When Master Sgt. Mike Maroney was a staff sergeant he rescued 3-year-old LeShay Brown a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. An Air Force Combat Photographer happened to be on the mission, and snapped a now-iconic photo.
“They just happened to snap a photo of this little girl who really, for me, made the day. It was a rough day,” Maroney told the cast of The Real, a nationally syndicated daytime talk show. “It was seven days into Katrina. Earlier in July, I just got back from a deployment to Afghanistan, it was my worst deployment. To see New Orleans under water and destroyed just really took a toll on me, so when she gave me that hug I wasn’t even on the planet at that point.”
Maroney saved 140 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina but the memory of that hug stayed with him. Maroney, now 40 years old and a 19-year Air Force Veteran kept that photo on his wall for the past decade which he says helped him through a lot of dark times stemming from his service.
He never knew that little girl’s name. One day, he decided to find her and posted the photo on Facebook, hoping it would go viral. Someone reached out to Maroney after noticing the search for the girl had not gone very far.
“I had the idea to put it on Facebook to see if anyone is looking for her,” Maroney said. “It got 42 likes. Nothing. Up ’til last year, nothing. Then a young man named Andrew [Goard] wrote me and said, ‘Hey, its my life’s goal. I’m gonna help you find this little girl.”
Goard is a high school student in Waterford, Michigan whose grandfather served in Vietnam, and he idolized Pararescue Jumpers (he even has an Instagram page devoted to them). He helped the hashtag #FindKatrinaGirl go viral. The story was eventually picked up by Air Force Times and distributed around to smaller news outlets, until it ended up in front of LeShay Brown, who is now 13 and living in Waveland, Mississippi.
“I wish I could explain to you how important your hug was,” Maroney told LeShay Brown. “Your small gesture helped me through a dark phase. You rescued me more than I rescued you.”
“In my line of work, it doesn’t usually turn out happily,” Maroney said. “This hug, this moment, was like – everybody I’ve ever saved, that was the thank you.”
Sailors have a long history of sporting tattoos, and now the sea service is taking it to the next level with some major mods to the tattoo policy. The new rules, which take effect April 30, will allow sailors to:
Have multiple or large tattoos below the elbow or knee, including the wrists and hands, effectively allowing sleeve tattoos that can be seen even while wearing short sleeve uniforms.
Have one tattoo on their neck, which includes behind the ear, and it may not exceed 1 inch in length or height in either or both directions.
Sailors with visible tattoos will now be eligible for recruiting duty or leading recruits at boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. These tough assignments often give sailors a leg up to make rank.
The rules do not change the Navy’s content guidelines that apply to body art “anywhere on the body,” the policy says, which means that “tattoos that are obscene, sexually explicit, and or advocate discrimination based on sex, race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin” are still banned.
“In addition, tattoos that symbolize affiliation with gangs, supremacist or extremist groups, or advocate illegal drug use are prohibited — waivers will not be given for tattoos with prohibited content,” the service said.
“We just got to the point where we realized we needed to be honest with ourselves and put something in place that was going to reflect the realities of our country and the needs of our Navy,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens told Navy Timesin a March 30 interview. “We need to make sure that we’re not missing any opportunities to recruit and retain the best and the brightest because of our policies.”
Every service branch has its own ways of messing with the new guys. The military has been compared to fraternities and sororities because of the bond forged with those we serve with. Similarly, both have off the book traditions and a purpose behind them. No one wants anyone to get seriously hurt. Hazing needs to be kept within reason; we’re the military, not barbarians.
1. Not all unofficial traditions are harmful
There are some traditions such as ‘Pinning’ chevrons or blood stripes that are understandably outlawed because people took it too far. The act of Pinning is done when someone gets promoted and they have new chevrons placed on the collar of their uniform. The backs of the chevron, bearing the rank insignia, has sharp spikes. The spikes have caps to prevent the service member from being poked while executing his or her duties.
During a ‘pinning’ tradition, soon after a troop is promoted, the caps are left off. Those of a higher rank punch it once and are supposed to congratulate you. It was intended to be love tap. A light jab, ouchies, let’s grab a drink. Pinning is not a blank check to start whaling away at someone causing them to bleed all over the place or break their collar bone.
That’s not hazing, that’s a crime. Go straight to prison.
