Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016 - We Are The Mighty
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Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

The U.S. Air Force says it will have an initial squadron of  F-35 fighters ready for combat by the end of 2016.  The commanders of the USAF’s Air Combat Command and Air Force Materiel Command reviewed the milestones in the $379 billion weapons program last week and reported their findings to the Pentagon.


Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

There are lingering doubts that the development of the plane’s computer logistics system, called Autonomic Logistics Information System, was on schedule. The complex system, according to military planners, required extra “focus” for the program.

“The actual plane is on schedule and doing well,” Colonel Tad Sholtis, spokesman for Air Combat Command, told reporters on April 13. “The Air Force expects to meet its target window of August through December for declaring an initial operational capability.”

The Air Force says the F-35’s performance exceeds expectations of pilots, but that they are continuing to compare the fighter to other, older aircraft. Sholtis added that the fighter was strong in some areas and less strong in other, but only by fielding the plane to familiarize airmen with the plane and its workings could they fully exploit the F-35’s capabilities.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

“We anticipate that side-by-side, air-to-air and air-to-ground tests will be illustrative of the fifth generation fighter’s advanced interdiction capabilities,” Sholtis said. “This aircraft is built to go where legacy platforms cannot.”

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These 8 tips will help veterans be more successful in school

You may be one of the thousands of servicemembers and veterans who will head back to the classroom to pursue postsecondary degrees or technical certifications this fall.


Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
You’re never too old… but more on that later.

Those who seek higher education do it for a variety of reasons. In a competitive job market, many go back to school for career advancement and to increase their chances for promotion to the next rank. Others head to the classroom to change professions or pick up a new trade.

Whether you’re active-duty, reserve, or a military veteran, there’s no question that going back to school can be exciting but stressful – this is especially true for those who’ve been out of the classroom for a long time. Here are eight tips to help you be more successful when you return to school.

1. Develop a good plan.

Planning is key when preparing for military operations. The decision to go back to school is no different.

Make sure you know a school’s accreditation and understand the difference between regional and national accreditation. Each type of accreditation has its own advantages, so make sure it’s in sync with your future plans.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

Once enrolled, work with an academic advisor at your school or installation education office to map out the best degree plan for you.

Also, make sure you are taking the right classes and identify prerequisite courses in your degree plan. Planning all your classes ahead of time can help you stay on schedule and earn your degree as quickly as possible. 

2. Take traditional classes when you can.

Online classes give all students, especially military students, the flexibility to pursue their educational goals while working the long hours typically required in the service.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

However, whenever possible, try to go to class the old fashioned way. There are some subjects, especially in math and science fields, that are better to take in a traditional classroom. Those subjects feature formulas and in-depth discussions which can be complex and difficult to understand in a self-paced setting. Working one-on-one with a professor or interacting with fellow students can make the difference between understanding the material and failing the class. 

3. Know your education benefits.

Make sure you understand all the benefits in the Post-9/11 GI Bill if you are eligible for it. It is also important to research your state’s specific educational perks for veterans and tuition assistance programs for servicemembers. This can save you a lot of headaches and money.

4. Buy used textbooks or digital ones.

Buying used books should always be your first option when looking for required course materials. Many students also buy digital versions of textbooks, which can save a lot of money, especially over time.

5. Find the right work-life-school balance

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Information Systems Technician 1st Class Christopher Binnings leaves with his family after returning to Commander Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, from summer patrol. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki)

Life is hectic enough for most people. Finding a balance between having a family life, working full-time, and trying to maintain a social life can be tough. Now throw in school work and it can all seem overwhelming.

It doesn’t have to be. Managing expectations is important. If you can only take one online class a semester due to military obligations, then just do that. Structure your school schedule based on your main priorities. Learn to lean on your family and friends to help you throughout your academic journey. Talk to your supervisors about your ambitions. More often than not, they will encourage and work with you to pursue your goals.

Lastly, a social life is as important as everything else, but understand you may have to miss out on some fun events from time to time – especially during finals week.

6. Don’t be the “military” person all the time.

Being in the military instills a level of confidence and leadership qualities in people. Many veterans have a drive and work ethic unlike their civilian peers. This will tend to show up during group projects, as military students are likely to take charge or refer to their military experience when working with their peers.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Marines participate in tug-of-war competition during a field meet at Ellis Field at Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 17, 2016. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler W. Stewart)

These qualities are just part of your fabric. That said, it’s ok to turn off your “military” switch every now and again. Take a step back and let some of your fellow students take charge of a class project or presentation.

