5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids - We Are The Mighty
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5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids

The world’s most powerful military has a soft spot for kids and Christmas, and they show it every year through a number of toy drives and holiday events. Here are 5 annual operations designed to being Christmas cheer to kids in need:


1. Toys for Tots

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Green

The largest and best known of the military toy drives, Toys for Tots is ran by the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation as a mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. Nationwide, Marines and veterans collect new toys and run events year round to give Christmas cheer to children across the country. Other military services get involved by holding their own toy drives to donate to the Toys for Tots program.

2. Operation Toy Drop

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Logan Brandt

The Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop is an annual event where paratroopers donate toys and are given a chance to earn foreign jump wings. This year, 4,300 paratroopers and their supporters donated 6,000 toys. With seven nations participating, Operation Toy Drop is the world’s largest Airborne operation.

3. Santa’s Ruck March

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Photo: US Army Capt. John Farmer

In Santa’s Ruck March, soldiers and family members from two brigades at Fort Hood, Texas conduct a one-mile march with rucksacks filled with toys to Santa’s Workshop where all the toys are placed on large tables. The annual event supports over 3,000 Fort Hood children.

4. Fill the Boat Toy Drive

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Caleb Critchfield

Hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Fill the Boat Toy Drive selects a charity that supports children every year to distribute toys collected in a large boat with Santa and Mrs. Claus presiding over the collection. In 2015, hundreds of toys were given to the Ronald McDonald House to distribute to children spending the holiday in the hospital.

5. Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Anderson toy drive

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Timothy Walter

Split between two locations, Anderson Hall in Joint Base San Antonio, Texas and Longmont, Colorado, this toy drive memorializes Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Anderson who died on a deployment to Ramadi, Iraq. The toys collected are sent to the Longmont Police Department in Anderson’s hometown and to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots.

There are also other military operations that center on the holiday. The Air Force drops toys, books, and humanitarian assistance on Pacific islands every year in Operation Christmas Drop. NORAD tracks Santa’s progress across the world every Christmas Eve.

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ISIS is about to lose its biggest conquest in the Middle East

As Iraqi security forces continue the push to liberate Mosul, terrorists with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant find themselves trapped in the city’s west, a Pentagon spokesman said Feb. 7.


5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Members from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service present Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with a flag from Bartilah, a town recaptured just outside of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This flag symbolizes the efforts of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve composed of U.S. Army Soldiers, U.S. Marine Corps Marines, U.S. Navy Sailors, United States Air Force Airmen and coalition military forces. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/released)

“At this point, ISIL fighters are stuck in Mosul,” the Defense Department’s director of press operations, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, told reporters.

With Iraqi forces closing in and bridge access to eastern Mosul severed, the terrorists in the western quadrant are unable to resupply and reinforce, he said.

“The fighters who remain in west Mosul face a choice between surrendering or annihilation, as there’s not a place to retreat,” Davis said.

It is nearly impossible to cross the Tigris River, which separates east and west Mosul, since access to the five bridges that spanned the river is closed off, Davis pointed out.

“Without the ability to resupply or reinforce, [ISIL] is in a situation there where their loss is certain,” Davis said.

The coalition continues its strikes in support of the shift to western Mosul operations, he said, noting since the push for Mosul began in mid-October, the coalition has conducted 10,850 strikes in support of operations to liberate the city.

“We know going into western Mosul that they are more dug in there; they have had more time to place encampments and firing positions [and] fighting positions,” Davis said, adding ISIL used its best fighters in eastern Mosul.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
821st Contingency Readiness Group Airmen wait for approaching MH-47 Chinooks at Qayyarah Airfield West, Iraq, Nov. 17, 2016. The 821st CRG is highly-specialized in training and rapidly deploying personnel to quickly open airfields and establish, expand, sustain and coordinate air mobility operations in austere, bare-base conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

The strikes, he said, have destroyed vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, buildings and facilities, tunnels, boats, barges, vehicles, bunkers, anti-aircraft artillery, and artillery mortar systems.

Iraqi security forces are back clearing eastern Mosul, Davis said, pointing out they have disrupted raids, uncovered sleeper cells, and found terrorists in “spider holes.”

In addition, approximately once a day, Iraqi security forces are encountering small unmanned aerial vehicles that are dropping hand grenades, he said.

Davis pointed out tests have confirmed the presence of the skin irritant sulfur mustard from samples recovered from Mosul University, a central location in ISIL’s chemical weapons program.

ISIL is surrounded in the Syrian city of Al Abab on multiple axes, Davis said.

“We continue to conduct strikes, in fact there were just some strikes earlier today in Al Bab by the United States and the coalition in support of the Turkish operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the fight to liberate the key city of Raqqa continues and a third axes, an eastern axis, kicked off in the last day, Davis said. The new axis adds to the northwest and northeast efforts where isolation is either in progress or complete.

