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Spend some range time with a SEAL Team 6 frogman who helped kill bin Laden — Video

Love him or hate him, Matt Bissonnette (aka Mark Owen) is a certified badass.


As part of the legendary SEAL Team 6, Owen (we’ll use his pen name) was a top-tier special operator who knew how to kick in doors, snatch HVTs and dispatch tangos with precision marksmanship.

Spend some range time with a SEAL Team 6 frogman who helped kill bin Laden — Video
Mark Owen throws some .308 downrange for a personal pew-pew party in the desert. (Photo screenshot from YouTube)

In fact, he was part of the daring raid that snuck into Pakistan and landed on terror mastermind Osama bin Laden’s lair to bring Public Enemy #1 to justice.

His story is chronicled in two awesome books, including “No Easy Day,” which delivers a blow-by-blow of the mission to kill bin Laden, dubbed “Operation Neptune Spear,” and “No Hero,” which chronicles his extensive career as a senior NCO in the SEAL teams.

In the years since the May 2010 raid, Own has remained in the shadows, posting some cool pics to Instagram and doing some trigger pulling on the side for a couple companies in the shooting sports industry. He’s still all secret squirrel about his true identity, so it’s rare to see him out in the wild.

But this video shows the ST6 frogman’s still got it, slinging lead with several ARs and dinking close-range steel with a dialed out Glock.

He’s even throwing some hate in the dark, decked out with NODs and loaded up with tracers that just make you want to shout “‘Merica!”

And the best part: Owen’s sporting a rare pair of Vans DEFCON high tops patterned in AOR1 (these things are going for $200+ on eBay).

There’s a lot of ballistic goodness going on here with a true American hero…

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9 things you didn’t know about General George S. Patton

Some of the lore around “Old Blood n’ Guts” Patton is common knowledge: He carried distinctive ivory-handled revolvers, he believed in reincarnation, and he infamously slapped two of his soldiers who were suffering from “battle fatigue.” But here are a few things you might not have known about “Old Blood n’ Guts.”


1. He was a terrible student at West Point

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Patton in the West Point yearbook, 1909.

The man who would become one of America’s greatest fighting generals struggled during his first year at the U.S. Military Academy. He had to repeat his plebe year because he failed mathematics. He worked with a tutor for the rest of his time there, graduating 46th in a class of 103.

2. He predicted the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor

Patton served in Hawaii before World War II as the G-2 (intelligence) on the General Staff. He watched the rise of Japanese militancy in the Pacific, especially their aggression against the Chinese. In 1935, he wrote a paper called “Surprise” that predicted the Japanese attack on the U.S. islands with what one biographer called “chilling accuracy.”

3. He was an Olympic athlete

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Patton (at Right) in the 1912 Olympics.

The first-ever modern pentathlon was held at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. The event is comprised of fencing, shooting, swimming, riding, and cross-country running. Patton placed fifth in the competition and was the only non-Swede to place.

4. He designed the sword his cavalry troops would use

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After the Olympics, he studied fencing in France at the French Cavalry School near Saumur. Based on his training there, he not only redesigned the saber fighting style for the U.S. Army, he also designed a new sword to fit the doctrine. His new sword was built for thrusting over slashing attacks and was designated the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber.

5. He awarded a chaplain a Bronze Star for composing a prayer

During the Battle of the Bulge, Patton’s Third Army was tasked to relieve the 101st Airborne, who were surrounded in Bastogne. He asked chaplain James Hugh O’Neill to compose a prayer for good weather that would help the Third Army get to Bastogne and to air cover while en route. Here’s the prayer:

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”

When the weather did clear, Patton pinned the Bronze Star on O’Neill personally.

6. He was sickened by the sight of a concentration camp

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Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton inspect a cremation pyre at the Ohrdruf concentration camp on April 12, 1945. (Army photo)

The Ohrdruf concentration camp was one in the string of Buchenwald camps. It was also the first such camp liberated by U.S. troops, on April 4, 1945. Eight days later, Eisenhower toured the camp with Patton and General Omar Bradley. Ike wrote in his diary:

The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so.

Patton described it as “one of the most appalling sights that I have ever seen.”

7. He was the first general to integrate his riflemen

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Patton pins a Silver Star Medal on Private Ernest A. Jenkins, a soldier under his command, October 1944 (Army photo)

The general’s main source of inspiration for his men came from his ability to address them in speech. He demanded a lot from his soldiers, no matter what color they were. Addressing on tank battalion he said the following:

“Men, you are the first Negro tankers ever to fight in the American Army. I would never have asked for you if you weren’t good. I have nothing but the best in my army. I don’t care what color you are, so long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sonsabitches! Everyone has their eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all, your race is looking forward to you. Don’t let them down and, damn you, don’t let me down!”

