Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II - We Are The Mighty
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Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

The stark vision of the Four Chaplains with linked arms praying while their ship sank 78 years ago lives on. Today, we honor their courage, devotion and ultimate sacrifice.

It was two years after the United States entered into World War II. The Four Chaplains – who would leave an extraordinary legacy – boarded the SS Dorchester, all coming from completely different backgrounds but completely united in a commitment to bring spiritual comfort to their men.

Chaplain George Fox was a veteran of World War I, having served as a medic. He was highly decorated, having received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service. Fox had lied about his age and was just 17 years old when he left for war. When he returned, he finished high school and went to college. He was eventually ordained a Methodist minister in 1934. When war came calling, he volunteered to become an Army Chaplain. On the day he commissioned, his son enlisted in the Marine Corps. 

Chaplain and Rabbi Alexander Goode earned his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1940, while finishing his studies to become a Rabbi – like his father before him. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he applied to the Army to become a Chaplain. In 1942, he was selected for Chaplains School at Harvard. 

Chaplain Clark Poling was the son of a minister and was ordained as one for the Reformed Church in the late 1930s. After war broke out, he was called to serve. His own father had served as a Chaplain during World War I. He headed to Army Chaplains School at Harvard. 

Chaplain John Washington was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1935, having served the church all his life in some form or another. When the war began, he received his appointment as an Army Chaplain. 

All four men from different corners of the country and varied faiths, met at Harvard in 1942 and became friends. A year later they’d be on a ship together, all ready to serve. 

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

On February 3, 1943, the civilian liner SS Dorchester, which had been converted for military service, was en route to Greenland with 902 military members, merchant marines and civilian workers. It was being escorted by Coast Guard Cutters Tampa, Escanaba and Comanche. It was a chilly morning as the new day began and the water temperature was hovering around 34 degrees with an air temperature of 36 degrees. 

The Coast Guard alerted the captain of the Dorchester that U-Boats had been sighted and he ordered the crew to sleep in their clothes and life jackets. Most of them ignored it though, because it was either so hot down below or they couldn’t sleep well with the life jackets on.  

At 12:55am, a German torpedo struck their ship. 

A large number of men were killed instantly from the blast and many more critically injured. It knocked their power and communications out, leaving them unable to radio the other ships for support. By some miracle, the CGC Comanche saw the flash of light from the explosion and headed their way to help. They had radioed the Escanaba for added support, while the Tampa continued its escort of the fleet. 

According to records, panic and chaos had quickly set in. Men began throwing rafts over and overcrowding soon set in, causing capsizing into the frigid waters. But four Chaplains became a light in the dark for the terrified men. They spread out throughout the ship comforting the soldiers and civilians, bringing order to the frenzy. As the life jackets were being passed out, they ran out. 

The Four Chaplains took theirs off, giving them to the men. 

Engineer Grady Clark witnessed the whole thing. Each Chaplain was of a different faith, but worked in unison to serve and save the men. 

Despite their orderly work, the ship continued to sink. They helped as many men as they could. When it was obvious the ship was going down, the Chaplains linked arms and began praying together. It was said that the crew in the waters below could hear hymns being sung. Survivors would later report hearing a mix of Hebrew and Latin prayers, melding together in a beautiful harmony as they went under, giving their lives to save the rest. 

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
American Legion archives painting by Dudley Summers

Of the 902 men, only 230 survived. 

Before boarding the ship and leaving to serve, Chaplain Poling asked his father to pray for him. The words were poignant and a deep insight to the character of the man he was and those he died alongside. He asked his father to pray “Not for my safe return, that wouldn’t be fair. Just pray that I shall do my duty…never be a coward…and have the strength, courage and understanding of men. Just pray that I shall be adequate.”

Although many fought for these brave men to receive the Medal of Honor for their bravery and heroism, the stringent requirements prevented it from happening. They all received the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross. In 1961, Congress created the Special Medal for Heroism, The Four Chaplains Medal. It was given to them and them only, never to be awarded again.

On this Four Chaplains Day, we remember.

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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.


Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
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.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
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.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
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.”

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
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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Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

Retired Marine Colonel Peter Barnett spent 30 years in the Corps as a Naval Aviator, Intelligence Officer and a recruiter, before taking his leadership skills to Hollywood to become a successful executive. Barnett joined the Corps in 1983 and became a Naval Aviator and Huey helicopter pilot. He deployed to Desert Shield, which was the buildup for Desert Storm as an IO for the air wing and then shifted to the reserves in 1994. He started in Hollywood in the early 80s working on independent films and such productions as Con Air and The Rock. His producing work includes The Sopranos, East Bound and Down, Arli$$, and Barnett supervised the productions of Narcos and Hannibal. He credits the Corps with changing his life and providing him with great opportunities.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Photo courtesy of Peter Barnett.

