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All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

The death of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, in the Kuala Lampur Airport, was apparently due to the use of the deadly nerve agent VX.


According to a report by the London Telegraph, the Malaysian police do not believe that anyone else is at risk, but teams are sweeping the airport to decontaminate areas where the suspected killer may have been. The Associated Press reported that four individuals who Malaysian police are interested in have fled the country, including a North Korean diplomat and a worker with the regime’s state-run airline.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
An M55 rocket being disassembled at Umatilla Chemical Depot. This was one delivery system for VX, a very deadly nerve agent. (US Army photo)

VX was first developed by British scientists in the 1950s as an insecticide. The deadliness of the agent caught everyone by surprise, and it soon found its way into American arsenals. The telegraph notes that those who are hit may feel one of two opposite initial reactions: Giddiness or nausea. Shortly afterwards come the convulsions as the nervous system shuts down.

A victim’s one chance for survival when exposed to VX is a rapid administration of atropine. That drug counters the effect by blocking nerve receptors that VX seeks to overwhelm. The Telegraph notes that Western intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has about 5,000 tons of this nerve agent.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
DOD graphic showing the effects of various chemical agents, including VX. (DOD graphic)

The United States had VX in stock, with one delivery system being the BLU-80 “Bigeye” chemical bomb, according to Designation-Systems.net. After the 1996 Chemical Weapons Convention, the United States discarded all of its VX – and other chemical weapons.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
(YouTube screen grab from John Mason)

The nerve agent was used as a plot point in the 1990s action movie “The Rock,” which starred Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery. The details surrounding it were not accurate technically.

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10 ways Ernest Hemingway was a next-level American warrior

One of the oldest axioms in writing is to “write what you know.” Ernest Hemingway knew adventure, war, travel, and love (even if that love was temporary). When reading a work by Hemingway one might think of how incredible his characters must have felt fighting fascists in Spain, fighting a shark with a harpoon, or saving lives in WWI Italy, only to realize all these people are real, and they’re one person: Ernest Hemingway.


In the entire history of wordsmithy, no one ever reached the level of real-world adventurer quite like Ernest Hemingway. Here are ten ways he was the quintessential American warrior poet, punctuated by his own life lessons.

1. “Never sit at a table when you can stand at a bar.”

Hemingway ignored his father’s wishes and enlisted in the Army during World War I but did not pass the Army’s initial physical examination due to poor eyesight. Instead, Hemingway drove ambulances for the Red Cross.

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In the course of his duties, he was hit by fragments from an Austrian mortar. He never stopped working to move wounded soldiers to safety, earning the Italian Medal of Military Valor.

2. “Develop a built-in bullsh-t detector”

After high school, Hemingway moved to Kansas City where he became a reporter, covering a local beat which included fires, work strikes, and crime. Here he formed his distinct prose of “short declarative sentences.” After WWI, he continued working in journalism in Toronto and Chicago, covering unrest in Europe’s Interwar years. He interviewed Benito Mussolini during this time, describing him as “the biggest bluff in Europe.”

3. “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”

Hemingway stayed in Europe for the Spanish Civil War, even teaming up with famed war photographer Robert Capa. He was in Madrid writing his only play, the Fifth Column, as it was being bombed by Fascist forces. He was at Ebro when the Republican army made its last stand.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

4. “When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.”

When World War II broke out, Hemingway was living in Cuba. In his free time he ran his own intelligence network to spy on Nazi sympathizers there. The ring had 26 informants, six working full-time and 20 of them as undercover men, all recruited by Hemingway.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

He also equipped his fishing boat with direction-finding equipment, a machine gun and grenades to hunt for Nazi U-boats in the Atlantic, reporting his sightings to Navy officials.

5. “Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”

By 1944, Hemingway was back in Europe covering WWII.  He was onboard a landing craft on D-Day, within sight of Omaha Beach, but was not allowed to go ashore. He attached himself to the 22nd Infantry on its way to Paris but was brought up on charges because he became the leader of a French Resistance militia in Rambouillet, aiding in the Liberation of Paris (forbidden for a combat correspondent under the Geneva Convention). He beat the rap.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

According to World War II historian Paul Fussell, “Hemingway got into considerable trouble playing infantry captain to a group of Resistance people that he gathered because a correspondent is not supposed to lead troops, even if he does it well.”

6. “To hell with them. Nothing hurts if you don’t let it.”

He came down with pneumonia, but covered the Battle of the Bulge while still sick. In France, Hemingway encountered a basement full of S.S. troops, whom he told to “share these among yourselves” before throwing grenades inside.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

He also covered the Battle of Hürtgenwald Forest as U.S. troops broke the Siegfried Line. He returned to Cuba after the war, where he received the Bronze Star for his work in Europe.

7. “I drink to make people more interesting.”

