Here's what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service

“I’ve come a long way from picking cotton in the fields with my grandfather,” said retired Master Sgt. Leroy Mazell Smith, who has lived a life few could probably imagine.


He was born on an Arkansas bridge during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927; son of a logger and farmer, Smith grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His mother, who cared for him and his two siblings, left school at the age of 13.

Also read: 6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

He credits his upbringing to his grandfather who Smith picked cotton with. He said his grandfather taught him the value of hard work and perseverance.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Retired Master Sgt. Leroy Smith became a Tuskegee Airman at the age of 16 in 1943. Smith said getting to know the Tuskegee aircrew was one of his best memories. | U.S. Air Force image by Staff. Sgt. Regina Edwards

Smith graduated from high school in Fordyce, Arkansas, at the age of 16. While there, he attended preflight aeronautical classes, changing the course of his future.

“I wanted to be a doctor,” he said, “but the military said they needed black mechanics, so I was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Corps at 16. Looking back now, they did me a favor I’d say.”

Smith said he vividly remembered being a scared boy from the country in 1943, riding a bus from Camp Robinson to Sheppard Field, Texas, for basic military training, and then later to Chinook, Arkansas, for aircraft and engine training.

“Everything was segregated,” he said. “The ride to training, the barracks we lived in, even the hours we had to shop at the base exchange and eat at the mess hall were separate.

“I remember (white) people asking us, ‘What are you doing here?’ and assuming we blacks were the cooks and bottle washers,” Smith said.

However, segregation did not break his zeal. Smith charged forward and met every obstacle with faith and optimism. He said he leaned on his Baptist upbringing and grandfather’s lessons about having strength — especially during the harder days.

“I never retaliated,” Smith said. “I just believed those people were ignorant and someday it would be better. My grandfather always said, ‘There’s only one race of people: the human race.'”

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Tuskegee Airman in an undated photo. | U.S. Air Force

And so, while the human race was focused on World War II and which side would prevail, Smith set course for the European theater. He was assigned to the Tuskegee unit, where all barriers fell away. He was no longer a black mechanic. He was simply an Airman.

“I was scared and proud when I arrived in Italy,” Smith said. “I was with an all-black crew that I could identify with. I could actually communicate with the pilots; the officers respected us as the younger members. I didn’t have to just do my job and shut my mouth. We all had a good relationship; it was one of my best memories.”

The Tuskegee Airmen are typically known as an all-black fighter and bomber pilot aircrew who fought in WWII. However, that name, Tuskegee Airmen, also encompassed navigators, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel for the aircrews.

“I loved being called a Tuskegee Airman,” he said. “I didn’t know that name would be what it is today, but we sure had a lot of unit pride, and there was reason for it.”

The crew was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group and flew heavy bomber escort missions with P-47 Thunderbolts and later the P-51 Mustangs. To distinguish themselves, they painted the tails of their aircraft red, coining themselves the Red Tails.

“We never lost a bomber,” Smith said. “Nope, we never lost a plane. It did me proud to say I was a part of this. We were good, and we were finally recognized for it. I’m a low profile guy, but the recognition was nice.”

In 1947, Smith’s tour with the Tuskegee Airmen ended, but the Red Tails’ legend influenced the integration of races in the armed forces. Smith soldiered on as he transitioned from the Army Air Corps to the Air Force.

He continued serving throughout the Korean War and Vietnam War, fulfilling 25 years in the Air Force and retiring in 1968 as a master sergeant.

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The most spectacular Russian military failures of all time

There are some projects that the Kremlin would love us to forget.


Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Youtube

The Russian military has long been a bogeyman for the West, with Cold War memories lingering even after the fall of the Soviet Union.

However, over the years Russia’s fierce competition has produced a number of duds alongside its successes, as the country has scrambled to stay one step ahead of its geopolitical rivals.

The following is a collection of some of the most ambitious military projects that resulted in spectacular failures.

The Tsar tank has achieved almost mythical status since the unusual vehicle was first tested in 1914. Due to weight miscalculations, its tricycle design often resulted in its back wheel getting stuck and its lack of armor left its operators exposed to artillery fire.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

But it wasn’t Russia’s only tank failure. The Soviet Union’s T-80 was the first production tank to be equipped with a gas turbine engine when it was introduced in 1976.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

However, when it was used during the First Chechen War it was discovered that when the tanks got hit on their side armor, its unused ammunition exploded. The performance was so poor that the Ministry of Defense cancelled all orders for the tanks.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

The Raduga Kh-22 air-to-surface missile was designed as a long-range anti-ship missile to counter the threat of US aircraft carriers and warship battle groups.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

What it wasn’t designed to do was hit friendly territory, but that’s exactly what happened in 2002 when one of the rockets misfired during Russian military exercises and struck the Atyrau region of western Kazakhstan to the great embarrassment of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov (pictured below).

Sergei Ivanov Photo: Wiki Commons

The Mikoyan Project 1.44 (MiG 1.44) was the Soviet Union’s answer to the US’s development of its fifth-generation Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) in the 1980s.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

Thirty years later and the status of the MiG 1.44 remains something of a mystery after it performed its first and only flight in February, 2000. The only known prototype was put in long-term storage in the hangar of Gromov Flight Research Institute in 2013.

Russia’s flagship, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, is the only aircraft carrier of its type to enter service after its sister ship was scrapped due to the fall of the Soviet Union.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

Unfortunately, it has been beset with problems over the years. Due to problems with its powerplant, tugs used to have to accompany the ship whenever it is deployed to tow it back to port. In 2009, a short circuit aboard the vessel caused a fire that killed one crew member, before an attempt to refuel the vessel at sea a month later caused a large oil spill off the coast of Ireland.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

On February 17, 2004, President Vladimir Putin boarded the Arkhangelsk, an Akula-class submarine, to watch the test launch of a newly developed ballistic missile.

Unfortunately, the R-29RMU Sineva missiles failed to launch from the nuclear submarines Novomoskovsk and Karelia because of unspecified technical problems leaving a lot of red faces all around. Putin subsequently ordered his defense minister to conduct an urgent review of the program.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

In 2013, shocked sunbathers on Russia’s Baltic coast were confronted with a giant military hovercraft bearing down on them. A spokesperson from Russia’s navy said the beach was supposed to have been cleared for the exercise.

