6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to - We Are The Mighty
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6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

On the morning of Jul 18, Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles became the newest recipient of the Medal of Honor, America’s highest honor for military valor.


Receiving the Medal of Honor confers a great deal of prestige on the recipient as well as an acknowledgement that the recipient and their unit members went through an especially dire and dangerous experience or gave a heavy sacrifice for the American people. The celebrity that goes with the medal allows recipients to cast light on issues that affect veterans and active duty troops.

But in addition to the intangible benefits like honor and stature, there are some tangible benefits that the military and the U.S. government give to medal recipients to acknowledge their sacrifice. Here are 6 special benefits that serve as an enduring “thank you” from the American people:

1. Preferred access to military academies for their dependents

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
(Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham)

Every American senator can nominate up to 10 candidates from their state for each of an allotted number of seats in the next freshman class at the Army, Navy and Air Force military academies. The number of slots changes from year to year, but the total number of names that state senators can put forward represents an annual “quota.”

But as a recognition of the sacrifice that MoH recipients have made for their country, recipients’ children can bypass this part of the selection process and put their name in for consideration regardless of whether there are open slots in that state’s  academy quota.

2. A monthly stipend

Every Medal of Honor recipient is entitled to a monthly stipend on top of all other pay or retirement benefits. This stipend was originally $10 a month in 1916 but has climbed to $1,299 per month.

The recipient’s base retirement pay is also raised by 10 percent.

3. Free, priority Space-A travel

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
(Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

Medal recipients are granted lifelong access to the military’s “Space A” travel, which allows active duty military members, some veterans and their dependents to hitch rides in empty seats on military planes. MoH recipients get preferred access, meaning they can jump the line.

4. Special parking spots at on-base amenities

Service members with an MoH also get lifelong access to other military benefits like the commissary, on-post gyms and pools and recreational facilities. Many of these facilities have reserved spaces for MoH recipients.

5. Special status in the exchange of salutes

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
Medal of Honor recipient Col. Lewis Millett salutes the flag during a memorial ceremony commemorating the bravery of his men during the Korean War. (Photo: US Army Al Chang)

While military members aren’t required to salute Medal of Honor recipients, they are encouraged to do so as long as the recipient is physically wearing the medal, even when the recipient is in civilian clothes.

Also, while military salutes in other situations are always up the the rank structure — meaning the junior soldier salutes the senior one — anyone may render a salute to a MoH recipient first. There have even been cases of American presidents saluting MoH recipients.

6. Headstones with gold lettering and full burial honors

Medal of Honor recipients are guaranteed a burial with full military honors — an honor otherwise only guaranteed to retirees and active duty service members. This includes a nine-member team of six pallbearers, a chaplain, an officer-in-charge or noncommissioned-officer-in-charge and a bugler.

At the gravesite, the MoH recipient is also entitled to a special headstone with gold lettering.

Author’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to Medal of Honor Recipient and Lt. Col. Charles Kettles as an Army major. He was a major at the time of the actions for which he received the award, but he retired and received the award as a lieutenant colonel. The author regrets this error.

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Reaper drones can now be armed with JDAMs

Airmen from the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing and the 26th Weapons Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, made history earlier this week by employing the first GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition from an MQ-9 Reaper.


While the JDAM has been around since the late ’90s, the munition has just recently been validated and now proven for real world engagements marking a significant step in the Reapers’ joint warfighter role.

“We had a great opportunity to drop the first live GBU-38s in training,” said Capt. Scott, a 26th WPS weapons instructor pilot. “The GBU-38 is a weapon we’ve been trying to get on the MQ-9 for several years now and we had the opportunity to be the first to drop during training.”

While waiting for the aircraft to approach the target area, members of the weapons squadron waited anxiously. After the bombs successfully struck their practice targets in a controlled environment, the entire room cheered.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
The MQ-9 Reaper can be armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 laser guided bombs. Now the Air Force has added the JDAM to the drone’s arsenal. (Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

For the past 10 years skilled MQ-9 aircrew have been employing AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, but the JDAM brings new global positioning system capabilities to the warfighters.

