The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies - We Are The Mighty
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The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies

In the early 1980s, the U.S. Army created a unique battalion with a fleet of militarized dune buggies. The unit was supposed to scout ahead, as well as harass its enemy counterparts.


2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry and its unusual vehicles are one of the more recognizable parts of the ground combat branch’s “High Technology Light Division” experiment. The Army expected a “Quick Kill Vehicle” to be an important part of the final division design.

But the ground combat branch had few firm requirements for the vehicle. The HTLD planners only knew they wanted a vehicle that was small and fast, according to an official history.

At the same time, the U.S. Navy’s SEAL teams were testing a light vehicle of their own. The ground branch borrowed eight of these buggies to see if they might fit the bill. Chenowth Racing Products made the small vehicles for the sailing branch’s commandos. The name became synonymous with the company’s combat designs.

In October 1981, Maj. Gen. Robert Elton decided to get more Chenowths for the 9th Infantry Division—the HTLD test unit. The ground combat branch leased over 120 of the armed buggies in the end.

The vehicles got weapons and other military equipment once they reached the 9th Infantry Division’s home at Fort Lewis. The Chenowths sported machine guns, grenade launchers and even anti-tank missiles.

In 1982, the “Quick Kill Vehicle” got the less aggressive moniker of “Fast Attack Vehicle.” The Army eventually settled on “Light Attack Battalion” for its planned dune buggy contingents.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
A Chenowth equipped with a TOW anti-tank missile. | US Army photo

2–1 Infantry became the first — and eventually only — one of these units and got over 80 FAVs. Almost 30 of these new vehicles were armed with heavy TOW missiles, one of which is depicted in the picture above.

The Chenowths made good use of their diminutive size during trials. The vehicle’s low profile made it hard to spot and potentially difficult to hit in combat. Helicopters could also whisk the FAVs around the battlefield in large numbers. The Army’s new Black Hawk helicopter could lift two buggies, while the bigger Chinook could carry a seven at once.

However, the Chenowths were only ever meant to be “surrogates” for a final vehicle design. But the HTLD’s proponents couldn’t sell the concept.

The FAV just looked vulnerable regardless of any potential benefits. This visual stigma couldn’t have helped Elton and his team make their case. In addition, the Army worried about a possible maintenance nightmare. The Chenowths had little if anything in common with other tanks and trucks.

After four years, the ground combat branch was also tired of experimenting and wanted to declare its new motorized division ready for real combat. Finicky, specialized equipment wasn’t helping the 9th Infantry Division meet that goal.

In 1985, Congress refused to approve any more money for the buggies and other unique equipment. The following year, 2–1 Infantry traded their FAVs for new High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles — better known as “Humvees.”

The ground combat branch spent the rest of the decade trying to figure out what parts of the experiment could be salvaged. The end of the Cold War finally sealed 9th Infantry Division’s fate — and it broke up in 1991.

Still, American commandos diduse improved Chenowths—called Desert Patrol Vehicles—during Operation Desert Storm. The U.K.’s elite Special Air Service also picked up a few of these combat cars.

Special operators were still using upgraded variants when they rolled back into Iraq in 2003. Special Operations Command eventually replaced them with a combination of specialized Humvees, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles.

The ground combat branch also continued to refine their plans for a wheeled fighting force. These efforts led to the creation of the Army’s Stryker brigades.

The FAV might be lost to the history books, but the Strykers have become a key part of the Pentagon’s ground forces.

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US Air Force fighters & drones will fire laser weapons by the 2020s

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Artist’s rendering from Air Force Research Lab


The Air Force plans to arm its fleet of drones and fighter jets with high-tech laser weapons able to incinerate enemy targets from the sky, service officials said.

Aircraft-launched laser weapons could eventually be engineered for a wide range of potential uses, including air-to-air combat, close air support, counter-UAS(drone), counter-boat, ground attack and even missile defense, officials said.

Lasers use intense heat and light energy to precisely incinerate targets without causing a large explosion – and they operate at very high speeds, giving them a near instantaneous ability to destroy fast-moving targets and defend against incoming enemy attacks, Air Force Chief Scientist Dr. Greg Zacharias told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“The promise of directed energy is that electricity is cheap. Plus, you get the speed of light working for you so incoming missiles are easier to shoot at,” Zacharias said.

