6 amazing female military pioneers - We Are The Mighty
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6 amazing female military pioneers

Women in the military have only just begun to join combat jobs, but their influence on military service has been felt for decades. Some of their contributions changed the way we treat our veterans or even changed the way we live our lifes. They all advanced the cause for women becoming equal partners in service to their country. Here are the stories of six of these female military pioneers:


1. Grace Hopper – U.S. Navy, Creator of Modern Life

If you’re not familiar with the effects of the COBOL programming language, it can best be summed up by saying that the average American requires at least 13 uses of the code every day. It’s used for business transactions, things like placing phone calls, taking public transportation, or using credit cards. There are 200 times more processes using COBOL applications than there are Google searches. Every. Day. This language was developed by Grace Hopper in 1959 after she had already been in the Navy for 16 years.

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Grace Hopper at her promotion to Commodore (O-7) in 1983.

Before “Amazing Grace,” computers only spoke to each other in binary, which humans couldn’t read or interact with. COBOL was an offshoot of the first programming languages, MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC. She also created the compiler, which changes source codes in the programming language to the computer language (often a binary code). She originally retired from the Naval Reserve in 1966 at the rank of Commander, but was recalled to active duty a number of times, promoted to Commodore in 1983 (then the Navy’s O-7), and was allowed to stay on active duty well beyond mandatory retirement, by special order of Congress. She died in 1992 at age 85.

2. Kit Coleman, First Female War Correspondent

The pen name of Canadian journalist Kathleen Blake, Kit Coleman covered the Spanish-American War for the Toronto Mail in 1898. She was the first accredited female war correspondent and was the first president of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.

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The Toronto Mail sent Coleman to Cuba to write feature stories, not news from front line combat there. After receiving her accreditation from the U.S. government, she was authorized to follow U.S. troops. Male journalists tried to sabotage her and leaver her in Florida but she made it to Cuba anyway. her coverage of the aftermath of battles and the human casualties made her famous.

3. Valentina Tereshkova – Soviet Air Force, The First Woman in Space

Tereshkova was the first woman in space and is still the only woman ever to conduct a solo space flight. On her first trip, she orbited the earth 48 times over the course of three days. At the time, she was a decade younger than the youngest Mercury 7 astronaut, Gordon Cooper. With her 1963 flight, she logged more time in space than all American astronauts combined.

6 amazing female military pioneers

She kept a meticulous log and took photos of the Earth’s horizon, which were used to identify aerosol layers in the atmosphere. She would later become a prominent Soviet politician and goodwill ambassador. The Tereshkova Crater on the moon is named in her honor.

4. Linda Bray – U.S. Army, The First Woman to Lead U.S. Troops in Combat

U.S. Army Captain Linda Bray was leading a Military Police company in Panama during Operation Just Cause. The U.S. invaded the country to oust the dictator Manuel Noriega, ensure the neutrality of the Panama Canal Zone and uphold the Torrijos-Carter Treaty. Bray’s platoon was ordered to neutralize a canine unit belonging to the Panamanian Defense Force and prevent their communicating warning of the invasion. When her unit, the 998th Military Police Company, approached the dog kennel building, they instead found an arms cache and a unit of the Panamanian special forces.

6 amazing female military pioneers

She led her platoon in the ensuing firefight, killing three and taking one prisoner before being forced to withdraw. Her unit took no casualties. This action earned her the distinction of being the first woman to lead a U.S. military unit in combat.

5. Dr. Mary E. Walker, First Female POW and Only Female Medal of Honor Recipient

After graduating from Syracuse Medical College in Upstate New York, Mary Walker started a lucrative medical practice. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Dr. Walker, a dedicated abolitionist, offered her services to the Union Army. She treated wounded soldiers in the Washington, D.C. area, which makes Walker the first female surgeon in the U.S. military as well. She pulled wounded soldiers off the battlefields in the middle of firefights and often used her medical abilities to cross the lines, retrieving wounded soldiers while collecting information as a spy.

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On one such occasion, she was arrested by Confederate troops as a spy and sent to a POW camp near Richmond, Virginia until she was exchanged for a Confederate major. After the war, she was awarded the Medal of Honor for her extended, heroic service to frontline troops. As of 2016, Dr. Walker remains the only female Medal of Honor recipient.

6. Nell Gwyn, Founder of the First Veteran’s Hospital

An actress and sometime prostitute in Shakespearean England, she came from some of the most violent slums of London. She would come to the entrances of theaters to sell oranges and hope for a part in a play. King Charles II met Gwyn while disguised and going about the theaters of London one night. She was with a high-born “customer” in one of the theater boxes that night. The man, Lord Buckhurst, recognized the king. She ended up spending a lot of time with the king and the public grew to like her.

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She felt for the aging soldiers who fought for Charles and the monarchy in the relatively recent English Civil War. They were neglected and dying en mass. While most ladies at this time would use their pull with the nobility to get titles and money, Gwyn used hers to found Chelsea Hospital, the first hospital exclusively to treat and care for veterans.

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The 13 Funniest Military Memes This Week

It’s Saturday, but most of you enlisted fellows blew your paycheck last weekend and are now looking forward to sitting around the barracks this week. To alleviate your boredom, here are 13 military memes that made us laugh.


See, we know about you, privates.

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You just have to learn to budget. When you get your paycheck, put away 25% of it for beer for NEXT weekend.

Yay, submarines! A phallic object filled with phallic objects!

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Topless submariners have the added bonus of paler skin.