The satellites of Russia’s “Tundra” program, designed to be early-warning system capable of tracking tactical as well as ballistic missiles, were first scheduled for launch in 2013.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

Yet due to technical problems the launch has suffered a series of delays forcing the country to rely on its outdated existing satellites. In February two satellites, which were operational for only a few hours each day, finally went offline leaving Russia unable to detect missiles from space.

The T-14 Armata tank was billed as the “world’s first post-war, third-generation tank.” So you can imagine the disappointment when the new, high-tech piece of military hardware broke down during May’s rehearsal for the Victory Day parade in Moscow and had to be towed with ropes by another vehicle.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Wiki Commons

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


NAVY

KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (July 14, 2015) LT Christopher Malherek, assigned to the “Golden Eagles” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 9, prepares to land a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft during a routine training flight for the squadron’s advanced readiness program.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amber Porter/USN

MIAMI, Fla. (July 14, 2015) Steel Worker 1st Class Jesse Hamblin, assigned to Underwater Construction Team 2 (UCT-2), makes a vertical fillet weld on a half inch steel plate.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Blake Midnight/USN

MARINE CORPS

Lance Cpl. Chance Seckenger with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, rides in a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft during launch and recovery drills from the well deck of the USS Green Bay, at sea, July 9, 2015.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Lance Cpl. Brian Bekkala/USMC

FOG BAY, Australia – Australian Army soldiers, assigned to 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and U.S. Marines, assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, work together during an amphibious assault exercise during Talisman Sabre 2015 at Fog Bay, Australia, July 11, 2015.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Sgt. Sarah Anderson/USMC

COAST GUARD

Cutter Cypress sits front and center during a practice session for the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: USCG

Two adults and two children were found alive following an extensive search by Coast Guard crews off the coast of South Carolina. The four did not return as scheduled from a fishing trip, and were found this morning clinging to an ice cooler. More on this case: http://goo.gl/GCRulc

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: USMC

 AIR FORCE

C-17 Globemaster IIIs assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing await training missions at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Barry Loo/USAF

An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Aviano Air Base, Italy, waits as Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron complete a final check of the aircraft’s weapons before taking off on a combat sortie from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 14, 2015.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/USAF

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, takes off at Jungwon Air Base ROK, during Buddy Wing 15-6.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson/USAF

ARMY

Army engineers, assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (Iron Brigade), employ a M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) during a breaching exercise, at Udairi Range Complex, Kuwait.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Spc. Gregory T. Summers, 3rd Armored B/US Army

A soldier, assigned to 4th Squadron, 2D Cavalry Regiment, fires a Polish RPG-7D rocket-propelled grenade alongside a Polish paratrooper from the 6th Airborne Brigade during live-fire training, part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, at Nowa Deba Training Area, Poland.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Capt. Spencer Garrison/US Army

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers, assigned to the 416th Theater Engineer Command, conduct night land navigation during a Sapper Leader Course prerequisite training exercise on Camp San Luis Obispo Military Installation, Calif., July 15, 2015.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Master Sgt. Michel Sauret/US Army

NOW: More awesome military photos

OR: Watch civilians mangle the official title of the Afghanistan War

 

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Here are Hillary Clinton’s answers to 11 questions posed by the military community

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service


Editor’s note: Earlier this summer, Military One Click devised a military/veteran-centered questionnaire and sent it out to the Clinton, Johnson, Stein, and Trump campaigns as part of #militaryvotesmatter. As they receive responses from those campaigns, WATM will publish them, unedited and in their entirety.

This questionnaire was devised and compiled by Bianca Strzalkowski, a freelance writer and Marine Corps spouse. Follow her on twitter, @BiancaSki.

1. What key policy positions does your party hold that make you choose to be affiliated with it?

Though I have been a Democrat for decades, I grew up in a Republican household in Illinois. Regardless of who I vote for, many of my guiding principles have come from my Methodist faith—including the idea that you should “do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”

These values make me proud to be the Democratic nominee, and to fight for policies that will create good-paying jobs, economic security and fairness for working families, and equality for all Americans. We will raise the minimum wage, remove the barriers to higher education, ensure working families have paid family and medical leave, protect and expand health care—especially for our veterans—defend American workers, and encourage innovators and small businesses. We will ensure that our policies treat everyone with dignity and respect: in this election, those principles have evaded the Republican nominee for president. However, regardless of party affiliation, I believe we must also remember our country’s motto of

These values make me proud to be the Democratic nominee, and to fight for policies that will create good-paying jobs, economic security and fairness for working families, and equality for all Americans. We will raise the minimum wage, remove the barriers to higher education, ensure working families have paid family and medical leave, protect and expand health care—especially for our veterans—defend American workers, and encourage innovators and small businesses. We will ensure that our policies treat everyone with dignity and respect: in this election, those principles have evaded the Republican nominee for president. However, regardless of party affiliation, I believe we must also remember our country’s motto of

We will ensure that our policies treat everyone with dignity and respect: in this election, those principles have evaded the Republican nominee for president. However, regardless of party affiliation, I believe we must also remember our country’s motto of e Pluribus Unum: “out of many, we are one.” I believe that our country is stronger together, not divided by background—or by Democrat or Republican. Together, we will ensure that we uphold the basic bargain of this country—that if you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead. Every American deserves a healthy, happy, and productive life, and I am proud to fight for the policies that will make that a reality.

I believe that our country is stronger together, not divided by background—or by Democrat or Republican. Together, we will ensure that we uphold the basic bargain of this country—that if you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead. Every American deserves a healthy, happy, and productive life, and I am proud to fight for the policies that will make that a reality.

I believe that our country is stronger together, not divided by background—or by Democrat or Republican. Together, we will ensure that we uphold the basic bargain of this country—that if you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead. Every American deserves a healthy, happy, and productive life, and I am proud to fight for the policies that will make that a reality.