8. He was No. 3 when Eisenhower ranked his generals

In February 1945, Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander and the war was going well. Taking stock of the best military minds he had under his command, he wrote out a list, ranking the capabilities of his American generals in Europe. Omar Bradley and Carl Spaatz were tied for first with Walter B. Smith in second place. Patton was a solid three.

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Patton in a Welcome Home Parade in Los Angeles, June 1945 (Army photo)

To Ike, Bradley was a planner of the success in Europe, Patton simply executed that plan.

9. The Germans admired him more than the British

The nicest thing most generals from Britain had to say about Patton was that he was good for operations requiring lighting thrusts but at a loss in any operation requiring skill and judgment.

Conversely, the German High Command (as well as the Free French) thought Patton one of the ablest generals of the American Army. German Generals Erwin Rommel, Albert Kesselring, and Alfred Jodl are all known to have remarked to other on Patton’s brilliance on the battlefield.

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Here’s who’d win in a dogfight between Russia’s and the US’s top fighter jets

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We Are The Mighty | Lockheed Martin | Creative Commons


Russia’s air force recently grabbed the international spotlight with its bombing campaign in support of Syria’s Bashar Assad. But how does it stack up against the world’s greatest air force?

During Russia’s stint in Syria, four of their latest and greatest Su-35 Flanker jets flew sorties just miles from the only operational fifth-generation fighter jet in the world, the US’s F-22 Raptor.

Given the fundamental differences between these two top-tier fighter jets, we take a look at the technical specifications and find out which fighter would win in a head-to-head matchup.

F-22 specs

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John Dibbs | Lockheed Martin

Max Speed: 1,726 mph

Max Range: 1,840 miles

Dimensions: Wingspan: 44.5 ft; Length: 62 ft; Height: 16.7 ft

Max Takeoff Weight: 83,500 lb

Engines: Two F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with two-dimensional thrust-vectoring nozzles

Armament: One M61A2 20-mm cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bay carriage of two AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles, and internal main weapon bay carriage of six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air load out) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground loadout).

Source: Af.mil

Su-35 specs

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Dmitriy Pichugin | Creative Commons

Max Speed: 1,490 mph

Max Range: 1,940 miles

Dimensions: Wingspan: 50.2 ft; Length 72.9 ft; Height 19.4 ft

Max takeoff weight: 76,060 lb

Engines: Two Saturn 117S with TVC nozzle turbofan, 31,900 lbf/14,500 kgf each

Armament: One 30mm GSh-30 internal cannon with 150 rounds, 12 wing and fuselage stations for up to 8,000 kg (17,630 lb) of ordnance, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, rockets, and bombs.

Source: CombatAircraft.com

Maneuverability

Montage showing the different phases of an acrobatic maneuver performed by a Sukhoi Su-35 piloted by Sergey Bogdan at the 2013 Paris Air Show.

Russia based the Su-35 on the rock-solid Su-27 platform, so its status as a “supermaneuverable” fighter is a matter of fact.

Russian pilots familiar with previous generations of the Sukhoi jet family’s thrust-vectoring capabilities have carried out spectacular feats of acrobatic flight, like the “Pugachev’s Cobra.”

On the other hand, the F-22 has a great thrust-to-weight ratio and dynamic nozzles on the turbofan engines. These mobile nozzles provide the F-22 with thrust-vectoring of its own, but they had to maintain a low profile when designing them to retain the F-22’s stealth edge.

Most likely, the Su-35 could out-maneuver the F-22 in a classic dogfight.

Electronic warfare

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F-22 deploys flares | U.S. Air Force

Both Russia and the US classify their most up-to-date electronic-warfare capabilities, but it should be assumed that they are both state of the art and nearly equal in efficacy.

Firepower

A fully loaded Su-35.

Both planes are equipped with state-of-the-art missiles capable of shooting each other out of the sky. The Su-35’s need to carry ordinance outside the fuselage is a slight disadvantage, but in general, the first plane to score a clean hit will win.

The Su-35 can carry 12 missiles, while the F-22 carries just eight, but as Justin Bronk from the Royal United Services Institute notes in an interview with Hushkit.net, the Su-35 usually fires salvos of six missiles with mixed seekers, meaning the 12 missiles only really provide two credible shots.

The F-22 could engage the Su-35 from farther away as it is harder to detect due to its stealth advantage, so it could potentially make more economical use of its missiles.