Also See: 27 Incredible Photos of Life On A US Navy Submarine

Look at all that gear. He must be one of Jabba’s elite guards.

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No way this guy does nothing all day. Chub like that takes hours and hours of eating every day.

 Security Forces are essentially the Air Force’s infantry …

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… an airman once told me with a shockingly straight face.

Conservation of resources is important to Marines.

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Mattis doesn’t run out of ammo. He runs out of enemies.

Poor helicopter must have overheated.

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Maybe loosen its boots and drag it into the shade for a minute.

Complain all you want; you know the reason.

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Because Gunny said so.

 What!? People are stealing valor?

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It would be funnier if the photos weren’t pretty close to accurate.

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And the Air Force would complain about the pool while the Army would discuss how sweet that new screen door is.

Maybe Army Strong wasn’t a brag but an excuse.

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Listen, Wonka, with your shenanigans you wouldn’t have survived in either service. You’d have been a seamen.

Don’t! It’s a trick!

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Seriously, the guard and reserve components are like the light at the end of the angler fish in that movie.

It doesn’t stop Air Force, it just delays it.

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And the next strike delays it for a few more minutes, then a few more, then a few more. But it’s not stopped; it’s never stopped.

Even foreign allies know what a POG isn’t (Infantry, it isn’t infantry)

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POGs do what the infantry does; they just only do it in training and always do it badly.

NOW: More Military Memes

OR: 32 Terms Only Airmen Will Understand 

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Congress wants to make it easier to fire bad VA employees

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on a bill to make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire its employees, part of an accountability effort touted by President Donald Trump.


The deal being announced May 11 could smooth the way for final passage on an issue that had been largely stalled since the 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center. As many as 40 veterans died while waiting months for appointments as VA employees created secret waiting lists and other falsehoods to cover up delays.

The Hill deal followed a fresh warning from the VA inspector general’s office of continuing patient safety problems at another facility, the VA medical center in Washington D.C. After warning of serious problems there last month, the IG’s “rapid response” team visited the facility again on Wednesday and found a patient prepped for vascular surgery in an operating room, under anesthesia, whose surgery was postponed because “the surgeon did not have a particular sterile instrument necessary to perform the surgery.”

The team also found “surgical instruments that had color stains of unknown origin in sterile packs,” according to the IG’s letter sent Wednesday to the VA. The IG again urged the department to take immediate action to ensure patients “are not placed at unnecessary risk.”

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable David J. Shulkin, visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, April 27. Shulkin, who visited the medical center for the first time, spoke with various providers throughout the facilities to learn about the medical care given at the hospital. (Photo by Megan Garcia, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Command Communications)

The new accountability measure, led by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., softens portions of a bill that had passed the House in March, which Democrats criticized as unfairly harsh on workers. Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, the top Democrat and the Republican chair on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, agreed to back the new bill after modifications that would give VA employees added time to appeal disciplinary actions.

House Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Phil Roe, sponsor of the House measure, said he would support the revisions.

“To fully reform the VA and provide our nation’s veterans with the quality care they were promised and deserve, we must ensure the department can efficiently dismiss employees who are not able or willing to do their jobs,” Rubio told The Associated Press.

It comes after Trump last month signed an executive order to create a VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, with an aim of identifying “barriers” that make it difficult for the VA to fire or reassign bad managers or employees. VA Secretary David Shulkin had urged the Senate to act quickly to pass legislation.

The GOP-controlled House previously approved an accountability bill mostly along party lines. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., argued the House should embrace language instead from a bipartisan bill by Isakson from last year with added due process protections for workers.

The Senate bill to be introduced Thursday adopts several portions of that previous Isakson bill, including a longer appeal process than provided in the House bill — 180 days vs. 45 days, though workers would not be paid during that appeal. VA executives would be held to a tougher standard than rank-and-file employees for discipline. The Senate bill also codifies into law the VA accountability office created under Trump’s order, but with changes to give the head of the office more independent authority and require the office to submit regular updates to Congress.

Conservative groups praised the bill.

“These new measures will disincentivize bad behavior within the VA and further protect those who bravely expose wrongdoing,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director of Concerned Veterans for America, pointing to a “toxic culture” at VA.

The agreement comes in a week in which Senate Democrats are standing apart from Trump on a separate issue affecting veterans, the GOP bill passed by the House to repeal and replace the nation’s health care law. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., warned the House measure would strip away explicit protections to ensure that as many as 8 million veterans who are eligible for VA care but opt to use private insurance would still receive tax credits.

Many veterans use a private insurer if they feel a VA facility is too far away, or if they don’t qualify for fuller VA coverage because they have higher incomes or ailments unrelated to their time in service, said Duckworth, a combat veteran who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm during the Iraq war. A group of GOP senators is working to craft their own health bill.

“Trumpcare threatens to rip health care out of their hands,” Duckworth said at a news briefing this week. “The question left is what will Senate Republicans do?”

Congress has had difficulty coming to agreement on an accountability bill after the Phoenix VA scandal. A 2014 law gave the VA greater power to discipline executives, but the department stopped using that authority after the Obama Justice Department deemed it likely unconstitutional.

Critics have since complained that few employees were fired for various VA malfeasance, including rising cases of opioid drug theft, first reported by the AP.

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This mortar could someday deliver an ammo resupply during battle

Ambushed on a patrol and going Winchester on ammo?


Here’s the fix: call for mortars.

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A new US Army patent claims new technology can deliver emergency resupply with a mortar round. (Photo: U.S. Army)

That’s what a new Army patent is trying to do by developing a new way to deliver resupply in tough situations via a mortar shot.

