7 items every Marine needs before deploying - We Are The Mighty
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7 items every Marine needs before deploying

Your orders just posted and you’re shipping out on a 7 to 13-month deployment. Good luck with all that!


The checklist your first sergeant passed out is several pages of stuff you just cram into the bottom of your sea bag — like extra PT gear, running and shower shoes — just to mention a few.

Pretty much all work and no play items. That’s no fun.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit embark aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julio Rivera).

There’s another list the NCOs don’t hand out; the list of stuff you’ll actually use on a day-to-day — one that will make that long deployment more manageable and fun.

Remember, you won’t have much storage where you’re headed off to, so plan accordingly.

1. Extra undies

While manning the front lines, there’s no guarantee when you’ll have free time to do laundry. It’s amazing how wearing a clean, dry set of underwear can boost morale.

2. 550 cord

Also known as “Paracord,” this traditional interwoven cord gets its name from the 550 pounds of heavy tension it can withstand and its ability to tie stuff together. The versatile cord was even used by Space Shuttle crews to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

You’ll use it as a multi-tool, including to tie down cammie netting, attach extra gear to your body armor and air dry your laundry.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
24th December 1956: The laundry at the United Nations (UN) camp in Abu Seuir, Egypt.

3. Shock resistant camera

Deployments are life changing experiences. You’re going to want to capture the moments, but not any camera will do.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying

Shock resistant Cameras are designed for rugged outdoor use and are great when ambushing ISIS. They tend to run a little more expensive than traditional digital cameras, but when you’re on patrol and take heavy fire, these little bad boys shouldn’t let you down when recording your personal history.

That’s badass.

4. A Cheap laptop

Deployments can be boring, with loads of downtime if you’re lucky. Consider bringing a cheap laptop with as many movies as your external hard drive can hold. Don’t spend too much money on one; chances are dust and debris will ruin it after too long.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Movie time!

What better way to spend a Friday night with your brothers then huddling around a 15-inch screen watching an action movie. The more variety of movies you have in stock the better.

5. Calling cards

No, we don’t mean that unique object you leave after getting away with a heist.

A calling card or phone card allows you to make calls from any working phone without charging the expenses to the receiver. It can get pretty expensive that way.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying

Many foreign bases around the world have USOs set up for deployed members to call home or use the internet. Some require the purchase of calling cards so have one handy dandy if you walk into one where Uncle Sam is too cheap to fit the phone bill.

 6. Music player

Self-explanatory, because everyone likes music.

7. Magazine subscriptions

Having new magazines show up during mail call is one of the greatest gifts a Marine can receive. Especially, when you’re in an all-male infantry unit stationed in the middle of  bum f*ck nowhere and Maxim magazine arrives. Everyone celebrates.

Can you think of anymore items? Comment below.
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt secretly talked to Edward Snowden to prepare for a movie

7 items every Marine needs before deploying


In a profile piece on Joseph Gordon-Levitt from The Guardian, the actor revealed that he flew to Russia for a secret meeting with Edward Snowden in preparation for playing the NSA whistle-blower in the upcoming movie “Snowden,” directed by Oliver Stone (opening in 2016).

Gordon-Levitt said the motivation behind the meeting was to “understand this person that I was going to play, observing both his strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

The two met for four hours and though the actor wanted to tape record the meeting, it was advised that he did not.

In fact, according to piece, Snowden’s lawyers didn’t want Gordon-Levitt to admit the meeting had taken place.

The actor said that what he took most from the meeting with Snowden was he completely agrees with the actions he took.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Edward Snowden receives the Sam Adams award for Intelligence Integrity in Moscow. Photo: Wikimedia

“I left knowing without a doubt that what [Snowden] did, he did because he believed it was the right thing to do. That he believed it would help the country he loves,” said Gordon-Levitt.

“Now, as he would say, it’s not for him to say whether it was right or wrong. That’s really for people to decide on their own, and I would encourage anybody to decide that on their own. I don’t want to be the actor guy who’s like, ‘You should listen to me! What he did was right!’ I don’t think that’s my place. Even though that is what I believe — that what he did was right.”

“Snowden” is based on Luke Hardin’s book “The Snowden Files” and Anatoly Kucherena’s “Time of the Octopus.”

Along with Gordon-Levitt, the film stars Shailene Woodley as Lindsay Mills, Snowden’s girlfriend, Zachary Quinto as Glenn Greenwald, and Melissa Leo as Laura Poitras. Greenwald was the journalist and Poitras the filmmaker Snowden leaked the classified documents to.

Nicolas Cage, Scott Eastwood, and Timothy Olyphant also star.

Gordon-Levitt will next been seen in the Robert Zemeckis film “The Walk,” in which he’ll be playing another real-life figure, Philippe Petit. The film recounts Petit’s infamous tightrope walk across New York City’s World Trade Towers in 1974.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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The story of the iconic Soviet general and the secret order for a special kind of Coca-Cola

As World War II ended and the Iron Curtain fell over Eastern Europe, relations deteriorated between the Soviet Union and its Western allies.

