to do with the military” turned out to be a career in the Special Forces and service in Afghanistan and Iraq. The article is light on details, mostly because Everman didn’t choose to share many details and the writer had access to a lot more background about the punk rock years.

The profile was written by Clay Tarver, a veteran of the ’80s underground punk scene (and a guy I know from WHRB, our college radio station in Cambridge MA). Tarver first met Jason when Clay’s (excellent) band Bullet LaVolta opened for Soundgarden on tour. Clay later played in the (also excellent) ’90s band Chavez, became a writer and is now on board to write the screenplay for the upcoming sequel to (underrated ’00s classic) Dodgeball.

Everman left the service in 2006 and got into Columbia with a letter of recommendation from General Stanley McChrystal. He earned that degree in 2013.

This article from the New York Times Magazine published last year is a must-read for anyone who followed the underground rock scene of the ’80s as it became the mainstream rock of the ’90s. There are dozens of guys who’ve never recovered from their near-miss careers in rock and Jason got kicked out of two of the biggest bands in the world. That he quietly went out and forged a complete different kind of success is a truly amazing tale.

For the doubters, here’s some proof that Jason really was in Nirvana and Soundgarden:

And here’s a different interview with Jason that’s been hiding out on YouTube:

Also at Military.com:

For Military Families, ‘Tis The Season For Purging

Pentagon To Send 250 MRAPs Back To Iraq To Fight ISIS

Obama Will Decide On Top Honor For Black WWI Hero

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Kazakh independence symbol is a golden suit of armor

For most Americans, Kazakhstan evokes images of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character, driving across America, uttering timeless quotes about his wife, his neighbor Ursultan, or those a**holes in Uzbekistan. Those interested in military history might want to look beyond Borat’s neon green bikini – it was a Kazakh who hoisted the Soviet flag over the Reichstag during World War II after all and until it was absorbed into the Soviet Union, Kazakh tribes remained largely undefeated in military history.


In 1969, a burial mound was discovered near Issyk in what was then the Kazakh SSR of the Soviet Union. The mound contained an ancient skeleton along with warrior’s gear and funeral treasures belonging to a long-dead Scythian soldier, estimated to be buried around the 5th Century BCE. Based on the funerary treasures, the skeleton was considered to be that of a noble, a prince or princess. Among those treasures was what has come to be called the “Golden Man” amongst Kazakhs – a suit of ornate armor made of more than 4,000 pieces of gold.

The suit is so ornate and valuable, the Kazakh government will only show replicas of the Golden Man in museums. The original is said to be housed in the main vault of the National Bank of Kazakhstan in Almaty.

The Prince is from a tribe of ancient Scythian warriors called the “Saka” who lived in the lands north of what is today Iran. While the ancient historians called all tribes living in the Asian steppe Scythian, the ancient Persians referred to those Scythian tribes at their northern border as the Saka. These nomadic peoples likely fought against Alexander the Great as his forces moved west. They also engaged Cyrus the Great’s Persian forces, killing him in battle around 530 BCE.

The Scythian tribes of this time were not dominated by men, and like their modern-day Soviet Kazakh armies, women would fight alongside their men. It was their Empress Tomyris who led the army that killed Cyrus. Descendants of these same tribes would resist incursions from early Russian, Chinese, and Roman armies.

So while it’s very possible the “Golden Man” wasn’t a man at all, the ancient, cataphract-style armor – armor used by nomadic-style cavalry units – is a beautiful historical work of art. The gold works depict snow leopards, deer, goats, horses, and majestic birds. These are all depicted on the likely ceremonial armor and form a clear basis for the modern style of tribal jewelry-making in the Central Asian country.

As for the bones of the ancient warrior, they were reinterred using the customs of the Scythian warriors of the time. The people of this area are still so very close to their tribal origins that they all know from which of the three tribes of Kazakhstan they descend.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This legendary infantryman just got his own graphic novel

Army Sgt. Alvin C. York was one of the early members of the 82nd Infantry Division and helped establish that unit’s legendary status when he captured 132 German soldiers almost single-handedly after his small detachment was drawn into a fight with a massive force.

Now, the Association of the United States Army has made a graphic novel celebrating his life and the stunning World War I action that earned him a Medal of Honor.


York was born in rural Tennessee near the Kentucky border and was responsible for helping support his mother and ten siblings from a very early age. Most of his work was physical. It included going into the woods to hunt game to be cooked and served on the family table. This developed the young York into a crack shot, something that would come in handy during the World War in his future.

