7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans - We Are The Mighty
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7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

Considered one of the best comedies of all time, Jim Abraham’s films “Hot Shots!” had audiences laughing hysterically as he poked fun at one of Hollywood’s most iconic films “Top Gun.”


The film’s lead character is Topper Harley who it turns out has some extreme “daddy issues” and is asked to go off to war for America’s greater good.

Within this story, there are a few hidden messages on American exceptionalism.

Related: This is what happened to the soldiers from ‘Platoon’

So check out our list of how Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans.

1. He answers America’s call to serve once again

After being booted from the Navy, Topper finds himself living a peaceful life among Native Americans. But soon his country calls for his help on a crucial mission called “Sleepy Weasel.”

After smoking a peace pipe full of helium, Topper decides it’s his duty to answer America’s call by accepting the mission and to find closure for his “daddy issues.”

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

2. He stands up for his fellow man.

Soon after reporting for duty, Topper tells a senior officer to “lighten up” after witnessing him yelling at a fellow pilot with shitty vision. Then, Topper receives an ear full — which he has no problem taking.

Topper is all about leading his men from the front like a true American.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

3. He attends therapy.

Most tough guys wouldn’t be caught dead discussing their feelings in any setting. But Topper does it, and so should the many Americans who look to him for leadership.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

4. He taught us how to cook an American breakfast using a hot girl’s stomach.

Sounds impossible? Well, Topper did it, and he added an egg, hash browns, and bacon. There’s nothing more American than that.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

5. Harley reminds us that giving money isn’t the best way to say “I’m sorry.”

Americans often look for a simple way to apologize by giving a gift. When Topper hands over his apology gift, he’s told the cold hard cash will likely be blown on a new collection of hats.

Americans also misuse their money, but that’s an entirely different subject.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

6. Topper doesn’t f’ing quit and neither should America … ever.

Topper’s father was known as sort of a wild pilot. He died during a mission and Topper has had issues ever since. This issue temporarily grounded the Navy pilot who is known to freeze up when people mention his father’s death.

Once Topper learns the heroic truth about his father, he snaps out of his funk and takes down the all bad guys — then celebrates.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

Also Read: 7 life lessons we learned from Gunny Highway in ‘Heartbreak Ridge’

7. We’re all on the same team.

For the whole film, Topper has been duking it out with a fellow pilot for respect with his team and for the affections of a girl. But after dueling it out with the bad guys, the men put their differences aside and become best buds.

This is just a reminder of how in the end, we’re all Americans.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

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7 life events inappropriately described using military lingo

Military service members are famous for their special lingo, everything from branch-specific slang to the sometimes stilted and official language of operation orders.


That carefully selected and drafted language ensures that everyone in a complex operation knows what is expected of them and allows mission commanders to report sometimes emotional events to their superiors in a straightforward manner.

But there’s a reason that Hallmark doesn’t write its cards in military style for a reason. There’s just something wrong with describing the birth of a first-born child like it’s an amphibious operation.

Anyway, here are seven life events inappropriately described with military lingo:

1. First engagement

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
A U.S. Marine proposes to his girlfriend during a surprise that hopefully led to an ongoing and happy marriage. (Photo: Sgt Angel Galvan)

“Task force established a long-term partnership with local forces that is expected to result in greater intelligence and great successes resulting from partnered operations.”

2. Breaking off the first engagement

“It turns out that partnered forces are back-stabbing, conniving, liars. The task force has resumed solo operations.”

3. Marriage

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Again, this is a joke article but we really hope all the marriages are ongoing and happy. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Cpt. Angela Webb)

“Partnered operations with local forces have displayed promising results. The new alliance with the host nation will result in success. Hopefully.”

4. Buying a first home

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Glassey)

“The squad has established a secure firebase. Intent is to constantly improve the position while disrupting enemy operations in the local area. Most importantly, we must interrupt Steve’s constant requests that we barbecue together. God that guy’s annoying.”

5. Birth of the first child

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
*Angels play harmonious music* (Photo: Pixabay/photo-graphe)

“Task force welcomed a new member at 0300, a most inopportune time for our partnered force. Initial reports indicate that the new member is healthy and prepared to begin training.”

6. Birth of all other children

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
(Photo: Gilberto Santa Rosa CC BY 2.0)

“Timeline for Operation GREEN ACRES has been further delayed as a new member of the task force necessitates 18 years of full operations before sufficient resources are available for departure from theater.”

7. Retirement

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
(Photo: Lsuff CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Task force operators have withdrawn from the area of operations and begun enduring R and R missions in the gulf area as part of Operation GREEN ACRES. Primary targets include tuna and red snapper.”