Have an open mind and learn from your fellow classmates. Ask them about their experiences and seek their advice. It may give you a new perspective on many aspects of life and help make you a well-rounded person.

7. Find your military community.

Going back to school can be lonely sometimes. This can be especially true for new veterans.

The good news is many institutions of higher learning are helping veterans transition to the classroom through veteran offices and organizations on campus. Connecting with fellow veterans can make your academic experience more rewarding.

8. You are never too old to go back to school.  

If you don’t remember anything else from this list, just remember the name Alfonso Gonzales.

During World War II, Gonzales served as a field medic, treating wounded in the Pacific. After the war, he attended the University of Southern California, but was one unit short of earning a Bachelor of Science in Zoology.

At 96-years-old, this World War II vet went back to USC, finished his degree, and became the oldest graduate in the school’s history.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Alfonso Gonzales, a World War II vet, finishes up his last class in autographical writing at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

If Mr. Gonzales can go back to school at 96, then you should have no problem.

Do you have any tips to help military members or veterans who are going back to school this fall? We would love to hear them in the comments section.

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter @alexlicea82

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This Syrian cosmonaut went from general to rebel to refugee

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
The Syrian spaceman who became a refugee from Guardian News Media Ltd.


As a colonel in the Syrian Air Force, Muhammed Faris joined a Soviet mission to the space station Mir in 1987. He was the first (and only) Syrian in space. The Soviets awarded Faris its Order of Lenin and Hero of the Soviet Union medals upon his return. After going back home to Syria, the cosmonaut rejoined Syria’s Air Force under dictator Hafiz al-Asad, father of current dictator, Bashar al-Asad.

Eventually, Faris became a general, but when the uprisings in Syria started, he and his wife joined the opposition protests in Damascus. As the regime got more brutal, he decided to flee to Turkey the next year.

“It was a choice,” he told the Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper. “Instead of living there as a ‘hero’ while my people were suffering, I preferred to live in tough conditions in exile with my honor.” Today he lives in Istanbul with his wife and children.

Despite receiving the highest awards the Soviet Union could give, Faris openly criticized the Russian intervention in his home country. He wants Western leaders to recognize that the only way to end the violence and stem the flow of refugees is to oust Asad.

“I tell Europe if you don’t want refugees, then you should help us get rid of this regime,” he told The Associated Press.

Russia and Syria have a long history of cooperation, extending way back to the founding of modern Syria after World War II. Russia supported Syrian independence from France. Since then, the Russians have provided the various Syrian regimes with aid and military assistance. This aid continued throughout the Cold War and through the elder Asad’s regime.

The Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War has reportedly killed more civilians than ISIS fighters, while refugees continue to pour out of Syria. So far, Syria has 7.6 million people displaced internally with untold millions fleeing to other countries.

“My dream is to sit in my country with my garden and see children play outside without the fear of bombs,” Faris told The Guardian. “We will see it, I know we will see it.”
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Here’s what America would be like if the Nazis and Japanese had won WWII

This past weekend marked the 71st anniversary of the Allies’ D-Day landing at Normandy, France, which ultimately led to the liberation of France from Nazi control.


But what if the Allies had never launched their seaborne invasion, leaving Europe in the hands of Hitler and Nazi Germany?

Amazon Studios provides the answer with “The Man In The High Castle,” a new original series that was recently greenlit by Amazon for a full season after becoming the most watched show since Amazon’s original-series development program began. The show is smart, fun, and polished, and it sports a five-star user rating.

Produced by Ridley Scott, the show is based on a 1962 Philip K. Dick novel about a world in which the Nazis and the Japanese won World War II. Of all of Dick’s classics, it was the only one to win science fiction’s preeminent Hugo Award. Scott, who directed another Dick adaptation in “Blade Runner,” started developing in 2010 what would surprisingly be the book’s first screen adaptation.

It takes place in 1962 in a conquered America that has been divided into the Greater Nazi Reich, from the Atlantic to the Rockies, and the Japanese Pacific States, on the Pacific Coast.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

The opening scene shows a propaganda film about life in America, which chillingly demonstrates how Americans might come to accept Nazi overlords.

