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Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Actress Hilary Swank meets with Navy Petty Officer First Class Robert Nilson and family in New York.


Since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, more than 2 million American children have had a deployed parent, according to the “Military Children and Families” report conducted by Princeton University/Brookings (Fall 2013). This statistic got the attention of two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank, who is an Air Force brat herself, and she has added her name to the Duracell company’s support of the USO’s Comfort Crew for Military Kids program.

Somewhat by chance a Duracell market research team met a Navy family in San Diego who used one of the company’s products in a heart-warming way. “We were basically in the house of this family and we asked the daughter to show off her favorite toy,” brand manager Ramon Velutini said. “We were expecting regular toys — remote control cars and all this — and they came running with this battery-powered bear.”

“We were so inspired by this story, we wanted to share it,” said brand director Jeff Jarrett. “We realized just how difficult it is for these families to stay connected during a deployment. With their story of the teddy bear, they helped us understand the impact that a battery-powered bear could have on children—a way to hear Mom or Dad on command while they’re deployed, allowing them to always be there.”

Mackenzie Nilson, 3-year-old daughter of Navy Petty Officer First Class Robert Nilson and his wife Denise, stayed close to her father while he was deployed as an air traffic controller aboard a surface combatant by listening to his voice that he’d recorded into a stuffed bear before he left. The Duracell team recreated the sequence of events in a commercial produced just in time for July 4.

Watch the heart-warming commercial:

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

Actress Swank decided to share her support of the program because she can relate to having a military parent gone all the time; her father is a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant. The first time she saw the teddy bear ad she was immediately moved to help. “The young girl is going through a gamut of emotions,” she said. “It’s a reminder of the sacrifice of all of our troops as well as the unsung heroes — those left behind.”

Swank is proud of her father’s service and grateful that she has a sense of what the military is all about, something many Americans lack.

“In a military family everyone serves, especially the children,” she said. “It wasn’t easy for me when my father was away for many months at a time with the Air Force, but he always worked hard to stay connected with us through phone calls.”

Duracell is donating $100,000 to the USO’s Comfort Crew for Military Kids program which helps military children cope during their parent’s deployment. The program gives military children a safe, comfortable environment to explore, with their peers, the challenges of growing up in the military. The Comfort Crew for Military Kids program supports military children with the distribution of Comfort Kits, which gives military families the resources they need to tackle tough issues on the home front. In 2014, the USO distributed more than 15,000 kits .

Now check this out: 7 post-9/11 heroes who should have received the Medal Of Honor — but didn’t 

 

 

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Royal Marine Commandos turn experiences into action-packed web series, SUNRAY

The Sunray Series is a web series created by a cast of former Royal Marine Commandos. WATM had the opportunity to interview them about their fascinating new series based on some of their life experiences. The gents bring a strong sense of realism and the struggles many veterans go through once getting out of the service. The tagline for the show is, “A collective of former Royal Marines Commandos take the law into their own hands as they struggle to reconcile with their past.” The show is described as, “Set against a backdrop of realistic, fast-paced action, guided by high-quality military drills; SUNRAY, is at it’s core a human story. A three-part serial drama exploring the veteran psyche, SUNRAY challenges the perceptions of mental health and the struggles that soldiers face when re-integrating back into civilian life.”

The series goes into some deep subjects that may be interesting and at times shocking for a viewer. The show follows Andy, who, “after dedicating his entire life to service in the armed forces now struggles to slot back into a world he no longer recognizes. He is now forced to confront the death of his daughter following a fatal encounter with drugs. Hell-bent on finding those responsible and with nothing to lose, a violent criminal underworld unravels in his wake.”

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
A picture of the Zoom interview. Clockwise, starting with top left is Sunray Series Sammy Seeley, WATM’s Joel Searls, Sunray’s Tip Cullen and Sunray’s Daniel Shepherd. Photo courtesy of Joel Searls.

