7 photos of Mattis's first day as SecDef - We Are The Mighty
Articles

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

“Secretary of Defense James Mattis” is going to be hard to type after he spent so many years as “Marine Corps Gen. and Angel of Death James ‘Chaos’ Mattis,” but we’re going to have to type it because he is now, officially, in place as the Secretary of Defense.


His public affairs staff recently saw fit to share images from Mattis’s first day with the rest of a grateful nation. Here are seven of the best:

1. Mattis emerges from his vehicle for his first full day and is met by his old peer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Secretary of Defense James Mattis greets U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. (DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

2. Mattis and Dunford enter the Pentagon. Reports of them growling “urrr” to let everyone know that the Devil Dogs had arrived have not been confirmed.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Secretary of Defense James Mattis greets U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. (DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

3. Mattis was met by senior leaders of the military branches on his way to his office. At least two are rumored to have sworn fealty.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Secretary of Defense James Mattis greets U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. (DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

4. A bunch of senior staff lined the halls and were all, “Dude, it’s real. Mattis is back, and he’s in charge this time.”

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
The 26th Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, arrives at the Pentagon on his first full day in the position in Arlington, VA, Jan. 21, 2017. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen (released)

5. They followed him towards his office, possibly worried that he would disappear in a poof of smoke if they looked away.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrives at the Pentagon on his first full day of office in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. (DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

6. Mattis spoke with his undersecretary and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva, neither of whom were bitten during the encounter.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Secretary of Defense James Mattis speaks with Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work and U.S. Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon on his first full day of office in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. (DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

7. The Pentagon’s “Top 4” then met to discuss how totally sweet it will be to have Mattis in charge.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

Articles

The last US troops killed in the Vietnam War actually died two years after it ended

Most Americans know the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C, displays the names of every servicemember who died in the war or remain missing in action. But what many may not know is that the last names on the wall were killed in an operation launched two years after the conflict officially ended.


In a hastily thrown together mission to save civilians captured in Cambodia, three Marines were left behind to die at the hands of a Khmer Rouge executioner. And though the mission occurred well after American combat forces withdrew from Vietnam, the names of those Marines were still given their place on the Vietnam Memorial wall.

The 1973 Paris Peace Accords ended U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and two months later the last U.S. combat troops left along with prisoners of war held by the Vietnamese.

But in May, 1975, Communist Khmer Rouge troops from Democratic Kampuchea (modern-day Cambodia), captured an American-flagged merchant ship, the SS Mayaguez, off its coast. And though America was trying to distance itself from the war, President Gerald Ford vowed a response, and historians acknowledge the attempted rescue by U.S. troops as the last official battle of the Vietnam war.

Mayaguez Aerial surveillance showing two Khmer Rough gunboats during the initial seizing of the SS Mayaguez. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ford ordered the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea, the destroyer Harold E. Holt, and the guided missile destroyer Henry B. Wilson into the area. He also put the Seventh Air Force and contingents of Marines in the region on alert.

P-3 Orion aircraft dropped flares on the Mayaguez’ last known position, which drew small arms fire from the attackers. The Air Force continued to harass the captured ship. So the Khmer troops took the crew prisoner on fishing boats close to the nearby island of Koh Tang.

The Air Force then loaded 75 Security Forces airmen onto five HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant helicopters and seven Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallions to retake the Mayaguez. This plan was aborted when one of the helos, call sign Knife 13, crashed on its way to Thailand, killing all 18 airmen and its five-man crew.

These twenty-three USAF Airmen en route to the Mayaguez died when their HH-53C helicopter crashed due to a mechanical malfunction. (U.S. Air Force photo) These 23 airmen died en route to the Mayaguez when their HH-53C helicopter crashed due to a mechanical malfunction. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The next plan called for the Air Force to stop all ships between Koh Tang and the Cambodian mainland.