2. In your opinion, what do you think are the leading issues facing today’s military members?

My father was a World War II veteran, having served as a Navy chief petty officer. Growing up, I learned from his experiences, but I understand that our service members, veterans, and their families experience many different challenges today. The issues facing our service men and women are vast and varied, but we will take important steps to ensure that our country is aligning the demands of a military career with the realities facing 21st-century families. We must not only recognize the sacrifices that our service men and women make but how their efforts keep us safe and allow us to prosper at home.

In an era of uncertain budgets, we need to ensure our military has the resources and support they need to cope with the nearly two decades of conflict they have faced. While I am all for making sure we are stretching our dollars and cutting the fat out of budgets, we cannot impose arbitrary limits on something as important as our military. We will work to end the sequester and get a budget deal that supports our military, our families, and our country.

We need to ensure we are modernizing all branches of service and investing in new technologies, so that we remain an agile force, ready to meet all challenges be they land, air, space, or cyber.

We must ensure that we are not only caring for our service men and women physically but that they have access to the mental health care they needed. I will ensure we enhance Defense Department programs to help remove the stigma of mental health issues. With this expansion in services, we must also provide our veterans the support they need when it comes to battling homelessness and addiction, and the far too many instances of veterans attempting and committing suicide.

We must do more to support military families as they prepare for deployment or care for a wounded warrior. That is why I am committed to extending paid family and medical leave policies. For families that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country—our Gold Star Families—we must also ensure that they have ongoing access to benefits, and enhanced gratuity payments for surviving spouses.

3. What experience, if any, do you have with the military and veteran communities?

In addition to my experience being raised by a proud veteran, I have had the privilege of working with and on behalf of our military members, veterans, and their families throughout my career in public service.

As First Lady, I fought to have Gulf War Syndrome recognized, to ensure our service members received the care they required.

As a senator, I served on the Armed Services Committee, which allowed me to opportunity to continue those efforts to improve care and expanding military health benefits. During my tenure, I fought to make affordable health insurance available to more National Guard and Reserve members and their families and to expand services for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries . I worked across the aisle to expand benefits for our service members, increase survivor benefits and pass the post-9/11 G.I. bill. I worked with Senator McCain to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. These funds were critical in building the Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation facility in San Antonio.

I also lead a successful effort to block the Department of Defense’s plan to close schools on military bases in the middle of wartime. I continued to fight for our bases and the military communities they supported. I fought to protect Fort Drum, securing continued funding and support for its community. In 2005, the base was supporting over 110,000 people and, given the human and economic impact, I knew the people of New York could not afford to lose this important resource.

Finally, as Secretary of State, I worked alongside President Obama, offering advice and support as he made decisions regarding our military personnel. I had the privilege of meeting and working alongside service members in our embassies and bases around the world.

4. In 2014, it came to light that veterans were facing dire issues in trying to navigate the Veterans Administration’s system, to include long wait lists to access healthcare. What actions would you take to find solutions to these problems?

I was outraged by the scandals at the Veterans Administration. Our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices for our country, and we must ensure they have access to a system that puts their needs first. We must reform veterans’ health care to ensure that all our veterans have access to care that is both timely and high quality. The Veterans Health Administration must be a veteran-centric provider of service-connected care. We must ensure our veterans receive care from providers who understand the unique challenges they face. This includes improving care for our female veterans and expanding care for our Native Veterans, many of whom live far away from existing medical centers. We must tackle the epidemic of veteran suicide, and expand services for mental health issues. Far too many former servicemen and women face addiction and homelessness. I will encourage states to require licensed prescribers to have a minimum amount of training so that our veterans can benefit from better prescriber practices.

As president, I will also ensure that we streamline efforts between the Department of Defense and the VA when it comes to coordinating inpatient services across federal health delivery programs, synchronizing procurement, and ending the delay in developing a fully functioning electronic health record system.

We must take these important steps to improve care, while blocking the efforts to privatize the VA. Privatization will not solve the problems facing the VHA, and our veterans deserve better. Health care is only part of the reforms we must make across the federal government to modernize our veterans’ benefits. We must improve the processing of disability claims, secure veterans’ educational benefits, and strengthen tax credits and programs that help veterans transition into new careers. Finally, we must provide the VA with the budgetary certainty it needs to provide consistent and quality care for our veterans, and encourage a culture of accountability.

5. Unemployment among military spouses continues to be a financial readiness issue for service members’ families with reported jobless rates being between 12-26 percent. What resources would you devote to lowering those numbers?

While we fight to ensure no person should have to choose between serving their country and preserving their family, military families often make amazing sacrifices alongside their service members. In addition to the impact moves have on the careers of military spouses, military children often face numerous moves throughout their school careers.

The unemployment and underemployment of military spouses is not good for our country and costs our economy up to $1 billion per year. To help support military families, I will promote policies that help break down the difficult state credentialing processes that often serve as barriers to job opportunities for military spouses.

I will also work with states to standardize licensing requirements and reduce barriers for those looking to work across state borders. I will fight to expand public hiring preferences and engage industries to favor spousal hiring, as they have done with our effort to hire veterans. We must also devote resources to help expand work-from-home positions. We will promote financial readiness by expanding consumer protection and prohibiting bill collectors from contracts that service federal loans. We will also expand financial training initiatives targeted at military spouses to ensure they have tools to prepare for their future and the future of their families.

Further, for those families with two service members, we will work to reform the assignment process, not only increasing tandem assignments but ensuring that we are allowing these partners to continue to progress in their careers. All Americans deserve a good-paying job, and the opportunity to succeed in their careers—our military spouses and service members are no exception.

6. Many veterans choose entrepreneurship as a post-military career option because of the skills they learn in leadership. How will your administration support small business ownership for this population?

Small businesses across the country are growing and hiring, creating nearly two-thirds of new American jobs. As president, my administration will take steps to ensure it is easier to start a business and make that business profitable. For businesses that safeguard public health and safety, I will dedicate federal funding to support innovative programs and offset forgone licensing revenue. I will expand the efforts of the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development to ensure that we are providing entrepreneurship training, counseling, and small business loan guarantees for our veterans.

I will ensure that entrepreneurs in our underserved communities have access to training and mentorship programs, partnering with local business leaders, community colleges, and minority-serving institutions. I will fight to streamline regulation and cut red tape for our community banks and credit unions to ensure our veterans have the capital they need to start their business. Far too many dreams die in the parking lots of American banks. We will also expand and streamline the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Investment Company program—providing lenders the low-cost capital they need to invest in small businesses in their communities.

