This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil - We Are The Mighty
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This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
American troops hauling gear up a snowy mountain on Attu. (Photo: U.S. Army)


The attempt by the Japanese to take Midway Island and seize control of it resulted in one of the most decisive naval battles in military history, with the Japanese losing four aircraft carriers and the United States gaining the upper hand in the Pacific. But a diversionary effort by the Japanese during the campaign marked the only ground fighting on U.S. home soil during World War II.

The Japanese attack on the Aleutian islands off Alaska in June of 1942, a mere six months after Pearl Harbor and shortly after a series of disastrous U.S. defeats in Asia, was meant as a feint to draw away American forces while the Japanese invaded Midway island. It would also threaten any U.S. attempts to attack Japan using the chain as a base. The archipelago of over 150 islands reached to within just 750 miles of Japanese territory and was seen as a real threat to their homeland. The occupation of U.S. soil, even that as remote as the Aleutian islands, also served as a blow to American morale.

U.S. intelligence was alerted of the impending invasion, but despite sightings of the approaching Japanese fleet, terrible weather made tracking it impossible. The Japanese carriers with the fleet bombed U.S. positions at their Dutch Harbor island base, inflicting heavy damage. American attempts to counterattack and destroy the fleet were consistently foiled by bad weather. The islands of Attu and Kiska in the chain were both occupied by June 7, 1942, though again severe storms and fog led to canceling the seizure of other islands.

The conquest of U.S. soil, even that as remote as the Aleutian islands, came as a severe shock to the American public. There was widespread speculation that the islands would be used as a jumping off point for attacking Alaska, or more fantastically the American mainland. Much of this apprehension was relieved by the destruction of the main Japanese carrier fleet at the Battle of Midway, defeating much of the purpose of the invasion. The Japanese forces found themselves practically marooned in some of the most hostile conditions imaginable.

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
A captured Japanese Zero – a real intelligence coup. (Photo: U.S. Army)

With no logistical ability yet available to retake the islands, the U.S. could only harass the Japanese garrisons and the convoys resupplying them. U.S. air raids and submarine attacks took a heavy toll on Japanese shipping, but it was not until March of 1943 and after the naval surface action at the Battle of the Komandorski Islands that much headway was made. After the battle, the Japanese were reduced to using submarines to resupply their troops on the islands.

When the joint U.S.-Canadian operation to retake Attu began in May 1943, the Japanese soldiers retreated to high ground rather than contest the landing. The following bloody battle, with both sides plagued by chronic supply shortages, frostbite, and disease, dragged on for over two weeks. The Japanese garrison, starving and running out of ammunition, launched a massive banzai charge that penetrated all the way to U.S. rear echelon before being stopped. Over 2,000 Japanese dead were counted afterward, along with a minuscule 28 survivors. More than a thousand Americans died in the battle.

The assault on Kiska on August 15, 1943, was much more anti-climatic. A huge American-Canadian force landed there after weeks of bombing, but after much searching found the island deserted. The Japanese had used the cover of fog to bring in ships to evacuate two weeks earlier. The bombing and infantry attack had all been against a barren rock, and the only allied casualties were from friendly fire in the fog, frostbite, and disease. The Japanese withdrawal marked the end of the first and last foreign occupation of U.S. soil since the War of 1812.

The reality was that the remote, sparsely populated volcanic islands with notoriously bad weather and terrain would never serve as a major invasion route for either side. Though the Japanese garrisons managed to maintain themselves in the harsh conditions, they had nowhere near the numbers or the support to launch an invasion onto the mainland, and their primary goals were crushed by the disaster at Midway. U.S. plans to use the island chain as a launchpad for invading Japan never materialized beyond some bombing raids on Japan’s northern Kuril islands.

In the end, the atrocious weather and remote location turned what seemed such a promising strategic theater useless for everyone.

 

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This is why pilots fear the Starstreak surface-to-air missile

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
THOR/Multi Mission System (MMS) Starstreak missile launcher unit mounted on light tactical vehicle Pinzgauer. Image: Thales


Three is better than one, right? That’s the basic idea missile developers had in mind when designing the Starstreak, a deadly man-portable air-defense system.

“Three darts give us the very high probability of at least one dart hitting the target and we would normally expect two darts to actually hit the target,” said Hill Wilson, the weapon’s technical director. “Three gives a very good punch.”

Manufactured by Thales Air Defense in Belfast, United Kingdom, the Starstreak accelerates towards targets at speeds faster than Mach four, making it one of the fastest short-range surface-to-air missiles in the world. It was developed in the 1980s to replace existing shoulder-launched missiles and officially entered service in 1997. Troops can fire the round from various portable launcher systems including the THOR Multi-Mission System as demonstrated in the following video.

(Skip to 5:30 to watch the portion about the Starstreak missile.)

