D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history - We Are The Mighty
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D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history

With more than 6,000 ships and 150,000 troops involved, along with nearly 12,000 aircraft, D-Day stands as the largest amphibious assault in history. The Allies pulled together every resource available to breach Hitler’s Fortress in Europe, but they had to do so without America’s experts in amphibious warfare. The U.S. Marine Corps was busy pushing back the Japanese in the Pacific, island by island. Here’s how Eisenhower and his generals did it.


Planning for D-Day pits allies against each other

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Photo: US Army Signal Corps

The demands of D-Day caused fights for resources. The Americans and British fought over when to make Normandy the priority while the Army was pitted against the Navy for resources, according to historical essays from “Command Decisions.”

The stress between the American and British leadership centered on an American belief that the British wanted to spend more time consolidating gains in the Mediterranean rather than pivot to France and open the new front in the war. The Americans thought that British leadership wanted to spend more time in Southern Europe to gain political power there, while British planners thought the focus should remain in the area a little longer to force Germany to move more reinforcements away from Normandy.

For the Army and Navy, the fight was over how shipbuilding assets should be used. The Army wanted more landing craft while the Navy needed shipbuilders focused on repairing and rebuilding the deepwater fleet that had been diminished by Pearl Harbor, submarine warfare, and escort duties for convoys.

Both problems were settled at the Cairo-Tehran conferences in 1943. British leaders assured the U.S. that they were committed to crossing the English Channel in 1944. The issue of new landing craft was settled due to two factors. First, the Navy had reduced need for new ships as German submarines were sinking fewer craft. Second, Churchill decried the shortage of landing craft, pledging his country would focus on constructing ships for the landing if the Americans would increase their effort as well.

Heavy German defenses force the Allies to do the unexpected

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Photo: US Army History Museum

The obvious points for an Allied force to invade Normandy in the 1940s were the large port at Pas-de-Calais or the smaller ports at La Havre and Cherbourg. German defense planners reinforced these zones to the point that invaders would either fail to reach the beaches or be immediately pushed back upon landing. Instead, the Allies created a plan to land at a beach instead of a port.

The final plan was to land between Le Havre in the east and Cherbourg in the west. The invading forces would spread from there while airborne troops would jump ahead onto key objectives, securing bridges, destroying artillery, and wreaking havoc on the enemy communications. The plan faced numerous challenges, though two stood out.

First, German leadership knew of the Allies use of landing craft in Sicily and assessed the beaches as vulnerable, likely targets. Second, the Normandy coast was famous for bad weather and extreme tides, up to 21-foot changes in a day.

This would leave the Allies with relatively lightly-defended beaches, but a huge logistics problem once they had landed. Large ships would have no deepwater piers to pull up to and no cranes to remove supplies from cargo holds.

The Allies would ultimately get around this through the construction of “Mulberry Harbors,” prefabricated, floating piers protected by sunken World War I ships and caissons. The first piers were operational by June 14 and allowed vehicles and supplies up to 40 tons to drive from deepwater ships to the shore.

Weather delays D-Day but also saves it

The movement of supplies and soldiers to Britain had taken place over two years, culminating in a massive troop buildup in 1944. But the day of the invasion had to be set for small, three-day windows centered on proper tides and moonlight. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, set the invasion date for June 5, 1944 and trusted British Capt. James Stagg to make the weather decision for proposed invasion dates.

Stagg and the British meteorologists found themselves in disagreement with the Americans as to the weather for June 5. Stagg recommended delaying the invasion due to storms the British predicted, while the Americans thought a high pressure wedge would stave off the storms and provide blue skies. Luckily, Eisenhower only heard directly from Stagg and accepted his recommendation. D-Day was pushed to June 6.

The Germans, meanwhile, also predicted the storms but thought they would last for at least a week or more. With this weather forecast, the German high command went ahead with war games and pulled its troops away from the coastal defenses so they could practice defending the coasts. The head of German land defenses, Gen. Erwin Rommel, left to give his wife a pair of birthday shoes. The beaches would be more lightly defended and lack key leadership when the Allies arrived.

June 6, 1944: D-Day

Though the weather wouldn’t clear for hours, Stagg recommended to Eisenhower that he go ahead with the June 6 invasion. Just after midnight, the invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe began.

Prior to the beach landings, 23,000 American, British, and Canadian paratroopers dropped through heavy cloud cover to begin securing what would become the flanks of the main force at the beaches. They also struck at key logistics and communications hubs, allowing for the eventual push from the beach while also weakening the Germans’ ability to organize their counter attacks. Allied bombers struck targets on the beaches, preparing the objectives for the main force.

The landings on the Normandy coast began at 6:30 a.m. with the 8th Regimental combat team under Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt at Utah Beach. Soldiers at Utah experienced a successful, relatively light invasion. Over the next few hours, Allied troops were landing at Gold, Juno, Sword, and Omaha Beaches.

At Omaha, bombing and naval fire had been relatively ineffective and many floating tanks were sunk due to the weather. Troops landed at heavily defended beaches where engineers had trouble clearing obstacles. The first wave took cover behind enemy anti-ship defenses and was bogged down. Follow-on troops helped assault the enemy defenses, climbing cliffs under fire to reach objectives. All four Medal of Honor awardees from D-Day fought on Omaha Beach.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Photo: US Army

“As our boat touched sand and the ramp went down, I became a visitor to hell,” said Pvt. Charles Neighbor, a veteran of Omaha Beach. By nightfall, the other four beaches were held with forces pushing between two and four miles inland. At Omaha, Allied soldiers continued to fight against pockets of resistance.