“It’s a new day,” the narrator says. “The sun rises in the east. Across our land men and women go to work in factories and farms providing for their families. Everyone has a job. Everyone knows the part they play keeping our country strong and safe. So today we give thanks to our brave leaders, knowing we are stronger and prouder and better.”

Only the end of the film explicitly references the Nazi takeover:

“Yes, it’s a new day in our proud land, but our greatest days may lie ahead. Sieg heil!”

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

Here’s a look at Nazi Times Square:

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

Here’s Japanese San Francisco:

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

As the propaganda film suggests, aspects of life in Nazi/Japanese America are not bad, even as the overlords brutally repress all resistance. The winners of the war — particularly the Germans, who in the show’s alternate history developed the first atomic bomb — are living in a technological and economic boom as great as anything America saw in the real postwar era.

Given this rosy portrayal, it’s all the more shocking when there’s a reminder of how inhuman the Axis powers could be. In one scene, a volunteer for the resistance is driving through the middle of the country for the first time. He is talking with a Nazi police officer, who helped him change a flat tire, when ashes began falling like snow.

“Oh, it’s the hospital,” the cop says. “Tuesdays, they burn cripples, the terminally ill — drag on the state.”

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

Amazon Studios is putting out some of the best new TV. There’s “Transparent,” starring Jeffrey Tambor as a father who comes out as transgender, which won the Golden Globe for best TV series, musical, or comedy. I haven’t watched that one yet, but I can personally recommend the underrated “Alpha House,” a political comedy by Garry Trudeau, and the fantastic new “Mozart In The Jungle,” a comedy based on a book about “sex, drugs, and classical music” in New York City.

More from Business Insider:

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

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9 things we miss from our Afghanistan deployments

With possibility of a huge troop surge to Afghanistan coming from the Trump administration, We Are The Mighty asked several OEF combat vets what they missed most from their time “in the suck.” Here’s what they had to say.


Related: 7 items every Marine needs before deploying

Thanks to the Facebook page “Bring the Sangin Boys Back” for contributing.

1. Afghan naan bread

Regardless of the rumors how the bread is pressed (by Afghans’ feet) it was delicious.

Here they’re just mixing the bread. (image via Giphy)

2. Band of Brothers

The lifelong friends you made in combat are priceless, and there’s nothing else like it.

Yup. (images via Giphy)

3. Awesome nights

With a lack of electricity, there was no artificial illumination to spoil the night sky, it made the stars pop even more.

Not an Afghan night sky, but you get the point. (images via Giphy)

4. Low responsibility

You went on patrol, pulled some time on post, worked out, slept and…pretty much that’s about it.

woke right up when sh*t went down. (images via Giphy)

5. You got to blow sh*t up  

The best part of the job while serving in the infantry was delivering the ordnance.

3/5 Get Some! (image via Giphy)

6. Firefights

Getting a chance to put all your tough training to use and put rounds down range at the bad guys was freakin’ epic.

It was that fun. (images via Giphy)

7. Getting jacked

When you’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere and have 24 different of high-calorie MREs to choose from, there’s no better way to pass the time than hitting a gym made of sand bags, 2x4s, and engineer sticks.

1,2,… 12 (images via Giphy)

8. Movie night

Huddling around a small laptop watching a comedy or “Full Metal Jacket” was considered a night out on the town. And we loved it.

And felt like you’re in a real theater… not really.  (images via Giphy)

Also Read: How to make a movie theater with your smartphone on deployment 

9. Making memories

Although you we experienced some sh*tty times, nothing beats looking back and remembering the good ones while having a beer with your boys.

To the good times! (image via Giphy)

Bonus: The emotional homecomings

Leaving your family to deploy sucks, but coming home to them — priceless.

We salute all those who serve. Thank you! (images via Giphy) WATM wishes everyone to stay safe and watch your six. That is all.

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The top 5 stories around the military right now (August 11 edition)

Good morning.  Here’s the news:


Now: This botched air strike on Lebanon changed Naval Aviation forever 

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This is Hollywood’s favorite machine gun for killing zombies and bad guys

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Charlton Heston offs undead nightstalkers in the ’70s cult film “The Omega Man.” (Warner Bros. screen capture)


In real life, the Smith Wesson M76 submachine gun was a weapon for men who fought in the shadows.

Created as a replacement for an embargoed firearm popular with American clandestine operators and special forces during the 1950s and 1960s, it combined a rapid rate of fire with the ability to attach a suppressor.