Meanwhile, Marines staged for a simultaneous assault on the Mayaguez and Koh Tang Island. Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines moved to capture the ship, while 600 troops from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines rescued the crew from the island. The plan called for two helicopters to make a diversionary attack on the eastern beach while the rest of the Marines landed via helicopter on the western side.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
BIT 2/9 command group, with Lt. Col. Austin, disembarks from Jolly Green 43 on the west coast of Koh Tang, south of the perimeter of Company G.

Unfortunately, the ship’s crew wasn’t on Koh Tang; they were on nearby Rong Sang Lem. Koh Tang had 100 defenders who were dug in and armed to the teeth, prepared for an attack from Vietnam, not the United States. And they had enough firepower to give the Marines a real fight.

At 0613 on May 15, the Air Force saturated the decks of the Mayaguez with tear gas as the Holt came alongside. Marines wearing gas masks boarded the vessel in one of the first hostile ship-to-ship takeovers since the Civil War but found the Mayaguez empty.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Members of Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines board the Mayaguez. Gas masks were worn because the ship was bombed with tear-gas canisters by the Air Force. (U.S. Navy photo)

At the same time, eight helicopters began the assault on Koh Tang and immediately came under heavy automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire. One of the CH-53s was hit and ignited, killing six Marines, the pilot, and two Navy corpsmen. Three more Marines died from the defending machine guns. The landing troops had to calling in an AC-130 Spectre Gunship to break out of the beachhead.

Just a few minutes before the attack began, the Khmer Rouge Propaganda Minister issued a radio broadcast announcing the release of the Mayaguez crew. The Wilson intercepted the boat carrying the crew and brought them aboard. In the morning in the U.S., President Ford announced the release of the Mayaguez crew to the American public, but not that the Khmer government had released them.

The Marines were still fighting on Koh Tang when the order from stateside came to break off and withdraw. The fighting lasted 14 hours.

Two hours after the evacuation, a Marine Corps company commander discovered three of his men missing — a machine gun team who protected a helicopter evacuation from the island. The abandoned Marines included Lance Cpl. Joseph N. Hargrove, Pvt. 1st Class Gary L. Hall, and Pvt. Danny G. Marshall.

Rear Adm. R.T. Coogan would only green light a rescue if the Marines were still alive. The Navy signaled the island in English, French, and Khmer that they wanted to search the island with Cambodian permission if they received a signal.

No signal came.

Mayaguez A picture from an OV-10 over two helicopters shot down on the East Beach of Koh Tang Island (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ten years later, an eyewitness report told the story of Cambodian troops on patrol under fire from an M-16 the very next day. They encircled and captured an American in the incident and were ordered not to discuss the event. That American was Lance Cpl. Hargrove. He was captured and subsequently executed.

One week later, Cambodian troops noticed their food stores were raided at night with strange boot prints left in the mud. They left a trap which captured Hall and Marshall. The two were taken to the mainland and beaten to death with a B-40 rocket launcher, their remains never conclusively found.

A total of 15 men were killed during the Mayaguez rescue mission, with another three missing and presumed dead. That’s on top of the 23 airmen lost in the helicopter crash preceding the assault on Koh Tang.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Marines of 3rd Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division on the eastern LZ evacuate aboard Jolly Green 11 (U.S. Navy photo)

The names of the dead and missing at Koh Tang were the last names to be included on the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the wall bearing the names of all Americans killed or missing in the war.

Articles

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

Articles

LIVE: WATM coverage of IAVA Commander-in-Chief Forum

On Sept. 7, the two leading American presidential candidates will square off in a town hall-style forum before a live audience aboard the USS Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that’s now a museum docked at Pier 86 in midtown Manhattan.


Sponsored by the non-profit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and broadcast live by NBC and MSNBC, the first-ever Commander-in-Chief Forum will be an opportunity for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton to speak about veterans issues, national security and military policy. The candidates will address the audience separately and will have the opportunity to answer questions from moderator Matt Lauer.