Through the interview with Sammy Seeley, Dan Shepherd and Tip Cullen, they shared their experiences in the Royal Marines, their struggles transitioning from active duty back to civilian life, and where they want to go with their careers. Seeley went into depth with his struggles to transition and how the world of directing and the arts is a place for him to deal with his experiences. Shepherd discussed his experience in the RMC deploying to Afghanistan and training the Afghan National Police. After leaving service, Shepherd fell into photography work and found his passion reignited for the arts. Cullen plays the lead in Sunray as “Andy” and joined the Royal Marines in 1986 after attending college and has been just about every rank in the RMC. He spent 29 years in the Royal Marines before deciding to become an Actor. Cullen studied acting with The Actor’s Wheel Company at Plymouth Marjon University. His first theatre performance was in a Theatre Royal, Plymouth production, Boots at the Door playing the role of “Donny.” He then appeared in a further TR, Plymouth ensemble, 18 at TR2; a dynamic “promenade” play working with an energetic and vibrant group of young actors which received critical acclaim for its spirit and originality.

Watch the trailer here:

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo of Dan Shepherd, co-founder of Sunray, on set for the series. Photo courtesy of sunrayseries.com.

Shepherd shared, “I was a Royal Marine for nine years, and being able to document the lives of other military personnel is something that has been my passion ever since I joined. Deploying and having the ability to experience the weird, the wonderful and the surreal, then documenting the human reaction to that through a lens is the ultimate bounty. To develop those stories in a creative and entertaining way with a cast and crew that has lived it enables a level of emotional and tactical authenticity that is immeasurable. SUNRAY is the human element in its rawest form and a production I am proud to be part of.”

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Sammy Seeley, co-found of Sunray. Photo courtesy of sunrayseries.com.

Seeley said, “Having studied film, media and drama from a young age I took the next natural step and joined the Royal Marines aged 20 (pretty sure I got lost on the way to film school). Deploying to Afghanistan I found myself in an alien place, in a land of extremes. This inspired me to pick the camera back up and I haven’t put it down since. After specializing as Recce Operator I continued to grow my military knowledge and experience those things in life that money could never buy. Whilst struggling with my own mental health, on the cusp of losing everything, I began to translate my thoughts to paper, a means of therapy to vocalize the demons niggling within. Fifty Post-It notes later I had the framework of a story, 50 days later I had a script and a supportive team that cared about the project as much as me. Dan and James gave me the support I needed, both brimming with integrity, knowledge and individual skill sets that have complimented the progression of the idea to this point.”

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
James Clarke, co-founder of Sunray. Photo courtesy of sunrayseries.com.

Clarke stated, “Having studied Graphics at university and initially wanting to enter a creative industry, the prospect of taking a desk job for the rest of my life prompted a complete change in direction which somehow resulted in joining the Royal Marines. I spent most of my career in the Corps deploying around the globe with 40 Commando being involved in humanitarian operations in the Caribbean to cold-weather training in the Arctic. I found I couldn’t escape the desire for creativity and looked for a way to merge the travel and adventure of the military with a creative output. I enjoy telling human stories and developing narratives into creative mediums for an audience to enjoy. Working closely with Dan and Sam, it’s apparent we all have our own individual strengths, skills, knowledge and operational experience; this diverse skill set enables us to check all boxes and create something that we believe everyone can relate to.”

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo of Cullen as “Andy” for Sunray. Photo courtesy of sunrayseries.com.

Internationally, Cullen has appeared in Blindsighted: a response to Oedipus, playing an elder and blinded Oedipus for the duration of this conceptual adaptation of the plays of Sophocles and Senecas. He performed regularly with The Actor’s Wheel Company appearing in numerous pieces including Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, as Antigonus, for a short regional tour which brought him acclaim on both local and national media. During this period he also performed with The Thespis Project in their Plymouth Fringe production The Wrong Side of Prohibition playing a dual role as Senator Jenkins, a corrupt New York politician, and Owney Madden, a New York Gangster. Tip has also been acting for the camera, being directed by several innovative new local directors. His experiments in “big” films have included supporting actor roles in the following major movies: Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle (in a specialist role, directed by Matthew Vaughn, released in summer 2017), Ready Player One (as a 101 Supervisor, directed by Steven Spielberg). More film projects have included the recent Sky series Guerrilla and an episode of Amazon-Channel 4 series Electric Dreams.

View the full interview here:

Featured photo: SUNRAY promotional materials, courtesy of SUNRAY

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Memes, memes, memes! Here are the 13 funniest ones from around the military:


1. When the crew is tired of MREs, but first sergeant doesn’t understand:

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Maybe drive through some mud on the way back.

