SAS soldiers wear the 'Punisher' skull after they get their first kill - We Are The Mighty
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SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

The British evacuation at Dunkirk during WWII was a turning point for the island nation. Unable to go on the offensive against the Germans with their conventional Army, the British turned to more unconventional methods. “Enterprises must be prepared, with specially-trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down these coasts [of occupied Europe],” stated Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a minute to General Ismay, “first of all on the butcher and bolt policy…leaving a trail of German corpses behind them.” This butcher and bolt policy was carried out by British Commandos, forerunners of the modern Royal Marine Commandos, Special Boat Service and Special Air Service.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Dealing with Nazis apparently turns you metal as f**k (Imperial War Museum)

The elite soldiers of the SAS are well-known in popular culture thanks to their daring exploits and their depiction in media. SAS soldiers famously ended the Iranian Embassy Siege in London in 1980 and have operated in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries during the War on Terror. They have been depicted in video games like Call of Duty and movies like 6 Days. Even the rom-com Love Actually referred to the SAS as, “ruthless, trained kilers,” and so they are.

More so than regular Army units, the SAS is expected to kill, and kill well. Embracing this mission, members of the SAS have taken to donning a Punisher skull badge after their first kill in combat. This affinity for the Punisher skull was allegedly adopted from the U.S. Navy SEALs who wore the symbol extensively whilst operating alongside the SAS in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the practice is not dissimilar from fighter pilots painting the flag of the enemy on their aircraft after making an air-to-air kill, it came under scrutiny from Army officials.

Chris Kyle donning the cap with the iconic skull

In 2019, it was revealed that Army officials banned the wearing of the Punisher skull. The move was driven by the claim that the symbol was too similar to the Death’s Head symbol worn by Nazi SS soldiers. This order was reportedly issued after a visit to the SAS Regiment’s Herefordshire base by Army chiefs. Unsurprisingly, the change was not received well by the SAS. One source within the regiment noted that the “order to remove it has gone down really badly.” They elaborated on what the symbol means to a soldier when he earns it. “It’s in recognition for the work he has done – it’s not a celebration of taking a life but more to do with putting himself in a position where his own life has been put at risk.”

The order received plenty of backlash since its issuance. Former Sergeant and Military Cross (the third-highest British Military Award) recipient Trevor Coult called the move, “politically correct nonsense and ludicrous.” Enough dissension was raised that the Army reversed the decision in May 2021. The reversal also comes with a new Director Special Forces who said that he has no problem with troops wearing the badge. He reportedly wore the Punisher skull himself while operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MoD did not comment on the reversal.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
(MoD)

The return of the Punisher skull was welcomed by the SAS. “When the badge was initially banned, there were many in the regiment who thought that the unit was going to fall victim to political correctness. But fortunately, someone has seen sense,” a source said. “The special forces are often sent on very dangerous missions which often involve killing people – that is a fact of life.” The SAS continues to undertake highly classified and extremely dangerous operations around the world.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Frank Castle approves (Lions Gate/ Marvel)
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New study says North Korea uses war games as an excuse to be difficult

A report released Aug. 19 from a Washington, D.C.-based think tank tracked how North Korea reacts to annual military exercises conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.


The result? Kim Jong Un is using the drills as an excuse to act out.

The study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies doesn’t say exactly that, but what it found was a pattern of behavior during the rule of Kim Jong-Il, and another quite different reaction after the younger Kim Jong Un took the reins of power.

“The study shows that annual joint exercises do not provoke North Korea despite such claims in the media and from North Korea,” Victor Cha, CSIS Korea Chair and former director for Asian affairs at the White House’s National Security Council, told the Wall Street Journal.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
U.S. Soldiers set up a support by fire line alongside their Republic of Korea (ROK) Army Soldier counterparts when reacting to enemy contact during a platoon live fire training blank iteration on Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, near the DMZ, Republic of Korea, March 21, 2015, during joint training exercise Foal Eagle 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock)

But the younger Kim says the annual war games are a provocation, and the cantankerous dictator routinely flies off the handle and issues wild  threats and warnings in the days leading up to the exercises.

His father, on the other hand, did not respond to the drills the same way. Tensions surrounding joint exercises like Foal Eagle, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, and Key Resolve are significantly more potent since the elder Kim suffered a stroke in 2008.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
U.S. Soldiers move a casualty toward a designated casualty collection point (CCP) with their Republic of Korea (ROK) Army Soldier counterparts near the DMZ, Republic of Korea, March 21, 2015. The training was conducted during joint training exercise Foal Eagle 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock)

On top of determining a pattern of behavior around U.S. military exercises, the study also uncovered other key findings.

