One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

As military spouses, we are all too familiar with the phrase “hurry up and wait.” When it comes to the health and safety of our families in our homes, enough is enough.


When we heard from our network that families were struggling with the safety and deterioration of their military homes, we mobilized the Military Family Advisory Network’s research process so that we could learn more. Our goal was simple: understand what is happening through scientific data. Good data can be powerful and hard to ignore.

One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

We created a survey that allowed us to take a deep dive into the issue, and we shared what we learned with the Department of Defense, Congress, and the general public. We made sure our data was actionable, because our priority is shortening the time between the identification of an issue and the deployment of a solution.

Sadly, it has been one year and one week since we released findings from our Privatized Military Housing Survey, and families are still struggling. It should not have taken a survey with nearly 17,000 military families sharing their experiences with us – many of which were severe – to drive change. The entire country heard about what was happening in military housing in the nightly news, in the paper, and on social media. Despite the overwhelming number of heartbreaking stories, the brave testimonies from military spouses, the news coverage, and the compelling data, families are still struggling.

Based on what we hear, we believe that those who are entrusted with fixing this issue are on the right path, but we also know that there is a long way to go. We understand that for the military families who have spent months in temporary housing or hotels, who have thrown away thousands of dollars’ worth of furniture due to water damage, have lived with pests, and worst of all, who are struggled with the health-implications that can be associated with mold or lead, actions speak louder than words. We understand that the trust between military families and housing offices (and those charged with oversight) continues to erode as families wait for a Tenant Bill of Rights and increased accountability.

We commit to keeping the pressure up and continuing to learn from families who share their experiences with us, and we commit to doing so in collaboration with everyone who has a vested interest in supporting our community. That is why MFAN created the Military Housing Roundtable. During our first meeting, we took a step back to answer a few key questions: What is happening that is causing families to choose to live in military housing? Do military families have other safe and affordable options? Or, do they feel stuck? Based on these questions, here’s what we know:

We need to bring together public and private agencies to ensure that military families have a central hub where they can get the information they need.

We need to explore what is happening in housing and rental markets near installations.

We need to educate families on the Service Member Civil Relief act, so they know their rights when they are signing a lease or need to move.

We need to teach families the dangers of mold and lead, show them where to look, how to safely navigate these hazards, and where to turn for help if they discover them in their homes.

One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

Most importantly, we need to elevate the voices of military families, because as the last year has shown us, their experiences matter. MFAN is proud to have provided the microphone for these families through our research. We are honored to be able to create collaborative solutions with Roundtable attendees – which included nonprofits, military and veteran service organizations, subject matter experts on environmental risks, the Department of Defense, the military services, and businesses with a mission of supporting military families.

We are committed to rallying together to fix this because we all know one thing for certain: military families deserve a safe place to live, raise their families, and call home.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This fighter pilot shot down more than 20 enemy aircraft, earning him the title ‘Quad Jungle Ace’

Sitting in the driver’s seat with his foot on the gas, Major Gerald “Jerry” Johnson drove to the Alert Tent in the early morning hours of Oct. 13, 1943, as jeeps carrying other pilots from the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, Fifth Air Force trailed in a column behind. On his mind were the names of other pilots who were lost in a mission the night before, friends of his with whom he had shared pancakes in the mornings and gambled his valuables away in late-night poker games. They were briefed on the mission and sat around for hours in boredom at Horanda Air Field, a large stretch of land that was formerly just another patch in the New Guinea jungle.

When Johnson and his squadron of eight P-38 Lightnings were alerted, they took to the air to intercept a massive aerial convoy of 18 dive bombers supported by 20 agile fighters. They were outnumbered and outgunned, but Johnson wasn’t entirely concerned about that as all he could focus on was reaching the enemy before they dropped their payload over Oro Bay, an advanced military shipping installation.


One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group. Squadron posing in front of a P-38 Lightning commemorating the first USAAF pilots to land and operate in the Philippines after the landing on Leyte, October 1944. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As his plane climbed through the clouds, the bombers came closer into his sights. He maneuvered his aircraft and issued orders over the radio to communicate their approach. The Japanese were unaware that they were being trailed in the air when Johnson and his squadron ambushed the enemy, walking his rounds from the nose of the aircraft into one of the dive bombers, igniting the plane’s fuselage.

Black smoke and a flash of flames burst through the plane’s side as the bomber plummeted out of the sky. The Japanese zeros peeled off, and an all-out dogfight ensued. On numerous passes, Johnson evaded the tracers shot by Japanese fighters, diving and climbing, rolling and tilting before his rounds struck and downed a second enemy bomber. Their surprise attack netted him three aerial victories, two bombers and one enemy fighter, a solid day’s work that impeded the enemy formation from reaching its target.

One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

A P-38 Lightning prepares to land after flying a heritage flight with the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter April 3, 2016, during the Luke Air Force Base air show, 75 Years of Airpower. Photo by Staff Sgt. Staci Miller/U. S. Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

The large enemy force diverted away from their intended target as Johnson’s small but ferocious display of aerial finesse surprised and overwhelmed the Japanese. For his actions on this day he was awarded his first of two Distinguished Service Crosses. In his following tours, Johnson was a nightmare for the Japanese in the Pacific, earning 22 aerial victories with 21 probables to secure his status as a quadruple ace (five aerial victories are required to achieve “ace” status).

