Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game - We Are The Mighty
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Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Pfc. Sebastian Rodriguez, machine gunner, Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, fires an M240 machine gun during a night squad-attack exercise, here, May 22. MRF-D Marines used machine gunners, snipers and rifleman to suppress a simulated squad-sized enemy attack. | Photo by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco/U.S. Marine Corps


It’s no surprise that America’s Marines have some of the coolest gear in the world.

And that gear makes for some of the most amazing night photography imaginable. Below, we have selected some of our favorite photos of the Corps at night that look like they could have been plucked straight from a video game.

LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicles from Charlie Company fire on fixed targets as part of a combined arms engagement range during sustainment training in D’Arta Plage, Djibouti.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Cpl. Jonathan R. Waldman/U.S. Marine Corps

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 311 lands on the USS Essex.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Cpl. Garry J. Welch/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, provides cover fire during a platoon assault exercise at Arta Range, Djibouti.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas/U.S. Air Force

Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to collect simulated enemy casualties and weapons during a mechanized raid at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera/U.S. Air Force

An MV-22 Osprey prepares for take off for night low-altitude training at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by 1st Lt. Jeanscott Dodd/U.S. Marine Corps

US Marines assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One break down a rapid ground refueling during the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) near 29 Palms, California.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Sgt. Daniel D. Kujanpaa/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine Special Operations Team member fires an AK-47 during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

An MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron prepares to takeoff during flight operations aboard the USS Kearsarge.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Cpl. Christopher Q. Stone/U.S. Marine Corps

Cpl. Rashawn Poitevien engages targets downrange with an M40A5 during the Talon Exercise at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Mendoza/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine Special Operations Team member fires a M240B machine gun during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

US Marines perform maintenance checks on an AH-1Z Viper aboard the USS Anchorage.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry/U.S. Marine Corps

 

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Marine killed in Iraq ‘made sure everybody got in the bunker’

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
The remains of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin of Temecula, Calif., arrive at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on March 21. | U.S. Air Force photo by Zachary Cacicia


The commandant of the Marine Corps paid tribute to a staff sergeant killed by Islamic State rocket fire in Iraq last week, shedding new light on the circumstances surrounding the loss.

Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin, 27, a member of Battalion Landing Team 2/6, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was killed by indirect fire March 19 at a new artillery outpost near Makhmour, Iraq, shortly after he and a small element of Marines had detached from the MEU in order to support the small post.

Speaking at a Marine Corps Association awards dinner near Washington, D.C. Thursday night, Gen. Robert Neller said three other Marines wounded in that same rocket attack were due to arrive back in the United States that evening, headed for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Reflecting on Cardin’s loss, Neller did not prevaricate about a fight that US officials still refuse to describe as a combat operation.

“The loss of a Marine is sad, but I thought about it: He was leading his Marines in combat,” Neller said. “They were in indirect fire and he made sure everybody got in the bunker, and he just didn’t make it in time. Is that sad? That’s sad. But if you’re going to go, you want to go in the fight.”

During a briefing to reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said the circumstances of Cardin’s death, the second combat death since the coalition fight against Islamic State militants began, does not change the nature of the operation or indicate an increase in the Marines’ ground combat role.

“This is not a fundamental shift in our approach to support the Iraqi forces,” he said. “This happens to be what was the most appropriate tool that the commander assessed needed to be in that particular location.”

In his talk, Neller encouraged Marines to remain sharp, reminding them that the Corps was forward deployed all over the world to remain ready and train for future fights.

“[Cardin’s] death, and the things we see every day, from the attacks in Brussels by those murderous cowards that we’re fighting, that’s part of our world today,” he said. “So whether [The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] continues to use terror to intimidate us and kill innocents, at the same time other adversaries, as they have since we’ve been engaged in the Middle East, are developing their capabilities to challenge us on future battlefields.”

Neller also fired a shot across the bow at another geopolitical threat, hinting that Marine Corps leaders were eager to answer the saber-rattling of Russian president Vladimir Putin with a show of force.

About 1,800 Marines, he said, had recently wrapped up a massive cold-weather exercise in Norway, Operation Cold Response.

“It’s the biggest exercise we’ve done in Norway in some time,” he said. We were working to repopulate our [pre-positioning equipment] in the caves, and the Norwegians were happy to see us and I’m sure our Russian friends were paying attention. Mr. Putin has done us a great favor.”

