In 1943, although B-17s had been used regularly in daylight bombing raids over Europe, nighttime bombing was still a relatively new concept to the U.S. Army Air Corps. Tactics were being developed in a hurry to satisfy the increasing demands of the war, and pilots were being trained at a rapid clip.
It was against that intense backdrop that four B-17s took off one night from Dalhart Army Airfield in Texas. The target was in Conlen, Texas, a mere 20 miles from Dalhart Airfield. It was supposed to be marked with four lights at each corner, creating an “X-marks-the-spot” for the student aircrews to hit. Instead, a young navigator led the bomber formation 40 miles in the other direction, to Boise City, Oklahoma.
At zero-dark-thirty, the bombers approached their target, not realizing it had taken them twice as long as it should have to get there. The townspeople were asleep by this time, and the town’s lights were out — except for the four lights around the Cimmaron County Courthouse.
The crew in the lead bomber, thinking they reached their target, let fly a couple of sand-filled training bombs over the population of 1,200. They hit the town butcher’s garage, taking out its roof. The next plane’s drop fell just short of a Baptist Church. The third and fourth bombers’ bombs narrowly missed hitting some of the town’s fuel stores.
The sheriff immediately called the base at Dalhart. Dalhart radioed the wayward planes to ask them to ensure they were on target. The crews ensured Dalhart that they were over the training target and were not bombing civilians, which led to an argument between the bomber crews and Dalhart’s tower. That’s when an electric company engineer shut down the town’s electricity, hiding it from the bombers. In all the bombers dropped six training bombs on Boise City.
The crews returned to Dalhart immediately. The navigator was (understandably) fired, while the rest of the crew were faced with a choice: go right into combat as soon as possible or face a court martial. It was a big decision: The Eighth Air Force casualty rate for all of World War II in Europe was a whopping 41 percent, with 26,000 killed in action. These crews would later fly in formations over Berlin.
Fifty years after the bombing, the citizens of Boise City erected a memorial to the event, complete with concrete crater and WWII-era training bomb.
It was tempting to make the headline for this review-interview “‘Terminal Lance’ creator Maximilian Uriarte gets dark with The White Donkey. That wouldn’t be truthful, at least not completely.
Much of Uriarte’s self-published graphic novel could be considered dark — and likely will be. But the word “dark” could also be substituted with the word real. Though the book opens with a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction, veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom will find a lot of familiar feelings in its pages.
“It’s 90 percent true and then there’s a lot of fictional elements put into it,” Uriarte says. “I don’t like saying that it’s a true story because it’s not. It’s fictional. I feel like once you add one fictional element to anything it becomes a fictional story. The white donkey was real. I really did run into the white donkey in real life, which I write about it in the back of the book. In real life, I only saw the donkey once when we stopped for convoy and that was it. I thought about it a lot every day after that though.”
The White Donkey is a departure from his bread and butter work on Terminal Lance. But Uriarte’s graphic novel was a long time coming. He first conceived the idea in 2010, and launched the Kickstarter for the project in July 2013, a funding process Uriarte will not soon repeat.
“I don’t think I would ever do a Kickstarter again because I hated that. I still hate it,” he says. “It’s one thing to have an investor to answer to. It’s another thing to have 3,000 investors to answer to when things take too long. It’s really stressful.”
Uriarte may be producing the first graphic novel written and illustrated by an Iraq veteran about the Iraq war, but the process of telling this story far outweighed the stress of the financing, in Uriarte’s opinion.
He loves writing, even though he didn’t even know how to make a graphic novel at first. But writing is writing, except when it comes to novels. It’s important to note there’s no corporate ownership to his work. His graphic novel is an independent endeavor, the culmination of more than five years of work.
