Almost 55,000 American troops were lost during the Korean War. One Marine is on a mission to memorialize the heroic legacy of a forgotten generation of heroes. Marine Corps PFC Ruben Sanchez Adame, his uncle, was one of them.
MSgt. Samuel Castro chose to enlist in the Marine Corps in 1999, wanting to be a part of something bigger than himself, he said. A Signals Intelligence and Electromagnetic Warfare Chief, it’s a decision he remains proud of.
Two years after boot camp he knocked on his mother’s door. He was holding his new baby with his wife and proudly wearing his uniform. He was unprepared for her reaction. “She broke down crying and said her brother was a Marine and that he’d died in combat during the Korean War,” Castro said.
The emotional moment would reveal a deep family history of military service that had been kept quiet. Later, other relatives would open up about their own service after being inspired by Castro.
In 2008, he had just returned from his third combat deployment and began retracing and researching Adame’s life. Castro discovered that his uncle had served in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. “I was now stationed back home in Texas and I started to identify potential leads. I found a few names of some living Texas veterans that were with that same unit,” he explained.
Norman Callahan and Ray Broward were two of them. After receiving Callahan’s phone number, Castro said he just picked up the phone one day and called. The men embarked on a two hour conversation examining the similarities and differences of their wars.
“I’d just come back from my third or fourth deployment and had more context of war. Not that I would ever compare my experiences deployed with what occurred during the Korean War but that was one of the key aspects of the conversation with Norm and Ray,” Castro explained. “They had a hard time understanding what war was like in Iraq and Afghanistan but then Ray said something that really stuck with me. He said ‘You fight the war you’re given’.”
Callahan had been making annual trips to Chuncheon, Gangwon Province in an effort to find the missing remains of his fallen comrades. During his final trip in 2006, he brought Adame’s graveyard dirt with him, spreading it on the old battlefield ground. He refused to let his fellow Marines be forgotten.
But the Korean War has been labeled the “Forgotten War”.
World War II divided Korea into two parts after its liberation from Japan by the Soviet Union and the United States. The 38th parallel had Soviet Union communists occupying the northern half and Americans occupying the southern half.
The founding of an independent South Korea would lead to a war that would take the lives of over 5 million people. In June of 1950, the 75,000 soldiers with the North Korean Communist Army invaded South Korea in a surprise attack. America immediately came to their aid with the United Nations following suit not long thereafter.
Although the allied troops eventually pushed forward and it appeared the war was going to end, China entered the conflict without warning and joined North Korea. 140,000 Chinese soldiers would overrun the Marines of Charlie Company in 1951 at the Battle of Horseshoe Ridge in South Korea.
Adame, Callahan and Broward were in the middle of it.
In 2016, Castro and his family were stationed in Okinawa, Japan. During a vacation in South Korea, a friend set up a surprise visit to Chuncheon. “I had gotten the pins for the hill location years ago and we used that to actually find that battle site of Horseshoe Ridge where 1 Charlie Company had basically dug in. They were involved in a level of intensity that is hard to comprehend,” he said.
As a fellow Marine, seeing the environment his uncle was forced to fight in first hand was what Castro called “a nightmarish scene”.
Official records eventually revealed that Adame had been sent to the rear for more ammo just as the Chinese launched an offensive with those 140,000 troops. He never made it to the rear and was never seen again. During the 14-hour battle, the unit lost 60 percent of its Marines. Adame was initially labeled MIA but later changed to KIA. His remains were never found.
Callahan and Broward never forgot the war or Adame. For them, as long ago as it was, it still seemed like just yesterday, Castro shared. On that fateful phone call, both men shared stories of his uncle’s courage.
“It had been so many years later but they had never forgotten Ruben’s name or his face and they were in tears when I was on the phone with them,” he said. “To them, they felt like something was missing because their brethren were never found…They are both gone now but they never gave up. That part more than anything really sticks with me.”
From the discovery of his uncle to the journey through the Korean War battlefield that took PFC Ruben Sanchez Adame, it’s an experience Castro remains grateful for. As America heads into Memorial Day, he was asked what he’d want readers to take away from his story. His response was direct. “No man is truly gone unless he is forgotten.”
Members of the U.S. military and their families experience many milestones and seasonal events: the start of PCS travel, back-to-school in the fall, end-of-year holidays, and many more. After a year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of these familiar rhythms were delayed or significantly disrupted, we are all looking forward to the sense of normalcy that a return to these activities will bring. However, there’s one critical period that isn’t ‘circled’ on calendars, yet still is no less significant: the beginning of Hurricane Season.
