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9 American heroes who received France's Legion of Honor

Last week, French President Francois Hollande presented Airman First Class (A1C) Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and two others with the French Légion d'Honneur, the highest decoration France can give (it is also not limited to military members). Foreign nationals are eligible to receive the medal for "serving France or the ideals it upholds."


Stone and Skarlatos served France by preventing a Moroccan national from going on a shooting spree with an AK-47 by physically subduing the perpetrator on a Paris-bound train.

The Légion was established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 as a way to honor those who served post-Revolutionary France without granting them titles of nobility, which France just abolished. Bonaparte always wore the medal himself.

The Légion is not just an award; it is membership in an elite group of people who have served France in outstanding ways, with five levels of honor: Stone, Skarlatos, their friend Anthony Sadler, and British businessman Chris Norman were awarded at the level of Knight for their heroics. Beyond that, there are the levels of Officer, Commander, Grand Officer, and Grand Cross, the highest that can be awarded (The President of France serves as Grand Master).

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane

Stone and Skarlatos aren't the first U.S. servicemembers to be awarded the honor. in 2004, the French government opened it to all Allied World War II veterans with proof of service in France. A number of members of the U.S. military have received the honor for various reasons. Here are nine prominent veterans who are also part of the prestigious Légion.

Sgt. Alvin York

One of history's most famous conscientious objectors, Sgt. York (as he came to be publicly known) was a drinker and a fighter who became a born-again Christian before the outbreak of World War I. Even though his faith demanded pacifism, he enlisted for the draft as required by U.S. law. He applied for conscientious objector status, even appealing after his first request was denied. He would come to accept his fate, believing God had a plan for him to fight and win in France. One night, he and three other NCOs led thirteen privates to infiltrate the German lines on a nighttime raid and take out the machine guns. Somewhere along the way, one machine gun opened up on York and his compatriots, killing or wounding nine of the sixteen men. York didn't even have time to take cover. He stood his ground and picked off the whole crew.

Henry Louis Larsen

One of the U.S. Marine Corps' finest, Larsen first served as an officer in WWI, where he participated in every major Marine Corps operation in France including Belleau Wood, which earned him a silver Citation Star on his WWI Victory Medal. In all he would earn the Navy Cross and three Silver Stars, all without ever being wounded. With the Légion d'Honneur, France also awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur

This may seem obvious to some, but MacArthur is primarily well-known (these days) for his service in the Pacific during World War II, his masterminding the Korean War, and his public firing at the hands of President Truman. MacArthur's career started while Teddy Roosevelt was in office. When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, MacArthur was a Major and would be posted in France. By war's end, the Old Soldier was Brig. Gen. MacArthur, and his service in the 1918 Champagne-Marne Offensive earned him four Silver Stars, two Croix de Guerre, a Distinguished Service Cross, and the Légion d'Honneur.

Lt. Col. Mayhew Foster

Foster, then 33 and a Captain in the 36th Infantry Division, flew a Stinson L-5 Sentinel carrying more than 300 pounds of Hermann Göring's fat ass back to Nuremberg to be tried for war crimes.

Just you and me, Hermann.

Not once during the 55-minute flight with the former Nazi Luftwaffe commander did Foster worry about Göring trying to escape from the two-seater transport. Foster received the Légion d'Honneur in 2009 and died at age 99 two years later. Göring famously committed suicide by cyanide capsule before his scheduled execution. Foster also earned a Silver Star for his efforts fighting in France.

Photo by Mayhew Foster

Senator Daniel Inouye

Before Inouye's political career (which is extensive in itself — the Hawaii Democrat served in the House of Representatives before the Senate and served as President pro tempore of the Senate), he enlisted in the all-Nisei (a Japanese word used to describe second generation children of Japanese descent) 442d Regimental Combat Team (RCT).