“The GBU-38, just like the Hellfire and GBU-12, is a very accurate weapon and the fact that it’s GPS-guided gives us another versatile way to guide the weapon, specifically, through inclement weather onto targets,” Scott said.

The JDAM being added to the arsenal is another step in furthering the attack capabilities of the MQ-9 Reaper force.

“There’s definitely times when I could’ve used the GBU-38 in combat prior to this,” Scott said.

Not only does the GBU-38 perform through poor weather conditions, it also helps the munitions Airmen and the weapons load crew members who load them.

“The GBU-38 has a 20 minute load time compared to the GBU-12, which has a 30 minute load time,” said Senior Airman Curtis, a 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron load crew member. “The GBU-38 is a quicker load compared to the GBU-12 and gets the plane in the air quicker.”

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

Incorporating this new munition into the total strike package will give MQ-9 aircrews additional capabilities.

“Our job at the weapons school is to train to the highest standard possible,” Scott said. “We’re going to take the GBU-38 and incorporate it into our advanced scenarios, prove the weapon and integrate with all Air Force assets. What that gives us is the ability to take it downrange and employ in the most demanding circumstances possible.”

The JDAM will add flexibility and efficiency to the targeting process. Aircrews will continue to employ the AGM-114 Hellfires and GBU-12s downrange in addition to the GBU-38 that is now ready for combat.

“The overall impact of the GBU-38 is aircrew will have more versatility for the commanders to provide different effects and make a difference for the guys on the ground,” Scott said. “It has a different guidance system and it opens the bridge to more GPS-guided weapons in the future.”

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This group helps vets heal on the hunt

FORT ASHBY, W.Va. — It can be a challenge to reintegrate from the military into civilian life, especially if you’ve lost a limb and your former toe is now your thumb, Mike Trost said.


And he would know.

Trost, 53, of Maryville, Tennessee, served in the U.S. Army for 32 years until he suffered serious injuries in 2012.

“I was shot with a machine gun in southeastern Afghanistan,” he said of being hit in both legs, buttocks and his right hand.

Trost lost a leg and fingers, but via modern medical technology, he gained a toe for a thumb.

While he talks casually about his hand and refers to his new thumb as “Toemos,” Trost knows all too well recovery can be a physically and emotionally painful, long journey.

“It’s good to be around like company,” Trost said of spending time with veterans who sustained traumatic experiences during their time in the military. “There’s a bond. It’s different than you have with regular friends.”

Trost on Friday was in Fort Ashby for a turkey hunt that’s part of Operation Heroes Support — a local veteran-operated, nonprofit that provides outdoor experiences for disabled veterans, firefighters, police officers and first responders.

“The whole thing with the hunts is just to make you feel, even for one day, that there’s … nothing wrong with you,” he said. “And the people here are fantastic. They give a lot of time and energy.”

Trost and several other veterans from Wednesday through Sunday were at the residence of Bruce Myers and his wife Judy, located in rural West Virginia.

In addition to hunting, the group fished in a lake owned by Dave and Joyce Cooper — neighbors of the Myers couple. Skeet shooting was also on the agenda.

The Myers’s hosted a similar event last year and hope to continue the tradition.

“The veterans, they deserve it … they sacrificed,” Bruce Myers said of the former military members who were injured during their service to country.

Steven Curry, 33, of Nokesville, Virginia, was new to this year’s Fort Ashby hunt and killed his first two turkeys — a 19-pounder on Thursday and a bird that weighed over 20 pounds on Friday.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said of his hunting success. “We were only in the woods about 20 minutes when I shot the first turkey.”

Curry was in a U.S. Army infantry unit from 2003 to 2008. During his service, he was hit by an improvised explosive device while in Iraq.

As a result, his left leg was amputated below his knee, he had a mild brain injury and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Brandon Rethmel, 30, of Pittsburgh, brought his wife and three young children to the event.

Rethmel was in the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2012. During that time, he was injured by a rocket in Afghanistan.

“I lost my leg below the knee,” he said. His right tricep was also destroyed and he suffered other shrapnel wounds.

