How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive - We Are The Mighty
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How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Standing proudly in front of a B-25 Mitchell on display for a recent airshow in the central Texas town of Burnet, retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole slowly walked up to the antique bomber and clutched one of its propeller blades.


Related: The Air Force wants to fly the B-2 Bomber into the 2050s

The last surviving Doolittle Raider, who had just marked his 101st birthday a few days before, smiled as he reminisced in the shadow of the bomber — a link to his storied past.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
A U.S. Army Air Force B-25B Mitchell medium bomber, one of sixteen involved in the mission, takes off from the flight deck of the USS Hornet for an air raid on the Japanese Home Islands on April 18, 1942. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

“When we got the B-25, it was a kick in the butt,” he later said, adding that he first flew the B-18 Bolo out of flight school. “It was fast and very maneuverable, with a good, steady bombing platform. You could fly it all over.”

Seventy-plus years ago, he co-piloted a similar bomber alongside then-Lt. Col. James Doolittle during a pivotal mission April 18, 1942, that helped turn the tide for the allies in the Pacific theater of World War II.

Related: US Air Force pilots donned Santa hats during Christmas day airstrikes on ISIS

As the final member of the famed 80-man Army Air Forces unit, Cole was chosen to announce the name of the Air Force’s newest bomber, the B-21 Raider, at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference on Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve never flown in any of the modern bombers so it’s pretty hard to realize how all of the improvements have meant to aviation,” he said at the Sept. 10 airshow. “All I can say is that the B-25 was like having a Ford Model T, (and now pilots are) getting into a Mustang.”

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Doolittle developed a plan to retaliate with a daring air raid on Japan. Without escort fighters, he and the other crewmembers flew 16 modified Army B-25s off an aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet, for a one-way trip that had the makings of a suicide mission. The plan called for the aircraft, which were incapable of landing back on the aircraft carrier, to bomb industrial and military targets in five cities on the Japanese home islands and then continue on to friendly airfields in China.

Related: The original ‘Air Force One’ is being restored to its 1950s condition

Forced to launch 10 hours earlier than planned, due to the task force being spotted by a Japanese patrol boat, many aircrews later had to bail out of their fuel-parched aircraft after dropping their bomb loads. Doolittle’s crew, including Cole, parachuted into China and linked up with Chinese guerillas operating behind Japanese lines who helped them escape.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

“The main memory I have was when my parachute opened,” Cole said of the mission. “But that was part of the job. I’d rather be sitting here than worried about a parachute jump.”

Being alone to tell the Raiders’ story these days has been something of a paradox for Cole.

“You can’t help but be happy that you’re here but on the other side of the coin you also wish that the people who were with you were here too,” he said. “But you know that that’s not possible so you have to live with it.”

The average age of the Raiders during the mission was 22, while Cole was a 26-year-old lieutenant, according to his daughter, Cindy Cole Chal.

“Dad was older on the raid,” she said. “Nobody thought that Dad would be the last one, even though he’s been in excellent health.”

Former Staff Sgt. David Thatcher was the second to last living Raider before he died at the age of 94. He was buried with full military honors June 27 in Montana.

As a 20-year-old gunner in Flight Crew No. 7, then-Cpl. Thatcher saved his four other crewmembers when their B-25 crash-landed into the sea near the Chinese coast after it bombed Japanese factories in Tokyo. He pulled them to safety on the surrounding beach and applied life-saving medical treatment, despite having injuries himself. He later earned the Silver Star for his actions.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Meanwhile, Cole parachuted into rainy weather at night and landed in a tree located on precarious terrain.

“I was fortunate in that I never touched the ground. My parachute drifted over a tall pine tree and caught on top leaving me about 10 feet off the ground,” he recounted in a 1973 letter posted on the official Doolittle Raider website. “At daybreak I was able to see that the terrain was very rough and had I tried to look around at night; probably would have fallen down a very steep hill.”

Once the sun rose, Cole walked westward and the next day he found an outpost belonging to the Chinese guerillas, the letter states.

On April 18, 2015, Cole and Thatcher were presented the Congressional Gold Medal for the Raiders’ efforts, the highest civilian honor given by Congress.

In his speech, a playful Cole couldn’t resist a touch of humor.

“Tonight’s affair couldn’t have been planned more accurately,” Cole said. “As I remember, the mission was over, it was Saturday night on the 18th of April and about this time David Thatcher was on the beach in China saving the rest of his crew and I was hanging in my parachute in a tree.”

Also at the ceremony, Thatcher spoke candidly as he gave advice to today’s Airmen.

“Be prepared for anything you run into — we weren’t,” he said. “Learn everything you possibly can, and be good at it.”

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Lt. Col. Dick Cole, a Doolittle Raider, smiles while looking out of a B-25 aircraft April 20, 2013, on the Destin Airport, Fla. The B-25 is the aircraft he co-piloted during the Doolittle Raid. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Salanitri)

Turning point

Seven Raiders died during the mission: three were killed in action while another three were captured and executed and one died of disease in captivity.

The bombing runs did little damage but the mission rekindled the morale of the American people and struck fear into the Japanese with aircraft reaching their homeland.

“Knowing that we did the mission and did it like it was supposed to be done, we felt pretty good about it,” Cole said.

In response, the Japanese maneuvered their forces from around Australia and India to the Central Pacific, and sent two aircraft carriers to Alaska.

