America's 'concrete battleship' defended Manila Bay until the very end - We Are The Mighty
Articles

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Before the advent of maneuver warfare, nations defended their territory with massive fortifications. This was particularly true of coasts and harbors, especially if a nation owned the finest harbor in the Orient. This was the case for the American port at Manila Bay.


After the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain during the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Board of Fortifications recommended that important harbors be fortified. This led to the development of defenses on several islands at the mouth of Manila and Subic Bays. One of these was El Fraile Island which would later become Fort Drum, America’s concrete battleship.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

While other islands were fortified by more conventional means, the plans for El Fraile were much more extensive. Construction began in 1909 and completed by 1916. What was originally a rocky outcropping of an island was excavated down to the waterline. From there, the concrete battleship began to take shape.

The new structure was 350 feet long and 144 feet at the widest point. The exterior walls of the fortification were constructed of reinforced concrete 25 to 36 feet thick and rising 40 feet above the water. The top deck of the structure was reinforced concrete 20 feet thick that mounted two turrets containing twin fourteen inch guns and a 60 foot fire control tower to complete the battleship look.

The fort’s armament was rounded out by dual six-inch guns in armored casemates on each side as well as three-inch anti-aircraft guns mounted on the top deck. The fort’s 240 officers and enlisted lived deep inside the impregnable walls of the concrete ship along with all the stores they would need to hold out against a siege.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

That siege came after the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941. In January 1942, the Japanese began to target Fort Drum and the rest of the harbor defenses from the air and by February the concrete battleship was in range of Japanese artillery on shore. The fort endured bombing and shelling, destroying the anti-aircraft batteries, temporarily disabling a six-inch gun, damaging its casemate and searchlight, chipping away large chunks of concrete.

The whole time Fort Drum was under attack, it returned fire against the Japanese. The fort’s resistance continued even after the fall of Bataan on April 10, 1942 left Fort Drum and the other islands of the harbor defense as the last American forces in the Philippines. The guns of the concrete battleship dealt serious blows to Japanese forces assaulting the island of Corregidor, inflicting heavy casualties.

Unfortunately for the men of E battery, 59th Coastal Artillery, their efforts were not enough to halt the Japanese onslaught as General Wainwright made the decision to surrender the remaining U.S. forces in the Philippines. However, the fort was never taken and its main guns were still firing five minutes before the surrender was announced.

After capturing the Philippines, the Japanese manned all former American positions, including the concrete battleship. Eventually, American forces recaptured Manila and a daring assault by the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment U.S. forces recaptured Corregidor as well. That left Fort Drum once again as the last bastion of resistance. However, unlike the Americans some three years earlier, the Japanese had no intention of surrendering. This combined with the fact that the Americans had designed the fort to resist all manner of bombings and gunfire meant they would have to find another way to remove the defenders.

Unfortunately for the Japanese manning the concrete battleship, the idea the Americans came up with was rather grisly. The troops poured a mixture of two parts diesel oil and one part gasoline into the fort, lit it, and burned the defenders alive. The fire burned for several days afterwards but all the defenses of the harbor had been cleared of Japanese. The fort has never been reoccupied and still stands like a ghost ship in Manila Bay to this day.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

popular

9 epic ways you can troll your radio guy

Messing around with your fellow Joes is always good fun. It’s a lighthearted way of letting them know that they’re one of the guys.


If you didn’t care about someone, you wouldn’t mess with them, right?

Every unit, from combat arms to support, has a communications (commo/comms) person. They range from being tasked to operate the radio systems to being a full specialization, from grunt AF to fobbit. These guys are there for us, but that doesn’t mean they’re not above some playful ribbing every now and then.

Doing any of the things on this list should always come from a place of mutual friendship. Don’t be a dick about it. Basically, don’t anything that would get you UCMJ’ed, impede the mission, or lose your military bearing.

1. Yell that you can’t hear anything on channel “Z”

Zeroize is a neat tool. It is designed to wipe out all of the information on the radio in case the worst happens. It’s also coincidentally very easy to access. Watch as their eyes grow big and run to your vehicle to set your radio back up.

 

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

2. Say “is this chip thingy supposed to come out of the SKL?”

For some reason, you get your hands on the most protected piece of equipment of a radio guy.

A quick explanation of what that key does is that it allows you to load Comsec. Ripping it out would essentially zeroize it. Don’t actually rip it out. But saying that you did will make commo guy sh*t himself.

3. During radio checks, say “Lickin’ Chicken” instead of “X this is Y, Read you Loud and Clear, over.”

Radio checks are boring. And it’s usually the last thing before rolling out on the 0900 convoy that we all arrived at 0430 to prep for.

When one person starts saying “Lickin’ Chicken,” it spreads like wildfire. Before you know it, everyone will say it during radio checks. On the commo guy’s end, it’s like hearing the same joke 100 times over and over again.

“uh… roger, over…” via GIPHY

4. Say that the antenna is still lopsided

Most commo dudes are perfectionists (emphasis on most). If the SKL was their baby, the OE-254 (cheap ass FM antennae) is the bane of their existence.

Theoretically, just attaching it will make it work. But that won’t stop radio operators from trying to get it juuuust right.

5. “Hotkey” your mic

Everything is set up. Everything is green. Things are finally working. Then someone leaves their hand mic under something that pushes the button down.