Sadly, while on a courier mission after the war, the B-17 or B-25 he was in entered severe weather, and a violent mixture of rain, lightning, and turbulence knocked out all radio communications. One of the passengers neglected to bring along a parachute, and knowing the consequences of giving up his own, Johnson handed it to the passenger, who then bailed out of the plane. Everyone with a parachute was rescued and survived, while Johnson fought with the controls until he perished. Accounts vary as to whether he was the pilot or a passenger on the plane.

Johnson’s remains were lost with the rest of the aircraft. Since he wasn’t on a combat mission, his heroic last act on Oct. 7, 1945, did not warrant a posthumous Purple Heart; however, he was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism at the risk of life in a non-combat-related incident. A hero in the sky even on his final flight. Gerald R. Johnson is sometimes confused with Gerald W. Johnson, another ace pilot during World War II, but the latter’s aerial dominance was in the European Theater and not the Pacific.

Butch O’Hare: The Irish-American Who Became the US Navy’s First Combat Ace

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This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

School. Streets. Military. In 1996, Curtez Riggs graduated high school and those were his options in Flint, Michigan. By that time, the auto industry that built “Buick City” had moved away. As a kid, Curtez picked up bottles, turned in cans and always had a side gig to bring in extra money. When it came time to make the decision, Curtez figured the Army was the best way to start his future.


His entrepreneurship did not stop when he joined the Army. Curtez continuously started businesses outside of his day job as a career recruiter. In this episode, you will hear how Curtez prepared for his military transition – years before he ended his active service.

Flint MI Then and Now

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Currently, Curtez is the CEO of the Military Influencer Conference (MIC). Started in 2016, the conference is a community of entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives, and leaders who are connected to the military community. Curtez said he sees the conference as a mentorship and connection hub for future and current military veterans looking to make the military transition with an entrepreneurial mindset. This year’s conference is in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8-10, 2019. Starting in 2020, the conference will be placed in a different region each year.

The conference has certain tracks attendees can follow:

  • “Going Live” – Podcasters and Video
  • Real Estate
  • Founders and Innovators
  • Social Impact
  • Content Creators
  • Empower – Milspouse Track
  • Workshops
  • Mighty Talks

#BtBattle Veteran of the Week: Air Force and Army veteran Erin McLyman.

    Enjoy the episode.

    This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

    MIGHTY GAMING

    6 video games that are surprisingly popular with service members

    Video games are extremely popular in the military community. It’s a favorite pastime and even troops who grew up playing outside will take part at some point. But what might surprise you is that it’s not just the nerds among us who’ve made videos games less of a time-killer and more of a hobby.


    The military brings people from all different backgrounds together under the same roof — nerds and jocks alike. In fact, in the past two decades, a countless number of young hopefuls have showed up at the recruiter’s office looking to live out fantasies they’ve had while playing games.

    Sure, not all of them make it and, yes, the harsh reality of military life sets in and you’ll quickly realize it’s not anywhere close to your favorite video game, but those who make it hold on tightly to their hobby. You just might be surprised at what types of games are popular among troops.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    There was a movie that came out recently based on the original game. You should probably just stick to the games, though…

    (Universal Pictures)

    ‘Warcraft’

    The predecessor to the insanely popular massively multiplayer online role playing game, Warcraft is a real-time strategy series set in a grim fantasy world. If anyone from any walk of life brings this game up in conversation, they are most definitely a nerd — but by that barometer, there are a lot of nerds in the military.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    Service members often feel the need for speed after a long week.

    (Nintendo)

    Any Mario game

    Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Smash Brothers are all great games to play in the barracks on the weekend. These bring people together, just like a split-screen game of Call of Duty, but you’d never expect to see the bright colors and cartoony characters of a Nintendo title glowing on the faces of hardened war fighters.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    You’ll still find an amazing following within the military, though.

    (Sony Interactive Entertainment)

    ‘God of War’

    Judging by the title alone, you’d think this series was a smash hit among service members, but it’s not wildly popular. Here’s why: You might get the opportunity to kill a bunch of gods in a bloody frenzy, but most games in the series follow a linear storyline. Troops generally aren’t interested until it comes time to fight.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    This game takes quite a bit of skill, actually.

    (Naughty Dog)

    ‘The Last of Us’

    Of course a zombie shooter made it onto this list, but the best part of The Last of Us isn’t its gunplay, it’s the engaging and tragic story. Anyone can pickup Call of Duty and get their fill of zombie killing, but it takes a true dork to buy a game for the zombies and stay for the story.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    Nerds love fighting giant monsters!

    (Bioware)

    ‘Dragon Age’

    One of the greatest game series to ever be developed, Dragon Age is a fantasy RPG that offers great story that evolves based on player choices. Much like the Witcher series (see below), you wouldn’t expect this to come up in conversation, but if you bring it up in the barracks, you’ll turn a few heads.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    Seriously, though.

    (CD Projekt Red)

    ‘The Witcher’

    A role-playing fantasy game based on the novels of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, this series is renowned for its engaging story and open-ended choices. This game requires patience, preparation, and a good amount of reading — and it’s still popular among service members. It’s just that good.

