13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation - We Are The Mighty
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13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation

The one thing that binds generations of Coast Guardsmen together is the boot camp experience at Cape May, New Jersey (and for a time, Alameda, California). Eight long weeks of physical, mental, and emotional training concludes with a pass and review – and finally – the graduation ceremony that turns recruits into seaman apprentices, fireman apprentices, seamen, and firemen.


The first promotion a recruit receives is on graduation day, making for an emotional and exhausting day. These are just a few of the thoughts I (and many other) Coasties have on their last day at Cape May.

1. “This is it. I’m a big Coastie now. I’m joining the fleet. I’m doing it.”

(As I was getting my uniform on in the morning.)

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
The Nation’s newest Coast Guardsmen from Recruit Company Lima 188 march in front of family and friends during Pass and Review during recruit graduation at Training Center Cape May, Aug. 2, 2013. Training Center Cape May is the service’s only enlisted basic training facility, which creates more than 80 percent of the Coast Guard’s workforce. (Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska)

2. “This is never going to end. This is the longest hour of my life. I’m never gonna make it outside. I’m gonna die here.”

(As I was getting my uniform inspected.)

3. “I wonder if they packed the clothes I asked. I can’t wait to wear real clothes again. I miss shorts. I hope they brought snacks. I’m so hungry already.”

(As I was getting into formation to march to the parade field.)

4. “I wonder where they’re sitting. Did everyone find it okay? Did they even make it on base? I hope mom didn’t say something stupid and get denied entry.”

As I was marching to the parade field.)

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Mom made it just fine. (photo courtesy of Mary-Elizabeth Pratt)

5. Oh my god, I see them. Oh, my god, I’m gonna cry.

(As I was marching to the stands.)

6. “Okay I get it, you’re really proud of us. I’m proud of me, too. Can we get this over already?”

(As I was listening to the CO’s opening remarks.)

7. “Yes, you were here in my shoes forty years ago and you’ve done big things since then. You should know I wanna get out of here. Can we get this over already?”

(As I was listening to the guest speaker’s remarks.)

8.”I don’t remember what I’m supposed to do. I hope I don’t screw this up.”

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
(photo courtesy of Mary-Elizabeth Pratt)

(As I was standing in line to receive your certificate.)

9. “This is the happiest I’ve been ever. I finally did it and they can’t kick me out of boot camp now!”

(As I was receiving my certificate.)

10. “Can we get this over with already?”

(As I was listening to the CO’s closing remarks.)

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Petty Officer 1st Class Gus Casey, a company commander at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., leads the unit’s Recruit Precision Drill Team through a performance during the graduation for Recruit Company Lima 188, Aug. 2, 2013. Training Center Cape May is home to the U.S. military’s only Recruit Precision Drill Team. (Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska)

11.”I’m free! Where’s my family? Where’s my mom? I missed you guys!I have so much to tell you

(As I’m finally released.)

12. “I cannot wait to not have the same bag as everyone else. Damn, I hate these shirt-stays. I wanna get this thing off.”

(As I was getting my stuff.)

13.”That is the most fun I never want to have again.”

(As I was sitting in the car, finally leaving Cape May after 8 long weeks.)

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The largest naval battle in history happened during a different war than you think

World War I is commonly thought of as soldiers fighting across trenches that stretched along the entire European continent, but there were major clashes on the oceans, as well. The largest was the Battle of Jutland on May 31, 1916, the only time that the famous “Dreadnoughts” of Britain and Germany actually faced off in battle.


13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
The HMS Dreadnought sails soon after its launch in 1906. Photo: US Navy Historical Center

Fought between 249 ships and 100,000 men, it is the largest naval battle in history (in terms of tonnage of ships involved).

“Dreadnoughts” were massive battleships named for the HMS Dreadnought, a British ship launched in 1906. Dreadnought was a feared battleship. It was massive, fast, and lethal. Its launch triggered an arms race that saw major navies of the world, especially Britain and Germany, race to create the largest and most technologically advanced battleships.

After World War I broke out, the people of each country eagerly awaited the chance for their navy to prove itself the most capable in the world. But the admirals on each side wanted to avoid this, fearing that a single major defeat in a battle between dreadnoughts could cripple their navy and leave the country vulnerable to attack.

But, by 1916 the British had forced Germany’s hand. An effective blockade of Germany’s coast had limited the ability of the German Navy to put to sea. Worse, German ships that made it into the North Sea couldn’t make it to the Atlantic Ocean because of British ships operating both in the English Channel and off Britain’s northern tip.

The German fleet was sent to draw out the British in late April and they did so by attacking British coastal towns. The British responded by launching the Grand Fleet. Twenty-eight of the fleet’s 32 Dreadnought and Super-Dreadnought battleships took to the waves with another 122 ships supporting them. They were coming for the 99 ships of the German fleet.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
The SMS Seydlitz limps home after the Battle of Jutland. Photo: Naval Historical Center

The scouting parties of each force found each other at 4:48 p.m. on May 31 and began trading blows. The British party then managed to draw the Germans into the British main fleet.

The British Admiral John Jellicoe waited until the Germans were fairly close before initiating his attack, giving up his advantage in range. But, he was able to maneuver against the German fleet effectively, three times “capping their T,” meaning he was able to get his battle line at the head of the German line.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
The HMS Queen Mary sinks during the Battle of Jutland. Photo: Public Domain

The Germans, with the British line directly in front of them, could only engage with their forward-facing guns while the British, with their sides facing the Germans, could fire broadsides into the German ships.