The coalition has conducted bridge strikes south of Raqqa along the Euphrates to restrict ISIL’s ability to move fighters and equipment, he said.

“It further isolates [ISIL] fighters so that they’ll have to take their chances with either fighting or dying or surrendering to the SDF or using what narrow window they have of escape they have right now, which is really only in this direction [to the southeast], toward Deir ez-Zur,” he said.

In addition, the Syrian Democratic Forces have cleared an additional 48 square kilometers along two axes Feb. 6.

The coalition is taking steps to further limit ISIL’s ability to maneuver across Syria, and will continue to degrade, dismantle and militarily defeat the terrorists, Davis said.

The coalition has delivered 2,310 munitions since Nov. 5 in support of the SDF, he said.

“In the past 24 hours, we conducted an additional six strikes with a total of eight engagements using 18 munitions in support of SDF operations to isolate Raqqa,” he said.

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Japan’s greatest aircraft carrier was sank by a tiny sub

The Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Shinano was, at the time of its completion, the largest aircraft carrier in history to that point. It was heavily armored for a carrier, a 72,000-ton behemoth.


A behemoth that sank not only without sinking an enemy ship or engaging in a major battle, but that never even launched a plane.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
The IJN Shinano was the largest aircraft carrier in history in 1944, but she was doomed to sink without ever launching a plane. (Photo: Marine engineer Hiroshi Arakawa, Public Domain)

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan had a much larger and stronger fleet than the U.S. and early Japanese victories after Pearl Harbor made it seem undefeatable. But America’s industrial might and intelligence breakthroughs allowed the U.S. to reverse the tides.

The tipping point came at the Battle of Midway when American forces sank four fleet carriers and a heavy cruiser.

The Imperial brass had to make tough decisions quickly to protect the Japanese Navy and regain the initiative. Admirals turned to a Yamato-class battleship still under construction, the Shinano, and made the decision to finish it as an aircraft carrier instead.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
The USS Yorktown during the fierce air battle at Midway in 1942. The Yorktown was lost, but it helped sink three Japanese carriers. Japan also lost a fourth carrier and a cruiser in the battle. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Yamato-class battleships were the largest in history, greater even than the famed German Bismarck. But as American success had proven, the age of the battleship had closed and the age of the carrier had begun.

Converting the Shinano to a carrier took a lot of work and design compromises. The battleship armor was reduced but was still thicker than what most aircraft carriers boasted. Even the Japanese armored carrier Taiho got by with less.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
The Japanese battleship Yamato was the largest in the world. One of its planned sister ships, the Shinano, was completed as an aircraft carrier. (Photo: Public Domain)

All the extra armor limited the Shinano’s potential air fleet to 47 planes compared to the Taiho’s 63 operational planes and 15 reserve spares. But the Shinano held lots of fuel and ammo and was expected to act as a support carrier, launching its own planes and resupplying all nearby aircraft during battle.

But that wasn’t in the cards for the massive ship. It was launched on Oct. 8, 1944, and was sent from Yokosuka, Japan, to Kure, where it was scheduled to receive its aircraft.

On Nov. 29, 1944, the ship was hit by four torpedoes from the American submarine USS Archerfish. The Archerfish had been sent to the area to rescue aircrews downed during bombing runs on Tokyo, but began conducting normal patrols when the bombing missions were called off on Nov. 11.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
The USS Archerfish sank the world’s largest aircraft carrier with a single torpedo spread in 1944. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Archerfish first spotted the Shinano while surfaced at night on Nov. 28. A lookout reported seeing a large mass and the captain referenced his nautical charts and told the lookout that the mass was an island. The radar officer responded, “Captain, your island is moving.”

The Shinano spotted the Archerfish following it and, probably suspecting that the sub was one member of a wolf pack, began zig-zagging across the water to avoid shots from other subs.

This was a mistake.

The Archerfish was alone and wouldn’t have been able to catch the Shinano if it had fled or dispatched one of its destroyers to hunt the sub.

Instead, the carrier’s evasive maneuvers allowed the sub to slowly get in range and launch a spread of 6 torpedoes over 40 seconds. Four of them smashed in the Shimano just above the carrier’s thick anti-torpedo protections.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
The USS Mississinewa sinking after being struck by a Keitan torpedo. World War II torpedoes punched massive holes in the sides of ships, allowing water to rush in and sometimes igniting fuel or exploding ammunition. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Japanese destroyers finally turned to fight and the Archerfish was forced to dive to avoid the depth charges that followed.

The torpedo damage to the Shimano caused it to slowly list. The Japanese captain attempted to flood the opposite side to keep the ship level, but the ship had rolled too far and the water inlets were exposed to the air. Unable to correct the list, the captain gave the order to abandon ship. It rolled and sank a few hours later.