This is our ongoing series that features former and retired Marines that have transitioned out of the Corps into new roles within civilian society. Barnett comes to Hollywood with a unique and pragmatic Marine Corps perspective that has served him well.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Barnett flew both the UH-1 Huey and AH-1 Cobra helicopters. Photo courtesy of ebay.com.

Barnett was the oldest child. He raised his two younger siblings after his parents divorced when he was 10. He was a member of the Boy Scouts and then attended Cal State Northridge for Film and TV production. He shared about the key values stressed in his home life: “Work ethic. Being on time. Education. Both of my parents were highly educated people.” Barnett sought out the Corps during the writer’s strike in Hollywood in the early 1980s. He said, “I wanted to be a pilot and fly…my attraction to the Corps was leadership, brotherhood and traditions. The other services didn’t do it for me.” The Corps was challenging for him as he shared, “If I was going to go in the service, I was going to go all the way. If you fail, you fail and if you succeed you succeed. The bravado of the Marines impressed me as well, especially the Gunny at my OSO.”

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
The cast of The Sopranos.

Barnett’s class started out with 128 aviation candidates on June 6th, 1983, and graduated 70 aviation candidates from TBS. Only 38 of the 128 were qualified candidates, later winged as Naval Aviators. He stated, “I joined the Corps to fly, do my eight years and get out. After 10 years I had flown every helicopter there was in the Corps and ended.”

Barnett returned to Hollywood following his active-duty service and then transitioned to the reserves. From his earlier contacts made while working in the 80s in Hollywood, he was able to restart his career quickly through a friend and producer Mark Bakshi. He started at Disney working in accounting on big-budget films. He credits the experiences and training of the Corps with his successful return to the movie business with, “Leadership roles, team building, planning and keeping a cool head under fire. Be the calming force in the room and let everyone know it will be the day.” 

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
The cast of Con Air. Photo courtesy of whiterabbitcabaret.com.

He has spent time on lots of film and TV show sets and he stated:

“Every show is different; the characters are different. Every show has its own paintbrush, everything does not apply from one show to the next where what you learned on the last show may not apply to the next. It is personality, chain of command, logistics and operations driven. You have to figure it out. Marines love solving problems and can figure it out. We have many different plans where we can get to the objective. You make the best possible show you can with the money you have.”

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
The blockbuster hit The Rock. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

Barnett likes to hire fellow veterans on projects when able. He does have some insights into how Marines view the entertainment industry. He explained, “Everybody gets out of the Marine Corps and thinks they can be a technical adviser. There are about four technical advisers consistently working in the industry. You have to be current. Once you leave active service your knowledge level becomes outdated.” He elaborated, “You cannot hire an Afghanistan veteran to be an adviser on an Iraq war movie.” He does have positive words for a fellow Marine veteran and Hollywood professional, “The skills Marines bring with them with their integrity and work ethic. I have worked several times with fellow Marine Kevin Collins. We can get things done with a wink and head nod. Kevin is a great professional.” Retired Marine Major Kevin Collins is a First Assistant Director with the Director’s Guild of America. Barnett added, “I would absolutely hire a veteran if it fits what I need.”

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
The cast of Arli$$. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

He has been in on lots of pitches and been a consultant on shows to get them made. He shared key insights into getting more Marine stories into Hollywood, “Selling anything in Hollywood is like winning the lotto. It is so hard to sell any story or script in Hollywood.” He offered a good point with, “The best stories Marines can write are personal stories from their life that may not always be a military story. Military stories are a niche thing at times.”  One of his best insights is, “In Hollywood, you are walking into a room where you are pitching to people that have been making shows for 30 or 40 years. If they don’t love your story, then they don’t really care. They won’t do it just because you love it.” Barnett continued, “Many times, writers write for themselves which doesn’t sell. If you want to sell your project, it better be appealing to a general audience. It’s not ‘show friends’, it is ‘show business.’ Think big and what can sell. Who is your audience?” He knows that we as Marines love to tell stories, but they must be for a mass audience to sell.

When asked about what he wants to do next, Barnett answered, “I would like to sell some of my projects and my stories. Most are based on historical fact that people don’t know about. I want to work with great people and people that I like and enjoy. We continually learn on every project that we do. We want to solve problems and get to that objective. You want to have fun though too.”

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
The cast of East Bound and Down. Photo courtesy of screenrant.com.