While sightseeing in Africa, he and his wife survived a plane crash after hitting some power lines, causing severe head injuries. The next day, he boarded another plane which exploded during take-off, giving him another concussion. He walked to the hospital and did not die, even though his obituary had already been published.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

8. “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

When author Max Eastman published a review of one of Hemingway’s essays which questioned his masculinity, Hemingway hit Eastman in the face with his own book, then called him out in The New York Times, challenging him to a fight. Eastman declined.

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Hemingway’s favorite drinking buddy was James Joyce, not known for his strength or stature. Whenever Joyce was about to get into a barfight, he’d yell “Deal with him, Hemingway!”

9. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.”

Hemingway used to write standing up. Even though Hemingway’s fondness for drinking is well documented, he never drank while he wrote.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

“Jesus Christ,” Hemingway once said. “Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”

10. “Death is like an old whore in a bar. I’ll buy her a drink but I won’t go upstairs with her.”

Hemingway struggled with bipolar disorder all his life. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota gave him electroshock therapy, but it didn’t help and Hemingway blamed it for his memory loss. After surviving gunshot wounds to practically every part of his body, an Austrian mortar wound, countless concussions, three car crashes, two plane crashes, two fires, and an anthrax infection, Hemingway eventually took his own life, deciding to do so with a shotgun.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

During his funeral, an altar boy fainted at the head of the casket, knocking over a large cross of flowers, to which his brother Leicester said, “It seemed to me Ernest would have approved of it all.”

NOW: 5 Cocktails with military origins

OR: The 14 best military nonfiction books of all time

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This 100-year-old explosion completely dwarfs the ‘mother of all bombs’ blast

On April 13, the US military dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on an ISIS stronghold in Afghanistan.


Nicknamed the “Mother of All Bombs” (but officially called the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb), the 30-foot-long munition allegedly crushed a network of caves, tunnels, and bunkers dug into a remote mountainside.

The strike was akin to setting off about 11 tons of TNT — a school bus’ weight worth of explosives.

However, the attack pales in comparison to an accidental explosion that rocked a coastal town nearly three decades before the first atomic bomb.

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The GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, moments before it detonates during a test on March 11, 2013. On April 13, 2017, it was used in combat for the first time. (USAF photo)

On the morning of December 6, 1917, a ship detonated in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, unleashing a blast equivalent to about 3,000 tons of TNT.

The resulting shockwave instantly killed more than 1,000 people, threw a cargo ship like a bath toy, and created a 50-foot-tall tidal wave.

This is the incredible and horrifying story of the Halifax Explosion: the largest human-made, non-nuclear blast in history.

By December 1917, World War I had been raging for three years. Halifax, located on Canada’s east coast, served as an important port for shipping troops and supplies to Europe.

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Nova Scotia Archives Records Management | Wikimedia

On December 6, a Norwegian cargo ship, the SS Imo, was departing Halifax on its way to New York. The ship was en route from the Netherlands to ferry supplies back to a war-ravaged Belgium.

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Lectures pour tous | Wikimedia

Source: NASA Safety Center

At the same time, the SS Mont Blanc was bound to return to France carrying a host of highly explosive materials: 2,367 tons of picric acid, 62 tons of guncotton, 250 tons of TNT, and 246 tons of benzol in barrels below decks.

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Public Domain

To exit the Bedford Basin, where the ships were docked, they had to pass through a slim channel. The Imo — behind schedule and on the wrong side of the channel — refused to give way and crashed into the Mont Blanc.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Google Maps/Tech Insider

Although the collision occurred at low speed, the benzol spilled and sparks ignited the entire stockpile of fuel. The Mont Blanc exploded with the force of 2,989 tons of TNT — about 270 times more powerful than a “Mother of All Bombs” blast.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Library and Archives Canada/Wikimedia

The shockwave from the blast covered 325 acres of ground and leveled the neighborhood of Richmond. The temperature of the explosion exceeded 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit, vaporizing water around the Mont Blanc — and pushing a 52-foot-tall tidal wave three blocks into town.

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W. G. McLaughlan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Source: NASA Safety Center

The force of the explosion lifted the Imo out of the water and threw it onto the shore. The Mont Blanc was ripped apart and completely destroyed. Almost no part of the ship survived the explosion.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management/Wikimedia

Only two parts of the Mont Blanc have ever been located: a 1,140-lb piece of its anchor, found buried more than 2 miles away, and a barrel from one of the ship’s guns, which flew 2.35 miles from the blast site.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Vonkiegr8/Wikimedia

Source: NASA Safety Center

Much of Halifax was leveled, with 12,000 buildings destroyed or made uninhabitable, leaving a huge portion of the city’s population without shelter from the frigid December weather.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

Source: NASA Safety Center

Almost every window in the city shattered — some reportedly 50 miles away. Even the buildings left standing were severely damaged.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Library of Congress

About 1,600 people died instantly in the blast, and 350 later succumbed to injuries. An estimated 9,000 people were injured in the accident, making 22% of the city’s population a casualty.

