There are achievers and then there's this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician - We Are The Mighty
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There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

Story Musgrave has more than 18,000 hours in over 160 aircraft. He is a parachutist with over 800 freefalls. He has graduate degrees in math, computers, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and psychology. He has been awarded 20 honorary doctorates. Oh, and he was a part-time trauma surgeon during his 30-year astronaut career.


It all started with his decision to become a United States Marine.

“My horizons started to expand when I went off to Korea in the Marine Corps. As the saying goes, you join the service to see the world. That’s when my horizons began to expand.” – Story Musgrave

Franklin Story Musgrave grew up on a dairy farm in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. From an early age, he showed a remarkable intelligence and physical ability. At age 5, he was building homemade rafts and by age 10, he was driving trucks. By 13, he was fixing trucks. He attended a co-ed prep school which would have prepared him for a comfortable life in the post-World War II era, but instead of finishing high school, he decided to run off and enlist in the Marine Corps.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

“I was an airplane mechanic for the Marines in Korea at the age of 18, and that’s when I got introduced to things that don’t come home. Challenger was not an engineering accident. NASA was told about the problem [of the O-rings in low temperature]. So then the memory turns to solid anger.”Story Musgrave

He eventually did get a GED while serving. Musgrave spent his time in the Corps in Korea as an aviation electrician and instrument technician and later as an aircraft crew chief aboard the USS Wasp. After leaving the Marines, he almost averaged a new degree every year from 1958 until 1964, including his medical doctorate from Columbia University. He would earn another Master’s degree in Chemistry in 1966 and a degree in Literature in 1987 at age 52.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

Any hand I’m dealt, I will play to the best of my ability.” – Story Musgrave

Musgrave is also an accomplished pilot, earning FAA ratings for instructor, instrument instructor, glider instructor, and airline transport pilot. He also earned his astronaut wings in 1967.

“Space is a calling of mine, it struck like an epiphany. That occurred when NASA expressed an interest in flying people who were other than military test pilots. And when I was off in the Marine Corps in Korea, I had not graduated from high school, yet and so I could not fly. And so, I was not a military test pilot, but as soon as NASA expressed an interest in flying scientists and people who were not military test pilots, that was an epiphany that just came like a stroke of lightning.” – Story Musgrave

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

Musgrave was selected as a scientist-astronaut and then worked on the design and development of the Skylab Program. He was also the backup science-pilot for the first Skylab mission.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

What’s really unique about Musgrave’s astronaut experience is that he flew on all five space shuttles, the dates below are for his first flight in these ships. He flew aboard Challenger twice:

  • Challenger, April 1983
  • Discovery, November 1989
  • Atlantis, November 1991
  • Endeavour, December 1993
  • Columbia, December 1996

Musgrave described the Space Shuttle as “very fragile” in an interview with Time Magazine, calling a “butterfly bolted on a bullet.”

His shuttle missions are extraordinary (among shuttle missions) as well. On board the Challenger‘s maiden voyage, he and Don Peterson conducted the first Space Shuttle Extra-Vehicular Activity (or EVA, a spacewalk, a mission outside the spacecraft) to test new space suits. On his Endeavour flight, he helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Still, despite all his accomplishments (this doesn’t even cover most of them), Musgrave’s ribbon rack is one of a true Marine.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

“I’m massively privileged to be part of the space program, and I never forget to say that,” he told Huffington Post in a 2011 interview. He plans to return to space as a tourist.

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This ‘indestructible’ Medal of Honor recipient jumped on two grenades and lived

Would you fall on a grenade to save your friends? How about two grenades? Jack H. Lucas did and became the youngest man to be awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest combat award.


There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
Photo: Wikipedia

Born Jacklyn Harrell Lucas in Plymouth, NC on February 14, 1928, Jacklyn was a natural athlete who quickly rose to captain of the football team at his high school, the Edwards Military Institute.

By the age of 14, Jack looked much older. Relatively tall for his age (5′ 8″) and brawny at 180 pounds, Jack had no trouble convincing the Marine Corps recruiters that he was 17 when he enlisted in August of 1942. Notably, to enlist at age 17 (as opposed to 18), Jack needed a parent signature – so he forged his mother’s.