As a teen, York became a zealous, fundamental Christian. When war broke out and he was drafted, he applied for conscientious objector status on the basis of his religion. It was declined and York was sent to the 82nd.

But if Alvin C. York was going to be a soldier, he was going to be a good one.

Painting of then-Cpl. Alvin C. York depicting the World War I engagement that made him famous.

(Frank Schoonover)

On October 8, 1918, York went with 16 other men to scout and seize German positions in a valley ahead of a general advance. They spotted two German medics filling canteens and attempted to rush them. The medics managed to stay ahead of the Americans as they fled back to their own lines.

There, the Germans were preparing for an attack with over 100 soldiers — and the pursuing Americans stumbled right into them.

Sgt. Alvin C. York stands on the hill where he captured the bulk of 132 German soldiers in 1918.

(U.S. Army)

The Americans were in huge trouble. Nine of them were quickly killed. York, as a corporal, took command and begin sending deadly accurate fire into German machine gunners. As he later said,

“…those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful…. I didn’t have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush, I didn’t even have time to kneel or lie down…. As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. In order to sight me or to swing their machine guns on me, the Germans had to show their heads above the trench, and every time I saw a head I just touched it off. All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn’t want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.”

In case you missed it in that quote, York was yelling for the Germans to surrender before he had to kill all of them.

York aimed to claim either the surrender or the lives of all the Germans attacking him and his men. York fired through all of his rifle ammo and was forced to rely on his pistol as the Germans mounted a rush against him.

The young hunter had learned on turkey shoots to kill from the back of a rush first, as killing the turkeys near the front would cause the flock to split off in all directions. He applied this technique with his pistol against the rush, killing the Germans at the back first so the rest would keep coming towards him.

Finally, a German officer, surrounded by at least 20 of his own dead troops, decided that his own men were too badly outnumbered and outgunned. Thinking he was highly outnumbered, the officer surrendered approximately 90 men to York, who, by this point, was fighting nearly alone.

Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Alvin C. York returns after the war to the Tennessee home where he grew up. The woman on the left is his mother, and the girl in the middle is one of his younger sisters.

(Underwood and Underwood)

York accepted the surrender, rounded up the last of his living men, and began escorting the prisoners back to American lines and taking on more Germans as they went. By the time the party reached York’s unit, the handful of Americans were escorting 132 German prisoners of war.

York was nominated for the Medal of Honor for his accomplishments and received it in April, 1919, after the war.

AUSA’s graphic novel celebrating his life is available here.

Articles

A nuclear submarine was destroyed by a guy trying to get out of work early

A mysterious 2012 fire that basically destroyed a nuclear submarine while it was in port was caused by a not-so-bright contractor who wanted to get out of work early.


The USS Miami docked at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine in 2012, scheduled for a 20-month engineering overhaul and some regularly scheduled upgrades. While in the dock, a fire started on the sub, which spread to crew living quarters, command and control sections, and its torpedo rooms. Repairing the damage and completing the upgrades after the fire was estimated to cost more than 0 million and three years. By 2013, it was decided the sub would not be fixed and was eventually decommissioned after only 24 years.

The nuclear-powered Los Angeles class attack submarine, which took part in clandestine Cold War missions as well as firing cruise missiles to support operations in Iraq and Serbia, had earned the nickname “the Big Gun.” The ship was cut up for scrap in Washington state’s Puget Sound at the cost of million.

The perpetrator was Casey James Fury, a civilian painter and sandblaster who wanted to go home early. Fury set fire to a box of greasy rags. On appeal, he would complain to a judge of ineffective counsel, as his defense lawyer forced him to admit to setting the fire in exchange for a lighter sentence. According to counsel, he set that fire and a fire outside the sub three weeks later, because of his untreated anxiety.

Fury was sentenced to 17 years in prison, five years of parole, and ordered to pay the Navy 0 million in restitution, an amount prosecutors deemed “unlikely to collect.”

Probably a good call.

The ship caught fire at 5:41 p.m. and burned until 3:30 a.m. the next day. It took 100 firefighters to stop the fire. One of the responding firefighters called it “the worst fire he’s ever seen.” The Navy originally spent another million in initial repairs before deciding to scrap the Miami.

“There seems little doubt that the loss of that submarine for an extended period of time impacts the Navy’s ability to perform its functions,” U.S. District Court Justice George Z. Singal said at Fury’s sentencing. The Navy will just have to make do with the other 41 Los Angeles class submarines in the fleet.