The Soviet repudiation of the West and of capitalism went as far as banning business with Western companies, as there was no reason to trade with “imperialist” powers.

That created a problem for one of the most revered Soviet military leaders, marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov, who oversaw many of the USSR’s greatest victories against the Nazis.

The problem? Zhukov had developed an intense liking for Coca-Cola, a drink now illegal in the Soviet Union. Not only that, but Zhukov also feared that being seen consuming such a recognizable Western product would lead to punishment.

In an effort to maintain good ties, the Truman administration undertook a covert effort to get Zhukov the soda he wanted.

A cultural icon

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Soldiers the front lines of the Cassino Front drink the first Coca-Cola to reach US troops in Italy on March 16, 1944. (PH/Sherman Montrose ACME)

Coca-Cola’s steadfast support for the Allied war effort helped make it both distinctly American and recognizable worldwide.

As the US entered the war, Coca-Cola President Robert Woodruff ordered his company “to see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.”

The soft drink was seen as an important morale booster and thus a wartime necessity. Coca-Cola bottling plants sprang up close to front lines all over the world to get the drinks to Allied troops as fast as possible.

More than 100 employees known as “Coca-Cola colonels” were even given the Army rank of technical observer and deployed to the front to ensure soldiers got their Cokes quickly and efficiently.

In 1943, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, a fan of the drink himself, ordered 3 million bottles to the front in North Africa. He also requested enough supplies and materials to refill 6 million more bottles every month.

When Richard Bong, a US Army pilot in the Pacific theater, set the American record for air-to-air-combat victories in January 1944, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, the head of the Army Air Forces, sent him two cases of Coke as a reward.

By the end of the war, Allied military personnel had consumed 5 billion bottles of Coke from 64 bottling plants around the world.

‘White Coke’

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Zhukov, Eisenhower, and Montgomery at a banquet at Allied headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1945. (Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Zhukov acquired his taste for Coke after drinking it during a meeting with Eisenhower after the war. Zhukov could enjoy Coke in meetings with Western officials but not at home, as the Soviet Union had banned Coca-Cola outright.

No alternative sated Zhukov’s thirst for Coke, but in 1946, he had an idea: If the drink were delivered without its distinctive caramel color, it could possibly be passed off as vodka.

Zhukov asked his American counterparts to see if such a feat was possible. Gen. Mark W. Clark, commander of US forces in the American sector of Allied-occupied Austria, eventually passed the request to President Harry Truman, who contacted James Farley, chairman of the Coca-Cola Export Corporation.

Coca-Cola was actually in the process of expanding its business operations in Austria, and one of its employees was assigned to the effort. A company chemist soon made a clear version of the drink by removing caramel from the ingredients.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Zhukov, then Soviet defense minister, demonstrates a bayonet thrust at the military academy at Dehradun, India in January 1957. (CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

At Zhukov’s request, the new beverage wasn’t put in the usual Coke bottles but instead in unmarked, straight-edged bottles. To create a communist-friendly appearance, Coca-Cola even used custom-made white caps emblazoned with a red star on the bottles.

Fifty crates of “white Coke” were delivered to the Soviets in Vienna. While all other goods entering the Soviet occupation zone were stopped and inspected, Coca-Cola was able to deliver the crates without interference.

In the end, the rare olive branch between East and West amounted to little more than a personal favor between wartime colleagues.

It’s not known what became of the drinks or their bottles, and the exchange had no effect on the deteriorating relationship between the two blocs.

It didn’t even earn Coca-Cola better treatment, either. Its rival Pepsi eventually gained a virtual monopoly in the Soviet Union, which the Soviets maintained — once trading several warships for $3 billion worth of Pepsi — until 1985.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Feature image: Bettman/ Getty Images

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You’ll love this 91-year-old female World War II vet’s awesome definition of patriotism

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Miss Norma aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). (Photo: Facebook.com/DrivingMissNorma)


WATM recently caught up with 91-year-old WWII Navy Veteran Norma Bauerschmidt, who made headlines when she opted out of medical treatment for her stage IV uterine cancer to live the rest of her days seeing the country that she served rather than the walls of a hospital.

“Miss Norma,” as she has come to be known, made her decision two days after her husband Leo of 67 years and Army-Air Corps veteran passed away. She and her poodle, Ringo, now live in an RV with her son and daughter-in-law.  She has no regrets.

“I’m having the time of my life!” Norma said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I’m done with doctors.”

Q: What made you want to join the service?

A: I wanted to help our country. I have always been quite patriotic. I was the only girl from my neighborhood who went into the service. I served 1945-1946.

Q: Did your parents approve?

A: My mother didn’t say one way or the other. My father said I could do it but I couldn’t sign up until I was 20. I think that was the Navy’s rule for women, not my father’s.

