Now you can own an M249 Para - We Are The Mighty
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Now you can own an M249 Para

The folks at FN America just unveiled the latest model in their FN Military Collector Series, the FN M249S Para.


It is a civilian version of the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon developed for paratroopers and, like its full-sized brother, is certain to turn heads when it’s pulled out to send some rounds downrange.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Sgt. Craig McComsey, a member of the Mississippi Army National Guard, serving with the Zabul Agribusiness Development Team, keeps a close watch from the roof of the district center, Shah Joy, Afghanistan. (Army photo)

The FN Military Collector Series is a line of faithful reproductions built to exacting standards by the same builders of the actual government-issue service rifles. While other black rifles look like M4s and M16s, FN America Military Collector Series guns are M4s and M16s, with the only meaningful difference the lack of select fire capability.

Read More: Now you can own the same rifle you carried in the military (almost)

While the two rifles in the series take “replica” to a whole new level, the  M249 SAW models take things a step farther. Though semi-automatics rather than machine guns, there just aren’t other guns like this available without signing up for a term of service.

Now you can own an M249 Para
(Photo from FN America)

“The M249S Para is the fourth in our series of classic, semi-automatic FN military rifles and like the Standard, the Para is authentic to the last possible detail,” said John Keppeler, senior vice president of sales and marketing for FN America, LLC. “You’ll notice only two major differences between the semi- and full-auto versions — the barrel length and reconfigured internal components to change the rifle’s operation from open-bolt to closed-bolt.”

“Authenticity was critical in this series and we changed as little as possible,” he added.

The FN M249S Para has a machine gun grade 16.1-inch barrel, flip-up feed tray, integrated bipod, and the adjustable telescoping and rotating buttstock. It has an overall length of 31.5 inches to 37 inches and weighs in at a hefty 16 pounds — slightly lighter than the FN M249S Standard.

It can operate with linked ammunition or a standard M16 or M4/AR15 magazine.

Like the M249S Standard, the M249S Para has a top cover with an integrated MIL-STD-1913 rail for optics or other accessories, a folding carrying handle, crossbolt safety, non-reciprocationg charging handle, and quick-change barrel capability.

Now you can own an M249 Para
(Photo from FN America)

While the military M249 Para was originally intended for use by airborne infantry, the weapon’s shorter length and lighter weight have made it popular with many gunners, particularly those who spend a lot of time getting in and out of vehicles and those deployed to urban combat zones where space is tight and ranges are often short.

The FN Military Collector Series guns are top-notch firearms and draw a lot of attention when they’re sighted, but that quality and near-military authenticity does not come cheaply.

The FN M249S Para has an MSRP of $8,799 in black and $9,199 in flat dark earth. But owning and shooting one of these guns, particularly with a belt of 5.56, could make the steep price seem like a good deal.

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This former soldier says Team RWB helped him make the transition from service to civilian life

With most veteran service organizations, the only way to get in the door is to show your military cred — if you didn’t serve, they don’t serve.


And that’s great for some. But for groups like Team Red, White Blue, the whole point is to bring veterans and the civilian community together.

If you didn’t serve, we’re here to serve, they say.

And that proved a crucial difference for Mark Benson, a former Army fire direction specialist who left the military in 2004 after serving a tour during the invasion of Iraq. It was that civilian-to-military connection that attracted Benson to Team RWB, and it’s a distinction that he believes helps former service members survive in the civilian world.

Now you can own an M249 Para
(Photo courtesy of Rick Benson Facebook)

 

“Team RWB’s mission is also to help folks rejoin the civilian world. If you’re not engaged with civilians then how are you ever going to connect with the civilian world?” Benson said. “If you’re just hanging out with a bunch of veterans, then you just kind of have your own little microcosm.”

Living in the Los Angeles area is like living in a military veteran desert, he said, it’s hard to find folks who get what doing a combat deployment means. But through his work as a community liaison with Team RWB, Benson found that even those who didn’t serve have a lot of support to offer.

“Some of these non-veterans did experience things in their life where they had a hard time and they kind of can relate to a certain extent,” Benson said. “A lot of the people that are in the leadership in the LA chapter aren’t veterans, but they do have a story. And I think that’s important.”

Benson has been a community liaison for Team RWB for almost a year and helped run with the “stars and stripes” in this year’s cross-country Old Glory Relay. It was Benson’s first run and served as a poignant reminder of the service he and others gave of themselves and provided an outlet to show a new generation the meaning of patriotism and selflessness.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Support Team Red White, Blue by donating today!