“No problem!” thinks the radio operator. Just double tap on their own mic to mute that person until they release the mic.

But if you intentionally hold down the push-to-talk button after they mute you to keep messing with them…?

6. During a convoy, ask why we don’t have any music playing

Different type of radio system. And there’s totally no way to solder an aux cable onto a cut up W-4 cable to connect your iPhone up to the net, blasting music out to everyone in the convoy.

Nope, never done it…

7. Ask us to fix your computer

Not all Signal Corps soldiers are the same. Radio operator/maintainers are the less POG-y specialization. They only pretend to be POGs to get out of Motor Pool Mondays or bullsh*t details.

Ask the other S-6 guys for that. If they do know how, it’s not their main task. It’s the computer guy’s.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

“Sure, F*ck it. Whatever. Case of beer and I’ll look at your personal computer” (Photo credit Claire Schwerin, PEO C3T)

8. “Run out” of batteries

Batteries weight around 3 lbs each. A rucksack full of them surprisingly runs out faster than you’d think. So it’s fairly often that comms troops have to run back and forth to get more batteries.

Tell your radio maintainer that you’re running low and then just stockpile them for later, making them run around the convoy with a full ruck.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

9. Tell them that a drop test does nothing

This one is how you really dig into the saltier, more experienced radio guys.

A comms guy’s bread and butter is a fully-functioning radio. In most cases, the problem is simply putting the correct time in the radio. Others is making the radio work with their “commo magic.” That magic is almost always just kicking the damn thing or picking it up a few inches off the ground and dropping it. Ask any radio operator and they’ll tell you it works.

There’s no explanation — it just works. Saying that “It’s a bunch of circuits, why would that work?” will just have them bullsh*tting you on why they went all caveman for no reason and miraculously having things work.

Is there anything that we missed? If you have any ideas on how to mess with other job specialties?

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian special forces staged a mock invasion near Finland

Russian special forces staged a mock invasion of an island in the Gulf of Finland just days before President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital.

The Russian forces parachuted onto the island of Gogland, which is part of Russia but located roughly 70 miles from Helsinki, from a Mi-8AMTSH helicopter at an altitude of 2,500 meters. The soldiers used satellite equipment to steer themselves to the landing site, according to a July 10, 2018 press release from the Russian Defense Ministry.

Once on the ground, the Russian forces camouflaged their parachutes and headed into the interior of the island to destroy a series of mock communications stations, radars, and ASM batteries, Defense One reports.


The island is equipped with a helipad, but after destroying the targets the soldiers prepared a landing site for the helicopter for their escape.

The soldiers who participated in the mock invasion had “not less than a hundred jumps with parachutes of various types,” according to the Russian Defense Ministry statement.

This exercise comes amid increasing concern from many European countries about Russian agression in the region in the wake of the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Meanwhile, as Trump prepares to meet with Putin, some NATO member states seem to be concerned he’s too soft on the Russian leader and doesn’t fully value the historic alliance.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

The 2018 NATO summit in Brussels.

At the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11, 2018, Trump baffled and angered other NATO leaders when he suggested Germany is “controlled” by Russia in relation to an energy partnership between the two countries.

Trump was widely criticized for his rhetoric and demeanor at the summit. Nicholas Burns, a former US ambassador to NATO, accused the president of “diplomatic malpractice” and expressed concern over Trump’s disposition toward Putin.

“You cannot imagine any American president all the way back 75 years deciding to become the critic-in-chief of NATO,” Burns said on July 11, 2018. “I mean, it’s Orwellian. He’s making our friends out to be our enemies and treating our enemies, like Putin, as our friends, and he’s misrepresenting the facts.”

Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.

Prior to departing for Europe on July 10, 2018, the president suggested he was most looking forward to his summit with the Russian leader.

“I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?” Trump said at the White House.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time high-value POWs were rescued from Nazis by the Nazis

Nazi SS forces tasked with guarding the Nazis’ most high-value prisoners finally moved them all to a single place as the war (and the Nazi party) was nearing its end. Among those were troops with famous names, like Churchill. There were former world leaders who happened to be of Jewish descent, like Hungary’s Miklos Kallay. Prince Philip Von Hesse was there, too. And there were members of high-ranking military families, like the Von Stauffenbergs (whose patriarch famously tried to kill Hitler in the Valkyrie plot).


The group ended up in Niederdorf, in Italy’s South Tyrol region. The infamous SS guards decided to move all their high-value eggs from the infamous Dachau camp into one basket in Italy. Aside from the aforementioned famous prisoners — who were each antithetical to Nazi values — there were British and American troops there, ones known for multiple, repeated escape attempts. There were also relatives of famous foreign dignitaries, like Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov’s nephew.

In all, there were 140 of the Nazis most high-profile undesirables, each too valuable to be allowed to be captured by oncoming enemy forces. It wasn’t just for their propaganda value, but also their intelligence value. The SS had orders to keep them from being captured by the enemy — by any means necessary. One former German officer, equivalent to a colonel, was also among the prisoner population at Niederdorf. He was incarcerated for allowing a retreat on the Eastern Front against the Red Army, and he knew what the SS might do if pushed.

It was that dedicated German officer who managed to get word out to an old friend that they and the rest of these prisoners were in more mortal danger with every passing day.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Conditions at Dachau were not suitable for this small group of hostages.