Air Force Research Laboratory officials have said they plan to have a program of record for air-fired laser weapons in place by 2023.

Ground testing of a laser weapon called the High Energy Laser, or HEL, was slated to take place last year at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., service officials said. The High Energy Laser test is being conducted by the Air Force Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.

The first airborne tests are expected to take place by 2021, Air Force officials have said.

The developmental efforts are focused on increasing the power, precision and guidance of existing laser weapon applications with the hope of moving from 10-kilowatts up to 100 kilowatts, Air Force leaders said.

Air Force weapons developers are also working on the guidance mechanisms to enable laser weapons to stay on-track on a particular target, Zacharias added.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies

Zacharias explained that much of the needed development involves engineering the size weight and power trades on an aircraft needed to accommodate an on-board laser weapon. Developing a mobile power-source small enough to integrate onto a fast-moving fighter jet remains a challenge for laser technology, he added.

“The other part is all the component technology. You are going to give up fuel or some armaments. It is not just getting enough power on board it is getting the aiming technology. Its dealing with turbulent air flow on a high-speed platform,” Zacharias said.

Air Force leaders have said that the service plans to begin firing laser weapons from larger platforms such as C-17s and C-130s until the technological miniaturization efforts can configure the weapon to fire from fighter jets such as an F-15, F-16 or F-35.

Air Combat Command has commissioned the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator Advanced Technology Demonstration which will be focused on developing and integrating a more compact, medium-power laser weapon system onto a fighter-compatible pod for self-defense against ground-to-air and air-to-air weapons, a service statement said.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies

Air Force Special Operations Command has commissioned both Air Force Research Laboratory and the Naval Support Facility Dahlgren to examine placing a laser on an AC-130U gunship to provide an offensive capability.

A key advantage of using laser weapons would include an ability to melt or incinerate an incoming missile or enemy target without necessarily causing an explosion.

Another advantage is an ability to use a much more extended magazine for weapons. Instead of flying with six or seven missiles on or in an aircraft, a directed energy weapons system could fire thousands of shots using a single gallon of jet fuel, Air Force experts explained.

Drones Fire Lasers

Air Force drones will also one day fire high-tech laser weapons to destroy high-value targets, conduct precision strikes and incinerate enemy locations from the sky, senior service officials told Scout Warrior.

When it comes to drones, there does not yet appear to be a timetable for when fired lasers would be operational weapons – however weapons technology of this kind is moving quickly.

Zacharias also said future laser weapons could substantially complement existing ordnance or drone-fired weapons such as a Hellfire missile.

Laser weapons allow for an alternative method of destroying targets, rapid succession of fire, reduced expenditure of dollars and, quite possibly, increased precision, service officials have explained.

For instance, a key advantage of using laser weapons would include an ability to melt or incinerate an incoming missile or enemy target without necessarily causing an explosion. This would be of particular relevance, for example, in air attack such as the current campaign against ISIS over Iraq and Syria.

ISIS fighters are known to deliberately blend in among civilians, therefore making it difficult to pinpoint enemy targets without endangering innocent civilians. Precision attacks without an explosion, therefore, would provide a useful additional tactical option.

Zacharias said laser-armed drones could likely provide an impactful part of an on-the-move arsenal of weapons.

“You might want to put lasers on board so you have a distributed package when you have a bunch of different platforms carrying different parts – of weapons, sensors and even fuel in one very expensive fighter package. It is like having distributed satellite. You could have distributed fighter packages as well,” Zacharias said.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies

Firing laser weapons would certainly provide a different option than a 100-pound, explosive, tank and building-killing Hellfire missile.

Although firing lasers from drones is expected to be more complicated than arming fighter jets or aircraft with lasers, the existing development of laser weapon technology is quite likely to inform drone-laser development as well.

Man-in-the-Loop

As technology progresses, particularly in the realm of autonomous systems, many wonder if a drone will soon have the ability to find, acquire, track and destroy and enemy target using sensors, targeting and weapons delivery systems – without needing any human intervention.

