Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War - We Are The Mighty
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Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was the first American war broadcast on TV, something that profoundly changed the way we see expeditionary warfare. For the first time ever, Americans at home saw young men crawling through dense jungles thousands of miles away. And it wasn’t like the newsreel footage of the ’40s, scrubbed clean and careful to show the good guys fighting the good fight. The news coverage in Vietnam showed young American men out on patrol in a strange, foreign land in what was a bitterly controversial war back at home. But less well-known are the paintings created by dedicated teams of army painters tasked with depicting the war in Vietnam as they saw it, with unlimited creative license and no travel restrictions.


Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Swamp Patrol” – Roger Blum, 1966

The Vietnam Combat Art Program was created in 1966 as a way to create a record of the war as seen through soldiers’ eyes (a similar program existed in WWII). Applications were solicited from soldiers through the U.S. Army Arts and Crafts Program, a separate program originally set up to boost morale in the mobilization leading up to WWII. But unlike the Arts and Crafts Program, which decorated barracks, hosted art classes and sought to fill the long periods of downtime of a life at war, this new Combat Art Program dedicated artist teams to observe and depict the war in Vietnam.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Wounded” – Robert C. Knight, 1966

In a departure from the army’s caginess towards news media coverage of the war, the program sought out artists looking to depict scenes in Vietnam that were both honest and compelling. In the U.S. Army’s announcement of the program, it called for “competent artist-illustrators who have a sound foundation in life drawing, composition and color. They must be able to record military events and experiences pictorially and with strong emotional impact.” The teams were to spend 60 days traveling through Vietnam, following units on patrol while making sketches and doing preliminary research. The teams would later finish their work during a 75-day stay in Hawaii.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Killed In Action” – Burdell Moody, 1967

The army assembled nine Combat Artist Teams (CATs) from 1966-1970. Each team consisted of about 5 artists who were given the freedom to travel wherever they wished in Vietnam. “We had open Category Z Air and Military Travel orders, which meant we could hitch a ride anywhere in Vietnam. It was a letter-sized sheet of paper with written and signed orders,” explained James Pollack, who was a member of CAT IV, which operated in late 1967. “We usually just walked up to a pilot or someone in charge and flashed the orders. We guarded these papers closely – if we lost them it would have been difficult trying to explain why we were hitchhiking around Vietnam.” Pollack described his experiences in the Vietnam Combat Art Program in an essay published in 2009 in War, Literature the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Looking Down the Trail” – James Pollack, 1967

“Were we propaganda machines for the army? Absolutely not,” Pollack told The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2011. “I was drafted and didn’t even want to be in the army.”

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Unreal Realities” – Ronald A. Wilson, 1967

 

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Last Stand” – Phillip W. Jones, 1967-68

 

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Cobra” – Stephen H. Randall, 1968

 

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“The Ladies” – David Fairrington, 1968

 

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Saturday Uptown” – James R. Drake, 1969

 

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
“Rice Mill, My Tho” – William R. Hoettels, 1969-70

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The 5 craziest ideas the British had for battling German subs

Whenever a new weapon sees widespread deployment, all the rules get rewritten. The draft version of the new rules can be a bit strange though. Here are five crazy ways Britain thought it might get a handle on Germany’s U-Boats in World War I.


1. Training seagulls to sh-t on the periscopes

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Photo: Wikipedia/Sanchezn

There is no explanation of how the seagulls would be trained to do this. Admiral Sir Frederick Inglefield, head of all “motor-boat patrols” (discussed below), believed seagulls would defecate on submarine periscopes if properly trained. The blinded submarines would then be forced to surface or attempt to escape the harbor.

2. Hammers and bags

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Photo: Wikipedia

The British tried to stop the submarine menace with a “motor-boat patrol.” There were hundreds of these boats, each with at least two crew members. The boats would patrol designated areas near the coast looking for periscopes. But only 1 in 10 was armed.

So, if the crew spotted a periscope, they were supposed to sneak as close to it as they could in the boat and then swim the rest of the way. One man would take a canvas bag and pop it over the periscope while the other would swing a hammer as hard as he could to break the periscope.

