10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force - We Are The Mighty
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10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

Last week, We Are The Mighty wrote a list of nine of the most legendary heroes of the U.S. Army. This week, we remember some of the Air Force’s heroes.


At 68, the Air Force may be technically the youngest branch of the five services, just a fraction of the Army’s age, but the service’s roots are well over a hundred years old. Here are 10 men who became legends in that time:

1. Eddie Rickenbacker

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
U.S. Air Force photo

A race car driver turned self-taught pilot, Rickenbacker joined the military immediately after the United States entered World War I. In less than a year, he earned a promotion to an officer’s rank and shot down his fifth enemy aircraft, earning him the title of “Ace.” A year later, he was in command of his entire Aero Squadron. By the time of the November 11, 1918 armistice, Rickenbacker racked up 26 aerial victories, a record he held until World War II.  His tactic was to charge right at enemy flying squads, whatever the odds, winning every time. Rickenbacker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with six oak leaf clusters, the Croix de Guerre with two palms, the French Legion d’Honneur, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor.

2. Billy Mitchell

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

General William “Billy” Mitchell is known as the “Father of the Air Force.” He was a turn-of-the-20th-century pilot who advocated for a separate, independent Air Force. He argued that airpower would be a revolution in modern warfare, but was dismissed as a radical by his peers. Mitchell became an Army aviator at a time when he was considered too old to go through pilot training. He paid for lessons himself and led more than 1,400 planes against the Germans during the World War I Battle of St. Mihiel. His experience flying planes in combat led to his idea of a separate Air Force, even demonstrating the power of airplanes against naval battleships. When he criticized the War Department for incompetence and negligence, he was sensationally court-martialed. He resigned his commission instead of accepting a humiliating sentence.

3. Henry “Hap” Arnold

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Major Henry H. Arnold with first Liberty V12 engine completed. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A protégé of Gen. Billy Mitchell’s, Hap is probably the only airman on this list who needed to overcome a fear of flying to reach his legendary Air Force status. Arnold oversaw the expansion of the Army Air Corps in the years between World War I and World War II to its position as the world’s largest Air Force. He oversaw development of intercontinental bombers, radar, airlift capabilities, and the use of nuclear weapons in modern air combat. His wartime job was so stressful, he experienced three heart attacks in three years, but survived to become a five-star General of the Army, which was later changed to General of the Air Force after it became an independent branch in 1947. He remains the only person to ever hold the rank and title.

4. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

Though Chappie did not see combat until the Korean War, he was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, training pilots in the Army Air Corps’ 99th Pursuit Squadron, the famous Red Tails.  In Korea, he flew 101 combat missions and then another 78 missions as vice-commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing during the Vietnam War. In the 8th TFW, he served under none other than then-Col. Robin Olds, including during Operation Bolo, the highest single MiG sweep ever. The duo were so successful their men nicknamed the team “Blackman and Robin.” During his command of the U.S. Air Force Base in Libya, he stared down Muammar Qaddafi in a stand-off, admitting later that he almost shot the dictator with his .45. Chappie became the first African-American to reach the rank of four-star General and the third person of African descent to reach the highest ranks in the Western world.

5. Robin Olds

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

Olds joined the military through The U.S. military academy at West Point, an all-star linebacker for the football team who was anxious to get into the fight raging in World War II Europe. His legacy was larger than life. He was a triple ace fighter pilot with 16 kills in WWII and married Hollywood actress Ella Raines. He stayed in the Air Force when it became independent from the U.S. Army and then commanded a fighter wing during the Vietnam War. He is remembered by the Air Force today during “Mustache March,” for the distinctive mustache he wore in Vietnam, sported as a way to boost morale among his men and thumb his nose at the media.

6. Curtis LeMay

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

LeMay was the youngest four-star general in American military history. He served with four stars longer than anyone ever had — a big deal for a general who didn’t go to a service academy. He earned the nickname “Iron Ass” for his stubbornness and shortness once his mind was made up. When he did speak, the stout, cigar-chomping, stone-faced general had a reputation for his outspoken manner. He is not always remembered fondly by history, as seen through the silver screen depiction of him as Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, but LeMay led the U.S. military through some of its most trying times.

Related: 7 Badass Airpower Quotes From General Curtis LeMay

LeMay’s leadership revolutionized the tactics and effectiveness of the 8th Air Force in World War II Europe, giving the Allies the decisive edge over the Nazi Luftwaffe. In the Pacific Theater, LeMay’s strategic planning crippled the Japanese war effort. He saw the U.S. through the Berlin Airlift and Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union would not have gone to war with a man who was famous for saying “If I see that the Russians are amassing their planes for an attack, I’m going to knock the shit out of them before they take off the ground.”

7. Chuck Yeager

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Yeager in front of the Bell X-1, which, as with all of the aircraft assigned to him, he named Glamorous Glennis (or some variation thereof), after his wife. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Charles Elwood Yeager began his Air Force career as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces. His time as an aircraft mechanic probably gave him a good idea of what planes could handle, information he would need later down the line as a USAF test pilot. He entered the enlisted flying program in 1942 and became at test pilot at war’s end. Two days before he famously broke the sound barrier, he broke two ribs and had them treated at a veterinarian’s office rather than risk losing that flight by going to an Air Force doctor.

8. William H. “Pits” Pitsenbarger

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Airman 1st Class William Pitsenbarger with an M-16 outside the HH-43. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

“Pits” was a U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper from Piqua, Ohio during the Vietnam War. He joined the Air Force right after high school and became a Pararescueman right after basic training. Less the a year after receiving orders to Vietnam, he set out on a mission to extract Army infantry casualties in the jungles near Cam My. He dropped into the trees, tended to some wounded and then loaded them onto his helicopter. When it came time for Pits to be extracted, his helicopter was hit by small arms fire and had to leave. Instead of leaving with the helo, Pits stayed with the infantry. For an hour and a half, he tended to the wounded, built improvised stretchers, and redistriubuted ammo. When everyone was set, Pitsenbarger joined the firefight. He was killed by a VC sniper during the night.