While that technology is fast-developing, if not already here, the Pentagon operates under and established autonomous weapons systems doctrine requiring a “man-in-the-loop” when it comes to decisions about the use of lethal force, Zacarias explained.

“There will always be some connection with human operators at one echelon or another. It may be intermittent, but they will always be part of a team. A lot of that builds on years and years of working automation systems, flight management computers, aircraft and so forth,” he said.

Although some missile systems, such as the Tomahawk and SM-6 missiles, have sensor and seeker technologies enabling them to autonomously, or semi-autonomously guide themselves toward targets – they require some kind of human supervision. In addition, these scenarios are very different that the use of a large airborne platform or mobile ground robot to independently destroy targets.

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The first flying Scorpion carried nuclear rockets

The upcoming OA-X fly-off features the Textron Scorpion as one of the major contenders. This plane has been the subject of some hype since it first flew in 2013. However, if it wins the OA-X flyoff, it won’t be the first Scorpion to have flown for the United States.


In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States was looking to acquire interceptors to stop a horde of Soviet bombers. The big problem — the guns were just not packing enough punch. One answer to this was the F-89 Scorpion from Northrop.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Three Northrop F-89 Scorpions. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The first definitive version of the Scorpion to achieve widespread service, the F-89D, addressed that problem by using air-to-air “Mighty Mouse” rockets. The Scorpions carried 104 of them, and had the option of firing all of them at once, or in up to three salvos. The F-89 Scorpion also had a lethal ground-attack capability, being able to carry 16 five-inch rockets and up to 3,200 pounds of bombs.

But the “Mighty Mouse” rockets proved to be more mouse than mighty, and the Scorpion’s armament was soon the subject of an upgrade. The F-89J was a F-89D modified to carry the AIR-2 Genie rocket — which carried a small nuclear warhead. The plane could also carry four AIM-4 Falcon missiles. The Genie had a warhead equivalent to 250 tons of TNT, and it had a range of six miles and a top speed of Mach 3. Early versions of the AIM-4 had a range of six miles, but later versions could go 7 miles. Most Falcons were heat-seekers, but some were radar-guided missiles.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
A F-89 Scorpion firing an AIR-2 Genie rocket. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The F-89 was eventually retired in favor of faster interceptors with more modern radars and missiles, but for most of two decades, it helped guard America’s airspace from Soviet aggression. Below is a video put out by the Air Force’s Air Defense Command about this plane.

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How going to war brings out the best and worst in people

Sebastian Junger is not a military veteran. He makes that clear, but he sure sounds like one. Maybe it’s because he’s covered conflict zones from Sierra Leone to Nigeria to Afghanistan as a journalist. It’s safe to say he’s seen more conflict than many in the United States military.

If there’s an expert on modern warfare and the long-term effects of those who live it, that person is Sebastian Junger.


He sees war and its effects through the lens of an anthropologist. This not only gives him the perspective to look back on his homecoming—and the homecomings of U.S. troops—to see the problems and abnormalities with how societies deal with their combat veterans, it allows him to put those ideas into words. Some words returning and transitioning veterans may not have ever known to use.

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“We try hard to keep combat at a distance,” he says in the new PBS documentary Going to War. “But when we talk about war, we talk about what it means to be human.”

In Going to War, Junger and fellow author Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War) examine the paradox of fighting in combat: how the brotherhood and sense of purpose contrast with the terror, pain, and grief surrounding the violence and destruction. It starts with the training. Whenever young men (and now women) are placed in a situation where they would be fighting for their lives, the training would diminish perceptions of the individual in favor of the group.

“If you have people acting individualistically in a combat unit, the unit falls apart and gets annihilated,” Junger says. “So you need them to focus on the group. The training, beyond firing a weapon, is an attempt to get people to stop thinking of themselves.

This is not just the U.S. military. This is every military around the world.

The United States is “orders of magnitude” more capable than most. What the U.S. is having trouble dealing with is what comes after its veterans return home and then to civilian life. For returning vets, sometimes the problem is returning to an unearned hero’s welcome.

Only about ten percent of the military will ever see combat. Those who don’t still get the welcome home, but feel guilty for feeling like they never did enough to earn that accolade.