“The Japanese thought we were going to make more visits. But we didn’t have any equipment to do it and we had no plans for it,” Cole said. “For some reason they moved two carriers to Alaska, thinking that’s where we came from. When they did that, it evened up the number of carriers we had available for Midway.”

The Battle of Midway proved to be a major turning point in the war. Believing their Central Pacific flank to be vulnerable because of the Doolittle Raid, the Japanese launched an invasion force to secure the isolated atoll of Midway to establish a base and airfield. Unaware that U.S. Naval Intelligence had broken their naval codes and knew the date and location of the impending attack, the Japanese sailed directly into an ambush set by three U.S. carriers.

When the smoke cleared, U.S. Navy dive-bombers had sunk four Japanese carriers, the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu, all members of the six-carrier force that had launched the attack on Pearl Harbor, and more than 3,000 men, including many experienced combat pilots. The U.S. lost one carrier, the USS Yorktown, and about 300 men. The Japanese remained on the defensive for the rest of the war.

“When the time came for the Battle of Midway, the (U.S.) Navy was able to win and that started the Japanese on the downhill,” he said.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
U.S. Air Force Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, Co-Pilot to Jimmy Doolittle during the Doolittle Raid, smiles as he honors the U.S. flag during the singing of the national anthem at an airshow in Burnet, Texas. Lt. Col. Cole was honored by the community and guests as the only remaining military service member alive from the April 18, 1942 Doolittle Raid. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

‘Single-engine time’

Nowadays, Cole has shifted his focus away from the twin-engine bomber to his tractor and lawnmower. He refuses to let his age stand in the way of his daily chores. So when not traveling for events, he tends to his acreage in Comfort, Texas, about an hour’s drive northwest from San Antonio.

“People ask me if I’m getting any flying time and I say, ‘Well, I’m getting a lot of single-engine time with the lawnmower,” he said, chuckling.

To keep the memory of Doolittle and the rest of the Raiders alive, he helps sell his book, “Dick Cole’s War,” which documents not only the Doolittle Raid, but his service after that mission with the First Air Commandos in Burma. Proceeds from the book go into a scholarship fund in Doolittle’s name for students in the aviation field.

Cahl estimates her father has put in hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sales of books and signed lithograph prints into the fund to honor Doolittle, who died in 1993.

“All the time when I was flying with Colonel Doolittle, I was in awe over the fact that I was sitting next to him,” Cole said. “He put the word ‘team’ in the forefront of the English language.”

Now the sole survivor, Cole wants no part being the poster child for the historic mission.

“You did the mission. You did what you were supposed to do,” he said. “The people who were involved are all passing (away) and that’s the way it ends.

“I didn’t think any of the Raiders wanted to be singled out. We just wanted to be part of the big picture.”

AirmanMagazineOnline, YouTube
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The complete hater’s guide to the US Navy

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series about how branches of the military hate on each other. We’ll feature all branches of the U.S. military, written by veterans of that branch being brutally honest with themselves and their services.


The branches of the U.S. military are like a very large family. They deal with one another because they have to, not because they always get along.

The differences don’t stop at uniforms. Each branch has its own goals, mission, and its own internal culture. At the upper levels of the services, they compete for funds and favor from civilians in DoD. In the lower ranks, they compete for fun and favor from civilians in bars and strip clubs (especially in North Carolina). The branches are like siblings, competing for the intangible title of who’s “the best” from no one in particular.

“The Soviets are our adversary. Our enemy is the Navy.” —Gen. Curtis LeMay, U.S. Air Force

Of course, when it comes to joint operations downrange, a lot of that goes out the window. But when the op-tempo isn’t as hectic and frustration has time to build, the awesome Army platoon who saved your ass last month become a bunch of damn stupid grunts who steal everything you don’t lock down and leave their Gatorade piss bottles everywhere. Parsing out the best and worst of our services isn’t hard if we’re honest with ourselves.

Here’s how the other branches hate on the Navy, how they should actually be hating on the Navy, how the Navy hates on the Navy, and why to really love the Navy.

The easiest ways to make fun of the Navy

Sailor harassment has its roots in the age-old reality that since man first decided to put military power to sea in ships, those aboard those ships were forced to spend weeks and months underway before being afforded a few days of downtime in a foreign port. As a result of this ratio, sailors may have had a tendency for exuberance while on liberty over the years. And that exuberance may have caused a scuffle or two that caught the attention of bar owners and other locals who may have developed impressions that were less than positive.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Over time these locals spread rumors that these sailors couldn’t hold their liquor and tended to burn through what little cash they had in a short time. Word of these phenomena returned stateside, which gave birth to the saying, “spending money like a sailor on liberty.”

Because sailors spend time on the water, service members from other military branches wanted to give them a nickname that was both sufficiently pejorative and germane. Naturally marine life came to mind. “Sharks” was too cool and tough and “guppies” was too cute, so they settled on “squids.” So if you want to make fun of a sailor call him or her a “squid.” They really hate that because squids are spineless and ugly and otherwise devoid of personality. (They can swim fast, but nobody really cares about that.)

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Because SEALs. In the wake of the Bin Laden raid, SEALs have managed to morph from silent professionals to the warfare specialty that is quick to tell all to land book and movie deals.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Because Top Gun. No other military movie in history has done more to give the public the wrong idea about what it means to serve. And it’s got a lot of homoerotic imagery, which leads to . . .