“I love writing,” he says. “I wrote this book as a screenplay first and that was how I approached it. I went through a few different processes of trying to figure out how to make this into a graphic novel because I had no idea how to make a graphic novel when I got into it. I started writing it out really novel-like, as a book. It didn’t really do me any favors because I needed a screenplay. I needed a script for the graphic novel. Waxing poetic in sentences and paragraphs didn’t really do me any favors. I thought, ‘Why write all this beautiful poetic language that no one is going to see?'”
Fans of Terminal Lance may wonder why The White Donkey seems so different from the comic strip. The reason is because that’s the reality of war, or at least Max Uriarte’s experience with war.
“I wanted it to be a grim war story,” he says. “I wanted it to be more self-aware in a way. I think the usual Hollywood narrative is always very heroic. I feel like a lot of being a Marine is not heroic in the slightest sense of it. I think I wanted to have a narrative that combats that idea of that glorified American ideology, that going to war is heroic. Even the “personal journey” aspect of it is pretty arrogant of people to think they’re going to experience some enlightenment at the expense of people dying. It’s a very sad and a very false reality I think.”
The White Donkey is a thought-provoking, poignant work, on the level of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and is bound to raise Uriate’s profile beyond the large and loyal audience he’s already earned. Still, no matter how successful The White Donkey is, he wants fans to know Terminal Lance isn’t going anywhere.
“Terminal Lance is going to be around for a while if I can help it,” he says. “There’s going to be some changes on the site. I want to open it up more for op-eds and some other content. I want it to be a place any branch can come to for entertainment.”
The White Donkey will available on Amazon in February.
“The Princess Bride” is a cult classic – one of Robin Wright’s early roles, combined with a young Cary Elwes along with Mandy Patankin and Andre the Giant.
While it’s a satirical look at medieval fairy tales, could it play a role in training future combat leaders in the U.S. Army? Believe it or not, the answer may be “Yes.”
The proof is on Youtube, where the Army ROTC has a channel with dozens of videos of classic movies that hold a lesson for this generation of leaders.
As part of a course labeled MSL 101, Lesson 10, the “Battle of Wits” scene is used to discuss critical thinking. At the end of that video, a card comes up for about four seconds, asking, “What did you think of the clip?” The card goes on to ask, “What processes do you use when you are considering a situation/dilemma when you alone must make the decision?”
Here is that video:
Other videos used in that lesson plan include two clips from the Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons in the “Looney Tunes” collection.
“The Big Bang Theory” also is mined for clips:
“Top Gun” adds one as well.
Stick around – there are two major productions that really get mined to illustrate lessons.
A gear porn bulletin from WATM friends The Mad Duo at Breach-Bang-Clear
PAY ATTENTION. This is a gear porn bulletin, a public service for those of you epistemophiliacs out there who want to Know Things. It’s neither review, endorsement nor denunciation. We’re just telling you these things exist if’n you wanna check ’em out.
Shell Shock Technologies has announced the successful completion of a 1,000 round torture test of its NAS3 case without failure.
NAS3 cases are two-piece cases described as both stronger and more reliable than traditional brass. They’re just half the weight, are intended to deliver greater lubricity, and apparently can be reloaded numerous times.
According to SST they won’t abrade, foul, clog, wear out or otherwise damage breach and ejector mechanisms (which, if true, is significant). They are likewise described as more resistant to corrosion than brass, with greater elasticity.
As for reloading, Shell Shock says, “NAS3 cases will not split, chip, crack or grow (stretch) and are fully-reloadable with S3 Reload dies. Customers have reported being able to reload NAS3 cases many more times than brass cases. A video can be found on Shell Shock’s website showing 9mm Luger NAS3 cases being reloaded 32 times using S3 Reload dies.”
The cases have been tested to pressures up over 70,000 psi and — according to independent tests conducted by H.P. White Laboratory — achieved a velocity standard deviation of 0.93 fps with a 124 grain bullet using 4.2 grain Titegroup powder over a string of 10 rounds.
The extreme variation was 3 fps.
They ran the test with an Angstadt Arms (@angstadtarms) UDP-9, which is an interesting choice, and one that piques our interest. The UDP-9 is one of the weapons we’ve been wanting to shoot and review.