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Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management | Wikimedia

Losses would have been even worse had a railway dispatcher, Vincent Coleman, not halted a train carrying 300 people towards the train station directly in front of the burning ship.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
L’Illustration | Wikimedia

Source: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Coleman’s final action was sending a telegraph warning up the tracks: “Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.”

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The Nova Scotia Museum | Wikimedia

Source: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

The force of the Halifax explosion was so large that it remained the largest human-made explosion ever until the United States developed atomic weaponry in 1945.

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The fireball of the Trinity nuclear bomb test of July 16, 1945. | Wikimedia Commons

Sean Kane wrote a previous version of this post.

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Benedict Arnold’s crypt is now a kindergarten classroom

The crypt below St. Mary’s of Battersea, a Georgian-era stone church overlooking the River Thames in London, is a quiet place, a world away from London’s bustling streets. St. Mary’s Sunday school is held in the basement level; during the week, it’s rented by a private kindergarten.


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(photo courtesy of Military History Travel)

The low ceiling in places may feel cramped, but the crypt has all the adornments of the average kindergarten classrooms: desks, drawings, and a fish tank. But one thing this classroom has that others don’t: the body of Benedict Arnold, America’s most notorious traitor.

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(photo courtesy of Military History Travel)

His headstone reads: “Benedict Arnold, 1741-1801, Sometime general in the army of George Washington. The two nations whom he served in turn in the years of their enmity have united in enduring friendship.” It was donated in 2004 by an anonymous patron who felt Arnold deserved credit for his efforts during the American Revolution.

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(photo courtesy of Military History Travel)

The church also has a stained glass window dedicated to Arnold. The window was donated (also anonymously) during the American bicentennial in 1976.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
(photo courtesy of Military History Travel)

 

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Toyota Yaris plays chicken with 68-ton tank, loses

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Photo: Polizei Lippe


An 18-year-old student driver in Germany learned to pay more attention when turning after she failed to notice a column of British Challenger II tanks coming down the road on Monday. She turned in front of the tanks and — not surprisingly at all — her 2,300 pound car crumpled under the 68.9-ton tank.

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Photo: Polizei Lippe

Damage to the Yaris was estimated at over $13,000. Since the Yaris comes off the line at under $15,000, this is probably a total loss. Luckily, no one was injured, according to the German police report.

NOW: Marine Corps veteran holds a plank for 5+ hours to break a world record

OR: 13 lessons you learn while traveling in the US military

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24 photos that show the honor and loyalty of the Marine Corps

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Todd Heisler photo


This is a gallery of a Pulitzer Prize winning story that centers around one single photo and the powerful Marine actions that led to that unforgettable image. These pictures were taken by photographer Todd Heisler. He captured the following images of fallen U.S. Marine 2nd Lt. James Cathey and his wife Katherine.

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Todd Heisler photo

Major Steve Beck was tasked with the sad task of telling a wife that her husband was killed by an IED explosion. Above is a Marine walking to fallen James Cathey’s home in Brighton, Colorado just before knocking on the door to deliver the news to a soon to be widow, Katherine Cathey.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

Fallen James Cathey’s final “Angel Flight” ends at the Reno, NV airport.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

Katherine was only 23 years old when she learned of her husband’s death.

Above, she is being held by Major Steve Beck. Mr. Beck’s actions along with his team of Marines will be an integral part of the story behind the Pulitzer Prize winning photo.

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Todd Heisler

At the airport, she was given a letter that her husband wrote a few days before he passed, it reads:

“there are no words to describe how much I love you, and will miss you. I will also promise you one thing: I will be home. I have a wife and a new baby to take care of, and you guys are my world.”

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

The IED explosion was so devastating that James body was wrapped in a shroud. Major Beck simply placed Katherine’s hand on the body and said the following:

“He’s here. Feel right here”.

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Todd Heisler photo

The night before James’ burial, Katherine refused to leave the casket.

She simply wanted to sleep with her husband one last time.

Two Marines made a make-shift bed for her.

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Todd Heisler photo

Above is the photo that would earn Todd Heisler the Pulitzer Prize.

Notice the Marine standing to the left of the photo.

One of the Marines, who had never met James in his whole life, asked if he could stand watch over Katherine through the night.

Katherine replied with the following:

“I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,” she said. “I think that’s what he would have wanted.”

Before falling to sleep, she opened her laptop and began playing songs with memories of the times she spent with James.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

For three days in a row…all day and all night…a group of Marines took turns watching over the body.

Photo above shows the Marines taking shifts during those days.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

During those same hours, Katherine draped herself in James’ favorite perfume and prepared herself to place final personal items in the casket.