3. Meeting submarines under the surface with top notch swimmers and sharp hammers

There’s no record of the British ever attempting this method, but someone proposed the Royal Navy select some especially strong swimmers. When a submarine was spotted these swimmers could swim to the hull and attempt to hit it with a pointed hammer, piercing its hull and sending it down.

4. Training birds and sea lions to watch for periscopes

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Tony Hisgett

In an effort to more quickly identify submarines working near British and Allied shipping, the British Navy attempted to train seagulls and sea lions to chase periscopes. The training was done by creating dummy periscopes that dispensed food.

Seagulls were trained in the open ocean while sea lions from British music-halls and circuses were trained in tanks.

5. Covering the ocean in paint

This was supposed to work in two ways. First, any submarine that raised its periscope while the ocean was covered in paint would be blinded as the paint covered the periscope glass. Second, the paint was generally green which may confuse the submarine captain as to what depth he was cruising at, possibly causing him to move higher in the water which would expose his hull.

Artillery on the shore or motor boat patrols could then target the blind, exposed U-boat. While this tactic was proposed to the Royal Navy, it’s not clear that they ever attempted it. This could be because they didn’t have enough green paint to cover the surface Great Britain’s 19,491 miles of coastline.

 (h/t David A. H. Wilson, Cumbria Institute of the Arts, United Kingdom)

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White House is trying to free Pakistani doctor who helped bin Laden raid

The Trump administration is trying to facilitate the release of a Pakistani doctor who was jailed for helping the CIA locate Osama Bin-Laden, The Wall Street Journal reports.


The doctor, Shakil Afridi, started a fake vaccination program to both locate bin Laden and attempt to get his DNA. The Pakistani government was particularly displeased with the U.S. for not notifying them of the Navy SEAL raid which killed bin Laden, and jailed Afridi a month after the May 2, 2011, raid. He has been held and sentenced on a series of dubiously legal charges since.

Pakistani officials reportedly want better relations with the U.S. and may even consider giving Afridi a presidential pardon.

“We are trying to accelerate the legal processes,” one official said. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster reportedly raised the matter during a late April visit to Pakistan where Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. expressed the country’s desire “to find a solution.”

Afridi’s lawyer told reporters in 2016 the best hope for his release was U.S. pressure, but that the Obama administration had not shown their support. His lawyer continued that Afridi has languished for much of his sentence in solitary confinement.

“I have no hope of meeting him, no expectation for justice,” he said.

Congress has voted every year since 2011 to withhold millions of dollars in badly needed U.S. aid to Pakistan.

Trump pledged on the five year anniversary of bin Laden’s death that he would get the doctor released “in two minutes,” which drew sharp Pakistani criticism. “Contrary to Mr. Trump’s misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America,” Pakistan’s interior minister said in a statement after Trump’s comments. He continued that Afridi’s future would be decided “by the Pakistani courts and the government of Pakistan and not by Mr. Donald Trump, even if he becomes the president of the United States.”

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12-year-old becomes the youngest EOD Marine

Nathan Aldaco is twelve years old and suffers from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare defect. Because his biggest wish in life is to become a United States Marine, the Marines from the 7th Engineer Support Battalion at Camp Pendleton were happy to oblige him.


Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Nathan Aldaco, a 12 year-old boy with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, walks with Marines to a demolition site during a Make-A-Wish event supported by 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Laura Gauna)

“It’s a true honor to do this for Nathan,” said 1st Lt. Ernesto Gaudio, 2nd platoon commander, Bravo Company, 7th ESB, 1st MLG. “We wanted to make him feel like he was a part of the Marine family. We are in service to the United States of America and Nathan is a citizen of the United States. We were just making his wish come true.”

The Marines decked Aldaco in his own MARPAT Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform and gave his family a tour of the explosives ordnance disposal site at Pendleton. He was taken through a demolition range in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. The team demonstrated their EOD robots and then detonated TNT, C4, dynamite, and blasting caps. The youngest Marine even shared MREs with his fellow Marines while out in the field.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Nathan Aldaco, a 12 year-old boy with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, looks out of a bunker during a Make-A-Wish event supported by 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Laura Gauna)

“The bombs were cool,”  Aldaco said in an interview with the Marines’ official website. “I like working with robots. It was fun controlling them and picking stuff up with them.”

