Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week - We Are The Mighty
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Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — May, 3, 2021 — Call of Duty League™, the official esports league of the Call of Duty® franchise, today announces two new initiatives with the support of USAA, the League’s Official Insurance and Military Appreciation Partner. Call of Duty League will launch its first-ever Military Appreciation Week and the Call of Duty League Gives Back initiative, aimed at supporting the military community. Timed to Military Appreciation Week, USAA will also be the presenting partner of Call of Duty League Major III, broadcast May 13-16, 2021.

Military Appreciation Week will take place the week of May 10th, and is the Call of Duty League’s inaugural celebration of community members who have served in the United States military. 

To further show support and advocacy for the military community, USAA is joining the Call of Duty League Gives Back program, which unlocks unique experiences and more for the military community. As part of this new program, Minnesota RØKKR provided in-game training to the official United States Space Force Call of Duty competitive team as they prepare to defend their championship in the 2021 C.O.D.E Bowl.

As Call of Duty League Gives Back expands, it intends to also open avenues for fans to participate. The program will support the Call of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E), a nonprofit organization which helps veterans find high-quality jobs after their service.

“Call of Duty League is proud to partner with USAA to shine a spotlight on the brave U.S. service members that serve our communities. USAA’s position as the presenting sponsor of the next Call of Duty League Major Tournament unlocks an opportunity to give back to the military community in a myriad of ways, including exclusive experiences in collaboration with the teams in the League,” said Brandon Snow, Chief Revenue Officer of Activision Blizzard Esports. “Military Appreciation Week is a celebration of those who have served our country, and we’re excited that USAA has helped create this important moment.”

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week

From May 3-31, Call of Duty League and USAA will host a giveaway on callofdutyleague.com/usaa for current and former U.S. military members, while highlighting key figures who have made a positive impact on military communities. The giveaway includes a free C.O.D.E Battle Doc Pack (valued at $9.99), available in both Call of Duty®: Black Ops Cold War and Call of Duty® Warzone™. The pack features an Operator skin, weapon blueprint, calling card, weapon charm, and emblem.

“USAA’s sponsorship of Call of Duty League enables us to honor our military who love the game and reach them in an authentic and meaningful way,” said Eric Engquist, USAA vice president of enterprise brand management and U.S. Army veteran. “The new initiatives allow us to more specifically celebrate our military members and provide a lasting program that will impact and support the whole military community.”

In its second season, the Call of Duty League includes 12 teams from four countries and brings together the best players from around the world. For more information on the League, sign up for updates at callofdutyleague.com or tune in to the action at youtube.com/codleague.

USAA

Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is among the leading providers of insurance, banking and investment and retirement solutions to more than 13 million members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, Tex., USAA has offices in seven U.S. cities and three overseas locations and employs approximately 36,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local nonprofits in support of military families and communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com.

About Call of Duty League

Call of Duty League™ is the official esports league of the Call of Duty® franchise, from publisher Activision. The Call of Duty League includes 12 teams from four countries and spotlights the best Call of Duty esports players from around the world. The Call of Duty League launched in 2020 and features fresh ways for pro players, amateurs, and fans to come together around one of the world’s most beloved games. To learn more about the Call of Duty League, visit callofdutyleague.com.

About Activision Blizzard Esports

Activision Blizzard Esports (ABE) is responsible for the development, operation, and commercialization of Activision Blizzard’s professional gaming properties including the Overwatch League™, the Call of Duty League™, and Hearthstone® Grandmasters, among others. It is ABE’s vision to be the most innovative, scalable, and valuable developer of competitive entertainment.

About Activision

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision is a leading global producer and publisher of interactive entertainment. Activision maintains operations throughout the world and is a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), an S&P 500 company. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company’s website, www.activision.com or by following @Activision.

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7 ways to use a uniform inspection as a statement of individuality

No matter what branch of service you are in, uniform inspections are routine, and there’s no real trick to passing them. Just follow the regs to the letter. What’s hard about that?


No, those who truly desire to make their mark in this world choose a different path, and (they won’t tell you this) but that’s what the higher ups are really looking for in their subordinates.

WATM is here to light the fuse of your rocket to greatness. Here are 7 ways to use uniform inspection as a statement of individuality, thereby demonstrating the kind of breakout leadership traits the chain of command loves:

Bust out some innovative grooming

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week

SEALs already know this. You think they grow their hair out and rock killer beards to blend in with the Afghan locals? No way. It’s all about staying ahead of the “lumbersexual” trend stateside, and when the admirals see that they’re like, “Man, that’s some awesome leadership stuff going on there.”

