These are some of the best military challenge coins - We Are The Mighty
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These are some of the best military challenge coins

The challenge coin game is a military tradition with murky roots. The game is played where one service member at a bar challenges another to present their challenge coin. If the challenged doesn’t have their coin, they have to buy the challenger a drink. If the challenged service member has their coin, they get a round on the challenger.


Few people play the game anymore, but unit coin designs say a lot about a command. Here are some of the best challenge coin designs we’ve seen.

1. U.S. Army diver coin

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: Andrew Rayle

It’s cut into a cool shape and has many of the Army’s diver badges on it. It both identifies the holder and calls them to go after even higher certifications as a diver.

2. The Mickey Mouse challenge coin

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: Leticia Lapp

The military has a long history with co-opting copyrighted materials for its unit coins, murals, and posters. While most units go for something violent or that caters to an adult crowd, the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando made one that reminded everyone just how easy it is to get to Walt Disney World from the center. It’s a 40-minute drive.

3. Trample the weak

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: David L. Nye

Most units, especially in the Army and Marine Corps, go aggressive. But this Airborne infantry coin went the extra mile to remind everyone that the infantry has one job and Chosen Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade plans on being good at it.

4. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Abraham Essenmacher

The most senior enlisted man in the Navy has to represent, and this coin from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West lets everyone know where the coin came from. The cut of the coin is very impressive as well, with a gold chain trailing down the anchor.

5. South Park

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: David L. Nye

The South Park coin is a popular design. Everyone just changes the location and calls it a day. It gets laughs and lets the holder brag about their former duty stations.

6. Friday the 13th

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: Leticia Lapp

For Navy chief petty officers, one of the major ceremonies is being accepted into the chief petty officer mess hall. The men given this coin were accepted on Friday the 13th and were rewarded with an awesome coin.

7. Aggressive POW-MIA coin (via Military-memes)

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: Facebook.com/military-memes

The barbed wire and flag of the National League of POW/MIA call to mind the nature of life for prisoners of war while the crossed rifles hammer home the meaning of, “… or send us back.”

8. Tickets

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: Leticia Lapp

These clever coins remind sailors of the ball they went to by appearing as their tickets into the event.

9. Medal of Honor challenge coin

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: Mike Dowling

While the coin’s design is fairly basic, it’s also well done and instantly tells people that the bearer has met one of the nation’s greatest heroes.

10. Submariner memorial coin

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: Doug Lapp

Members of the Silent Service patrol the world’s oceans 24/7. This coin lists the hull numbers of every ship lost to the depths.

11. The poker chip

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: David L. Nye

Poker chip coins are lightweight, iconic, and allow a phrase to be printed on the edge of the coin. This one celebrates the Marine Corps School of Infantry.

12. The classic stamp

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: David L. Nye

The classic stamped metal disc is a great coin design that seems most commonly used by iconic units. The Marine helicopter squadron of HMX-1 that flies the President gave out this coin.

13. Clear challenge coin

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Photo: Cristina Collesano

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this coin is clear. It’s a rare choice that makes it stand out despite a relatively simple design.

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Articles

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces

These are some of the best military challenge coins
USAF special ops training. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)


Possibly one of the most pervasive yet irritating missteps that the media and public in general makes about the military is the use of the terms ‘Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) and Special Forces (SF) interchangeably. In a day and age where special operations units have a growing presence in the media due to the increase of their importance in the asymmetric, non-conventional combat environment that our country has found ourselves in, the mistake has become all too common in headlines on news channels as well as newspapers and magazines. Consider this article a primer for anyone in the media that even remotely cares about their journalistic accuracy, as well as the curious citizen.

Special Operations, or sometimes referred more accurately to as Special Operations Forces, include any unit that falls under the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Naval Special Warfare, Air Force Special Operations Command, Army Special Operations Command, and Marine Special Operations Command are all included under this umbrella. I won’t go further down the ladder and list every unit under those commands, but they cover everything from the 528th Sustainment Brigade and Civil Affairs to the SEAL Teams and Ranger Regiment.