During a stretch of the relay, Benson and his team of runners passed by an elementary school where the kids were lined up outside reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Later in the run, the Old Glory Relay team paid their respects with the flag at a veterans memorial cemetery.

“It was kind of cool to start out with the young future leaders of the world and then go pay our respects to those who gave their lives to help those young leaders live their lives in peace,” Benson said.

With just over a year being part of Team Red, White Blue, Benson sees his involvement deepening and the influence of his organization growing. Particularly in a non-military town like Los Angeles, it’s groups like Team RWB that bring veterans and their community together and help narrow that military-civilian divide.

“LA is probably one of those areas that has a larger civilian-military divide,” Benson said. “But it seems like in our area at least, there’s definitely a lot more understanding.”

There are many ways to get involved with Team Red, White Blue and the Old Glory Relay, so check out their website to get more information – or text ‘OGR’ to 41444 to learn more and donate! You can track the flag on its journey across America at the OGR Live tracking page.

 

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Turkish special forces opened a ‘sniper cafe’ on the front line against ISIS

An old Turkish proverb notes that “coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.” One possible interpretation for this is that you should enjoy your coffee under any circumstance.


Even fighting the Islamic State.

Turkish special forces troops are said to be taking this to the extreme, opening a sort of coffee house on a rooftop overlooking the Syrian city of Al-Bab. The Turks sent their special operators into the area in December, and now the city is said to be surrounded by Turkish forces.

Now you can own an M249 Para
The livemap of the Syrian War near Al-Bab as of Feb. 15, 2017. The red represents the Free Syrian Army, ISIS is the black area, and Turkish-controlled territory is in dark green.

Reddit user “bopollo” posted a few photos of Turkish troops near a sniper overwatch position. While there’s no concrete evidence the photo was taken in Al-Bab, the writing is on the wall.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Literally.

Bopollo is a frequent commenter and contributor on operations and developments of the Syrian Civil War. The photo above shows directions to both Al-Bab and Kabbasin, both towns in Syria still held by ISIS.

The road between the two cities is also held by the terror organization. It’s fairly common for troops to write graffiti on the walls of buildings they captured and held. It turns out Turkish special operators are no different.

Related: This collection of graffiti tells the real story of what modern war is like

While it’s entirely unlikely that special forces troops opened an actual functioning business, the building is more likely just an area secured by the Su Altı Taarruz, Turkey’s Navy SEALs (you can see the flag with the SAT logo on it above).

Now you can own an M249 Para

But because Turkish people are funny and there are at least 106 Starbucks locations in Istanbul, it’s likely some troops are living it up as best they can on the front lines against ISIS.

The U.S. Army won war after war fueled by coffee – turns out Turkey does too. They just don’t have a Green Beans…yet.

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Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are looking for badass vets to star in new reality show

Now you can own an M249 Para
(Photo by Matt Baron/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock)


Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are producing a new reality show for Verizon’s Go90 mobile video network. The show, called The Runner, will feature a contestant trying to make his or her way across the country without being caught by a team of pursuers or the audience. The winner of the game will get over $1 million.

The Runner is casting the show in two groups: Runners and Chasers. According to the show’s producers Runners must be shrewd, in good shape and independent. Runners have no one to rely on but themselves. The ideal runner is adaptive, resilient, street smart and great with strategy.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Chasers must apply as a two-person team. The team must be outgoing, clever, competitive, and in good shape. It doesn’t matter if the team consists of friends, relatives, or co-workers as long as they can strategize and win.

The producers are specifically looking for military personnel with SERE or other survival training or a special operations background.

The deadline to apply is Thursday, April 28.  Apply at www.TheRunnerCasting.com.

 

 

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force will retire the B-1 for stealthy new B-21s

The Air Force is mapping a two-fold future path for its B-1 bomber which includes plans to upgrade the bomber while simultaneously preparing the aircraft for eventual retirement as the service’s new stealth bomber arrives in coming years.

These two trajectories, which appear as somewhat of a paradox or contradiction, are actually interwoven efforts designed to both maximize the bomber’s firepower while easing an eventual transition to the emerging B-21 bomber, Air Force officials told Warrior Maven.


“Once sufficient numbers of B-21 aircraft are operational, B-1s will be incrementally retired. No exact dates have been established,” Maj. Emily Grabowski, Air Force spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven. “The Air Force performs routine structural inspections, tests and necessary repairs to ensure the platform remains operationally viable until sufficient numbers of B-21s are operational.”