It’s a closed bolt blowback PDW that uses Glock magazines, in an AR pistol configuration. Should be interesting to shoot.
Shell Shock doesn’t sell loaded ammunition, mind you—they supply 2-piece cases (which allegedly eject cool to the touch). You’ll need to load your own or buy some that someone else has loaded.
Read what the NRA had to say about ’em right here.
2. Sig Sauer 223 Match Grade ammunition
Sig Ammunitions’s new 223 Match Grade ammunition is a 77 grain Sierra Matchking bullet in an Open Top Match round, designed to function in both bolt guns and precision AR platforms. Sig says the new addition to its Match Grade Elite Performance Series delivers 2,750fps, with a muzzle energy of 1,923 ft-lbs.
The propellant they use is manufactured to deliver consistent muzzle velocity in all weather conditions. As Sig tells it:
“Premium-quality primers ensure minimum velocity variations, and the shell case metallurgy is optimized in the SIG Match Grade OTM cartridge to yield consistent bullet retention round to round. All SIG SAUER rifle ammunition is precision loaded on state-of-the-art equipment that is 100% electromechanically monitored to ensure geometric conformity and charge weight consistency.”
Sig Sauer’s Ben Johnson is one of the reasons for the company’s continued success. A superlative horseman, former stuntman, and accomplished rodeo rider, Johnson has starred in numerous westerns over the years. He played such iconic characters as Cap Rountree, Mr. Pepper, Sgt. Tyree, and Tector Gorch before taking on his current role as the Sig Sauer Schalldämpfer Product Manager.
Dan Powers, the President of Sig’s Ammo Division, says this about the new bullet:
“The 223 Rem is one of the most popular calibers on the market today, and our customers have been asking for it since we entered the ammunition business. The accuracy and reliability of our new 223 Rem Match Grade rifle ammunition make it an ideal choice for precision shooters – whether shooting in competitions or hunting varmints.”
3. G2 Telos
G2 Research, progenitors of the Radically Invasive Projectile and other dramatically named bullets, has release a new round called the Telos in both .38 special and 9mm +P.
To the idea that .38 Special and 9mm Parabellum rounds have been “underrated” during the last decade, Chris Nix, G2 VP of Sales Marketing, says the following:
“That will change with these new G2 Research +P Telos rounds. These new rounds are specifically designed and loaded to stop fights — quickly!”
Thank heavens! Most bullets can’t make that claim.
Especially the ones meant for tickle fights.
The Telos bullet is CNC-built using a copper slug, constructed with a “huge internally segmented hollow-point.”
G2 advises, “Once the hollow point fills fluid it literally flies apart in controlled-fragmentation releasing six-copper petals. … The base of the bullet continues to travel forward for additional penetration (10+inches). [sic]”
Well, who the hell wouldn’t want at least an additional penetration of *snicker* *snort* ten or more additional inches?
They go on to say,
“The Telos bullet is designed to stay inside the target releasing all of its energy, not into an innocent bystander on the other side of the target.”
This sort of ballistic performance, by the way, is exactly why it’s the chosen bullet of both Kung Fury and Hardcore Henry. It will literally disintegrate a Tyrannosaurus Rex if you hit it with a controlled pair fast enough.
Here’s the specs G2 presents:
Caliber: .38 Special +P
Bullet weight: 105 grains
Velocity: 1,170 fps
MSRP: $28.99-twenty rounds
Caliber: 9mm +P
Bullet weight: 92 grains
Velocity: 1,120 fps
MSRP: $27.99-twenty rounds
About the Author: We Are The Mighty contributor Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore comes to us from our partners at BreachBangClear.com (@breachbangclear). He is one half of the most storied celebrity action figure team in the world. He believes in American Exceptionalism, holding the door for any woman and the idea that you should be held accountable for every word that comes out of your mouth. He may also be one of two nom de plumes for a veritable farrago of CAGs and FAGs (Current Action Guys and Former Action Guys). You can learn more about Swingin’ Dick right here.
