What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force - We Are The Mighty
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What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force

A raid to rescue Iraqi Security Forces held hostage by ISIS forces in the Kurdish areas of Iraq on Thursday liberated 70 hostages and resulted in the death of one Delta Force operator. The U.S. airlifted Peshmerga and American special operations forces to the compound where they freed the hostages, captured five ISIS fighters, and killed many more.  The Peshmerga suffered four wounded. By now, most people in the West have heard of the Peshmerga and their bravery and exploits against the fundamentalist Sunni Islamist terror group, but the Peshmerga have a long history and a history of productive cooperation with the United States.


Who are the Peshmerga?

In Kurdish, Peshmerga means “one who confronts death.” Their fighters are among the region’s most able forces because of their warrior culture and dedication to their ethnic and national identity as Kurds. The Kurds have been fighting for independence and recognition for centuries. They fought for the Ottoman Empire in World War I but rebelled shortly after in an attempt to create an official homeland.

Late in the 20th century, Iraqi Kurds fought the forces of Saddam Hussein on a number of occasions, suffering a genocidal campaign from Hussein’s Iraq, through al-Anfal, where the dictator dropped Mustard Gas, nerve agents, and Hydrogen Cyanide on Kurds in 1998. Kurds would rise up against him again after Desert Storm in 1991.

Peshmerga vs. ISIS

American and international media have had much to say about the Kurds in recent years, especially as they emerged as the only force capable of stemming the ISIS advance into Iraq in 2014. But the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Kurds have a long history of cooperation and good relations with the United States and its armed forces.

The Peshmerga are the paramilitary force of Northern Iraq’s Kurdish areas. Since the Iraqi Army is forbidden from entering Iraqi Kurdistan, the Peshmerga are responsible for the security and protection of Iraqi Kurds. But the Kurdish military didn’t stop there.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force

As ISIS advanced into Iraq, they executed those who disagreed with their brand of strict Sunni Islam. A minority population of Yazidis, whose religion is more closely linked to Shia Islam, were forced to flee to the top of Mount Sinjar, where ISIS forces surrounded them as they faced annihilation. The Peshmerga caught the world’s attention when they intervened on behalf of the Yazidis, saving them from slaughter. Since then American airpower and Peshmerga ground forces have been the main thrust to push ISIS back into Syria, where Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) fighters are engaged with them.

The Kurdish Homeland

Kurds are a tribal society but unlike many Muslims in the region, recognize their ethnic identity as Kurds instead of first identifying as Sunni or Shia Muslims. A great reason for this is the spread of ethnic Kurds throughout the region. The Kurds recognize their traditional lands extending from parts of Iran in the East, through Northern Iraq, and into Syria in the West. The traditional Kurds also see parts of Turkey as traditional Kurdish lands, which has put some Kurds in direct conflict with Turkey, a NATO ally.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
The Kurdish Peshmerga platoon of the newly-formed Joint Iraqi Security Company marches to class, Mosul, Iraq. The U.S. 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division are jointly training Kurdish and Iraqi forces, to become the first self-sufficient local military force. (wikimedia commons)

The Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, a Communist terrorist organization in Turkey, has been fighting the Turks for decades. The Syrian counterpart to the PKK is the Kurdish YPG, who are aligned against ISIS forces in Syria. The PKK is recognized worldwide as a terror group, the YPG is not and the links between them are disputed. The YPG does not enjoy the official status of the Iraqi Peshmerga. All three groups are sworn enemies of ISIS everywhere.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
(Feriq Fereç – Anadolu Ajansı)

Kurds and the United States

In the days after the 2003 invasion, Kurds worked with U.S. forces to capture Saddam Hussein. They lent their Peshmerga as intelligence agents to assist Delta Force operators in dismantling terrorist and insurgent networks in Iraq. They were instrumental in the capture of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s Hassan Ghul, who would reveal the name of Osama bin Laden’s messenger, which would lead to the raid which killed bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan.

The cooperation of American forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga is one of the most important and productive relationships in the Global War on Terror. Without this alliance, much of the success against international terrorism would never have been realized.

NOW: Musa the Sniper, Sourge of ISIS in Kobani

OR: Meet the US military veterans fighting ISIS

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This woman had a kamikaze mission to take down an airliner on 9/11

The September 11, 2001, attacks saw numerous acts of bravery and courage from Americans from many walks of life — be they ordinary citizens, emergency services personnel or members of the military.


Of special note was the sacrifice this National Guard fighter pilot and her comrades were willing to make when their fighters were sent up without any armament to protect the nation’s capital soon after word of the attacks spread.

Among the many fighter pilots sent to the skies in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York was Heather “Lucky” Penney, a fighter pilot with the District of Columbia Air National Guard. At the time a 1st lieutenant with the 121st Fighter Squadron, Lucky was the only female in her fighter training class, and the only female pilot serving with the squadron.

When air traffic controllers in Cleveland, Ohio, saw a potential hijacking aboard a United Airlines flight, Penney and her flight lead, Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville, were called into action.

Launching from Andrews AFB near Washington, D.C., at 10:42 local time, the pair saw smoke billowing out from Arlington, Virginia, the site of the Pentagon. A second pair of fighters piloted by Brandon Rasmussen and Daniel Caine – also of the DCANG – were sent up as well.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
A firefighter looks at the remains of the South Tower at Ground Zero (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

The Secret Service and defense sector controllers responsible for watching over the airspace surrounding the capital requested an aerial presence to ward away or destroy any other hijacked airliners, lest they attack juicier targets like the White House or the Capitol, or hit crowded civilian areas.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon – the fighters these four pilots flew – is very capable in the air-to-air arena. However, in the rush to get airborne, none of the four DCANG F-16s were armed with missiles or live rounds for their cannons – not that any were immediately available.