9. John L. Levitow

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
U.S. Air Force photo

Levitow was a Loadmaster on board an AC-47 “Spooky” Gunship during the Vietnam War. In an engagement with Viet Cong guerillas in February 1969, Levitow and the plane’s gunner started deploying flares during an bank when the gunship was hit by VC mortar fire. The entire crew was wounded by shrapnel and the gunner dropped a flare inside the gunship. Its fuse burned next to 19,000 rounds of ammunition which would surely take out the gunship when it exploded. Levitow, despite not being able to walk and fighting the plane’s 30-degree bank, crawled over to it, hugged the flare close to his body, and crawled to the rear toward the cargo door, dropping it out just before it ignited. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions and now the top graduate of all Air Force Enlisted Military Education courses receive the “John L. Levitow Award” for exceptional performance.

10. George Everett “Bud” Day

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

Though he retired an Air Force Colonel, Day started his military career as an enlisted Marine, joining in 1942 at age 17. After World War II, he went stateside to earn a law degree. At the onset of the Korean War, he joined the Air National Guard and was activated the next year. He flew combat sorties as an Air Force fighter pilot throughout the Korean War. He stayed in the Air Force through 1967, flying combat missions over North Vietnam. He was shot down, captured, tortured, beaten, and sent to the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” A year later, he was sent to “The Zoo,” a punishment camp for the most defiant POWs. At his most defiant, he would stare down his guards, singing the Star-Spangled Banner in their face. He was released in 1973, and returned to a flying status a year later.

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Meet the badass Revolutionary War heroine who mowed down Redcoats with a cannon

Margaret Corbin isn’t a household name. She should be. Born in Pennsylvania, Margaret was orphaned at age five when Native American raiders killed her father and took her mother captive (she never came home). Margaret survived because she was visiting an uncle at the time of the attack. In 1772, she married a Virginia farmer named John Corbin. Three years later, her husband joined the First Company of Pennsylvania Artillery for service in the Continental Army. Margaret wasn’t about to sit on the sidelines. She decided to follow her husband to Fort Washington, New York, where she spent her days cooking, doing laundry for soldiers, and tending to the wounded.


10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Photo: West Point Museum Art Collection/Herbert Knotel

On November 16, 1776, 4,000 British and Hessian troops attacked Fort Washington—the last American stronghold on Manhattan. Margaret followed her husband onto the battlefield. Corbin was a matross, which meant he was in charge of loading the cannon. After her husband’s partner was killed, Margaret started loading so her husband could keep firing. Things only went downhill from there. John Corbin was killed instantly when a Hessian bullet struck him in the heart. Did Margaret give in to despair? Nope. She started firing the cannon alone. Other soldiers marveled at her excellent aim. Unfortunately for her, the British and Hessians did too. Desperate to take her out, they soon started targeting her with their cannons. The Battle of Fort Washington ended in a crushing American defeat. Margaret’s cannon was the last one to stop firing.

Once the smoke cleared, Margaret was found in critical condition on the battlefield. She was wounded in the chest and jaw and her left arm was almost severed. Her fellow soldiers took her to a hospital in Philadelphia, but she never fully recovered from her injuries (she was unable to use her arm for the rest of her life). She later joined the Invalid Regiment at West Point.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Library of Congress/Molly Pitcher Lithograph

Margaret’s injuries made it difficult for her to bathe and dress herself. On 26 June 1776, the state of Pennsylvania awarded her $30.00 in recognition of her bravery. Since this wasn’t enough for her to retire to a life of luxury, Margaret stayed at West Point until her death in 1800. According to contemporary accounts, her favorite pastimes included smoking her pipe and chatting with the soldiers. In 1779, Margaret received a lifetime disability pension of one-half pay from the Continental Congress—making her the first woman in U.S. history to receive a pension from Congress for military service. In 1782, she married a fellow wounded soldier. Sadly, he died a year later. Still struggling to pay the bills, she requested a rum ration—which was often given to soldiers. The government approved her request. Although she resented the fact that she had only been granted half-pay, she was happy about the rum. 

Margaret wasn’t a stranger to controversy. During her tenure at West Point, she was called “Captain Molly by the locals, but Dirty Kate behind her back.” According to the National Woman’s History Museum, the Philadelphia Society of Women had planned to erect a monument honoring Corbin soon after the battle. “However, when they met with her they discovered that she was a rough woman who was poor and drank too much and decided to cancel the monument,” the museum notes. Although she never got her monument, three commemorative plaques honoring the Revolutionary war heroine can be found in the area near the Fort Washington battle site.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Photo: Wikipedia/Beyond My Ken

In 1926, her story resurfaced when the New York Daughters of the American Revolution found her records in the West Point archive. Determined to find her grave, the DAR enlisted the help of a retired riverboat captain who claimed that his grandfather helped with the burial in 1800. On April 14, 1926, Margaret’s remains were re-interred with full military honors at the cemetery of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Weird fact: Margaret Corbin is often confused with another Revolutionary War heroine, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley. Both women helped inspire the legend of “Molly Pitcher.”

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7 chow line nightmares that will make you hug your woobie

Military food is notorious for earning the right to be nicknamed a “mess.”


Sometimes it’s because the recipe is fundamentally flawed, other times it’s because the supplies available meant a substitution (read: mistake) was made.

Or maybe the people working in the kitchen decide to put spaghetti on top of your mashed potatoes, despite all the room on the rest of the plate (looking at you, Fort Meade).

