6 unbelievable military love stories - We Are The Mighty
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6 unbelievable military love stories

1. A POW escaped prison to have an affair with the daughter of a Nazi worker

6 unbelievable military love stories
A thin but defiant Horace Greasley stares down Heinrich Himmler during a prison inspection Photo: Wiki Commons


When Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia on September 1, 1939, 20-year-old British hairdresser Horace Greasley was drafted into the British Army.* Unfortunately, the aspiring barber was better with scissors than he was with a rifle, and he was captured and sent to a Polish POW camp almost immediately. Most people would be too devastated by this turn of events to even think about scoping out potential romantic opportunities, but Horace Greasley is not most people.

A few days into his imprisonment he met Rosa Raubach, the beautiful daughter of the camp’s quarry director, and the two began a secret affair that lasted for nearly a year before he was transferred to a different prison. But the story doesn’t end here — instead of giving up on his prison girlfriend, Horace decided he was up for a challenge, and continued the relationship under the Nazis’s noses. With the help of his friends he would crawl under a section of barbed wire fencing to escape back into his old prison and reunite with his lady love, rather than search for a way to neutral territory.

The pair kept up this forbidden rendezvous about three times a week for five years. Amazingly, Horace and Rosa were never found out by the Nazis — the only thing that stopped the couple was the liberation of Poland at the end of the war, when they went their separate ways.

2. This Civil War couple cross-dressed and became Union outlaws to defy the Confederacy

6 unbelievable military love stories
Keith and Linda Balcok | Wiki Commons

Keith and Linda Balock loved the Union just as much as they loved each other, so when their home state of North Carolina sided with the Confederacy, they knew it was time to take drastic measures. Realizing that Keith would have to enlist in the Confederate army or risk imprisonment (and probably worse), the husband and wife swore to stay together — even on the front lines. Linda donned men’s clothes and posed as “Sam” Balock, Keith’s fictitious brother, and the pair entered the army together, planning to defect to the Union as soon as they reached Northern territory.

Before they could cross Union lines, however, Linda’s true identity was discovered, and she was forced to leave. Unwilling to be apart from his wife, Keith decided he would get himself discharged too. The next day he went out to the forest, stripped naked, and rolled around in poison ivy until he could convince Confederate doctors that he had an incurable disease. Once released, the pair fled to the Appalachian mountains, where they lived as Union raiders for the rest of the war and worked to sabotage Confederate military efforts.

3.  Two Jewish resistance leaders met in a concentration camp, fell in love, and planned their escape together

6 unbelievable military love stories
Marla Zimetbaum before her capture, a prison photo Edward Gilenski | Wiki Commons

When 24-year-old Marla Zimetbaum was arrested and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau because of her Jewish heritage, she vowed to do whatever it took to bring her Nazi oppressors down. What she didn’t realize at the time, however, was that she wouldn’t have to do it alone. While working as a prison interpreter, she met fellow inmate Edward Gilenksi, a young Polish man who was plotting his escape from the camp. She began crafting the escape plan with him, and the two young people, who were both rumored to have been part of Jewish resistance groups, fell in love.

In June of 1944, Gilenski disguised himself as an SS guard and Zimetbaum as a male prisoner, and they made it outside of the camp’s perimeter gate. Once there, Zimetbaum changed out of her men’s clothes and the pair pretended to be a Nazi and his girlfriend out for a walk.  They swore to stay together no matter what happened, and lived together in freedom for four days before Zimetbaum was discovered buying groceries and arrested. Keeping his promise, Gilenski turned himself in, and the two were tragically executed on the same day. Before their deaths the two reportedly rallied their fellow prisoners to continue the resistance against the Nazis, and became symbols of Jewish resistance against the Nazi regime.

4.  60 years after Stalin banished her family to Siberia, this Russian woman reunited with her husband

6 unbelievable military love stories
Photo via the Telegraph

Only three days after his marriage to Anna Kozlov in 1946, Boris Kozlov had to return to fight with his Red Army unit in Communist Russia. The couple kissed goodbye and waved as Boris returned to his post, expecting to see each other again in a few weeks. They had no idea that they would not be reunited until 60 years later. After Boris left, Anna and her family were banished to Siberia during Stalin’s purges, and they were unavailable to leave word for any of their family or friends. When Boris returned home, expecting to be greeted by his beautiful young bride, he was crushed — she was nowhere to be found. Desperate, he scoured the town for news of her disappearance, but found nothing.

Meanwhile, Anna considered suicide, convinced she would never again see the love of her life. After a while and at the pressure of their families, they both reluctantly moved on and remarried, resigned to the fact that their marriage was not meant to be. Half a century later however, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the deaths of both their spouses, Anna returned to her hometown — and ran into Boris. She saw him getting out of his car while she walked about her old street, and the two miraculously recognized each other. They married each other again days later — finally leading the life they had dreamed of as young newlyweds.