Jason Miller, YouTube

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Just 13 military memes to get you from the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiere to Christmas:


1. Why move it in the up position?

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Seriously, that’s a tank recovery vehicle. It could’ve torn down the whole sky.

2. If he were a real chief, that mug would have his rank insignia (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Do you think the water is cold? I hope the water is cold.

SEE ALSO: Here’s what it would be like if Gunny Hartman ran Santa’s Workshop

3. The stormtroopers have it rough (via OutOfRegs and Terminal Lance).

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
They’re the villains of the movie, but they’re just trying to earn some college money and get work experience.

4. The dude has piloted fighters and A-10s, pretty sure he can handle a “fitty.”

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil

5. Jesus just knows this guy needs situational awareness more than he needs comforting.

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Squad Leader #1!

6. But—, But—, God loves the infantry!!

(via Military Nations)

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil

7. Absolute ninja …

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
… absoute as-holes.

8. “Did your recruiter lie to you?”

(via Team Non-Rec)

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
“Then here are some disch— Just kidding, get back in the d-mn storm.”

9. When your chief thinks of the Hindenburg as newfangled:

(via Air Force Nation)

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Don’t let him see an F-35. The shock alone might kill him.

10. We’ve all been there (via Team Non-Rec).

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Don’t worry, the company will send a replacement within 12 hours, unless it’s the weekend.

11. Can we get a little muzzle awareness, Doc?

(via Afghanistan Combat Footage – Funker530)

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Notice how the captain isn’t surprised? This LT has done this before.

12. With a little salt, bread can be anything (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Let it sit long enough, and it becomes a flotation device.

13. Sergeant Major of the Rings (via Team Non-Rec).

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Luckily, Mordor has no grass.

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Call it ‘Ma Deuce’ or 50-cal, the Browning M-2 machine gun is one bad mother of a weapon

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
The Browning M-2 heavy machine gun has served U.S. soldiers since the 1930s. (Department of Defense photo.)


It’s one of the longest-serving weapons in the U.S. arsenal, packing a punch that few forget whether they are firing the weapon or on the receiving end of its tremendous firepower.

The Browning M-2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun casts a long shadow over U.S. military history – and it holds a special place in the hearts of many soldiers.

Nicknamed “Ma Deuce” by World War II G.I.s, some who have fired the weapon consider it the mother of all machine guns.

“Witnessing the down-range effects of the .50-caliber bullet is an eye-opening experience,” writes Gordon Rottman, author of Browning .50-Caliber Machine Guns.  “There are few who can say they were wounded by a .50-cal. Those hit seldom say much more.”

First conceived during World War I, the Browning M-2 has been in production since 1933. Since then, it’s made history in the hands of some extraordinary fighting men.

A wounded Audie Murphy, one of America’s most decorated soldiers, fired one atop a burning tank destroyer and held off six Panzer tanks and 250 German soldiers for more than hour during a battle in Eastern France, an act of bravery that won him the Medal of Honor.

The long-range firepower of the Ma Deuce combined with its single-shot ability convinced legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock that he had an unusual but effective weapon. In 1967, Hathcock mounted a 10-power scope on an M-2, which he later aimed at a Viet Cong guerilla that he killed 2,500 yards away – a nearly one-and-a-half mile shot that remained the world record for longest sniper kill until 2002.

In 2003, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith climbed on top an armored vehicle and fired the 50-cal at more than 100 enemy soldiers that pinned down his platoon, saving the lives of his men. Killed during the fire fight, Smith received the Medal of Honor posthumously, the first awarded in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The technological terrors of World War I with its use of armor and airplanes convinced American Expeditionary Force commander Gen. John Pershing that the Army needed a heavy machine gun if it was going to keep pace with world militaries. Both the French and British possessed large-caliber machine guns like the Hotchkiss, but during World War I the U.S. inventory of machine guns only fired rifle-sized calibers.

Eventually, American weapons genius John Browning experimented with his existing M1917 .30-caliber machine gun design to develop a heavy machine gun that fired the .50-caliber round. By 1921, the Army adopted an experimental, water-cooled .50-caliber machine gun based on the Browning design that was the “father” of the Ma Deuce.

After Browning’s death, other weapons designers corrected flaws in the M1921 such as its lightweight barrel.  During the 1930s, the Colt Co. took over production of the weapon – but it was still essentially Browning’s original design and it gained the familiar designation of Browning M-2.

The classic configuration of the Ma Deuce is a belt-fed, air-cooled, recoil-operated machine gun. Its size alone makes it look formidable: It is nearly six-feet long and weighs 84 pounds without its tripod, 128 pounds when tripod mounted.

It fires up to 550 rounds per minute, but it can be set to fire single shots. Because of the weapon’s design, the ammo belt can be fed from either the right or left after a few adjustments to the gun.