The Archerfish was originally credited with sinking a light carrier. The Shimano’s silhouette was unique, and U.S. naval intelligence had to make its best guess as to what sank. After the war, the Japanese acknowledged the battle and alerted the U.S. to the size of the ship they sank.

The Archerfish crew was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. It was present in Tokyo Bay when the articles of surrender were signed on the deck of the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.

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6 ways being in the military prepared us for Fyre Festival

It’s not like anyone serving in the military could ever afford to go to anything like Fyre Festival. Limited leave, income, and service obligations just won’t allow for it.


And let’s be honest: not a lot of the independently wealthy enlist in the military.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Though some of them feel like they served in the military.

The Fyre Festival, which founders Ja Rule and Billy McFarland described as “a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music,” made some astonishing promises, at an amazing price range of $1,000-125,000 per ticket.

The festival was supposed to be a luxury getaway weekend full of music with concerts in a remote Bahamas setting, full of five-star dining and whatever else the absurdly rich do. What happened when the private jets dropped off their passengers was less festival, more “Lord of the Flies.”

Here are a few ways the military would have prepared these people to get along before Piggy did and civilization went with him.

1. You know better than to volunteer to spend days on an abandoned beach.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Not sure what they’re complaining about so far.

Those dome tents look pretty comfy, reflecting the light like that. A lot nicer than the military’s waterproof tarp tent that sleeps 12 and keeps in all the body odor and humid air you could possibly want.

2. Those pigs are food.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
For at least a platoon. Ever see Black Hawk Down?

Sure, they’re adorable. And probably protected. But when the chow hall is only handing out cheese sandwiches and lettuce, there’s bound to be a negligent discharge sooner or later.

3. You know food could always be a lot worse.

America’s super-rich are probably not used to having to rough it for a long weekend. Why would they be? If I could afford a $2,000 concert ticket, I would probably be a wifi-enabled cyborg. So it’s not really a surprise that the biggest food complaint appeared to be the fact that their “five-star dining” turned out to be a cheese sandwich.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Look at that salad though.

It looks pretty rough, sure, but have you ever been to a tent city midnight meal? Midrats aboard a carrier?

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
That corn tho.

Sure, airmen get meat, but can you name that meat? No? enjoy your cheese sandwich.

4. You know which leaders to trust but more importantly, which to avoid.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids

While Ja Rule should have been a red flag to most of us, doing some basic research would have revealed that Fyre Festival co-founder Billy McFarland appears unable to open a McDonald’s franchise, let alone a multi-million dollar music festival on a deserted island. These buyers were begging for death.

5. The lawsuit pretty much describes life in the Marine Corps infantry.

The line “dangerously under-equipped and posed a serious danger to anyone in attendance” is used in $100 million class-action lawsuit against the Festival.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids

Except the Marines are still successful and usually have a plan to get back home.

6. You’re used to leadership passing the blame for failures.

Poor objectives? Terrible leadership? Lack of clear goals? Welcome to the suck. Again: Ja Rule as the unit leader should have been a red flag – but you’re on that island no matter what, so embrace it. No one is going to willing own up to it. And even if they do, the communication will be clear as mud.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Luckily no one high up in our Chain of Command uses Twitter to communicate, right?

“I truly apologize as this is not my fault… but i’m taking responsibility” pretty much says everything you need to know.

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This Is China’s Version Of SEAL Team 6

The Snow Leopard Commando Unit is the China’s most elite counter terrorism unit, similar to America’s SEAL Team 6. Surprisingly, the unit is a federal police unit and not part of China’s Army.


Tasked with protecting the capital of Beijing, their activities are largely secret. Still, the glimpses the world gets are pretty impressive.

The unit is reported to have been established soon after China’s capital was selected for the 2008 Olympics. From 2002 to 2007, they trained in secret under the name “Snow Wolf Commando Unit.”

In 2007, their existence was finally announced just before a ceremony that changed their name to “Snow Leopard Commando Unit.” That same year, SLCU conducted some flashy training with Russian police.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaTvmTeCOH4
SLCU continued service after the Olympic’s closing ceremonies. The elite unit is rarely reported on, but they made news in 2013 and 2014 for winning top honors at the Warrior Competition, a sort of combat Olympics held in Jordan every year.
The Chinese police very rarely leave China, but the Snow Leopard Unit does, providing security for Chinese dignitaries. They’ve also been dispatched domestically to stamp out unrest in China’s West.

If China has a need to conduct a hostage rescue mission against ISIS or other extremists, it would likely be the Snow Leopard Commando Unit that goes.

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Chattanooga shooting victims to receive Purple Hearts

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
April Grimmett | Twitter


The four Marines and a sailor killed by a gunman during a July mass shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will each receive the Purple Heart medal, as will a Marine sergeant who was wounded.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Wednesday that Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire D. “Skip” Wells, Sgt. DeMonte Cheeley and Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith would all receive the award.

