Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer - We Are The Mighty
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Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Lt. Cmdr. Maria G. Mannix is a Navy surface warfare officer who is competing in the 2016 Warrior Games. The cancer fighter has had to juggle her time between doctor appointments, her duties as a deputy director of the Training Support Center in San Diego, and training for the Warrior Games where she’s a competitor in shot put, discus, rifle shooting, and sitting volleyball.


The Warrior Games are an annual competition held by the Department of Defense where wounded and sick service members compete in an Olympic-style competition.

Mannix says that – despite the challenge of being an athlete and Navy officer while fighting cancer – participating in the Warrior Games and other sports competitions with the Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor program has been an important part of her recovery.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Maria Gomez-Mannix competes in the Pacific Trials for the 2015 Warrior Games. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal

“Safe Harbor has really been a positive part of my recovery process because you meet other teammates that have serious illnesses and serious injuries and you see how they’re dealing with whatever they have, and it’s inspirational. It gives you a different outlook on things,” she said.

It’s not just Mannix’s teammates who help push her forward. The competition from wounded warriors on other teams helps as well.

“I had met a lot of the other athletes from different branches, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force,” she said, “and the more I got to make friends in other branches the more I realized that I needed to step up my game. It’s wonderful to make new friends but you also get to see the competitive edge from everybody else that’s going to be at the games as well. It helped me to focus on improving my athletic skills and trying to get my upper body strength to the best fitness I could have to be here for the games.”

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
US Navy Lt. Cmdr Maria Gomez-Mannix receives a medal for her performance in a field event of the 2015 Warrior Games. Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Terry W. Miller Jr.

That upper body strength is very important for Mannix. She’s fighting breast cancer and her surgeries have made training a challenge, but a strong upper body is vital to her performance.

“I’ve had multiple upper body surgeries which, anatomically, have changed my upper thoracic cavity. It’s more than just getting ready for the games. It’s PT and rehabilitation as well. But when you’re on the volleyball court, you’re literally using your hands as your legs and you have to be quick so you can react to the ball. There’s a lot of muscle strength that you need to have there. Same with my field events, I’m doing shotput and discus throwing. Again, it’s more of an upper body requirement.”

Mannix says that this training and competition helps patients connect in a way they can’t with their care providers or loved ones.

“We’re having a fantastic time playing and competing, but we’re also recovering and helping each other in a way you’re not going to get talking to a counselor or your doctor or your nurse or even your family and friends. It’s a different type of bond and it’s a different kind of camaraderie.”

“You expand the support network you already have,” she said. “Everybody wants to come home with the gold medal and be the winner, in the end, when the games are done, you hug and you say, ‘The games are over. Let’s go have some fun now.'”

The Navy sitting volleyball team was eliminated early in the tournament, but the field events are taking place Jun. 16 when Mannix will compete in discus and shot put. She will also compete in shooting on Jun. 19.

Viewers can find the games schedule, live streaming schedules, and event results at DoDlive.mil. Updates are also available at the Warrior Games Twitter account.

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6 ceremonial military units that are actually badass (when they aren’t wearing funny hats)

Honor guards are an important part of the pomp and circumstance surrounding official state events. Many guard units are mostly for show, serving only to drill perfectly and impress crowds.


But some honor guards are filled with active soldiers who continue to practice killing people when they aren’t all dressed up in tall hats and shiny breastplates. Here are 6 of them.

1. The Queen’s Guard (U.K.)

The Queen’s Guard is probably the most iconic ceremonial guard unit in the world, but the men outside Buckingham Palace aren’t just a tourist attraction.

They are real soldiers and are allowed to use violence to protect themselves, their post, and the Queen. Some tourists have learned this the unpleasant way.

2. The Swiss Guard (The Vatican)

Dating back to the 1400s, the Swiss Guard are the primary protective force for the Pope. When the guardsmen aren’t wearing their funny uniforms, they’re training to kill those who threaten the Holy Father. Skip to 2:13 in the video to see members of the Swiss Guard training with their assault rifles.

3. Old Guard (U.S.)

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Photo: US Army Sgt. Luisito Brooks

The 3rd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army are the official honor guard of the President as well as the ceremonial guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All members are active duty infantry soldiers who also deploy to combat and train for fights in the national capital.

(Note: The 3rd Infantry Regiment is the official honor guard for the president, but the president is much more commonly seen with the Marine Sentries, four Marines assigned to guard his person in the West Wing of the White House.)

4. Republican Guard (France)

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Photo: Wikipedia/XtoF

Part of the French Gendarmerie, a military police force, the Republican Guard serves as the guard of honor for many official events and the French president, but it also guards key government installations in Paris, protects the French prime minister and president, and engages in military exercises.

5. Corazzieri Regiment (Italy)

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Photo: Wikipedia/Jollyroger

Commanded by a colonel in the Italian Army, the Carazzieri Regiment performs ceremonial duties as the honor guard of the Italian president, but they’re also an active police force. During times of war, they can be organized under the Defense Ministry.

6. Presidential Guard (Fiji)

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Photo: Republic of Fiji Military Forces

The Presidential Guard of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces is the honor guard of Fiji’s president. However, they are also in charge of the physical security of the president’s residence and nearby installations.

NOW: Here’s the intense training for Marines who guard American embassies

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The 18 greatest fighter aircraft of all time

Results are what make a weapons system great, not just technology.


In the case of fighter aircraft, it’s all about the kills, and with that as the main selection criteria, here’s WATM’s list of the 18 greatest fighters of all time:

1. Fokker Triplane

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The iconic aircraft behind the World War I success of Manfred von Richthofen’s Flying Circus was actually designed after a Sopwith Triplane crashed behind German lines in 1917. The Fokker Triplane was relatively slow and hard to see out of, but it possessed an impressive turn rate that “The Red Baron” leveraged towards his war total of 80 confirmed kills.