Stealth

A US Air Force F-22 Raptor flies over the Arabian Sea in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, January 27, 2016.

This is where things get interesting: In the arena of stealth, the F-22 is head and shoulders above any other operational jet in the world right now.

For perspective, the Su-35’s radar cross-section (area visible to radar) is between 1 and 3 square meters, or about the size of a large dinner table. The F-22’s radar cross section is about the size of a marble.

As Justin Bronk notes:

Whilst the Su-35 does have the hypothetical capability to detect the F-22 at close ranges using its IRST (Infa-Red Search and Tracking) and potentially the Irbis-E radar, both sensors would have to be cued to focus on exactly the right part of sky to have a chance of generating a target track. By contrast, the F-22 will know exactly where the Su-35 is at extremely long range and can position for complete control of the engagement from the outset with superior kinematics.

Conclusion: USA.

An F-22 Raptor pilot from the 95th Fighter Squadron based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, gets situated in his aircraft.

So the F-22 and the Su-35 prove to be two planes of significantly different talents. The Su-35 carries more missiles, can fly farther, and is significantly cheaper. The Su-35 is a reworking of earlier Sukhoi models that are proven to be effective in traditional dogfighting.

But the F-22 wants no part in traditional dogfighting. Battles that occur when the two planes are within visual range of each other seem to favor the Russian jet, but importantly, battles begin beyond visible range.

A single Su-35 simply stands little chance against a similar number of F-22s because the US jets employ far superior stealth technology.

F-22 pilots need not worry about out-turning or out-foxing the agile Su-35, as they could find and target the aircraft from much farther away and end the dogfight before it really starts.

Additionally, the US Air Force trains F-22 pilots to some of the highest standards in the world.

Historically, US-made planes have battered Russian-made ones, and the newest generation of US warplanes reimagines aerial combat in a way that future pilots won’t even have to get their hands dirty to deter or defeat the enemy.

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VA begins awarding compensation for C-123 agent orange claims

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Photo: Wikimedia


In 1997, 10 years after retiring from a 34-year career in the Army Reserve and Air Force Reserve, Edward Kosakoski was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Though his last assignment in the Reserve was as commander of the 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, it was during the mid-1970s and early 1980s that Lt. Col. K was exposed to Agent Orange while flying training missions on several C-123 aircraft previously used for spraying the chemical defoliant in Vietnam.

Last week, VA service connected Col. K’s prostate cancer, awarding him compensation for his C-123 Agent Orange claim.

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Photo: Wikimedia

I’ve never met Col. K, but his story is captured in the claim file that his wife, Ingrid Kosakoski, filed on his behalf. That file shows a man who was drafted into the Army in 1953 and, after serving two years in France, had joined the Army Reserve, and who had received a commission in the Air Force Reserve after graduating from the University of Connecticut Pharmacy School in 1959. That file also shows that VA received Col. K’s claim prior to the recent regulation change.

After spending decades searching for proof of a connection between C-123s and the conditions known to be caused by Agent Orange, the Institute of Medicine issued a review that provided the supporting evidence VA needed to provide care and compensation to the Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel who were exposed to Agent Orange through regular and repeated contact with contaminated C-123s and who also developed an Agent Orange-related disability.

When the regulation change took effect earlier this summer, it took VA just 16 days to grant Col. K’s claim. Granting this claim represents a welcomed success for hundreds of flight, ground maintenance, and medical crew members who were assigned to certain Air Force and Air Force Reserve units from 1969 to 1986.

“I have only praise for the VA personnel who handled Ed’s claim in Baltimore and St. Paul,” Ingrid said. “They were professional and compassionate, and I would urge others exposed to Agent Orange with known disabilities to file claims as soon as possible.”

In a recent phone conversation, longtime C-123 advocate and close friend of Col. K, Wes Carter, also stressed the importance of not waiting.

“The Secretary and his staff have worked hard, along with C-123 veterans in getting to this point,” said Carter, who also chairs the C-123 Veterans Association. “VA is ready and eager, already reaching out and helping our aircrews and maintenance personnel who are ill.

“This is the time for C-123 Veterans to get their claims to VA if affected by any of the Agent Orange-associated illnesses. Call the C-123 hotline at 1-800-749-8387 for any questions. I also recommend that vets ask their local VA medical center’s environmental health coordinator for an Agent Orange Registry exam.”

If you or someone you know was exposed to Agent Orange (whether in in Vietnam or its inland waterways, an area the Department of Defense has confirmed use of AO, or as in Col. K’s case aboard a C-123) AND you have a condition presumed to be related to AO, please file a claim for compensation.