. . . The quickest way to strike a squid’s nerve is to make “gay” jokes. Yes, you know the kind, “100 sailors go out, 50 couples come back,” or “it ain’t gay if it’s under way,” and many, many more. It also doesn’t help that sailors are a popular gay fantasy.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Henri Belolo created the Village People around macho male stereotypes that gays fantasize about. The cowboy, cop, construction worker, leather-clad biker, Indian, and the sailor. The band became popular, moved into the mainstream and took the sailor in the cute Crackerjack uniform along with it. Yes, we said “cute.” Admit it, the sailor dress uniform has more in common with the Japanese school girl uniform than with the other service branches.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, of course. This is, after all, the post-DADT world.

Because nuclear power. While the introduction of this science gave Navy ships the ability to sail a long, long time without refueling, the existence of it also created a zero-tolerance culture that has raised the bar of fun suppression to heights that can never be lowered. And this ability to sweat the load has crossed over into other warfare specialties and other branches of the military. Thanks, Nukes . . .

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Why to actually hate the Navy

Every service tries to imitate the Marine Corps when it comes to celebrating its birthday, and the Navy’s history makes this in many ways the biggest joke (which is a polite way to say “the biggest lie”). While the Navy uses October 13, 1775 as the birth date, they leave out the fact that the first version of the U.S. Navy was dismantled completely after the Revolutionary War because the ragtag bunch of vessels they managed to assemble on the fly did little to protect ports or disrupt the British in any way.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
John Paul Jones kicks some British butt. Congress appreciated it so much they dismantled the Navy after the war.

And this anti-Navy sentiment in and around DC lasted a while after that. Thomas Jefferson hated the idea of a standing Navy and few in Congress thought any differently about it. It wasn’t until early Navy badass Stephen Decatur decided to take a couple of ships to Tripoli to raise some Yankee hell against the Barbary Pirates. His successes made lawmakers take notice and actually warm to the idea of a standing Navy, and one with an over-the-horizon outlook.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Decatur Boarding a Tripolitan Gunboat. (Painting by Dennis M. Carter)

So the real birth date of the Navy would be somewhere around 1810 when Decatur took the USS United States up and down the east coast to show the American public what they had in terms of seagoing capability.

Hate SAPR training and the CYA leadership atmosphere you’re currently serving under? Blame the Navy.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

All the mechanisms that surround using the military as a social experiment and other morale-sapping things that get labeled as “politically correct” started with the Tailhook Scandal in the early ’90s. Of course, sexual battery, never mind harassment, is a bad thing that should never be tolerated, but Navy leadership over the years has done little to stop agenda-based over-corrections that have marginalized the culture in undesirable ways (in the eyes of those who intimate they know about warfighting and such).

So, regardless of your branch, if you feel like you’re serving in a nanny state, blame the Navy.

Because Jimmy Carter. He’s a Naval Academy grad and a submariner, but he never really acted like it when he was Commander-in-chief. His “man is inherently good” naivete made for some very bad foreign policy, most notably in how he de-fanged the CIA and emboldened the Iranian government to take Americans hostage for 444 days. And the Desert One rescue attempt was a disaster. Basically his time in the White House made the country very happy to see Ronald Reagan.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

And because the Navy is the absolute worst when it comes to changing uniforms. Remember aviation greens? How about service dress khaki? No? Well, here’s one for you: aquaflage. What are you hiding in, the water? And if a sailor is in the water don’t you want to be able to see him or her? We rest our case.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Because they wrecked most of what was cool about the band Godsmack and made them corporate sellouts.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Because sailors don’t have to eat MREs when they deploy. Ships are built with mess decks and Navy cooks (and supply officers) generally take pride in serving the crew good food.

Why to love the Navy

Because Navy SEALs. They popped OBL and the Somali pirates and many more high value bad actors since 9-11. Their warfighting skills are second to none.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Because Hollywood remains enamoured by Navy life, it keeps teeing up Navy-themed shows like “The Last Ship,” and as a result, the general public has a favorable opinion of the military.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Because strike warfare. As has been the case throughout history U.S. Navy carriers and surface combatants were the first on the scene after 9-11, and because of that we were able to take it to the enemy a mere three weeks after the homeland was attacked.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Because the U.S. Navy really is, as the commercials state, “a global force for good.” From Hurricane Katrina to the Haitian earthquake to the tsunami in Thailand, when a country needs humanitarian assistance, the Navy has always been first on the scene.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
U.S. Navy air crew assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15, Detachment 2, help Pakistani Soldiers load relief supplies aboard a U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon during humanitarian relief efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Capt. Paul Duncan)

Because the Navy continues to fight “the war between the wars.” The Navy goes to potentially hostile places like the littorals of Yemen and Chinese-claimed islands to prove to those nations that we’re willing to protect the sea lanes to keep goods moving safely to and from our shores.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
And the Navy also gets to show Jessica Simpson how to shoot a machine gun!

(H/t: SB and OV)

Now: The hater’s guide to the US Marine Corps

OR: The hater’s guide to the US Air Force

OR: The hater’s guide to the US Army

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WW2 fighter pilot and founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car dies at 94

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive


Jack Taylor, the founder of Enterprise Rent-a-car who served as a fighter pilot during World War II, died last week at the age of 94 according to an announcement made by the company.

Taylor served as an F6F Hellcat pilot in the Pacific Theater during World War II, flying from the U.S.S. Essex and U.S.S. Enterprise (his company’s namesake). He was attached to Carrier Air Group 15, led by the top Navy ace of all time, Commander David McCampbell. CAG 15, which sustained more than 50 percent casualties during the war, was one of the most decorated combat units in the history of U.S. Naval Aviation. Taylor, who served as McCampbell’s wingman on several combat missions, was twice decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. He also received the Navy Air Medal.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Jack Taylor.

