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Paul Revere’s midnight ride wasn’t as amazing as these other 5

Paul Revere is the most famous of the riders who conducted midnight rides but while he deserves praise for his patriotism throughout the struggle for independence, his 16-mile midnight ride was actually pretty tame compared to what other riders in the war experienced.


A 16-year-old girl rode 40 miles and rallied 400-men. Another rider rescued Thomas Jefferson, other signers of the Declaration of Independence, and many members of the Virginia legislature.

So, here are 6 of the most famous and badass people who conducted rides during the Revolution:

1. Paul Revere, the most famous of the riders

See other important tweets from military history.

See other important tweets from military history.

Paul Revere got most of his fame from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Poem, Paul Revere’s Ride. While the poem makes it sound like Revere conducted an epic, all-night ride, he actually only made it 16 miles before he was caught by Redcoats and had his horse confiscated. He did manage to warn most of the people between Boston and Lexington though.

2. Jack Jouett rescued so many leaders, including Thomas Jefferson

In Jun. 1781, Jack Jouett was eavesdropping on some British soldiers when they mentioned a plan to capture Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson and most the Virginia General Assembly. Jouett flagged this as a major party foul and rode 40 miles through the dark to warn the Revolutionary leaders, allowing them to escape capture.

3. Sybil Luddington raised 400 militiamen and earned Washington’s praise

Photo: Public Domain/Anthony22

Sybil Ludington was the 16-year-old daughter of a militia colonel when the British attacked nearby Danbury. Sybil rode out into the countryside to rally her father’s troops and got 400 militiamen ready to fend off the British Army, saving the town. She continued to conduct rides for much of the war. Gen. George Washington praised her for her contributions to the Colonial effort.

4. Samuel Prescott got word through to Concord when Paul Revere was captured

Local doctor Samuel Prescott was headed home from visiting his fiancee when he ran into Revere and William Dawes who were headed from Lexington to Concord. Prescott volunteered to ride with them and was the only one who managed to escape the British patrol and make it to Concord. The militiamen clashed with the British there later that day, holding the Redcoats at a bridge and killing 14.

5. William Dawes, the other rider with Paul Revere

Photo: Public Domain

William Dawes and Revere left at about the same time from Boston but took a different route. Dawes barely made it out of the city before it was locked down. He later rejoined Revere at Lexington but managed to escape the British when Revere did not.

6. Israel Bissell (may have) ridden 345 miles in 5 days to warn people across 5 states

The legend of Israel Bissell states that he was recruited by a militia colonel on Apr. 19, 1775 to take word of the Battles of Lexington and Concord to Hartford, Connecticut. The brave rider then supposedly rode another four days through another three states for a total of 345 miles.

Recent historical inquiries have found evidence that Israel Bissell may have actually been Isaac Bissell who rode from Boston to Hartford. While this still would be an impressive 100-mile ride, it’s not exactly a five-day marathon. Other cities on the route may have gotten word from the normal postal system which would’ve carried the message forward as important news.

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This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’


Way back in the early ’90s, when I was a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving as the editor of Approach magazine (Naval Aviation’s Safety review), I was invited by NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd to come down to Houston for a hands-on tour. Along with suiting up in full astronaut gear and flying the shuttle simulator in all regimes of flight, I had the opportunity to ride in NASA’s “reduced gravity aircraft,” better known as the “vomit comet” (because of its tendency to cause passengers to throw up during the zero-G missions).

In those days NASA used a couple of KC-135 Stratotankers as the Vomit Comets, which were big ol’ beasts relative to the contract Airbus 300s and 727s they used later. We launched out of Ellington Field at headed over the Gulf of Mexico. There were about a dozen passengers in the compartment with me, mostly engineers who were testing exercise equipment for future use on the space station.

There was a crew chief who was charged with making sure nobody got hurt, and he explained during his safety brief that the main way to avoid injury was to make sure you had a hand on the padded floor during the transition from zero-G back to 1-G.  He said that passengers had sprained ankles and wrists or twisted neck muscles by getting disoriented while weightless and hitting the deck in an awkward fashion once G came back on the airplane.

The pilot announced “starting the pull,” which meant he was commencing a 1.8 G pull until the aircraft’s nose was pointed 45 degrees up. At that point he pushed the nose forward until the aircraft was right at zero G and held it there until the aircraft was pointed 45 degrees nose down, which resulted in about 30 seconds of weightlessness. At that point he’s start another 1.8 G pull back to 45 degrees nose up into another zero G pushover . . . over and over again.  Each cycle was known as a “parabola,” and a mission consisted of 40 of them – 20 headed eastbound and 20 headed back to the base, westbound.