What’s more, the 50-cal has the potential to let the gunner “reach out and touch someone.” The weapon’s effective range is 6,000 feet, but its maximum range is four miles.

Both the Army and the Navy loved the M-2 and by World War II it was everywhere: Mounted on tanks as a coaxial gun, placed in aircraft to shoot down enemy fighters, mounted on a tripod so GIs and Marines could lay down suppressive and covering fire, and placed on board naval vessels as an anti-aircraft gun.

There was even a holy terror nicknamed “the Kraut Mower,” the M-45 Quadmount. Originally designed as an anti-aircraft weapon, it was four Ma Deuces in an armored housing mounted on a halftrack.

But as the war progressed, innovative soldiers discovered it was a hellishly effective anti-personnel weapon.  For example, if a machine-gun nest or a sniper pinned down Allied troops and the M-45 was nearby, they would have it open fire on the German position.

The barrage of .50-caliber rounds would simply mow down the building or tree and its German threat – hence, the weapon’s nickname.

The Browning M-2 has its weaknesses. If the gun’s barrel overheats a new barrel needs to be installed on the weapon. The gun will malfunction violently if a barrel change is not performed exactly right, and the task was often a finicky and time-consuming job.

M-2 malfunctions caused by improperly performed barrel changes injured dozens of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan before the Pentagon approved adoption of a “quick change” kit in 2012 that allows a barrel replacement without manually resetting the weapon, according to a Department of Defense report for Congress.

Its weight and tendency to vibrate the gunner’s body can make it awkward to use. But it is a powerful weapon that can dominate any tactical situation.

And that’s why the ‘Ma Deuce’ will be on battlefields for years to come.

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Army captain killed in Orlando may be eligible for Purple Heart

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Antonio Davon Brown, a 29-year-old captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was one of 49 people who was killed in the shooting. | Photo courtesy Texas AM University)


The Defense Department on Thursday left open the possibility that Army Reserve Capt. Antonio Davon Brown, who was killed in the attack at the Orlando nightclub early Sunday, might be eligible to receive the Purple Heart.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said that the Purple Heart for Brown would be considered but the award would “depend on the definition of the event” in which his life was lost, a reference to the criteria for the Purple Heart established by Congress after the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings in 2009. Cook said the decision on the award would be up to the Army.

Brown was at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando frequented by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community when the worst mass shooting in U.S. history occurred. Police say he was among the 49 killed by 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in 911 calls.

Following lobbying by families of the victims, Congress in 2013 added to the criteria for the Purple Heart to make victims of the Fort Hood massacre eligible. At Fort Hood, Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and wounded more than 30 others. Hasan was sentenced to death and is being held at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, during appeals.

Congress in 2015 amended the National Defense Authorization Act to expand eligibility for the Purple Heart to include troops killed in an attack where “the individual or entity was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack,” and where “the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”

Then-Army Secretary John McHugh later said, “The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria has prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood. Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe here is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized with either the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal.”

McHugh’s action also applied to an attack on a Little Rock, Arkansas, recruiting station in 2009 in which Pvt. William Long was killed and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula was wounded. The shooter, Abdulhakim Muhammad, was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Brown, who joined the Army three years before the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against openly gay service was scrapped, was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 383rd Regiment, 4th Cavalry Brigade, 85th Support Command based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Brown, whose home of record was listed as Orlando, graduated from Florida (AM) Agricultural and Mechanical University with his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on August 8, 2008. In 2010, he received his Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Mary, North Dakota.

In May 2009, he served on active duty with the 1st Special Troop Battalion, Fort Riley, Kansas. It was during that assignment with the battalion that Brown served an 11-month overseas deployment to Kuwait, the Army Reserves said.

In a statement Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that Brown “served his country for nearly a decade, stepping forward to do the noblest thing a young person can do, which is to protect others.

“His service both at home and overseas gave his fellow Americans the security to dream their dreams, and live full lives,” Carter said. “The attack in Orlando was a cowardly assault on those freedoms, and a reminder of the importance of the mission to which Capt. Brown devoted his life.”

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The namesake of Tinker Air Force Base was a total badass

Clarence L. Tinker wasn’t always an airman, but he was always a warrior. I don’t mean that in the way that we call everyone in the military a “warrior” these days. I mean Tinker was not only an infantry officer, he was an Osage warrior from Oklahoma, and it makes perfect sense that the Air Force Base in Oklahoma City is named after him.

Spoiler alert: Maj. Gen. Clarence Tinker was killed in World War II. He was actually the first general officer to die in the war. Before flying his last mission, however, he had the storied career of an old-school badass. 

Tinker was born on the Osage nation in Oklahoma in 1887. He grew up speaking his native language and living like an Osage. He loved the old stories about Osage warriors and the Osage scouts who rode with American cavalry units. Though he had a traditional upbringing, he attended federally-funded schools for Native Americans, including Missouri’s Wentworth Military Academy, where his career began. 