[Editor’s Note: The original Army story link is not active]

The so-called “Ammunition Resupply Projectile” would be a special section attached to the mortar round that could be guided by GPS navigation and steer itself right where soldiers need it.

Talk about “danger close.”

“This concept allows a guided package to be delivered with incredible accuracy — 10m CEP — within minutes,” said Ryan Decker, one of seven named on the patent application, according to the Army.

The Army wants to develop a tube-launched projectile that deploys a navigable payload in flight to accurately deliver the supplies to a distant target.

A tail section is secured to the payload deployment section, which includes a steerable decelerator system, the Army says. The tail section incorporates the guidance and navigation system and a parafoil control mechanism.

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Schematic illustration of a resupply mission. Projectile is fired toward the downwind direction of a stranded solider. In flight, the guided parafoil payload is released, which then executes an optimized maneuver to accurately reach the target. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

When the payload is first separated in flight it acts like a shell to protect the cargo and it is guided to the intended target via the parafoil with the aid of the guidance and navigation system.

Thanks to new parafoil technology developed by Professor Oleg Yakimenko of the Naval Postgraduate School dubbed “Snowflake,” the cargo’s guidance system can be packed small enough to allow room for extra supplies.

Engineers wanted something that could help “a Soldier pinned down during battle, who depletes his supply of ammunition and currently has no reasonable method of resupply until rescue arrives,” Decker said.

“This invention is even more beneficial when it is realized that the payload can be easily swapped from ammunition to any device of similar size, such as additional resupply items, surveillance electronics, or even a submunition which can all be delivered accurately and on target,” Decker added.

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Marine Corps video shows ‘the most powerful concentration of combat power ever put to sea’

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Four F-35B Lightning II aircraft perform a flyover above the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during the Lightning Carrier Proof of Concept Demonstration. | US Navy photo by Andy Wolfe


The US Marine Corps’ recent proof of concept for the F-35B short takeoff, vertical landing variant aboard the USS America produced “the most powerful concentration of combat power ever put to sea in the history of the world,” according to one F-35 test pilot.

Indeed the America is the US’s newest amphibious assault ship, designed for waging war on beaches and coastal zones with the F-35’s revolutionary technologies in mind.

Also read: The F-35 and the US’s newest carrier are getting ready to dominate the seas

Both the America-class and the F-35 programs have faced criticisms, sometimes harshly, for their departure from traditional warfare roles, among other things. But lately these programs seem to be shaping up nicely.

The America abandons well decks, or the space to launch landing vessels to take beaches, in favor of increased hangar space to haul and maintain more aircraft. In its most plane-heavy configuration, the America can carry 20 F-35Bs.

In the video below, the Marines placed 12 F-35Bs on the America to prove a concept that’s been literally decades in the making, and thereby creating a ship that’s not even technically classified as an aircraft carrier, yet one of the biggest and deadliest ships in the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwoGkDGDtS8
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9 photos that show how the Coast Guard fights fires at sea

Fire trucks can’t reach too far past the coast, and plenty of fires break out on ships and oil platforms off American shores. When the fires happen in America’s territorial waters, it often falls to America’s Coast Guard to rescue the survivors and fight the flames.


Here are nine photos of the Coast Guard protecting lives and property by acting as firefighters at sea:

1. The Coast Guard fights fires in their areas of operations. Everything from small boats like this one …

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Fishing vessel Bigger Dirls on fire in Hopkins Point Marina in Jonesport, Maine on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2016. No one was aboard at the time. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephanie Horvat)

2. …to huge fires like the one that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon.

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Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter and crew documented the fire while searching for survivors. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes, and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon’s 126-person crew. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

3. For smaller fires, it’s often enough to pump water onto them, and the Coast Guard is lucky that plenty of salt water is usually available.

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Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory Langston fights the boat fire from the Coast Guard 29-foot response boat in Hopkins Point Marina in Jonesport, Maine on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016. The was no one aboard at the time of the fire. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephanie Horvat)

4. What’s unlucky is that it will often take Coast Guardsmen time to reach the crisis, and it’s their job to rescue survivors. For instance, they pulled four fishermen and a dog from this ship after it exploded.

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U.S. Coast Guard crews rescued four fisherman Thursday after their vessel caught fire and exploded near St. Simons Island Sound. A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat—Medium crew from Station Brunswick located and rescued the crew and their dog from the 58-foot fishing vessel Predator. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Station Brunswick video)

5. Rescue operations are relatively simple for small vessels, but it takes a lot of planning to be able to rescue people from large ferries, cruise vessels, or industrial ships.

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A Coast Guard Station San Juan crewmember monitors passengers using the marine escape system from the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The Coast Guard received initial notification around 7:40 a.m. that the ferry was on fire. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan, Puerto Rico.)

6. Sometimes, the Coast Guard asks for help from nearby, civilian vessels that are commonly known as “good Samaritans.” These vessels assist with rescue, firefighting, and recovery operations.

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A local San Juan, Puerto Rico-based tug crew use a fire hose to cool the hull of the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel that caught fire earlier a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The Caribbean Fantasy’s engine room caught fire, which began to spread to other compartments forcing passengers and crew to abandon the ferry vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan, Puerto Rico.)