My host Navy Captain Bill Shepherd, a SEAL by warfare specialty who later broke the record for days on the International Space Station, had done the Vomit Comet missions many times. He’d admitted before the mission that he’d become airsick every time and predicted he’d do so on that day’s mission as well.

I was a Tomcat Radar Intercept Officer with more than 1,000 tactical jet hours under my belt at the time, so high-G flight was nothing new to me.  In fact, the parabola profile seemed pretty mild compared to the way a fighter maneuvered during a dogfight. But the engineers weren’t as experienced, and Capt. Shepherd instructed me to watch them as the flight went along.

“Everybody will do the first 10 parabolas very giddy,” he said.  “They’ll flip around and laugh and high five each other.”

The next ten parabolas would have fewer spins and less laughter, he predicted.  The 10 after that would consist of people fighting the urge to throw up. And the last 10 would be a bunch of miserable people wishing the flight would end as they floated for 30 seconds at a time after getting sick.

And that’s pretty much what happened. At some point in the flight everybody’s joy wore off as their inner ears said “WTF?” with all the gyrating and weird sensations. Along with Capt. Shepherd the majority of those in the compartment got airsick, and about three-quarters of the way through the mission all of the engineers were so incapacitated that they were unable to test the fitness equipment.  According to former Reduced Gravity Research Program director John Yaniec, anxiety contributes most to passengers’ airsickness. The stress on their bodies creates a sense of panic and therefor causes the passenger to vomit.

The crew chief noticed that I seemed to be doing okay, so he asked if I would jump in and try out the reclined bicycle and the stepper. I did, and we were able to flag that the stepper had a tendency to stick on the down-stroke during zero G.

I’d experience zero G many times before that, but never for 30 seconds at a time. The sensation of being weightless for that long was very cool, relaxing even. Although those suffering airsickness among us certainly didn’t feel the same way, before I knew it we’d done 40 parabolas and we were back on deck at Ellington Field.

My flight on the Vomit Comet was among the most memorable experiences of my 20-year Navy career, and I’m glad I got to do it before the “reduced gravity” program was cancelled in 2014, another casualty of NASA’s dwindling budget.

Now: 17 Signs That You Might Be A Military Aviator

And: 10 Things That Will Remind You About NASA’s Amazing Legacy

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Here’s the Air Force’s official guidance for transgender airmen

On October 6th, the Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff released policy guidelines for how transgender airmen can transition – while staying in the Air Force.


This new policy comes less than three months after Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that transgender troops will be able to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.

A rainbow flag is placed in the ground for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month during the Picnic in the Park at Nussbaumer Park, June 27, 2015, in Fairbanks, Alaska. More than 200 flags were handed out to members of the 354th Fighter Wing and members of the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Nicole Taylor)

The DoD-level policy includes providing transition services through the Military Health System, the ability to change gender in personnel management systems, and total force training.

Military medical providers must first diagnose airmen, proving transition surgery is a medical necessity, just like any other treatment. In the Air Force, the airman’s closest unit commander holds all keys to transitioning while in the USAF, including requests for surgery, uniform and PT exemptions, and deployment needs.

The gender used in the airman’s personnel record will determine which gender regulations and facilities to use, meaning until the transition is complete, transgender airmen will continue to use their gender from birth.

They are still deployable as long as they are medically qualified.

Laura Perry’s former self, Leonard, during a deployment in the Air Force before she completed her gender reassignment surgery in 2014. Perry, who is now a civilian, currently works as a social worker at the mental health clinic on Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and also volunteers for a transgender advocacy group. (Courtesy photo)

After receiving a diagnosis of medical need, the airman will inform their unit commander.The commander has 90 days to respond to the request. The commanding officer, airman, and medical staff will set out a timeline for a transition plan that takes operational needs, morale, and readiness into account.

The transition is complete (in the eyes of the Air Force) when the medical staff informs the airman’s unit commander and the airman provides legal documentation (such an updated birth certificate and passport) reflecting the change.

Transgender airman Logan Ireland, left, and former Navy reservist Brynn Tannehill at a White House LGBT pride reception in Washington, June 24, 2015.

Uniform dress and appearance requirements will adhere to the gender reflected in their personnel record. Any exceptions to policy requests regarding uniform wear during the transition should be in writing to their immediate commander.

Transgender applicants who want to join the military will still have to meet all the physical conditioning standards for their branch, gender, age, and MOS. They will use the facilities for the gender marker in their personnel record. They may be exempt from fitness assessments during the transition plan period but are still expected to participate in unit PT.

A history of gender dysphoria, transition surgery, or hormone therapy is still a disqualifying factor for joining the military unless the recruit has been stable in their new gender for at least 18 months. A doctor must confirm the recruit’s gender stability.

