The dapper young Hungarian revolutionary named József Tibor Fejes holding a captured AK-47 in what is believed to be the first widely distributed photo of the weapon. (Public domain photo.)
Sixty years ago the weapon that became a symbol of Cold War guerrillas and current day insurgents made its debut in a most unlikely way.
The AK-47, arguably the most widely used assault rifle in the world, first appeared in the hands of both Communist troops and Hungarian revolutionaries during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The revolution against the nation’s communist government began on October 23 but was ruthlessly crushed by Hungarian secret police and Soviet troops by Nov. 10.
In particular, one photo from the revolution gained worldwide attention – and it is arguably the first time the Kalashnikov entered the public consciousness.
C.J. Chivers, former Marine Corps infantry captain and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, wrote in his book The Gun that nobody knows which Hungarian revolutionary first picked up a captured AK-47.
But a LIFE Magazine photographer snapped a picture of József Tibor Fejes – “22-years-old, fresh-faced, sharp-eyed, purposeful, and seemingly unafraid” – whose costume as an insurgent always included a bowler hat. “The Man in the Bowler Hat” was also hefting an AK-47, making Fejes the first known revolutionary carrying what became widely known as a revolutionary’s weapon.
“The AK-47 was destined to become a symbol of resistance fighters almost everywhere, a weapon with innumerable spokesmen,” Chivers wrote. “Fejes had nonchalantly assumed the requisite pose and begun to flesh out this historical role. He did so before Fidel Castro, before Yasir Arafat, before Idi Amin. He was years ahead of the flag of Zimbabwe, which would expropriate the AK-47 as a symbol. He was ahead of Shamil Basayev and Osama bin Laden, who would convert the product of an atheist state into a sign of unsparing jihad. József Tibor Fejes was the first of the world’s Kalashnikov-toting characters, a member of a pantheon’s inaugural class.”
Although the Soviet Union had first publically acknowledged the rifle’s existence in 1949, firearms experts and military intelligence analysts in the West knew little about the weapon.
In fact, it was not until 1956 that the Army’s Technical Intelligence Office issued a classified report about the AK-47 – a report that mistakenly labeled the rifle a submachine gun and led to Pentagon brass dismissing the effectiveness of the weapon.
Eventually, the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and a host of Soviet satellites and licensees manufactured more than 100 million AK-47s. First encountered by U.S. fighting men during the Vietnam War, the robust construction of the weapon and its reliability soon made believers out of Americans who faced it in the hands of their enemies.
To this day, U.S. soldiers and Marines continue to face adversaries armed with some version of the Kalashnikov.
As for József Tibor Fejes, his fate was sealed. Charged with the execution of a State Security Forces officer by gunning him down in the streets of Budapest, a Hungarian court found Fejes guilty and sentenced him to death.
Despite an appeal, authorities hanged Fejes on April 9, 1959, his punishment for what the court said was an attempt to overthrow the Hungarian people’s republic, the murder of a police officer, and the theft of state property – namely an AK-47 assault rifle.
A joint command between the U.S. and Canada, NORAD’s primary mission is to detect and respond to threats in and around North American Airspace. But once a year, NORAD uses its sensors to track Santa’s progress. Interested parties can keep track of where he is by checking social media, calling the hotline, checking email, or visiting the special website.
Here’s the tech that makes the Christmas Eve operation possible:
NORAD coordinates with Santa’s elves to get real time intel on Santa’s departure time. This ensures that when Santa’s sleigh enters monitored airspace, NORAD isn’t surprised. The North Warning System is made up of 47 radar stations strung across northern Canada and Alaska that are designed to find and identify objects entering NORAD airspace. The NWS only covers the northern most part of the continent, so the radar operators quickly hand off tracking to teams watching satellite coverage.
Once NORAD began tracking Santa, they realized that jet pilots could be given the unique experience of getting to fly with their hero. Every year, select Canadian and U.S. pilots are granted the chance to escort Santa. Canada launches CF-18 pilots to greet Santa while the U.S. hangs out in F-15s, F-16s, and F-22s.
Santa slows to run with the fighter jets, allowing the pilots to wave to Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph.
Of course, NORAD doesn’t want just pilots to get a glimpse of the world’s jolliest elf, so they installed a number of high-speed cameras around the world to track Santa’s progress and feed live video to children through the NORAD Santa website. The camera’s provide much of the tracking information for Santa’s journey outside of North America.
To track Santa this Christmas Eve, check out the website or download the phone app, “NORAD Tracks Santa.” You can also keep tabs through Twitter, Facebook, or by calling volunteers at 1-877-HI-NORAD.
As North Korea draws ever closer to possessing a nuclear weapon that could hit the US mainland, President Donald Trump and his top military advisers must weigh whether or not they’d launch a preemptive strike on North Korea and risk potentially millions of lives in the process.
At a National Committee on US-China Relations event in New York City, Samuel J. Locklear, the former head of the US military’s Pacific Command made it clear: “Just because it’s tragic doesn’t mean he won’t do it.”
“If the national interests are high enough, and I think this is the mistake that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un needs really to think about, if you start pressing on an issue that has to do with the survival of the United States against a nuclear attack, the tragic becomes conceivable to stop it,” said Locklear. “It could be tragic.”
Adm. Timothy J. Keating, another former commander of Pacific Command, echoed Locklear’s statement.
“There are a wide range of options” that are “readily available to the president and the secretary of defense resident in the planning warrens at Pacific command,” Keating said at the event.
The discussion between two former top military commanders shows what a difficult situation the US is in with regard to North Korea. Pyongyang may wield up to 15 or so nuclear weapons, and they repeatedly threaten to use them against US forces, South Koreans, and Japanese.
Though the US has in place the world’s most advanced missile defenses, there are no guarantees when it comes to stopping ballistic missiles. Even a single nuclear warhead touching down near Seoul could kill millions of innocent South Koreans in an instant.