June 1 was the official start of Hurricane Season, which runs from now until the end of November. As in recent years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s official forecast predicts an above-average season, with potentially 20 named storms. This comes on the heels of 2020, when NOAA actually ran out of hurricane ‘names’ and had to start using Greek letters. Already this year, we’ve had five named storms by early July, including this week’s Hurricane Elsa.
Preparation for hurricanes and other natural disasters – whether fires, floods, or tornadoes – is critically important. But sometimes, all the preparation in the world isn’t enough to ward off serious damage when Mother Nature’s fury strikes. When that happens, Army Emergency Relief (AER), the official nonprofit organization of the U.S. Army, stands ready to help. Since 1942, we’ve assisted 4 million members of the Army team, providing more than $2 billion in assistance to soldiers and their families facing financial challenges of all kinds, including more than $1 billion since 9/11. This assistance typically takes the form of grants and zero-interest loans – far better than relying on the payday lenders that set-up shop near many Army installations, which can charge up to 36% interest (and sometimes higher) on short-term loans for soldiers in need. Plus, AER’s dollars can normally be accessed in as little as a day, which is critical when dealing with emergency situations.
Last year, AER helped nearly 6,000 soldiers and families facing financial difficulty due to natural disasters and other emergencies – including home repairs, evacuation, travel, clothing, hotels, home insurance deductibles, and other urgent expenses. However, we know that because of the financial strains of the pandemic, some military families are still getting back on their feet today. That’s why for 2021, we are announcing plans to allocate at least $1 million in no-payback grants for natural disaster and emergency expenses incurred by active duty and retired Army families.
With this effort, we are continuing to fulfill our mission of supporting the Army team when they need it most. AER isn’t a giveaway program; it’s a hand-up for soldiers and Army families experiencing temporary financial hardship. We help soldiers get ‘back on their feet and back in the fight’.
Active duty soldiers, retired soldiers, reserve and National Guard soldiers activated on Title 10 orders, and surviving spouses are all eligible. In some specific circumstances, assistance may be in the form of a zero-interest loan, and we aim to convert disaster assistance loans to grants once we’ve assessed the total impact of the disaster. AER Officers located at Army installations around the world can assist soldiers with this process. AER approves 99% of eligible requests, so soldiers and their families shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to us if they need help.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes in the Gulf, wildfires fires in the Western States, tornadoes in the Midwest, and many other natural disasters, 2020 was unfortunately a very difficult year for the nation as a whole and certainly for military families. While we all sincerely hope that this year will prove to be less challenging, AER continues to stand ready to provide financial assistance when disasters and other difficult events strike. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness.
Retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason is director of Army Emergency Relief.
Featured image: Rafael Martinez looks down from his front porch at the trash and debris caused by Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 6. Sandy ravaged portions of the Northeastern United States in October 2012. Photo/USMC
In the latest episode of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen has finally done it. She’s managed to pull off her version of one of “Mad Dog” Mattis’s signature moments — albeit after some serious military blunders and at least one close call.
Early on in the episode “Eastwatch,” Daenerys gave a speech that boiled down to “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f#ck with me, I’ll kill you all.”
Well, Randyll Tarly and his son Dickon f#cked with the Mother of Dragons and became crispy critters as a result. The demonstration was effective – in essence, the Breaker of Chains is telling Westeros that they can have “no better friend, no worse enemy” than her.
Not so well-known, though is the fact that Jon Snow is obeying another teaching from “St. Mattis of Quantico.”
In 2010, Mattis famously said:
In this age, I don’t care how tactically or operationally brilliant you are, if you cannot create harmony — even vicious harmony — on the battlefield based on trust across service lines, across coalition and national lines, and across civilian/military lines, you need to go home, because your leadership is obsolete. We have got to have officers who can create harmony across all those lines.
Jon Snow has demonstrated this multiple times throughout the series. He’s managed to stitch together numerous alliances over six-plus seasons – to the point that he now has a coalition of Northerners, Free Folk, Knights of the Vale, and is now carrying out a special operation with the Westerosi version of the “Dirty Dozen.”
Now, for a case of the stupids.
Arya Stark is falling for an “AF is low on water” gambit being run by “Littlefinger” Baelish. Unless Arya can keep calm and ask why Littlefinger wants her to have that specific document, it looks like the Stark girls are headed for trouble – and we could see a fight between Brienne and Arya that is for real.
A Jordanian police officer shot five people, including two U.S. security trainers, at the King Abdullah Training Center in Amman, Jordan on November 9th. Though not the dictionary definition of a “Green-on-Blue” attack, it does show a rise in these types of insider attacks against U.S. personnel. A Green on Blue attack is how NATO describes attacks on NATO and Coalition forces in Afghanistan by Afghan security forces. It’s important to remember that U.S. and Jordan have a long history of cooperation that predates 1991’s Operation Desert Storm.