Sport an Irish Pennant or two

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week

Attention to detail is a must and having loose strings and threads sticking out of your uniform is a clear sign that you have it. Gunnys won’t say this, but they love when their charges show this kind of initiative.

Show your fun side with your military bearing

Cracking a smile, smirking, or making any other expression other than a stoic and fearless look will convey that you’re a professional warfighter who won’t crack under pressure. Demonstrate this sort of lighthearted manner at every opportunity, especially if the inspecting officer is an O-6 or higher.

Cultivate beaucoup wrinkles in your uniform

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week

No steaming, pressing, starching, or ironing your uniform. The presence of lots of wrinkles tells leadership that you accept that military life is imperfect and you won’t let that fact get you down.

Misplace your ribbons and badges

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
(WARNING: Following this recommendation could lead to stolen valor guy responses from zealous vets with YouTube accounts. Avoid public places, especially sporting events or shopping malls or country music concerts.)

What kind of lemming needs a chart to show him or her where ribbons and badges are supposed to go on the uniform? Feel the power of the designer within you and organize all of that stuff in a way that seems right for YOU. This’ll be a real eye-opener for superiors.

Make sure your uniform doesn’t fit

Superiors may tell you that they don’t like the “jeans around the ass with the underwear showing” look, but they’re actually intrigued by it and maybe even a little jealous they didn’t come up with the idea. Once again, don’t be afraid to make a statement that says, “I don’t follow, I lead.”

Wear too much of your signature fragrance

It takes more than clothes and demeanor to leave that lasting impression on those who control your fate. Leverage the sense of smell to your professional advantage.

Dirty up your shoes / boots

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
(Photo: USMC)

It’s true that your shoes say a lot about you, and this is especially true during a uniform inspection. Dirt on your boots screams “I’m totally focused on the mission, dammit, and have no desire to waste this command’s time.” Higher ups might not say it, but trust us, they love that sort of statement.

Good luck, friends. And welcome to the fast track.

NOW: 7 Things people use every day that originated in the military

OR: 9 Military movie scenes where Hollywood got it totally wrong

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The last surviving liberator of the Auschwitz death camp just died

Time marches on and with it goes some of history’s greatest heroes. The history of World War II reached a sad but inevitable milestone in June 2021. The last surviving soldier who liberated the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz has died at age 98. The Munich Jewish Community Organization that confirmed his death gave no cause.

David Aleksandrovich Dushman drove his Soviet T-34 tank through the electrified fence of the concentration camp on January 27, 1945. He was a soldier of the Soviet Union’s Red Army, part of a force moving through Poland on its way to Berlin. 

Like much of the world, the Soviet troops knew little of the camps set up by the Germans who occupied Poland or what happened in the camps. But unlike much of the world, they found out very quickly. In a 2015 interview with a German newspaper, he described seeing skeletons everywhere. 

Still, he only saw what was in front of him and the rumors he heard among his fellow soldiers. It was only after the end of the war that he learned the magnitude of what happened in the string of Nazi camps across Europe. 

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
“Selection” of Hungarian Jews on the ramp at Auschwitz-II-Birkenau in German-occupied Poland, May/June 1944, during the final phase of the Holocaust. Jews were sent either to work or to the gas chamber.
The photograph is part of the collection known as the Auschwitz Album, which was donated to Yad Vashem by Lili Jacob, a survivor, who found it in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in 1945. See Auschwitz Album, Yad Vashem: “The Auschwitz Album is the only surviving visual evidence of the process leading to mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

“They staggered out of the barracks, sat and lay among the dead. Terrible. We threw them all our canned food and immediately went on to hunt down the fascists,” he said.

Dushman was a Russian Jew from the Free City of Danzig, later a Polish possession. He was just 21 years old that day but he knew all too well what Jewish people faced, even inside the Soviet Union. 

Auschwitz-Birkenau was one of the most notorious death camps in Germany and its occupied territories, famous for its gas chambers that ended the lives of an estimated one million Jewish prisoners from across Europe. But Jews weren’t the only ones sent there to die.

The death camps at Auschwitz were the final destination for many of Europe’s homosexuals, much of its Roma population and Soviet prisoners of war. If captured by the Wehrmacht, it’s very likely Dushman would have met his end there. 

