John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam - We Are The Mighty
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John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam

Over the weekend, real-estate mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said he did not like “losers,” like US Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), in reference to McCain’s 2008 presidential election loss to President Barack Obama.


“I never liked him after that, because I don’t like losers,” Trump said.

He then dug into McCain’s military career. Trump said the US Navy veteran imprisoned for nearly six years in Vietnam was not a “war hero.” He quickly caveated that statement.

“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Photo: US Navy

Amid the backlash, Trump has accused the media of taking his remarks about McCain’s military record out of context in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

McCain has talked and written extensively about his service and his experience as a prisoner of war.

On October 26, 1967, then-US Navy Lieutenant Commander John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Vietnam.

“I reacted automatically the moment I took the hit and saw my wing was gone. I radioed, ‘I’m hit,’ reached up, and pulled the ejection seat handle. I struck part of the airplane, breaking my left arm, my right arm in three places, and my right knee, and I was briefly knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection.”

Writing in 2000 memoir “Faith Of My Fathers,” this is how McCain describes the moment he became a prisoner of war for nearly six years. He continues:

“I landed in the middle of the lake (Truc Bach Lake), in the middle of the city, in the middle of the day. An escape attempt would have been challenging.”

Wearing approximately 50 pounds of gear and not being able to use either of his broken arms to deploy his life vest, McCain sank to the bottom of the shallow lake. He managed to inflate his life vest by pulling the plastic toggle with his teeth and shot to the surface. Floating in the lake, McCain fell in and out of consciousness until a group of Vietnamese villagers pulled him out of the water.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
McCain being pulled from Trúc Bạch Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Several hundred Vietnamese gathered around me, shouting wildly, stripping my clothes off, spitting on me, kicking and striking me repeatedly. When they had finished removing my gear and clothes, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I looked down and saw that my right foot was resting next to my left knee, at a 90-degree angle … Someone smashed a rifle butt into my shoulder, breaking it. Someone else stuck a bayonet in my ankle and groin.”

Before the angry mob could do more harm, Vietnamese soldiers arrived and transported McCain to Hoa Lo, a French-built prison.

“As the massive steel doors loudly clanked shut behind me, I felt a deeper dread than I have ever felt since … for the next few days I drifted in and out of consciousness. When awake, I was periodically taken to another room for interrogation. “

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

McCain was accused of being a war criminal and tortured until he shared classified military information in exchange for medical attention. As he refused to reveal more than his name, rank, and date of birth, his condition steadily worsened.

“For four days I was taken back and forth to different rooms. Unable to use my arms, I was fed twice a day by a guard. I vomited after the meals, unable to hold down anything but a little tea. I remember being desperately thirsty all the time, but I could drink only when the guard was present for my twice-daily feedings.”

McCain, who was forced to lay in a puddle of his own vomit and other bodily wastes, became feverish and lost consciousness frequently and for longer periods of time.

One day the camp officer, who the PO Ws called Bug and who McCain referred to as “a mean son of b—-,” entered his filthy cell to examine his injuries.

“Are you going to take me to the hospital? I asked.

“No,” he replied. “It’s too late.”

“Take me to the hospital and I’ll get well.”

“It’s too late,” he repeated.

Hopeless, McCain assumed we would die and began mentally prepping himself of his approaching death; but a few hours later, Bug rushed into his cell and shouted: “Your father is a big admiral. Now we take you to the hospital.”

“A couple of days later I found myself lying in a filthy room about twenty by twenty feet, lousy with mosquitoes and rats. Every time it rained, an inch of mud and water would pool on the floor … I received no treatment for my injuries. No one even bothered to wash the grime off me.”

Meanwhile, McCain’s interrogators continued to pressure him for more information and threatened to terminate his medical treatment if he did not cooperate.

“I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron. When asked to identify future targets, I simply recited the names of a number of North Vietnamese cities that had already been bombed.”

Since McCain could not feed himself, a young boy was assigned to feeding him. The boy forced three spoonfuls of food down McCain’s throat twice a day. There were usually leftovers, which the boy helped himself to in front of McCain.

Two months into his captivity, McCain underwent an operation on his leg.

“The Vietnamese filmed the operation, I haven’t a clue why. Regrettably, the operation wasn’t much of a success. The doctors severed all the ligaments on one side of my knee, which has never fully recovered.”

Shortly after his surgery, McCain was moved into a cell with two other American Air Force POWs. They took care of each other and McCain notes that his condition improved.

The darkest moments of his capture occur when guards place him in solitary.

“It’s an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.”

A year later, several guards brought a resistant McCain to the camp commander in order to formally charge him of his war crimes.

“Knowing that I was in serious trouble and that nothing I did or said would make matters any worse, I replied: ‘F— you.'”

McCain was beat up, tied up for a night, and then dragged to an empty room for 4 days.