D-Day cost the lives of 4,413 Allied soldiers and between 4,000 and 9,000 Germans. The remaining pockets of resistance on Omaha Beach were conquered on June 7, and the Allies began the long push to Berlin. The War in Europe would rage for nearly another year before Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945.

NOW: Listen to Reagan’s chilling speech about soldiers who scaled cliffs under heavy fire on D-Day

OR: 12 rare and amazing photos from the “War to End All Wars’

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French special forces emerge from the shadows in this stunning video

France has been looking for some new recruits for its Commandement des Opérations Spéciales, and it’s turning to YouTube to drum up some interest.


D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Members of France’s special forces fire their HK416 rifles. (Youtube screenshot)

According to a report by the London Daily Mail, the video is titled, “A very special video” (gee, did they draw their inspiration from promos for the TV show “Blossom” when they were talking titles?), and shows French commandos in the type of scenes you’d see in a Hollywood blockbuster.

This includes insertions by parachute, minisub, and with scuba gear.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
A Eurocopter Tigre escorts a transport helicopter. (Youtube Screenshot)

The French Commandement des Opérations Spéciales was founded in 1992 to control the special operations forces across the entire French military. This includes the 1st Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine and the 13th Régiment de Dragons Parachutistes from the French army, the Force Maritime des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos from the French navy, and the Division des Opérations Spéciales from the French air force.

The famous Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale — known for a number of hostage rescues and counter-terrorism missions — can be called on by the COS for reinforcement, along with other units across all the French armed forces.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
A C-160 Transall comes in for a landing. (Youtube Screenshot)

One notable piece of gear that is featured in the video is the Transall C-160, a Franco-German twin-engine cargo plane that can hold up to 88 paratroopers and which has a top speed of 368 miles per hour and a range of 1,151 miles. France had 75 of these planes in service.

Also seen are helicopters like the AC532 Cougar, the AS332 Super Puma, and the AS330 Puma, Tigre gunships, and assault rifles like the HK416 and FAMAS. You can see the entire trailer below.

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These are the best pictures from the military this week

Military photographers in all the branches of the armed forces are constantly taking awesome shots of training, combat, and stateside events. We looked among the military’s official channels, Flickr, Facebook, and elsewhere and picked our favorites over the past week. Here’s what we found.


AIR FORCE:

An F-22 Raptor, from the 43rd Fighter Squadron, takes off in Savannah, Ga., during Sentry Savannah 16-3, Aug. 2, 2016. The F-22 is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Solomon Cook

A B-52 Stratofortress, B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit sit beside one another on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug.10, 2016. The occasion marked the first time in history that all three of Air Force Global Strike Command’s strategic bombers were positioned to simultaneously conduct operations in the U.S. Pacific Command region.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Richard Ebensberger

ARMY:

A U.S. Army paratrooper drags his parachute toward a target during Leapfest 2016 in West Kingston, R.I., Aug. 4, 2016. Leapfest is an International parachute training event and competition hosted by the 56th Troop Command, Rhode Island Army National Guard to promote high level technical training and esprit de corps within the International Airborne community.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brady Pritchett

U.S. Army Spc. Mariah Ridge, a military working dog handler assigned to Joint Task Force-Bravo’s Joint Security Forces, laughs at her military working dog, Jaska, during K9 hoist evacuation training at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, Aug. 15, 2016. Although the MWDs and their handlers were training in 90 degree, 100 percent humidity weather, they managed to stay in good spirits.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika

NAVY:

YOKOSUKA, Japan (Aug. 18, 2016) Deck Department Sailors haul in mooring lines during a sea-and-anchor evolution aboard the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), after returning from Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) testing at sea. The lines are used to secure the ship to the pier. Ronald Reagan provides a combat-ready force, which protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jamaal Liddell

EDITERRANEAN SEA (Aug. 11, 2016) A Sailor signals an AV-8B Harrier pilot assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU) to stop aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) Aug. 11, 2016. The 22nd MEU, embarked aboard Wasp, is conducting precision air strikes in support of the Libyan Government of National Accord-aligned forces against Daesh targets in Sirte, Libya, as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Wilkes

MARINE CORPS:

Marines and sailors with Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, participated in a Teufel Hunden, or Devil Dog, challenge August 12, 2016, on Camp Lejeune North Carolina. Companies competed against each other in sprint relays, pugil stick fighting, a pull-up and push-up competition, ground fighting and a high-intensity tactical training course. The field meet was organized to build camaraderie among the Marines and sailors.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Melanye Martinez

Marines and sailors with Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, participated in a Teufel Hunden, or Devil Dog, challenge August 12, 2016, on Camp Lejeune North Carolina. Companies competed against each other in sprint relays, pugil stick fighting, a pull-up and push-up competition, ground fighting and a high-intensity tactical training course. The field meet was organized to build camaraderie among the Marines and sailors. BLT 3/6 is a part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brianna Gaudi

COAST GUARD:

July 13, 2013 — U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Brendon Ballard, left, checks the dive rig of Petty Officer 2nd Class Dylan Baker prior to entering a diver decontamination station pier side at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during Rim of the Pacific 2016.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Thomas McKenzie

Sunset review is a graduation tradition at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The incoming second class lower the national ensign in honor of the first classes graduation and promotion from cadet to Ensign in the U.S.C.G.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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Air Force officials: F-35 is the ‘Burger King jet’

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
USAF photo


Although the F-35 Lightning II regularly makes headlines for all the wrong reasons, Air Force pilots at Edwards Air Force Base in California have begun weighing in on the jet’s capabilities, and it’s good news.