Jack did his basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina and qualified as both a rifle sharpshooter and a heavy machine gun crewman. In November 1943, he was assigned to the 6th Base Depot of the V Amphibious Corps at Camp Catlin in Oahu, Hawaii. There he achieved the rank of Private First Class in January of 1944. However, after reviewing a letter Jack had written to his girlfriend, military censors realized he was only 15 years old. He was then removed from his combat unit, but rather than sent home (something he argued heavily against), he was assigned to truck driving.

Of course, being “in the rear with the gear” was not Jack’s idea of military service. Angry, he got into so many fights that he was ultimately court-martialed and spent 5 months breaking rocks and consuming mostly bread and water.

Released from the stockade by January 1945 and still determined to see combat, Jack walked away from his post that month and stowed away on the USS Deuel, a transport ship heading toward fighting in the Pacific. Because he left his assignment, he was declared a deserter and reduced in rank to Private. Now closer to the action, after hiding for about a month, Jack finally turned himself in on February 8, 1945, once again volunteering to fight. On February 14, he turned 17. By February 20, he got his wish and was fighting on the island of Iwa Jima.

During the battle on February 20, 1945, Jack and his comrades were advancing toward a Japanese airstrip near Mount Suribachi. Taking cover in a trench under heavy fire, Jack realized they were only feet away from enemy soldiers in a neighboring trench. He managed to shoot two of the soldiers before two live grenades landed in his trench.

Thinking quickly, Jack threw himself on the first grenade, shoving it into volcanic ash and used his body and rifle to shield the others with him from the pending blast. When another grenade appeared directly after the first, he reached out and pulled it under himself as well. His body took the brunt of the blasts and the massive amount of shrapnel. His companions were all saved, but his injuries were so serious they thought he had died. Only after a second company moved through did anyone realize he was somehow still alive.

Jack endured nearly two dozen surgeries and extensive therapy and convalescence. Despite the surgeries, over 200 pieces of shrapnel remained in his body for the rest of his life.

Shortly after his act of heroism, on February 26, 1945, the deserter classification was removed and he was restored to the rank of Private First Class. Ultimately all 17 of his military convictions were also cleared. Nonetheless, he was unfit for duty and discharged form the Marines on September 18, 1945.

On October 5, 1945 President Harry S Truman awarded Jack, and 13 other recipients at that ceremony, the Medal of Honor. Notably, however, at 17 he was the youngest there and the youngest to ever receive the award. For his bravery and service, Jack also received the Presidential Unit Citation, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and a Purple Heart.

So what happened after? Besides graduating high school and earning a business degree, at the age of 31, he enlisted as a First Lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.  During his first training jump, according to his team leader, “Jack was the last one out of the plane and the first one on the ground.”  You see, neither of his parachutes opened.  Despite this and an approximately 3,500 foot fall, he miraculously survived with only minor injuries. Two weeks later, he was back jumping out of planes.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
Photo: Department of Defense William D. Moss

Once he returned to civilian life four years later, he opened a chain of beef selling businesses in Washington, D.C., married a few times (including one wife who tried to have him killed), and later, with the help of D.K. Drum, published an autobiography aptly titled, Indestructible.

Jack lived to the ripe old age of 80, dying on June 5, 2008 from leukemia.

Bonus Facts:

  • A more recent individual who jumped on a grenade to save another soldier was Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter. On November 21, 2010 while in Afghanistan, a grenade was thrown into his sandbagged position.  Rather than run, he used his own body to shield the other soldier with him from the blast.  Like Jack Lucas, though severely injured, Carpenter lived and was awarded the Medal of Honor in June of 2014.
  • During World War II, U.S. armed forces used the Mk 2 hand grenade (Mk II), a fragmentation type of grenade. Resembling a type of fruit, it was given the nickname “iron pineapple.” The time from pulling the pin to explosion of a time-delay fragmentation grenade can vary from between 2 and 6 seconds.
  • Four-hundred and sixty-four service members were awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II, including 82 Marines. To date, 15 service members have been granted that honor from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. In total, 3,468 Medals of Honor have been awarded, with the most (1,522) being given for service during the American Civil War. In addition, 193 have been to non-combat recipients.
  • The most recent recipient (awarded on July 21, 2014) was Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts of the U.S. Army, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry who, on July 13, 2008 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, despite severe wounds, launched fragmentary grenades, laid suppressive fire, and risked his life to convey vital situation reports, which helped prevent the enemy from gaining a strategic foothold.
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This is how Team Red, White & Blue supports more than those who served