Instead, he was the first liberator to enter the grounds (if you don’t count his T-34 as a liberator). 

Dushman was only one of 69 Red Army soldiers from his unit who survived World War II, from a unit of 12,000. He was wounded at least three times on the brutal Eastern Front, but it could have been worse for him– much worse. He and his comrades fought in some of the most intense battles of World War II, including the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Hungarian Jews march toward a gas chamber. The photograph is part of the collection known as the Auschwitz Album, which was donated to Yad Vashem by Lili Jacob, a survivor, who found it in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in 1945. Auschwitz Album, Yad Vashem: “The Auschwitz Album is the only surviving visual evidence of the process leading to mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

After the war, Dushman became a doctor at the behest of his mother, carrying on the family profession. But he really wanted to be a champion fencer and studied the sport intensely. He became one of the USSR’s top fencing athletes. 

The Soviet team, along with Dushman went on to win Olympic gold in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. The decorated World War II veteran would later urge the International Olympic Committee to use its games as an instrument of international peace. 

“My biggest dream and hope for future generations is to live in a world where there is no war,” Dushman said “… use sport as a way to spread peace and reconciliation around the world. War is something that should never happen again.”

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US may have to consider firing on Iranian boats after latest attack

On Monday, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen launched an attack on a Saudi Arabian naval vessel using suicide boats, or fast attack craft laden with explosives.


According to Fordham University maritime law professor and former US Navy Commander Lawrence Brennan, “this attack is likely to impact US naval operations and rules of engagement (ROE) in nearby waters.”

The year 2016 saw an unprecedented spike in the number of incidents at sea between the US Navy and fast-attack craft of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), at least one of which required the US Navy to open fire with warning shots.

Meanwhile, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen had a blockbuster year in 2016, using an anti-ship missile to hit an Emirati naval vessel and then firing a salvo of missiles at US Navy ships in October.

Related: A Saudi frigate was targeted by Iran-backed rebels off the Yemeni coast

The US Navy successfully fended off the Houthi missile attack and retaliated by destroying three radar sites in Houthi-controlled Yemen. At the time, US officials and experts contacted by Business Insider concluded that Iran likely supplied the missiles to the Houthis.

But the latest attack on the Saudis may give the US Navy pause in the future.

In a questionable video released of the attack, people near the camera can be heard shouting slogans like “death to America,” “death to Israel,” and “death to Jews!” One Pentagon official told the Washington Examiner that the Houthis may have mistaken the Saudi ship they attacked for a US Navy ship, though another official denied it.

In any case, the US Navy frequently deals with Iranian fast-attack craft swarming its vessels and approaching very closely. In one case last year, Iranian fast-attack craft got within 300 yards of a US Navy vessel.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Iranian fast-attack boats during a naval exercise in 2015. | Wikimedia photo by Sayyed Shahaboddin Vajedi

At the time, the US Navy responded by attempting to contact the Iranians, maneuvering evasively, blowing the horn, then finally firing warning shots.

But according to Brennan, the US may not allow hostile, unresponsive ships to get so close to Navy vessels after a force associated with Iran used suicide boats to kill two Saudi sailors.

“The overarching duty of self-defense mandates revision of the ROE to provide a sufficient ‘bubble’ to prevent the risk of a suicide attack, particularly from swarming boats,” said Brennan in an email to Business Insider.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week

President Donald Trump has already signaled his intention to respond more forcefully.

“With Iran,” Trump said while campaigning in Florida, “when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.”

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The band ‘Foo Fighters’ got their name from this war mystery

Few people question where popular bands got their names. Especially when the band is as popular as Foo Fighters. Founded in 1994 by a former member of Nirvana, today the band is known for its millions of records sold, awards won and topping the airwaves for the better part of three decades. Even if you aren’t familiar with the band, it’s likely that you’ve heard some of their songs, like “My Hero,” “Learn to Fly” and “Best of You” — only to name a few of the Grammy-winning band’s hits. 

One of their older works, if you’re not familar

But before all of that, before they were a chart-topping rock band, they were named after a little-known war phenomenon. The Foo Fighters is actually a term that dates back to World War II when dashing lights were seen up in the sky. War pilots often saw these bright lights that would dash and turn directions — far faster than any aircraft could at the time. Not knowing the origin of the lights, the pilots started calling them “foo fighters.” 