For those who were in combat, the experience of being shot, shot at, and watching others get killed or wounded is a traumatic experience that our increasingly isolated society doesn’t handle well.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies

When veterans leave the military, separation becomes a more apt term than we realize. Our wealthy, individualistic modern society rips military veterans from their tribal environment while they’re in the military and puts them back into a cold, unfamiliar and far less communal world.

Junger thinks a fair amount of what we know as PTSD is really the shock of a tribal-oriented veteran being put in an individualized environment.

Going to War did a fantastic job of capturing the experience of fighting in a war and then coming home,” Junger says. “For me one of the most powerful moments wasn’t even on the battlefield.

Junger goes on to describe what, for him, is the most poignant story out of a slew of emotional, true stories of men fighting nearly a century of wars:

“A young man, a Marine describing his final training, a ruck march. They had heavy packs and the guy had an injury so he couldn’t walk very well. Another guy comes along and carries his pack for him, so the second guy is carrying 160 pounds maybe, and says ‘If you’re not gonna make it across the finish in time, then neither will I. We’re gonna do it together or fail together.’ And that is the central ethos to men in combat in the military.”

For more of Sebastian Junger and his thoughts on war and the men and women who fight it, be sure to download or listen to this podcast. If you still can’t get enough Junger (and we totally get understand), check out his amazing books or our previous podcast with him where we talked about his latest book, Tribe.

Going to War airs on PBS on Memorial Day at 9 p.m. Eastern. Check your local listings.

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This veteran Navy SEAL just did a 5 mile ruck underwater

Combat veteran and Navy SEAL Kaj Larsen was born to be in the ocean, but these days he doesn’t blow things up underwater anymore. He’s saving it all instead. 

Larsen grew up in Santa Cruz, California, where his mother taught at the university. Surrounded by “watermen,” the ocean was always home, he said. In 1995, he brought his aquatic abilities to the water polo team at the Naval Academy, committed to following a long, family tradition of military service. 

“My grandfather served in the Navy during World War II and my father was a Marine during Vietnam so I thought it was important that I serve too. Because I came from this really aquatic background, the SEAL Team was a natural fit for me,” he explained. 

Larsen transferred to the University of California in 1997 and then commissioned through Officer Candidate School (first in his class) in April of 2001. Not long after, our nation was at war. He was in the first phase of BUD/S class when America was attacked on 9/11. After graduation, he led teams into covert combat operations in the War on Terror for multiple deployments. In 2007, he transitioned from active duty after five years into the reserves.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Photo provided by Larsen.

Larsen left the Navy reserves in 2018 as a Lieutenant Commander. 

After his active-duty military service, Larsen attended graduate school at Harvard for public policy and counter-terrorism studies. He very quickly became a familiar face on CNN, ABC or MSNBC where he reported from war zones across the world. 

And, he volunteered to be water-boarded on live television.

You could also find him hosting VICE on HBO, where he produced documentaries on conflict and national security. Larsen was the only embedded journalist during the Nigerian fight against Boko Haram. The SEAL became an award-winning documentarian, journalist and producer. 

His passion for national security and the military community merged his love of the ocean when he joined Force Blue Team as a veteran ambassador.

“Force Blue takes former special operations veterans and repurposes those underwater military skills for ocean conservation,” Larsen shared. “We have this dual mission of both healing the ocean and in doing so we can help heal veterans from our time in service. I really believe in the therapeutic and healing power of the ocean.”

You’ll find combat veterans just like him on the ocean floor planting coral, rescuing turtles, completing vital fish counts and conducting oceanic surveys. “It’s like my life has come full circle. Underwater demolition used to be my job and now I’m replanting coral reefs and watching them come back to life,” Larsen said. 

In 2021, Larsen teamed up with veteran Marine Raider Don Tran for what was supposed to be a one-mile underwater ruck run when Ten Thousand challenged them to a feat of strength. The challenge was definitely accepted.

“We started training in the pool where it was definitely tough and challenging. But we accomplished it and like any two spec ops guys standing next to each other, we decided to ratchet up the intensity a little,” Larsen said with a laugh. 

That “just a little” turned into a never-been-done-before five-mile underwater ruck. Using the freediving buddy system of one up and one down, the former special warfare operatives leapfrogged across the living ocean floor for five miles, all while carrying a 45-pound rock. 