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You need to hear this fighter pilot’s powerful story about finding purpose

Ed Woodward had the harrowing experience of watching his identical twin brother die before his very eyes.


“We had just finished celebrating his first year of med school,” said Woodward in the video below. “And we were hit by a drunk driver going about 120 mph racing another car down the highway.”

As his sibling succumbed to his injuries, Woodward promised he’d live his life for both of them. In 2001, he launched his Air Force career as a 2nd lieutenant. He flew combat missions in support of Operation Northern Watch, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His performance earned him an Air Medal, two Aerial Achievement Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals and a nomination for the Air Mobility Command’s best tanker aircrew of the year in 2002. After getting his pilot wings, he was selected to fly the F-15C Eagle; it was a dream come true, Woodward said.

But with only five flights to go in his training tragedy struck again. He developed a blood clot during a heavy G force maneuver that almost killed him. It caused a brain injury ending his pilot aspirations and resulting in a medical discharge from the Air Force.

“I was lost,” Woodward said.

Watch Woodward tell his incredible story about how his commitment to his brother helped him find his purpose in life by going from fighter pilot to M.D. candidate:

GotYourSix, YouTube

Don’t miss your opportunity to listen to more incredible stories like Woodward’s. This year, Got Your 6 Storytellers will be held in three cities across the country:

  • New York – Wednesday, October 26, 2016
  • Los Angeles – Tuesday, November 1, 2016
  • Washington D.C. – Thursday, November 10, 2016

Visit Got Your 6 Storytellers for additional information.

Articles

This ingenious 1911 pistol modification turns it into a dart gun

The 1911 pistol has been around for over 100 years. It is beloved by many for its ergonomics, accuracy and heavy-hitting .45 caliber round. In fact, some versions are still in service with the Marine Corps as the M45.


When something’s been around for so long, it’s also a safe bet that people are tinkering with its design. You can find 1911s in various calibers aside from its original .45 ACO, including 9mm NATO, 10mm Auto, and .22 long rifle.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

In an article at PopularMechanics.com, Ian McCollum of ForgottenWeapons.com noted that during World War II, the Office of Strategic Services wanted something that could allow commandos and other secret agents to kill sentries quietly and at a distance.

This is actually very important because if the sentry sees you and sounds the alarm, he’s won. It doesn’t matter if he’s hit the alarm with his dying effort. That alarm could even be him dying very noisily.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

The key to this was a two-part system that could be added to just about any M1911 pistol that was called “Bigot.” The rear portion was inserted through the ejection port. It had to be set up right to allow the M1911’s slide to close. Then, the piston would be screwed in. After that, a variety of darts – or even mini grenades – could be inserted for use in silently dispatching a sentry of the two-legged or four-legged variety. The darts and grenades would be fired by a .25 ACP blank.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Ian McCollum holds a M1911 with a Bigot system. The dart looks pretty nasty. (YouTube screenshot)

Tests with a quickly-made reproduction were kind of iffy (only one-third of the darts broke a glass target eight feet away). It’s probably why the Bigot never saw any real action.

Still, if Buffy needed a little extra edge to dust some vamps or if 007 wants a gadget that makes for great cinematic eye candy, it’s probably a good choice. Watch the video below to hear Ian relate what we know about this nifty-looking piece!

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The ‘Hatchet Brigade’ rode into battle with some awesome blades

Union Army Col. John T. Wilder was a unique American officer, noted during the Civil War for his innovations that were initially considered strange but often proved to be revolutionary as well.


7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Soldiers in Col. John T. Wilder’s brigade all carried long-handled hatchets. The dual use of as both a cutting tool and hammer served the soldiers well in camp and on the trail. (Photo: Amazon/Cold Steel)

For instance, Wilder’s brigade was one of the first Army units to carry Spencer Repeating Rifles, and it was the first to carry them into a major battle when they attacked Confederate forces in Hoover’s Gap on June 24, 1863, winning a huge Union victory.

When these Union infantrymen rode into Hoover’s Gap, they were carrying another unconventional weapon for infantry at the time, long-handled hatchets.

Wilder was given wide latitude in equipping his brigade, and he selected the rifles they carried, pushed for the horses they rode, and procured the hatchets.

The weapons were meant for use in battle. The 2-foot handles would let the soldiers reach enemy infantry from the saddle when necessary, allowing the men to cut their way through enemy lines.

At Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the appearance of so many hatchets made a strong impression on other Union forces and the unit picked up the nickname “The Hatchet Brigade.”