We will also make it cheaper and easier to file taxes and pay for tax relief, allowing small business owners to focus on growing their company instead of spending large amounts of time on paperwork. We will make it easier for these entrepreneurs to work with the federal government by guaranteeing faster response time when they inquire about federal regulations, help them loan support, and increase federal contracting opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses. We need to encourage our veterans to harness the skills they learned in leadership and apply them to civilian life. These reforms are only the start of ensuring we are providing them the tools they need to succeed following their service.

7. Military kids move on average every 2-3 years, and the average child may relocate 6-9 times during an academic career, according to DODEA. In turn, they face issues such as losing credits upon transfer or transitioning into a curriculum that varies from their previous schools. What policies could your administration explore to help military children have a more successful foundation for their education?

I strongly believe that when our families are strong, America is strong—and when military families are strong, our military is strong. To ensure we have strong military families, we must take steps to remove any barriers to a good education for our children. I will ensure that Defense Department schools are strong and focused, that we are candidly assessing where we need to improve these schools, and that we take the concrete steps to correct any problems. For those attending public schools, we will fight to enhance their experience—elevating public schools with high numbers of military children. As president, I will direct the Departments of Education and Defense to ensure that we are tracking and continually striving to improve education for children of military families across the country. We must also ensure service men and women with exceptional needs children are receiving the support and accommodations they need both personally and professionally.

For those attending public schools, we will fight to enhance their experience—elevating public schools with high numbers of military children. As president, I will direct the Departments of Education and Defense to ensure that we are tracking and continually striving to improve education for children of military families across the country. We must also ensure service men and women with exceptional needs children are receiving the support and accommodations they need both personally and professionally.

For military families looking to pursue higher education, I will ensure that we are protecting the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, especially the provision that allows these educational benefits to be transferred to spouses and children of military personnel. I will also continue efforts to crack down on for-profit schools that have exploited tens of thousands of students, including our veterans.

8. What in your professional experience has prepared you to take on the role as Commander-in-Chief?

I have held a variety of roles that gave me important insight into the role of Commander-in-Chief. As a Senator from New York, I served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which allowed me to develop relationships and work alongside leaders in our military. I also stood with the people of my state as we reeled from the tragedy of the September 11 terror attacks and worked to rebuild. While these experiences were vital, my understanding was truly shaped by my experience as Secretary of State. During my tenure under President Obama, I was at the table in the Situation Room, providing advice on the gravest decisions he would make as Commander-in-Chief—the decisions to send our military personnel into harm’s way and to go after Osama bin Laden. Though I do not believe one can ever be fully prepared for these difficult decisions, the insight I have gained from both my time in the Senate and the Senate Department have prepared me for the tough choices a Commander-in-Chief must face.

While these experiences were vital, my understanding was truly shaped by my experience as Secretary of State. During my tenure under President Obama, I was at the table in the Situation Room, providing advice on the gravest decisions he would make as Commander-in-Chief—the decisions to send our military personnel into harm’s way and to go after Osama bin Laden. Though I do not believe one can ever be fully prepared for these difficult decisions, the insight I have gained from both my time in the Senate and the Senate Department have prepared me for the tough choices a Commander-in-Chief must face.

9. Military families entrust the Commander-in-Chief to make critical decisions that dictate the fate of their service member. What do you want them to know about what kind of leader you will be for their service member?

The responsibilities of Commander-in-Chief are not ones I take lightly. I want military families across the country to know that if elected, I will ensure that our country honors and respects them throughout their service, and beyond. As president, I would make a solemn oath to ensure our military is the best trained, best equipped, most capable fighting force in the world. Through the Republican presidential candidate may be saying otherwise, we have the world’s strongest military—one that is prepared to defend our country’s vital interests. I also understand that we must not only provide our military the resources they need—including a stable and predictable defense budget—but that I will ensure we are providing

Through the Republican presidential candidate may be saying otherwise, we have the world’s strongest military—one that is prepared to defend our country’s vital interests. I also understand that we must not only provide our military the resources they need—including a stable and predictable defense budget—but that I will ensure we are providing high-quality care for our veterans.

Most importantly, I want our military families to know that I will listen. I will not only listen to your needs, and the needs of your service members—I will also listen to my advisors and the military leadership with whom I will work closely. The decisions of a Commander-in-Chief must be made with careful consideration, and I promise to be thoughtful and deliberate in all my efforts—especially those that impact our military personnel and their families.

10. Under the Obama Administration, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden started Joining Forces—an initiative focused on the employment, education, and wellness of service members and their families. If elected, will your administration continue this program? Why or why not?

As president, I will make Joining Forces a permanent part of the Executive Office of the President. This initiative has done too much good work—building partnerships across sectors to better support our military and veterans—to allow it to discontinue. The Obama Administration has made great strides to lift up and support military families, and I will ensure that if elected, my administration continues and builds upon this important work.

These efforts will include creating a standing President’s Council on Service Members, Veterans, and Military Families. I will also direct White House and Defense Department leadership to conduct town hall meetings across the country—allowing us to hear directly from a diverse set of military families about their needs and where our government can better serve them. Based on these town halls, I will ensure we develop an implementation plan to focus on the areas they have highlighted as needed for improvement. By engaging federal, state, and private sector resources, we will ensure that we are best meeting the needs of our military families.

11. What is the most effective way for voters to get to know you before Election Day?

I have had the immense privilege of spending many years of my life serving the American people. I have traveled across the country and around the world from my time as First Lady of Arkansas, to First Lady of the United States, to Senator, to Secretary of State, and now as the Democratic Nominee for President. On these trips, people have allowed me into their homes and introduced me to their families. It is important for me to listen to these stories, and I draw my motivation and understanding from what is going on in people’s lives.

And I have tried to share my life in return. Before anything else, I am Chelsea’s mother and Aidan and Charlotte’s grandmother. Though I have dedicated my career to the American people, my family will always remain my priority and greatest accomplishment.