7. Good Samaritan vehicles can even assist with larger operations, like the extinguishing of this oil platform fire.

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Four offshore supply vessels extinguish a fire on an oil production platform fire near Grand Isle, Louisiana, Jan. 5, 2017. There were four people aboard the platform who evacuated into the water and were recovered by the offshore supply vessel Mary Wyatt Milano. There were no reported injuries. (Coast Guard imagery courtesy of Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile)

8. The Coast Guard still maintains oversight and supervises the efforts.

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More imagery from the fire on an oil production platform fire near Grand Isle, Louisiana, Jan. 5, 2017. (Coast Guard imagery courtesy of Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile)

9. When the fire is near other ships or structures, the Coast Guard takes steps to control the burning vessel, preventing it from drifting and catching other vessels on fire.

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A Coast Guard Auxiliary crewmember maintains positive control of a flame-engulfed pleasure craft near Great Neck Creek in Copiague, New York, April 30, 2016. The Copiague Fire Department assisted the Coast Guard Auxiliary crew and extinguished the fire onboard the vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo)

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9 American heroes who received France’s Legion of Honor

Last week, French President Francois Hollande presented Airman First Class (A1C) Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and two others with the French Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration France can give (it is also not limited to military members). Foreign nationals are eligible to receive the medal for “serving France or the ideals it upholds.”


Stone and Skarlatos served France by preventing a Moroccan national from going on a shooting spree with an AK-47 by physically subduing the perpetrator on a Paris-bound train.

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The Légion was established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 as a way to honor those who served post-Revolutionary France without granting them titles of nobility, which France just abolished. Bonaparte always wore the medal himself.

The Légion is not just an award; it is membership in an elite group of people who have served France in outstanding ways, with five levels of honor: Stone, Skarlatos, their friend Anthony Sadler, and British businessman Chris Norman were awarded at the level of Knight for their heroics. Beyond that, there are the levels of Officer, Commander, Grand Officer, and Grand Cross, the highest that can be awarded (The President of France serves as Grand Master).

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U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane

Stone and Skarlatos aren’t the first U.S. servicemembers to be awarded the honor. in 2004, the French government opened it to all Allied World War II veterans with proof of service in France. A number of members of the U.S. military have received the honor for various reasons. Here are nine prominent veterans who are also part of the prestigious Légion.

Sgt. Alvin York

One of history’s most famous conscientious objectors, Sgt. York (as he came to be publicly known) was a drinker and a fighter who became a born-again Christian before the outbreak of World War I. Even though his faith demanded pacifism, he enlisted for the draft as required by U.S. law. He applied for conscientious objector status, even appealing after his first request was denied. He would come to accept his fate, believing God had a plan for him to fight and win in France. One night, he and three other NCOs led thirteen privates to infiltrate the German lines on a nighttime raid and take out the machine guns. Somewhere along the way, one machine gun opened up on York and his compatriots, killing or wounding nine of the sixteen men. York didn’t even have time to take cover. He stood his ground and picked off the whole crew.

Henry Louis Larsen

One of the U.S. Marine Corps’ finest, Larsen first served as an officer in WWI, where he participated in every major Marine Corps operation in France including Belleau Wood, which earned him a silver Citation Star on his WWI Victory Medal. In all he would earn the Navy Cross and three Silver Stars, all without ever being wounded. With the Légion d’Honneur, France also awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur

This may seem obvious to some, but MacArthur is primarily well-known (these days) for his service in the Pacific during World War II, his masterminding the Korean War, and his public firing at the hands of President Truman. MacArthur’s career started while Teddy Roosevelt was in office. When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, MacArthur was a Major and would be posted in France. By war’s end, the Old Soldier was Brig. Gen. MacArthur, and his service in the 1918 Champagne-Marne Offensive earned him four Silver Stars, two Croix de Guerre, a Distinguished Service Cross, and the Légion d’Honneur.

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Lt. Col. Mayhew Foster

Foster, then 33 and a Captain in the 36th Infantry Division, flew a Stinson L-5 Sentinel carrying more than 300 pounds of Hermann Göring’s fat ass back to Nuremberg to be tried for war crimes.

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Just you and me, Hermann.

Not once during the 55-minute flight with the former Nazi Luftwaffe commander did Foster worry about Göring trying to escape from the two-seater transport. Foster received the Légion d’Honneur in 2009 and died at age 99 two years later. Göring famously committed suicide by cyanide capsule before his scheduled execution. Foster also earned a Silver Star for his efforts fighting in France.

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Photo by Mayhew Foster

Senator Daniel Inouye

Before Inouye’s political career (which is extensive in itself — the Hawaii Democrat served in the House of Representatives before the Senate and served as President pro tempore of the Senate), he enlisted in the all-Nisei (a Japanese word used to describe second generation children of Japanese descent) 442d Regimental Combat Team (RCT).

Most of the 442d RCT came from families in Japanese internment camps on the West Coast of the United States, but would still enter the  war by 1944, earning 9,000 Purple Hearts, 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, and 21 Medals of Honor. Inouye was one of the Medal of Honor recipients (and a Purple Heart, losing his arm in a fight at the Gothic Line). Inouye and 442d were awarded the Légion d’Honneur for their brutal fight against fortified German units at Bruyères in the Vosges Mountains.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

This should come as a surprise to no one. As Supreme Allied Commander in World War II oversaw the planning and logistics for Operation Overlord, and his decision to invade Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944 would lead to the complete liberation of France in less than a year.