 5. 20-year-old Olga Watkins infiltrated Dachau to find her Jewish fiance

6 unbelievable military love stories
Olga Watkins sits with her fiance before his arrest Photo via Litverse

Olga Watkins was leading an ordinary, happy life when her fiance Julius Koreny was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and taken away. Devastated, she ignored the pleas of her family and friends to give up on Julius — who had surely been killed by the the Nazis — and instead set out to find him herself. Her quest led her on a 2,000 mile journey from Zagreb through Nazi-occupied Europe, to the gates of Dachau and finally Buchenwald, one of The Third Reich’s most notorious concentration camps.

Terrified but determined to free Julius, Olga asked for a job as a secretary in the camp offices and began searching for clues amongst the Nazis who captured her lover. Finally, with the American liberation only days away, Olga got her hands on Julius’s documentation — only to find he’d been transferred to Buchenwald. Only half-hoping he’d be alive, Olga rushed to the now liberated and nearly desolate camp — and against all odds — found Julius, who was recovering from typhus. A few days later,  the remaining survivors of the camp joined together to help throw them a wedding, and the star-crossed lovers were married.

 6. “Stonewall” Jackson’s last words were for his beloved wife

6 unbelievable military love stories
Stonewall Jackson, Mary Anne Jackson, and their daughter Julia

Most people know Confederate General Thomas Jackson, AKA the notorious “Stonewall” Jackson, for his often ruthless battle tactics and dauntless leadership. Few, however, know of his passionate love for his wife. A devout Christian, Jackson was incredibly devoted to his marriage to the love of his life, a woman named Mary Anna Morrison. Though he was smitten with her from the beginning, they hit some obstacles when they first began courting — Mary Anna had sworn she would never marry a soldier, Democrat, or a widower, and Jackson was three for three. She soon got over these concerns, however, and the two were married in 1857.
The couple was inseparable, and Jackson was overjoyed when Mary Anna gave birth to their baby daughter, Julia, in 1862. Sadly, he was wounded in friendly fire at the Battle of Chancelorville just a few weeks later, but Mary Anna raced to his location and was with him as he drew his last breath. Before he closed his eyes for the last time, Jackson whispered to his wife, “Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” Mary Anna chose to dress in mourning black for the rest of her life to honor her beloved husband, and never remarried.
Editor’s note: An original version of this post contained wording that made it sound like Horace Greasley was drafted by the Czech Army. Though he was called up after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, he was a Briton called up by the British Army for service. The wording updated to make this more clear.
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8 amazing photos comparing today’s Pearl Harbor to the day of the attack

On December 7, 1941, the US naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, suffered a devastating attack from the air and sea.


The Japanese assault began around 8 a.m., resulting in the deaths of 2,403 Americans, numerous injuries, and the sinking of four battleships, and damage to many more.

Surprised U.S. service members who normally would have slept in on that Sunday morning or enjoyed some recreation found themselves fighting for their lives.

See More: Unforgettable photos from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

In 2013, the U.S. Navy remembered the “day of infamy” with a series of photo illustrations overlaying scenes from that horrifying date with present-day photos.

Now, 76 years after the attack, here’s what Pearl Harbor looked like then and now:

8. Defenders on Ford Island watch for planes during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)

7. The battleship USS California (BB 44) burns in the foreground as the battleship USS Arizona (BB 39) burns in the background after the initial attack on Pearl Harbor.

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)

6. Defenders on Ford Island watch for planes during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)

5. Hangar 6 on Ford Island stands badly damaged after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)

4. A view of the historic Ford Island control tower: then and now. The tower was once used to guide airplanes at the airfield on the island and will now be used as an aviation library.

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)

3. The battleship USS Arizona (BB 39) burns in the background during the attack on Pearl Harbor as viewed from Ford Island.

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)

2. The Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw (DD 373) explodes in the background after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)

1. Sailors on Ford Island look on as the Mahan-class destroyer USS Shaw (DD 373) explodes in the background after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan)

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How the U.S. smuggled weapons-grade uranium out of the former Soviet Union

The United States isn’t big on bipartisanship in Congress these days, but if any single event testifies to what America can do when we unite, it would have to be Project Sapphire – the secret removal of nuclear material from the former Soviet Union.

Long before the USSR fell at the end of 1991, it was clear to many in the U.S. that the “Evil Empire” was on its way out. The Cold War ending was a good thing, but it opened up a host of all new problems. For Congress, that problem was the potential for weapons-grade uranium ending up in the hands of Pakistan or North Korea, who didn’t yet have nuclear weapons. Even worse, it could end up in the hands of terrorists. 

Terrorists hadn’t yet committed some of the most egregious terror attacks against American assets in recent memory, such as the Khobar Towers attack, the World Trade Center Bombing or the attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Islamic Jihad had claimed responsibility for the 1983 Beirut barracks attack that killed 299 Americans and the U.S. now had a large presence in Saudi Arabia.

6 unbelievable military love stories
Map of Kazakhstan within the USSR (Wikimedia Commons)

There was 24 nuclear bombs’ worth of weapons-grade uranium sitting in the Kazakh SSR – modern-day Kazakhstan. The Soviet government was powerless to secure it and Iran and Iraq were motivated to secure it on the black market. 

That’s how Project Sapphire, a clandestine mission to secure and repackage 90% enriched, weapons-grade uranium in Kazakhstan for shipment to the United States. With state and non-state actors around the world looking to build nuclear weapons, the material had to be secured, packed, and shipped in total secrecy.