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Carbs! (Photo from the Just DFACs Maam Blog)

Think of this list as more of a hat tip to the kitchen staffers who go above and beyond to make sure the food we all eat is a force multiplier – and not a tool of the Dark Side of the force. Here are a few recipes for disaster collected by the WATM staff.

1. Powdered Eggs – Tent City, Saudi Arabia

Military kitchen staffs the world over will vehemently deny ever using powdered eggs, but one look at the yellow-gray-green muck that might be looking back at you will make you think twice about believing them. Sure, a hot meal probably beats a field ration but in this case, not by much.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
What, no ham?

The eggs pair well with pieces of lettuce. This is great because if anyone arrived to the chow line later than 20 minutes after it opened for midnight meal, lettuce was their only side dish option.

2. Basically everything served at MIDRATS – USS Kitty Hawk

Burnt, crispy rice is a delicacy in some places – like Iran – but it shouldn’t be the norm on a Navy ship during midnight rations, even if the ship is in the Strait of Hormuz.

Yet, there it is. Although sometimes, the burnt rice would be rolled into meatballs and go by the name “hedgehogs.”

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Syrup is the new ketchup.

If the U.S. Navy’s tadig (google it) isn’t your thing, MIDRATS also offers boiled hot dogs, cardboard burger patties, and teflon bread.

That’s OK, because it all tastes the same with enough hot sauce.

3. KBR Steak and Seafood Night – Victory Base Complex, Iraq

The chief chow hall supplier for Operation Iraqi Freedom tried to build a little morale with luxury food items once a week. This ended up being the day you could smell exactly what the chow hall was cooking, long before you got anywhere near the place.

Kinda like the dumpster behind a Red Lobster.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

Boiling steaks ensured no one got sick from undercooked meat while also guaranteeing no one enjoyed them.

The fried shrimp had the consistency of poker chips and the King Crab legs were… there.

The Subway probably did good business on these days.

4. Fish. Forever. – FOB Fenty, Afghanistan

After a U.S. friendly fire incident killed 24 Pakistanis, American troops in Afghanistan were cut off from supplies coming across the Hindu Kush.

For members of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade stationed at FOB Fenty near Jalalabad, this meant a deep dive into the frozen food section.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
This pic from DFAC Cambridge shows the UK didn’t fare much better. (Photo by TripAdvisor user ShootermcGavin1)

Specifically, the frozen fish section.

For months until Pakistan received an official apology, FOB Fenty ate frozen fish for three meals a day until the convoys started rolling in again.

5. Brown Patties – Camp Geiger

The “breaded brown patty” was made of an unknown meat and trying to determine which animal – or animals – it came from might only raise more questions than it answered. The only hint that animals were involved in the brown patty process was the layer of fat congealing at the bottom of the tray.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
In the Army, at least you can get PID on that corn. (photo by Tumblr user JamesPhan)

The taste was primarily salt, and the texture resembled that of a warm kitchen sponge. One bite was enough to make any Marine content with a roll and a glass of milk.

6. Pasta Carbonara – Camp Victory, Iraq

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a delicious dish with ground egg, pecorino Romano cheese, pancetta bacon, and black pepper. But that’s not what happened in Iraq.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
It could always be worse.

Now, no one truly believes the chow hall is going to carry Romano cheese or pancetta. But the recipe found in one of the chow lines on Camp Victory included a ketchup-based red sauce, egg slices, bologna cubes, and frozen peas.

7. Everything at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan

The food at Eggers was so notoriously bad, it warranted a mention in the New York Times.

“Given the selection, most meals ultimately degrade into some combination of cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and saltine crackers,” said the author, Navy Lt. Andrew Sand, who would be driven to risk his life for a plate of French cheese.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Everything looks more appetizing next to a watermelon. Fact.

One infantryman gained notoriety while cooking for his unit at Camp Bala Hissar near Kabul. Army Sgt. Troy Heckenlaible said the 100 or so soldiers he cooked for preferred his cooking to the food at Eggers. His secret? Unit Group Rations.

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The Taliban just trolled the White House over its Afghanistan war plan

The United States should withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan and stop listening to “stooges” in Kabul, the Taliban warned in an open letter to US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.


The Trump administration is working to finalize a regional strategy that could include nearly 4,000 additional US troops, part of a NATO-led coalition, that have been requested by commanders in the country.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Two Taliban religious police beating a woman in public because she dared to remove her burqa in public. (Hidden camera footage courtesy of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan)

That plan has faced skepticism in the White House, where Trump and several top aides have criticized years of American military intervention and foreign aid.

“Previous experiences have shown that sending more troops to Afghanistan will not result in anything other than further destruction of American military and economical might,” the Taliban said in the English-language letter released to media and addressed to Trump.

The Taliban, seeking to restore Islamic rule, have been waging an increasingly violent insurgency against the Western-backed Afghan government since losing power in a US-led military operation in 2001.

In the lengthy statement, the Taliban criticized the Afghan government as “stooges,” “lying corrupt leaders” and “repulsive sellouts” who are providing Washington with overly optimistic “rosy pictures” of the situation in Afghanistan.

“The war situation in Afghanistan is far worse than you realize!” the statement said, while arguing that the only thing preventing the insurgents from seizing major cities was a fear of causing civilian casualties.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Members of an Afghan and coalition security force move into a field of grass during an operation in Khugyani district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013. (U.S Army photo by Pfc. Elliott N. Banks)

The statement also took aim at generals, who the Taliban said “are concealing the real statistics of your dead and crippled” soldiers.

“We have noticed that you have understood the errors of your predecessors and have resolved to thoroughly rethink your new strategy in Afghanistan,” the letter said. “A number of warmongering congressmen and generals in Afghanistan are pressing you to protract the war in Afghanistan because they seek to preserve their military privileges.”

