Long story short, the 20th Century’s most widely-known British non-commissioned officer was real. Only his name wasn’t Pepper, it was Babington. And he was a Lieutenant General.
Paul McCartney chose the image of Gen. Sir James Melville Babington as the real-life visage of the fictional Sgt. Pepper for the Beatles 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. For most people, being on a Beatles album would be the highlight of their life. Not so for one of the British Empire’s decorated officers.
The Scottish-born Babington came up in the ranks of the British Imperial military through the Boer War of the 19th century, spending decades fighting insurgencies against the Dutch descended residents of the southern tip of Africa. He scored a number of decisive wins there, becoming a feared opponent of the rebels. He left just before the end of the war, which went just about as well as you think it might when a bunch of farmers take on the largest empire on earth.
After laying the smack down on the Boers in South Africa, he did a brief stint in England before being transferred to take command of the New Zealand Defence Force in 1902. After five years, he was sent back to London, where he stayed until World War I broke out.
From there, he took command of the British 23rd Division under the New Army. Described as “elderly but fearless” he spent a lot of effort and Crown funds on outfitting his men, unlike many other commanders. As a result, his men loved him and fought so hard at legendary WWI battles like the Somme and Ypres. He also led men along the fronts that aren’t as talked about in history books, like Italy and the Asiago Plateau.
When he retired, he was Lieutenant General Sir James Melville Babington KCB, KCMG, commander of British Forces in Italy. He died in 1936, and would never know that his face finally achieved worldwide fame, probably even in South Africa.
President Trump knows how to travel in style when he flies around the world. A home theater system, 24 karat gold plated bathroom fixtures, VIP lounge — just to name a few customize fittings that make up “Trump Force One” built in the 1990s.
Powered by two Rolls-Royce RB211 jet engines, Trump’s Boeing 757 is considered the “mini-me” version of his newly earned class of jetliner — Air Force One.
Air Force One — the Air Force callsign created in 1953 to designate the President’s plane — is a Boeing 747 that measures 231 feet long, seats 100 passengers, and races in at a max speed of 700 miles per hour. It comes fully equipped with enough fuel to fly 7,800 miles.
It also houses an onboard aerial refueling tube. Perfect for those extended trips to Russia.
AF-1 comes standard with amenities like a full medical clinic, a full gym and over 80 lines of communication, so he’ll always acquire that perfect internet signal wherever he is.
That’s compared to his Boeing 757 at 155 feet long, seating 43 passengers and with a top speed of 660 miles per hour which he purchased back in 2010 for close 100 hundred million smackeroos. Considerably smaller— Trump’s 757 does come in as the fancier choice but doesn’t come close to having the defensive capabilities like a full circuit of radar jamming software like AF-1 does.
Unlike any previous president, Trump independently owns his own aerial fleet, including the Boeing 757-200 airliner, a Cessna Citation X and two Sikorsky S-76Bs. Now that Donald Trump is President, he’ll have to keep his amazing fleet in the hanger, and we think that’s just awful.
The first annual Miami Vet Fest, a film festival created by Army veteran Bryan Thompson to showcase the work of veteran filmmakers, took place today. The event categories included feature films, short films, documentaries, web series, and commercials.
The following films were nominated for awards. (Winners in each category indicated in bold.)
Best of the Fest
“Birthday” is a short film about a severely wounded Marine and his wife coming home for the first time following months of surgeries and rehabilitation. It is a powerful, realistic and dignified depiction of what it is like for our severely wounded soldiers and their spouses as they face enormously difficult times ahead. “Birthday” is not pro-war and it is not anti-war; it is simply a tale of one injured Marine’s circumstances based on the true stories of many of our wounded service members. While the film is an oftentimes heart-wrenching and difficult reality to watch, it is ultimately a celebration of marital solidarity and the human spirit.