2. The platoon isn’t scared of getting a little wet, are they?

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
What’s a 50-foot drop, then 50-foot climb among buddies?

SEE ALSO: These 8 TV characters would never survive in the real military

3. Elsa created an actual, functioning snowman (via Team Non-Rec).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
You really thought she would never build an army?

4. Don’t be jealous, he had to turn the wrench a lot of times for those (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Sure, it was mostly because he turned it the wrong way the first dozen times, but still.

5. Remember to always keep your weapon pointed downrange and away from the cat (via Devil Dog Nation).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
And don’t aim at your mom.

6. Next time a paratrooper calls someone a leg …

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
… remind them that the rest of the Army can’t get drug around by silk.

7. “Oh yeah? You ready to show me your life jackets now!?”

(via Coast Guard Memes)

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

8. Marines do more with less, rah?

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
If you wanted armor, you should’ve joined the Army.

9. Reflective belts are always coming through in the clutch (via Air Force Nation).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
They keep away bears, bullets, and now thieves, apparently.

10. The Air Force demands excellence of every recruit (via Air Force Memes Humor).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
She can also do a better pull up than you, but maybe that’s why she joined the Marines.

11. Whenever the next Engineer Ball is held, I’d like tickets.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Not to the actual event, just the closing fireworks.

12. It’s chief’s least favorite dish (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Try it today with a side of sadness.

13. “You still have another foot before you hit the tree.”

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

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13 funniest military memes for the week of Sep. 23

It’s finally Friday, everyone. It’s time for some memes, a few safety briefings, and the weekend. Here are 13 of the funniest military memes we could dig up:


1. It’s like being called out by a guy who looks like Mister Rogers but kills like Mr. T (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Dude’s got more badges than a Pokemon trainer.

2. I hate it when she cuts off mid-sentence like that (via The Funny Introvert).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

3. You could fit at least three infantrymen on that bed (via Military Memes).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
That’s pretty good looking dirt, though. A little loose, but good dirt regardless.

4. Yup, this brings back memories (via Military Memes).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Best part is, the armorer isn’t even there yet.

5. This is an NCO failure. LTs should never be left unattended near tumbleweed like that (via Military Memes).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
This is why you always need a battle buddy team.

6. Immediately shared this with my girlfriend (via Operation Encore).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

7. It could always use more glow belt. Always (via Pop Smoke).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Maybe if most of you wore three belts, and then one of you wore a full vest?

8. Why wait 1,500 years? Most Marines are salt-powered robots within three years (via The Chive).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
All service members are salt-powered within seven.

9. DD-214: The only known cure for saltiness (via The Salty Soldier).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Being out of the military is so refreshing.

10. Ha ha! Jokes on you, staff sergeant! (via The Salty Soldier)

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
I long ago turned into an empty husk fueled by energy drinks and spite.

11. “I need two for …” (via U.S Army W.T.F!  moments)

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

12. Nothing to do but lift and work (via U.S Army W.T.F!  moments).

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Time to get swole.

13. “I’m just so glad we can be here and bond as a unit.” (via U.S Army W.T.F!  moments)

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
It really builds esprit de corps. I guess.

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25 photos showing why The Warrior Games is the world’s most inspiring competition

Since 2010, The Warrior Games has allowed wounded warriors from each military branch to compete in Olympic style games each year. This year’s games are being held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. from June 19-28. By utilizing the therapeutic power of sports, the games enable wounded, ill, and injured service members to showcase their athletic abilities.


Here are 25 photos that show why this event is one of the most inspiring in the world.

1. The Warrior Games are attended by senior government and military leadership such as former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta (center) and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. 