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Audie Murphy

The soldier the Navy and Marine Corps didn’t want became the most decorated soldier of WWII, and Murphy counts the Légion d’Honneur as one of his many decorations. He participated in the amphibious invasion of Southern France, landing at Ramateulle, where the Germans killed his best friends after faking a surrender. Murphy responded by wounding three, killing eight, and capturing eleven of them. There is oh-so-much more to Murphy’s actions in France after this (he even portrayed himself in the film To Hell and Back, about his life and service).

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In addition to the Légion and the Medal of Honor, in France, Murphy’s action earned the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, Croix de Guerre with Palm, two Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, American Campaign Medal, the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead device and campaign stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, the French Liberation Medal, two Presidential Unit Citations, and the French Fourragère in Colors of the Croix de guerre. Murphy also earned the Medal of Honor by single-handedly holding off an entire German infantry company with a rifle in January 1945 then leading a counteroffensive while wounded and out of ammunition.

George S. Patton

Gen. George S. Patton served in France in at least two wars (if you ask him, it was three — a believer in reincarnation, Patton famously believed to be one of Napoleon’s officers who died in his service). Patton’s time in France began in world War I as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), teaching early tank tactics. His time in World War II is what earned him his notoriety. After turning the North African campaign in favor of the Allies and his instrumental role in the allied invasion of Sicily, he was installed as the commander of the U.S. Third Army. After D-Day, Patton’s Third Army helped break the Normandy beachhead and then stopped the famous “Bulge,” relieving the 101st Airborne at Bastogne and then pressing on into Germany at an astonishing rate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=67v=uYjnWXFTQkM

Colin Powell

A more contemporary awardee, General Powell’s illustrious military and public service career spans decades, from service in the Vietnam War to National Security Adviser under President Ronald Reagan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) under President George H.W. Bush, to U.S. Secretary of State for President George W. Bush’s first term. As CJCS, he was a critical adviser to President Bush (41) and Gen. “Stormin'” Norman Schwarzkopf, whose command of coalition forces against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait in 1990 included French Army and Air Forces.

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U.S. Army Photo

NOW: 27 Unsung WWII Heroes Most People Have Never Heard Of

OR: The 15 Best Foreign War Movies

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This Southern preacher rose to the rank of general in the Confederate Army

A total of four clergymen-turned-soldiers rose to the rank of general during the American Civil War. Three of these four holy men would fight for the Confederacy. The “gallant preacher soldier” of the Confederate Army of Tennessee proved to be the ablest military commander of the bunch, and arguably lived the most remarkable life.


Mark Perrin Lowrey was born in 1828 and grew up in Tennessee, one of 11 children. His father passed away at an early age, leaving the Lowrey family “with little means.” The widowed Mrs. Lowrey relocated the family to Mississippi in 1845. Mark embarked on an endless hunt to pull his family out of poverty beginning in his adolescent years, dirtying his hands to make a dime at the expense of his education.

At the age of 19, Mark Lowrey joined the Second Mississippi Volunteer Regiment as a private with thoughts of finding laurels on the battlefield in Mexico. His service in the Mexican-American War was far from glorious and rewarding. He contracted a nasty case of measles and was bedridden for weeks. His regiment never had a chance to see active service before the war ended. At a minimum, he at least gained a “taste of military discipline and tactics” that would serve him well a decade or so later.

After the war, Lowrey found work as a brick mason. He provided room and board to a local teacher in his home, who in exchange helped to advance his meager education. He impressed and later married the daughter of a wealthy farmer in 1849 at the age of 21. Most likely under the influence of his new bride, Lowrey “yielded to the call of my church,” abandoning his dogged pursuit of wealth. He took his religious vocation a step further when he entered the Baptist ministry in 1853 and “never indulged a moment’s thought of turning from the old calling to make money.”

Pastor Lowrey was “quietly pursuing” his theological studies when the Civil War erupted in 1861. He attempted to remain neutral in the war that tore friends and families apart and fueled many to rash behavior stating, “In political questions I took no part, as I did not think it became a minister of the gospel to engage in the heated discussions that then prevailed throughout the country, and naturally led to the indulgence of immoderate feelings and passions.” The influential pastor found it nearly impossible to avoid the topic of secession since “there was no neutral ground to occupy” in his home state of Mississippi. Many parishioners of his community petitioned him to make speeches related to fighting for the independence of their state, while at the same time serving in his customary role as a spiritual guide and instructor.

Despite his neutral position on secession and his vow to non-violence, Pastor Lowrey was urged to accept a field command in the Confederate Army, owing to his Mexican War experience and social position within his community. “All felt that every man who could bear arms should rise up and stand between his home and the enemy, and he who would not do so was deemed unworthy to be called a Mississippian. Churches felt they had no use for pastors then – fighting men were in demand,” Lowrey afterward evoked. He was elected captain then colonel by a vote from a sixty-day regiment in 1861. He reluctantly hung up his clergyman’s jacket and donned the uniform of a Confederate officer. The thought of his home state being overrun by an invading army was the final shove that led him to modify his stance of neutrality explaining that, “The thought of sitting still until the enemy would overrun my home and family was more than I could bear.”

6 amazing female military pioneers
General Mark Perrin Lowrey

His regiment was discharged after sixty days without seeing any fighting, and Lowrey anticipated a peaceful return to his congregation. The clamor for his service was initiated for a second time when the call for a new regiment surfaced following the Battle of Fort Donelson, and those he commanded from disbanded sixty-day regiment “begged me to go with them.” He was elected colonel of the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment and led the regiment at the Battle of Perryville on October of 1862. He was wounded in the left arm but refused to leave the field. He fully recuperated eight weeks later and rejoined his regiment, fighting at the Battle of Murfreesboro. He received a promotion to brigadier general in October of 1863 after hard fighting in the Battle of Chickamauga, winning the commendation of his division commander, the fabled Patrick Cleburne.