Military Themed Scripted Short
Winner: “Day 39”
“Day 39” is the story of The Kid, a young American soldier on foot patrol in a remote region of Afghanistan.
When an Afghan grandmother, Zarmina, requests help from his platoon for a medical emergency, the Kid is sent into a dark mud hut to assist Doc, a seasoned medic, with a young pregnant woman who has gone into labor. The baby is breech and Doc and the Kid must take extreme measures to try and save the mother and child, despite cultural obstacles inside the hut, and unseen yet ever-present dangers outside.
Also nominated in this category: “This is War,” “Ten Thousand Miles,” and “Absent without Love.”
Military Themed Web Series
“Black” is a high-action web series crafted in the style of the feature film “Act of Valor,” the highly successful video game franchise “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” and the hit Fox Television series “24.” The first season was shot over 5 days in two states for only $10,000. The series was created by writer/director Frank T. Ziede and features real military vets.
Also nominated in this category: “Drunken Debrief”
Military Themed Unscripted
Also nominated in this category: “Letters: The Hero’s Journey,” “Steel Leaves,” “Valor: Jack Ensch,” “Valor: Ralph Rush,” “The Captain: A Bond of Brotherhood,” “We Answered the Call,” “Normandy: A World Apart,” “Return to Iwo Jima,” and “Three Miles From Safety.”
Veteran Created Production
Winner: “Please Hold”
“Please Hold” is a film about an Afghanistan and Iraq Combat Veteran named Jacob, who, while trying to pursue the next chapter in his life post-military service, is finding it incredibly difficult to get the help he needs in dealing with his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. After serving four tours as a United States Marine in the Middle East; Jacob has come back home to find an apathetic society who seems almost oblivious to the true trials and tribulations that he and his fellow veterans experience in these seemingly never-ending wars. The film invites the audience on a journey that many veterans experience while interacting with different segments of our society as they try to reintegrate themselves back to a life they have long forgotten and depicts the hardships and frustrations that many veterans feel when they come back home.
Also nominated in this category: “To Those Who Serve,” “Brody.”
US Military Themed International
Winner: “Who’s Afraid of the Big Black Wolf?”
In 1944, somewhere in occupied Central Europe, Who’s Afraid of the Big Black Wolf tells the story of a multicultural triangle between a little shepherd and two officers from the opposite sides in a sensual and emotional Alpine story of two tunes and one whistle.
Military Themed Ad/PSA/Music Video
Winner: “Naptown Funk”
Also nominated in this category: “Marine Corp Energy Ethos,” “Still Building a Legacy,” and “Stand.”
Miami Vet Fest was possible thanks to the support of the following sponsors:
Think of a military helicopter. Think of it in combat. Is it a Black Hawk dropping off operators in urban combat? A Chinook picking troops up from a remote ridge or rooftop? Maybe you’re old school and you see a Piasecki H-25 or H-19 Chickasaw from the Korean War. But few people will think all the way back to World War II when German and American helicopters all served on the front lines.
The Sikorsky R-4 helicopter was one of America’s only helicopters to see active service in World War II, acting predominantly as a rescue and transportation asset in the China-Burma-India Theater.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo)
America’s military helicopter program was largely carried by two companies, both prominent helicopter manufacturers today who, oddly enough, are now competing to create the Army’s next generation of vertical lift aircraft. Sikorsky’s founder, Igor Sikorsky, was a Russian-American immigrant who wanted to help his adopted country fight in World War II.
He received financial backing from friends to start manufacturing aircraft, predominantly fixed-wing planes, for the U.S. military. But, off to the side, he was developing new helicopter designs including the VS-500, an aircraft that used one large rotor blade to generate lift and another, smaller rotor blade mounted on a long boom to generate anti-torque. This is the same blade configuration now used on everything from the UH-60 to the AH-64 Apache.
The VS-300 prototype quickly gave way the R-4, a two-seater helicopter that would serve most predominantly with the U.S. Army but also the Navy, Coast Guard, and the Royal Air Force. It first began rolling off the production line in 1942 and was primarily used for observation and to ferry supplies.