But the M76 is also a movie gun that Hollywood has generously splashed all over the silver screen.

Some film historians say it earned the honor of being the first “zombie apocalypse gun.”  Charlton Heston packs one in the ’70s cult classic The Omega Man, where his character Col. Robert Neville sprays deranged nightwalkers with automatic fire after bio-warfare wipes out most of the world’s population.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Then there is Heath Ledger’s Joker, who wields one against Batman in the 2008 epic The Dark Knight. As the Joker stumbles out of a wrecked van, he fires an M76 and shrieks, “Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. Hit me!”

The development of the M76 is a story that is part American ingenuity, part Swedish politics, and all about ensuring special operators could continue to use a choice weapon.

The M76 replaced the Carl Gustav M/45 Kulsprutepistol, a 9 x 19 mm submachine gun with a 36-round magazine manufactured in Sweden that was a favorite of covert forces.  The M/45 actually was the main submachine gun of the Swedish Army from 1945 until it phased out in the 1990s, but reserve units carried it until 2007.

The Americans who used the weapon began to call it “the Swedish K.”

Journalist Michael Herr in his memoir Dispatches describes “Ivy League spooks,” CIA agents who carried the Swedish K as their preferred weapon as they drove near the Cambodian border.

Soon, SEALs and Green Berets used the Swedish K because much of their fighting was in the narrow confines of a jungle environment where firepower and maneuverability were more important than range and accuracy.

SEAL team members also liked the fact the Swedish K is an open-bolt weapon, which allowed it to be fired almost immediately after a frogman crossed the beach.

“You could see why it would be preferable to the US Thompson or M-3 Submachine gun,” said Alan Archambault, former supervisory curator for the U.S. Army Center of Military History and a retired Army officer. “A friend of mine who served with Special Forces in Vietnam relatively early on told me that by using foreign weapons like the Swedish K it also helped to conceal the US presence a bit. I also think that Special Ops men tend to like unusual weapons rather than using standard US issue weapons.”

Light, rugged, capable of firing 550 rounds a minute and unfailingly reliable, Swedish Ks soon became a weapon in the arsenals of covert forces, particularly those operating in Southeast Asia as the United States became more and more involved in what became the Vietnam War.

“I know my friend was proud of using a Swedish K in Vietnam,” Archambault said. “It was one more way the Special Forces were set apart from the typical ‘line doggies.’ It goes along with the Green Beret and other elite designations.”

However, in 1966 the Swedish government adopted the position of officially opposing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Pacifist Sweden placed an embargo on military supplies exported to the United States, including the Swedish K.

The decision particularly troubled the U.S. Navy SEALs, who decided to turn to a domestic supplier for a copy of the Swedish K.  The Navy approached Smith Wesson and by 1967 the company produced a clone, the M76.

It had all of the good qualities of the Swedish K as well as few refinements including a higher rate of fire (720 rounds per minute). It also could be fitted with the SG9 suppressor.

In addition, Smith Wesson experimented with a version of the M76 that electronically fired caseless ammunition. The gun actually worked well, but the caseless ammo was easily damaged by rough handling so the project was scrapped.

M76s found their way into the hands of SEAL team members and some Green Berets, where they are were used successfully during many covert operations. But as the Vietnam War began to wind down demand for the weapon decreased; more powerful weapons soon replaced it.

By 1974, Smith Wesson ceased production of the M76.  However, the weapon remained in use in the Navy, where it was still used in some instances by SEAL teams or it was issued to helicopter pilots for self-defense in case of a crash landing.

Law enforcement agencies also purchased the weapon. In fact, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center destroyed a cache of M76s where New York state law enforcement agencies maintained an arsenal.

There was even an attempt to revive the weapon during the 1980s. In 1983, Mike Ruplinger and Kenneth Dominick started a company called MK Arms after acquiring the rights to the M76 from Smith Wesson. The company manufactured both new weapons and replacement parts for existing M76s that were still in military and law enforcement inventories.

However, the M76 gained new life as a movie weapon where it was featured prominently not only in the films already mentioned but also Magnum Force, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Dog Day Afternoon and Black Sunday.

But perhaps it is in The Omega Man where the M76 gets the most screen time.

Not only does a leisured-suited, eight-track-tape-playing Charlton Heston have one in hand during almost every scene, the weapon used in the film introduces an innovation: the tactical light. In several scenes, the movie’s armorer used C-clamps to attach a flashlight to the gun’s barrel so Heston could hunt the film’s nightwalkers more efficiently.