If you need help filing a claim or want to talk to someone, you have many options:

  • Speak with an accredited Veterans Service Officer who can help you gather records and file a claim online
  • Call VA at 1-800-827-1000 for advice
  • If you want the fastest decision possible, consider filing a Fully Developed Claim through ebenefits.va.gov. An FDC allows you to submit all your evidence up front, identify any federal records for VA to obtain, and certifies that you have no other evidence to submit.

If you (or your loved one) meet certain conditions, such as financial hardship, advanced age, or terminal illness, VA can expedite your claim – just make sure we are aware of your situation. You or your VSO can notify us in writing, or by calling 1-800-827-1000. If your situation is dire, don’t wait!

More from VAntage Point:

This article originally appeared at VAntage Point Copyright 2015. Follow VAntage Point on Twitter.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Look, we’ve all been super busy dreaming about destroying ISIS with a bunch of “pew pew” and “BRRRRRT!” and we completely forgot to get you a Christmas present.


Just take these 13 funny military memes instead:

1. There are certain skills the military imbues you with (via Air Force Nation).

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For POGs it’s the ability to quickly get lint out of a Skillcraft pen.

2. Think he can get into the DFAC with that?

(via Sh-t My LPO Says)

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Must require one hell of a CAC reader.

SEE ALSO: It’s time for the WATM classic: ‘How the Sergeant Major Stole Christmas’

3. Just surprised it only took 10 months (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

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4. Seriously, even basic training makes the knees creak (via Team Non-Rec).

Spend some range time with a SEAL Team 6 frogman who helped kill bin Laden — Video
But hey, you might get 10 percent VA and free ibuprofen for life.

5. With motor pools like these, who needs cots?

(via Marine Corps Memes)

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The real reason troops wear such spiffy hats is so they’ll always have an improvised pillow.

6. One of these things is not like the others (via Team Non-Rec).

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Actually none of these dudes match one another, so the Stormtrooper is probably fine.

7. Army Strong, not smart.

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Spelling is something the cadets will have to learn at their units.

8. The best Christmas lights are on their way to Syria:

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A few minutes after the light show, there’s a killer fireworks display.

9. Must’ve been rough, having to fold all those towels.

Spend some range time with a SEAL Team 6 frogman who helped kill bin Laden — Video

10. This Christmas caroller only knows one song …

(via Save the A-10)

Spend some range time with a SEAL Team 6 frogman who helped kill bin Laden — Video
… but it’s a classic. BRRRRRT!!

11. She has a lot of wisdom to share.

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But no one knows why she has to share it when you’re already 10 minutes late.

12. You have to kill the time somehow (via Marine Corps Memes).

Spend some range time with a SEAL Team 6 frogman who helped kill bin Laden — Video

13. Just because they don’t celebrate Christmas …

Spend some range time with a SEAL Team 6 frogman who helped kill bin Laden — Video
… doesn’t mean we cant get ISIS something nice.

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Iconic World War II ‘nurse’ Greta Friedman dies at 92

The woman behind one of the most iconic photographs of World War II has died.


Greta Friedman, a woman dressed as a nurse pictured kissing a sailor in New York City as America announced its victory over Japan, passed away Sept. 1. She was 92.

It’s one of the most famous photos of the 20th Century and shows a sailor who celebrates by hugging a nurse (actually a dental assistant, who just happened to be walking by) and giving her a long celebratory kiss.

Good thing a world-famous Life Magazine photographer happened to be standing there.

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Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt called the photo “V-J Day in Times Square” and captioned it “In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.”

Friedman is widely believed to be the woman in the photo.

“I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this tight grip,” Friedman told CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller in 2012.

A U.S. Navy photojournalist happened to be standing there as well and took a photo of his own from a different angle. He called it “Kissing the War Goodbye.”

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Navy photographer Victor Jorgenson’s photo.

Call it what you like, the photo came to be the symbol of American sentiment as World War II ended. It has since been replicated in American pop culture from The Simpsons to Katy Perry.

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Lance Cpl. Thomas Smith seizes the opportunity to kiss singer, Katy Perry on stage during the opening night block party for Fleet Week New York. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Drew)

The sailor is widely believed to be George Mendonsa, who was reunited with Friedman in Times Square by CBS News.

“The excitement of the war bein’ over, plus I had a few drinks,” Mendonsa said, “so when I saw the nurse I grabbed her, and I kissed her.”

Then-Petty Officer 1st Class Mendosa is now 93 years old and lives in Rhode Island.

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Judge rules that Army vet is genderless

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Last week an Oregon judge ruled that Jamie Shupe, an Army vet, can legally be considered “nonbinary.”