The German-made Flettner 282 helicopter was employed against Allied naval assets near the end of World War II, but was then captured by Allied troops. In this photo, it’s undergoing testing with the U.S. military.
But, the helicopter was also employed in two daring rescue missions in the challenging terrain of the China-Burma-India Theater. The helicopters could just barely make it through the high mountain passes that planes could easily fly over, but the rotary aircraft could land in small clearings that were impossible for planes to stop in or take off from.
Other helicopters were in development during the war. The Bell Aircraft Corporation, later known as Bell Helicopters and now Bell Flight, created the Bell Model 30 that would see limited use on the home front, but it would not be deployed overseas.
Meanwhile, Germany’s helicopter program was much more advanced than America’s or the Allies’. They debuted experimental helicopter designs before the war and even flew prototypes in front of adoring crowds for weeks in 1938.
The Focke-Angelis Fa-223 helicopter was a German machine popular during the war. It had a heavy lift capability for the day that allowed it to re-position artillery in forward positions.
(U.S. Air Force)
This pre-war research led to the Fa-223, the “Dragon.” Five types were planned with missions from anti-submarine, to search and rescue, to cargo carrying. But it really predicted future developments when it was used to recover crashed aircraft and to move artillery batteries to inaccessible mountaintops where they would have greater range and better defenses.
Meanwhile, the Flettner-282 Hummingbird was designed to seek out enemy submarines at sea and other threats. It was completed late in the war with early models going through testing in 1943. But the first 24 were completed in time for limited deployments to the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Aegean Sea.
Russia is doubling down in its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In an effort to prop up the Syrian government, and secure its own interests in the region, Russia is establishing its “most significant” military foothold in the region since the days of the Cold War.
As part of this push, Russia has taken over the main international airport in Damascus and is airlifting tons of supplies, soldiers, and armaments including tanks into the country.
At the same time, Russians are building another base in Latakia, the ancestreal heartland of Assad.
So far, Moscow has deployed around a half dozen T-90 battle tanks in Syria, The New York Times reports citing American military specialists. The tanks are currently being stationed at airfields throughout the country.
Reuters reports that Russia has placed seven T-90s by an airfield in Latakia. The tanks are currently defensively deployed, but that could change as Russia continues to fly more equipment and personnel into the country.
The T-90 tank is Russia’s second-most recent tank. It first entered service in the Russia military in 1992, and Russia began exporting the vehicle in 2004. As of 2007, Russia only had around 200 T-90 tanks within its armed forces. As such, the deployment of over a half dozen of the tanks to Syria is a fairly large move.
According to Army Technology, the T-90 is heavily armed with a wide variety of rounds. The tank comes with one main turret that can fire armor piercing rounds, high-explosive anti-tank rounds, and shrapnel projectiles. In addition, the vehicle has an anti-tank guided missile system and a mounted machine gun.
Defensively, the tank has both conventional and reactive armor shielding as well as various jamming tools that make it difficult to enemy’s to lock onto the tanks position.
Altogether, the T-90 is an extremely capable vehicle. Aside from Russia’sbrand new T-14 Armata tank, which has yet to enter mass procurement, it is Russia’s latest and most capable battle vehicle.
In addition to the T-90s, the Times reports that Russia has also moved in howitzers, armored personnel carriers, and artillery into Latakia.
One veteran will receive the medals earned during Vietnam thanks to the nephew of his late battle buddy.
Three years ago, Curtis Sidwell of Watson, Illinois decided to research his uncle Donald Sidwell’s experience in Vietnam. Donald passed in 2009, and never shared his experiences behind enemy lines with his family.