The history of the flashing lights

While the 415th Night Fighter Squadron was stationed over Rhine Valley, occupied by Germany at the time, pilots began reporting lights. They stated, “Eight to 10 bright orange lights off the left wing … flying through the air at high speed.” Nothing was visible on radar, and the lights are said to have disappeared. “Later they appeared farther away. The display continued for several minutes and then disappeared.” 

The radar observer at the time coined them “foo fighters,” a nonsensical term from the cartoon strip “Smokey Stover.” The phenomenon kept occurring, and the name stuck. 

Further sightings listed the lights as being red, orange and green, easily flying alongside planes at 200+ mph. What’s more impressive was the maneuverability, as the lights could move quickly, change directions and stop with ease. Nothing was ever picked up by radar, either. 

The reports by pilots began compiling, and additional pilots from other units said they had seen a similar phenomenon. The frequency and consistency of the reports led military officials to believe it wasn’t battle fatigue, as had previously been theorized, and an investigation was launched.

However, little was found from their research. Eventually, their data was halted with the end of the war, never to find an answer to what the foo fighters actually were. 

Various theories have been offered, such as high-tech enemy devices, remote-control light-producing devices, structureless lights (and therefore not showing up on radar) and of course, UFOs. The theories of unidentified flying objects was so popular that the term foo fighters became synonymous with UFOs themselves. 

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Between Foo Fighters, and purported sightings like this one in New Jersey in 1952, it was a weird time in the U.S. (Wikimedia Commons)

As late as 1953, the CIA was working on the matter, specifically to determine if there was a security threat. A panel of six scientists, including physicists using experimental aviation tech, gathered on the matter; no official conclusion was provided. 

It’s likely that we will never truly know the sources of these dodging lights from WWII. In any case, we’re left with the historic accounts — and a popular term, and an even more popular band — to remember this curious event. 

Feature image: Wikimedia Commons

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That time a Confederate regiment was ordered to guard bat guano

There are bad guard details, horrible guard details, and then guard details where you and the bulk of your regiment are ordered to guard caves filled with bat shit.


Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
(Photo: National Park Service, Nick Hristov)

Gunpowder is made up mostly of saltpeter, a chemical powder generally mined from deposits on cave walls or extracted from urine and bat guano. When the South found itself under naval blockade early in the war, it had to find a way to make many of its necessities.

To make the saltpeter necessary to manufacture gunpowder, the Confederacy turned to large bat guano deposits near Austin, Texas. One deposit area was later estimated to contain at least one-thousand tons of guano.

The Confederate government ordered the deposits guarded to ensure wartime production was secured, but it’s unclear how much saltpeter was actually manufactured before the end of the war. The caves were later put back into production during World War I.

Modern ammunition uses cleaner-burning propellants, but the nitrates in guano are still valuable for fertilizers. The descendants of the bats that provided the guano are now famous in Austin. Spectators line up on bridges to watch the bats depart for their nightly feeding.

NOW: That time a US Navy aircraft carrier was shut down by a race riot

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US air attack appears to have killed a senior member of al-Qaeda in Syria

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook | DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz


A US air attack in Northern Syria appears to have killed a very senior member of al-Qaeda along with other terrorists on Sunday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters.

The strike targeted a senior operational al-Qaeda meeting in Northwest Syria and resulted in several enemy kills, he added.

“We assess that al-Qaida’s senior leader, Abu Firas al-Suri, was in that meeting, and we are working to confirm his death. Al-suri is a Syrian national and legacy al-Qaeda member. He fought in Afghanistan in the 80s and 90s and worked with Osama Bin Laden – another founding al Qadea members to train terrorist and conduct attacks globally,” Cook said.

Cook added that no additional details of the attack would be available.

Senior Member of al Qaeda Killed in Somalia

The Defense Department has also confirmed that al-Shabab senior leader Hassan Ali Dhoore was killed in a March 31 U.S. military airstrike in Somalia. As one of the top leaders of al-Qaida’s Somalian affiliate, Dhoore was a member of al-Shabaab’s security and intelligence wing and was heavily involved in high-profile attack planning in Mogadishu, Cook said in a Pentagon statement.

“He has planned and overseen attacks resulting in the death of at least three U.S. citizens,” Cook explained.

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Behold the ‘bazooka Vespa’

In the 1950s France, in the midst of dealing with insurgencies in its colonies in Algeria and Indochina, recognized a military need for easily transportable artillery that could quickly be deployed to the front lines. It happened upon one very novel solution: a militarized Vespa scooter with a built-in armor-piercing gun.