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Todd Heisler photo

On the day before the funeral, James’ friend 2nd Lt. Jon Mueller would practice for hours folding and re-folding the Flag.

In the words of Maj. Steve Beck:

“That will be the last time his flag is folded, ” Said Maj. Steve Beck, as he instructed them. “It has to be perfect.”

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Todd Heisler photo

A shadow is cast as the Marines prepare to deliver posthumous medals to the Cathey family members.

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Todd Heisler photo

During that night’s ceremony, a Marine friend’s mother embraces her son.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

In the words of Jeff Cathey’s father:

“Someone asked me what I learned from my son,” he said. “He taught me you need more than one friend.”

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

Before the burial, his casket was covered with the Marines’ gloves that had carried James Cathey to his final place of rest. They also placed a single rose and sand that one of them had collected from the WW2 beaches of Iwo Jima.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

Seven days after her husband’s body landed in America, Katherine would find out that they would be having a boy.

All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam
Todd Heisler photo

Above is the full photo that earned Todd Heisler a Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Heisler’s collection submitted to the nomination is titled “Final Salute”.

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John Oliver and Team Rubicon invite you to the ‘most American day ever’

It’s a standard fundraiser in the vein of GoFundMe and Kickstarter with the rewards provided by John Oliver and HBO’s Last Week Tonight.


The “Most American Day Ever” is the name of the sweepstakes. By making a donation, you’re entered to win. Different donations get different rewards, starting with these:

  • A French Press with coffee and two campaign mugs signed by John Oliver
  • Digital Thank You card
  • A personalized video message from John Oliver
  • An exclusive show memorabilia salmon signed by John Oliver
  • An Official Last Week Tonight script signed by John Oliver

There are other offerings, like T-shirts, mugs, or the simple virtue of making a donation to a worthy cause.

Team Rubicon is not your standard relief organization. They describe their mission as “Bridging the Gap” — referring to providing disaster relief between the moment a disaster happens and the point at which conventional aid organizations respond. This “gap” is primarily a function of time; the crucial window following a disaster when victims have traditionally been without outside aid. When the “Gap” closes – once conventional aid organizations arrive – Team Rubicon moves on.

The Most American Day Ever includes being picked up at the airport in New York in a Ford pickup truck, VIP tickets for you and a guest to a taping of “Last Week Tonight” where Oliver will throw a football at you “Tebow-Style.” You’ll also sit at John’s desk and get a tour of the studio.

To enter, go to Omaze.com/LastWeek, make a donation to Team Rubicon, get a chance to meet John Oliver, and help support veterans supporting disaster relief worldwide.

 

NOW: Team Rubicon is On the Ground in Nepal

OR: 25 Vets Poised to Make A Difference in 2015

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Stolen valor: Marine steals another combat vet’s Purple Heart story

A former Southern California Marine has been handed a 21-month federal sentence for faking a Purple Heart and lifting from another Marine’s combat story to get disability benefits and a free house.


In a rare prosecution under the 2013 Stolen Valor Act, a 35-year-old Iraq war veteran will also have to pay back more than $300,000 to the U.S. government and a Texas charity.

Brandon Blackstone served with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment out of Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert in 2004. He deployed to Iraq in August, during a period of fierce fighting on the Syrian border.

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So did Casey Owens, another 1/7 Marine.

But that’s where the similarities in the two Marines’ stories end — and where Blackstone’s fabrications began.

Prosecutors and fellow Marines say Blackstone fashioned a tale of blast injuries and combat stress based on a horrific explosion that nearly killed Owens and cost him both of his legs.

Owens was in a Humvee that triggered a double anti-mine bomb while responding to a downed U.S. serviceman in September 2004.

Blackstone was in the area and likely witnessed the event. But he wasn’t injured in that attack — or in any other combat incident — according to people who were there, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Texas, and Blackstone’s own lawyer.

In fact, he was evacuated from Iraq after a month with appendicitis.

Also read: This is how the Pentagon had over 120,000 extra Purple Heart medals

But starting at least in 2006, Blackstone began spinning a story of suffering traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after his Humvee hit a mine in Iraq.

He even fabricated two witness statements to support his claim for U.S. Veterans Affairs Department disability benefits that he received from 2006 to 2015, prosecutors said.

Worse, in the eyes of his fellow Marines, he began showing the photograph of Owens’ mangled Humvee as part of his story about how he was wounded.

“This scumbag lied to try to get s–t. You don’t do that. It’s not honorable. It’s not how we are. It’s personal for me, especially, as a friend of Casey’s,” said Andrew Rothman, a 1/7 Navy corpsman who was a key player in exposing Blackstone’s fraud.

“This kid essentially stole from all of us. And the honor part is bigger to us than the money and the house.”

Blackstone was awarded a 100 percent disability rating and, by claiming to have a Purple Heart, his application for a mortgage-free house was granted by Texas-based Military Warriors Support Foundation.