When Alonso Flores started a serious cycling routine about two years ago, he was totally on his own. Rousting himself out of bed at 0-dark-thirty to get into his gear and hit the road was a chore. And try telling your young family that you’re dragging at the end of the day because you got up to ride a bike at 4 in the morning.


It wasn’t easy.

But during a family cycling event sponsored by his home town of Yuma, Arizona, Flores met some riders that would change his life — and give him a sense a purpose he hadn’t had riding on his own.

“Now I feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself,” Flores said.

It was during that get together that Flores bumped into two other riders who were part of the veteran outreach group Team Red, White Blue, a national non-profit whose mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

 

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
Support Team Red White, Blue by donating today!

Team RWB is focused on bridging the civilian-military divide through a shared interest in physical activity like running, hiking, CrossFit workouts, and yoga classes, along with participating in social and service-oriented events. And that’s how Flores, a 41-year-old heavy machine repair technician and civilian, got involved.

Spread across 199 chapters all over the world, the 110,000-member veteran’s group established in 2010 is geared toward creating a place for former servicemembers to meet and do a little PT — and invite their friends and family along to join them.

So Flores teamed up with his newly-minted cycling friends at Team RWB and started biking with them three times per week — waking at 4 AM, meeting at a coffee shop, riding 20 or so miles and chilling over a hot cup of mocha when the ride is done.

“Team RWB brings great teamwork. Before I met them I was riding by myself 20 miles a day,” Flores said. “Now I’m doing the same thing, but I  feel like I have a purpose.”

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
Flores and his team biked over 100 miles across the Arizona desert in support of Team RWB’s Old Glory Relay. (Photo from Team RWB)

For the third year in a row, Team RWB has sponsored its so-called “Old Glory Relay” — a cross country run-and-bike relay carrying an American flag from Seattle, Washington, to Tampa, Florida. Organizers say it’s intended to connect the Team RWB chapters and its veterans and friends with the communities they live in.

So when Team RWB was coming through Yuma for this year’s Old Glory Relay, Flores jumped at the chance to help. He and a couple other teammates helped carry the flag on the non-running parts of the trip between Yuma and Gilabend, Arizona — over 100 miles — in one day.

And while Flores didn’t carry the flag the entire 116 miles of his relay leg, the 47 miles he rode with the Stars and Stripes on his bike gave him a lasting impression of the country he’s come to love and those who’ve served to keep him free.

“I came here from Mexico when I was 11 years,” Flores said. “People always ask me if I miss Mexico and I tell them that I don’t know any other country than this one. And carrying the flag in the Old Glory Relay put an exclamation point on that.”

In fact, Team RWB has become a big part of Flores family’s life as well. He’s started bringing his 10-year-old daughter and wife along on Wednesday evening fun runs where other kids and parents do a little PT and come together later for dinner and companionship. And even though Flores didn’t have any military experience, that hasn’t stopped his new vet friends from counting him as one of their own.

“It’s just a great organization. I see that Team RWB shirt and I know what it’s all about,” Flores said. “Even if I don’t know the person, I know what Team RWB means and that I’m part of something bigger.”

There are many ways to get involved with Team Red, White Blue and the Old Glory Relay, so check out their website to get more information – or text ‘OGR’ to 41444 to learn more and donate! You can track the flag on its journey across America at the OGR Live tracking page.

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That time an American cruise missile hit the wrong continent

Today, we see cruise missiles as very accurate. This was not always the case. In fact, one cruise missile has the distinction of hitting the wrong continent – and it was quite a miss.