Most of the 442d RCT came from families in Japanese internment camps on the West Coast of the United States, but would still enter the  war by 1944, earning 9,000 Purple Hearts, 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, and 21 Medals of Honor. Inouye was one of the Medal of Honor recipients (and a Purple Heart, losing his arm in a fight at the Gothic Line). Inouye and 442d were awarded the Légion d'Honneur for their brutal fight against fortified German units at Bruyères in the Vosges Mountains.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

This should come as a surprise to no one. As Supreme Allied Commander in World War II oversaw the planning and logistics for Operation Overlord, and his decision to invade Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944 would lead to the complete liberation of France in less than a year.

Audie Murphy

The soldier the Navy and Marine Corps didn't want became the most decorated soldier of WWII, and Murphy counts the Légion d'Honneur as one of his many decorations. He participated in the amphibious invasion of Southern France, landing at Ramateulle, where the Germans killed his best friends after faking a surrender. Murphy responded by wounding three, killing eight, and capturing eleven of them. There is oh-so-much more to Murphy's actions in France after this (he even portrayed himself in the film To Hell and Back, about his life and service).

In addition to the Légion and the Medal of Honor, in France, Murphy's action earned the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, Croix de Guerre with Palm, two Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, American Campaign Medal, the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead device and campaign stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, the French Liberation Medal, two Presidential Unit Citations, and the French Fourragère in Colors of the Croix de guerre. Murphy also earned the Medal of Honor by single-handedly holding off an entire German infantry company with a rifle in January 1945 then leading a counteroffensive while wounded and out of ammunition.

George S. Patton

Gen. George S. Patton served in France in at least two wars (if you ask him, it was three — a believer in reincarnation, Patton famously believed to be one of Napoleon's officers who died in his service). Patton's time in France began in world War I as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), teaching early tank tactics. His time in World War II is what earned him his notoriety. After turning the North African campaign in favor of the Allies and his instrumental role in the allied invasion of Sicily, he was installed as the commander of the U.S. Third Army. After D-Day, Patton's Third Army helped break the Normandy beachhead and then stopped the famous "Bulge," relieving the 101st Airborne at Bastogne and then pressing on into Germany at an astonishing rate.

Colin Powell

A more contemporary awardee, General Powell's illustrious military and public service career spans decades, from service in the Vietnam War to National Security Adviser under President Ronald Reagan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) under President George H.W. Bush, to U.S. Secretary of State for President George W. Bush's first term. As CJCS, he was a critical adviser to President Bush (41) and Gen. "Stormin'" Norman Schwarzkopf, whose command of coalition forces against Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait in 1990 included French Army and Air Forces.

U.S. Army Photo

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NEWS
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Russia wants America's spot on the Human Rights Council

Russia wants a spot on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) following the US's withdrawal on June 19, 2018.

Russia quickly swooped in on the empty seat and put forward its candidacy for a three-year term starting in 2021.

"The UNHRC operates on the basis of the principles of impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity, constructive dialogue and cooperation. It is a UN body that, like the entire UN system, is called upon to serve all Member States, not just one country or group of countries," Russia's UN mission said in a statement. "Unfortunately, our colleagues in Washington do not understand this or do not recognize it."

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This Microsoft training fast tracks veterans into sweet tech careers

Solaire Brown (formerly Sanderson) was a happy, gung-ho Marine sergeant deployed in Afghanistan when she realized her military career was about to change. She was tasked with finding the right fit for her post-military life – and she knew she wanted to be prepared.

Injuries sustained during mine-resistant vehicle training had led to surgeries and functional recovery and it became clear Brown would no longer be able to operate at the level she expected of herself as a Marine.

Like many of the 200,000 service members exiting the military each year, Brown knew her military training could make her a valuable asset as an employee, but she was unsure of how her skills might specifically translate to employment in the civilian world.

Enter Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), a program Microsoft started in 2013 to provide transitioning service members and veterans with critical career skills required for today's growing technology industry.

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This video of a drone with a flamethrower will haunt your dreams

Watch the video in the tweet below. Are you experiencing both amazement and fear? You're not alone.