US Air Force Lt. Col. Raja Chari, director of the F-35 integrated test force and commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron, said that the F-35’s automated systems free up the pilot to focus on mission planning in an interview with Defense News.

“Each plane is its own command and control platform,” said Chari, who also has experience flying a legacy platform, the F-15.

“You don’t have to do as much stick and rudder, just getting to and from, because there are so many automated modes to use on the F-35 … [It] is almost as easy as breathing.”

US Air Force Maj. Raven LeClair, also of the 461st flight test squadron, raved about another unique aspect of the Joint Strike Fighter, the “glass” or dual touch-screen display which is highly customizable by individual pilots.

“It’s the Burger King jet,” Chari said of the F-35’s versatile setups. “You can have it however you want, your way.”

Combined with the F-35’s helmet, which employs six infrared cameras positioned around the plane to allow pilots to see through the jets’ airframe, F-35 pilots have an unprecedented awareness of the entire battle space.

“In this plane it’s 360 degrees and a much larger range of stuff that you are looking at so that you are not just thinking about what your particular jets doing, but now you are looking at other elements in a national strike package,” said Chari.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
An F-35 flies at a high angle of attack relative to the US Air Force Thunderbird F-16s on either side of it. | USAF photo

“So whether that’s looking at ground targets or emitters or air targets, you are building a much bigger picture than the traditional planes.”

Chari also spoke highly of the F-35’s ability to fly at a high angle of attack, or with its nose pointed up, saying that pilots are learning to use this quality to perform close-in flight maneuvers.

Though the F-35’s dogfighting ability has been questioned before, Chari says the eventual integration of the AIM 9X missile with the plane’s systems will be a “dogfighting game-changer.”

Not only are pilots touting the F-35’s next-gen capacities, maintainers are big on the plane’s internal diagnostic system.

Though critics have claimed that the Joint Strike Fighter’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), a system that internally tracks and diagnoses problems with each part of each plane worldwide, could be wiped out by a single server failure, maintainers told Defense News that the claim is ludicrous.

“We’ve had that happen multiple times, and we can still use ALIS,” said RJ Vernon, supervisor of the Third Air Force about server failures affecting the F-35. In the event of a long-term server failure, the worst-case scenario would be that maintainers have to track the parts manually, which they already do with legacy fighters.

On the whole, Lockheed Martin contractors and Air Force technicians agree, the ALIS is a big help.

“It tells you everything you need to know instantly,” Vernon said. “ALIS reduces our troubleshooting drastically, it makes my job very easy.”

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Big and Little Brother: An F-35A sits in a run station on the Fort Worth, Texas, flight line, while an F-16 Fighting Falcon, also produced at the Fort Worth plant, takes off in the background. Learn more about F-35 production. | Lockheed Martin photo

Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Patters, who as worked on the A-10 and F-16s, said the F-35 was far easier to work on. His only complaint was waiting on the computer to load new tasks.

“We could teach you in 15 minutes,” Patters said of the user-friendly interface.

Additionally, the F-35 was built with maintainers in mind. The time they save working on the plane will translate to millions of dollars in savings over the life of the program.

For example, the panels of the plane allow easy access to maintainers, like the nose that comes off in a single piece. Also, the weapons bay doesn’t require cleaning, because the missiles are launched with air pressure instead of explosives that leave behind residue.

“Our jobs are drastically easier because of the way the jet takes care of itself,” concluded Patters.

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A new Civil War film tells the true story of the southerner who seceded from the Confederacy

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history


An upcoming film set during the Civil War will tell the remarkable story of Newton Knight, a poor farmer who seceded from the Confederacy to establish his own independent state in Jones County, Mississippi.

It sounds like a crazy tale that only Hollywood could come up with, but “The Free State of Jones” is based on a true story, with Matthew McConaughey in the lead role. The film was shot in Louisiana and is set for release on March 11, 2016. Only a few photos have been made public, no trailer has been released, and little is known of the full plot, but if the movie follows the real story close enough, it’ll probably be quite awesome.

Newton Knight was born in 1837 and lived a simple life of farming on his own land. By 1860, that would quickly change after his state seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. Having the smallest percentage of slaves among all the counties in Mississippi, many in Jones County — including Knight — didn’t agree with the idea of secession.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history

Still, Knight knew he would have been drafted into the Confederate Army. He reluctantly enlisted in 1861, only to get a furlough after a few months to care for his dying father. Then in May 1862, he enlisted again with a group of friends so he wouldn’t be sent off to fight amongst strangers, according to The Smithsonian Associates.

It was in Nov. 1862 that Knight officially became a rebel among his rebel peers. He went absent without leave (AWOL) from the army, then he raised his own, bringing together roughly 125 men from Jones and nearby counties to fight against the Confederacy. This was shortly after Knight allegedly shot and killed Confederate Maj. Amos McLemore when he came around hunting for deserters.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Interestingly enough, the “Knight Company” didn’t technically secede from the Confederacy. Hailing from an anti-secessionist county, the band maintained that the county had never actually left the Union, writes Victoria Bynum, the author of “The Free State of Jones,” at her blog Renegade South.