When I was new to the Marine Corps fleet my seniors banged on my door at four in the morning. When I opened the door, they had a six pack and told my roommate and I to chug them all immediately. After we completed the task, they left as suddenly as they came. Is that hazing? No. Does the Uniform Code of Military Justice consider it hazing? Yes. Did we shut the hell up? Absolutely.
2. Hazing identifies who can be trusted
Lets say my roommate and I told on our seniors when we went to formation that day. It not only would’ve been a sh*t storm, they would’ve been sent to jail and demoted. What man is really a man who can’t keep a secret? If no one can trust you with their careers no one will ever trust you with their lives.
3. The knife hand is not hazing
On April 1, 2013 an article in the Marine Corps Times came out titled No More Knife Hands, Leaders want you to play nice with junior Marines. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. Marines were confused about the new standards, as is tradition. There were motivators who accepted and enforced it immediately. Others were knife handing each other jokingly in defiance. I strongly suspect it was an April fools joke but ever since Marines have refrained from using them.
4. It’s different for the infantry
In the infantry we need to know that you can take it. When deployed to combat zone, we use the F word like a comma. When you’re on a live fire range and someone tells you to move the hell over at the top of their lungs, move. If your gear is improperly packed and you’re forced to dump it and repack it. Dot it.
It’s for your own good.
For example, you’ll start dropping gear, evidence of troop movement. Your balance is off and you can injure yourself, affecting the platoon’s combat effectiveness. Lost essentials like food or water. The list goes on and that’s just for packing. Is a corporal going to be patient with a private and refrain from using colorful language and a knife hand in the middle of a field op? No. That’s part of one’s pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections before going to the field. Does the UCMJ consider it hazing? Yeah.
5. You knew what you were getting into
Finally, this is the military. From the Marine Corps to the Air Force, they’re war fighting organizations. Our purpose is to find bad guys and turn them to pink mist. There is a reason the world fears America’s military strength and its not because of our shiny toys. Its because of the men and women in uniform are tougher than the enemy. If someone can’t take a little rough housing in the most powerful military in history then they shouldn’t be here.
Lt. Cmdr. Maria G. Mannix is a Navy surface warfare officer who is competing in the 2016 Warrior Games. The cancer fighter has had to juggle her time between doctor appointments, her duties as a deputy director of the Training Support Center in San Diego, and training for the Warrior Games where she’s a competitor in shot put, discus, rifle shooting, and sitting volleyball.
The Warrior Games are an annual competition held by the Department of Defense where wounded and sick service members compete in an Olympic-style competition.
Mannix says that – despite the challenge of being an athlete and Navy officer while fighting cancer – participating in the Warrior Games and other sports competitions with the Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor program has been an important part of her recovery.
“Safe Harbor has really been a positive part of my recovery process because you meet other teammates that have serious illnesses and serious injuries and you see how they’re dealing with whatever they have, and it’s inspirational. It gives you a different outlook on things,” she said.
It’s not just Mannix’s teammates who help push her forward. The competition from wounded warriors on other teams helps as well.
“I had met a lot of the other athletes from different branches, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force,” she said, “and the more I got to make friends in other branches the more I realized that I needed to step up my game. It’s wonderful to make new friends but you also get to see the competitive edge from everybody else that’s going to be at the games as well. It helped me to focus on improving my athletic skills and trying to get my upper body strength to the best fitness I could have to be here for the games.”
That upper body strength is very important for Mannix. She’s fighting breast cancer and her surgeries have made training a challenge, but a strong upper body is vital to her performance.
“I’ve had multiple upper body surgeries which, anatomically, have changed my upper thoracic cavity. It’s more than just getting ready for the games. It’s PT and rehabilitation as well. But when you’re on the volleyball court, you’re literally using your hands as your legs and you have to be quick so you can react to the ball. There’s a lot of muscle strength that you need to have there. Same with my field events, I’m doing shotput and discus throwing. Again, it’s more of an upper body requirement.”
Mannix says that this training and competition helps patients connect in a way they can’t with their care providers or loved ones.
“We’re having a fantastic time playing and competing, but we’re also recovering and helping each other in a way you’re not going to get talking to a counselor or your doctor or your nurse or even your family and friends. It’s a different type of bond and it’s a different kind of camaraderie.”
“You expand the support network you already have,” she said. “Everybody wants to come home with the gold medal and be the winner, in the end, when the games are done, you hug and you say, ‘The games are over. Let’s go have some fun now.'”