The shadowy Joint Special Operations Command also falls under SOCOM as a sub-unified command but often reports directly to higher authorities due to their unique and often sensitive missions. Who is not covered by the term Special Operations? Anyone who does not fall under the SOCOM umbrella. For example, although Force Recon companies in the Marine Corps are highly trained and undergo a selection process similar to many SOF units, they are not considered Special Operations as they belong to the Marine Corps, not SOCOM.

Now, what about the term “Special Forces”? Special Forces is not a generic term in the U.S. military and refers to a very specific unit. The 1st Special Forces Regiment falls under the command of the Army Special Operations Command (mentioned above) and includes the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 19th, and 20th Special Forces Groups.

They are most often referred to by their distinctive headgear, the Green Beret, or simply as “SF.” The Army’s Special Forces are capable of a wide variety of missions but were designed to be the premiere experts on unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense.

As an example of a classic unconventional warfare mission that happened in recent history, after the terror attacks of 9/11 small elements of the 5th Special Forces Group embedded with indigenous fighters from Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance and lead them into battle. Within a matter of weeks, they had effectively neutralized the Taliban threat – accomplished not with brigades and divisions of soldiers, but with only a couple dozen Special Forces soldiers. This is the capability that the 1st Special Forces Regiment brings to the table, and makes them very unique in the larger SOCOM picture.

To summarize, Special Operations Forces is a generic term that you can use to refer to any and all special operations units. Special Forces is the title of a very specific unit and is not a generic term for other units. If you don’t know what unit did something, refer to them as SOF or Special Operations. If you know for a fact that it was a unit from one of the seven Special Forces Groups, then refer to them as Special Forces.

Simple enough … right?

This article originally appeared at The Havok Journal.

Mighty Moments

Everyone should see these powerful images of wounded vets

Professional photographer David Jay knows a picture is worth a thousand words, so he applied it to wounded vets.


To comprehend the news he would hear about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Jay visited Walter Reed Hospital to meet with wounded veterans. The visit had such a profound effect on him that he spent 3 years photographing wounded servicemen and women capturing an unadulterated look at their traumatic wounds for his series “Unknown Soldier.”

“We hear about ‘this number of men were killed’ and ‘this many were injured,'” Jay said in a recent interview with NPR. “And we think of them — maybe they got shot — or we don’t really picture what these injured men look like.”

The images are so visually powerful they have been acquired by the Library of Congress to be used as part its Iraq and Afghanistan wars visual documentation.

“You can imagine how many times each of these men and women have heard a parent tell their child, ‘Don’t look. Don’t stare at him. That’s rude.’ I take these pictures so that we can look; we can see what we’re not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them.”

Jay gave WATM permission to use some of his photos below, but you can see his full gallery here.

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Henline. Bobby’s transport was incinerated by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was the lone survivor.

 

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Army Spc. Jerral Hancock. Jerral was driving a tank in Iraq. A roadside bomb pierced the armor, breaching the interior. It is believed that Jerral was trapped under the wreckage for half an hour.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Robert was hit by incoming artillery, sustaining burns over 60% of his body

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Maj. Matt Smith, US Army. On June 8, 2013 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, Matt was shot along with five others by a member of the Afghan National Army. The bullet severed his femoral artery, resulting in the amputation of his leg.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Marine Cpl. Michael Fox. On November 15, 2011 Michael was on foot patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan when he was injured by an improvised explosive device.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

1st Lt. Nicholas John Vogt, U.S. Army. On November 12, 2011, he was severely injured by an IED while on a foot-patrol in Panjwaii, Afghanistan.

“The only thing that I want to pass on is this: Losing limbs is like losing a good friend,” Vogt said. “We wish we could still be with them, but it wasn’t ‘in the cards’. Then we get up, remember the good times, and thank God for whatever we have left.”

These are some of the best military challenge coins

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Cpl. Christian Brown, USMC

On Dec. 13, 2011, Christian was leading his squad on foot patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Both of his legs were blown off- one above the knee, the other below the hip. Just four days prior, under heavy enemy fire, Christian had carried a mortally wounded Marine almost 1,000 feet to a hovering helicopter — an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Silver Star.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Spc. Marissa Strock. She was injured when her vehicle was struck by an IED buried in the road. She was 20 years old.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris. Shilo was severely burned on February 19th, 2007 by a roadside bomb estimated at 700 lbs. He lost three men out of a crew of five. Only Shilo and his driver survived the blast.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

To view the entire Unknown Soldier collection by David Jay, visit his website here.