He was awarded the Master EOD badge in an official ceremony by Col. Jaime O. Collazo. It is the highest badge an EOD Marine can receive. Aldaco saluted the colonel before marching off.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Nathan Aldaco, a 12 year-old boy with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and his family, pose for a picture with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines during a Make-A-Wish event. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Laura Gauna)

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Obama says climate change is a bigger threat than ISIS

The White House released Sept. 21 a new presidential memorandum that orders federal agencies — including the Pentagon and CIA — to devote its defense and intelligence resources to fighting the impact of global warming.


The Obama administration order comes on the heels of a recent report from an environmental group that climate change is a significant and growing threat to national security.

“Climate change and associated impacts on U.S. military and other national security-related missions and operations could adversely affect readiness, negatively affect military facilities and training, increase demands for Federal support to non-federal civil authorities, and increase response requirements to support international stability and humanitarian assistance needs,” Obama wrote. “The United States must take a comprehensive approach to identifying and acting on climate change-related impacts on national security interests, including by maintaining its international leadership on climate issues.”

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Mitchell Zuckoff, an author embedded with the Joint Recovery Mission – Greenland, signals to helicopter pilot Tom Andreassen, of Air Greenland, where to land near the nunatak on a glacier near Koge Bay, Greenland, Aug. 16, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.)

So what could the order mean for American troops and intelligence operators?

The military has faced several years of budget cuts, and several major programs, like the littoral combat ship, the Zumwalt-class destroyers, and the Gerald R. Ford-class carriers, are having some real problems. The F-35 Lightning II is also having its teething problems (albeit those are resolving themselves).

A briefing document issued alongside the memorandum added that climate change is more of a threat to American security than cyber attacks or terrorism.

“For all the challenges and threats we face as a nation — from terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda to increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, from diseases like Ebola and Zika to Russian aggression in Ukraine — no threat is more terrifying in its global reach or more potentially destructive and destabilizing than climate change,” the memorandum said.

Despite painting the grim picture, the briefing, conducted by National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Senior Advisor Brian Deese ended on a hopeful note.

“Just as we work to defeat any adversary before they have the ability to attack, we must similarly prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” the briefing document says.

The move has drawn criticism from some. Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, said that the briefing document “reflects delusional group-think substituting for sound policy in the White House and Pentagon.”

“Preparations for bad weather and extreme events such as hurricanes are always prudent, but normal and even abnormal seasonal changes cannot be compared to deliberate attacks from armed human adversaries,” she said. “Furthermore, there is no way that our government or other governments can ‘mitigate’ dangerous weather, or even normal weather. It is unsettling to see high-level officials in the White House buying into narratives such as this.”

Alternate energy projects have been a priority in the Department of the Navy since President Obama took office in 2009. A Washington Free Beacon report last month noted that three of the major projects pushed by Navy Sec. Ray Mabus had not been cost-effective.

Donnelly also expressed concern that “the two documents appear to authorize a power grab on the part of unelected officials who would use ‘national security’ as an excuse to act upon unsupported theories of climate change.”

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This aerial gunner was one of the only US aviators to be buried at sea inside his aircraft

Only once in the history of the U.S. Navy was an aviator buried at sea inside his airplane. Loyce Edward Deen was so shot up by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, his shipmates decided to keep him forever in his TBM Avenger as they bid him fair winds and following seas.


Deen joined the Navy in 1942, less than a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor. His first combat duty station was on the USS Essex. He was injured in the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf but instead of recovering on a hospital ship, he opted to stay with his crew, pilot Lt. Robert Cosgrove and radioman Digby Denzek.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Cosgrove, Denzek, and Deen.

Just after Leyte Gulf, Deen was a turret gunner on a torpedo bomber during the Battle of Manila.  The 23-year-old Oklahoma native was decapitated by Japanese flak, killing him instantly.