The announcement comes the same day the FBI announced that the Chattanooga shooter, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was “inspired by a foreign terror organization.” It’s not clear what organization Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kuwait, might have been emulating.

“Following an extensive investigation, the FBI and NCIS have determined that this attack was inspired by a foreign terrorist group, the final criteria required for the awarding of the Purple Heart to this sailor and these Marines,” Mabus said in a statement, referring to Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

“This determination allows the Department of the Navy to move forward immediately with the award of the Purple Heart to the families of the five heroes who were victims of this terrorist attack, as well as to the surviving hero, Sgt. Cheeley,” he added.

On July 16, Abdulazeez first attacked a military recruiting office in a drive-by shooting, then traveled to a nearby Navy Reserve center, where he shot five Marines, a sailor and a police officer before he was killed by police.

Cheeley, the Marine recruiter who survived a gunshot to the back of the leg, returned to work the same month, Marine Corps Times reported.

The shocking and tragic attacks inspired a wave of concern over the security of military recruiting facilities and prompted Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to call for better training and “physical security enhancements” to protect the military personnel working at such facilities.

“Although the Purple Heart can never possibly replace this brave Sailor and these brave Marines, it is my hope that as their families and the entire Department of the Navy team continue to mourn their loss, these awards provide some small measure of solace,” Mabus said. “Their heroism and service to our nation will be remembered always.”

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US sends carrier strike group to mix it up in the South China Sea

The US Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 1 recently arrived in the South China Sea to promote freedom of travel on the high seas, as China tightens its grip on the region with its increasingly potent navy.


The strike group includes the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, an entire destroyer squadron, and an additional Arleigh Burke class destroyer.

A US Navy carrier strike group represents one of the most powerful naval units in the world, and China has taken notice.

Related: What it might look like if an American and Chinese carrier went toe-to-toe

“China respects and upholds the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, which countries enjoy under international law, but firmly opposes any country’s attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and security in the name of the freedom of navigation and overflight,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman China’s Foreign Ministry, according to CNN.

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An SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 15 flies past the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during an air power demonstration. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans

Indeed, China’s military doctrine even goes as far as permitting a first strike against threats to China’s sovereignty, but the USS Carl Vinson has been operating in the South China Sea for decades.

But the move to promote freedom of navigation in the South China Sea comes as China has all but nailed down the region as firmly within its control. China owns a series of artificial islands, which satellite images show it has militarized with missile launchers and radar outposts.

The US takes no side in the dispute between China and six other nations over who owns what in the region but has repeatedly expressed interest in preserving freedom of navigation in an area with vast oil reserves and about $5 trillion in annual shipping.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
USS Ronald Reagan steams in formation with ships from Carrier Strike Group Five and the Republic of Korea Navy during exercise Invincible Spirit, October 2016. | US Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke

At an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit on Sunday, leaders from the region tried to develop a framework for a code of conduct in the heavily contested South China Sea, but found the process “has become virtually moot and academic,” former Philippines National Security Adviser Roilo Golez told ABS-CBN news

“I expect China to still resist the finalization and approval (of a code of conduct) so that China can further militarize the artificial islands with the placement of offensive medium-range and long-range missiles,” said Golez.

The US deployment to the South China Sea comes just days after Chinese warships withdrew from military drills in the region.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

Senior Airman Daniel Lasal, a 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs a post-flight inspection on an F-16 Fighting Falcon Nov. 15, 2016, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Aircraft maintainers perform six hours or more of post-flight inspections after each sortie.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa

Tech. Sgt. Alan Greene, a 70th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, lowers the boom to an F-16 Fighting Falcon during an aerial refueling mission out of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 16, 2016. F-16 pilots train on refueling operations to be prepared for longer mission requirements.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Hensley

ARMY:

U.S. Army paratroopers paratroopers leave Malemute drop zone after conducting an airborne insertion and M119 howitzer live fire at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 22, 2016.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers clear the floor of a building at an urban operations training facility in Wedrzyn, Poland, during bi-lateral training with the Polish Army’s 6th Airborne Battalion, 16th Airborne Brigade, Nov. 21, 2016.

The training closes out the unit’s rotation in Poland and their continued support of Operation Atlantic Resolve and our NATO Allies.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William A. Tanner

NAVY:

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 26, 2016) Sailors fire the first of three volleys to honor the deceased during a burial at sea ceremony aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan. The ship is in the U.S. 6th fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tim Comerford

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mickey Waldron, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), stands near the safe shot line as an F/A-18C Hornet, from the Death Rattlers of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, launches from the ship’s flight deck. Nimitz is currently underway conducting Tailored Ship’s Training Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA/FEP), which evaluates the crew on their performance during training drills and real-world scenarios. Once Nimitz completes TSTA/FEP they will begin Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) and Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for an upcoming 2017 deployment.