After the war, he worked as a sales rep for a Cadillac dealership before getting into the leasing business with a fleet of 7 cars. His breakthrough idea was renting cars at places other than airports for those who needed an extra car around the neighborhood for whatever reason. His company, Executive Leasing, eventually became Enterprise. The company is among the world’s biggest rental car brands, with annual revenues at nearly $20 billion.

Taylor also a philanthropist. Since 1982, he personally donated more than $860 million to a wide variety of organizations including Washington University and the symphony orchestra in his hometown of St. Louis.

Years later, Taylor reflected back on how well his military service had prepared him for his business success, saying, “After landing a Hellcat on the pitching deck of a carrier, or watching enemy tracer bullets stream past your canopy, somehow the risk of starting up my own company didn’t seem all that big a deal.”

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How to stay connected with your kids, from deployments to business trips

When kids are apart from a parent, it’s rough on everyone. For some families, it’s a week-long business trip to Minneapolis. Others it’s months on an oil rig. And for the more than 2 million families of the military and National Guard, it’s a year-long deployment overseas. That requires a unique level of parental fortitude, but there are things the moms and dads in the armed forces can teach any parent who needs to be away from the kids for a bit.


Also read: Watch Jimmy Fallon and The Rock beautifully reunite a military family

Bana Miller is the Communications Director of Blue Star Families, an organization that provides resources and info to military families. She’s also a mother of 3 and her husband has been on active duty for their entire 12-year marriage — so she’s basically a 5-star general of deployment coping management. Miller has a bunch of military-grade tips on how to stay connected to your kid and mitigate their anxiety when you can’t physically be there for them.

Prepare the family

Depending on how old your kid is, they might not really understand what’s going on. Help them prepare by spending quality time as a family. For military parents, this is usually block leave the week before deployment. For business parents, you can just block out the weekend before you take off and make sure there’s there’s one-on-one time together. It can be just hanging out and watching Paw Patrol, or doing some special activity that you both enjoy.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Flickr / IMCOM Korea

Miller also recommends reading books or watching shows that talk about leaving. Even Daniel Tiger knows “grown-ups come back.” “I have 3 kids under 4, and I’ve found reading stories helps them grasp the hard concepts,” she says. Just keep it kid-appropriate. Your 3-year-old isn’t ready for All Quiet On The Western Front.

Get everyone synchronized

Kids can’t grasp the concept of leaving the playground in 5 minutes, so telling them dad will be gone for a year is not something they can internalize. Long stint or short trips, Miller says setting up countdown rituals can help. Some ideas include adding to a candy jar every day (or, because kids like candy, subtracting). Or you can make a paper chain where they remove a link weekly for a long deployments, or daily to understand when you’re coming back from that conference in Miami. Also, you can help them understand time differences by setting up a command station with one clock for the household and one for the other parent’s time zone. Hey kids, it’s tomorrow in Guam!

Leave a little bit of yourself behind

You can’t be there to cuddle or give them a hug, but a plush version of you can. There’s a company called Daddy Dolls that takes photos of service members and makes them into a doll for their kid. “It’s kind of like Flat Stanley. That way the parent can still be in pictures and at milestone events,” Miller explains. “Anything physical or tactile that they can hold onto is great.” If you’re afraid your family is going to start using that doll like a voodoo pincushion, you can record their favorite bedtime stories. Or, if you kids would rather listen to Bryan Cranston read an audiobook, get one of Toymail’s Talkies to send your kid messages via stuffed animal.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Flickr / Hamster_Rave

We have the technology

It’s easy enough to use the Wi-Fi at your Holiday Inn Express to FaceTime the family for dinner, but for those locked into the schedule of active duty, it’s more difficult. Miller says everyone should be able to find a regular time each week to check in. “It’s such a great tool to feel like they’re part of the day-to-day routine of being home.”

One thing that your kids can learn from families with a parent on deployment, it’s that they learn to roll with things. She says if you can’t connect one evening, don’t make a big deal out of it. “If military families have one thing in common, it’s flexibility,” says Miller. “The parent at home can say, ‘OK, looks like the computer’s not working today, we’ll try again next time.’ And that’s where having those recorded story books or something a child can play on their own time is great.”

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Care packages work both ways

“The care package has been around for as long as we’ve been deploying soldiers, and it’s great for the family and home to have that ritual of putting it together,” says Miller. Even if you’re not serving, but are just going to be gone for an extended period, make sure you have the hotel address. Remember, it doesn’t just have to be loaded up with treats (although nobody ever turned down a Rice Krispie Treat). The box gives kids the opportunity to share letters and pictures, and write back on the same note. Try taking turns writing pages in a shared journal. It will teach your kid what communication was like before emojis.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Flickr / DVIDS

Build your support team

Miller says service members rely on the community for support, and you should too. Let teachers, coaches, and any other important adult in your kid’s life know that they need to communicate with both parents. It’s 2016, so schools now use electronic mail; all it takes to keep you in the loop is a CC. “For the child too, knowing that while their parent may not be able to do in-person parent-teacher conferences there’s still communication, can be fantastic reassurance,” says Miller. Although contributing to the bake sale may be a bridge too far.