Still, superior armor and ship design combined with excellent gunnery skills allowed the Germans to sink more British ships than they lost themselves. The British suffered 14 ships and 6,784 lives lost to the Germans’ 9 ships and 3,058 men.

The Germans claimed victory because of their advantage in ships sank, but the British retained control of the North Sea and had managed to cripple the German fleet. Because of the ships lost and extensive repairs needed to the rest, the Germans never again attempted a breakout from the North Sea. For the rest of the war, Germany’s naval efforts were limited mostly to submarine operations.

While the Battle of Jutland is known as the only clash between the world’s major dreadnoughts, in an ironic twist the actual HMS Dreadnought wasn’t present. It was undergoing refit at the time.

See the battle play out in the amazing animation below:

The Battle of Jutland Animation from NIck on Vimeo.

(h/t Argunners Magazine)

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Air Force F-35 trains against Russian, Chinese air defenses

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
The Department of Defense’s first F-35 aircraft flying with an F-16 fighter jet above Destin, Florida | U.S. Air Force photo


The Air Force F-35 is using “open air” ranges and computer simulation to practice combat missions against the best Chinese and Russian-made air-defense technologies – as a way to prepare to enemy threats anticipated in the mid-2020s and beyond.

The testing is aimed at addressing the most current air defense system threats such as Russian-made systems and also focused on potential next-generation or yet-to-exist threats, Harrigian said.

Air Force officials have explained that, looking back to 2001 when the JSF threat started, the threats were mostly European centric – Russian made SA-10s or SA-20s. Now the future threats are looking at both Russian and Chinese-made and Asian made threats, they said.

“They have got these digital SAMS (surface-to-air-missile-systems) out there that can change frequencies and they are very agile in how they operate. being able to replicate that is not easy,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Director of the F-35 Integration Office, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Surface threats from air defenses is a tough problem because emerging threats right now can see aircraft hundreds of miles away, service officials explained.

Furthermore, emerging and future Integrated Air Defense Systems use faster computer processors, are better networked to one-another and detect on a wider range of frequencies. These attributes, coupled with an ability to detect aircraft at further distances, make air defenses increasingly able to at times detect even stealth aircraft, in some instances, with surveillance radar.

While the Air Force aims to prepare for the unlikely contingency of a potential engagement with near-peer rivals such as Russia or China, Harrigian explained that there is much more concern about having to confront an adversary which has purchased air-defense technology from the Russians or Chinese.

Harrigian explained that the F-35 is engineered with what developers call “open architecture,” meaning it is designed to quickly integrate new weapons, software and avionics technology as new threats emerge.

“One of the key reasons we bought this airplane is because the threats continue to evolve – we have to be survivable in this threat environment that has continued to develop capabilities where they can deny us access to specific objectives that we may want to achieve. This airplane gives us the ability to penetrate, deliver weapons and then share that information across the formation that it is operating in,” Harrigian explained.

While training against the best emerging threats in what Harrigian called “open air” ranges looks to test the F-35 against the best current and future air defenses – there is still much more work to be done when it comes to anticipating high-end, high-tech fast developing future threats. This is where modeling and simulation play a huge part in threat preparation, he added.

“The place where we have to have the most agility is really in the modeling and simulation environment – If you think about our open air ranges, we try to build these ranges that have this threats that we expect to be fighting. Given the pace at which the enemy is developing these threats – it becomes very difficult for us to go out and develop these threats,” Harrigan explained.

The Air Force plans to bring a representation of next-generation threats and weapons to its first weapons school class in 2018.

In a simulated environment, F-22s from Langley AFB in Virginia could train for combat scenarios with an F-35 at Nellis AFB, Nevada, he said.

The JSF’s Active Electronically Scanned Arrays, or AESA’s, the aircraft is able to provide a synthetic aperture rendering of air and ground pictures.  The AESA also brings the F-35 electronic warfare capabilities, Harrigian said.

Part of the idea with F-35 modernization is to engineered systems on the aircraft which can be upgraded with new software as threats change. Technologies such as the AESA radar, electronic attack and protection and some of the computing processing power on the airplane, can be updated to keep pace with evolving threats, Harrigian said.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Lockheed Martin photo

Engineered to travel at speeds greater than 1,100 miles per hour and able to reach Mach 1.6, the JSF is said to be just as fast and maneuverable at an F-15 or F-16 and bring and a whole range of additional functions and abilities.

Overall, the Air Force plans to buy 1,763 JSF F-35A multi-role fighters, a number which will ultimately comprise a very large percentage of the service’s fleet of roughly 2,000 fighter jets.  So far, at least 87 F-35As have been built.

4th Software Drop

Many of the JSF’s combat capabilities are woven into developmental software increments or “drops,” each designed to advance the platforms technical abilities. There are more than 10 million individual lines of code in the JSF system.

While the Air Force plans to declare its F-345s operational with the most advanced software drop, called 3F, the service is already working on a 4th drop to be ready by 2020 or 2021. Following this initial drop, the aircraft will incorporate new software drops in two year increments in order to stay ahead of the threat.