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The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. (Photo: AP)

Meanwhile, Owens tried to make the best of his life with a double leg amputation and brain injuries, among other medical complications. He moved to Aspen and competed as a Paralympics skier.

But Owens was still in pain. He did national TV interviews describing how he struggled to get the care he needed for his mental and physical wounds. His right leg required additional surgeries that took more of it away.

In October 2014, Owens used a gun to kill himself.

But things for Blackstone were going well. He became a mentor at a Missouri-based veterans charity, Focus Marines Foundation. He even started his own nonprofit group, called The Fight Continues, with two other post-Sept. 11 veterans.

But those brushes with others in the veterans community led to his downfall. His story, including video testimonials he was giving about his combat injuries, didn’t sit right with other 1/7 Marines who dedicated a Facebook thread to discussing it.

Related: Not all PTSD diagnoses are created equal

Eventually, Rothman tipped off the Warriors Support charity that was poised to grant Blackstone the deed to the donated house.

Blackstone pleaded guilty in September to one count of wire fraud and one count of fraudulent representation about the receipt of a military decoration for financial gain.

At his sentencing last month, a federal judge in Texas called Blackstone “shameful,” but gave him credit for accepting blame for his actions. Sentencing guidelines limited his incarceration to 27 months or less, according to news reports. His was given credit for time served since February, so he will serve 18 more months.

Blackstone’s defense lawyer, Justin Sparks, said his client was diagnosed with PTSD and suffered a head injury in Iraq — but not in combat.

The head wound happened when a superior roughed him up in the barracks and he hit his head on a dresser. There were other injuries while in uniform that weren’t related to combat but required surgery, Sparks said. While in the hospital, a higher-ranking Marine informally gave Blackstone a Purple Heart medal to acknowledge his pain — but it wasn’t an official award.

There’s no explaining why Blackstone lied about the Purple Heart or applied for the free home, knowing he wasn’t qualified, the former Marine’s lawyer told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“There’s not really a good answer for that. He was in a very, very tough time in his life and reached a pitfall there,” Sparks said this week.

Sparks said his client seemed to lose his grasp on reality as the story spun on.

There’s a symptom of PTSD where you are living your life in the third person. You’re always convincing yourself about what is reality,” he said. “It’s almost a coping mechanism.”

Sparks said his client is still rated at 70 percent disabled by the VA.

The lawyer disagreed that Blackstone was appropriating Casey Owens’ story.

“Brandon never claimed his lost his legs,” Sparks said. “The only common elements in the two stories are PTSD, the Purple Heart, and head injuries. There must be at least 1,000-plus soldiers who have those three things.”

Blackstone’s fellow troops don’t buy the PTSD explanation for his behavior. Several of them also were disappointed by his sentence.

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A Marine salutes the memorial stand for his fallen brother. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“He was in the grip of his own lies,” said Eric Calley, a former Marine who used his own money to start The Fight Continues with Blackstone.

“That judge should be ashamed. I think (Blackstone) deserves a life sentence for what he did to our veterans.”

Lezleigh Owens Kleibrink, Owens’ sister, said her family was hoping for closure from a tougher sentence but didn’t get it.

Kleibrink said she has no doubts that Blackstone was trying to at least bask in the association with her brother’s reputation.

“He was a thief and Casey’s story was a means to get what he wanted,” she told the San Diego Union-Tribune this week.

Further reading: Here are the criteria that entitle a service member to the Purple Heart

“What Brandon doesn’t understand is that it’s ripped open our wounds once again,” Kleibrink said. “Anyone who makes my mother cry like this … He may have joined the Corps, but he was no Marine.”

The Military Warriors Support Foundation said it was the charity’s first brush with stolen valor in awarding more than 750 homes to combat-wounded veterans.

“This was an unusual case, in that even official VA documentation was inaccurate,” said spokesman Casey Kinser. “That said, we are constantly reviewing our processes to vet our applicants more accurately and efficiently.”

The Fort Worth-area house that Blackstone nearly owned has been awarded to another Marine family.

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Why the only woman training to be a Navy SEAL dropped out

The only woman in the Navy SEAL training pipeline has dropped out, a Navy special warfare official confirmed Aug. 11.


The female midshipman voluntarily decided to not continue participating in a summer course that’s required of officers who want to be selected for SEAL training, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton, a Naval special warfare spokesman, told The Associated Press. The Navy has not released the woman’s name, part of a policy against publicly identifying SEALs or candidates for the force.

No other woman has started the long process required to become a Navy SEAL, Walton said.

Another woman has set her sights on becoming a Special Warfare Combatant Crewman, another job that recently opened to women. They often support the SEALs but also conduct missions of their own using state-of-the art, high-performance boats. She has started the various evaluations and standard Navy training.