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Memorial Day: It’s not just for service members lost in combat

Memorial Day, once called Decoration Day, originated after the Civil War as a way to honor those who died on the battlefield. There are multiple stories in history as to where it started but the federal government officially designated Waterloo, New York as its birthplace. For a long time, each war had different days to honor the fallen. World War I would change that. 

The leader of the Northern War Veterans declared May 30 as Decoration Day in 1868 in a speech at Arlington National Cemetery. It would be held on that date until 1968 when the Uniform Monday Holiday act was passed, making it the last Monday in May going forward. 

But just like the country evolved to include all lives lost on every battlefield in every war on the somber day of remembrance, it’s time for us to evolve once again as a country. 

In the 1980s, we were losing thousands of active duty service members every single year and not to war, but training for it. By 1999, we’d lost almost 25,000 troops to accidents and suicide. Since the War on Terror began in 2001, America has lost more service members to training accidents and suicide than combat with the enemy. 

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
 Honolulu, Hawaii (May 31, 2016) Karen Spofford and Cos Spofford look over the grave of Air Force Maj. Melvin Souza, Ms. Spofford’s Father, before the Honolulu Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Maj. Souza was a pilot who mentored many current pilots, said Ms. Spofford. He died in 2014.

Not only are we continually losing men and women to suicides and accidents, but we lose them to sicknesses associated with their time in service. Agent Orange is still wreaking havoc from the Vietnam War and now we have proof that the current war’s burn pits are creating devastating health impacts, too. Let us not forget all the implications of service.

Whether a service member dies in combat, training for it, illness or by suicide due to invisible wounds while serving this country, the loss is the same. Their family and friends don’t grieve any less or more depending on how they died. The cost and risk of wearing the uniform remains high, but it’s something they willingly do because they believe in the purpose they’re serving. 

It is with this in mind that Memorial Day should truly begin focusing on honoring all service members America has lost in the line of duty and not just those who died directly in combat. This is the way that we can truly honor every single sacrifice in the name of American security and freedom, by leaving no one behind. The weight of service to the country is heavy and it’s a burden that they carry for all of us. The very least we can do is take time to remember them and sit in gratitude for what they gave up so we didn’t have to.

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Here’s how the team behind ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ made reloading cool

Professional pain-factory John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back for a sequel. And once again, there’s a whole cadre of well-dressed people who want him dead.


In anticipation of the film’s release on Feb. 10, We Are The Mighty talked to director Chad Stahelski and stunt coordinator and Army vet J.J. Perry about John Wick’s gunplay style, and how they made mag changes cool.

Watch the trailer for “John Wick: Chapter 2” here.

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This movie about an Iraq War troop based on an acclaimed book is a surefire Oscar contender

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive


It’s never too early to start up Oscar talk, and after watching the trailer for “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” you’ll know what I mean.

Director Ang Lee’s (“Life of Pi,” “Brokeback Mountain”) latest movie looks at the victory tour of 19-year-old soldier Billy Lynn after an intense tour in Iraq. The film shows what really happened over there through flashbacks and contrasts that with the perception of Billy and his squad back home.

It’s based on the universally praised 2012 novel of the same name by Ben Fountain, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. For that and Ang Lee’s name alone, it’s sure to get a lot of attention.

Shot in 3D, the movie is certain to be visually stunning. But it also looks like it has the emotional weight to carry it to award season.

The film stars Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, and newcomer Joe Alwyn as Billy Lynn.

Watch the trailer below. The movie opens in November.

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The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

Defense officials at the Pentagon say they need up to $500 million more to finish the development phase for the F-35, the troubled fifth-generation fighter that’s already gone 50% over its original budget.


The F-35 program office requested the money last month to the Defense Acquisition Board, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news Wednesday. The call for additional funds is pretty familiar at this point, since the program — known as the Joint Strike Fighter since it will be used by the Navy, Marines, and Air Force — has been plagued by lengthy delays and enormous cost overruns.

Also read: How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

Its overall lifetime budget has ballooned to more than $1.5 trillion, making it the most expensive weapons system ever built by the US.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has in the past called those cost overruns a “disgrace.”

“It has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule, and performance,” he said in April.

Rising costs haven’t been the only problem of note for the F-35. The jet has had plenty of incidents while being built, such as electrical problems, major issues with its software, and problems related to its advanced helmet system.

Just four months ago, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester wrote in a memo the F-35 program was “not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver.”

Still, the Air Force and Marines have both declared the fighter “combat ready” and have begun integrating it into their squadrons. The military has only taken delivery of about 180 of the aircraft from Lockheed Martin so far, though it plans to buy more than 2,400.

The fighter, which features stealth and advanced electronic attack and communications systems, is a project with roots going back to the late 1990s. Lockheed won the contract for the fighter in 2001.

“Strong national security is an expensive endeavor but the existing concerns with the F-35 make calls for even more money harder to green light,” said Joe Kaspar, chief of staff for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“And the Pentagon never seems to be able to help its case on the F-35. Technical superiority is not cheap, but whether or not costs can be driven down is something Congress must look at it before throwing more money in the Pentagon’s direction.”

Articles

This is America’s new $13 billion warship

The US Navy is less than a year away from adding the most expensive warship in history to its fleet, the $13 billion USS Gerald Ford.


The USS Ford, the lead ship of the new Ford-class aircraft carrier series, is expected to join the US Navy by February 2016, according to CNN. Once deployed, the ship will be the largest carrier ever to ply the seas and will feature a number of changes and advancements over the United States’ current Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

Here’s a look at this multi billion-dollar beast:

The USS Gerald Ford is expected to cost upwards of $13 billion by the time it is deployed.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Photo: Youtube.com

The USS Gerald R. Ford.