NOW: Here’s What An Army Medic Does In The Critical Minutes After A Soldier Is Wounded 

OR: This veteran artist has some inspiring words for wounded warriors 

Articles

11 military propaganda posters that are surprisingly convincing

Rifles, grenades, and heavy machinery are the weapons of war, but there’s another, subtle and powerful form of warfare. Images, words, films, and even songs engage the hearts and minds of citizens to support wars.


The following posters are examples of persuasion used in the past to sway public opinion and sustain war efforts.

1. Fear is a powerful motivator. After all, it’s either them or us.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

2. Nothing like a woman and child in imminent danger to jump-start our natural protective instincts.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

3. This poster draws on the similarity of a child’s college fund.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

4. Events like the massacre at Lidice gave Nazis a reputation for their brutality. This poster is a reminder of the atrocities that await should they invade American cities.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

5. Posters like the one below alerted citizens to the presence of enemy spies lurking in everyday society. These posters reminded well-meaning citizens of the consequences careless talk may cause, such as compromising national security and troop safety.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

6. “Uncle Sam” was extensively used during World War II. He was a fighter, a laborer, a recruiter and more.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

7. “Avenge Pearl Harbor” was a popular cry after the surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

8. Posters like the one below encouraged continued support for the war.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

9. Humor was also used in propaganda posters.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

10. But direct and emotional messages were more effective.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

11. World War II took place during the golden era of comic books, which lasted from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. This poster made in the popular comic book style was a sure fire way to promote a message.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

NOW: The 8 most famous US military recruiting posters of World War II

OR: Watch 5 Hollywood directors who served and filmed real wars:

 

Articles

WWII nose art motivated airmen with sex and humor

From the court-martial of Billy Mitchell to Robin Olds’ mustache, U.S. Air Force history is filled with examples of Airmen thumbing their nose at authority. So of course what started as a way to identify friendly units in mid-air in World War I quickly evolved into a way of thumbing one’s nose at military uniformity and authority. The unintended consequence of that effort is a gallery of beauty and style — a lasting legacy in the minds of generations to come.


These are some of the best military challenge coins

This art form is as old as powered flight. In the context of war, crews created designs to immortalize their hometowns, their wives and sweethearts back home, to earn themselves a name in the minds of their enemies, or provide some kind of psychological protection from death, among other motifs.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Some things were universal. “Mors ab alto” is Latin for “Death from above.” And then some art was based entirely on the record of the plane. Like the B-29 Superfortress Bockscar, below, who dropped the atomic bomb dubbed Fat Man on Nagasaki, Japan, and whose nose art depicts a train boxcar nuking Nagasaki.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Nose art was also a great way to build esprit de corps with the crew and maintainers around a plane, as seen in this photo of the crew of Waddy’s Wagon recreating their own nose art.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Of course, a list of the best WWII nose art would not be complete without the pin-ups.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

These are some of the best military challenge coins

These are some of the best military challenge coins

These are some of the best military challenge coins

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Nose art wasn’t all sexy women and bombs, though. Some crews used their nose to (deservedly) brag.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Don Gentile, World War II Eagle Squadron member and the first ace to beat Eddie Rickenbacker’s WWI dogfighting record, flew a P-51B famously called Shangri-La, which featured a bird wearing boxing gloves.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

And sometimes, when your war record is long enough, it’s okay to let the world know you’re watching the clock.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Popular cartoons were also featured on World War II-era planes. Walt Disney famously looked the other way (in terms of copyright infringement) for much of the art done in the name of winning the war, notably on bomber jackets and nose art. The RAF’s Ian Gleed flew a Supermarine Spitfire featuring Geppetto’s cat Figaro.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

American pilot and Doolittle Raider Ted Lawson flew a B-25 Mitchell Bomber over Tokyo called the Ruptured Duck, an image of an angry, sweating Donald Duck wearing pilot headphones in front of crossed crutches.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

 

Next time you watch Dumbo with your kids, remember that Dumbo dropped ordnance on Japan and was said to be fairly accurate.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Bomb icons depicted the number of missions flown over the enemy. For some icons weren’t enough. Thumper here took the war personally and marked the name of each city it bombed.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Nose art was also used to complain (as all troops do) as a way to deal with the monotony of deployed life, the lack of supplies, and/or the frustrations of the crew to keep their bird flying, as seen by Malfunction Sired by Ford (below).