(U.S. Army)

The prisoners could not be taken to existing concentration camps. It turns out that camp commandants were not accepting new arrivals by this time, mid-April, 1945. The war would soon be over and each was busy covering his ass and the asses of those around him. So, SS-Obersturmführer Edgar Stiller took his lot to a hotel in Niederdorf. The only problem was the hotel was occupied by three German Wehrmacht Generals, so the townspeople of Neiderdorf put them up, feeding and sheltering them.

During their stay German Oberst (colonel) and prisoner Bogislaw von Bonin managed to reach one of the generals at the hotel via telephone. He warned General Hans Roettiger that the prisoners would be massacred by the SS if the Army did not intervene. The only problem was Roettiger was accompanied by SS General Karl Wolff.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Hauptmann (Captain) Wichard von Alvesleben after World War II.

Not to be outdone, Roettiger ordered Hauptmann (Captain) Wichard von Alvesleben and his men stationed to the west of Niederdorf to the scene. After learning that Stiller did intend to kill his VIP prisoners using a bomb aboard their transport bus, Alvesleben and the Wehrmacht moved on the town and liberated the Allied prisoners. But the trouble wasn’t over right away.

After herding the prisoners into the town hall and reinforcing it with 15 noncommissioned officer and a heavy machine gun, the Wehrmacht troops demanded the SS guard withdraw from the town and leave the prisoners. Alvesleben even called his cousin, also a Wehrmacht Hauptmann, who reinforced the regular army by surrounding the SS in the town square with another 150 men.

Outnumbered, the SS guard left.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Colonel Bogislaw von Bonin (center) with fellow hostage and British intelligence officer Sigismund Payne Best (dark suit right) shortly after liberation by the United States on 5 May 1945.

The prisoners and their Wehrmacht guard marched to the nearby Hotel Pragser Wildsee where they spent the next few days, guarding against German Army deserters and Italian Partisans. They were soon liberated by the arriving American Army, who repatriated the VIP hostages back to their host country and arrested the Wehrmacht.

The hostages, of course, spoke in the defense of the German Army regulars who came to their aid against the SS. The kind-hearted Hauptmann Wichard von Alvesleben would survive the war and live for another 30-plus years.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

6 outside activities for kids that don’t involve public places

Imagine a summer with no camps, no daycares, no pools, no libraries or open parks to take your kids to enjoy. No play-dates, sleepovers, theme parks or road trips. It’s just you and your kids. All day.

There’s no need to imagine because this is our reality. Summer came early. And it’s doubly intense for spouses who already have little to no relief because their service members are deployed.

On March 13, our country was declared to be in a National Emergency. The spread of the coronavirus has not only dictated our social interactions, but schools and public facilities shutting down as well have left us with no choice but to stay in with our families. But “in” doesn’t have to exactly mean IN the house. So don’t lose hope or think you have no choice but to go stir crazy.

Here are a few ways to get creative with your outdoor activities that don’t involve public places.


America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Go for a cruise through the city

If you’re newly PCS’d to your area, this is a good chance to get a lay of the land. Load up the kids and take the scenic route around the city. You can turn the music up loud and roll down the windows to feel the breeze. Take turns choosing the songs, so everyone feels involved.

Make chalk drawings or games like hopscotch on your driveway

You may have to dig for it, but reach through all your crafting items to get the old faithful sidewalk chalk. You can have a different theme for your drawings each time or make it a free for all.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Do some gardening/exploring

I have some stubborn weeds, but my kids love picking them with me. If you garden, spruce up the yard as a family. Or you can explore your yards perimeters. Have everyone walk around the edges and count how many steps it takes to complete the trek around your home. Water your plants or dig for worms. Get good and dirty together.

Have a picnic

Picnics seem so vintage right now. Make sandwiches, fruit or whatever you like and eat out on a blanket in the yard. Then lay back and bask in the sun! Don’t forget the SPF.

Neighborhood dance party from your driveways

Make a time with your neighbors close by and come out front. Play some music loud enough for them to enjoy as well, and boogie down. This is also a good icebreaker if you haven’t made friends yet.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Contests

Everyone likes to win at something. Make the contest a hulahoop, jump rope, or basketball game, if you have a net. Or even four square. Choose a prize for the winner each day. For example, the winner gets to choose what’s for dinner, or what the family movie will be for that evening.

The key is to get some sun and fresh air. A bonus is to find something your kids enjoy that requires them to use A LOT of energy. This makes for a great nap time. And yes, we’ve reintroduced naps now that they are out of school. It keeps everyone sane!

MIGHTY HISTORY

World War II veteran recalls time as German prisoner of war

On Sept. 21, 2018, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System hosted our annual POW/MIA Recognition Day program. Three former prisoners of war (POW) attended including World War II Veteran Fred Brooks.

Here is his story.


From Bartlesville to the Battle of the Bulge

Born on April 2, 1926, Fred Brooks turned 18 in 1944. Nearly nine months later, the native of Bartlesville, Okla. was sent to the front lines on Christmas Day during the Battle of the Bulge.

On January 10, 1945, Brooks and five other solders in the 4th Infantry Division were conducting a night patrol and entered a German village.