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    It’s time you know the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day

    A few years ago, there was a viral Facebook post about a woman getting a haircut before Memorial Day weekend. She had lost her husband in a Navy helicopter crash months prior. He died on deployment, never having met their youngest son. So, when the smiling receptionist wished her a “Happy Memorial Day” after she had buried her spouse, the words cut extra deep.

    Before you tag every veteran and service member on Facebook and wish them a Happy Memorial Day, remember that, in this community, Memorial Day means something much, much bigger than the start of summer. The day feels fraught with memories of those we’ve lost, mixed with gratitude for the times we’ve had.

    While it is true that every day is Memorial Day for the families of the fallen, they aren’t asking that you stay inside and wallow.


    But we do owe it to them to pause. Reflect. Remember. Honor.

    Gold Star wife Krista Simpson Anderson, who lost her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Michael Harrison Simpson, in Afghanistan in 2013, said, “I get upset when people scold others for enjoying the weekend or having BBQs. What do you think our service members did before they died? Mike sure did enjoy his family and friends. What better way to honor them than to be surrounded by family and friends living. But we are also so grateful for your pause and reflection as you celebrate our heroes and the lives that they lived.”

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    Krista Anderson and her sons pose for a photo in 2014.

    (Photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler)

    Memorial Day and Veterans Day are different holidays with unique purposes — and unique ways to honor each.

    How to honor Veterans Day

    Veterans Day is the day to tag all your people, posting photos with your brother in uniform or the selfie with your bestie before he or she deployed. Veterans Day celebrates the living who served our country. Offer veterans a discount at your business. Call your favorite vet on the phone and thank him or her for their service. Attend a parade. Celebrate a veteran.

    How to honor Memorial Day

    Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring every single man and woman who has died for our freedoms — men and women who were mommies and daddies, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, patriots, incredible Americans and really, really great friends.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    The United States Marine Band on Memorial Day.

    (Photo by Spc. Cody W. Torkelson)

    You want to honor and celebrate patriotism and the military this Memorial Day? Then you have to honor the complicated feelings surrounding it. Express your knowledge that this day is about remembrance.

    Attend a memorial service at a national cemetery. Run or walk a mile to benefit the non-profit Krista Anderson started in memory of her husband, and then pledge your mile for wear blue: run to remember.

    Talk to your kids about sacrifice, about service and about what this three-day weekend really means. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. Monday with a minute of silence.

    And then, like Krista said, live.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    India is beefing up its navy to counter China’s massive fleet

    India has watched warily as China’s navy has ventured into the Indian Ocean, and now New Delhi plans to expand its navy to keep its edge in the ocean with which it shares a name.

    India’s navy currently has 140 warships and 220 aircraft, and navy chief Adm. Sunil Lanba said Dec. 3, 2018, that there are 32 ships and submarines under construction in Indian shipyards.


    Delhi has also approved the construction of another 56 warships and six submarines, part of a 10-year plan. “By 2050, we will also have 200 ships, 500 aircraft and be a world-class navy,” Lanba said.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    India’s first-in-class Kalvari submarine during floating at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai in October 2015.

    (Indian navy photo)

    One of those six submarines will be from Project-75I, a billion initiative to acquire advanced subs equipped with air-independent-propulsion systems that allow nonnuclear subs to operate without atmospheric oxygen, replacing or augmenting diesel-electric systems.

    Lanba also said that the second of India’s Scorpene-class diesel-electric subs had been through the needed trials and would be commissioned soon. The first of the class was inducted in December 2017.

    India said in November 2018 that is first domestically built nuclear-powered missile sub, INS Arihant, had completed its first deterrence patrol, giving the country the ability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air, and sea.

    The Arihant was a message to rivals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the time: “Don’t try any misadventure against India.”

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a speech to sailors marking the first deterrence patrol by the ballistic-missile sub INS Arihant, Nov. 5, 2018.

    (Narendra Modi / Twitter)

    Lanba also said on Dec. 3, 2018, that plans to produce India’s second domestically built aircraft carrier had “received the necessary impetus,” according to The Economic Times. The Indian Express reported that the government is wary of the cost of a third carrier but that Lanba had said “the cost is justified in the Combat Battle Group.”

    India’s first carrier, INS Vikramaditya, is a modified Kiev-class carrier purchased from Russia. The first domestically built aircraft carrier, the second overall, is under construction and is expected to undergo sea trials in three years, Lanba said.

    The third carrier will take seven to 10 years to build, Lanba said, but it would allow India to operate two carriers at all times, complementing India’s submarine force.

    “A submarine is for ‘sea denial,’ while the a carrier battle group is for sea control,” Lanba said. “Carrier battle groups will enhance the navy’s role in the” Indian Ocean Region.

    Delhi’s efforts to enhance its position in the Indian Ocean are not limited to ships.

    A naval air station in the northern Andaman and Nicobar Islands boosts connectivity in the region and improves surveillance in the area. The islands are west of the Malacca Strait, through which much of the shipping between the Indian and Pacific oceans passes — including Chinese subs.

    India has already deployed its variant of the advanced US P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the islands.

    Negotiations are underway to build a naval base in the Seychelles, at the opposite end of the Indian Ocean. In addition to exercises with partners in the region, the navy is conducting patrols with the Maldives, where India appears to have come out ahead in a geopolitical struggle with China.