2. Sopwith Camel

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
(Photo: The Canadian ace William Barker with his Sopwith Camel B6313.)

The Sopwith Camel had a more powerful engine and more firepower than the German fighters it went up against, and although the big engine made it hard to handle, in the hands of an experienced pilot the fighter was very lethal. The Sopwith Camel accounted for 1,294 air-to-air kills, the most of any model during World War I.

3. Mitsubishi Zero

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

At the outset of World War II in the Pacific, the Zero owned the skies, including those over Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Zero was primarily carrier-based, highly maneuverable, and could fly long range. Because of this the Japanese enjoyed a 12-to-1 kill ratio over the allies during the first few years of the war.

4. Bf-109

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Often incorrectly called the “Me 109,” the Bf-109 remains the most produced fighter aircraft in history and was one of the Luftwaffe’s air-to-air workhorses. The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring German fighter aces of World War II, who claimed 928 victories among them. Through constant design improvements and development by German engineers, the Bf 109 remained lethal in the face of allied technical advances throughout the war.

5. Focke-Wulf Fw-190

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The Fw-190 was generally considered superior to the Bf-109 because of it’s bigger engine (a BMW inline 12) and greater firepower. Some of the Luftwaffe ‘ s most successful fighter aces flew the Fw 190, including Otto Kittel with 267 victories, Walter Nowotny with 258, and Erich Rudorffer with 222.

6. P-51 Mustang

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The P-51 Mustang was a solution to the clear need for an effective bomber escort starting in 1943. General James Doolittle told the fighters in early 1944 to stop flying in formation with the bombers and instead attack the Luftwaffe wherever it could be found. The Mustang groups were sent in well before the bombers in a “fighter sweep” as a form of air supremacy action, intercepting German fighters while they were forming up. As a result, the Luftwaffe lost 17 percent of its fighter pilots in just over a week, and the Allies were able to establish air superiority. (Wikipedia)

7. P-38 Lightning

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

In spite of the fact that the twin-boom design limited roll rate performance, the P-38 tallied impressive kill numbers in the Pacific and the China-Burma-India areas when piloted by America’s top aces like Richard Bong (40 victories) and Thomas McGuire (38 victories).

8. P-47 Thunderbolt

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

In Europe during the critical first three months of 1944 when the German aircraft industry and Berlin were heavily attacked, the P-47 shot down more German fighters than the P-51 (570 out of 873), and shot down approximately 900 of the 1,983 claimed during the first six months of 1944. In Europe, Thunderbolts flew more sorties (423,435) than P-51s, P-38s and P-40s combined. Indeed, it was the P-47 which broke the back of the Luftwaffe on the Western Front in the critical period of January–May 1944. (Wikipedia)

9. Spitfire

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The Spitfire achieved legendary status during the Battle of Britain by racking up the highest victory-to-loss ratio among British aircraft. Spitfires were flown by British aces Johnnie Johnson (34 kills), Douglas Bader (20 kills), and Bob Tuck (27 kills). The Spitfire was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft and was the only British fighter to be in continuous production throughout the war. (Wikipedia)

10. F4F Wildcat

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The first of the Grumman “Cat” series, the carrier-based F4F was slower, shorter ranged, and less maneuverable than the Japanese Zero. However it’s ruggedness and the development of group tactics like the “Thatch Weave” allowed the Wildcat to ultimately prevail, tallying a nearly 7-to-1 kill ratio over the course of the war.

11. F6F Hellcat

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The F6F was designed to improve on the Wildcat’s ability to counter the Mitsubishi A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific Theater. Hellcats were credited with 5,223 kills, more than any other Allied naval aircraft.

12. F-4U Corsair

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Know to the Japanese as “whistling death,” Corsairs claimed 2,140 air combat victories and an overall kill ratio of over 11-to-1. Legendary F4U pilots include Marines Joe Foss, Marion Carl, and Pappy Boyington.

13. MiG-15

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

With the Chinese entry into the Korean War, the MiG-15 began to appear in the skies over Korea. Quickly proving superior to straight-wing American jets such as the F-80 and F-84 Thunderjet, the MiG-15 temporarily gave the Chinese the advantage in the air and ultimately forced United Nations forces to halt daylight bombing until the F-86 arrived to level the air combat playing field.

14. F-86 Sabre

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The F-86 was the U.S. answer to the MiG-15 that had dominated the skies over Korea in the early part of that conflict. Engagements in MiG Alley between the two aircraft were numerous, and that period is considered by many as the glory days of air-to-air warfare between jet aircraft. F-86s ended the war with a 10-to-1 kill ratio over the MiG-15s they faced.

15. F-4 Phantom

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The F-4 was the fighter and attack workhorse for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps for several decades and Phantom crews were the last to attain “ace” status in the 20th Century. The most noteworthy event happened on May 10, 1972, when Lieutenant Randy “Duke” Cunningham and Lieutenant (junior grade) William P. Driscoll shot down three MiG-17s to become the first American flying aces of the war.

16. MiG-21

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

One of the most widely used fighter aircraft in history, MiG-21s tallied impressive kill numbers during the Vietnam War, the Iran-Iraq War, and the India-Pakistan and Egypt-Israeli conflicts.

17. F-14 Tomcat

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The Tomcat didn’t make this list because of it’s long service as the U.S. Navy’s front-line carrier-based fighter (in spite of the fact that “Top Gun” remains the greatest military movie of all time), but because the Iranian Air Force had more than 160 kills with it during the Iran-Iraq War.

18. F-15 Eagle

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Eagles made dogfighting history during Operation Desert Storm, primarily because of their superior weapons suite, including state-of-the-art (at the time) identification capability. F-15s had 34 confirmed kills of Iraqi aircraft during the 1991 Gulf War.