“At two-to-three intervals, the guards returned to administer beatings … still I felt they were being careful not to kill or permanently injure me.”

The worst beating came on the third night.

“I lay in my own blood and waste, so tired and hurt that I could not move…he slammed his fist into my face and knocked me across the room towards the waste bucket. I fell on the bucket, hitting it with my left arm, and breaking it again. They left me lying on the floor, moaning from the stabbing pain in my refractured arm.”

It was after this night, that McCain tried to commit suicide twice. He was stopped by the guards and received more beatings. Shortly after, he confessed to whatever war crimes he was accused of and was left alone in his cell for 2 weeks.

“They were the worst two weeks of my life … I was ashamed … I shook, as if my disgrace were a fever.”

This was 2 years into McCain’s almost 6 year imprisonment. He was released as a POW in March of 1973.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

These book excerpts are from John McCain’s memoir “Faith Of My Fathers.” 

More from Business Insider:

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

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This is who wins in a dogfight between the French Rafale and the Eurofighter

While the F-35 has been in the headlines and the F-22 is perhaps the most dominant jet in the sky, there are some other advanced jets in the air that are not from the U.S., Russia or China. Two of them are the French-designed Dassault Rafale and the multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon.


John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
A Royal Air Force Typhoon in 2012. Peter Gronemann/Flickr photo

The Rafale is a purely French design. The French did face the challenge of coming up with a fighter meant to not only replace older Mirage fighters for the French air force, it also had to operate from the French navy’s aircraft carrier, the Charles De Gaulle, replacing aging F-8 Crusaders and the venerable Super Etendard.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Rafale has a top speed of 1,190 miles per hour, a range of 1,150 miles, can carry almost 21,000 pounds of ordnance, and is equipped with a 30mm cannon. Among the ordnance it can carry are Mica air-to-air missiles, the ASMP nuclear cruise missile, the Exocet anti-ship missile, laser-guided bombs, rocket pods, and various dumb bombs.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
A French Dassault Rafale performs a touch-and-go landing. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Denny Cantrell)

The Eurofighter Typhoon, on the other hand, is a joint design primarily from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. Those same countries teamed up to create the Panavia Tornado, an aircraft that had air-defense, strike, and “Wild Weasel” versions. The Eurofighter team was a bit larger as this time, Spain joined in.

MilitaryFactory.com notes that the Typhoon has a range of 1,802 miles and a top speed of 1,550 miles per hour. It can carry 16,500 pounds of ordnance, and has a 27mm cannon. It carries a very wide array of weapons, including the AIM-120 AMRAAM, the AIM-132 ASRAAM, the IRIS-T air-to-air missile, the MDBA Meteor air-to-air missile, the S-225 air-to-air missile, the Brimstone anti-tank missile, the AGM-88 HARM, the ALARM, laser-guided bombs, dumb bombs, and even land-attack missiles like the Storm Shadow and KEPD 350.

Perhaps the only thing the Eurofighter can’t carry is the kitchen sink.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
A bomb-laden Royal Air Force Typhoon F.2 fighter takes off for an evening mission here June 3 during Green Flag 08-07. During Green Flag, the RAF proved the Typhoons’ air-to-ground capabilities and combat readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Which plane is more likely to win in a head-to-head fight? Given the wider variety of ordnance, including long-range air-to-air missiles like the S-225 and Meteor, the Eurofighter has an edge – at least when it comes to land bases. The Rafale, though, can operate from an aircraft carrier, and that gives France a very potent naval aviation arm.

Check out the video below to see how these planes stack up.

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Why alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl doesn’t want a jury trial

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has decided to be tried by a judge — not a military jury — on charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan.


Bergdahl’s lawyers told the court in a brief filing last week that their client chose trial by judge alone, rather than a panel of officers. He faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy at his trial scheduled for late October at Fort Bragg. The latter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Bowe Bergdahl in a photo after his capture by Taliban insurgents. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Defense attorneys declined to comment on the decision. But they previously questioned whether Bergdahl could get a fair trial by jury because of negative comments President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail.

Earlier this year the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance rejected a defense request to dismiss the case over Trump’s criticism of Bergdahl.

Potential jurors had already received a questionnaire including questions about their commander in chief, but defense attorneys weren’t allowed to ask jurors if they voted for Trump.

Rachel VanLandingham, a former Air Force lawyer not involved in the case, said defense attorneys likely felt limited in how they could probe juror opinions.

“They lost their ability to ask all the questions they wanted to ask, one of those being: ‘Did you vote for President Trump?'” said VanLandingham, who teaches at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. “They felt that was very important … for fleshing out whether a panel member could be fair.”

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Former President Obama and Bowe Bergdahl’s parents. (Photo from the Obama White House Archives)

Beyond concerns about jurors, she said Nance has so far demonstrated his objectivity.