There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
SM-62 Snark in flight. (USAF photo)

The missile in question was the SM-62 Snark. It was intended to help deter Soviet aggression. According to Designation-Systems.net, with a maximum range of 6,000 miles and a top speed of 550 knots, it had a W39 nuclear warhead with a 4 megaton yield – 20 times as powerful as the W80 used on the Tomahawk cruise missile and the AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile.

It flew at 50,000 feet – which at the time made it hard to intercept with enemy anti-aircraft missiles.

The Snark needed the big warhead. The closest it came to hitting its target was within about eight miles. That is a very far cry from the 260 feet that Designation-Systems.net cited the early models of the Tomahawk cruise missile achieving.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
SM-62 Snark missile on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

But Air Force magazine described the miss to end all misses. On Dec. 5, 1956, a Snark was launched with a flight plan to cruise to Puerto Rico and return to its base in Florida. Only, it stopped responding to signals.

Even a self-destruct command didn’t work. The Air Force scrambled fighters to shoot down the wayward missile, but they couldn’t pull off the intercept – proving that the design got that part right.

Ultimately, the missile went beyond tracking range – last seen headed towards Brazil. The missile would remain missing for 26 years until some wreckage was found in that South American country.

According to a Reuters report in the Regina Leader-Post, unidentified Brazilians found the parts and reported them.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
SM-62 Snark launching from Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. (USAF photo)

Designation-Systems.net reported that the Snark would achieve a brief period of fully operational service from February to June 1961 (an initial operating capability was established in 1959). But then-President John F. Kennedy ordered the one active wing to stand down, largely due to the development of inter-continental ballistic missiles.

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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:

Maj. John Fuccillo, an air mobility liaison officer, looks on as a C-130 Hercules takes off during exercise Cerberus Strike 16-02 at the Red Devil Landing Zone, Colo., Sept. 12, 2016. Contingency response forces rehearsed potential real-world situations by training with Army counterparts during the exercise. Fuccillo is with the 621st Mobility Support Operations Squadron assigned to the Army’s 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford

Multiple B-2 Spirits land for aircraft recovery as storm clouds gather Aug. 24, 2016, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The B-2s low-observable, or stealth, characteristics give it the ability to penetrate an enemy’s most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, heavily defended targets, while avoiding adversary detection, tracking and engagement.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jovan Banks

ARMY:

A soldier with 4th Squadron, 2D Cavalry Regiment, conducts a gunnery table during Exercise #BraveWarrior16 at CESR Training Area, Hungary, Sept. 15, 2016.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ryan Spence

A soldier, assigned to the South Carolina National Guard, fires a M240B machine gun during crew-served weapons familiarization night training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Sept. 15, 2016.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
National Guard photo by United States Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago

NAVY:

GULF OF OMAN (Sept. 18, 2016) Seaman Kennedy Prescott performs a deadlift during a power lifting competition aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41). Whidbey Island is deployed with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan R. McDonald

PHILIPPINE SEA (Sept. 20, 2016) Marines conduct maintenance on an SH-53E Super Stallion on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard, flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, is operating in the Philippine Sea in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Sykes

PHILIPPINE SEA (Sept. 20, 2016) Amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) steams through the waters near Guam during a routine deployment. Bonhomme Richard, flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, is operating in the Philippine Sea in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Sykes

MARINE CORPS:

Cpl. Chris Lawler, a crewmaster with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152, observes an F/A-18C Hornet with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 approach the refueling hose during Exercise Pitch Black 2016 at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal, Australia, Aug. 9, 2016. VMGR-152 provides aerial refueling and assault support during expeditionary, joint and combined operations like Pitch Black. This exercise is a biennial, three week, multinational, large-force training exercise hosted by RAAF Tindal.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nicole Zurbrugg

Marines with Marine Rotational Force Darwin and French Armed Forces New Caledonia service members paddle out to Orphelinat Bay, New Caledonia as part of the Nautical Commando Course. Marines with MRF-D are participating in the full Nautical Commando Course for the first time to engage their amphibious heritage during.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Carlos Cruz Jr.