Military policy protects transgender airmen from discrimination through their base equal opportunity office – a protection not afforded to transgender Americans in most states.

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39 Awesome photos of life in the US Marine Corps infantry

YouTube, We Are The Mighty


From fighting pirates in the First Barbary War of 1801 to seizing the Kandahar International Airport in 2001 and beyond, Marine Corps infantrymen have been fighting and winning our nation’s battles for more than 200 years.

Known as “grunts,” infantrymen receive specialized training in weapons, tactics, and communications that make them effective in combat. And while many things have changed for grunts over time, they continue to carry on the legacy that was forged from the “small wars” to the “Frozen Chosin” to the jungles of Vietnam.

After more than a decade of war following the 9/11 attacks, many grunts have deployed to combat …

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… In Iraq, where they earned their place in history at Nasiriyah, Najaf, and Fallujah (shown here), and many others.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

While others deployed to Afghanistan, into the deadly Korengal Valley …

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

 … Or more recently to Marjah, in Helmand Province.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

But before infantrymen join their units, they need to complete initial training. For enlisted Marines, that means going to the School of Infantry, either at Camp Pendleton, California or Camp Geiger, North Carolina.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

For officers, their training at Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, Va. involves both tactics and weapons, along with a more intense focus on how to lead an infantry platoon.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

While most enlisted grunts become 0311 riflemen, others receive more specialized training, like 0331 machine-gunners, which learn the M240 machine gun (shown here), the MK19 grenade launcher, and the M2 .50 cal.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

0341 Mortarmen learn how to operate the 60 mm (shown below) and 81 mm mortar systems, which help riflemen with indirect fire support when they need a little bit more firepower.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

0351 Assaultmen learn basic demolitions, breaching, and become experts in destroying bad guys with the SMAW rocket system. The Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) is shown below.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Packing even more punch that’s usually vehicle-mounted, 0352 Anti-tank missilemen learn their primary M41 SABER (below) heavy anti-tank weapon and the Javelin, a medium anti-tank weapon.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Some more experienced infantrymen go into specialized fields, such as Reconnaissance or snipers (below).

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

Always present is a focus on mission accomplishment, and to “keep their honor clean” — to preserve the legacy of the Corps …

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

… That grunts are proud of. Always remembering heroics from the Chosin Reservoir Marines in Korea …

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… To those who fought in Vietnam jungles, or the storied battles of Hue and Khe Sanh.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Since Vietnam, grunts have been repeatedly been called upon for minor and major engagements, such as Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Operation United Shield in Somalia in 1995 (below).

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

But it’s not all combat.

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

Marine grunts are constantly training, whether it’s practicing amphibious landings …

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… Or learning the skills needed to survive and thrive in a jungle environment.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Sometimes they take a break to catch up on their reading.

Photo Credit: Michael Sinclair

And when they’re not training, they are trying to have fun.

Photo Credit: Josh Boston

Sometimes … maybe too much fun.

Photo Credit: Donnie Hickman

While technology has made today’s infantrymen even deadlier, the life of the grunt has always been spartan.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Grunts often work in rough conditions, and they need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

And quite often, they need to be self-sufficient. At remote patrol bases, that means everything from burning their trash and other waste …

Photo Credit: Paul Martin

To fixing their morning coffee in any way they can.

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

Grunts learn to appreciate the little things, like care packages from home …

Photo Credit: Matt McElhinney

… Any privacy they can get …

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

… Or a “FOB Pup” to play around with in between missions.

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

When they get into a fight with the enemy, they battle back just as their predecessors did.

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

And with solid training and leadership, they can easily transition, as Gen. Mattis says, from no worse enemy to no better friend.

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

When things don’t go exactly as planned …

Photo Credit: Josh Boston

… Grunts can usually shake it off with a smile.

Photo Credit: JC Eliott

Especially in a combat zone, humor helps a unit through tough times.

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

And there are plenty of opportunities for laughs.

Photo Credit: Marc Anthony Madding

Whether it’s graffiti on a barrier …

Photo Credit: JC Eliott

 Or taunting the Taliban with a Phillies t-shirt.

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

But the bottom line is that grunts are the Marine Corps’ professional war-fighters.

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

They forge brotherhoods that last for a lifetime.

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

And they never forget those who didn’t make it home.

Memorial ceremony for Sgt. Thomas Spitzer. (Photo Credit: US Marine Corps)

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11 of the most ‘moto’ military reenlistment photos

From under the sea to thousands of feet above the earth, here are 11 photos of Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors re-upping in style:


This Marine, Lt. Col. Brian Ehrlich (left) reenlisting Sgt. Aron D. Jarvi (right) under the sea at Maeda Point, Okinawa, Japan:

(Photo: Lance Cpl. Robert J. Maurer/USMC)

Also Read: The 9 Most Badass Unit Mottos In The Marine Corps 

These soldiers from the 7th Sustainment Brigade, Airborne Corps, reenlisting at the South Pole. (Seriously, how often does anyone get to go to the South Pole?)