6 amazing female military pioneers

The “Christian warrior” still practiced his religious profession while in camp and encouraged the soldiers under his command to embrace Jesus as their savior. He led passionate sermons and was rumored in one instance to have baptized 50 men in two weeks in a nearby creek. He was a superb orator and natural leader of men, and also proved to be an efficient soldier who transformed into a “stern, determined, and unfaltering” commander on the battlefield. He was one of the four brigade commanders Major General Pat Cleburne praised in his division declaring that “four better officers are not in the service of the Confederacy,” and had the notoriety of being the only general of the division who was not killed or severely wounded during the war. St. Michael was certainly looking over him.

The high-water mark of Lowrey’s military career came at Ringgold Gap in 1863. There his 1,330-man brigade and the remainder of Cleburne’s division fought a rearguard action against a Union corps in a bid to save Braxton Bragg’s fleeing army in the aftermath of the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Missionary Ridge. His brigade stabilized the Confederate right wing inspired by his bold exploits. General Cleburne noted in one dispatch after the battle that “My thanks are due to General Lowrey for the coolness and skill which he exhibited in forming his line…without a doubt saved the right of this army.” His brigade afterward received official thanks from the Confederate Congress.

6 amazing female military pioneers

Lowrey afterward fought in the Atlanta Campaign and at the Battles of Franklin and Nashville. He barely avoided death in Nashville from the bullet of a Union sharpshooter. The bullet killed an unassuming soldier instead of the preacher general. Disenchanted with the war, he resigned in March of 1865 and returned to his religious vocation, declaring that he would rather be remembered “as a Christian and a minister of the gospel than as a soldier.” He established the Blue Mountain Female College in 1873 and died in February of 1885 from a heart attack.

Lowrey was a rare case of a clergyman taking up a rifle to defend his flock, when necessary, against the wolves.

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These WW2 commandos marched over 1,000 miles fighting the Japanese and the jungle

6 amazing female military pioneers
Merrill’s Marauders trudging through the Burmese jungle. (Photo: Life Magazine)


When it comes to sheer hardship under appalling combat conditions, it is hard to match what the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), better known as Merrill’s Marauders, endured in the China-India-Burma campaign.

When the Japanese had overrun and taken Burma from its colonial master Great Britain in 1942, it had cut the only real overland route for military supplies heading to Chinese forces fighting the Japanese in mainland China. The famed Allied air transport route “over the hump” of the Himalayas was no substitute for a reliable road considering the amount of supplies needed.

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided at a conference in August 1943 to form special American units for infiltrating Burma, modeled after the British Army Chindits, a long-range penetration unit that had already operated in Burma under Brigadier Ord Wingate. The plan was to disrupt Japanese communications and supply lines and capturing key points, the reopening of the Burma Road could be accelerated.

An Army-wide call for those interested in volunteering was put out under presidential authority, drawing about 3,000 recruits from stateside units. Many were specifically drawn from soldiers who already had experience in jungle fighting from earlier in the war. After assembly in India, they received months of intensive training in jungle warfare under the instruction of Wingate, including extended exercises with the Chindits. The 5307th was placed under the command of Brig. General Frank Merrill, the source of the name ‘Merrill’s Marauders’ eventually given to the unit by the press.

Conceived as a mobile raiding force, the Marauders were lightly equipped by conventional infantry standards, with no heavy weapons beyond light mortars, bazookas, and machine guns. Dense jungle and mountains made ground vehicles impossible, so supplies were to be carried by the soldiers themselves and hundreds of mules and horses. Resupply was limited to airdrops and whatever the unit could forage off the countryside in trade with indigenous locals.

Embarking on Feb. 24, 1944, the Marauders mission began with 2,750 men marching over a thousand miles through the Patkai region of the Himalayas, in order to get behind Japanese lines in Burma. Operating with indigenous Kachin scouts and Chinese forces, they began a series of raids against Japanese patrols, supply lines, and garrisons. Their ultimate goal was to capture the strategic Burmese town of Myitkynia, which had an important airfield and was along the route for an alternate road to China.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Brig. Gen. Merrill accepts a goat from village elders. (Photo: Nat’l WW2 Museum)

The Marauders were almost always outnumbered and outgunned by the Japanese 18th Division, which formed their primary opposition. Lacking artillery and out of range of any serious air support, they had to rely on surprise, training, and mobility to outfight the Japanese regulars, and they often found themselves on the defense because they were ill-equipped for fighting against larger forces.

But their greatest enemy, which inflicted more damage than even superior Japanese forces could, was the jungle. Malaria, amoebic dysentery, and typhus took an awful toll, inflicting more casualties than Japanese fire did. Soldiers shaking from fever and tormented by diarrhea had to force themselves through dense jungle and intense close quarters combat. Torrential rains, stinging insects, and snakes only added to their misery.

The issued K-rations were relatively light and compact, but at 2,900 calories per day were wholly inadequate for heavily loaded men marching, sweating, and fighting in the jungle. Even for men facing hunger, many components of the rations were so widely detested that they were often thrown away, and failed air drops only made the situation worse. Malnourishment and its accompanying weakness and exhaustion made the troops more vulnerable to already endemic diseases, and many of them were reduced to little more than walking skeletons.