While searching through his uncle’s effects, Curtis found that Donald had written two letters to the wife of a man named Phillip Taylor. In the first letter, Sidwell had written the worst news any friend might have to deliver to a loved one. Donald’s letter said that Taylor had been killed in a helicopter crash. The second letter corrected the first. It wasn’t true; her husband was not dead. Sidwell had been misinformed. Taylor was in fact, alive.
Stars and Stripes described the situation in an article titled, “A Whisker”:
“Severely injured during a firefight south of Pineapple Forest on Oct. 18, 1968, Taylor waited for an medevac chopper to transport him to a hospital in Chu Lai. When a chopper came, it took fire as it hovered over a row of trees, went into a tailspin, and then crashed. Taylor was thrown from the chopper, and was the only survivor of that accident.”
Curtis Sidwell was able to track down Taylor, and during a phone conversation Taylor recounted his ‘lone survivor’ incident. He also said that one of his superiors had promised he would receive a citation for how he’d conducted himself. Sadly, decades had gone by and no such thing happened.
“You could tell in his voice that he was bothered about that,” Curtis said in an interview with The Edn.“Knowing the day that Philip had and what he went through for the United States of America and for us, it only seemed fair to get him his medals.”
Sidwell embarked on a three-year effort to ensure Taylor got the recognition he was due, and his work paid off in the form of Taylor receiving a Purple Heart, an Army Commendation Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Star awards, a Combat Infantryman Badge, a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, a Sharpshooter Badge, and a Marksman Badge. According to The Edn, a review is underway at Fort Knox for a Bronze Star related to Taylor’s bravery.
“It’s the least I can do,” said Sidwell. “And I think my uncle would be tickled if he could know what I’ve done.”
Don’t like yelling in formation? Well, you can blame one soldier from World War II for all those early morning sing-alongs.
Pvt. Willie Duckworth was a young soldier at Fort Slocum, New York in May, 1944, whose unit was dragging their feet during a march. To pep his brothers up, he began calling a chant to hep the men keep in step and to give them more energy.
The chant was an instant hit on base. The next year, the Army worked with recording engineers to make a V-Disc, a special recording distributed during World War II to aid morale. It was known as the “Duckworth Chant,” on base, but it was recorded and distributed as “Sound Off.”
Many of the traits of today’s calls are apparent in this first cadence. There is a back and forth between the caller and the formation, the lines are catchy, and Jody even makes an appearance (at 2:15 in the video above).
We first meet the brave Delta Force operator as he’s undercover, lurking around the city of Mogadishu with his eyes fixed on potential targets, gathering info. That’s a pretty badass thing to do and take a lot of balls in our opinion.
The only backstory we get from the film is that Hoot uses his trigger finger as his safety.
Maybe that’s all we need.
3. There would have been more aerial target practice
Remember when that Black Hawk helicopter picked up Hoot in the middle of the desert and then he shot that wild pig looking thing off-screen? That was awesome!
Well, we bet that if Hoot were the star, that scene would have been a set up for a dope aerial-to-ground shootout with the Somali militia — just sayin’.
2. He’s the most interesting character in the film
We understand that film is based on the real raids that took place, but take a step back from that, and we bet everyone can agree that we all felt like Hoot was always cool and calm even though the troops faced an uncertain future.
Shout out to the cast and crew for making this character so compelling.
Coast Guard rescue swimmers are rarely the subjects of much media attention, that 2006 Kutcher-Costner film notwithstanding. But this tiny cadre of athletes, typically numbering between 300 and 400, conduct some of the highest risk, highest-stakes rescues around the world.
Remember when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico? One part of that crisis response was the rescue swimmers who helped airlift out survivors and establish triage to save all the lives they could. Over 100 people jumped from Deepwater Horizon or were blown off the rig into the water. Tragically, 11 died, but over 100 survived.
They jump into the water from helicopters or planes and then swim into burning ships or complicated, underwater cave systems. They can save ship crews in hurricanes and downed aviators in combat if they get the call. And they can even fight any of their rescuees underwater for control if a panicking survivor tries to resist.