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U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Siobhana R. McEwen

MARINE CORPS:

Marines suppress simulated objectives at Range 410A Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms, California, Oct. 21, 2016. The exercise is part of a qualification for deployment in which Marines with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment are slated to integrate as a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

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U.S Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado

Marines with Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fire their M4A1 rifles at targets during a live-fire deck shoot aboard the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) while afloat in the Pacific Ocean, November 2, 2016. During the range, the MRF Marines conducted shooting drills, such as maneuvering while firing, and engaging multiple targets. The 11th MEU, part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility in support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Devan K. Gowans

COAST GUARD:

Members of Coast Guard Sector and Base Los Angeles-Long Beach joined together for the observance of Colors in honor of Senior Chief Terrell E. Horne III Friday, December 2, 2016. Horne was killed in the line of duty while intercepting smugglers on December 2, 2012.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrea Anderson

A Coast Guard crew members aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, Florida, arrive at the air station with three people rescued from a sunken fishing vessel approximately 35 miles southwest of Cape San Blas, Florida, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. The fishermen were flown to Air Station Clearwater and met with EMS; no injuries to report.

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse.

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15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

The military is full of interesting lingo. The Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army all have their own unique phrases. Some of these are so good, the civilian world just can’t resist picking them up when it hears them. Here are 17 phrases that jumped from the military ranks to the civilian sphere.


1. “Balls to the walls” (also, “Going balls out”)

5 awesome ways the military collects toys for kids
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Rob Shenk

Meaning: To go as fast as one possibly can.

From military aviation where pilots would need to get their aircraft flying as fast as possible. Their control levers had balls on the end. Pushing the accelerator all the way out (“balls out”), would put the ball of the lever against the firewall in the cockpit (“balls to the wall”). When a pilot really needed to zoom away, they’d also push the control stick all the way forward, sending it into a dive. Obviously, this would put the ball of the control stick all the way out from the pilot and against the firewall.

2. “Bite the bullet”

Meaning: To endure pain or discomfort without crying out

Fighters on both sides of the American Civil War used the term “bite the bullet,” but it appears they may have stolen it from the British. British Army Capt. Francis Grose published the book, “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” in 1811 and used “chew the bullet” to explain how proud soldiers stayed silent while being whipped.

3. “Boots on the ground”

Meaning: Ground troops engaged in an operation

Credited to Army Gen. Volney Warner, “boots on the ground” is used to mean troops in a combat area or potential combat area. After the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the term saw wide use and has ceased to refer exclusively to military operations. It can now be used to refer to any persons sent out to walk the ground in an area. It’s been employed in reference to police officers as well as political canvassers.

4. “Bought the farm”

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Photo: U.S. Navy

Meaning: To die

Thought to date back to 1950s jet pilots, the phrase quickly spread to civilian circles. There is no clear agreement on exactly how the phrase came about. It could be from war widows being able to pay off the family farm with life insurance payments, or farmers paying off their farms with the damage payout they’d receive when a pilot crashed on their land, or the pilots who wanted to buy a farm after they retired being said to “buy the farm early” when they died.

5. “Caught a lot of flak”

Meaning: To be criticized, especially harshly

Flak is actually an acronym for German air defense cannons. The Germans called the guns Fliegerabwehrkanonen. Flieger means flyer, abwehr means defense, and kanonen means cannon. Airmen in World War II would have to fly through dangerous clouds of shrapnel created by flak. The phrase progressed in meaning until it became equated with abusive criticism.

6. “FUBAR”/”SNAFU”/”TARFU”

Meaning: Everything about the current situation sucks

All three words are acronyms. FUBAR stands for “F*cked up beyond all recognition,” SNAFU is “Situation normal, all f*cked up,” and TARFU is “Things are really f*cked up.” FUBAR and SNAFU have made it into the civilian lexicon, though the F-word in each is often changed to “fouled” to keep from offending listeners. The Army actually used SNAFU for the name of a cartoon character in World War II propaganda and instructional videos. Pvt. Snafu and his brothers Tarfu and Fubar were voiced by Mel Blanc of Bugs Bunny and Porky the Pig fame.

7. Geronimo

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Photo: US Army Institute of Heraldry

Usage: Yelled when jumping off of something

“Geronimo” is yelled by jumpers leaping from a great height, but it has military origins. Paratroopers with the original test platoon at Fort Benning, Georgia yelled the name of the famous Native American chief on their first mass jump. The exclamation became part of airborne culture and the battalion adopted it as their motto.

8. “Got your six”

Meaning: Watching your back

Military members commonly describe direction using the hours of a clock. Whichever direction the vehicle, unit, or individual is moving is the 12 o’clock position, so the six o’clock position is to the rear. “Got your six” and the related “watch your six” come from service members telling each other that their rear is covered or that they need to watch out for an enemy attacking from behind.

9. “In the trenches”

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ernest Brooks

Meaning: Stuck in a drawn out, tough fight.