But the US has its own citizens to worry about. Experts contacted by Business Insider have spoken with near unanimity saying North Korea wants a thermonuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile to hold the US at risk.
What exactly the US military planners discuss behind closed doors rightly remains classified, but if they calculate that a relatively small tragedy today could avert a massive tragedy tomorrow, then the US may see war with North Korea at some point.
The Korean War is strange anomaly in the history of American wars, especially of the 20th Century. So much consideration is reserved for wars and the people who fought them in today’s culture that it makes the term “the forgotten war” seem like an impossibility. But that’s what we face with Korean War veterans.
Theirs is a very insular generation of veterans. Those who don’t share an experience in World War II or Vietnam because they only fought in Korea, they can only find an ever-dwindling number of fellow Korean War veterans.
Because of this, they have a very detailed memory and analysis of not just their part in the war, but of the entire war itself, so conversations tend to be lively between them. And, if you have a question, you will find a thoughtful answer. They’ve discussed every aspect of the war quite a bit.
Some Korean War veterans, like the “Chosin Few” seen here, form alumni groups of single battles.
So it makes sense that whenever I talk to Korean War veterans, there’s one thing they all say they want to do: talk to veterans who were fighting on the other side of the fiercest battles. Whenever old adversaries get together, the talk generally comes to heal the emotional wounds of both parties, whether it’s between Americans and Germans, Japanese, or Vietnamese counterparts.
“They were fighting under the same orders I had,” Marine Corps veteran Joe Owen said when he told me about North Korean troops just days before his death in 2015. Owen was a lieutenant at the Chosin Reservoir. “They were out to kill me, as I was out to kill them… I respect them. I’d love to sit down with one of them and bullshit with them about what they were doing at such and such a time, especially if they were in the same battle as I was.”
But Korean War veterans will likely never get this experience.
North Korea is called the Hermit Kingdom for a reason. It is extremely difficult to get in as an outsider, especially as a U.S. military veteran. North Korea did not fare well during the Korean War. Despite its early success, the North was pretty much ravaged and bombed away for three years and today’s North Koreans remember the war very differently than the rest of the world. An American Korean War veteran visiting the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang would either have to be extremely diplomatic or agree to a vow of silence as he walked through.
Chinese veterans of the war are a different matter. China is a much more open, and relatively progressive country. The Chinese People’s Volunteer Army sent upwards of a million Chinese to North Korea during the war, with many of the surviving veterans still alive, like Zhang Yuzeng. Zhang told Voice of America News that even though the two were allies, North Koreans generally acted independently and the two forces couldn’t understand each other.
“There were few [North Koreans],” he said. “[They were] badly equipped and were not as good at fighting…”The North Korean army would go first and we followed; we stopped where they stopped.”
To the Chinese fighters, they were protecting their country from American Imperialism, a protection they firmly believed was necessary. CNN interviewed a Chinese veteran of Korea at his retirement home in Henan Province. He proudly wears his Chinese Army dress uniform. He told CNN it was necessary to help the Korean people during the war.
“The people of Korea were suffering,” Duan said.”Seeing the people of Korea farming the land and being killed by enemy planes … what were they to do if they could not farm? The planes would just come and bomb them to death. We had to help protect the people of Korea.”
A United States Marine stands guard over captured North Koreans just after the Inchon Landing.
Zhang Kuiyuan joined the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army at age 18 and was sent to Korea. He drove a supply truck to the front lines and also mentioned the lack of cooperation. They were not even to speak to or form relationships with the locals.
“We didn’t have many contacts with the North Koreans unless we were cooperating in the same hills,” he said. Duan Keke remarked that North Korean people today probably have no idea what sacrifices were made by the Chinese fighting man on their behalf, since they were not allowed to communicate on a personal level. He laments that the Koreans only know what their government wants them to know.
What the Chinese and American Korean War veterans have in common is that their war, decades old, remains “forgotten” – especially by the youth of their respective countries.
“Young people? Of course they don’t know,” says You Jie Xiang, a former infantry soldier who was assigned to guard American POWs. “These wars took place decades ago. All the young people have no idea.”
Like Joe Owen, the salty former lieutenant who commanded Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, these Chinese veterans harbor no ill will toward their former adversaries. They call Americans a “peaceful people” who “did not want a war in Korea.”
“War is death,” the old Chinese vets agree, nodding to each other.
The term “Broken Arrow” refers to more than a bad John Travolta movie. In military terminology, a Broken Arrow refers to a significant nuclear event — one that won’t trigger a nuclear war — but is a danger to the public through an accidental or unexplained nuclear detonation, a non-nuclear detonation or burning of a nuclear weapon, radioactive contamination from a nuclear weapon, the loss in transit of a nuclear asset (but not from theft), and/or the jettisoning of a nuclear weapon.
In 1980, the Department of Defense issued a report titled “Narrative Summaries of Accidents Involving U.S. Nuclear Weapons.” Keep in mind, this details eventsonly before 1980. There have been other incidents and scandals since then, not covered here.
The DoD report was released after public outcry following the 1980 Damascus Incident, covered in detail by Eric Schlosser’s 2014 book Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety. In this instance, DoD defined an “accident involving nuclear weapons” as:
An unexpected event involving nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons components that results in any of the following:
•Accidental or unauthorized launching or firing, or use by U.S. forces or supported allied forces of a nuclear-capable weapon system which could create the risk of an outbreak of war
• Nuclear detonation
• Non-nuclear detonation or burning of a nuclear weapon or radioactive weapon component, including a fully-assembled nuclear weapon, an unassembled nuclear weapon component, or a radioactive nuclear weapon component
• Radioactive contamination
• Seizure, theft, or loss of a nuclear weapon or radioactive nuclear weapon component, including jettisoning
• Public hazard, actual or implied
If the event occurred overseas, the location was not disclosed, except for the Thule, Greenland and Palomares, Spain incidents. There were no unintended nuclear explosions. The report included incidents from the Air Force and Navy, but not the Marine Corps, as they didn’t have nuclear weapons in peace time and not from the Army because they “never experienced an event serious enough to warrant inclusion.”