Green on Blue attacks, by their nature, are difficult to predict. They are damaging to morale, unit cohesion, and international relations. They sap public support for training missions from the people of the United States and cause a loss of credibility for U.S. allies. As the U.S. begins to increase its presence in Iraq to combat ISIS, the shift in Green on Blue tactics is troubling, considering the already-strained U.S. training missions in Iraq.
There are 91 incidents of Green on Blue attack in the Afghan War so far, with 148 Coalition troops killed and 186 wounded. 15% of all Coalition casualties in Afghanistan were Green on Blue attacks in 2012. Security measures were put in place to ensure NATO forces have overwatch when these attacks are likely to occur. The Long War Journal blog keeps a tally on Green on Blue attacks.
April 8, 2015
An Afghan soldier kills a U.S. troop and wounds two more at the governor’s compound in Jalalabad. U.S. troops kill the gunman.
January 29, 2015
One Afghan soldier, a Taliban infiltrator working security, kills three U.S. security contractors and wounds one more at Kabul International Airport.
Sept. 15, 2014:
An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF trainers in Farah province, killing a trainer and wounding another and an interpreter before being killed.
Aug. 5, 2014:
An Afghan fires on US officers at a key leader engagement at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City. U.S. Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene is killed and 16 ISAF personnel are wounded. The attacker was killed by Afghan soldiers.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chuck Hagel, and the U.S. assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Heidi Shyu, participate in singing the congregational hymn during a military funeral in honor of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene. Greene is the highest-ranking service member killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)
June 23, 2014:
Two U.S. military advisers are wounded when an Afghan policeman shoots at them as they arrive at the Paktia provincial police headquarters in Gardez. The attacker is killed in return fire. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.
Feb. 12, 2014:
Two US soldiers are shot and killed with four wounded by two men wearing Afghan National Security Force uniforms in eastern Afghanistan. Several civilians are also wounded by crossfire. The two are killed by Coalition troops.
Oct. 26, 2013:
A member of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) wounds two NATO troops in a firefight at a base on the outskirts of Kabul; the Afghan soldier is shot and killed during the clash. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack and appears to be a result of a dispute between Australian and Afghan troops.
Oct. 13, 2013:
A member of the Afghan National Security Forces kills a US soldier in Paktika province and wounds another. The Afghan escapes.
Oct. 5, 2013:
A local security guard kills a senior ISAF member in southern Afghanistan; the gunman is killed following the incident.
Sept. 26, 2013:
An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF troops in Paktia, killing an American soldier and injuring several others. The attacker is then shot and killed. The Taliban claimed the attack.
Sept. 21, 2013:
An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier shoots up ISAF special forces in Paktia province, killing three and injuring one. The attacker is shot and killed.
July 9, 2013:
A “rogue” ANA soldier fires at Slovakian troops at Kandahar Airfield, killing one and injuring at least two more. The attacker was captured by Afghan forces. He later escapes from a detention facility and joins the Taliban.
June 8, 2013:
ANA soldiers kill two US soldiers and a civilian adviser in Paktika and wound three other Americans. One of the attackers is killed and another captured.
May 4, 2013:
An ANA soldier kills two ISAF troops in an attack in Western Afghanistan.
April 7, 2013:
An ANA soldier fires on Lithuanian soldiers in an armored vehicle at a post in the village of Kasi, wounding two Lithuanian soldiers. The attacker is captured and handed to the Afghans.
April 7, 2013:
Afghan Local Police fire on a US outpost after US troops attempted to arrest a Taliban commander visiting the ALP. No one is hurt.
March 11, 2013:
An Afghan Local Policeman fires on US Special Forces at a military base in Wardak province, killing two and wounding eight. The attacker and two Afghan policemen are killed.
March 8, 2013:
Three ANSF soldiers in an ANSF vehicle drive onto a US military base in Kapisa province, and fire on US troops and civilians, killing one civilian contractor and wounding four US troops. The three attackers are killed.
Jan. 6, 2013:
An ANA soldier fires on British and Afghan troops at Patrol Base Hazrat. He kills one British soldier and wounds six more. He is shot by Afghan security forces while fleeing. The Taliban take credit.
Dec. 31, 2012:
Two ANA soldiers fire on Spanish troops as they patrol in Herat province; no one was killed or injured in the incident.
Dec. 24, 2012:
An Afghan policewoman kills a US civilian adviser inside the Interior Ministry building. The shooter is captured.