461st Bomb Group 767th Bomb Squadron 15th AF. Nose art „Malfunction Sired By Ford

Or it was used to brag that they could keep their girl in the air, with whatever they had lying around.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Some crews definitely brought their A-game to the art form, like the crew of this B-29 Superfortress.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Others tried, but were ultimately (and obviously) better suited to fighting the war than designing the nose of their B-24 Liberator.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

The award for all-around best nose-art in World War II has to go to the RAF’s James Archibald Findlay MacLachlan, who lost an arm to a combat injury early in the war and thus had to fly with a prosthetic limb. His fighter plane’s nose depicted the hand from his own amputated arm making the “V for Victory” sign.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Now: 6 of the most badass US military test pilots of all time

Articles

Green Beret describes harrowing tank attack during Battle of Ben Het

When people think of the Vietnam War, they think of helicopter-borne Marines or soldiers taking on Viet Cong guerillas. They think of F-105s and F-4s going “downtown” to Hanoi, or ARC LIGHT B-52 missions. They don’t think about tanks slugging it out.


That’s the Arab Israeli-Wars, over on the other side of the continent of Asia.

Well, contrary to many people’s preconceptions, there was tank-versus-tank action in the Vietnam War. Not exactly on the scale of the Arab-Israeli wars, but when you’re the one being shot at, you’re dealing with a significant action.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
(Photo: U.S. Army)

Ben Het was a special forces camp overlooking one of the many infiltration points into South Vietnam from the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Among the units there were Operational Detachment Alpha A-244, which consisted of 12 Green Berets. They were backed up by a number of Montagnard tribesmen, a battery of 175mm howitzers, and M48 Patton main battle tanks, and had the mission of tracking movements by North Vietnamese troops in the area. When they found the enemy, they particularly liked calling in air strikes by F-4 Phantoms and A-1 Skyraiders.

On March 3, 1969, the North Vietnamese attacked the camp with a force that included PT-76 amphibious tanks. These tanks had a 76mm gun, but were lightly armored. In that battle, the M48 tanks engaged the PT-76s. While one M48 was damaged, with two crewmen dead, at least two of the North Vietnamese tanks were also destroyed, along with a BTR-50 armored personnel carrier.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
A PT-76 that was destroyed during the Battle of Ben Het. (US Army photo)

The North Vietnamese were beaten back, and the Green Berets proceeded to evacuate their dead and wounded. Below, listen as retired Maj. Mike Linnane discusses his perspective of the Battle of Ben Het.

Articles

There are still no answers for the KC-130 crash that killed 16 Marines

Military investigators are trying to piece together the cause of a crash that killed 15 Marines and a sailor in Mississippi in July, but it could be a year or more until any information becomes public.


In the meantime, the Marine Corps’ fleet of KC130T transport planes remains grounded. That plane is similar to the one that crashed near Itta Bena on July 10.

April Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Naval Safety Center, said August 21 that final reports often don’t become public for 12 to 18 months following a crash. Even then, much of the information in the reports is often withheld from public view.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
KC-130 Hercules. DOD Photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward.

“Ours are done solely to ensure what happened doesn’t happen again,” Phillips said, saying that various military commanders must endorse the report before it’s finished.

Marines and other investigators finished collecting debris August 3, recovering all of the plane’s major components, said Marine Forces Reserve spokeswoman Lt. Stephanie L. Leguizamon. She said last week that there’s still work going on to clean up the crash area.

Naval Safety Center investigators are both reconstructing the wreckage and interviewing witnesses. Their report will ultimately include recommendations to enhance safety.

Victims included nine Marines based at Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, New York, who flew and crewed the plane, plus six Marines and a Navy Corpsman from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The passengers were headed for pre-deployment training in Yuma, Arizona. Cargo included at least some ammunition.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Screen capture from DoD.

Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James has told reporters that whatever went wrong began when the plane was at cruising altitude. Most of the plane pancaked upside down into a field, but part of it, including the cockpit, broke off and landed far from the fuselage and wings. Debris was scattered for miles over fields, woods, and ponds.

Witnesses said they saw the plane descend from high altitude with an engine smoking, with some describing what pilots call a “flat spin,” where a plane twirls around like a boomerang.

Phillips said the plane didn’t have an in-flight data recorder. That, plus the lack of survivors, could make the debris crucial to determining what happened.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
KC-130T. Wikimedia Commons photo by Jerry Gunner.

“A lot it, in this case, is likely to come from forensic evidence,” she said.

Phillips said the C-130 and its variants have historically been one of the safest planes operated by the Marine Corps. The Navy classifies its most serious incidents as Class A mishaps, involving death, permanent disability, or more than $2 million in damage. Only two in-flight Class A mishaps were recorded before the Mississippi crash, both in 2002. A KC-130R experienced a flash fire and crashed into a mountain in Pakistan while nearing an airfield, killing seven people. A KC130F crash landed shortly after taking off inCalifornia, causing injuries but no deaths.

The New York squadron is the last Marine unit flying the KC-130T version and is scheduled to upgrade to a newer version in 2019. Only the remaining 12 KC-130Ts are affected by the grounding.

Articles

Army Soldier reflects on Black History Month: ‘Black history is American history’

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Cassian Nuñez delivered a speech to a small room of Soldiers at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, in honor of the U.S. civil rights leader. The attending group held ranks ranging from junior enlisted all the way colonel.

During his speech, Nuñez told the story of a lesser-known man named Walter Reuther. Reuther was white, and a powerful civil rights ally who, among many other feats, helped organize the March on Washington and stood by King as he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

He wanted the Soldiers listening to remember that progress for African American rights was and is still accomplished by working together.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

Long before Nuñez found himself deployed to support a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and giving this speech, he was spending time at the beach or the mall in southern California, where he grew up. He was raised in Rancho Cucamonga, a foothill suburb of Los Angeles, and attended Los Osos High School. It was here that Nuñez became involved in several extracurriculars, including student government, Model United Nations and Future Business Leaders of America.

The FBLA helped spark his passion for financial literacy and later motivated him to become a budget program analyst with the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) based out of Atlanta, Georgia.

These are some of the best military challenge coins

“A majority of my friends were in the FBLA,” said Nuñez. “We talked about the stock market all the time. From 13 years old to now, I was surrounded by people who non-stop talked about finance.”

Racial issues and economic hardship often compound each other and overlap. When Nuñez moved to Savannah, Georgia, to attend college, he observed this firsthand. Compared to his hometown, which he described as racially diverse and generally inclusive, Savannah’s racial atmosphere was totally different.

“In California, you have disparities based on income,” said Nuñez. “Rich people, regardless of their race, live in one area and poor people live in another area. But in Savannah, I saw poor white people live over here and poor Black people live over there. That was very different to see people who don’t have anything couldn’t even live together.”

At a young age, it was shocking for him to see this segregation, and at times, he was the target of racist behavior. But as he got older, Nuñez came to accept that people are shaped by their environments.

His younger sisters’ school textbooks in Georgia, for example, look completely different than the textbooks he used in California. He believes many racial and financial issues that persist in the U.S. can be tied to differences in K-12 education curriculum across the country.

“It’s just a totally different education campaign,” said Nuñez. “So instead of victimizing myself, I took it as an opportunity to educate people. In the K-12 system, we’re not taught what money is or how to use it properly. You have very smart people who can perform brain surgery but can’t balance their checkbook. Why is that?”

One way Nuñez helps educate others is by passing on his knowledge of financial responsibility to friends, family and his fellow Soldiers. His biggest inspiration is Robert Kiyasaki, an American businessman and author.

On a previous 2018 deployment to Kuwait, Nuñez would often swap investing and real estate advice with his boss and read Kiyosaki’s financial philosophies. That consistent exchange of ideas and strong mentorship, followed by his ability to use that information after deployment, has helped Nuñez build a profitable real estate business.