“The first 250 yards was brutal. It was not like the training in the pool. Here we had the ocean and current pushing us around. But like any marathon or mission we put one foot in front of the other and just grinded it out,” Larsen said. 

Grind it out they did. It took them six hours and 28 minutes. The entire extraordinary event will be shown to the world in a documentary coming soon.

For this veteran Navy SEAL who relied on the ocean for so much, taking care of it is a mission he’s happy to accept.  “I know the beauty and wonder of the sea. I also see with my own eyes the terrible impact happening to our ocean,” Larsen said. “I am dedicated, along with my brothers from Force Blue, to helping heal that thing which has done so much to help heal me.”

You can learn more about Kaj Larsen by clicking here and then dive (pun intended) into Force Blue’s mission over here.

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Army veteran and comic favorite of Mercury astronauts Bill Dana dies at 92

Comedy writer and performer Bill Dana, who won stardom in the 1950s and ’60s with his character Jose Jimenez, has died.


Dana died June 15th at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, according to Emerson College, his alma mater. He was 92.

Dana served as an Army infantryman during World War II and earned the Bronze Star.

Early in his career, Dana wrote jokes for Don Adams and Steve Allen, on whose show he served as head writer. It was for a sketch on “The Steve Allen Show” that Dana created Jose Jimenez, which eventually led to his own NBC sitcom, “The Bill Dana Show,” which aired from 1963-1965.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Bill Dana as his famous character, Jose Jimenez (left). Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The character’s shy, Spanish-accented introduction, “My name … Jose … Jimenez,” became a national catchphrase.

Dana became a favorite of NASA’s Mercury astronauts, eventually being named as the honorary 8th member of the first team of Americans in space.

Dana recorded eight best-selling comedy albums, and made many TV appearances while continuing behind the scenes as a comedy writer.

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History’s most dangerous humanitarian mission: When Allied pilots dropped food into Nazi occupied territory

The Nazi occupiers in the Netherlands were fed up with Dutch resistance movements by late 1944. For five years, the Dutch had spied, sabotaged, and smuggled Jewish refugees and Allied aircrews. But really pushed the Germans over the edge was a railway strike that fall.


As retaliation, the Nazis starved the entire population. They cut off food deliveries to the country and stopped local farming by destroying the dikes and flooding the fields. By the time winter hit, the Dutch citizens were eating fried tulip bulbs and drinking soup made from their own hair for survival.

The Netherlands were led by a royal family in exile. Dutch Queen Wilhelmina petitioned the British and American governments to do something to save her people before it was too late. President Franklin Roosevelt, himself of Dutch ancestry, replied to her entreaties, “You can be very certain that I shall not forget the country of my origin.”

Just a month before he died of a cerebral hemorrhage, Roosevelt sent word to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower that the Allies should deliver food to the starving Dutch people.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Photo: Imperial War Museum

There was a problem for the Allied air crews: The best planes for air-dropping food were the bombers, planes that German anti-aircraft artillery units fired upon at every opportunity. Still, Eisenhower ordered them forward and on April 29, 1945, a pair of Royal Air Force bombers flew into German airspace as part of Operation Manna.

Eisenhower had contacted the German leadership in the Netherlands, but he hadn’t even received a verbal agreement from the Germans that they wouldn’t fire. When the first pair of planes crossed into contested territory, it was uncertain if the German gunners knew what was happening. The planes were ordered to fly low and slow, meaning they would be easily destroyed and the crews would be unable to bail out.

As the first planes crossed into the Netherlands, German guns took aim and tracked them — but none fired. Orders from senior Nazi Party officials had apparently made their way down the line and the Allied crews could fly through certain corridors with relative safety.

While some aircraft were later hit from ground fire, it was very little and sporadic. For 10 days, the Allied crews dropped flour, margarine, coffee, milk powder, cheese, chocolate, and salt on fields, racetracks, and airstrips. More than 11,000 tons of food were dropped in the British’s Operation Manna and the American’s Operation Chowhound.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies

The gratitude of the Dutch people was sent up to the low-flying crews. Throngs of people waved at the planes and messages, including “Thank You Yanks,” were spelled out in tulips on the flower fields. One beneficiary of the airlift, Dutch resistance member and future actress Audrey Hepburn, would go on to support international aid agencies and cite her own experiences as a motivation.