After a stint in the Philippine Constabulary, a national police force designed to take over the duties of Spain’s Guardia Civil during the American occupation of the islands, he was commissioned into the U.S. Army infantry in 1912. 

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
United States military man Clarence L. Tinker. The first Native American Major General in the United States Army, he was the first American general killed in World War II, at the Battle of Midway. Tinker Air Force Base was named in his honor. Photo: Creative Commons.

He never made it to the trenches of World War I, but within a year after the war’s end, he was training for the future of the Army: the Air Service. He started flying lessons in 1919 and was officially transferred to the Air Service in 1922. 

After graduating from the Army’s Command and General Staff School in 1926, he became the Assistant Military Attaché for Aviation in London. Shortly after arriving in Britain, he was flying with the U.S. Naval Attaché when the plane started having engine trouble. It went down near some cliffs and burst into flames.

Tinker, dazed, got up from the burning fuselage and ran clear. When he realized that his co-pilot was still in the flames, he went to rescue the unconscious man. Despite terrible burns and flames so hot that he couldn’t get closer at times, he managed to pull the man out and clear.

He would become the Commandant of the Air Corps Flying School in Texas, and would lead countless air units as their commander. By October 1940, he was promoted to Brigadier General. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor shook the islands’ defensive posture, the Army sent Tinker to command the 7th Air Force and reorganize Hawaii’s defenses. 

Like many airmen and Army generals in the Air Corps, Tinker believed that air power was the future of warfare and only a strong air force would turn the Japanese back, end the threat of Japanese aggression through long-range bombing and ultimately bring the Japanese Empire to its knees. 

In 1942, Tinker was promoted to Maj. Gen. Tinker, becoming the first Native American to hold the rank and the highest ranking Native in the Army. He finally got his chance to show what strategic long-range bombing could do in combat in the Pacific Theater, but it would also be his undoing. 

During the Battle of Midway, Tinker decided to fly a squadron of B-24 Liberator Bombers to meet the retreating Japanese ships, and deliver a heavier blow than their loss at MidWay already was. Somewhere along the way, his fellow airmen watched in horror as Tinker’s plane dove out of control and crashed into the ocean below. 

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
B-24 Bomber. Wikimedia Commons

Tinker and his 10 crew members were never found. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and six months after his death, the airfield in Oklahoma City was named Tinker Field, soon to be Tinker Air Force Base. 

To this day, Osage natives sing songs about the Osage warriors who served in the U.S. military. Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker has a song of his own. 

Featured photo: Tinker Air Force Base/Air Force Photo; inset: Clarence Tinker, Wikimedia Commons

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Here are 10 things everyone experiences in jump school

The U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia is where U.S. military members of all branches go to become military parachutists. The school is three weeks of intense physical drills, training on towers, and of course, “jumping out of a perfectly good airplane” five times to earn the coveted silver parachute badge (also known as “jump wings”).


Here are 10 things Airborne students will encounter when going through Jump School:

1. Black Hats

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Airborne Instructors in 1977

An Airborne instructor’s nametag may read “Jones” but students will address him or her as “Sergeant Airborne.” New Airborne trainees are received by the school’s instructors known as “Black Hats,” because of their headgear, a simple black baseball cap with their rank and wings display on the cap.

The instructors are mostly Army personnel, but the Marine Corps Air Force, and Navy also provide instructors since the school is open to all eligible DOD service members. Black Hats are skilled parachutists who are responsible for training Airborne students, and they do with ‘tough love. They will make their students repeat physical drills and exercises over and over until they get it right.

No matter how exhausting, they won’t stop until a student gets it right. They are doing it for the trainees own well-being.

2. The Airborne Shuffle

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Army 2nd Lt. Nelson Lalli runs with an Airborne School classmate to report in after his first jump.

Not to be confused with the popular dance the ‘Cupid shuffle’ or the Chicago Bears Super Bowl shuffle, the Airborne shuffle is not a dance nor is it fun. This shuffle refers to the pace or speed of a formation run during Airborne school. It is typically about a 9-minute mile.

The shuffle is meant to build stamina, not speed. At Airborne School, trainees run everywhere especially in combat boots or with their equipment. The Airborne shuffle is also commonly known for the short choppy steps students take on the aircraft before the jump out, just like the cadence “Stand up, Hook up, Shuffle to the door.”

3. Wearing Helmets all day

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil

At Jump School, aspiring paratroopers will wear their helmet everywhere they go. Students will run and train with it on every day. The chin strip and helmet pads will reek so bad after the first week of training that a squirt of Febreze is simply not enough to contain the smell of sweat and bacteria.