We Are The Mighty will live blog the event, providing commentary and insight from our team of editors, writers, contributors and friends throughout the primetime event. So stay tuned here for up-to-the-minute coverage as the groundbreaking forum unfolds.

Articles

This is why America bought nearly two dozen Fulcrums

When the former Soviet Union collapsed, many of the former Soviet republics had sizable stocks of military gear. Much of it ended up being sold at bargain prices around the world. One of the countries that had a large stockpile was Moldova.


According to the NationalInterest.org, the former Soviet republic didn’t have much population. They did have a number of MiG-29s, as well as helicopters, and there was a very big worry that Iran, with its bank accounts bloated with oil money, would seek to bolster its force of MiG-29s. This was bad, but some of Moldova’s MiG-29s had been equipped to deliver tactical nukes.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
A MiG-29. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

To prevent this, the United States opened its checkbook. According to a New York Times report in 1997, 21 of Moldova’s MiG-29s – including all of the MiG-29 Fulcrum Cs – were taken apart and shipped to the United States on board cargo planes. Yemen and Eritrea were left to pick over the remainder of the airframes.

After purchase, the MiG-29 were “exploited.” Now, that pervy-sounding term is also somewhat accurate. But really, a lot of what happened with the MiG-29 was a lot of test flights and mock dogfights. In other words, pretty much the standard practice when America gets its hands on enemy gear.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Kevin L. Bishop

Through that testing, it was discovered that the MiG-29 had its virtues: It was easy to fly. The plane also had the ability to help a pilot recover from vertigo. It had great technology to assist in landings. Not to mention the fact that the AA-11 Archer and its helmet-mounted sight made the Fulcrum a very deadly adversary in a dogfight.

That list item, though, would be countered when America deployed the AIM-9X Sidewinder, which had the capability to use a helmet-mounted sight as well. Furthermore, when America and NATO faced Fulcrums over the former Yugoslavia, the United States shot down four MiG-29s, and a Dutch pilot shot down one as well.

The video below discusses how America used the checkbook to get a bunch of MiGs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE5DWzWhguU
Articles

This WWII bomber was finally found after 70 years

Nearly 74 years ago, in the skies over Hansa Bay on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea, 2nd Lieutenant Thomas V. Kelly, Jr. was crewing a B-24 bomber named “Heaven Can Wait.” He and ten other crewmen were on a mission to destroy Japanese anti-aircraft batteries when, suddenly, his aircraft was struck, sending it crashing into the ocean below.

The wreckage and those on board were lost to the sea — until May 2018.


7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

The crew of “Heaven Can Wait.” 2nd Lt. Thomas V. Kelly is pictured in the center, top row.

(Project Recover)

On that fateful day, March 11th, 1944, 2nd Lt. Kelly’s struggle ended — but for those he had left behind back home, it had just begun. Wracked with grief and left without closure, his family pieced together whatever information they could find — eyewitness accounts from military reports, mission documents, diary entries, etc. — to try and better understand. But without help, there would be no conclusion. That’s when Project Recover got involved.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

Project Recover makes uses of the most sophisticated underwater imaging technology to find the once-unrecoverable.

(Project Recover)

Project Recover was established 2012 with the goal of locating the underwater resting places of the 72,000 Americans that have gone missing in action since World War II. Through a partnership between the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, and the BentProp Project, the organization uses sophisticated, modern technologies to find those once deemed unrecoverable.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

The northern end of Hansa Bay, Papua New Guinea.

(Project Recover)

Upon receiving the compiled evidence, Project Recover set out to Papau New Guinea in October 2017, with aims of searching for 5 sunken U.S. aircraft that accounted for 24 MIA. After carefully reviewing the documents and conducting an archaeological study, the team determined that “Heaven Can Wait” was resting somewhere in the north end of Hansa Bay.