Nov. 11, 2012:
An Afghan soldier fires at British troops in Helmand province. One British soldier is killed and one wounded. The Afghan shooter is wounded.
Nov. 10, 2012:
Two Afghan soldiers fire at Spanish troops from the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Badghis province. The two Afghan soldiers are captured; one wounded. One Spanish soldier is wounded.
Oct. 30, 2012:
An Afghan policeman shoots and kills two British soldiers in Helmand province. The policeman escapes.
Oct. 25, 2012:
A “trusted” Afghan policeman kills two US soldiers at a police headquarters in Uruzgan province. The attacker escapes to join the Taliban.
Oct. 13, 2012:
An employee of the National Security Directorate kills a US soldier and a US State Department employee in a suicide attack in Kandahar province. Also killed in the attack were the deputy NDS chief for Kandahar and three other Afghans.
Sept. 29, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots at Coalition forces in Wardak province. One US soldier and a civilian contractor are killed and two US soldiers were wounded. Three other Afghan soldiers are also killed with several others wounded.
Sept. 16, 2012:
An Afghan soldier fires on a vehicle inside Camp Garmser in Helmand province; six NATO troops and a foreign civilian worker are wounded in the attack.
Sept. 16, 2012:
Afghan policemen open fire on a group of Coalition soldiers in Zabul province, killing four and wounding two. The attacker is killed in an exchange with several other Afghan policemen wounded.
Sept. 15, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Local Police fires on a group of British soldiers in Helmand province, killing two and wounding two. The attacker was killed in a firefight.
Aug. 28, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots and kills three Australian soldiers in Uruzgan province. Two more Australian soldiers were wounded in the attack.
Aug. 27, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in Laghman province. The attacker was killed by ISAF soldiers.
Aug. 19, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police turns his weapon on a group of ISAF soldiers in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier and wounding another.
Aug. 17, 2012:
An Afghan Local Police officer kills a Marine and a Navy Corpsman and wounds an ISAF soldier during a training exercise on an Afghan base in Farah province. He was killed in the ensuing firefight.
Aug. 17, 2012:
An Afghan soldier shoots and wounds two NATO soldiers in Kandahar province; the attacker is killed.
Aug. 13, 2012:
A policeman wounds two US soldiers in Nangarhar province. The attacker flees.
Aug. 10, 2012:
Three US Marines are killed and one wounded in an attack in Helmand province. The attacker was captured.
Aug. 10, 2012:
Three US soldiers are killed and one wounded in an attack by an Afghan Local Police commander and his men in Helmand province. The Afghan police commander flees.
Aug. 9, 2012:
US troops kill an Afghan soldier who was attempting to gun them down at a training center in Methar Lam district in Laghman province; two US soldiers are wounded.
Aug. 7, 2012:
Two Afghan soldiers kill a US soldier and wound three others in Paktia province before defecting to the Taliban.
Aug. 3, 2012:
An Afghan Local Policeman wounds one ISAF soldier at a base in Panjwai district in Kandahar province.
July 23, 2012:
Two ISAF soldiers are wounded in an attack in Faryab province. The attacker is killed by ISAF troops.
July 22, 2012:
A member of the Afghan National Police (ANP) kills three civilian trainers who worked for ISAF in Herat province, wounding another. The attacker is killed.
July 5, 2012:
Five ISAF are wounded by an Afghan soldier in Wardak province.
July 1, 2012:
Three British military advisers are killed and another ISAF member is wounded in an attack by an Afghan Civil Order policeman in Helmand province.
June 18, 2012:
An ISAF soldier is killed by “three individuals in Afghan Police uniforms” in the south.
May 12, 2012:
Members of the Afghan Uniformed Police kill two British soldiers and wound two more in Helmand province.
May 11, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills a US soldier and wounds two others in Kunar province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.
May 6, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills one US Marine and wounds another in the Marjah district of Helmand province. The gunman is killed by return fire.
April 26, 2012:
An Afghan commando kills a US Special Forces soldier and an Afghan interpreter in Kandahar province. The Commando is killed by returned fire.
April 25, 2012:
An Afghan Uniformed Policeman wounds two ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province.
April 16, 2012:
An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province; no casualties or injuries.
March 26, 2012:
An ISAF service member dies after a shooting in eastern Afghanistan. He was shot by an alleged member of the Afghan Local Police. The attacker was killed by return fire.
March 26, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two British troops and wounds another ISAF service member in Helmand province. The attacker is killed by return fire.
March 14, 2012:
An Afghan interpreter hijacks an SUV, wounds a British soldier, then attempts to run down a group of US Marines. The attacker crashes his truck and sets himself on fire.