The video embedded above shows a group of these swimmers going through the grueling Coast Guard school to earn their place in the lifesaving profession.
But while the video and most descriptions of their duties focus on the extreme physical requirements for these Coast Guardsmen, equally important is their ability to maintain and troubleshoot their own gear and the gear on their aircraft. This can include everything from parachutes to oxygen systems, pumps to protective clothing, and cargo to flotation equipment.
And they are expected to attain and maintain medical qualifications, because they could be the only emergency technician available for crucial minutes or hours. This requires an EMT qualification at a minimum.
And, finally, they have to be comfortable working on a variety of aircraft. Their most iconic ride is the Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk, that distinctive orange and white beauty based on the Navy’s SH-60 Seahawk and the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk.
But they can also be assigned to the HH-65C Dolphin or, more rarely, fixed-wing aircraft.
When Johnny Cash took the stage at California’s San Quentin State Prison on Feb. 24, 1969, one of the songs he would record there was destined to become one of Cash’s most iconic songs, as well as one of his biggest hits: “A Boy Named Sue.” It held the top spot on the country charts for five straight weeks and it was his biggest hit, climbing to the second slot on the Billboard 100 chart.
“The Man in Black” was a veteran of the United States Air Force, a morse code operator who spent much of his career spying on the Soviet Union. In fact, Cash was the first person in the West to learn that Stalin died in 1953. As a matter of fact, his distinctive facial scar was the result of good ol’ military medicine.
“A Boy Named Sue” is the story of a boy who was abandoned by his dad at a young age — after giving the boy a female name. Sue finds his dad at a bar years later and gets into a pretty nasty brawl with the old man. That’s when his dad reveals he named the boy Sue so as to make Sue tough even when his dad wasn’t around to raise him.
The song about a boy trying to kill his father probably resonated with Cash’s audience that day.
The author of the song was also a veteran. Shel Silverstein, beloved around the world for his poetry, humor, and illustrations, was drafted by the U.S. Army to fight in Korea — but by the time he arrived the war was over. He was assigned to Stars and Stripes in the Pacific, part of the new peacetime Army. And thus a legendary military writer was born to the veteran community.
It was Silverstein who penned Cash’s now-famous song about the boy with a girl’s name, although Cash put his own twist on it. During the original San Quentin recording, Cash added the line, “I’m the son of a bitch that named you Sue!” In Silverstein’s original writing, there were no curse words used. Even so, the “son of a bitch” line was censored out of the album.
It’s winter blockbuster season, and this year, you don’t even have to brave the snow or leave the comfort of your couch.
Ryan Reynolds stars in 6 Underground, which centers around six individuals from around the globe who have been chosen to join a tight-knit team on a mission to topple a dictator. And though they all have, you know, a particular set of skills, they’re mainly there to escape their pasts—by faking their deaths.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to switch whatever you’re watching right now—it’s a Friday afternoon, we know you’ve got Netflix open already—these are the six reasons you should settle in right now for some classic high-stakes action:
1. Michael Bay is back!
What can we say? We love action movies, and no one delivers like Michael Bay.
True to form, 6 Underground is back in the director’s seat of a high octane action flick, littered with explosions, car chases, and enough infrastructure damage to remind you that it’s pretty nice living in the real world.
2. Call outs specifically for the military community
In the beginning of the film you can see “The Operator” wearing a Black Rifle Coffee Company shirt, and in a different scene he’s wearing a Bottle Breacher shirt. It’s the little things that make his character authentic.
We’re all about authenticity with military characters, and these are the details that really make his background—even more than the training and badass moves—shine through. Civilians may not notice, but we definitely appreciate these call outs.
3. Their cast got put through their military paces/training
Of course, there was plenty of military training involved! With guns and explosions dominating the film, it’s no surprise that the case trained with one of the best—Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke, whose fascinating life story rivals those of the film’s characters.