Barnett does offer mentorship to Marines entering the industry with, “It’s great to meet new Marines and help them out and mentor them. If I can help others avoid the pitfalls I had then that is a success. You also have to be careful how you flash the Eagle, Globe & Anchor — sometimes we are not welcome in the industry as Marines.” He understands where and when to drop the Marine Corps card and what impact it has on the potential audience in the room. He believes that we learn continuously on every project that we do. Barnett knows Marines want to solve problems and get to the objective but want to have fun, too. That is his goal for his next projects: to make what he wants and have fun in the process.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Pedro Pascal and Boyd Holbrook in Narcos. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

When asked about his many accomplishments, Barnett said, “I am most proud of my children and then the Marine Corps. My accomplishments and my friendships are important, especially the relationships I still have from the Marines. We are family til today, and I have been a Marine since 1983. I am the organizer of a bi-annual reunion of fellow Marines. My TV and Entertainment career is my third proudest achievement. It is fun, exciting, different and you work with great people, but there is nothing like being a Marine.”

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How today’s veterans are the new ‘hipsters’

There’s always a certain tension when two servicemen meet for the first time. The nature of the tension often varies based on branch, job, and life experience. One might reasonably expect a grunt, for instance, to size up another grunt, the tension of two warriors vying for dominance. When fellow Havok Journal denizen and POG Paul and I met up to discuss life, the universe, and the peculiarities of Fort Bragg, the tension was less caveman and more tired old men trying not to pick up hepatitis at any of Fayetteville’s fine dining establishments.


As tends to happen when two writers meet, the conversation meandered around, covering everything from sports (if you think men are less emotional than women, wait til football season) to observations on military culture. Paul had one observation in particular that, try as I might, I was utterly unable to refute.

When you get down to it, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the apocryphal hipster and the GWOT vet.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Creative commons photo

Think about it for a moment. Beards- check. Tattoos- check. Insular culture that seems strange and unwelcoming to the outsider- check. Highly specific and objectively strange tastes in fashion (clothing, haircuts, etc)- check.

The only real differences are the typical veteran’s penchant for guns and hyper masculine attitude. Both communities eat some weird-ass food. Which is more strange, Mongolian Tex-Mex fusion, or dumping a bunch of MRE entrees in a pot and drowning it in Texas Pete? Both communities tend to enjoy things ironically. You can’t tell me you haven’t seen a bunch of dudes blasting Katy Perry in the motor pool, dancing, and lip-syncing their little hearts out.

I had the dubious privilege of being dragged through the Williamsburg community in Brooklyn a few months back, and I have to say, I was reminded of nothing so much as a trip to the PX on Bragg. Swap out T-shirts proclaiming one’s status as a sheepdog for highwater jeans and up the average muscle mass by about 30% and you’d hardly be able to tell the difference.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Beanie? Check. Beard? Check. Ironic print T? Check. Veteran? Check.

And as much as the veteran community likes to rag on hipsters for being whiny and entitled, we’re just as bad, when you get right down to it. Attack any one of our sacred cows and we come out in force, screaming and hollering and slinging mud at anyone who dares disrespect us.

And yet, despite our vast collection of similarities, the veteran community and hipster community more or less hate each other. To the hipster, the average veteran is an uncultured killer who is just a swastika away from being a Nazi. To the veteran, the average hipster is an emasculated crybaby who’s just a stubbed toe away from dissolving into tears and blaming Trump for hard surfaces.

Where does all this hate come from?

There’s a phenomenon known as the narcissism of small differences. The term was first coined by Sigmund Freud in 1917 to describe the reason why similar communities so often find themselves at each other’s throats. We’ll gloss over the psychobabble and get down to the meat of the matter: In order to preserve a sense of uniqueness, communities often become hypersensitive to the little things that separate them from other groups. By exaggerating the differences and attacking them, individuals and groups can maintain their sense of identity in the face of overwhelming similarities.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
These hipster-chic glasses are the standard military issue. USMC photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga.

This phenomenon has been witnessed time and time again over the centuries. Ever wonder why two tribes who live a short distance away from each other and have broadly similar cultures and beliefs have so often tried to kill each other? That’s why. They get all hung up on the little things, and the next thing you know, Catholics and Protestants spend a couple centuries tearing Europe apart in war after war.

In this case, hipsters and veterans have been locked in a culture war for the last decade. Only, the veterans have won. Hipsters don’t really exist anymore, outside of a few enclaves like Williamsburg, or in the fevered ranting of veteran Internet personalities. Veteran culture has swelled and expanded, united by a common experience provided by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and empowered by the World Wide Web.

We have all but supplanted hipsters in modern society, and in the process, we’ve become the new hipsters. We have stared into the abyss, and the abyss gave us a sense of entitlement and way, way too much beard.

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13 funniest military memes for the week of March 17

Funny military memes are like little morale pellets to keep everyone going throughout the year. And if your week was anything like ours, you could probably use some quick morale.