It was there, after 11 days of searching across 27 square kilometers of sea floor, that they found her under 213 feet of water.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

What remained of “Heaven Can Wait”

(Project Recover)

“This is an important step toward our ultimate goal of identifying and returning home the crew of “Heaven Can Wait” who bravely served our country,” said Dan Friedkin, a member of Project Recover and CEO of The Friedkin Group, whose substantial contribution to the Project made the trip to Papau New Guinea possible.

Since their discovery, a process has begun with the U.S. government to, hopefully, recover and identify the remains of the up to 11 crew members aboard “Heaven Can Wait.” In the last five months, there have been three repatriation ceremonies for veterans who served in World War II — all of which are a direct result of Project Recovery’s work — but much remains to be done.

Dan Friedkin stated, with determination, that the organization’s “search efforts for the more than 72,000 missing American service members from World War II will continue.”

For more about Project Recover, be sure to visit their website. For all the details on the amazing story surrounding the recovery of “Heaven Can Wait,” watch the video below.

Articles

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

According to medieval legend, King Arthur lived in the late 5th and early 6th centuries where he fought off the Anglo-Saxons with his legendary sword, Excalibur. He lived in Camelot, and his life long mission became the quest for the Holy Grail.


While Arthur would attend festivals, his noble knights often got into violent brawls over who should be sitting at the head of the table — granting them power over those in attendance. The other war-hardened Knights just couldn’t figure out a resolution to the issue.

Therefore, King Arthur used his wisdom had a round table constructed, making all his men feel equal. It was a good leadership move and created what we all know today as the “Knights of the Round Table.”

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
The Knights of the Round Table (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

The Knights embodied a unique code of chivalry like righteousness, honor, and gallantry towards women — but one of them was bound to carry it too far.

Sir Lancelot was King Arthur’s closest friend, the best swordsman and knight in all the land. He was also known for sleeping with a lot of women. He even started a romantic affair with Arthur’s wife, Queen Guinevere. This action sparked a civil war, which led to the death of King Arthur and the dissolution of his knights.

But the legacy of the Knights of the Round Table lives on forever. Learn more in the video above.

Watch more Elite Forces:

This is how piracy became totally legal during wartime

Here’s what you didn’t know about the Queen’s Guards

This is why Cossacks are Russia’s legendary fighting force

These are the slave soldiers that defeated the Mongols

4 awesome facts about Shaolin Kung Fu

Articles

How the ‘Rag-tag Circus’ begged, borrowed, and stole vehicles in its drive across Germany

The 83rd Infantry Division, nicknamed Thunderbolt, first entered combat in Normandy in late June 1944. Generally fighting as part of Patton’s Third Army, they were involved in major combat across Northern France and Europe.


Their first action was as a part of Operation Cobra to breakout of the Normandy hedgerows. They then fought against stiff resistance until they finally entered Germany.

This is where the 83rd would come to notoriety as the “Rag-tag Circus.”

Once American forces crossed the Rhine in March 1945, it became an all-out sprint for Berlin with the fast-moving Armored Divisions of the 12th Army Group leading the way.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

But the 83rd was a light division with very little in the way of organic transportation assets.

According to the After Action Report of the 329th Infantry Regiment, the Rag-tag Circus was born of necessity when the regiment’s ten non-organic trucks were detached for other duties. As the battalion commanders protested, word came down from the division commander, “utilize to the fullest extent the captured German transportation they had in their possession.”

The 83rd took the idea and ran with it.

Any German vehicle they could get their hands on got a coat of OD green paint and some white stars and was pressed into service.

They commandeered all manner of vehicles: trucks, staff cars, motorcycles, buses, German tanks, and even a Messerschmitt BF 109 was confiscated and piloted by a member of the division.

One of the more famous vehicles pressed into service was a German fire truck. Loaded with infantrymen, it proudly displayed a banner with the division’s intentions, Next Stop: Berlin.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Photo from Public Domain.

These commandeered vehicles complemented the already-taxed vehicles the 83rd had. Pushing the limits of reason, tanks carried more than 30 troops on top while jeeps, with and without trailers, were carrying more than a dozen.