“His pretrial rulings have shown that he’s fair,” she said.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban shortly after he left his remote post in 2009. The soldier from Idaho has said he intended to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.

He was freed from captivity in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Former President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans who claimed the trade jeopardized the nation’s security.

Bergdahl has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base pending the outcome of his case.

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Russia to unleash ‘Satan 2’ mega-nuke

Russia has unveiled images of a new super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile that media reports claim could wipe out France, Britain or the entire state of Texas.


Dubbed the “RS-28 Sarmat” but carrying the NATO codename SS-X-30 “Satan 2,” Russia is the only country to really deploy any type of super-heavy ICBM. The intention behind those missiles was to take out American ICBMs before the National Command Authority could order a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

 

The first such missile Moscow had of this type was the R-36, known to NATO as the “SS-9 Scarp.” The Scarp had a range of up to 9,600 miles on land targets, and could also be used as the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, with a range of up to 24,850 miles. It carried a single nuclear warhead, but that warhead had a yield of 18 or 25 megatons, based on the version of the missile.

The next super-heavy Russian ICBM was the R-36M, known as the SS-18 “Satan.” Some versions of this missile carried the single 25 megaton warhead. Others carried up to 10 multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs. With a range of almost 10,000 miles, this missile was bad news for whoever it targeted.

The RS-28/SS-X-30 reportedly has a shorter range (about 6,200 miles), but it has the ability to carry as many as 15 MIRVs. It can swap out the MIRVs for a single 40-megaton warhead.

That would make it the most powerful warhead on an in-service missile. The Soviet Union did detonate a 50-megaton warhead, the Tsar Bomba, in 1961 on Novaya Zemlya. The Tsar Bomba was delivered by a modified Tu-95 “Bear” bomber, but was only an experimental system.

The closest an American missile came to the punch that these Soviet or Russian super-heavy ICBMs had was with the LGM-118 Peacekeeper missile. The Reagan-era Peacekeeper (also known as the MX) had a range of 8,700 miles, and could carry up to 10 MIRVs — usually equipped with W87 warheads capable of delivering a 475-kiloton yield. The Peacekeeper was deactivated in 2005 in accordance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

The SS-X-30 is slated to enter service in 2020, replacing the SS-18.

Makes the NATO codename of “Satan 2” seem pretty appropriate, doesn’t it?

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Watch the Air Force launch a Minuteman missile

The U.S. Air Force released test-launched an unarmed Minuteman III missile Feb. 25 in order to test the reliability of the Cold War-era, nuclear-capable weapons. The Minuteman III is an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.


“This is the second ICBM launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the past 5 days and while it may seem routine, a tremendous amount of effort is required to safely assess the current performance and validate the security of the nation’s fielded ICBM force,” said Col. J. Christopher Moss, 30th Space Wing commander. “Our teams are made of dedicated Airmen who make a difference for the Air Force and the nation and I am proud to be a part of this team.”

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
A Minuteman III missile streaks across the sky in a 2013 test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales

The tested missile flew 4,000 miles over the Pacific to a test area in the Marshall Islands which opened up speculation that the missile test may have been a reminder to North Korea that the U.S. can hit it at any time. North Korea recently launched a failed satellite that some say was a camouflaged test of its own ballistic missiles and a threat to the U.S.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
A rocket lifts off from its launch pad in Musudan-ri, North Korea (DPRK State Media)

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said the test was necessary to remind rival nations that the aging U.S. nuclear missiles are still very capable, but he didn’t mention North Korea.

“We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable,” he told journalists at the launch. “And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.”

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Photo: US Air Force via Wikipedia

Each Minuteman III missile can carry up to three nuclear warheads which each strike different targets. Each warhead packs a 300-500 kiloton yield, about 20-33 times the strength of the bomb that struck Hiroshima. The missile tested Feb. 25 carried a test version of the re-entry vehicles which steer nuclear warheads.

The Air Force has had to reduce its number of ICBMs to meet the requirements of the New START treaty which caps the number at 400 armed missiles and 50 unarmed reserves. The Minuteman III missile is the only U.S. land-based ICBM currently in service.