    “In Maldives, there is a government which is favourable to India. We are providing [exclusive economic zone] patrols with Maldives. We continue to do so … we will move forward in all discussions, not only in maritime,” Lanba said Dec. 3, 2018.

    Delhi has been tracking Chinese subs entering the Indian Ocean since 2013. Lanba’s comments come as China’s warships grow increasingly active there.

    At any time, Lanba said Dec. 3, 2018, there are six to eight Chinese navy ships in the region: a three-ship anti-piracy force in the Gulf of Aden and three to four survey vessels. “In October 2018, a Chinese submarine was deployed and spent a month in the Indian Ocean,” he added. “All this was in 2018.”

    India’s Eastern Fleet commander Rear Adm. D.K. Tripathi said Dec. 5, 2018, that India’s navy had over the past year moved to mission-based deployments to maximize their time at sea.

    “We are monitoring all that is happening in the Indian Ocean,” he said when asked about the presence of other navies.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    An India MiG-29K prepares to catch the arresting wire while landing on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in 2014.

    (Indian Navy photo)

    India has a long history of tension with its northern neighbor, including several wars over a disputed boundary in the Himalayas.

    For now, the land border remains the Indian military’s primary focus, as the army is the dominant wing of the armed forces, Faisel Pervaiz, a South Asia expert at the geopolitical-analysis firm Stratfor, told Business Insider in October 2018.

    But Chinese naval activity, as well as diplomatic overtures through Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, have worried Delhi.

    “For India, the concern now is that although it maintained this kind of regional hegemony by default, that status is beginning to erode, and that extends to the Indian Ocean,” Pervaiz said. “India wants to maintain [its status as] the dominant maritime power in the Indian Ocean, but … as China’s expanding its own presence in the Indian Ocean, this is again becoming another challenge.

    On Dec. 3, 2018, when asked to compare to the Indian navy to those of China and Pakistan, Lanba said Delhi was still on top where it mattered.

    “As far as the Indian Navy is concerned, we have only one front. And that is the Indian Ocean. We have overwhelming superiority over Pakistan navy in all fields and domains. In the Indian Ocean region, the balance of power rests in our favor compared to China.”

    This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

    MIGHTY HISTORY

    6 oft-forgotten helicopters of the Korean War

    The helicopter is seemingly tied forever with the Vietnam War, so it’s easy to forget that it actually got its start in World War II, hit its stride in Korea, and that Vietnam was just an expansion on those earlier successes. But while helicopters are often forgotten in the context of Korea (except for you MASH fans), there were six different models flying around the frozen peninsula.


    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    (San Diego Air and Space Museum)

    H-13 Sioux

    The H-13 Sioux was the first helicopter deployed to Korea with the 2nd Helicopter Detachment in November 1950 where it served in utility, reconnaissance, and transportation missions. But just a few months later in January 1951, it made history as the primary air ambulance for American forces in the war, transporting 18,000 of America’s 23,000 casualties in the war.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    (U.S. Army)

    OH-23 Raven

    The H-23 Raven helicopter also conducted medical evacuation missions after it arrived in Korea in early 1951. These would become more famous for their observation role, serving as artillery scouts in Korea. But they pressed on after the war’s end and helped map out landing zones for UH-1s in Vietnam, though they were quickly replaced by more Hueys and Cobras in that war.

    Sikorsky HO3S-1 Rescue, 1951

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    H-5/HO3S-1

    The U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force were heavily invested in Sikorsky’s S-51 helicopter, dubbed the H-5 by the Air Force and the HO3S-1 by the Marine Corps and Navy, when the war broke out. The Air Force and Marines quickly sent their helicopters into combat where they provided aerial platforms for commanders and conducted frequent rescues. They also served as observers for naval artillery and scooped up pilots who had fallen in the sea.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    (U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Robert E. Kiser)

    H-19 Chickasaw/HRS-2

    The H-19 Chickasaw was used by Marine Corps and Army units to airlift supplies and troops into combat as well as to shift casualties out. These were large, dual-rotor helicopters similar to today’s Chinook. While not as strong as its modern counterpart, the Chickasaw could carry up to six litter patients and a nurse when equipped as an air ambulance, or eight fully equipped soldiers when acting as a transport.

    Model 47

    The Model 47 was the civilian predecessor to the H-13 and was essentially identical. The Navy used the Model 47 primarily in training new helicopter pilots but also in utility and medical evacuation roles, very similar to the more common H-13 Sioux in the war.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    (James Emery, CC BY 2.0)

    HUP-1/H-25 Mule

    The HUP-1 began its life as a Navy bird when it was designed in 1945 to satisfy a requirement for carrier search and rescue. The initial HUP-1 design gave way to the HUP-2 which also served in anti-submarine, passenger transport, and cargo roles. The Air Force helped the Army buy the helicopter in 1951 as a cargo carrier and air ambulance designated the H-25 Mule, and it served extensively in Korea in these roles.

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    How Army aircrews save the lives of desperate hikers

    In the early morning of July 16, 2019, an Army UH-60 Black Hawk rescue crew was alerted to a severely injured hiker who had fallen 500 feet down one of Colorado’s tallest peaks.

    The hiker, a retired astronaut, had broken both of his legs and one arm in the fall and needed emergency care fast. But to get to a hospital for his injuries, the former Navy captain had to rely on the Army to pluck him from the unforgiving terrain.