COAST GUARD:

Washdown at OPBAT! Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Carrasquillo from Air Station Clearwater, washes down an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter in Great Inagua, Bahamas.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Schuyler Chervinko, an aviation maintenance technician from Air Station Clearwater, takes a fuel sample from an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter in Great Inagua, Bahamas. Aircraft maintenance crew members, like Chervinko, deploy to the opbat constantly ready to support Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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5 problems infantry Marines will understand

Marine infantrymen thrive on hardship. Whether it’s training and deploying to austere environments, learning to do more with less, or figuring out how to catch Z’s anywhere, grunt life in the infantry is very different from the rest of the Marine Corps.


There are also some problems specific to the infantry community. We came up with five, but if you can think of some more, leave a comment.

 

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

1. Physical training often consists of “death runs” and they feel just like it sounds.

Physical training is a part of being a Marine, but it’s much more demanding as an infantryman. Life in the grunts usually means waking up early to go on a “death run,” which isn’t that far off the mark. While the Marine physical fitness test (PFT) has a timed three-mile run, grunts can expect to go way beyond that.

On “death runs” that I’ve personally been on — also known jokingly as “fun runs” — our platoon commander or platoon sergeant would take us on runs over the seven-mile mark at an insane pace. And for extra fun, sometimes we wore gas masks. Gotta love it.

2. Your platoon commander is guaranteed to get you completely lost at some point.

When he’s not running you into the dirt, your platoon commander is supposed to be planning missions and leading. But sometimes that means leading you into who-knows-where. It’s a running joke that second lieutenants are terrible at land navigation, but it’s not that far off. He’s guaranteed to get you lost at least once. Let’s just hope it only happens in training.

3. I hope you’re ready for the non-grunt company First Sergeant who wants to “get back to the basics.”

Infantry Marines hold the 0300 military occupational specialty, as do their officers with 0302. But since company first sergeants perform mostly administrative duty (compared to Master Sergeants who remain in their field), they aren’t required to hold the infantry MOS. Although plenty of them do come up from the infantry ranks, some come from completely unrelated fields.

Grunt first sergeants are usually focused on the mission of the infantry (locating, closing with, and destroying the enemy), but first sergeants outside of the MOS sometimes focus on “getting back to the basics” — aka cleaning the barracks, holding uniform inspections, and marching properly. These are all good things for junior Marines to be exposed to in their careers. Just don’t expect them to like it.

4. Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to talk about prickly heat?

Training in the field can lead to some weird physical problems for grunts. In humid places, Marines can expect something called “prickly heat” — a very annoying rash that develops after sweating profusely. When you’re out in the field for days or weeks and not able to take a shower, that tends to happen quite a bit.

Then of course, there’s that terrible smell you develop. But luckily, you’re around a bunch of other people who smell terrible so you don’t even notice. Great success!

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
Photo Credit: DoD

5. Range 400.

This legendary training range is a rite of passage for infantry Marines. With machine guns firing over their heads and mortars dropping down in support, grunts rush forward to attack a fortified “enemy” position in 29 Palms, California. It sounds awesome, and it is. It’s also an ass kicker.

“It’s the only range in the Marine Corps where overhead fire is authorized,” Capt. Andy S. Watson explained in a Marine Corps news release. “We are also granted a waiver to close within 250 meters of 81mm mortar fire. Normally, it is only 400 meters. Therefore, Range 400 gives Marines a realistic training experience of closing close into fires. They can’t get that anywhere else in the Marine Corps.”

DON’T MISS: 13 Signs You’re An Infantryman

OR WATCH: Life in the Marine Corps Infantry

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Today in military history: Royal Navy takes down the Bismarck to avenge their flagship

On May 27, 1941, the German battleship Bismarck was sunk by the Royal Navy after a three-day chase.

Three days earlier, Germany destroyed the HMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy, was sunk, the British threw everything they had into finding the Bismarck and avenging their battlecruiser.

The Bismarck’s efforts to escape to German-occupied France had been hindered by damage from the battle on May 24. A shell fired by the Prince of Wales made part of her fuel supply unusable and a torpedo from an attack by aircraft from the carrier HMS Illustrious further crippled the ship.

In the late afternoon on the 27th, the Bismarck was finally destroyed by a torpedo from a Swordfish launched from the carrier HMS Ark Royal. After a night of being harried by British destroyers, the Bismarck was steaming in circles when two British battleships and two heavy cruisers caught up with her.