This badass re-enlistment photo of Staff Sgt. Andrew Petrulis, which is fitting because he’s an Air Force EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) craftsman:

Photo: DVIDS

These soldiers prove their efficiency by taking a few minutes to reenlist while in transit aboard an Air Force C-17:

Photo: US Army

The soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division reenlisting in front of the Swords of Qādisīyah in Baghdad, Iraq:

Photo: Staff Sgt. James Selesnick/ US Army

These sailors taking their oath at Ground Zero, ten years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center:

Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Eric S. Garst/ US Navy

This 23-year-old Marine, Cpl. Gareth Hawkins, who demanded to reenlist while being medically evacuated after suffering serious injuries caused by an improvised explosive:

Photo: USMC

Here’s an excerpt from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit about Hawkins’ reenlistment:

The Battalion Executive Officer, Maj. Kevin Gonzalez, along with the Career Retention Specialist Staff Sgt. Chandrash Malapaka, and several others crammed into the tiny room for the ceremony.

“We’re going to do the short version of this,” said the Executive Officer.

Raising his right hand, Hawkins took the oath of enlistment by 1st Lt. Warren A. Frank, his platoon commander. With no time for the usual formalities of backslaps and handshakes, Hawkins was immediately carried out via litter and evacuated.

This damage control sailor who loves his job so much that he re-upped in full gear while being deployed to the Red Sea aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95):

Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Meshel/ US Navy

These soldiers taking their oath at CenturyLink Field before a Seahawks football game against the Baltimore Ravens:

Photo: US Army

This Belgian Malinois, Sgt. 1st Class Freida, who reenlisted with her human partner:

Photo: DVIDS

And this PAO serving with the U.S. Navy’s “Leap Frogs” who jumped out of a perfectly good airplane to take her reenlistment oath thousands of feet above Earth:

Photo: James Woods/ US Navy

NOW: These Are The US Army’s Top Five Photos Of 2014

AND: 39 Awesome Photos Of Life In The US Marine Corps Infantry

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Hitler’s last gasp against the Soviets turned into an 8-day butcher fest

The Battle of Kursk in World War II was Adolph Hitler’s last great attempt to take down the Soviet Union. With his army struggling around the world and slowly losing ground to the Russians, the Führer ordered his armies to hold the line at Kursk in the western Soviet Union. Additionally, they were to launch a massive offensive to reverse the tides and serve as a beacon to German forces around the world.


Operation Citadel, as it was named, called for two German Army groups with hundreds of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks to use a pincer attack to cut off a large Russian salient, a 100-mile deep and 160-mile wide section of Soviet territory that jutted into the German lines. This would give the Germans control of important rail lines and hopefully destroy five Soviet Armies, about 30 divisions worth of soldiers.

A German Tiger tank rolls forward in the Battle of Kursk. (Photo: German Army archives)

The leader of the operation, Field Marshal Erick von Manstein, wanted to launch the offensive as quickly as possible because he believed the Russians would see it coming. Hitler went to the battlefield to personally discuss the plans with Kluge and insisted that the operation be halted until more Tiger tanks were available.

So the calendar crawled forward from February to July of 1943 with no offensive actions from the Germans. Meanwhile, the Soviets turned the lines into some of the most well-defended territories in the war. They planted over 2,200 anti-tank mines and 2,500 anti-personnel mines per mile of the front while citizens and soldiers dug 3,000 miles worth of trenches and positioned 20,000 artillery pieces. Soviet tanks arrived as well, bringing Soviet armor up to 5,000 or so.

Soviet soldiers man an anti-tank rifle in the chaos of the Battle of Kursk. (Photo: RIA Novosti archive)

On July 5, 1943, 38 German divisions with approximately 570,000 soldiers, 3,000 tanks, and thousands of planes finally headed east for the counteroffensive. Soviet planes with inexperienced pilots were on their way to attack German airfields and the two forces stumbled into each hour in the early morning. The Battle of Kursk was on.

Historians debate the exact numbers of troops and vehicles in the battle due to the fact that military leaders on each side exaggerated their numbers, but by almost every count Kursk was the largest tank battle ever fought.

The Germans had much to celebrate in the first four days. They quickly established air superiority and, despite the heavy defenses at Kursk, both the north and south advances in the pincer attack were moving forward slowly but steadily.