    It was the height of summer, a time when hikers flock to the state’s mountain ranges and when operations at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site ramp up.


    The site has a dual-hatted role. Primarily, it teaches helicopter crews how to fly and land in high altitudes. It also is a search and rescue outfit with experienced crews that can reach difficult spots where most civilian aircraft cannot.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew from the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site drops off a civilian rescue technician near the North Maroon Bells Peak near Aspen, Colo., July 24, 2018.

    (Photo by Tyler McCready)

    Each year, full-time Colorado Guardsmen at the site rescue about 20 people — mainly desperate hikers who have fallen or suffered from altitude sickness or a heart attack.

    With two pilots and two crew chiefs, the Black Hawk crews will also pick up two rescue technicians, who are civilian volunteers that they train with, on their way out.

    After already topping their annual average for saves, 2019 has proven to be a busy year.

    “It’s nice that we’re able to take what we teach, the power management techniques, and apply them on the weekend or during the week when we’re making these critical saves,” said Lt. Col. Britt Reed, the HAATS commander.

    For many, the July 16 mission is one of the recent missions that stands out. While climbing La Plata Peak, which pierces the sky at over 14,000 feet near Leadville, Jeff Ashby quickly became in need of help from the air.

    The day before, Ashby, 65, who had flown to space three times, had just reached the summit of the mountain. During his descent, he lost his footing and slipped, hurtling down the mountainside before large boulders stopped him.

    Hours later, a local search and rescue team member managed to navigate to the former astronaut and stayed with him overnight.

    At first light, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Pat Gates and his aircrew, along with two rescue technicians, flew out to Ashby’s location.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew from the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site lowers a member of Mountain Rescue Aspen down to an injured hiker near the North Maroon Bells Peak near Aspen, Colo., July 24, 2018.

    (Photo by Tyler McCready)

    Once overhead, the crew used a hoist to lower the technicians, who prepped Ashby before he was pulled up into the helicopter. The aircraft then landed at a transfer site, where Ashby was taken to the hospital in a civilian medical transport helicopter.

    While a collection of emergency responders helped out, the HAATS crew had the hoist capability to get Ashby out of danger.

    “It’s great knowing that you have that kind of impact on somebody,” Gates said.

    After being released from the hospital, Ashby wrote an email to Gates and the rest of the aircrew, thanking them for their efforts.

    “He was very appreciative of everything, for the fact that the Army came to help out a Navy guy,” Gates said, smiling. “But, all in all, having a result like that is always the best case.”

    Risky missions

    Gates estimates he has helped with at least five rescues per year since he came to HAATS in 2009. And the total number of missions continues to increase, he said, almost quadrupling compared to when he first started.

    Some of them even test the most experienced pilots, like Gates, who serves as the training site’s senior standardization instructor pilot.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew from the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site prepares to lower a civilian rescue technician near the North Maroon Bells Peak near Aspen, Colo., July 24, 2018.

    (Photo by Tyler McCready)

    A hairy rescue he still remembers was in 2015 at Crestone Needle, another mountain over 14,000 feet.

    In that one, a hiker also slipped and broke his leg on top of other injuries. Since the hiker was stranded in a tight area, the aircrew had to lower a hoist 200 feet as winds kicked up to 25 knots and a thunderstorm loomed nearby.

    “That was very interesting,” he said. “It required a lot that day to get the [helicopter rescue team] all the way down there to the injured party.”

    The mission was taxing for the crew since they had to keep the helicopter as still as possible. At that height, Gates said, the hoist can sway about 10 feet on the ground to every 1 foot the aircraft moves in the air.

    Pilots may also decide to quickly do a one-wheeled landing, one of which was conducted this summer, if there is enough room that the rotors will not chop into the mountain side.

    “If they feel the safest way is to land the aircraft [is] by putting one wheel down or two wheels down or using the hoist,” Reed said, “then we’ll figure out what the best way is and we’ll do it.”

    And then there are the “what ifs” every difficult mission presents, Gates said, which can be mentally draining when the crew is trying to prevent them all.

    Hoist ops

    Other than a similar National Guard unit at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, that handles rescues on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, no state entity can replicate the landings and hoists of the HAATS crews.

    “If we didn’t have these two organizations, then the [hikers] that got stuck would be in a lot of trouble,” Reed said, “because there is nobody else that can provide the resources that we can provide.”

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    Civilian rescue technicians treat an injured hiker before he is hoisted up into a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew from the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site near Aspen, Colo., July 24, 2018.

    (Photo by Tyler McCready)

    As a crew chief, Staff Sgt. Greg Yost typically operates the hoist during rescues.

    In June 2019, he lowered a hoist about 100 feet to save a skier who suffered cuts and an ankle injury after a small avalanche knocked him down, causing him to hit some rocks.

    Hovering above 13,000 feet in that mission, the aircrew had to deal with strong winds in a narrow valley that drastically affected the power margin of the heavy helicopter.

    “We were basically at our limit in power,” Yost recalled.

    While tough at times, the missions do bring Yost back to a job he never wanted to leave. Before coming to Colorado, he served on a medical evacuation aircrew in Afghanistan, picking up wounded troops in sometimes hot landing zones.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    In this video still image, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew from the Colorado National Guard’s High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site perform a one-wheeled landing at or above 13,000 feet to rescue an injured hiker from Maroon Bells, Sept. 21, 2013.