The first portion of Block IV software funding, roughly $12 million, arrived in the 2014 budget, Air Force officials said.

Block IV will include some unique partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on their own plane, service officials explained.

Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S. variant of the fighter jet.  A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond.

In terms of weapons, Block IV will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II and GBU-54 – both air dropped bombs able to destroy targets on the move.

The Small Diameter Bomb II uses a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker, drawing from infrared, millimeter wave and laser-guidance. The combination of these sensors allows the weapon to track and eliminate moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions.

These emerging 4th software drop will build upon prior iterations of the software for the aircraft.

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B will enable the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU-12 (laser-guided aerial bomb) JSF program officials said.

Following Block 2B, Block 3i increases the combat capability even further and Block 3F will bring a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, service officials explained.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
An F-35B dropping a GBU-12 during a developmental test flight. | U.S. Air Force photo

The AIM 9X is an Air Force and Navy heat-seeking infrared missile.

In fact, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-guided air-to-air missile for the first time recently over a Pacific Sea Test Range, Pentagon officials said.

The F-35 took off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and launched the missile at 6,000 feet, an Air Force statement said.

Designed as part of the developmental trajectory for the emerging F-35, the test-firing facilities further development of an ability to fire the weapon “off-boresight,” described as an ability to target and destroy air to air targets that are not in front of the aircraft with a direct or immediate line of sight, Pentagon officials explained.

The AIM-9X, he described, incorporates an agile thrust vector controlled airframe and the missile’s high off-boresight capability can be used with an advanced helmet (or a helmet-mounted sight) for a wider attack envelope.

F-35 25mm Gun

Last Fall, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter recently completed the first aerial test of its 25mm Gatling gun embedded into the left wing of the aircraft, officials said.

The test took place Oct. 30, 2015, in California, Pentagon officials described.

“This milestone was the first in a series of test flights to functionally evaluate the in-flight operation of the F-35A’s internal 25mm gun throughout its employment envelope,” a Pentagon statement said several months ago.

The Gatling gun will bring a substantial technology to the multi-role fighter platform, as it will better enable the aircraft to perform air-to-air attacks and close-air support missions to troops on the ground.

Called the Gun Airborne Unit, or GAU-22/A, the weapon is engineered into the aircraft in such a manner as to maintain the platform’s stealth configuration.

The four-barrel 25mm gun is designed for rapid fire in order to quickly blanket an enemy with gunfire and destroy targets quickly. The weapon is able to fire 3,300 rounds per minute, according to a statement from General Dynamics.

“Three bursts of one 30 rounds and two 60 rounds each were fired from the aircraft’s four-barrel, 25-millimeter Gatling gun. In integrating the weapon into the stealthy F 35Aairframe, the gun must be kept hidden behind closed doors to reduce its radar cross section until the trigger is pulled,” a statement from the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter said.

The first phase of test execution consisted of 13 ground gunfire events over the course of three months to verify the integration of the gun into the F-35A, the JSF office said.

“Once verified, the team was cleared to begin this second phase of testing, with the goal of evaluating the gun’s performance and integration with the airframe during airborne gunfire in various flight conditions and aircraft configurations,” the statement added.

The new gun will also be integrated with the F-35’s software so as to enable the pilot to see and destroy targets using a helmet-mounted display.

The gun is slated to be operational by 2017.

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This Coast Guard commander returned to an ambush to save Navy operators

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Paul A. Yost, Jr., later a Commandant of the Coast Guard, was leading a group of 13 swift boats during the insertion of Navy Underwater Demolition Team-13 and some Vietnamese marines when his column came under attack from a Viet Cong ambush that managed to heavily damage multiple boats, kill American and Vietnamese troops, and isolate the last boat.


13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
(Photo: Naval War College Museum)

When Yost found out that his last boat was trapped in the kill zone and his other ships weren’t in shape to recover it, he took his command boat and one other back into the kill zone to rescue the sailors who were still under attack.

The 13-boat movement was part of Operation Silver Mace II, which was put into action to break up Viet Cong operations in that section of Vietnam. The boats were to drop off the ground forces and then provide support from the river. The first five boats reached the insertion points for their marines and completed their mission without incident.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
(Photo: Naval War College Museum)

The other eight boats continued upriver. When they went to drop off their marines, a U.S. Marine major assigned as an advisor went to Yost and asked that the Vietnamese marines be dropped another mile upriver because the going was hard and no Viet Cong activity had been spotted. Yost agreed.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Riverine craft make their way up a narrow river in Vietnam. PCF-23 was one of the craft involved in Operation Silver Mace II. (Photo: Naval War College Museum)

Just to be safe, Yost ordered the two Seawolf attack helicopters assigned to him be launched. They were based on a ship 15 minutes away, meaning they would arrive as the boats got to the more dangerous parts of the river.

But Yost’s superior, Navy Capt. Roy Hoffman, ordered the helicopters to sit tight, possibly to ensure that they wouldn’t run out of fuel before they were needed. Yost wasn’t told of the change.

A short time later, everything went sideways. The eight boats were proceeding upriver when PCF-5, the lead boat, was suddenly hit with a claymore mine from the riverbank. More claymores, rockets, and machine gun fire rained down on the boats.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
(Photo: Naval War College Museum)

Yost was in the second boat and ordered it to push through the kill zone, and the rest of the column followed.