The Mississippi Historical Society writes:

By early 1864, news of Newt Knight’s exploits had reached the highest levels of the Confederate government. Confederate Captain Wirt Thomson reported to Secretary of War James Seddon that the United States flag had been raised over the courthouse in Ellisville. Captain William H. Hardy of Raleigh, who later founded Hattiesburg, Mississippi, pleaded with Governor Charles Clark to act against the hundreds of men who had “confederated” in Jones County. Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk informed President Jefferson Davis that Jones County was in “open rebellion” and the combatants were “… proclaiming themselves ‘Southern Yankees,’ and resolved to resist by force of arms all efforts to capture them.”

The Natchez Courier reported in its July 12, 1864, edition that Jones County had seceded from the Confederacy. A few days after his destructive Meridian campaign in February 1864, Union General Sherman wrote that he had received “a declaration of independence” from a group of local citizens who opposed the Confederacy. Much has been written about whether the “Free State of Jones” actually seceded or not. Although no official secession document survives, for a time in the spring of 1864, the Confederate government in Jones County was effectively overthrown.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history

According to the studio’s brief summary of the plot, the film will be more than just outlaws fighting for their homeland. “His marriage to a former slave, Rachel, and his subsequent establishment of a mixed race community was unique in the post-war South,” it reads. “Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, which distinguished him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.”

While most of his outlaw Army was eventually captured or killed, Knight survived the war and lived to the age of 84. The inscription on his gravesite reads, “He lived for others.”

These photos purportedly show some of the sets from the movie when it filmed in Clinton, Louisiana:

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A personal memorial to a lost friend and SEAL on this Veterans Day

The world knew Rob Guzzo as an elite SEAL; a  wonderful father; a talented actor; an ambitious student; and a skilled athlete.


But to me, he was all these things and so much more.

Unfortunately the world lost Rob Nov. 12, 2012 — a man who  succumbed to the wounds that many do not see but are often more painful than those that bleed and scar.

Even in the midst of his pain, Rob made others happy. It was hard to know Rob’s struggle because you likely wouldn’t see it unless you knew him well or caught him in a moment he was talking about it.

But this is how I remember Rob Guzzo, and the man I had the honor to get to know and have in my life.

Rob made everyone smile.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
(Courtesy Rob Guzzo Facebook memorial page)

Rob was the guy who was always smiling. Whether he was dressing up as a Teletubby, Irishman, or making a singing lessons video, Rob did anything to get a smile out of those around him. You simply couldn’t be around Rob and not smile. He would do goofy things to make people laugh and have a little fun.

Rob was a go-getter and driven.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history

This is a given, since we all know being a SEAL is no easy feat. Not only was Rob a SEAL, but he was in school to get his masters in addition to pursuing an acting career. He took his craft of acting seriously, and it was obvious he had the talent to soar. Rob was an inspiration to those around him, setting the example to go after your dreams.

Rob was an animal lover.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
(Photo courtesy Guzzo family)

He loved his dog Sammi. He treated this dog like a princess. The depth of his love could be seen in the way he cared for Sammi and how he treated her.

He was protective of those he loved.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
(Photo courtesy Rob Guzzo memorial Facebook page)

Rob would make sure I was OK if anyone bothered me, even if it was something that wasn’t a big deal. He did the same for others around him. He would make sure those he cared about were ok, even when he wasn’t.  

He was loving and sensitive more than he let on.

Rob had a wonderful, giving heart. Sometimes he put up emotional barriers, so the full extend of his loving and sensitive side wasn’t always seen. But it’s who he was. When he did open up, he was one of the most loving and emotionally aware people I knew. It was an honor to get to know the deeper side of Rob, and I will always cherish that I got to see how deep he truly was.

Rob loved his family.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Rob with his daughter Jena Mae. (Photo courtesy Guzzo family)

Rob spoke about his mom often, and when his daughter, Jena Mae, was born, it was obvious he loved this beautiful little girl that was his twin. He also loved his military family, and you could tell in the way he talked about Marc Lee that he would have given anything for his family.

He made the world brighter.

Whether Rob was out partying, on set, with people he didn’t know or his best friends and family, he was a ray of light. No matter what Rob did, he was a ray of sunshine. His smile and personality lit up any room or environment.

The world might have lost Rob Guzzo, but it didn’t lose his memory.

These are just a few things I remember and cherish about Rob. He forever impacted my life, and he is impacting many others through his story. He is still giving back even after he has left this Earth.

Let Rob’s passing remind us that even when our brothers and sisters bring us so much sunshine, they may be fighting battles we do not see. Check on each other — even in the times that seem great.

You might not know when your buddy is drowning, and one small act of friendship and brotherhood can be the thing that saves them.

Rob’s story will be featured on “The Warfighters,” a marathon event airing Veterans Day on the History Channel. Tune in to honor this amazing man and learn more about who he was.

Rob was beyond a SEAL, and his impact will go well beyond the time we got to have him here with us.

You can also honor Rob Guzzo through a donation for The Rob Guzzo Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Plaque.

Donna Callaway is an Associate Producer and on-camera host at We Are The Mighty. She served in the Marine Corps as a logistician.

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New tiltrotor aircraft can fly at 280 knots

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Bell Helicopter


Bell helicopter has now attached the wing to the fuselage of a new, next-generation tiltrotor aircraft engineered to reach speeds of 280 knots, fly for 800 kilometers on one tank of fuel, hover and maneuver in “high-hot” conditions and function as both a utility and attack helicopter platform.