Seeing the writing on the wall for the USSR, Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and Republican Sen. Richard Lugar created the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program in 1986. The idea was to dismantle Soviet weapons and secure the fissile materials used to build them – the weapons-grade uranium. 

6 unbelievable military love stories
Senators Nunn (left) and Lugar (center) with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (right) at the Nunn-Lugar Conference Room at the Pentagon following a ceremony commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program held at the Pentagon May 9, 2016.(DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

They also wrote and introduced the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991, which provided money for former Soviet states like Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan to decommission old Soviet weapons and ship them to Russia for destruction. Nunn and Lugar wanted to keep track of that material because they believed Russia could not. 

By 1994, the Soviet Union was long gone and Kazakhstan was an independent country. Its relations with Russia were still vital to its economy and its interests, though. It did not want to risk its relationship with its benefactor but still wanted to rid itself of its excess nuclear material. 

Its biggest concern came from a former Soviet submarine plant in the country that had been abandoned. The fissile material was sitting in the remote facility and the workers hadn’t been paid in months. 

On Oct. 14, 1994, a 31-person team slipped unnoticed into Kazakhstan and secured the submarine production facility with the help of a few of the workers. For nearly a month, the team worked 12-hour shifts six days a week to remove and repack the highly enriched uranium. When they finally finished in late November, it took two Air Force C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft to move all the material from the former USSR to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 

Upon their return, the mission was not only declassified, it was celebrated when announced to the press by the Clinton Administration and members of Congress who were instrumental in creating the means for its success.   

When American political parties are united, there’s nothing we can’t do, even if that means smuggling nuclear material out of a foreign country.


Feature image: Screen capture from YouTube.

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Today in military history: President Garfield is shot

On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was mortally wounded when he was shot only four months into his administration.

His assailant, Charles Guiteau, was likely insane. He spent weeks stalking the president, believing he was fulfilling a mission from God to unite the Republican party, and finally on the morning of July 2, 1881, he shot the president at the Baltimore and Potomac train station in Washington D.C.

The president was treated quickly and spent the next few days fighting for his life, while Vice President Chester A. Arthur served as acting president. On Sept. 19, 1881, after 80 brutal days, President Garfield finally died of blood poisoning. The following day, Arthur was inaugurated as President of the United States.

Guiteau was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He was hanged in June 1882.

Four presidents have been assassinated in American history: President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot on April 14, 1865, James Garfield was fatally shot on July 2, 1881, William McKinley was fatally shot on Sept. 6, 1901, and finally John F. Kennedy was shot and killed on Nov. 22, 1963.

Featured Image: An engraving of James A. Garfield’s assassination, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper on July 16, 1881. The caption reads “Washington, D.C.—The attack on the President’s life—Scene in the ladies’ room of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot—The arrest of the assassin / from sketches by our special artist’s [sic] A. Berghaus and C. Upham.”

President Garfield is at center right, leaning after being shot. He is supported by Secretary of State James G. Blaine who wears a light colored top hat. To the left, assassin Charles Guiteau is restrained by members of the crowd, one of whom is about to strike him with a cane.

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This Pearl Harbor hero refused to abandon his ship

December 7, 1941, is a heartrending day for Americans — even 75 years later.


Despite the solemn reminder that over 2,000 individuals perished that day, the instances of self-sacrifice and valor offer a source of inspiration to Americans.

Captain Bennion of the USS West Virginia is one of those men, immortalized forever for his stubborn refusal to give up his ship or abandon his men during one of America’s darkest hours.

6 unbelievable military love stories
Medal of Honor Recipient Captain Mervyn Sharp Bennion. (Photo courtesy of the Naval Historical Center)

Mervyn Sharp Bennion was born in Utah Territory in May of 1887. He successfully graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1910, ranked third in his class. His roommate, Earl C. Metz, recalled the Mormon farmer’s sharp mind during his academic years. “He was able to concentrate mentally to a degree I have never seen equalled. He could read over a thing once and he had it. He had a perfectly marvellous brain and mental processes,” Metz recollected.

After graduation, Bennion served aboard the USS North Dakota as a lieutenant during the First World War. He methodically rose in the ranks of the Navy until he received command of the USS Bernadou in 1932. He returned to the Naval War College for a short time, and served as an instructor. On July 2, 1941, Bennion assumed command of the USS West Virginia of the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. A little over five months after receiving the command he would be dead.

His brother, Howard Sharp Bennion, published an account of his deeds in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Captain Bennion was casually shaving in his cabin on the morning of December 7 before heading out to church service. This stillness in his cabin was disrupted when one of his sailors burst through the door and alerted him that a wave of Japanese aircraft was headed directly toward the vessel.

Bennion rushed to the deck and issued a series of orders to prepare for the imminent attack. It was not long before a low flying Japanese torpedo bomber dumped three bombs on the West Virginia, causing severe damage and tearing a hole in its side.