The rear boat, PCF-43, was the slowest and needed maintenance, according to then-Lt. j.g. Virgil A. Erwin III — a boat commander during the operations. In addition to its maintenance issues, it was weighed down with 800 pounds of explosives, 10 UDTs, and all of their gear.

That boat was unable to keep up with the rest of the column as they pushed through the kill zone, and it was left as the sole target for a few fatal seconds during the ambush. The corpsman on board was hit with a rocket and killed just before another rocket struck the cabin, killing the boat commander and severely wounding the two others in the cabin.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
(Photo: Naval War College Museum)

The boat ran out of control and beached itself, hard, on a mudbank. It hit so hard that it slid most of the way out of the water, leaving the engine’s water intake above the waterline and making it impossible for the boat to propel itself back off.

As the engine overheated, the UDT members jumped from the boat and established a defensive perimeter behind it, using the wreck as cover from the Viet Cong fire coming from a mere 20 feet away.

The closest boat, PCF-38, attempted to assist PCF-43, but their steering gear was damaged and they were forced to head back upriver. Once they reached the lead perimeter, they alerted Yost to the state of PCF-43.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
(Photo: Naval War College Museum)

Yost took his craft, PCF-31, and the former lead boat, PCF-5, back downriver. Once they reached the ambush site, 5 and 31 began pouring .50-cal. rounds into the jungle and forced the Viet Cong fighters to take cover. As 5 kept the fire up, Yost and 31 pulled up to the stricken 43 and began evacuating the wounded and dead.

The two crafts escaped with 15 survivors and the bodies of the two men killed in action.

Just a few hours later, PCF-43 exploded. The most likely cause was that the engines, which typically were cooled by water flowing through the engine for propulsion, had overheated and set fire to the leaking fuel. The fuel ignited the explosives and the whole thing burned hot until the boat itself exploded.

Yost was later awarded the Silver Star for his part in the fight. In 1986, he became the 18th Commandant of the Coast Guard.

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ISIS just targeted French troops and Kurds with an explosive drone

The Islamic State reportedly used an armed drone full of explosives to wound French troops and kill two Kurds on Oct. 2, according to a report from French newspaper Le Monde.


The strike, believed to potentially be the first of its kind against Western forces, took place just outside Irbil, which is located in northern Iraq, The Washington Post reports.

Two Kurdish peshmerga troops were killed in the attack, and two French special operators were also seriously wounded. One is still in critical condition. Both were whisked away back to France immediately.

Due to the rapid proliferation of drone technology and the fact that component prices have dropped significantly over the past few years, militant groups are quickly adopting drones as a new weapon.

And yet, the use of drones with explosives, much less against Western forces, is uncommon. In many cases, ISIS simply uses drones for surveillance footage to use in propaganda films.

U.S. forces in Iraq now carry the equipment to bring down these kinds of drones, such as a Battelle DroneDefender, which actually doesn’t even use bullets. Rather, the technology works by disrupting the communication line between the drone and its operator.

It’s unclear if France possesses the same counter-drone technology in the field.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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This is what ‘Black Friday’ is like for new Marine recruits

Every year, millions of Americans rush out of their homes to the local retailers the day after Thanksgiving — aka Black Friday — for incredible, once-in-a-year deals.


Marine recruits also have a Black Friday — but it’s nowhere near as fun as getting a bunch of cool stuff.

Black Friday is the term Marines use when they finally come face-to-face with their hard-charging drill instructors who will train them up for the next 90 days.

Related: The Corps just added this new phase to help recruits practice being Marines

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
It’s Black Friday! Welcome to the bottom of the food chain, boot. (Source: USMC YouTube Screenshot)

Typically, once recruits meet their DIs, they will receive a barrage of easy-to-follow instructions under extreme stress, which causes them to have “brain farts” and screw up.

“I wanted to go home,” a former Marine joked, recalling that first meeting.

Once a recruit gets through the receiving phase of boot camp to Black Friday, it’s easier to make it all the way through the intense training and earn the title of Marine (versus getting sent back home on request).

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
The classic aftermath of Black Friday at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island.

For many drill instructors, the experience is just as intense, but their training incentive is to produce the best possible Marines before sending them off to their units.

“Here goes another 90-days,” former Marine DI Mark Hamett recalls. “Let’s do this!”

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Here we go.

Typically, after the physically demanding introduction, the drill instructors will use their outside voices inside to introduce themselves and inform the recruits, as a whole, what exactly will be expected from them.

Also Read: The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army

Check out the Marines’ video below to watch the intense first meeting between recruits and their drill instructors. Then relish in the fact that you’re not in their shoes.

(Marines, YouTube)
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How a new generation of Air Force pilots flew a mission for a fallen WW2 brother

On Dec. 23, 1944, 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson was killed in action when Nazi planes shot down his P-47 Thunderbolt. Carlson would be missing for almost 73 years until he was identified and buried with full honors at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Pennsylvania on Aug. 4, 2017.


When the “missing man” formation was flown, it was done by four F-35s.

The F-35s belonged to the 62nd Fighter Squadron, one of 23 assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, according to the wing’s official webpage. The 56th operates both F-35s and F-16s.