Sasseville and Penney briefly discussed a plan of action, noting that their lack of armament would make downing a larger airliner considerably more difficult. The two agreed that the only option would be using their aircraft as rams, where Sasseville would hit the cockpit and Penney the tail.

Though, hypothetically, the two pilots could have aimed their fighters for the engines of the aircraft and ejected quickly after, they knew that the only way they could be sure of bringing down their quarry was if they stayed with their F-16s all the way through.

This would have to be a suicide mission – there was no other alternative.

Word came in over their radios that an aircraft was heading at a low altitude over the Potomac River, possibly towards the White House. This ultimately proved to be a false alarm, though military and Secret Service operations officers initially concluded that the inbound aircraft was United 93, a Boeing 757 similar to the American Airlines jet which had slammed into the Pentagon earlier in the day.

United 93 never showed up in Washington. After recovering at Andrews AFB, the four DCANG pilots would learn that United 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania. Penney, Sasseville, Rasmussen and Caine would soon refuel and have their aircraft armed with weaponry before returning to the skies for their second sortie on Sept. 11.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
The crater where United 93 impacted near Shanksville, PA (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

This time, Penney and Sasseville were directed to fly as escorts for Air Force One, carrying President George W. Bush from Offutt AFB to Andrews AFB. The duo were almost engaged in combat yet again when a Learjet approached Air Force One at high speed, though the event was short-lived with the private aircraft diverted, having been on its way to finding a suitable airport to land.

Both Penney and Sasseville went on, post-9/11, to fly combat missions overseas in support of the Global War On Terror. Penney has since left the DC ANG and works with Lockheed Martin in a senior position, while Sasseville remains active in the Guard, now as a major general.

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This daring commando raid’s only injury was from a negligent discharge

In March 1941, over 500 British and Allied commandos, sappers, and sailors launched a daring four-pronged raid against Norwegian towns occupied by the German Army. Despite the German forces spotting the commandos 24 hours before the attack, the British suffered only one casualty.


An officer accidentally shot himself in the thigh.

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(Photo: War Office Capt. Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Imperial War Museum)

Operation Claymore, as it was known, was a commando raid targeting fish oil factories in the Lofoten Islands. The fish oil was a prime source of glycerin which is a crucial propellant for most types of weapons ammunition in World War II.

The islands are 100 miles into the Arctic Circle and guarded by a force of over 200 German troops. The commandos expected potentially heavy resistance and spent about a week in the Orkney Islands rehearsing their assault plan.

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(Photo: War Office Capt. Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Imperial War Museum)

On March 1, they began a three-day journey through rough seas to the targets. Two days later, they were spotted by a German aircraft but pressed forward, risking the possibility of hitting beaches with prepared and dug-in Nazi defenders.

When the British arrived, ice had formed further out than expected and the commandos were forced to get out of the boats early before running across it to hit the towns. All four groups managed to cross the ice and hit their targeted towns without facing any real resistance.

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(Photo: Royal Navy Lt. R. G. G. Coote, Imperial War Museum)

In fact, the local Norwegians watched the British coming at them like it was a small show, and the commandos made it into the buildings before they even began to see German uniforms. With many of the defenders separated or still asleep, the attackers were able to quell resistance with few shots fired.

They captured 225 prisoners while taking every one of their objectives. Despite the attack force having been spotted by the German plane, none of the defenders were ready.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
(Photo: War Office Capt. Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Imperial War Museum)

The grateful locals brought out coffee and treats for the attackers, the sappers planted charges against the fish oil tanks, and the Norwegians started recruiting the citizens into the Free Norwegian Forces.

There was an additional lucky break for the commandos. They hit a German-held trawler and killed 14 of the defenders.

The ship commander managed to throw the Enigma machine over the side but the British still captured technical documents and spare parts for the machine, giving code breakers in Bletchley Park near London a leg up.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
(Photo: Royal Navy Lt. R. G. G. Coote, Imperial War Museum)

The mission was a huge success, but as mentioned above, the British did suffer a single casualty when an officer accidentally shot himself in his thigh with a revolver.

The British knew how well the mission had gone, and got a bit cocky about it.

One group sent a telegraph to Hitler with the captured communication gear asking him where his vaunted German soldiers were. Another group hit a nearby seaplane base and took all their weapons, just for additional giggles.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
(Photo: War Office Capt. Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Imperial War Museum)

The German commander, who probably should’ve been grateful that he and his men weren’t added to the 225 prisoners the British had captured, later complained to his fuhrer that the commandos had displayed “unwarlike” behavior.

(Pretty sure the dudes captured without a shot fired were the “unwarlike” fellows, but whatever.)

When the commandos finally left, they blew the fish oil tanks, sending huge fireballs into the sky. They also sank some ships vital to the fish oil production including the most advanced fish factory-ship of the time.

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This is why Poland wants those Patriot anti-air missiles

Designed to blast aircraft, missiles and even drones out of the skies with deadly precision, the American-made MIM-104 Patriot missile system has been sought after by a number of countries over the last 30 years to defend their sovereign territories from threats in the air.


After expressing interest in the Patriot system for years, and failing to develop a suitably-priced medium/long range air defense missile of its own, Poland will finally get its hands on a group of eight Patriot batteries pending the signing of a deal worth billions of dollars with the United States.

Poland, a former satellite republic under the Soviet Union’s scope of influence, was previously armed almost entirely with Soviet-built hardware, including 1960s-era SA-5 Gammon surface-to-air missiles. However, in the years since the fall of the USSR, most of what was once the best Eastern Bloc military technology on the market has become almost entirely obsolete.