On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered and the airlifts came to an end as aid began arriving over land and sea.

NOW: 5 unsolved mysteries of World War II

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What the Army vet leading ‘The Mission Continues’ can teach you about fatherhood

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Photo: Youtube


As president of The Mission Continues, Spencer Kympton knows a thing or 2 about leadership, service, and inspiring the next generation. His nonprofit believes that what military veterans “need most is an opportunity to deploy their skills, experiences, and desire to serve in their community.” Getting veterans to serve on the homeland not only keeps them doing what they love, it gives kids a firsthand view of how real heroes act.

Heroic ass kicking is Kympton’s forte. Since graduating as West Point’s valedictorian, he’s served as a Blackhawk pilot, worked with everyone from the FBI to McKinsey Company, and snagged a Harvard MBA with honors along the way. Now that he has a 6-year-old son, Kympton’s determined to teach service (and ass kicking ) the same way his father taught him.

How does your work with The Mission Continues influence you as a father?

One of the biggest things that I’ve learned is applying the same core values that we have at Mission Continues to my parenting:

  1. Work Hard — Parenting is hard and you got to work at it. It’s something that takes constant effort.
  2. Trust — Trust is at the center of it. The trust your child has in you is one of the most important things that you establish early on.
  3. Learn and Grow — If you are not walking into parenthood embracing the amount of learning and growing every day, then you’re behind the 8-ball from the start.
  4. Respect — Demonstrate respect for you kid and the struggles, challenges, and things they deal with.
  5. Have Fun — Parenting ultimately is fun, and there’s not a day that goes by — even through challenges and struggles — when there’s not something tremendously fun about my relationship with my son.

Does being a father affect your work at The Mission Continues?

We have quite a few fathers on staff. In fact, even though we are a veterans organization in the people we work with, the reason we exist is to inspire kids. If you listened to some of our internal conversations, the reason we do projects in communities and put veterans into community-facing organizations is ultimately to demonstrate to my son’s generation that service in the military or in the community is what makes this country strong. The more ways that we can get veterans out into communities and those stories in front of children the better. That’s success for us.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Photo: Youtube

Out of curiosity, how many demerits did you receive as a West Point cadet and why?

At West Point there were things called “hours.” An hour was quite literally an hour of marching back and forth in full uniform with a weapon on the weekend. There were certain infractions that got you lots of hours, and the biggest issue was you weren’t allowed to go anywhere if you had to stay and march hours. I got a little crazy at a tailgate my sophomore year and broke a couple of rules and ended up walking 48 hours over the fall/winter of my sophomore year. I learned a lot from that, and I was taught respect for some of the rules at West Point. Didn’t make that mistake again.

What are some lessons you learned as a Blackhawk pilot that you apply in your work and family today?

One of the things that impacted me most as a Blackhawk pilot was when I was stationed in Honduras in the mid-90s. In one case, we spent a couple of weeks flying doctors, dentists, and veterinarians into the Mosquito Coast of east Nicaragua — villages with no roads that got to them. They quite literally had never seen a car or motorcycle, much less this big hulking helicopter that flew in. When we landed, hundreds of kids ran out fascinated. We watched these doctors and dentists issue inoculations, prenatal vitamins, pull back teeth, or just do basic humanitarian care.

What I took away from that is the magnitude of challenges some kids in this world face. I also realized how important it is to ensure my son knows how fortunate he is. Life shouldn’t be about making his piece of the pie bigger but making sure the pie itself is bigger and more people are able to come to the party to have some of the pie.

That time in Honduras, seeing the conditions that other cultures have to raise their kids in, was very eye-opening.

What did your father teach you that you draw on as president of The Mission Continues?

My dad went to West Point as well. I grew up in a family that places value on service to country, particularly through the military as a starting point. My dad didn’t stay his full career in the military, but I learned service in the military can be the start of the arch of service to country that lasts your entire life. It can show up in various ways: military service, service in the community, school systems, and public service, whether local, municipal, or national government. Service can pop up in a lot of ways throughout your career. It’s the glue that sticks it all together.