But long before it had the mission to train pilots on the Air Force’s newest multi-role fighter, the 56th Fighter Wing was a combat unit, as was its predecessor, the 56th Fighter Group.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson, who was killed in action when his P-47 Thunderbolt was shot down on Dec. 23, 1944. (USAF photo)

A July 28 release by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency noted that Carlson’s remains had finally been identified. It noted that Carlson’s wingman had believed that the pilot got out, but German officials had claimed his remains had been recovered near the crash site.

The release stated that Carlson would be returned to his family for burial. So, how did the F-35s end up flying the missing man formation?

Back in World War II, the 56th Fighter Group was known as the “Wolfpack,” which included the 62nd Fighter Squadron. Among the pilots who flew with that unit was the legendary Robert S. Johnson, a 27-kill ace who later wrote the book, “Thunderbolt!”

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Four F-35’s participated in a missing man formation fly-over during 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson’s funeral in Pennsylvania more than 70 years after being shot down over Germany in World War II when he was assigned to the 62nd FS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jensen Stidham)

According to an Air Force News Service report, it was because Carlson had been a member of the 62nd when he was killed in action. Squadron commander Lt. Col. Peter Lee had been browsing Facebook when he noticed the patch for the 62nd Fighter Squadron.

“I clicked on the link and that’s how I found out. It started with something as simple as a Facebook post…and next thing you know we’re flying four airplanes over and talking with the family,” he said.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
F-35 Lightning II fighters fly the missing man formation during the funeral of 2nd Lt. Charles E. Carlson. (Youtube Screenshot)

The F-35s flew the missing man formation for Carlson, led by Capt. Kyle Babbitt, who said, “If it had been me on the other side, I would really appreciate this for my family. It’s definitely an honor to take on this responsibility.”

You can see a video about this mission by the 62nd Fighter Squadron below.

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 14 edition)

Here’s the stuff you need to know after morning PT but before quarters:


Now: 5 generals with some of the weirdest habits in military history 

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Here’s what happened to 6 American soldiers who defected to North Korea

Isolated and sealed off from the rest of the world, North Korea doesn’t exactly shine as a beacon of hope and light. But for a half dozen American soldiers serving after the Korean War ended, it apparently seemed that way.


The war came to a halt with an armistice in 1953, though the North has often threatened to back out, while it’s not blustering about destroying its neighbor or lobbing artillery shells over the de-militarized zone. Since that time, both sides have occasionally come close to war once again. But with U.S. soldiers still stationed in and supporting the South, that probably wouldn’t work too well for the Hermit Kingdom.

So what happens when an American soldier decides to switch teams? In 1962 we got an answer, along with five others who defected to North Korea (There are many others who defected during the war listed here).

1. Pvt. Larry Allen Abshier

On May 28, 1962, Pvt. Abshier walked off his post and meandered through the minefields of the Korean DMZ and fled to North Korea, becoming the first post-war defector. According to a defector who came across later, Abshier was a bit of a troublemaker and was caught smoking marijuana on a number of occasions. So rather than face Army discipline, he chose the most repressive regime on earth, according to NK News.

Once he got there, he was used for his obvious propaganda value. The North broadcasted on June 13 that Abshier could no longer stand his “humiliating life” in the American military, and then later, as other defectors showed up, he became a big-time star of propaganda films, usually playing as Evil American #1. Seriously, he even has his own IMDB page.

 

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Abshier in a North Korean film.

Abshier did end up getting married — twice. His first wife was taken away from him when his captors found out she was pregnant. His second wife was a Thai woman who was kidnapped by Pyongyang agents. But despite plenty of hype about American defectors being treated to lavish rewards, Abshier was forced to read propaganda about Kim Il Sung for 11 hours a day and lived in a crappy house. He died of a heart attack on July 11, 1983.

2. Pfc. James Joseph Dresnok

Just like Abshier, Pfc. James Dresnok wasn’t the recruiting poster soldier (yes, we know you’re shocked). After serving two years in West Germany, he found himself on the South Korean DMZ, facing a court-martial. According to “60 Minutes,” his wife had left him and he had left his base without permission, and the Man was about to drop the hammer.

So he just walked through a minefield instead, joining Abshier (although they didn’t know each other). Like him, Dresnok was later plastered on magazines, books, and made appearances in movies. After four years of that, he (and others) finally figured out their new life sucked, and sought asylum in the Soviet embassy. And the Soviets told them to pound sand.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Dresnok in a still from a Chinese news package.

Luckily, the North Koreans didn’t shoot him, and he decided to just conform. “Oh, I gotta think like this, I gotta act like this. I’ve studied their revolutionary history, their lofty virtues about the Great Leader. Little by little, I came to understand the Korean people,” Dresnok told “60 Minutes.”

He’s still there, alive and kicking. Dresnok, who goes by Joe, taught English for some time and now lives in a small apartment in Pyongyang, living off his government check. He’s been married twice, and even has three kids. His oldest son James considers himself Korean, and wants to be a diplomat, according to CBS.

3. Cpl. Jerry Wayne Parrish

In Dec. 1963, Cpl. Jerry Parrish walked across the DMZ, according to NK News. The why for Parrish wasn’t as clear cut as the others, though Charles Jenkins (who defected next) wrote in his book that he cited personal reasons, but “didn’t elaborate about them much except to say that if he ever went home, his father-in-law would kill him.”