The Navy sitting volleyball team was eliminated early in the tournament, but the field events are taking place Jun. 16 when Mannix will compete in discus and shot put. She will also compete in shooting on Jun. 19.
The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
WATERS NEAR GUAM (Aug. 12, 2015) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) fires a Harpoon missile during a live-fire drill.
Photo by: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Dionne/USN
PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 11, 2015) An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 prepares to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) as the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung Hoon (DDG 93) follows behind during a show of force transit.
Photo by: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andre T. Richard/USN
SAN DIEGO (Aug. 11, 2015) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Eric Brown moves his belongings from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 76) to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
Photo by: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan McFarlane/USN
A Marine with 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, engages his target during a deck shoot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex. The Marines practiced shooting from behind a barricade to simulate staying behind cover during a fire fight.
Photo by: Cpl. Elize McKelvey/USMC
Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa practice clearing a house during a two-week infantry training package, August 4-15, 2015, aboard Naval Station Rota, Spain.
Photo by: Staff Sgt. Vitaliy Rusavskiy/USMC
Staff Sgt. Fred Frizzell, an 823rd Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron pavements and construction equipment operator, operates a drilling rig at a well site in Brisas del Mar, Honduras.
Photo by: Capt. David J. Murphy/USAF
Maintainers with the 801st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron were flown out to Eglin Range Complex, Fla., to perform routine repairs on a CV-22B Osprey.
Photo by: Senior Airman Christopher Callaway/USAF
Soldiers, assigned to 4th Squadron, 2D Cavalry Regiment, paddle across a lake on a water obstacle course, created by Polish soldiers from the 6th Airborne Brigade, during Operation Atlantic Resolve, at the Nowa Deba Training Area, Poland.
Photo by: Spc. Marcus Floyd/US Army
Soldiers, assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, move through the smoke to clear their next objective during a live-fire exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Photo by: Sgt. Juan F. Jimenez/US Army
Thank you all for following CGC JAMES as we continue on with our inaugural adventure. These past few days have been remarkable and we look forward to continue to honor Joshua James’ memory and legacy.
Photo by: Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelley/USCG
CGC Stratton crewmembers open a semi-submersible in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Now the slowly melting ice and snow has uncovered the wreck of the doomed Military Air Transport Service plane. It was found two miles away from the spot of the crash, slowly moved over the years by the receding Colony Glacier.
“The glacier essentially held these things in a capsule,” Elizabeth Feeney, a spokeswoman for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, told the Los Angeles Times. “Many of the things that we get back are easily identifiable.”
This includes Col. Noel Elmer Hoblit, whose remains were returned to his family in 2012. Hoblit was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Hoblit’s granddaughter, Heidi Noel Hoblit-Graham, says her grandmother, Virginia, and her family were never the same after the crash.
“My grandmother was, towards the end of her life, an alcoholic,” Graham recalls. “The crash gave her post-traumatic stress and she became a different woman.”
Both of Graham’s grandparents were 45 at the time of the crash. Heidi Graham eventually found a box of letters her grandfather sent to her grandmother. The box also included jagged newspaper clippings, hastily cut out and put away.
“It was life-changing to read through these love letters, through every newspaper article that my grandmother saved,” Graham says. “Maybe she felt like she had to to save the memory but couldn’t go back and face it herself. Maybe she thought she would be able to one day, but she just never did.”
She never remarried, never even dated again.
Hoblit’s remains were buried on what would have been his wedding anniversary. Two of his sons, retired Air Force Col. Jerry Hoblit and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Fred Hoblit — who joined the service because of their father’s legacy — were at Arlington to receive his flag.
“My dad has early stages of dementia and he knows it,” Graham says. “He just turned 80, he knows that he’s not quite firing on the same really high intellect that he once did. He asked me to be his person to help plan this stuff.”
It was an emotional experience for the two sons. Their father had a grave marker at Arlington National Cemetery for years. Then their mother was interred there. Now they’re finally in the same place.
“I think that that was an important thing for my dad,” Graham says. “I think my uncle was so broken from having lost his father that I don’t think he’s ever really recovered.”
Many families have since been reunited with their loved ones’ remains since the glacier started to recede in 2012. But time is running out for the families of the nearly two dozen remaining crewmembers and passengers.
The wreckage is moving into a 600-foot-deep lake. Once the wreck is in the lake, the rest of the bodies will not be recoverable.