After an hour of firing, the Bismarck was out of action. The Dorsetshire was ordered to finish the Bismarck off with torpedoes — although German survivors claimed they scuttled their ship. Only 118 German sailors survived the sinking of the Bismarck. While one would die of his injuries, the rest would remain prisoners of war.

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This WWII Navy vet finally received his service medals after 71 years

A U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Pacific during World War II finally received his service medals April 12 at the American Legion in Fort Smith, Arkansas — 71 years to the day from when he honorably discharged.


James Donald Neal Burnett, 91, of Alma was presented several medals, including the World War II Victory Medal, by U.S. Sen. John Boozman.

The senator called Burnett among the “greatest generation” and thanked him for his service.

“It’s a real honor to pat Mr. Burnett on the back and thank him for his service,” Boozman said before a large group of veterans gathered at the American Legion Ellig-Stoufer Post 31. “We do want to thank this special generation that went off and did incredible things, ordinary people who did extraordinary things, came back and just went back to work. They not only rebuilt our country but provided the protection for Europe and much of the rest of the world so they can rebuild. We forget about this sometimes.”

The veterans were there to have a closed-door discussion about their issues with the Veterans Choice health-care program. Boozman is a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is hosting a series of listening sessions with Arkansas veterans. Boozman also had listening sessions two other local cities.

Before presenting the medals, Boozman also thanked the veteran’s wife, Imogene Burnett, and their family because “being in the service regardless of how long…is a family affair and we always want to remember the families that sacrificed.”

One of the Burnetts’ sons, James Alan Burnett, gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2002 on the Kate’s Basin fire in Wyoming. He was the first Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Forestry Services employee to lose his life fighting a fire.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
The Purple Heart is one of many medals that veterans have waited decades to receive.

Kathy Watson, constituent services manager for Boozman’s office, said many World War II veterans did not receive medals simply because they went home after the war and did not apply for them. Boozman said his father, a B-17 waist gunner during WWII, also didn’t talk much about the war, and when asked to talk about his experiences would usually only offer a short description: “It was cold.”

James and Imogene Burnett’s son, Bob Burnett, said his father was among those who simply came home after the war and did not request the medals. A relative, state Rep. Rebecca Petty, District 93, “got the ball rolling” on Burnett’s medals after a family visit last year, Bob Burnett said.

In the recent 91st General Assembly, Petty entered House Resolution 1039 to honor Burnett for his service from 1943-1946 as a motor machinist’s mate third class on the USS Oak Hill LSD 7. He entered the Navy a few months after his 18th birthday, Nov. 11, 1943.

Anita Deason, Boozman’s senior military and veterans liaison, read a commendation letter in Burnett’s file for the ship’s crew from Capt. C.A. Peterson, dated June 14, 1945: “At Okinawa, Oak Hill participated in one of the largest and most important amphibious assaults in the history of warfare. Then for a period of 71 days, this vessel shared in the hazards of supporting armed forces on that island, often under continuous attacks by enemy planes. One suicide plane apparently aimed for this ship was splashed by the fire of our gun crews. By the cheerful cooperation of all hands, every mission assigned this ship was successfully carried out.”

Also read: WWII veteran receives long overdue Purple Heart

The letter goes on to say that “outstanding” work was done in particularly by the repair force in the task of maintaining landing ships and craft in operation condition.

“Higher authority at first considered this job beyond the capacity of this ship, but by efficient administration and hard work it was done and earned high praise for the task force commander,” Peterson wrote.

“As often happens, service members do not receive all of their medals when they are released from the military, and so we’re going to try and make up for that today,” Deason said.

Burnett, who was born Aug. 31, 1925, at Clayton, Okla., served two years, four months and 25 days in the Navy. He was honorably discharged, coincidentally, on April 12, 1946.

In addition to the WW II Victory Medal, the National Personnel Record Center also authorized Burnett to receive the Combat Action Ribbon, China Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Honorable Discharge Button, and Honorable Discharge Lapel Pin.

Burnett is also eligible for the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, a foreign award that is not funded by the Department of Defense.