Up to that point, Shupe considered himself female, although he doesn’t identify with either sex.

“It feels amazing to be free from a binary sex classification system that inadequately addressed who I really am, a system in which I felt confined,” Shupe said.

Shupe was male at birth, but he started transitioning to a female in 2013, more than a decade after retiring from the military as a sergeant first class.

“Oregon law has allowed for people to petition a court for a gender change for years, but the law doesn’t specify that it has to be either male or female,” said civil rights attorney Lake J. Perriguey, who filed the petition, according to CNN.

“The law just says, ‘change.’ Historically, people have asked for a gender change from male to female and the other way around, but Jamie is the first to ask for the gender of “nonbinary,” Perriguey said.

It’s unclear what the ruling will have nationally, but it certainly has the potential to complicate the Pentagon’s already-challenging gender integration efforts. Special operators are just now adjusting to the idea of having females in their ranks. Are they ready for nonbinaries?

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The ‘Loach’ was one of the riskiest helicopter assignments in Vietnam

While barely any American helicopters served in World War II and few flew in Korea, Vietnam was a proving ground for many airframes — everything from the venerable Huey to Chinooks sporting huge guns.


One of the most dangerous helicopter assignments was a tiny scout helicopter known as the “Loach.” Officially designated the OH-6 Cayuse, these things were made of thin plexiglass and metal but were expected to fly low over the jungles and grass, looking for enemy forces hiding in the foliage.

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(Photo: U.S. Army)

When the Loach debuted in 1966, it broke records for speed, endurance, and rate of climb, all important attributes for a scout helicopter. It was powered by a 285-hp engine but the helicopter weighed less than a Volkswagen.

They were usually joined by Cobra gunships — either in hunter-killer teams where the Loach hunted and the Cobra killed or in air mobile cavalry units where both airframes supported cavalry and infantrymen on the ground.

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In the hunter-killer teams, the Loach would fly low over the jungle, drawing fire and then calling for the Cobra to kill the teams on the ground.

In air mobile teams, a pilot would fly low while an observer would scan the ground for signs of the enemy force. Some of them were able to tell how large a force was and how recently it had passed. They would then call in scouts on the ground or infantrymen to hunt for the enemy in the brush while attack helicopters protected everyone.

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Cobra AH-1 attack helicopters were often deployed with Loaches to provide greater firepower. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Loach also had its own gunner in the rear and could carry everything from 7.62mm miniguns to 70mm rockets and anti-tank missiles. But even that armament combined with the Cobra escort couldn’t keep them safe. They were famous for being shot down or crashing in combat. One, nicknamed “Queer John,” hit the dirt at least seven times.

Queer John was famous not just for crashing, but for keeping the crew safe while it did so. An Army article written after John’s seventh crash credited it with surviving 61 hits from enemy fire and seven crashes without losing a single crew member.

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(Photo: Facebook/Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry)

While Loachs were vulnerable to enemy fire, they were famous for surviving crashes like John did. A saying among Army aviators was, “If you have to crash, do it in a Loach.”

The OH-6 was largely removed from active U.S. Army service in favor of the Kiowa, but modified versions of the helicopter flew with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment as the MH-6C Little Bird as late as 2008.

Today, the Little Birds in use by special operations are MH-6Ms derived from a similar but more powerful helicopter.

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8 reasons your DTS voucher was kicked back … again

Submitting vouchers through the Defense Travel System is one of those tasks that probably originated in military purgatory. Sure, an automated, online form for documenting travel expenses and getting paid sounds like a miracle, but it’s actually like having to do your taxes a few extra times per year.


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(Meme: via Air Force Memes and Humor)

Here are common reasons that DTS vouchers get kicked back, each with a quick example of what you will hear from the DTS manager for the mistake.

1. You checked a box the way your old unit wanted it.

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(Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

“This isn’t your old unit. Re-do your request. No, you can’t just edit your last voucher. I deleted it so that you would learn how to do it right.”

2. You put airfare and airfare taxes in the same box.

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(Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lynette M. Rolen)

“Do you think the DoD doesn’t want to save some tax money? Figure out what your airfare is without taxes, figure out what the taxes are, and separate those numbers into different line items.”

“The system might try to make you assign different legs of your trip to each dollar amount. If your flight only had one leg, that won’t work. You should’ve booked a trip with a layover.”

3. You changed an entry to how your unit-level reviewer wants it, but the next higher reviewer wants it the opposite way because screw you.