The nickname may have been derogatory, though. Cavalry units carried sabers and dragoons, which, prior to the 18th Century, operated as a sort of mounted infantry and had also preferred sabers. Wilder’s men, untrained in saber use and cavalry operations, may have received the hatchets because of their inexperience.

But the brigade proved itself in its first engagement, scattering Confederate forces in their wild dash through Hoover’s Gap and their subsequent defense of the gap. The brigade’s success despite being wildly outnumbered led to a second nickname: “The Lightning Brigade.”

As exciting as the sudden appearance of thousands of hatchets at the front was, it’s not clear that they were actually used violently. The mounted infantrymen carried them into battle, but the weapons’ main contribution to the war effort seems to have been logistical.

The plethora of hatchets allowed the men to build their own supply wagons, cutting the necessary wood and parts from destroyed wagons found on roads. Since hatchets also have a “striking head” on their reverse side, they could be pressed into service as a hammer when necessary.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Union Col. John T. Wilder outfitted his men with the Spencer Repeating Rifle after the War Department refused to do so. (Photo: Library of Congress)

It’s unlikely that the unit would have found much use for the hatchets in combat. Each man could fire seven shots between reloads, making it unlikely that enemy forces could march into range of the hatchets. And the men rarely rode their horses during the actual fighting. Instead, they would ride quickly to the battlefield, dismount, and send the horses to the rear.

In that way, the mounted infantrymen really were the predecessors to mechanized infantry and air assault infantry rather than cousins to the cavalry.

And if they had been cavalry, they probably would have been saddled with those common sabers instead of their awesome, namesake hatchets.

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This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Raytheon


The U.S. Navy and numerous NATO partners are developing a new, high-tech ship defense weapon designed to identify, track and destroy incoming enemy anti-ship cruise missiles and other threats, service officials explained.

The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II, or ESSM, is a new version of an existing Sea Sparrow weapons system currently protecting aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships and other vessels against anti-ship missiles and other surface and airborne short-range threats to ships, Navy officials said.

The ESSM Block 2 is engineered with what’s called an active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can achieve improved flight or guidance to its target by both receiving and actively sending electromagnetic signals, said Raytheon officials.

The ESSM uses radar technology to locate and then intercept a fast-approaching target while in flight; the use of what’s called an “illuminator” is a big part of this capability, Raytheon officials said.

The current ESSM missiles use what’s called a semi-active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can receive electromagnetic signals bounced off the target by an illuminator; the ESSM Block 2’s “active” guidance includes illuminator technology built onto the missile itself such that it can both receive and send important electromagnetic signals, Navy and Raytheon officials explained.

Block 2 relieves the missile from the requirement of having to use a lot of illuminator guidance from the ship as a short range self-defense, senior Navy officials have said.

A shipboard illuminator is an RF signal that bounces off a target, Raytheon weapons developers have explained.  The antenna in the nose in the guidance section [of the missile] sees the reflected energy and then corrects to intercept that reflective energy, the Raytheon official added.

The emerging missile has an “active” front end, meaning it can send an electromagnetic signal forward to track a maneuvering target, at times without needing a ship-based illuminator for guidance.

“The ESSM Block 2 will employ both a semi-active and active guidance system.  Like ESSM Block 1, the Block 2 missile, in semi-active mode, will rely upon shipboard illuminators,” Navy spokesman Dale Eng, Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior in a written statement.

Also, the missile is able to intercept threats that are close to the surface by sea-skimming or diving in onto a target from a higher altitude, Navy officials explained.  The so-called kinematic or guidance improvements of the Block 2 missile give it an improved ability to counter maneuvering threats, Navy and Raytheon officials said.

ESSM Block 2 is being jointly acquired by the U.S. and a number of allied countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. All these countries signed an ESSM Block 2 Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, designed to solidify the developmental path for the missile system through it next phase. The weapon is slated to be fully operational on ships by 2020.

“The ESSM Block 2 will be fired out of more than 5 different launching systems across the NATO Seasparrow Consortium navies.  This includes both vertical and trainable launching systems,” Eng added.

U.S. Navy weapons developers are working closely with NATO allies to ensure the weapon is properly operational across the alliance of countries planning to deploy the weapon, Eng explained.

“The ESSM Block 2 is currently in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase. The ESSM Block 2 will be integrated with the various combat systems across the navies of the NATO Seasparrow Consortium nations,” Eng said.

The ESSM Block 2 weapon is part of what Navy officials describe as a layered defense system, referring to an integrated series of weapons, sensors and interceptors designed to detect and destroy a wide-range of incoming threats from varying distances.