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Air Force Pararescue Jumper reunites with girl he saved after Hurricane Katrina

When Master Sgt. Mike Maroney was a staff sergeant he rescued 3-year-old LeShay Brown a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. An Air Force Combat Photographer happened to be on the mission, and snapped a now-iconic photo.


Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

“They just happened to snap a photo of this little girl who really, for me, made the day. It was a rough day,” Maroney told the cast of The Real, a nationally syndicated daytime talk show. “It was seven days into Katrina. Earlier in July, I just got back from a deployment to Afghanistan, it was my worst deployment. To see New Orleans under water and destroyed just really took a toll on me, so when she gave me that hug I wasn’t even on the planet at that point.”

Maroney saved 140 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina but the memory of that hug stayed with him. Maroney, now 40 years old and a 19-year Air Force Veteran kept that photo on his wall for the past decade which he says helped him through a lot of dark times stemming from his service.

He never knew that little girl’s name. One day, he decided to find her and posted the photo on Facebook, hoping it would go viral. Someone reached out to Maroney after noticing the search for the girl had not gone very far.

“I had the idea to put it on Facebook to see if anyone is looking for her,” Maroney said. “It got 42 likes. Nothing. Up ’til last year, nothing. Then a young man named Andrew [Goard] wrote me and said, ‘Hey, its my life’s goal. I’m gonna help you find this little girl.”

Goard is a high school student in Waterford, Michigan whose grandfather served in Vietnam, and he idolized Pararescue Jumpers (he even has an Instagram page devoted to them). He helped the hashtag #FindKatrinaGirl go viral. The story was eventually picked up by Air Force Times and distributed around to smaller news outlets, until it ended up in front of LeShay Brown, who is now 13 and living in Waveland, Mississippi.

“I wish I could explain to you how important your hug was,” Maroney told LeShay Brown. “Your small gesture helped me through a dark phase. You rescued me more than I rescued you.”

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

“In my line of work, it doesn’t usually turn out happily,” Maroney said. “This hug, this moment, was like – everybody I’ve ever saved, that was the thank you.”

Watch the full reunion on The Real.

 

NOW: The definitive guide to U.S. Special Ops

OR: 10 incredible post-9/11 medics who risked their lives to save others

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6 times superstition turned the tide of battle

Whether it’s salt tossed over the shoulder after the shaker is spilled or not walking under a ladder, most superstitions are pretty harmless. But sometimes superstitions cause Communist rebels to abandon their camp or a revered Navy admiral to refuse to sail.


Here are 6 stories of wartime decisions that hinged on superstition:

1. Rudolph Hess’s failed diplomatic mission to England happened after a series of dreams.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Rudolph Hess. Photo: Wikipedia/Bundesarchiv Bild

Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess was Hitler’s favorite sycophant right up until he flew himself to Britain on May 10, 1941 to negotiate a peace as Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Historians argue back and forth about whether Hess did his mission under Hitler’s orders or on his own.

But two people were definitely consulted; an astrologer and a dreamer. The astrologer advised that May 10 was a good date to depart while a friend of Hess’s told Hess that he’d dreamed of Hess’s success on three different nights.

It turned out the dreams were wrong. The British captured Hess soon after he landed and kept him in prison for the rest of his life.

2. The feared Red Baron wouldn’t fly without his lucky scarf and jacket.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
(Photo: Public Domain)

Just the appearance of the Red Baron, Baron Manfred Von Richthofen, could change the tide of an air battle.

Credited with 80 victories in the air, he was a formidable aviator who wouldn’t enter the fray if he couldn’t find his lucky scarf and jacket. In spite of this, both the jacket and scarf were shot through, and the Baron was wounded by a bullet to the skull while wearing them.

3. American PSYOPS officers created vampires to vanquish communist rebels.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Photo: Wikipedia

Lt. Col. Edward G. Lansdale was a U.S. Army psychological operations officer sent to help the Philippine government defeat communist rebels. Lansdale capitalized on a history of superstitions in the Philippines, specifically one that centered around the “asuang,” a shapeshifting vampire.

Lansdale and his men circulated a rumor that one was prowling the hills near the communist camps. Then, they waited for a patrol, snatched the last person in it, drained out all of his blood with two needles inserted in the neck, and left the body for the communists to find.

Rebels soon fled the area and the government forces took it for themselves.