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‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Canadian filmmaker Paul Gross was never a soldier, but he has great respect for them. He comes from a military family; his grandfather and his father both served. Gross ended up in the arts, but he believes that soldiers represent their countries with an enormous amount of dignity and honor and they should be acknowledged for that.


“A soldier signed a piece of paper at one point, saying ‘I am willing to die for my country,'” Gross says. “That’s an extraordinary fucking thing. Did you ever sign such a piece of paper? I know I sure as shit didn’t.”

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Gross wrote, directed, and stars in Hyena Road, a film about a Canadian Forces effort to build a road into the heart of enemy-held territory in Afghanistan. Gross plays Pete Mitchell, a sage intelligence officer responsible for convincing the local warlords to stop planting improvised explosive devices along the construction path .

“My character is loosely based on this real officer who was my guide,” Gross says. “Through this intelligence guy I started to learn stuff about Afghanistan. Not just the combat, I started to learn about Afghans.”

Mitchell needs to understand Afghan culture as he tries to bring a mysterious former Mujahid known as “the Ghost” to his side of the fight. The Ghost, played by Niamatullah Arghandabi, is a local Afghan elder who has a hidden identity as a legendary warlord who disappeared after the Russians withdrew.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Niamatullah Arghandabi with filmmaker Paul Gross. (Photo courtesy of Paul Gross)

Gross made two trips to Afghanistan to visit the Canadian Forces fighting there. The second time, he decided to film everything he could. He didn’t have a story at the time. A lot of that footage wound up in the final cut of Hyena Road. He talked to a lot of soldiers and took a lot of notes. When he returned to Ontario, he wrote a screenplay.

“Everything in the movie is pretty much based on stuff that I either heard or witnessed or was sort of common knowledge,” Gross says. “In other words, I didn’t make up anything.”

The film also features a very non-traditional actor in Arghandabi. He now serves an advisor to the Afghan government, and in 1979 he was a mujahid during the Soviet invasion.

“Since he was a kid, he was fighting Soviets,” the director says. “When he was 16, he was living in a cave coming out with Stinger missiles to knock down helicopters. I dragged him out and made him an actor.”

The director met the Arghandabi at Kandahar Airfield while on a visit there in 2011.

“I sat down with this guy and talked with him through an interpreter for about two and a half hours,” Gross recalls “I thought to myself, ‘I could spend the rest of my life with this guy and I would not understand one thing about him.’ That’s how different our cultures are.”

‘The Ghost’ told Gross of the time he met Osama bin Laden. To him Bin Laden wasn’t a fighter; he was a “clown.”

“It’s the weirdest thing,”Gross remembers of Arghandabi. “Talking to these people who knew all these bad guys. Bin Laden was one of the baddest guys we ever thought of, and [Arghandabi] thought he was a clown.”

Gross wants people to walk away from the film entertained, but also better informed because in his opinion, everyone should understand what it is they’re asking their military forces to do.

“That doesn’t mean you have to be against war,” Gross says. “It’s just that most of us wander around with blinders on. We should know what our neighbors, our cousins, our friends are doing there because we’re the one sending them there.”

Hyena Road is in theaters and on iTunes on March 11th.

 

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The Navy adds $108 million to budget for drone helicopters

The Navy recently added $108 million to the budget for MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter drones, bringing the total buy to 29. The MQ-8C is an autonomous version of the Bell 407 and features a maritime radar for finding enemy surface combatants at sea as well as a rangefinder that allows it to pinpoint target them, according to a June article by IHS Jane’s 360. This targeting data can then be fed to friendly ships who can target the enemy with missiles or jet sorties.


Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
An MQ-8C lands aboard the USS Jason Dunham during sea trials in 2014. (Photo courtesy Northrop Grumman)

In the future, the MQ-8C could also be a forward observer for the Navy’s highest tech, long range weapons like the electromagnetic railgun and laser systems.

Currently, the Fire Scout boasts no weapons of its own.

The drone is slated to for testing aboard ships in 2017 but the Navy did test it on the USS Jason Dunham in 2014 where it successfully took off and landed 22 times.

Video: YouTube/Northrop Grumman

The Navy also posted promising reviews of the drone’s performance in land-based tests at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California. The Fire Scout C-model demonstrated a range of over 150 nautical miles and the ability to remain in flight for approximately 12 hours.

“The C model will greatly impact how we monitor, understand and control the sea and air space around small surface combatants,” Navy Capt. Jeffrey Dodge, the program manager for Fire Scout, said in a 2015 press release.

The MQ-8B, the predecessor model to the MQ-8C, has flown over 16,000 hours and has participated in flights with manned helicopters at sea without serious incident.

(h/t Investopedia)

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That time a Marine in WWII was found clutching a sword around 13 dead Japanese soldiers

It was in August 1942 that Private 1st Class Edward Ahrens would cement his place in the halls of Marine bad*sses when he singlehandedly took on an entire group of Japanese soldiers who were trying to flank his unit.


Ahrens, a Marine assigned to Alpha Co. of the 1st Raider Battalion, was in the second assault wave hitting the beaches of Tulagi on Aug. 7, 1942. After pushing off the beach along with Charlie Co., Alpha set up a defensive line that night, according to War History Online.

Then the Japanese fiercely counter-attacked. Fortunately, Alpha Co. had Ahrens protecting its right flank.

“I came across a foxhole occupied by Private First Class Ahrens, a small man of about 140 pounds,” said Maj. Lew Walt, of what he saw the next morning. “He was slumped in one corner of the foxhole covered with blood from head to foot. In the foxhole with him were two dead Japs, a lieutenant and a sergeant. There were eleven more dead Japs on the ground in front of his position. In his hands he clutched the dead officer’s sword.”

Ahrens had successfully thwarted an enemy attack that would have opened a huge gap in the defensive line. As he lay dying, according to Walt, Ahrens whispered to him: “The idiot tried to come over me last night-I guess they didn’t know I was a Marine.”