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Army Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade

2. There is an elaborate opening ceremony complete with the lighting of the cauldron to mark the beginning of the games.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Heather Kelly

3. Warrior athletes make up 6 teams including Army …

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Army

4. Air Force,

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Air Force

5. Marine Corps,

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

6. Navy / Coast Guard,

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Katherine Hofman

7. Special Operations Command (SOCOM),

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Devon Suits

8. And British Armed Forces.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jonathan K. Reitzel

9. The crowd is packed with family, friends, and caregivers of the competitors.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Marine Corps Cpl. Jonathan K. Reitzel

10. You are literally watching the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors taking place.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

11. It’s also chance to see the long standing rivalry between military services.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Marine Corps

12. Events include archery …

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Carson Gramley

13. Wheelchair Basketball,

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault

14. And Cycling.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: US Army

15. Then there are Field events such as seated shot put, standing shot put, seated discus, and standing discus.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman

16. There’s track and field …

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Jennifer Spradlin

17. Shooting,

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Navy Lt. Michael Fallon

18. Sitting Volleyball,

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps

19. Swimming,

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kaily Brown

20. And Wheelchair Rugby.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Joshua Sheppard

21. There’s even exhibition games that dignitaries and Olympic champions will play in, like Prince Harry of Wales and 3 time Olympic gold medalist Misty May Treanor.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Tyler Main

22. Beautiful medals are awarded to competitors.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

23. Individual competitors can rack up medals.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

24. And the team with the overall best performance is awarded the ‘Chairman’s Cup.’

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp

25. No matter what the result, there is a powerful spirit of camaraderie.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman

To learn more about the games, visit the Warrior Games website here.

Now: Everyone should see these powerful images of wounded vets

OR: Here’s How A Combat Wounded Veteran Got His Dream Shot At College Football

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4 awesome (and one not so awesome) guns from ‘The Tomorrow War’

In a post-COVID world of streaming movies and digital premieres, Amazon’s The Tomorrow War starring Chris Pratt is a solid summer blockbuster. The sci-fi action film can be likened to Interstellar crossed with Edge of Tomorrow with a healthy dose of Chris Pratt being Chris Pratt. For a Hollywood production, The Tomorrow War gets a surprising amount of things right when it comes to gear. Of course, there are plenty of movie sins in it as well. This article will be mostly free of spoilers, but we make no guarantees, so read at your own risk if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

1. BCM Carbine

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
She must know how loud a short barrel AR is (Paramount Pictures/Amazon)

Let’s get the “not so awesome” out of the way first. Over the last decade, Bravo Company Manufacturing has become a go-to brand in the firearms industry. Best known for its high quality AR-15 parts and builds, BCM has gained widespread popularity in both military and civilian shooter circles. In The Tomorrow War, the primary weapon of the human resistance is a tricked out short-barreled BCM carbine.

Although it looks futuristic and cool to the average viewer, anyone who has handled the AR-15/M4 platform knows that the weapon is a pretty poor choice. The short barrel significantly reduces the effectiveness of the 5.56x45mm round that it fires, explaining why the humans are losing the war. Despite the linear compensators, all those short barrels firing full-auto in the stairwell would have left everybody with some serious hearing loss too. While the Trijicon ACOG and canted red dot look cool, the short barrel means that the weapon really doesn’t have the range to make use of the magnified optic and no one seems to ever use the canted red dot. Plus, it’s not like the Whitespikes are hard to see so the 4x zoom isn’t necessary for identification at range. Chris Pratt and his crew would have been better served with a larger caliber weapon like SOCOM’s MK 17 SCAR-H or the Sig NGSW.

2. Kimber Warrior SOC

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Dan (Chris Pratt) practices good gun safety and checks the chamber of his Kimber Warrior upon retrieving it from his safe (Paramount Pictures/Amazon)

Maybe Pratt’s character knew about the inadequacies of the standard-issue carbine after all. Before reporting for duty, he retrieves his personal .45 ACP Kimber Warrior SOC from his home safe. Used by elite units like LAPD SWAT and Marine Force Recon, Kimber 1911-style pistols are considered to be some of the best .45 sidearms money can buy. While militaries and law enforcement agencies have largely made the switch to the smaller 9x19mm cartridge in 2021, a full-power .45 is probably a better choice against the aliens seen in The Tomorrow War.

3. IWI Desert Eagle Mark XIX

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Forester Sr. (J.K. Simmons) handles the Desert Eagle well (Paramount Pictures/Amazon)

Speaking of big-bore pistols, J.K. Simmons’ character carries one heck of a hand cannon. Playing Pratt’s father in the film, Simmons’ character is a Vietnam veteran with a taste for big guns. His sidearm of choice is an IWI Desert Eagle Mark XIX chambered in .50 AE. That’s the kind of slug you want to be throwing at a gigantic armored alien. A .45 is great, but a .50 is a .50. Naturally, the film features a bit of father-son verbal jabbing regarding the size of the pistol, but it proves its worth in the end.