Cosgrove flew their heavily-damaged plane for two hours, all the way back to the Essex. By the time they returned to the carrier, Cosgrove’s Avenger was damaged beyond repair. The decision was made to bury Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Loyce Deen in the aircraft rather than try to remove his remains.

Deen hadn’t even been in the Pacific Theater for a full year.

The U.S. Navy video below captured his burial ceremony:

 
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These are the airmen who fly to the coldest places on Earth

“Pole to pole.”


These three words are the motto of the 109th Airlift Wing – at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York – and though short, it is an accurate synopsis of the unit’s mission.

“We fly missions to Greenland, which is near the North Pole, and Antarctica, which is the South Pole,” said Maj. Emery Jankford, the wing’s chief of training. “So, we literally fly pole to pole.”

During the spring and summer months, the 109th AW operates out of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and flies scientific researchers with the National Science Foundation and their materiel to remote field camps across the Arctic Ice Cap. In the fall and winter months, the unit conducts similar missions out of McMurdo Station, Antarctica, as part of Operation Deep Freeze.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War

Antarctica and Greenland are among the coldest, windiest, and most inhospitable places on the globe and they provide a challenging opportunity to demonstrate the reach and flexibility of airpower, the capabilities of the joint force, and the integrated support of active-duty, Guard, and Reserve military personnel.

“Basically, we go from cold to really cold,” Jankford said. “The Greenland operating season helps us train and prepare for when we operate in Antarctica.”

Each year, the 109th AW flies more than 800 hours during the Greenland support season and transports 2.1 million pounds of cargo, 49,000 pounds of fuel, and nearly 2,000 passengers.

“If it got there, we brought it,” said Maj. Justin Garren, the wing’s chief of Greenland Operations.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Air Force aircrews assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing conduct a combat offload of cargo off a 109th Airlift Wing LC-130 Skibird transported to the East Greenland Ice Core Project. US Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. William Gizara

To accomplish this, the unit flies the world’s only ski-equipped LC-130s, called “skibirds,” which allows the planes to land on and take off from ice and compacted snow runways.

“We do have some traditional “wheelbirds” in our unit, but the LC-130s give us the unique capability of being able to land in snowy arctic areas,” Garren said.

While the LC-130s are able to operate without a traditional runway, the arctic environment does present challenges the crews must overcome long before the planes’ skis touch down on the ice.

“Our biggest challenges are weather and navigation,” said Capt. Zach McCreary, a C-130 pilot with the 109th AW.

Because most of Greenland is within the Arctic Circle near the North Pole and Antarctica surrounds the South Pole, there is a lot of magnetic interference when flying in these areas. This interference makes GPS navigation difficult, so the aircrews have to resort to old-school tactics.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Airmen approach DYE-2, an abandoned radar site near Raven Camp that was one of 60 set up during the Cold War as part of an early-warning system that stretched across the far north of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Greg C. Biondo.

“Our navigators are some of the only ones in the military who still use celestial navigation,” Jankford said. “We still break out the charts and formulas to determine our positions and headings.”

Weather is another challenge. It can change quickly and it can get nasty, so aircrews try to stay as up to date as possible when flying missions.

“We receive regular weather briefings, before we leave and while we’re in the air,” McCreary said. “But there are times the weather changes quickly and you have to react and adapt to it on the fly.”

In some cases, usually with cloud cover, this means landing with limited to no visibility. At times the land and sky blend together with no visible horizon line.

“It’s like flying inside of a ping pong ball,” McCreary said. “Everything is white and it all looks the same.”Capt. Zach McCreary, C-130 pilot, 109th AW

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War

In these situations, the aircrew uses a spotting technique where the copilot and loadmasters will look for flags lining the runway and help the pilot line up the aircraft during its approach.

“It’s a very unique airlift wing,” Garren said. “We’re landing on snow and ice, we’re using the sun and stars to navigate, and we’re using our eyeballs to land – I’m not sure there’s another unit that flies like this.”

Because the 109th AW operates in such unique environments, utilizing dated techniques, effective training is only possible within the areas of operation.