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US troops likely to stay in Iraq beyond the defeat of ISIS

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in talks with the Trump administration to keep American troops in Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State group in the country is concluded, according to a U.S. official and an official from the Iraqi government.


Both officials underlined that the discussions are ongoing and that nothing is finalized. But the talks point to a consensus by both governments that, in contrast to the U.S. withdrawal in 2011, a longer-term presence of American troops in Iraq is needed to ensure that an insurgency does not bubble up again once the militants are driven out.

“There is a general understanding on both sides that it would be in the long-term interests of each to have that continued presence. So as for agreement, yes, we both understand it would be mutually beneficial. That we agree on,” the U.S. official said.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
General Mattis…in the shit. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

The talks involve U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Iraqi officials over “what the long-term U.S. presence would look like,” the American official said, adding that discussions were in early stages and “nothing has been finalized.”

U.S. forces in Iraq would be stationed inside existing Iraqi bases in at least five locations in the Mosul area and along Iraq’s border with Syria, the Iraqi government official said. They would continue to be designated as advisers to dodge the need for parliamentary approval for their presence, he said.

He said al-Abadi is looking to install a “modest” Iraqi military presence in Mosul after the fight against the Islamic State group is concluded along with a small number of U.S. forces. The forces would help control security in the city and oversee the transition to a political administration of Mosul, he said.

Also read: US to remain in Iraq for ‘years to come’

The U.S. official emphasized that there were no discussions of creating independent American bases in Iraq, as such a move would require thousands more personnel. He said the troops levels would be “several thousand … similar to what we have now, maybe a little more.”

Currently, the Pentagon has close to 7,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, many not publicly acknowledged because they are on temporary duty or under specific personnel rules. The forces include troops training Iraqi forces, coordinating airstrikes and ground operations, and special forces operating on the front lines.

The news comes as Iraqi forces are struggling to push IS fighters out of a cluster of neighborhoods in western Mosul that mark the last patch of significant urban terrain the group holds in Iraq, nearly three years after the militants overran nearly a third of the country.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
A Marine assigned to Task Force Taqaddum (TF TQ) advises and assists designated Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in Anbar Province to enable ISF to degrade and defeat Da’esh (an Arabic acronym fro ISIL) and support the Mosul counterattack. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ethan Hutchinson/Released)

Such an agreement would underscore how the fight against IS has drawn the U.S. into a deepening role in Iraq.

At the height of the surge of U.S. forces in 2007 to combat sectarian violence that nearly tore Iraq apart, there were about 170,000 American troops in the country. The numbers were wound down eventually to 40,000 before the complete withdrawal in 2011.

The U.S. intervention against the Islamic State group, launched in 2014, was originally cast as an operation that would largely be fought from the skies with a minimal footprint on Iraqi soil. Nevertheless, that footprint has since grown given Iraqi forces’ need for support.

During a visit to Iraq in February, Mattis and Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, described an enduring partnership between the U.S. and Iraq.

“I imagine we’ll be in this fight for a while and we’ll stand by each other,” Mattis said.

Townsend, who was standing by Mattis, declined to say how long the United States will stay in Iraq.

Related: Defeating ISIS is hard; preventing ISIS 3.0 could be harder

But, he said, “I don’t anticipate that we’ll be asked to leave by the government of Iraq immediately after Mosul.” He added, “I think that the government of Iraq realizes their very complex fight, and they’re going to need the assistance of the coalition even beyond Mosul.”

The talks over a longer-term U.S. presence has greatly concerned Iran, which in turn is increasing support to some of Iraq’s Shiite militia forces, said Jafar al-Husseini, a representative from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi Shiite militia group with close ties to Iran.

“Iraq’s security forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces (mostly Shiite militia groups) have the ability to protect ( Iraq’s) internal roads and borders, so why is al-Abadi using American security partners?” al-Hussein asked.

Al-Abadi has long struggled to balance Iraq’s dependence on both the U.S. and Iran. Both countries are key security and economic partners for Iraq, yet are often at odds with each other when it comes to regional politics and security in the greater Middle East.