He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, which reads:

“Private First Class Ahrens, with utter disregard for his own personal safety, single-handed engaged in hand-to-hand combat a group of the enemy attempting to infiltrate the rear of the battalion.

Although mortally wounded, he succeeded in killing the officer in command of the hostile unit and two other Japanese, thereby breaking up the attack. His great personal valor and indomitable fighting spirit were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the defense of his country.”

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Army investigating ‘We Were Soldiers’ legend for inflating awards

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Command Sgt. Maj. Plumley and Lt. Col. Harold Moore in Vietnam. (UPI photo by Joe Galloway, used with permission)


The U.S. Army is investigating allegations by a military researcher that the late Command Sgt. Major Basil Plumley — a legend in the airborne and infantry communities — wore unauthorized combat and valor awards that exaggerated the wartime achievements that made him famous.

Plumley, who died Oct. 10, 2012 from cancer at the age of 92, was a major figure in the 1992 book, “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young,” coauthored by Joseph L. Galloway and retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore.

The book was moving account of the November 1965 Battle of Ia Drang Valley in the Vietnam War and the heroic fight that 450 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, put up against a superior force of 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers at LZ X-Ray.

Brian Siddall, an independent researcher whose father and uncle served during World War II — the latter as a paratrooper who was killed during the D-Day invasion of Europe — leveled the allegations against Plumley after an extensive study of his service records. He said he has been doing research for his website for the last decade.

“It’s been a lifelong thing for me,” he told Military.com. “My uncle was killed on June 6, 1944. He was a paratrooper in Company B of the 307th Airborne Engineers.”

Siddall added, “Even as a kid, I used to ask my father — because it was his kid brother — what happened to him, and he didn’t have an answer. And by the way, my dad was a navigator on a B-17 in World War II.”

His research into Plumley’s famed exploits in the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II later prompted him to write two online articles in 2015 that show discrepancies between Plumley’s service records and the awards and actions he took credit for.

According to Siddall, who obtained Plumley’s service records, Plumley inflated his heroism in battle by wearing two Silver Stars and Bronze Star medals for valor in combat instead of wearing the single Silver Star he was awarded in Vietnam.

Plumley also exaggerated the number of Combat Infantry Badge awards he was authorized, Siddall maintains. The CIB is a sacred award only bestowed upon infantrymen for engaging in direct combat with the enemy.

In light of Siddall’s research, officials at Fort Benning, Georgia, are investigating the allegations and are considering Siddall’s request to have the information on Plumley’s headstone corrected.

AN AIRBORNE LEGEND

In “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young,” Plumley is described as “a two war man and wore master parachutist wings with five combat-jump stars,” referring to Plumley’s service in World War II and the Korean War.

“Plumley had survived all four combat jumps of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II: Sicily and Salerno in 1943, and then in 1944, D-Day at Normandy, and Market-Garden in the Netherlands,” according to the book. “For that matter, he also made one combat parachute jump in the Korean War, with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment.”

In the 2002 Hollywood movie “We Were Soldiers,” Actor Mel Gibson, playing then Lt. Col. Moore, gave a similar description of Plumley, who was played by actor Sam Elliott.

Siddall argues Plumley’s records show that he served in 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion as a scout. Plumley was Glider, meaning he was an 82nd Airborne Division gliderman, not an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, Siddall writes.

As a scout, Plumley’s job was to search out locations for emplacements for the 105mm guns, according to Siddall.

The 320th participated in two glider assaults in the European Theater, Siddall writes. Plumley’s first was on June 6, 1944, during the invasion of Normandy, he writes. Plumley’s second was for Operation Market Garden on Sept. 18, 1944, he writes. Plumley was shot in the hand the same day, according to copies of Army records in Siddall’s articles.

Glider operations in WWII were extremely dangerous. The plywood Waco and Horsa gliders presented larger targets to enemy ground fire and often crash landed, resulting in heavy casualties, according to historical sources.

Plumley was authorized to wear the glider badge and master parachutist wings, according to Army records. Plumley graduated a jump school set up by the 82nd Airborne Division in 1943, Plumley’s records show.

But Plumley never served in Korea during the Korean War, so he couldn’t have participated in one of the two combat jumps of that conflict, according to Siddall’s research.

“When you look at his overseas assignments it speaks for itself,” he wrote. “Look where Plumley was between 1951 through 26 February 1953, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky then he went to Germany,” he wrote, adding that Plumley’s service records show him serving in Korea in 1972-73.

“When I spoke with him in July of 2011, he never claimed to have jumped out of an airplane in combat in WWII or any other wars,” Siddall writes. “He did talk briefly about that he jumped out of helicopters but never an airplane in wartime.”

Talking to Military.com, Siddall said, “We talked for seven minutes on Skype. I asked him about the four jumps and he laughed and said ‘no'” he had never jumped from a plane in combat.

The reason he got really interested in doing research on Plumley was after he noticing Galloway’s obituary on Plumley contained the same exaggerations about Plumley’s career, Siddall said.

EXAGGERATED ACHIEVEMENTS

The best-selling book and the Hollywood movie elevated Plumley to celebrity status long after his retirement from the Army in 1974.

A May 2010 photograph of Plumley appearing at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in an Army Dress Blue uniform shows him wearing a Combat Infantry Badge with two stars — which means three CIB awards — one for WWII, one for the Korean War and one for the Vietnam War, Siddall maintains.

Plumley’s service records show he was only authorized to wear one CIB for his service in Vietnam, Siddall argues.

“When Plumley retired December 31, 1974 on his DD 214 he had 2 CIBs listed not three,” Siddall wrote. “When Plumley was interviewed by Galloway for the book he said he had three CIBs by that time (early 1990s). The Awards and Decorations Branch has Plumley listed as one, not three CIBs. Plumley didn’t meet the criteria for WWII and wasn’t in Korea so his first and only CIB was in Vietnam.”