So here are 13 funny military memes to make your barracks and field exercises survivable for another week:

1. That fire team is definitely going to have some AAR notes (via The Salty Soldier).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

2. Don’t make fun of your Uber driver if he’s the only one in town (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

3. Fort Drum is like Narnia under the White Witch. Always winter, never Christmas (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

ALSO SEE: That time pirates mistook a Navy warship for a target

4. “I just want to address the speeding off base that’s been happening the last few weeks.”

(via The Salty Soldier)

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

5. Marines really are the sum of their stereotypes (via Decelerate Your Life).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
It’s awkward when you’re standing in a Hobby Lobby with them, pretty great when you’re on the beach.

6. Yeah, it’s basically balmy out here, chief (via Coast Guard Memes).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
I’m gonna go cool off with a .50-cal popsicle.

7. When the recruiting ads and the service reality collide (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

8. Seaman Corgi is going to have a bad, bad day (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Maybe should’ve skipped a couple of those shots last night, little guy.

9. Why have scouts go ahead of the vehicle if you’re not going to listen to their reports?

(via Pop smoke)

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

10. This is me talking to my younger self (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Could really use a deployment right about now. Are the Kurds still looking for volunteers?

11. “Let me just say, I wasn’t at that bar. I wasn’t with those guys. And I didn’t do any of those things.”

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

12. Marines double-tap and double-wrap (via Pop smoke).

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Depending on what base this is, that Marine may need to go to MOPP 4.

13. Get Out!

(via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
This is the real #GETOUT challenge.

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Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Even though President Donald Trump’s defense budget is committed to keeping the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane, as many as three squadrons could still be shut down.


According to a report in DefenseNews.com, the Air Force says that unless funding to produce more new wings for the A-10 is provided, three of the nine squadrons currently in service will have to be shut down due to fatigue issues in their wings. Re-winged A-10s have a projected service life into the 2030s.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
A U.S. Air Force A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II from the 355th Fighter Squadron is surrounded by a cloud of gun smoke as it fires a 30mm GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Alaska on May 29, 2007. (DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)

“We’re working on a long-term beddown plan for how we can replace older airplanes as the F-35 comes on, and we’ll work through to figure out how we’re going to address those A-10s that will run out of service life on their wings,” Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command told DefenseNews.com.

Presently, only 173 wing kits have been ordered by the Air Force, with an option for 69 more. The Air Force currently had 283 A-10s in service, but some may need to be retired when the wings end their service lives.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride

The A-10 has a number of supporters in Congress, notably Rep. Martha McSally, who piloted that plane during her career in the Air Force. In the defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2017, Congress mandated that at least 171 A-10s be kept in service to maintain a close-air-support capability.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the A-10 was originally designed to bust enemy tanks, and was given the 30mm GAU-8 gatling gun with 1,174 rounds. It can also carry up to eight tons of bombs, rockets, missiles and external fuel tanks.

Fully 356 Thunderbolts were upgraded to the A-10C version, which has been equipped with modern precision-guided bombs like the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. A total of 713 A-10s were built between 1975 and 1984.

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Meet the man credited with shortening WWII by two years

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
Argunners.com


David Balme, the Royal Navy Officer who seized a top-secret Enigma machine and codebook while storming a captured German U-Boat has died at the age of 95.

Lieutenant Commander David Balme, who died on Sunday, was credited with helping to shorten the Second World War by two years after he led the boarding party that raided U-110, east of Cape Farewell, Greenland in 1941.

David Edward Balme was born in Kensington, west London, on October 1, 1920. He joined Dartmouth Naval College in 1934 and served as a midshipman in the Mediterranean in the Spanish Civil War before being reassigned to the destroyer Ivanhoe in 1939. Balme was appointed to the destroyer HMS Bulldog, which he described as a ‘happy little ship’, as her navigator in the early 1940s. It was while he was serving on this ship that he came across the German submarine.

On May 9, 1941, U-110, under the command of Kapitanleutnant Fritz Julius Lemp, had been attacking a convoy in the Atlantic south of Iceland together with U-201, when Lemp left his periscope up too long. Escort corvette HMS Aubretia sighted it and rushed to the scene and began depth charging. HMS Bulldog and HMS Broadway followed and U-110 was forced to surface. HMS Bulldog immediately set course to ram the U-Boat at which Kplt. Lemp gave the order “abandon ship”. However unlike the U-Boat commander would suspect, the U-Boat did not sink and according to the former crew, he tried to swim back to U-110 in order to destroy the top-secret machine and code-books which were still left but he wasn’t seen again.

Lieutenant Dabid Balme was then ordered to ‘get whatever’ he could from the U-110. After rowing across to it, he made his way to the conning tower and had to holster his pistol in order to climb down three ladders to the control room. Recalling the incident many years later, he said: ‘Both my hands were occupied and I was a sitting target for anyone down below.’