4. F&D Defense FD338

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Forester Sr. (J.K. Simmons) behind the glass of his FD338 (Paramount Pictures/Amazon)

Matching his Desert Eagle, Simmons’ character carries an equally heavy-hitting rifle. Made to order with a lead time of eight weeks, the FD338 has a base price of $5,450 according to F&D Defense’s website. The .338 Lapua Magnum that it fires hits with about five times the force of 5.56x45mm and has more consistent and predictable ballistic performance than the legendary .50 BMG. This kind of performance in an AR-style rifle is unparalleled in the firearms industry and Simmons’ character puts the FD338 to good use in the film.

5. Beretta 1301 Tactical

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Dorian (Edwin Hodge) takes aim with his Beretta 1301 shotgun (Paramount Pictures)

One weapon that stands out from the others is the shotgun used by Edwin Hodge’s character. His Beretta 1301 is a 12-gauge gas-operated semi-automatic shotgun that deals serious damage to the armored aliens at close range. While it doesn’t have anywhere near the reach of the FD338, the 1301 excels in close quarters and Hodge’s character uses it to great effect. Hopefully he had it loaded with something crazy like tungsten slugs to make the most of his shotgun’s raw power.

Feature image: (Paramount Pictures/Amazon)

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The 4 times Sam Shepard played an outstanding military officer

Hollywood has suffered yet another loss. Iconic TV and film actor Sam Shepard recently passed away at the age of 73 from complications with ALS. The Oscar-nominated and award-winning playwright’s career lasted almost five decades, and he’s accredited with over 65 movies roles.


The Illinois native was the son of Army officer, Samuel Shepard Rogers Jr., who served during World War II as a bomber pilot — which probably contributed to the longtime actor’s acumen in military roles.

Related: 5 nuggets of wisdom in ‘Black Hawk Down’ you may have missed

Here are the four times Shepard played an outstanding military officer.

1. Stealth

In 2005, Shepard played Capt. George Cummings, a “mission before the man” thinker, in charge of three radical Navy pilots picked to team up with a new fourth wing man — an independently thinking stealth jet.

After a fierce lightning strike, the AI stealth jet begins to create havoc and now must be taken down and destroyed at all costs.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

2. Black Hawk Down

In 2001, Ridley Scott decided to cast Shepard as Maj. Gen. William Garrison, the overall commander of Task Force Ranger and the chief of Joint Special Operations Command. According to most accounts, Garrison did everything in his power to retrieve his men from the battlefield after a raid in Mogadishu quickly went south.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

3. One Kill

Shepard starred as Maj. Nelson Gray alongside Anne Heche in 2000’s crime drama”One Kill.” The two actors played Marine officers who began an affair with one another in this TV movie directed by Christopher Menaul.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

4. The Right Stuff

In 1983, Shepard took on the role of legendary Air Force test pilot Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager who became the first man to exceed the speed of sound during flight. In the film, Yeager has to help the original Mercury 7 astronauts get prepared for their upcoming space mission.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Shepard as Air Force legend Chuck Yeager. (Source: WB/Screenshot)

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It looks like Syrian rebels are using Nazi-era artillery

A new video uploaded on Facebook likely shows German Wehrmacht artillery being used by Syrian rebels in that nation’s current civil war:



The video description doesn’t identify who is operating the weapon, but it is likely the Syrian rebels. They’ve used this tactic before. A video surfaced in May 2015 showing them using Wehrmacht artillery and they’ve also pressed valuable, antique German guns into service. And the artilleryman’s clothing bears some striking differences from government uniforms.

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Air Force loosens flight suit sleeve rules

The Air Force is allowing its pilots, navigators and airmen who wear flight suits to roll up their sleeves whenever they’re not on in-flight duty, according to a new memo.


The latest policy, first published on the popular Air Force blog John Q. Public, mimics what airmen who wear the Airman Battle Uniform are already allowed to do when they’re not performing official duties, said Air Force spokesman Maj. Bryan Lewis.