4. Grant’s superstitions led to victory.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s success in the Overland Campaign against Gen. Robert E. Lee led to the Siege of Petersburg from 1864 to 1865 and the Lee’s eventual surrender in Apr. 1865. Grant’s victory came despite the fact that he lost every battle in the campaign.

How? By refusing to retreat or withdraw, decisions that some have chalked up to Grant believing that a person shouldn’t retrace their own steps. Where previous forays into the area by other generals had ended with retreats, Grant was forced by his superstitions to lead his army any direction but back. This kept him and his men in the fight until they were finally able to outmaneuver Lee.

5. British magician Maskelyne may have created a massive scarecrow to scare Italian peasants.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Jasper Maskelyne and his magic act crew in 1950. Photo: Public Domain

The British magician Jasper Maskelyne offered his professional services to his nation when World War II broke out. As Maskelyne was known to exaggerate his actions in the war, tales surrounding him have to always be taken with a grain of salt.

But, his claims from the Allied invasion of Italy suggest that Maskelyne helped the Allies take over rural Italy by building a 12-foot tall scarecrow of fire and metal that convinced some superstitious Italians that the devil was fighting side-by-side with the British. The Italians locked themselves in their homes, leaving the British to continue north unmolested.

6. Adm. Halsey demanded his task force number and sailing date be changed because the number 13 is unlucky.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Task Force 16 during battle in 1942. Photo: US Navy

Adm. William Halsey Jr. was an ensign on the USS Missouri on April 13, 1904 when an accidental fire burned and suffocated 31 men to death. After that, he was very superstitious about the number 13.

So, when he was assigned commander of the new Task Force 13 that was set to sail on Friday, February 13, Halsey sent one of his officers to protest. The command relented and changed the task force designation to 16 while promising that an oiler would be late, delaying TF 16’s departure until Feb. 14.

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These 7 recruiting ads from around the world just might get you to sign up (again)

The military recruiting playbook in the U.S. is pretty standard. The commercials show off the coolest gear while epic music plays. Maybe a Medal of Honor recipient makes an appearance.


Around the world, nations like Canada and Russia take a similar tack while Ukraine and others go with a quieter ad that focuses on the individual soldiers.

1. The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command keep it simple when making their commercial in 2013. It’s just a few simple, repeating music notes and a highlight reel of cool stuff they do, from rappelling out of planes to violently ending hostage standoffs.

2. The Swedish Military

Sweden wants you to know that their military may not dominate feature a lot of awesome special effects, but they have some great careers where you get to make a difference. It’s shockingly honest. Wanna bet Swedish soldiers still complain about their recruiters lying to them?

3. The Ukrainian Armed Forces

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7mj8KGRgKI

Ukraine is recruiting soldiers while fighting a much larger and more powerful military. Their commercial reminds Ukrainians that troops come from all backgrounds but come together to defend their people from violence.

4. The Russian Navy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWK03XePbXk

The Russian Navy commercial is pretty high-speed, but features a few unexpected scenes like when the naval gun turns towards the camera at 1:50 with the barrel covered. Of course, the glimpses of sailors working out shirtless around the 2:00 mark were expected.

A Russian Army commercial from the same time is also good.

5. Finland Defence Forces

Sure, you can have a normal job instead, but Finland wants their potential recruits to know that they could have a range target as a resume, an armored vehicle for their drive to work, and have their trade secrets protected by thick steel doors. It’s a quiet but poignant ad.

6. Australian Army

The Australian Army commercial feels more like the opening to a new TV show than a military recruitment ad. It features photogenic troops in parades and hangars while zero people fire a weapon. It also mentions the surprisingly small number of troops they field, less than 45,000.

7. Japanese Army

The Japanese Army walks a fine line. Japan became a relatively un-military country after World War II (by design) but is expanding military programs in response to Chinese expansion and terrorist threats. Their recruiting ads reflect this fine line, using innocuous graphics and pink backgrounds right after showing troops on the march.

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The Air Force just bolted on a bunch of boneyard parts to get its Galaxies up in the air

On July 17, Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Carlton Everhart ordered all 18 of the Air Force’s C-5 cargo planes at Dover Air Force Base to halt operations and undergo inspections after two of the aircraft had landing-gear malfunctions in less than a 60 day period.


Two days later, Everhart extended the stand-down to all 56 of the Air Force’s C-5s, ordering them all to undergo maintenance assessments.

The ball-screw assembly on the C-5 Galaxy, the largest plane in the Air Force, was causing problems with the landing gear’s extension and retraction, according to Air Force Times.