Every year, Jordan’s King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center hosts the Warrior Competition. Operators from a number of nations battle to be named the top warriors in the world. This year, the competition began on April 19 between 43 teams representing 19 countries. The competition continues until April 25.
Competition events change from year to year. For 2015, the KASOTC is planning 10 events, with competitors only learning what an event is when they receive orders 24 hours prior to the event start. In previous years, teams have navigated obstacle courses with 180-pound dummies, forced entry onto buses and into buildings, and conducted hostage rescue among other trials.
Top units from around the world compete. The U.S. has historically refused to send special operations personnel to the competition, citing operational requirements and operational security. This year though, the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion is sending a team. Until now, America has primarily been represented by police units and teams made up of standard Army and Marine infantry.
China, which sends its top police units, has done very well in recent years. Its Snow Leopard Commando Unit won in 2013 and 2014, but will be absent this year. Instead, China will be represented by two other elite police units. Other countries sending teams include Russia, Canada, and Greece, as well as many Middle Eastern countries.
While training at the facility can cost $250,000, the competition is free for participants. Sponsors in the defense industry pay in and the KASOTC covers the rest of the bill. Both the sponsors and the center pitch products and services to the teams between events. Sponsors generally provide free trials of weapons and gear, allowing participants to try out explosive charges, automatic weapons, armor, and medical equipment.
KASOTC hopes competitors will return home and convince their commands to return to the center for training. Videos advertising the center’s capabilities are impressive. In addition to standard ranges, training areas, and amenities, KASOTC features a mock city, a large ship, and even a plane that units can train on, all of which could appear in the competition.
KASOTC is sharing updates from the competition on their Facebook page.
President Barack Obama announced that 250 more special forces troops would be sent to Syria to bolster U.S. efforts in the fight against ISIS. Their specific mission is not clear, but in neighboring Iraq, ground forces have provided fire support to Iraqi troops fighting to retake Mosul and have acted as advisors to Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command has conducted raids against ISIS in Syria, killing or capturing leaders of the terror group. In recent days, U.S. special operators were captured on video by France’s media outlet France24, as U.S. troops directed A-10 Thunderbolt strikes in support of Syrian Democratic Forces fighting to take the village of Shadadi from ISIS.
Shadadi is a border town that once served as the crossing point for ISIS fighter heading into neighboring Iraq. It was captured recently by Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units and Syrian Democratic Forces. The recapture took less than a week.
The video keep the men’s identities secret, but shows the gear used against ISIS in the battle for the town. The small group of operators are seen carrying Remington’s Modular Sniper Rifle, an M-32 semiautomatic grenade launcher, and equipment that allows for them to call in airstrikes, acording to Twitter’s Abraxas Spa, who describes their feed as an “all-source analyst.”
One operator is using the Mk. 4 scope on a tripod while another is marking objects with the LA-16 laser marker. The LA-16 will guide bombs to targets on the ground using the handheld laser.
The operators are also using a ROVER, Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver, which allows for troops on the ground to see a video feed of what aircraft overhead see. The Tactical ROVER-p can provide real-time imagery to a tablet.
The 11-minute film “Launch ‘Em!” plays like “Airplane” or “Hot Shots!” It’s a spoof of carrier operations that takes jabs at the entire aircraft carrier — with pilots falling down escalators, the skipper blowing smoke through communications tubes, and flight deck personnel falling down aircraft elevators.
But unlike “Airplane” or “Hot Shots,” “Launch ‘Em” was made by the same people the movie is making fun of, Navy aviators and the carrier personnel who support them.