Now you can own an M249 Para
U.S. Air Force artist rendering of B-21 Raider

The B-21 is expected to emerge by the mid-2020s, so while the Air Force has not specified a timetable, the B-1 is not likely to be fully retired until the 2030s.

Service officials say the current technical overhaul is the largest in the history of the B-1, giving the aircraft an expanded weapons ability along with new avionics, communications technology and engines.

The engines are being refurbished to retain their original performance specs, and the B-1 is getting new targeting and intelligence systems, Grabowski said.

A new Integrated Battle Station includes new aircrew displays and communication links for in-flight data sharing.

“This includes machine-to-machine interface for rapid re-tasking and/or weapon retargeting,” Grabowski added.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Top view of B-1B in-flight.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Another upgrade called The Fully Integrated Targeting Pod connects the targeting pod control and video feed into B-1 cockpit displays. The B-1 will also be able to increase its carriage capacity of 500-pound class weapons by 60-percent due to Bomb Rack Unit upgrades.

The B-1, which had its combat debut in Operation Desert Fox in 1998, went to drop thousands of JDAMs during the multi-year wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The B-1 can hit speeds of MACH 1.25 at 40,000 feet and operates at a ceiling of 60,000 feet.

It fires a wide-range of bombs, to include several JDAMS: GBU-31, GBU-38 and GBU-54. It also fires the small diameter bomb-GBU-39.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

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That time someone sued Pepsi because they didn’t give him a Harrier jet

A late-1990s television spot jokingly priced a U.S. Marine Corps Harrier jet as a possible “Pepsi Points” prize — at the mere cost of 7,000,000 Pepsi Points – that’s 16.8 million cans of Pepsi.


“Tens of millions of Americans, and people around the world saw the spot, got the joke, and laughed,”  John Harris of Pepsi-Cola told CBS News in 2015 flashback story.

Now you can own an M249 Para

Most of the TV-watching public may all have laughed (or at least smiled) at the idea of a high school student doing the Harrier’s trademark vertical landing at this high school, but John Leonard wasn’t playing around.

No, Leonard didn’t buy 16.8 million cans of Pepsi, but the 21-year-old did send in 15 Pepsi Points and a check for $700,008.50, which – according to the rules of the contest – Leonard could do. Pepsi refused to give the guy his jet.

“Mr. Leonard saw the spot, hired business advisers and lawyers, and decided to take legal action,” said the Pepsi spokesman.

 

Leonard vs. PepsiCo, Inc. was the case of 1996. The young business student accused Pepsi of fraud and breach of contract, while Pepsi argued the commercial’s use of the jet was “just a joke.”

“People point out that this Pepsi generation they’re trying to sell to is me,” Leonard countered, but his lawsuit was thrown out in a summary judgment, saying “if it is clear that an offer was not serious [to an objective, reasonable person], then no offer has been made.” The specific language of the court’s ruling is as follows:

Plaintiff’s understanding of the commercial as an offer must also be rejected because the Court finds that no objective person could reasonably have concluded that the commercial actually offered consumers a Harrier Jet.

Even if the plaintiff won the Harrier, it would have been a mere shadow of the Calvin and Hobbes-like boyhood dream John Leonard probably imagined. In a 1996 article from CNN, the Pentagon said it would have to completely demilitarize the jet before giving it to a civilian, which means its guns and air-to-air and air-to-ground missile capability would be out, as well as its vertical takeoff, which is pretty much is the whole reason behind going through so much trouble for a Harrier.

The cost of using and maintaining a Harrier would be very expensive for the young man. The real price of a Harrier in 1996 was $33.8 million and used 11.4 gallons of fuel per minute. Leonard included $10 for shipping and handling, as per the contest rules.

PepsiCo. returned Leonard’s certified check.

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DARPA tested an awesome plan to find dirty bombs

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency held a massive scavenger hunt in the nation’s capitol to collect data on how to find dirty nuclear bombs planted by terrorists.


Now you can own an M249 Para
Photo: YouTube/DARPA

Participants in the scavenger hunt, mostly ROTC cadets and midshipmen from the nearby Naval Academy, were playing a game to find a geneticist who was “mysteriously abducted.” But they carried cell-phone sized sensors that sniffed out radioactive material as they moved around the city for hours, allowing DARPA to test the ability of the sensors to search for a covert nuke.