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(Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

“I know how Mr. X says he likes the voucher filled out. Do I look like Mr. X? Exactly. Now re-do your voucher from scratch. And staff it through Mr. X before it gets to me.”

4. You forgot to collect passport photos from the people in front of and behind you in line while traveling.

“How do we know you went on the trip if you can’t even be bothered to steal the passport photos of people near you in line? Did you really go on the trip? No, your jump manifests, training certificates, and hotel receipts don’t count. We want those passport photos.”

5. You haven’t bribed anyone yet.

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(Photo: Department of Defense)

“Seriously, what is wrong with you? You think we handle your DTS vouchers because we’re charitable? Or because we like collecting our salaries? No. It’s for the bribes.”

6. You failed to sacrifice at least three virgin sheep to the dark undergods of the Defense Travel Service.

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“How am I going to go back to my bosses and tell them that I reviewed your packet without a single dead, unblemished sheep to gift to them?”

7. You have a firstborn son, but have not relinquished him to your reviewer.

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“We probably won’t actually take your child, but you have to offer. It’s an ‘Abraham and God’ sort of thing.”

8. You didn’t attach the right receipts.

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(Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

“Seriously, this is easy stuff. Just do the paperwork and you’ll get your money.”

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Vietnam vets meet the soldier who saved them from a VC ambush

Fifty-one years after saving a squad of U.S. Marines from walking into an ambush by Viet Cong, Don Medley walked into a surprise gathering organized to honor him.


Members of the squadron Medley saved May 12, 1966, gathered Friday at Stone Hearth restaurant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for a surprise dinner. Medley, a former U.S. Army Warrant Officer, had believed he and his wife, Dianne, were meeting one of the Marine veterans, Earl Davis, and his wife, Claudia, for dinner.

In reality, three other men Medley saved, along with their wives, were waiting to meet him. Those honoring him traveled from South Carolina, Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee.

“I told my wife that one day I’d like to meet some of the guys on the ground that I helped,” Medley said. “This is the day.”

Medley, of Hodgenville, appeared stunned and overwhelmed by the handshakes, hugs and greetings he received as he stood near the doorway of the room reserved for the occasion.

“Thank you, for my wife and kids,” one man said.

The words “thank you” repeatedly resounded in the room that held a dining table adorned with a centerpiece of white flowers highlighted with small U.S. flags. Placemats also were emblazoned with U.S. flags.

“This is such an honor for me,” Medley said, his voice wavering as he received gifts of gratitude. “It’s unbelievable.”

Like other members of Bravo Company of 1st Marine Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Earl Davis had wondered over the years who the Cessna pilot who saved them was. After an article was published in Vietnam magazine last year, Medley’s identity became known.

Davis received contact information for Medley on Dec. 26. He decided to coordinate the surprise gathering.

During the gathering, Medley recounted the day he was flying his Cessna over a rice paddy and noticed Marines advancing toward a trench line holding enemy forces. He dropped a smoke grenade on which he had scrawled a brief message warning the Marines, but they continued to advance.

He soon noticed there were more enemies in a tree line, making the number much larger. He dropped a second smoke grenade warning them and included the words, “I’m calling Arty,” referring to notifying artillery. His message saved them, the men said.

“We’ve been looking for this guy for over 50 years,” Ray Maurer said. “I just broke up when I saw him.”

Maurer and his wife, Bernadette, made the trip from Georgia.

Carl Whipple of Tennessee attended the gathering with wife, Myrtle Ruth.

“We all wanted the opportunity to meet him,” he said.

Whipple described the experience as heartfelt and said it was “a God thing” that sent Medley to fly over the squad 51 years ago.

“We’re indebted,” he said.

Dan Ferrell of Missouri said the gathering was a much-needed opportunity to express his thanks to Medley.

“I’ve never been able to put this behind me,” said Ferrell, who has post-traumatic stress disorder.

Medley was presented with a watch that was set at 10:30, the approximate time he dropped the first smoke grenade. He also was given mementos including a framed collection of items, among which was a signed letter of thanks.

Choking up in the process, Davis read the letter during the presentation. Later, he said the emotion he felt at that time summed up what he was feeling and how special the occasion was.

“It means a whole hell of a lot,” he said.

Similarly, Medley visibly was moved during the gathering and said the items he received will be displayed with honor in his den.

“It’s overwhelming,” Medley said. “This vindicates my whole year in Vietnam.”

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Looking to hire veterans? Here’s how to attract and retain them

This past May marked six years since I left the Marine Corps for a civilian career. After nearly 30 years in the military, I was unsure of what exactly to expect in a civilian job. I saw my unit as a family and had grown very comfortable with military customs and traditions. Now, I was concerned if any civilian workplace would know how to evaluate my career and experience.