Also read: 15 years later, Pararescueman awarded Air Force Cross for valor

“The flight suit sleeve policy was updated to align with the Airman Battle Uniform coat [shirt] wear policy,” Lewis said in an email Monday.

The change amends Air Force Instruction 36-2903, “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel,” which already states in the case of the ABU that “commanders may authorize sleeves to be rolled up on the ABU coat; however, the cuffs will remain visible and the sleeve will rest at, or within 1 inch of, the forearm when the arm is bent at a 90-degree angle.”

“Regardless as to whether the sleeves are rolled up or unrolled, the cuffs will remain visible at all times,” the AFI says.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

Similarly, airmen who wear a Flight Duty Uniform or Desert Flight Duty Uniform can roll or tuck their suit sleeves under, Lewis said, and “are now approved to pull the sleeves up to within 1 inch of the elbow using the Velcro, already incorporated in the suit, to hold them in place.”

Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, deputy chief of staff for operations, enacted the change — effective immediately — on Jan. 23, according to the memo.

Airmen “will still be required to have sleeves rolled down to the wrist when performing aircrew duties in-flight,” Lewis said — for example, while flying or on the flight line.

The previous policy for flight suits stated airmen could have their sleeves rolled under “if not performing in-flight duties.” However, the rolled-under sleeve “will not end above the natural bend of the wrist when the wearer’s arms are hanging naturally at their side.”

Lewis could not say if similar provisions for flight suits were made in the past.

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A US congressman is making AK-47 rifles like the ones he faced in Iraq

A U.S. congressman and former Army infantry officer has started a company that makes an exact replica of the rifle wielded by soldiers he fought against in Iraq.


Dubbed the “Tabuk,” the Iraqi-made AK-47-style rifle remains a rare collectible and cannot be brought back to the United States. However, veterans who want a souvenir of their service in Iraq can get one made in detail to look and act the part.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids

And best of all, they have Iraq veteran to thank.

Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell is one of the founders and owners of Two Rivers Arms in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is making the replica Tabuk rifles and other Iraqi-designed arms. Retired from the Army in 2006 after helping lead the mission to capture Saddam Hussein in Iraq during Operation Red Dawn, Russell is now a Republican congressman representing Oklahoma’s 5th district.

Hilary Swank throws star power behind effort to help military kids
Two Rivers Arms co-founder Steve Russell, retired in 2006 after 21 years of service. In that time, he served in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq receiving the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and Oak Leaf Cluster. While serving in Iraq Lieutenant Colonel Russell’s unit played a key role in Operation Red Dawn, the capture of Saddam Hussein. (Photo from Jorge Amselle)

The replica Tabuk his company makes is a semi-automatic, long-stroke gas piston operated rifle chambered in 7.62×39 mm with a rotating bolt and firing from a detachable 30-round box magazine. And all of the original markings on an Iraqi Tabuk have been replicated to exacting detail.

In the Late 1970s Saddam Hussein ordered his Ministry of Defense to start production on a domestically made variant of the AKM. This was in the middle of the on again, off again war between Iraq and Iran and a reliable supply of small arms was needed. As the Iraqi military already had a good relationship with the former (at that time current) Yugoslavia an easy partnership was formed and tooling and training delivered.

The new Iraqi made AKMs were dubbed the Tabuk and were identical copies of the Yugo M70B1 and M70AB2 rifles.

Russell and his company spared no expense in making the replica Tabuk as close to the ones U.S. troops saw in Iraq as possible. In fact, they’re so authentic looking, Two Rivers Arms-made Tabuk rifles were used in the movie “American Sniper.”

The right side of the rear sight base on the Two Rivers-made rifle is marked “Tabuk” and “Cal. 7.62x39mm” in English just as on the original. Two Rivers Arms took special care to match the style, size and font of all the engravings using original samples. On the left side of the rear sight block is found the same text as on the right but in Arabic.

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(Photo from Two Rivers Arms)

In between the name and caliber designation is the lion circle emblem that appears on all Tabuks. This is supposed to represent the Lion of Babylon standing in front of a pyramid and surrounded by a circle. The lion is standing over a prostrate man and has a saddle on its back as in legend it was ridden by Ishtar the Babylonian goddess of love and war.