With the Eastern European nation formally joining NATO in the 1990s, and with a plethora of aged and below-standard military equipment in the country’s possession, Poland has begun the process of pushing its armed forces through a gradual yet massive overhaul that will see it retain a degree of relevancy against potential aggressors, especially Russia.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
A Patriot missile test launch using the PAC-3 surface-to-air missile (Photo US Army)

At the top of the country’s wishlist is a new advanced missile defense system with the ability to deal with aerial threats in a quick and effective manner. With Russian military activity ramping up near its borders, the recent forceful annexation of the Crimea, and a general distrust for all things Russian anyways, Poland has not so subtly let the U.S. know it wants the air defense umbrella the Patriot can provide.

In 2015, Polish defense officials announced their intent to work with Raytheon, the creator and manufacturer of the Patriot, to buy eight missile batteries with a percentage of the system’s components built in Poland. But the deal, projected at $7 billion at the time, didn’t really materialize until earlier this week during a state visit by President Donald Trump.

That’s when Polish officials confirmed their country’s armed forces would begin receiving the Patriots it wanted for a little under $8 billion.

Currently, 14 countries including the United States operate the Patriot system, with a number of them having actually deployed the missile in combat situations against hostile aircraft, missiles and drones. Poland will be the 15th such country pending the signing of this multi-billion dollar deal.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Marines examine a Patriot battery aboard MCAS Futenma, Japan (Photo US Marine Corps)

The Patriot, originally designed in the early 1980s, received its combat baptism during the Persian Gulf War, engaging and destroying Iraqi Scud missiles with chemical warheads aimed at Israeli cities. In more recent history, the system has seen action in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, and in Saudi Arabia and Israel to ward off missile and drone attacks.

The Patriot achieved its first aircraft kill in 2014 in Israeli service after downing a Syrian Su-24 Fencer which penetrated protected airspace.

Among Poland’s other military modernization aims are the procurement of submarine-launched cruise missiles, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, and the construction of a series of watchtowers and observation posts on its border with the Kaliningrad Oblast region to keep an eye on any nearby Russian military activity.

Additionally, the country has discussed buying more F-16 Fighting Falcons and possibly brand new F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters for its air force.

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This is the legendary Nazi general who turned on Hitler

Nicknamed the “Desert Fox,” Gen. Erwin Rommel was a decorated officer who was awarded the Pour le Mérite for his outstanding service on the Italian Front. During World War II, the legendary military leader commanded the 7th Panzer Division as the Nazis invaded France, earning himself a reputation as a brilliant tank commander.


While his fame turned him into a propaganda tool, Rommel had another agenda — to kill Adolf Hitler.

On July 20th, 1944, a bomb was planted and exploded under Hitler’s East Prussia Headquarters — but the Führer survived the blast.

Related: This soldier fought off a German tank with his pistol

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Hitler visits some of the injured survivors of the headquarters explosion in the hospital. (Source: Smithsonian Channel/ YouTube/ Screenshot)

“A very small clique of ambitious, corrupt and at the same time irrational, criminally stupid officers have conspired to do away with me. It is a tiny group of criminal elements, which will now be mercilessly extinguished,” Hitler stated as he vowed revenge.

As Hitler’s Gestapo conducted intense interrogations of bomb plot suspects, one famous name managed to surface — Erwin Rommel.

Then, in Sept. 1944, British intelligence tapped into one of the conversations of captured German General Heinrich Eberbach which revealed: “Rommel said to me that the Führer has to be killed, there is nothing for it … that man has to go.”

Weeks later, two German generals arrived at Rommel’s home and explained his narrow options. He could either be tried in the people’s court which would lead to ultimate disgrace in the Third Reich or drink a small bottle of cyanide which they brought with them.

General Erwin Rommel died that same day, but the German people were told that their famous hero passed in a car wreck. At his funeral, the German people saluted him as his casket carried away.

Also Read: Patton once sent 300 men to rescue his son-in-law from a Nazi prison

Check out the Smithsonian Channel’s video for the failed attempted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SerzqZfqBM
(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Hallo-memes! Wait … that’s not right. Meh, whatever.


1. Remember, terrorists “trick or treat” too (via Military Memes).

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Get special candy for them.

2. Pretty sure DA PAM 670-1 Chapter 5 Section 7 addresses this.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force

SEE ALSO: From 1860-1916 the uniform regulations for the British Army required ever soldier to have a mustache

3. How the invasion of Iraq really went down:

(via Pop Smoke)

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force

4. When you join the Navy to see the sights:

(via Sh-t My LPO Says)

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
At least you’re in California. You could be stuck with those same sights in Afghanistan.

5. Your trip to find yourself in Vienna does not impress your elders (via Air Force Nation).

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
If you were finding Nazis there, maybe. You’d have to fight them too.

6. How the military branches decide who’s the most awesome/fabulous (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Coast Guard has it made.

7. Just two combat veterans letting off a little steam in a war zone (via Ranger Up).

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Bet the A-10 kept flying combat missions until at least the second trimester.

8. The standard is Army STRONG …

(via Marine Corps Memes)

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
… we’re not worried about much else.

9. He forgot how to Marine (via Terminal Lance).

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Hey, staff officers have to practice throwing grenades too. Just don’t give him a real one.

10. Stolen valor airman can’t be bothered to learn your Air Force culture (via Air Force Nation).

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force

11. This is true (via Military Memes).

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Iraq and Afghanistan would look a little different if soldiers and Marines had access to nukes.

12. First sergeant just wants you to be ready to fight in any environment.

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Side note: If you ran at the actual pace he was trying to set, you would be warm during the run.

13. Real warriors like to stay cool (via Marine Corps Memes).

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force
Don’t like the view? Get out of the mortar pit.

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This Marine legend went from the beaches of Iwo Jima to the fields of the Negro League

What we know about the Kurds fighting against ISIS with help from Delta Force


The Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Greason’s voice echoed from the curved white ceiling of Bethel Baptist Church. Direct and robustly musical, Greason’s message pulsed around his congregation.

“I didn’t buy this breath,” he said. “Somebody gave it to me.”