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Meet Russia’s all-women battalion of death

While much of this is well-known to the typical First World War buff, what many do not know is that Russia—and Russia alone—created all-female combat units to actively fight alongside men on the front. According to Melissa Stockdale’s article “‘My Death for the Motherland Is Happiness’: Women, Patriotism, and Soldiering in Russia’s Great War,” the most famous of these units was known as The First Women’s Battalion of Death, and it’s estimated that approximately 6,000 Russian women served in such battalions throughout the war.

To understand how these battalions came about, one must first understand some basics of the Russian domestic situation at this time.

In March of 1917, Tsar Nicholas, submitting to the fact that he could no longer fight the tides of revolution, abdicated the throne to an incredibly precarious—albeit democratic—new government. The following months saw a flood of liberal and egalitarian policies instituted throughout Russia, with women getting the vote, as well as legal entitlement to equal pay.

Meanwhile, the new government also believed that victory in the World War was vital to the country’s self-interest. Laurie Stoff, author of They Fought for the Motherland: Russia’s Women Soldiers in WWI and the Revolution, writes that this meant newly appointed Minister of War Alexandra Kerensky was now faced with the mammoth task of breathing life into a war effort of which the majority of Russians—especially Russian soldiers—wanted no more part. Insubordination rates and violence against officers (especially officers with aristocratic backgrounds) were at an all-time high, and after three years at the front in often horrific day-to-day conditions, most of Russia’s soldiers simply wanted to go home.

Kerensky’s answer to low morale was the creation of what he called “shock battalions,” or “battalions of death,” which he envisioned as brigades of the most disciplined, exemplary Russian fighters. They would theoretically be deployed to various places along the front to awe and inspire war-weary soldiers.

Kerensky’s vision of these shock battalions coincided almost exactly with an idea brought forward by a peasant-woman-turned-soldier named Maria Bochkareva (while by no means common, there were a number of known incidents of individual women serving in otherwise all-male units throughout Europe during this time). Bochkareva asserted that a disciplined, exemplary battalion of Russian women could serve to “shame” the weary and unmotivated soldiers at the front.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Wikimedia

While Bochkareva earnestly believed in a woman’s ability to fight, The Ministry of War mostly saw her proposal as the perfect propaganda tool to compliment their shock battalions—if even women, they reasoned, were answering their country’s call to arms, then surely men would feel obliged to follow suit. Thus, Kerensky gave his permission for the First Women’s Battalion of Death to be formed, led under Bochkareva’s command.

According to historian Richard Abraham, The First Women’s Battalion of Death was made public in late May with a major publicity campaign throughout St. Petersburg, and within a matter of weeks the Battalion had over 2,000 female recruits from a diverse range of backgrounds and education levels.

Enlistment was open to women aged eighteen and older, with women under the age of twenty-one required to have permission from their parents to join. According to Stockdale, the recruits were also made to swear an oath in which they promised everything from “courage and valor” to “cheerfulness, happiness, kindness, hospitality, chastity, and fastidiousness.” After these initial requirements were met, as well as the passing of a health evaluation, the women were marched off to training grounds to begin the process that would turn them from “women to soldiers.”

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Wikimedia

This process first entailed the shaving of their heads, ridding the women of one of their most “impractical” and outwardly feminine features. As no uniforms for women existed, the recruits were administered clothes designed for men that were often ill-fitting on the female frame; this proved especially problematic in regards to footwear, as their boots were often impossibly over-sized. To further enforce their new identities, Bochkareva discouraged and punished excessive smiling and giggling—behavior she considered overly-feminine—and instead encouraged spitting, smoking, and cursing among her recruits.

Along with these physical transformations, the women also began a grueling daily training process designed to prepare them for battle. The recruits rose at five o’ clock each morning and drilled until nine o’ clock at night, at which point they slept on bare boards covered by thin bed sheets. Their training consisted of strenuous exercises, marching drills, lessons in hand-to-hand combat, and rifle handling.

Any behavior deemed “flirtatious” or at all feminine was strictly prohibited, and Bochkareva was known to punish even minor transgressions with corporal punishment. She stomped out any signs of traditional femininity not only in an attempt to make “warriors of the weaker sex,” but also in order to curb government anxiety that female soldiers at the front would result in illicit sexual relations. As one official stated, “Who will guarantee that the presence of women soldiers at the front will not yield there little soldiers?” Bochkareva thus deemed the sexlessness of her soldiers as a mark of her own professional dedication and triumph.

Stockdale states that while on the home front these female soldiers were publicly celebrated, their reception in combat was decidedly less welcome. Upon arriving at the front, the Battalion was met with boos, jeers, and an overall sense of resentment by male soldiers. Not only did the deep-rooted misogyny of the military complex and culture at large shine through, but in general, the exhausted men were antagonistic to anything that they perceived as an attempt by their leaders to prolong the fighting.

Even when the Women’s Battalion proved itself both disciplined and courageous under fire, male soldiers remained angered and insulted by their presence. Within just a few months, Bochkareva was forced to disband the unit, allowing her women to join groups elsewhere wherever they saw fit. In her memoir, Yashka, My Life As A Peasant, Exile, and Soldier, Bochkareva, wrote:

“They could not stand it much longer where they were. They were prepared to fight the Germans, to be tortured by them, to die at their hands or in prison camps. But they were not prepared for the torments and humiliations that they were made to suffer by our own men. That had never entered into our calculations at the time that the Battalion was formed.”

Upon the ultimate Bolshevik takeover in the fall, Russia withdrew from the war altogether, and the ill-fated women’s battalions faded into practically less than a footnote in Russian history. Some scholars speculate that this is because the battalions were so closely associated with the military propaganda of the old regime, whereas others assert that it had more to do with the Russian people’s desperate desire to return to some sense of normalcy after years of international and internal warfare.

Stockdale writes that the women soldiers themselves had an extremely difficult time readjusting after their return home. Their close-shaven heads made them instantly recognizable as former members of female battalions, and they were easy targets in the mist of the Bolshevik fervor taking hold of the country; there are eye-witness accounts of former battalion members getting beaten, sexually assaulted, and even thrown off moving trains during this period.