Among the many documents Siddall provides in his research is an Oct. 2, 2015, letter from Army Lt. Col Wil Neubauer, chief of Awards and Decorations Branch, confirming that Plumley was authorized to wear one CIB and states that “we are unable to verify” the Combat Infantry Badge with “one star” listed on Plumley’s DD Form 214.

Click here to see the Army’s Oct. 2, 2015, memo on Plumley’s awards.

In that same photo, Plumley wore valor awards he did not earn, Siddall wrote. Plumley wore a Silver Star with a bronze oak leaf cluster, which indicates a second Silver Star. Plumley also wore a Bronze Star with a V device for valor and one bronze oak leaf cluster for two awards.

The October 2015 letter from the Army states Plumley was authorized only one Silver Star and the Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster, not two OLCs. The letter also states that Plumley was not authorized to wear the V device with his Bronze Star medals.

TRUE HEROISM

What’s indisputable is that Plumley did earn a Silver Star for courage and valor he showed during the Battle of Ia Drang Valley.

In the early-morning hours of Nov. 16, 1965, the command post of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, fell under heavy attack.

“The command post was being savagely attacked by an unknown number of Viet Cong,” according to a copy of Plumley’s Dec. 27, 1965, Silver Star Citation.

Enemy automatic weapons fire was pouring into the forward command post and aid station area, which was located about 150 meters behind the “line of contact,” it states.

“At approximately 0500 at the height of the savage attack, a flare, still burning landed in an open box of fragmentation hand grenades in the pile of small arms, mortar and other ammunition less than 10 meters from the battalion command group,” according to the document.

“Sergeant Major Plumley, voluntarily and unhesitatingly, rose up in the face of intense small arms and automatic fire, dashed to the burning flare, lifting it with his bare hands out of the box of grenades and threw it. He extinguished the flare with his feet as well as other small fires which it had ignited around the ammo area,” it states.

Plumley’s brave action, it goes on, “performed under fire with complete disregard for his own personal safety, undoubtedly prevented the complete ammunition supply from exploding.”

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
CSM Plumley at West Point in 2010. (Photo: Wikimedia)

In his research, Siddall acknowledges that “Plumley received the Silver Star Medal for what he did, and it was important,” Siddall writes.  But, he adds, “that wasn’t enough for someone like Plumley. Plumley had to build himself up even more. For Plumley to be seen wearing the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with the 3 CIB Badge at West Point in 2010 was disgusting.”

Military.com contacted Galloway about Siddall’s research and why Plumley’s service records contradict what Galloway, the only journalist present at LZ X-Ray, wrote about Plumley. Military.com sent Galloway Siddall’s two articles, which contained hyperlinks to Plumley’s service records.

Galloway wrote the following response by email:

“I don’t know a thing about Mr. Siddall and his research that slanders a fine old soldier who died four years ago and can’t speak for himself.

“My co-author Lt. Gen. Hal Moore vouched for CSM Plumley when we were working on the books. I read the Plumley biography when Moore and Plumley received the Doughboy Award quite a few years ago. It sure looked official to me and matched details I had been told about his service. I have no interest in commenting on this any further.”

The Doughboy Award is presented annually to recognize an individual for outstanding contributions to the United States Army Infantry. The award is a chrome replica of a helmet worn by American Expeditionary soldiers during World War I and the early days of World War II.

PLUMLEY’S HEADSTONE

Siddall sent his findings to Fort Benning in late 2015 and asked if the information on Plumley’s headstone was going to be corrected.

Fort Benning officials eventually referred Siddall to Army Human Resources Command’s Awards and Decorations Branch.

Military.com contacted Benning on May 4 about Siddall’s request.

Col. Andy Hilmes, the garrison commander for Fort Benning, said his office is reviewing the request and that it’s possible Plumley’s headstone will be corrected.

The issue is the information in question on Plumley’s headstone — which reads “Silver Star with OLC” and “BSM W/V 2nd OLC” — comes from Plumley’s DD 214, the Army’s separation of service form.

Hilmes acknowledged Siddall’s research of Plumley’s records shows several discrepancies and that Plumley’s DD 214 does not match the official letter from the Army’s Awards and Decoration Branch stating there is no verification that Plumley is authorized more than one Silver Star or the Bronze Star Medal with V Device for Valor with a second oak leaf cluster.

“I want to do the right thing,” Hilmes said. “I have looked at how do we go about changing the headstone. … I can’t change the DD 214 at Benning; that is really up to the Department of the Army.”

Fort Benning reached out to Plumley’s daughter, who is currently looking through her father’s records.

Among the records she sent to Benning is a diploma from the 82nd Airborne Parachute School, stating that Plumley became a qualified parachutist on March 11, 1943. The document is signed by Maj. Gen. James M. Gavin, commander of the 82nd Airborne during World War II.

The documents she sent, however, contain no mention of any combat jumps in WWII or the Korean War.

The plan is to forward all of Plumley’s personal records to Army Human Resources Command for a further review, according to Benning officials.

Military.com tried to contact retired. Lt. Gen. Harold Moore, who commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, in the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, but he “suffers from advanced dementia and is unable to discuss this matter,” according to his son Dave Moore in an email to Military.com.

“Having read the allegation and scanned portions of Mr. Siddall’s extensive research, it is clear that discrepancies exist,” Dave Moore wrote the email. “The fact that the DoD could not verify all of the CSM’s awards is not surprising given the lack of rigor in the maintenance of records in the 1940s. I am confident that my father wrote the truth as he knew it, and that Mr. Galloway accepted that truth. I am confident there was no willful intention to deceive readers.”

Steve Moore, another son of Lt. Gen. Moore’s sons, said even his own father was the victim of poor record-keeping when he was being added recently to Fort Leavenworth’s International Hall of Fame.