More than 250,000 service members transition out of the military every year, looking for engaging, valuable work. They are highly skilled, dedicated and motivated to be productive members of a new team, facing new challenges and opportunities. I was fortunate enough to get a job with Navy Federal Credit Union, an organization whose primary customer base is members of the military and their families. Based on their understanding of a service member’s career needs and experience, my transition was relatively smooth, but that’s not always the case.

July 25th is Hire A Veteran Day, which is meant to be a call to action for employers to seriously consider veteran and transitioning candidates. With 45% of our employees directly tied to the military, Navy Federal understands what service members need when looking for a satisfying civilian career, and how to attract and retain veteran talent.

Employers and workplaces are as diverse as the women and men who serve our country, however, there are still some common characteristics that make your organization attractive workplaces for veterans: 

  • Clear Path to Advancement/Development: In the military, your path to advancing is clear – work hard, follow the rules, go above and beyond – and veterans look for the same thing in new employers. Many also look for professional development opportunities and additional training that not only helps build their skill set, but allows you as an employer to show them the value you place on them. 
  • Mission-Driven/Team-Focused: In choosing a new line of work, veterans often look for opportunities that are focused on a mission or vision, and/or positions that have a focus on team operation. Many are drawn to these types of opportunities for the same reasons they were drawn to military service: a desire to work with others in advancing a cause they believe in that is greater than themselves.
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Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, Wyoming Army National Guard, prepares to assault an objective during a combat exercise at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, June 12, 2021. The 1-297th is supporting the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team’s, Mississippi Army National Guard, training rotation at NTC. (Mississippi National Guard photo by Sgt. Taylor Cleveland)
  • Match With Their Skills: The military provides service members with years of training in their occupational specialties, and veterans joining a new organization bring that real world experience to the new job. Our research from Best Careers After Service, in tandem with Hire Heroes USA, surveyed military veterans in the workplace and found that many veterans join industries knowing that their skill sets match and they would be an asset on day one. If you want to attract and retain veterans, make sure your job postings and recruiters clearly communicate how their skills would be valuable. The top industries, based on our research, include health care, government and/or public administration, defense contracting, and information technology.
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Marines with Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command in cyber operations room at Lasswell Hall aboard Fort Meade, Maryland. MARFORCYBER Marines conduct offensive and defensive cyber operations in support of United States Cyber Command and operate, secure and defend the Marine Corps Enterprise Network. USMC Photo.
  • Competitive Salaries and Benefits: This one should go without saying; everyone looks for a competitive salary and benefits. But more than most candidates, veterans bring the technical skills, leadership/team experience, and discipline to deliver results, which is why they should be highly sought after and recruited in the hiring process. Your salary ranges and compensation packages should reflect that worth. 

As service members transition to a civilian career, many of us simply want the opportunity to advance our skills and education, to provide for our families, and to start a rewarding career. Employers who can offer that opportunity to veterans absolutely should. In my experience, you certainly won’t regret it. 

By Clay Stackhouse, US Marine Corps (Ret.) and Regional Outreach Manager at Navy Federal Credit Union 

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This failed secret mission changed special ops forever

Nearly four decades ago, America’s fledgling counter-terrorism force launched a daring operation to a remote desert outpost to rescue Americans held hostage. The mission failed, but its repercussions were felt for years, and the flames and death of that day forged the special operations force that was able to successfully execute even more daring — and successful — missions in the decades to come.


On Nov. 4, 1979, approximately 3,000 Iranian militants took control of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 63 Americans hostage. An additional three U.S. members were seized at the Iranian Foreign Ministry for a total of 66.

This was in response to President Jimmy Carter allowing Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the recently deposed Iranian ruler, into the U.S. for cancer treatment. New leadership in Iran wanted the shah back as well as the end of Western influence in their country.

After a few weeks, 13 hostages, all women or African Americans, were released but the remaining 53 would wait out five months of failed negotiations.

President Carter, originally wanting to end the hostage crisis diplomatically and without force, turned to alternative solutions as he felt the political pressure to resolve the problem. On April 16, 1980, he approved Operation Eagle Claw, a military rescue operation involving all four branches of the U.S. armed forces.

The two-day rescue mission consisted of eight Navy RH-53D helicopters and multiple variations of C-130 aircraft. All aircraft were to gather together at Desert One, a salt flat about 200 miles outside of Tehran. There, the helicopters would refuel through the C-130’s and then transport assault units into a mountain location near Tehran where the rescue mission would begin. Unfortunately, the mission never made it that far.