Men were packed on so tight that the assistant division commander quipped, “it looked like the men were sprayed on the tanks.”

But this motley crew of vehicles and men that made up the Rag-tag Circus wasn’t the only amazing thing about the 83rd Infantry Division’s drive across Germany.

The Rag-tag Circus had the Germans on the run and was moving at a blistering pace. Pockets of German resistance were quickly overcome and the division moved on.

Oftentimes, division headquarters would displace forward as much as five times per day. The grunts on the ground almost never stopped.

They moved so fast that the lead elements of regiments were often moving out of the other side of a town before the Germans had even had a chance to retreat.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Photo from Public Domain.

This led to some rather comical instances.

As the Rag-tag Circus sped east through yet another town, an erratic driver entered their column. The vehicle was just another German staff car like so many others in the convoy and since speed was the order of the day, it might not have otherwise drawn much attention. But the erratic driving and continual horn-honking alerted some of the GIs. PFC David Webster took a closer look as the car sped by his vehicle and noticed there was something different about this German car – it still had Germans in it. In fact, sitting in the rear was a Wehrmacht General who was oblivious to the fact that the column he was speeding through was actually American — not German. The GIs stepped on the gas and blocked the path of the Germans, leading to the capture of a German general by almost sheer luck.

In another instance, the Rag-tag Circus was simply travelling so fast that they overtook a column of German vehicles attempting to retreat to the east. This time, the 83rd bagged themselves a German Colonel to go with their prized General.

But those weren’t the only prisoners the 83rd took. In their fourteen day, 280-mile dash across Germany from the Rhine to the Elbe, they captured some 12,000 German POWs and 72 German towns. They also liberated over 75,000 Allied POWs from German camps and liberated a number of concentration camps as well.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

The Rag-tag Circus was also the first unit to cross the Elbe River on April 13, 1945, securing a bridgehead after engineers built a treadway bridge across the river.

Despite Berlin being less than 50 miles away and German resistance virtual nonexistent, the 83rd was told to hold their position.

Although they were known as the Rag-tag Circus during their courageous run up to the Elbe, the division sought a more appropriate name to commemorate the achievement. The men of the division settled on “Thunderbolt,” which became the official division nickname.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

The Elbe would end up being the closest the Americans would get to Berlin before the war ended and on April 25, 1945, elements of the 65th Infantry Division linked up with Russians advancing from the east.

Despite its heroic and record-breaking efforts, the 83rd was denied a Presidential Unit Citation. After occupation duty in German, the 83rd returned to the United States in March 1946 and was inactivated the following month.

Articles

Oldest Navy Pearl Harbor salvage diver dies

In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the battleships USS California (BB 44), USS West Virginia (BB 48), and USS Nevada (BB 36) were severely damaged while the battleships USS Arizona (BB 39) and USS Oklahoma (BB 37) were sunk.


Four of those ships would eventually be salvaged, three of which returned to service, thanks to the efforts of brave Navy divers.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the oldest living diver to have worked on that immense project, 103-year-old Ken Hartle, died on Jan. 24. He had been a ship-fitter when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and as a result, was unable to join the Navy until 1943 when his skills were necessary to repair ships that had suffered battle damage.

He later volunteered to be a Navy diver.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
The USS West Virginia during salvage operations. Photo: US Navy

According to the Naval History and Heritage Command website, Navy divers carried out over 4,000 dives, covering 16,000 hours to salvage the ships at Pearl Harbor. The operations were not without risk. The Union-Tribune report listed a number of dangers Hartle and fellow divers faced, including getting trapped in wreckage, the “bends,” and attacks from sea creatures — all while wearing uninsulated canvas suits and using 200-pound copper helmets and having breathable air pumped down to them.