The sensors, part of DARPA’s SIGMA program, are low-cost gamma and neutron radiation sniffers that are networked with smartphones so they can relay information to a central point.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Photo: YouTube/DARPA

Before this scavenger hunt, DARPA had only tested up to 100 sensors at a time. But the network of sensors is supposed to provide coverage of entire cities or regions, allowing law enforcement to search for and find stolen or smuggled nuclear material before it can be used in a weapon.

In a real attack, police would need to scan vast areas using hundreds or more sensors. So, the Nov. 10 test featured 1,000 sensors feeding their information into the program’s software.

The scavenger hunt scenario was developed to keep the cadets and midshipmen engaged as they carried the devices around Washington, D.C., for hours. Even larger tests are planned for 2017 and DARPA partners hope to push the final version of SIGMA to local, state, and federal police in 2018.

Dirty bombs are conventional explosives with nuclear material mixed in or layered on top of the main charge. The nuclear material does not significantly add to the total blast force of the weapon, but it is spread over a large area to frighten residents and to force a costly and time-consuming cleanup process.

Dirty bombs are easier to make than standard nuclear devices, and the government has worked to prevent a dirty bomb terrorist attack for years.

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This artist flies with the Air Force to capture its modern history in paint

Rick Herter is one of the most prolific artists in the world of aviation art. His work hangs in private collections, museums and both corporate and military headquarters. So how did Herter get so good at painting aircraft? Part of it is his firsthand experience with them.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Pieces like “Heading Home Reflections” highlight Herter’s combined love of art, aviation, and history (Rick Herter)

Herter’s fascination with aircraft and history first came from illustrations of the Battle of Britain in Time Life Magazine. He loved the drawings of Spitfires and Messerschmitts dogfighting over the Tower of London.

Working on a southwest Michigan farm as a boy, Herter also regularly saw Cessnas and Piper Cubs flying the navigational route directly overhead. However, his love of flight was propelled furthest on his 13th birthday.

His mother, an amateur artist herself, took him to their local airport to fly in an airplane. With a former WWII B-24 pilot at the controls, Herter’s half-hour in the air solidified his love for all things aviation.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Herter calls “If Only I Could Fly” an autobiographical piece (Rick Herter)

Through the rest of his childhood, Herter hung out at the airport in his spare time. A family friend occasionally took him flying in a Cessna 182. “I tried to fly as often as I could from the age of 13 until I went away to college,” Herter recalled.

In 1984, Herter graduated from Spring Arbor University with a BA in art. He initially went into the advertising industry as an illustrator with a diverse portfolio. However, after meeting with the art director of an ad agency, Herter decided he needed to specialize in just one subject. Naturally, that subject was aviation.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Herter still paints other scenes like “Summer of 1944, The Daylight Arrives” (Rick Herter)

His foray into aviation art came in the form of an air show poster. Thirteen weeks before the show, Herter walked into the director’s office and said, “You guys need a souvenir poster and I’m the guy to do it for you.” With continued confidence, Herter donated the art and worked with a local print shop to donate the posters to the High on Kalamazoo Air Show. The poster went on to win a national award and Herter began receiving commissions the next year.

Herter worked commissions all across the country. Within two years, he was approached at an air show by an Army colonel who was a fan of his work. The colonel referred Herter to the Air Force Art Program at the Pentagon to which he submitted his portfolio and was accepted in 1987.

Now you can own an M249 Para
“Into The Wind, The Enterprise on Yankee Station” (Rick Herter)

AFAP artists create and donate art free of charge to capture the service’s modern history. To best do this, artists like Herter generally travel Mil-air and stay on bases with service members during a mission. In fact, taxpayer dollars are only used to reimburse their travel per diem. The artists have furnished all the art supplies necessary to create the AFAP’s 10,000+ piece collection.

Using Herter’s work for recruiting purposes, the Air Force Recruiting Service nominated him for their highest form of recognition, the American Spirit Award, which he won. “It was quite an honor,” Herter humbly noted, “and it still is an honor.” Other notable recipients of the award include Bob Hope, Dolly Parton and Ted Turner.

Now you can own an M249 Para
“Ground Zero, Eagles on Station” (Rick Herter)

Shortly after the attacks on 9/11, Herter received a call from Russell “Rusty” Kirk, the director of the art program. The Secretary of the Air Force tasked Kirk with finding an artist to paint the first F-15s as they arrived over the World Trade Center on that infamous day. Kirk offered the job to Herter who gladly took on the challenge.