“We went into this little village at night to check it out, and there wasn’t anyone in that village when we entered it,” said Brooks. “When daylight came, the Germans were everywhere. They killed one and wounded two.”

Surrounded, the remaining soldiers were forced to surrender, and were transported to Stalag IV-B Prison Camp in Mühlberg, Germany.

Brooks said the Germans fed the POWs once a day, which was typically a small cup of vegetable soup.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

World War II Veteran Fred Brooks.

“That’s all they had to give you,” he said. “The Germans had nothing to feed their own troops, let alone us.”

He said the Germans never harmed him, but he did have to endure the brutal winter conditions.

“My feet were frozen terribly bad,” he said. “I didn’t have one drop of medication. There was an elderly English man in the camp where I was at and he helped me tremendously to clean the wounds as best we could. It was a rough winter.”

On April 23, 1945, the Russians liberated Stalag IV-B and approximately 30,000 POWs.

“The Russians entered our camp during the night,” said Brooks. “The next day, I think there was three German guards left and the Russians hung them high in the trees. We were very happy to see (the Russians). They fed us.”

Approximately 3,000 POWs died at Stalag IV-B, mostly from tuberculosis and typhus.

World War II Veteran and former POW Fred Brooks has received his health care from the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System for approximately 30 years.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Coming home

Brooks was reunited with the American Army and sent to the coast of France to wait for a transport ship home. While waiting, he met another soldier from Bartlesville, and the two made a pact not to tell their families they were coming home.

“When we got to the little bus station in Bartlesville, his wife was waiting on him,” he said with a laugh. “He had broken our vow not to call.”

From the bus station, Brooks walked a mile to his parent’s home.

“I got my parents up at 2 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “It was unreal. My parents were just out of it to see me walking in the door. It really surprised them. They were very happy.”

After the war, Brooks worked in construction and retired at the age of 75. He still lives in Bartlesville.

Looking back on the war and his internment in a German POW Camp, Brooks credits divine intervention for his survival.

“God was with me.”

Featured image: U.S. POWs, 1944.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

The A-10 is getting a new mission in Europe: Countering Russia

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end
Photo: US Air force Chief Master Sgt. David L. Stuppy


PARIS — U.S. allies are happy to have the A-10 Warthog attack aircraft back in Europe to counter a resurgent Russia, airmen here at the Paris Air Show said.

The Defense Department brought the Cold War-era tank busters stateside in 2013 as part of a consolidation of bases and equipment in Europe. But it sent them back to the continent as part of a theater security package earlier this year — including countries in the former Soviet bloc — in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support for pro-Russian separatists.

The planes have been a welcome sight during training exercises involving NATO forces in the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia and Romania, among other countries, according to crew members.

“It’s pretty amazing because that’s what this jet was designed for — Russian tanks — so it’s pretty wild that we’re helping them out for the original cause,” Air Force Staff Sgt. Marcus Nugent, a crew member who works on the aircraft’s avionics systems, said on Tuesday at the Paris Air Show, held at the historic Le Bourget airfield outside the city.

“They’re small countries, they’re small forces, so seeing us out there with them,” he added. “They love it just as much as we love it — maybe a little more — so it’s pretty awesome. The way Russia’s been acting — it keeps people at ease on both sides.”

Tech. Sgt. Teddy McCollough, an A-10 weapons maintainer with the 355th Air Force Maintenance Squadron, agreed. “They absolutely love our presence there,” he said. “You can feel how gracious they are for us being there.”

About 300 airmen and 12 A-10s with the 355th Fighter Wing in February departedDavis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona for Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany as part of a security theater package. The Air Force also deployed 12 F-15Es in March in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The units have traveled across Europe taking part in a wide range of exercises and working with NATO partners. U.S Air Forces in Europe Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc said Monday at the Paris Air Show that the additional airmen and aircraft have helped reassure our NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression.

NATO EXPERIENCE

A-10 pilots Capts. Joseph Morrin and Paul Wruck with the 354th Fighter Squadron said they have benefited from the time training with joint terminal air controllers from across NATO on calling in airstrikes.

“We get to do close air support training with our allies and get to see how they do business and show them how we do business, and all of us together as an overall CAS team get better,” Morrin said.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James this week at the show said the U.S. may also deploy a squadron of F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Europe in response to Russia’s actions.

“I would say the biggest threat on my mind is what’s happening with Russia and the activities of Russia, and indeed that’s a big part of why I’m here in Europe and having those discussions,” she said. “It’s extremely worrisome on what’s going on in the Ukraine. We’ve seen the type of warfare, which someone dubbed it hybrid warfare, which is somewhat new. So I would put that at the top of my list.”

The A-10 is known as the pre-eminent close air support aircraft in the U.S. fleet with its low, slow-flying gunship’s snub-nose packed with a seven-barrel GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling gun that fires 30mm rounds designed to shred the armor on tanks, combat vehicles and other targets.

As a weapons maintainer, McCollough is responsible for maintaining all weapons on the aircraft, including the gun, air-to-air AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and air-to-ground AGM-65 Maverick missiles.

“I love this aircraft,” he said. “I love the gun system. It’s reliable. It has few hiccups. When it does, it’s usually minor. It holds a lot of rounds, 1,150 rounds — that’s a lot. It’s a beast.” He added, “When they go and fly day-to-day missions, they usually do shoot, do some target practice. I just make sure it’s clean, lubed up and ready to go.”