For instance, may ships have Aegis Radar and SM-3 missiles for long-range ballistic missile defense. Moving to threats a litter closer, such as those inside the earth’s atmosphere such as anti-ship cruise missiles, enemy aircraft, drones and surface ships, the Navy has the SM-6, ESSM, Rolling Airframe Missile and SeaRAM for slightly closer threats.  When it comes to defending the ship from the closest-in threats, many ships have the Close-In-Weapons System, or CIWS, which fires a 20-mm rapid-fire Phalanx gun toward fast approaching surface and airborne threats.

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This Q-n-A reveals the hard-fought wisdom of paratrooper who dropped into D-Day

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
(Photo: Nat’l Archives)


WATM recently had an audience with 92-year-old WWII Army veteran Clark Johnson of Floreville, Texas. At the time Johnson had just gotten back from visiting his late wife’s family and his disabled son who he hadn’t seen in eight years, a trip he was given courtesy of Dream Foundation.  Despite the fact that he has lung disease and has been given two months to live, he was very upbeat and candid during an amazing conversation that revealed hard-fought wisdom of an old vet.

Q: What was your rank?

A: Staff Sergeant.  I was in Airborne, and 2-3 days after my jump in Normandy, I hurt my leg pulling a soldier out of the swamp. [He was] drowned but we needed the material on his back over and above that even the ones drowned that didn’t have nothing we pulled them onto shore so the Red Cross could come pick ’em up later.

My job mainly was a demolition man, but for the first 3-4 days in Normandy, there was so much confusion you would kill anyone that got in your way [laughs]; you wanted to say alive.

Q: What have your learned from your time in the military?

A: I don’t know, but I’ll tell you the government can pull anything out of a hat.

Q: What advice do you have for current members of the military?

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Carl Johnson (Photo: Dream Foundation)

A: If you get in front of a machine gun, like I did, and they take the knuckle out of your middle finger – don’t pull your hand away. Leave it up there, even let them get the other three fingers too. Because today – that knuckle out of my little finger pays me a thousand dollars a month.

I got two Purple Hearts and each one of ’em pays me a thousand bucks. That’s $2,000 a month [laughs]; you know, at least that puts food on the table.

Q: How did you cope with what you saw during your time in combat?

A: Silence is the best thing that I know. Because, now and then, you can say something, and then later on they ask you the same thing you said and they’re mixing stuff up. That’s not good for nobody.

Q: Do you remember when you got drafted?

A: Yeah, I got a letter that was typed, “Greetings!” (laughs)

Q: What went through your mind when you got that letter?

A: I was gonna lose my job. Hey, you know when you were a teenager and you got a job, you were lucky if you got a good one that paid big money.

Q: How old were you when you got drafted?

A: 18

Q: What years did you serve?

A: 1943-1946

Q: What is your advice to young Americans?

A: If you can’t go to college, due to money, whatever, there is nothing wrong with going to the Army or the Navy and getting out in about four years with a discharge that will help you for the rest of your life. I can’t lay it any cleaner than that.

Q: What is your definition of patriotism?

A: No politics.

 

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Here are the best military photos for the week of Feb. 18

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

An F-22 Raptor performs a heritage flight during the 2017 Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 9, 2017. The program was established in 1997, allowing certified civilian pilots and Air Force pilots to perform flights together.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kimberly Nagle

Army Spc. James Williams, an 801st Engineer Company horizontal engineer, awaits the go-ahead for Humvees to be backed into a C-17 Globemaster III prior to its takeoff from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., during Patriot Wyvern Feb. 11, 2017. Patriot Wyvern is a hands-on, bi-annual event conducted by the 349th Air Mobility Wing designed to hone combat skills and improve organizational interoperability.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps

ARMY:

U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Babbin, left, and Spc. Michael Richards, right, combat engineers, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Vermont National Guard, place C4 explosives for a live demolition training at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vt., Feb. 11, 2017. The Soldiers learn how to do this safely and correctly by training both in the classroom and field environment.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley J. Hayes

Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), are currently deployed to Kosovo, providing a secure environment, strengthening relationships with our allies, while simultaneously building combat readiness.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Army photo

NAVY:

PHILIPPINE SEA (Feb. 11, 2017) Air department Sailors transfer an MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, from the flight deck to the hanger bay of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during flight operations. Bonhomme Richard is conducting unit-level training to ensure warfighting readiness in preparation for a routine patrol in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan

GUAM (Feb. 11, 2017) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Seaman Stephen Mugo and Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy Boling perform evening colors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The ship’s carrier strike group is on a western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano

MARINE CORPS:

Recruits with 2nd Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, spar during Marine Corps Martial Arts training at Leatherneck Square at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program helps to create the warrior ethos by utilizing armed and unarmed techniques from various styles of martial arts.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Richard Currier

Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Maritime Raid Force discuss their individual movements during Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calitfornia Feb. 8, 2017. The 15th MEU’s MEU-EX is the first major exercise conducted since the MEU composited earlier this year. The 15th MEU’s MRF bears substantial force and is capable of a high degree of tactical mobility while delivering significant, sustained firepower within an objective area.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Valero

COAST GUARD:

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew forward deployed in Cold Bay, Alaska, surveys the area around the fishing vessel Predator prior to hoisting three people off near Akutan Harbor, Alaska, Feb. 13, 2017. The predator ran hard aground, causing it to take on water through an eight inch crack on the hull. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Coast Guard members aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station Maui conduct a patrol in support of Operation Kohola Guardian offshore Maui, Feb. 14, 2017. Operation Kohola Guardian is a cooperative operation between state and federal partners to protect the humpback whale migration to the Hawaiian Islands.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa E. McKenzie

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The United States may release the most damaging spy in recent history

Almost 30 years after being convicted for espionage, Jonathan Jay Pollard will be eligible for parole in November 2015 — and the U.S. may release him. In 1987, Pollard became the first American ever convicted for passing intelligence to a U.S. ally. In espionage acts the U.S. says were unnecessary, Pollard was personally adamant Israel was not getting the full intelligence picture due to a U.S. ally and so took it on himself — as a civilian member of U.S. Navy intelligence — to provide that information.


Pollard didn’t go to trial because he pled out to get leniency for himself and his wife. He was handed a life sentence, with eligibility for parole after 30 years.

He has become a cause célèbre in some Jewish and Israeli circles. Yet both sides of the American political aisles argue against his release: the conservative publication National Review and the liberal Slate both published pieces against it, and many former Department of Defense officials are against his release. Some prominent Jewish-American figures are against it. Even once-ardent supporters of Pollard disagree with the timing. Ron Olive, the NCIS investigator who caught Pollard after he handed more than a million documents to Israeli agents over 18 months, believes the spy should stay in jail. So does Vice-President Joe Biden. Then-CIA director George Tenet threatened his resignation if President Clinton released Pollard in the late 1990s.

Pollard’s disclosures to Israel have never been fully revealed to the public. A 46-page memo viewable by Pollard and his defense attorneys was provided to the court at his sentence hearing by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who said Pollard gave information that caused grave damage to the national security of the United States.

This included the 10-volume Radio and Signal Intelligence [RASIN] manual, aka “the Bible,” detailing the entire U.S. global listening profile, “frequency by frequency, source by source, geographic slice by geographic slice. RASIN was in effect, a complete roadmap to American signal intelligence.” The manual revealed which communications channels of which powers, in which regions, the NSA was intercepting and in what order of priority, providing insight on where and what actions the U.S. military might take next. It was this specific disclosure which led the sentencing judge to send Pollard away for life.

The full disclosure of secrets Pollard passed to Israel are so damaging the memo detailing the gravest of them is itself Top Secret; he essentially revealed the “sources and methods” of all American intelligence gathering. Secretary Weinberger asserted Pollard had a photographic memory and the ability to go on disclosing secrets into the foreseeable future (a summary is available here).

“It is difficult for me, even in the so-called ‘year of the spy,'” wrote Weinberger, “to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant in view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel. That information was intentionally reserved by the United States for its own use, because to disclose it, to anyone or any nation, would cause the greatest harm to our national security.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itIwrWPQ00E

In his defense trial, Pollard claimed he was motivated by altruism for Israel’s security and not greed, but was still paid $11,000 (almost $24,000 adjusted for inflation) and a diamond and sapphire ring he used to propose to his girlfriend. He would eventually receive $2,500 (more than $5,700 in 2015) each month for his work for Israel, as well as cash for hotels, meals, and other luxuries. Pollard admitted to taking the money. The government alleged he was a habitual drug user who burned through cash as fast as he could get it. In the above video, Marion Bowman called him a very “venal person.”

The government’s case against Pollard included unsuccessful attempts to broker arms deals with South Africa, Argentina, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Iran. When the Israelis were asked to return the material, they returned only low-level classified documents, but the U.S. was aware of more than 10,000 documents Pollard passed, at times by loads in suitcases, copied by Israeli agents with two high-speed copiers in a DC apartment. Ron Olive, the NCIS investigator handling the Pollard case, later detailed more than a million documents.