Greason, 90, still measures in at a lanky 5’10” and, other than a smattering of grey, resembles his 1948 Birmingham Black Barons rookie card. His eyes retain their youthful charm and twinkle with wisdom and humor.

He is slow to talk about himself and his accomplishments, but his story is one that begs to be told.

The tale of Bill Greason begins long before he was scouted as a baseball wunderkind by the Negro American League, and contains more substance than a beefy ERA.

Greason was born in 1924 and grew up in Atlanta, Ga., on Auburn Avenue, across the street from playmate Martin Luther King, Jr. Auburn Avenue, also known as Sweet Auburn, was a historically black neighborhood deep in the heart of the segregated South.

Greason explained that he and his four siblings were aware of racial inequality, but were not defined by their circumstances or overcome by anger.

“My parents taught us ‘you are somebody,’ Greason said. “Don’t let anybody make you feel that you’re not. If anybody doesn’t like the color of your skin, tell them to talk to God. But your character — that’s on you.”

Greason’s character and sense of identity fortified him when he joined the Armed Forces in 1943 after graduating from high school.

In the midst of World War II, Greason was called to enlist and serve among the first black Marine recruits, The Montford Point Marines. These exceptional men had been denied access to full democratic freedom at home and were prepared to die for their country, yet Greason and his comrades continued to experience prejudice from their white counterparts during service.

“We were told in the beginning that we weren’t wanted in there,” Greason said. “So we had to prove ourselves.”

This is exactly what they did. In what became one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, Greason and fellow Marines took to the shores of Iwo Jima, Japan to win a decisive victory for the United States, despite heavy casualties.

On Nov. 23, 2011, President Barack Obama signed legislation to award a collective Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines, the highest civilian honor.

“As the Congressional Gold Medal for the Montford Point Marines is issued, it is a special privilege to extend our fullest appreciation to Reverend William Greason and salute his exceptional life and service to his community and his country,” said U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus in a tribute to Greason in 2012.

“Surviving the island,” Greason said, “was a miracle that had an everlasting impact.”

“When I was on the island of Iwo Jima, with the Marines dying all around and two of my best friends were killed, I promised the Lord that if he saved me, if I was able to get off that island, anything He wanted me to do I would do it,” he said.

Greason left Iwo Jima unscathed, but memories of the island remain with him and he is eager to share their lessons.

“It taught you something about life and how precious it is,” Greason said. “You don’t want to destroy anybody — you want to help wherever you can.”

After occupational duty in Japan for 13 months, Greason returned stateside with a rekindled passion for life and a new talent: baseball.

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Most of the literature on Greason’s remarkable baseball career concerns itself with statistics: his 3.61 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 1953, the pennant he led the Black Barons to in ’48, his snappy curving fastball and his nickname, “Double Duty,” earned for his workhorse mentality on the mound and at the plate.

The numbers provide a chill, sterile glance — a press box view — of a history won in grit, nerve and determination.

When the undefeated Black Barons suffered their only loss to the Asheville Blues at the hands of 24-year-old Greason in 1948, player-manager Lorenzo “Piper” Davis was in the process of scouring the Negro League for raw talent to add to his unrivaled team. Recruiting Greason was a no- brainer.

Black players in America’s favorite pastime had a special burden according to Greason.

“We were blessed to be part of this great history of Negro League Baseball,” he said. “Wherever we would go and play, they recognized us as being gentlemen.”

The Birmingham Black Barons and other Negro League teams seemed to understand that baseball, unlike other sports at the time, held national significance. They stepped up to bat and they represented not only themselves, but also the hope of equality for their entire race.

“We were taught to retain and maintain our dignity,” Greason said. “We didn’t disgrace our parents. We didn’t disgrace the people we worked for. We didn’t disgrace the city.”

1948 proved to be the last year of the Negro League World Series, and though the Barons lost the championship in the final hour to the Homestead Grays, Greason’s physical talent and emotional maturity preceded him.

He pitched two years in the Mexican League (1950–1951); eight in the minors (1952–1959), as the first black player for the Oklahoma City Indians; and five years in the winter leagues (1951; 1954- 1958), where he notably played against Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba.

After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, there was a major decline in support for the Negro Leagues. As the players were scouted into minor and major leagues, fans followed, ultimately sealing the Negro League’s fate.

In 1954, after returning from serving in the Korean War, Greason was scouted by the St. Louis Cardinals as the team’s first black pitcher. He was honored September 2014 with a Living Legend Award.

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“It was a blessing in disguise,” Greason said. “It gave our players opportunity to earn more money in ‘organized ball’ as they called it.”

It is the entrepreneurial spirit of the Negro League players that Ora Jerald, executive director of the American Negro League Baseball Association, is striving to inspire in Birmingham youth.

Along with Greason and other Black Barons legends, Jerald established the legacy initiative Project HELP (History Entrepreneurs Leadership Program).

What started out as baseball camps and demonstrations developed into a pointed effort to prepare economically compromised children for brighter futures.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship and leadership is very much a part of the overall history of the Negro Leagues,” Jerald said. “And the legacy then is to make sure that something profound is left in the lives and hearts of the children.”

Jerald explained that the historical impact of Greason’s life has helped inspire children beyond the baseball diamond.

“We’ve developed something that we think — entrepreneurship and leadership, certainly — is reflective of what the Negro League baseball history stands for and what it represented at the time when Greason was at his peak as a player,” Jerald said.

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In addition to Project HELP, Greason, in collaboration with members of his congregation at Bethel Baptist, has curated a museum depicting not only his life in baseball: uniforms, trophies and awards, but also the lives of outstanding community members, including Michael Holt.

“We want our community to see that your circumstances don’t define who you are,” said Holt, who spent 31 years in government service as the assistant director for Homeland Security.

The Rev. William “Bill” Greason Museum of Legends is currently open to the public and is most easily accessed on Sundays after church at Bethel Baptist.