The Ford, and the accompanying Ford-class carrier fleet, are intended to relieve stress and over-deployment within the US Navy. Currently, the Navy operates 10 carriers but wants an additional vessel to take pressure off of the rest of the fleet.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Photo: US Navy Chris Oxley

The ship will feature a host of changes over the current Nimitz-class carrier. Ford-class carriers will be capable of generating three times more electrical power than the older carrier classes, for example.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Photo: US Navy 3D model

A 3D model of the USS John F. Kennedy, the second ship the Ford-class carrier series.

This increased electrical power supply allows the Ford to use the newly designed Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which will allow the vessel to launch 25% more aircraft a day than the previous steam-powered launch systems.

A successful test of the EMALS launch system.

The amount of electricity onboard also makes the Ford-class carriers ideal candidates to field laser and directed-energy weapons in the future, like rail guns and missile interceptors.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Photo: US Navy

A demonstration of a rail gun.

Once launched, the Ford will be the largest warship in the world. It will be 1,092 feet long and displace upwards of 100,000 tons.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Photo: US Navy John Whalen

Shipbuilding floods Dry Dock 12 to float the first in class aircraft carrier, Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford

This size will allow the carrier to house about 4,400 staff and personnel while also carrying more than 75 aircraft.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aidan P. Campbell

The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) gets underway beginning the ship’s launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier 3 for the final stages of construction and testing.

The Ford is expected to carry F-35s and, once available, carrier-based drone aircraft.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelly M. Agee

A U.S. Navy Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II conducts it’s first arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in the Pacific Ocean November 3, 2014. The F-35C was conducting initial at-sea developmental testing.

But for all the advances within the Ford-class carrier group, some have questioned the wisdom of continuing an astronomically expensive carrier-heavy naval strategy in a time when inter-state warfare is rare and nations like China continue to develop potentially carrier-killing long-range anti-ship cruise missiles.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

NOW WATCH: See what life is like on a US Navy Carrier|Military Insider

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37 Awesome Photos Of Life On A US Navy Carrier

An aircraft carrier is like a small city at sea, except this city is armed to the teeth.


Onboard, thousands of sailors work, sleep, and play for months at a time while deployed around the world. But what’s life really like?

We rounded up 37 photos from our own collection and the Navy’s official Flickr page to give you an idea.

A day at sea begins with reveille — military-speak for “wake up” —  announced over the ship’s loudspeaker, known as the 1MC.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
 

Some sailors start their morning in one of the many cardio gyms onboard.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

While others hit the free weights.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

On any one of the mess decks, culinary specialists start preparing to feed the thousands of sailors that will show up for breakfast.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

And sailors file through the line and fuel up for the day ahead.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

On the flight deck, sailors need to be extra careful.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

The flight deck is the world’s most dangerous place to work.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

 

A step in the wrong direction could turn propellers into meat grinders.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Jets launch around the clock.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

And darkness doesn’t slow them down.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Sailors on the flight deck work in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. As a former sailor myself, I can say we sometimes forget what day it is.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Nights at sea are a stargazer’s dream.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

We fix planes in the hangar.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

We squeeze them into tight spots.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Teamwork is essential.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Together we can move planes.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Even ships.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

No matter what, a buddy will always have your back.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Work can be exhausting. Every sailor sleeps in a small space called a rack.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

But sailors quickly learn to sleep anywhere.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Anywhere.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Sometimes we get to dress like pirates to honor the long-standing tradition of “Crossing the Line.”

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

At the “Crossing the Line” ceremony Pollywogs endure physical hardships before being inducted into the mysteries of the deep.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Only then can King Neptune and his royal court transform a slimy Pollywog into an honorable Shellback.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

This tradition is older than anyone can remember.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Sometimes when we have downtime we go for a dip in the ocean.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

We play basketball in the hangar.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Or volleyball.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

We sing on the flight deck.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Or relax in the berthing – Navy speak for living quarters.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

The best part about being a sailor is traveling.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

We visit foreign ports.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

We play as hard as we work.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Sometimes we visit places civilians will never see.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

We never forget our sacrifices.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

We honor traditions.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

And when we sail off into the sunset, we know tomorrow is a new adventure.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Articles

Feds say contractor sold defective combat helmets built with prison labor

A recently-released investigation by the Department of Justice reveals that a company using prison labor to make life-saving equipment for the Pentagon sold more than 125,000 defective helmets to the services, some that even failed to stop bullets in ballistic tests.


The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General said a public-private venture between the government-run Federal Prison Industries and the civilian company ArmorSource LLC produced Advanced Combat Helmets and Lightweight Marine Corps Helmets that were “not manufactured in accordance with contract specifications.”

“The investigations found that the ACH and LMCH had numerous defects, including serious ballistic failures, blisters and improper mounting hole placement and dimensions, as well as helmets being repressed,” the report said. “Helmets were manufactured with degraded or unauthorized ballistic materials, used expired paint and unauthorized manufacturing methods.”

The Justice report said ArmorSource failed to properly oversee the production of the helmets by federal prisoners and was forced to pay $3 million in restitution, while the Federal Prison Industries facility that manufactured the helmets beginning in 2008 was closed and the staff transferred.