“When I got out (of the military) I didn’t connect with people,” he said. “I isolated myself … It was really hard.”

Rethmel said Operation Heroes Support and events including the hunt, as well as support from his family, helped him reclaim his purpose.

“It’s saved my life,” he said. “It’s just really a great program and I hope more (veterans) get involved.”

Greg Hulver, 49, of Kirby, West Virginia, specialized in communications for the U.S. Navy from about 1985 to 1997. Today, he suffers from back injuries and other ailments including PTSD. The hunting events offer him a way to give and receive help, he said

“My military bond is what I have with these guys and that means the most to me,” he said. “There’s just something between us you can’t replace and you can’t get it anywhere else.”

Brady Jackson, 32, of Bristol, Virginia, returned to the event this year to help other veterans.

“I’d never gotten a chance to turkey hunt,” he said of his first experience at the Fort Ashby event last year. “I just had an absolutely amazing time.”

He started volunteering to help get donations for Operation Heroes Support in the fall.

“It’s honestly changed my life,” Jackson said of working with other veterans. “It’s given me a sense of purpose since I got out of the military.”

Jackson was in the U.S. Army for nine years. He was deployed to Iraq where he sustained minor blast trauma, burns and cuts from an explosion. While he knows he was lucky to survive that incident without serious injuries, he needed to spend time with others who understood his experiences.

That’s where Operation Heroes Support came in, he said.

“It’s more about campfire therapy than it is about hunting,” he said. “It’s about building relationships.”

Charles Harris, 26, a native of Placerville, California who now lives in Romney, West Virginia, lost his legs after being injured in 2012 while in a U.S. Army infantry unit.

Today, Harris is the president of the local Operation Heroes Support organization.

“It’s given me the ability to give back,” he said of his work with the group. “It’s like we’re back in the military (because) you can count on these guys … It’s like family.”

Harris said the group hopes to grow, include more public servants such as firefighters and police as well as military veterans. To make that happen, donations of cash, meals, airline tickets and other items and services are needed.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This adorable bulldog just retired from the Marine Corps

Chesty XIV is all grown up and headed into the retired life— and you might now see the adored English bulldog skateboarding around the nation’s capital.

After five years of service, the Marine Corps’ mascot transferred his responsibilities to a younger model on Aug. 24, 2018, during a ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington. Col. Donald Tomich, the barracks’ commanding officer, presided over the sergeant’s retirement ceremony.


The bulldog’s owner told NBC she planned to purchase a skateboard for the retired mascot, who finally gets to relax those strict Marine Corps standards in retired life.

“All the things I would not let him learn how to do because he might embarrass the Marine Corps, he’s going to learn how to do them,” Christine Billera told NBC News.

Chesty XIV grew into his responsibilities during his time at 8th and I. That included lots of nights on the parade deck in miniature dress blues or attending other events in the Washington, D.C. area in his service or utility uniforms.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

Cpl. Chesty XIV stands over Chesty XV wearing a Campaign Cover at Marine Barracks Washington, March 19, 2018.

(Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Taryn Escott)

“When he was young, he was feisty and energetic just like most Marines are when they come out of recruit training,” Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Calderon, the drill master at 8th and I, told NBC Washington. “As he progressed and got a little bit older, he brought that wisdom, knowledge and experience.”

The service’s canine mascots are named for revered Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, who earned five Navy Crosses while serving nearly four decades in the Corps.

Pvt. Chesty XV, who arrived at the Barracks as a 10-week-old puppy in March 2018, has completed his entry-level training, where he was even issued his own physical-training safety belt. The private will immediately begin representing the Marine Corps at ceremonial events in the nation’s capital.

Not everyone was ready to see the service’s 14th canine mascot go. Sgt. Chesty XIV will always be remembered at 8th and I, Calderon told NBC Washington.

Others thought the English bulldog might’ve been skirting his weight standards and dodging PT during his last days on active duty.