The Vespa 150 TAP, built by French Vespa licensee ACMA, was designed expressly to be used with the French airborne special forces, the Troupes Aéro Portées (TAP).

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Isn’t the bazooka Vespa…that is…the Vespa Militare magnificent? (Photo: C. Galliani)

The Vespa TAP was designed to be airdropped into a military theater fully assembled and ready for immediate action. This high level of mobility made the TAP the perfect anti-guerilla weapon, since enemy irregulars could appear at a moment’s notice even in remote locations.

Outfitted with an M20 recoilless rifle, the TAP proved more than capable of destroying makeshift fortifications used by guerrillas in Algeria and Indochina. The M20 was designed as an anti-tank recoilless rifle that was outfitted with a high-explosive anti-tank warhead. Under ideal circumstances, the rifle could penetrate 100mm of armor from 7,000 yards away.

The M20 outfitted on the Vespa was never actually meant to be fired while the vehicle was in motion. Instead, the Vespa frame functioned as a way of transporting the artillery to the front line. Once there, the rifle would be removed from the Vespa and placed on a tripod for accurate firing.

Also read: The most ridiculous weapons used throughout history

Remarkably, aside for a slight overhaul of the engine, plus the inclusion of the rifle and ammunition mounts, the standard Vespa and the TAP were designed almost identically. The TAP had a strengthened frame and lower gearing, but besides that it drives just as any Vespa would.

About 500 total TAPs were produced throughout the 1950s.

However ingenious the TAP was, the vehicle was never used outside of the French military during engagements in Algeria and French Indochina.

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Army’s new UH-60V Black Hawk makes first flight

The U.S. Army’s new UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter featuring a digital cockpit has made its first flight, a company announced.


The chopper, basically a UH-60L upgraded with the new Integrated Avionics Suite, flew for the first time on Jan. 19 in Huntsville, Alabama, according to a release Monday from Northrop Grumman Corp. The base is home to the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command.

Also read: How does the B-52 get more awesome? With lasers, that’s how

The utility rotorcraft is made by Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Sikorsky unit, but Northrop won a contract in 2014 to upgrade between 700 and 900 L models of the aircraft with the new cockpit design, which replaces older analogue gauges with digital electronic instrument displays. The technology is already included in UH-60M production models.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
The pilot and crew prepare for an initial test flight of the UH-60V Black Hawk, which successfully flew for the first time on Jan. 19 | Northrup Grumman photo

“This UH-60V first flight accomplishment reaffirms our open, safe and secure cockpit solutions that will enable the most advanced capabilities for warfighters,” Ike Song, vice president of mission solutions at Northrop, said in a statement.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based company won the Army deal over such competitors as Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins, according to an Aviation Week report at the time.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
The UH-60M marked a major change from the 25-year old UH-60L model Black Hawk with the addition of an all-digital avionics suite. The same technology is being added as part of an effort to upgrade L variants of the aircraft to V models. | Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky unit

The new system is nearly identical to the UH-60M interface, according to Northrop. The technology is designed to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency’s Global Air Traffic Management requirements for military and civilian airspace around the world, the company said.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
The UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter flying for the first time on Jan. 19, 2017, in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Army a decade ago began receiving UH-60M variants featuring the new digital cockpits. The M model is the most advanced variant of the helicopter and remains in production.

 

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This American POW disfigured himself so he couldn’t be used for propaganda

“I will never surrender of my own free will. If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.”

These statements, and others, are part of the Six Articles of the Code of Conduct. Applying to all members of the U.S. military, the Code of Conduct provides guidance to service members on the battlefield and in the event that they become a prisoner of war. During the Vietnam War, one American sailor exemplified the code like no other.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Stockdale exits his A-4 Skyhawk (U.S. Navy)

James Bond Stockdale (yes, that was his real name) began his naval career as a surface officer. Following his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1947, Stockdale served primarily on destroyers.

In 1949, Stockdale was selected for naval flight training. The next year, he was designated a Naval Aviator. He trained at Pensacola, Corpus Christi and Norfolk. In 1954, Stockdale was accepted into the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River and completed the training in July of that year. As a test pilot, Stockdale tutored Marine Aviator and future first American to orbit the Earth John Glenn.