The actors spent several weeks with Adeleke, and Corey Hawkins, who portrays “The Operator,” describes the grueling obstacle courses Remi put them through on top of weapons and ammunition training.
4. Ryan Reynolds at his finest
The man who brought you two cinematic versions of Daredevil is perfect in Michael Bay’s combo of badassery, high-stakes, and comedic timing. If you weren’t already expecting one-liners, you are now.
We have no idea how he hasn’t managed to work with Michael Bay until now, but this is an action movie match made in heaven.
5. The bad guy gets what’s coming to him
Of course you saw this coming, but we always like to see the hero overcome evil. He’s not based in reality, but, you know, that never mattered to other action movies — remember Schwarzenegger’s nemesis in Commando from the fictional country Val Verde?
Call us old-fashioned. We don’t care. We’ll be munching away on popcorn watching some sweet, sweet justice.
6. Did we mention explosions?
Explosions in explosions in explosions. Explosion-ception.
A Belgian Air Force F-16 has been destroyed and another aircraft damaged when the M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon on board a third F-16 was accidentally fired on the ground by maintenance personnel at Florennes Air Base in the Walloon area of Southern Belgium on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.
Multiple reports indicate that a mechanic servicing the parked aircraft accidentally fired the six-barreled 20mm Vulcan cannon at close range to two other parked F-16s. Photos show one F-16AM completely destroyed on the ground at Florennes. Two maintenance personnel were reported injured and treated at the scene in the bizarre accident.
In a nearby hangar, positioned at the extension of the flight line, a technician was working on an F-16. It is said that by accident the six-barrel 20mm Vulcan M61A-1 cannon of that F-16 was activated. Apparently, the cannon was loaded and some ammunition hit the FA128. This aircraft had just been refuelled and prepared together with another F-16 for an upcoming afternoon sortie. After impact of the 20mm bullets, FA128 exploded instantly and damaged two other F-16s.
The airbase at Florennes is home to the Belgian 2nd Tactical Wing which comprises the 1st ‘Stingers’ Squadron and the 350th Squadron.
A report on F-16.net said that, “An F-16 (#FA-128) was completely destroyed while a second F-16 received collateral damage from the explosions. Two personnel were wounded and treated at the scene. Injuries sustained were mainly hearing related from the explosion.”
The news report published late Oct.12, 2018, went on to say, “The F-16 was parked near a hangar when it was accidentally fired upon from another F-16 undergoing routine ground maintenance. Several detonations were heard and thick black smoke was seen for miles around. Civilian firefighters have even been called in to help firefighters at the airbase to contain the incident. About thirty men were deployed on site and several ambulances were dispatched. The Aviation Safety Directorate (ASD) is currently investigating the exact cause.”
The accident is quite weird: it’s not clear why the technician was working on an armed aircraft that close to the flight line. Not even the type of inspection or work has been unveiled. For sure it must have been a check that activated the gun even though the aircraft was on the ground: the use of the onboard weapons (including the gun) is usually blocked by a fail-safe switch when the aircraft has the gear down with the purpose of preventing similar accidents.
A report ten days after the incident said the search for the missing weapon was called off. The missile was never located. “All the theoretical impact points of the missile have now been carefully searched,” said Commander of the Estonian Air Force Col. Riivo Valge in an EDF press release.
“Over the past two weeks, we employed three helicopters, five ground patrols and fifty-strong units of personnel to undertake the search on the ground. We also got help from the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Centre and used Air Force drones in the search,” Col. Valge added.
“Despite our systematic approach and actions the location of the impacted missile has not been identified and all probable locations have been ruled out as of now,” Col. Valge concluded in the Aug. 17, 2018 media release ten days after the missile was accidentally fired.
Because strict weapons safety protocols, especially with live ammunition, are in place during ground handling it is extremely rare for maintenance personnel to accidentally discharge an aircraft’s weapon.
This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.