There’s much less known about Parrish’s time in North Korea until Jenkins showed up in 1965. At that point, the North now had four American mouths to feed, and it stuck them into a crappy house and pitted them against each other so they would become indoctrinated.

“At first the four of us lived in one house, one room, very small, no beds — we had to sleep on the floor,” Jenkins told Far Eastern Economic Review. “There was no running water. We had to carry water approximately 200 metres up the hill. And the water was river water.”

He added: “If I didn’t listen to the North Korean government, they would tie me up, call Dresnok in to beat me. Dresnok really enjoyed it.”

Like the others, he was used mostly for propaganda. He starred as “Lewis” in the 1978 cult classic (only in North Korean minds) film “Unsung Heroes.” He married a Lebanese woman — who swears she wasn’t kidnapped or anything — and had three sons, all of whom remain in North Korea. Parrish died of “massive internal infection” in 1997, according to the Far Eastern Economic Review.

4. Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins

Jenkins is perhaps the most well-known of the American defectors, since he’s still around, unrepentant, and still giving interviews. But his story of defection was basically your Army buddy’s version of “I got drunk and went to get a tattoo and I don’t know what happened.” According to The Atlantic, on Jan. 4, 1965 Jenkins pounded 10 beers then decided to desert his infantry squad while leading them on patrol, in an effort to avoid going to Vietnam. Well, mission accomplished, bro.

It wasn’t long before the beer wore off. “I made a lot of mistakes in my life, maybe, but that was the worst mistake anybody ever make,” he told CBS News. “That’s for sure.”

Once he got there, he was put into a small home with the others and slept on the floor, forced to memorize propaganda all day. This was a far cry from his real plan, hoping the North Koreans would send him to Russia and the Russians would swap him back to the U.S. (on what planet does this make sense?).

Among one of the worst things to happen to Jenkins involved his choice of ink: On his forearm he had the letters “U.S.” underneath infantry crossed rifles. The North Koreans held him down and cut off those letters, according to Far Eastern Economic Review.

He lived in North Korea for nearly 40 years, teaching English, translating, and of course, starring in propaganda. He married a Japanese woman who had been kidnapped and had two daughters. In 2002, she was freed in a rare act of diplomacy on Kim Jong Il’s part, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered Jenkins the same courtesy. He took it in 2004.

Though the Army did throw him in the stockade for a whopping total of 24 days and gave him a dishonorable discharge, a hilarious twist from his time of desertion before he was tried qualified him for all the service medals during the period. So he actually showed up to his court-martial wearing a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Thanks for your service, Chuck.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Jenkins after returning from North Korea.

Jenkins now lives with his wife in Japan, where he works at a historical museum, The Atlantic reported.

5. Pfc. Roy Chung

There’s some controversy over what actually happened to Chung. Born in South Korea as Chung Ryeu, he moved to the U.S. with his parents in 1973 and joined the Army for the college money, later serving in West Germany. But here’s where it gets weird: He was nowhere near Korea when he disappeared.

In June 1979, he vanished from his unit in Germany, and three months later, North Korean state radio announced he had defected. The Pentagon and State Department maintain that’s probably true. But his parents are convinced he was kidnapped, The Washington Post reported.

None of the others reported ever coming into contact with him, and there’s not much else known about his time in North Korea. He may still be alive, but is rumored to have died of natural causes.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Chung in North Korean People’s Army uniform in an undated photo.

6. Pvt. Joseph T. White

The last person to join the defection dream team came on Aug. 28, 1982, when Pvt. Joseph White shot a lock off a gate at the Korean DMZ and started walking through the minefields. Carrying his M-16 rifle and ammo, he walked north and called out “I am coming” to his soon-to-be new best friends, according to Asia Times.

”My son did not cross that line,” Kathleen White, his mother, told The New York Times. ”He loved this country and he loved that uniform and everything about it. Joey was nothing but gung-ho Army and gung-ho Reagan.”

But back at his barracks, investigators found plenty of pro-North leaflets and other propaganda. And his fellow soldiers were dumbfounded. The last time they saw him, his arms were being held behind his back and North Korean soldiers were pushing him into a bunker, The New York Times reported.

What happened next is up for debate. In his autobiography, Jenkins said his government minders told him White had suffered an epileptic seizure and was paralyzed, but he never heard anything more. But in 1986, White’s parents received a letter from a North Korean friend “who had been on good terms” with the soldier, explaining that he drowned in a river while enjoying a “leisure time” outing, the AP reported.

Since the propaganda bulls–t coming from North Korea is so thick, what really happened is impossible to verify.

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The coolest military tech coming in 2016

America’s troops have cool gear coming their way in 2016. Here’s a look at some of it:


1. The first Ford-Class supercarrier will take to the seas

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Aidan P. Campbell

The PCU Ford will join the fleet in 2016. It will be the largest and most expensive warship to ever float and features a number of technological improvements over its predecessors. Electromagnetic catapults allow it to more quickly launch aircraft and it has better generators for powering sensors, weapons, and other necessary systems.

2. Soldiers will get an app for calling in artillery strikes

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo: Network Integration Evaluation Katie Cain

Nett Warrior, a tablet-based computer system to allow soldiers to keep track of one another on the battlefield, will be getting an app that will allow soldiers to more quickly and accurately call for artillery strikes.