Hartle was nothing if not a survivor. During his life, the Union-Tribune reported that he was kicked by a mule at age 3, stabbed in the neck during a brawl at age 9, survived a rattlesnake bite, a scorpion sting, a car accident that threw him several hundred feet, six bypass surgeries, two bouts with cancer, and a fall while trimming trees at age 97.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Cmdr. Daniel M. Colman, commanding officer of the Pearl Harbor-based Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU) 1, address attendees during a change of command ceremony at the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island. Colman was being relieved by Cmdr. John B. Moulton. The MDSU-1 mission is to provide combat ready, expeditionary, rapidly deployable Mobile Diving and Salvage Detachments (MDSD) to conduct harbor clearance, salvage, underwater search and recovery, and underwater emergency repairs in any environment. The suit to Colman’s left is similar to one used by Ken Hartle, who died Jan. 24 at the age of 103, during salvage operations at Pearl Harbor in World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Rush)

A memorial service for Hartle will be held on Mar. 4.

Articles

3 heroes who became POWs twice

There is no easy time to be a prisoner of war.


The United States military’s code of conduct implores captured service members to continue to resist by any means possible. This often means reprisals from one’s captors. Therefore, surviving one stint in a POW camp can be excruciating.

To do it twice is unimaginable — except these three American servicemen did it.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
The United States Code of Conduct is memorized by service members to act as a touchstone and a guide if captured. (Department of Defense)

1. Wendall A. Phillips

Phillips was assigned to the Air Transport Command as a radio operator on C-47 aircraft flying from bases in England.

While in Europe Phillips survived five separate crashes. During the last one, in late 1944, his aircraft was shot down. Though he walked away from the crash, he was unable to evade the Germans and was captured.

He and his fellow crewmembers were taken to a German POW camp in Belgium.

Phillips had no intention of sticking around though. After just 33 days Phillips and two other POW’s made a break for it.

Also read: Bob Hoover stole a Nazi plane to escape from a POW camp

Phillips simply snuck away while no guards were around. Finding a hole in the electric fence around the camp, Phillips and the other two men made good their escape and quickly found a place to hide.

Phillips travelled for three days before he linked up with the French Underground. The resistance fighters helped Phillips make it back to American lines.

After returning to American forces, Phillips was reassigned to the China-India-Burma Theater flying “the Hump” to bring supplies to forces fighting the Japanese.

Once again, Phillips’ airplane crashed and he was captured by the enemy.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
POWs at Stalag 11B at Fallingbostel in Germany welcome their liberators, April 16, 1945. (Imperial War Museum Photo)

According to an article in The Morning Call, Phillips endured torture at the hands of the Japanese — they even forcibly removed his fingernails trying to get information out of him.

Phillips would not escape this time but he would survive his ordeal as a POW; he was released with the Japanese surrender in 1945.

2. Felix J. McCool

When Gen. Wainwright conveyed the American surrender in the Philippines to President Roosevelt, he said, “there is a limit to human endurance, and that limit has long since been passed.” But Gen. Wainwright was certainly not speaking for one Marine sergeant, Felix J. McCool.

McCool was still recovering from wounds he had received earlier in resisting the Japanese when he, the 4th Marine Regiment, and the rest of the defenders of Corregidor were rounded up and shipped off to internment.

Just getting there was bad enough as the captives were crammed into cattle cars so tightly that when men passed out or died they could not even fall down.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
POWs in the Pacific Theater endured horrific conditions. Pictured here are men on the Bataan Death March with their hands bound behind their backs; later this would be labeled as a Japanese War Crime. (U.S. National Archives)

But for McCool, being a Marine meant that he was not out of the fight. He did everything in his power to resist his Japanese captors.

While working as forced labor on an airfield McCool and his fellow prisoners created a tiger trap on the runway — they later watched as a Japanese airplane crashed and burned due to their handiwork.  

McCool also managed to smuggle in medical supplies to help the sick and wounded.

He did this despite the constant threat of beatings and even summary execution. He carried on despite the horrendous conditions in the camp.