How do you inspire your son to follow a similar path?

My wife and I plan to expose him to as many opportunities to serve others as possible. That may involve going to service projects with The Mission Continues, which he’s done. It may involve ensuring every time he gets an allowance a portion goes to some endeavor that helps serve others. He gets to do this because we involve him in that selection process and understanding the organization and the endeavor he’s giving that money to.

One thing I don’t want to do is force my son into anything that doesn’t feel natural or inspiring to him.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

When the check engine light comes on… U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jeremiah Davidson with the 153rd Maintenance Group, Wyoming Air National Guard replaces a turbine overheat detector on a C-130H Hercules aircraft, Sep. 26, 2016 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Charles Delano

Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron conduct a post-flight systems check on an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Oct. 20, 2016, following a mission supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. JSTARS uses its communications and radar systems to support ground attack units and direct air support throughout the area of responsibility.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Miles Wilson

ARMY:

1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division Soldiers buddy-carry a simulated casualty to a casualty collection point during training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Nov. 11, 2016.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nikayla Shodeen

4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division paratroopers evacuate a simulated casualty during training conducted by U.S. Army Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 8, 2016.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Army photo by Justin Connaher

NAVY:

CORONADO, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2016) The brightest moon in almost 69 years sets behind the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The ship is moored and homeported in San Diego. It is undergoing a scheduled Planned Maintenance Availability.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Abe McNatt

ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 14, 2016) An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Fighting Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard

MARINE CORPS:

An AV-8B Harrier assigned to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 223 conducting an aerial refuel near Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Nov. 15, 2016.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Air Force photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow from MCAS Cherry Point.

Dr. Ernest James Harris, Jr., a Montford Point Marine, received the Congressional Gold Medal on November 12.

“Anyone who knows a Marine, knows they are a Marine regardless of race, religion or creed and nowhere this is truer than in war.”

—U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Marine Corps photo

COAST GUARD:

Here is a portrait of one of our many courageous shipmates from Air Station Miami.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Hoisting operations. Thumbs up.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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9 military ‘ghost bases’ you’ve probably never heard of

During the Wild West, many towns popped up along the trail and eventually went on to become ghost towns. Military bases, though, have sometimes become “ghost bases” – abandoned and left to rot.


Some of these ghost bases are near cities like the Big Apple. Others, like Johnston Atoll, are pretty far off – a nice getaway spot, if not for the history of being used as a storage center for Agent Orange and other interesting stuff.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Barrels of Agent Orange being stored at Johnston Atoll. (U.S. government photo)

The climates can be very different – from the burning sands of Johnston Atoll to the frozen flatlands of North Dakota, where America briefly operated a ballistic-missile defense system known as SAFEGUARD.

One base in Croatia that once was home for almost 50 fighter jets was abandoned during the Yugoslav civil war of 1991 – and the wrecks are mostly used by folks seeking some adventure. That base still gets “official” use for law enforcement training.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies A damaged runway at the Zeljava Air Base in Croatia. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

You can even check out one abandoned facility that will soon fall into the Pacific. No, not Johnston Atoll (it was a re-claimed coral atoll built over the years long before China did the same thing in the South China Sea), but instead the Devil’s Slide bunker on the California coast. A lack of maintenance and the natural process of erosion will eventually send this coastal-defense bunker tumbling from commanding heights and into the Pacific.

But if you want one “ghost base” that has captured imaginations worldwide, you can go to either the Ukraine or Siberia to see the Duga Radar Array – an early-warning system meant to detect American missiles. Or just pick up the video games “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and “Stalker” to see representations of the array used.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
The Duga Radar Array near Chernobyl. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

So, take a peek at this video that tells more about these and some other “ghost bases” – and tell us which “ghost base” you would like to know more about.

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US aircraft carrier is heading back to Med to hammer ISIS


After a brief absence of US aircraft carrier presence in the eastern Mediterranean, the USS George H. W. Bush will be returning to Syria’s coast to hammer ISIS forces in the region.

This marks the first time the US Navy has had a carrier in the region since US guided-missile destroyers struck Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air force after his regime carried out a deadly chemical weapon attack on civilians.

In the immediate aftermath of that strike on April 6, Russia, Assad’s stalwart ally, sent two corvettes of their own.