Somehow, the Army — of all branches — was the only branch not to lose a nuclear weapon over the course of 30 years.
1. February 13, 1950 – Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia, Canada
A B-36 en route from Eielson AFB (near Moose Creek, Alaska) to Carswell AFB (Fort Worth, Texas) on a simulated combat profile mission developed serious mechanical difficulties six hours into the flight, forcing the crew to shut down three engines at 12,000 feet. Level flight could not be maintained due to icing, so the crew dumped the weapon from 8,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. A bright flash occurred on impact, followed by the sound and shock wave. Only the high explosives on the weapon detonated. The crew flew over Princess Royal Island, where they bailed out. The plane’s wreckage was later found on Vancouver Island.
2. April 11, 1950 – Manzano Base, New Mexico
After leaving Kirtland AFB (Albuquerque, New Mexico) at 9:38 pm, a B-29 bomber crashed into a mountain three minutes later on Manzano Base, killing the crew. The bomb case for the weapon was demolished and some of the high explosive (HE) burned in the subsequent gasoline fire. Other HE was recovered undamaged, as well as four detonators for the nuclear asset. There was no contamination and the recovered components of the nuclear weapon were returned to the Atomic Energy Commission. The nuclear capsule was on board the aircraft, but was not inserted, as per Strategic Air Command (SAC) regulations, so a nuclear detonation was not possible.
3. July 13, 1950 – Lebanon, Ohio
A B-50 on a training mission from Biggs AFB, Texas flying at 7,000 feet on a clear day suddenly nosed down and flew into the ground near Mrs. Martha Bishop’s farm on Old Hamilton Road, killing four officers and twelve Airmen. The HE detonated on impact, but there was no nuclear capsule aboard the aircraft.
4. August 5, 1950 – Fairfield Suisun AFB, California
A B-29 carrying a weapon but no capsule experienced two runway propellers and landing gear retraction difficulties on takeoff from the base. The crew attempted an emergency landing and crashed an burned. The fire was fought for 12-15 minutes before the weapon’s high explosive detonated, killing 19 crew members and rescue personnel — including Brig. Gen. Robert F. Travis — who was flying the weapon to Guam at the request of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The base was renamed Travis AFB in his honor.
5. November 10, 1950 – “Over Water, outside United States”
Because of an in-flight emergency, a weapon with no capsule of nuclear material was jettisoned over water from an altitude of 10,500 feet. A high explosive detonation was observed.
6. March 10, 1956 – Mediterranean Sea
A B-47 was one of four scheduled non-stop deployment aircraft sent from MacDill AFB, Florida to an overseas air base. Take off and its first refueling went as expected. The second refueling point was over the Mediterranean at 14,000 feet. Visibility was poor at 14,500 but the aircraft — carrying two nuclear capsules — never made contact with the tanker. An extensive search was mounted but no trace of the missing aircraft or its crew were ever found.
7. July 27, 1956 – “Overseas Base”
A B-47 with no weapons aboard was making “touch and go” landings during a training exercise when it suddenly lost control and slid off the runway, crashing into a storage igloo containing several nuclear weapons. No bombs burned or detonated and there was no contamination.
8. May 22, 1957 – Kirtland AFB, New Mexico
A B-36 ferrying a weapon from Biggs AFB, Texas to Kirtland AFB approached Kirtland at 1,700 feet when a weapon dropped from the bomb bay, taking the bomb bay doors with it. The weapon’s parachutes deployed but did not fully stop the fall because of the plane’s low altitude. The bomb hit 4.5 miles South of the Kirtland AFB control tower, detonating the high explosive on the weapon, making a crater 25 feet in diameter and 12 feet deep. Debris from the explosion scattered up to a mile away. Radiological surveys found no radiation except at the crater’s lip, where it was .5 milliroentgens (normal cosmic background radiation humans are exposed to every year is 200 milliroentgens).
9. July 28, 1957 – Atlantic Ocean
Two weapons were jettisoned off the East coast of the U.S. from a C-124 en route to Dover AFB, Delaware. Though three weapons and one nuclear capsule were aboard at the time, nuclear components were not installed on board. The craft experienced a loss of power from engines one and two and could not maintain level flight. The weapons were jettisoned at 4,500 feet and 2,500 feet – both are presumed to have hit the ocean and to have sunk immediately. The plane landed near Atlantic City, New Jersey with its remaining cargo. The two lost weapons were never recovered.
10. October 11, 1957 – Homestead AFB, Florida
A B-47 leaving Homestead AFB blew its tires during takeoff, crashing the plane into an uninhabited area only 3,800 feet from the end of the runway. The B-47 was ferrying a weapon and nuclear capsule. The weapon burned for five hours before it was cooled with water, but the weapon was intact. Even after two low intensity explosions, half the weapon was still intact. Everything was recovered and accounted for.
11. January 31, 1958 – “Overseas Base”
A B-47 with a weapon in strike configuration was making a simulated takeoff during an exercise when its rear wheel casting failed, causing the tail to hit the runway and a rupture to the fuel tank. The resulting fire burned for seven hours. Firemen fought the fire for ten minutes, then had to evacuate the area. There was no high explosive detonation but the area was contaminated after the crash, which was cleared after the wreckage was cleared.
12. February 5, 1958 – Savannah River, Georgia
A B-47 on a simulated combat mission out of Homestead AFB, Florida collided in mid-air with an F-86 Sabre near Savannah, Georgia at 3:30 am. The bomber tried three times to land at Hunter AFB, Georgia with the weapon on board but could not slow down enough to land safely. A nuclear detonation wasn’t possible because the nuclear capsule wasn’t on board the aircraft, but the high explosive detonation would still have done a lot of damage to the base. The weapon was instead jettisoned into nearby Wassaw Sound from 7,200 feet. it didn’t detonate and the weapon was never found.