A final touch of authenticity is that every rifle comes with an exact reproduction of the Iraqi instruction manual issued to troops and manufactured from an original and hard to find manual. It is of course in Arabic.

The Two Rivers Arms Tabuk replica rifle comes in at about $1,200.

 

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See the intense Navy deck logs from the Pearl Harbor attack

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan’s Imperial Navy infamously attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor. For the men and women working on Navy ships that morning, their normal peacetime duties were suddenly and violently interrupted with the outbreak of war.


The officers on watch helped lead the immediate defense and rescue efforts, and they also maintained the deck logs that detailed what happened in the hours immediately preceding the attack and throughout the day.

While few of the logs from that day maintained by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration have been scanned into digital copies, the White House released a few on its Facebook page to mark the 75th anniversary of the attacks.

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The USS Maryland received little damage during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the hull of the capsized USS Oklahoma and the burning USS West Virginia are visible in this photo with it. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The USS Maryland survived the attacks and went on to fight at the Battles of Midway, Tarawa, Saipan, Leyte Gulf, and others. The ship was decommissioned in 1947 with seven battle stars. At Pearl Harbor, the ship engaged Japanese planes and a suspected submarine

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The deck log of the USS Maryland detailed the ship’s quick defense during the attack, getting her guns firing within minutes of the first Japanese planes flying overhead. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

The USS Solace was a hospital ship which quickly began taking on wounded. It went on to serve throughout the Pacific and survived the war.

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The USS Solace at anchor. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

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The deck log of the USS Solace, a hospital ship, which rapidly began taking on wounded from other vessels. (Photo: National Archives Administration)

The USS Vestal, a repair ship, took multiple bomb hits and was forced to beach itself. Fires onboard the ship created such thick fumes that crewmembers were evacuated to the Solace. The ship survived the battle and served in the Pacific during the war, repairing such famous ships as the USS Enterprise and USS South Dakota after major battles.

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The USS Vestal was beached after suffering multiple bomb hits at Pearl Harbor. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Vestal’s log details the progression of the fight as vessel after vessel took heavy damage on Battleship Row.

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The deck logs of the USS Vestal detail the damage done to nearby battleships. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

The USS Dale was a Farragut-class destroyer that was heavily engaged throughout World War II, earning 12 battle stars before the surrender of Japan.

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The USS Dale sails through the water on Apr. 28, 1938. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

At Pearl Harbor, it’s officers took detailed notes on the reports coming into the ship and show the chaos of the day. The ships were warned of probable mines, parachute troops, submarine attacks, and other dangers — many of which were false — as the military tried to get a handle on the situation.

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The USS Dale’s log at Pearl Harbor detailed the reports of attacks by paratroopers, submersibles, and other Japanese elements. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

The USS Conyngham was a destroyer that screened ships from air attack for most of the war. It fought at Midway, the Santa Cruz islands, Guadalcanal, and others. The ship received 14 battle stars in World War II.

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The USS Conyngham served with distinction throughout World War II, earning 14 battle stars before the war ended. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

At Pearl Harbor, the Conyngham had just taken on a resupply of ice cream when the attack began. Alongside other destroyers, it set up a screen to shoot down Japanese planes attempting further attacks.

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The USS Conyngham was enjoying an ice cream delivery just before the attack started. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

(h/t US National Archives and Angry Staff Officer)

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Army lab integrates Future Soldier Technology

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YouTube


Lighter weight protective body armor and undergarments, newer uniform fabrics, conformal wearable computers and integrated sensors powered by emerging battery technologies — are all part of the Army’s cutting-edge scientific initiative aimed at shaping, enhancing and sustaining the Soldier of the Future.

The U.S. Army has set up a special high-tech laboratory aimed at better identifying and integrating gear, equipment and weapons in order to reduce the current weight burden placed on Soldiers and give them more opportunities to successfully execute missions, service officials said.

A main impetus for the effort, called Warrior Integration Site, is grounded in the unambiguous hopef reducing the weight carried by today’s Army infantry fighters from more than 120-pounds, down to at least 72-pounds, service officials explained.In fact, a Soldier’s current so-called “marching load” can reach as much as 132-pounds, Army experts said.