On April 24, 1980, Operation Eagle Claw began. All aircraft proceeded to Desert One but a strong dust storm complicated traveling. Two of the eight helicopters were unable to complete the mission and had to turn around. Another helicopter broke down at Desert One, leaving a total of five working helicopters. Mission commanders and leadership needed a minimum of six to complete the mission. The decision was made to abort the operation and return home.

During departure from Desert One, one of the helicopters collided with a C-130, killing eight U.S. service members. The remaining members all left in the additional C-130 leaving behind numerous helicopters, a C-130 and the eight dead Americans. The failed mission, in addition with loss of life, was a humiliating blow for the U.S. However, this tragedy put a magnifying glass over the inadequacies of joint operations, forever changing the future of the U.S. military and special operations.

The need for enhanced capabilities between more than one military service was the prediction for the future of the Armed Forces. Significant military reforms, such as the Goldwater-Nichols Act and Joint Doctrine, addressed the readiness and capability issues demonstrated in Operation Eagle Claw. It pointed out the necessity for a dedicated special operations section within the Department of Defense with the responsibility to prepare and maintain combat-ready forces to successfully conduct special operations.

Today, the different branches training alongside each other is common practice. Planning for missions consist of specific details with back up plans to the back up plans. Ultimately, the lives lost as Desert One weren’t in vain. The lessons learned from that mission made special operations into what we know them as today.

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This is how the military is integrating women

Gender integration is vital for the success of women in the military, the commander of US Southern Command said July 13 at the closing ceremony of the second Women in Military and Security Conference held in Guatemala City, Guatemala.


Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd made opening and closing remarks at WIMCON 17, a two-day conference on gender perspectives in force development and military operations co-hosted this year by the Southcom commander and the Guatemalan armed forces.

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Photo courtesy of Southcom

In attendance were US Ambassador to Guatemala Todd D. Robinson, Guatemala Chief of Defense Maj. Gen. Juan Perez, and regional leaders.

The first WIMCOM was held last year in Trinidad and Tobago.

Over the past two days, Tidd said, “we’ve shared insights and observations and learned from one another’s experiences. We’ve celebrated our progress and identified the obstacles that still remain in our paths. And we’ve reinforced … a commitment to equality, a commitment to equity, a commitment to opportunity.”

The admiral said the Western Hemisphere offers a potential model for regional cooperation on gender integration and advancing gender perspectives.

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U.S. Marines PFC. Cristina Fuentes Montenegro (Center Left) and PFC. Julia R. Carroll (Center Right) of Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – East (SOI-E), stand at parade rest during their graduation ceremony from SOI-E aboard Camp Geiger, N.C., Nov. 21, 2013. (U. S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Nicholas J. Trager, Combat Camera, SOI-E/Released)

“This week we’ve seen how much we have to share with one another, and I know this is only the beginning of setting the standard for the rest of the world,” Tidd added.

Community of Interest

The Southcom commander proposed two ideas for the group going forward, the first being to commit to establishing a formal community of interest to further the topic.

“Southcom will happily take on the task to find the best tool for continuing this vitally important conversation,” he said, “and we will use the contact information you provide today to share this forum once we create it.”

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Logo for the Women in Military and Security Conference held July 10-13 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Gender advisors — subject matter experts attending the conference — are ideal members, Tidd added, but other personnel also will add value and over the next year the community can work on issues identified at WIMCOM 2017 as focus areas for improvement.

Second, the admiral said, is a need to collect better data to document progress.

“We have a term in English called baselining — determining a minimum starting point to use for comparisons,” he explained. “There’s clearly a lot more work to be done on [the kinds of] data we need to gather and share, but we’ve all heard this week about the importance of using data to further this message.”

Regional Observatory

Southcom, he said, offered to serve as a regional observatory to help keep track of integration progress by country, regional advances and obstacles to advancement.

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Female soldiers negotiate obstacles during the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s cultural support program which prepares all-female Soldier teams to serve as enablers supporting Army special operations combat forces in and around secured objective areas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika)

Tidd added, “If you will get us the data and research, we’ll help collate it and make it available for our collective use.”

Other highlights from the meeting included the idea that equality for women in the military requires male acceptance and collaboration; that qualification and advancement for everyone should be based on capability, competency and character; and that fair standards should be set and all should be required to meet them.

The admiral also asked for ideas or recommendations for the focus of WIMCOM 2018.

“I sincerely hope that you’ll seek to replicate the face-to-face, candid conversations we sought to foster in this conference,” the admiral said. “Hopefully this is just the beginning, not the end, of those types of conversations.”

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