The first is that the exercises have no lasting impact on relations between North Korea and the United States. When the six-party de-denuclearization talks were still held regularly, the games didn’t change the timing or agenda of the talks.

The report also says that the North “compartmentalizes” its response to the annual war games versus other ongoing issues with the U.S. or South Korea.

Cha also told the Wall Street Journal Kim Jong Un uses the games as a way to spin a yarn to his people that the U.S. military is the destabilizing force on the peninsula and the Korean regime under his leadership is the only bulwark against American aggression.

The report should be welcome news for the U.S. military, who maintain an extensive presence on the Korean Peninsula and have since the end of the Korean War.

“It’s not the exercises,” Cha said, “but the state of diplomacy in the weeks prior that will tell them whether North Korea will do something big in retaliation.”

Articles

This mortar could someday deliver an ammo resupply during battle

Ambushed on a patrol and going Winchester on ammo?


Here’s the fix: call for mortars.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
A new US Army patent claims new technology can deliver emergency resupply with a mortar round. (Photo: U.S. Army)

That’s what a new Army patent is trying to do by developing a new way to deliver resupply in tough situations via a mortar shot.

[Editor’s Note: The original Army story link is not active]

The so-called “Ammunition Resupply Projectile” would be a special section attached to the mortar round that could be guided by GPS navigation and steer itself right where soldiers need it.

Talk about “danger close.”

“This concept allows a guided package to be delivered with incredible accuracy — 10m CEP — within minutes,” said Ryan Decker, one of seven named on the patent application, according to the Army.

The Army wants to develop a tube-launched projectile that deploys a navigable payload in flight to accurately deliver the supplies to a distant target.

A tail section is secured to the payload deployment section, which includes a steerable decelerator system, the Army says. The tail section incorporates the guidance and navigation system and a parafoil control mechanism.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Schematic illustration of a resupply mission. Projectile is fired toward the downwind direction of a stranded solider. In flight, the guided parafoil payload is released, which then executes an optimized maneuver to accurately reach the target. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

When the payload is first separated in flight it acts like a shell to protect the cargo and it is guided to the intended target via the parafoil with the aid of the guidance and navigation system.

Thanks to new parafoil technology developed by Professor Oleg Yakimenko of the Naval Postgraduate School dubbed “Snowflake,” the cargo’s guidance system can be packed small enough to allow room for extra supplies.

Engineers wanted something that could help “a Soldier pinned down during battle, who depletes his supply of ammunition and currently has no reasonable method of resupply until rescue arrives,” Decker said.

“This invention is even more beneficial when it is realized that the payload can be easily swapped from ammunition to any device of similar size, such as additional resupply items, surveillance electronics, or even a submunition which can all be delivered accurately and on target,” Decker added.

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The church that was destroyed on 9/11 is returning as a shrine to victims

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church stood for nearly a century at 155 Cedar St. in lower Manhattan. It started in a small row house that was previously a tavern. Over the decades, the row houses that surrounded the church became high rises. Although developers attempted to acquire the church property for years, it was never sold. Surrounded by a parking lot and ever-climbing skyscrapers, the small church stood out in the evolving neighborhood.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
The church sat in the middle of a lower Manhattan parking lot (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

In the 1960s, the World Trade Center was built, along with its iconic Twin Towers. As the area continued to sprawl with new buildings, the church remained a place of refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city, welcoming people of all faiths. “It was a little church on a lonely parking lot, and it was always open,” Rev. Alex Karloutsos, vicar general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, told PBS. “People found it like an oasis.” Sadly, the peaceful church was destroyed on September 11, 2001.

When the Twin Towers fell, so too did St. Nicholas. The small church, which sat in the shadow of the skyscrapers, was buried under the falling rubble. It was the only place of worship destroyed during the attacks on 9/11. However, 20 years later, St. Nicholas returns to lower Manhattan.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
St. Nicholas sits below the Twin Towers before they collapsed on 9/11 (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

On the same site where the original church stood, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center is being built. The new church not only offers a place of worship for Orthodox Christians, but also a shrine to the victims of 9/11. In addition to the traditional house of worship, the building will also house a non-denominational, ecumenical remembrance room. The majority of the church’s exterior will be finished for the 20th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2021.