“We’ve overloaded the Soldier, reduced space for equipment and tried to decrease added bulk and stiffness. What we are trying to do is get a more integrated and operational system. We are looking at the Soldier as a system,” Maj. Daniel Rowell, Assistant Product Manager, Integration, Program Executive Office Soldier, told Scout Warrior in an interview during an exclusive tour of the WinSite facility.

Citing batteries, power demands, ammunition, gear interface, body armor, boots, weapons and water, Rowell explained that Soldiers are heavily burdened by the amount they have to carry for extended missions.

“We try to document everything that the Soldier is wearing including weight, size and configuration – and then communicate with researchers involved with the Army’s Science and Technology community,” he added.

The WinSite lab is not only looking to decrease the combat load carried by Soldiers into battle but also identify and integrate the best emerging technologies; the evaluation processes in the make-shift laboratory involve the use of computer graphic models, 3-D laser scanners, 3-D printing and manequins.

“This is not about an individual piece of equipment. It is about weight and cognitive burden – all of which contributes to how effective the Soldier is,” Rowell said.

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U.S. Soldiers assigned to 3rd Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment provide security during a village meeting near Combat Outpost Mizan, Zabul province, Afghanistan. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nathanael Callon

The 3-D printer allows for rapid prototyping of new systems and equipment with a mind to how they impact the overall Soldier system; the manequins are then outfitted with helmets, body armor, radios, water, M-4 rifles, helmets, uniforms, night vision, batteries and other gear as part of an assessment of what integrates best for the Soldier overall.

In addition, while the WinSite is more near term than longer-term developmental efforts such as the ongoing work to develop a Soldier “Iron Man” suit or exoskeleton, the Army does expect to integrate biometric sensors into Soldier uniforms. This will allow for rapid identification of health and body conditions, such as heart rate, breathing or blood pressure – along with other things. Rapid access to this information could better enable medics to save the lives of wounded Soldiers.

Lighter weight fabrics for uniforms, combined with composite body armor materials are key elements of how the Army hope to reach a notional, broad goal of enabling Soldier to fight with all necessary gear weighing a fraction of the current equipment at 48-pounds, Rowell explained.

WinSite is primarily about communication among laboratory experts, scientists and computer programmers and new Soldier technology developers – in order to ensure that each individual properly integrate into the larger Soldier system.

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6 Other Times There Was Gunfire And Brian Williams Was Nowhere To Be Found

It was revealed today that NBC anchor Brian Williams has been telling a story about the Iraq invasion that turned out to be well, untrue. As Travis Tritten reported in Stars and Stripes on Wednesday, the anchor’s long-told story of being on a helicopter in 2003 in Iraq that was hit by RPG fire was a false claim repeated by him and the network for years.


Here at WATM, we strive to go above and beyond. We researched other times there was gunfire or battles occurring, and we found that in all these other instances, Brian Williams was again, nowhere to be found.

The Capture of Saddam Hussein

If Brian Williams was on site, we probably could have seen awesome footage of Delta Force operators kicking down doors, clearing rooms, and ultimately, capturing one of the world’s most-wanted men. But sadly, Brian Williams wasn’t there.

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The Battle of Tora Bora

Though it would’ve been pretty sweet if he was around to watch U.S. Special Forces search for Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda fighters, we checked and it turns out that Brian Williams wasn’t there.

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Photo: Wikimedia

All those times the U.S. hit militants in Yemen with drone strikes

We meticulously researched through Air Force and CIA records and it turns out that Brian Williams was not on a drone when it struck militants in Yemen. Even more shocking though, he wasn’t there in Pakistan, Afghanistan or any drone strikes.

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The Osama bin Laden raid

Oh man. It would’ve been awesome if he was there to report on Bin Laden taking a couple bullets to the grape, but Brian Williams was in fact, not there.

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Battle of Alasay, codename Operation Dinner Out

French allies confirmed that Brian Williams may have taken the operation name literally and actually went out for dinner.

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Photo: Wikimedia

On the rooftop with Blackwater fighters shooting militants in the Battle of Najaf

It was a pretty controversial time when military contractors were found to be helping — and sometimes directing — soldiers in the defense of their compound. Brian Williams could have been there to report on what was happening at the time, but, as the video shows, he wasn’t even there.

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WATM Executive Editor Paul Szoldra helped with this masterpiece.

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