4. Falling all day

Airborne students will spend a lot of time hitting the ground during Jump School. Learning how to properly fall during a parachute landing is a core fundamental taught at the Basic Airborne Course. This is especially true when doing parachute landing fall (PLF) drills. Trainees will jump off platforms of different heights into large pits over and over until they get it right. Airborne students can expect to do hundreds of PLFs before they leave the school.

Along with PLFs, trainees will jump from tall towers like the 34-foot tower to learn proper aircraft exiting techniques and the iconic 250-foot tower, although not all Airborne class get to do the tower.

Just remember to “keep your feet and knees together!”

5. The smell of Bengay in the morning

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Week one, ground week, focuses on the proper landing fall techniques, emphasizing the importance of keeping feet and knees together during a landing to prevent injuries. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kuande Hall)

Before long, the smell of Bengay, the over-the-counter analgesic cream used to relieve muscle and joint pain, will fill the barracks each morning to help students with their joint and muscle pain.

6. Swing Landing Trainer

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
A student practices proper landing techniques on the Swing Landing Trainer.

The Swing Landing Trainer is not fun. Students are strapped into a harness to step off a platform and swing back and forth. The discomfort experienced on this device when swinging, especially for male students, is terrible. Students will continue to swing on the harness until they are released by the Black Hats. Trainees must perform several proper PLFs to pass this stage of training.

Most hit the ground like a stack of potatoes.

7. “Hurry up and wait” goes to a whole new level

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Airborne Students wait to board an aircraft.

Finally, it’s jump week… but the wait isn’t over. Students will wake up early, run to the chute shed, rig up, and just wait and wait for many hours. Students are not allowed to sleep or talk as they wait. It’s the ultimate example of “hurry up and wait.”

8. A mix of emotions

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil

Time to jump! There’s certainly level of excitement and fear at this point, as jumpers hook up to the static line and prepare to jump. Some people question their judgement at this point, as butterflies flutter in their stomachs and thoughts of “why the hell am I doing this” circle in their head. For others, this is the best moment of their life!

9. Jumping Out

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Paratroopers with 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division (Advise and Assist Brigade), exit a C-130 aircraft Feb. 12, 2010, at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq, as part of the largest airborne training exercise conducted by U.S. forces in Iraq since the beginning of the war. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

Probably the two most common reactions: “This is awesome” or “Holy Shit!”

10. Pinning of the Wings

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil

After completing five parachute jumps, Lt. Col. Kay Wakatake has her wings pinned on by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Richardson at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Photo by Captain Greg Peterson)

The pinning of parachute wings is the crowning achievement of three weeks of training. The badge is pinned (or slammed) on the graduate’s chest. This rite of passage solidifies an individual as a member of the Airborne family. The best part of all of this: You’re no longer a leg!

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Military working dogs now guaranteed a trip home with their handlers

It may come as a surprise, but until President Obama signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in November, military working dogs who were retired while overseas were sometimes left in the country in which they were deployed, separated from their handlers instead of returning back to the U.S. Sometimes the dogs would be left on the base until they were adopted locally.


This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
A flight medic is hoisted into a medical helicopter with Luca, a Military Working Dog, during a training exercise in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Needham)

Some handlers were able to return with their dogs, but the handler would have to pay for it out-of-pocket. If the handler couldn’t afford it, that was tough luck. The 2016 NDAA how the armed forces retires its working dogs. Those dogs will now be guaranteed a ride home thanks to a bipartisan amendment, which also allows their handlers to adopt them after their service ends.

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

The American Humane Association lobbied for the amendment for a year. Before the bill passed through Congress and was signed by the President, theAssociation spent thousands of dollars to repatriate retired dogs and reunite them with their handlers. They handled 21 cases in 2015 alone.

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Staff Sgt. Philip Mendoza pets his military working dog, Rico, wearing “doggles,” during air assault training aboard a helicopter at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Rissmiller)

The Humane Association estimates there are upwards of 2,500 dogs at work with the U.S. military overseas. They believe the bond between a dog and its handler is a mutually beneficial relationship.

“It’s not just those 2,500 precious canines it’s also their handlers at the other end of the leash,” Dr. Robin Ganzert, CEO of the American Humane Association told the Washington Free Beacon. “When they come back suffering from those invisible wounds of war, we’re hoping that their four legged battle buddy will help them heal from PTS. We know it works. We’ve seen it work.”

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Staff Sgt. Erick Martinez, a military dog handler at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, uses an over-the-shoulder carry with his dog, Argo II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Allen Stokes)

The Humane Association’s next push is for ongoing veterinary care for returning canine veterans.

“We also did a call to action to the private sector and said, okay guys, time to step up and provide for veterinary care,” Ganzert said. “We achieved free specialty veterinary care but I’m still calling for free primary care. These handlers that are former-military, a lot of them, to have a battle buddy in their home is a grand expense.”