Q: You served in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services). What made you interested in joining?

A: I always looked up to my older brother, Ralph. He went into the Navy before he graduated from high school. He was probably about 17. I thought I should follow in his footsteps.

Q: What was your job in the WAVES?

A: I was a nurse. I remember giving a lot of penicillin shots.

Q: Where were you stationed?

A: I did basic training at Hunters College in New York. I then took the train to San Diego Navel Hospital for the remainder of my service.

Q: Where did you meet your husband?

A: My brother Ralph and my husband Leo were buddies. Ralph introduced me to Leo in Toledo, Ohio 1947. They remained best friend for all those years and died exactly a month apart from each other.

Q: Where were you on the day World War II ended? What was your memory of that day?

A: We were in the barracks in San Diego. I remember feeling elated. Everyone was jumping up and down, screaming and hollering. It was a very big day!

Q: What advice do you have for women who are currently serving?

A: I don’t have any advice. I’m just glad that they are serving.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Norma in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. (Photo: Facebook)

Q: What is your definition of patriotism?

A: Supporting those who have chosen to serve our country.

Q: What was your most memorable moment of service?

A: I remember “borrowing” a male sailor’s leave pass so I could enjoy some time with my girlfriends who had a different day off from me. I hope the statute of limitations is up on this one!

Q: You were down to your last three cents when Congressman Ford personally delivered your benefit checks.  Did he spend time with you and your husband?

A: At the time he was a new congressman. He simply dropped off our checks. We were so grateful and surprised that he would come out himself. He didn’t visit more than to make sure we had what we needed. I would have liked to have given him a cookie, but we didn’t have any food at the time. Our interaction with him allowed us to get on our feet and begin our life together. He was a good man.

Q: Are there any other Navy Ships / National monuments that you’d like to visit?

A: Well, we are in Boston right now and are planning to visit the USS Constitution this week. And I would really like to see the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii someday.

Q: Did you join any veterans organizations after your service?

A: The only thing I remember is registering at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, VA along with my daughter who served in the Army and later became a special agent in the US Secret Service.

Q: What was the most valuable lesson the military taught you?

A: I am sure many lessons have stuck with me throughout my life. I am proud to say a quarter still bounces off my bed!

Watch the video of her visit aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78):

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6 lessons today’s military could learn from old cartoons

Wisdom comes in all sorts of places. Here are 6 lessons modern military leaders could learn from Bugs Bunny, Pinky and the Brain, and Winnie the Pooh:


1. Don’t rely on technology to solve all your problems

via GIPHY

Yes, F-22s, M1 Abrams, and Apache helicopters are sexy marvels of engineering, but they can’t win wars on their own. In a 1982 battle, Syria lost all of its fancy surface-to-air missile batteries in only two days of fighting because, instead of keeping them mobile or emplacing them in hard-to-template areas, they deployed them near bathrooms so they wouldn’t have to dig latrines.

2. A plan that is “so crazy it just might work!” usually doesn’t

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
GIF: YouTube/winniethepooh414

For all the flashy tricks in war, the best plan is often relatively simple. Don’t make a nine-step plan with 100 moving parts when you can send in an infantry company and get the job done. More moving parts equal more failure points.

3. Take care who you’re getting your advice from

via GIPHY

Not all intel is trustworthy. Plenty of locals are willing to provide fake tips to U.S. troops to get rid of political or business rivals. Troops in Afghanistan learned this the hard way when Pech River Valley residents got rid of families in Korengal Valley by siccing Americans on them. Soldiers deployed to the Korengal Valley footed the bill for those early mistakes.

4. Pick your allies and recruits wisely.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
GIF: YouTube/TammieRD’s channel

Allies have to be rigorously screened. Some of the senior Iraqi political and military allies of the U.S. stripped their own army of key leaders, neutering it and leaving the country ripe for takeover by ISIS. Now U.S. troops are filtering back into the nation to redo the work they thought they completed just a few years ago.

5. Don’t bring more gear than you need

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
GIF: YouTube/8thManDVD.com™ Cartoon Channel

Whether it’s a training ruck march or troops establishing a new combat outpost in country, packing should be done according to mission requirements. Food, water, ammo, and batteries are essential. Everything else should be scrutinized before it’s packed.

6. Don’t let your actions become predictable

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
GIF: YouTube/Adeem Works Studios

All militaries practice battle drills and write doctrine, even if they call them something different. This is vital to make sure that all units know what to expect from one another. But, they need to take care that they don’t make their actions predictable for the enemy. When trucks stop 50 meters from a suspected IED, insurgents will immediately begin planting secondary IEDs 50 meters from a primary.

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Trump’s vet endorsement came from a Super PAC disguised as a not-for-profit

On Tuesday, a Veteran’s group called Veterans for a Strong America (VSA) endorsed billionaire Donald Trump’s Presidential candidacy during a rally on board the decommissioned U.S.S. Iowa in San Pedro, California.