“The lake is too deep,” Graham says. “They don’t have the technology to be able to go that deep and get the remains and because it’s moving, they’re only able to go up there for two weeks out of the year in the summer to find remains.”
The U.S. military is proudly sending 18 athletes to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Some games have already started, including soccer, but the opening ceremony is set for Aug. 5 with the games running for about two weeks.
For decades, the U.S. military has sent a select number of its troops to compete against the world’s best athletes, and this year’s XXXI Olympiad is no exception. Here they are along with a couple fast facts about each one:
1. Army Spc. Hillary Bor
Specialist Hillary Bor is a financial management technician and a two-time Big 12 conference champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He placed second in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
2. Army Spc. Paul Chelimo
Specialist Paul Chelimo is a water treatment specialist who will compete in the 5,000-meter race.
3. Army Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller
Sergeant 1st Class Glenn Eller is an instructor on the Army Marksmanship Unit’s International Shotgun Team. He will compete in the double trap event in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
4. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. David Higgins
Second Lt. David Higgins is a recent graduate of the Air Force Academy who cross-commissioned into the Marine Corps. He will compete in the 50-meter prone rifle event in the Rio Olympics.
Edward King is a 2011 Naval Academy graduate and completed SEAL training before being assigned to the Navy’s information warfare community at Fort Meade, Maryland. He has taken an extended leave of absence from the service to compete on the U.S. Olympic Rowing team for the Rio Games. Originally from South Africa, King was first introduced to rowing at the Naval Academy.
7. Army Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir
Specialist Shadrack Kipchirchir is a financial management technician who will compete in the 10,000-meter race in the 2016 Olympic Games.
8. Army Spc. Leonard Korir
Specialist Leonard Korir is a competitor in the 10,000-meter race who also serves as a motor transport operator in the Army.
9. Army Spc. Daniel Lowe
Specialist Daniel Lowe is a watercraft engineer and first-time Olympian. He will compete in the air rifle event and the three-position prone rifle event.
10. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Lukow
Staff Sgt. Michael Lukow is an infantryman and adaptive athlete who will represent the U.S. in the recurve bow event at the 2016 Paralympic Games. He learned archery while recovering from injuries sustained in Iraq that cost him his right foot.
11. Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks
Sergeant Elizabeth Marks is a medic and Paralympic Athlete who won four gold medals at the 2016 Invictus Games. She will compete in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Rio Games. She is best known for giving one of her Invictus Gold Medals to Prince Harry of England to donate to the Papworth Hospital staff in England who helped save her life.
12. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail
Sergeant 1st Class Michael McPhail is an infantryman heading into his second Olympics. In 2012, he competed in the 50-meter prone rifle. He will compete in the same event in 2016.
13. Army Staff Sgt. John Nunn
Staff Sgt. John Nunn is a dental specialist and competitive race walker. He competed in the 2004 and 2012 Olympics and will do so again in Rio. He won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Race Walk 50k Team Trials with a personal record of 4:13:21.
14. Army Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond
Sergeant 1st Class Josh Richmond is an infantryman headed to his second Olympic games. He competes in the double trap shotgun event and serves as an instructor on the Army Marksmanship Unit’s International Shotgun Team.
15. Army Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson
Sergeant 1st Class Keith Sanderson is an infantryman and competitive pistol shooter. Rio will be his third Olympic appearance. In 2008, he set an Olympic qualification record in the Beijing games for the 25-meter rapid fire pistol event.
16. Army Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher
Sergeant Nathan Schrimsher is a motor transport operator and competitor in the modern pentathlon, a five-sport event that includes fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, cross-country running and pistol shooting. He was the first athlete to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
17. Air Force 1st Lt. Cale Simmons
First Lt. Cale Simmons is a pole vaulter and member of the World Class Athlete Program. He graduated from the Air Force Academy where he competed in the pole vault and other track events in 2013.
18. Naval Academy Cadet Regine Tugade (for Team Guam)
Regine Tugade is a Midshipman at the Naval Academy who has been excused for a portion of her plebe summer to compete in the 100-meter dash in the 2016 Olympic Games for Team Guam. She first arrived on the continental U.S. on June 29, the day before plebe summer began. She will return to academy training after the Olympics.