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4 planes the Americans borrowed from Britain during World War II

The United States was the “Arsenal of Democracy” in World War II, but even this arsenal had to get a little help from allies. The British, in fact, loaned us some of their planes during that conflict. Here are four planes we borrowed from the Brits.


1. Supermarine Spitfire

Yes, even though the United States had the P-40, P-38, P-47, P-51, F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, and the F4U Corsair, they had to acquire the plane that won the Battle of Britain.

The American Spitfires mostly saw service in North Africa and Italy, according to SpitfireSite.com, until they were replaced by P-51s. United States Army Air Force Spitfires scored almost 350 kills during World War II.

The Spitfire is also notable for being the plane that got Jimmy Doolittle chewed out by Eisenhower.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Spitfire LF Mk IX, MH434 being flown by Ray Hanna in 2005. The Spitfire served with the USAAF in the Mediterranean Theater from 1942-1944. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

2. Airspeed Horsa

Okay, this is technically a glider. Still, the United States needed a glider to bring in heavy gear for units like the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The Airspeed Horsa fit the bill with its ability to carry a lot of troops and gear, and the United States got 301 of the planes for D-Day, according to the book World War II Glider Assault Tactics.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
An Airspeed Hora glider under tow. The United States got over 300 of these for D-Day. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

3. Bristol Beaufighter

This was a multi-role heavy fighter, which packed a huge punch (four 20mm cannon, six .303-caliber machine guns). According to Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, the United States operated four squadrons of Beaufighters in the night-fighter role. These squadrons operated in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, eventually switching to the P-61 Black Widow.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
The Bristol Beaufighter, which equipped four USAAF squadrons in World War II. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

4. De Havilland Mosquito

This plane was very versatile, used for photo reconnaissance, as a night-fighter, as a heavy fighter, and even as a light bomber. The Army Air Force used a number of these planes in all of those roles during World War II, but historynet.com noted that most of them were crashed because this airborne hot rod was difficult to fly.

America may have missed out — the Mosquito is considered a legend.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
A de Havilland Mosquito NF Mark XIII of No. 256 Squadron RAF, caught in the beam of a Chance light on the main runway at Foggia Main, Italy, before taking off on a night intruder sortie over enemy territory. The USAAF equipped squadrons of bombers, night fighters, and recon planes with the Mosquito. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Even today, America’s importing warplanes: The A-29 Super Tucano is a Brazilian design, while the AV-8 Harrier was British.

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6 alternate names troops have for military awards

First, recipients of all these awards should be proud of themselves. Earning one of these medals show dedication to the U.S. military and is worthy of respect. However, that doesn’t stop service members making fun of their own awards.


1. Purple Heart

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola

The Purple Heart, originally an award for merit established by General George Washington, is now given to any service member injured by enemy forces or recognized terrorist organizations. Since the award is given whenever an enemy successfully shoots an American, it’s jokingly called the “Enemy Marksmanship Badge.”

2. Special Warfare Insignia

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: US Navy

Also known as the “SEAL Trident,” the badge of some of America’s most elite operators has a funny nickname. “Budweiser” refers to one of the classes SEALs recruits have to graduate to earn it, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs, or BUD/S.

3. National Defense Service Medal

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The National Defense Service Medal is awarded for active duty service in the armed forces during times of war. For many recruits who receive it though, it can feel a bit hollow. After all, it’s typically given to recruits when they graduate basic training. Since it’s given so easily, service members have different nicknames for it.

One nickname used by the Marine Corps and Army is “Fire Watch Ribbon,” since doing overnight fire watch is about as hard as basic training gets. The Navy calls it the “Geedunk Ribbon,” referring to the sailors’ term for items available in a vending machine. Finally, some people from across the services call it the “Pizza Stain” because of its looks.

4. Army Commendation Medal

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Army Commendation Medal can be awarded for either merit or valor, with the valor award typically being the more impressive. On the merit or combat valor side, it’s one step below the Bronze Star. When awarded for noncombat valor, it’s just beneath the Soldier’s Medal. Soldiers call it, “The Green Weenie,” especially Vietnam vets.

5. Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: US Marine Corps

All of the branches award a Good Conduct Medal for every three years an enlisted members serves in a branch without receiving any criminal or military punishments. Most of the branches will make a joke when they give the award, saying something like, “Oh, you went three years without getting caught, huh? Must’ve been pretty sneaky!” The Marine Corps created its own joke by nicknaming it “The Good Cookie.”