March 2, 2012:
An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers at Camp Morehead in Kabul; no casualties.
March 1, 2012:
An Afghan soldier and a teacher open fire on NATO troops in Kandahar province, killing two and wounding two more, before being killed in returned fire.
Feb. 25, 2012:
An Afghan policeman guns down two US military officers in the Interior Ministry in Kabul before escaping.
Feb. 23, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills two US troops in Nangarhar province.
Feb. 20, 2012:
A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan and wounds two.
Jan. 31, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in Helmand province; the Afghan commander says it was an accident, but the shooter was detained.
Jan. 20, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills four ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. According to AFP, the attacker shot and killed four unarmed French soldiers and wounded another 15 at their base in Kapisa.
Jan. 8, 2012:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier and wounds three others in southern Afghanistan. The attacker is shot and killed by another US soldier.
Dec. 29, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. The dead are two non-commissioned officers of the French Foreign Legion. The Taliban claimed the attack.
Nov. 9, 2011:
Three Australian soldiers are wounded when an Afghan soldier shoots them at an Australian base in Uruzgan province.
Oct. 29, 2011:
An Afghan army trainee fires at a forward operating base in Kandahar province being used to train ANA troops. He kills three Australian soldiers and one interpreter, wounding at least nine others.
Aug. 4, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier while dressed as a policeman in eastern Afghanistan.
July 16, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan after a joint patrol. The attacker runs away.
May 30, 2011:
An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan. The two were in guard towers. The Afghan flees the scene.
May 13, 2011:
Two NATO soldiers mentoring an Afghan National Civil Order brigade are shot and killed inside a police compound in Helmand province.
April 27, 2011:
A veteran Afghan air force pilot opens fire inside a NATO military base in Kabul, killing eight and a contractor.
April 16, 2011:
A newly recruited Afghan soldier who was a Taliban suicide bomber detonated at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman, killing five NATO and four Afghan soldiers. Eight other Afghans were wounded, including four interpreters.
April 4, 2011:
An Afghan soldier opens fire on ISAF vehicles in Kandahar province
April 4, 2011:
An Afghan Border Police officer in Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, shoots and kills two US soldiers, then flees. ISAF reports on April 7 the attacker was killed when he displayed hostile intent after being tracked down in Maimana.
March 19, 2011:
An Afghan hired to provide security at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province shot six US soldiers as they were cleaning their weapons, killing two and wounding four more. The attacker was killed by three other US soldiers.
Feb. 18, 2011:
An Afghan soldier fires on German soldiers at a base in Baghlan province, killing three and wounding six others. The attacker was killed.
Jan. 18, 2011:
An Afghan soldier shoots two Italian soldiers at a combat outpost in Badghis province, killing one and wounding the other before escaping.
Jan. 15, 2011:
An Afghan soldier argues with a Marine in Helmand, threatens him, and later returns and aims his weapon at the Marine. When the Afghan soldier fails to put his rifle down, the Marine shoots him.
Nov. 29, 2010:
An individual in an Afghan Border Police uniform kills six ISAF soldiers during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan; the attacker is killed in the incident.
Nov. 6, 2010:
Two US Marines are killed by an Afghan soldier at a military base in Helmand province. The shooter flees to the Taliban.
Aug. 26, 2010:
Two Spanish police officers and their interpreter are shot dead by their Afghan driver on a Spanish base in Badghis province. The shootings set off a riot outside the base; shots were fired at the base and fires were set. Officials say 25 people were wounded. The attacker was shot dead by other Spanish officers.
July 20, 2010:
An Afghan soldier kills two US civilian trainers at a training base in northern Afghanistan. One NATO soldier is wounded. The attacker dies.
July 13, 2010:
An Afghan soldier kills three British troops in Helmand province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.
Dec. 29, 2009:
An Afghan soldier fires on NATO troops preventing them from approaching a helicopter. He kills a US soldier and injures two Italian soldiers before being injured by NATO troops’ return fire.
Nov. 3, 2009:
An Afghan policeman shoots and kills three UK Grenadier Guards and two members of the UK Royal Military Police; six other British troops are severely wounded alongside two Afghans. The incident occurred while the soldiers were resting after a joint patrol.
Oct. 28, 2009:
An Afghan policeman fires on American soldiers during a joint patrol in Wardak province, killing two and injuring two more before fleeing.
Oct. 2, 2009:
An Afghan policeman kills two American soldiers in Wardak province.
March 27, 2009:
An Afghan soldier shoots and kills two US Navy officers in Balkh province. According to theMilitary Times, the attacker also wounded another US Navy officer. The attacker then fatally shot himself.