In a press release, Trump said, “I am honored to receive the endorsement of this fantastic group… If I win I am going to get our vets the care they need, treatment they deserve, and make America and our military great again!”

7 items every Marine needs before deploying

Except details about this veterans group are not entirely clear. Founded in 2010, VSA is run by South Dakota lawyer Joel Arends, who says the organization doesn’t usually endorse a candidate until the general election but recognizes Trump as an “inherent leader capable of achieving mission success.”

What Trump can or can’t do is for American voters to decide, but the back story behind Veterans for a Strong America is a bit hazy.

The fundraiser on the battleship Iowa this week was ostensibly meant to be a fundraiser for the 501(c)4 VSA, which will “go towards helping Veterans for a Strong America supporting our warriors on and off the battlefield and not to any candidate or candidate’s committee.”

Except the nonprofit status of VSA has since been revoked for failure to file the IRS form 990 for three consecutive years. So, the money from the event will likely go to the VSA Super PAC, and thus, to Joel Arends, who as of last night, may have been the sole member of VSA.

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
Arends deployed to Iraq in 2004 and later served with the rank of Major in the Army Reserve. While in Iraq, he was awarded the Bronze Star for operations in and around Baghdad. So his veteran status is beyond reproach.

Though he did paint a rather rosy picture of the war in Iraq in 2006, telling a reporter from Sioux City, Iowa at the time that “Iraq is a place of great progress” and that “American troops in Baghdad won the locals’ hearts and minds,” with 14 of the 18 provinces “considered relatively peaceful.”

VSA is not a non-partisan group

The group dates back to at least 2012, when the left-leaning Mother Jones website ran an article about their attempt to “swift boat” Obama during the 2012 election.

“Swift Boating” is now a political term meant to surprise a candidate’s military record, either truthfully or not, by “Veterans” who may or may not be associated with the candidate. The term refers to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ad ran against John Kerry during the 2004 Presidential election. In the 2012 Mother Jones article, Arends made no bones about his group’s activities.

“Yes, it’s the swift boating of the president, in the sense of using what’s perceived to be his greatest strength and making it his greatest weakness,” which Arends meant as the Bin Laden raid.

Arends contends his group is nonpartisan, though he has a history of working for Republican candidates and causes, including as a field director for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 1999, as the Veteran’s Director in Iowa in 2007 for John McCain for President, and working to promote events for Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, according to his Facebook page. The group’s registration also lists it as a conservative action group, which means…

VSA is a Super PAC

Super PACs are the anonymous dark money receptacles that are a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, allowing anyone to to donate unlimited sums to be distributed by these groups, as long as the candidate does not help coordinate how that money is spent.

In the 2012 election cycle, VSA spent all of the more than $170,000 it raised on Republican candidates during that time and some of it was spent against another Republican candidate. It also appears most of that money was donated to itself (VSA has a 501(c)4 “social welfare” nonprofit with the same name).

The VSA Super PAC spent more than it brought in, ending the election $14,000 in the red. Where that money came from is not known, but what is known is before last night’s endorsement/Trump fundraiser, VSA had $30 in cash and $318 in debts.

When looking up the domain owner for VSA’s website, www.veteransforastrongamerica.org, we found it was registered to DomainsByProxy.com, a GoDaddy site which gained notoriety in the 2012 elections for allowing political entities to pay to hide the owners of certain websites.

Interestingly enough, VSA claims membership numbers that include its over 57,000 Facebook fans and “500k grassroots.” It’s a bit of a stretch to claim a Facebook fan as a “member,” since it could be practically anyone who just wants to learn more about VSA and clicks “like.” The grassroots membership claim comes from a Sep. 1 press release that claims “500,000 supporters nationwide.”

We have reached out to VSA and will update if we hear back.

NOW: Sorry, General Mattis won’t be running for President

OR: Which US President was the greatest military leader

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This is how DARPA’s new robotic co-pilot helps reduce workload

7 items every Marine needs before deploying
DARPA image


The Pentagon’s research arm is now demonstrating an entirely new level of aircraft autonomy which blends the problem-solving ability of the human mind with computerized robotic functions.

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, program is called Aircrew Labor in Cockpit Automation System, or ALIAS.

A key concept behind ALIAS involves a recognition that while human cognition is uniquely suited to problem solving and things like rapid reactions to fast-changing circumstances, there are many procedural tasks which can be better performed by computers, DARPA developers told Scout Warrior.

Also Read: 5 fictional planes we wish were real

ALIAS uses a software backbone designed with open interfaces along with a pilot-operated touchpad and speech recognition software. Pilots can use a touch screen or voice command to direct the aircraft to perform functions autonomously.

For instance, various check-list procedures and safety protocols such as engine status, altitude gauges, lights, switches and levers, can be more rapidly, safely and efficiently performed autonomously by computers.