Despite the enormous challenges, the Marauders managed to inflict far greater casualties on the Japanese then they suffered, and used their mobility and seeming ability to strike anywhere to throw Japanese forces into confusion. After dozens of skirmishes and several major actions, the 5307th managed to take the airfield at Myitkynia in August 1944 alongside elements of the Chinese Army, and the town itself after reinforcements arrived.

So decimated were the Marauders by disease and combat that only 200 men of the original task force were still present at the end of the campaign. Frank Merrill, who suffered a heart attack before being stricken with malaria by the end of the mission. Every last member was evacuated to hospitals to recuperate from months of hunger, disease, and exhaustion.

The 5307th was disbanded shortly thereafter, and in a very rare distinction every single member of the commando force received the Bronze Star for staying and fighting. They fought five major actions and dozens of smaller ones while marching over 750 miles through enemy territory, all the while fighting a different but even more deadly battle against hunger and disease. The unit was eventually redesignated as the 75th Infantry Regiment, from which today’s 75th Ranger Regiment descended.

 

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Kurds say two American mercenaries were killed in Syria

Two Americans were killed while fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a Kurdish militia announced.


According to a report by CBSNews.com, the Kurdish militia known as the YPG announced the deaths of Robert Grodt and Nicholas Warden during fighting near Raqqa, Syria. Their deaths bring the total of Americans killed fighting ISIS as volunteers to at least four.

6 amazing female military pioneers
YPG fighters near Raqqa. (WATM file photo)

In a five-minute video released by the YPG on YouTube, Grodt, who adopted the nom de guerre “Dehmat Goldman,” told his story, explaining how he had been very sympathetic to the Kurds.

“I talked with my partner and my family, and I’m like, I’m gonna go out to Syria. This is something I care about,” he said in the video.

Warden, the other American confirmed killed in the fighting near the city ISIS claimed as its capital, had adopted the moniker Rodi Deysie and was an Army veteran.

“He was very strong-willed and very strong-minded and very much against ISIS and these terrorist groups,” his father Mark was quoted by CBSNews.com as saying. “He wanted to do whatever he could to get rid of them. He said not enough people are helping so he had to help.”

6 amazing female military pioneers
A line of ISIS soldiers.

In a video released by the YPG, Warden said he volunteered to fight ISIS “because of the terrorist attacks they were doing in Orlando, in San Bernardino, in Nice (France), in Paris.”

The terrorist group may have been driven from Mosul, and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly been killed, but they are still capable of carrying out heinous attacks. CBSNews.com reported that the group used children as human shields for a car bomb factory near Raqqa, preventing Coalition forces from carrying out an air strike on the facility. Instead, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices are being attacked one at a time after they depart the production line.

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DARPA’s newest tech will give pilots X-ray vision

The official Mad Scientists of war, otherwise known as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency employees, have crafted a way for helicopter pilots to see through dust, snow, and smoke to fly safely even when their view is blocked.


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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dalton A. Precht

Currently, low-visibility conditions lead to crashes and collisions that cost the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars and can lead to troops’ deaths. Brownouts, when helicopter pilots lose visibility due to dust kicked up by their rotors or sandstorms, have caused a number of crashes in the recent wars in the desert.

The Multifunction RF program is developing a full sensor package that will scan the environment for hazards and report them to the pilot, even when fog, dust, or other obscurants block the pilots’ vision.

The system maps terrain and landing zones in brownouts or whiteouts, prevents collisions with other aircraft and obstacles, and warns of weather hazards.

When the pilot is in combat, the system will aid in identifying and acquiring targets, guiding weapons, and linking the data feeds of different aircraft.

Ideally, the system will work as a “plug and play” add-on to current and future aircraft. Everything from modern helicopters to drones to the coming Joint Multi-Role Aircraft will feature the technology.

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This is why the US is concerned about China’s first overseas military base

Chinese military personnel departed a naval base in Zhanjiang on July 18, destined for Beijing’s new base in the East African country of Djibouti.


China started construction on the base, which it officially calls a “logistics facility,” in February 2016, and it has not said when the base might formally start operations.

The Chinese navy has been assisting anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden and peacekeeping missions in Africa for some time, but the base in Djibouti will be Beijing’s first such facility overseas.

“The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peacekeeping, and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia,” state news agency Xinhua said. “The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese, and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways.”

6 amazing female military pioneers
People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army (Navy) ship PLA(N) Peace Ark (T-AH 866). Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Shannon Renfroe.

Djibouti, home to about 800,000 people, also has French and Japanese troops, is strategically located in the Horn of Africa, sitting on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to Egypt’s Suez Canal and one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.

And the new Chinese base is just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, a major US special-operations outpost.

“We’ve never had a base of, let’s just say a peer competitor, as close as this one happens to be,” US Africom Command chief Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said in March.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Camp Lemonnier, a US military base in Djibouti, is strategically located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. (Google Maps)

“Yes, there are some very significant operational security concerns, and I think that our base there is significant to US because it’s not only AFRICOM that utilizes” it, Waldhauser said at the time. US Central Command, which operates in the Middle East, Joint Special Operations Command, and European Command are active there as well.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said July 12 that the Djibouti base was “primarily used for the better fulfillment of international obligations,” and that, “China’s defense policy is defensive in nature. This has not changed.”

State-run media outlet the Global Times was less reserved, saying in an editorial on July 12, “It is certainly the PLA’s first foreign naval base … It is not a supply point for commercial use.”

The base in Djibouti is just one project China has undertaken in the East African country.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Sailors aboard the Chinese Navy destroyer Qingdao. (Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Rush.)

