These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events - We Are The Mighty
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These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

The U.S. Olympic team’s stars – Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles – stole the show during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, performing record-breaking feats on the world stage.


But what if the Olympics featured elite athletes crawling under barbed wire or running with an 80-pound rucksack for 5, 10, or even 20 miles? Our men and women in uniform could be winning gold if the following military activities were official competitions:

1. Obstacle course

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
During a team-building challenge, 1st Lt. Alan Roy (right), a platoon leader from Strawberry, Minn., and Sgt. Luis Garcia, a squad leader from Bryant, Texas low-crawl through an obstacle course. The two Soldiers’ teams endured six other events after completing the obstacle course. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Travis Zielinski)

Obstacle courses are a full body workout consisting of running, climbing tall structures, jumping over walls, and (of course) crawling in the mud under barbed wire. These courses are mental as much as they are physical, testing courage and willpower. Obstacle courses would make up for some interesting drama if it was an Olympic event – add live fire for a fun twist.

2. Drill and Ceremony

Drill and Ceremony teams have to be disciplined, precise, and work as a single unit. Timing and repetition are vital for a successful routine. DC routines are sort of like synchronized swimming — without the water and shiny outfits.

3. Log drills

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
Plebes carry a modified telephone pole during the log PT station of Sea Trials, the capstone training exercise for Naval Academy freshmen. (U.S. Navy photo by Midshipman 3rd Class Dominic Montez)

Usain Bolt may be the fastest man in the world, but what if the Jamaican track and field star was carrying a large log on his shoulder instead of holding a baton?

Military members are no strangers to doing PT with a large wooden log that could weigh in excess of 150 pounds or more. From overhead presses to squats and running with the heavy log, this exercise tests the strength and cardiovascular endurance of service members. This event would sure make for an interesting 4x100m relay in Rio.

4. Ruck marching

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
U.S. soldiers assigned to the Florida Army National Guard conduct a 12-mile ruck march with 218th Regiment (Leadership). (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago)

The Olympic marathon is one of the original events of the modern Olympic Games that started in 1896. The 26.2-mile race is definitely a grueling event but at least the runners do not have to carry a heavy rucksack on their back, wear boots and full military uniform. U.S. service members would certainly have an advantage if rucking was an Olympic competition.

5. Javelin

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
U.S. Army soldiers with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division shoot the Javelin, an anti-tank weapon, at the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, on July 28, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Patrick Kirby, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

The Javelin throw is a track field event where a competitor throws a long spear for distance. But why throw a spear when you can fire an FGM-148 Javelin – an anti-tank missile – for both distance and accuracy? Now that’s must-watch TV.

What military training do you think would make interesting Olympic events? Write your thoughts in the comments.

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter @alexlicea82

Articles

There are still no answers for the KC-130 crash that killed 16 Marines

Military investigators are trying to piece together the cause of a crash that killed 15 Marines and a sailor in Mississippi in July, but it could be a year or more until any information becomes public.


In the meantime, the Marine Corps’ fleet of KC130T transport planes remains grounded. That plane is similar to the one that crashed near Itta Bena on July 10.

April Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Naval Safety Center, said August 21 that final reports often don’t become public for 12 to 18 months following a crash. Even then, much of the information in the reports is often withheld from public view.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
KC-130 Hercules. DOD Photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward.

“Ours are done solely to ensure what happened doesn’t happen again,” Phillips said, saying that various military commanders must endorse the report before it’s finished.

Marines and other investigators finished collecting debris August 3, recovering all of the plane’s major components, said Marine Forces Reserve spokeswoman Lt. Stephanie L. Leguizamon. She said last week that there’s still work going on to clean up the crash area.

Naval Safety Center investigators are both reconstructing the wreckage and interviewing witnesses. Their report will ultimately include recommendations to enhance safety.

Victims included nine Marines based at Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, New York, who flew and crewed the plane, plus six Marines and a Navy Corpsman from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The passengers were headed for pre-deployment training in Yuma, Arizona. Cargo included at least some ammunition.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
Screen capture from DoD.

Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James has told reporters that whatever went wrong began when the plane was at cruising altitude. Most of the plane pancaked upside down into a field, but part of it, including the cockpit, broke off and landed far from the fuselage and wings. Debris was scattered for miles over fields, woods, and ponds.

Witnesses said they saw the plane descend from high altitude with an engine smoking, with some describing what pilots call a “flat spin,” where a plane twirls around like a boomerang.