Remarkably, many of the former battalion members continued in their desire to fight, with a large number joining both the revolutionary and anti-revolutionary armies on individual bases in the years to come.

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The 6 types of people you meet outside of every military base

There are things common to the military no matter what branch a service-member joins, and they often extend outside the front gate of the installation. We all have a type, right?


Whether in the Air Force or the Army, troops can count on regulations sometimes making no sense, or running into the same types of people during their daily routine. But outside of bases — which are often a major driver of the local economy — there are archetypes that exist just about everywhere. Here they are.

1. The civilian girl at the bar who knows military rank structure way too well.

You’re at the local watering hole kicking back a few beers with your friends, and you see a pretty girl at the other end of the bar. So you get up, walk over, and introduce yourself. “Oh, are you a soldier?” she asks, as if the haircut and demeanor doesn’t give it away. “What rank are you?”

Just run away. Now.

 

2. The retired sergeant major or chief who corrects you at the gas station.

Troops are basically free and clear of the military once they get past the gate of a base outside of a big populated area like Camp Pendleton (Orange County-San Diego, Calif.) or Fort Jackson (Columbia, S.C.), but that isn’t always the case in some other posts. At places like Camp Lejeune (Jacksonville, N.C.) or Minot Air Force Base (Minot, N.D.), the base is arguably one of the main drivers of the local economy, and many people are connected to it in some way.

And for some military retirees especially, sticking close to their old base gives them the opportunity to stay connected to their service — by telling you how terrible your haircut is at the local gas station.

 

3. The guy at the tattoo parlor who has put the same lame tattoo on everyone since Vietnam.

The town surrounding a military base is pretty much guaranteed to have a good assortment of tattoo parlors. But the tattoo parlors don’t really have an assortment of different designs. Marine bases can expect “USMC” in every possible font, while sailors will see plenty of anchors to choose from on the wall. And the artist has been tattoing the same designs for so long, he or she can probably do it in their sleep.

4. The shady used car dealer who thinks E-1 and up can easily afford a brand new 2015 Ford Mustang at 37% interest.

The used car dealer is guaranteed to be a stone’s throw away from the base gate, and it usually has signs that read “E-1 and Up!” along with “We Support our Troops!” Most of the time, the way they support the troops is by screwing them out of their hard-earned money with insanely lopsided deals.

“Oh hey, I’m a former Marine too, so I’ll definitely hook you up, brother,” is probably a red flag from the salesman. Another red flag is your financing statement showing an interest rate consisting of more than one number. Go somewhere else, so you don’t end up paying $100,000 over a period of six years for a Ford Taurus.

 

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service

 

5. The guy at the Pawn Shop selling gear that suspiciously went missing from the back of your car last week. We don’t like this type.

You may have heard the phrase “gear adrift, gear a gift.” As it turns out, that gear may sometimes end up as a gift being sold at the local pawn shop. Or on eBay.

 

6. The police officer who used to be in the military but isn’t cutting you any slack on this speeding ticket.

You may be able to pull the military veteran card in small town U.S.A. to help you get out of a ticket, but outside of a major military installation — where the cops are pretty much pulling over troops all day long — that probably isn’t a good strategy.

Especially when you run into a cop who used to be in your shoes a couple years ago. Of course, you could always just, you know, slow down.

What other types of people or places do you always see outside the base? Leave us a comment.

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Russia is bringing back the world’s largest surface combatant

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Russia is in the middle of a massive overhaul of it’s aged, but still dangerous navy. | Photo by Mitsuo Shibata via Wikimedia Commons


Developed in the late 1970s, Russia’s Kirov-class battle cruisers are the largest and heaviest surface-combat ships in the world — and they’re coming back with advanced weaponry, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

At more than 800 feet long, with a displacement of around 25,000 tons, the Kirov dwarfs any navy ship short of an amphibious assault ship or aircraft carriers. But only one, the Pyotr Veliky, is still in service.

Russian media says that another aging Kirov-class hull, the Admiral Nakhimov, is being fitted with Russia’s newest antiship, antiair, and surface-to-surface missiles.

Russia intends to return the Admiral Nakhimov to its fleet in 2019, at which time the Pyotr Veliky will be docked to undergo the same upgrades.

These include missiles of the Kalibr variety that recently hit targets in Syria from the Caspian Sea, Zircon hypersonic missiles, which are slated to be ready by 2020, and a “navalized” version of Russia’s S-400 missile-defense system, according to Foxtrot Alpha.

To accommodate these missiles, Russia plans to overhaul the ship’s vertical-launch systems. That contract alone is worth 2.56 billion rubles, or $33.5 million, NavyRecognition.com notes.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Aerial starboard view of the foredeck of a Kirov-class ship shows four single 30 mm Gatling guns (in purple), two pop-up (lowered) SA-N-4 SAM launchers (in red), 20 SS-N-19 cruise-missile launchers (in green), 12 SA-N-6 SAM launchers (in blue), and one twin SS-N-14 antisubmarine warfare/surface-to-surface missile launcher (in yellow). These weapons systems will be updated by 2020, Russia claims. | US Navy photo

As with all Russian military expenditures, outsiders have trouble imagining how the struggling petro-state will pay for them.

Though the Russian navy has hit several setbacks before, the Kremlin seems hell-bent on revitalizing its navy.

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The difference between Air Force and Army hair expectations

Civilians might think of military hair regulations as one standard look (see: jarhead), but there’s actually some variance among the branches. The “high and tight” sported by soldiers and Marines is much too short for your average airman.

Just ask Air Force captain Mark Harper.


In 2005, Harper deployed to Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq as Officer In Charge of the Joint Combat Camera team. Though he deployed with the Air Force, it was a joint environment, so Harper found himself reporting to an Army colonel and supervising about 40 grunts.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service

The first day he reported to Army HQ, those soldiers jumped on the chance to give him a hard time about his hair (which is probably a good thing — you only haze the people you like, right? Right?).

“I learned my schedule was intense and I wouldn’t be able to get someone else to cut it, but I wasn’t going to endure this mockery again, so I thought, ‘How hard can this be? I’m just going to cut it myself…'”

He lucked out — the Post Exchange sold Wahl clippers.

That night at 0200 he finally found some spare time to cut his hair.