When asked what he wishes his legacy to be, Greason smiles and says, “Humility. The way up is down. It’s a paradox. Popularity wanes, but character is retained.”

Wise words from a man with much to be proud of.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Market Magazine.

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5 of the world’s strongest fortifications ever

As the saying goes, “a man’s home is his castle.”


While this rings true for people who own a house, it was even more important for the leader in charge of a kingdom, an empire or even a republic. The reason for this is that the man in the “high castle” had much a stake. So to make sure that the country is strong, a king would build a fortress — or a wall with many fortresses — to project the centralized strength and influence of his nation throughout his realm and beyond.

Understand that a fortress is not just a building with a certain amount of walls and towers, but also can be a wall. Below is a list of the strongest fortresses ever built in the history of the world.

5. Masada, Israel

On a rocky plateau situated on a hill in southern Israel near the edge of the Judean desert, one can find the fortress of Masada. Almost all information on Masada and the siege that took place comes from the first-century Jewish Roman historian Josephus.

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The fortress of Masada withstood a year-long siege by Roman Gov. Lucius Flavius Silva. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In 66 AD, the Kingdom of Judea was in upheaval over Rome’s prolonged occupation and revolted. In doing so, a small group of rebels known as the Sicarii captured Masada after slaughtering its Roman garrison. In 72 AD, Lucius Flavius Silva, commander of the Legio X Fretensis, laid siege to Masada.

To reach the top, Lucius gave the order to build a massive ramp that was 375 feet high and 450 feet long. Once the legionaries made it to the top, they rolled the siege engines in and battered Masada’s walls until they fell.

Once inside, the Romans didn’t find an enemy in sight. Rather, they found over 900 dead. Only two women and five children survived.

4. Great Wall of Gorgan, Parthian/Sassanid Empire

The Great Wall of Gorgan is a fortress that remains mostly unknown. Located in northeastern Iran, the wall stretches from the Caspian Sea to the Kopet Dag Mountain Range. In total, the wall was 121 miles long.

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The Great Wall of Gorgan. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The date of its construction is disputed. Some say it is 1,000 years older than the Great Wall of China. While little is known about the wall, the Parthians (247 BCE – 224 AD) who ruled Iran, are said to have built on the original remains of the wall.

The original height and width is unknown, but when the Sassanid Empire (224–651) overthrew the Parthians they repaired, enlarged, and added fortresses to the wall. The height of the Gorgan wall has yet to be determined. The width of the wall was between 20 to 30 feet wide and featured 30 fortresses.

What made this wall significant was that for many centuries it prevented nomads from the north, like the Dahae, Massagetae, Hephthalites and other various nomadic elements from getting in.

3. Hadrian’s Wall, England/Scotland

Hadrian’s Wall is well known to most casual students of history.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD ordered for the construction of the wall along with 16 fortresses garrisoned with static troops. The length of the wall expanded from the Irish Sea to the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea — a distance of 73 miles.

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The author walking on Hadrian’s Wall in Great Britain. (Photo courtesy Cam Rea)

The purpose of the wall is obvious, but as to why it was constructed, remains disputed. The reason for this is that there is no clear evidence that suggests Roman Britain, south of the future wall, was under any real substantial threats — even though there had been some minor rebellions in the province and within the Roman Empire. This was probably the reason why Hadrian built the wall — as a symbol and reminder that it is best to separate one from the barbarians.

Hadrian’s Wall would provide Roman Britain security from the Celtic/Pictish tribes in the north until Rome abandoned Britannia in 410 AD.

2. Walls of Constantinople

In 324 AD, Emperor Constantine I moved the capital from Rome to the small port town of Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople. The reason for this move was to be closer to the eastern portion of the Roman Empire due to its lucrative trade.

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To ensure the safety of this second Rome, Constantine issued an order to build of a wall. The Wall of Constantine was laid out in a series of four rows, with the inner two featuring towers 50 feet apart.

While very effective in repelling invaders, the Roman Emperor Theodosius II decided to expand the walls. The Theodosian Walls consisted of two — an inner and outer wall — which consisted of 96 towers. The inner wall was 40 feet high while the outer wall stood at 30 feet high.

The walls of Constantinople paid off for many centuries and were able to throw back 12 sieges from 559-1203 AD. However, the city was captured in 1204 during the fourth crusade, but afterward was able to withstand five more sieges until that fateful day in 1453, when the Ottoman Turks bashed down the walls and captured the city.

1. Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China needs no introduction. Many assume that the Great Wall was built and finished during the lifetime of a Chinese emperor. Instead it was constructed by multiple emperors over 1,000 years.

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The height, length, and thickness of the wall — or walls — vary, depending on which emperor built it and how much they could afford.

For example, once the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) pushed out the Mongols, they set about to expand and enlarge the Great Wall. The total length of the Great Wall under the Ming was over 5,000 miles long and 25 feet high and 15 – 30 feet thick at the base. If one were to take the wall and line it up, the length would be over 13,000 miles, according to study in 2012.

While the Great Wall looks good, it provided only temporary protection. The problem was that due to its size, it was too cumbersome and too costly to man.

The purpose of the Wall was to keep nomads out from the north. Instead, it kept the people of China isolated within and the wars that came with it.

The Mongols, however, just went around it during their invasion in 1211. The Ming would later enhance the wall, but it didn’t make a difference when the Manchu invaded in 1644.

From that point on, the Great Wall was more of a monument to look upon with amazement.

 

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9 troops who became heroes after they disobeyed orders

Entering the military requires an oath to obey the lawful orders of those in the higher chain of command. Commanding officers can order troops into a suicide mission if it serves the greater purpose. When obeying orders, it’s necessary for those troops to believe a commander wouldn’t order them into harm’s way unless it was necessary, that the order serves a greater good, and it’s not an illegal order.