Phillips said the plane didn’t have an in-flight data recorder. That, plus the lack of survivors, could make the debris crucial to determining what happened.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
KC-130T. Wikimedia Commons photo by Jerry Gunner.

“A lot it, in this case, is likely to come from forensic evidence,” she said.

Phillips said the C-130 and its variants have historically been one of the safest planes operated by the Marine Corps. The Navy classifies its most serious incidents as Class A mishaps, involving death, permanent disability, or more than $2 million in damage. Only two in-flight Class A mishaps were recorded before the Mississippi crash, both in 2002. A KC-130R experienced a flash fire and crashed into a mountain in Pakistan while nearing an airfield, killing seven people. A KC130F crash landed shortly after taking off inCalifornia, causing injuries but no deaths.

The New York squadron is the last Marine unit flying the KC-130T version and is scheduled to upgrade to a newer version in 2019. Only the remaining 12 KC-130Ts are affected by the grounding.

Military Life

10 career fields for military spouses that aren’t direct sales

As a military spouse, it can feel overwhelming to try to have a career of your own, and even then, its tough to find one you want that meshes well with the military lifestyle.


Recently I came across an article We Are The Mighty syndicated a few years ago: The 10 coolest jobs for military spouses. The list was filled with things like “be a babysitter!” and “be a dog groomer!” among other things.

I understood the premise behind the article: careers that are mobile. But overall, it was a list of starter jobs that — when you’re in your mid 30s and trying to have a serious career — don’t exactly scream “I am a professional!”

Adulting is hard, but it’s even harder when you’re constantly moving, constantly having to search for a new job, and constantly juggling the responsibilities of parenthood and spousehood and…you get the point.

This made me wonder if typical spouses generally just settle into jobs like babysitting and dog grooming and selling mascara, so I went to a group of military spouses who’ve managed to have successful careers and successful marriages, and I asked them to tell me what they do.

The following careers are all careers that current and former Military Spouses of the Year have, and it just goes to show that being a military spouse does not have to mean you’re doomed to sell makeup or babysit for the rest of your service member’s career (that is, if you don’t want to).

*Note: there isn’t anything wrong with direct sales. In fact, I’ve done direct sales, and a lot of spouses do, because it is extremely mobile. The purpose of this list is to think outside of the “military spouse” box.

Entrepreneur:

  • Brittany Boccher owns an apparel company called Mason Chix
  • Lakesha Cole owns a brick and mortar children’s boutique called SheSwank in Jacksonville, NC
  • Valerie Billau founded a kids consignment shop, which she sold after three years when her husband took orders elsewhere
  • Melissa Nauss owns Stars and Stripes Doulas

Sports:

  • Andrea Barreiro is an agent for professional athletes.
  • Heather Smith is a tennis coach.
  • Ellie OB coached college basketball for 12 years

Physical and Mental Health care:

  • Lisa Uzzle is the director of healthcare operations at a medical facility
  • Melissa Nauss is a certified doula
  • Alexandra Eva is a nurse practitioner who hosts clinics in rural areas of third world countries that don’t have much access to medical care. She has worked in Uganda, South Sudan, DRC, and Mozambique, among others
  • Paula Barrette is a licensed optometrist, though due to the difference in each state’s current licensing laws, she often finds herself volunteering as an optometrist at military clinics rather than getting paid
  • Dr. Ingred Herrera-Yee is a clinical psychologist for the Department of Defense, and the founder of a network for military spouses in the mental health field
  • Amber Rose Odom works as an administrator in a dental office
  • Michelle Lemieux is a registered nurse for adolescent psychiatry
  • Zinnia Narvaez is a medical assistant, and practices OB/GYN at a community health center
  • Stephanie Geraghty became a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) in order to provide better care for her son, who has special needs. In some states, the state will pay for up to a certain number of hours per day of in home nursing care, and in Geraghty’s state, immediate family members qualify to provide the care. Geraghty put herself through the schooling and passed the board, and now officially works for her son

Executive:

  • Anna Blanch Rabe is the CEO of a communications company that specializes in service non-profit organizations with high quality communications content, strategic planning, and business advice. She started her professional career as an attorney, but current licensing issues prevent her from practicing in most states her service member gets orders to
  • Erica McMannes is the CEO of an outsourcing and virtual staffing agency for military spouses
  • Amy Hanson is the executive assistant to the Vice President of a “billion dollar company”
  • Lisa Wantuck is the Director of National Sales for an IT staffing company
  • Elizabeth Groover is an executive management specialist for a chemical and biological firm