It was filmed on the USS Hancock in the late 1950s and copies now reside in a few libraries across the country, including the San Diego Air Space Museum which uploaded the below copy to YouTube:
Lt. Cmdr. Maria G. Mannix is a Navy surface warfare officer who is competing in the 2016 Warrior Games. The cancer fighter has had to juggle her time between doctor appointments, her duties as a deputy director of the Training Support Center in San Diego, and training for the Warrior Games where she’s a competitor in shot put, discus, rifle shooting, and sitting volleyball.
The Warrior Games are an annual competition held by the Department of Defense where wounded and sick service members compete in an Olympic-style competition.
Mannix says that – despite the challenge of being an athlete and Navy officer while fighting cancer – participating in the Warrior Games and other sports competitions with the Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor program has been an important part of her recovery.
“Safe Harbor has really been a positive part of my recovery process because you meet other teammates that have serious illnesses and serious injuries and you see how they’re dealing with whatever they have, and it’s inspirational. It gives you a different outlook on things,” she said.
It’s not just Mannix’s teammates who help push her forward. The competition from wounded warriors on other teams helps as well.
“I had met a lot of the other athletes from different branches, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force,” she said, “and the more I got to make friends in other branches the more I realized that I needed to step up my game. It’s wonderful to make new friends but you also get to see the competitive edge from everybody else that’s going to be at the games as well. It helped me to focus on improving my athletic skills and trying to get my upper body strength to the best fitness I could have to be here for the games.”
That upper body strength is very important for Mannix. She’s fighting breast cancer and her surgeries have made training a challenge, but a strong upper body is vital to her performance.
“I’ve had multiple upper body surgeries which, anatomically, have changed my upper thoracic cavity. It’s more than just getting ready for the games. It’s PT and rehabilitation as well. But when you’re on the volleyball court, you’re literally using your hands as your legs and you have to be quick so you can react to the ball. There’s a lot of muscle strength that you need to have there. Same with my field events, I’m doing shotput and discus throwing. Again, it’s more of an upper body requirement.”
Mannix says that this training and competition helps patients connect in a way they can’t with their care providers or loved ones.
“We’re having a fantastic time playing and competing, but we’re also recovering and helping each other in a way you’re not going to get talking to a counselor or your doctor or your nurse or even your family and friends. It’s a different type of bond and it’s a different kind of camaraderie.”
“You expand the support network you already have,” she said. “Everybody wants to come home with the gold medal and be the winner, in the end, when the games are done, you hug and you say, ‘The games are over. Let’s go have some fun now.'”
The Navy sitting volleyball team was eliminated early in the tournament, but the field events are taking place Jun. 16 when Mannix will compete in discus and shot put. She will also compete in shooting on Jun. 19.
When people talk about the aircraft carriers of World War II, some names jump out right away. Maybe the USS Enterprise (CV 6), both versions of the USS Yorktown (CV 5 and CV 10), or the USS Hornet (CV 8)?
But one carrier that was present at the start of World War II and survived throughout the war isn’t that well known. Meet America’s first purpose-built aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger (CV 4).
The Ranger, like many pre-war American ship designs, was heavily influenced by the Washington Naval Treaty. This limited aircraft carriers to 27,000 tons per ship, and the United States Navy’s carrier force could have a total displacement of 135,000 tons. The conversion of the under-construction battle cruisers Lexington (then-CC 1) and Saratoga (then-CC 3) to CV 2 and CV 3 put them both at 33,000 tons.
As such, the Ranger was limited to 14,500 tons – and the U.S. wanted to cram as much as it could on this ship. She received eight 5-inch, 25-caliber guns, as well as a host of M2 .50-caliber machine guns. She also could carry around 75 aircraft.
Nine Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters and five Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers are visible on the flight deck of USS Ranger (CV 4) prior to Operation Torch. Note Ranger´s distinctive stacks in the left foreground. (US Navy photo)
When World War II broke out, the USS Ranger was in the Atlantic as part of the Neutrality Patrol, along with the carrier USS Wasp (CV 7). According to the “Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships,” the Ranger was sent to patrol the South Atlantic. After returning for repairs, the Ranger then was tasked with delivering P-40 Warhawks to Africa. She made two runs in the spring and summer of 1942, delivering 140 of those planes – some of which were destined to reinforce the Flying Tigers.