6 unbelievable military love stories
A rescue operation underway from the burning USS West Virginia after the Japanese attacks. (U.S. Navy, December 7, 1941)

On his way to the Flag Bridge a fragment of metal tore through the air and gashed Bennion in the abdomen. The projectile nearly decapitated him, tearing his torso to shreds and damaging his spine and left hip. He was unable to move his legs and his entrails protruded from his stomach.

A pharmacist’s mate came to his aid and placed a makeshift bandage over the mortal wound. Bennion demanded that the man go attend to other wounded sailors and continued to issue orders amid the chaos.

Bennion refused to be moved an inch from his location until the first Japanese attack ended. During the lull before the second wave arrived, he finally permitted himself to be placed on a cot under a sheltered position on the deck.

As he lay protracted and in agony, he resumed issuing commands and receiving reports when the second wave struck an hour later.

Due to the combination of the loss of blood and shock, he began to lose consciousness. A few of his men tied him on a ladder and carried the makeshift stretcher to the navigation bridge out of the way of flames and smoke engulfing the vessel.

Barley coherent and somehow still clinging to life, Bennion again ordered his men to leave him and look after themselves. Roughly 20 minutes later he passed away, one of the thousands of Americans to perish that day.

One officer who remained alongside Bennion to the end proudly proclaimed that “the noble conduct of Capt. Bennion before and after being wounded met the highest traditions of the naval service and justified the high esteem in which he was universally held. I consider it my great good fortune to have served under him.”

6 unbelievable military love stories
The USS West Virginia continued to serve as an active battleship throughout the Pacific, and was present for the surrender of the Japanese on September 2, 1945. (U.S. Navy)

Bennion’s body was transported home and buried with honor in Utah. He was afterward awarded the Medal of Honor for his inspirational leadership. His citation read: “For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. As Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. West Virginia, after being mortally wounded, Capt. Bennion evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge.”

Despite being incapacitated early in the action at Pearl Harbor, Bennion refused to abandon his ship and nobly encouraged his men until the bitter end.

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FOX host asks Americans on D-Day: Are you living a life worthy of our fallen?

On June 6, 2021, the world recognized the 77th anniversary of D-Day, arguably the largest seaborne invasion in history. Though it led to the eventual freeing of Europe from Nazi-controlled Germany, the cost was high and heavy. Historians estimate that as many as 10,000 allied troops lost their lives on the Normandy beaches that day. FOX’s Sunday Night in America hosted by Trey Gowdy memorialized those heroes. But Gowdy took it even further by talking directly to viewers and asking them if they were living their lives to be worth the willing sacrifices made by our fallen.

The host ended his show on Sunday by reflecting on D-Day, noting that although it feels like so long ago it was within his own parent’s lifetime. Gowdy also addressed the recent Memorial Day and how it is often perceived or recognized by the country. “Memorial Day is associated in some of our minds with fireworks, backyard cookouts and swimming pools. All of that’s good. It’s been a long, hard year for our country and taking a day to simply enjoy life and the company of those we care about is a good thing,” he said in his address. It was his next words that revealed his direct and vital point. “I think there is a seminal question to be asked on Memorial Day and on this D-Day Anniversary. It’s a question really only for those who can no longer answer. The question is simply this: ‘Was it worth it?’.”

In the month before D-Day, 1.5 million American troops were deployed to Great Britain. History has long proven the remarkable evidence of unwavering courage the men on those beaches maintained as they waited for the invasion to begin. You see, they knew the chances of dying were high. Then General Dwight Eisenhower was told at one point casualties alone could be as high as 75 percent. They did it anyway. By August of 1944, over 20,000 Americans would lay down their lives in the battle to free the world from the Nazis.

6 unbelievable military love stories
General Dwight Eisenhower’s Order of the Day, delivered to Allied personnel on June 6, 1944. (Image: Eisenhower Presidential Library.)

As the country reflected on the somber anniversary, Gowdy asked a poignant question of the viewers watching: “I don’t think it’s too much to ask for us to simply reflect on whether we have become as a people, as a nation, as a country, something worth losing your life over. I do wonder sometimes what those women and men who died on behalf of this country would say,” he said. Later, he took it even further. “Have we become the country you imagined we could be when you fought and fell? Is this the America you dreamed of when you were taking your last breath far removed from your family?”

The picture painted with his words are undeniably uncomfortable for many to think of, but no less true. The Normandy invasion of D-Day changed the course of the war and quickly ended Nazi Germany’s reign. Those who served during that time period became commonly referred to as the “greatest generation” with over 12 million Americans raising their right hands. The patriotism so loudly heard and visibly seen during that period faded as America entered into new wars years later. Since then, there have been moments we’ve witnessed with horror as well as those to be celebrated, as we grew and advanced as a country. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 it felt as though we were more connected than ever, not unlike that D-Day feeling Americans may have been experiencing. But it would be fleeting. Though none of us would ever wish another attack, many openly long for the America of the days after 9/11. We cheered and honored our men and women in uniform, united in the commitment to eliminate evil and defend our country. 20 years into the war, we’ve lost that.