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Here are the best military photos for the week of Feb. 25

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


AIR FORCE:

An A-10C Thunderbolt II taxies down the flightline during the 2017 Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 12, 2017. During the course, aircrews practiced ground and flight training to enable civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and Air Force pilots of current fighter aircraft to fly safely in formations together.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski

An F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief assigned to Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing squeezes into the intake of on an F-16 during a preflight inspection at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 2, 2017. The 180th FW brought their F-16s and about 150 maintainers, pilots, and operations specialists to MacDill AFB for a two-week training exercise.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Nic Kuetemeyer

ARMY:

Ukrainian combat training center engineers detonate an explosive charge to breach a door before entering a mock building as part of training with Canadian and U.S. engineers to build the Ukrainian’s breaching skills, at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, near Yavoriv, Ukraine, on Feb. 24, enabling them to teach those skills to Ukrainian army units who will rotate through the IPSC.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

A Royal Thai Army Soldier from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry demonstrates how to quickly dress a chicken for cooking in Korat, Thailand, Feb. 20. Exercise Cobra Gold is the largest Theater Security Cooperation exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and is an integral part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen engagement in the region.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Army photo by Major Kelly S Haux

NAVY:

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (Feb. 13, 2017) Steelworker 1st Class William Peacey, left, and Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Steven Fenske, both assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1, conduct pre-dive checks during diver qualification training at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. UCT-1 provides a capability for construction, inspection, repair and maintenance of ocean facilities in support of Naval operations.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Simmons

RAMSUND, Norway (Feb. 14, 2017) Sailors assigned to Platoon 802, the mine countermeasure platoon of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, conduct dismounted counter-improvised explosive device operations. EODMU-8 is participating in Exercise Arctic Specialist 2017, a multinational explosive ordnance disposal exercise conducted in the austere environments of northern Norway.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Seth Wartak

MARINE CORPS:

Recruits with 2nd Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, spar during Marine Corps Martial Arts training at Leatherneck Square at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program helps to create the warrior ethos by utilizing armed and unarmed techniques from various styles of martial arts.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Richard Currier

A Marine with the Maritime Raid Force climbs a caving ladder attached to an MH-60 Seahawk during a helocast training evolution near the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) afloat in the Indian Ocean, Nov. 28, 2016. The training consisted of Marines jumping out of CH-53 Super Stallions with a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, which simulated the MRF team traveling a long distance before being dropped in the ocean to continue their mission using a CRRC.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado

COAST GUARD:

Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Richey, a crewmember at Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor, mans an M240B machine gun on the bow of a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat during a security escort into Portsmouth Harbor the morning of, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. The Motor Lifeboat crew escorted the Gibraltar-flagged LNG tanker Polar into a terminal in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Richey, a crewmember at Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor, mans an M240B machine gun on the bow of a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat during a security escort into Portsmouth Harbor the morning of, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. The Motor Lifeboat crew escorted the Gibraltar-flagged LNG tanker Polar into a terminal in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

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US special operators, artillery, gunships support Raqqa offensive

United States Special Forces have been deployed on several fronts around the Syrian city of al-Raqqa, supporting the offensive of the Kurdish militias and other allied factions laying siege to the city, according to a British war monitor.


US troops are deployed to the north, east, and west of al-Raqqa, considered the capital of the caliphate of the Islamic State, and includes US special ops units, US Marines artillery (155mm/M-777’s), and US Apache helicopter gunships supporting the advance of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led armed alliance that launched an offensive to retake the city, according to the UK’s Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The US-led coalition’s aircraft are also providing the Kurdish fighters with intensive air support.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Syrian Democratic Forces march in Raqqa in 2016

Currently, there are clashes between the SDF and the US Special Forces on one side against IS, on the other, at the former base of Division 17, North of al-Raqqa; also on the outskirts of the Haraqala area and around the neighborhood of al-Jazra in the West.

SOHR said the SDF controls 70 percent of the al-Meshlab area, on the eastern side of al-Raqqa, where progress is being hampered by IS snipers and mines, although the Kurdish militia stated on Wednesday it completely controlled the area.

There are no civilians left in this district since they were evacuated days ago by the radical fighters, who have dug trenches and tunnels to defend the area, the NGO said.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

For their part, the SDF reported in their Telegram account that they have managed to break into the neighborhood of al-Jazra in the western part of al-Raqqa.

On June 5th, this force launched an offensive on the city.

This offensive comes on the third anniversary of the proclamation of its caliphate on June 29, 2014, by IS in Syria and Iraq.

Currently, there are some 500 US troops deployed in Syria.

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This lone Soviet tank was ready to fight the entire Nazi invasion of Russia

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany broke its non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, invading the Russian-held area of Poland. Nazi tanks streamed across the border between the two occupiers, arriving in the Lithuanian town of Raseiniai the next day.


The resistance there almost threw a wrench in the entire Nazi war plan.

As the Nazis advanced on the town, Soviet mechanized divisions moved to defend it. The local tank garrisons happened to be equipped with Kliment-Voroshilov tanks, an advanced armored vehicle invulnerable to almost anything the German infantry could throw at them.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
A Kliment-Voroshilov Tank, taken out by German infantry.

 

Anti-tank weapons were useless. The Nazis tried everything to disable the KV tanks — other tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft guns, but nothing worked. Even the vaunted sticky bomb couldn’t stop them.