“This involves the routine tasks that humans need to do but at times find mundane and boring. The ALIAS system is designed to be able to take out those dull mission requirements such as

check lists and monitoring while providing a system status to the pilot. The pilot can concentrate on the broader mission at hand,” Mark Cherry, an executive with Aurora Flight Sciences, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The aircraft is able to perform a wide range of functions, such as activating emergency procedures, pitching, rolling, monitoring engine check lights, flying autonomously to pre-determined locations or “waypoints,” maneuvering and possibly employing sensors – without every move needing human intervention.

Developers explain that ALIAS, which has already been demonstrated by DARPA industry partners Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences, can be integrated into a wide range of aircraft such as B-52s or large civilian planes.

Initial configurations of ALIAS include small aircraft such as a Cessna 208 Caravan, Diamond DA42 and Bell UH-1 helicopters, Cherry explained. The ALIAS system is able learn and operate on both single engine and dual-engine aircraft.

Both Lockheed and Aurora Flight Sciences have demonstrated ALIAS; DARPA now plans to conduct a Phase III down-select where one of the vendors will be chosen to continue development of the project.

As algorithms progress to expand into greater “artificial intelligence” functions, computers with increasingly networked and rapid processors are able to organize, gather, distill and present information by themselves. This allows for greater human-machine interface, reducing what is referred to as the “cognitive burden” upon pilots.

There are some existing sensors, navigational systems and so-called “fly-by-wire” technologies which enable an aircraft to perform certain functions by itself. ALIAS, however, takes autonomy and human-machine interface to an entirely new level by substantially advancing levels of independent computer activity.

In fact, human-machine interface is a key element of the Army-led Future Vertical Lift next-generation helicopter program planning to field a much more capable, advanced aircraft sometime in the 2030s.

It is certainly conceivable that a technology such as ALIAS could prove quite pertinent to these efforts; a Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration Army ST program is already underway as a developmental step toward engineering this future helicopter. The intention of the FVL requirement, much like ALIAS, is to lessen the cognitive burden upon pilots, allowing them to focus upon and prioritize high-priority missions.

The human brain therefore functions in the role of command and control, directing the automated system to then perform tasks on its own, Cherry said.

“Help reduce pilot workload and increase safety in future platforms,” Cherry said.

Aircraft throttle, actuation systems and yokes are all among airplane functions able to be automated by ALIAS.

“It uses beyond line of sight communication which is highly autonomous but still flies like a predator or a reaper,” John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, told Defense Systems in an interview.

Due to its technological promise and success thus far, ALIAS was given an innovation award recently at the GCN Dig IT awards.

 

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9 Movies Every Airman Needs To Watch

The invention of moving pictures was roughly coincident with the invention of powered flight, and over the years as Hollywood searched for plot lines they found plenty of material around Air Force life.


On the surface the appeal is and always has been obvious: airplanes. Duh. But movie studios understand that machines alone won’t get audiences into theaters (or these days onto Netflix).

Those who’ve served in the Air Force know all too well that life around the Wild Blue Yonder is about more than the hardware. It’s about the people and the things they overcome – like soul-crushing bureaucracies – to get the job done.

But it’s also about the action.

Here’s WATM’s list of nine movies every airman should watch, which is to say movies that every airman should know well enough to riff on among the buds in the lounge in the barracks or at the bar just outside the main gate. (And can you say “fire rearward missiles” in Russian?):

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Plot: Base commander loses it and decides to order the wing’s bombers to attack Russia with nuclear weapons. President of the United States gathers his cabinet and other advisers in the War Room to try and figure out how to avoid Armageddon.

Reason to watch: Stanley Kubrick’s biting satire is hilarious, but more than that it nails the personalities of those at the top of the food chain and the dynamic between them. This one was years ahead of its time. And it also has some great B-52 crew coordination scenes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdJS1iatxmY

Iron Eagle (1986)

Plot: Teenage kid’s Air Force pilot dad gets shot down and taken hostage in the Middle East, and the United States government won’t help get dad out because he had trolled into enemy airspace. Kid enlists the help of a retired Air Force pilot (and friend of his father), and the two of them grab some F-16s and proceed to raise hell.

Reason to watch: Any military movie with Lou Gossett, Jr. playing a determined S.O.B. is money. “Iron Eagle” has a lot of cool visuals (never mind technical accuracy) and good action. Plus the lesson it teaches is important: You can get away with anything if punishing you would embarrass those in charge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3npr0RKBucc

Twelve O’clock High (1949)

Plot: Likable CO of a hard-luck B-17 squadron is relieved after a disastrous mission. New skipper’s hard-ass leadership style threatens to tear the ready room apart. Ultimately both sides chill out and get the job done.