The senior US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, has requested several thousand additional troops to act as advisers to the struggling Afghan security forces.

Powerful voices in the US government, including Republican Senator John McCain, have also called for an “enduring” US military presence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban letter concludes by saying the conflict could be resolved by the withdrawal of foreign troops.

“Everyone now understands that the main driver of war in Afghanistan is foreign occupation,” the Taliban said.

“The Afghans have no ill-intention towards the Americans or any other nation around the world but if anyone violates their sanctums then they are mighty proficient at beating and defeating the transgressors.”

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This is what it’s like for families of terrorists

“Sir, my father was an Islamic State militant, but he divorced my mother in 2013,” said Jassem Mohammad, 21, pulling out his identification card and presenting it to the camp manager. “He now has two other wives.”


In a tiny patch of shade on the edge of a blistering desert camp outside of Mosul, the manager listened as Mohammad made his case. He wanted to leave the camp and go back to college. He had good scores, he said, and was never involved with IS.

Militant rule in Mosul has collapsed and IS fighters here are dead, fled, arrested, or in hiding. But as their relatives try to re-integrate into society, Iraqi authorities face impossible questions with only bad answers.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Women and children wait at a processing station for internally displaced people prior to boarding buses to refugee camps near Mosul, Iraq, Mar. 03, 2017. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne

If someone loved or even tolerated an IS militant, is that person guilty? How do the relatives of the perpetrators make peace with the relatives of the victims?

Officially in Iraq, the answer to the first question is “no,” especially when speaking of small children. Women and children fleeing areas IS occupied are checked for bombs, and when cleared, they are considered civilians.

Unofficially, families of militants are shunned, feared and often separated from the “regular” people, all traumatized by violence and extreme poverty under IS. Many IS families now live in camps, like Mohammad, where they are not quite sure if they are being detained or protected. And both, in fact, are true.

“We’d need to see the divorce papers,” the camp manager explained to Mohammad. If Mohammad offered evidence that his father was not in his life during IS rule in Mosul, it might be possible for him to go back to school.

“I want to study and do humanitarian work,” Mohammad continued, pleading his case to a nearby journalist.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
USAF photo by Senior Airman Vanessa Valentine

As Mohammad and the reporter chatted, the camp manager looked nonplussed and strolled away. A security officer, in contrast, was visibly annoyed and abruptly ended the conversation.

“You cannot talk to him without official permission,” he said, ushering all journalists out of the camp. Other Iraqi officers said they worry that news about camps set aside for IS families will make them look like monsters, locking up women and children.

“What can we do as the Iraqi government?” said a member of a community police force who didn’t want to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “We are exposed to danger. They are families, but we can’t loose them without rehabilitation.”

Inside the city, at the base of a long-dormant Ferris wheel, a short row of tents served as a collection point for families fleeing Mosul in the final days of battle.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
A young boy pushes a cart outside of a market in Mosul, Iraq, July 4, 2017. Army photo by Cpl. Rachel Diehm.

Women and children filed into the tents, some collapsing where they sat. Medics treated injuries and food and water alleviated some of the most pressing pains. Many of the people had been hiding in basements for weeks, after months of water shortages. The smell of unwashed bodies was pungent and the heat in the stagnant tents was overwhelming.

“We were imprisoned,” said Khalifa, 46, a mother of three. Unlike the rest of the women in the tent, she wore no veil and her curly hair was tousled. “We tried to run away and militants locked us in a basement. For the past three days we’ve had no food or water.”

“Once they brought us food in the basement,” adds Hoda, 25, her daughter. “He came down wearing a suicide vest.”

Their story echoed tales from families all over Mosul and, even if their husbands or fathers were IS fighters, it could still be true. However, local authorities worried they were lying, casting themselves as victims, rather than somehow complicit.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Photo by Mstyslav Chernov

One man peppered Hoda with questions about the neighborhood she said she was from. IS militants in Mosul were often not stationed near their original homes. Hoda failed to identify the most famous church, mosque, and graveyard in the area.

“See, they are an IS family,” the man said. “They are lying.”

Another woman, Fatima, a mother of eight, said for relatives of IS omitting certain truths is a matter of survival. Sitting with an intelligence official, Fatima admitted she had two brothers that fought with IS. Both, she said, are now dead and she never supported their decision to join IS.

But when the officer walked away, she said at least one of her brothers is alive and now in Tal Afar, an Iraqi city still held by IS.

“We are afraid to tell them when we talk to family members who are with IS,” she whispered. “We don’t want to be blamed for what they did.”

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BRRRRRT: Congress wants the Air Force to keep the A-10 aircraft that troops totally love

After months of impassioned pleas from troops on the ground, hand-wringing from Air Force leadership, and a blur of questions from Congress about the Air Force’s plans for the future, lawmakers have decided enough is enough: the A-10 Thunderbolt II will stay in the USAF arsenal.


10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Smiles all around! (U.S. Air Force Photo)

On Monday, The House Armed Services Committee released its $612 billion Fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a provision called “Prohibition on Availability of Funds for Retirement of A-10 Aircraft,” which obliges the Secretary of the Air Force to:

“commission an appropriate entity outside the Department of Defense to conduct an assessment of the required capabilities or mission platform to replace the A-10 aircraft.”

This means the Air Force’s can no longer ignore Congressional concerns about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and how it can fill the A-10’s close-air support (CAS) role. The provision in the new defense budget means the Air Force will have to actually hire an independent researcher from outside of DoD and acquire hard data on how to replace the A-10, instead of just asserting everything is fine and forcing Airmen to say nice things about the $1.5 trillion F-35.