In November of 1942, the Ranger took part in Operation Torch, launching 54 F4F Wildcats and 18 SBD Dauntless dive bombers. Her planes sank or damaged two French warships, and also gave the landings fighter cover.
After Torch, the Ranger was overhauled, then delivered 75 more P-40s — this time for the North African Theater of Operations. She carried out training missions during most of 1943, until she was attached to the Home Fleet.
In October, 1943, the USS Ranger joined the British Home Fleet, and carried out a number of strikes on German naval forces around Norway. After that, she again served as an aircraft ferry, delivering 76 P-38 Lightning fighters to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.
After making that delivery, the Ranger finally went to the Pacific, where she was a training carrier until the end of the war. After the war, the USS Ranger was decommissioned and sold for scrap.
In late 1944, German Pvt. Paul-Alfred Stoob was one of the many German troops quickly retreating from Allied forces. During his withdrawal, he was hit with fire from a Sherman tank and wounded in his head and leg. When he finally made it home to Germany, he learned that his father was also wounded in his head and leg in the exact same town in World War I.
Stoob was a Panther tank driver taking part in the general German withdrawal in 1944 before the Battle of the Bulge temporarily halted Germany’s loss in territory. After the Panther was destroyed by Allied fire, Stoob and the rest of his crew stole a truck and headed east towards Belgium.
They managed to scrape together bread and some eggs before lucking out and discovering a stash of delicacies abandoned by a German headquarters unit. Only a short time after they filled their truck with the fresh food, an American Sherman crew spotted them and opened fire. Stoob was hit in the head and leg, but still tried to escape.
He made for a nearby cemetery and attempted to use the gravestones as cover for his escape. Before he could get away, a French priest begged for him to stop and then went and got an American medic to tend to his wounds.
Stoob spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp in the U.S. and didn’t make it home until 1947. That was when he learned that his father, a veteran of World War I, had been wounded in the same unnamed village in 1914, exactly 30 years before his son.
As a colonel in the Syrian Air Force, Muhammed Faris joined a Soviet mission to the space station Mir in 1987. He was the first (and only) Syrian in space. The Soviets awarded Faris its Order of Lenin and Hero of the Soviet Union medals upon his return. After going back home to Syria, the cosmonaut rejoined Syria’s Air Force under dictator Hafiz al-Asad, father of current dictator, Bashar al-Asad.
Eventually, Faris became a general, but when the uprisings in Syria started, he and his wife joined the opposition protests in Damascus. As the regime got more brutal, he decided to flee to Turkey the next year.
“It was a choice,” he toldthe Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper. “Instead of living there as a ‘hero’ while my people were suffering, I preferred to live in tough conditions in exile with my honor.” Today he lives in Istanbul with his wife and children.
Despite receiving the highest awards the Soviet Union could give, Faris openly criticized the Russian intervention in his home country. He wants Western leaders to recognize that the only way to end the violence and stem the flow of refugees is to oust Asad.
“I tell Europe if you don’t want refugees, then you should help us get rid of this regime,” he told The Associated Press.
Russia and Syria have a long history of cooperation, extending way back to the founding of modern Syria after World War II. Russia supported Syrian independence from France. Since then, the Russians have provided the various Syrian regimes with aid and military assistance. This aid continued throughout the Cold War and through the elder Asad’s regime.
Basically it’s a story about how a small group of veterans who were radicalized in Iraq and Afghanistan provide security for fringe Neo-Nazi groups. It continues with an anecdote about the author’s NYPD lieutenant uncle and his prejudice.
The piece argues that not enough is being done to aid returning veterans with Post Traumatic Stress from becoming racists. To the article’s defense, it does say the percentage of veterans pulling security for the Right Wing groups is a small one. And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t heard a racial slur used by a piece of sh*t during my time in the U.S. Army.