6. Basic Parachutist badge

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Graphic: US Air Force Yaira M. Resto

The nickname for the parachutist badge is so widespread, that some people think it’s the proper name. “Jump Wings” is pretty self-explanatory, since it’s a pair of wings given to military jumpers. They’re also sometimes called “Silver Wings” due to their color on the dress uniform.

NOW: 13 military phrases that sound ridiculous when used in politics

OR: 5 wild conspiracy theories that turned out to be true

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This Air Force fighter ace was the inspiration for ‘Mustache March’

For most civilians, No-Shave November is the month of the year where we allow ourselves to grow what we think is the mustache that would make Tom Selleck weep. For Airmen of the U.S. Air Force, that month is March, or more commonly known as “Mustache March.”


Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

Mustache March is the mostly-unofficial mustache growing season in the USAF, which used to be a protest of the regulation against mustaches but became an act of defiance against dogmatic leadership. During the Vietnam War, Air Force triple ace Robin Olds decided to grow a distinctive, out-of-regs, handlebar mustache, which was later dubbed “bulletproof.”

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

Robin Olds is one of the United States Air Force’s most legendary Airmen. He earned his Ace status with 16 victories in World War II and Vietnam. He grew the mustache just to annoy his superior officers, referring to it as “the middle finger I couldn’t raise in PR photographs.” Once his mustache reached its peak, the popularity of growing mustaches caught on with his Airmen. They loved it and began to grow their own. Even though he came to hate the ‘stache, he kept it while he was in Vietnam, because it kept morale high.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Then Col. Robin Olds seated in an F-4 fighter in Southeast Asia. The helmet he is wearing in the photo is on display in the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Dismissing the irony of an officially accepted act of defiance, in 2014 Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh challenged the entire Air Force to an officially sanctioned Mustache March to honor General Olds, who died in 2007. General Welsh did not participate in 2015, due to the controversy the inherently all-male contest caused among some female Airmen; the tradition lives on among other Airmen, in the same spirit of honor and defiance of Air Force facial hair regs.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

You can be sure to see a lot of Air Force personnel as they come to work on April 1 cleared of their bulletproofing. So until then, celebrate with these photos of the legendary Robin Olds in all of his middle-fingered glory.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

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10 incredible Post-9/11 combat medics who risked their lives to save others

In the field, everyone is working to ensure that nothing goes wrong. But, when the mission goes sideways, everyone thanks the heavens for the medic. The one who rushes through fire to save their patients.


Here are 10 medics who saw patients in danger and rushed to their aid, sometimes sustaining serious wounds or even dying in their attempt to save others.

1. Ranger platoon medic treats patients while enduring repeated IED blasts

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: US Army Patrick Albright

Spc. Bryan C. Anderson was part of an Army Ranger assault force sent after a high-value target in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on Oct. 5, 2013. When the team landed, an insurgent successfully fled the target building and began running away. An element of soldiers moved to catch him but they were struck by a suicide bomber and triggered two pressure plate IEDs.

Anderson rushed to the aid of the wounded even though he knew they were in the middle of a pressure plate IED belt. Over the next few hours, Anderson crisscrossed the IED belt treating the wounded. During a particularly harrowing 30 minutes, seven IEDs detonated within 10 meters of Anderson, according to his official award citation. Though some of his patients from that night died, two severely injured Rangers survived because Anderson continued rendering aid despite experiencing his own traumatic brain injuries. Anderson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

2. Corpsman riddled with shrapnel pulls 4 injured comrades from vehicle while under fire

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: US Marine Corp Mike Garcia

During an American-Afghan convoy, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Benny Flores was in a vehicle struck by an IED. Despite having his own shrapnel injuries and taking incoming enemy fire, Flores began treatment of a Marine in his vehicle and then aided the Marine in taking cover. He ferried to and from the vehicle three more times, treating and moving to cover a wounded Afghan police officer and two more Marines, all while under enemy fire and without receiving treatment for his own wounds. Flores received the Silver Star.

3. Pararescueman drops into IED field to save Army Pathfinders

On May 26, 2011, a squad of U.S. Army pathfinders was crippled when it struck multiple IEDs during a mission. Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas H. Culpepper, Jr. was voluntarily hoisted down to the battlefield only 25 meters from a known IED. Culpepper and his teammate stabilized the pathfinders and then began hoisting them into the helicopter. On the last lift, Culpepper and the final patient were nearly dropped from the helicopter when it experienced a sudden loss of power.