“I was able to do a lot more because of the decisions I made in those nine months,” said Nuñez. “That’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Not just the ability to take in information, but to act on it and enjoy the fruits of that labor.”

The mentorship Nuñez has received from his senior leaders is something he encourages all Soldiers to seek out during their military careers. As we celebrate Black History Month, coming together to talk about life experiences is one way the Army can continue working toward a diverse, inclusive environment that’s representative of the Soldiers who serve in it.

“While people can’t do a potluck or a play to celebrate because of COVID-19,” said Nuñez, “they can reflect on the fact that Black history is really American history.”

Lists

5 of the ugliest battleships ever floated

Some warships bring the hurt to the enemy and look good while doing it. Take Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, for example: They pack a huge punch inside a powerful, refined exterior. Or look to the Iowa-class battleship, whose long career and heavy firepower speaks for itself — but it also looks majestic. Other ships, however, look as though they fell off the ugly tree and hit every damn branch on the way down. But which are the ugliest battleships?


The following five battleships make the winners of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest look like models. They might be powerful, they might have outstanding combat records, but their designers certainly aren’t winning any any plaudits for their aesthetic choices.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Not only were the Ekaterina II-class battleships ugly, but this one, the Chesma, was so overweight that its armor was submerged.
(Russian Navy)

Russia’s Ekaterina II-class battleships

Russia built four of these vessels in the 1880s. Two served as guard ships in World War I. Not only were they eyesores, but they were also poorly designed. One of the vessels, the Chesma, was so overweight that her armor belt listed underwater, making it practically useless in a fight. The last of these ships survived until 1930, when it was scrapped by the French.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
The Gangut-class ships were both ugly and impractical — not a winning combo.
(Illustration from Brassey’s Naval Annual 1912)
 

Russia’s Gangut-class battleships

This ship was also intimately familiar with the ugly stick. It also wasn’t the most graceful vessel to take the sea. The turrets were split evenly across the ship, meaning half of its firepower was rendered completely useless when the ship was turned broadside to the enemy. They saw action in World War I and World War II, but were quickly scrapped thereafter

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Since she packs 14 12-inch guns, it’s probably not a good idea to call the HMS Agincourt ugly to her face.
(US Navy)

 

HMS Agincourt

The Brazilians responsible for this ship’s designed sold her, incomplete, to the Ottoman Turks. Then, when World War I started, the British took it over. She didn’t look graceful, but she did pack 14 12-inch guns. She saw action at Jutland, but after World War I, she was scrapped under the terms laid out by the Washington Naval Treaty.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Which is uglier, the Fuso-class battleship or its combat record?
(Kure Maritime Museum collection)

 

Japan’s Fuso-class battleships

This ship’s superstructure is essentially a small skyscraper on top of an armored hull. The ship did pack a dozen 14-inch guns, but it was slow, capping off at a top speed of 23 knots. An upgrade in the 1930s made it a little faster, but the Fuso-class ships were still ugly.

Their only notable combat experience was in the Surigao Strait – where both went down against American battleships, some of which had been at Pearl Harbor.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
The Nelson-class battleships look like tanker hulls strapped with lots of guns.
(Imperial War Museum)
 

Britain’s Nelson-class battleships

These two ships were designed with the entire main battery forward of the superstructure, creating a look that’s closer to a supertanker with big guns than a battleship. It also means it’s completely safe to talk about these ships behind their back — they’ve no guns at the rear. HMS Nelson saw action in the Mediterranean theater, Operation Overlord, and in the Pacific, while HMS Rodney is known for being the only battleship to torpedo another. Both went to the scrapyard by 1950.

Let’s face it, while these ships found varying levels of success in combat, none would’ve won any beauty pageants.

Articles

It looks like there’s going to be a GWOT memorial after all

President Donald Trump signed a bill August 18 authorizing the construction of a privately funded Global War on Terrorism Memorial in Washington, DC.


In signing the “Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act” passed by the House and Senate, Trump did not designate a site but authorized a memorial somewhere on “federal land in the District of Columbia,” the White House said.

Trump also authorized the non-profit Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation to raise funds and oversee the project.