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6 things the US stole from the Germans during WWII

The Germans in WWII were at the forefront of industrialized warfare. They produced the first jet-powered bomber, developed the first tilt-rotor plane, and discovered fission. In most cases, Allied scientists and planners struggled to, through long hours of research and experimentation, close the technological gaps exposed by German advances. When possible though, they just stole everything they could find and called it a day.


1. Airborne Operations

This is the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy forces occupied US soil
Photo: US Army

The first airborne operations in combat were all executed by Germans during invasions of European countries. Normandy, Denmark, France, and the Netherlands all fell quickly while small units of German paratroopers seized key infrastructure or destroyed enemy defenses ahead of the main army. In the Battle of Crete, British intelligence operatives were able to determine the exact locations that German paratroopers would land and inflicted heavy losses. Adolf Hitler banned future large-scale airborne operations, but Britain and America were impressed by the ability of the airborne to complete their mission despite the losses. The Allies drastically stepped up their training and organizing of airborne units. The paratroopers they trained contributed decisively to the successful invasions of Sicily and Normandy.

2. Synchropters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGfpa6Y8pPA

Synchropter is a specific class of helicopter, one that uses intermeshing blades that turn in opposite directions. An unmanned version is being evaluated for medical evacuation missions by the Marine Corps. The HH-43 was a Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force synchropter used from the 1950s-1970s as a rescue and firefighting helicopter. Designs for both helicopters borrow heavily from a Fleittner Fl 282 recovered during Operation Lusty. Allied aviators didn’t just benefit from recovering the helicopter though. They also got the designer, Anton Flettner through Operation Paperclip.

3. Jet-powered aircraft

The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first jet airplane used in combat and it was very effective against Allied bomber formations. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union seized Me 262s  as they captured German territory and reverse engineered the German planes. While neither country would finish building jet aircraft during the war, when American F-86 Sabres later faced off against Soviet MiG-15s in MiG Alley over Korea, it was a fight between Me 262 descendants. Similarly, the U.S. captured the Arado Ar 234 jet-powered bomber. Technology from the Arado would go on to be found in the U.S. Army Air Force’s B-45s and B-47s.

4. Cruise missiles

In June 1944, V-1 flying bombs started raining down on London. The V-1, “the buzz bomb”, was inaccurate but took a psychological toll on the British. The U.S. wanted its own version in preparation for the invasion of mainland Japan, and so recovered pieces of crashed and detonated V-1s. By September, it had successfully tested the JB-2 Loon, a virtual copy of the V-1. The JB-2 was never fired in combat since nuclear weapons were dropped first and Japan surrendered. Technology from the V-1 would later appear in the MGM-1 Matador, though the Matador would use a turbojet instead of the pulse jet that gave the V-1 its signature buzzing sound.

5. Methamphetamines

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Psychonaut

Meth was invented in 1893 by a Japanese chemist, but it was first used in war by WWII Germany. News of a wonder drug that kept tankers and pilots awake crossed to the Allies who wanted to find a way to save their crews as well. Tests on the Allied side went badly though, and the Allies stopped giving the drug to pilots. Ground soldiers still used it to overcome fatigue.

6. Rockets

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Photo: NASA

Rocket science was one of the key areas of interest during Operation Paperclip. Famously, the scientists who pioneered the U.S. and Soviet space programs were taken from Germany in the final months and years immediately after the war. At first, both the U.S. and Soviets constructed their own V-2 bombs before kicking off the space race in earnest. The stolen V-2s and their creators paved the way for U.S. rocket programs from the Redstone rockets to the Saturn and Apollo missions. The Saturn rocket, used in the Apollo program, is the only rocket that has carried a man outside of low earth orbit.

MORE: 12 rare and amazing photos from the ‘War to End All Wars’

AND: 8 genius military uses for civilian products

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5 reasons Die Hard is absolutely a Christmas movie

Christmas movies can be broken down into their own sub-genres. You have classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, rom-coms like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually, and modern family favorites like Elf and Home Alone. But, don’t forget the all-important action Christmas movie sub-genre. Undoubtedly, the king of this category is the legendary 1988 film Die Hard. Here are 5 reasons why and why it is, in fact, a true Christmas movie.

1. Christmas music

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Believe me, it’s a Christmas movie (20th Century Fox)

You can’t have a Christmas movie without Christmas music, and Die Hard checks this block. The film features the Christmas classics of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Vaughn Moore and “Winter Wonderland” by Felix Bernard & Dick Smith. Additionally, while Argyle the limo driver is waiting, he’s listening to “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-D.M.C. If that’s not enough breadth of musical accompaniment, I don’t know what is.