The standout feature of the new church is its illumination. Architect Santiago Calatrava placed over 1,000 LED lights inside the domed building to serve as a beacon of peace and remembrance in lower Manhattan. On September 10, 2021, the church will be illuminated for the first time. “We will turn on the lights of the church from within and the church will glow to the world,” Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, said to PBS.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
A rendering of the church and shrine with it illuminated from the inside (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

The interior lighting will be magnified by the Pentelic marble that covers the exterior of the church. The brilliant white marble is the same type used in much of ancient Greece’s art and architecture, including the iconic Parthenon. However, the new St. Nicholas church and shrine will also incorporate modern visuals with its traditional design.

Orthodox churches often feature colorful images depicting Biblical scenes, prophets, and saints. “According to the tradition that we have in our church, all senses have to participate in prayer,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. “The visual part of prayer is the icon. And the icon helps the faithful to focus on prayer when they are in the church.” One such icon is the resurrection which depicts Christ lifting Adam and Eve up from Hades. In the St. Nicholas version of the icon, Adam and Eve will be joined by police, firefighters, and other first responders who perished on 9/11.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Construction of the church’s exterior almost complete on August 17, 2021 (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

Another icon that will be modified is the Virgin Mary and the Christ child which is usually shown in the apse, the area of the church behind the altar table. In St. Nicholas, the icon will also depict the New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the Verrazano-Narrows and Brooklyn Bridges, and Ellis Island—the first stop for many Greek immigrants who came to the United States.

The construction of the interior of St. Nicholas will continue into 2022. However, it is scheduled for completion in time for Orthodox Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, in April. The consecration of the church is set to follow on the 4th of July. “We were immersed in this great darkness and feeling the great pain and the great loss,” Karloutsos said. “That’s why for me personally, seeing now this church—that will be like a candle lighting up and giving hope to so many.”

Articles

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

If you were wondering about why China didn’t bother to show up to that hearing at the Hague on their South China Sea island claims — when their boycott of the process only made the adverse ruling a guarantee — well, now you know why.


China, like Cersei Lannister from “Game of Thrones,” had no intention of accepting the consequences for their failure to take part.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
China’s military installations in the South China Sea create a huge area that could possibly be turned into an air identification and defense zone. | CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal and CBSNews.com, China has deployed weapons to at least seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, despite a promise from Chinese president Xi Jingpin.

The report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative noted that satellite photos showed various anti-aircraft weapons on the islands. These join the 10,000-foot airstrips on the islands, which have operated J-11 Flankers. Two such locations in the Spratly Islands are Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef, located about 650 nautical miles from the northernmost point of Hainan Island.

China has landed airliners on those islands – and if you can land airliners, you can land other sorts of heavy aircraft, like tankers, airborne radars, and H-6 Badger bombers like the one used to assert China’s “nine-dash line.”

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Fiery Cross Reef air base. This air base and others could help bolster China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaonang. (Image taken from Google Earth)

In essence, China has turned these islands into unsinkable, albeit immobile, aircraft carriers. China’s J-15, for instance, has a combat radius of about 540 nautical miles, according to GlobalSecurity.org. By getting those unsinkable aircraft carriers, the J-15s (as well as J-11 and J-16 Flankers in the Chinese inventory) can now carry more weapons, and less fuel, and spend more time dogfighting their adversaries.

When combined with China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, these bases greatly increase the striking power of the Chinese in the region. The Liaoning, like its sister ship, the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov, has a very limited aircraft capacity (about 18 Su-33 Flankers or MiG-29K Fulcrums for the Russian carrier, and a similar number of J-15 Flankers for the Chinese ship).

That alone cannot stand up to a United States Navy aircraft carrier (carrying 36 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 10 F-35C Lightnings). The islands also provide alternate bases, to avoid those embarrassing splash landings that are common with the Kuznetsov.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012. | Russian MoD Photo

However, these island bases, if each had a squadron of J-11, J-15 or J-16 Flankers, suddenly change the odds, especially if the Philippines refuse to host land-based fighters. Now, the Chinese could have a numerical advantage in the region against one carrier group, and inflict virtual attrition on the United States Navy.

The forward bases have caused concern from other countries, like the Philippines.

“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area, which is not good,” the Philippine defense secretary told CBSNews.com.

The Philippines have been trying to modernize their forces, including with the recent purchase of a dozen KA-50 jets from South Korea, and the acquisition of second-hand Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters from the U.S. Coast Guard.

They still are badly out-classed by Chinese forces in the region.

The U.S. Navy has conducted freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea. In one of the recent operations, the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) “conducted routine operations” while transiting the region, which is claimed by China. Navy surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft in the region had had a series of close calls with Chinese fighters, including an Aug. 2014 intercept where a J-11 came within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) man the rails while pulling into Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, during a Naval Engagement Activity with the people of Vietnam, Oct. 2. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Allen Michael McNair)

Tensions with China increased when President-elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen after winning the Nov. 8 presidential election. Trump had taken a tough line on trade with China during the campaign.