13. March 11, 1958 – Florence, South Carolina
In late afternoon, four B-47s took off from Hunter AFB, GA en route to an overseas base. When they leveled off at 15,000 feet, one of them accidentally dropped its nuclear weapon into a field 6.5 miles from Florence, South Carolina — detonating the high explosive on impact — then returned to base. The nuclear capsule was not aboard the aircraft.
14. November 4, 1958 – Dyess AFB, Texas
A B-47 caught fire on takeoff, with three crew members successfully ejecting and one killed on impact from 1,500 feet. The high explosive detonated on impact, creating a crater 35 feet in diameter and six feet deep. Nuclear material was recovered near the crash site.
15. November 26, 1958 – Chennault AFB, Louisiana
A B-47 caught fire on the ground with a nuclear weapon on board. The fire destroyed the weapon and contaminated the aircraft wreckage.
16. January 18, 1959 – “Pacific Base”
An F-100 Super Sabre carrying a nuclear weapon in ground alert configuration caught fire after an explosion rocked its external fuel tanks on startup. A fire team put the fire out in seven minutes, with no contamination or cleanup problems.
17. July 6, 1959 – Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
A C-124 on a nuclear logistics mission crashed on take-off and it destroyed by a fire which also destroys the nuclear weapon. No detonation occurred but the ground beneath the weapon was contaminated with radioactivity.
18. September 25, 1959 – Off Whidbey Island, Washington
A U.S. Naby P-5M was abandoned in Puget Sound, Washington carrying an unarmed nuclear antisubmarine weapon, but the weapon was not carrying nuclear material. The weapon was not recovered.
19. October 15, 1959 – Hardinsberg, Kentucky
A B-52 left Columbus AFB, Mississippi and 2:30 pm CST as the the second position in a flight of two. A KC-135 tanker left Columbus AFB at 5:33 pn CST as the second tanker in flight of two, scheduled to refuel the B-52s. On a clear night near Hardinsberg, Kentucky at 32,000 feet, the two aircraft collided. Four crewmen on the B-52 were killed and the two nuclear weapons were recovered intact.
20. June 7, 1960 – McGuire AFB, New Jersey
A BOMARC supersonic ramjet missile in ready storage condition was destroyed after a high pressure helium tank exploded and ruptured the missile’s fuel tanks. The warhead was destroyed by the fire but the high explosive did not detonate and contamination was limited to the area beneath the weapon and the area where firefighting water drained off.
21. January 24, 1961 – Goldsboro, North Carolina
A B-52 on an airborne alert mission experienced structural failure of its right wing, resulting in two weapons separating from the aircraft during breakup between 2,000 and 10,000 feet and the deaths of three crewmembers. The parachute of the first bomb deployed successfully, and it was lightly damaged when it hit the ground. They hit the ground full force and broke apart. One of the weapons fell into “waterlogged farmland to a depth of 50 feet” and was not recovered. The Air Force later purchased land in this area and requires permission before digging nearby.
22. March 14, 1961 – Yuba City, California
A suddenly depressurized B-52 forced to descend to 10,000 feet and caused the bomber to run out of fuel. The crew bailed out, except for the aircraft commander, who steered it away from populated areas and bailed out at 4,000 feet. The two weapons aboard were torn from the aircraft upon ground impact with no explosive or nuclear detonation or contamination.
23. November 16, 1963 – Medina Base, Texas
123,000 pounds of high explosives from disassembled obsolete nuclear assets exploded at an Atomic Energy Commission storage facility. Since the nuclear components were elsewhere, there was no contamination and, amazingly, only three employees were injured.
24. January 13, 1964 – Cumberland, Maryland
A B-52 flying from Massachusetts to Turner AFB, Georgia crashed 17 miles southwest of Cumberland, Maryland carrying two nuclear weapons in tactical ferry configuration, but without electrical connections to the aircraft and the safeties turned on. Trying to climb to 33,000 feet to avoid severe turbulence, the bomber hit more turbulence, destroying the aircraft. Only the pilot and co-pilot survived the event, as the gunner and navigator ejected but were killed by exposure to sub-zero temperatures on the ground. The radar navigator went down with the bird. The weapons were found intact, but under inches of snow.
25. December 5, 1964 – Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
Two Airmen respond to a security repair issue on a Minuteman I missile on strategic alert. During their work, a retrorocket below the missile’s re-entry vehicle fired, causing the vehicle to fall 75 feet to the floor of the silo, causing considerable damage to the vehicle structure and ripping it from the electronics on the missile. There was no detonation or contamination.
26. December 8, 1964 – Bunker Hill (now Grissom Air Reserve Base), Indiana
An SAC B-58 taxiing during an alert exercise lost control because of the jet blast from the aircraft in front of it combined with an icy runway. The B-58 slid off the runway, hitting runway fixtures, and caught fire as all three crew members began to abandon the aircraft. The navigator ejected but didn’t survive, and five nuclear weapons on board burned and the crash site was contaminated.
27. October 11, 1965 – Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
A C-124 being refueled caught fire, damaging the fuselage and the nuclear components the aircraft was hauling, contaminating the aircraft and the disaster response crews.
28. December 5, 1965 – “At Sea – Pacific”
An A-4 loaded with one nuclear weapon rolled off the elevator of an aircraft carrier and rolled into the sea. The pilot, aircraft and nuclear weapon were all lost more than 500 miles from land.
29. January 17, 1966 – Palomares, Spain
A B-52 bomber and KC-135 tanker collided during a routine high altitude air refueling operation, killing seven of the eleven crew members. The bomber carried four nuclear assets. One was recovered on land, another at sea, while the high explosive on other two exploded on impact with the ground, spreading radioactive material. 1400 tons of contaminated soil and vegetation were moved to the U.S. for storage as Spanish authorities monitored the cleanup operation. Palomares is still the most radioactive town in Europe.