The C-5’s nose landing gear uses two ball-screw drive assemblies working together to extend and retract, according to the Air Force. If one of the assemblies doesn’t work, the gear can’t operate. (The Dover stand-down came a little over a year after the C-5M Super Galaxies stationed there achieved the highest departure-reliability rate in their history.)

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker

Inspections revealed that the parts needed to fix the malfunctions are no longer made. But, Everhart told Air Force Times, maintenance personnel were able to get the needed parts from the aircraft “boneyard” belonging to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona.

As of September 1, 38 of the Air Force’s 56 C-5s were back in service. By Sept. 4, three of them had been sent to support hurricane relief efforts in Houston.

“Returning the C-5 to service so quickly is a maintainer success story. I can’t say enough about our maintainers’ ingenuity, hard work, and pride,” Everhart told Air Force Times, adding that his command was looking at adaptive techniques, like 3D-printing, to supply parts and predictive maintenance to catch malfunctions before they happen.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

The Air Force’s “boneyard” in Arizona (there is more than one “boneyard“) provides long-term storage for a wide array of mothballed or unused aircraft — more than 3,800 as of mid-2016. Though they languish under the desert sun, low humidity in the air and low acid levels in the soil make it a good place to keep aircraft.

It’s not unusual for the Air Force to pull parts, or even entire planes, from the sprawling facility.

In summer 2016, the Marine Corps announced that it planned to refurbish 23 F/A-18C Hornets stored at the base in response to a shortage of usable aircraft. In October 2016, after a 19-month restoration process, the Air Force returned to service a B-52H Stratofortress bomber that had been mothballed at Davis-Monthan.

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ISIS is facing one of its most serious setbacks yet

ISIS is currently facing one of its greatest military challenges since the group proclaimed a caliphate following the seizure of Mosul and much of western Iraq and eastern Syria last summer.


According to an intelligence brief from The Soufan Group, ISIS is experiencing losses around its “capital” of Raqqa, representing both an operational and symbolic setback for the group.

Although ISIS has continued to expand and hold onto territory in Iraq, the militants have come under increasing pressure in Syria.

ISIS has lost territory in a number of key battles. Most notably, Kurdish YPG forces have dealt ISIS defeats at the towns of Tal Abyad and Ayn Issa.

ISIS once hoped to cut off major Syrian Kurdish regions from one another by holding these towns near the Turkish border. Now, the Kurds have foreclosed on that strategy, beating back the jihadists’ momentum and even moving into some of ISIS’s most important territory.

“With the most recent YPG moves against the town of Ayn Issa, the Islamic State is facing perhaps its most serious symbolic and meaningful threat since it declared itself a caliphate almost one year ago,” The Soufan Group notes. “Its capital, Raqqa, the center of the group’s authority and image, is under threat.”

By seizing and securing Ayn Issa, the YPG, in conjunction with US-led coalition airstrikes, have embedded themselves only 31 miles away from ISIS’ de facto capital. The YPG also seized the Syrian military base Liwa-93 from ISIS in the surrounding region. The rapid advance of the Kurdish forces, which ISIS nearly overwhelmed during a crucial battle in the border city of Kobane last summer, has dealt a blow to the militant group, which promoted itself through a doctrine of “remaining and expanding” on multiple simultaneous battlefronts.

Following the YPG’s gains, ISIS forces began digging trenches around Raqqa in an attempt to fortify their capital, Reuters reports. ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani also addressed the losses in a Ramadan audio broadcast stating that “God never gave the mujahideen a promise of victory every time.”

Although the Kurds do not have immediate plans to attack ISIS in Raqqa, the seizure of territory around the city could deal a significant blow to the militant organization. Tal Abyad, located by the Turkish border, functioned as a key smuggling point through which fighters and supplies could reach the jihadists.

With its opponents taking control of the territory north of Raqqa, ISIS could experience significant logistical disruptions — and face the crisis of enemy forces advancing closer to the heart of the group’s power.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Edgar Vasquez, a spokesperson for the US State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, said that “should anti-ISIL forces continue to hold the city, there is the potential for a significant disruption of ISIL’s flow of foreign fighters, illicit goods, and other illegal activity from Turkey into northern Syria and Iraq.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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The 13 Funniest Military Memes Of The Week

The staff at WATM sorts through the interwebs to find you the very best military memes out there. Here are our 13 picks for this week:


Snipers: The Waldoes of the military.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Don’t worry if you can’t find them. They’ll find you.