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Former SEAL uses life lessons to mentor at-risk youth

“It’s really hard for me to quit anything … I expect to have bad days. I expect to make mistakes and have setbacks. It’s just second nature for me to keep moving.”

Writer, producer and former Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke doesn’t fit into molds. His life has been filled with a gamut of opportunities for which he didn’t qualify. But with help from a recruiter and the voice of his mom in his mind reminding him of excellence, he proved that he would overcome the bad choices he’d made as an at-risk youth to master his future.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

Now, he’s passionate about motivating young people of the same background to know what they can accomplish beyond the limitations society has put on them based on their race or what area they’re from.

Adeleke didn’t grow up with hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL. He’d never seen one in person or thought about becoming a member of the highly-trained elite team of special operations forces. They were just the intriguing cool guys in the movies.

His father died when he was a young boy, and his mom was left alone to care for him and his brother Bayo. So, she moved her family from Africa to the Bronx in New York City. Unfortunately, inner-city communities like the Bronx are plagued with crime, high unemployment, inadequate educational opportunities, and extreme poverty, and Adeleke became a product of his surroundings. He was selling drugs and getting into other illegal activities. By the time he tried to join the military, he had two warrants out for his arrest. But Adeleke had an unexpected supporter that changed his life. His recruiter, Tianna Reyes, was a fellow Bronx native who understood his environment and went to bat for him because she knew no one else would give him a chance.

“She really believed in me,” he said. As a result, his record was expunged, and on July 2, 2002, he was sworn into the U.S. Navy.

Adeleke’s first time learning about special operations forces was in boot camp, and he was hooked.

“My mom always preached excellence to me … and to me, being a SEAL was excellence personified,” he said.

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But once again, he didn’t fit the bill.

“I was totally unqualified to go to BUD/S (basic underwater demolition SEAL training) because I didn’t have the academic scores. My ASVAB scores weren’t high enough. I couldn’t swim. I couldn’t run. I was super skinny, and I was not in shape for the program,” Adeleke explained.

But during his first command at Camp Pendleton, he took matters into his own hands.

“I created a regimen and started training. I would run three miles to the pool, jump in the shallow end, and try to figure it out. Over time I began to get better, and I would run three miles back to my barracks,” he said.

He also purchased the book “ASVAB for Dummies” and eventually retook the test.

Adeleke then went even further and asked his leading petty officer to give him a split shift schedule so he could train harder. He qualified for SEAL training within six months, but this still didn’t seal the deal for him. After a year of being in SEAL training, he had failed his aquatic test so many times that he was kicked out.

“I failed a dive test four times and ultimately got kicked out of school,” he added.

Still, he refused to quit after being sent back to the fleet. Adeleke trained for a-year-and-half with the Marines and went back to SEAL training and became a SEAL.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

In his book “Transformed,” he documents his life, the challenges he’s faced, and the lessons he’s learned. His driving force now is giving back to communities like the one he grew up in. Acting in a major film — “Transformers: The Last Knight” — and now working as a screenwriter and director aren’t enough if he can’t share the lessons. He attributes this to one thing — his faith.

“This is not about me. It’s about people. How can I serve people? How can I bless people?” he said.

Adeleke emphasizes a desire to expose Black youths to the Navy SEALs, as he was the only Black graduate in his class of SEALs. Since 2012, the U.S. Navy has stated it is actively looking for minority SEALs, yet less than 1% of them are Black. Adeleke says part of the blame goes to Hollywood for the lack of positive Black images they put in the world.

“You don’t see a Black James Bond … A lot of white kids see themselves every time they turn on a TV or every time they watch a movie.”

The idea that white people can do anything is normalized and reinforced by Hollywood, while Black children rarely see themselves in strong, affluent roles.

Exposure to proper education is another mission. Not only are the kids not exposed to SEALs, but urban schools also lack essential tools required to join, like access to pools to learn to swim.

“You don’t see educators allowing top tier military professionals such as special operators, pilots, or doctors into their inner-city schools to say you can do this too,” he explained.

To add to the lack of representation, Adeleke has received layers of pushback from inner-city schools and prisons when his team asks if he can speak to the inmates or students.

“The schools that give me the hardest time to get into [to speak] are inner-city, predominantly African American schools,” he said.

His frustration is palpable. The root of the problem is that predominantly white schools are financially backed with an outpouring of community support to expand and better their students’ opportunities. In contrast, minority community schools, which mostly receive funding from property taxes, still fall victim to the American system’s discrimination.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Read Remi’s story on page 10 of the February issue of the Military Influencer Magazine.