3. Black Hornet drones will reach Army units

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo: Richard Watt/MOD via Wikipedia

These mini-drones weigh about 18 grams but pack both standard and thermal cameras for reconnoitering enemy positions. U.S. Special Forces tested the drones in 2015 and the British have used them since 2013. PEO-Soldier, the Army office that acquires this kind of gear, is looking to field an unknown number of the drones in 2016.

4. The Navy is getting two new attack submarines

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Casey Hopkins

The submarine fleet will welcome two new Virginia-class fast attack subs, the USS Colorado (SSN 788) and the USS Washington (SSN 787). While new Virginia-class subs typically feature the latest and greatest tech in submarine warfare, everything from improved sensors to better acoustic camouflage, the specifics are classified for obvious reasons.

5. New night-vision goggles will let troops see thermal signatures better

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo by: US Army Spc. William Lockwood

The Army’s newest night-vision goggles will be fielded to soldiers in 2016. They provide improved thermal detection over a wider area and will be able to communicate with future weapon sights so soldiers can always see the impact point of their weapon, even when firing from the hip or through smoke.

Unfortunately, the weapon sights they work with won’t be ready until at least 2019.

6. New machetes will help prepare the Army for a war in the Pacific

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo: US Army Sgt. Austin Berner

While new machetes may not be as sexy as drones and submarines, the U.S. Army is part of the pivot to the Pacific and that means preparing for jungle warfare. The Army PEO-Soldier is looking for new machetes with a double-edged blade. One side would be for chopping through vines and the other for sawing through branches.

The Army will also be looking at new materials for uniform items, especially boots, in the coming years for operations in the Pacific.

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These Air Force Academy uniforms bring the ‘BRRRRRT’ to college football

It’s Shark Week at the U.S. Air Force Academy.


The Falcons paid tribute to Air Force history by donning uniforms featuring the distinctive nose art of the WWII-era Curtiss P-40 Warkhawk and its grandson, the tank-busting, close air support maestro A-10 Thunderbolt II – aka the “Warthog.”

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
P-40 Warhawk Ace Col. Bob Scott of 23d Fighter Group during WWII. (U.S. Army photo)

The Twitter account Air Force FB Equip tweeted a photo of the “threads” just before the start of the Air Force versus Georgia State game on September 10th.

The distinctive design harkens back to American pilots during the early years of World War II, before the United States joined the war. The 23d Fighter Group, dubbed the “Flying Tigers” for the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force, flew combat sorties against Japan. Comprised of pilots from the Army Air Forces, the Navy, and Marine Corps, their distinctive Shark nose art remains an icon of military history.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation

The Flying Tigers’ first combat mission came just 12 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, racking up 256 kills at the cost of just 14 airmen until they were disbanded in July 1942. It was a big deal during the early days of the war, when Americans were taking huge losses left and right. For almost eight months, the Flying tigers ruled the skies over Burma.

The modern-day 23d Fighter Group doesn’t fly P-40s, it flies the A-10 – beloved by the troops of the ground for its superb close air support mission capabilities and feared by anyone on the receiving end of the GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon around which the airframe was built. This thing is a flying gun with tank armor and wings. Some A-10s feature the legacy shark nose art, which is a rare sight on today’s military aircraft.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
A front view of a 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft parked on the flight line during Exercise SOLID SHIELD ’87. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The home game at the Air Force Academy featured a flyover by four A-10 aircraft 30 seconds before kickoff. It’s almost not even fair – how are the Georgia State Panthers supposed to compete with that? They couldn’t. The Panthers fell to the Falcons like the Japanese fell during WWII – hard.

The final score was 48-14.

And in case you’re not familiar with the BRRRRRT:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_izdXSIWEg
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Here are 10 things everyone experiences in jump school

The U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia is where U.S. military members of all branches go to become military parachutists. The school is three weeks of intense physical drills, training on towers, and of course, “jumping out of a perfectly good airplane” five times to earn the coveted silver parachute badge (also known as “jump wings”).


Here are 10 things Airborne students will encounter when going through Jump School:

1. Black Hats

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Airborne Instructors in 1977

An Airborne instructor’s nametag may read “Jones” but students will address him or her as “Sergeant Airborne.” New Airborne trainees are received by the school’s instructors known as “Black Hats,” because of their headgear, a simple black baseball cap with their rank and wings display on the cap.

The instructors are mostly Army personnel, but the Marine Corps Air Force, and Navy also provide instructors since the school is open to all eligible DOD service members. Black Hats are skilled parachutists who are responsible for training Airborne students, and they do with ‘tough love. They will make their students repeat physical drills and exercises over and over until they get it right.

No matter how exhausting, they won’t stop until a student gets it right. They are doing it for the trainees own well-being.

2. The Airborne Shuffle

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Army 2nd Lt. Nelson Lalli runs with an Airborne School classmate to report in after his first jump.

Not to be confused with the popular dance the ‘Cupid shuffle’ or the Chicago Bears Super Bowl shuffle, the Airborne shuffle is not a dance nor is it fun. This shuffle refers to the pace or speed of a formation run during Airborne school. It is typically about a 9-minute mile.

The shuffle is meant to build stamina, not speed. At Airborne School, trainees run everywhere especially in combat boots or with their equipment. The Airborne shuffle is also commonly known for the short choppy steps students take on the aircraft before the jump out, just like the cadence “Stand up, Hook up, Shuffle to the door.”