In 1959, Stockdale attended Stanford University and earned a Master of Arts in international relations. Though he preferred flying fighter planes to studying textbooks, Stockdale later credited Stoic philosophy with helping him get through his time as a POW in the Vietnam War.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
USS Maddox (DD-731) was involved in the initial Gulf of Tonkin Incident (U.S. Navy)

On August 2, 1964, USS Maddox (DD-731) engaged three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats in the Tonkin Gulf. When the ships broke contact, four F-8 Crusader fighters from USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) engaged the torpedo boats. As commander of VF-51 (Fighter Squadron 51), Stockdale led the attack on the boats. Although none of their rockets connected, they scored multiple hits with their 20mm cannons. Two nights later, Stockdale again flew overhead during a second reported attack. However, he later recounted that there were no enemies in the area. “[I] had the best seat in the house to watch that event, and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets…There was nothing there but black water and American firepower.”

The next morning, August 5, 1964, President Johnson ordered bombing raids on North Vietnamese military targets. When Stockdale was informed of the retaliatory strikes, he responded by asking, “Retaliation for what?” During his time as a POW, Stockdale constantly feared that he would reveal his knowledge of the controversial Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Stockdale takes pre-flight notes in 1965 (U.S. Navy)

On September 5, 1965, Stockdale flew a mission over North Vietnam from the USS Oriskany (CV-34). His A-4 Skyhawk was hit by enemy fire and disabled, forcing him to eject. He landed in a small village, was badly beaten and taken prisoner. For over seven years, Stockdale was held at the Hỏa Lò Prison, better known as the infamous Hanoi Hilton.

As the senior naval officer in the prison, Stockdale was one of the primary organizers of American POW resistance. He created and enforced the Code of Conduct for his fellow prisoners. This included their behavior under torture/interrogation, secret communications and even planned escape attempts. All of this made Stockdale a favorite of North Vietnamese interrogators who knew that the high-ranking aviator would have valuable information.

During his time in captivity, Stockdale was routinely beaten and denied medical care for his leg which was severely broken during his capture. Stockdale’s leg would be broken twice during his time at the Hanoi Hilton. Whenever he was caught with information that could implicate his fellow prisoners, he would slit his own wrists so that he could not be tortured into confessing. Still, his most famous act of defiance came in the summer of 1969.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Stockdale with President Nixon at the White House (White House)

Stockdale was locked in a bath stall and chained in leg irons to be tortured and beaten. His captors told him that he was to be paraded in public and made an example of. To keep from being exploited, Stockdale used a razor and slit his own scalp. Disfigured, the North Vietnamese wouldn’t be able to use Stockdale for their propaganda. When his captors tried to cover his head with a hat and salvage their exploitation, Stockdale used a stool to beat his own face swollen beyond recognition. As a result, the North Vietnamese gave up on trying to exploit him for propaganda.

On Feb. 12, 1973, Stockdale was released as a POW during Operation Homecoming. Three years later, he received the Medal of Honor for his actions and leadership in captivity. Although his injuries as a POW prevented him from returning to flight status, Stockdale remained in the Navy and made Vice Admiral before retiring in 1979.

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
Stockdale after his Medal of Honor ceremony (White House)

Today, Stockdale’s exemplary resistance in captivity is used as a model for SERE School students learning the Code of Conduct.

Feature Image: U.S. Navy photo

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This Medal of Honor citation reads like an action movie plot

Joe Hooper had two U.S. military careers. He first enlisted in the Navy in 1956 but after just shy of three years, he found himself a civilian once again. It’s not that he was bad at his job or was a bad sailor — the Navy just wasn’t the career path for him. 

Six months later, he was back in the military. This time, he chose the United States Army. It was a choice that would completely change the rest of his life. He found himself training to become a paratrooper, serving first with the 82nd Airborne and later the 101st Airborne. Within three years, Hooper was an NCO.

But all was not perfect. He faced a number of Article 15 hearings related to disciplinary issues. By 1967 he had been demoted to Corporal and promoted to Sergeant once more. His promotion came just in time to deploy to Vietnam, where he would spend the first months of 1968 – meaning he was in country for the Tet Offensive. 

Call of Duty League™ and USAA announce first-ever military appreciation week
I wonder if this is also his “about to open a can of ‘whoop-ass’ face, too? (

The Tet Offensive and the subsequent effort to recapture the ground the communists captured would take the first few months of 1968 in some places. One of those areas was the old imperial capital of Hue. It was during the Battle of Hue that Joe Hooper earned his Medal of Honor – and the insane citation reads like the plot summary of the greatest Hollywood action movie of all time:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Staff Sergeant (then Sgt.) Hooper, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as squad leader with Company D. 