30. January 21, 1968 – Thule, Greenland
A B-52 from Plattsburgh AFB, New York crashed and burned seven miles southwest of the runway while on approach to Thule AB, Greenland, killing one of its crew members. All four nuclear weapons carried by the bomber were destroyed by fire, contaminating the sea ice. 237,000 cubic feet of contaminated snow, ice, water, and crash debris were moved to the U.S. for storage over a four month cleanup operation as Danish authorities monitored the effort.
31. “Spring, 1968” – “At Sea, Atlantic”
“Details remain classified.”
32. September 19, 1980 – Damascus, Arkansas
During routine maintenance of a Titan II missile silo, an Airman dropped a tool, which fell and struck the missile, causing a leak in a pressurized fuel tank. The entire missile complex and surrounding area were evacuated with a team of specialists from Little Rock AFB called in for assessment. 8 1/2 hours after the initial damage, the fuel vapors exploded, killing one member of the team and injuring 21 other Air Force personnel. Somehow, the missile’s re-entry vehicle (and the warhead) was found intact, with no contamination.
Stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the global “Nuclear Club” of the U.S., Russia, the UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea number 15,600.
Below is a video detailing every nuclear blast ever detonated on Earth:
This election season, many Soldiers will face the same crucial question, and it’s not necessarily the one you think. It’s not, “Who do I vote for?” It’s “Can I vote?”
For the many Soldiers stationed overseas or facing deployments, the answer isn’t always clear.
In 2014, 69 percent of the active-duty Army was registered to vote, compared to 65 percent of the civilian population, according to a 2014 Federal Voting Assistance Program report to Congress. But when it actually came to voting in the 2014 election, only about 20 percent of active-duty Soldiers did, compared to 42 percent of the general population.
This election season, the Army is making sure that, for Soldiers who do choose to take advantage of the freedom they signed up to defend, the answer is always, “yes.” They can cast a vote from wherever they are.
Rachel Gilman, who manages the Army Voting Assistance Program, oversees the more than 3,000 voting assistance officers Army-wide who are dedicated to ensuring Soldiers everywhere have the tools and information they need.
“Our program really focuses on awareness, assistance, providing education, and really training voters about where to go and what information they need,” Gilman said.
“Voting is a very personal choice. If they decide to vote, we are there to help them. If somebody wants to make changes on issues that are important in their hometowns and communities, that’s what we are there to provide.”
Soldiers who want to vote in November should act now, Gilman said. Whether the Soldier is stateside, forward-stationed overseas, or deployed, the way to do that is by seeking out a unit voting assistance officer and then filling out a Federal Post Card Application.
“The (Federal Post Card Application) … that’s your form, your go-to form,” Gilman said.
Also known as GSA Standard Form 76, the Federal Post Card Application will begin the process of registering a Soldier to vote in his or her correct voting district. It will also inform election officials as to which voting district to send the ballot to. The form is not just for Solders, but for any voter who wants to cast a ballot outside of his or her home district.
To obtain the form, Soldiers can download it from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at the FVAP.Gov, or visit a voting assistance officer wherever they are stationed.
The voting assistance officer can also help Soldiers determine the state and location of their voting district, information that is required on the Federal Post Card Application. Soldiers can also use the FVAP website to make that determination.
The FVAP.Gov website provides deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a ballot, and mailing a ballot. Each state has different requirements, Gilman said, but kicking off the process now is better than waiting.
“It’s really important, especially for overseas voters and those Soldiers who are deployed,” she said. “Once they receive their ballot, it’s important that they immediately fill it out and send it back due to the mailing time.”
The Army doesn’t require Soldiers to vote or even register to vote, Gilman said. But she thinks it’s important that they do. Preserving the right to vote, she said, is one of the reasons that Soldiers serve in the first place.
“I think it’s really important for Soldiers to vote, because it’s a freedom they defend,” Gilman said. “I think it’s an opportunity to have their voices heard. It’s important for them if they want to change issues in their communities, their home towns, for their families. I think it’s very important that they have their voices heard.”
One might assume that an international intelligence apparatus like Britain’s MI6 would wreak havoc when hacking into a terrorist-affiliated website. The truth is they did little more than likely annoy al-Qaeda after hacking a recruiting website. The result wasn’t exactly devastating, unless you’re someone who hates cupcakes.
Who could hate these? They’re ADORABLE.
While it’s hard to imagine even the most hardcore of Islamist extremist terrorists hating cupcakes (though it’s even harder to imagine one of them eating one like the adorable unicorn cupcakes pictured above), whether they made MI6’s infamous cupcakes is unknown – but they definitely had the recipe.
In 2011, the UK’s external intelligence service was in an all-out information war with al-Qaeda and the terrorist organization’s affiliate groups. In particular, Her Majesty’s secret service was looking to disrupt the activities of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its effort to recruit “lone wolf” attackers abroad. One of the ways it recruited disgruntled Westerners was through the use of its online magazine, called “Inspire.”
New rule: everyone who wakes up with the sun to say “Guys, today let’s be inspired by Al-Qaeda” gets droned.
But when avid readers of Inspire went to download the June 2011 Issue to read “Make a bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom” by “The AQ Chef” actually downloaded a semi-unintelligible computer code. The code still revealed a recipe, but it had nothing to do with your mom’s kitchen and everything to do with some cupcakes that *might* be described as “da bomb.”
MI6 reportedly hacked the website and replaced “Inspire” with a number of episodes for delicious cupcakes, including a recipe featured on The Ellen Degeneres Show dubbed “The Best Cupcakes in America” as well as a number of original recipes from Ohio-based cupcaker Main Street Cupcakes. Al-Qaeda initiates came looking for bomb-making information and instead received a flavor explosion, with varieties such as white rum cake with buttercream frosting, rocky road, and a delicious-sounding mojito flavor.