But there was worse to come.

McCool next endured a brutal voyage to Japan aboard a Japanese prisoner transport vessel, known as a “hell ship.” McCool survived the hellacious conditions only to be put to work in an underground coal mine. There he continued his resistance by sabotaging the work and keeping the faith with his fellow prisoners.

After thirteen months in the coal mine, McCool was freed by the ending of the war in the Pacific.

He returned to the United States and decided to stay in the Marine Corps. Then in 1950, now a Chief Warrant Officer, he found himself fighting the North Koreans.

McCool became part of the fateful Task Force Drysdale, an ad hoc, mixed-nationality unit that was attempting to fight its way toward the beleaguered Marines fighting at the Chosin Reservoir. When the task force was ambushed and separated along the roadway to Hagaru-ri, McCool was once again taken prisoner.

McCool and his fellow captives were marched far north through brutal cold with no rations. Once in their internment camp, the conditions hardly improved. Besides the brutal treatment, the men were also subjected to communist indoctrination and propaganda.

Related: The day we saved 2,147 prisoners from Los Baños Prison

McCool’s resistance earned him the ire of his captors and they threw him in the Hole — a barely three foot square hole in the ground. But he endured.

McCool was repatriated with many other Americans during Operation Big Switch after the end of hostilities.

According to his award citations, McCool spent over six years as a prisoner of war between his two internments.

He later wrote a book about his experiences and the poetry that he wrote to keep himself going during those terrible times.

3. Richard Keirn

Richard Keirn was a young flight officer on a B-17 when he arrived in England in 1944. On Sept. 11, 1944, he took to the skies in his first mission to bomb Nazi Germany. It would also be his last.

Keirn’s B-17 was shot down that day and he became a POW for the remainder of the war. Released in May 1945 after the defeat of Germany, Keirn returned to the United States and stayed in the military. He became a part of the newly formed U.S. Air Force.

In 1965, Keirn embarked for Vietnam, flying F-4 Phantom II’s.

Then on July 24, 1965, North Vietnamese surface-to-air missiles engaged and shot down an American aircraft for the first time. That aircraft was piloted by Capt. Richard Keirn.

Keirn ejected from his stricken aircraft and would spend nearly eight years as a POW in North Vietnam.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
Newly freed prisoners of war celebrate as their C-141A aircraft lifts off from Hanoi, North Vietnam, on Feb. 12, 1973, during Operation Homecoming. The mission included 54 C-141 flights between Feb. 12 and April 4, 1973, returning 591 POWs to American soil. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Keirn, like many of his fellow POWs, made every effort to resist the North Vietnamese. For his actions as a POW, he was awarded a Silver Star and a Legion of Merit.

Keirn was released from captivity with many other downed airmen as part of Operation Homecoming in 1973.

Articles

This is the helicopter that will replace Marine One

The VH-3 Sea King has faithfully served Marine Helicopter Squadron One since 1962, operating as the official rotary transport for every president for over 55 years. But even though the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rings through for many pieces of military hardware, these aging Sea Kings, known as “Marine One” whenever a president is aboard, need to be replaced.


A lack of parts, considerable flight hours, and performance inefficiency (by today’s standards) make a worthy case for why the Sea King needs to be supplanted by something newer, faster and more capable. Just last week, Sikorsky’s answer to HMX-1’s request for a new helicopter took to the skies above Owego, New York, for the first time.

Known as the VH-92A, Sikorsky and its parent corporation, Lockheed Martin, hopes that this helicopter will be what finally sends the Sea King to a museum in the coming years.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
A depiction of the VXX proposal – a modified S-92 (Photo Lockheed Martin)

The VH-92 is based upon Sikorsky’s S-92, a proven multipurpose utility helicopter that has been functioning in the civilian world as medium-lift platform since 2004. When it enters service with HMX-1, the VH-92 will have been refitted with a new interior and a slew of other features needed for presidential transport.