3. Wearing Helmets all day

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation

At Jump School, aspiring paratroopers will wear their helmet everywhere they go. Students will run and train with it on every day. The chin strip and helmet pads will reek so bad after the first week of training that a squirt of Febreze is simply not enough to contain the smell of sweat and bacteria.

4. Falling all day

Airborne students will spend a lot of time hitting the ground during Jump School. Learning how to properly fall during a parachute landing is a core fundamental taught at the Basic Airborne Course. This is especially true when doing parachute landing fall (PLF) drills. Trainees will jump off platforms of different heights into large pits over and over until they get it right. Airborne students can expect to do hundreds of PLFs before they leave the school.

Along with PLFs, trainees will jump from tall towers like the 34-foot tower to learn proper aircraft exiting techniques and the iconic 250-foot tower, although not all Airborne class get to do the tower.

Just remember to “keep your feet and knees together!”

5. The smell of Bengay in the morning

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Week one, ground week, focuses on the proper landing fall techniques, emphasizing the importance of keeping feet and knees together during a landing to prevent injuries. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kuande Hall)

Before long, the smell of Bengay, the over-the-counter analgesic cream used to relieve muscle and joint pain, will fill the barracks each morning to help students with their joint and muscle pain.

6. Swing Landing Trainer

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
A student practices proper landing techniques on the Swing Landing Trainer.

The Swing Landing Trainer is not fun. Students are strapped into a harness to step off a platform and swing back and forth. The discomfort experienced on this device when swinging, especially for male students, is terrible. Students will continue to swing on the harness until they are released by the Black Hats. Trainees must perform several proper PLFs to pass this stage of training.

Most hit the ground like a stack of potatoes.

7. “Hurry up and wait” goes to a whole new level

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Airborne Students wait to board an aircraft.

Finally, it’s jump week… but the wait isn’t over. Students will wake up early, run to the chute shed, rig up, and just wait and wait for many hours. Students are not allowed to sleep or talk as they wait. It’s the ultimate example of “hurry up and wait.”

8. A mix of emotions

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation

Time to jump! There’s certainly level of excitement and fear at this point, as jumpers hook up to the static line and prepare to jump. Some people question their judgement at this point, as butterflies flutter in their stomachs and thoughts of “why the hell am I doing this” circle in their head. For others, this is the best moment of their life!

9. Jumping Out

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Paratroopers with 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division (Advise and Assist Brigade), exit a C-130 aircraft Feb. 12, 2010, at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq, as part of the largest airborne training exercise conducted by U.S. forces in Iraq since the beginning of the war. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

Probably the two most common reactions: “This is awesome” or “Holy Shit!”

10. Pinning of the Wings

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
After completing five parachute jumps, Lt. Col. Kay Wakatake has her wings pinned on by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Richardson at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Photo by Captain Greg Peterson)

The pinning of parachute wings is the crowning achievement of three weeks of training. The badge is pinned (or slammed) on the graduate’s chest. This rite of passage solidifies an individual as a member of the Airborne family. The best part of all of this: You’re no longer a leg!

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10 tips for dating on a forward operating base

Sure, it was against the rules for years but we all know dating, and more, happened regularly on the forward operating bases. Here are some tips for your next deployment.


1. Don’t talk about dating on the FOB

Remember, dating deployed is still highly discouraged and can affect perceptions of your professionalism. Keep a tight lid on it or expect your next evaluation report or monthly counseling to be harsh.

2. Conduct hygiene like you’re in garrison.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo by US Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

Yeah, the long hours of work and the limited laundry and shower facilities are going to take a toll, but you owe the person who is letting you see them naked. At least invest in extra baby wipes or something.

3. Do some favors for the motor pool.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo by US Army Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson

Make out sessions, and more, in vehicles are just as much fun deployed as they were in high school. Help the mechanics out and they’ll help you out.

4. Don’t date outside your pay scale.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo by US Army Spc. Kim Browne

This is still illegal and a potential career ender. Officers with officers, enlisted with enlisted.

5. No partners from your company or your chain of command.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo by US Army Sgt. Joseph Morris

The chain of command thing is still illegal while dating within your company is just a bad idea. Try to find a partner in another battalion or a completely separate command.

6. Don’t make it obvious.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo by US Army

Googly eyes, shy smiles, shared meals, inside jokes. Secrets are hard enough to keep on a FOB without you dropping hints everywhere.

7. Practice weapons safety.

Literally and figuratively. If you get romantic, keep your literal weapon away from the bump zone and keep your figurative weapon in a case. Practice muzzle awareness with both.

8. Keep the drama discreet.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation
Photo by USMC Staff Sgt. J.L. Wright Jr.

Fighting between yourselves will most likely be noticed, probably even faster than the googly eyes when you started dating were. Keep it limited to emails and texts. If you can stand at attention while getting reamed by the drill instructor, you can keep a poker face while having an email fight.

9. Don’t let it affect the mission.

This is why it was outlawed in the first place. Don’t miss a recall or show up late to duty because you were busy in a CONNEX container.

10. Be careful who you tell stories to.

13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation

While you may want to brag about your forbidden love, one of those stories may get you in trouble if word gets around. Make sure you only tell buddies who can keep a secret.