In all, the report says 126,052 helmets were recalled costing the government over $19 million.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
U.S. Army Spc. Demel Cooper, sights his M16 rifle on Feb. 25, 2016 at a military shooting range in Landsthul, Germany. Specialist Cooper and other soldiers at the range wore Advanced Combat Helmets and other personal protective equipment during the training. (DoD photo by Tech Sgt. Brian Kimball)

The Federal Prison Industries is a government-owned corporation formed in 1934 to give job opportunities and income to federal inmates. The products made by FPI are sold only to the U.S. government and it does not compete with private companies.

From 2006 through 2009, Ohio-based ArmorSource produced the helmets for the Department of Defense. ArmorSource was paid more than $30 million, then subcontracted production of the ACH and the LMCH to FPI in 2008.

The ACH is a personal protective equipment system designed to provide ballistic and impact protection U.S. troops. It’s also designed to mount existing night vision, communication, and nuclear, biological, and chemical defense equipment.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Marines and sailors from Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, await extraction after completing a helicopter-borne raid at Basa Air Base on Oct. 15, 2006. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Ricardo Morales)

When FPI produced 23,000 LMCHs from its facility in Texas, the first 3,000 shipped in 2008 were found to be defective. Eventually, the Army’s Office of Inspector General found FPI-produced ACHs were also defective.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

The Army’s IG investigations found “endemic manufacturing problems” at FPI. The facility in Beaumont, Texas, was not making the helmets according to specifications and both helmet types were full of defects, including:

  • Finished ACH helmet shells were pried apart and scrap Kevlar and Kevlar dust was added to the ear sections, and the helmet shells repressed  
  • Helmets were repressed to remove blisters and bubbles in violation of contract specifications
  • LMCH and ACH had edging and paint adhesion failures, respectively
  • FPI did not obtain approval from the DOD before it changed the manufacturing process
  • LMCH Certificates of Conformance were prepared by inmates at the direction of FPI staff and signed by FPI staff months after the LMCH helmets were delivered falsely certifying that the helmets were manufactured according to contract specifications and had the requisite material traceability
  • LMCH helmet serial numbers were switched or altered

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

The helmets were sold to DoD anyway, and FPI used pre-selected helmets for inspection, against the DoD specification that random items be inspected. ArmorSource did not provide oversight of the helmets’ construction and did not ensure proper inspection of the product, the report says.

A surprise inspection of the Beaumont, Texas-based FPI facility found the inmates using a variety of improvised tools to build the helmets. This put the lives of those overseeing their work (as well as fellow inmates) at significant risk, the report says.

The Justice Department claims no casualties are known to have occurred because of the defective helmets.

Articles

The 5 most legendary snipers of all time

Snipers are a special breed, warriors with a combination of shooting skill, cunning, and patience. Military history has shown that a single sniper in the right place at the right time can change the course of battle, even in the face of overwhelming odds.


Here are the five most legendary among them:

5. U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Adelbert Waldron

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
(Photo: Waldron family archives)

As a member of the 9th Infantry Division, he was assigned to PBR boats patrolling the Mekong Delta, at one point making a confirmed kill from a moving boat at 900 yards. He set his record of 109 kills in just 8 months, which was the record until Chris Kyle broke it during the Iraq War and is perhaps even more remarkable considering he was fighting in a dense jungle environment that didn’t always provide easy sight lines.

4. Red Army Captain Vasily Zaytsev

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
(Photo: Russian National Archives)

Between November 10 and December 17, 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, Zaytsev killed 225 soldiers and officers of the Wehrmacht and other Axis armies, including 11 enemy snipers. Before that he killed 32 Axis soldiers with a standard-issue rifle. Between October 1942 and January 1943, he made an estimated 400 kills, some at distances of more than 1,100 yards.

A feature-length film, Enemy at the Gates, starring Jude Law as Zaytsev, includes a sniper’s duel between Zaytsev and a Wehrmacht sniper school director, Major Erwin König.

3. U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive

Navy SEAL Chris Kyle served four tours during the Iraq War, and during that time he became the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with over 160 kills officially confirmed by the Department of Defense. Kyle’s bestselling book, American Sniper, was made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle.

On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot dead at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas along with his friend, Chad Littlefield. The assailant, Eddie Ray Routh, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

2. U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Norman Hathcock

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
(Photo: Marine Corps Archives)

During the Vietnam War Hathcock had 93 “confirmed” kills of North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong personnel, which meant they occurred with an officer present (in addition to his spotter). He estimated the number of “unconfirmed” kills to be upwards of 400.  His warfighting career ended when he was wounded by an anti-tank mine in 1969 and sent home.  He later helped establish the USMC Sniper School.

1. Finnish Army Second Lieutenant Simo Häyhä

Nicknamed “White Death,” Simo Häyhä tallied 505 kills, far and away the highest count from any major war. All of Häyhä’s kills of Red Army combatants were accomplished in fewer than 100 days – an average of just over five kills per day – at a time of year with very few daylight hours.  He was wounded late in the war when an explosive bullet shot by a Soviet soldier took off his lower left jaw. He lived a long life, however, dying in a veterans nursing home in 2002 at the age of 96.

When asked if he regretted killing so many people he replied, “I only did my duty, and what I was told to do, as well as I could.”

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This top secret Green Beret unit quietly won the Cold War

Berlin was a dangerous place during the Cold War. A preserved piece of the Wall containing a mural memorializing 146 Germans killed trying to escape communism stands in stark testament.


As the grand central station of East-West espionage, the city was a playground for all sorts of secret agents. And its place in the history of the 20th century far outweighs its size. Indeed, 37 percent of Americans viewed the fall of the Berlin Wall as the single most important event of the 1980s.