“Inshallah you checked them with a toothpick before removing them from the oven.”
On top of removing the bomb-making instructions, intelligence analysts replaced articles by Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, on “What to Expect in Jihad.” Both MI6 and the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency had been planning on disrupting the publication and dissemination of the magazine since they discovered its creation. The western allies have deployed a number of cyber weapons to disrupt al-Qaeda’s information warfare operations.
Although the CIA and MI6 were able to successfully put off the publication of “Inspire,” the full issue and more issues were published immediately anyway. The executive editor of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s signature magazine, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a drone-strike in Yemen just a few months later.
The AGM-114 Hellfire has gotten lots of press. Deservedly so, given how it has made a number of prominent terrorists good terrorists. Here’s the Hellfire’s tale of the tape: it weighs 110 pounds, has a 20-pound warhead, and a range of 4.85 nautical miles.
But as good as the Hellfire is, there may be a better missile — and the Brits have it. The missile is called Brimstone, and at the SeaAirSpace 2017 Expo, MBDA was displaying mock-ups on its triple mounts.
The baseline Brimstone has over 100 percent more range (over ten nautical miles, according to the RAF’s web page) than the Hellfire. The longer range is a huge benefit for the aircraft on close-air support missions, outranging many man-portable surface-to-air missiles and even some modern short-range systems like the SA-15.
Three missiles, three small boats — this is a mock-up of a typical triple-mount of the Brimstone missile on display at SeaAirSpace 2017. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)
The Royal Air Force currently uses the Brimstone on the Tornado GR.4 aircraft and also used it on the Harrier GR.9 prior to the jump jet’s retirement. The RAF will introduce it on the Typhoon multi-role fighters and the Reaper drone currently in the inventory. According to a MDBA handout available at SeaAirSpace 2017, Brimstone made its bones over Afghanistan and Libya.
But at SeaAirSpace 2017, MDBA was showing signs of wanting to put the Brimstone on more aircraft. At their booth was a model of an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet with four three-round mounts for the Brimstone. Such a pairing could be very devastating to Iranian small boat swarms that have been known to harass United States Navy vessels on multiple occasions or hordes of Russian tanks that could threaten the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Vice President Joe Biden appeared to be getting a little too chummy with Stephanie Carter, the wife of Ashton Carter, at the new Secretary of Defense’s swearing-in ceremony today. Biden rubbed her shoulders and whispered in her ear as her husband the SecDef gave remarks following the oath of office.
Officials later tried to explain that Biden was just trying to comfort Mrs. Carter because she was a bit shaken after falling on the ice on her way into the ceremony.
WATM’s counsel to the man who’s one heartbeat away from the presidency is this: Support the troops the right way. Don’t be that guy, Jody. It doesn’t help morale.
Gurkhas are known as some of the fiercest warriors ever to take up arms. These soldiers from Nepal regularly receive high valor awards from both Britain and India because of their bravery, and they are skilled, in one case defeating Taliban ambushes while outnumbered over 30 to 1. They fought in British forces in almost every major conflict of the 20th and 21st centuries including both World Wars and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A Gurkha Rifles unit in 1890. Photo: UK Ministry of Defence/Public Domain
The Kathmandu Valley is surrounded by the Himalayan mountains. In 1767, the three valley kings had been fighting each other for years and suddenly realized that the Gurkha Army was invading. The Gurkha conquered parts of the valley and began a siege of one of the kingdoms’ capitals.
In order to prevent conquest by the Gurkha, the Kathmandu kingdoms asked British officers serving nearby in the East India Company armies for assistance.
Capt. Captain George Kinloch led 2,500 soldiers with then-modern weapons into the valley to prevent the Gurkha expansion but failed to properly plan. Battlefield defeats against the Gurkha were made worse by disease and inadequate medical supplies.
A wave of desertions and a two-pronged assault launched by the Gurkha cinched the deal and Kinloch was forced to retreat from the valley. By 1768, the Gurkha armies were able to declare the valley and many of the surrounding mountains to be their own new nation, Nepal.
Over the next 46 years, both the Gurkha and the British expanded their areas of influence and control, creating a number of friction points both between themselves and other nations.
These friction points triggered the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1814. The Gurkha possessed much better knowledge of the terrain and plenty of veteran fighters. The British had numerical and technological advantages with tens of thousands of Indian soldiers equipped by the East India Company.
Despite numerous British advantages, the campaign went badly for the first year. One of the generals was killed in a small skirmish the day before war was officially declared. Other generals were known for cowardice on the battlefield, failing to attack when ordered. One even walked out of his camp.
Check the WATM podcast to hear the author and other veterans discuss how the Gurkhas became feared warriors.
Still, some of the British forces fought valiantly. Col. David Ochterlony led a siege at the primary Gurkha fortress in 1815 while another colonel and 2,000 men captured a secondary fort. The Gurkha eventually surrendered the main fort to Ochterlony and peace documents were drafted.
The Gurkha leaders failed to accept the peace treaty and the British launched a second campaign to settle the matter, this time with Himalayan soldiers marching into the valley beside the British and Indian troops. This second campaign in 1816 made it nearly to the capital of Kathmandu before the Gurkha finally accepted the peace treaty.
They served with distinction in wars against the Sihk, but they were truly lauded for actions in the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Gurkha soldiers served as the final guard of Brtish military and government leaders as rebelling Indian troops attempted to kill them.
While the British were successful in re-establishing rule in India, atrocities committed by the East India Company and their soldiers during the conflict led to the British crown abolishing company control of India.
When the crown established direct control of India, the Gurkha regiments were incorporated into the British Army.
Since the breakup of the British empire, Gurkha soldiers have been able to choose to fight in the British or Indian armies which still contain “Gurkha” and “Gorkha” units respectively. They are known for their khukuri knives which feature a curved, 18-inch blade.