“By his own admission, he gave enough information to fill a space six feet by six feet by ten feet.”

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Security video frame of Pollard stealing documents

A Texas native, Pollard attended Stanford University and graduated in 1976. After a few failed attempts at graduate school, he also failed to get a job at the CIA, being unable to pass the polygraph test necessary for the CIA’s Top Secret clearance. He was able to get a job at the Naval Intelligence Support Center, Surface Ships Division. While there, his boss tried to fire him, but he was instead reassigned to a Naval Intelligence Task Force.

Along the way he had a meeting with Adm. Sumner Shapiro, the Commander of Naval Intelligence Command, which led to the admiral ordering his security clearances revoked. Shapiro, who insists Pollard was too low ranking to know what the U.S. was sharing with Israel, described Pollard as a “kook,” saying “I wish the hell I’d fired him.” His clearance somehow wasn’t revoked but was downgraded, only to be returned after Pollard filed a lawsuit to get it back.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Pollard’s Navy ID Photo

In college, Pollard made a lot of outrageous claims; he was an agent of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service (who have an active policy of not spying on the U.S.), he claimed to have killed an Arab while guarding a kibbutz in Israel, and that he was a Colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces. None of this was true, but in June 1984, while working at Task Force 168, he met an actual Colonel in the Israeli Air Force, Aviem Sella. Pollard volunteered to spy for Israel, telling Sella his belief there were secrets the U.S. was not sharing with Israel that were vital to Israeli interests.

In an exhaustive 1987 report, NCIS investigator Ron Olive alleged Pollard passed material on to South Africa and tried to pass it on to Pakistan. He took intelligence documents about China which his wife used to advance her business interests. He passed No Foreign Access (NOFORN) information on to an Australian Navy officer.

He was caught when a coworker noticed he was removing classified material from the work center, but didn’t seem to be taking it anywhere relevant. He was put under surveillance and the FBI caught him moving classified documents. He told the FBI he was taking them to another agency for a consultation, but that turned out to be false. During the voluntary interview, Pollard asked to call his wife, using a code word (“cactus”) which meant the game was up and that she should destroy all the classified material in their home.

Pollard agreed to a search of his house, which turned up documents his wife missed. Since there was no proof of passing the documents on, the case was given to his supervisors. When they asked him to submit to a polygraph, he admitted to passing the documents on but didn’t mention Israel. Meanwhile, Pollard’s neighbor — himself a naval officer — began to cooperate with the FBI, handing over a 70-pound suitcase full of classified material Mrs. Pollard gave him for safekeeping. Pollard and his wife were again put under surveillance by the FBI.

This time, Pollard and his wife tried to seek asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. but were turned away. They tried invoking the Israeli Law of Return, but were still rebuffed. As soon as he left the embassy, he was taken down by FBI agents. His wife evaded capture for a few more days, alerting Sella and allowing all the Israelis involved to escape via New York.

When U.S. investigators traveled to Israel, the Israelis were uncooperative, forcing every question and answer to go through Hebrew-English translation (everyone spoke English), purposely creating a schedule designed to tire the investigators, denying them sleep, stealing items from their luggage and withholding Sella’s identity. Most of the documents taken by Israel were not returned.

Pollard pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government. The terms of agreement included the caveat that neither Pollard nor his wife could speak publicly about his crimes or the kind of information that was passed on. Pollard and his wife immediately broke that plea in an interview with the Jerusalem Post and then 60 Minutes where he told them the kind of information he passed.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans

Among the information Pollard admits giving to Israel:

  • Detailed information about a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) HQ in Tunisia
  • Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare factory locations and production capabilities
  • Regular PLO operations plans
  • Soviet arms shipments to Arab states unfriendly to Israel
  • Soviet fighter jet information
  • Information about Pakistani nuclear weapons programs

The Israelis first insisted Pollard was part of a rogue operation but later admitted their complicity in 1998. Pollard’s supporters argue his intelligence leaks weren’t pertaining to the United States but they fail to mention the problems surrounding Israeli use of the information, such as the possible outing of CIA sources abroad. The same supporters also argue against the severity of his life sentence, saying prosecutors didn’t seek it, but the judge gave it to him anyway after receiving the full details of the damage Pollard caused via the Weinberger memo, and that may other spies were given far more lenient treatment.