Remember to properly secure your firearms and Marines.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Don’t worry, guys. It probably won’t be long.

Ingenuity means different things to different people.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
(If you want to make fun of them, use small words so they get it.)

This is unfair and inaccurate:

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
We all know SEALs start with book deals and then sell the movie rights later.

If you don’t need fixing, basic training will be easy.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Trust me, though, we all needed some fixing . . .

Speaking of drill sergeants, they’re arriving with your wake up call.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Your wake-up call will be at zero-dark thirty.

I can’t relax if I don’t feel safe.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
It’s called position improvement, and if we get attacked you’ll stop complaining.

Finally, camouflage for the Navy (a.k.a. “aquaflage”) makes sense.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

 Reflective belts in the military are like car keys for teenagers.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
You can’t go anywhere without them, the older crowd uses them to control you, and you lose them every time you want to leave.

 Air Force marksmanship training focuses on real world skills.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
(But don’t worry, you won’t ever get in a real firefight.)

 Bring every item, even the ones you weren’t issued.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
You’ll also be unpacking it at every stop for inspections. And when we get in-country. And a few more times because first sergeant wants to see it. By the way, the packing list isn’t final.

 Air Force: Military lite.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Notice how the Coast Guard didn’t occur to either of them?

Keep updating social media, ISIS.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
We can target off of your pictures. Please, send more.

NOW: The Hilarious Result Of Mashing Up Left Shark With Famous Military Quotes

And: 11 Things New Soldiers Complain About During Basic Training

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4 movie deaths that taught us to be better in combat

War movies constantly take abuse from critics and veterans from all over about how bad the story was or how inaccurate the tactics — that’s the movie business.


War movies are also constantly coming up with new ways to kill off its characters.

So instead of deconstructing and over-examining a film for its problems, let’s check out how these movie deaths can help educate new troops on how to be better in combat.

Related: 6 movie medics you’d want in your infantry squad

1. Don’t: pick up souvenirs

Being on patrol in a war-torn city means there’s going to be plenty of random objects laying on the ground. A cute and cuddly rabbit may appear innocent, but in a combat zone, anything can be rigged to blow.

Although this is an enemy booby trap, it was well placed and constructed.

What are you picking up a stuffed bunny for anyway? It’s creepy. (Source: Warner Bros. /Giphy images)

2. Do: stay low

Staying as low as humanly possible is important as seen in “Enemy at the Gates.”

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
It’s called a low crawl for a reason.

3. Do: have situational awareness

In the infantry, it’s very important to have a solid 360 degree of security in place so the enemy can’t sneak inside and stab you in the stomach like in 2008’s Ben Stiller-directed “Tropic Thunder.” The movie may have been incredibly goofy, but they make a good case how vital it is to know who is in your area.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
I can’t stop watching this one.

Also Read: The 6 best Hollywood sniper shots ever

4. Don’t: operate without cover

In any infantry manual, the importance of taking up a spot that defends you from incoming enemy fire is vital. We’re guessing Cowboy, played by Arliss Howard, skipped that chapter of the book while attending the school of infantry.

“Why didn’t you guys tell meeeeeee?” (Source: Warner Bros. /Giphy images)Can you think of any others? Comment below.
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This VA official fired for poor leadership just got his job back

A former director of the veterans hospital in the nation’s capital who had been fired for poor leadership has been rehired.


Brian Hawkins was put back on the Department of Veterans Affairs payroll after he appealed the decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Hawkins was let go last month after audits found mismanagement at the facility.

The board is requiring the VA to keep Hawkins as an employee until the Office of Special Counsel reviews his claim.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
David J. Shulkin visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by Megan Garcia, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Command Communications

In a statement August 9, the VA says Hawkins had been reassigned to administrative duty at VA headquarters in Washington and would not work directly with patients.

It says VA Secretary David Shulkin will explore other ways to fire Hawkins under a newly enacted accountability law signed by President Donald Trump.

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The Doom Marine goes back to Hell in the newest version of this franchise game

Editor’s note: This review deals with a graphic, mature-rated game. Some of the imagery in the video above and the GIFs below reflect the violent nature of the game.


The newest game in the “Doom” franchise, named just “Doom” despite coming after “Doom 3,” was released May 13 to great fanfare, and it’s a solid throwback to the shoot-em-up, arcade feel of the original “Doom” games.