Non-Profit:

  • Kori Yates and Cassandra Bratcher founded non-profit organizations that involve military spouses
  • Maria Mola is the development director for a non-profit that focuses on providing 24 month transitional housing for homeless veterans and families and formerly incarcerated veterans
  • Erin Ensley, along with her daughter, make and send teddy bears for the Epilepsy Foundation
  • Amy Scick is the Director of Community Relations for a non-profit that focuses on military spouse employment
  • Leslie Brians is a graphic designer and creative director for a military spouse focuses non-profit
  • Mindy Patterson works with an agency that is addressing the need for assisted living for people who don’t qualify for it through other various government programs

Cyber:

  • Jessica Del Pizzo is an account manager for a cyber security firm
  • Alex Brown works in cybersecurity, and notes that analysts, remote support, network security design, consultants, and even administrative database managers are excellent remote positions, and with the need for cybersecurity specialists, most places are willing to work with remote employees

Education and child focused:

  • Jennifer Delacruz is a special education teacher, who also writes children’s books about special education
  • Elizabeth Lowe is a personal in home one-to-one therapy caregiver to a child with severe special needs
  • Brittany Raines is in foster parenting licensing
  • Rebekah Speck is a “parent navigator” for a state run program that provides families of disabled children with an advocate to help them address things like IEPs, etc
  • Courtney Lynn is a 3rd grade teacher

Administrative:

  • Christina Laycock is an accountant
  • Stacy Faris is a business administrator
  • Grace Sanchez is a bookkeeper
  • Kelli Kraehmer is an account manager for a large wireless company
  • Kennita Williams is a legal aid for a DoD Staff Judge Advocate
  • Ashley Ella is an agricultural appraiser
  • Hannah Weatherford is a braille transcriptionist

Independent Consulting and Freelance:

  • Loree Bee is a life coach
  • April Alan is a freelance writer and independent blogger
  • Susan Reynolds insists her official title is “badass”. She is an advocate, a freelance writer, and the hostess of SpouseSpouts
  • Tara Glenn is a freelance writer when she’s not working for the Navy

Others:

  • Tesha Jackson and her children paint, sew, crochet, and knit — among other things — and they sell those projects through Jackson’s website
  • Ann Woyma is a veterinarian
  • Kelly Stillwagon is a paranormal investigator, and when she and her husband are stateside, they run classes on how to become investigators
  • Brian Alvarado is a real estate executive, and the Vice President of Marketing for a real estate brokerage in San Diego
  • Hope Griffin is a pastor, and an author of Christian books
  • Vivian Vralstad is a medical writer for a pharmaceutical company, but she began her STEM career as a neuroscientist
Articles

The VA can’t track how much time employees spend on union business

You’d think that employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs would be spending every bit of their time on the job helping America’s veterans. But that may not be case — some of them may instead be working on “union business.”


Worse, there may be no way to know how much time they have spent on their outside work for federal employee unions.

According to a report by Government Executive, the VA has no standardized method of tracking how much “official time” is spent by government employees on union activities like mediation. The Office of Personnel Management website defines “official time” as “paid time off from assigned Government duties to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees.”

The report noted that 350 of those employees are working full-time on union activities, and that almost 1.1 million man-hours were spent on official time in Fiscal Year 2012.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
The Tomah, Wisconsin VA hospital.

A 2015 Government Accountability Office report done at the request of House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) casts doubt on those reported figures.

The GAO said, “the data VA provided were not sufficiently reliable to determine the amount of official time used by VA employees and the purposes for which it was used for the period of our review.”

The biggest reason for the lack of reliability was due to the fact that the VA had no standardized means to track the amount of “official time” used by employees of that agency.

The report noted that the VA had arrangements with five unions: the National Association of Government Employees; the American Federation of Government Employees; National Nurses United; the National Federation of Federal Employees; and the Service Employees International Union.

Government Executive reported that the VA had agreed to resolve the time-tracking issues.

The VA has been hit with a number of scandals, including one case where a deceased veteran was left lying around for nine hours in a Florida VA facility and another case in a Wisconsin VA hospital where a dentist may have infected hundreds of veterans with HIV and hepatitis.

Those cases came on the heels of a VA hospital using “separate waiting lists” to conceal a backlog of cases, a practice that is believed to have lead to over 200 deaths.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
Palo Alto VA hospital. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Florida incident drew the wrath of Rep. Gus Biliakis (R-FL), who angrily noted that nobody had been fired over the improper treatment of a veteran’s corpse.