“Time to retire when you can’t button that uniform,” one Facebook user joked.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is Hollywood’s deadliest action star

Hollywood is really, really good at killing the bad guys. And even though they haven’t quite gotten to ISIS just yet, there is a trail of bloody, dismembered evil in the wake of action stars like Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, and everyone else who may have been considered for a part in The Expendables.

Despite Hot Shots! Part Deux and Charlie Sheen’s claim to the contrary, there is an undisputed number one deadliest action star in the annals of Hollywood military history. That title goes to the Terminator: Arnold Schwarzenegger.


6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

Who was also in the Expendables. Three times.

(Lionsgate)

Big Data is back to settle the debates about everything we love. Just like the time a statistical analysis settled who was the best general in history, another data enthusiast set out to determine who was the deadliest onscreen action star in cinema history.

Granted, this is before the Expendables 3 and the newest Rambo movie, but unless Rambo kills an entire Colombian drug cartel (which I admit, he might), the winner should still be pretty clear.

Randal Olson, a data scientist at Life Epigenetics, merges cutting edge epigenetics research with advanced machine learning methods to improve life expectancy predictions. He put data collected from MovieBodyCounts.com to put together data visualizations for the deadliest action heroes. At the top, was the star of Predator, Total Recall, and my personal favorite, True Lies.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

Thank you, sir.

As of Olson’s 2013 writing, Arnold was at the top of the list with 369 kills. His highest single movie record came in Commando where in the final island scene alone, he managed to off 74 guys, mostly using firearms but featuring the best use of a toolshed. Hey, Alyssa Milano ain’t gonna rescue herself.

Of the 200 actors listed in the data, the top ten include Chow Yun-Fat in second, Sylvester Stallone in third, and then Dolph Lundgren (thanks, Punisher!), Clint Eastwood, Nic Cage, Jet Li, Clive Owen, and Wesley Snipes. In fourth place comes Tomisaburo Wakayama, who got 150 of his 266 onscreen kills in a single movie, 1974’s Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

The top 25 deadliest actors, visualized.

(Randal Olson)

Olson notes that the deadliest woman onscreen is Uma Thurman, who has 77 kills because remember: the Crazy 88s only had 40 members.

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Good news: Nuclear beer is safe to drink!

The first-ever detonation of a nuclear weapon occurred in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945. Just ten years later, the U.S. military conducted Operation Teapot, a series of fourteen nuclear explosions approved by President Eisenhower to test a few innovations in nuclear weapons, to make them more reliable, efficient, and compact.


6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

They tested the effects of nukes on cratering, on aircraft, and one of the explosions, dubbed Project 32.2a, was used to determine the effect of atomic explosions on everyday things. Project 32.2a studied the effects of such an explosion on commercially packaged beverages – namely beer.

It may sound silly, but the researchers believed in the event of a nuclear war, the most widespread  source of potable fluids would be commercial beverages. We have to drink something after the nuclear apocalypse, after all. What is silly is that Teapot nuked the beverages twice, the first with a 20-kiloton yield and the second with a fifty percent increase.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

Both soft drinks and beers in bottles and cans survived both the blast and the air pressure as close to ground zero as 1270 feet. When the packaging did shatter, it was due to debris or collapsing structures. The researchers also tested the radiation levels of the beverages. The radiation level “was not great” in either drink and determined they were both safe to drink.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
I mean… relatively.

Both could also be used as drinkable fluids in case of emergencies. The packaging of both drinks, however, showed much more induced radiation. The packaging actually protected what was inside.

Not The powers that be made sure some poor Joe, probably junior enlisted, took a drink just to make sure it tasted okay. Afer that, samples were sent to research labs. The taste results returned ranged from “commercial quality” to “definitely off.”

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
As if that would keep people from drinking found beer after the apocalypse.

For the sodas, the radiation turned the sucrose sugar into dextrose and levulose, a change that would happen to soda sitting on a shelf for six months anyway. All beverages retained their full carbonation, so look for irradiated beer at your next craft beer fair because hipsters are getting over PBR and no one is drinking nuked beer yet.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
For the love of god, nuke them all.

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This is what happens when your father was your drill instructor’s drill instructor

If Marine Corps boot camp is a bitter slice of hell, then drill instructors are the demons who dish it.