In the meantime, the Air Force must maintain a mission-capable 171 A-10s and Congress provides $467 million for it in the 2016 bill.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Armored vehicle post-A-10 Close Air Support.

The John Q. Public blog, run by retired Air Force officer Tony Carr, went through the ten paragraphs of the Congressional directive in detail, where Congress list the ways the A-10 bests the F-35 (without mentioning the F-35), directing the Air Force to study and answer for things like the “ability to remain within visual range of friendly forces and targets to facilitate responsiveness to ground forces and minimize re-attack times … the ability to operate beneath low cloud ceilings, at low speeds, and within the range of typical air defenses found in enemy maneuver units …  the ability to deliver multiple lethal firing passes and sustain long loiter endurance to support friendly forces throughout extended ground engagements.”

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

Not only does the provision make the Air Force answerable for attempting to shelve its only CAS solution, it also takes back a compromise between the service and Congress made last year, which allows the Air Force to mothball 36 A-10s and move their maintenance and funding to other areas.

The House of Representatives issued a fact sheet specifically slamming the Air Force for trying to kill the A-10 with an adequate replacement.

“Rigorous oversight, endorsements from Soldiers and Marines about the protection only the A-10 can provide, and repeated deployments in support of OIR have persuaded many Members from both parties that the budget-driven decision to retire the A-10 is misguided…” it reads. “The NDAA restores funding for the A-10 and prohibits its retirement. Unlike past efforts to restore the platform, the NDAA identifies specific funding to restore personnel, and preserve, the A-10 fleet.”

While this sounds like good news for A-10 supporters, the fight isn’t over yet. According to DoD Buzz, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said he is recommending President Obama veto the bill, which is being voted on by the House on Thursday.

NOW: The awesome A-10 video the Air Force doesn’t want you to see

OR: Here’s why the Warthog is the greatest close air support aircraft ever

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A ‘ghost train’ lost in World War II with 300 tons of gold may have been found

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Photo: German National Archives


Various media websites are reporting that two individuals (one Polish and one German) may have found a ‘long forgotten’ German train from World War II that was filled with gold, gems, and guns. Rumors go the train is 150 m (495 ft.) long and may contain up to 300 tons of gold. It’s said its located in a tunnel under the mountains, that collapsed.

The train is believed to have gone missing in 1945, trying to hide the treasure from the advancing Soviet Red Army is what is now the Polish city of Wroclaw (Breslau).

A law firm in southwest Poland says it has been contacted by two men who have discovered the armoured train. They are demanding a 10% ‘finders fee’ of the value of the train’s contents.

“Lawyers, the army, the police and the fire brigade are dealing with this,” Marika Tokarska, an official at the Walbrzych district council. “The area has never been excavated before and we don’t know what we might find.”

“In the region we actually two gold train stories,” Joanna Lamparska, a local historian, told Radio Wroclaw. “One is supposed to be under a mountain and the other somewhere around Walbrzych. But no one has ever seen documentary evidence confirming the existence of such trains.”

More from Argunners Magazine:

This article originally appeared at Argunners Magazine. Copyright 2015. Follow Argunners Magazine on Twitter.

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This veteran A-10 pilot has three Super Bowl rings

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Chad Hennings played for the Dallas Cowboys and was part of three Super Bowl winning teams. Before his NFL career, he flew an A-10 Thunderbolt II in 45 combat sorties over northern Iraq during two deployments in 1991 and early 1992. (Courtesy photo/Dallas Cowboys)


Chad Hennings won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys during the 1990s, and his first appearance was within a year’s time of flying his A-10 Thunderbolt II in a combat sortie in northern Iraq.

Hennings, a 1988 Academy graduate, led the nation with 24 sacks and was awarded the Outland Trophy during the 1987 season — an award that recognizes the nation’s best interior lineman.

Committed to serve

Following graduation, Hennings — now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame — was drafted by the Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1988 draft. Before he could even suit up in the NFL, Hennings had to first fulfill his military commitment, a move that was initially hard to accept.

“I wouldn’t say there were regrets, (but) it was an emotional struggle because I wanted to be able to compete,” Hennings said.

From a character perspective, he knew without a doubt what he needed to do because he made a commitment and he was going to stick to it. The drive to compete, however, made his transition from school to pilot training and then into his active-duty squadron a difficult one. That void would eventually be filled with friendly competition as an A-10 pilot.

“We did compete on the range; we competed for performance,” he said. “There (was) always competition and it was a healthy competition.”

After pilot school, Hennings was stationed in the U.K. and deployed twice to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in 1991 and 1992. While deployed, he flew 45 combat sorties in northern Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort, an international relief effort after the Gulf War.

After getting settled into the Air Force, Hennings said he contemplated making a career out of it.

“Football was a distant memory and something in the past that I never really thought about until the Air Force went through the reduction in force and they started the waivers in the spring of ’92,” he said.

Pro player

Hennings separated from active-duty Air Force in April 1992 and transitioned to the Air Force Reserve. He continued to serve in the Reserve individual mobilization augmentee program for almost 10 years.

The next month, Hennings found himself in Dallas working out for the Cowboys.

“It was extremely stressful, initially transitioning in ’92, because I’m leaving one career for another,” he said. “I’m moving from one continent to another, taking on a whole new different position. There were a lot of just stress factors there, and it wasn’t assured that I would make the team.”

Hennings said it was tough coming into the league and competing at a level of competition that was much higher than he experienced before.

But all the downtime spent in the weight room and working out when he wasn’t flying during his deployments and TDYs paid off. He would go on to secure a spot on the team, and kick off what would eventually be a nine-year career with the Cowboys, playing in 119 games and recording 27.5 sacks.

In his first season, Hennings and the Cowboys would go on to beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl 27.

“It was pretty surreal,” he said. “I essentially flew a combat mission and then played in the Super Bowl all within a year’s time.”