A-10 RETIREMENT

The Air Force has proposed retiring its fleet of almost 300 Warthogs by 2019 to save an estimated $4.2 billion a year and free up maintainers for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a stealthy multi-role fighter jet and the Pentagon’s most expensive acquisition program.

Congress rejected the service’s request to begin the process of divesting the A-10 this year and approved $337 million in funding to keep them in the inventory. While lawmakers did allow the Air Force to move up to three dozen of the planes to back-up status, they blocked the service from sending any to the bone yard in Arizona.

Morrin said his unit tries not to get caught up in the debate and the politics surrounding the issue.

“We let them do the debating and we keep flying,” he said.

Morrin explained that the A-10 pilot community is still not sure what the potential retirement of the A-10 would mean for their careers. A-10 pilots have not been told what aircraft they would fly next, but there is hope that many would fly the F-35, Morrin said.

“We might have to go back to flight training for a while. We just really don’t know,” Morrin said. “They haven’t told us because it’s not official yet. It’s sort of the expectation though that since the F-35 is the future that we’d go there and then take our CAS knowledge to the table and make sure that community is well versed in it.”

BONE YARD

As the Air Force pushes to retire its fleet of A-10 attack aircraft, Boeing Co. doesn’t want the planes to waste away in the Arizona bone yard — it wants to sell them abroad.

The company has begun discussions with the service about potentially selling the Cold War-era gunship to U.S. allies, according to Chris Raymond, a vice president at the company.

“We need to see what they want to do first, and then we’d certainly want to try to help market some of those around the world, if they choose to want to do that,” he said.

More from Military.com

This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2015. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

NOW: The most important guy in military aviation history you’ve never heard of

MIGHTY MOVIES

Air Force Thunderbirds will buzz Hollywood for ‘Captain Marvel’ premiere

On March 4, 2019, the long-awaited U.S. premiere of Captain Marvel will take place in Hollywood, California — but it’s going to have a little more shock and awe than a normal film because the Thunderbirds will be sending a formation of six F-16 Fighting Falcons Vipers for a flyover.

“This flyover is a unique moment to honor the men and women serving in the Armed Forces who are represented in Captain Marvel,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, the Thunderbirds Commander/Leader. “Being part of this event is a tremendous opportunity, and we look forward to demonstrating the pride, precision, and professionalism of the 660,000 total force Airmen of the U.S. Air Force over the city of Los Angeles.”


Captain Marvel ‘Combat Training’ Featurette with Brie Larson

www.youtube.com

Watch Brie Larson train with real Air Force pilots

“Thing thing that I found so unique about this character was that sense of humor mixed with total capability in whatever challenge comes her way, which I realized after going to the Air Force base is really what Air Force pilots are like,” said Brie Larson, the titular star of the film.

Captain Marvel is the first solo-female Marvel Cinematic Universe feature-length film, so there is a lot of symbolic meaning built into this release, but the film is also Marvel’s 21st feature in this canon of storytelling and the penultimate story of “Phase Three,” a timeline that began over a decade ago with the 2008 release of Iron Man.

This film will tell the story of Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot who becomes one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and, as fans (and comic book readers) speculate, perhaps the best hope for defeating Thanos in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

More: Air Force veteran’s honest reaction to Captain Marvel trailer

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BeHYSKxA4mk/?utm_source=ig_embed expand=1]Don on Instagram: “Awesome time today showing the F15C to @brielarson and telling her the history, can’t wait for @captainmarvelmovie to come out!! @marvel…”

www.instagram.com

During production, the Thunderbirds hosted Larson as well as director Anna Boden for Air Force immersion and an F-16 flight at Nellis Air Force Base. The team also advised on the film to help with authenticity and accuracy.

The Captain Marvel flyover will include six high-performance fighter aircraft flying less than three fee from each other in precise information. It’s not something that the residents of Hollywood see every day, but it’s the kind of sight (and sound) that’s hard to forget.

This kind of immersion bridges the civilian-military divide. Just as Top Gun inspired a generation of aviators, Captain Marvel is going to have effects on military recruitment that will change our generation.

Also read: How Brie Larson is getting ready to be a USAF pilot turned superhero

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Take a second to admire the precision BECAUSE IT’S CRAZY.

The Thunderbirds welcome and encourage viewers to tag the team on social media in photos and videos of their formation with the hashtags #AFThunderbirds, #CaptainMarvel, and #AirForce – but we want to see them, too. Tag #WeAreTheMighty so we can check out your pics — we’ll be sharing our favorites.

Articles

This is the reason Wild Weasel pilots have a low survival rate

The job of a Wild Weasel is the most dangerous mission faced by today’s fighter pilots, a job more hazardous and difficult than shooting down enemy jets, according to retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Hampton in his book Viper Pilot: A Memoir of Air Combat.


These gutsy pilots are tasked with flying their specially outfitted fighter jets into enemy surface-to-air missile envelopes in order to bait SAM operators into targeting them with their radars. Once targeted, the radar waves are traced back to their source allowing the Wild Weasels and other attack aircraft to destroy the threat.