Over the nearly three-year-long fight against IS, Iraqi forces closely backed by the U.S.-led coalition have retaken some 65 percent of the territory the extremists once held in the country, according to the U.S.-led coalition. But Iraq’s military is still in the process of rebuilding and reorganizing after it was largely gutted by widespread corruption under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Klapper reported from Washington. Associated Press Writer Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

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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.

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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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Air Force keeping the beloved A-10 around for at least a few more years

The Air Force is keeping the famed A-10 “Warthog” aircraft around for at least a few more years, Defense News is reporting.


The close air support aircraft beloved by ground troops won’t begin to be retired until 2021, reversing a previous decision to start mothballing them next year.

“We’re going to keep them until 2021, and then as a discussion that we’ll have with [Defense] Secretary Mattis and the department and the review over all of our budgets, that is what will determine the way ahead,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Defense News.

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A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron out of Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 10, 2016. | U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik

The A-10 is pretty well-loved by infantry troops, since the aircraft can lay waste to ground targets with its 30mm cannon and air-to-surface missiles. Its heavy armor also makes it more survivable against incoming ground fire.

The Air Force, however, has been trying to kill the aircraft for years in order to make way for the multi-role F-35 fighter. For now, at least, the service is walking back those moves and is keeping the A-10 around until a suitable ‘A-10-like’ replacement can be found.

“That starts with an understanding of how we do the business today of close air support, because the reality is it’s changed significantly, and it will change significantly in the future if we get this right, because this is something we’ve got to continue to think about,” Goldfein said.

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These nuclear test dummies are fuel for Atomic-Age nightmares

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

During the Cold War, the threat of a nuclear holocaust hung over every American’s head. One burning question consumed the populace: was it possible to prepare a home to survive an atomic blast? Hoping to collect hard data to begin to answer that question, the Federal Civil Defense Administration arranged an experiment known as Operation Doorstep, part of the 1953 Operation Upshot-Knothole nuclear tests in the Nevada desert.


To prepare for Operation Doorstep, federal workers constructed two suburban-style houses, which were furnished and populated with cheery department store mannequins.

Some were set up around the houses as if they were going about their everyday lives…

atom bomb test dummies

…some were posed in basement shelters…

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…and some were set up in cars around the test site.

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When everything was ready, the bomb was detonated.

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Reportedly, the destruction done to the two test homes by the blast was “as expected.”

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This is how some veterans reacted during the Las Vegas shooting

The horrific shooting rampage in Las Vegas — and its mounting death toll — has made it the worst mass shooting event in U.S. history, eclipsing Virginia Tech, the Pulse Nightclub and Sandy Hook Elementary School in its barbarity.


Yet, in the face of such horrors, shining glimmers of hope emerge — among them the courageous police who responded to the incident, and even some veterans in the crowd who sprang into action when the bullets were flying.

Of the approximately 22,000 people in attendance, many were veterans, according to multiple accounts.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
(Image via dw)

Iraq war veteran Colin Donohue told Fox News “I looked around and went ‘Oh crap this is actually happening.’ So I started pushing people out and said ‘Alright, let’s go. You need to go here.” He continues, “We started taking care of those who are injured. There were a lot of people and it gives me chills because there’s nothing I could do. I’m not a doctor, but you have a lot of people out there helping out.”

Russell Bleck, eyewitness at the Route 91 Harvest festival, tells TODAY show “Thank god it was at a country concert, there were so many ex-military there. You saw these men jump into action, their training … not even in uniform. These people just knowing what to do and treating their wounds.”

Veterans on site were giving aid; even plugging bullet hole wounds with their fingers. Bleck concludes “I didn’t see a single one taking cover, these guys were just running directly into the danger zone.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
(Image via ABC7 News)

Plugging bullet holes with your fingers has been a tried and true method for quick, improvised aid. Back in 2011, Marine Lt. Col. Karl Trenker, used his fingers to stop blood loss during a robbery.

A man in the middle of the volleys stood up, beer in one hand, raised a middle finger towards the shooter as others begged him to “get the f*ck down” in a video released by The Sun. He’s still unidentified but if it turns out that he was a veteran, I don’t think it’d surprise anyone.

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician
(Screengrab via The Sun)

 

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