Pollard’s detractors counter this with the accusation that Israel may have turned over the same information to the Soviet Union in order to get the Soviets to allow more Jewish emigres to leave the Soviet Union for Israel — including the ways the U.S. Navy tracked Soviet submarines worldwide. Israel is also believed to have traded Pollard’s intelligence to other nations.

He gave Israel information about VQ-2 electronic surveillance plans, which allowed the U.S. to monitor the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982-83 evacuation of Beirut, and American bombing of Libya in April 1986. This revealed American “time and place acquisition methods,” allowing Israel to track America’s own intelligence capability in the Mediterranean and even over Israel itself.

In a 1998 Washington Post Op-Ed, three former Navy Intelligence Chiefs argue that Pollard has a nest egg hidden away in foreign banks, and that with the “sheer volume of sensitive information betrayed, Pollard rivals any of the traitors who have plagued this nation in recent times.” They added that the movement to release Pollard is a “clever public relations campaign.”

NOW: 11 Spies Who Did The Most Damage to the U.S. Military

OR: 6 Of The Wildest Top Secret Missions of WWII

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This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

When Germany began its assault on Holland on May 10, 1940, the international community was not just worried about the lives of the Dutch people but also about the massive stocks of industrial diamonds in Amsterdam.


7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
The German invasion of Holland featured the use of paratroopers in costumes and Dutch uniforms. Photo: Dutch National Archives via Wikipedia

Industrial diamonds were used for many manufacturing purposes and the country that controlled the diamonds could create more weapons, vehicles, and sophisticated technology like radar.

That’s why two diamond traders in England, Jan Smit and Walter Keyser, offered their services to the British government. Jan’s father ran a large trading interest in Amsterdam and was friends with many more traders. Smit was certain that if he were allowed passage into and out of Amsterdam, he could get many diamonds out before the Nazis could seize them.

Approval for the mission went all the way to the new prime minister Winston Churchill himself. Churchill ordered a military officer to escort the two men and granted them the use of an old World War I destroyer, the HMS Walpole, to get them into the city. The Walpole had to thread a mile gap between German and British minefields at night under blackout conditions to get across the English Channel.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
The HMS Walpole Photo: Royal Navy

During the transit, the Walpole almost struck another British ship sneaking through the darkness. Those on the Walpole would learn years later that the other ship was evacuating members of the Dutch Royal family.

Keyser and Smit arrived in the harbor just before daybreak and spent the day working with Smit’s father to convince traders to release the diamonds to the Keyser and Smit. From their landing at the docks to their trips around the city, the men were driven by a Jewish woman, Anna, who protected them from possible German spies.

Throughout the men’s day in Amsterdam, Dutch police and soldiers were attempting to root out pockets of German paratroopers wreaking havoc in the city. Across the country, German forces were quickly taking over and quashing resistance. Gunfire interrupted a few of their meetings.

The Germans made quick progress and occupied the entire country within five days. Photo: German Army Archives via Wikipedia The Germans made quick progress and occupied the entire country within five days. Photo: German Army Archives via Wikipedia

Many of the diamond traders were Jewish and could have bribed their way out of the country with their stocks and possibly escaped the Holocaust. Instead, they took the chance to get them away from German hands. Most of the traders even refused receipts out of fear that the Germans would learn how many diamonds they had prevented the Third Reich from getting their hands on.

While the men gave many of their diamonds to the English agents, the attack had come during a bank weekend and many were in safes that couldn’t be opened for another day or more.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Industrial diamonds are used in tools and manufacturing equipment because of their how hard they are. Photo: R. Tanaka CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia

Luckily another British agent, Lt. Col. Montagu R. Chidson, made his way to the massive vault at the Amsterdam Mart and spent hours breaking into it, even as German paratroopers forced their way into the building. He escaped with the diamonds as the soldiers forced their way down the stairs.

At the end of the day, Chidson escaped on his own while Anna rushed Smit, Keyser, and their military escort back to the docks just in time to rendezvous with the HMS Walpole. Smit carried a thick canvas bag filled with the diamonds and forced a tug driver at gunpoint to take them to the British destroyer.

Chidson’s diamonds made their way to Queen Wilhelmina while the diamonds recovered by Smit and Keyser were held in London for the duration of the war.

(h/t David E. Walker for his 1955 book, “Adventure In Diamonds” where he recounts much of the first-hand testimony of the men who took part in the operations to recover diamonds ahead of the Nazi advance).

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One of America’s oldest vets just turned 111

One of the nation’s oldest veterans has been celebrated by his Texas hometown on his 111th birthday.


Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared Thursday Richard Overton Day in the city and also gave the street he has lived on for the past 45 years the honorary name of Richard Overton Avenue.

While Overton concedes that 111 is “pretty old,” he tells KVUE-TV he still feels good. Overton mentioned that the secret to a long life is smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, two things he continues to indulge in today.

Overton was already in his 30s when he volunteered and served in the Army. He was at Pearl Harbor just after the Japanese attack.

In 2013, he was honored by President Barack Obama at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Judd Apatow is making a movie with Iraq vet and award-winning author Phil Klay

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans


Judd Apatow is planning to make a movie with Phil Klay, the Iraq war veteran who wrote the award-winning bestseller “Redeployment,” according to Vulture.

While appearing on a podcast with comedian Pete Holmes, the producer and writer known for movies like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” said it would likely be a comedy/drama.

“[It’s] a comedy with drama or a drama with comedy about those people and what they’ve gone through, and hopefully in an entertaining way so it’s not one of these depressing movies you don’t want to see,” Apatow said. “But it’s just about, what happens to soldiers who return to a country that isn’t even that aware that we’re at war?”

It seems Apatow read Klay’s excellent book and reached out:

NOW: 15 veterans taking the comedy world by storm

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This is how chem lights have been illuminating the battlefield for years

Effective operations are the center of gravity to successful troop missions. If things go wrong, having the proper means to signal potential EVAC might define the fine line between death and survival. At times, contingency should be a priority for troop survival, and signaling becomes a necessity.

Chem lights have long been used as a signaling device, mainly because typical alternatives like cellphones breach military protocol. As a critical player in tactical military use, chem lights guarantee no heat, open flames, or sparks before and after service. What’s more is that the sticks are waterproof, have a longer shelf life and can be used with different distinctions.

There is a significant disparity between chem lights and glow sticks. Aside from being more powerful than a battery-powered flashlight, they outlast solar-powered lamps. Perhaps the top identifying factor (once you turn it on): you can’t extinguish the light unless you hide it.

At a glance, chem lights are powered by chemical reactions that emit light not caused by heating. Chem lights come with bespoke illumination for general and military applications with red, white, blue and yellow colors.

Aside from offering value to preppers, chem lights are used to mark perimeters, protection, hazard warnings, helicopter landing zones, marking land mines removal, safety markings and naval indications of “man overboard.” There are different colors, each carrying its usage distinction. Here, we explain how troops use chem lights for different battlefield illumination needs.

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U.S. Army ohoto by Sgt. 1st Class Emily Anderson. (DVIDS)

Red and Orange

Red glows are often less conspicuous when it comes to position identification. Twelve hour illumination capabilities by red chem lights are ideal if you want to conceal yourself from human targets. Although it’s not ideal to scare off animal predators, red is perfect for troops who want to hide and maintain their natural night vision. At the same time, red chem lights are not suitable for reading topographical maps as the intense light will probably wash them away.

Orange is a high-intensity illumination that lasts approximately five minutes. Despite its close resemblance to the red color, one noticeable thing about orange lights is high intensity along with eye-dimming brightness. They are used for emergencies such as trip flares and helicopter signaling requiring high-intensity but short illumination.

Since orange chem lights are intended to provide a short target range, they fade off slowly after five minutes but take additional time to die completely.

7 ways Topper Harley taught us to be better Americans
Photo by Staff Sgt. Candice Harrison, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. (DVIDS)

Blue and Green

Green chem lights last up to 12 hours and can be seen up to a mile away. As an indicator for troops to “go,” green gives more visible light and is ideal for interpreting topographical maps. While it may not be suitable for roadside emergencies, green will generally last longer than all color choices.

Blue chem lights, on the other hand, are not suitable for map reading. Their illumination can be seen over a mile away and last between 8 – 12 hours. Similar to green chem lights, blue is not ideal for roadway emergencies.

Yellow Chem Lights

When troops want to illuminate an area without autonomy, yellow becomes an ideal option. Generally, yellow signifies “caution” and can last up to 12 hours. Given that civilians can use yellow for roadway emergencies, military helicopters use yellow to identify markings within landing pads. Perhaps the top reason yellow is utilized explicitly for landing is because this chem light provides sufficient illumination within the dedicated area.

White Chem Lights

Military-grade white chem lights provide light outputs for up to eight hours in areas when electric power isn’t an option. White provides intense light and is perfect when troops want to illuminate colossal spaces. However, white lights have a shorter duration and can last only up to eight hours, and not 12 hours as most chem lights.

Feature photo: U.S. Army Photo by Spc. David Sharp

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