Fans of “Doom 3” may be disappointed that Bethesda moved the series away from the survival horror genre, but players of the earliest games in the franchise will love just how overpowered the Doom Marine feels in most situations, shooting his way through dozens of enemies.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Video capture: WATM Logan Nye

The game opens with the Doom Marine chained naked to a table during a demonic ritual. His first move is to smash a hellspawn to death against said table before breaking out.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Video capture: WATM Logan Nye

The combat that follows is loosely wrapped around a story, but it’s hard to follow in-game because you’re far too busy ripping apart demons to pay attention to any sort of plot.

The broad strokes version is that a brilliant scientist found a way to send energy across the solar system and, instead of beaming geothermal energy collected from volcanic vents on other planets, electromagnetic energy harnessed in planetary fields, or solar energy absorbed from the sun, the scientist decided to open portals to Hell from Mars and use Hell’s energy because … reasons.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

This plan goes predictably wrong.

One of the scientists at the station, influenced by all of the Hell energy, has decided that a literal Hell-on-Mars might not be such a bad idea and unleashes destruction on the Mars facility. (Guess whose job it is to fix it.)

While the story is a bit weak and there are a few head-scratching moments, they’re all an excuse to mow down demons, which is what we all came here to do. And there are no human survivors to worry about.

This leaves the Doom Marine free to attack the hordes with no qualms about collateral damage, so the player can fire everything from the plasma rifle to the super shotgun to the beloved BFG with abandon and without remorse. For players unfamiliar with the BFG, it’s name is an acronym for “Big F-cking Gun,” and it delivers.

These high-powered weapons can be upgraded and modified. This is necessary since classic monsters like the Hell Knights, the Revenant, and others are back to ruin the rest of the Doom Marine’s life.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Upgrades and powerups will let the Doom Marine jump across 20 feet of open ground to rip demons apart with his bare hands. (Video capture: WATM Logan Nye)

To help players take down the soldiers of Hell, the game also offers “Rune Challenges” that allow for character upgrades that last between battles. These upgrades make it much easier to survive and smash through enemies and can be combined with temporary power-ups that grant special abilities.

Players who combine rune upgrades and power-ups can become devastating weapons of war, capable of single-handedly bringing down entire legions.

Rampaging across the maps is pretty fun, but can get repetitive. Players who want a real challenge can select “Nightmare” difficulty. This makes the game significantly tougher but doesn’t fix the “been there, done that” feeling of fighting a room full of demons after fighting a room full of demons after fighting a room full of demons.

To break up the campaign, “Doom” also offers a multiplayer mode with a few new twists on standard fare. The most significant addition to all game types is the ability to play as one of your favorite demons after grabbing a pentagram power-up – players start out with the rocket-wielding Revenant unlocked. There’s also a new version of King of the Hill called “Warpath” with a capture point that rotates around the map on a set circuit, and a new game type called Freeze Tag where, unsurprisingly, instead of dying you freeze in a block of ice until your teammates thaw you out.

Players who want something new with great graphics and plenty of opportunities to massacre bad guys should definitely pick up the newest “Doom.” Gamers who are looking for something new from first-person shooters might think about sitting this one out.

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5 of the most over-hyped military commanders in American history

These generals may be legends — or seen as awesome commanders — but did they really live up to all their hype?


Under closer examination, there might be some instances where the shine isn’t so bright. We’re about to shatter some long-held prejudices, so buckle up your seatbelt and hang on for the ride.

1. Douglas MacArthur

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

MacArthur had his shining moments, but he had his share of miscalculations during his career as well.

“Good Doug” was the guy who pulls off the Inchon invasion or who sees Leyte as the place to return to the Philippines. “Bad Doug” is the guy who, according to U.S. Army’s official World War II history on the fall of the Philippines, failed to take immediate action, and saw them get caught on the ground.

Chicago Bears fans in the 2000s would always wonder which Rex Grossman would show up – “Good Rex” could carry the team, while “Bad Rex” could blow the game. It could be argued that Gen. Douglas MacArthur was much the same.

2. William F. Halsey

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Official U.S. Navy portrait of William F. Halsey, Jr. (US Navy photo)

Let’s lay it out here: Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey was probably the only naval leader who could have won the Guadalcanal campaign, and for the first year and a half of World War II, he was well in his element. America needed someone who could help the country rebound from the infamous surprise attack at Pearl Harbor and who could inspire his men to go above and beyond.