Most of the nine men listed here (in no order) did not disobey orders because they were illegal. They disobeyed them because lives were at stake and felt saving those lives was worth the risk. Others pushed the envelope to keep the enemy on its heels. People make mistakes, even when the stakes are life and death. It can mean the difference in the course of the entire war (as seen with Gen. Sickles) or to a few men who are alive because someone took a chance on them (in the case of Benaya Rein).

1. Dakota Meyer, U.S. Marine Corps, Afghanistan

In 2009, Meyer was at the Battle of Ganjgal, where his commander ordered him to disregard a distress call from ambushed Afghan and American troops, four of them friends, pinned down by possibly hundreds of enemy fighters. He repeatedly asked permission to drive his truck to help relieve his outnumbered and surrounded friends and allies. He and another Marine hopped in a Humvee. Meyer manned the gun while the other drove the vehicle.

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They drove right into the firestorm, loading the beleaguered Afghans, mostly wounded, onto their humvee. As weapons jammed, Meyer would grab another, and another. They drove into the melee five times, until they came across Meyer’s friends, now fallen, and pulled them out too. Meyer received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

2. Daniel Hellings, British Army, Afghanistan

Hellings was on a joint patrol in Helmand Province with Afghan allies when his patrol was hit by an explosion. An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in an alleyway, injuring two of the patrollers. Then another went off, injuring a third man. Hellings’ commander ordered an immediate withdrawal. Instead, Hellings got down on the ground and started a fingertip search for more bombs — and found four more. He was on the ground, poking around in the dirt until he found all of the IEDs. For his bravery and quick thinking, he was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

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3. Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, Soviet Army, Cold War

Petrov was in command of the Oko Nuclear Early Warning System on the morning of September 26, 1983 when it detected a probable launch of American nuclear missiles. Suspecting it was a false alarm, he disobeyed the standing order of reporting it to his commanding officers, who likely would have “retaliated” with their nuclear arsenal.

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In this case, doing nothing was doing something big, as in completely averting World War III, and mutually assured destruction. It also showed a flaw in the USSR’s early warning system and helped to avert further misunderstandings.

4. Benaya Rein, Israel Defence Forces, Second Lebanon War

Several Israeli soldiers, lacking accurate maps, became lost in 2006 while downrange in Southern Lebanon. As they attempted to get their bearings, about 20 men appeared in the distance, and the commander — thinking they were Hezbollah fighters — ordered Benaya Rein to open fire.

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Benaya Rein, IDF

Rein wasn’t so sure. Instead, he took a tank out to the location to investigate. When he arrived, he found 20 of his fellow IDF soldiers. “Because he refused to follow his commander’s order, the lives of these soldiers were saved,” his mother told an Israeli paper.

Rein would later be killed after the tank he was commanding was hit by a Hezbollah missile. He was one of the last Israelis killed during the war.

5. Lt. David Teich, U.S. Army, Korean War

Teich was in a tank company near the 38th parallel in 1951 when a radio distress call came in from the Eighth Ranger Company. Wounded, outnumbered, and under heavy fire, the Rangers were near Teich’s tanks, and facing 300,000 Communist troops, moving steadily toward their position. Teich wanted to help, but was ordered to withdraw instead, his captain saying “We’ve got orders to move out. Screw them. Let them fight their own battles.”

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Teich during the Korean War

Teich went anyway. He led four tanks over to the Rangers’ position and took out so many Rangers on each tank, they covered up the tank’s turrets. He still gets letters from the troops he saved that day, thanking him for disobeying his order to move out.

6. Cpl. Desmond Doss, U.S. Army, World War II

Doss wanted to serve, he just wasn’t willing to kill to do it and refused every order to carry a weapon or fire one. However, Doss would do anything to save his men, repeatedly braving Japanese fire to pull the injured to the rear. As his unit climbed a vertical cliffside at Okinawa, the Japanese opened up with artillery, mortars, and machine guns, turning his unit back and killing or wounding 75 men. Doss retrieved them one by one, loading them onto a litter and down the cliff.

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President Truman awards the Medal of Honor to Desmond Doss

A few days later, in the mouth of a cave, he braved a shower of grenades thrown from eight yards away, dressed wounds, and made four trips to pull his soldiers out. He treated his own wounds and waited five hours for a litter to carry him off. On the way back, the three men carrying him had to take cover from a tank attack. While waiting, Doss crawled off his litter, treated a more injured man, and told the litter bearers to take the other man. While waiting for them to come back, he was hit in the arm by a sniper and crawled 300 yards to an aid station. He was the first conscientious objector to earn the Medal of Honor.

7. Lt. Thomas Currie ‘Diver’ Derrick, Australian Imperial Force, WWII

The Battle of Sattelberg in the Pacific nation of New Guinea was as hard-fought as any in the Pacific Theater. It took the Australians a grudgingly slow eight days to push the Japanese out of the town and they paid dearly for it. On November 24, 1943, Lt. Derrick was ordered to withdraw his platoon because the CO didn’t think he could capture the heights around Sattelberg.

Derrick’s response: “Bugger the CO. Just give me twenty more minutes and we’ll have this place.”

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Derrick climbed a vertical cliff by himself, holding on with one hand and throwing grenades with the other, stopping only to fire his rifle. He cleared out 10 machine gun nests that night and forced the Japanese to withdraw. The Aussies captured Sattelberg and Derrick was awarded the Victoria Cross.

8. 1st. Lt. Frank Luke, Jr., U.S. Army Air Corps, WWI

In September 1918, Luke was grounded by his commanding officer and told that if he disobeyed, he would be charged with being AWOL. Luke, an ace with 15 aerial victories, flew anyway, going out to find military reconnaissance balloons. Balloons sound like an easy target, but they were heavily defended by anti-aircraft weapons.