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:
Tech. Sgt. Michael Christiansen, a 100th Security Forces Squadron assistant flight chief, draws back a bow and arrow March 28, 2017, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Christiansen was selected to represent U.S. Air Forces in Europe at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Chicago where he will compete in the rifle, pistol, recurve archery and sitting volleyball events.
Retired Air Force Col. and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, flies with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, April 2, 2017, at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
A U.S. soldier surveys a training ground near Kandahar, Afghanistan, March 14, 2017. The Soldier was part of a security detachment supporting Afghan Tactical Air Coordinators and advisers with Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air. As part of Resolute Support Mission, TAAC-Air works in tandem with Afghan counterparts to foster working relationships and fortify confidence in the mission.
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – U.S. Army Soldiers and European military candidates observe the chemical decontamination portion of the U.S. Army Europe Expert Field Medical Badge evaluation in Grafenwoehr, Germany on March 20, 2017. Approximately 215 military members from the U.S. Army and eleven European partner nations attended this biannual evaluation in hopes of achieving the coveted U.S. Army EFMB.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (April 7, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 4, 2017) Sailors clean and maintain an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the “Fighting Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship and its carrier strike group are underway conducting a sustainment exercise in support of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan.
CAMP BEUHRING, Kuwait – Lance Cpl. Alexander Seick, a communications specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 11, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), closes the feed tray of an M240B medium machine gun after conducting a functions check during a sustainment training exercise near Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, March 5. Marines can use the M240B’s high rate of fire to provide suppressive fires, subduing enemy threats while moving toward an objective. The 11th MEU is currently supporting U.S. 5th Fleet’s mission to promote and maintain stability and security in the region.
YUMA, Arizona – U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, take cover from shrapnel behind a blast blanket while conducting urban demolition breach training for Talon Exercise 2-17, Yuma, Arizona, March 30, 2017. The purpose of TalonEx was for ground combat units to conduct integrated training in support of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-17 hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.
A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Coast Guard Station Seattle and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles conduct night time hoisting training on April 4, 2016. Crews conduct weekly training to remain proficient at hoisting, even in adverse weather conditions.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Logan Kellogg
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Warner, a rescue swimmer at Air Station Kodiak, performs an ice rescue during training at Upper 6 Mile Lake on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 17, 2016. During the training, members from Air Station Kodiak, Sector Anchorage and the National Ice Rescue School in Essexville, Mich., worked together to perform ice rescues from an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.
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:
Tech. Sgt. Jason Umlauf, a 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal craftsman, sweeps an area with a mine detector during exercise Northern Challenge 16 in Keflavik, Iceland, Sept. 19, 2016. The exercise focused on disabling improvised explosive devices in support of counterterrorism tactics to prepare Partnership for Peace, NATO, and Nordic nations for international deployments and defense against terrorism.
Staff Sgt. Dale Rodgers, a 20th Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsman, examines an afterburner during an F-16CM Fighting Falcon engine check at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 26, 2016. An F-16 engine in full afterburn utilizes a thrust of 32,000 pounds to propel the aircraft into flight.
A U.S. Soldier of the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Joint Multinational Readiness Center fires a simulated Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher while role-playing as opposing force during Exercise Allied Spirit V at 7th Army Training Command’s Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, Oct. 4, 2016. Exercise Allied Spirit includes about 2,520 participants from eight NATO nations, and exercises tactical interoperability and tests secure communications within Alliance members and partner nations.
U.S. Soldiers of Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment provide ground security for an AH-64 Apache while conducting a sling load operation during Exercise Allied Spirit V at 7th Army Training Command’s Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, Oct. 4, 2016. Exercise Allied Spirit includes about 2,520 participants from eight NATO nations, and exercises tactical interoperability and tests secure communications within Alliance members and partner nations.
PHILIPPINE SEA (Oct. 5, 2016) Seaman (AW) Brice Scraper, top, from Dallas, and Petty Officer 2nd Class (AW) Alex Miller, from Monroe, Michigan, verify the serial number of a Captive Air Training Missile (CATM) 9M, attached to an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Royal Maces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 on the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The CATM-9M is the training counterpart to the AIM-9M Sidewinder air-to-air missile. Ronald Reagan, the Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) flagship, is on patrol supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
ARABIAN GULF (Oct. 4, 2016) Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) load ordnance onto an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105. Ike and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
A U.S. Marine carries his gear and prepares to board the USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) via landing craft utility boats Oct. 4, 2016 at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Norfolk, Virginia as part of a disaster relief assessment team of approximately 300 Marines and sailors. The Marines and sailors are from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and will assist in providing damage assessment and information to disaster relief coordinators and leadership in determining the U.S. role in providing possible humanitarian aid in the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, a reported Category IV storm that hit the region Tuesday.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment watch as a CH-53E Super Stallion assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) approaches during an exercise at Fire Base Burt, Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Calif., Oct. 1, 2016. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness.