He was said to have had no idea what the ‘funny’ instrument was when he initially picked it up – but his mission enabled British intelligence experts to secretly intercept and decipher signals sent from Germany to its submarines for the remainder of the War.

Sir Winston Churchill later credited the code-breaking operation, which sometimes cracked 6,000 messages a day, with saving lives across Europe and giving Britain the crucial edge in battle.

But the top-secret nature of their work meant Lt Cmdr Balme’s role in the operation’s success stayed on the classified list for decades.

The ‘typewriter’, which was actually an ‘unbreakable’ code machine designed by the Germans to protect military communications, proved invaluable to Alan Turing and his team of code-breakers at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire.

After the war, Lt Cmdr Balme married his wife Susan in 1947 and they had three children. He was said to enjoy hunting and was also a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron.  His significance in the Allie’s victory was not revealed until the Seventies, when the secrecy shrouding Bletchley Park and the code-breakers’ work finally began to lift.

He was presented with a Bletchley badge and a certificate signed by Prime Minister David Cameron and local MP Julian Lewis. Last night Dr Lewis paid tribute to the former sailor, who kept the U-boat commander’s cap and binoculars as souvenirs.

He said: ‘Having learned of the vital capture of the Enigma coding equipment from the U-110 when studying wartime history I was delighted to discover that the brave young officer responsible was one of my constituents.

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The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

The battle to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State terror group is a fight increasingly without front lines.


The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have breached the old city and control about a quarter of the terror group’s de facto capital, say American officials, but holding what has already been seized is proving a struggle.

Disputes between the SDF and some Free Syrian Army militias who have started to participate in the battle isn’t helping the advance, but the biggest obstacle remains the determined defense of IS fighters, who are using similar urban warfare tactics seen in the past nine months in the terror group’s fight to delay the retaking of Mosul by Iraqi security forces.

A month into the Raqqa assault, improvised explosive devices, sniper fire, and the use of an elaborate network of tunnels to mount ambushes — as well as exploiting civilians as human shields — are all being deployed by the militants. IS militants have also been using drones to drop explosives on SDF militiamen.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
SDF fighters at the mouth of a tunnel used by ISIS at Jabar Castle. (Photo from Voice of America.)

A watchdog rights organization says in the assault’s first month it has documented 650 deaths — 224 of them civilians.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based group that relies on a network of activists for its reporting, 311 IS fighters, including a handful of commanders, and 106 fighters of the American-backed “Euphrates Wrath” forces have died so far.

“In addition, airstrikes left hundreds of civilians injured, with various degrees of severity, some of whom had their limbs amputated, some were left with permanent disabilities and some are still in a critical condition, which means that the death toll is still likely to rise,” the observatory says.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
SDF fighters among the rubble Raqqa. (Photo from Voice of America.)

Long battle ahead

Despite being only a tenth the size of Mosul, US officials say they expect the house-to-house fighting to last several weeks. Estimates on how many militants remain in the city range from between 2,000 to 3,000. Most of them are thought to be from eastern Syria or foreign fighters drawn mainly from North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

According to local activists, some Raqqa-born IS fighters have defected and are providing intelligence to the SDF. Hassan Hassan, an analyst at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, a Washington-based think tank, and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” says local fighters have proven less than committed in the battle.

“The Islamic State will likely have to rely on the city’s still likely large population of foreign fighters as well as a new generation of young fighters brainwashed by the group’s ideology who typically fight viciously to the end,” Hassan argues in the current issue of CTC Sentinel, a publication of the West Point military academy.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
YPJ and YPG forces work together. (Photo from Flickr user Kurdishstruggle (CC by 2.0)

Despite the participation of experienced, battle-hardened Kurdish fighters, private security advisers say the SDF doesn’t have the same capabilities and training as the elite Iraqi units who have been confronting IS militants in Mosul since August.

“They are spread much thinner,” one European security adviser told Voice of America. “They are also not as well equipped and lack the armor the Iraqis have been able to use,” he added.

Keeping the advance going, and trying to pin the militants into smaller and smaller pockets, is proving grueling, he said.

On July 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to declare his security forces had wrested the wrecked city from the Islamic State, despite some continued fighting in at least one west Mosul neighborhood. Some US officials are reckoning IS fighters may be able to hold out in Raqqa for up to three months.

In a bid to disrupt the SDF momentum, IS is now more regularly using suicide bombers driving reinforced vehicles packed with explosives — although not to the same degree as seen in the battle for Mosul. Last week, one suicide bomber managed to destroy a forward HQ used by the SDF.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
A fighter with the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces sits atop a vehicle before a battle. (Photo from SDF via Facebook.)