Actually, the unofficial motto of the Wild Weasel crews is YGBSM: “You Gotta Be Sh-tting Me.” It was B-52 Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) veteran Jack Donovan’s natural response when he was introduced to the tactics and mission details. His exact reply was: “you want me to fly in the back of a little tiny fighter aircraft with a crazy fighter pilot who thinks he’s invincible, home in on a SAM site in North Vietnam, and shoot it before it shoots me, you gotta be sh-tting me!” His vernacular stuck and YGBSM is prominently displayed on the patch of some squadrons, adding to the legend of the Wild Weasel.

The Wild Weasel radar detection and suppression concept was developed by the Air Force during the Vietnam War to combat the growing surface-to-air (SAM) threat, specifically the Soviet-made SA-2 Goa. It’s the same type of missile that brought down the CIA U-2 spy plane over Russia piloted by Francis Gary Powers on May 1, 1960. Powers was arrested by the Soviets after he was shot down and eventually released to the U.S., he’s the subject of Tom Hank’s 2015 film, Bridge of Spies.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end
50 years of YGBSM. Contains the following Wild Weasel Jets: F-100F Super Sabre; F-105F Thunderchief; F-105G Thunderchief; F-4C Phantom II; F-4G Phantom II and F-16CM Fighting Falcon. Image courtesy of Aircraft Profile Prints.

Birth of the Wild Weasel

During the Vietnam War, the Weasels used two tactics to accomplish their mission. The first tactic, dubbed “Hunter Killer,” used Wild Weasels to hunt down enemy air defense systems and F-105 Thuds to kill them.

The tactic was developed from on-the-job training, for lack of a better description. It was the best play they had against the SA-2. All the U.S. military knew about the SA-2 was that they were usually camouflaged, had a range of 15 to 20 miles and used a target tracking radar. The latter was key for the Weasels because they used it to home in on the target with radar-seeking missiles while the F-105s flew in with heavier ordnance and cluster munitions to complete the kill.

“We knew that we could survive at low-level, use terrain masking, pop up to get their readings and attack the sight,” said a former Weasel pilot in the video below.

The second tactic was to protect the strike force during regular missions. The Weasels would provide themselves as decoys to encourage SAM launches that generated enough smoke to make them visible — like a smoking gun. Meanwhile, the strikers zeroed in on their targets. The Weasels would orbit the target area for 20 to 40 minutes exposed to enemy fighters, SAMs, and air artillery shells (AAA).

Both tactics were very dangerous and resulted in a high fatality rate. After about seven weeks of operations, the first Wild Weasels only had one aircraft left, and many members of the original 16 aircrews had been killed in action, were POWs or had left the program, wrote Warren E. Thompson for HistoryNet.

This documentary perfectly captures the Wild Weasel mission and history:

(YouTube: Joe Hodges)
Articles

The Tommy Gun lived up to its original name: The Annihilator

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end
A British Army corporal with a Thompson M1928 submachine gun, 1948. (Photo: Wikipedia)


Despite what many think, the Thompson submachine gun was not the first submachine gun.

But many will argue it was the best submachine gun ever put in the hands of fighting men – whether they were “good guys” or “bad guys.”

Well-made, robust, capable of firing more than 800 rounds a minute in some models and chambered for the man-stopping .45-caliber ACP round, the gun lived up to one of its original names: The Annihilator.

“I knew several soldiers who used Thompsons for special operations in Vietnam,” said Alan Archambault, a retired U.S. Army officer and former supervisory curator for the U.S. Army Center of Military History. “Even in the 1960s, the Thompson was still an iconic weapon for U.S. soldiers. Often when one soldier would rotate to the U.S., he would pass the Thompson on to another soldier in theater.”

The brainchild of Gen. John T. Thompson, a former chief of small arms for the Ordnance Department and firearms designer, the stalemate on the Western Front during The Great War (a.k.a. World War I) convinced him the ordinary infantryman needed a new weapon. Thompson wanted something he called “a trench broom.”

“Our boys in the infantry, now in the trenches, need a small machine gun, a gun that will fire 50 to 100 rounds, so light that he can drag it with him as he crawls on his belly from trench to trench, and wipe out a whole company single-handed,” Thompson wrote in a 1918 memo to firearms designers. “I want a little machine gun you can hold in your hands, fire from the hip and reload in the dark. You must use ammunition now available and I want it right away.”

Designers produced a prototype by 1919, but the first practical models were too late for the war. Still, Thompson convinced Colt to produce 15,000 M1921 submachine guns.

Early observers of the M1921 test-fired on the range were impressed by how much firepower the “little machine gun” delivered.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

The problem was Thompson had no steady stream of customers, even when Thompson’s company Auto-Ordnance Corp. released the M1928 – considered by many the definitive Tommy gun model.

True, the U.S. Marine Corps purchased Thompsons and used them effectively in China and during the Latin American “banana wars” of the 1920s. The Postal Service armed its security personnel with Thompsons as well.

But the weapon was expensive – very expensive. Adjusted for inflation, its $200 price tag is roughly equivalent to $2,300 today.

To put things in perspective, consider the contemporary cost of prime, high-end arms like the Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal SCAR 17S 7.62×51 millimeter NATO – it costs about the same as a Tommy Gun did during the Roaring ’20s.

Besides, for better or worse the Thompson gained a “bad boy” reputation. A handful of criminals such as John Dillinger and George “Machine Gun” Kelly gave the weapon a bad name.