Josef Stalin himself was concerned about the air situation at Kursk and became agitated when he learned that the Germans still held the advantage. Both sides used dive bombers and other ground attack planes to hit enemy tanks on the ground as well as help direct artillery and conduct reconnaissance.

It was an air victory on July 9 that allowed the Soviets to first gain the initiative. The Soviets had been picking away at German pilots for the first few days and finally were able to force the Stukas to drop below 500 sorties, half of what they launched on the first day of fighting. Importantly, many of those killed were heroes of the Third Reich like Karl Fitzner and Bernhard Wutka, both Knight’s Cross holders.

Soviet soldiers advance behind a T-34 tank through thick smoke. (Photo: public domain)

On the ground, the fighting was truly hellish. Columns of oily smoke rose from burnt out wrecks as shells and bombs burst among the tanks on both sides. Russian infantrymen were known to launch near-suicidal attacks through the smoke, running up to German tanks with mines in their hands and hurling them under the enemy treads.

While the Soviets were losing more men and material than the Germans, the Germans were running out of fuel and men more quickly. When von Manstein asked for reinforcements, Hitler finally decided that they were losing too many men to reclaim too little territory.

He ordered the Panzer units to withdraw on July 13 and the Soviets resumed their own march west towards Berlin. While the German tanks that survived the battle were able to delay Soviet advances, they were never able to regain the initiative. The Allies invaded Italy the next month, and by the next summer, they were knocking down the doors of Fortress Europe.

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Hitler’s nephew earned a Purple Heart with the US Navy during WWII

Imagine, it’s 1944 and the country is smack-dab in the middle of World War II. You are serving in the U.S. Navy and come across a new guy… and his last name is Hitler.


That would be jarring, right? Well, it likely happened, since Adolf Hitler’s nephew served in the Navy from 1944 to 1947, after begging the president to let him in.

Related: Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

William Patrick Hitler was a sailor during the war against Nazi Germany, fighting against his own family, something he spent years trying to achieve.

Who knew?!

Wikimedia Commons

Uncle Adolf

William Patrick Hitler was born in England as the first son of Adolf Hitler’s brother, Alois. He lived there with his mother after his father left to travel Europe when he was 3 years old. Alois returned to Germany and remarried, and eventually sent for William after he turned 18.

During his visit to Germany in 1929, William met his Uncle Adolf at a Nazi rally his father took him to, and in 1930 received an autographed photo of him at another rally.

However, after William returned to England, he wrote a series of articles on his uncle’s rise to power that were apparently deemed “unflattering” by the future dictator. Adolf Hitler called his nephew to Berlin and demand he retract his words, threatening to kill himself if William wrote anything else about him.

Back in England, it was clear William had also made himself famous with the articles, and a very unpopular person in England. No one wanted to hire a Hitler, and it was because of the lack of work that William Patrick returned to Germany, where he hoped his name might be accepted more easily.

Finding work

Unfortunately for William, he wasn’t wanted in Germany either. His uncle denied any family ties and his father sent him back to England.

With no other options, William gathered any evidence of a blood relation to his uncle—who was now Reich chancellor, the chief executive of Germany—he could find and returned to Germany, hoping to blackmail Hitler into giving him a job.

It worked. Hitler approved a work permit for William, who found a job at a Berlin bank and later an automobile factory. However, after a relatively calm first year, William was abruptly fired, then after insufficient reasoning as to why, was rehired, but felt increased scrutiny.

Also read: Here’s what US intelligence knew about Hitler in 1943

“I could not even go on an outing without risking a summons to Hitler,” he wrote in an article for “Look” magazine. After an intense and frightening meeting with his uncle, William knew it was time to leave the country.

Looking to serve

Back in England, William’s surname continued to haunt him, when he was denied entry in to the British armed forces due to his relation to Adolf Hitler.

Willing to share his knowledge of his uncle, William and his mother were invited on a lecture circuit in 1939 by William Randolph Hearst, a newspaperman in the United States. During their time the States, war broke out in Europe due to Hitler’s rise and reach, which prevented William and his mother from returning overseas.

William Hitler points to Berlin. | Wikimedia Commons

Knowing his options were limited, William tried once again to join a foreign military in opposition of his uncle, and was once again denied, based on his name.

In a pleading letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, William wrote, “I am one of many, but can render service to this great cause.” After being cleared by the FBI, William Patrick Adolf was authorized to serve in the U.S. Navy, swearing in on March 6, 1944.

William served as a Pharmacist Mate during his years in the service, earning a Purple Heart, and was discharged in 1947. After the military, he changed his last name to Stuart-Houston, married Phyllis Jean-Jacques and went on to have four children before dying on July 14, 1987.