Civilian casualties

Tens of thousands of refugees have fled, braving mines and savage IS sniper fire. Local activists estimate the number of civilians remaining in the city at about 60,000. They fault the international coalition for failing to have prepared for the handling of large numbers of displaced families.

Civilians have been gathering in nearby camps lacking basic amenities such as healthcare, clean drinking water, and food,” says the activist network Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

The group has accused the attacking forces of using a scorched-earth strategy, utilizing indiscriminate aerial bombardment in order to force militants to withdraw. US officials admit there have been civilian deaths but say they are doing all they can to minimize casualties among non-combatants.

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The Air Force just shut down ISIS drone attacks

Air Force intelligence analysts and operational leaders moved quickly to develop a new targeting combat plan to counter deadly ISIS explosive-laden drone attacks in Iraq and Syria.


In October of this year, ISIS used a drone, intended for surveillance use, to injure troops on the ground. Unlike typical surveillance drones, this one exploded after local forces picked it up for inspection, an Air Force statement said.

The emergence of bomb-drones, if even at times improperly used by ISIS, presents a new and serious threat to Iraqi Security Forces, members of the U.S.-Coalition and civilians, service officials explained to Sout Warrior. Drone bombs could target advancing Iraqi Security Forces, endanger or kill civilians and possibly even threat forward-operating US forces providing fire support some distance behind the front lines.

Related: ISIS has come up with a new, more diabolical way to use drones in Mosul fight

Air Force officials explained that many of the details of the intelligence analysis and operational response to ISIS bomb-drones are classified and not available for discussion.

Specific tactics and combat solutions were made available to combatant commanders in a matter of days, service experts explained.

While the Air Force did not specify any particular tactis of method of counterattack, the moves could invovle electronic attacks, some kind of air-ground coordination or air-to-air weapons, among other things.

However, the service did delineate elements of the effort, explaining that in October of this year, the Air Force stood up a working group to address the evolving threat presented by small commercial drones operated by ISIS, Air Force Spokeswoman Erika Yepsen told Scout Warrior.

Working intensely to address the pressing nature of the threat, Air Force intelligence analysts quickly developed a new Target Analysis Product to counter these kinds of ISIS drone attacks. (Photo: Scout Warrior)

“The working group cuts across functional areas and commands to integrate our best experts who have been empowered to act rapidly so they can continue to outpace the evolution of the threat they are addressing,” Yepsen said.

Personnel from the 15th IS, along with contributors, conducted a 280-plus hour rapid analysis drill to acquire and obtain over 40 finished intelligence products and associated single-source reports, Air Force commanders said.

Commercial and military-configured drone technology has been quickly proliferating around the world, increasingly making it possible for U.S. enemies, such as ISIS, to launch drone attacks.

“Any attack against our joint or coalition warriors is a problem. Once it is identified, we get to work finding a solution. The resolve and ingenuity of the airmen in the 15th IS (intelligence squadron)” to protect our warriors, drove them to come up with a well-vetted solution within days,” Lt. Col. Jennifer S. Spires, 25th Air Force, a unit of the service dealing with intelligence, told Scout Warrior.

While some analysts projected that developing a solution could take 11 to 12 weeks, the 15th IS personnel were able to cut that time by nearly 90 percent, Air Force officials said.

“While we cannot talk about the tactics and techniques that the 15th IS recommended, we can say that in every case, any targeting package sent to the air component adhered to rules that serve to protect non-combatants,” Spires added.

The 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing provides a targeting package in support of the Air Component. (Photo: Scout Warrior)

“The supported command makes the final decision about when and how to strike a specific target. Once the theater receives the targeting package it goes into a strike list that the Combatant Commander prioritizes,” Spires said.

Also, Air Force Secretary Deborah James recently addressed an incident wherein two Air Force ISR assets were flying in support coalition ground operations — when they were notified of a small ISIS drone in the vicinity of Mosul.

“The aircraft used electronic warfare capabilities to down the small drone in less than 15 minutes,” Erika Yepsen, Air Force Spokeswoman, told Scout Warrior.

While James did not elaborate on the specifics of any electronic warfare techniques, these kinds of operations often involve the use of “electronic jamming” techniques to interrupt or destroy the signal controlling enemy drones.

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Here is the Marine Corps’ 2018 warplane wish list

The Marine Corps has asked Congress for $3.2 billion to buy warplanes and other equipment that did not make President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 defense budget plan, according to a copy of the request obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, signed off on the “unfunded priorities list” and service officials sent it to lawmakers within the last week.


It appears to be the first of four such lists due soon on Capitol Hill – one each from the Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force – which together will add up to multiple billions of dollars. This is an annual ritual for the Pentagon and Congress as the budget and appropriations are ironed out.

The most expensive item on the Marine Corps list is $877 million for six F-35 fighter jets. The jet is being built for all the services.