At first, potential customers such as the British government considered the Thompson “gangster weapons” and refused to purchase the submachine gun.

But by 1939, all that changed. Great Britain entered World War II starved for armaments.

The War Office eagerly purchased every M1928 it could, and the weapon was a hit with the Tommies – particularly the Commandos.

The weapon’s reliability and ability to bring devastating automatic fire to close quarters combat made the Thompson a favorite of the Commandos.

They even honored the weapon in the design of their unit recognition flash: A stylized Thompson superimposed on an anchor headed by an eagle.

There were also many American G.I.s who even relished the gangster panache of the Tommy Gun. Images of actors like James Cagney in “The Public Enemy” – easily one of the most violent movies of its time – ducking around a corner as a gangster fired on him with a Thompson were unforgettable.

“It was often seen in gangster films that were watched by impressionable young men who came of age during World War II,” Archambault said.  “So, even before its use in World War II, it was an iconic weapon.”

Sure, the M-1 Garand was the basic weapon for the American infantryman. But the Thompson found its way into the hands of officers, squad leaders, paratroopers, U.S. Marines and any soldier lucky enough to grab one.

Also, G.I.s and Marines were fighting all across the globe in battlefield environments that included deserts, jungles and snow. The sheer reliability of the Thompson, particularly in its less-expensive but equally deadly M1A1 model, made it the perfect weapon to endure the lousiest battlefield conditions.

Eventually, the cost of the Thompson prompted development of the M-3 “Grease Gun,” which could be produced in greater quantities for far less money than even the M1A1.

But by the Korean War, the Army relegated the Thompson to a secondary role. By Vietnam, the first M-16s were in the hands of GIs and the military considered the Thompson obsolete.

Today, Thompson submachine guns are in high demand among collectors legally authorized to own full-auto weapons. On average, the price for a clean Tommy Gun is about $25,000.

Articles

Marines move 1000 tortoises to expand desert training grounds

More than 1,000 desert tortoises are taking a trip with the Marine Corps this month.


The Marines are using helicopters to relocate the tortoises to another part of the Mojave to make way for an expansion of desert training grounds.

During the two-week long process, the hubcap-sized tortoises are being loaded into plastic containers, which are then stacked and strapped to a helicopter.

Their new home will be swaths of federal land to the north and southeast of the Twentynine Palms base, Marine officials said. The areas were deemed far enough away that the tortoises wouldn’t migrate back to their original habitat.

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end
U.S. Navy corpsmen from 1st Medical Battalion rush a casualty off an MV-22B Osprey after a simulated combat-related trauma at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California to a treatment facility at Camp Pendleton, July 29, 2016. The Warfighting Lab identifies possible challenges of the future, develops new warfighting concepts, and tests new ideas to help develop equipment that meets the challenges of the future operating environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nadia J. Stark/released)

The cost of the whole effort, including a 30-year monitoring program to ensure the health of the federally protected species, is $50 million.

The Marines at the Twentynine Palms base want to be able to practice large-scale exercises with live fire and combined-arms maneuvering.

The campaign goes back to 2008, when the Corps began studying how to do it without breaking environmental law.

The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act handed land formerly managed by the Bureau of Land Management to the Defense Department. Tortoises living on that land are now being moved.

In March 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue, arguing that the federal government failed to fully examine how the move might harm the tortoises.

However, the move went ahead this month after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Marine Corps that its review wouldn’t be done before the spring window for the move, Marine Corps officials said.

Also read: Hilarious video shows what Marines stationed in 29 Palms don’t say

It’s not the first time that the Corps has been in the tortoise-moving business.

In 2006, the Twentynine Palms base relocated 17 adult tortoises in order to build a training range. Marine officials say no tortoises died during three years of post-move monitoring.

This time, Marine Corps biologists will monitor tortoises intensely for the first five years. Then monitoring requirements will diminish over time until the 30-year obligation is met, officials said.

About 235 juveniles too small for relocation are being admitted to the base’s “head start facility,” where they will remain until they grow large enough to better survive on their own.

Articles

This is what some of your fave sci-fi fighters would look like assigned to the US military

Think of the most famous starfighters of film and TV. You know them — The X-wing, the Y-wing, the VF-1 Valkyrie, the Colonial Viper, the F-302 — pop culture has gifted us with many famous planes we fly in our dreams… or on our personal computers and game consoles.


But if they existed for real, which squadrons would they be assigned to?

Here’s what We Are The Mighty is thinking:

Valkyrie from Robotech

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: VF-84 “Jolly Rogers”

The cartoon Robotech gave us this variable-configuration multi-role aerospace fighter in its first season, which was based on the Japanese anime Super Dimension Fortress Macross. With the jet mode looking like an F-14 and the famous “Skull One,” the markings from VF-84, the “Jolly Rogers,” are really the only call you can make.

Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica (Either Series)

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: VMFA-323 “Death Rattlers”

The Colonial Viper was an icon of whichever iteration of Battlestar Galactica you watched, whether it’s the classic one with Lorne Greene as Commander Adama and Dirk Benedict as the Starbuck, or whether it’s the new version with Edward James Olmos as Adama and Katie Sackoff as Starbuck. A number of squadrons have adopted nicknames based on snakes, but Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-323’s “Death Rattlers” seem particularly appropriate. The Vipers dominated their opponents when not caught by surprise or disabled by a cyber-attack – dealing death out far more than they received it.