This video has been making the rounds on Twitter recently, but it was actually filmed a little over a year ago. According to Gizmodo, an electric-power maintenance company in Xiangyang, China, had been using these flame-throwing drones to burn off garbage and debris from electrical wires.

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This band hires vets — especially when they go on tour

As veterans re-enter the civilian workforce, many struggle to make the transition. This is why opportunities (ahem — touring with famous heavy metal bands) for employment are so important. Five Finger Death Punch has made it a mission to offer such opportunities.

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How you can use your military skills in survival games

Military leaders loves to take their troops into the backwoods for a quick impromptu land navigation class. Even when troops should be gearing up for combat in desert environments, they still teach them how to survive in forests. There is a lot of cross-over things to consider, regardless of where you're at — like seeking shelter, finding water and food, how to create warmth, and survive the elements.

While it's great to have these skills in your hip pocket, it can also make you way too intense when you go camping with your civilian friends. They will, however, make you just the right amount of intense when you play a survival game.

All the fun of surviving in a zombie-infested hellscape without actually having to survive in a zombie-infested hellscape!(DayZ by Bohemia Interactive)

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Veterans
Debbie Aragon

This veteran found his lifeline at the end of a leash

After battling night terrors and the pain and anxiety of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for decades, an Air Force veteran found his lifeline at the end of a dog leash.

Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager in the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, vividly remembers a few years ago when he would regularly find himself in the depths of fear and despair; reliving troubling images from deployments as a security forces military working dog handler and later as a logistics specialist.

Kaono's wife, Alessa, said she felt helpless, with no idea how to help him.

"You see a look in their eyes that they're suffering but you don't know what you can do to help them. It's a terrible feeling watching someone suffer through PTSD," she said.

Those memories seemed so hopeless at times that Kaono attempted to end his life.

After taking numerous prescription drugs in 2010 in a bid to permanently end his pain, Kaono finally reached out for help and started receiving the support and understanding he needed.

Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, takes his service dog Romeo for a walk around the building.(U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

"I had previously attempted (suicide) but this time I actually sought treatment," Kaono said.

After being hospitalized for his suicide attempt, the veteran began a treatment program at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles.

"When I was first diagnosed, group therapy didn't work for me," the Hawaii-native said, "so I actually left the group and started volunteering at a (German Shepherd) rescue in California."

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Dogs had always played a part in Kaono's life from when, as a toddler, his family's old English sheepdog, Winston, picked him up by the diaper to deliver a wandering Ryan back to his front yard.

"I realized (while volunteering at the rescue) that the interaction with the dogs really made me feel better," he said.

Not content to just help himself, Kaono worked with the VA hospital to help other veterans interact with the rescue dogs and promoted animal therapy.

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5 boring details a Space Force private will get stuck on

The Space Force is presumed to be exactly like our current military. Over-the-top recruitment videos will only lead to utter disappointment, just like any other branch. "You'll get to see the world," the recruiter will promise, but we all know you'll probably just be seeing it from a desk back on Earth. Even in many years when the need for space infantrymen comes up, it'll still be filled with all the same BS that happens down here.

Think about it. There will still be NCOs and officers who will still need to bide their time until closeout formation. The only difference will be that it'll take place 254 miles above the Earth's surface. And how will latrines work? Who will clean them?!

You know the answer.

1. Literally cleaning the ship absolutely spotlessly

Remember those novelty "space pens" that you can find at souvenir shops? The joke on the back is that America spent a butt load of cash trying to get a pen that could write upside-down and with zero-G's but those crafty Russians just used a pencil. Hate to burst that bubble but no one uses pencils in space for a very specific reason.

Any bit of dust or flakes caused by just regular everyday things, like pencil shavings, could mess with electrical systems while it's floating around in space.