The intention is to build an advanced, high-tech tiltrotor demonstrator aircraft to take flight in November of 2017 as part of an effort to ultimate build a future aircraft able to begin operations in the 2030s.

“There is one long wing. We attach the middle of the wing to the fuselage – the entire wing is one piece bolted to the fuselage of the airplane. One wing covers both sides. The wing is attached with aircraft grade structural fasteners. There are enough aircraft fasteners to provide sufficient strength to hold the aircraft together,” Vince Tobin, Vice President of Advanced Tiltrotor Systems, Bell Helicopter, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

The new Bell tiltrotor, called the V-280 Valor, is part of the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program aimed at establishing requirements and paving the way toward a new Future Vertical Lift aircraft designed to meet a wide range of new requirements.

The concept behind the Army’s joint Future Vertical Lift program is to engineer a forward-looking, future aircraft able to reach airplane speeds and yet retain and ability to hover and maneuver like a helicopter.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Bell Helicopter

“The aircraft will have an ability to come to a hover in challenging conditions and then, while at a hover, operate at low speeds with maneuvering capability to roll and yaw. We want it to have the handling perspective to make the aircraft able to do what it is able to do,” Tobin added.

In addition, the future aircraft is intended to be able to use fuel-efficient engine technology to allow an aircraft to travel at least 800 kilometers on a single tank of fuel. Such an ability will enable the aircraft to operate more easily one a single mission without needing Forward Arming and Refueling Points, or FARPs.

The idea is to engineer and aircraft able to fly from the west coast to Hawaii without needing to refuel.

“FVL is a high priority. We have identified capability gaps. We need technologies and designs that are different than what the current fleet has. It will carry more equipment, perform in high-hot conditions, be more maneuverable within the area of operations and execute missions at longer ranges,” Rich Kretzschmar, project manager for the FVL effort, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.

Requirements for the program are still being refined for the Army-led program, which is aimed at service future aircraft for all four services.

These requirements, now being put into actual demonstrator aircraft built by both Bell and a Boeing-Sikorsky industry teams, include building and aircraft able to reach speeds greater than 230 knots, hover in thin air at 6,000-feet and 95-degrees Fahrenheit, achieve a combat radius of at least 434 kilometers and be configured to include emerging sensors and mission equipment technologies likely to emerge by the 2030s.

“We had set 230 as the speed requirement because we wanted to push the technology.  We wanted people to bring new ideas and new configurations to the table,” Dan Bailey, JMR TD Program Manager, said in an interview with Scout Warrior several months ago.

 Advancing Tiltrotor Technology

Bell intends to build upon and advance existing tiltrotor technology such as that which is currently operation in the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft. The Osprey continues to perform well in a wide range of missions and has recently been selected by the Navy to perform the Carrier On-board Delivery or COD mission transporting troops, equipment and weapons on-and-off surface ships.

The V-280 Valor is designed to be slightly bigger than an existing Black Hawk helicopter and use 24-inch seats to carry 11 passengers with gear, Tobin said.

“What Bell has done is taking its historical V-22 aircraft, and all the demonstrators before that, and applies them to this next-generation tilt-rotor. It is a straight wing versus a V-22 which is not straight. This reduces complexity,” Bailey explained. “They are also building additional flapping into the rotor system and individual controls that should allow for increased low-speed maneuverability.”

The tiltrotors are slated to go on in November, Tobin added.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Bell Helicopter

“We will get the gear boxes and transmission in before we get those blades on,” Tobin explained.

Depending upon ultimate requirement established by the Army and DoD, Bell expects to engineer an attack variant of the aircraft with a slightly different fuselage configuration.

“An armed attack version will have a gun, 2.75in folding-fin rockets and some type of point-to-point missile – hellfire or some later generation missile that would guide off of a laser or IR. We are being open ended in that we are not designing any specific requirement,” Tobin explained.

Next-Generation Sensors

The new attack variant is expected to use a modernized or next-generation of existing Apache sensors and targeting systems called the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor, or MTADS/PVS.

When it comes to sensors and mission equipment, Bell engineers are building a tiltrotor aircraft with what is called “open architecture,” meaning software and hardware able to quickly integrate new technologies as they emerge. The concept is to construct a helicopter that is not intended to operate today but rather advance technology well into the 2030s and beyond. Therefore, it will need to anticipate the weapons, sensors, computer processors and avionics likely to emerge by the 2030s.

Part of this effort includes the integration of a 360-degree sensors suite quite similar to the one used on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter called a Distributed Aperture Systems, or DAS.

“Instead of having sensors mounted to the turret, you have sensors that are mounted to the aircraft – so essentially you have sensors staring in 360-degrees around the aircraft at any given time. Those images are stitched together so it appears as one continuous image to the pilot. Both pilots can make use of the same system,” Tobin said.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Bell Helicopter

This technology will also allow troops riding in the back of the aircraft to wear goggles or a helmet giving them a view of the surrounding sensor feeds as they transit to a mission, Tobin added.

The DAS system will also form the basis a small-arms enemy fire detection technology which will search for and locate the signature of incoming enemy attacks. The sensors will be able to discern the location and heat signature coming from enemy small arms fire, giving the aircraft and opportunity to quickly attack with its weapons – lowering risk of injury to the pilots, crew and passengers.