In the British military, Gurkha men were limited to serving as enlisted soldiers in Gurkha units until recently. Now, they can try out for both slots in officer training and coveted positions in special operations.
Names like Blackbeard and The Barbarossa Brothers may ring a bell. They conjure visions of a billowing Jolly Rogers flag, bands of thieving pirates, and of poor souls walking the plank to their watery graves. But you probably also picture only men. Contrary to popular belief, female pirates have also sailed the high seas, from the very beginning of piracy’s existence.
These swashbuckling female pirates left their mark on history. They defied odds when women weren’t even permitted on ships, commanded crews, and carried out some of the wildest heists in history.
Madame Ching, also known as Cheng I Sao, was a pirate who terrorized the China Sea in the early 19th century. She commanded over 300 ships, and 40,000 pirates, including men, women, and even children. Skirmishes with the British Empire, Portuguese Empire and the Qing dynasty were common during her reign.
But Madame Ching wasn’t always a successful pirate. She was born in 1775 and is believed to have worked in a brothel until she was in her late teens. Then in 1801, she met Cheng I, a notorious pirate with whom she fell in love. They were married and adopted a son, Cheung Po, who was being taught the ways of piracy by Cheng I. Allying with Madame Ching allowed Cheng to access the alliance and powers of the mainland underworld. Madame Ching, a cunning woman, only allowed his access on the condition that she have equal control and share of their fortune.
Six years after the two were married, Cheng died. Madame Ching took advantage of the opening. She was one of the few female pirates who was fully accepted by an entirely male crew, being adopted wholeheartedly by Cheng I’s crew. Madame Ching rose to become one of China’s most notorious pirates. Once she was in charge, Madame Ching also instituted a code of law for her pirates unlike any seen before. They included prohibition from stealing from friendly villagers, beheading for any rapes, and more.
By the time Madame Ching died in 1844, she held numerous coastal villages under her control, levying taxes and protecting towns from other pirates.
Despite Anne Bonny’s historic reputation, very little is known about her life. We know she was an Irish pirate who spent most of her life in the Caribbean. She’s thought to have been born somewhere near Cork, Ireland in the late 1600s or early 1700s. She and her father moved to London after a fight with his wife—who was not Anne’s mother. He began dressing her as a boy around that time. They later moved to Carolina, then Nassau in the Bahamas.
There, Anne met John “Calico Jack” Rackham, a well-known pirate captain. The two quickly became secret lovers, although Anne had already married James Bonny. She was brought on board his ship in her old male disguise.
She took equal part in combat alongside the men, becoming well-liked amongst the crew. Together, they plundered the waters surrounding Jamaica. However, in 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a patrolling ship commissioned by the Governor of Jamaica. Most were taken off guard and too drunk to fight, but Bonny and a female crewmate (and rumored lover), Mary Read, held off the assailants for at least a short while.
Eventually, the entire crew was taken, convicted and hanged. Both Read and Bonny were able to gain a stay of execution due to their “delicate conditions” (read: pregnancies). However, Read died in prison, most likely during childbirth or from its aftereffects. Bonny gave birth in prison, then was released. Her fate after this is unknown. Some believe she actually died in prison, others that she escaped and returned to a life of piracy.
Grace O’Malley has become a legendary figure in Irish folklore despite her very real roots—she was even an inspiration for Anne Bonny to take up piracy. From a young age, O’Malley longed to follow in her father’s footsteps as a privateer on the seas. She once asked her father if she could join him on a trading venture to Spain. She was promptly rejected: Her father said her hair was too long and would get caught in the ship’s ropes. In response, O’Malley chopped off her hair.
With this proof of her seriousness, her father backed down, and she joined him on his next journey to Spain. Upon his death, she took control of the family’s land and sea despite having a brother. She paraded up and down the coastline thieving and bringing her findings back to her family’s coastal stronghold.
Her marriage to Donal an Chogaidh brought her even greater wealth and power. She had three children, including a daughter who took after her mother. When an Chogiaidh was murdered in an attack on his lands, O’Malley was ready to seek vengeance. She launched an attack on Doona castle, whose owners were thought to be responsible. The ferocity of this attack left her with a lasting nickname: the Dark Lady of Doona.
Later in life, O’Malley had an ongoing battle with Sir Richard Bingham, an English officer who was responsible for the Tudor conquest of England. Irish nobles like O’Malley were unwilling to give up their freedom of rule and fought viciously against the Tudor monarchy. After her sons were captured during a battle, O’Malley decided to visit the Tudor court to plead for their freedom.
She and Queen Elizabeth spoke in Latin, their common language (Elizabeth spoke no Irish, O’Malley no English). O’Malley refused to bow to the queen, as doing so would recognize her rights as the Queen of Ireland. The court was scandalized by O’Malley’s behavior, including blowing her nose in front of the queen. Their meeting resolved in O’Malley’s sons’ freedom and the removal of Bingham from Ireland. O’Malley continued to support the Irish insurgency by sea and land until her death in (approximately) 1603.
Beloved by Irish nationalists, O’Malley was renamed Gráinne Mhaol after her death and held up as a symbol of Irish indepence.
4. Sadie Farrell
Though there is some speculation about whether she actually existed, Sadie Farrell, also called Sadie the Goat, was an American criminal, gang leader, and river pirate who operated primarily in and around Manhattan. Her nickname emerges from how she would attack her victims on land: ramming headfirst into her target’s gut while a nearby acquaintance readied their slingshot.
When she tired of thieving on land, Sadie traveled to the waterfront in West Side Manhattan. It was here that she witnessed a failed attempt by the Charlton Street Gang to board a small riverboat and rob it. She offered up her services to the group and soon became their leader. Within days, she’d organized a highly successful theft which ignited her career as a pirate.