According to the Russian Daily newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets, German tanks and infantry advanced on the city but suddenly, well behind enemy lines, one Soviet KV tank drove into the middle of road and stopped — for a full day.

As this day wore on, the KV started tearing up Nazi anti-tank weapons and heavy machine guns as “armor piercing” rounds bounced right off the tank’s skin. The Russians even took out 12 trucks. German engineers threw satchel charges at the tank, with little effect.

 

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
German guns, destroyed by the lone KV at Raseiniai. Photo from the personal archive of Maxim Kolomiets.

 

According to MK, Nazi battle group commander Colonel Erhard Raus wrote in his account of the action that an 88-mm anti-aircraft gun couldn’t even put a dent in the KV tank’s armor.

“… It turned out that the crew and the tank commander had nerves of steel. They calmly watched the approach of anti-aircraft guns, without interfering with it, as long as it didn’t not pose any threat to the tank. In addition, the closer the anti-aircraft gun, the easier it is to destroy. A critical time in the duel of nerves, when settlement began to prepare the gun to fire. While gunners, nervous, bridged and loaded the gun, the tank tower turned and fired the first shot! Every shot hit the target. The heavily damaged antiaircraft gun fell into the ditch.”

The KV harassed the attacking Germans throughout the night and by morning, the full force of the German infantry attacked the lone KV tank. The tank struck down as many as possible with its machine guns, but it wasn’t enough. The troops were finally able to throw grenades down the tank’s hatches and kill the crew.

Pitched fighting at Raseiniai lasted three days. The lone Soviet tank delayed them by a full day, taking on two full Nazi mechanized divisions.

 

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam

Russians have tried for years to postulate why the lone tank stopped and didn’t even try to maneuver. The most likely reason is that the tank ran out of gas. Red Army supply lines to Lithuania weren’t very good to begin with and a Nazi invasion sure wouldn’t have helped.

For 22 hours, the KV blocked the road, preventing the Germans from advancing into greater Russia, destroying or killing every Nazi man and machine in sight.

The Eastern Front of World War II is remembered by history for its brutality. Prisoners and war dead between the German Wehrmacht and the Soviet Red Army were treated with shocking disregard by any standard on both sides. The Nazis considered the Russians subhuman — theirs was a war of extermination.

In this instance, however, the German troops removed the Russian tank crew from their KV and buried them in the nearby woods with full military honors. Colonel Raus recounted in his memoirs:

“I am deeply shocked by this heroism, we buried them with full military honors. They fought to the last breath … “

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106-year-old Coast Guard veteran throws 1st pitch for Kansas City Royals

On July 2, 2021, the Kansas City Royals had 106-year-old Mabel Johnson throw the first pitch. As America’s oldest Coast Guard veteran, it was a special moment.

She was 28 years old and living in New York City when America entered into World War II. Johnson felt called to serve and walked down to the Armed Forces Recruiting Office. The newly created Coast Guard Women’s Reserves caught her eye, she said in an interview with KCTV from 2019. 

Johnson enlisted in what was known as the SPARS (Semper Paratus – Always Ready) and boarded a train to Florida for boot camp. With the world at war and fighting-able men needed at sea, this was the Coast Guard’s answer to fulfilling the vital positions on land. Over 10,000 women volunteered to enlist and fill these roles. 

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
SPARS training at Manhattan Beach. Photo USCG.

The Coast Guard SPARS were also the first women allowed into a military academy. 

After basic training, Johnson was assigned as a storekeeper with the Coast Guard’s 9th District in Cleveland, Ohio as a Second Class Petty Officer. In March of 1945, she married a Merchant Marine while on approved leave from her Coast Guard duties. Just two months later, victory was declared in Europe. 

In an interview with the Coast Guard Compass, Johnson shared how bells were ringing throughout the day, whistles were blowing and everyone was throwing paper out of windows. “Euclid Avenue was knee deep in paper,” she said. 

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Winston Churchill waving to the crowds from Whitehall on 8 May celebrating the end of the war, showing the V of Victory. Wikimedia Commons.

Following the end of the war, Johnson requested a “mutual” transfer to New York City to be near her husband where she served until 1946 when the SPARS was officially dissolved. Despite its official end, it marked a new beginning for the Coast Guard. Johnson has continually been recognized by modern Coast Guard leadership throughout the years and repeatedly honored for her service.

With Johnson living outside of Kansas City since 1991, throwing the first pitch for the Royals was extra special. The scheduled event was a celebration of the 75th anniversary of World War II ending, which had been delayed a year due to the pandemic. 

Looking back on her time in the Coast Guard during World War II, Johnson told KCTV that she’d serve and do it all over again if she could.

“I am extremely proud of our Coast Guard SPARS. No matter their age, they continue to represent our core values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden said. “Bravo Zulu Ms. Mabel Johnson, you are a role model for all.”