Now imagine what basic training would be like if your drill instructor was your father’s recruit and knew it. That’s exactly what happened to Reddit user hygemaii.

 

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
Gunnery Sergeant Shawn D. Angell gently corrects a trainee. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

You’d expect one of two things to happen: you get favorable treatment because your father treated your DI to a rose garden — highly unlikely — or you become your DI’s reprisal punching bag for everything your father put him through as a recruit — probably more realistic. Here’s how the story played out, according to hygemaii (mildly edited for grammar and curse words):

Related: 4 of the funniest boot camp stories we’ve ever heard

“My best military story is my own boot camp story. I decided to join the Marine Corps almost on a whim after planning to join the Air Force for most of my senior year in high school.

“Same old story of AF recruiters seeming like they didn’t give a sh-t about their appearance or job and the Marine recruiter putting out max effort all the time and always being presentable. I was a pretty easy mark for the USMC because my dad was in the USMC; I grew up on bases all over the U.S. until we moved to the little farm town in North Florida where I went to high school.

“Since I was 18, I basically did all the paperwork myself, found a job series I liked, signed, the whole nine yards, my dad didn’t know anything until I told him I was going to MEPS and joining the Marines. He was overjoyed, obviously. He loved the Corps and regretted getting out after 12 years.

“Now the story gets funny. My dad was a drill instructor when he was in the Marines. I remembered living on Parris Island but didn’t think much of it. When I got my ship date for boot camp, my dad called some old friends and I ended up in a Company who’s First Sergeant was an old friend of my dad’s — they served on the drill field together all those years ago. So through some sort of crazy coincidence, I end up in a platoon with a drill instructor who was a recruit under my dad (6-7 years prior to me going to boot camp).

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
A Drill Instructor whispers loving words of encouragement to Marines who needed some motivation. (U.S. Marine Corps)

“I have a very distinct name, and on the second day after we got our real drill instructors, as he was going through roll call, the drill instructor suddenly fell quiet. After a couple of seconds, he said my name, perfectly pronounced, and I knew I was f**ked.

“He said ‘[Last name], I bet there aren’t too many [Last names] in the world like that, are there?’ Sir, no sir. ‘Was your daddy a Marine in the 90’s Lastname?’ Sir, yes sir. ‘F**king good, [Last name], good. Get on my quarterdeck now.’

“I spent the rest of boot camp unable to make myself invisible. It spread from my drill instructor to drill instructors from other platoons, even other companies. It was f**king miserable. I felt bad for my rack mate, because at one point for about three days I had to move my entire rack to the quarterdeck and he was just along for the ride, so he caught a lot of it, too.

“It made graduating really special, in retrospect, to finally get the kind words from that drill instructor, but man that sucked. I’m pretty sure this entire thing was set up by my dad and his buddy, but they both deny it, and there’s no way to prove it.

“It was funny seeing my drill instructor stand a little straighter when he saw my dad at graduation.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

The true story of how Lucille Ball saved ‘Star Trek’

On March 11, 1964, Gene Roddenberry completed the first treatment of what would become one of the most beloved fandoms of all time: Star Trek. The sci-fi drama was pitched as a Space Western, and while the original concept would evolve before becoming the pilot episode starring William Schatner as the legendary Captain James T. Kirk, the foundation for Roddenberry’s “anthology-like range of exciting human experiences” was there.

The only problem was that the show was expensive and zany. It needed a home and a champion. Enter Lucille Ball.


Star Trek – Fight to the Death

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Star Trek – Fight to the Death

By 1964, Lucille Ball had already made a name for herself as the titular character of her hit show I Love Lucy, which aired from 1951-1957. Along with her then-husband, Desi Arnaz, Ball had formed Desilu Productions to produce the pilot for I Love Lucy — and in doing so, they created the very first independent television production company.

This move allowed them to own the product they would provide to CBS and pave the way for reruns, syndication and one of the most lucrative deals in television history. Their financial success allowed them to produce or film series like The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. In 1960, Ball and Arnaz divorced, and in 1962 she bought his share of the company, becoming one of the most powerful women in television.