“Company D was assaulting a heavily defended enemy position along a river bank when it encountered a withering hail of fire from rockets, machine guns and automatic weapons. S/Sgt. Hooper rallied several men and stormed across the river, overrunning several bunkers on the opposite shore. Thus inspired, the rest of the company moved to the attack. 

“With utter disregard for his own safety, he moved out under the intense fire again and pulled back the wounded, moving them to safety. During this act, S/Sgt. Hooper was seriously wounded, but he refused medical aid and returned to his men. With the relentless enemy fire disrupting the attack, he single-handedly stormed 3 enemy bunkers, destroying them with hand grenade and rifle fire, and shot 2 enemy soldiers who had attacked and wounded the Chaplain. 

“Leading his men forward in a sweep of the area, S/Sgt. Hooper destroyed 3 buildings housing enemy riflemen. At this point he was attacked by a North Vietnamese officer whom he fatally wounded with his bayonet. Finding his men under heavy fire from a house to the front, he proceeded alone to the building, killing its occupants with rifle fire and grenades. 

“By now his initial body wound had been compounded by grenade fragments, yet despite the multiple wounds and loss of blood, he continued to lead his men against the intense enemy fire. 

“As his squad reached the final line of enemy resistance, it received devastating fire from 4 bunkers in line on its left flank. S/Sgt. Hooper gathered several hand grenades and raced down a small trench which ran the length of the bunker line, tossing grenades into each bunker as he passed by, killing all but 2 of the occupants. 

“With these positions destroyed, he concentrated on the last bunkers facing his men, destroying the first with an incendiary grenade and neutralizing 2 more by rifle fire. He then raced across an open field, still under enemy fire, to rescue a wounded man who was trapped in a trench. Upon reaching the man, he was faced by an armed enemy soldier whom he killed with a pistol. Moving his comrade to safety and returning to his men, he neutralized the final pocket of enemy resistance by fatally wounding 3 North Vietnamese officers with rifle fire. 

“S/Sgt. Hooper then established a final line and reorganized his men, not accepting treatment until this was accomplished and not consenting to evacuation until the following morning. His supreme valor, inspiring leadership and heroic self-sacrifice were directly responsible for the company’s success and provided a lasting example in personal courage for every man on the field. S/Sgt. Hooper’s actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.”

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Reenactment (not really, though) (Giphy.com)

Eat your heart out, Schwarzenegger.


Feature image: Medal of Honor Society

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Here is how Russia could shoot down a North Korean missile

North Korea’s latest missile test, carried out this past weekend, ended about sixty miles off the Russian coast. Russia is not happy about the test, as one might imagine. In fact, they may get angry. Of course, we should note that Putin has options aside from sending Kim Jong-un a letter telling him how angry Moscow is.


Russia has long pushed the development of surface-to-air missiles, and the Soviets put that system on the map in 1960 by downing the Lockheed U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers. In one sense, Russia needs to have good air defenses since their fighters tend to come out second-best when tangling with American or Western designs.

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A USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady. When Russia shot one down in 1960 with a SA-2 Guideline, it proved the surface-to-air missile was a factor in warfare. | U.S. Air Force photo

So, what options does Russia have to shoot down a North Korean missile? Quite a few – and it can be hard to tell them apart.

1. SA-10 Grumble

This is probably the oldest of Russia’s area-defense systems capable of downing a ballistic missile. Like the Patriot, it was initially intended to provide air defense for important targets by shooting down the strike aircraft. It eventually began to cover the tactical ballistic missile threat as well – much as the Patriot made that evolution.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the baseline SA-10, or S-300PMU, now exported to a number of countries (including Iran), had a maximum range of 124 miles. A navalized version of this missile, the SA-N-6, is used on the Kirov and Slava-class cruisers.

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The SA-10 Grumble system. (DOD image)

2. SA-12 Gladiator

The Russians consider the SA-12 to be a member of the S-300 family. While the S-300 was initially designed to handle planes, the SA-12 was targeted more towards the MGM-52 Lance. Designation-Systems.net notes that the Lance’s W70 warhead could deliver up to a 100-kiloton yield. That could ruin your whole day.