“We can only train for these missions when we’re in Greenland and Antarctica,” Garren said. “We can’t train at home, so new crewmembers are learning and being signed off on tasks while they’re landing and taking off from the ice.”

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War

The uniqueness of the polar mission is one reason it was given to the 109th AW. Being a guard unit, its members stay in place longer and are able to train, develop, and enhance their skills and experience without having to move or relocate every few years like their active duty counterparts.

“We have guys here who have been flying this mission for 30 years,” Garren said. “That amount of experience is invaluable and the knowledge they pass on to the junior guys is irreplaceable.”

Also irreplaceable are the capabilities of the wing’s unique “skibirds.”

“We can fly into an austere area and land with our skis with no runway somewhere no one has ever been,” Garren said. “That’s why we’re here and that’s what we train to do.”

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Here’s how Japan could attack North Korea’s missile facilities

After North Korea conducted with missile tests in March, Secretary of Defense James Mattis declared at a recent press conference that North Korea is a more urgent situation than Iran, according to FoxNews.com.


Sounds bad? Well, here’s confirmation.

According to the British newspaper The Sun, Japan is considering legalizing a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.

Now Japan is contemplating action it hasn’t taken in a little over 75 years. So, just how would Japan carry off its first pre-emptive strike? What could it use? Here’s a preview.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force has 62 F-2A and 71 F-4E/RF-4E fighters in its inventory, according to FlightGlobal’s World Aircraft Directory. The F-4 is legendary as a multi-role fighter — and can still haul a lot of bombs, although Japan’s would need the systems installed to do so. The F-2A… well, think of it as a F-16 Fighting Falcon that took steroids. Japan also has five aerial refueling tankers (4 KC-767s that are essentially the KC-46, one KC-130H).

What Japan is short on is the proficiency in using precision air-to-ground missiles that would make for a successful strike on North Korea’s missiles. The F-2 is capable of carrying the AGM-65 Maverick and various bombs, according to Globalsecurity.org, though. And Japan did develop infra-red guided bombs known as the GCS-1 based off the Mk 82 and M117, but they are primarily anti-ship weapons.

Godzilla movies aside, strike missions on ground targets are not the forte of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
A Mitsubishi F-2A taxis during a 2009 exercise. Note the dumb bombs. (USAF photo)

But what Japan could do is team up with South Korea to carry out the strike. In essence, Japan would provide the top cover with its F-15J and F-2 fighters. Japan also could provide search-and-rescue support using its helicopter carriers like the Izumo. The South Koreans would use F-15K Eagles and F-16s to launch the actual ground attack.

Should Japan change its laws, though, we’d likely see Japan acquire the Joint Direct Attack Munition – GPS-guided bombs. Missiles like the JASSM would also be a likely purchase as well. Japan could also easily build its own – much of what holds Japan back is laws regarding defense policy, not technological ability.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
A dummy version of the GCS-1, Japan’s infrared-guided bomb. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In that case, we’d most likely see F-2s form the bulk of the strike package. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force would probably try to hit air defenses with Tomahawk cruise missiles (the Kongo and Atago-class destroyers are pretty much copies of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, and use the same Mk 41 vertical-launch systems). Then, the F-2s would go in, trying to use the JDAMs to hit the launch facilities.

It would be a moment for the world to hold its breath. Kim Jong Un is not exactly the most stable person in the world, and how he might take having his missiles (or nukes) attacked is anyone’s guess.

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This state just made it a crime to lie about military service

Pennsylvania State Rep. Rick Saccone’s bill that would make it a misdemeanor for someone to benefit from lying about military service or receiving decorations or medals unanimously passed the state Senate on June 20th and now heads to Gov. Tom Wolfs desk to be signed into law.


House Bill 168, introduced by Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, in January, bans anyone from economically benefiting from lying about their service or decorations. Violators could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor for doing so.

“Our men and women of the armed forces and their families deserve the utmost respect and praise, and criminals who disguise themselves as illegitimate veterans demean our true American heroes,” Saccone said.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Rep. Rick Saccone (left). Photo from Peter Township Community TV via Vimeo.