Coast Guardsmen, from units across the Pacific Northwest, carry a large American flag down Fourth Avenue during Seattle’s 67th Seafair Torchlight Parade, July 30, 2016. Dating back to the 1950s, the Torchlight Parade remains one of the longest running annual events in the Seattle area.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Tanner King, a crewmember of Coast Guard Station Boston, is underway aboard a 45-foot response boat during a security escort in Boston Harbor, Thursday, July 21, 2016. The station’s crew escorted the Norwegian-flagged LNG tanker BW GDF SUEZ Boston into a terminal in Boston.
U.S. Special Operations Command is making progress researching, developing and testing a next-generation Iron Man-like suit designed to increase strength and protection and help keep valuable operators alive when they kick down doors and engage in combat, officials said.
The project, formally called Tactical Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is aimed at providing special operators, such as Navy SEALs and Special Forces, with enhanced mobility and protection technologies, a Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, statement said.
“The ultimate purpose of the TALOS project is to produce a prototype in 2018. That prototype will then be evaluated for operational impact,” Lt. Cmdr. Matt Allen, SOCOM spokesman, told Scout Warrior.
Industry teams have been making steady progress on the technologies since the effort was expanded in 2013 by Adm. William McCraven, former head of SOCOM.
“I’m very committed to this because I would like that last operator we lost to be the last operator we ever lose,” McCraven said in 2013.
Defense industry, academic and entrepreneurial participants are currently progressing with the multi-faceted effort.
The technologies currently being developed include body suit-type exoskeletons, strength and power-increasing systems and additional protection. A SOCOM statement said some of the potential technologies planned for TALOS research and development include advanced armor, command and control computers, power generators, and enhanced mobility exoskeletons.
Also, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing a next-generation kind of armor called “liquid body armor.”
It “transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied,” the Army website said.
TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels, an Army statement also said.
“The idea is to help maintain the survivability of operators as they enter that first breach through the door,” Allen added.
The United Kingdom’s Royal Marines are heirs to a warfighting legacy older than the entire U.S. military.
They fought in both Gulf Wars, both World Wars, and literally dozens of other conflicts around the world since the Royal Marines were established in 1664.
The Royal Marines were first organized as a group of 1,200 land soldiers assigned to sea service in the Royal Navy. They made a name for themselves 40 years later when they seized the Gibraltar fortress alongside Dutch allies and then held that fortress against sieges for nine months.
They were instrumental in the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and conducted numerous amphibious assaults throughout World War I and World War II.
It was during World War II that the Royal Marines began organizing as commandos and adopted their distinct dark green berets. Since the end of World War II, these troops have been deployed to combat every year except 1968.
To learn even more about the Royal Marines and to see footage from their exploits since 1664, watch this video from the British Royal Navy:
The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 isn’t the main reason our country should dive into this weekend’s 4th of July festivities. Abby Hornacek, FOX Nation’s travel and lifestyle host, reminds us it’s really for all of the courageous Americans who willingly raise their right hand to serve and for the fallen lost to the never ending pursuit of securing our freedoms.
This weekend Hornacek will be broadcasting live from the Airshow in New Century, Kansas, and the World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.
Her journey to the poppy fields at the memorial honoring the heroes of World War I would be a somber reminder of the importance of recognizing the meaning behind the 4th of July. “It’s incredible because it really gives context to what our men and women in the military throughout history have done to set up our freedoms to live in today’s world,” she explained.
Hornacek touched on the recent tragedies with COVID-19 and the strife seen and heard throughout the country due to ideological differences. “It’s really special to me to come to a place like this [Kansas City] and witness firsthand how they honor our flag and the United States. They honor the fact that all of this wasn’t given to us,” she said. “It was earned on the hard work and sacrifices of human beings.”
She is also planning a lot of fun and interesting stops to celebrate the day.
“There’s a really big jazz tradition here in Kansas City so we went to a jazz club in a historic building and went to get barbecue at Joe’s Kansas City. I found that to be the biggest conversation starter with anyone,” she said with a laugh.