Cylon Raider from Battlestar Galactica (Either Series)

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: VFA-127 “Cylons”

Yes, this is an adversary unit. But there is no other squadron arsenal appropriate for the front-line fighter used by the villains of either version Battlestar Galactica.

Incom X-Wing Fighter from Star Wars

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: VF-194 “Red Lightning”

“Red Five standing by.” Luke Skywalker’s call in the first Star Wars movie makes this designation a good one. Coincidentally, one of the planes flown by Navy Fighter Squadron-194, the F-8 Crusader, featured four 20mm cannon – while the X-wing has four lasers that proved to be capable of destroying TIE fighters easily.

Koensayr BTL Y-wing from Star Wars

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: VA-128 “Golden Intruders”

Best known as the fighters flown by the ill-fated Gold Squadron in the first Star Wars movie, the Y-wing was intended as an attack plane – and in the first movie, the Y-wings were torn to bits by Darth Vader’s TIE fighters (with only one surviving the Battle of Yavin). So, Attack Squadron-128, which flew the A-6 Intruder, seems to be appropriate markings for this space fighter.

Gou’ald Death Glider from Stargate SG-1

sci-fi-fighters-gouald-death-glider-from-stargate-sg-1

Suggested Markings: 160th Fighter Squadron “Snakes”

This is another case where an easy call comes in. Gou’ald were called “snakes” by the heroes of Stargate SG-1. So, the 160th Fighter Squadron, Alabama Air National Guard — also called the “Snakes” — is really the only fitting mockup for this fighter.

Starfury from Babylon 5

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: 1st Fighter Squadron “Fighting Furies”

This was a space-superiority fighter designed to take on other fighters. The 1st Fighter Squadron flew the F-15C Eagle, the definitive “not a pound air-to-ground” fighter in Air Force service. Appropriately, the 1st Fighter Squadron was called the “Fighting Furies.”

Thunderfighter from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: 336th Fighter Squadron “Rocketeers”

At the start of the 1980s series Buck Rogers, the title character went into space on a rocket before things went south and he had 500 years in a deep freeze. Using the livery of the 336th Fighter Squadron makes a lot of sense, particularly since the F-15E is also a multi-role fighter that can be a capable dogfighter.

PWF-12 Peregrine Fighter from Deep Space Nine

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: VF-96 “Fighting Falcons”

This fighter is another multi-role vessel, which could handle opposing fighters like the Romulan Scorpion or take on capital ships with proton torpedoes. With a decent war load, and a two-man crew, it seems reminiscent of the F-4 Phantom. Fighter Squadron-96 saw several tours during Vietnam, and was notable for producing the only Navy ace of that conflict. Their nickname also fits with this Starfleet fighter.

Sienar Fleet Systems TIE Advanced x1 from Star Wars

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Suggested Markings: VMF(AW)-114 “Death Dealers”

Darth Vader dealt death in this fighter in the first Star Wars movie, scoring six kills and becoming an ace in a day for the bad guys. This fighter was arguably able to take on the snub fighters of the Rebel Alliance in a one-on-one fight. This would make it a “Death Dealer” to any overconfident Rebel pilot.

Articles

French trawler catches a Portuguese submarine

America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end
Portuguese Type 214 submarine. (Photo: PN)


A French fishing trawler had a larger haul than normal, catching the NRP Tridente, a Portuguese Type 214 submarine, in its nets off the coast of Cornwall, England.  Despite the Tridente hitting the trawler as it surfaced, no casualties on either vessel were reported in the incident. The sub was in British waters as part of a NATO exercise.

The Type 214, one of two Portugal purchased from Germany, is not the first to have been caught by a trawler. In April, 2015, a similar incident off Northern Ireland involving the British trawler Karen being dragged backwards at 10 knots was initially blamed on a Russian submarine before the Royal Navy accepted responsibility for the incident. The Karen suffered substantial damage to its deck but made it back to port.

A March 2015 incident off the coast of Scotland was blamed on a Russian sub. That time, the sub not only came close to dragging the fishing boat Aquarius down as it tried to free itself from the net, it also made off with the trawler’s two-ton catch of haddock and skate, according to The Daily Mail. The Aquarius survived the close call.

The Type 214 sub displaces just over 2,000 tons when submerged. It is armed with eight 21-inch torpedo tubes that can fire IF-21 Black Shark torpedoes or Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and can reach speeds of up to 20 knots. The Type 214 also has air-independent propulsion, which enables it to re-charge its batteries without having to use diesel engines and a snorkel, albeit it does maintain that capability.

Fishing trawlers are not the only vessels that have caught subs. In 1983, the frigate USS McCloy (FF 1038) caught a Soviet Navy Victor III nuclear-powered submarine K-324 with its towed-array sonar. The submarine was disabled, forced to surface, and had to be towed to Cuba for repairs. In 2009, a Chinese submarine also got caught in a towed array cable. The AN/SQR-19 system of USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) snagged the sub’s propeller as well. While the submarine was not damaged, the John S. McCain needed to repair its towed array sonar system.

Such incidents have high stakes for the submarines. Most submarines only have a single propeller and shaft, and damage to either can leave the submarine stranded a long way from home. In this case, the Tridente was able to make it back to port.