“It is much easier to think about the beginning of summer and the pool and the longer days with the sun setting later into the evening. But for those for whom the sun has already set, never to rise again, what would they tell you – if only they could,” Gowdy implored. “I think the best way to honor the men and women who died to found, preserve, perfect, defend and improve this country, is to make sure their sacrifice has a meaning, a purpose, an everlasting purpose. That is the greatest gift we can give back to those who gave their greatest gift to us. ‘Was it worth it?’ That’s the question for us to reflect on.  And the answer is really up to us.”

6 unbelievable military love stories
Troops are loaded on landing ships bound for Normandy, June 1944. US Army photo

According to Nielsen Media Research, almost 1.3 million people watched Gowdy utter those words. It was a powerful message of reflection citizens of this country would benefit from spending time sitting with not just on Memorial Day or D-Day remembrance, but every day. As we look at where we’ve come from and where we are going as modern Americans, are we worth it? The important take away from Gowdy’s message seems to be that we should always strive to be. The weight of those lives lost in the name of our freedom and opportunity as Americans deserves nothing less.

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These small rockets can bring down buildings

Thermobaric rockets can be carried by a single infantry soldier in addition to their normal weapon, but the rockets are so powerful they can destroy some buildings in a single shot. America’s main thermobaric rocket is the SMAW-NE. The Shoulder-launched Multi-purpose Assault Weapon-Novel Explosive fires a rocket that disperses a mist of metal and fuel. The chemicals then react with the oxygen in the air before exploding.


The resulting blast is strong enough to take out many small buildings, even those built with stone and heavy beams. The weapon is mostly used by the Marine Corps and was deployed during the Second Battle of Fallujah.

Of course, America isn’t the only country with thermobaric rockets. Russians use the Shmel-M. In the Russian military, thermobaric weapons are called, “flamethrowers,” but the rockets work the same way. The Shmel-M is actually a descendant of the Schmel, the first deployed thermobaric weapon.

Thermobaric weapons also come in the form of a bomb or grenade.

NOW: The most ridiculous weapons ever designed

OR: The Navy’s new weapon system is a laser pointer on steroids

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Russia built an armored vehicle like the American M113

The M113 armored personnel carrier is perhaps one of the best-known armored vehicles in the world. Fully-tracked, it has a M2 .50-caliber machine gun, a crew of two, and holds 11 troops.


This vehicle has been sold around the world – and has seen conflict since 1962. That’s 55 years of service, and with so many around the world (at least 80,000 were produced), it will be around for a long time and see a lot of future wars.

Russia, though, built its own version of the M113 dubbed the “MT-LB.” This vehicle was also tracked, had a crew of two, and could carry 11 people. However the MT-LB was never used for the purpose of carrying troops into combat – that was the job of the BMP and BTR armored fighting vehicles. As such, while the vehicle had a turret, the turret only had a PKM machine gun in it.

6 unbelievable military love stories
A MT-LB Acquired by the United States on display. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

That gun is no slouch, but it’s only really good against troops in the open. Even jeeps and Humvees can last for a bit when a 7.62mmx54R round is being fired at them.

So, what was the MT-LB used for? Towing artillery, evacuating wounded troops, delivering supplies, and a host of the not-very-glamorous but critically-important missions on a battlefield, without which, the tanks and IFVs would be in a world of hurt.

6 unbelievable military love stories
U.S. Marine Infantrymen from the 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion, 1st Marine Division, are riding in two soviet bloc MT-LB Multi-Purpose Tracked vehicles. The Marines were acting as the Opposing Forces (OPFOR) during this exercise. (DOD photo)

Like the M113, the baseline chassis of the MT-LB was modified into other roles. The SA-13 Gopher vehicle is based on the MT-LB. So is the 2S1 122mm self-propelled howitzer.

The Russians even developed a version that could fire the AT-6 Spiral anti-tank missile, a laser-guided weapon that is usually used on attack helicopters.

While not produced in the numbers of the M113, the MT-LB has found its way into many battlefields often with countries once aligned with the Soviet Union. Like the M113, it will be a long time before the last MT-LB is retired.

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6 ways the Army was the perfect primer for ‘Batman’

The whole world mourned June 9 at the news that Adam West, the Army veteran and actor who brought “Batman” to the silver screen, had died at the age of 88 after a battle with cancer.


Adam West was born, and drafted into the Army, as William West. In the military, he was in charge of standing up TV stations at San Luis Obispo, California, and Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. But if it seems odd that the star of a farcical show like the 1966 version of “Batman” got his start in the Army, it was actually the perfect way to prepare for such a ridiculous show.

Here are six reasons why:

1. Renaming everything to some arbitrary standard like “bat cuffs,” “bat time,” and “bat channel,” makes sense for anyone who has had to relearn names for Velcro, Duck Tape, and zipper

6 unbelievable military love stories
Batman and Robin stand with their utility belts. (Photo: Greenway Productions, Public Domain)

Batman wore a bat belt that contained bat pills and bat cuffs which came in handy for the show that played twice a week at the same bat time, same bat channel. While all of that seems like nonsense to civilians, soldiers are used to fastening “hook and loop fasteners,” taping items down with “100 mph tape,” and securing their blouses with “slide fasteners and tab thongs.”