Chinese banks have funded at least 14 infrastructure projects in the country, including a railway connecting Djibouti and Ethiopia, valued at $14.4 billion. Beijing has made similar investments throughout the continent.

US officials, as well as countries in the region, have expressed concern about the capabilities the new base gives Beijing and what it may augur about Chinese ambitions abroad.

Related: China just deployed troops to its first overseas base alongside US outpost

The US Defense Department said in a June report that the Djibouti base, “along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces.”

“China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report said.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Chinese navy multirole ship Hengshui. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Other countries in South Asia — India in particular — are concerned about Chinese activity in the region and see the Djibouti base as another part of Beijing’s “string of pearls,” which refers to Chinese facilities and alliances among Indian Ocean countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

China is already heavily involved in the Pakistan port of Gwadar and is building a network of roads and power plants under a project known as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Civilian ports that Beijing has helped build in places like Pakistan and Sri Lanka can also receive naval vessels, fueling suspicions that China aims to deepen its strategic capacities in the region.

India sees the Djibouti base as a potential hub for Chinese surveillance operations and has objected to China’s planned shipping network with Pakistan, saying it cuts through disputed parts of Kashmir.

Analysts have also said New Delhi is worried by Chinese submarines, warships, and tankers present in the Indian Ocean. India has tracked Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean since 2013, and a 2015 US Defense Department report also confirmed that Chinese attack and missile submarines were operating in the Indian Ocean.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Members of a visit, board, search and seizure team from the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin keep watch over the crew of a suspected pirate dhow. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Scott Taylor.

“The pretext is anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden,” a Indian defense source told The Times of India in May. “But what role can submarines play against pirates and their dhows?”

“If I were Indian I would be very worried about what China is up to in Djibouti,” a Western diplomat briefed on Chinese plans said in March 2016.

Other countries in the region have looked for ways to balance against what is seen as China’s growing influence. Australia and India, along with countries like Vietnam and Japan, have considered informal alliances to bolster regional security in light of growing Chinese influence and doubts about US commitment under President Donald Trump.

Also read: Here’s what the Pentagon thinks about those bases China keeps building around the globe

This week, the Indian, Japanese, and US navies started the Malabar 2017 exercise in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise, which this year features three aircraft carriers, is seen by some as a effort to check Chinese activity in the region.

China has criticized such military balancing and has dismissed suggestions that it plans to expand its footprint abroad. After the US Defense Department report issued in June, Beijing said it did “not seek a sphere of influence.”

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VA chief asks Senate for help to fire ‘terrible managers’

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday the civil service appeals process prevents the agency from firing “terrible managers,” and that the Senate must act to reduce the impact of the Merit Systems Protection Board and excessive government employee union-backed due process requirements.


“Just last week we were forced to take back an employee after they were convicted no more than three times for DWI and had served a 60 day jail sentence. … Our accountability processes are clearly broken,” Shulkin said at the White House.

Shulkin was promoted to VA’s top job by President Donald Trump after being appointed by former President Barack Obama as undersecretary. Those positions have given Shulkin direct experience with the extent to which union-backed rules block the firings of poor performing employees.

6 amazing female military pioneers
VA Photo by Robert Turtil

“We had to wait more than a month to fire a psychiatrist who was caught on camera watching pornography on his iPad while seeing a patient,” he said. “Because of the way judges review these cases they can force us to take terrible managers back who were fired for poor performance, we recently saw that with one of our executives in San Juan.”

Shulkin was referring to DeWayne Hamlin, a corrupt hospital director and whistleblower retaliator, who was fired Jan. 20 but was then quietly returned to work, as the The Daily Caller News Foundation reported exclusively Monday.

“We need new accountability legislation and we need that now,” Shulkin said. “The House has passed this and we’re looking forward to the Senate considering this.”

The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs reported the “VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 earlier this week for a vote by the full chamber. The measure is co-sponsored by senators Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, and Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat.

6 amazing female military pioneers
DeWayne Hamlin. DoD Photo by Joseph Rivera Rebolledo

“We currently have 1,500 disciplinary actions pending, people that either need to be fired, demoted, suspended without pay for violating our core values,” Shulkin said.

“The expedited senior executive removal authority given to us in the Choice Act isn’t working, we weren’t able to use that because of constitutionality issues.”

“The accountability bill we are seeking that we hope the Senate authorizes still maintains due process for employees but shortens to the time and gives more authority to the secretary’s decision on why these accountability actions are being taken so the courts will be more deferential to the secretary’s opinion.”

In addition to the Hamlin controversy, a federal appeals court ruled that the VA may not even be able to fire Sharon Helman, who is a convicted felon for her misconduct as the head of the Phoenix VA, where dozens died waiting for care as managers reported false data on wait-times in order to get bonuses.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Sharon Helman (Right). (DoD Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lewis Hunsaker)

Helman is represented by the law firm of Shaw, Bransford  Roth (Roth), which makes its living trying to block employees of all levels from being fired. Employees are encouraged to appeal any discipline, however well-deserved, because a former Roth lawyer created an insurance company that pays for fired employees to hire Roth.

The premiums on that insurance plan are billed to taxpayers, thanks to a law pushed by the firm’s lobbyists.

Concerned Veterans of America Policy Director Dan Caldwell also encouraged the Senate to approve the accountability measure, saying Shulkin “is working to move the VA in a better direction, but the problems will not be solved until Congress takes action. They should also remember that the VA’s problems are not due to a lack of resources.”