He compared that Super Bowl experience to his first combat mission. He said he knew he had a job to do, and being around a set of guys who were experienced made it easier to navigate and process all of his emotions.

During his next three seasons, Hennings would go onto win two more Super Bowls with the Cowboys.

“You got to a point in our culture of being a Dallas Cowboy, that that’s what was expected. We knew we were the best team out there,”

Hennings said. “I kind of compare that analogy to being a fighter pilot. It’s kind of that confident arrogance, where you know you’re good, you know your abilities; you walk out there, you don’t flaunt it, but you walk with an extreme amount of confidence.”

It wasn’t until the latter part of Hennings’ career that he fully appreciated winning three Super Bowls, he said.

Two decades after he appeared in his last Super Bowl, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 30, Hennings has a sincere admiration for those moments in time and truly appreciates how special those teams really were.

“As a kid growing up, all your heroes, the role models that you looked up to on the gridiron — you know those guys — they were able to hold that trophy up,” Hennings said. “I was a Minnesota Vikings fan, so they went there four years and they never won one, and that’s where I realized too how difficult it is, not only to just get to the Super Bowl, but to win one — how truly special that is.”

Hennings said one of the best memories is from Super Bowl 30, where he recorded two sacks — a Super Bowl record that he shared with several other players before it was broken the next year.

Humble beginnings

Being a solid performer on the gridiron and in his jet, Hennings has always tried to strive for excellence.

Growing up in Elberon, Iowa, Hennings would sometimes put in 12-plus-hour days helping his father and grandfather on their farm, where they predominately raised corn and a feedlot operation for cattle. He’d help wherever needed, whether feeding the cattle, bailing hay, driving tractors, or performing maintenance.

“The work ethic came from watching my father, my grandfather, but a lot of it I can attribute it to my older brother, who really pushed me to workout with him,” he said.

Hennings’ older brother, Todd, was a couple years older and was the quarterback for their high school football team. Hennings said he was a tight end, and he recalled his brother dragging him off to run routes and lift weights.

“When I started to see the success of all the hard work that I put in, then it became more of a self-driving motivation than having somebody externally motivate me,” he said.

That motivation to be a better player and better person carried over when it was time to attend college. Hennings had several scholarships, but said he wanted a “holistic experience.” He yearned to be challenged academically and wanted to have the experiences a typical college graduate wouldn’t have.

Looking back, the leadership skills gained, the experience of flying jets, and the camaraderie within his fighter squadron are things that gave him skills he used on the gridiron and in his everyday life.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Chad Hennings graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988 and went on to fly 45 combat sorties over northern Iraq in an A-10 Thunderbolt II in support of Operation Provide Comfort. Hennings received a waiver in 1992 to be released from active duty as part of the Air Force’s Reduction in Force. He would go on to serve almost 10 more years in the Air Force Reserve Individual Mobilization Augmentee program. During his time as a reservist he also played for the Dallas Cowboys for nine seasons. He was part of three Super Bowl winning teams and played in 119 games, recording 27.5 sacks. (Courtesy photo)

“You know, it all worked out great,” Hennings said. “I had an experience flying that I would never trade. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same.”

Where he is now

Today, Hennings lives outside of Dallas, where he’s a partner in a commercial real estate company and does a lot of public speaking, which he said is his way of giving back.

“That’s my passion now in this last half of my life, is to be an evangelist, in essence, for that aspect of a need of character in our community and for us as individuals,” Hennings said.

An author of three books, he’s also married with two children, who are both in college.

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The leader of Boko Haram was killed on the order of the Islamic State

Remember a few years back when we all got excited at the idea of drug cartels going to war with Islamic extremists? El Chapo, the gritty drug kingpin, was supposedly going to kill them all for blocking his drug sales. 

Read: HOAX: This fugitive Mexican drug lord just threatened to destroy ISIS

It was, of course, a hoax, but the idea of two of the world’s worst going to war and killing each other instead of innocent civilians, U.S. troops, or whatever ethnic or religious minority they had a problem with that day was just what we wanted to hear. 

Our prayers of scumbag on scumbag crime have finally been answered. The leader of Boko Haram, the salafist jihadi terror group in Nigeria best known for kidnapping school girls is dead. And it looks like he might be dead on the orders of the Islamic State.

Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, a name which means “Western Education is Forbidden,” just got schooled by the bigger fish. After Boko Haram declared allegiance to the Islamic State, its followers got a new level of leadership thousands of miles away in the Middle East.

Sometime in June 2021, that leadership decided it had enough of Abubakar Shekau, apparently for the indiscriminate killing of too many believers, according to a report from the BBC. On the run from militant members of the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), Shekau was said to be wearing an explosive vest that he detonated himself. 

Apparently Shekau’s constant murder, rape, and kidnapping tour of his home country was turning off potential new recruits and followers of the Islamic State’s militant fundamentalist religion. 

Shekau was allegedly on the run from his former comrades in arms in the dense Sambisa forest of northern Nigeria when he was cornered by ISWAP fighters. Although Shekau has been reported dead before, this time it may be real.

ISWAP’s leader, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, released an audio recording saying the Boko Haram leader “killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive… Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the afterlife than getting humiliated on earth.”

The Islamic State’s new leader and upcoming drone strike target Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi issued the kill order with some incredibly ironic words coming from the world’s most notorious terrorist organization.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
A California National Guard Special Forces soldier from Los Alamitos-based Special Operations Detachment–U.S. Northern Command and Company A, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), trains with a Nigerian soldier in Nigeria in June.

“[Shekau] was someone who committed unimaginable terrorism. How many has he wasted? How many has he killed? How many has he terrorised? But Allah left him alone and prolonged his life. When it was time, Allah set out brave soldiers after receiving orders from the leader of the believers,” the leader said in a local Nigerian news report. 