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U.S. Navy SEAL candidates from class 284 participate in Hell Week at the Naval Special Warfare Center at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. (U.S. Navy photo)

Officials have said it would be premature to speculate when the Navy will see its first female SEAL or Special Warfare Combatant Crewman.

The entry of women in one of the military’s most elite fighting forces is part of ongoing efforts to comply with then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s directive in December 2015 to open all military jobs to women, including the most dangerous commando posts.

That decision was formal recognition of the thousands of female servicewomen who fought in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in recent years, including those who were killed or wounded.

The woman dropped out of the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection program. It is open to Naval academy and Navy ROTC midshipmen and cadets during the summer before their senior year.

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A Navy SEAL instructor assists students from BUD/S class 245 with learning the importance of listening during a Hell Week surf drill evolution. (ENS Bashon Mann, Public Affairs Officer Naval Special Warfare Center.)

The three-week-long program in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego, tests participants’ physical and psychological strength along with water competency and leadership skills. The program is the first in-person evaluation of a candidate who desires to become a Navy SEAL officer, and it allows sailors to compete against peers in an equitable training environment.

All sailors must go through the program before being selected to take part in SEAL basic training, a six-month program so grueling that 75 percent of candidates drop out by the end of the first month.

The services have been slowly integrating women into previously male-only roles. Those in special operations are among the most demanding jobs in the military. Two women in 2015 graduated from the Army’s grueling Ranger course.

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Shia LaBeouf allegedly got hammered and told cops he was in the National Guard

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Actor Shia LaBeouf drunkenly told an Austin, Texas police officer that he was in the Army National Guard in an attempt at being let off the hook for public intoxication last Friday, according to police documents. He was not successful.

While allegedly jaywalking with two women on Sixth Street, LaBeouf was stopped after he crossed in front of the officer’s patrol car and raised his hand up as if was trying to stop traffic, according to the police affidavit.

From The Statesman:

The officer approached the star of the “Transformers” movie franchise and could smell a strong odor of alcohol, and noticed that “LaBeouf’s speech was slurred and thick-tongued and his eyes were glassy and dilated,” the affidavit says.

According to the document, LaBeouf told the officer that he “typically walks away because police had killed a friend of his.” But then he “became increasingly confrontational, aggravated, profane and verbally aggressive” with the officer during the encounter and called him a “silly man” three times, the affidavit says.

The officer reported LaBeouf as becoming aggressive and threatening throughout the encounter, until the 29-year-old actor pulled out his ace-in-the-hole: “Labeouf began stating he was a member of the National Guard and that Sgt. Jelesijevic needed to ‘do whatever the f–k you gotta do!” the affidavit reads.

At that point, Sgt. Jelesijevic did whatever the f–k he had to do: Arrested him for public intoxication.

There’s video. Of course there’s video (language warning):

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

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UK’s SAS veterans are coming out of retirement to fight ISIS

The jihadist group Daesh (as ISIS hates to be called) warned the UK  it “will suffer the lion’s share of the slaughter it plans for Europe.” British military vets are going to be ready.


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The threat Daesh poses to Europe is being taken very seriously by members of the United Kingdom’s veteran community. So seriously, in fact, almost 60 former members of Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS), the UK’s most elite special forces outfit, are looking to get back in the fight.

According to the UK’s Mirror, 30 SAS operators, veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond have reenlisted, while 30 more are on standby to do the same. The SAS, along with U.S. special forces operators are currently fighting Daesh in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

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Related: American dudes with rifles make a quick stop in Libya and no one knows why

The recent Daesh attacks on Paris give the effort to fight the terror group abroad new urgency. Just as French special operators are on the streets of Paris and conducting counterterror operations they learned from Israeli commandos, the SAS’ elite counterterrorism unit, the Special Projects Group, are currently patrolling London in unmarked civilian vehicles.

“Former members of the SAS do rejoin the regiment, especially when there is a war approaching,” an unnamed British government source told the Mirror. “It happened after the 9/11 attacks and when the Iraq War began. But we have never seen a response like this.”

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New Abrams protection system can detect, track and destroy enemy projectiles

The Army is fast-tracking an emerging technology for Abrams tanks designed to give combat vehicles an opportunity identify, track and destroy approaching enemy rocket-propelled grenades in a matter of milliseconds, service officials said.


Called Active Protection Systems, or APS, the technology uses sensors and radar, computer processing, fire control technology and interceptors to find, target and knock down or intercept incoming enemy fire such as RPGs and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, or ATGMs. Systems of this kind have been in development for many years, however the rapid technological progress of enemy tank rounds, missiles and RPGs is leading the Army to more rapidly test and develop APS for its fleet of Abrams tanks.

“The Army is looking at a range of domestically produced and allied international solutions from companies participating in the Army’s Modular Active Protection Systems (MAPS) program,” an Army official told Scout Warrior.