That Wall came down after 28 years because Americans in uniform stood as a barrier to Soviet aggression. The vast majority of those GIs were clearly visible. But a small contingent operated behind the scenes, not even acknowledged until long after the Cold War ended. Only this year were they fully and publicly recognized.

Born in the Mid-’50s

Though the Status-of-Forces Agreement signed by all four powers occupying Berlin prohibited elite forces, each country had its own prowling the city. It was 10 years after WWII ended, however, before the U.S. had such a unit formally in place there.

In August 1956, the elite 10th Special Forces Group, based in Bad Tolz, Germany, stationed the secretive 7781 Army Unit (also known as the 39th Special Forces Operational Detachment) in West Berlin. It consisted of six modified detachments that became part of the Headquarters Company of the 6th Infantry Regiment. Each team had six members.

Two years later, the unit was renamed Detachment A and assigned to the Headquarters Company of the U.S. Army Garrison, Berlin. Then in April 1962, it was attached to the Berlin Brigade. Its area of operations was primarily that city, but it could undertake missions elsewhere in Europe.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Top secret spy photos taken by Det-A in the early ’60s showing detail of the Berlin Wall. (Photo: Bob Charest)

“Detachment A was literally in the eye of the Cold War hurricane,” said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. As an unconventional and classified outfit of 90 men (a normal tour of duty was three years), Detachment A carried out clandestine operations.

Originally operating in small cells, by the late 1960s it expanded to 12-man “A” teams. Unit members were as unique as the U.S. Army ever recruited. Many were German or East European refugees who still had families trapped behind the Iron Curtain. In the early years, a significant number were WWII vets, too. Hence they brought much-needed skills along with knowledge of other nations and languages to the unit.

Training and tools of the trade

Physical training was wide-ranging and progressively intense. For instance, winter warfare training in Bavaria consisted of downhill and cross-country skiing equivalent to extreme skiing. Specialized demolition training was required for various targets in Berlin. Some teammates attended the CIA’s specialized demo course at Harvey Point, N.C. Scuba diving was another required skill.

Every month, members made parachute jumps staging out of Tempelhof Air Base in Berlin. Detachment A participated in NATO escape and evasion exercises. Exercises exclusive to Berlin included dead drops, live drops, primary meetings, surveillance and communications. Team members trained with the elite West German Federal Border Guard and Border Protection Group 9, British Special Air Service and special police units.

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
The Det A boys ready to go all cloak and dagger circa ’72. (Photo: Bob Charest)

 

But they also taught an urban course to other 10th SFG personnel, as well as SEAL Team 2 based on Crete. As masters of spy craft, team members carried items reminiscent of a James Bond movie.

Coal filled with C-4 explosives was used to potentially sabotage the rail ring surrounding Berlin. Oneshot cigarette-lighter guns, vials filled with metal shavings for destruction of turbines and noise-suppressed weapons for eliminating targets were all part of the arsenal. The German Walther MPK 9mm SMG that fit in a briefcase was the weapon of choice.

All scuba gear was German-made, including the one-man portable decompression chamber. Every member spoke fluent German and dressed mostly in authentic German civilian clothes. They sometimes carried non-American flash documentation and identification. Dual passports, or dual nationalities, were part of the deception.

Adversaries in this potentially deadly game of cat and mouse included the notorious East German Secret Police (Stasi), Soviet KGB (Committee for State Security) and even Spetsnaz (Russian Special Purpose Forces). Being vigilant of Soviet surveillance was a given. The KGB had members under constant watch and possessed dossiers on everyone in Detachment A. Yet the Green Berets always deceived their adversaries into believing they were an exponentially larger force than they really were.

Mission

During the mid-1970s, the unit’s mission began to evolve. Though the classic Cold War enemy always remained, a new one reared its ugly head in the form of terrorism. The lethal Red Army Faction —a rabid Marxist group targeting the U.S. military starting in 1972—came into play, killing six GIs in all. That meant being prepared to take on terrorists with snipers and SWAT tactics.

“They were very brave men and took on some tough missions,” recalled Sidney Shachnow, who led Detachment A from 1970 to 1974. Still, the Soviet threat hovered over the divided city. In 1978, the unit was tasked by the CIA with digging up several mission sites positioned throughout Berlin for stay-behind operations. Also, to maintain the equipment in them— weapons and demolitions, for example.

In April of 1980 Detachment ‘A’ participated in “Operation Eagle Claw,” the attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 diplomats held captive at the United States Embassy and the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran, Iran. Det-A’s portion of the mission was code-named “Storm Cloud.”

How the last living Doolittle Raider keeps memory of aircrews alive
Patch for Operation Storm Cloud. (Courtesy: Bob Charest)

Detachment ‘A’ was responsible for the pre-mission reconnaissance of the targets by successfully infiltrating a team into Tehran on several occasions and contributed an element to rescue three hostages held in the MFA.

When the first mission was aborted because of a crash involving a C-130 and a CH-53 in the middle of the Iranian desert, a second attempt was planned for later that year. That was cancelled when negotiations proved successful.

Four years later the mission of this unique outfit was deemed unnecessary even though the Cold War was far from over. At the end of 1984, Detachment A was disbanded.

“I knew when I closed the door,” said Eugene Piasecki, the detachment’s last commander, “I would no longer serve in a unit like that.”

Bob Charest, a retired Army master sergeant, served with Detachment A from 1969 to 1972 and 1973 to 1978.

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