However, it glosses over the U.S. military’s extremely hard stance against those ****heads and the astronomical percentage of troops who learned to see their fellow service member as not white, brown, or black, but “green.”
The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It’s against our Values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775. — GEN Mark A. Milley (@ArmyChiefStaff) August 16, 2017
All the Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces have unequivocally denounced racism and hatred within their branch. Every value within each branch goes directly against what we all stand for. There is no way in Hell any soldier can truly live by the Army values if they are not loyal to and respect everyone on their left and right.
The Army’s diversity mission statement is: “To develop and implement a strategy that contributes to mission readiness while transforming and sustaining the Army as a national leader in diversity.” In every sense, we are.
We just assume that no matter what race you are, wherever you comes from, whatever religion, gender, or orientation: if you’re a young private – you’re probably an idiot no matter what. And if you’re a second lieutenant, you’re probably an idiot who’s also in the chain of command.
Troops come from all walks of life. I’ve served with former surfers from California, ranchers from Texas, and computer analysts from Illinois. Troops who grew up in the projects of Harlem to the high rises of Manhattan to trailer parks outside Atlanta to the suburbs of Cleveland.
I will forever be honored knowing they all embraced me as a brother. The life story of my friend, Spec. Allam Elshorafa, is proof that serving in the military will make you “see green” far more than the minute group of f*ckfaces that do radicalize.
Arriving at my first duty station in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, I wasn’t the most popular guy in the unit. I quickly realized that awkwardly talking about World of Warcraft wasn’t doing me any favors with avid fishermen and party guys, yet they still always looked out for me as one of their own.
In Afghanistan, I got to know Elshorafa. He was a Muslim born in Jerusalem. His family moved to Dallas when he was younger and as an adult, he enlisted to defend his new American home.
We quickly became friends. We’d talk about cartoons we saw as kids, video games we played as teens, and movies we hated as adults.
Things shifted when the topic of “why we enlisted” came up. He told me it was his life’s goal to help teach others that “not all Muslims are terrorists.” They are a fringe group that preys on other Muslims and are a blight on his religion.
One of radical Islam’s recruitment methods is to point at racism of westerners to rally disenfranchised Muslims. Yet, for all of the vile hatred those sh#tbags spew against the West, the largest target of Islamic terror is still other Muslims.
Islamic terror to Elshorafa was the same as how every group deals with the radical sh*theads. Not all Christians are Branch Davidians, and not all Republicans are in the Alt-Right. To him, America was his home and we were his family. I, and everyone else in the platoon, embraced him as such.
My brother-in-arms ended his own life in June 2017. He joined the staggering number of veterans that still remain one of the most tragic concerns within our community. The loss still pains me, and I wear the memorial band every day.
It didn’t matter what race or religion either of us was, Elshorafa had my six and it will always hurt that I didn’t have his in his time of need.
He taught me about his faith and never attempted to convert me. He invited me to join him at an Eid al-Fitr celebration and the food was amazing. Just as you learn the players of every other football team other than your own by hanging out with their passionate fans, you learn in the military about others’ ways of life by bullsh*tting with them.
Everyone embraces the same suck on a daily basis. We all bleed the same red. And we all wear the same ‘green.’
Do you remember when former President George W. Bush gave a speech congratulating America for completing the mission in Iraq back in 2003? That took place aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (and is probably a moment the former POTUS would probably like to take back for obvious reasons but let’s stay on track here).
In May of 2017, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was redelivered back to the Navy after undergoing nearly a four-year mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul.
Approximately 2.5 million hours of labor were committed to the overhaul and restoration of this legendary aircraft carrier.
The vessel’s upgrades include various repairs and replacements of ventilation, electrical, propellers, rudders, and combat and aviation support systems.
With the innovated modification to the rudders and propellers, the USS Abraham Lincoln can now tactfully turn around with minimal support.