She and the Charlton Street Gang would soon be seen sailing up and down the Hudson and Harlem Rivers raiding small villages with a Jolly Roger flying from their sloop’s masthead. She was notorious for kidnapping men, women and children for ransom and is said to have made countless men walk the plank. Within a few months, people began anticipating the gang’s raids and what successes they had became smaller. Eventually, the gang returned to the Bowery for the more consistent life offered there.
This Breton pirate sailed the English Channel during the 1300s, and in these years earned the title Lioness of Brittany. Born in 1300, de Clisson was married first at 12. She had two children during her first marriage. Her husband, despite being only seven years older than her, died in 1326. Jeanne remarried twice after this. Her third and final marriage was rather unusual for the time—it seemed to be a love match. She and Oliver de Clisson had five children together, one of whom may have been born before they were actually married.
Her path to piracy began during the Breton War of Succession. For most of the fight, she sided with the French. That is, until her husband was lured onto French soil under the guise of achieving some kind of peace deal. He and his companions were captured, with their peers alleging that they had committed treason with the British. They were all tried and beheaded.
As revenge, de Clisson raised a force of loyal men and started attacking French forces in Brittany. With the English king’s help, she decorated three warships completely in black and, so the tale goes, wrote “My Revenge” across the vessels. It was on these ships that she patrolled the English Channel, hunting down and destroying French ships for 13 years before calling it quits. Jeanne seemingly decided that she had achieved sufficient vengeance out of nowhere and simply stopped wreaking terror upon the high seas. She died in a small port town on the Brittany coast in 1359.
Though Sayyida al Hurra never sailed much, if at all, she was regarded as a queen of the pirates in the Mediterranean. Between 1515 and 1542, she was both the actual Queen of Tétouan in northern Morocco and a pirate queen. She controlled the western Mediterranean Sea and was well-respected throughout the Mediterranean for her ability to rule on her own terms and to resist occupation when her power was threatened. In fact, her name means “noble lady who is free and independent; the woman sovereign who bows to no superior authority.”
She was born into a family of power in 1485, and quickly rose in ranks, marrying Tétouan’s ruler in her teens. When he died, she became ruler in her own right, at about 30. Not long after, the King of Fez, another Moroccan city, sought Sayyida’s hand. They were married, and Sayyida began realizing how piracy could revitalize her city after invading Christian forces devastated it.
By 1523, Sayyida was running the Mediterranean Sea. Her pirates stalked Portuguese shipping routes, stealing goods and money for the benefit of Tétouan. Although it’s possible that Sayyida was never actually on board any of her ships, her strategy and skill were able to create the opportunities that her people needed to rebuild Sayyida’s most beloved city.
7. Charlotte de Berry
De Berry is another possibly mythic female pirate. Stories of her life only appear in writing two centuries after her supposed death. Despite this, many believe that Charlotte de Berry did in fact exist and did take to the seas.
Born in the mid-1600s, de Berry grew up in England. In her late teens, de Berry fell in love with a sailor, married him, and started on her journey to piracy. Disguised as a man, she joined her husband onboard and fought valiantly alongside her crew. After one of the ship’s crew discovered that de Berry was a woman, her husband was killed. De Berry barely managed to escape, shedding her sailor garb and posing as a woman working on the docks.
While she was working on the docks, a captain kidnapped de Berry and forced her to marry him. He was brutal to de Berry. In order to escape him, she convinced the crew to betray their captain. De Berry decapitated him before the crew, and took his role as captain of the ship.
For many years following, she sailed the seas, attacking ships and stealing their treasures. She fell in love with a Spaniard, and invited him to join her crew. Shortly after they were shipwrecked. Most of the crew perished, including de Berry’s lover. The survivors were rescued by a Dutch ship, but de Berry jumped into the ocean rather than leave her lover behind. Her fate after this is unknown.
This article originally appeared on Explore The Archive. Follow @explore_archive on Twitter.
For the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, NASA says it may soon have the capability to send astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.
Critical milestones are on the horizon for Boeing and SpaceX, the space agency’s commercial crew partners: Flight tests of their spacecraft, including crewed missions, are planned for 2018.
That’s launched something of a “new space race” at the Kennedy Space Center, officials said.
“We have invested a lot as a center, as a nation into Kennedy Space Center to ready us for that next 50 years of spaceflight and beyond,” saidTom Engler, the center’s director of planning and development. “You see the dividends of that now, these commercial companies buying into what we’re doing.”
The public-private partnership is transforming Kennedy Space Center into a multiuser spaceport. NASA is developing the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft for missions to deep space, including to Mars, leaving private companies to send people to low Earth orbit.
Boeing is building the CST-100 Starliner, a spacecraft that will send astronauts to the space station, in a hangar once used to prepare space shuttles for flight. Three Starliners are in production, including one that will fly astronauts next year.
“If Mars is the pinnacle of Mount Everest, low Earth orbit is base camp. The commercial companies are the sherpas that haul things there,” saidChris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and director of crew and mission operations at Boeing. “It opens up a whole new world of business.”
SpaceX, which flies cargo missions to the space station with its Dragon spacecraft, has modified an old shuttle launch pad for its Falcon 9 rockets, which the company has successfully reused. It plans to use Dragon 2, a new version of the spacecraft, to send astronauts to the space station.
Blue Origin, founded by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, is building a rocket factory; it also plans to launch its rockets from Cape Canaveral.
Boeing and United Launch Alliance built a crew access tower so astronauts can board the Starliner. The Atlas V, one of the world’s most reliable rockets, will launch the spacecraft and its astronauts.
“This is really the Apollo era for the next generation,” said Shannon Coggin, a production integration specialist at United Launch Alliance. “This is inspiring this next generation to fall in love with space again, to really test their boundaries and us paving their way for the future of commercial space exploration.”
To meet NASA’s requirements, Boeing and SpaceX must demonstrate their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station.SpaceX’s first flight test is scheduled for February. Boeing’s is scheduled for June.