In January 2002, Herter travelled to Langley Air Force Base where he met with the Air National Guard Squadrons that responded over Manhattan on 9/11. In the back seat of an F-16, he flew with the 119th Fighter Wing and joined F-15s of the 102nd Fighter Wing in a Noble Eagle combat air patrol over New York.

Now you can own an M249 Para
“First Pass, Defenders Over Washington” (Rick Herter)

“We flew down Manhattan and we started to make the turn at the south end, and you could look straight down past the Eagles and see Ground Zero,” Herter recalled. “As I came over the site, I could see the massive pile of debris…I was stunned.” From this mission came two of Herter’s most renowned paintings, “First Pass, Defenders Over Washington” and “Ground Zero, Eagles on Station.”

In addition to Noble Eagle, Herter flew with the first wave of Air Force transports that brought the 82nd Airborne Division into Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy. He also flew on multiple combat missions in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Now you can own an M249 Para
“Century of Flight” (background) covers 29,000 square feet and took Herter and another artist 16 months (Western Michigan University)

Outside of his military work, Herter has been commissioned by top aviation companies like Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Delta Airlines. He also holds a Guinness World Record. Herter painted the mural “Century of Flight” at the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science museum in Kalamazoo. Measuring 32×900 feet, it is the largest indoor, hand-painted mural in the world. Still, Herter remains humble about his achievement in the record book.

“On the other side of the page is the guy who can stick the most marbles up his nose,” he joked. “I’m proud to just say it was a big piece of art.”

Herter has also flown with the other branches of the military to capture their aerial histories. Through his work, Herter hopes to be able to communicate the service and sacrifices of the armed forces to the rest of the country.

“I’ve met so many incredible troops…and for me, truly, as a civilian who has never had to deploy, it blows you away,” Herter said. “I wish more civilians had a chance to see those things.”

Herter’s work can be viewed on Facebook, Instagram, and his website.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Herter after a flight with the Tigers of the 79th Fighter Squadron (Rick Herter)

Feature Image: Composite of Herter after a flight with the 79th squadron and “Spirit Visitation” by Rick Herter

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The hater’s guide to the US Marine Corps

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


The military branches are like a family, but that doesn’t mean everyone always gets along. With different missions, uniforms, and mindsets, troops love to make fun of people in opposite branches. Of course when it counts in combat, the military usually works out its differences.

Still, inter-service rivalry is definitely a thing. We already showed you how everyone usually makes fun of the Air Force. Now, we’re taking on the U.S. Marine Corps.

The easiest ways to make fun of the Marine Corps

One of the quickest ways to make fun of Marines is to call them dumb. Plenty of acronyms and inside jokes have been invented to harp on this point, like “Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Essential” or even referring to them as “jarheads.”

The interesting thing about calling Marines names however, is that somewhere along the line they just decide to own that sh-t. Many terms used in a derogatory fashion — jarhead, leatherneck, and devil dog — eventually morph into terms that Marines actually call themselves. It’s like a badge of honor.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Don’t give people excuses now. (Photo: Screenshot/Youtube)

The thinking that Marines are not intelligent often stems from it being the smaller service known more for fighting on the ground, and the thinking that shooting at the bad guys doesn’t take smarts. There is some truth to this — they don’t call them “dumb grunts” for nothing — but the Marine Corps infantry is actually a very small part of the overall Corps, which also has many more personnel serving in admin, logistics, supply, and air assets.

In a head-to-head battle of ASVAB scores (the test you take to get into the military), the Air Force or Navy would probably come out on top, due to these services having many more technical fields. But plenty of Marine infantrymen (this writer included) know that being in the Marine infantry — or at least being really good at it — takes plenty of brainpower paired with combat skills and physical fitness.

Other common ways to make fun of the Corps are to go after their gear or barracks, since they usually get the hand-me-downs from everyone else, or to focus on their insanely-short and weird-looking haircuts.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Stop trying to make the horseshoe happen. It’s not going to happen. (Photo: YouTube)

Then there are people who tell Marines they aren’t even a branch, they are just a part of the Navy. To which every Marine will inevitably reply, “Yeah, the men’s department.”

This brings us to an important point to remember that in every insult on the Marine Corps, there is at least some truth behind it. But Marines are masters at spinning an uncomfortable truth into something positive, a point not lost on a Navy sailor writing a poem in 1944 calling them “publicity fiends.” Here are some examples:

When a new Marine comes to the unit, he or she might be told, “Welcome to the Suck.” Basically, a new guy is told that his life is going to suck and that’s a good thing.