Troops defending a position will dig trenches to use as cover during an enemy attack, reducing the chance they’ll be injured by shrapnel or enemy rounds. In World War I, most of the war occurred along a series of trenches that would flip ownership as one army attacked another. So, someone engaged in fierce fighting, even metaphorical fighting, is “in the trenches.”

10. “No man’s land”

Meaning: Dangerous ground or a topic that it is dangerous to discuss

“No man’s land” was widely used by soldiers to describe the area between opposing armies in their trenches in World War I. It was then morphed to describe any area that it was dangerous to stray into or even topics of conversation that could anger another speaker. However, this is one case where civilians borrowed a military phrase that the military had stolen from civilians. “No man’s land” was popularized in the trenches of the Great War, but it dates back to the 14th century England when it was used on maps to denote a burial ground.

11. “Nuclear option”

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Meaning: A choice to destroy everything rather than give in on a debate or contest

Used most publicly while discussing fillibusters in the Senate, the nuclear option has its roots in — what else — nuclear warfare. In the Cold War, military leaders would give the commander-in-chief options for the deployment and use of nuclear weapons from nuclear artillery to thermonuclear bombs. In the era of brinksmanship, use of nuclear weapons by the Soviets or the U.S. would likely have ended in widespread destruction across both nations.

12. “On the double”

Meaning: Quickly, as fast as possible

Anyone who has run in a military formation will recognize the background of “on the double.” “Quick time” is the standard marching pace for troops, and “double time” is twice that pace, meaning the service member is running. Doing something “on the double” is moving at twice the normal speed while completing the task.

13. “On the frontlines”

Meaning: In the thick of a fight, argument, or movement

Like nuclear option, this one is pretty apparent. The front line of a military force is made up of the military units closest to a potential or current fight. Troops on the frontline spend most days defending against or attacking enemy forces. People who are “on the frontlines” of other struggles like political movements or court trials are fighting against the other side every day. This is similar in usage and origin to “in the trenches” above.

14. “Roger that”

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Meaning: Yes

This one is pretty common knowledge, though not all civilians may know why the military says, “Roger that,” rather than “yes.” Under the old NATO phonetic alphabet, the letter R was pronounced, “Roger” on the radio. Radio operators would say, “Roger,” to mean that a message had been properly received. The meaning evolved until “roger” meant “yes.” Today, the NATO phonetic alphabet says, “Romeo,” in place of R, but “roger” is still used to mean a message was received.

15. “Screw the pooch”

Meaning: To bungle something badly

“Screw the pooch” was originally an even racier phrase, f*ck the dog. It meant to loaf around or procrastinate. However, by 1962 it was also being used to mean that a person had bungled something. Now, it is more commonly used with the latter definition.

NOW: 6 reasons why the guys from ‘The Hangover’ are like an Army unit

OR: The US nuclear launch code during the Cold War was weaker than your granny’s AOL password

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McCain’s latest Pentagon pitch puts Russia in the crosshairs

GOP Sen. John McCain said Tuesday he wants the U.S. to consider stationing troops permanently in Estonia, which borders Russia.


While on a tour of Baltic nations wary of the prospect of Russian aggression, McCain said stationing troops permanently in Estonia, in addition to fulfilling existing obligations to NATO, would increase military ties with the country, The Associated Press reports.

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A U.S. Soldier assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment speaks with an Estonian soldier in Sillamae, Estonia, June 11, 2016. During exercise Dragoon Ride, Soldiers conduct static displays to validate our partnering allies’ abilities to assemble forces rapidly, deploy them on short notice and improve the ability to shoot, move and communicate as a multinational alliance. Soldiers are also given the opportunity to play sports with the local citizens to build team cohesion. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nikayla Shodeen/Released)

Part of the reason for McCain’s visit to the region is to reassure Baltic countries like Lithuania and Latvia that even though GOP President-elect Donald Trump has somewhat soured on NATO, the U.S. will nevertheless maintain its security commitments. During his presidential campaign, Trump said he’d think about withdrawing from NATO because the “obsolete” institution costs the U.S. a lot of money

“I think the presence of the American troops here in Estonia is a signal that we believe in what Ronald Reagan believed, and that is peace through strength,” McCain said in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital.

“And the best way to prevent Russian misbehavior is by having a credible, strong military and a strong NATO alliance,” McCain added.

Additionally, McCain has taken special interest in the area because he’s a trenchant critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has blasted Russia’s military incursions in Ukraine. McCain noted he doesn’t expect U.S. sanctions on Russia to lift anytime soon.

He’s also pushed for a congressional panel to examine Russia’s reported attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

However, McCain downplayed the idea that the U.S. can say with any certainty that Russian interference changed the course of the election.

“There is no doubt that the Russians were hacking, but there is doubt whether it had any effect on the outcome of the election,” McCain said. “There is no evidence right now that indeed the Russian cyber attacks and the leaking of the information had any tangible effect on the outcome of the American election.”