Oct. 18, 2008:
An Afghan policeman standing on a tower hurls a grenade and fires on a US military foot patrol as it returned to a base in Paktika province, killing one US soldier. The U.S. returns fire, killing the policeman.
Sept. 29, 2008:
An Afghan policeman fires at a police station in Paktia province, killing one US soldier and wounding three others before being shot himself.
There’s a reason certain areas of the South China Sea are hotly disputed. There are an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil just waiting to be tapped down there. There are also 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.
While many countries lay claim to the vast petrochemical fields underneath the South China Sea, including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, only China has the economic and military might to build man-made islands there – and then militarize those islands with scores of troops.
The latest military forces China is sending to the region is a first for the Chinese Communist Party: its very own, home-built aircraft carrier, the Shandong.
Until those areas of the South China Sea claimed by China are officially recognized as belonging to anyone, the United States Navy will continue to conduct “Freedom of Navigation” missions right through those areas, daring China or anyone else to do something about it.
U.S. Navy ships routinely enter the areas closest to the Spratly and Paracel Island chains, just two of many archipelagos which have either been artificially increased in size by China or have been completely constructed by the communist nation. China has artificially added 3,200 acres of land to the sea in the past decade.
While China has as many as 27 military outposts spread out among the islands of the South China Sea, with various ports, airstrips, aircraft and anti-air defenses, the United States sends its combat ships on these exercises on a regular basis because much of the world doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of Chinese claims on the region.
Freedom of Navigation through the disputed area is important because the area claimed by China covers an important sea lane. Conservative estimates say at least $3.3 trillion of shipping per year runs through those lanes, along with 40% of the global supply of natural gas.
The Chinese carrier Shandong recently departed its homeport of Sanya for the South China Sea to conduct exercises in the disputed areas. The ship finished construction just two years ago and is still in its testing phases according to Chinese news outlet Eastday.
Shandong is replacing China’s other carrier, the Soviet-built Liaoning, as the latter returns to its homeport for maintenance. China complained about the presence of a U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Mustin, accusing the destroyer of conducting illegal reconnaissance operations on the Liaoning.
The United States Navy says everything the Mustin was doing in the South China Sea was legal. The U.S. Navy has increased its presence in the area by as much as 20% over the past year. It flew at least 65 reconnaissance missions in the South China Sea in April 2021, according to Chinese military think tanks. The Chinese Navy has responded with a 40% increase in naval presence.
Despite the tensions in the region, the proximity of the two navies’ ships is unlikely to spark any kind of international incident. Both countries’ military forces conduct routine exercises there, regardless of the outrage or complaints they elicit from one another’s governments.
The United States is determined to prevent military escalation in the region as claimants to the territory, especially the Philippines, turn up the heat on their rhetoric.
Disputes over the region are also unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Though the United Nations and the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague have ruled against each and every Chinese claim on the area, China refuses to acknowledge the courts’ authority on the issue.
Since the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953, a tenuous ceasefire has existed between South Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Although gunfire has been exchanged across the demilitarized zone on the 38th parallel, the conflict is largely marked by espionage. In 1998, the extraction of North Korean spies from South Korea was foiled by an unlikely and unintentional defense mechanism.
On June 22, a North Korean Yugo-class became disabled in South Korean waters. About 11 miles east of Sokcho and 21 miles south of the inter-Korean border, the submarine became tangled in a fishing drift net. The North Korean sailors attempted to free the submarine to no avail.
The surfaced and disabled submarine was observed by South Korean fishermen who notified the South Korean Navy of their sighting. A corvette was promptly dispatched to intercept the North Koreans. The submarine was towed by the corvette back to the navy base at Donghae with its crew still inside. However, the submarine sank on its way into port. It is still unclear if the submarine sunk due to damage sustained or if it was scuttled. The next day, the North Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency announced that a submarine had been lost in a “training accident.”
On June 25, the submarine was salvaged by South Korea. It had sunk to a depth of approximately 30 meters. The bodies of nine North Koreans were recovered from the submarine. The five sailors who crewed the submarine were apparently executed. Four of them had been shot in the head. “It appears that four men, including the commander, shot the five men to death, then committed suicide,” said the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff Lt. Gen. Chung Young Jin.
Also discovered in the submarine were two automatic rifles, two machine guns, a shoulder-fired rocket launcher, diving equipment, oxygen tanks, military boots and hand grenades. While this equipment was not exceptional to find on a military submarine, the presence of South Korean drinks suggested that the agents had completed an espionage mission. The submarine’s logbook noted multiple incursions into South Korean waters on previous voyages. The bodies of the submarine crew were buried in the Cemetery for North Korean and Chinese Soldiers.