But the fact is, in 1944, his limitations became apparent. Historynet.com noted his faults became apparent at Leyte Gulf, he “bit” on the Japanese carriers, which had been intended as a decoy. A thesis at the United States Army’s Command and General Staff College stated that Halsey “made several unfounded assumptions and misjudged the tactical situation.”

3. James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

While having a number of great moments – like stealing the uniform of the CO of the Army of the Potomac and making off with a huge haul of intelligence – Confederate Gen. Jeb Stuart also was responsible for a big blunder prior to the Battle of Gettysburg.

Lee’s official report on the Gettysburg campaign indicates that “the absence of the cavalry” made it “impossible to ascertain” Union intentions. An excellent dramatization of that is in the 1993 film “Gettysburg,” where Lee rants about possibly facing “the entire Federal army” while chewing out Harry Heth for getting into the fight.

4. Robert E. Lee

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

Was Lee a great general? Well, he did beat a large number of his opposite numbers in the East. McClellan, Burnside, and Hooker among them. But like Jeb Stuart, Lee forgot the bigger picture. As Edward H. Bonekemper, author of “How Robert E. Lee Lost the Civil War,” noted at the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, ”

The Union, not the Confederacy, had the burden of winning the war, and the South, outnumbered about four-to-one in white men of fighting age, had a severe manpower shortage.” The simple fact was that the South needed to preserve its manpower. Lee failed to do so, and many believed, often wasted it.

Ordering Pickett’s Charge was a classic example of wasting manpower. Antietam was another – and it was worse because the victory there allowed Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Nice going, Bobby.

5. George S. Patton

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

Yeah, another legend who may be over-hyped.

But Patton, for all his virtues, had some serious faults as well. The slapping incident was but the least of those.

More worrisome from a military standpoint was the Task Force Baum fiasco, as described in this thesis. Patton, not the picture of humility, later admitted he made a mistake.

Patton probably was an example of someone promoted a bit past his level of competence.

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6 things to know about the VA home loan

The Veterans Affairs home loan can be incredibly confusing, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information found on the VA website. So we have broken it down into six basic questions for you: who, what, when, where, why, and how?


*As always, when making decisions that impact your personal finances, make sure you’re sitting down with a financial advisor. Most banks have financial advisors on staff who are always willing to work with customers.

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game
Veterans Affairs employs assessors and appraisers to ensure that each home purchased by service members is priced correctly.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Glassey, 4th Inf. Div. PAO)

1. Who:

Lendee eligibility is determined by service status:

Active duty personnel must have served a minimum of 90 continuous days to be eligible

Reserve or guard members must:

  • have six years of service in the selected reserve or National Guard, and
  • be discharged honorably, or
  • have been placed on the retired list, or
  • have been transferred to Standby Reserve or to an element of Ready Reserve (other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable), or
  • still be servicing in the Selected Reserve

Spouses can be eligible as well.

2. What:

The VA home loan program is a benefit for eligible service members and veterans to help them in the process of becoming homeowners by guaranteeing them the ability to acquire a loan through a private lender.

Utilizing the VA home loan, lendees do not make a down payment and are not required to pay monthly mortgage insurance, though they are required to pay a funding fee. This fee varies by lender, depends on the loan amount, and can change depending on the type of loan, your service situation, whether you are a first time or return lendee, and whether you opt to make a down payment.

The fee may be financed through the loan or paid for out of pocket, but must be paid by the close of the sale.

The fee for returning lendees and for National Guard and members of the reserve pay a slightly higher fee.

The fee may also be waived if you are:

  • a veteran receiving compensation for a service related disability, or
  • a veteran who would be eligible to receive compensation for a service related disability but does not because you are receiving retirement or active duty pay, or
  • are the surviving spouse of a veteran who died in service or from a service related disability.

3. When:

Lendees may utilize the loan program during or after honorable active duty service, or after six years of select reserve or National Guard service.

4. Where:

Eligible lendees may use the VA home loan in any of the 50 states or United States territories

5. Why:

Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses to purchase a home. The VA home loan itself does not come from the VA, but rather through participating lenders, i.e. banks and mortgage companies. With VA guaranteeing the lendee a certain amount for the loan, lenders are able to provide more favorable terms.

6. How:

Eligible lendees should talk to their lending institution as each institution has its own requirements for how to acquire the loan.