“You’ve got to go through all this red tape. But when you go to these schools in suburbia, it’s, ‘Hey, you want to come speak? Come!’ I’ve got an open-door policy to so many schools in suburban areas, but I don’t in urban areas,” Adeleke shared.

And when asking the reason, he is told it’s the city officials and their rules. But Adeleke has a knack for breaking down barriers.

“Overcoming adversity has become second nature to me,” he said. “I kind of learned that through osmosis by living with my mother.”

During 2020, as big brands claimed they would actively diversify and seek out Black creators, one major studio stuck to their word and sought Adeleke out to produce a show.

“In the Hollywood side, I have seen some things change,” he said.

As his weight in Hollywood grows, Adeleke hopes to help give minority youth more exposure and experiences through the imprint of his future television and film work.

To purchase a copy of “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds,” visit any major book retailer including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of August 10th

In case you haven’t heard yet, six Marine Corps lieutenants are facing separation after they were allegedly caught cheating on a land-nav course. That’s right — this isn’t something you’re reading on Duffel Blog. This actually happened, and it’s being reported on by the Marine Corps Times.

Now, I understand the whole “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” mentality of the military (I, too, was once in the E-4 Mafia), but come on! If you know that whatever you’re about to do might forever get you forever laughed at while reinforcing stereotypes that have existed since the military first gave a lieutenant a compass, you might want to think twice.

Now, these memes may not be as funny as that, but they’ll elicit a chuckle or two.


SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via Military World)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via Private News Network)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via r/oldschoolcool)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via Ranger Up)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via ASMDSS)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Meme by WATM)

Articles

Here is some of the best Navy jet footage from 2015

Last year Wing Nut Wick published a compilation of the best Naval aviation footage captured from the cockpits of Navy jets called Hornet Ball 2014. This year a similar video compilation surfaced from Navy West Coast squadrons published by Joe Stephens.


Related:  The best Navy jet footage from 2013

In similar fashion, some of the most incredible Hornet footage was captured in HD and paired with some of the sickest EDM beats (Electronic Dance Music). The latest version features precision video editing and could stand on its own as a music video. Too bad MTV no longer plays that sort of stuff; it would surely give any artist in the top 20 list a run for their money.

It opens with a breathtaking flyover of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) that perfectly displays the might of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. There’s nothing like a floating fortress of freedom that projects power over any horizon.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). Joe Stephens/YouTube

It follows the Aviation Ordnancemen (AOs) — the sailors in red jerseys — loading the Hornets with bombs.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Aviation Ordnancemen take bombs to the F/A-18 Hornets. Joe Stephens/YouTube

The plane captain — sailors in brown jerseys — gives the pilot a greeting salute before the officer proceeds to his final plane check before climbing into the cockpit. It is the plane captain’s responsibility to have the jet ready to fly. These men and women are usually some of the youngest in a squadron.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
A plane captain gives a greeting salute to the pilot. Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube screengrab

After all of the preflight inspections, the Hornet is handed off to the ship’s aircraft handlers in yellow jerseys for launch positioning.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
F/A-18 Hornet getting into launch position. Joe Stephens/YouTube

Final flight systems check.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Joe Stephens/YouTube

Full afterburners and FIRE!

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
F/A-18 Hornet launch. Joe Stephens/YouTube

The footage is awesome! Here’s a screen grab from the cockpit.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube screengrab

Refueling in mid air.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Refueling up close.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Rocket launch.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Super slo-mo firing.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

You’ll never see a sunset quite like this.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

Tailhook down.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Approaching the flight deck.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

A breakaway into the sunset.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

A missile launch from a destroyer.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screengrab

Hornet swarm.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

Flight formation.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

A daring landing in thick fog.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

An incredible flyby viewed from the air.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

A view of Mount Fuji.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Image: Joe Stephens/YouTube Screengrab

From the flight deck to the insane aerial acrobatics from our finest men and women, this video truly captures the Navy fighter experience. The video is 13 minutes long but it’s worth watching.

Watch:

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This is what happens when celebrity Lidia Bastianich cooks for WATM’s vets

Over the holidays, the Emmy award-winning TV host and celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich prepared a world-class cuisine for the troops aboard the USS George Washington.


But leading to the holiday festivities, she traveled the country meeting veterans and learning their incredible service stories.

Related: Back in the day a soldier’s chow came in a can

“I was inspired as I learned about their food traditions and offered them comfort through food,” Lidia said in her PBS video Lidia Celebrates America.