The Marine Corps wish list includes a request for $617 million for four F-35Bs, a version designed to take off and land vertically, and $260 million for two F-35Cs, the jet’s aircraft carrier variant.

The Air Force and Navy may also seek additional F-35s in their forthcoming wish lists.

Other aircraft on the Marine Corps list include:

  • $356 million for four KC-130J Hercules propeller planes, which can either refuel other aircraft or perform assault missions
  • $288 million for two CH-53K King Stallion logistics helicopters
  • $228 million for two C-40A Clipper jets, the military version of the Boeing 737 airliner, which can carry passengers or cargo

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
A Marine prepares an AH-1Z Viper for storage at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 2, 2016. Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 conducted aerial live-fire training utilizing the AH-1Z Viper for the first time in Okinawa. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Steven Tran/Released)

  • $221 million for seven AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters
  • $181 million for two MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which are capable of ferrying Marines and supplies
  • $67 million for four UC-12W Huron propeller planes, which are small, multi-mission aircraft

The Marine Corps is also seeking $312 million for five ship-to-shore connectors, which are air-cushion landing craft for carrying Marines ashore in amphibious assaults.

The service also wants boosts in a variety of ammunition programs as well as several buildings to be constructed on Marine Corps bases.

The lists have effectively become addenda to the formal budget request each year. Sometimes called “wish lists,” they provide military justifications to lawmakers interested in adding to the defense budget items the White House did not request. To the extent Congress funds items on the lists, it must increase the total amount for the Pentagon or cut other programs to offset the expense.

This year, the lists take on an added dimension. Trump made “rebuilding” the military a cornerstone of his campaign. While his new budget would increase spending on keeping existing assets in ready condition, it does not provide much increase in the procurement or other accounts that would need to rise to support a significant buildup.

Defense hawks in Congress have criticized Trump’s request as inadequate, and they will use the wish lists to bolster their argument.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This War of 1812 veteran saw the Battle of Gettysburg from his porch – then joined it

These days it’s hard to think of a veteran who could have served from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. It’s happened, of course.


But imagine a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War fighting in the Civil War. That’s a span of more than 60 years — much longer than the 24 years that separated the beginning of WWII and the Vietnam War. Then again, during the 20th century, pivotal battles weren’t literally in our front yard.

An average 69-year-old might be happy to ride out his golden years from a rocking chair.

But not John Burns.

He fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War and even tried to work as a supply driver for the Union Army but was sent back to his home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He wasn’t too happy to be excluded from the war.

See, Burns already lived twice as long as the average American of the time and was ready to do more for his country. But Gettysburg was much further north than the Confederates could ever attack – or so he thought.

Burns was considered “eccentric” by the rest of the town. That’s what happens when you’re fighting wars for longer than most people at the time spent in school.

When Confederate Gen. Jubal Early captured the town, Burns was the constable and was jailed for trying to interfere with Confederate military operations. When the Confederates were pushed out of Gettysburg by the Union, Burns began arresting Confederate stragglers for treason.

His contributions to the Union didn’t end there.

On the morning of July 1, 1863, Burns watched as the Battle of Gettysburg began to unfold near his home. Like a true American hero, he picked up his rifle – a flintlock musket, which required the use of a powder horn – and calmly walked over to the battle to see how he could help.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

He “borrowed” a more modern musket (now a long-standing Army tradition) from a wounded Union soldier, picked up some cartridges, then walked over to the commander of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry and asked to join the regiment.

This time, he wasn’t turned away; but the 150th Pennsylvania commanders did send Burns to Herbst Woods, away from where the officers believed the main area of fighting would be.

They were wrong.

Herbst Woods was the site of the first Confederate offensive of the battle. Burns, sharpshooting for the Iron Brigade, helped repel this offensive as part of a surprise counterattack.

John Burns was mocked by other troops for showing up to fight with his antiquated weapon and “swallowtail coat with brass buttons, yellow vest, and tall hat.” But when the bullets started to fly, he calmly took cover behind a tree and started to shoot back with his modern rifle.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

He also fought alongside the 7th Wisconsin Infantry and then moved to support the 24th Michigan. He was wounded in the arm, legs, and chest and was left on the field when the Union forces had to fall back.

He ditched his rifle and buried his ammo and then passed out from blood loss. He tried to convince the Rebels he was an old man looking to find help for his wife, but accounts of how well that story worked vary. Anyone fighting in an army outside of a uniform could be executed, but the ruse must have worked on some level–he survived his wounds and lived for another 9 years.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the Civil War. The Confederates would spend the rest of the war – two years – on the defensive.