They were recovered into the bird and Culpepper received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

4. Corpsman continues treating casualties after being shot in the back

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier

On April 25, 2013, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kevin D. Baskin was part of a Marine task force pinned down by enemy fire outside Kushe Village, Afghanistan. Baskin treated an initial casualty under heavy fire and then moved him to a casualty evacuation vehicle. Immediately afterwards, Baskin was shot in the back. He continued to treat new casualties and refused medical treatment for his own. He supervised the evacuation of the wounded and laid down cover fire for the evacuation of the team. His actions were credited with saving the lives of four Marines and he was awarded the Silver Star.

5. Medic bounds up to wounded casualties under fire, then treats them until he dies of his own wounds

On March 29, 2011, a group of soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division were clearing a known insurgent strong point when they came under a complex ambush from enemy fire. Three members of the lead element were injured immediately. Spc. Jameson L. Lindskog bounded from the rear of the element to the troops in contact while under fire so heavy that the bullets destroyed cover whenever he moved behind it.

Lindskog triaged the casualties and began treatment. While working on an Afghan National Army soldier, Lindskog was struck in the chest by an enemy round. He remained lucid and refused treatment, asking to stay on the battlefield and give instructions to those rendering aid. His instructions saved the lives of two other men, but he died of his wounds before being evacuated. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

6. Pararescue jumper treats nine casualties by moonlight while under withering enemy fire

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: US Air Force Justin Connaher

The 101st Airborne called for support during an operation after they took two casualties on Nov. 14, 2010. Air Force Para rescue jumper Master Sgt. Roger D. Sparks was on the response team. His helicopter arrived and was circling the objective when the situation on the ground suddenly intensified and the 101st took four new casualties. Sparks and another airman began a 40-foot descent to the battlefield below despite the increased enemy activity.

While descending, they came under intense enemy fire and their lowering cable was struck three times by bullets. Immediately after landing, the pair was attacked with an RPG round that knocked them both from their feet. Running across the objective while under increasing machine gun and RPG fire, Sparks treated nine wounded soldiers by moonlight, many with serious problems like punctured lungs, eviscerations, and arterial bleedings. He returned to the landing area but stayed on the ground, coordinating the evacuation until the last soldier was loaded. His actions saved five lives and resulted in the remains of four Americans making it back to their families. He was awarded the Silver Star.

7. Medic shields casualties from mortar fire until forced to move, continues treatment throughout

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: US Army Pfc. Scott Davis

Spc. Monica Lin Brown was an airborne medic on a combat patrol in Afghanistan on April 25, 2007, when an up-armored Humvee struck an IED. The IED was the first part of a complex ambush on the column. Brown moved 300 meters under enemy fire to the burning vehicle and began caring for the wounded. She triaged them onsite and then moved them with the help of the platoon sergeant into a nearby wadi. She continued to render aid and used her own body as a shield while 15 enemy mortar rounds landed within 100 meters of her position.

The mortar fire eventually forced her to move the wounded two more times as she continued treating and shielding them. The wounded men were eventually medically evacuated and Brown was awarded the Silver Star.

8. Medic dies after treating casualties under ‘barrage of RPG fire’

On Nov. 12, 2010, Spc. Shannon Chihuahua was part of a blocking position in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. A squad providing overwatch suddenly came under a complex enemy attack with small arms, machine guns, and RPGs. Chihuahua ran from a relatively safe position into the heat of the fighting to treat the wounded.

Moving from soldier to soldier providing care, Chihuahua eventually found himself the focus of the enemies’ attacks. Chihuahua went down under a “barrage of RPG fire,” according to Sgt. Kevin Garrison, the squad leader whose position was the focus of the first attack. Chihuahua was awarded the Silver Star.

9. Stryker medic pulls three casualties from a burning Bradley

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Spc. Christopher Waiters makes his first attempt to enter a burning Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle on April 5, 2007 in Iraq. Photo: US Army

Staff Sgt. Christopher Bernard Waiters was the senior medic in his Stryker company when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle struck an IED and began to burn with its crew still inside on April 5, 2007. He parked his vehicle in a security position and immediately engaged two enemy fighters.