“Retreat hell! We just got here!” and “Retreat hell! We’re just attacking in another direction.” — Even when the Marines are pulling back from the front, they aren’t retreating. They are attacking in a different spot, or conducting a “tactical withdrawal.”

“If the Marine Corps wanted you to have a wife, you’d be issued one.” — Forget about married life. Just focus on shooting and breaking things.

Now you can own an M249 Para

But if you want a real taste of the Marines, this quote from an anonymous Canadian (via The Marine Corps Association) just about sums it up:

“Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it was some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshiping their Commandant almost as if he was a god, and making weird noises like a band of savages. They’ll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest SOBs I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man’s normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, of the United States Marines I’ve come in contact with, are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet.”

Why to actually hate the Marine Corps

The Marine Corps is the smallest branch of the military, and it has a reputation for getting all the leftovers. This means everything: weapons, aircraft, and gear have traditionally been hand-me-downs from the Army.

Let’s start with the barracks: Usually terrible, though for some it’s getting better. There’s a rather infamous (thanks mostly to Terminal Lance) barracks known as Mackie Hall in Hawaii, which most Marines refer to as “Crackie Hall,” since it’s in a dark, desolate part of the base that’s right near a river of waste everyone calls “sh-t creek.” While the Corps has been building better housing for Marines, it’s still nowhere close to what the other services can expect.

Then there are the weapons and gear. Go on deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and you’ll see even the lowliest Army private with top-shelf uniforms, plenty of “tacticool” equipment, and the latest night vision. And on their brand new M4 rifle, they’ll have the best flashlight, laser sights, and whatever brand new scope or optic DARPA just came up with. But here’s the plot twist: That soldier never even leaves the FOB.

All of this “gee-whiz, that would be awesome if I had that” equipment will usually end up in the hands of Marines eventually. It’s just going to be a few years, and only after it’s been worn out by the Army.

That’s not to say the Marines don’t have their own gear specifically for them. The MV-22 Osprey aircraft was designed with the Corps in mind, along with amphibious tractors and others, like the Marine version of the F-35 fighter.

Despite their sometimes decrepit gear and weapons, Marines also spin this as a point of pride — they are so good at this — rationalizing the terrible by saying they can “do more with less.” But if an airman or sailor is thinking this one through, they are saying to themselves, “but I’d rather do more with more” from the comfort of their gorgeous barracks rooms that look like hotel suites.

There’s also the Marine language barrier. Especially in joint-command settings, service members from other branches might be scratching their heads when they hear stuff like “Errr,” “Yut,” or “Rah?” in question form.

And as for what Marines hate about the Marine Corps: Field Day. Everyone can all agree on field day being the worst thing in Marine Corps history. The top definition of what “field day” is in Urban Dictionary puts it this way:

“A Thursday night room cleaning to prep for a inspection Friday morning that is required to go way beyond the point of clean to ridiculous things like no ice in your freezer, no water in your sink, no hygiene products in your shower. Most of the time you truly believe that someone woke up one morning, sat down with a pen and paper and just came up with a bunch of ridiculous things to look for in these “inspections”. Basically Field day is just another tool used by Marine Corps leadership to piss off and demoralize Marines on a weekly basis.”

That’s basically all true. Which leads some to count down the days until they get out, the magical, mystical day of E.A.S. (End of Active Service):

Why to love the Marine Corps

There are many reasons to have pride in the Marine Corps, and it usually comes down to its history. Since 1775, the Marine Corps has had a storied history of fighting everyone, including pirates, standing armies, and terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now you can own an M249 Para
Photo by Pfc. Devan Gowans/USMC

And knowing history and serving to the standard of those who came before is a big part of what it means to be a Marine. A Marine going to Afghanistan today was likely told at boot camp about the Marines who were fighting in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam — with the idea that you definitely don’t want to tarnish the reputation they forged many years ago.

While there were many negatives aspects highlighted about the service here, many Marines see these instead as ways the Marine Corps operates differently. Marines see the bad as a way of thinking that “we don’t need perks” to do our job, which comes down to locating, closing with, and killing the enemy. The Marines even have a longstanding mantra to “improvise, adapt, and overcome.”

Other things to be proud of: Marines can get stationed in some pretty awesome spots like Hawaii and southern California for example, although some are sent to the dark desert hole that is 29 Palms. And besides the combat deployments, peacetime Marines enjoy awesome traveling and training in places the Army usually doesn’t go: Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, or the famous and beloved “med floats.”