Was William simply looking for an opportunity wherever he could find it? Historians disagree on the motivations for William’s decisions, with some pointing out he was okay with his uncle’s policies if the economic climate had been to his benefit. Others point out that he could have lived and survived in the U.S. without joining the military, a decision that would suggest a clear conviction against his relative’s agenda.

William had four sons, all of whom never had children, meaning the last of Adolf Hitler’s paternal bloodline will end with them.

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This is how JTACs stay sharp

We all know troops on the ground love their air support — especially from planes like the A-10 Thunderbolt II.


But those planes need to know what to hit. How does that happen?

Well, the Air Force’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers are who make that happen. JTACs are members of what are known as Tactical Air Control Parties, and their task is to coordinate air support for ground units. Becoming a JTAC isn’t easy. Business Insider has a look at the process of how someone goes from civilian on the street to becoming one of these elite personnel.

In 2015, the Army and Air Force formalized the embedding of Air Force JTACs in Army units down to the company level. These personnel aren’t just good at bringing down firepower, they can even advise ground commanders on how to handle cyberspace operations.

U.S. Air Force Combat Control JTACs from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron call for close air support from a A-10 Thunderbolt II while attending the Air Force’s JTAC Advanced Instructor Course (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

But it’s not just train, deploy, and be done. There’s always a need to refresh skills, and there are always new perspectives. So, recently, some JTACs with the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing were joined by JTACs from the Royal Air Force. The cross-training helps, primarily by breaking down communications barriers.

“Since we’re going to be working together, we need to practice together before we go do that in the real world,” RAF Flight Sergeant Simon Ballard said. The RAF controllers are familiar with the U.S. Air Force, particularly the A-10s, which they praise effusively.

A Joint Terminal Attack Controller with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command communicates with a Navy MH-60S helicopter during takeoff as part of Carrier Airwing training conducted by the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., April 7, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kyle McNally, released)

“While I was a JTAC in Afghanistan, the vast majority of our aircraft were U.S. aircraft,” British Squadron Leader Neil Beeston said.

The ultimate benefit to this cross-training, though, is that the stakes are lower. Master Sgt. Francisco Corona told the Air Force News Service, “I’d rather integrate in (training) where we can make mistakes and learn from them instead of making mistakes in a deployed location.”

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This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels

It was a common sight during Desert Storm: grainy black-and-white footage of an Iraqi bunker or hanger slowly getting closer and closer to the screen.


Munitions with cameras fed the footage of new, precision-guided “smart bombs” to Americans watching the war at home.

Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army used underground facilities beneath layers of sand and reinforced concrete to protect his command and control centers, research labs, and ammo dumps. The U.S. military tasked its defense apparatus to come up with a way to penetrate and destroy these shelters.

Thus, the GBU-28 Bunker Buster bomb was born.

The GBU-28 is a 4,400-pound monster of hardened steel and tritonal explosives, a mixture of TNT and aluminum powder. Once the target is marked with a laser, that laser guides the bomb to its target and the rest (like the target) is history.

That hardened steel is what protects the bombs for their initial penetration through concrete. Barrels of artillery guns are designed to hold up to repeated artillery blasts, which is why the U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal used barrels from 8-inch self-propelled howitzers as casings for the design.

That protection the spent barrels provide is perfect to give the bunker buster bomb time to penetrate a target while its time-delay fuse waits to unleash the real payload.

An 8

Engineering changes to the initial casing were made via telephone, even as the original barrels were being stripped and reconfigured by machinists on the assembly line. Watch the whole story of the birth of the bunker buster bomb in the video below.

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The Army experimented with bio weapons on conscientious objectors

Ask around Fort Detrick and you’ll probably learn more about Operation Whitecoat — an Army program that exposed human participants to infectious pathogens. But outside the base, the experiments are virtually unheard of, according to Randy Larsen, a former Air Force pilot turned documentary filmmaker.


“I found there are very few people who have ever heard of Whitecoat, which is why there’s a good reason to tell the story,” Larsen said.

Larsen himself became fascinated with the program — which recruited more than 2,300 noncombatant conscientious objectors from the Seventh-day Adventist Church — after a friend suggested it as a documentary topic.

What he anticipated would be a five- to six-month hobby project eventually turned into a 20-month film production, culminating in an eponymously named documentary on the operation and its volunteers.

Operation Whitecoat (2017) Trailer from Randall Larsen on Vimeo.

 

The film “Operation Whitecoat” made its debut in Frederick on May 30 at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the agency that conducted the tests from 1954 to 1973. But Larsen will also hold two public screenings on June 3 at the Frederick Seventh-day Adventist Church on Jefferson Pike.

Gary Swanson and Ken Jones, two Whitecoat participants who attended the screening on May 30, said outreach to the church was especially important. Despite the huge role played by Seventh-day Adventists, knowledge of the project has faded among church members.