Another part of the weekend that she said she is really excited about is the truck giveaway for a wounded warrior. You’ll also get to see her jumping out of a plane and it won’t just simply be the average skydiving experience because she’ll be doing it with the Navy Leap Frogs.
“To be able to celebrate not only them [service members] but the families involved is such an incredible honor. I am really happy that on 4th of July we [FOX] highlight patriotism because it takes a lot of sacrifice,” she said.
Beginning on Friday, July 2, 2021, Fox and Friends will kick off the 4th of July Proud American programming with a morning interview and performance with country singer Toby Keith. Viewers will get to see some of Hornacek’s adventures, too. “I think the whole goal of our proud American coverage is just to again highlight what 4th of July is really all about,” she shared.
On Saturday, July 3, 2021, Griff Jenkins will co-anchor FOX News Live from the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C.,12-2pm Eastern. Then for the big day, Hornacek shared how FOX has a full 24 hours of what she called “extraordinary programming dedicated to highlighting the importance of Independence Day and its history.”
Hornacek ended with sharing her hope of this day bringing the country together in a shared sense of appreciation for where we as a nation came from and the lives we are able to live because of the sacrifices of so many following that fateful declaration.
As the country gathers together to celebrate with friends and loved ones with barbecues and fireworks, the Proud American programming produced by FOX News Channel aims to reinforce the deep meaning behind this important American holiday.
It isn’t about debating the current division of opinion regarding protesting anthems or our flag for social justice, either. The 4th of July should be a reminder that though we are still imperfect as a young nation, part of the greatness in our country is in the ability to continue to fight and strive toward the best version of what we know we are and absolutely can be. And it’s because of the hard work and sacrifice of so many lives in the past, today and in the future, that we can do it at all.
If nothing else, there is one unarguable reason we should rejoice together as free American citizens on Independence Day. Because we can.
You can learn more about the history of the 4th of July by clicking here.
1. Winston Churchill’s plan for a militarized iceberg
Everyone knows that Winston Churchill is a certifiable badass — his military strategy in WWII led to the Allied victory over the Nazi Regime, and has secured him a spot amongst history’s greatest leaders.
What few people know, however, is that Churchill’s most glorious military scheme never saw the light of day — and for good reason. It was insane. What exactly was the Bulldog’s grand plan, you ask? To create the largest aircraft carrier the world had ever seen, and to make it out of ice.
Yes, you read that right. Churchill’s dream was to create a 2,000 foot long iceberg that would literally blow the Axis powers out of the water. The watercraft, dubbed Project Habakkuk, was going to be massive in every way: the construction plans called for walls that were 40 feet thick, and a keel depth of 200 feet — displacing approximately 2,00,000 tons of water. Habukkuk was no ice cube.
Eventually the Brits realized that frozen water may not be the hardiest building material, and opted to replace it with pykrete, a blend of ice and wood pulp that could deflect bullets.
Despite the fact that this “plan” sounds like something out of a bad sci-fi movie, Habakkuk almost happened. It wasn’t until a 60 foot long, 1,000 ton model was constructed in Canada that people realized how freaking expensive this thing would be — the 1940s were a strange time. A full-sized Habakkuk would cost $70 million dollars, and could only get up to about six knots. And at the end of the day, Germany could still potentially melt the thing, though it would probably take the rest of the war to make a dent in this glacier.
2. Napalm-packing suicide bomber bats
Fire bombs were a huge threat during the height of WWII, and an excellent weapon to wield against unwitting enemies. The horrific damage done to London and Coventry during the London Blitz is a prime example of the power this weapon of war had when used on England and other Allied nations.
Determined to one-up the Axis forces, President Franklin Roosevelt approved plans for an even better bomb — one that was smaller, faster, and … furrier. That’s right. The plan was to strap tiny explosives to tiny, live bats.
Why people thought this would be a good idea is anyone’s guess. The guy who proposed the scheme wasn’t even military — he was a dentist, and a friend of FDR’s wife, Eleanor. But America didn’t care about that. It was time to blow the crap out of Japan, and they were going to do it with the one weapon Japan didn’t have — flying rodents.
FDR consulted with zoologist Donald Griffin for his professional opinion before giving an official green light, apparently worried this “so crazy it just might work” idea might just be plain-old insane.