But the development of a conventional cluster munition warhead for the Lance really bothered the Russians, who expected to see a many as 400 Lances launched in the early stages of a war in Europe. GlobalSecurity.org credits the SA-12 with a range of about 62 miles – not as long a reach as the SA-10 but more than enough to take out an incoming missile before it can do harm.

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The SA-12 Gladiator system at an arms expo. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

3. SA-20 Gargoyle

This is an improved version of the SA-10, according to GlobalSecurity.org. It has the same maximum range as the SA-10 version (about 124 miles), but there is a capability to engage faster targets than the baseline SA-10, which usually translates into neutralizing ballistic missiles launched from further away.

The system, also uses several types of missiles — including in the 9M96 family (9M96E1 and 9M96E2) that are smaller than baseline SA-10 missiles. Like the SA-10, there is a naval version, called the SA-N-20, which is on the Pyotr Velikiy and China’s Type 51C destroyers.

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The SA-20 Gargoyle – an improved version of the SA-10. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

4. SA-21 Growler

This is also known as the S-400. The system made headlines when it deployed to Syria after Turkey shot down a Su-24 Fencer jet. The system is often compared to the American Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, but unlike THAAD, it is also capable of hitting aircraft and cruise missiles. GlobalSecurity.org credits the SA-21 with a range of about 250 miles.

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Launch vehicle for the SA-21, which has a range of about 250 miles. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

5. SA-23 Giant

What the SA-20 is to the SA-10, the SA-23 is to the SA-12. This is a substantially improved version of the SA-12, and is intended to deal with longer-range ballistic missiles than the MGM-52 that the SA-12 was intended to take out. The SA-23, also known as the Antey 2500, has a range of 124 miles according to GlobalSecurity.org.

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SA-23 launch vehicles. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Russia’s born-of-necessity work on surface-to-air missiles has lead to some very capable options in air defense. The real scary part is that Russia has been willing to export those systems – and that could mean they will face American pilots sooner rather than later.

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This is how close America came to having nuclear powered rockets

In the 1950s and 60s the U.S. Air Force tested flying rockets and ramjets powered by nuclear reactors.


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Artist rendering of a modern ramjet missile, the X-51A Waverider. Graphic: US Air Force

If it weren’t for breakthroughs in chemical propulsion that occurred at about the same time, the nuclear missiles based throughout the U.S. and Europe could well be nuclear warheads sitting atop nuclear reactors.

The idea of a nuclear-powered rocket engine actually dates back to World War II. But research didn’t begin until 1955 when teams at both Los Alamos and Livermore national laboratories were tasked with figuring out the basic engineering necessary for the project.

At its most basic level, rockets and ramjets work by superheating air and propelling it out the back of the engine. Conventional rockets and ramjets use chemical combustion to heat the air. The nuclear engines were designed to superheat the air using a heat exchanger hooked to a nuclear reactor.

The research into the rocket engines was dubbed “Project Rover,” and the ramjet research was dubbed “Project Pluto.”

Rover began tests in 1957, and a full-powered test in 1959 was a huge success. This led to an expansion of the program and the construction of new reactors, all of which underwent ground testing. The tests were largely successful, but extreme vibrations in some of the test engines caused a slowdown in progress through the 1960s.

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Researchers appraise a Kiwi experimental rocket engine powered by a nuclear reactor.Photo: Los Alamos National Library

Project Rover’s initial successes allowed NASA engineers to briefly consider nuclear power for the first manned missions to the Moon, but the vibration problems were not worked out in time. Rover’s engine then got the nod for a possible mission to Mars, but the mission was canceled. Without any immediate mission requirements, Rover was declared a technical success and shut down.

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The Rover Kiwi-A engine undergoes testing. Photo: Los Alamos National Laboratory

The nuclear rocket engine idea has been revived a few times since then, mostly when engineers start to seriously strategize manned missions to Mars. It was also briefly revived as a method of getting the Strategic Defense Initiative ballistic missile shield into orbit.

Project Pluto was even more successful from a technical standpoint. Each ramjet test reactor achieved every one of its major goals, and a number of the tests were declared flawless.

Like the Rover, all the tests were conducted on the ground. Also like Project Rover, Pluto was shut down in favor of chemical propulsion. America had found a way to strike the Soviet Union from across the world without having to fly nuclear reactors over their own land and troops.

Both concepts and their accompanying research are mothballed, waiting for a mission to potentially revive them.

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