“It’s very little-known, I’ve found that to be true,” Swanson said. “Even in the church, it doesn’t come up very often.”

United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases

A lasting legacy

Despite the relative obscurity of Operation Whitecoat, civilians around the country — and around the world — can thank the program for the development of several widely used vaccines. Tularemia, yellow fever, and hepatitis vaccines were all tested on participants in the project, Larsen said.

“That’s why I found it interesting to see that the yellow fever outbreak was a front-page story today,” he added at the May 30 screening, pointing out a USA Today article on the spread of the disease in Brazil. “Because the vaccine was developed here at Fort Detrick with the Whitecoat program.”

To research for his documentary, Larsen interviewed participants all across the country and dug deep into the documentation of the program.

Letters between military and church leaders indicate that the Army considered the program a viable alternative to battlefield service for church members, whose religious beliefs urge against combat.

“The general consensus is that it is just not morally responsible to bear arms,” said Swanson, who later worked in publishing for the Adventist church. “That the taking of life is not the business of a Christian.”

There is, however, strong scriptural support for serving one’s country in a peaceful capacity, he added. As a result, most church members served the U.S. either as medics or as Whitecoat volunteers once the program became an option.

Operation Whitecoat consent letter

While both Swanson and Jones participated in the program, their experiences were slightly different. Jones, 83, served from 1954 to 1955 and then worked as a corpsman for the program until September 1958.

As one of the inaugural volunteers, he distinctly remembers walking across a catwalk at Fort Detrick — then called Camp Detrick — to the “Eight Ball,” where participants were exposed to the pathogens.

He and the other men in his group were dosed with Q fever, a relatively common bacterial disease with flu-like symptoms. None of them got sick, Jones said, but the experiment did help researchers adjust the dose for future volunteers.

“It’s like this — when you start your car, you take little steps to get there,” he explained. “You don’t take one big step and just jump in. Well, the amount they gave us, they knew we handled it OK. Now, the next three that came up, they did get sick.”

Swanson served later, and was part of an even lesser-known aspect of the program — one that benefited scientists at NASA. He reported for service in October 1969, and was part of an experiment to determine how well astronauts could function should they became sick while on a mission.

In his study, teams of five men were exposed to sandfly fever and then trained on a simulated spacecraft console. Eight hours a day, three days a week, the teams pretended to operate the consoles, even while some of them developed nausea and fevers of up to 104 degrees.

“You had to keep calibrated and you had to keep it set,” Swanson said. “When you saw it going wrong, you had to figure out how to fix it. And we were told it was part of a study underwritten by NASA to anticipate astronauts’ ability to operate sophisticated equipment if they were sick.”

Operation Whitecoat helped improve the use of gas masks and biohazard suits

Beyond the benefit to NASA, USAMRIID still attributes the development of essential safety gear — including gas masks and biohazard suits — to Operation Whitecoat.

The program even played a small role in the Camp David Accords. In 1977, an outbreak of Rift Valley fever in Egypt killed thousands of residents and animals. The vaccine for the disease — tested by Whitecoat volunteers — was a major bargaining chip for both Egypt and Israel when leaders met with President Jimmy Carter in 1978.

“That was such a little-known piece of history that the people at USAMRIID didn’t even know about it,” Larsen said.

Ethical implications

Larsen and researchers at USAMRIID also tout the program as the harbinger of stringent standards for human testing. Operation Whitecoat set a precedent for informed consent — the policy of clearly educating human test subjects on the details and risks of research experiments — and served as a foil to other horrific experiments conducting on unknowing subjects, including the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and human radiation exposure by the Atomic Energy Commission.

“It’s a story that all Americans can be proud of,” Larsen said. “The fact is, Operation Whitecoat is one of the highest standards of ethical research out there.”

One of the most striking details of the project, he added, is that military leaders and researchers at USAMRIID exposed themselves to the pathogens before subjecting their participants. Both Jones and Swanson said that it was strong leadership that prevented real fear among the volunteers.

“I’ve thought about this many times, and I can’t give you an answer on what went through my mind as I went across that catwalk,” Jones said. “I was 21 years old. We felt like we had good leadership. We trusted what they were telling us, and we followed.”

Articles

North Korea just tried to show how it would ‘take on’ the US Navy

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, presided over the launch of a new anti-ship cruise missile system on June 8 in Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast. And though the missiles performed well and struck their target, it was a pretty weak showing.


The missiles flew about 125 miles, South Korea said, and fired from tracked launchers with forest camouflage. The missiles themselves were not new, according to The Diplomat, but they showed off a new launcher that can fire from hidden, off-road locations within moments of being set up.

But those are about the only nice things you could say about these missiles.