The US has dispatched the Bush and four guided-missile destroyers as part of a carrier strike group.

The carrier arrives at a time when US and coalition forces have all but stomped out the last remaining ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, though they increasingly find themselves under attack from new adversaries — Iranian-backed pro-Assad forces.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
A Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle launches from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock. (Photo by: Department of Defense)

Iran recently released footage of one of its drones scoping out a US drone, and the very next day the Pentagon announced a US aircraft had shot down a pro-Syrian drone.

Increasingly, US-led coalition forces find themselves bombing pro-Syrian and Iranian-backed forces that threaten US troops in deconfliction zones.

With the addition of the aircraft carrier, the US will have an additional few dozen F/A-18s handy to police the skies.

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The craziest small-arms maneuvers by South Korean SWAT

With a multitude of potential threats radiating over the border from North Korea, South Korea cannot be lax when it comes to security.


As such, Seoul places a premium on the training and capabilities of its military and police forces. This is clearly illustrated through the paramilitary capabilities of the South Korean National Police (KNP) SWAT teams.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Members of South Korean SWAT team approach mock terrorists during an anti-terrorism exercise at a venue for the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea.

A 2014 video from LiveLeak shows the incredible training in small-arms maneuvers that these SWAT members go through.

The KNP is responsible for most security operations within the country, including counterterrorism measures, riot control, and hostage negotiations. The KNP also, on occasion, carries out joint exercises with the Korean Coast Guard and Army.

The highlights of the KNP training video are in the following GIFs:

A trainee practices strafing while alternating fire between a pistol and a submachine gun.

Trainees practice disarming, and counter-disarming, techniques.

Two prospective SWAT members work in a pair, coordinating movement and cover fire.

A trainee practices a faux surrender.

SWAT team members must be ready to respond to all manner of threats, including the sudden appearance of a combatant from behind.

Here, a trainee practices handling the recoil from a shotgun, before transitioning to his pistol

In possible crowd situations, accuracy is of critical importance, and marksmanship is given plenty of practice.

While in the field, SWAT members must be ready to continue an operation even after a potential injury. Here, a trainee is practicing shooting and reloading with one hand.

Of course, being able to function while distracted and under stress is one of the most important factors for success in the KNP. Here, instructors attempt to distract a trainee during an accuracy drill

All GIFs via GIPHY
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Iraqi woman becomes Marine on eve of Mosul invasion

As 600 more U.S. troops are headed to help retake Mosul, Iraq, from the Islamic State group, a young woman who escaped that city’s violence is celebrating her new title as a United States Marine.


Amanda Issa escaped with her family from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, because of the rising threat of the Islamic State group. The Issas stayed in a refugee camp in Turkey for almost a year before moving to Michigan in 2011 — a move made for the promise of better education and more opportunities for the three Issa children.

The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies
Pfc. Amanda H. Issa prepares for a graduation ceremony Sept. 30, 2016, on Parris Island, S.C. Issa, 21, from Madison Heights, Mich., grew up in Mosul, Iraq, and moved to the U.S. in May 2011. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

Amanda, a teenager when she moved to the U.S., remembered the Marines she saw in Mosul during Operation Iraqi Freedom as heroes. Now, a Marine private first class herself, she wears the same Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and has the potential to be a hero for another little girl in her original homeland. She graduated in the top 10 in her high school and went on to earn an associates degree in global studies from Oakland Community College before enlisting in the Marine Corps.

But her journey to become a Marine wasn’t easy. In January she stepped on Parris Island’s iconic yellow footprints only to be injured a month later on a conditioning hike. The injury was bad enough that doctors told her she could be medically separated. Undaunted, she fought back and returned to training and eventually graduated with Platoon 4034, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, on Sept. 30.

“Now, to be called a Marine is unbelievable,” she said shortly after making the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony. “Yeah, being a U.S. citizen is great, but I came here to be a Marine.”

It is unclear when Marines and other U.S. troops will join Iraqi forces in the invasion of Mosul, one of the last major cities held by ISIS. Defense officials say its up to Iraqi leaders to launch the operation, with several top generals saying Baghdad’s troops will likely be ready by October.

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