Also read: These are the rules NATO allies have about growing beards

With no practical experience selecting clipper guards, Harper wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing, but the Wahl gear was pretty intuitive and he even managed to fade it on the sides.

“So I officially did it. I cut my own hair.”

He then walked proudly into the Air Force tent.

Check out the video below to see their reaction:

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We Are The Mighty is proud to partner with Wahl, the leader in the professional and home grooming field.

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A firefighter’s secret identity reveals a Marine veteran – and gourmet chef

Fighting fires is hungry work. And since firefighters spend long hours, even days, at the fire station, it naturally falls to some schlub rookie to lace up an apron and put food on the table. That’s normally how it goes.

But Meals Ready To Eat doesn’t profile normal.


In South Philadelphia, there’s a fire station where things go down a bit differently. That’s because the members of Philly’s Fire Engine 60, Ladder 19 are lucky enough to count a gourmet chef among their ranks. In fact, he outranks most of them. He’s Lieutenant Bill Joerger, he’s a former Marine and this kitchen is his by right of mastery.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
The two sides of Lt. Bill Joerger… (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
…and both are delicious. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

It is a little weird for a ranking officer to spend hours rustling the chow. It’s a little strange that he goes to such lengths to source ingredients for his culinary art. It’s a bit outlandish when those meals are complex enough to necessitate a demo plate.

But Bill Joerger doesn’t care about any of that. When not actively saving lives, he cares about honing his cooking skills, eating well, and creating — in the midst of a chaotic work environment — some small sacred space where everyone can relax and just be people together.

“You have the brotherhood in the Marine Corps, and it’s the same as being in the firehouse…it’s some satisfaction for me to know that I’m producing a good meal for these guys after the things that we deal with on a daily basis.”

Meals Ready to Eat host August Dannehl spent a day with Joerger at the firehouse, experiencing the often violent stop-and-start nature of a firefighter’s day and, in the down moments, sous-cheffing for the Lieutenant. The story of how Joerger found his way from the Marine Corps to a cookbook and then to the firehouse kitchen is a lesson in utilizing one’s passion to impose some order in the midst of life’s disarray.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

These military chefs will make you want to re-enlist

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

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Today in military history: The War of 1812 begins

On June 18, 1812, the War of 1812 began.

Impressment of American sailors, a desire to expand American territory, and some good, old-fashioned high-seas fighting created enough tension between young America and Great Britain to spark the war that would almost become a footnote in the aggressors’ history books. Europeans wouldn’t even think of it as its own war — they think of the conflict as an extension of the Napoleonic Wars.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a significant conflict. Both sides suffered thousands of casualties and, notably, the White House was burned down two years after fighting began.

In 1812, Great Britain had been attempting to restrict American trade routes while also attacking and impressing U.S. sailors. No, not that kind of “impressing” — the kind of impressment that forced American men to serve in the British military.

One of the weaknesses of American society at the time was the institution of slavery, a weakness the British would attempt to exploit at every opportunity. The British Admiralty declared that any resident of the United States who wished to settle in His Majesty’s colonies would be welcome to do so. All they had to do was appear before the British Army or Navy. American slaveholders believed it was an attempt to incite a slave revolt, which it may have been. Nonetheless, the British transported thousands of former slaves back to Africa, the Caribbean, and even Canadian Nova Scotia. Some even joined the British Colonial Marines, a fighting force of ex-slaves deployed by the British against the Americans.

The war eventually ended with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. All occupied territory was returned and relations between the two countries remained peaceful until their alliance in World War I joined the two countries in a bonded relationship that lasts to this day.

MIGHTY HISTORY

These WWII bombers were converted into gunships

The idea of putting weapons on aircraft to strike ground targets is not a new one. Although the concept has culminated in the deadly AC-130 gunship today, it was employed to great effect in Vietnam with the AC-47 Dragon and ACH-47 Chinook gunships. During WWII, air forces even experimented with mounting tank cannons on planes. But what about modifying bombers into gunships to take on fighter planes? They tried that too.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
British bombers like the Wellington were lightly armed compared to American bombers (RAF)

Bombing campaigns against Nazi Germany were a critical part of the Allied war strategy. If Germany’s industrial capacity and infrastructure could be crippled, it would seriously impact the military’s ability to fight the war. However, the British RAF quickly learned that the Germans would not let these bombing raids fly through uncontested. German anti-air and fighter plane defenses were so deadly that the British switched exclusively to night bombing to protect their aircraft and crews.

While this meant that German defenses had a harder time shooting down the bombers, it also made it that much more difficult for the bombers to hit their targets. The accuracy and effectiveness of the RAF’s bombings dropped considerably at night. But, because the Allied fighter planes at the time did not have the range to escort the bombers all the way to Germany and back to England, this was seen as the only viable option. Enter America and the most American solution.

How do you protect a bomber formation from enemy fighters without your own fighter escort? Put more guns on your bombers. British aircraft like the Vickers Wellington medium bomber and Avro Lancaster heavy bomber were defended by a maximum of 8 and 10 .303-caliber Browning machine guns, respectively, and these were early variants. Later variants of these bombers both stripped two machine guns to save weight. On the other hand, American aircraft like the Consolidated B-24 Liberator medium bomber and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber carried 10 and 13 .50-caliber Browning machine guns, respectively. With deadlier guns, and more of them, American bomber doctrine believed that fighter escorts would not be necessary.