    (US Army photo)

    “That wasn’t something that I really wanted to give up,” he said. “So the fact that HAATS regularly conducted those kinds of missions was a big driving force in me wanting to come to this unit so I could continue helping people.”

    The work HAATS crews have done with hoist operations has led the Army to develop a standardized hoist training program last year, Gates said.

    The training site also creates scenario-based evaluations from the rescue flights to teach students during its weeklong course. The lessons even give the students an opportunity to discuss how the flight could have gone smoother.

    “That’s one thing we don’t do, is rest on our laurels,” Gates said. “We take information in from everybody that comes through here.”

    This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

    MIGHTY GAMING

    The Air Force built one of the world’s fastest computers out of Playstations

    When the Playstation 2 was first released to the public, it was said the computer inside was so powerful it could be used to launch nuclear weapons. It was a stunning comparison. In response, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein opted to try and buy up thousands of the gaming consoles – so much so the U.S. government had to impose export restrictions.

    But it seems Saddam gave the Air Force an idea: building a supercomputer from many Playstations.


    Just 10 years after Saddam Hussein tried to take over the world using thousands of gaming consoles, the United States Air Force took over the role of mad computer scientist and created the worlds 33rd fastest computer inside its own Air Force Research Laboratory. Only instead of Playstation 2, the Air Force used 1,760 Sony PlayStation 3 consoles. They called it the “Condor Cluster,” and it was the Department of Defense’s fastest computer.

    The USAF put the computer in Rome, New York near Syracuse and intended to use the computer for radar enhancement, pattern recognition, satellite imagery processing, and artificial intelligence research for current and future Air Force projects and operations.

    Processing imagery is the computer’s primary function, and it performs that function miraculously well. It can analyze ultra-high-resolution images very quickly, at a rate of billions of pixels per minute. But why use Playstation consoles instead of an actual computer or other proprietary technology? Because a Playstation cost 0 at the time and the latest and greatest tech in imagery processing would have run the USAF nearly ,000 per unit. Together, the Playstations formed the core of the computer for a cost of roughly million.

    The result was a 500 TeraFLOPS Heterogeneous Cluster powered by PS3s but connected to subcluster heads of dual-quad Xeons with multiple GPGPUs. The video game consoles consumed 90 percent less energy than any alternative and building a special machine with more traditional components to create a processing center, the Air Force could have paid upwards of ten million dollars, and the system would not have been as energy-efficient.

    It was the Playstation’s ability to install other operating systems that allowed for this cluster – and is what endangered the program.

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    If only Saddam had lived to see this…

    In 2010, Sony pushed a Playstation firmware update that revoked the device’s ability to install alternate operating systems, like the Linux OS the Air Force used in its supercomputer cluster. The Air Force unboxed hundreds of Playstations and then imaging each unit to run Linux only to have Sony run updates on them a few weeks later. The Air Force, of course, didn’t need the firmware update, nor could Sony force it on those devices. But if one of the USAF’s Playstations goes down, it would be the end of the cluster. Any device refurbished or newly purchased would lack the ability to run Linux.

    The firmware update was the death knell for the supercomputer and others like it that had been produced by academic institutions. There was never any word on whether Saddam ever created his supercomputer.

    MIGHTY FIT

    7 of the most common mistakes you’re making in the gym

    Every day, when we hit the gym, we see the same thing: Men and women of various ages doing everything they can to bulk up or lean out. Getting in the gym and doing a solid workout helps relieve all the stress you’ve accumulated over the last few days or hours.


    However, there are countless gym patrons who show up and don’t know what they’re doing. They lift heavy weights to impress the cute girl wearing yoga pants or count by threes while doing a set of push-ups.

    There’s a long list of mistakes we see happening at the gym, but addressing even half of them would take too damn long. So, here are the top seven.

    Locking your joints out

    Contrary to popular belief, your joints don’t contain muscles — but they are attached to a few nearby. When unprofessional gym scholars hit the bench and raise their weighted bar, many think that completing a rep means locking our your joints.

    The fact is, stopping the rep right before you straighten out that joint is the sweet spot. Fully extending your elbow or knee joints takes physical stress off the muscle group you’re trying to work.

    So, please stop.

    Swinging the weights

    Many people in the gym want to look as strong as possible. There’s an unspoken air of competition that blankets the gym, born of peoples’ egos, which can flourish out of control.

    Using bad form to up the weight impresses nobody. In fact, to people who often exercise, you’ll just look stupid.

    Taking too long between reps because you’re looking at your phone

    Taking a short break allows us to briefly recover between sets. However, don’t keep checking the messages on your phone because you’ll end up losing track of time.

    Challenging your muscles means causing them to tear in a controlled manner. It’s harder to get them to tear if you rest for too long between sets.

    Not using manageable weight

    We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Lifting heavy weights to look cool will, ultimately, make you look dumb. It’s easy to laugh at someone in the gym when they’re trying to lift beyond their physical stature, but it’s dangerous for everyone

    Not focused on the ‘negative’

    Outstanding, you lifted the bar! Now, lower that sucker down even slower than you raised it. Many uneducated people believe that lifting a weight is their only battle — not true. It’s actually only half the fight.

    When we say “negative,” we’re talking about the process of lowering the weight back to its original position, not the opposite of the word “positive.”