Barnawi’s ISWAP broke off from Boko Haram a year after Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. ISIS leaders in Syria reportedly preferred ISWAP as its representative in Africa because Shekau was hard to control and was violent in a way that made ISIS cringe. 

Looks like they figured it out. It reportedly took five days to track and hunt Shekau through the forests of the West African nations. He escaped once just to be recaptured, and since members of Boko Haram are either defecting to ISWAP or dibanding altogether, he had little help in his escape.

Featured image: A California National Guard Special Forces soldier from Los Alamitos-based Special Operations Detachment–U.S. Northern Command and Company A, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), poses with Nigerian soldiers on May 31, 2014, during a training mission in Nigeria.

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A former Navy SEAL officer reveals the 11-point checklist he used to prepare for combat

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Former Navy SEAL Task Unit Bruiser Charlie Platoon leader Leif Babin. Photo: Courtesy Jocko Willink and Leif Babin


When Leif Babin was training to become a US Navy SEAL officer, he didn’t expect to spend so much time working out combat mission briefs in Powerpoint presentations, he explains in his new book “Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win.”

It was a common feeling, and the reason why in training sessions, he and other officers-in-training had a tendency to create briefs with the intention of impressing their instructors, as opposed to crafting plans that would actually be valuable to an entire team.

When Babin joined Task Unit Bruiser in 2006 as the officer in charge of Charlie Platoon, his commander and future co-author Jocko Willink told him to forget about Powerpoint. As part of a final exercise that would determine if they would be sent to fight in an incredibly dangerous part of Iraq (a desirable scenario for them), Babin and another platoon commander needed to create a mission brief that was more impressive than two other task units.

“The true test for a good brief is not whether the senior officers are impressed,” Willink told them. “It’s whether or not the troops that are going to execute the operation actually understand it. Everything else is bull—.”

Babin and his fellow platoon leader stopped worrying about being impressive and focused on how to make their mission brief as clean and easy to follow as possible. They worked with their subordinates to ensure that if they had to put the brief into action, every member of the team would clearly understand the mission required of him.

The commanding officer in charge of judging the briefs determined Task Unit Bruiser had the most understandable and thus the best of the three, even if the others had more impressive-looking PowerPoint slides. It placed an emphasis on what Willink calls “Commander’s Intent,” which is when the team understands its commander’s purpose and the mission’s endstate so thoroughly that they can act without further guidance.

Task Unit Bruiser was sent to Ramadi, where it became the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War.

It was a valuable teaching experience for Babin. In “Extreme Ownership” he outlines the planning checklist that he used as platoon commander:

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

  • Analyze the mission. Understand higher headquarters’ mission, Commander’s Intent, and endstate (the goal). Identify and state your own Commander’s Intent and endstate for the specific mission.
  • Identify personnel, assets, resources, and time available.
  • Decentralize the planning process.Empower key leaders within the team to analyze possible courses of action.
  • Determine a specific course of action.Lean toward selecting the simplest course of action.
  • Empower key leaders to develop the plan for the selected course of action.
  • Plan for likely contingencies through each phase of the operation.
  • Mitigate risks that can be controlled as much as possible.
  • Delegate portions of the plan and brief to key junior leaders. Stand back and be the tactical genius.
  • Continually check and question the plan against emerging information to ensure it still fits the situation.
  • Brief the plan to all participants and supporting assets. Emphasize Commander’s Intent. Ask questions and engage in discussion and interaction with the team to ensure they understand.
  • Conduct post-operational debrief after execution. Analyze lessons learned and implement them in future planning.

Babin writes that this checklist can be easily adapted to the business world, and it’s what he and Willink have taught executives they’ve worked with through their leadership consulting firmEchelon Front since 2011.

“Implementing such a planning process will ensure the highest level of performance and give the team the greatest chance to accomplish the mission and win,” Babin writes.

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Trump names Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security advisor

President Donald Trump has announced that Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster will be the new national security advisor.


McMaster replaces Michael Flynn, who resigned one week following reports that he discussed sanctions on Russia with the country’s ambassador to the US.

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force
Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, speaks to senior officers and non-commissioned officers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. | U.S. Army photo

Trump called McMaster “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience” as he made the announcement Monday afternoon at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump also named Keith Kellogg, who had been the acting national security adviser, as the National Security Council’s chief of staff.

Here’s the Desert Storm tank battle that propelled Lt. Gen. McMaster to fame and blazed the way for his successful military career.

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Today in military history: First female officer in the US Army

On July 9, 1947, Florence Blanchfield became the first female officer in the United States Army.

After 30 years of service in the Army Nurse Corps, where she held the position of superintendent during World War II, Blanchfield earned her commission through the Army-Navy Nurse Act of 1947. 

General Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Blanchfield to be a lieutenant colonel in the Army, making her the first woman to hold permanent military rank in the United States. Blanchfield herself helped secure passage of the Army-Navy Nurse Act, which provided permanent commissioned officer status for members of the Army Nurse Corps.

Of the many thousands of women who served as military nurses during World War II, not one received the same rights, privileges or pay as her male counterparts of equal rank. The comptroller general declared that, under the laws which governed military pay, “Women were not persons.” 

Blanchfield attended nursing school in Pittsburgh, Pa., before nursing in the Panama Canal Zone. In 1917, she joined the U.S. Army and was sent to France with Base Hospital #27. Before the end of the war, she served as Acting Chief Nurse of Combat Hospital #15. After the war, she served in the Philippines and China before coming stateside to Washington D.C. as a staff officer for the U.S. Surgeon General in 1935. In 1943, she was named the supervisor of the Army Nurse Corps, second-in-command to Col. Julia Flikke. 