1998 was a year of high tension on the Korean peninsula. Following the 1998 Sokcho submarine incident, a dead North Korean commando and an infiltration craft were discovered near Donghae in July. In December, a semi-submersible vessel exchanged fire with South Korean ships near Yeosu and later sunk with all hands aboard in what became known as the 1998 Yeosu submersible incident. However, the involvement of a fishing net and a fishing boat in the Sokcho submarine incident makes it stand out from the others.
The mission of Got Your Six is to normalize the depiction of veterans on film and television and dispel common myths about the veteran population. Together with partners in the entertainment industry, business, and politics, it casts a wide net of influence and social change.
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, Got Your Six executive director Bill Rausch and WATM’s Logan Nye discuss the depiction of veterans in mainstream entertainment.
Bill Rausch is a former Army Major with over 10 years of service, including 17 months in Iraq serving under Gen.s Casey and Petraeus while assigned to the Information Operations Task Force. Prior to joining GY6, Bill was Political Director at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America where he oversaw policy and advocacy campaigns.
A U.S. Marine was killed in a freak accident on August 4 after a tree fell on him during physical training at his California base.
Lance Cpl. Cody Haley, 20, was working out in a wooded area at Camp Pendleton with members of his unit when the incident took place. While on a run, the Marines tried to move a log they were unaware was holding up a dead tree, which fell on top of Haley and killed him, according to a source familiar with the matter.
A native of Hardin, Iowa, Haley had deployed in 2016 with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He was awarded the National Defense Service medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service medal, and the Sea Service Deployment ribbon, the Marine Corps said.
“We are heartbroken at the tragic loss of a member of the Marine Corps family, and we will do all we can to comfort the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased,” the Corps said in a news release to the Marine Times.
Three war graves have vanished – looted in the name of the almighty dollar.
Or in this case, the currency in question is the Indonesia rupiah. And others — including two of the most famous losses of World War II — are at grave risk.
The HNLMS Java. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
According to a report by NavalToday.com, three Dutch vessels lost during the Battle of the Java Sea have now been completely looted. Nothing is left of the cruisers HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java, or the destroyer HNLMS Kortenear, which were the graves of almost 900 Dutch sailors who perished when they sank.
The Battle of the Java Sea was a serious defeat for the Allies in the early stages of World War II.
In a night-time surface battle, Japanese ships sank the De Ruyter, Java, Kortenear, and the British destroyers HMS Jupiter and HMS Electra. The British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter was badly damaged in the battle, which cost the lives of 2,300 Allied personnel.
The Dutch vessels are not the only ones at risk.
The USS Houston in the 1930s. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
The Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and the American heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30), sunk in the Battle of the Sunda Strait, also have been looted for scrap metal, although not to the extent of the Dutch vessels.
Also, two capital ships sunk in the early days of the war — the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse, both war graves, have been desecrated by looters.
Even wrecks off the United States have not been immune to looters paying a visit.
According to a 2003 U.S. Navy release, the Nazi submarine U-85, sunk in 1942 by the destroyer USS Roper (DD 147) about 15 miles off the coast of North Carolina, was visited by private divers who took the vessel’s Enigma machine.
The divers claimed to not realize they weren’t supposed to take items from the wreck. The United States Navy eventually allowed the code machine to be donated to the Altantic Graveyard Museum.
An airman who braved enemy fire to save fellow troops during a river evacuation in Afghanistan in 2009 will receive a Silver Star for his bravery, a general said.
Airman First Class Benjamin Hutchins, a tactical air control party airman supporting the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, was approved for the military’s third-highest valor award in April and will receive the honor during a ceremony Nov. 4 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, an official said.
His heroic actions during a three-day period through Nov. 6, 2009, were recounted during a speech by Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, on Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space Cyber Conference near Washington, D.C.
“This is an example of our airmen,” Carlisle said.
Hutchins and a team of soldiers were on the west bank of the Bala Murghab River looking for a supply airdrop, Carlisle said. One of the canisters fell off target into the swift-moving river, and two soldiers swam out to retrieve it.
But Taliban militants on the east side of the river were watching.
The soldiers were swept out by a “strong current they weren’t anticipating,” Carlisle said. “Airman Hutchins jumps into the river after [them] … but the Taliban start[ed] shooting at the last man in the water.”
Hutchins, swimming around the frigid waters for roughly an hour, evaded Taliban fire by skimming the surface “with [only] his nose and mouth” while diving back down to find the troops.
Additional soldiers with the 82nd Airborne soon came to the aid of all three men. But the Taliban began another firefight — with machine guns, sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades — on the east bank the following day.