    The negative portion of the rep helps to tear the muscle a lot more in a controlled setting. More controlled tear, the more muscle we will build during the recovery cycle.

    Using a gym machine the wrong way

    This one’s pretty self-explanatory. No? Okay, well check out the gif below for a better understanding. We’re not sure what this exercise is called.

    Stopping the set before hitting failure

    If your set requires you to push out 12 reps and you do it without much of challenge, you’re wasting your time. You can only build muscle if you challenge the sh*t out of yourself and push your muscle beyond its limit.

    This limit literally means you’ve reached muscle exhaustion. If you’re not using a manageable weight, you might as well just text on your phone because you’re not accomplishing anything.

    Articles

    11 fighter pilot rules that can be applied to everyday life

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    Artist’s conception of an F-35 taking it to the Russians.


    Fighter pilots have a lot of cool sayings like, “Don’t ask somebody if he’s a fighter pilot. If he is, he’ll tell you. If he’s not, why embarrass him?” and “Faster fighters, older whiskey, younger women,” but not all of these can be applied to real life.

    Fortunately, they also have a few saying that can be applied to real life. Here are 11 of them:

    1. Train like you fight

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    This saying was made popular by “Duke” Cunningham, Navy Vietnam-era ace who served a stint in federal prison for misdeeds committed while serving as a congressman from California. It seems obvious, but think of how many processes your organization has that don’t really matter when it comes to executing the mission.

    2. Don’t be both out of airspeed and ideas

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    That’s a bad combo. As Dean Wormer said in the movie “Animal House,” “Fat, dumb, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

    3. Keep your knots up

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    Speed is life. It gives you options. In business “speed” can be resources, revenue, people. Having X+1 is a good idea.

    4. Keep your scan going

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    If you’re only focused on one thing, something else is about to jump up and bite you. While you’re staring at the bandit in the heads-up display, you’re missing the fact you’re about to run out of gas or get shot by the other bandit who just rolled in behind you.

    5. Lost sight, lost fight

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    Regardless of Gucci technology or whatever, you can’t kill what you can’t see.

    6. You can only tie the record for low flight

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    So don’t fly into the ground.

    7. There’s no kill like a guns kill

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    This is as pure as it gets for a fighter pilot. Feels. So. Good. And, remember, stealth doesn’t work against bullets.

    8. Don’t turn back into a fight you’ve already won

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    Know when to bug out and then do it. Live to fight another day.

    9. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    F-14 assigned to VF-1 shooting an AIM-54 Phoenix missile in the early days.

    You also miss 100 percent of the shots you take out of the missile’s operating envelope . . . which gets back to No. 1: Train like you fight.

    10. A letter of reprimand is better than no mail at all

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    As John Paul Jones once said, “He who will not risk, cannot win.” Nobody ever made history or changed the world by only worrying about his or her career.

    11. If you know you’re about to die, make your last transmission a good one

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

    No whining. Just key the radio and say, “Have a beer on me, boys.”

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    The 3 most realistic firefights ever filmed by Hollywood

    It’s no secret that movies get a lot wrong about firearms and the ways they’re used in a fight. From every 80’s protagonist refusing to shoulder their rifles when they fire, to the seemingly infinite magazine capacity in every hero’s gun, filmmakers have long prized what looks cool over what’s actually possible in their work, and to be honest, it’s hard to blame them. After all, diving sideways while firing pistols from each hand does look pretty badass, even if it’s just about the dumbest thing someone could do in a firefight.

    There are, of course, exceptions to the rule when it comes to Hollywood’s depictions of firefights–movies that manage to offer a realistic representation of how armed conflicts actually play out while still giving the audience something to get excited about. These movies may not be realistic from end to end, but each offers at least one firefight that was realistic enough to get even highly trained warfighters to inch up toward the edges of their seats.


    “Sicario” – Border Scene HD

    youtu.be

    Delta’s time to shine: “Sicario”

    The border scene in 2015’s Sicario is worthy of study from multiple angles: as an exercise in film making, this scene puts on a clinic in tension building, and although some elements of the circumstances may not be entirely realistic, the way in which the ensuing firefight plays out offers a concise and brutal introduction to the capabilities boasted by the sorts of men that find their way onto an elite team like Delta.

    Unlike the Chuck Norris depictions of Delta from the past, these men are short on words and heavy on action, using their skill sets to not only neutralize opponents, but to keep the situation as contained as possible. The tense lead up and rapid conclusion leaves the viewer with the same sense of continued stress even after the shooting stops that anyone who has ever been in a fight can relate to, despite the operators themselves who are seemingly unphased. As real special operators will often attest, it’s less about being unphased and more about getting the job done–but to the rest of us mere mortals, it looks pretty much the same.

    Saving Private Ryan – Omaha Beach HD

    youtu.be

    The Gold Standard: “Saving Private Ryan”

    When “Saving Private Ryan” premiered in 1998, I distinctly recall my parents returning home early from their long-planned date night. My father, a Vietnam veteran that had long struggled with elements of his service had been excited about the new Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg wartime epic, but found the opening scene depicting the graphic reality of the Normandy invasion of World War II to be too realistic to handle. My dad, who never spoke of his time deployed, chose to leave the theater and spent the rest of the evening sitting quietly in his room.