As the poem “John Burns of Gettysburg,” written after the war by Francis Bret Harte, goes:

“So raged the battle. You know the rest. How the rebels, beaten and backward pressed, Broke at the final charge and ran. At which John Burns — a practical man — Shouldered his rifle, unbent his brows, And then went back to his bees and cows.”

Burns became a national hero after the battle. When President Lincoln stopped in the Pennsylvania town to deliver the Gettysburg Address, he asked to speak with Burns and met the veteran at his home.

He was photographed – a big deal at the time – and a poem was written about his life. A statue of Burns was erected at Gettysburg National Military Park in 1903, where it stands today.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

The base reads “My thanks are specially due to a citizen of Gettysburg named John Burns who although over seventy years of age shouldered his musket and offered his services to Colonel Wister One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Colonel Wister advised him to fight in the woods as there was more shelter there but he preferred to join our line of skirmishers in the open fields when the troops retired he fought with the Iron Brigade. He was wounded in three places. – Gettysburg report of Maj.-Gen. Doubleday.”

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ISIS militants are now using civilians as bait

The Pentagon says Islamic State militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul are holding civilians in buildings by force and then deliberately attracting coalition strikes.


A Pentagon spokesman on March 30 said the U.S. military will soon release a video showing IS fighters herding people into a building, then firing from the structure to bait coalition forces.

Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The comments come as the U.S. military responds to criticism from within Iraq and internationally over a separate incident in which as many as 240 civilians are believed to have been killed.

“What you see now is not the use of civilians as human shields,” said Colonel Joe Scrocca, a spokesman for the coalition. “Now it’s something much more sinister.”

He said militants are “smuggling civilians so we won’t see them” into buildings and then attempting to draw an attack.

He said he was working on declassifying a video showing militants conducting such an operation.

Human rights group Amnesty International, Pope Francis, and others have urged for better protection for civilians caught in the war, with calls intensifying after a separate March 17 explosion in the Mosul al-Jadida district, killing scores of people.

The U.S. military previously acknowledged that coalition planes probably had a role in the explosion and subsequent building collapse, but it said the ammunition used was insufficient to explain the amount of destruction observed.

Officials said they suspect the building may have been booby-trapped or that the damage may have been caused by the detonation of a truck bomb.

U.S.-backed forces are attempting to push IS fighters out of west Mosul after having liberated the less-populated eastern part of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Scrocca estimated that some 1,000 militants remain in west Mosul, their last stronghold in Iraq, down from 2,000 when the assault was launched on February 19.

They are facing about 100,000 Iraqi government forces, he added.

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14 images that hilariously portray your first day on a field op

Heading out to the field to conduct a training operation sounds like a whole lot of fun when it’s your first time out. But as we all know, the majority of the time nothing happens as originally planned, and things tend to fall apart just as soon as they start.


Although tactical training is super important, field ops usually consist of nothing more than a lot of hiking, shooting some blanks and eating MREs.

No matter how many times you’ve gone out to the field in your career, you’ll always remember your first time above the rest.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

1. When you show up at the armory to draw your weapon, all motivated at 0500, and you’re the only one there.

Hello? (Images via Giphy)

2. What it feels like riding on a bumpy road in the back of a 7-ton heading out to the field.

Are we there yet? (Images via Giphy)

3. How you feel when you get out of that damned truck.

That’s not good. (Images via Giphy)

4. After you threw up, you told your squad you must have drunk way too much beer last night. They call you a …

No one believes you. (Images via Giphy)

5. Then you wait for the rest of the platoon to show up.

Come on people. (Images via Giphy)

6. They finally show up, but no one appears to be as motivated as you.

Let’s go! (Images via Giphy)

7. But then you just continue to wait some more.

What are we waiting for? (Images via Giphy)

8. Once the orders come down to start training, your squad is instructed capture and take control of a small MOUT town. Everyone now gets into position.

(Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

9. You’re told to take the training seriously as if you’re in a real war zone. But we never do, especially when you have to simulate clearing a room, shooting your weapon or tossing a grenade.

No bad guys here. (Images via Giphy) 

10. Then once you completed that evolution, you loaded your lip with dip or sparked up a smoke. Face it, you have nothing else to do… again.

I hope he doesn’t run out. (Images via Giphy)

11. When chow comes around, the MREs are passed out, and you get the one no one wants.

Yew! (Images via Giphy)

12. After a long day of waiting in the hot sun, it’s getting cold, and you realized you forgot to pack your sleeping bag.

What a boot mistake. (Images via Giphy)

13. After a few hours of lying down trying to catch some shut-eye, your fireteam leader wakes you to stand watch.

But we’re out in the field, Cpl. (Images via Giphy)

14. You arrive at your post watch, and you just stand there in the pitch black. Then it starts to rain, but at least you were prepared for that.

Only four more days left. (Images via Giphy)What was your first field op like? Comment below.

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