Those are ridiculous ways of referring to Velcro, Duck Tape, and zippers, which are all brand names that the Army can’t use in official doctrine. So young Billy West would have gotten used to using the Army names. It was probably easy to start calling everything “bat” later in life.

2. Dealing with a group of ne’er-do-wells like the “Batman” villains is old hat for anyone who has dealt with an Army squad

6 unbelievable military love stories
The villains of the 1966 Batman film. From left to right, the Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, and Joker. (Photo: Greenway Production, Public Domain)

Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Archer, and other crazy villains were always hatching insane schemes in the Batman TV show. But, once again, the Army would’ve prepared the future Bruce Wayne for this.

Soldiers decide to get high with spice and bath salts? Yup, sounds about right. Troops smuggling liquor overseas by pouring it into Listerine bottles and mixing in food coloring? Seen it. Enlisted hijinks are basically Silver Age Batman ridiculous, just without the fancy gadgets and costumes.

3. Having to mentor a grown adult while treating them like a child is how all specialists deal with new privates

6 unbelievable military love stories
(Photo: flickr/BATMAN)

One of the more awkward truths about the Batman is that Robin, the Boy Wonder, was actually a 21-year-old man when the show began. The grown adult Adam West had to act like mentoring another grown man while treating him like a child wasn’t sort of weird.

But again, the Army is perfect preparation for this. After all, most specialists have only been in the military for a few years and they can be assigned responsibility of a private first class who has been in the Army a couple of years. So, 24-year-old  supervising 20-year-olds.

4. Spending all of your time with an attractive lady without giving in is easy for any NCO who had to ignore their co-ed lieutenant’s good looks

6 unbelievable military love stories
Adam West’s Batman and Catwoman almost kiss. (Photo: YouTube/InnuMaccaband)

One of Batman’s greatest villains was Catwoman, who definitely had a thing going on with Batman. But Batman refused to give in to it (though he almost kissed her once, and a later incarnation of Batman ran off to Europe with her).

But any specialist or sergeant who has pulled overnight duty with an even moderately attractive officer knows what it’s like to weigh the consequences of “fraternization” over and over. Chances are, young and attractive Billy West had to say no to a few female sergeants and officers, or at least find the right place to give in without getting caught.

5. Only in the military and “Batman” can the little stuff be crucial during an emergency

This is a small one, but most organizations will let little things go during an emergency. But Batman doesn’t accept any of that crap from Robin. Proper grammar is important, and Batman corrects Robin even as Catwoman tries to get away on a rocket.

You know, just like a sergeant major yelling about gloves during a firefight or reflective belts during literally anything.

6. Working within made-up rules is easy for anyone who has dealt with UCMJ and Rules of Engagement

Batman runs into some pretty stupid bureaucratic problems during the show, like that time the Riddler sues Batman (while using riddles to explain his scheme, because of course he did) for false imprisonment and assault.

While the details of the case seem insane, Billy West probably sat through the Uniform Code of Military Justice briefing where soldiers are told they technically can’t engage in anything other than “missionary”-style sex because of Article 125.

Really think anyone who was briefed on Article 125 will be thrown for a loop by Gotham’s insane judges?

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How the F-35 will become the quarterback for the US Marine Corps and Navy

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An F-35B Lightning II takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp on May 25, 2015. | US Navy Photo


The role of the F-35 in the future of air combat just got a lot clearer, and it’s going to be a star.

The F-35’s integration with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense platforms, recently proven in a test at White Sands Missile Range, shows that the F-35 can destroy airborne enemies without firing a shot of it’s own by leveraging the US Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control Counterair network (NIFC-CA).

Also read: The F-35 just proved it can take Russian or Chinese airspace without firing a shot

Basically, the NIFC-CA uses a giant network of sensors to create targeting data that can be accessed by several naval platforms, like destroyers and other planes.

But the NIFC-CA is old. Ships first deployed with this capability in March 2015.

In the past, the Navy’s E-2 Hawkeye played the “quarterback” role in this system as an “elevated sensor” that could see airborne threats at altitude, in orbit, or flying low like a cruise missile.

However, the Hawkeye is an unarmed propeller-driven plane that only launches from aircraft carriers.

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An E-2C Hawkeye from the Bluetails of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 121 lands aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. | US Navy Photo

Now, the F-35 can do everything the Hawkeye did, and much, much more. For one, the F-35 is armed and can take out targets on its own. Secondly, it is a stealthy, fast jet fighter that can slip in and out of enemy defenses unnoticed.

Third, it has the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), a system originally devised to communicate between F-35s that has now been expanded to participate in the NIFC-CA.

MADL provides significant advantages over traditional systems of transmission, namely that it’s very difficult to jam. Adversaries have never seen anything like the MADL, and if they ever do figure out how to disrupt it, it will certainly take some time.

When the F-35 program reaches its maturation point about a dozen US allies will be flying the Joint Strike Fighter. They will all have the ability to contribute targeting data to their own fleets as well as that of allied nations. So an Australian F-35 could transmit data to a nearby South Korean Aegis-equipped destroyer and take out a distant target, no problem.

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The South Korean Navy’s Sejong the Great, their Aegis-equipped ship, during the 2008 Busan International Fleet Review. | US Navy

The applications and versatility of the F-35’s MADL has surprised even those close to the program.