One of her stops included a visit with some of We Are The Mighty’s veterans who shared some of their fondest food memories while serving in the military.

For Edith Casas (U.S. Navy), it was missing her mother’s meals during deployments. For Bryan Anderson (U.S. Army), it was the meals he prepared in the barracks. For Mike Dowling (U.S. Marine Corps), it was sharing his last meal with Rex, his military working dog.

Here’s a short clip from our visit with Lidia:

Lidia Bastianich, YouTube

Watch the full hour-long documentary special on PBS to see how Lidia pays homage to the men and women of our military and the sacrifices they make. 

Articles

Miami VA uses virtual reality to treat PTSD

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
VAntage Point Contributor


The invisible scars of combat can make reintegration to civilian life a challenging transition for some combat Veterans, especially for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For South Florida Veterans, a new technology combined with traditional treatments may hold the secret for a successful post-military life.

Mental health providers at the Miami VA Healthcare System are now offering a virtual reality (VR) treatment option for Veterans with PTSD. Combining VR with traditional treatments, such as prolonged exposure therapy, providers can help Veterans change how they perceive and respond to the symptoms of PTSD, which typically cause depression, isolation and anxiety.

“Avoidance, hyper vigilance and re-experiencing are symptoms of PTSD that result from memories of trauma,” said Dr. Pamela Slone-Fama, Miami VA posttraumatic stress clinical team staff psychologist. “By using a recovery model approach, prolonged exposure therapy and virtual reality, most of our patients who complete this treatment don’t experience the same level of stress and intensity when faced with painful memories. Prolonged exposure therapy is what makes this approach to PTSD recovery so effective.”

In conventional prolonged exposure therapy, patients are gradually exposed to events they avoid because of trauma, and providers directly control the stimuli – which can be adjusted based on patients’ responses and individual needs. One of the benefits of using VR in PTSD treatment is providers can control the virtual combat landscapes, sounds and even smells.

What happens during PTSD VR sessions?

Before the first VR session, providers talk with their patients about the benefits of using exposure therapy and VR to treat PTSD. If patients choose to participate, VR sessions begin during the third visit. Before beginning the session, patients are connected to the VR machine – which consists of a headset with video goggles, plastic M-4 rifle, remote to control a virtual humvee and a chair.

“Patients begin the session by recounting their traumatic memories in the present tense, while we document responses, anxiety levels and memories,” Dr. Slone-Fama said. “As patients are recounting, we can see what they are seeing on our screens and try to simulate the landscapes, sounds and smells they are describing.”

While repeatedly recounting their memories, patients also describe how they are feeling. Depending on how far along a patient is in his/her treatment, sessions can run anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes. Even though the VR session is an important piece of the therapy, the post session also has an important role in the recovery process.

“After VR sessions, we work with the patient on processing what just happened,” Dr. Slone-Fama said. “This part of the therapy helps patients understand the events that happened to them and allows them to process the entire memory. VR sessions can be intense, so before wrapping up we always make sure the patients are ok to leave. Safety is always important.”

Common Misconceptions about PTSD

While PTSD can be a serious condition, its symptoms are what cause Veterans to develop low self-esteem and unhealthy, unrealistic beliefs about themselves, according to Dr. Camille Gonzalez, Miami VA posttraumatic stress clinical team staff psychologist. She said Veterans living with PTSD frequently blame themselves for the trauma and feel hopeless.

“It’s common for Veterans with PTSD to feel as though they are permanently damaged,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “We try to help Veterans understand it’s not their fault they experienced these events. Once they realize PTSD is a result of something that happened to them, the recovery process can begin. Even though Veterans will always remember what happened to them, therapy can help them decrease the negative impacts of those memories.”

How to get help

Veterans living with PTSD don’t have to suffer alone. Veterans with PTSD can find help and support through the National Center for PTSD and their local VA health care facility.

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 animals who serve in militaries around the world

From the horses of Chinggis Khan’s army, to Hannibal’s famed elephants, to World War I carrier pigeons, animals have played a crucial role in military operations for centuries.

But despite the technological achievements since Hannibal marched his elephants over the Alps in 218 BCE, militaries still use animals, whether for parades, transport, or weapons detection.

In September 2019, as Hurricane Dorian pummeled parts of the southeastern United States, the team of marine mammals from Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic in Kings Bay, Georgia, where they patrol the waters for enemy crafts or other intruders, were evacuated to Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, Florida, to ride out the storm.


“At NSWC PCD, we personally understand the trials and tribulations that come with the devastation of a hurricane, especially after Hurricane Michael severely impacted our area in 2018,” Nicole Waters, the Machine Shops Project Manager in Panama City told Navy Times.