The V-280 Valor will also have yet-to-be-determined Degraded Visual Environment technology that allows sensors to see through obscurants such as brown-out conditions, bad weather and other impediments to navigation. Part of this will also include a system called Controlled Flight into Terrain wherein an aircraft has an ability to quickly re-route itself it is approaching a dangerous obstacle such as a mountain, rock wall or building structure.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Bell Helicopter

This will likely draw upon a semi-autonomous navigation technology built into the aircraft known as “fly-by-wire.”  Bell Helicopter developed the initial algorithms for this technology, which is also now on the V-22 Osprey.

Another survivability technology potentially slated for the aircraft is a system known as Common Infrared Countermeasure, or CIRCM; CIRCM is a lighter weight variant of an existing technology which uses a laser-jammer to throw incoming enemy missiles off course – therefore protecting the aircraft.

“We are looking to the DoD customer to see what they want. Either way we can get that on the airplane,” Tobin explained.

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There’s one reason the A-10 Warthog is irreplaceable

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Wikimedia Commons


No matter how advanced smart bombs get, and no matter how stealthy and quick an aircraft can become, the A-10 has one factor that guarantees it can never truly be replaced: its gun.

These days, pretty much any warplane can drop guided munitions with pinpoint accuracy, but what makes the A-10 so special is one of the only weapons used by the US Air Force that isn’t precision-guided: the 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger gun with 1,150 incendiary rounds.

In a recent press release, Air Force Col. Sean McCarthy, the 447th Air Expeditionary Group’s commander, explained in a US Department of Defense release exactly why the A-10 can do missions no other plane can.

McCarthy, who commands 550 airmen operating out of Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, revealed that deliberate targeting of ISIS assets in Syria accounts for only about 10% of airstrikes carried out from the base.

The other 90% are dynamic strikes, or strikes where troops on the ground call in for airstrikes. This is where the Warthog shines.

“A troops-in-contact [report] pops up or a target pops up at short notice, and we respond. It generally doesn’t involve an integrated effort with the coalition. It’s just usually a two-ship of A-10s that show up overhead and we conduct our mission,” McCarthy said of the A-10’s operation out of Incirlik.

The A-10 actually operates in the field as an even more precise weapon than even the most advanced smart bombs.

“The No. 1 thing when it comes to strikes is making sure we do as little damage as possible, especially killing civilians. We try very hard to keep that from happening,” McCarthy said.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Armored vehicle post-A-10 close air support. | US Air Force photo

So when there is any reason to believe that civilians may be in the area, the A-10 is the best tool for the job. In a murky situation, where “there’s no way to know whether they’re civilian noncombatants or not, we don’t take the chance” of using a bomb, McCarthy said.

“That’s a type of target we’ll go after with the gun,” he added. “It’s a low-collateral-damage weapon, pinpoint accurate, and we employ high-explosive incendiary rounds so nothing’s walking away from that if they get hit.”

Watch the A-10 rip its 30mm gun with pinpoint accuracy, and hear the legendary ‘BRRRT’ in the video below:

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Elite Marine Raiders were among those killed in tragic C-130 crash

For an elite band of US Marines known as the Raiders, the fiery military plane crash this week in Mississippi represents a second devastating blow during training in less than three years. Six Marines and a Navy corpsman from a Raider unit died July 10 on their way to training exercises, linking them in tragedy with seven members of the same North Carolina-based command who died in a March 2015 helicopter crash off Florida.


The present incarnation of the Marine Raiders was formed in 2006 amid the global war on terror — making it the newest of the military’s counterterrorism forces that also include the Army’s Special Forces and Navy SEALs. The group was officially named the Marine Raiders in 2015 to link its heritage to World War II commando units made famous in movies.

The Raiders’ command now has about 2,700 troops, including those in intelligence and support roles, according to spokesman Maj. Nick Mannweiler.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Photo from USMC

Tragedy also struck the close-knit command in March 2015 when seven of its Marines died with four soldiers in a helicopter crash during training off Florida. Mannweiler said he knows of no other significant training losses in the decade-long existence of the Marine Special Operations Command, or MARSOC. At least 31 members of MARSOC have died in combat, Mannweiler said.

The Marines killed this week were headed to Yuma, Arizona, with guns, ammunition, radios, and body armor to participate in training for an eventual deployment somewhere in the Middle East. Mannweiler said such pre-deployment training in the desert would have likely ranged from urban combat to language skills.

Mannweiler said the Raiders’ flight aboard a Marine Corps Reserve airplane wasn’t an unusual arrangement because the command doesn’t have its own planes.

“Marine Corps aircraft are always our personal preference,” Mannweiler said in an interview. “We’ll catch a ride however it makes the most sense.”

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
A ceremony commemorating 11 fallen service members lost in March 2015 crash. USMC photo by Cpl. Steven Fox.

Mannweiler said the crash in Mississippi will be felt acutely in the tight-knit group of Marine Raiders and their families.

“This is a closed-loop community,” he said. “The loss of seven Marines from a battalion literally impacts the entire organization.”

The Raider name was made famous by World War II Marine units that carried out risky amphibious and guerrilla operations that were dramatized in books and movies such as “Gung Ho!” in 1943 and “Marine Raiders” in 1944.

The original Marine Raiders were organized in response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s desire to have a commando-style force that could conduct amphibious raids and operate behind enemy lines. Raider leaders studied unconventional warfare tactics and were credited with beating larger Japanese forces on difficult terrain in the Pacific. Their name wasn’t used in an official capacity by the Marine Corps for decades after World War II.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Marine Raiders, 1944. Photo from US National Archives.