“Originally we didn’t think F-35s would use through datalinks directly to ships… This gives them the ability to talk directly to the ship with a very hard to detect very hard to jam MADL link,” retired Navy officer Bran Clark told USNI News.

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Increased civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria draw criticism

Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants are quickly moving to drum up outrage over a sharp spike in civilian casualties said to have been caused by U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, posting photos online of a destroyed medical center and homes reduced to rubble. “This is how Trump liberates Mosul, by killing its inhabitants,” the caption reads.


The propaganda points to the risk that rising death tolls and destruction could undermine the American-led campaign against the militants.

During the past two years of fighting to push back the Islamic State group, the U.S.-led coalition has faced little backlash over casualties, in part because civilian deaths have been seen as relatively low and there have been few cases of single strikes killing large numbers of people.

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A Blackwater Security Company MD-530F helicopter aids in securing the site of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, on December 4, 2004. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In Iraq — even though sensitivities run deep over past American abuses of civilians — the country’s prime minister and many Iraqis support the U.S. role in fighting the militants.

But for the first time, anger over lives lost is becoming a significant issue as Iraqi troops backed by U.S. special forces and coalition airstrikes wade into more densely populated districts of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and U.S. -backed Syrian fighters battle closer to the Islamic State group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

That has the potential to undercut victories against the militants and stoke resentments that play into their hands.

At least 300 civilians have been killed in the offensive against IS in the western half of Mosul since mid-February, according to the U.N. human rights office — including 140 killed in a single March 17 airstrike on a building. Dozens more are claimed to have been killed in another strike late March, according to Amnesty International, and by similar airstrikes in neighboring Syria since Trump took office.

In Syria, as fighting around Raqqa intensified, civilian fatalities from coalition airstrikes rose to 198 in March — including 32 children and 31 women — compared to 56 in February, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which documents Syria’s war. Over the course of the air campaign, from September 2014 through February, an average of 30 civilians were killed a month, according to the Observatory.

The U.S. military is investigating what role the U.S. played in the March 17 airstrike in Mosul, and American and Iraqi officials have said militants may have deliberately gathered civilians there and planted explosives in the building. The blast left an entire residential block flattened, reducing buildings to mangled concrete.

Among those who lost loved ones, resentment appears to be building toward the U.S.-led coalition and the ground forces it supports.

“How could they have used this much artillery on civilian locations?” asked Bashar Abdullah, a resident of the neighborhood known as New Mosul, who lost more than a dozen family members in the March 17 attack. “Iraqi and American forces both assured us that it will be an easy battle, that’s why people didn’t leave their houses. They felt safe.”

U.S. officials have said they are investigating other claims of casualties in Syria and Iraq.

Islamic State group fighters have overtly used civilians as human shields, including firing from homes where people are sheltering or forcing people to move alongside them as they withdraw. The group has imposed a reign of terror across territories it holds in Syria and Iraq, taking women as sex slaves, decapitating or shooting suspected opponents, and destroying archaeological sites.

Mass graves are unearthed nearly every day in former IS territory.

Now, the group is using the civilian deaths purportedly as a result of U.S.-led airstrikes in its propaganda machine.

Photos recently posted online on militant websites showed the destruction at the Mosul Medical College with a caption describing the Americans as the “Mongols of the modern era” who kill and destroy under the pretext of liberation. A series of pictures showing destroyed homes carried the comment: “This is how Trump liberates Mosul, by killing its inhabitants under the rubble of houses bombed by American warplanes to claim victory. Who would dare say this is a war crime?”

In Syria, IS and other extremist factions have pushed the line that the U.S. and Russia, which is backing President Bashar Assad’s regime, are equal in their disregard for civilian lives.

6 unbelievable military love stories
Spc. Alaa Jaza, an Arabic linguist, advises Iraqi Army soldiers on how to set battle positions to avoid friendly fire during a training event at Camp Taji, Iraq, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Cody Quinn, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs)

U.S. “crimes are clear evidence of the ‘murderous friendship’ that America claims to have with the Syrian people, along with its claimed concern for their future and interests,” said the Levant Liberation Committee, an al-Qaida-led insurgent alliance.

Some Syrian opposition factions allied with the U.S. have also criticized the strikes, describing them as potential war crimes.

An analysis by the Soufan Group consultancy warned that rumors and accusations of coalition atrocities “will certainly help shape popular opinion once Mosul and Raqqa are retaken, thus serving a purpose for the next phase of the Islamic State’s existence.”

Criticism has also come from Russian officials, whose military has been accused of killing civilians on a large scale in its air campaign in Syria, particularly during the offensive that recaptured eastern Aleppo from rebels late last year.

“I’m greatly surprised with such action of the U.S. military, which has all the necessary equipment and yet were unable to figure out for several hours that they weren’t striking the designated targets,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, speaking at the U.N. Security Council about the March 17 strike.

Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, acknowledged the spike in civilian casualty reports could change the way the coalition is conducting the war. He said it was a “very valid” concern that loss of life and destruction could play into the hands of IS or cause some coalition members to waver.