“As part of that process, they coordinated with the family to obtain [Moore’s] bio and other material,” Steve Moore wrote in an email. “One of the items they shared with us was the current bio the General Officer Management Office (GOMO) had for Dad. We were horrified. It showed him with a CIB with 2 stars and added an extra award of the BSM/V and other medals.

“Apparently, the clerk who assembled the list years ago did not know that an oak leaf cluster represented the 2nd and subsequent award. So “CIB(2Awd)” on Dad’s DD214 became a CIB with 2 stars, added extra BSM/V … Thank goodness we fixed this before there were any stolen valor accusations.”

Siddall says he just wants the record about Plumley to be corrected.

“I just want the correct information out there because there are so many people that are really heroes, and it is so frustrating when they give the hero status to someone who was anything but,” he said.

Military.com also reached out to Doug Sterner, curator for Military Times Hall of Valor, for his insight into this story. Sterner, who has been compiling and digitizing military awards for more than 20 years, has exposed many individuals for stolen valor, or wearing unauthorized military awards.

Sterner said he doesn’t see the point in bringing up the discrepancies about Plumley, a man he calls a “genuine hero” because he earned a Silver Star in battle. He said he knows of hundreds of cases in which soldiers have been awarded Silver Stars or other valor awards and the records cannot be found.

“I don’t see the point in trying to be so historically accurate we destroy a genuine hero,” Sterner said.

–Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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Watch Army special forces vet Tyler Grey talk music

Army Special Forces veteran Tyler Grey is definitely what you would call an “operator.”


A Ranger, a sniper with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and a combat veteran, Grey has served his country well.

He knows the meaning of sacrifice, perhaps more than most. In 2005, he was blown up in a raid in Sadr City, Iraq, which nearly cost him his arm. But the experience gave Grey an evolved sense of perspective.

We Are The Mighty sat down to talk with him about how music had an impact on his career and his life, and what he had to say was pretty insightful.

“The journey isn’t that you never have a problem. The journey is overcoming problems. The music I like is about people who are honest and open enough to share a problem, to share a weakness, to share an experience that affected them, and then how they overcome it.”

We also asked Grey to make a Battle Mix — a playlist of power anthems — with songs that held significant meaning throughout his life. He didn’t disappoint.

Check out his interview here, and then hit up the Battle Mix for your own dose of inspiration:

(We Are The Mighty | YouTube)

The Grey Battle Mix (you’re welcome):

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This video shows the US obliterating a suspected ISIS chemical weapons plant

We’ve heard this one before, but a senior U.S. military official said Sept. 13 that a swarm of coalition jets bombed a facility near Mosul, Iraq, he claimed was making chemical weapons for the Islamic State terrorist group.


The general in charge of Central Command’s air forces said the recent strike on a former pharmaceutical plant involved a dozen aircraft — from A-10 Thunderbolt IIs to B-52 Stratofortresses — on 50 different targets.

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich/Released)

“Intelligence had indicated that Daesh converted a pharmaceutical plant complex into a chemical weapons productions capability,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian during a press briefing Sept. 13. “This represents just another example of [ISIS] blatant disregard for international law and norms.”

The air chief admitted there’s a long history of false reporting on chemical weapons production in the Middle East, particularly with Iraq, but said intelligence pointed to specific weapons being manufactured there.

“The target set, as we better understood it, was basically a pharmaceutical element that they were, we believe, using them for most probably chlorine or mustard gas,” Harrigian said. “We don’t know for sure at this point.”

The strike included F-15E Strike Eagles; A-10s; B-52s; Marine F/A-18D Hornets and F-16 Falcons.

“With respect to the number of airplanes we used, so as we looked at the number of points of interest … specifically, we had a pretty significant number of them,” Harrigian said. “And so to allocate the right types of weapons from the — the necessary number of platforms, we needed that many jets to be able to take out the breadth from that facility that was out there on the ground.”

 Defense officials also said Sept. 12 that an investigation had confirmed that a strike on ISIS senior recruiter and tactical planner Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani had been successful. There was some doubt on whether the attack on a vehicle in Syria had actually killed the key leader.

“The strike near Al Bab, Syria, removes from the battlefield ISIL’s chief propagandist, recruiter and architect of external terrorist operations,” said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook. “It is one in a series of successful strikes against ISIL leaders, including those responsible for finances and military planning, that make it harder for the group to operate.”

Russia had also claimed credit for the kill, but officials say there were no Russian jets in the area at the time of the strike.

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23 terms only Marines will understand

Marines speak a slightly-different language than the rest of the United States.


While everyone in the Corps speaks and uses English most of the time, there’s another layer of terminology added on top which is uniquely Marine. If you are around Marines long enough, you’ll hear someone being called a “boot” or dozens of them screaming out “yut.”

This is what it all means.

“Rah.” or “Rah!” or “Rah?”

Short for “Oohrah,” a Marine greeting or expression of enthusiasm similar to the Army’s “Hooah” or the Navy’s “Hooyah.” Rah, however, is a bit more versatile. You could be agreeing with someone, by saying “rah.” You could be excited about going on a mission by exclaiming, “Rah!” Or you could be asking the platoon if everyone understands, “rah?”

It’s like the Marine version of the mobster’s “fuggaddaboutit.”

“Errrr.”

This is an even more shortened-down version of “rah.” But it’s most often used as a lazy-man’s version of agreement. Your platoon sergeant may ask if everyone understands the plan of the day, to which everyone will respond with “Errrr.” Translation: Yeah Gunny, we got it.

“Yut.”

Arguably used more often than “Oohrah” by junior Marines to express enthusiasm. Instead of “oohrah,” Marines will often just say “yut” when in the presence of motivational speeches and/or talk of blowing things up.

Semper Gumby

A play on the Marine Corps motto of “Semper Fidelis (Latin for “Always Faithful”), Semper Gumby for Marines means “Always Flexible.” This phrase is often used when you are told to do one thing, then told a different thing, then told to just stand by, then told to go back to doing the original thing. “Semper Gumby, bro.”