And hands down, the Marine Corps has the absolute best dress uniforms and the best commercials.

For male Marines (as far as what your recruiter tells you), the dress blue uniform is like kryptonite to females in a bar. Interestingly enough, that same uniform is like kryptonite to young impressionable men who are interested in being among the “Few and the Proud.”

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The US Army’s plan to win the Plains Wars was to kill every American Bison

One of the reasons the U.S. Army is so capable and successful is its ability to think outside the box to achieve its major objective. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean it includes unintended consequences into its calculations.

One of the major examples of this include using Agent Orange to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam. The United States could see the enemy on the ground after using Agent Orange, but it also gave everyone cancer, from the soldiers and airmen who used it to generations of Vietnamese people, decades after the war ended.

The Army’s disregard of the laws of unintended consequences isn’t strictly a 20th Century occurrence (it’s also not limited to the Army, or to the United States). In the drive to push Indian Tribes onto reservations during the last part of the 1800s, the Army’s plan to subdue the hunter-gatherer tribes of the American West involved an unorthodox, but not well thought-out idea: destroy their resources. 

At the time the frontier was disappearing, the U.S. government and U.S. Army was full of Civil War veterans, who saw victory on the battlefields through destroying the meager resources of the Confederacy. The trio that managed the final destruction of the Confederate Armies, President Ulysses S. Grant, Gen. Philip Sheridan, and Gen. William Techumseh Sherman devised a plan to do the same to the Indian tribes in the West. 

The Indians didn’t have farms, factories, or shipping ports, though. If they did, the U.S. Army would have been less inclined to engineer the tribes’ destruction. Their goal was to get the roving bands of Native tribesmen off the plains and onto plows, where they would stop harassing settlers, destroying rail and telegraph lines, and stop killing soldiers.  

In 1868, the massive buffalo herds that once roamed North America had dwindled into two giant herds, but the tribes still relied on them for everything from clothing and shelter to food. Army leadership recognized that destruction of the herds was the only means of controlling the native population. While the Army never officially adopted a policy of slaughtering buffalo, they helped it along. 

“Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone,” Col. Richard Dodge said of the slaughter.  “Kill every buffalo you can.”

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Col. Richard Dodge/Wikipedia Commons

So they made a most uniquely American solution, promoting a market-based solution to the destruction of the herds. A 2016 article from the Atlantic notes that buffalo hides in 1868 fetched $3.50 each, nearly $70 today. Cartridges for the popular hunting rifles of the time cost just under $5 each in 2021 dollars. It could be a big business, and it was. Killing bison was a cheaper alternative to cattle ranching.

Businessmen hunting hides decimated what was left of the herds, taking what would sell and leaving the meat to rot in the plains of the frontier. In just a few short years, the American Bison was facing extinction and the Grant Administration would do nothing to protect them. By the turn of the 20th century, there were just 300 left. 

In the end, the plan worked. Tribes who were most affected by Sheridan’s plan, the Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho were eventually forced onto their reservations as their food sources dwindled away. Since the buffalo was so important to their society, the tribes also became heavily dependent on the U.S. government for food and other supplies.

The bison survived by migrating to the protected lands on Yellowstone National Park. Today the American Bison is making a comeback, with more than 500,000 in public and private herds, including the herds Native tribes have also reintroduced onto their lands.

Featured image: Left: Screenshot – Red Cry, YouTube; Right: stock image

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Army veteran Christy Gardner finalist for Stick Tap for Service

Navy Federal Credit Union and the National Hockey League have announced their chosen veteran finalists for the Stick Tap for Service campaign. Retired Army Sergeant Christy Gardner was one of them.

A multi-sport athlete growing up, she was attending college in New York when 9/11 occurred. “The idea of serving and the impact that had on our nation was always in the back of my mind. Military service was a family affair,” she explained. 

Gardner’s grandfather was a proud Marine who served during the Korean War and she also had uncles serving in the Marine Corps for the Gulf War. There were also a few cousins who were in the Navy, she said.

“While in college I went into the delayed entry program. As soon as I graduated in 2004 I left and went to basic training and AIT,” she said. Gardner chose Military Police as her MOS. At the time, female soldiers were not allowed combatant positions and MP was as close as she could get. 