2. It’s literally Christmas

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That’ll get ya into the holiday spirit (20th Century Fox)

Let’s break this one down. Holly’s company is having its annual Christmas party on Christmas Eve when Hans Gruber and his cronies take them hostage. Gruber even says, “It’s Christmas, Theo. The time for miracles.” When McClane gets his hands on an HK94 (they were converted to look like MP5s; note the button magazine release when Marco reloads on the table above McClane), he writes “I have a machine gun now, Ho Ho Ho” on the body of the terrorist that he took it from. The book that the film is based on, Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, also takes place on Christmas Eve. Oh, and Steven de Souza, the film’s writer, has confirmed that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Can’t argue with writer’s intent.

3. Reconciliation and making friends

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They’re still friends in the sequel too (20th Century Fox)

It’s often said that Christmastime is a time for forgiveness and strengthening bonds. It’s also a time to make new friends, and John McClane does both of these things in his battle through Nakatomi Tower. The whole point of the NYPD cop being in Los Angeles was to reconcile with his wife, Holly (another Christmas reference). The man shows up with a giant teddy bear and everything. McClane then builds trust and understanding with LAPD Sergeant Al Powell. Once they establish this relationship, Powell spends the rest of the movie trying to help his new friend and eventually takes down the last terrorist before he can kill McClane. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Good will to all men, unless they’re threatening your buddy in a gunfight.

4. More Christmas

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‘Twas the night before Christmas and in Nakatomi tower, John McClane and Hans Gruber were struggling for power (Insight Editions)

If the movie itself doesn’t convince you that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and the best action Christmas movie, how about the fact that it spawned more Christmas-themed media. The film’s 1990 sequel, Die Hard 2, also takes place on Christmas Eve. Die Hard 2 also adds snow into the mix for those who complained about the lack of it in the first one (despite the Southern California setting). But, there’s more. Looking for a Christmas bedtime story to read your kids and teach them about American hero John McClane? Why not read them A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic by Doogie Horner. The illustrated kid’s book is sure to be a re-read request as much as the film is rewatched.

5. Rewatchability

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Die Hard, still great (Warner Bros.)

Speaking of rewatching, is a movie really a Christmas movie if you can’t rewatch it every year? Well, Die Hard is the gift that just keeps on giving. We’ve all quoted lines along with McClane like, “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs,” and, “Welcome to the party, pal.” Of course, you don’t even need to have seen the film (but if you haven’t, what are you even doing?) to know, “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherf**cker.” It doesn’t even have to be Christmas for you to watch it and quote along. Remember what movie Ross, Joey, and Chandler from Friends always end up renting from the video store (when those were a thing)? That’s right. It’s Die Hard. It’s never a bad time to watch it, but Christmastime is what the movie was made for.

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(20th Century Fox)
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Commissioner Gordon From ‘Batman’ Is An Army Veteran

The extended promo for the new FOX series “Gotham” was recently released, and star Benjamin McKenzie hints at something to pay attention to: “That was war.”


I have long been a fan of Batman, and ever since my caped PJs as a kid, the Dark Knight still permeates my imaginatively geeky brain. But watching the trailer this week brought something to my attention that I’ve never caught before: Jim Gordon is a war veteran.

Also Read: These Military Veterans Created Your Favorite Comic Books

Was this just FOX’s attempt to market to the large and loyal military community? I did a little digging and it turns out that Commissioner Gordon was, in fact, U.S. Army Special Forces.

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Frank Miller’s 1987 storyline Batman: Year One follows Gordon’s transfer back to Gotham after 15 years in Chicago. He’s a man of integrity – which to my knowledge is in keeping with most Gordon depictions over time – and therefore doesn’t deputize Batman’s vigilante character.

But the Dark Knight is the only ally Gordon has against mob-controlled governance and a corrupt police department. So he keeps their partnership discrete. I imagine Gordon’s Special Forces history sheds light on his tolerance and understanding of the need for the Dark Knight, in the shadows, doing what simply needs to be done. Because in all the corruption and politics, who else is going to do it?

The reality is that Gordon is a character of moral regard and much more self-sufficient than modernized retellings have credited him with. He’s capable of hand-to-hand combat, facing off against corrupt fellow officers in his department. He’s as capable of violence as he is just. And together, he and Batman clean house in Gotham PD, quickly rising from Lieutenant to the infamous Commissioner we know and love.

So here’s to FOX for catching a key character attribute: veterans as civil assets. Gordon isn’t an over-praised war hero or a helpless charity case. He’s a cop. And he’s one of the good ones. If the trailer is any indication of Benjamin McKenzie’s incarnation, we have much to look forward to.

Season 1 of “The Origin Story” premiered Monday, September 22nd at 8pm.

NOW: This Group Works To Salvage Good From The Ultimate Tragedy Of War 

OR: This Remarkable Video Shows What It’s Like For Medevac Crews To Rescue Troops Under Fire

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The 20 coolest artillery pieces in history

Have you ever run into a spider web at night, and gotten a case of the “screaming mimi’s?” Ever met a sizeable lady, and silently spoken the words “Big Bertha?” Ever fired a bottle rocket at your cousin on the Fourth of July, used a GPS nav system, or shot a gun? Well, you have artillery to thank for all of that. And a lot more.