Johnny Asks Lucille Ball About When She Lost Her Virginity on Carson Tonight Show – 03/22/1974

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Johnny Asks Lucille Ball About When She Lost Her Virginity on Carson Tonight Show 

This has nothing to do with Star Trek but it’s important.

In 1964, Desilu was in search of new original programming. Her Vice President of Production, Herbert Franklin Solow, pitched Roddenberry’s Star Trek — and Ball grabbed it. Even with her backing, however, Ball’s longtime network CBS turned down the idea. Roddenberry and Solow then took the idea to NBC, who ordered a pilot titled The Cage.

The Cage, however, was rejected by NBC. It was expensive (costing NBC 0,000 to produce — roughly the equivalent of ,245,562.90 in 2020) — but it impressed NBC executives enough to order a second pilot, thanks to Ball’s support.

The second pilot, which would now star William Shatner, was financed in part by Ball herself — even at the objections of her board of directors. Star Trek debuted in the fall of 1966 and even won its time slot. The rest, of course, is history.

“If it were not for Lucy,” former studio executive Ed Holly told Desilu historian Coyne Steven Sanders, “there would be no Star Trek today.”

Just another reason for us all to love Lucy.


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This museum lets you climb all over (most of) their tanks

Museums are great places to learn about history. Exhibits and displays bring the past to life and can transport visitors back in time. The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois, near Chicago does this for the division’s history. It also has a dozen tanks on outdoor display, and yes, you can climb all over them.

The First Division Museum should not be confused with the Army-curated First Infantry Division Museum at Fort Riley, Kansas. In fact, the First Division Museum was established by the Robert C. McCormick Charitable Trust. Known today as the McCormick Foundation, the trust was established by McCormick’s will following his death. A former colonel and First Infantry Division WWI veteran himself, McCormick fought during the Battle of Cantigny. Upon his return to Illinois, he renamed his Wheaton farm after the battle for the French city. The park that hosts the museum was also established by the McCormick Foundation and is so-named as well.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
Cantigny Park partnered with Brickmania to create an exclusive WWII 1st Infantry Division minifigure (Miguel Ortiz)

The first sight that museum visitors see is the expansive tank park. On display are First Infantry Division tanks ranging from the WWI-era M1917 Light Tank to the modern M1 Abrams main battle tank. The park is even home to the only surviving T26E4 Pershing experimental tank, of which only 25 were ever produced. As mentioned previously, all the tanks in the tank park are free to be climbed on, including the Pershing. The museum even installed the tanks on bouncy compressed rubber mulch so that guests can easily jump down from them.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
The WWI Schneider tank is one that you can’t climb on (Miguel Ortiz)

Once guests have climbed on the tanks in the tank park, the museum offers an in-depth history of the First Division’s wars. The museum’s two wings are called First in War and Duty First. The former goes through the division’s history in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam while the latter details modern missions like counterinsurgency, deterrence, military assistance, and peacekeeping. Guests will be transported to the trenches outside of Cantigny, Omaha Beach at Normandy, the forests of Bastogne, and the jungles of Vietnam.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
The detail of the exhibits and displays at the museum is top-notch (Cantigny Park)

Aside from the museum, Cantigny Park offers visitors gardens, playgrounds, and plenty of well-maintained open space to enjoy. There’s even a golf course on site. Aside from tee time, the park’s $5 parking fee gets you access to all that it has to offer. However, Armed Forces Day, Constitution Day, Veterans Day, and the first Wednesday of every month are free days at Cantigny Park. Due to COVID-19, timed reservations for the museum are required for entry. Veterans, active duty, reserve, and National Guard members are eligible for the Honor Club at no charge. Upon verification of service, Honor Club members enjoy complimentary parking, a 10% discount at restaurants and shops, and discounted golf rates.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
The Battle of the Bulge Sherman is the other tank that you can’t climb on (Miguel Ortiz)

Colonel McCormick believed in fostering communities of educated, informed, and engaged citizens. Cantigny Park and the First Division Museum are the embodiment of this belief. If you’re ever in the area, it’s well worth your time, even if you just want to climb on some tanks.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
At the tank park, climbing is encouraged (Miguel Ortiz)
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This company helps military children cope when their parents deploy

One toddler helped inspire a company that now helps hundreds of military children deal with one of the most stressful times of their lives: seeing their parents leave for deployment.