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He knocked out three balloons that day before he was forced down by machine gun fire. Once out of his plane (which he landed, he wasn’t shot down) he kept fighting the Germans with his sidearm until a bullet wound killed him. Luke is the first pilot to receive the Medal of Honor.

9. Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, Union Army, Civil War

Sickles’ slight disobedience to orders during the Battle of Gettysburg changed the momentum of the war and may have changed the entire history of the United States. In a move historians haven’t stopped talking about for 150 years, Sickles moved his men to Peach Orchard instead of Little Round Top, as Gen. George G. Meade ordered him. This move prompted Confederate Gen. James Longstreet to attack the Union troops in the orchard and the wheat field, nearly destroying the Union forces there. Which, admittedly, sounds terrible.

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The Confederate move allowed Union troops to flank them in a counteroffensive and completely rout the Confederate forces, winning Gettysburg for the Union and ending Robert E. Lee’s invasion of the North. Sickles himself lost a leg in the fighting, but received the Medal of Honor and helped preserve Gettysburg as a national historic site after the war.

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It’s not the Beretta M9 that sucks, it’s the ammo

There’s a decades-old argument about which pistol round is better that stems from a more basic argument about terminal ballistics – which is just a fancy term for what happens when bullets hit living things.


The two sides of the argument are between those who believe fast, lightweight rounds do more damage, and those who believe heavy, lower-moving rounds impart more energy and “stopping power” on the target.

Listen to the WATM podcast to hear our veteran hosts and a weapons expert discuss the M9 and why ammo matters: 

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Given its history of weapon adoption, it seems the Army is a proponent of the fast, lightweight department. First it swapped out the 7.62mm M14 for the 5.56mm M16, then the .45 1911 for the 9mm M9. While many agree with the first change (sorry M14 lovers) some still think the M9 should never have been adopted without changing the ammunition recipe beforehand.

Here’s why.

Full metal jacket ammo is really great for sending rounds through paper, but its aerodynamic and hydrodynamic design makes it zip through tissue without dumping most of the energy behind it into the target. Shot placement can compensate for this by hitting harder stuff like bones or vital organs, but under the stress of returning fire, that’s damn tough for even the seasoned Delta operator to land perfect hits with a sidearm.

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An M9 service pistol’s magazine rests on the firing line next to a scoring sheet during a pistol qualification course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 7, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell/released)

Ideally, a round will dump all of its energy into a target, which reduces the need for shot placement at the cost of reduced penetration. On a rifle, this is a big drawback. It means if Johnny-Jihad is hiding behind a plywood shack, the rounds will expand in the wooden walls and lose most of their power. With a sidearm, most shooters aren’t trying to blast bad guys through walls – it’s a weapon of last resort.

So when a trooper needs to draw his M9, he shouldn’t have to worry about the bullets failing to stop his attacker.

If the military wants to put the M9 on even-footing with the M1911’s fight-stopping power, it might only need to swap out the M882 round with the good stuff being issued to American law enforcement officers.

Heck, Rangers have been running heavier, jacketed hollow-points for years. This isn’t news to the brass.

A little more than a year ago, the Army declared its Modular Handgun System should be able to operate with special ammunition like jacketed, hollow-point rounds.  The so-called XM17 is slated to replace the M9.

In fact, one recommendation is to replace the lightweight 112gr M882 FMJ cartridges with heavier 147gr expanding hollow-point rounds like those employed by Ranger elements during combat operations. These heavier rounds don’t just expand better in their targets, they’re also subsonic.

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Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Paquin, assigned to Expeditionary Combat Camera reloads an M9 pistol during practical weapons course training at Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex, July 28. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric Dietrich)

This has two major advantageous. First, it makes them better suited to pistols and submachine guns equipped with sound suppressors. And second, it provides a more consistent flight path since the bullet doesn’t go transonic.

That all said, many agree the M9 does have some serious mechanical shortcomings. Slides cracking, junk magazines in the early days of the G-WOT, and the gun’s open-slide gobbling up sand all contribute to a pistol clearly not at home in desert warfare.

But with new magazines that work much better, reinforced slides and a proper maintenance schedule, many experts say the M9 beats the hell out of the 1911 it replaced — but only with proper ammo. Hague convention be damned, expanding ammunition isn’t designed to cruelly maim soldiers but to drop them more reliability. Plus, these same rounds are nearly always stopped by walls, putting fewer civilians at risk in adjacent rooms.

Lastly, if you’re worried about our guys getting hit with these types of rounds, don’t be. Expanding ammunition amplifies the effectiveness of body armor, since both are designed to dissipate force. So as long as Joe has his body armor on, hollow points won’t do any more than a standard pistol round.

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The Battle Of Iwo Jima Began 70 Years Ago — Here’s How It Looked When Marines Hit The Beach

The Battle of Iwo Jima kicked off 70 years ago, on Feb. 19, 1945.


One of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war, the 35-day fight for the desolate island yielded 27 recipients of the Medal of Honor, along with one of the most famous photographs ever taken.

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According to the The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, American military planners thought the battle would only be a few days. Instead, it dragged on for five weeks, at a cost of more than 6,800 American lives. The Japanese lost more than 18,000.

Also Read: This Was The Secret War Off The US Coast During World War II

Here’s what the Marine Corps Historical Company wrote about the first day:

This Day in Marine Corps History. 19 February 1945: At 08:59, one minute ahead of schedule, the first of an eventual 30,000 Marines of the 3rd Marine Division, the 4th Marine Division, and the new 5th Marine Division, making up the V Amphibious Corps, landed on Iwo Jima The initial wave did not come under Japanese fire for some time, as General Kuribayashi’s plan was to wait until the beach was full of the Marines and their equipment. By the evening, the mountain had been cut off from the rest of the island, and 30,000 Marines had landed. About 40,000 more would follow.