“We strongly support the ‘One Team, One Fight’ initiative and will always be willing to help protect any Navy personnel and assets.”

Read on to learn more about the roles animals play in today’s militaries.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

1. A beluga whale was found off the coast of Norway in 2018, sparking suspicions that it was trained as a Russian spy.

The whale was initially found by Norwegian fisherman with a harness strapped to it that read Equipment St. Petersburg, The Washington Post reported at the time. The whale was extremely friendly toward humans, an unusual behavior for a beluga raised in the wild. It was speculated at the time that the whale’s harness may have held a camera or weapons of some sort.

More recently, another whale with a GoPro camera base strapped to it made its way to Norway, where locals named it “Whaledimir.”

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

A Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP) California sea lion waits for his handler to give the command to search the pier for potential threats during International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX). IMCMEX includes navies from 44 countries whose focus is to promote regional security through mine countermeasure operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathleen Gorby)

2. The US Navy uses sea lions to recover objects at depths that swimmers can’t reach.

“Sea lions have excellent low light vision and underwater directional hearing that allow them to detect and track undersea targets, even in dark or murky waters,” the US Navy Marine Mammal program explains. They’re also able to dive much further below the water’s surface than human divers, without getting decompression sickness, or “the bends.”

They’re trained to patrol areas near nuclear-powered submarines and detect the presence of adversaries’ robots, divers, or other submerged threats.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP) MK7 Marine Mammal System bottlenose dolphin searches for an exercise sea mine alongside an NMMP trainers. NMMP is conducting simulated mine hunting operations in Southern California during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), exercise, July 22. Twenty-five nations, 46 ships, five submarines, and about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

(SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific)

3. Dolphins, too, are used by the Navy to sniff out mines.

“Since 1959, the U.S. Navy has trained dolphins and sea lions as teammates for our Sailors and Marines to help guard against similar threats underwater,”according to the US Navy Marine Mammal program.

“Dolphins naturally possess the most sophisticated sonar known to science,” the program’s website says. “Mines and other potentially dangerous objects on the ocean floor that are difficult to detect with electronic sonar, especially in coastal shallows or cluttered harbors, are easily found by the dolphins.”

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

Office of U.S. Quartermaster, Army Camel Corp training.

4. The Indian Army uses camels in its parades.

It also piloted a program in 2017 to introduce camels as load-bearing animals in high-altitude areas, specifically the Line of Actual Control (LAC) separating Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir from the part controlled by China.

The camels could carry 180-220kg loads, much more than horses or mules, and could travel faster too, according to the Times of India.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

U.S. Army Special Operations Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) ride horseback on a trail during the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Horsemanship Course at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC), Bridgeport, Calif., June 19, 2019. The purpose of the SOF horsemanship course is to teach SOF personnel the necessary skills to enable them to ride horses, load and maintain pack animals for military applications in austere environments.

(US Marine Corps photo Lance Cpl. William Chockey)

5. US special operators train on horses and mules, in case they’re working in particularly rugged environments where vehicles might now be able to go.

Green Berets from Operational Detachment Alpha 595 rode horses in the mountainous, unforgiving terrain of Afghanistan just after the US invasion, earning them the nickname “horse soldiers.”

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin McMahon, 39th Security Forces Squadron commander, congratulates Autumn, a 39th SFS military working dog, during the latter’s retirement ceremony at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 29, 2019. Autumn served seven years at Incirlik and earned the Meritorious Service Medal for her contributions to the mission.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua)

6. Of course, man’s best friend plays several important roles in the military.


Perhaps the most famous US military dog is Chesty, the English bulldog mascot of the Marine Corps (Chesty XIV retired last year with the rank of Corporal). But Military Working Dogs (MWDs) perform the very serious duties of sniffing out explosives and drugs, and acting as patrols and sentries on military bases.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill

(Photo by Doruk Yemenici)

7. The Indian military uses mules and horses for transport in rugged terrains and high altitudes.

As of 2019, the Indian armed forces were using horses and mules to transport supplies in difficult terrain, although plans to replace the four-legged forces with ATVs and drones came up in a 2017 Army Design Bureau report, according to the Hindustan Times.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

This is the playlist that got this SEAL out the door

Here’s a short list of things we already knew about
Kaj Larsen:


1. He’s a former U.S. Navy SEAL

2. He’s an Emmy-nominated producer and war correspondent for
VICE and he has a masters from Harvard University.

3. He’s
a total hottie a founder of The Mission Continues, an organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact.

But you might not know that he has rather eclectic taste in music and even learned to play while deployed.