It has taken years for a suitable replacement for the VH-3 to materialize as part of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program (VXX). The program was initialized in 2003, though it suffered a setback in 2009 when Lockheed Martin’s proposal – the VH-71 Kestrel – was nixed even though the Department of the Navy had already spent billions of dollars building 9 Kestrals for HMX-1.

The following year, VXX was restarted, and a joint Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky team offered a revamped S-92, replete with a comfortable and plush interior worthy of the president and other VIPs who would be using the aircraft from time to time. In 2014, the S-92 proposal was selected and the VH-92 began taking shape.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef

These new presidential transports will only bear an external resemblance to their civilian counterparts. Their insides will be completely redone as per the requirements of HMX-1 and the Secret Service.

This includes defensive systems that afford each VH-92 a degree of protection against threats on the ground, from shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, to heavy-caliber machine gun rounds.

In addition to armoring the VH-92, all fleet helicopters will receive advanced communications systems, allowing the president to interact with members of the government and military while flying. Redundancy and safety systems round off the rest of the tricked-out VH-92’s modifications list.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
A VH-3D Sea King operating as Marine One (Photo US Air Force)

HMX-1 also operates the VH-60N White Hawk, essentially UH-60 Black Hawks reconfigured for VIP transport. These aircraft have been serving in the presidential fleet since the late 1980s, and will also be replaced in part, or as a whole, by the new VH-92s.

The VH-92, like its soon-to-be predecessor, won’t just operate in North America… it will also serve as the president’s short-range transport overseas on official visits. Like the VH-60N, it will be able to be folded up and stowed inside US Air Force strategic airlifters like the C-5M Super Galaxy for foreign travel.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
A VH-60N White Hawk parked while a VC-25 takes off in the background (Photo US Air Force)

Replacing the Sea King isn’t the only big move HMX-1 has made in an effort to modernize its fleet. The squadron’s complement of CH-53 Sea Stallions were recently replaced with newer, more versatile MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, which can function like both a helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft. Older CH-46 Sea Knights, formerly used as support aircraft, are also on their way out.

HMX-1 is expected to begin taking delivery of its new VH-92As in 2020, phasing out the VH-3D and VH-60N soon afterward.

Lists

The most famous Green Berets in history

This list includes information about famous Green Berets, loosely ranked by fame and popularity. So named because of their distinctive headwear, Green Berets are members of the U.S. Armed Forces Special Forces. They’re some of the most elite soldiers on the planet. In order to qualify as a member of the Special Forces, one must be able to complete intense physical training and possess an unusual degree of intelligence.


Some are famous for activities outside the military, like Barry Sadler who wrote “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” a chart-topping song in 1966. Others are famous for their valor on the battlefield, like Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez who continued fighting in Vietnam through 37 wounds in one battle. See the list below.

Famous Green Berets

Articles

Here’s a glimpse at the intense battle against ISIS that cost a Navy SEAL his life

Footage obtained by the British paper The Guardian shows the intense battle that claimed the life of U.S. Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV.


Keating was part of a quick-reaction force that moved in to relieve another group of U.S. advisors supporting the Kurdish Peshmerga when ISIS broke through the Peshmerga’s lines with a massive assault using 20 technicals, car bombs, and a bulldozer.

7 photos of Mattis’s first day as SecDef
U.S. service members take shelter behind a truck during the battle which claimed the life of U.S. Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV. Photo: YouTube/Journeyman Pictures

The efforts of Keating and the other SEALs were successful and the other U.S. advisor team survived, but Keating himself was shot. Though he was medevac’d out, he died of his wounds.

U.S. airstrikes and Peshmerga fighters succeeded in killing 58 of the attacking ISIS fighters, destroying many of the vehicles, and reclaiming the lost territory over the next 14 hours.

As the video below shows, Keating and his warrior brothers rushed to save others despite intense fire against them:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8toyJyHONA
(h/t Funker530)