Unfortunately, the increased firepower meant little to the German Luftwaffe who shot down American daytime bombing raids in much the same way they did British raids. Still, America insisted on bombing by day while the British bombed at night. Although long-range fighters like the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang were in development to escort bombers over the entirety of their missions, a quick fix solution was needed. So what do you do if the guns you have aren’t enough? You add more guns of course.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
British school children tour a YB-40. Note the remote chin turret (U.S. Air Force)

In 1942, Lockheed’s Vega company converted a B-17F Flying Fortress into the YB-40 Flying Fortress. Living up to the name carried over from its forerunner, the new plane bristled with defensive armament. A second manned dorsal turret was added where the radio compartment was, the single .50-caliber waist-mounted machine guns were replaced with dual guns, and the bombardier’s equipment was replaced by a remotely-operated twin .50-caliber machine gun chin turret. With 16 guns, a bomb bay converted into an ammunition magazine, and additional armor plating, the YB-40 was designed to add extra protection to American bomber formations.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
The YB-40 was loaded with firepower (U.S. Air Force)

Although 13 YB-40s were ordered for operational testing, one was lost on delivery and crashed in Scotland. A gunship version of the B-24, called the XB-41 Liberator, was also ordered. It carried 14 .50-caliber machine guns and was intended to fly as a gunship in bomber formations, the same as the YB-40. However, testing at Eglin Field in Florida found flaws with the aircraft and the conversion of further B-24s into XB-41s was cancelled. These flaws included reduced speed and climb rates as a result of the extra weight. Unfortunately, these problems were also present on the YB-40s.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
The XB-41 Liberator also featured an additional dorsal turret (U.S. Air Force)

Still, the gunships are credited with a total of 48 sorties over Europe. They scored five confirmed kills on German fighters with another two probables claimed. Only one YB-40 was lost in combat. Overall though, the gunship concept proved to be relatively ineffective. Plus, with the operational introduction of the P-47 and P-51 Thunderbolt, the gunship bombers became obsolete. Although Consolidated continued to work on their XB-41 concept, the project was ultimately abandoned once the military lost interest.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Vega modified the B-17F to create the YB-40 (U.S. Air Force)

However, some good did come from the YB-40 project. The remote chin turret in the bombardier’s position was carried over into some of the last production B-17Fs and became part of the standardized modification on the B-17G, the final production variant of the bomber.

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Updated: AWOL female engineer has turned herself in

Update: Pvt. Erika Lopez turned herself in to Army authorities Feb. 4 after reports of her desertion went viral. The Army will now decide whether to charge her with a crime, administratively separate her from the service, or allow her to continue training. The original post on Lopez’s disappearance is below:


According to reports from Tennessee news channels, the first woman to enlist as a combat engineer from that state has gone absent without leave and has been gone for over 30 days, meaning she is now technically a deserter.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Photo: Youtube/Election2016

Erika Lopez enlisted in July of 2015 to much fanfare as the Army was first opening the combat engineer military occupational specialty to women.

She went on convalescent leave from basic training and was scheduled to return Jan. 4. Once she failed to appear, she was listed as AWOL. After 30 days, an AWOL soldier’s status is changed to deserter unless there is evidence that something has happened to the soldier or that he or she is confined.

The Army has been unable to locate Lopez despite numerous attempts. It’s one of the few situations where the most desirable scenario is that a soldier deserted, since the alternative is that something has happened to her.

While there have been reports listing Lopez as the Army’s first female combat engineer, that title actually goes to Vermont National Guard Spc. Skylar Anderson who graduated the combat engineer course in December and continues to serve in Vermont. Lopez was actually the fourth woman to enlist as a combat engineer.

Similarly, Lopez has been described as the first woman to become a combat arms soldier. The term “combat arms” was rescinded in 2008 with an updated version of Army Field Manual 3-0, but the first female combat arms soldiers were those who enlisted into air defense MOSs in the early 1990s.* Combat engineers were a combat arms MOS when that term was in use.

*Updated Feb. 5, 2016: This paragraph originally stated that combat engineer was not technically a combat arms specialty. When “combat arms” was a doctrinal term, Army Engineering was a combat arms branch.

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This may be one of the most important Revolutionary War generals you never heard of

History buffs have one wish on the 275th birthday of a Revolutionary War general: That he’ll get the recognition he deserves.


Nathanael Greene was a major general in the Continental Army and a trusted adviser and good friend to George Washington. Historians say his decisions were crucial to the American victory in the South campaign, yet many people haven’t heard of him.

The anniversary of his birth will be marked July 29 at his homestead, a national historic landmark built in 1770 in Coventry, Rhode Island.

David Procaccini, president of the homestead, says Greene is an “important national hero” and he’s trying to get that message out.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Nathanael Greene. Image from US National Archives.

Greene has been largely overlooked for many reasons, said Greg Massey, who co-edited a collection of essays about Greene.

Greene oversaw the Army’s supplies for part of the war, which was not a glamorous position. Greene also fought in the South. Especially after the Civil War, historians tended to write about the Revolutionary War through a northern lens.

Greene wore down British forces but never decisively won a major battle. He died shortly after the war. Had he lived, he would’ve likely been one of the early leaders of the federal government.

“We put a lot of stock in our independence, as independent people,” said Massey, a history professor at Freed-Hardeman University. “He’s one of the essential people to the winning of the independence.”

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Monument to General Nathanael Greene of the Continental Army. Wikimedia Commons photo from MarmadukePercy.

After the Army retired to Valley Forge, Washington asked Greene in 1778 to become the quartermaster general to improve the system of supplies. Greene accepted, though he knew such a position wouldn’t bring the military fame that many generals sought.

“It would be good if Americans knew about the contributions of someone so humble as to be willing to take a job like quartermaster when it was necessary to save the Army,” said Philip Mead, chief historian at the Museum of the American Revolution. “The willingness to sacrifice your own self-interest for the good of your country, that’s an aspirational value in that period and in ours.”

Greene then assumed command in the South. He fought the British in the Carolinas, weakening their forces enough so that the British commander, Charles Cornwallis, had to move to Wilmington, North Carolina, and then on to Yorktown, Virginia, where his forces were trapped by French and American troops in 1781.

Here’s what this Tuskegee Airman has to say about his time in service
Surrender of Lord Cornwallis by John Trumbull, depicting the British surrendering to French (left) and American (right) troops. Oil on canvas, 1820.

“That’s the last big battle of the war. They were still fighting, but the British government began negotiating for peace,” Massey said. “Greene isn’t at Yorktown but everything he did set the stage for that. Without him, that didn’t happen.”

Massey describes Greene as one of the great American generals.

Procaccini is using social media to try to draw people to the homestead, hosting more events and improving the property. Attendance has been increasing in recent years. On July 29, there will be historical reenactors at the site to talk to the public about the war. The ceremony includes a cannon salute and speeches.

Procaccini said it’s an opportunity to tell people about the sacrifices that Greene and men like him made in forming the nation.

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