“We’d sit around as a platoon. A couple of us played guitar, and we’d play and sing and that was extraordinarily significant for me on that first deployment. It helped carry us through.”

In a conversation with We Are The Mighty, Larsen shares the songs that meant something to him at different moments during his military career — whether it was the shotgun rack in M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” hitting home before a mission, or the patriotism of Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” during a controversial time in American history.

Larsen easily carries the gravitas of a combat-experienced SEAL, but he isn’t concerned about being vulnerable. He can laugh about being afraid of his jump training and how R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” helped get him out the door.

That’s the thing about music — in many ways, it becomes the soundtrack to our lives
, and Larsen’s has been a rather inspiring one.

Check out what he had to say about music and his SEAL career in this video:

And here’s his Battle Mix, just in case you’ve got some ass kicking of your own to do:

Articles

This Navy SEAL was wounded during the frantic search for Bowe Bergdahl

On June 21, a former Navy SEAL testified that his military career ended when he was shot in the leg during a hastily planned mission to find Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after the soldier left his post in Afghanistan.


Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer James Hatch told the judge that his team had about 90 minutes to plan their mission and board helicopters after receiving information about Bergdahl’s purported whereabouts shortly after he disappeared in 2009. While pursuing enemy fighters on foot, Hatch was hit by fire from an AK-47. Hatch says he survived because members of his team quickly applied a tourniquet while waiting for a medical helicopter.

“They saved me from bleeding to death for sure,” he testified during the pretrial hearing. Hatch, who entered the courtroom with a service dog and a limp, said he’s had 18 surgeries because of the wound.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Bowe Bergdahl. Photo via NewsEdge.

Also on June 21, the military judge told defense attorneys they can ask potential military jurors about President Donald Trump on a lengthy written questionnaire. Defense lawyers have argued Trump’s criticism of Bergdahl will prevent him from getting a fair trial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Prosecutors want to use the injuries to Hatch and others as evidence during sentencing if Bergdahl is convicted. The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, already ruled that the injury evidence can’t be used during the guilt-or-innocence phase of the trial scheduled for October.

A legal scholar not involved in the case, Eric Carpenter, said the decision on the injuries could be pivotal.

“This evidence has already been excluded from the guilt phase of the trial, and if it is excluded during the sentencing phase, the heart of the government’s case will be gone,” said Carpenter, a former Army lawyer who teaches law at Florida International University. “This might make the government more receptive to a deal.”

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Defense attorney Eugene Fidell declined to say after the hearing whether his client is interested in a plea bargain.

The topic also came up during the hearing. Defense attorneys asked the judge to rule that any alleged desertion ended when Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban hours after he left the remote post. They say the determination is needed so they can advise their client on how to plead to the desertion charge.

“We need to know so we can tell Sgt. Bergdahl what the consequences are,” Fidell told the judge, Col. Jeffery R. Nance.

Nance responded that Bergdahl can choose to plead guilty to the lesser offense of unauthorized absence, or AWOL, but that prosecutors could continue pursuing the more serious desertion charge if they weren’t satisfied. The judge said he would rule later on the defense’s arguments about the duration of Bergdahl’s absence.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
A U.S. Army soldier from 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Black Hawk, conducts a foot patrol in the small village of Yayah Khel, March 10, 2012. DoD Photo by Sgt. Ken Scar.

The judge also said he would rule later on a motion to dismiss the misbehavior-before-the-enemy charge, which could land Bergdahl in prison for life. Defense attorneys say prosecutors chose the wrong building blocks for the offense because the actions cited in the charge wouldn’t be independently criminal, an argument that prosecutors dispute.

Later in the hearing, Nance said he would allow the defense to probe potential jurors’ feelings about Trump in a questionnaire being sent in the coming weeks. Prosecutors have objected to 17 of the approximately 40 questions, including ones asking how prospective panel members voted in the presidential election.

“I’m going to let you ask pretty much all the questions, but with some changes to address the government’s concerns,” Nance said.

Nance asked for further written arguments before the questionnaire is finalized. The judge previously said he would allow the defense wide leeway to question potential jurors, even though he rejected a motion to dismiss the case over Trump’s comments entirely in a February ruling.

SAS soldiers wear the ‘Punisher’ skull after they get their first kill
Former President Obama and Bowe Bergdahl’s parents. Photo from the Obama White House Archives.

Bergdahl left his remote post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was subsequently held by the Taliban and its allies for about five years. The military probe of Bergdahl began soon after he was freed from captivity on May 31, 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Former President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans who claimed he jeopardized the nation’s security with the trade.

Bergdahl, who has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base, has said he walked off his post to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.

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