Some people have actually tried to make money by falsely claiming veteran status, said Saccone, an Air Force veteran and a 2018 US Senate candidate. They will now be brought to account.

Saccone said lying about military service or medals to make money is truly an insult and discredit to the men and women who have selflessly sacrifices their lives on the battlefield.

Saccone introduced the same legislation in May 2016, calling it the Stolen Valor Act. It unanimously passed the state House in June 2016, but did not advance out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Pennsylvania capitol building. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

When the new legislative session started in January, Saccone re-introduced his bill and it passed the House 190-0 in April.

In 2013, Congress passed the federal Stolen Valor Act, which addressed those who might lie about having military decorations and medals, such as the Congressional Medal of Honor or Purple Heart, in order to obtain benefits.

Those convicted of violating the federal law can face fines and up to a year in jail.

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The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Troops deployed around the world aren’t always saddled with the modern conveniences of a private room. Instead, they get to experience communal living in an open bay that houses anywhere from five or six service members to hundreds of them, each with an entire cot’s worth of space to call their own.


For those unfortunate people who have never lived within spitting distance of nearly everyone they work with, here are six major perks to living in a military bay:

1. Everyone knows your business, and you know theirs.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Bay living starts in basic training but will pop its head up again on depoyments and exercises. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas)

When everyone is sleeping practically on top of each other, it’s sort of hard to keep anything private. Reading choices, hygiene habits, frequency of urination, everyone knows everything about you. And, this flows both ways. Whether you like it or not, you will know how long and how often your friends poop.

2. You always know which of your buddies are sick

Every cough, sneeze, and snore cuts through the air of the bay like a serrated knife through your dreams, ensuring that you always know who is congested and who has undiagnosed sleep apnea. This allows buddies to update each other on general health matters.

3. You learn all sorts of medical tips, like “Sleep head-to-toe to avoid respiratory infections.”

You’ll learn a lot about human anatomy in a large bay. For instance, humans breathing only a few feet from each other all night will often exchange respiratory diseases. To avoid this, all troops should sleep with their heads and feet on alternating ends of the cots. That way, you get to smell your buddy’s sweaty feet all night instead of picking up his horrendous cough.

4. You have the entire underside of your cot to store stuff.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
When you’re living in areas with bunk beds instead of cots, you get to practice teamwork by splitting the area under the bed with someone else. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Bailey)

One of the best things about living in a bay is that you have tons of storage space. Almost the entire underside of your cot can be used for holding duffel bags, rucks, and — for the truly elite — even footlockers. Some units fill the bay with beds and lockable storage, but then you need a key to get into your stuff. Best to just rock the duffel bag with flimsy lock for quick access.

5. Other military specialties divulge their secrets while holding meetings 3 feet from you.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
A Navy Midshipman candidate practices waking up his buddies with bad light discipline during a fire guard shift in 2016. This will come in handy if he’s ever deployed into another open-bay environment. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Brian Tuthill)

Sleepers will learn a lot more about the Army when they’re frequently awakened by NCOs and junior officers discussing operations near their bunks. Want to learn more about electromagnetic warfare? Be sure to grab a bunk near the EWO. Want to never sleep again? The operations cell usually has bunks at the back.

6. The long treks to the latrines really wake you up in the morning (and at 0-dark-30).

Have trouble waking up without coffee? Many bays don’t have plumbing and the 300-yard walk to the latrines and sinks every morning just to brush your teeth can really get the blood pumping. In the bays with water, you’re sure to get frequent reminders to get out of bed as literally dozens of people start shuffling past your bed on their way to and from the urinal.

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Navy orders stand-down of littoral combat ships after breakdowns

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
The littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) underway in the Pacific Ocean | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney


After the littoral combat ship USS Freedom sustained major engine damage July 11 because a seal malfunction allowed seawater to seep in, the commander of Naval Surface Forces quietly ordered all LCS crews to observe a stand-down, halting operations to review procedures and engineering standards.

“Due to the ongoing challenges with littoral combat ships, I ordered an engineering stand-down for LCS squadrons and the crews that fall under their command,” Vice Adm. Tom Rowden said in a statement. “These stands down allowed for time to review, evaluate and renew our commitment to ensuring our crews are fully prepared to operate these ships safely.”