In the photos released by North Korean media, it’s clear the missiles are striking a ship that isn’t moving.

The ship appears anchored, with no wake. Photo by Rodong Sinmun

In a combat situation, the ships would move and take countermeasures. For the US, South Korean, and Japanese navies, that often means firing an interceptor missile.

North Korea also lacks the ability to support these missiles with accurate guidance. The US would use planes, drones, or even undersea platforms to observe and track a target.

Photo by Rodong Sinmun

North Korea waited to test these missiles until two US aircraft carrier strike groups armed to the teeth with missile defense capabilities left its shores, perhaps to avoid embarrassment should the US knock them down.

Unlike its practice with ballistic-missile tests, which are banned under international law, the US did not publicly comment on this launch. North Korea is well within its rights to test a cruise missile in international waters.

Photo by Rodong Sinmun

But despite the rudimentary technology used in the launch, North Korea did show that it poses a real threat. Not only do the missile launchers leverage the element of surprise, but they represent yet another new missile capability.

In a few short months, North Korea has demonstrated a range of capabilities that has surprised experts and military observers. Though the missiles don’t pose a threat to the US Navy, Kim showed he’s serious about fighting on all fronts.

Articles

A single Coast Guard ship captured 15 tons of cocaine this year

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, a $684 million Legend-class cutter, the second longest of its kind, nabbed an estimated $748 million worth of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean in 2015, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released in a statement. Its single largest bust saw it catch 7.5 tons of the drug in a narco-sub off the coast of Central America.


U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf

To put the Bertholf’s haul in perspective, a Coast Guard task force seized a fast boast laden with cocaine in early November 2015, hauling 22 packages worth a paltry $17 million in comparison. Her crew probably has bragging rights for the next decade.

The Coast Guard estimates it seized more than 222 metric tons of cocaine worth an estimated $7.4 billion since October 2014.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf offloads more than 25 tons of cocaine in San Diego on Nov. 19, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Rob Simpson)

Articles

How I applied the Corps motto of Semper Fidelis to my Iraqi ally

Back in 2014, ISIS assaulted into Iraq and gained ground so fast that to this infantry officer, it made the German blitzkrieg look like amateur hour. Within a matter of months, the terrorist group took control of several key cities and began a series of massacres that even Al Qaeda deemed, “too extreme.”


As the Iraqi Army and Police fell back towards Baghdad, I received a phone call that would change my life forever.

I was on my way to class when I got a call from a man I knew as “Captain.”  I could hear gunshots in the background and he was asking me, “Brother, can you help?”

Now, I’m a former Marine officer and served three combat tours in Iraq from 2006-2009. In 2014 I had moved on with life and was well on my way to growing the nasty beard and long hair of a graduate student.

But I couldn’t forget the Marine Corps motto that lived inside me: Semper Fidelis, Always Faithful. And now I had a good reason.

The Iraqi soldier we’ll call “Captain” to conceal his identity, saved my life in 2006.

I’ll never forget that as a boot platoon commander on my first deployment when the Captain shielded me from an incoming shot by pushing me down and charging a sniper. So when I got that call from Captain in 2014, I knew he was in some serious trouble, and I had to help.

That’s when I began a frantic effort to call my former commanders and write congressional leaders to do something…anything. But before Captain could get the massive airstrike that he needed to quell the ISIS assault, he received an ultimatum from the ISIS commander on the other side of the battlefield.

“We know who you are, and we’ll kill your kids if you don’t leave,” the ISIS commander told Captain.

With a credible threat against his life, the Captain and his family quickly fled to Turkey where they hoped to eventually resettle in the United States as refugees. With Captain out of Iraq and on a path to the U.S., I thought all was well.

But the Captain’s case got stuck in the backlog of millions fleeing the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. He  was quickly told that his case wouldn’t be processed for years which, when you are on the run from ISIS, might as well be a death sentence.

Let me put it this way, this was a dude that had fought with us for years and now there were people who never served telling me that they couldn’t process his paperwork. I thought WTF?

So, I did the one thing Marines always do. I took action and went to Turkey myself, filming the trip along the way. My journey to help the Captain eventually was released by National Geographic as a short documentary called “The Captain’s Story.”

Nearly three years later, I continue to advocate for other refugees like the Captain as a member of Veterans For American Ideals, a non-partisan “group of veterans who share the belief that America is strongest when its policies and actions match its ideals.”

Though the work is far from over, we’re starting to make a difference in doing right by our wartime allies and bring them the protection and safety they deserve.

Chase Millsap joined the WATM team earlier this year as Director of Impact Strategy which allows him to keep fighting for veterans and our allies. We’re glad he’s on our team… just don’t piss him off.