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1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers conduct a live-fire accuracy screen test, to calibrate the tank’s fire control system, on their M1A2 Abrams. | U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Austin McGuin

The idea is to arm armored combat vehicles and tactical wheeled vehicles with additional protective technology to secure platforms and soldiers from enemy fire; vehicles slated for use of APS systems are infantry fighting vehicles such as Bradleys along with Stykers, Abrams tanks and even tactical vehicles such as transport trucks and the emerging Humvee replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

“The Army’s expedited APS effort is being managed by a coordinated team of Tank Automotive Research, Development Engineering Center engineers, acquisition professionals, and industry; and is intended to assess current APS state-of-the art by installing and characterizing some existing non-developmental APS systems on Army combat vehicles,” the Army official said.

General Dynamics Land Systems, maker of Abrams tanks, is working with the Army to better integrate APS into the subsystems of the Abrams tank, as opposed to merely using an applique system, Mike Peck, Business Development Manager, General Dynamics Land Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Peck said General Dynamics plans to test an APS system called Trophy on the Abrams tank next year.

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U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Jasmine Ballard

Being engineered as among the most survivable and heavily armored vehicles in existence, the Abrams tank is built to withstand a high degree of enemy fire, such some enemy tank rounds, RPGs, rockets and missiles. Abrams tanks can also carry reactive armor, material used to explode incoming enemy fire in a matter that protects the chassis and crew of the vehicle itself. However, depending upon the range, speed and impact location of enemy fire, there are some weapons which still pose a substantial threat to Abrams tanks. Therefore, having an APS system which could knock out enemy rounds before they hit the tank, without question, adds an additional layer of protection for the tank and crew. A particular threat area for Abrams tanks is the need the possibility of having enemy rounds hit its ammunition compartment, thereby causing a damaging secondary explosion.

APS on Abrams tanks, quite naturally, is the kind of protective technology which could help US Army tanks in tank-on-tank mechanized warfare against near-peer adversary tanks, such as a high-tech Russian T-14 Armata tank. According to a report in The National Interest from Dave Majumdar, Russian T-14s are engineered with an unmanned turret, reactive armor and Active Protection Systems.

A challenge with the technology is to develop the proper protocol or tactics, techniques and procedures such that soldiers walking in proximity to a vehicle are not vulnerable to shrapnel, debris or fragments from the explosion between an interceptor and approaching enemy fire.

“The expedited activity will inform future decisions and trade-space for the Army’s overarching APS strategy which uses the MAPS program to develop a modular capability that can be integrated on any platform,” the Army official said.

Rafael’s Trophy system, Artis Corporation’s Iron Curtain, Israeli Military Industry’s Iron Fist, UBT/Rheinmetall’s ADS system, and others.

Trophy

DRS Technologies and Israeli-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are asking the U.S. Army to consider acquiring their recently combat-tested Trophy Active Protection System, a vehicle-mounted technology engineered to instantly locate and destroy incoming enemy fire.

Using a 360-degree radar, processor and on-board computer, Trophy is designed to locate, track and destroy approaching fire coming from a range of weapons such as Anti-Tank-Guided-Missiles, or ATGMs, or Rocket Propelled Grenades, or RPGs,

The interceptor consists of a series of small, shaped charges attached to a gimbal on top of the vehicle. The small explosives are sent to a precise point in space to intercept and destroy the approaching round, he added.

Radar scans the entire perimeter of the platform out to a known range. When a threat penetrates that range, the system then detects and classifies that threat and tells the on-board computer which determines the optical kill point in space, a DRS official said.

Trophy was recently deployed in combat in Gaza on Israeli Defense Forces’ Merkava tanks. A brigade’s worth of tanks used Trophy to destroy approaching enemy fire such as RPGs in a high-clutter urban environment, he added.

“Dozens of threats were launched at these platforms, many of which would have been lethal to these vehicles. Trophy engaged those threats and defeated them in all cases with no collateral injury and no danger to the dismounts and no false engagement,” the DRS official said.

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A tank gunner in 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, checks the battery box and connections on his M1A1 Abrams tank after gunnery qualifications | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar

While the Trophy system was primarily designed to track and destroy approaching enemy fire, it also provides the additional benefit of locating the position of an enemy shooter.

“Trophy will not only knock an RPG out of the sky but it will also calculate the shooter’s location. It will enable what we call slew-to-cue. At the same time that the system is defeating the threat that is coming at it, it will enable the main gun or sensor or weapons station to vector with sights to where the threat came from and engage, identify or call in fire. At very least you will get an early warning to enable you to take some kind of action,” the DRS official explained. “I am no longer on the defensive with Trophy. Israeli commanders will tell you ‘I am taking the fight to the enemy.’