She expanded the Army Nurse Corps from 1,000 to 57,000; nurses served across the world and suffered the highest casualty rate of all the war’s servicewomen. According to Military.com, Eighty-three were taken prisoner of war, and 201 nurses died, 16 as the direct result of enemy action. Some 1,600 nurses were decorated for their wartime service.

In 1951, she received the Florence Nightingale Medal from the Red Cross for her service to humanity in the field of nursing.

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Taking control of the interview

10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force


Congratulations! You made it to the interview. Now what? The interview is a critical step in the hiring process. How you manage yourself, your responses, and the questions you have for the interviewer often determine what happens next.

Before you get to the interview, you’ve likely prepared a resume which identifies your skills, experience, and passion for your next career move. That resume piqued the interest of the employer who will interview you to see:

  1. Are your in-person responses consistent with what you represented on your resume and application?
  2. Can you articulate your offer of value to the company?
  3. Will you fit in to the company culture?
  4. Whatever else they can learn about you to help them make a hiring decision.

Preparing for the interview

Taking control of the interview requires that you be knowledgeable about the company, industry, and business environment the company operates in, the company culture, hiring manager, and the company’s competitors.

  1. Be clear on your offer. What do you offer to the company you’re meeting with? What is your personal brand, and how do you align with the values of the company? How has your military career prepared you for the experience you are pursuing? This work needs to happen before you even apply for the job, but you should certainly refine your thinking as the interview nears.
  2. Research the company online. Look carefully through their website (what the company says about themselves), but also look outside of their content. In Google, put the company name in the search bar and look through all the options – Web, Images, and News – to see what else you can find about them.  You might then put words such as “ABC Company competitors” or “ABC Company reviews” to see what else you can find about the company you are interviewing with.
  3. Research the hiring manager. Look at their LinkedIn profile – what common interests or experiences do you share? What someone puts on LinkedIn is public information. It’s not creepy to look through their profile to find synergies.
  4. Know your resume. Be well versed on your background: dates, responsibilities, and positions you’ve held. If you have recently separated or retired from service, be sure to make it easy for the hiring manager to understand your military experience. If the company is not familiar with military candidates, spend the time “civilianizing” your experience to show how it relates to the position you are applying for.
  5. Decide how you will show up. How do people at that company dress? Image is your first impression in an interview, and you need to understand how to present yourself to show you will fit in, but dress one notch above that. Hiring managers want to see that you are like them, but they look for you to dress in a way that shows respectfulness for the interview.

Interview

Taking control of the interview means you are clear about why this company is the right place for you. You understand how your values align with the company’s mission; you have researched the opportunities they offer; and you are focused on how your value and experience can benefit them. You feel empowered with information, confidence, and a clear game-plan to get onboard.

Of course, the interviewer has a great deal of power in this situation. They can decide they don’t like you, feel you are a good fit, or understand how you will assimilate in their company. We can only control ourselves and certain aspects of situations; we cannot control other people.

  1. Be prepared for small talk.  Some interviewers like to chat before the interview starts to calm the candidate down. Use this as a focused time to build rapport and set the tone for the interview. Think about what you will and won’t talk about before you arrive at the interview so you don’t misunderstand the casualness and say something inappropriate. Consider current events as good icebreakers provided they are not controversial (political and religious). For instance, you might talk about the upcoming holiday season but not the latest incident of gun violence in schools.
  2. Focus on what AND why.  Don’t ignore that the interviewer not only needs to understand your background and how it’s relevant to the open position, but they also need to feelsomething about you. We call this their “emotional need,” and it drives purchasing decisions. If the hiring manager feels you are too pushy, standoffish, or rigid, they might not feel you are a good fit. Focus on what this person needs to feel about you in order to see you as a fit for the company and the position. Make your case for why you are the right candidate.
  3. Relate your experience as value-add.  For each question asked, relate your military experience to show how you are trained and skilled for the position you’re applying to. You need to bridge what you have done in the past with what you can do in the future. The interviewer won’t have time to make this connection themselves. You can take control by showing patterns of success and results and direct their attention to forward-looking goals.
  4. Ask focused questions. Interviewers expect you to ask questions. Take control of the interview by having these questions developed before you even arrive at the meeting. Be prepared to change the questions up if they are answered during the interview. You should have at least five questions prepared around the company’s vision and business goals, culture and work environment, veteran hiring initiatives, on-boarding process, and employee successes. This shows you are focused on finding the right fit for yourself, not just fitting your offer into any company that will have you.
  5. Pay attention to your body language. During the in-person interview, keep your hands relaxed and in front of you. If you are seated in a chair and facing a desk, hold your notepad or portfolio on your lap. At a conference table? It’s permissible to lean on the table and take notes. Relax your shoulders, but remain professional in posture. Make good eye contact. This validates the interviewer by paying attention to their questions and comments. When you get up to leave, extend a confident and assuring handshake.Watch the interviewer. If they are relaxed and casual, then don’t sit “at attention.” You also can’t be too relaxed or it can appear disrespectful. Take your cues from the interviewer, but realize they work there, so they can act how they want. You want to work there; show you will fit in but also be mindful of the formality of the interview process.

After the interview

After the interview, if there are things you need to follow up on (e.g. a list of references), send that email as soon as possible. Be sure to thank the interviewer for the meeting and confirm your interest in the position. Don’t hesitate to include a bullet point list of highlights from the interview that reinforce you are the right candidate for the job.

Then send a handwritten thank-you note to everyone you interviewed with. Be specific about points in the discussion, and reinforce how you are a great fit for the company.

Interviews are only one step in the hiring process, but they are critical. You might have a series of interviews with multiple people at the company before an offer is made. Be prepared to show up consistently and authentically in each case to prove you are the person they believe you to be!

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