Deployed overseas for peacekeeping in July of 2006, she was on foot patrol in a still classified location somewhere in Asia when everything went black. Gardner woke up several days later to skull fractures, spinal cord damage and severe internal injuries. Her legs were paralized below the knees and she’d go through dozens of surgeries and years of rehabilitation before being medically retired from the Army in 2007.

Her legs were eventually amputated.  

Gardner credits her time in service with changing how she approaches challenges, including the ones stemming from her injuries. “My time in the military taught me to adapt very well and easily to a lot of things,” she said. “Going through it and experiencing so many things doesn’t make you invisible or insensitive but it kind of does. The minor stuff just doesn’t phase you anymore.”

As she began navigating her new life, a dog changed everything. “While I was rehabbing on active-duty they suggested that I look into getting a service dog for myself. I was placed with Moxie in 2009 and she’s phenomenal,” Gardner shared. Moxie is trained in mobility assistance and is a seizure alert dog for her. “She’s made a huge impact on my life. Not only saving it but making things easier for me too.”

Working with service dogs became her new passion and turned into a purposeful career for her. Gardner shared she began training service dogs nine years ago for her community in Maine but quickly realized she couldn’t keep up with the need. “We founded Mission Working Dogs in the middle of the pandemic and had our first graduating class this April,” she said. 

When the Stick Tap for Service nomination came around, she was surprised. “I had never heard about it until this year when I was nominated. The money that they are giving to the charity of my choice is going to make such a huge impact. It’s really exciting,” Gardner said. 

The awarded funds will go to Mission Working Dogs, allowing her to serve even more of her community members and veterans in need. 

When asked what she would want readers to take from her story, her response was simple. “I think it’s really important to find your purpose when you get out. A lot of us struggle to adapt to civilian life, if you will. A lot of people feel a little lost,” Gardner said. “One of my big things is to help give people purpose. Don’t give up until you find it.”

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This Marine sniper threw the enemy’s grenade back to save his brothers

His team spotted by insurgents and forced to take cover in an abandoned compound, Marine sniper Joshua Moore went against his instinct when two grenades landed next to him, throwing one of them back at the enemy and holding off insurgent fire until help could arrive.


Moore, at the time a Lance Corporal, was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

Moore was part of a scout sniper platoon during a mission in Marjah, Afghanistan, in March 2011, when insurgents targeted his team.

The Marines fell back to a nearby compound, but enemy machine gun rounds soon sliced through the air, wounding two of them. After taking cover, Moore felt two objects hit him in the back. When he turned he saw two grenades lying in the sand.

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He reached down, grabbed the first grenade, and threw it back out the window where it detonated just a moment later. He went for the second but noticed it was covered in rust and was likely a dud.

The young sniper would later say that he was, “scared out of my mind, but I knew we had to do everything possible to get everyone home.” Despite the brush with death and under the continuing threat of incoming fire, Moore crawled from the building and held off the enemy until a quick reaction force arrived.

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He went to the north where the enemy attack was heaviest and began aiding the wounded and returning fire. He used an M4 with an attached M203 grenade launcher to suppress fighters where he could find them.

The arrival of a quick reaction force and another sniper platoon allowed the Marines to finally gain fire superiority, evacuate the wounded and fall back to their patrol base.

Moore was meritoriously promoted to corporal less than two months after the battle and was awarded the Navy Cross in Nov. 2013.

“It’s an honor to receive an award like the Navy Cross. But to be honest, I was just doing my job,” Moore said after the ceremony.

Since then, Moore has been promoted to sergeant and assigned as an instructor at the scout sniper basic course. He told Stars and Stripes that he often shares the story of the engagement with his students, but that he avoids talking about his medal.

“That honestly not the important part,” he said.

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37 Awesome Photos Of Life On A US Navy Carrier

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


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

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

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

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

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While others hit the free weights.

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

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

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

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

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

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Jets launch around the clock.

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And darkness doesn’t slow them down.

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

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Nights at sea are a stargazer’s dream.

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We fix planes in the hangar.

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We squeeze them into tight spots.

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Teamwork is essential.

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Together we can move planes.

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Even ships.

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

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

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But sailors quickly learn to sleep anywhere.

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Anywhere.

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

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

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

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This tradition is older than anyone can remember.

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

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We play basketball in the hangar.

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Or volleyball.

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We sing on the flight deck.

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

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The best part about being a sailor is traveling.

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We visit foreign ports.

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We play as hard as we work.

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Sometimes we visit places civilians will never see.

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We never forget our sacrifices.

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We honor traditions.

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

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