“But the coalition is not going to back down when (the fight) gets hard or there’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “That’s what ISIS wants.”

In Syria, the deadliest recent strike occurred earlier this month in a rebel-held area in the north. Opposition activists said a mosque was hit during evening prayers, killing around 40 people, mostly civilians, and wounding dozens of others. The U.S. said it struck an al-Qaida gathering across the street from the mosque, killing dozens of militants, adding they found no basis for reports that civilians were killed.

In Mosul, the scale of destruction wrought by increased artillery and airstrikes is immense in some areas.

Abdullah, the resident of New Mosul, buried 13 members of his family in a single day.

Standing in a field now being used as a graveyard, he said: “This was not a liberation. It was destruction.”

Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Maamoun Youssef in Cairo, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Mstyslav Chernov in Mosul, Iraq, contributed to this report.

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Women in combat may cause Congress to end selective service process

The House Armed Services Committee will reexamine the Selective Service System’s viability and explore possible alternatives in this year’s review of the National Defense Authorization Bill, the legislation that sets the spending guidelines and policy directives for the coming fiscal year.


6 unbelievable military love stories
A U.S. Marine with Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fires his weapon as part of a deck shoot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8). (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Evan R. White)

Congressional staffers told the Military Times that the move comes after all the hand wringing over the idea of women registering for the draft now that they can be assigned to combat jobs in the military. Some of the representatives who sit on the House committee were part of a group who entered legislation to abolish the Selective Service System entirely, which they deem to be obsolete and outdated.

U.S. law says all male citizens of the United States and male immigrants (and bizarrely, illegal immigrants, too) have to register for the Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday. After the Vietnam War, President Gerald Ford abolished the draft, but President Jimmy Carter reestablished it as a response to the potential threat posed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

6 unbelievable military love stories
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Tanner)

The SSS costs roughly $23 million per year to operate, but nobody’s actually been drafted since 1973. Even at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the option of instituting a draft was deemed unnecessary.

The draft isn’t dead yet, however. Before any changes are made to the current system, the Senate would also have to approve the legislation, and then it would move over to the President’s desk for his signature (or his veto).

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This is the Air Force vet who forced KSM to reveal his darkest secrets

James Mitchell had a successful 22-year career in the U.S. Air Force — most notably as a top trainer at the Air Force’s survival school — before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.


And while he earned some awards and accolades for his service as a SERE leader, it was what he did as a contractor for the CIA after his retirement that truly marks his career.

See, Mitchell is the man who broke al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (often called “KSM”) and other high-ranking members of the terrorist group in the months and years after 9/11.

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Photo provided by Crown Publishing

After the release of his new book about the interrogation program titled “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” Mitchell sat down for an interview with Marc Theissen, a Washington Post columnist and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

During the 90-minute discussion, Mitchell both clarified details about the controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques” he used and provided insights into the minds of the terrorists.

 

First, Mitchell explained the difference between interrogation and what he describes as “how do you do” visits.

“These enhanced interrogations that I was part of really only dealt with about 14 of the top folks. I didn’t have anything to do with the mid-level or low-level folks at all,” Mitchell, who’s a licensed psychologist, said. “And most of these interrogations took place over a period of time of about two weeks. KSM’s took about three weeks. And then after that, there was no enhanced interrogations for KSM — you know, none at all.”

He later added, “[O]ur goal in doing enhanced interrogations was to get them to make some movement, to be willing to engage in the questions instead of rocking and chanting and doing the other sorts of things that they had previously been doing.”

Once they broke, it was all about “cigarettes and beer,” to borrow a quote from Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis.

“We switched to social influence stuff because we know that the real way that you get the cooperation that you want is not by trying to coerce it out of them,” Mitchell said. “It’s by getting them to provide the information in a way that they don’t feel particularly pressured to do it.”

Mitchell made it clear that after the terrorists broke, the nature of his visits were more along the lines of maintenance. During one of those visits, he described how the mastermind of 9/11 revealed that he had personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

“He describes cutting his head off and dismembering him and burying him in a hole. And [we] asked him, was that difficult for you to do, thinking emotionally this had to be hard to do,” Mitchell said. “And he said, ‘Oh, no. I had sharp knives. The toughest part was getting through the neck bone’ — just like that.”

Mitchell also described KSM’s shock at George W. Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks, revealing that the terror leader thought the U.S. would treat the attack as a law enforcement problem and not go to war over it.

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Photo of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed taken after his capture by American personnel. (Photo by DOD)

“And then he looks down and he goes, ‘How was I to know that cowboy George Bush would say he wanted us dead or alive and invade Afghanistan to get us?’ And he said it just about like that, like he was befuddled, like he couldn’t imagine it,” Mitchell said.

And Mitchell firmly denies that his EITs were torture.

“If it was torture, they wouldn’t have to pass a law in 2015 outlawing it because torture is already illegal, right?” Mitchell said. “The highest Justice Department in the land wouldn’t have opined five times that it wasn’t torture — one time after I personally waterboarded an assistant attorney general before he made that decision three or four days later, right?”

Mitchell’s book, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” is published by Crown Forum and is available at Amazon.com.

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