These are some of the best military challenge coins
Pfc. Erik Park from San Mateo, Calif., fires his M777 155 mm howitzer at Forward Operating Base Orgun-E Sept. 3, 2011. Photo by Spc. Ken Scar.

The bill to establish the memorial was sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, an Army veteran of the Iraq War, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.

On the House side, the bill’s sponsors were Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, and Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts; both are Marine Corps veterans of the Iraq War.

In a statement, Ernst said “I am thrilled the President has signed into law this important legislation authorizing the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation to begin creating a place of remembrance for those who served, their loved ones, and all impacted by this war.”

Manchin said “I’m proud of the work done by my colleagues in approving the first step towards building a memorial that commemorates our sons and daughters who answered the call to fight.”

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Washington, DC National Mall. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Both Manchin and Ernst said the likely site for the memorial would be the National Mall. “This authorization is the first step in a process that will culminate with the design and construction of a Global War on Terror[ism] Memorial on the National Mall without using any federal funds,” they said.

The Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation has on its advisory board retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, and retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg, a Medal of Honor recipient for valor in Afghanistan.

In a statement following Trump’s signing, the foundation said the bill exempted the memorial from the 10-year waiting period under the Commemorative Works Act of 1986, and authorized the foundation to oversee the fundraising, design, and construction of the memorial.

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A member of Company B, Task Force 2-28, 172nd Infantry Brigade, braces against the prop wash from a UH-60 Black Hawk while securing the landing zone in a stream bed by the small village of Derka near Combat Outpost Zerok, Sept. 20, 2011. DoD Photo by Spc. Ken Scar

“Today’s historic signing is dedicated to our three million brothers and sisters who have deployed in the Global War on Terror, especially to the ones we have lost, and those who face great obstacles since their return home,” said Andrew J. Brennan, a West Point graduate and Afghanistan veteran who started the foundation and serves as executive director.

“We’re looking forward to building a sacred place of healing and remembrance for our veterans and their families, and want to thank our partners and advocates who worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to pass this bipartisan legislation,” he said.

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The Afghan air force is trading its Hips for Blackhawks

The Pentagon has announced plans to replace the Afghan air force’s inventory of Russian-built Mi-17 “Hip” utility helicopters with American ones, stating that the purchase has turned out to be a bad deal.


According to a report by the Washington Times, the Hips will be replaced by UH-60 Blackhawks. The Russian-built helicopters reportedly were maintenance nightmares, with the Afghan Air Force unable to keep up with the logistical supported needed to address constant breakdowns.

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A UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter lands as U.S. Army paratroopers secure the area in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, July 23, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and the helicopter crew is assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The soldiers evacuated a wounded insurgent. (US Army photo)

The Hips were initially chosen because defense planners thought Afghan pilots would be more familiar with the Russian-built helicopters. The Obama Administration had praised the Mi-17 in its last report on operations in Afghanistan, calling it the “workhorse” of the Afghan air force. The report noted that 56 Hips were authorized, and 47 were available.

According to Militaryfactory.com, the Mi-17 “Hip” has a crew of three and can carry a wide variety of offensive loads, including rocket pods, 23mm gun pods, and even anti-tank missiles. Army-Technology.com notes that the Russian-built helicopter can carry up to 30 troops.

Over 17,000 Mi-17s and the earlier version, the Mi-8, have been built since the Mi-8 first flew in 1961. The Hip has also been widely exported across the globe, being used by over 20 countries, including China, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Iraq.

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Egyptian Mi-17. (Wikimedia Commons)

By comparison, the UH-60 Blackhawk, which also has a crew of three, can only carry 11 troops, according to manufacturer Lockheed Martin. However, the 13th Edition of the Combat Leader’s Field Guide notes that with the seats removed, a Blackhawk can carry up to 22 troops.

The Blackhawk is limited to door guns as its armament. Militaryfactory.com notes that the Blackhawk is used by 26 countries, including Poland, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Argentina, Thailand, and Israel.

Some countries have both the UH-60 and Mi-17 in their inventories, notably Iraq, Argentina, China, Thailand, and Mexico.

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How the B-52 drops paper bombs

An important part of US military operations overseas is communicating with the local population. This can be done in a number of ways including something as simple as distributing leaflets.