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Boot

A pejorative term for a new Marine fresh out of boot camp. The term’s origin apparently comes from Vietnam, as an acronym meaning “beginning of one’s tour.” New Marines joining a unit are usually referred to as “boots” until they go on a deployment or have at least a year or two in the Corps. Especially among post-9/11 era infantry Marines however, you are pretty much a “boot” until you’ve been to combat.

Fire watch

This is what Marines call guard duty. While sentries may well have been looking for fires in the past, Marines pulling fire watch nowadays can be walking around a barracks aimlessly or standing their shift behind the machine-gun in Afghanistan.

Since this is one of the most important duties of recruits at boot camp, senior Marines will often say boots only have the “fire watch ribbon,” a pejorative for the National Defense Service Medal that everyone gets.

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“SITFU”

Acronym often used in response to someone complaining. “Hey dude, SITFU.” That means suck it the f— up. You can also just ask if they have a straw. Most Marines will understand the reference.

“Improvise, adapt, and overcome.”

An unofficial motto of Marines that means exactly what you think it means. As the smaller service — and with much less funding than the Army — Marines have an attitude of doing more with less. “Improvise, adapt, and overcome” sums it all up.

Grand Old Man of the Marine Corps

The nickname for the fifth Commandant of the Marine Corps, Archibald Henderson, who served in the Marine Corps for 54 years. But most of the time when this phrase is used, it’s in referring to the oldest guy in the unit. Common usage: “Hey grand old man, what was it like serving with Jesus?”

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“Kill!”

Sure, it can literally mean kill. But in Marine-speak, kill can mean “yes, I understand,” “hell yeah,” or “let’s do this.” Marines will even say “kill” as a half-joking version of hello. Using this one outside of the Corps can get plenty of strange looks, so don’t try this one on your local college campus.

BAMCIS

Acronym for the Marine Corps’ six troop-leading steps. It stands for begin the planning, arrange reconnaissance, make reconnaissance, complete the planning, issue the order, and supervise. But most Marines just say “BAMCIS” when they successfully complete a task. It’s like when Chef Emeril says “Bam!” Just add a “cis.”

Skating

The term Marines use for slacking off. Soldiers call this behavior “shamming,” but Marines can “skate” out of boring tasks by avoiding them somehow, usually by getting a dental appointment. And of course, S-K-A-T-E is even an acronym: S: Stay out of trouble / K: Keep a low profile / A: Avoid higher-ups / T: Take your time / E: Enjoy yourself.

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Direct reflection of leadership

This is often used sarcastically to rib a non-commissioned officer when one of his or her Marines gets in trouble. “So, two guys from your squad got caught drinking in Tijuana then got arrested at the border. Direct reflection of leadership, right corporal?”

Motarded

What some Marines will call an extremely gung-ho coworker. It’s not a compliment.

Ninja Punch

Non-judicial punishment — also known as the Article 15 — is what Marines can face if they break the rules, but a commander doesn’t feel it’s bad enough to warrant a court martial. While the military justice system is the same across branches, the Marines are the only ones who refer to it as an NJP. If you walk out of your commanding officer’s door going down a rank or losing some pay, you probably got “ninja punched.”

Pvt. or Lance Cpl. Schmuckatelli

The John Doe of the Marine Corps. He’s the screw-up and the guy always getting in trouble. The Marine who is lost all the time. The anonymous service-member who stands as the example of what not to do. This term will usually be brought up by a senior leader, like: “Hey gents, you are all doing good things. Be safe out there this weekend, but don’t let me get a phone call about Pvt. Schmuckatelli getting all drunk out at the club and getting into trouble, good to go?”

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Semper I

Another play on “Semper Fidelis,” which often gets shortened to “Semper Fi.” While the motto means “Always Faithful” and brings up teamwork and esprit de corps, “Semper I” is used when a Marine goes off and does their own thing without thinking of others. Sometimes used as “Semper I, f— the other guy.”

Terminal Lance

Lance Corporal, or E-3, is a Marine rank that comes with more responsibility than a private or private first class, but is not a non-commissioned officer. In order for Marines to pick up the next rank of corporal, they need to have a high-enough “cutting score” to be promoted. If they get out after their four-year enlistment at Lance Corporal, they are a “Terminal Lance,” which can be bad or a point of pride, depending on who you talk to. “Terminal Lance” is also a hugely-popular online comic strip started by Maximilian Uriarte.

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Let’s break it down, Barney-style.

Some Marines need some help in understanding how to complete a task. When this happens, a leader may want to break it down into baby steps and explain it very slowly. You know, just like Barney.

BCG’s

These are what Marines call the glasses you get issued at boot camp, or “boot camp glasses.” Most know them by their nickname, which is “birth control glasses,” because well, you probably don’t want to hit the club wearing these things.

The Lance Corporal Underground

The source of most rumors that go around the Corps. Since lance corporals make up a large part of the Corps, the underground is often responsible for passing word of what’s going on, or completely made-up falsehoods.

“Good initiative, bad judgment.”

This phrase comes out when a Marine does something for a good reason, but things turn out awful. A great example would be when your platoon commander says he knows a shortcut through the woods, then he gets the platoon completely lost. “Good initiative, bad judgment, sir.” Next time, let’s stick to the planned route.

Field Day

Traditionally run on Thursday, the one night of the week Marines usually dread. No, it’s not the field day of play and sports like back in school. It’s the term used to describe the weekly ritual of cleaning rooms in the barracks. Field day cleaning involves moving furniture (often completely outside of the room), dusting top-to-bottom, vacuuming, scrubbing, and waxing floors.

“Basically Field day is just another tool used by Marine Corps leadership to piss off and demoralize Marines on a weekly basis,” reads the top definition in Urban Dictionary. If your first sergeant finds a speck of dust anywhere, you’re screwed.