Featured image: Kansas City Royals

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6 Navy bombers that flew for the Air Force

The Air Force and the Navy have their own little rivalry going.


Granted, United States Navy pilots are pretty good in many respects, and so are the planes, but the Air Force claims they’ve got air superiority. So when they need to buy a plane from the Navy, it’s… awkward — especially when it involves bombers, something that should be the purview of the Air Force.

Here are six of the most…notable acquisitions the Air Force ended up making from the Navy.

1. Douglas A-24 Banshee

While better known as the SBD Dauntless, the Army Air Force bought a number of these planes. Aviation historian Joe Baugher noted that some were intended to help defend the Philippines, but the outbreak of World War II saw them diverted to New Guinea. Others saw action in the Aleutians and Gilbert Islands.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
A-24B Banshee, the Army Air Force’s version of the SBD Dauntless, at a base on Makin Island. (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Curtiss A-25 Shrike/Helldiver

The Army Air Force got the SB2C — the notorious “Son of a [Bleep] Second Class” — during World War II. Joe Baugher noted that the Army Air Force never even bothered using them in combat, either exporting them to the Royal Australian Air Force or handing them over to the Marine Corps for use from land bases.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
An A-25A Shrike in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

3. Douglas B-66 Destroyer

When the Air Force was looking for a replacement for the A-26/B-26 Invader as a tactical bomber, they settled on a version of the Navy’s A3D Skywarrior. However, the Air Force planned to use it very differently, and so a lot of changes were made, according to Joe Baugher.

The B-66 turned out to be an ideal electronic-warfare platform. One was famous under the call-sign “Bat 21,” leading to one of the most famous — and costly — search and rescue efforts in history.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
An EB-66E Destroyer electronic-countermeasures plane. (U.S. Air Force photo)

4. Lockheed RB-69A Neptune

The Air Force was looking for some planes for electronic intelligence missions around the Soviet Union and China when they settled on taking seven P-2 Neptune maritime patrol planes from the Navy, and designating them as RB-69As.

Aviation historian Joe Baugher reveals that the exact origin and ultimate fate of these planes is a mystery, probably intentionally so, given the top-secret nature of intelligence-gathering flights over China and Russia.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
One of seven RB-69A Neptune ELINT planes the Air Force acquired. (U.S. Air Force photo)

5. Douglas A-1 Skyraider

Joe Baugher reported that the Air Force found this classic warbird to be so suitable for the counter-insurgency mission in 1962, they took 150 A-1Es from Navy surplus. The planes were modified for dual controls.

In fact, the Air Force wanted the plane as early as 1949, but harsh inter-service rivalry (including controversy stemming from the “Revolt of the Admirals”) meant the Air Force had to wait to get this plane. It was a fixture on search-and-rescue missions during the Vietnam War.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
An Air Force A-1E Skyraider loaded with a fuel-air explosive bomb. (U.S. Air Force photo)

6. Vought A-7 Corsair

This is probably one of the most successful purchases of a Navy bomber by the Air Force. As was the case with the Air Force basing the B-66 off the A3D, they made changes to the A-7.

Most notable was giving it the M61 Vulcan and a thousand rounds of ammo. Yes, the Air Force gave the A-7 the means to give bad guys the BRRRRRT! The A-7s saw action over Panama in 1989, and were even used to train F-117 pilots. The A-7D was retired in the early 1990s with the end of the Cold War.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Three U.S. Air Force A-7Ds in formation. Air Force Corsairs flew thousands of sorties with only four losses. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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This former centerfold model could be the next VA secretary

Rumors are swirling after a Nov. 21 meeting at Trump Tower in New York that former Massachusetts senator and 35-year Army National Guard veteran Scott Brown could be the new president’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Brown, a Republican, won a special election to take the senate seat vacated by Democrat Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009. Brown served as a Judge Advocate in the Massachusetts Army Guard and also infamously posed nude for Cosmo magazine in 1982.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Former Sen. Scott Brown at Seacoast Harley Davidson in North Hampton, N.H., on July 16th 2015 (Photo by Michael Vadon via Flickr)

He later joked that he was in his 20s at the time and didn’t regret his nude centerfold pose for the magazine’s “America’s Sexiest Man” contest.

But he now says he’s “the best candidate” for the VA job and wants to reform the reeling organization.

“We obviously spoke about my passion and his passion which are veterans’ issues,” Brown told reporters after his meeting with Trump, according to CBS News. “And you know obviously I think it’s the toughest job in the cabinet to lead the VA, because while it has so many angels working there, it has so many great problems as well.”

Trump also tapped South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to serve as the American ambassador to the United Nations, while 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is front-runner for Secretary of State.