    This list is, in spirit, a celebration of realism in cinema, but realism has a weight to it, and sometimes, that weight can feel too heavy to manage. A number of veterans have echoed my father’s sentiments about the film (he did eventually watch it at home by himself), calling that opening sequence, often heralded as a masterpiece of film making, one of the hardest scenes they’ve ever managed to watch.

    Heat (1995) – Shootout Scene – Bank Robbery [HD – 21:9]

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    Val Kilmer helps train Green Berets: “Heat”

    The dramatic ten-minute shootout in “Heat” has become legendary in Hollywood for good reason. For six weeks, the film’s production team closed down parts of downtown Los Angeles every Saturday and Sunday to turn the city into a war zone, and the actors came prepared to do their parts. Production brought in real British SAS operatives to train the actors in real combat tactics at the nearby L.A. County Sheriff’s combat shooting ranges.

    Legend has it that Val Kilmer took to the training so well that the shot of him laying down fire in multiple directions and reloading his weapon (without the scene cutting) has been shown at Fort Bragg as a part of training for American Green Berets. Marines training at MCRD San Diego have also been shown this firefight from “Heat” as a depiction of how to effectively retreat under fire.

    Articles

    If the battle of Thermopylae was fought today with 300 Marines

    The legendary defense of the Spartans at the “hot gates” of Thermopylae has gone down in military history as one of the greatest last stands.


    But what if 300 Marine infantrymen, along with a couple thousand other fighters, had to repeat what Leonidas, 300 Spartans, and their Greek allies did in 480 B.C. against a modern foe?

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    (Photo: flickr/Guillaume Cattiaux)

    First, the battlefield at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. was very friendly to defenders. The mountains pressed close to the sea, leaving only a thin gap of land through which Xerxes could press his army. This gap was further constricted by the Spartans when they repaired a low wall.

    For the modern Marines, the gap could instead be narrowed with fighting holes, barbed wire, machine gun positions, and mines. Similarly, the fatal back path that Xerxes marched his “Immortals” through to doom Leonidas and his men could be blocked the same way, forcing an attacker to pay for every yard in blood.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson

    Unfortunately for the Marines, their enemy can afford a few bloody engagements. While the Marines would boast 300 infantrymen and 6,000 other combat arms Marines, their enemy would number somewhere around 100,000.

    The first thing the Marines would want to do against an enemy attack is copy the advantage that the Spartans used at Thermopylae, greater infantry range and stronger defenses. The Greek Hoplite carried a spear with slightly better range than the Immortal’s swords, and Hoplite armor was constructed of bronze strong enough to protect from Persian arrows.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    The M16 is bulkier than the M4, but boasts greater range. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Katelyn Hunter)

    The Marines would need to reach back in their armories for a similar range advantage. While the M4 has an effective firing range of 500 meters, the same as the AK-74 and other common infantry weapons, the M16 has a 550-meter range against a point target, a 10 percent boost. And the Marines’ body armor and defensive fortifications would give them an advantage over attackers similar to the Hoplites’ bronze armor.

    Unfortunately for the Marines, modern warfare isn’t limited to infantry fighting infantry, and so they would need to reckon with enemy artillery and air assets.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachery C. Laning)

    While the U.S. faces an artillery range gap in relation to Russia and China, the Marines defending the pass could use the mountains on their west to place their guns at greater altitude. This would give their guns greater range and force the enemy to come within the envelope of the U.S. cannon to try to take out Marine artillery positions.

    Air defenders would also need to position themselves up the mountains to provide an effective screen to protect their troops from enemy air attacks.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    (Photo: U.S. Navy Seaman Levingston Lewis)

    Luckily for the Marines, the Corps is one of the few military organizations that has invested heavily in short takeoff, vertical landing aircraft — meaning that Ospreys and Super Stallions can deliver supplies to the besieged Marines while F-35s and Harriers provide air support either from small, forward refueling and rearming points near the front or from a nearby ship.

    All of this adds up to a Marine force enjoying much of the same successes during the early days of the battle as the Spartans did. Enemy infantry and cavalry would be forced to maneuver into a narrow gap and be cut down by Marine rifles and missiles.

    Even better, their artillery could force the enemy guns to fire from afar and break up forces massing for an attack, advantages that the Spartans lacked.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Akeel Austin)

    But, like the Spartans before them, the Marines would eventually be overcome by their numerical limitations. Even with approximately 6,000 other Marines, the 300 infantrymen simply could not hold out forever.

    Enemy assaults would make it deeper into the pass each time as engineers whittled away at the Marines’ defenses and artillery crews braved American guns to get rounds onto the defenders’ heads.

    After a few days, the Marines would have amassed a stunning body count, possibly even as high as the 20,000 Persians credited to Leonidas and his forces, but they would be burned out of Thermopylae.

    One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis
    (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher Giannetti)

    But if they could buy enough time, it’s unimaginable that the Navy and Marine Corps would not be able to get follow-on forces to Greece. And, using the Marine Corps’ amphibious capabilities, reinforcements could be rushed to the beaches just south of the battle.

    Meanwhile, the Navy could press its jets into the fight, ensuring air superiority and providing a reprieve for the defenders.

    Thanks to the mobility of America’s sea services and Thermopylae’s location on a coast, the battle could end much differently for the Marines standing where the Spartans once fell.

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