The Israelis developed Trophy upon realizing that tanks could not simply be given more armor without greatly minimizing their maneuverability and deployability, DRS officials said.

Trophy APS was selected by the Israel Defense Forces as the Active Protection System designed to protect the Namer heavy infantry fighting vehicle.

Artis Corporation’s Iron Curtain

A Virginia-based defense firm known as Artis, developer of the Iron Curtain APS system, uses two independent sensors, radar and optical, along with high-speed computing and counter munitions to detect and intercept approaching fire, according to multiple reports.

Iron Curtain began in 2005 with the Pentagon’s research arm known as DARPA; the APS system is engineered to defeat enemy fire at extremely close ranges.

The systems developers and multiple reports – such as an account from Defense Review — say that Iron Curtain defeats threats inches from their target, which separates the system from many others which intercept threats several meters out. The aim is to engineer a dependable system with minimal risk of collateral damage to dismounted troops or civilians.

The Defense Review report also says that Iron Curtain’s sensors can target destroy approaching RPG fire to within one-meter of accuracy.

Iron Curtain’s radar was developed by the Mustang Technology Group in Plano, Texas.

“Iron Curtain has already been successfully demonstrated in the field. They installed the system on an up-armored HMMWV (Humvee), and Iron Curtain protected the vehicle against an RPG. Apparently, the countermeasure deflagrates the RPG’s warhead without detonating it, leaving the “dudded” RPG fragments to just bounce off the vehicle’s side. Iron Curtain is supposed to be low weight and low cost, with a minimal false alarm rate and minimal internal footprint,” the Defense Review report states.

Israel’s IRON FIST

Israel’s IMISystems has also developed an APS system which uses a multi-sensor early warning system with both infrared and radar sensors.

“Electro-optical jammers, Instantaneous smoke screens and, if necessary, an interceptor-based hard kill Active Protection System,” IMISystems officials state.

IRON FIST capability demonstrators underwent full end-to-end interception tests, against all threat types, operating on the move and in urban scenarios. These tests included both heavy and lightly armored vehicles.

“In these installations, IRON FIST proved highly effective, with its wide angle protection, minimal weight penalty and modest integration requirements,” company officials said.

UBT/Rheinmetall’s Active Defense System

German defense firms called Rheinmetall and IBD Deisenroth, Germany, joined forces to develop active vehicle protection systems; Rheinmetall AG owns a 74% share, with the remainder held by IBD Deisenroth GmbH.

Described as a system which operates on the “hard kill” principle, the ADS is engineered for vehicles of every weight class; it purports to defend against light antitank weapons, guided missiles and certain improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“The sensor system detects an incoming projectile as it draws close to the vehicle, e.g. a shaped charge or antitank missile. Then, in a matter of microseconds, the system activates a protection sector, applying directed pyrotechnic energy to destroy the projectile in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle. Owing to its downward trajectory, ADS minimizes collateral damage in the zone surrounding the vehicle,” the company’s website states.

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This C-130 landing on an aircraft carrier will make you rethink physics

An F/A-18 Hornet next to a C-130 Hercules is like comparing a Ferrari to a big yellow school bus — there’s a huge difference.


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With that in mind, a big yellow school bus has no business in a compact parking space, but that’s precisely what Lt. James H. Flatley III did when he landed the 85,000-pound behemoth on the USS Forrestal (CVA-59). He parked a bus in a compact space. And he made it look easy.

At first, he thought the assignment was a joke. “Operate a C-130 off an aircraft carrier? Somebody’s got to be kidding,” he said, according to Joseph Earl Dabney in his book “Hero of the Skies.”

But no, in fact, the orders came from the top. The Chief of Naval Operations — the most senior naval officer in the Department of the Navy — himself ordered a feasibility study to find out whether they could employ the Hercules as a “Super COD” — or Carrier Onboard Delivery — aircraft. At the time, the task belonged to the Grumman C-1 Trader, which, in the spirit of continuing the car analogy, was like driving your mom’s minivan.

The small twin-engine aircraft had a 300-mile range, which was a problem for delivering emergency items to a carrier operating in the middle of the ocean. On the other hand, the Hercules was stable, reliable, and capable of delivering large payloads over a much longer distance.

On October 8, 1963, the Navy received a KC-130F refueler on loan from the Marine Corps. Lockheed’s only modifications included the plane’s nose landing gear, anti-skid braking system, and the removal of the underwing refueling pods.

By October 30, 1963, Flatley and crew successfully proceeded to perform 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted takeoffs at 85,000 pounds up to 121,000 pounds.

The result went beyond anyone’s expectations.

The test revealed that the C-130 could lift 25,000 pounds (12.5 tons) of cargo and transport it 2,500 miles and land safely on the carrier, according to the video below. Still, the Navy considered it too risky and defaulted to the smaller COD. Flatley received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his effort.

 

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