Reason to watch: Great World War II bomber action, and the leadership lessons are definitive in that they show the net effect on a command of a leader being too nice or too much of an asshole. And while this may not be a ringing endorsement, it should be noted that “Twelve O’ clock High” is taught at commands throughout the Department of Defense.

The Hunters (1958)

Plot: Restless officer is tired of being in the rear with the gear and, through happenstance and a series of networking coincidences, finds himself in an F-86 squadron at the height of the air war over Korea.

Reason to watch: Based on James Salter’s beautiful novel, “The Hunters” was Hollywood first attempt to portray Air Force life in the jet age. “The Hunters” has it all: burned out CO, confused chain of command, cocky junior officers, and significant others complaining about being ignored for the glory of air combat.

Fail Safe (1964)

Plot: Bogus threat triggers the launch of six Vindicator supersonic bombers (fictional aircraft portrayed in the movie by B-58 Hustlers). Launch codes are accidently transmitted to the aircraft, which sends them on an attack profile to Moscow. A series of missteps and bad logic prevents either side from calling the whole thing off.

Reason to watch: Plot resembles that of “Dr. Strangelove” but played straight. “Fail Safe” was the first major motion picture to tee up the idea that the system wasn’t perfect and things in the nuke weps world could go a smidge wrong from time to time. Also presents the cold reality that nuclear warfare has pretty serious consequences, something those who’ve signed up to participate in should have a sense of.

A Gathering of Eagles (1963)

Plot: This nuclear-age version of “Twelve O’ clock High” deals with the goings-on around a SAC unit that has just had the CO fired because of a failed inspection. New CO is career-minded and a hard-ass and that rubs the men under his charge the wrong way. Another inspection crisis with huge career implications leads all parties to figure it out in a good way.

Reason to watch: “A Gathering of Eagles” was made with the assistance of General Curtis LeMay to counter the perception created by “Fail Safe” and “Dr. Stangelove” that SAC was hosed up to the degree they could accidentally start a nuclear war. The Air Force in this one has its shit together, for the most part. Plus if you believe the best leadership lessons are discussed among men in towels ( a la “Top Gun”) you’re in for a treat.

Firefox (1982)

Plot: The U.S. and U.K. hatch a plot to steal a new Soviet airplane that can do Mach 6 and is controlled by the pilot’s mind.

Reason to watch: Clint Eastwood at his action-packed best. Plus, what initially came off as campy in terms of technical detail of the film seems viable today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0S7uE7l_oA

Catch-22 (1970)

Plot: B-25 navigator stationed in North Africa during World War II wrestles with the tragedy, irony, and hypocrisy that surrounds him as the minimum mission requirement continues to rise.

Reason to watch: Early SNL alum Buck Henry adapted Joseph Heller’s classic WW2 novel for an American public that was at odds over the Vietnam War, evidence that it took nearly a decade and a half for the themes to resonate. In spite of the fact that parts of the story are over-the-top, the movie (and even more so the book) are prescriptive. Anyone who’s ever spent any time around the Air Force will recognize the personalities: Careerist buffoons, obtuse general officers, opportunistic (albeit very entrepreneurial) junior officers as well as the folks who are just trying to get the job done without going crazy are all here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G41SJUIawVo

Battle of Britain (1969)

Plot: A nation turns to its air force to hold back the Nazi hordes.

Reason to watch: Winston Churchill said it best when referring to the pilots and maintainers of the RAF: “Never have so many owed so much to so few.” “Battle of Britain” captures both the action of dogfights between Spitfires and Messerschmitts and the details of life in war-torn England. If you ever need to be reminded why an air force matters in modern times, watch this.

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This drummer boy was 12 years old when he became a Civil War hero

“The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga” was 12 years old when he was promoted to sergeant after firing on a Confederate colonel who was attempting to capture him. At that point John Lincoln Clem became the youngest non-commissioned officer in U.S. history and a Civil War hero.


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Photo: Library of Congress

Born John Joseph Klem in 1851 to immigrant parents, he later changed his name to John Lincoln Clem out of admiration for Abraham Lincoln and because he thought “Clem” would appear more American than “Klem.” When the Civil War kicked off, the young Ohio native immediately tried to join the Union Army.

Clem was a 9-year-old when he attempted to enlist as a drummer with the 3rd Ohio Regiment but was turned down because, duh, he was 9. He tried to join a few more units before being accepted at the age of 10 by the 22nd Michigan Infantry Regiment whose motto probably wasn’t “What Child Endangerment?”

Despite allowing Clem to march to war with them, the 22nd knew the Army would not agree to pay such a young soldier. Officers of the unit collected donations to keep the kid in juice boxes and bullets until he turned 13 and could officially enlist.

His early battlefield biography is hazy, with some histories putting him at the Battle of Shiloh in the 22nd Michigan Infantry. The 22nd did not yet exist when that battle was fought.