Griffin was a little skeptical too, but ultimately thought the whole bat thing was too cool to pass on. “This proposal seems bizarre and visionary at first glance,” he wrote in April 1942, according to The Atlantic, “but extensive experience with experimental biology convinces the writer that if executed competently it would have every chance of success.” Aces, Griffin.
The official strategy was to attach napalm explosives to each individual bat, store about 1,000 bats in large, bomb-safe crates, and release about 200 of those cases from a B-29 bomber as it flew over Japanese cities. That meant up to 200,000 bats could be unleashed at once — which would be terrifying even if they weren’t on a suicide mission.
After they were released into the air, these little angels of death would roost inside buildings on the ground. Then after a few hours their explosives would detonate, igniting the building and causing total chaos.
At least, that was the plan. In reality, the bats were a little too good at their job, and escaped to nest under an American Air Force base’s airplane hanger during an experiment. You can guess how that went. Surprisingly, the incineration of the building didn’t put a damper on the operation — people were just more convinced of the bats volatility, and excited to see them used in real combat.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, let’s be real), the U.S. never got to add “weaponized bats” to its military repertoire. It was decided that equipping small flying animals with napalm bombs could yield unpredictable results, and the investment wouldn’t be worth the possible military gains. Shocker.
3. The “Gay Bomb” that would cause enemies to “make love, not war”
Hindsight is always 20-20, but how anyone took this “military strategy” seriously is completely beyond us. In quite possibly the least politically-correct display of derring-do in American history, the U.S. prepared to take its enemies out in a way they would never expect — by turning them gay.
Let’s take a moment to let that sink in. The United States of America, one of the most powerful countries in the world, was convinced that getting the enemy to “switch teams” was the key to military prowess. Oh, and did we mention this happened in 1994?
The Wright Laboratory proposed a project that would require six years of research and a $7.5 million grant to create this bomb, along with other bizarre ideas — including as a bomb that would cause insects to swarm the enemy. So they really had the best and brightest American minds on this thing.
The goal was to drop extremely powerful chemical aphrodisiacs on enemy camps, rendering the men too “distracted” to um … leave their tents. Yes, this was a real idea that involved discharging female sex pheromones over enemy forces in order to make them sexually attracted to each other.
At the time the Pentagon and the Department of Defense held that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service,” consistent with Clinton’s infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The gay bomb never got off the ground because researchers at the Wright lab discovered no such “chemical pheromones” existed, leaving the crazy idea with zero means to execute it. The Wright Lab did, however, win the IG Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts, a tongue-and-cheek gesture from the Annals of Improbable Research.
4. B.F. Skinner’s pigeon-guided missile system
WWII is a treasure trove of weird military experiments, and famed psychologist B.F. Skinner’s contribution to the American cause may be one of the most bizarre.
The plan? Place live pigeons inside missiles, and train them to direct it to the correct target, ensuring that no target was missed. The target would be displayed on a digital screen inside the missile, and the pigeon would be trained to peck the target until the bomb would correct its course and start heading in the right direction.
Despite pretty hefty financial investment in the idea, it was ultimately decided that the time it would take to train the pigeons, and the fact that missiles would have to be updated with tiny screens for them to peck at, wasn’t worth the trouble.
5. America tried to take out the Viet Cong with clouds
This is one experiment that actually did happen, though that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous than our other contenders. When people think of the American military’s methods of chemical warfare in Vietnam, Agent Orange is what immediately comes to mind — but this chemical wasn’t the only weapon the U.S. employed in its battle against the Viet Cong. The CIA developed a strategy called cloud seeding in 1963, which would release chemicals into the air that would manipulate weather patterns, causing unusual amounts of rainfall for the surrounding area.
And we’re not talking your run-of-the-mill thunderstorm, either. Vietnam gets a ridiculous amount of rain already (remember that clip from Forrest Gump?), so the U.S. needed weather that would literally wash away the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Or at least try to.
The mission, called Operation Popeye, involved dumping iodine and silver flares from cargo planes over Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Scientists predicted that these chemical agents would cause a surge in rainfall and even extend the monsoon period, screwing with the Viet Cong’s communication networks and basically making things more unpleasant for everyone involved.
The results weren’t fantastic, but the U.S. didn’t roll over. The operation continued for five years, undertaking over 2,000 missions and releasing nearly 50,000 cloud-seed chemicals throughout the trail. Lack of results aside, the dedication is still impressive.