When the Raider name was re-adopted in 2015, the Marine Corps said the moniker offered its elite personnel special shorthand similar to Army Green Berets or Navy SEALs. Marines in MARSOC must pass a selection process that includes grueling swims and hikes, as well as specialized combat training.

While the training has some similarities to special units in the Army and Navy, retired Navy officer Dick Couch wrote in a 2015 book that members of MARSOC are known for their marksmanship and maturity, when compared with other branches’ elite. In “Always Faithful, Always Forward,” Couch wrote that he was “in awe” of how the Marines Corps needed so little time to develop an effective training program to make its “brotherhood within a brotherhood” ready for combat.

“They’re an excellent addition to the special operations mix,” Couch said in a phone interview July 12. “I’m sorry to see they lost some people. They’re in a risky business. It can happen in training or in combat.”

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VA launches ‘Step Forward’ campaign to kick off Mental Health Awareness Month


If your spouse has the flu, you make soup. If your friend breaks an arm, you offer to help with their chores or errands. When a loved one needs surgery, friends and family send Get Well cards and flowers. The same cannot always be said when someone is in emotional pain and takes the important step forward to improve their mental health.


Unfortunately, many people in this country don’t recognize the signs and symptoms or realize that effective mental health treatments are available. One of the challenges driving these false perceptions is the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Additionally, fear of how they may be perceived by their loved ones, friends, or colleagues can keep someone from seeking effective treatment.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it provides us with an important opportunity to continue the national dialogue about mental health and wellness and reduce the negative perceptions associated with seeking treatment.

We Are The Mighty wants to help you play a vital role in connecting the veterans you serve with resources for leading a healthier life. Visit MakeTheConnection.net/Step4ward to discover simple ways to participate in Mental Health Awareness Month and show your support for veterans by sharing the Step Forward materials.

MakeTheConnection.net is a free, confidential resource where veterans, their family members, and friends, can privately explore such topics as health, wellness, and everyday life events and experiences.

The success of our efforts during Mental Health Awareness Month depends on your support. Visit the Mental Health Awareness Month hub on the site to watch personal stories of veterans, find resources, share social media content or find other actions that will help raise awareness and broaden this important conversation.

Make the Connection encourages veterans to seek support and mental health services when needed. If you or a veteran you are working with are in immediate crisis or having thoughts of suicide, trained responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year with confidential support and guidance. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net, or send a text message to 838255.

Now watch this really powerful short Public Service Announcement from the Veterans Crisis Line, titled “I’m Good”:

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These vets brew Semper Fi PA and Jet Noise

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history


Army National Guard Veteran, Tom Wilder, and Army Reserves Veteran, Neil McCannon, set out to build an empire of home-brewed beer in their hometown of Virginia Beach, VA in 2012. After successfully crowd funding their endeavor via Kickstarter, Tom and Neil were delighted to open their doors for business roughly 18 months ago, making them among the first veteran-owned breweries by vets, for vets.

What makes them special is the idea behind their brewery and how frequently they give back to their own community.

“For Young Veterans Brewing Company brewing is about love,” Tom said. “Since our first batch, we have been delighted by the artistry of the process and the creativity of recipe development and perfection. We are captivated by the detail and scientific precision required during the production and maturation processes. Mostly though, we love the joy we provide with our distinctive, high quality beer.”

Tom and Neil began experimenting after a stint as roommates.

“We lived together in a house together with like six other people in our twenties,” Neil said. “We had a home brew kit brought over and we made it together; it was a brown ale and it turned out well. If it hadn’t turned out better than we expected, I don’t think we would have continued.”

“The military has played a pivotal role in both our lives, shaping us as men and as citizens. Combined with our love of craft beer and experience in home-brewing these last five years, our idea took shape and we are ready to begin our new careers as small business owners and as brewers.” — Neil McCannon

This set them apart from most home brewers because they began experimenting shortly after their third batch whereas many will brew from standard kits.

“When you first start home brewing, they supply you with basically everything you need to brew beer,” Tom said. “After the third one we basically said screw the kit and began experimenting on our own, becoming addicted to brewing.”

In opening the brewery, the name was the easy part. Tom and Neil are natives of the area and both served in the military.

“To us, Young Veterans is where we’re from,” Neil explained. “We’re vets and we wanted to open our own business. We’re making a call to where we’re from, and the name was the easy answer. We do have a lot of focus on veterans charities and the military because it meant a lot to us. It was something [the military] we wanted to keep in our lives.”

“We were really worried that someone was going to steal our idea because we were YVBC about two years before we opened,” Tom said. “It would have been easy for someone to come in with a decent amount money and say, ‘Nice name’ and take off with it. We’re lucky that didn’t happen. We were very much among the first of veteran-themed breweries to pop up and shortly after we opened, Veterans Brewing popped up in Chicago, who is a high-volume, money making contract brewery. It puts pressure on us to stand out.”

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history

Originally, the two were looking to start a grandiose brewery with a large concert space and a tap room, but after considering the options they had in regard to venue size, budget and production, Tom and Neil opened a small brewery near Oceana Naval Base in Virginia Beach, completing their transition from home brewers to brewery owners.

Tom explained that in order to get their feet on the ground Neil attended the Siebel Institute in Chicago and Munich and obtained an International Degree in Brewing Science last year to further their goal and his knowledge as a brewer and Tom gained experience working in multiple facets of a distributing company.”