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The Battle of Chickamauga raged from Sep. 19-20, 1863. Painting: Library of Congress

Regardless, Clem participated at the Battle of Chickamauga from Sep. 19-20, 1863 where he was nearly captured before using his sawed-off musket, a custom gift from unit officers, to shoot down the mounted Confederate colonel who was chasing him. His hat was reportedly shot through three times during the battle and his escape from Confederate pursuers.

He made it back to Union lines and received a promotion to sergeant, making him the youngest ever.

His actions at Chickamauga were published in newspapers around the North and he became a celebrity. Unfortunately, his celebrity status worked against him a month later when he was captured by Confederate cavalry who took away his hat with the three bullet holes.

Clem was swapped in a prisoner exchange and sent to serve as a mounted orderly for Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas. He saw action at Perryville, Murfreesboro, Kennesaw, and Atlanta. In the Battle of Atlanta, he was wounded twice. He was initially discharged at the age of 13 in 1864.

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2nd Lt. John Lincoln Clem Photo: Library of Congress

In 1870, Clem attempted to enter West Point but failed the entrance exam multiple times. President Ulysses S. Grant commissioned Clem as a second lieutenant in 1871, ignoring the fact that Clem couldn’t pass the tests.

Clem went on to serve until 1915, mostly as an Army quartermaster. He was the last Civil War vet still on active duty when he retired as a brigadier general.

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The Marine Rapper will make you shake your Citizen Rump

Look, it is easy, and deeply enjoyable, to give Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis boatloads of crap for the shenanigans and mannerisms (shenannerisms?) he regularly deploys in the line of duty. It’s easy because he’s a good sport. It’s enjoyable because, well:

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But credit where credit is due, it is no easy thing to drop in on a recording studio unprepared, be played a brand new beat, compose a non-wack verse and then get into the booth and spit your best whiteboy flow in front of a hot producer and a rapper at the top of his game.

And that’s exactly what Curtis had to do when he paid a visit to Louden Beats recording studio to catch up with Raymond Lotts aka TMR aka The Marine Rapper.

Need more TMR? That time Linda Hamilton asked a Marine to the ball

TMR served 10 years in the Middle East as a Marine Corps combat correspondent, ala Joker from Full Metal Jacket. Though he started rapping young, he found he had to put his passion on ice during active duty — no time to think, let alone rhyme.

When he finally left the service, the transition was rough.

“It was a reality shock. I didn’t know where to go. You’re like, ‘I have all this time on my hands,’ and you get to thinking… ‘I was such a super hero in the military, but now I’m just a regular civilian. Nobody cares about me. I’m nothing now. Why should I even live?'”

Finding himself in a dark headspace familiar to many vets exiting the military, TMR did a hard thing: he asked for help.

With the assistance of the VA, he was able to reorient, finding an outlet in his long-dormant passion for rap. He now lives in Hollywood, CA, cutting tracks and shooting music videos to support his budding career as a musician.

And, no joke, in a single day of working together, TMR, producer Louden and the Artist Formerly Known as Ryan Curtis may just have succeeded in dropping the U.S. military’s first ever chart-topping hip hop track:

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Mic drop. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

It’s a lock for New Oscar Mike Theme Song at the very least.

Watch as Curtis looks for lyrics in a Magic 8 Ball and TMR proves there’s no room in his game for shame, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

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This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

This is why the future of motocross is female

This is what happens when a Navy SEAL becomes an actor

This is what happens when a SEAL helps you with your lady problems

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7 special operations forces the military really needs

America’s operators are the best in the world, but they’re focused on kicking down doors, killing terrorists, and training allies.


Special Operations Command could use more flexibility, especially when it comes to future fights. Here are 7 new special operations units America needs:

1. Chairborne Rangers

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Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sandra M. Palumbo

As drones become more advanced, infantry robots will eventually reach the battlefield. Chairborne Rangers are the best Call of Duty players, honed into living weapons. They controls those bots and exist off energy drinks, potato chips, and enabling parents.

2. Schmuckatelli Recovery Group

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Photo: US Army Spc. Justin Young

This one is pretty simple. When “Schmuckatelli,” “Joe Schmoe,” or other lackluster troops get themselves locked up in jail or a Tijuana dungeon, the SRG swoops in on black helicopters to rescue them, by force if necessary.

3. Nuptial Prevention Service

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Photo: US Air Force Cpt. Angela Webb

The NPS interrupts weddings between troops and anyone they’ve known for less than 72 hours. They’re focused on unions where the potential spouse is a stripper or the service member is deploying within two weeks.

4. Expeditionary PT Belt Deployment Team

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Photo Illustration: Logan Nye, WATM

When troops are under fire, conducting an assault, or just running on a dark street and find themselves without a reflective or glow belt, the Expeditionary PT Belt Deployment Team is there to lend a hand and 6 feet of reflective plastic.

5. Space Team 6

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Screenshot: Youtube/Fi Skirata

Space warfare is coming, and Space Team 6 supports NASA from staging platforms in orbit. They’d train constantly to remove space pirates from interstellar vessels, board asteroid mining rigs, and destroy alien queens.