“They come out, and start running across an open field and take on the Taliban. They take out the rocket propeller, the machine gun. There’s still dealing with the snipers, but Hutchins, being a TACP, gets on the radio … calls in a [strike] from an MQ-1 Predator in a danger-close situation, but … it takes out the Taliban,” Carlisle said.
The award’s narrative, written by the airman’s former supervisor, Master Sgt. Donald Gansberger, describes the action in even more detail.
“Airman Hutchins moved under heavy and accurate rocket propelled grenade, machine gun and sniper fire across an open field with little to no cover or concealment,” it states. “While continuing to move forward, he managed to direct the sensors of overhead close air support while simultaneously providing accurate supporting fire with his M-4 rifle.”
“He killed one enemy armed with a rocket propelled grenade launcher, at close range, before the enemy could fire and wounded an additional enemy fighter all while providing targeting and controlling information to an overhead unmanned aerial vehicle that destroyed a second enemy fighting position with a Hellfire missile,” the document states.
“Airman Hutchins’ quick, decisive actions, tactical presence and calm demeanor enabled friendly forces to eventually overwhelm the enemy stronghold,” it states. “His actions forced the enemy fighters to break contact and relinquish critical ground to friendly forces which enabled the safety of the recovery efforts for the two missing Soldiers.”
In an ironic twist, Carlisle said, “they did eventually get their container back.”
The Air Force previously said Hutchins had been submitted for the Bronze Star Medal with Valor. However, the service later clarified Hutchins had instead been submitted for two Bronze Star medals for his actions, which instead were combined into one Silver Star award.
Hutchins medically retired from the Air Force in 2014 with injuries sustained as a result of enemy attack during a separate deployment in 2012, Air Combat Command told Military.com.
The Defense Department is reviewing more than 1,100 post-9/11 valor citations to determine if they warrant a higher award such as the Medal of Honor, officials announced in January.
In 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of all decorations and awards programs “to ensure that after 13 years of combat the awards system appropriately recognizes the service, sacrifices and action of our service members,” officials told USA Today at the time.
When it comes to weapons failure, the panjandrum, or “The Great Panjandrum,” is right near the top. Designed by the British during WWII, it was basically two wheels held together by a bomb and included rocket propulsion. The plan was to break out the panjandrum on D-Day in order to penetrate the Nazi’s coastal defense and fortifications, the Atlantic Wall.
The Panjandrum was projected to break through the concrete Atlantic Wall in order to create a gap wide enough for tanks to penetrate. The theory seemed flawless and the weapon was thought to be feasible and an effective. It would allow the British to storm the beach without sending a large numbers of soldiers to face lethal enemy fire. However, a plan and execution are two very different things in war.
However, after a few modifications, the panjandrum proved during its final test to have the reliability of a last-minute high school mouse-trap car project. The result: one dead dog and one dead project.
As the rockets continued to fire the Panjandrum spun erratically, and people (generals included) went running for cover. The cameraman was almost bowled over, and eventually the machine disintegrated. The dog of one of the army officers present chased down one of the rockets strewn on the beach and was killed by it.
Head over to War History Online to read more and check out videos of the failed test and a recreation of the prototype from 2009 on the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States paid a special visit to Fort Bragg on Thursday to pay respects to Army special operations forces killed while fighting the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
Hamdullah Mohib, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, joined Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo in placing a wreath at a memorial wall outside the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters.
Tovo is the commanding general of USASOC.
Mohib, who served as deputy chief of staff to the president of Afghanistan before being appointed ambassador to the U.S., also spoke with soldiers who have served or will soon deploy to Afghanistan.
The memorial wall, located on Meadows Memorial Parade Field, lists the names of more than 1,200 special operations soldiers who have died in conflicts dating to the Korean War. More than 330 of the names have been added since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At least four U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year, all of them belonging to USASOC units.
The latest losses were last month, when Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, both part of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, were killed in southern Nangarhar province.
Mohib, who is based in Washington, was a special guest of Maj. Gen. James B. Linder.
Linder relinquished command of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School during a ceremony Thursday morning. He’ll next serve as commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan and Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan.
Officials said Mohib’s presence highlighted the strong ties between Afghanistan and Army special operations.
“Since 2001, the men and women of U.S. Army Special Operations Command have been on continuous rotations in and out of Afghanistan,” Linder said. “Our soldiers have formed enduring friendships with our Afghan commandos and special forces partners. We have cemented a brotherhood through blood, sweat and sacrifice.”
Fort Bragg soldiers have historically played a key role in the 16-year war in Afghanistan. Local troops have been continuously deployed to the country since the earliest days of the war.
And last month, the Army announced that 1,500 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division would soon deploy to the country.