Big artillery pieces are like great warriors in their own rights. They’ve got names, personalities, biographies, and histories of their own. Gustav and Dora, Thor and Little David, Davey Crockett and Satan himself; they all have seen battle from time to time. It’s kind of odd how much of artillery history has worked its way into pop culture, and how often we refer to the big guns of days gone by.

Here are a few of the biggest, coolest and most important ballistic weapons in history. Vote up the best artillery pieces from history, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.

The Coolest Artillery Pieces in History

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Navy personnel chief to sailors: you have a voice in ratings overhaul

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Chief petty officers stand at attention during a chief pinning ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Sept. 16, 2016, in the Atlantic Ocean. | U.S. Navy photo by Christopher Gaines


Vice Adm. Robert Burke is the chief of naval personnel. He assumed the role in May and is responsible for the planning and programming of all manpower, personnel, training and education resources for the U.S. Navy. This views expressed in this commentary are his own.

There has been a lot of discussion since we announced the Navy’s rating modernization plan on Sept. 29. I’ve been following the conversation closely, and it’s clear that many were surprised by this announcement.

While there is rarely a right or perfect time to roll out a plan as significant and ambitious as this rating modernization effort, I firmly believe this change needs to occur, and now is the right time to do so. Throughout our rich, 241-year history, the U.S. Navy’s consistent advantage has come from its Sailors. You are our asymmetric advantage in an increasingly complex world — you are our prized possession, our secret weapon. In recognition of that, we continuously work to ensure that we develop and deploy our Sailors in the most modern and effective system possible. This is just our latest effort to modernize our personnel system — one of hundreds we’ve made in the past.

The objectives of this effort are simple: flexibility, flexibility and flexibility. First, we will provide flexibility in what a Sailor can do in our Navy, by enabling career moves between occupations to ensure continued advancement opportunity and upward mobility as the needs of a rapidly adapting Navy change. Second, we will provide flexibility in assignment choice — a Sailor with the right mix of plug-and-play skills will have more choices for ship type, home port, timing, sea/shore rotation, even special and incentive pays! Finally, we will provide you more flexibility after you leave the Navy, by providing civilian credentialing opportunities — in other words, giving you credit in the civilian job market for your Navy education and experience.

This effort will take us several years to complete, and we will include you in the process as we work through it — we’re just getting started and you will be involved as we go. Many questions remain unanswered, and we’ll get to them — together. There will be fleet involvement throughout.

Here’s the rough breakdown of the project, as we see it today:

— Phase 1 (now through September 2017) — redefine career fields and map out cross-occupation opportunities. Identify career groupings to define those rating moves that can be done, and that also translate to civilian occupational certifications.

— Phase 2 (now through September 2018, will run parallel with Phase 1) — examine the best way forward for how we best align our processes for:

  • Recruiting and initial job classification;
  • Planning for accessions — the numbers and mix of skills for folks we recruit;
  • Advancements — how do we define what is required for advancement if you are capable of several skill sets? Do we eliminate advancement exams altogether?
  • Detailing processes;
  • Pay processes — to include things like SRB, Assignment Incentive Pay, etc.; and
  • Reenlistment rules.

— Phase 3 (now through September 2018) — updating underlying policy documents, instructions, things like applicable BUPERSINST, OPNAVINST, and the Navy Enlisted Occupational Standards Manual. This will include changes to how we handle things like Evaluations and Awards.

— Phase 4 (began last year, expect to go through September 2019) — identify and put in place the underlying IT systems. This is probably the most complex and game changing aspect of the project.

— Phase 5 (September 2017 through September 2018) — redesign the Navy rating badges. The idea is to hold off on this until we settle on the right definition of career fields, to better inform the conversation on the way ahead in this area.

— Phase 6 (September 2019 and beyond) — continuous improvement, further integration with all Sailor 2025 initiatives.

I am committed to ensuring you have a voice in the way ahead. Toward that end, I am aggressively expanding the membership and avenues of communication into the Navy-wide working group that has been assembled to tackle this project. As we go forward, your feedback matters and we want to hear from you during each phase of the transformation. You can expect lots of discussion on this as we learn and adapt the plan to make it deliver on the objectives. Have conversations with your Senior Enlisted Leaders, who are armed with how to move those conversations forward. You also have a direct line to me in order to make sure your ideas are heard — send them to NavyRatingMod@gmail.com.

We are proud members of numerous different tribes within the Navy — our occupations, warfare specialties, ships and squadrons — we must always remember that there is one Sailor’s Creed and we are one NAVY TEAM supporting and defending our Nation. This modernization will make us more capable as individuals and a Navy.

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