He then ran to the burning Bradley on his own and pulled the driver and vehicle commander out. He treated both and escorted them back to his own Stryker. That was when he learned another soldier was in the troop compartment. He ran back and entered the burning vehicle, falling back only for a moment when the 25-mm ammunition began to explode. He re-entered, saw the deceased soldier and went for a body bag. Another medic retrieved the body while Waiters drove the wounded back for further treatment.

10. Medical sergeant performs surgery in the open while under fire

As the medical sergeant on a civil affairs team, Staff Sgt. Michael P. Pate was part of a patrol in Afghanistan. The group came under heavy fire from multiple machine gun positions and at least six other enemy shooters. Early in the ensuing firefight, the rear man of the element was shot in the back. Pate and his team leader rushed to the man and drove him to what little cover was available, a six-inch deep ditch. Though his patient was slightly covered, Pate was fully exposed as he performed surgical interventions on the wounded man. During this time, Pate also assisted the joint-terminal attack controller with directing airstrikes and coordinated the medical evacuation for the wounded. He was awarded the Silver Star.

NOW: Medal of Honor: Meet the 16 heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan who received the nation’s highest honor

OR: This female vet is one of history’s most decorated combat photographers

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Look, we’ve all been super busy dreaming about destroying ISIS with a bunch of “pew pew” and “BRRRRRT!” and we completely forgot to get you a Christmas present.


Just take these 13 funny military memes instead:

1. There are certain skills the military imbues you with (via Air Force Nation).

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
For POGs it’s the ability to quickly get lint out of a Skillcraft pen.

2. Think he can get into the DFAC with that?

(via Sh-t My LPO Says)

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Must require one hell of a CAC reader.

SEE ALSO: It’s time for the WATM classic: ‘How the Sergeant Major Stole Christmas’

3. Just surprised it only took 10 months (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

4. Seriously, even basic training makes the knees creak (via Team Non-Rec).

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
But hey, you might get 10 percent VA and free ibuprofen for life.

5. With motor pools like these, who needs cots?

(via Marine Corps Memes)

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
The real reason troops wear such spiffy hats is so they’ll always have an improvised pillow.

6. One of these things is not like the others (via Team Non-Rec).

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Actually none of these dudes match one another, so the Stormtrooper is probably fine.

7. Army Strong, not smart.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Spelling is something the cadets will have to learn at their units.

8. The best Christmas lights are on their way to Syria:

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
A few minutes after the light show, there’s a killer fireworks display.

9. Must’ve been rough, having to fold all those towels.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

10. This Christmas caroller only knows one song …

(via Save the A-10)

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
… but it’s a classic. BRRRRRT!!

11. She has a lot of wisdom to share.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
But no one knows why she has to share it when you’re already 10 minutes late.

12. You have to kill the time somehow (via Marine Corps Memes).

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

13. Just because they don’t celebrate Christmas …

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
… doesn’t mean we cant get ISIS something nice.

Articles

World’s most-advanced aircraft carrier one step closer to completion

The massive USS Gerald R. Ford will head out to sea for builders’ trials next month in a critical test before the US Navy intends to commission the ship later this year, USNI News reports.


The Ford will improve on the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers with a rearranged flight deck, improved launching and landing systems, and a nuclear power plant with outsized capabilities that can integrate future technologies such as railguns and lasers.

Also read: The F-35 may be ready for prime time

The Ford’s commissioning will bring the count of full-sized carriers to a whopping 11 for the United States — more than the rest of the world combined.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Tugboats maneuver the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) into the James River. | US Navy

The ship will sail out for a test of its most basic functions like navigation and communications, as well as a test of its nuclear-powered propulsion plant.

Its most advanced features, like its electromagnetic catapults for launching bomb- and fuel-laden jets from the deck, will not undergo testing.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Newport News Shipbuilding floods Dry Dock 12 to float the first in class aircraft carrier, Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua J. Wahl

The Ford, like almost any large first-in-class defense project, has encountered substantial setbacks and challenges as the Navy and contractors attempt to bring next-generation capabilities to the US’s aircraft carriers. Notably, the Navy has expressed doubts about the advanced arresting gear, which helps speeding planes land quickly and gently, saying it may scrap the program in favor of the older system used on Nimitz-class carriers.

But the Navy is determined to commission the Ford sometime this year, as calls for increasing the Navy’s size and strength come from the Trump administration and outside assessments.

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