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Photo: US Marine Corps

NOW: Soldiers Who Survived The Bloodiest American Battle Of World War II Tell Their Stories

OR: The Legendary Rock Band KISS Has Surprising Roots From World War II d

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The Coast Guard has awesome lasers the FDA won’t let them use

The U.S. Coast Guard, like other law enforcement and national defense agencies, has a great need for targeting optics.


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The Electro-Optical Sensor System (ESS) is a turret-mounted laser that enhances camera imagery and the PEQ-15 is a kind of laser sight for rifles. Both enhance the user’s visual ability in low light, which seems like they would be really useful in say… a dark ocean-like region at night. Or when you’re trying to surprise some drug runners before daybreak.

The Coast Guard has both of these amazing technological wonders, but because the service doesn’t technically fall under the Department of Defense, its use of lasers is ruled by the Food and Drug Administration. As a result, the PEQ-15 can only be used on a low setting while the ESS can’t be used at all.

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Senior Airman Cody Fuller, a 122nd Security Forces member from the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Ind., aims his PEQ-15 laser device on the target, while smoke from burst firing his M4 carbine fills the air, April 11, 2015, at Fort Custer, Michigan. Airmen train in both day and low light conditions to qualify during the course of fire. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. William Hopper)

“The regulations limit the use of the ESS because the system was manufactured for DoD use, and is not in compliance with FDA standards,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chad Saylor, a Coast Guard spokesman, told Navy Times. “The Coast Guard does not possess the same ability as DoD to self-certify laser systems.”

In 2013, the FDA gave the Coast Guard an exemption for ESS, but then demanded they create a list of safety controls to keep it within FDA regulations. Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, wants to change all that.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Petty Officer 2nd Class (AMT2) Lee Fenton of Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron takes aim with a decommissioned .50 caliber precision rifle during training in the St. Johns River, Fla., March 26, 2008. Lee is one of several gunners getting qualified on the new MH-65C dolphin helicopter. HITRON started receiving the new helicopter in September 2007. Some additional features on the new helicopter include a forward-looking infrared device and heads-up-display to enhance night operations, and an electro-optical sensor system to enhance detection capabilities. Coast Guard photograph by PA2 Bobby Nash.

“I don’t know whether they see them as medical devices or something,” Hunter told Navy Times in a phone interview. “We’re going to find out.” Rep. Hunter wrote a letter to the FDA on April 14, 2016 in an effort to give the USCG the ability to certify its own laser systems.

“The Coast Guard’s an operational military unit, it should fall under the same rules, regulations and waivers as DoD,” Hunter said. The FDA’s response is due this week.

 

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Here are 5 healthy habits to work into your busy military lifestyle

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(Photo: Military.com)


“I don’t have time” is the number one phrase that I hear from people when we discuss their health lifestyle. One thing I’ve never had was a bunch of extra time on my hands. Most of my extreme time management started at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where wasted moments can result in some bad situations. During medical school, and currently, as I resident, I continually find ways to get more done in a limited amount of time. Most of this I attribute to desire and discipline, but the other piece is planning.

I’ve summarized 5 things I’ve incorporated into my busy schedule that I think have contributed a huge amount to my health and fitness goals.

1. Keep water easily accessible

You can store water bottles in the trunk of your car for quick, easy access. You can also carry a plastic or glass water bottle. Carrying a large amount of water at one time not only limits the number of times you have to grab another bottle or refill, but it’s also psychological and continually reminds you to drink up. I’ve used a one liter Nalgene bottle since college. It’s not too small but also professional enough to carry around to meetings and around patients, if need be. It’s my habit to refill it 3 times in a day – that way I drink about 1 gallon a day without overthinking it.

2. Keep convenient protein sources on hand

The hardest macronutrient to access quickly is usually protein. It’s quite easy to grab carbohydrate and fat sources, but protein can be difficult to find and pricey. One way to avoid this issue is to keep high protein sources at work or in your car. Some sources I recommend are protein powder (keep it in the huge container and keep a protein shaker nearby it), protein bars (by the box), or tuna in the pre-drained packs (by the box). I’m up walking around a lot so I stuff one of these in my white coat so I’m never without food when things get hectic.

3. If traveling, plan to stay near a gym

If going out of town on business, and you have the opportunity to choose where you’ll be staying, scout out the gym options beforehand. If you are going to stay in a hotel, find out if the hotel has a gym that’s adequate for your workouts. If not, then do a quick internet search on gyms nearby and find out if you can do a day pass. For military members, with ID card, they will typically cut you a break on paying a fee. If there are no gyms nearby, don’t give up. Opt for the bodyweight exercises right there in your room.

4. Incorporate active breaks into your routine

If working at a desk, get up and move as often as possible. If the building has an elevator, choose the stairs most of the time. If staying in a hotel, choose a room on an upper floor and use the stairs. You can also use small weights and bands at work when taking breaks. My co-workers and I use a push-up count system for various events that occur at work, so it’s a fun way of incorporating fitness into our daily workload.

5. Prep meals ahead of time

This one takes a little more time but is the major key to success if you can make it happen. Choose one or two days out of the week to cook all your food for the week. The best day might be when you go to the grocery store. Right after your grocery run, start up your stove. The key is to be creative with the way you cook different items so many things can cook at the same time (i.e. what can go in the oven while the stove top is busy?). If your budget allows, buy certain things pre-cooked. If you like certain vegetables, then stick with those. Once all the foods are cooked up, separate them into separate meal containers and store in the fridge. As each day comes grab what you need and stick it in a ready-to-go meal container (like the ones from Isolator Fitness).

Simone is an Air Force Academy graduate, doctor, and fitness model. You can contact/follow her here: email:simone.maybin@gmail.com, Instagram: @simonemaybin, Snapchat: @simoneyroney, Facebook: Simone Maybin, or Twitter: @simonemaybin.