That's just from man-made stuff... then you have to worry about the stardust

(NASA)

2. Vacuuming all that stardust

Of course no one down here can see it, but space is actually pretty filthy. There's plenty of dust on the outside the atmosphere from when the universe was formed and we can't go around with an unclean space ship. Most of it is microscopic but NASA astronauts regularly have to clean the dust or else it gets everywhere.

Any spacewalk done will suck in plenty of that minuscule specs of dust whenever the bay-doors open. When the astronaut comes back into the oxygen-filled area, the dust will follow. And some poor space private will have to vacuum all that up.

You can't honestly expect lieutenants to clean up after themselves when there are privates available, now can you?

3. Police calling space debris

All of this is just to clean up the inside of ship — there's also the outside. Satellites and other man-made debris deteriorate eventually and even a 1cm paint flake could zoom low orbit faster than a bullet. Those flakes can rupture panels and cause all sorts of hell on the ship.

This problem is magnified with even larger pieces of debris, like a baseball sized scrap of metal hitting anything at 4.76 miles per second. To prevent Newton's Second Law (force is equal to the mass times acceleration) from obliterating everyone on board, it's up to the space privates to handle it.

I want this globe spotless or no one is being released.

(NASA)

4. Container organizing... but in zero G's

At first, it seems like this would be so much easier in space. You wouldn't have to lift heavy things because it's near weightless now. And astronauts are notorious about taking only what they need into space. But that's the silver-lining. Trying to tie things down and organizing things to take up as little space as possible is the real problem.

A space private's Tetris skills will be checked as there isn't any room for open space.

Good luck finding that ONE serial number for the change of command layout.

(NASA)

5. Repairing the exterior of the ship

There is a diminishing return on enjoyment. The first time you go on a space walk, it'll be beyond your wildest expectations. Your 1,348th time going on a space walk to scrub the stardust off the window because the Colonel is coming won't be as great.

Even more high-stress would be making repairs on the spaceship. Any minor mistake and either you die alone or everyone gets sucked into the vacuum of space.

Imagine losing a wrench and sending it soaring into Earth's atmosphere.

(NASA)

GEAR & TECH
Christopher Woody

The Air Force is finally getting its long-delayed new tanker

The Air Force and Boeing have reached agreement on delivery of the long delayed KC-46 Pegasus tanker, with the two sides expecting the first aircraft to arrive in October 2018, according to Bloomberg.

Boeing's original deadline to deliver 18 planes and additional materials was August 2017, but the $44 billion program has been hit by numerous delays and setbacks, and the Air Force said this spring it expected Boeing to miss its deadline to deliver the planes by October 2018, with the first KC-46 not arriving until the end of 2018 and all 18 planes by spring 2019.

The delivery of the first KC-46 by October 2018 is two months earlier than the Air Force anticipated. Matthew Donovan, the Air Force undersecretary, told Bloomberg the timeline was "aggressive but achievable." Under the new schedule, the other 17 planes will arrive by April 2019.

The Air Force plans to buy 179 of the KC-46. Once it begins receiving them, the service will start phasing out its older KC-10 tankers. It will hold on to 300 of its KC-135 tankers, which average 55 years old. That would expand the tanker fleet to 479 KC-135s and KC-46s from the current 455 KC-135s and KC-10s.

A KC-46 Pegasus refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt, July 15, 2016.(Boeing photo by John D. Parker)

Under their contract, Boeing is responsible for costs beyond the Air Force's $4.82 billion commitment. But delays in delivery could mean the Air Force will have to keep 19 KC-135s in service through 2023 at a cost of up to $10 million a plane annually.

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The most serious problem facing the tanker has been the risk of its refueling boom scraping the surface of planes receiving fuel, which can damage stealth aircraft and potentially ground the tanker.

Other issues include the operation of the remote vision system, which is used to guide the boom; problems with the unexpected disconnection of its centerline drogue system, which is used to refuel aircraft; and concerns about the plane's high-frequency radio, which uses the skin of the plane to broadcast. The latter two issues were downgraded to category-two deficiencies early 2018.

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