The reviews were completed by Aug. 31, Navy officials announced Monday, adding that every sailor in each LCS crew with a role in engineering will observe retraining.

The training, officials said, will take place over the next 30 days. During that time, leadership of the Navy’s Surface Warfare Officer’s School in Newport, Rhode Island, will review the current LCS training program and recommend any other changes they see fit.

The school’s engineers will also supervise current and future training efforts. They will develop a knowledge test and specialized training for LCS engineers, to be deployed to them by Oct. 5. A separate, comprehensive LCS engineering review is being conducted by the commander of SWOS, Capt. David A. Welch, and is expected to take between 30 and 60 days.

“From there, more adjustments may be made to the engineering training pipeline,” officials with Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

The Freedom, the first of its class made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Marinette Marine, returned to its San Diego homeport Aug. 3 to address the damage it sustained to one of its diesel propulsion engines, which Navy officials said will require an engine rebuild or replacement.

It remains unclear what caused another LCS, the USS Coronado, to be sidelined with damage to one of its flexible couplings assemblies Aug. 29.

Upon its return to Pearl Harbor Sept. 4, the Coronado was met by a group of maintenance experts sent by Rowden to inspect the ship, officials said. The experts investigated the ship’s engineering program, but no information has been released about the cause of the problem or whether it might be related to previous engineering casualties.

“A preliminary investigation will provide an initial assessment and procedural review of the situation, and any shortfalls will be addressed quickly to get the ship fixed and back on deployment,” officials said.

The Coronado, so far the only trimaran-hulled Independence-variant LCS made by Austal USA to suffer an engineering casualty, had been just two months into its maiden deployment.

The Freedom and the Coronado are the third and fourth littoral combat ships to experience engineering casualties inside a 12-month span.

Last December, the LCS Milwaukee broke down during a transit from San Diego and Halifax, Nova Scotia when a clutch failed to disengage when the ship switched gears. The ship had to cut short the transit in order to be towed to Joint Base Little Creek, Virginia, for repairs.

In January, the LCS Fort Worth was sidelined in Singapore when it broke down in what officials said was a casualty caused by engineers failing to properly apply lubrication oil to the ship’s combining gears. After eight months in port in Singapore for repairs, the Fort Worth departed for its San Diego homeport in August.

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This is how the Army plans to keep soldiers more comfortable during jungle ops

In January, US Army uniform officials will begin an evaluation of the service’s new Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform by issuing the lighter, more breathable uniform to thousands of soldiers in Hawaii.


The new IHWC is the result of a directed requirement to outfit soldier with a jungle uniform suitable for operations in the Pacific theater. This follows a similar effort that recently resulted in the Army fielding 9,000 pairs of new Jungle Combat Boots to the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat teams in Hawaii between March and August.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
The Army Jungle Combat Boot. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez.

Up until this point, 25th ID soldiers training to operate in hot, tropical environments have been wearing Universal Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniforms and Hot Weather Combat Boots intended for desert environments.

“January 2018 is going to be huge,” said Capt. Daniel Ferenczy, assistant product manager for Extreme Weather Clothing and Footwear. “They are going to be pure-fleeted in the [Operation Camouflage Pattern] with jungle boots in a hot weather combat uniform.”

The new uniform, made by Source America, is a 57 percent Nylon / 43 percent cotton blend to make it “faster-drying” and have “greater airflow” than the 50-50 Nylon cotton blend on the ACU, Ferenzcy said.

“It adds a little bit more strength, which allows us to make it a lighter blend or a thinner weave … so it should dry a little quicker,” Ferenzcy said. “There are also architectural differences between the ACU uniform and this one.”

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Daniel Ferenczy wearing the Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform. Photo from Military.com.

The new uniform has better flexibility and less layers of fabric, Ferenczy said adding that “less layers of fabric means that it retains less moisture means it dries quicker.

There are no breast pockets since soldiers in the field are typically wearing gear that covers them, and “all they end up doing is retaining moisture and heat, so we removed that extra layer there,” Ferenzcy said.