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These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes

When the Wild Weasels were formed, one of the candidates was said to have remarked of the mission: “You’ve got to be shitting me!”


Well, if you think pilots flying up against surface-to-air missile sights define crazy, you haven’t heard of the Hurricane Hunters – and these folks have been busy.

With Hurricane Harvey set to hit the coast of Texas with at least two major military bases in the bullseye, tracking its movement has been important. One of the ways the data is gathered is by flying into the storm to help determine how strong the storm is, and where it may be headed.

This is often done by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, attached to the 403rd Wing, based out of Keesler Air Force Base near Biloxi Mississippi.

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According to a release by the 403rd Wing, WC-130J Super Hercules weather reconnaissance planes have already made 10 flights into Hurricane Harvey, presently a Category 2 storm slated to reach Category 3 when it makes landfall in Texas.

Each plane has a crew of five: a pilot, co-pilot, a weather reconnaissance officer, a navigator, and a loadmaster.

During the flights through Harvey, the Airmen made dozens of passes through the eye of the hurricane, braving the strong winds in the center of the storm. On each pass, a device known as a “dropsonde” is released, providing data on dew point, pressure, temperature, and of course, wind speed and direction.

That data is sent out immediately to the National Hurricane Center.

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Master Sgt. Erik Marcus, 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron loadmaster, loads a dropsonde into a dropsonde cannon during a flight into Hurricane Harvey Aug. 24, 2017 out of Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)

“As the Hurricane Hunters, our data is time sensitive and critical for the [National Hurricane Center],” Maj. Kendall Dunn, 53rd WRS pilot explained. “This storm is rapidly intensifying.”

You’d think these pilots would be full-time Air Force, but you’d be way off. These gutsy crews who brave the wrath of nature are with the Air Force Reserve – meaning that many of them are taking time off from their regular lives to serve their country. You can see them in action monitoring Hurricane Harvey in the video below.

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This is when the Pope’s Swiss Guard was deadlier than 300 Spartans

Military history is full of famous last stands – the Greeks at Thermopylae, Custer at Little Big Horn, the French Foreign Legion at Camarón — just to name a few. The last unit people might think of making a famous last stand are the Pope’s personal bodyguards: the Swiss Guard.


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But even though the men who would respond to an incident involving the Pope have traded poofy pants for tactical gear, and bladed weapons for Sig SG 550 rifles, those razor-sharp halberds weren’t always just ceremonial. There was a time when the halberds, pikes, and swords carried by the ceremonial guards were the latest in military technology. The Swiss Guard are, after all, the oldest, continuous standing army in the world.

In 1527, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had just beat down the French in Italy. the only problem was, he couldn’t afford to pay the massive army he used to do it. Understandably pissed, the 34,000-strong army began to march on Rome, believing the Papal States would be an easy target to sack and pillage. They were right… for the most part.

On May 6, 1527, that army broke through Rome’s defenders and looted and pillaged the city for 12 days.

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Paintings always make sacking, burning, and pillaging seem so tame.

But the city didn’t just roll over for the renegade army.

Defending Rome was a militia made up of 5,000 and 189 of the Pope’s Swiss Guard. Of those, around 40 or so escorted Pope Clement VII to safety – and they were the only survivors of the assault. The rest were slaughtered, choosing to hold their ground in the Vatican.

While that number seems like a horrifying loss for the Swiss Guards, consider that the elite unit reduced the fighting force of the Imperial Army by three-quarters. Of the 20,000 troops that moved to storm the city of Rome, 15,000 were killed or injured by the city’s defenders.

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12 times someone tried — and failed — to kill the US president

Out of 15 U.S. presidents targeted for assassination (that we know of), four were successful. No matter who the “leader of the free world” is, he or she will always have haters. While assassins were successful targeting Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy, here are 12 attempts you may know little about:


1. Andrew Jackson

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The etching of the 1835 assassination attempt of Andrew Jackson. Image: Public Domain.

Richard Lawrence ambushed Andrew Jackson in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Lawrence shot at him, but his gun misfired. Infuriated, the 67-year-old Jackson proceeded to club him with his old hickory cane. Lawrence pulled a second pistol, and it too misfired. Jackson beat Lawrence senseless until his aides wrestled Lawrence away.

2. Theodore Roosevelt

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Theodore Roosevelt laughing. Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

John Flammang Schrank shot President Roosevelt during a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912. Roosevelt continued to give his speech after being shot, even joking about it where at one point he said:

Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet — there is where the bullet went through — and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best. — Theodore Roosevelt, Address at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 14, 1912

Roosevelt lived with the bullet in him for the rest of his life. Schrank claimed the ghost of William McKinley told him to shoot the President; doctors found him insane.

3. Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Mug shot of Giuseppe Zangara. Giuseppe Zangara killed the mayor of Chicago and attempted to assassinate Franklin Roosevelt. Photo: Florida Department of Corrections

Italian immigrant Giuseppe Zangara attempted to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 15, 1933, during an impromptu speech in Miami, Florida. Five people were hit, including Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who later succumbed to his wounds. On the way to the hospital, Cermak allegedly told Roosevelt, “I’m glad it was me instead of you,” which was later inscribed on his tombstone plaque. Some speculated it was a mob hit on the mayor and not Roosevelt.

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Grave Site Of Assassinated Mayor Anton Cermak. (Photo by Chicago Crime Scenes, Flickr)

“I have the gun in my hand,” confessed Zangara in the Dade County Courthouse jail. “I kill kings and presidents first and next all capitalists.” He was sentenced to death by Circuit Court Judge Uly Thompson.

4. Harry S. Truman

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Griselio Torresola (left). Oscar Collazo and his wife (right).

Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola — two supporters of the Puerto Rican independence movement — tried to assassinate President Truman while he was napping on the second floor of the Blair House. Truman was staying at the Blair House while the White House was undergoing renovation. The would-be assassins saw their opportunity because unlike the White House, the Blair House was less secure.

In what was described as “the biggest gunfight in Secret Service history”—27 shots fired over 40 seconds—Terresola and a police officer were killed. Collazo was sentenced to death, which President Truman later commuted to a life sentence.

5. Richard Nixon

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Samuel Byck attempted to assassinate Nixon on February 22, 1974, by hijacking a plane in hopes of crashing it into the White House while the President was there. Byck carried out his plan with .22 caliber revolver he stole from his friend and a suitcase bomb. His plan was foiled, and the plane never left the Baltimore/Washington International Airport gate. He killed a police officer and committed suicide in the process.

6. Gerald Ford

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President Ford had two attempts on his life by two women in California in the same month. One by Charles Manson follower Lynette Fromme, who fired a pistol at him in a crowd in Sacramento on September 5, 1975. The second attempt was by Sara Jane Moore in San Francisco on September 22, 1975 — just 17 days after Fromme. Both women were sentenced to life in prison.

7. Jimmy Carter

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Jimmy Carter. (US president photo: Executive Office of the President of the United States).

The Secret Service arrested Raymond Lee Harvey ten minutes before President Carter gave a speech at the Civic Center Mall in Los Angeles on May 5, 1979. The Ohio-born drifter was caught with a starter pistol and blank rounds. Although he had a history of mental illness, the police investigated his claims of being part of a four-man operation to assassinate the president. Charges against Harvey were dropped for insufficient of evidence.

8. Ronald Reagan

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John Hinckley Jr. Photo: By United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI Field Office Washington) [Public domain]. Ronal Reagan (US president photo: Executive Office of the President of the United States).John Hinckley Jr. shot President Reagan outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981. He fired six shots from his .22 caliber revolver wounding the president and three others. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21. He said the assassination attempt was a love offering to actress Jodie Foster.

Reagan famously joked about it with one-liners to keep the country’s spirits up. “Please tell me you’re Republicans,” he said to the surgeons when he entered the operating room. To an attentive nurse, he said, “does Nancy know about us?”

9. George H.W. Bush

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Saddam Hussein (Photo: Public Domain). George H.W. Bush (US president photo: Executive Office of the President of the United States).

Three months after President Bush left office, Kuwaiti officials foiled a 16-man assassination ring led by the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The perpetrators planned to assassinate President Bush with a car bomb during a speaking engagement at the Kuwait University.

President Clinton responded in kind with 23 Tomahawk missiles against the Iraqi Intelligence Service headquarters building in Baghdad. In a televised address to the nation, he ordered the attack to convey three messages, “We will combat terrorism. We will deter aggression. We will protect our people.”

10. Bill Clinton

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Osama bin Laden (Public Domain. Bill Clinton (US president photo: Executive Office of the President of the United States).

Osama bin Laden came close to assassinating President Clinton with a car bomb in the Philippines in 1996. Intelligence agents picked up on the plot via a choppy transmission with the words “bridge” and “wedding” — a terrorist code word for assassination, reported the Telegraph.

The secret service averted the scheme by re-routing the presidential motorcade away from the bridge containing the bomb.

11. George W. Bush

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Robert Picket (US president photo: Executive Office of the President of the United States).

Robert Pickett — a former Internal Revenue Service accountant — fired his handgun at the White House while President Bush was inside. He was shot in the knee and arrested by secret service agents. Pickett was sentenced to three years in prison.

12. Barack Obama

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Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez mugshot (Photo: Bonneville County Sheriff Dept. President Barack Obama (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez fired his rifle at the White House. The 21-year-old claimed to be the second coming of Christ, and that Obama was the devil. He talked about Nostradamus and receiving a “message through time.” Ortega-Hernandez was sentenced to 25 years in prison.