“It doesn’t have to be sad,” said Bridget Platt, the founder and CEO of Daddy’s Deployed and wife of a Marine Corps aviator. “And that’s what I wanted to do. Create this story where [kids] are the star even if their family is separated at the time.”

Founded in 2012, Platt’s company creates custom-designed children’s books that explain where mom or dad are going, what they’ll be doing, and how they’ll stay in touch through tools like Skype. The first book she ever created was for her own daughter, with pictures of the family literally cut out and glued onto the pages.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
Photo courtesy of Daddy’s Deployed

But her inspiration came three years before, while working with a two-year-old girl named Claire at the child development center on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.

“She was perfectly behaved, would eat every meal, play outside, and she shared. She was potty-trained and would nap everyday,” Platt said. “And then her dad deployed and all of that changed. She started having accidents. She wouldn’t eat. She would literally cry out for him at naptime. And I remember thinking that somebody has to do something to help these kids but I was just too far from it at that point. We were newlyweds. We didn’t have any children so I couldn’t wrap my head around what that concept might be.”

Once she had her own children, and with the help of her brother — a Harvard Business School graduate — she put together a business plan, copyrighted a logo, and brought on a great illustrator to help with creating the book’s artwork.

Now, parents can go on the Daddy’s Deployed website (there’s a Mommy’s version as well) and order their books, after putting in their information such as their name and rank, branch of service, what kind of job they have, and their children’s names. In about three weeks, Platt and her team will send back a personalized book with the family drawn into their own story.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
Photo courtesy of Daddy’s Deployed

“The whole point of it is that when the kids open page one they see their family in the story,” Platt said. “They see themselves in the story. They see their dog in the story. So that they know that it’s this happy, brightly colored vision of what their life could be or is going to be.”

Beyond the custom books relating to deployments, Platt told We Are The Mighty she has plans to expand her offerings. The company recently launched a book about military moves, and it is currently looking into selling eBooks and other interactive materials, such as audiobooks where the deployed parent can read the story to their loved ones.

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to
Photo courtesy of Daddy’s Deployed

“My favorite thing is when people first look at the book that didn’t know about the company beforehand,” she said. “The most common thing that is said to me is, ‘why didn’t I think of this?’ And that shows me that there was a problem and we are answering it. And that is the best thing. My response is always the same: ‘I’m really glad you didn’t.’ But in my mind I’m like, ‘Yes! Thank you for saying that.'”

You can see more of Platt’s work on her company’s Facebook page or website.

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How atomic bombs fueled Las Vegas tourism in the 1950s

You would think that nuclear weapons testing and tourism wouldn’t go together. But in fact, tourists who went to Las Vegas to watch the nuclear tests helped fuel the growth of that city in the 1950s.


In the 1950s, the United States carried out over 150 nuclear weapons tests above ground. Some of these tests – particularly the large-scale thermo-nuclear bomb tests like the 1954 Castle Bravo test, which had a 15-megaton yield – were carried out in the Central Pacific. Not exactly accessible to tourists, but well out of the way (an important consideration considering the power of the bombs).

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Nuclear weapons

However, in Nevada — where the explosions and subsequent mushroom clouds were visible from Las Vegas — These tests gave that rapidly-growing city’s economy a surprising boost. Many tourists traveled to Vegas hoping they’d see one of these tests take place.

Of course, today, we know about the after-effects of all those explosions, including fallout that leads to cancer and other medical issues for people who were downwind of the nuclear blasts.

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The Buster-Jangle Dog nuclear test of a 21-kiloton weapon. (Photo: US Department of Energy)

Back then, it was seen as just a fancy fireworks display for Sin City residents and tourists on the United States government’s dime. In 1963, the Partial Test Ban Treaty was ratified. That ended the era of above-ground testing, and limited the blasts to underground.