Governor Haley was first elected to her post in 2010, after serving three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives. She gained national attention in the aftermath of the July 2015 shooting at a Charleston church. Her husband is in the National Guard and served a tour in Afghanistan on an Agribusiness Development Team, and is believed to be the first spouse of a sitting governor to serve in a war zone.

“Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next Ambassador to the United Nations,” FoxNews.com quoted Haley as saying.

Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts who lost the 2012 presidential election to Barack Obama, is considered the front-runner for Secretary of State. During that campaign, he noted Russia was a “geopolitical foe,” to derision from Obama and the media. During the 2012 campaign Romney also criticized China for unfair trade practices, criticized the 2011 withdrawal of troops from Iraq and took a hard line on Iran. Romney and Trump exchanged harsh words during the Republican presidential primaries, but apparently buried the hatchet in a weekend meeting.

Potential VA chief Brown served in the National Guard for 20 years in the Judge Advocate General Corps, part of a 35-year career which also saw him receive airborne, infantry and quartermaster training. Brown spent time overseas in Kazakhstan, Paraguay and Afghanistan during his career. His decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Army Commendation Medal.

According to a report by the Boston Globe, Brown told the media that if selected to run the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, his top priorities would be to address veterans’ suicides and to clear up the backlog of cases by outsourcing care to private providers. His service as a state lawmaker and Senator included a focus on veterans’ issues.

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Here’s how to join the 2.4 million vets who own their own businesses

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
(Photo:DVNF.org)


The business world seems to have realized that veterans make great entrepreneurs. Profiles of vets starting coffee shops, tech support companies, landscaping services, security firms, and a whole host of other businesses appear across the web on a frequent basis these days.

This should not be a great surprise. There are nearly 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S., representing almost 9 percent of all businesses nationwide.

And, a study by the Kauffman Foundation, a well-respected entrepreneur support organization, indicates that approximately 25 percent (some say as high as 45 percent) of all active duty personnel want to start their own businesses upon leaving the service.

So, what makes veterans such successful entrepreneurs?

It is finally being recognized that the attitude, training, and skills gained from military service, such as discipline, hard work, a commitment to accomplishing the mission, the ability to both lead a team and function as a member of a team, and, most important, the almost innate ability to immediately pivot from plans that aren’t working to plans that do, are valuable traits that make for a successful entrepreneur.

Indeed, the Kauffman Foundation states that veterans’ “commitment to excellence, attention to detail, strategic planning skills and focus on success are the same traits that make business owners successful.” And, Dan Senor and Saul Singer, in their book, “Start-Up Nation,” say the main reason Israel is one of the most entrepreneurial nations on earth on a per capita basis is the country’s compulsory military service, which creates an environment for hard work and a common commitment to accomplish the mission.

But, even though veterans have received excellent training in the military in the skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs, not enough younger veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are choosing to start their own businesses. And, we don’t know why.

After World War II, nearly one-half of all returning veterans started their own businesses—but, by 2012, that rate had dropped to less that 6 percent. Even more important, just over 7 percent of all current veteran-owned businesses are started by veterans under 35 years of age. The rest are started by older vets.

This makes some sense. Personnel mustering out of the Armed Forces after 20 years or so have a pension that gives them a financial cushion to take the risk of starting a new business. And, older vets retiring from a traditional job at around 65 years of age, and who are looking for something else to do, would most likely have their house paid off and their kids out of college, giving them the financial means to start a new business without risking their family’s financial future.

But, it is the lack of younger veterans who are choosing entrepreneurship as a viable career path that is the critical issue in veteran entrepreneurship today.

Fortunately, over the past several years, there has been a burgeoning industry that has sprung up to help veterans who want to start their own businesses. Veteran led incubators and accelerators, as well as university and community college programs, government services, online resources, and community-based organizations have all answered the call to help aspiring veteran entrepreneurs realize their dream of owning and operating their own businesses.

While it is not possible to list all of the resources available to help veterans–and, particularly, younger veterans–who want to start businesses, a small sample of these programs in each of the categories mentioned is provided below:

  • Veteran Led Incubators—Bunker Labs (https://bunkerlabs.org) is probably the best known and most successful veteran led incubator in the country. While headquartered in Chicago, it has expanded to eleven cities around the nation. Its Chicago location is in the 1871 incubator facility, which gives veterans the crucial opportunity to interact with non-veterans who are creating new businesses. The “Bunker in a Box” program (http://bunkerinabox.org) enables veterans who are not near one of its urban locations to get some of the basic tools necessary to start a new business.
  • Veteran Led Accelerators—Vet-Tech (http://vet-tech.us) is the nation’s leading accelerator for veteran-owned businesses. Located at Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, CA, it has an extensive network of financial, government, and management resources to bring a veteran-owned business to its next level of success.
  • University Programs—Syracuse University’s Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (http://ebv.vets.syr.edu) is one of the most extensive programs in higher education for veteran entrepreneurship. This program is offered at eight other colleges and universities around the nation.C
  • Community Colleges—Community colleges around the nation offer veteran entrepreneurship courses and programs, typically through their small business development centers. Wake Tech Community College in North Carolina offers a Veterans Entrepreneurship Advantage Course (http://www.waketech.edu/programs-courses/non-credit/build-your-business/entrepreneurship-initiatives) that is representative of these types of programs.
  • Government Services—The SBA’s Boots to Business program (http://boots2business.org) is an example of the type of program offered by the government to transitioning service members to give them the basics in starting a new business.
  • Online Resources—VeToCEO (http://www.vettoceo.org) is a free online training program that assists veterans in leveraging their skills to start or buy a business and run it successfully. The American Legion Entrepreneur Video Series (
    ) is another no-cost source to give aspiring veteran entrepreneurs at least a basic introduction to starting and running a business.
  • Community-Based Organizations—SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, is an example of a community-based organization that is supporting veteran entrepreneurs with their Veteran Fast Launch Initiative (https://www.score.org/content/veteran-fast-launch-initiative).

Veterans interested in starting a business should research what resources are available to them in their local communities, and then pick a program that fits the type of business they are interested in creating.

Given all of the resources that are currently available to veterans interested in starting businesses, what does the future of veteran entrepreneurship look like?

It looks pretty robust.

There are only two cautions that need to be mentioned about support for entrepreneurship initiatives for veterans:

The first is that many of these veteran entrepreneur support programs are relatively new—within the last couple of years, or so. The proof of their efficacy—of their value and worth—will be when they produce long-term, sustainable and profitable veteran-owned businesses—and, by long-term, I mean businesses that are in existence for at least five years, at a minimum. Some of these support programs are so new that not enough time has passed where this can be determined.

The second “caution”, if you will, would actually be a good problem to have. While there is no evidence that this is presently occurring, there could come a time in the future when there are actually more veteran entrepreneur support programs than there are veterans to fill them. This will become evident when these programs begin to admit non-veterans in order to maintain their viability.

But, for now, it’s all “blue skies and smooth sailing” for veterans who want to start businesses and the programs that support them.

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
Paul Dillon is the head of Dillon Consulting Services, LLC, a firm that specializes in serving the veteran community with offices in Durham and Chicago. For more visit his website here.

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This vet nonprofit is mustering in Motown and looking for volunteers

John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam
(Photo: missioncontinues.org)


National veterans nonprofit The Mission Continues is launching a new program that positions veterans to be catalysts for long-term change and positive impact in communities facing daunting challenges. The inaugural Mass Deployment program will send hundreds of veterans and volunteers to participate in a week-long service engagement that will jump-start a long-lasting transformation in a city or community identified with a particularly high level of need.

For the first-ever event of its kind – dubbed Operation Motown Muster – The Mission Continues will bring more than 75 military veterans to Detroit to partner with more than 200 local veterans and community volunteers. Following Operation Motown Muster, The Mission Continues will maintain a sustained veteran volunteer presence in Detroit over the next several years to continuously support local nonprofits invested in revitalizing local neighborhoods.

“With the skills, leadership and experience they cultivated in the military, veterans are uniquely positioned to help accelerate Detroit’s comeback,” said Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “We’re looking forward to an impactful week of service that will make a difference for the people who continue to call Detroit home and that will inspire others to take action and make a long-term positive impact in the community.”

Home to nearly 700,000 residents — many of whom are already hard at work shaping the future of their city — Detroit was a prime location for The Mission Continues’ inaugural Mass Deployment. During Operation Motown Muster, The Mission Continues veterans and local volunteers will add much-needed capacity to local organizations that are carrying on Detroit’s revitalization efforts. Projects planned for Operation Motown Muster include:

  • Refurbishing facilities at Central High School and Priest Elementary School to foster a safe and inviting environment for students to learn and the community to congregate.
  • Beautifying parks and future green spaces in the Osborn neighborhood, creating much-needed safe play spaces in a community that is home to one of Detroit’s highest concentrations of young people.
  • Converting vacant lots and portions of the Chene Ferry Market into clean, vibrant spaces for community events and an urban farm to help restore the once-thriving working-class neighborhood.

The Mission Continues has operations across the country that engage veteran volunteers every day to have a deep impact on critical challenges facing underserved communities. Veterans participate in operations by serving with The Mission Continues either as a member of a Service Platoon, undertaking regular service missions that leverage veterans’ skills and leadership to make a positive impact, or as an individual The Mission Continues Fellow, embedding as a skilled volunteer with one of the operation’s nonprofit partners for a period of six months.

Operation Motown Muster is happening from June 25-29. To learn more about The Mission Continues’ programs and opportunities to get involved, visit www.missioncontinues.org.

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