6. 1st Special POGs Detachment

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Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Dustin D. March

The most elite admin soldiers, waterdogs, and geospatial engineers are honed into a filing force that could clear the VA backlog in minutes or create tasty water from the Kandahar Air Field poo pond with just a mosquito net and iodine tablets.

7. Keyboard Rangers Division

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Exactly as bad-ss as most keyboard rangers. Image: memegenerator.net

Honestly, the Keyboard Rangers Division is just a way to corral all those Facebook and reddit commenters who keep talking smack about killing ISIS but can’t find a recruiter’s office to save their lives. Keyboard Rangers would be given access to computers that look completely normal, but don’t broadcast to the outside world.

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How Germany deployed the first weapon of mass destruction

In World War I, Germany invented and debuted the world’s first weapons of mass destruction — poison gas artillery shells and pressurized tanks that wafted the deadly toxins over the battlefield. They killed and wounded thousands.


The Germans first attempted two attacks in October 1914 and January 1915 that failed due to technical reasons. But the first successful attack came in April 1915.

That gas attack took place at Ypres, Belgium, where German troops released hundreds of tons of chlorine gas through buried pipes across a four-mile front. Over 1,000 Allied soldiers were killed and another 7,000 were injured.

And that was the opening of Pandora’s Box. The British military responded with its own chlorine attack in September 1915 at the Battle of Loos. The Germans introduced mustard gas into the fighting in 1917 and America joined the war — and chemical warfare — in 1918.

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U.S. Army Soldiers put their gas masks on for a simulated chemical attack during a training mission near Camp Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2007. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Andrew D. Pendracki)

The war ended with approximately 100,000 chemical weapons deaths and 1 million wounded. The use of chemical weapons was widely banned in 1925 in The Geneva Protocol.

But countries, including some who signed onto the treaty, have used the weapons since. It’s happened everywhere from World War II Italian attacks on North Africa to the modern day.

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The origin of the famous ‘red phone’ in the Oval Office

In countless movies, in references across all mediums, the red phone exists. Brightly hued and highlighted through dramatic dialogue, we are shown this famous form of communication within the White House. But why is there a red phone in the first place? What does it do? And why it is so famous? After all, it’s just a phone. 

But, in actuality, it wasn’t a phone at all. Known as the Moscow-Washington Hotline, it was a direct line of communication between the White House and the Kremlin (where the Soviet Communist Headquarters resided). The line was established in 1963 after the Cuban Missile Crisis so that President John F. Kennedy, Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev and their advisors could connect directly and quickly. 

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“Khrushchev… your signal sucks… damn it, I lost him. That’s not good.” (DoD photo)

The need for the line was put into place after the 1962 crisis, when it took the United States 12 hours to translate a message from Khrushchev. The 3,000-word message is stated as taking a “dangerous amount of time” in translation. This prompted both sides to streamline communication. Hence, the hotline. 

The communication first consisted of teletype machines. In the ’80s it was transitioned to a fax machine, and in 2008, it became an email line connected by a secure computer link with lightning-fast connection speeds. 

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Well, that’s not red… or a phone… (Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library/ Wikimedia Commons)

Origins of the idea

There are several people who claim to have come up with the idea for direct communication, including a Harvard professor who had previously worked with the Department of Defense on nuclear war policies. The professor, Thomas Schelling, said the 1958 book Red Alert (which prompted the movie Dr. Strangelove) gave government officials the idea to connect directly– specifically, by showing the benefits of fast and direct conversations. 

After the agreement was signed, both sides began working on the logistics to lay this line, including ways to keep it secure such as encryption. The first message was sent on August 30th, 1963, including numbers and an apostrophe to ensure the connection worked properly.

The US sent: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back 1234567890,” a common test message, as it includes all 26 letters of the English alphabet. The first official use was to announce the assassination of JFK to Russia.

Over the years, the line has been accidentally cut multiple times, including when it was unknowingly bulldozed in Denmark. Today, there are bright and clear markers in Finland, as well as other countries, to help keep the line free from damage. 

Why a red phone?

This scene seems to be where it all started

Because there was never an actual red phone — or a phone at all for that matter — it’s an interesting addition to pop culture. Countless movies, video games and even movies portray a fictional red phone as a quick way to reach Russia. 

So where did the idea come from? It likely came from the movie, Dr. Strangelove, itself. The idea was then used throughout the 80s in political commercials, where it took off. President Ronald Reagan used the phone to market himself, showing off his Strategic Defense Initiative. In the 80s, it made another appearance for the 1984 election. It was also used in 2008 throughout Hilary Clinton’s campaign. In years since, it’s simply become a pop culture icon that remains recognizable in movies, museums and beyond.

Feature image: Jimmy Carter Library and Museum (Wikimedia Commons)

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