The U.S. continued to carry out underground nuclear tests until 1992, when the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty curtailed nuke blasts. That treaty, however, has still not been ratified by the Senate. Check out this video from the Smithsonian Channel to learn more about Sin City’s nuclear tourism boom (pun intended).

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That time a guy jumped out of a plane at 18,000 feet with no chute — and survived

On the evening of March 24, 1944, a Royal Air Force airman jumped out of his damaged bomber without a parachute.


Not only did he survive, but he landed with little more than bumps and bruises.

His name was Nicholas Alkemade. Or should we say, the “indestructible” Nicholas Alkemade. Born Dec. 10, 1922, Alkemade was a rear gunner on a four-engine Avro Lancaster its crew had nicknamed “Werewolf.”

In March 1944, the crew was on a bombing mission over Berlin, which went without incident. But on their way back to England, the bomber caught on fire after being razed by machine-gun fire from a German fighter. The order came from the Werewolf’s pilot to abandon the crippled bomber, but Alkemade wasn’t wearing his parachute, since the gunner’s area was too cramped for it to be worn all the time.

When he tried pulling his chute out of storage, it was in flames. The plane was going down and he had few options.

“I had no doubts at all that this was the end of the line,” he told Leicester Mercury years later. “The question was whether to stay in the plane and fry or jump to my death. I decided to jump and make a quick, clean end of things. I backed out of the turret and somersaulted away.”

So out he went, headed from 18,000 feet above the Earth to the ground at 120 miles per hour. He lost consciousness during the descent, which would have been the end of this story. Except, three hours later, Alkemade — now safely lying on the ground — opened his eyes.

The RAF Museum picks up the story:

He was lying on snowy ground in a small pine wood. Above him the stars were still visible, only this time they were framed by the edges of the hole he had smashed through the tree canopy. Assessing himself, Alkemade found that he was remarkably intact. In addition to the burns and cuts to the head and thigh, all received in the aircraft, he was suffering only bruising and a twisted knee. Not a single bone had been broken or even fractured. Both of his flying boots had disappeared, probably torn from his feet as he unconsciously struck the tree branches. Being of no further use, Alkemade discarded his parachute harness in the snow.

Though his incredible survival arguably made him the luckiest man in the world, his luck soon changed. He began to blow on his emergency whistle, which got the attention of German civilians nearby. After he was taken to a local infirmary, he was interrogated by the Gestapo the next day.

He told them what happened, and like anyone else would, they basically called bullsh-t.

“You say you fell from a plane, but you have no parachute,” the Gestapo interrogator asked him, according to the Mercury. His interrogators accused him of burying it and being a spy, until he told them to find his discarded harness, along with the crashed aircraft that was nearby, according to the RAF Museum.

The Germans investigated and found he was legit. They even gave him a certificate stating, “It has been investigated and corroborated by the German authorities that the claim of Sergeant Alkemade, No. 1431537, is true in all respects, namely, that he has made a descent from 18,000 feet without a parachute and made a safe landing without injuries, the parachute having been on fire in the aircraft. He landed in deep snow among fir trees.”

Alkemade spent his next 14 months as a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III in Poland, and returned to England after the war ended. He died in 1991.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Terror comes home in Iran as militants kill 3 security forces

Three Iranian security personnel and three militants have been killed in a clash in the southeast of the country near the border with Pakistan, Iran’s state media report.

Reports said the fighting took place in the border city of Mirjaveh in Sistan-Baluchistan Province late on June 25, 2018.


Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said its ground forces killed a “terrorist group” as it tried to enter Iran.

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A Sunni militant group called Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) claimed that its fighters killed 11 Iranian security personnel. None of the casualty figures could be independently verified.

Iranian security forces frequently clash with militants and drug traffickers in Sistan-Baluchistan. The province lies on a major smuggling route for Afghan opium and heroin.

The population of the province is predominantly Sunni, while the majority of Iranians are Shi’a.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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