Today, they can barely keep up with the foot traffic from their 40/60 military to civilian customer base and are looking to expand. They recently found that they’ll be sharing the area with a veterans service group just up the street. Several of YVBC’s craft beers have become a staple in the Hampton Roads community, even traveling to other venues for “steal the taps” events in the area. The tap room features a membership club called ‘Canteen Command’ with military themed swag and a personalized mug that allows members to drink unreleased brews before they debut to the general public.

The duo is known for a variety of incredible brews with catchy names and nostalgic labels like “Pineapple Grenade,” “Jet Noise,” “Semper F.I.P.A.,” “Night Vision,” “New Recruit,” “DD-214,” and “Big Red Rye.” For more information about Tom, Neil and the gang at YVBC, they can be found at yvbc.com or on Instagram: @YVBC.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Brittany Slay is the Editor of American Veteran Magazine and a US Navy veteran, completing a 9 month deployment to Bahrain in 2014. She’s a fan of dark humor and enjoys writing, visiting breweries, and meeting people.

And check out American Veteran Magazine at amvets.magloft.com.

 

Now: 6 pieces of gear you won’t believe the military used 

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When Gen. James Mattis talks, we listen — and so should you

Marine Corps legend Gen. James Mattis sat down to answer questions about his 40 years of military service with the USMC news service, and his replies should be essential viewing.


He shares personal anecdotes, like how a SAW gunner displayed what is great about the Marine Corps after Mattis was forced to pull him from Fallujah, or why he walked to the opposite side of Camp Rhino in Afghanistan when mortars started coming in during a battle in 2001.

(In true Mad Dog fashion, it turns out that he had walked to that side of the perimeter because he thought there was a good chance of another, potentially larger fight on that side.)

He also reveals that his knifehand can kill enemies within hundreds of miles.

The general describes ways to become a better leader, how to become a better Marine, and what to do to become a better warfighter. It’s a long video, but the entire 16:36 is worthy of your time.

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The Pentagon is worried about the missile threat from these countries

The North Korean ballistic missile threat has been receiving significant attention in recent weeks, but missile threats are surging worldwide, a new Pentagon report suggests.


North Korea has made significant strides in developing its weapons program in recent months, successfully testing multiple new ballistic missile systems, but other countries, such as Iran, Russia, and China, are also rapidly advancing their missile capabilities. “Many countries view ballistic and cruise missile systems as cost-effective weapons and symbols of national power,” defense intelligence agencies said in a report viewed in advance by Bloomberg News.

“China continues to have the most active and diverse ballistic missile development program in the world,” the Pentagon assessed.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, which oversees China’s land-based nuclear and conventional missiles, has received much more attention as China pursues an extensive military modernization program putting greater emphasis on technological strength rather than manpower.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
The HQ-9 is a Chinese medium- to long-range, active radar homing surface-to-air missile.

China tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile — the DF-5C — with 10 warheads in January, and there have been rumors that another developmental Chinese ICBM has already been deployed. China conducted its seventh successful test of the DF-41 with two inert warheads last spring. The Chinese armed forces are expected to substantially increase the number of warheads on the ICBMs capable of threatening the continental US over the next few years, the new Pentagon report suggests.

The Chinese military has also deployed new and improved DF-16s, highly-accurate, mobile medium-range ballistic missiles, to further threaten Taiwan. The precision missiles could also be used to target US bases located along the “first island chain.” At the same time, China can field DF-21D anti-ship missiles and the DF-26, which could be used against US forces in Guam, according to the Pentagon’s China Military Power report.

Russia, which has more deployed nuclear warheads than the US, is “expected to retain the largest force of strategic ballistic missiles outside the United States,” according to the new defense report.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
A Russian Topol M mobile nuclear missile. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Both China and Russia are also working to develop hypersonic glide vehicle technology. “HGVS are maneuverable vehicles that travel at hypersonic (greater than Mach 5) speed and spend most of their flight at much lower altitudes than a typical ballistic missile,” defense agencies revealed.

High speed, maneuverability, and low-altitude flight make missile interception via missile defense systems significantly more difficult. Russia is believed to be moving closer to fielding a hypersonic cruise missile — the Zircon — that can threaten enemy ships. Some observers, however, suspect Chinese and Russian claims regarding their various achievements in this area are exaggerated.

Iran has extended the range and effectiveness of its mid-range Shabab-3, a weapon based on a North Korean model, and the Pentagon is under the impression that Iran, much like North Korea, ultimately intends to develop an ICBM.

“Tehran’s desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to field an ICBM. Progress in Iran’s space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles (SLV) use inherently similar technologies,” the report explained.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
Photo from Tasnim News Agency.

Iran has also been working to advance its Fateh-110 missiles, which it tested in March. Iran launched missiles into Syria last week, firing off a mid-range weapon in combat for the first time in three decades.

Expert analysts have noted significant cooperation between Iran and North Korea in recent years.

North Korea has, this year alone, tested new short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, experimenting with different fuels and engines. The North has also been testing new transporter erector launchers, which offer greater mobility and survivability. Similar developments are being seen in other countries.

D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history
North Korean Missile. (Associated Press image via NewsEdge)

North Korea has repeatedly threatened that an ICBM test is not far off, and while the regime will most likely test a liquid-fueled ICBM, such as the KN-08 revealed a few years ago, the North has also presented two canister-launched ICBMs in military parades resembling two foreign missiles, specifically the Chinese DF-31 and the Russian Topol.

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