In psychological operations, leaflets with messages are often dropped from aircraft in order to reach a wide area.

Testers from the 419th Flight Test Squadron are looking to see if B-52 Stratofortress bombers can accomplish this task.

The squadron recently completed two successful sorties where a B-52 released eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range and eight more over the Precision Impact Range Area on Edwards Air Force Base.

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A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron is loaded with eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs underneath the left wing. USAF Christopher Okula.

“We are primarily looking to see safe separation from the external Heavy Stores Adapter Beam,” said Kevin Thorn, a 419th FLTS B-52 Stratofortress air vehicle manager. “We are ensuring that the bombs do not contact the aircraft, and/or each other, creating an unsafe condition. Additionally we are tracking the reliability of the bomb functioning.”

The PDU-5/B is a new-use or variant of an older Cluster Bomb Unit. The original designation for the weapon was the MK-20 Rockeye II, SUU-76B/B, and/or CBU-99/100. The designator changes depending on the type of filler used in the bomb, said Thorn. Having leaflets as a filler designates the bomb as a PDU-5/B.

According to the Air Force, PDU-5/B canisters can deliver about 60,000 leaflets and were deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom before any Air Force munitions began hitting targets in Baghdad.

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A frame from a video shows the PDU-5/B leaflet bomb activating and dispersing the leaflets. USAF Christopher Okula.

The dispenser bomb can be dropped from helicopters and fighter jets, and now the 419th FTS is trying to see if the B-52 fleet can be used as well.

“The PDU-5/B is just another tool that the B-52 uses in its vast and reliable tool box,” said Earl Johnson, the B-52 PDU-5/B project manager. “Without the capability to carry PDU-5s on the B-52 aircraft, the impending shortfall on leaflet dispersal capability will jeopardize Air Force Central Command information operations.”

Johnson said testing the PDU-5/B on the B-52 is complete for now. The program is forecasted to return at a future date to test PDU-5/B releases from the B-52’s internal weapons bay.

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The Russian Air Force keeps trolling the West

On July 4th, 2015 two separate instances of Russian long-range bombers closing on U.S. airspace prompted interceptions by U.S. Air Force F-22 and F-15 fighter aircraft off the coasts of California and Alaska. The bombers, Tupolev TU-95 “Bear” bombers, were intercepted at 10:30 and 11 a.m. Eastern Time.


The bombers did not enter U.S. airspace, and an interception does not mean the destruction of the intercepted aircraft. Around the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama to wish him a happy Independence Day.

Expert trolling, Mr. Putin.

Russian bombers did the same thing on July 4, 2013.

In January of this year, two Russian nuclear-capable bombers found their way into air defense zones near Alaska, but were not intercepted. That same month, A Russian Bear bomber was intercepted in the English Channel, flying without its transponder (making it invisible to civilian aircraft) prompting the UK government to summon the Russian Ambassador. In February, Russian Bear bombers were intercepted by an RAF Typhoon near Cornwall, England. Russian media released a video of bomber interceptions from the Russian point of view, featuring British Typhoons, a French Mirage, and a German Eurofighter.

In May, two Russian Tupolev Tu-22Ms were intercepted by Swedish fighters over the Gulf of Finland, “provocatively close” to Swedish airspace. While Sweden is not a NATO ally, it is still in the Western sphere of influence, a sphere President Putin considers weak and decadent while Sweden and Finland are warming up to the idea of joining the alliance. This is the latest in a string of incidents between Russia and Sweden, the others occurring in March 2015 and September 2014. The Russians were similarly intercepted by Latvia, Norway, Turkey, and Portugal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc07bMb4cKA

Displays of bomber capability are not uncommon, even from the U.S., which recently flew B-52 bombers from Nebraska to Australia and back to demonstrate the long range capability of the aircraft. What is uncommon is Russia’s constant provocation of approaching air defense zones.

In 2013, Canadian and American fighters scrambled to meet the Russians six times, with ten more sightings of Russian bombers in air defense zones. NATO says allied fighters scrambled more than 400 times in 2014 (100 times in the UK alone) to intercept Russian military planes. The U.S. Air Force reported 50 air-to-air intercepts by the U.S. since 2006.

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