What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

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8 awesome enlisted leaders depicted in war movies

Finding good leadership in the military can be difficult. Writing strong interesting characters for movies that audiences respect is a completely separate challenge. But after watching these iconic war films, we’d wager that most ground troops wouldn’t mind serving alongside these screen legends.

So here’s our list of enlisted leaders we’d follow into battle.

1. Gunny Highway (Heartbreak Ridge)

Played by Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, this career Senior NCO took a bunch of misfits and turned them in hard-charging Reconnaissance Marines in just a few short movie hours. That’s badass and tough to pull off.

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“Be advised that I’m mean, nasty, and tired. I eat concertina wire and piss napalm and I can put a round through a flea’s ass at 200 meters” — Gunny Highway. (Source: WB/Screenshot)

2. Sgt. 1st Class Horvath (Saving Private Ryan)

Played by veteran actor Tom Sizemore, this loyal sergeant to his CO just wanted to keep the men in line, fight hard and finish the mission.

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Horvath didn’t get the respect he deserved in the film, but we know… we know. (Source: Dream Works/Screenshot)

3. Sgt. Elias (Platoon)

Played by long time actor Willem Dafoe, this seasoned soldier is the voice of his lower enlisted troops and brings a human element to an inhumane world.

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Source: Platoon

4. Sgt. Eversmann (Black Hawk Down)

Played by Josh Hartnett, this newly assigned chalk leader is put to the ultimate test as he spearheads into the legendary Somalia raid and thinks of his men over himself. That’s leadership.

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Leave no man behind. (Source: Sony/Screenshot)

5. Don Collier (Fury)

Played by Brad Pitt and known in the film as “War Daddy,” he strives to keep his men alive and kill as many Germans in the process while not allowing his men see his softer side during the grueling tank battles of WWII.

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He enjoys killin’ Nazis, but that was Pitt’s other movie. (Source: Sony/Screenshot)

6. Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley (We Were Soldiers)

Played by Sam Elliott, this hardcore infantryman isn’t into coddling his men but cares about their health and the importance of taking the fight to the enemy.

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7. Michael (The Deer Hunter)

Played by award-winning actor Robert De Niro, no emotional expense was spared when he brought to life this character who suffered great torment to keep his men from going insane while being held captive in a POW camp.

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A high-tension game of Russian roulette. (Source: Universal/Screenshot)

8. Gunny Hartman (Full Metal Jacket)

Played by R. Lee Ermy (retired Marine), Hartman took the audience by storm as he brutally trained his recruits to prepare for the dangers they’d soon face heading off to Vietnam.

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This is why Marines say flying a Harrier is like ‘riding a dragon’

With the capability to carry a variety of weapons such as air-to-air missiles, precision guided bombs, and a 25mm machine gun that can fire up to 3,600 rounds per minute, the Harrier is the Marine Corps’ top choice when they need close air support where airfields are hard to come by.


“On my first flight, my instructor told me it was going to be like riding a dragon,” says Marine Capt. Brady Cummins during an interview. “He was definitely telling the truth.”

The AV-8B Harrier II was the first Marine tactical aircraft to arrive in the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm in the early ’90s.

Related: How the Sea Harrier defeated more superior fighters during the Falklands War

According to Boeing, the U.S. took 86 Harriers, flew 3,380 combat sorties and totaled 4,112 hours of combat flight time during the 42-day war.

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The Harrier II jet demonstrated it’s effectiveness during Operation Desert Storm. (Source: Naval Technology”

These aerial marvels are known for their fixed-wing vertical short takeoff and landing — also known as “V/STOL” — which makes the Harrier one of the most maneuverable in service. The Harrier’s engines produce 23,000 pounds of thrust, allowing the aircraft to hover like a helicopter or launch forward at near-supersonic speeds.

At only 47 feet long and weighing 15,000 pounds when empty, this combat jet is approximately half the size of other modern fighter jets.

Also Read: The Marine Corps’ love-hate relationship with the AV-8 Harrier

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video to see the Marine piloted Harrier soar like a medieval dragon for yourself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
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6 Fort Campbell soldiers allegedly sold $1 million in stolen military equipment on eBay

It’s probably a tale as old as the military itself, but even the anonymity of the online marketplace couldn’t keep these alleged military conspirators from getting nabbed by the feds for pinching combat gear for resale on the outside.


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(Photo from DOD)

The United States Attorney’s Office for Middle Tennessee indicted six Fort Campbell soldiers Oct. 6 for allegedly selling more than $1 million worth of military equipment they’d stolen from the base to buyers on eBay. The feds say the soldiers stole sensitive items, including body armor, sniper optics and flight helmets and sold them to anonymous bidders — some they say were in foreign countries.

Four sergeants and two specialists were named in the indictment, along with two civilians who the Justice Department says helped the soldiers resell the gear to foreign buyers, including flight helmets to Russian buyers and night vision helmet mounts to buyers in China and Mexico.

“Homeland Security considers the national security interests of our nation among our top priorities,” said Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer, who helped with the investigation. “It’s especially disturbing when we identify corrupted members of our military who undermine the welfare of this this country, so we, along with our law enforcement partners, shall continue to aggressively investigate this type of criminal activity.”

The indictment charges each defendant with conspiring to steal or receive U.S. Army property and to sell or convey U.S. Army property without authority. The civilian defendants were charged with additional counts of wire fraud, money laundering and violating the Arms Export Control Act. One was also charged with three counts of selling or conveying U.S. Army property without authority.

“Those who compromise the safety of the American public and our military personnel in the interest of greed will be held accountable for their actions,” IRS investigator Tracey D. Montaño said.

The Justice Department says each defendant faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the conspiracy charge. The civilians face up to 20 years for each for wire fraud and violating the Arms Export Control Act and an additional 20 years on the money laundering charges. The defendants also face forfeiture of the proceeds of their crimes.

 

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