“The back pockets in the trousers are gone as well for the same reason,” he said. Uniform officials have added an ID card pocket inside the waistband.

The Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform blouse also features a button-down front instead of a zipper closure. Uniform officials also replaced the side zipper closure on the shoulder sleeve pockets with a button-down flap at the top of the pocket, Ferenzcy said.

The new uniform features reinforced elbows and reinforced and articulated knees and a gusseted crotch, said Ferenzcy, whose office worked with the Natick Soldier Systems Center to develop the IHWCU.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
Army Spc. Jake Burley assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 1st, Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division maneuvers through a river during United Accord 2017 at the Jungle Warfare School on Achiase military base, Akim Oda, Ghana, May 26, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Chaney)

“Every design feature on this uniform came straight out of the horse’s mouth,” Ferenzcy said. “The folks that designed it worked hand-in-hand with the Jungle Operations Training Center in Hawaii.”

The plan is to issue about 20,000 sets of the new uniforms to the 2nd and 3rd BCTs in Hawaii in January and then another 10,000 to 12,000 sets in March, Ferenzcy said, describing the $14 million effort.

“This is under a directed requirement, so right now they are just a one-time buy,” Ferenzcy said. “It was ‘hey, we need to get these guys ready for Pacific operations.’ We don’t know exactly yet how we are going to sustain it.”

After 25th ID soldiers have a chance to train in the new uniforms, Ferenzcy’s team plans to return in “April or May and get feedback on the uniform and then we will make adjustments as needed, Ferenzcy said.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
The IHWCU promises to dry faster; useful in environments common in the Pacific Theater. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jerome D. Johnson.

“It they don’t like this material, the 57/43 NYCO blend, we may go with something else,” he said.

Phase two of the effort involves buying another 11 brigades worth of the IHWCU in its final form for contingency stocks “in case another brigade got turned on to deploy or do a training mission in a tropical environment, we would have uniforms ready for them,” Ferenzcy said.

“This uniform is about a pound lighter than the Army Combat Uniform; it’s very comfortable and not only does it make fighting and operating in a tropical hot wet environment easier, it’s also going to potentially mitigate heat injuries because it holds less heat and less moisture,” Ferenczy said.

“There no scientific studies to back this up, but heat casualties across the force are one of the biggest things that take soldiers out of the fight.”

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That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad

In April 2003, Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz and his men were part of the “Thunder Run” — and armored push through the the city of Baghdad and a test of the new Iraqi resistance.


During the movement through the city, an enemy RPG pierced the fuel cell on the back of the tank and left it immobile and burning in the city streets.

The chaotic battle began as the tanks rushed into the city on its highway system. A gunner in the lead tank spotted troops drinking tea with weapons nearby and asked permission to fire. The tank commander gave it, and the fight was on.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
(Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II)

While the gunner easily dispatched those first soldiers in the open, hundreds of fighters, many in civilian clothes or firing from bunkers, remained. And they put up a fierce resistance with small arms, mortars, and RPGs.

An early RPG hit disabled a Bradley, and the next major RPG hit disabled the Abrams. For almost 20 minutes, the Americans attempted to put out the flames and save the machine. But more fighters kept coming and Schwartz made the decision to sacrifice the tank wreckage to save the armored column.

Soldiers created these hauntingly beautiful paintings during the Vietnam War
A scuttled M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank rests in front of a Fedayeen camp just outside of Jaman Al Juburi, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo: Department of Defense)

The crew was moved to another vehicle and the crucial sensitive items were removed from the tank. Then the tankers filled the vehicle with thermite grenades and took off through the city. The Air Force later dropped bombs on what remained.

In the video below, Schwartz and other tankers involved in the battle discuss the unprecedented decision to abandon an Abrams tank.

The Iraqi government loyal to Saddam Hussein later claimed that the tank was killed, which would have given them credit for the first combat kill of an Abrams tank. The U.S. argued that it was merely disabled, and that it was the U.S. Army’s thermite grenades and later U.S. Air Force bombs that actually destroyed it.