Articles

Today in military history: Nixon Doctrine is announced

On July 25, 1969, the Nixon Doctrine was announced, and along with it, the expectation for America’s Asian allies to become responsible for their own military defense.

During his campaign, Nixon promised “peace with honor” in Vietnam but by the time he took office in 1969, the war continued to rage on without an end in sight. By then, the United States had already been at war for nearly four brutal years. Over 25,000 Americans had died in Vietnam, the anti-war sentiment among American protestors was a constant stream of resistance, and there was no end in sight.

Nixon’s announcement became known as a plan to “Vietnamize” Vietnam, whereby American troops would increasingly be replaced by South Vietnamese troops. And Nixon meant it — during his first term, he withdrew a significant amount of American troops from Vietnam and finally in 1973 he signed the peace treaty that formally ended the conflict for the U.S. 

Two years later, North Vietnam defeated the South Vietnamese army and reunited the country under communist control. 58,220 American troops died during the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands more sustained injuries, seen and unseen. 

Articles

Former Delta Force officer says the elite military unit taught him you only have to be 70% certain before you act — here’s why

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events


Over more than 20 years in United States Army special operations, first as a Ranger and then a Delta Force operator, Dalton Fury learned that effective leaders never wait for perfect certainty to act.

Fury is the pseudonym he uses for both his nonfiction and fiction writing, since his time in the highly secretive Delta Force has required him to conceal his true identity.

In an emailed list of leadership lessons sent to Business Insider, Fury posited a hypothetical question before giving a surprising answer: “How much information or intelligence does a special operations unit need before they launch a high-risk kill or capture mission? I argue that very rarely will the intelligence picture be better than a 70% solution, and at that point action should be taken.”

Waiting for that extra 5-10% closer to 100% clarity only further closed the window of opportunity.

Fury argued that only after the American special forces and their elite allies adopted this 70% mentality were they able to finally take the steps that led to eliminating Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

And though Fury operated in extreme situations on a battlefield, he said the “pull the trigger” mentality is as necessary in an office.

To Fury, leaders of special operators (spec ops troops) and corporate managers are placed in the same situation, where they need to make decisions with limited data, resources, and time.

“Special operators aren’t required for every problem set,” he wrote. “But, special operators are expected to manage risk, get on target, figure it out, and run it down even when the picture is sketchy.”

Articles

Iranian cruise missile test fails

North Korea is not the only rogue state that is testing missiles. Iran recently carried out a missile test, and just like North Korea, they couldn’t get their missile up.


According to a report by the Washington Times, an Iranian midget submarine attempted to launch an unidentified cruise missile. The test, part of an Iranian military buildup, failed.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
A C-802 missile in front of a JF-17 Thunder of the Pakistan Air Force on static display at the 2010 Farnborough Airshow. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World notes that that Iran has Chinese-designed C-802 missiles, as well as a home-built version of the C-802 called the Noor, as well as the C-704, and an indigenous missile called the Qader.

Combat Fleets of the World also notes that Iran has at least 16 North Korean-designed mini-subs, which are locally called the Ghadir-class. These subs each have two 21-inch torpedo tubes and a crew of 20.

One of these subs in North Korean service, which they refer to as Yono-class, is believed to have fired the torpedo that sank the South Korean corvette Cheonan in 2010.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
The North Korean Sang-O submarine ran aground in South Korean waters near Gangneung, in 1996. (Public Domain photo)

The Washington Free Beacon has reported that Iran is carrying out a major buildup since the July 2015 nuclear deal, increasing its defense budget by 145 percent and seeking to turn the Iranian Army into a force capable of offensive operations as opposed to supporting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Washington Times noted that Iran has reportedly taken delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, and is seeking a license to build the Russian-designed T-90 main battle tank locally. Iran has also been building indigenous fighter and surface-to-air missile designs.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

Iranian naval vessels have repeatedly harassed U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. The most recent incident involved the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72). Over the last year, a number of other incidents occurred, including multiple attacks on the destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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Military personnel share amazing one-liners from drill instructors

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC


Members of the military bonded over their service and took time to reminisce about harsh words from their drill instructors in an entertaining Reddit Military thread.

The thread started with the simple question, “What are some of the most memorable things your drill instructors have said?”

We’ve collected some of the most interesting responses below. If you served in the military, feel free to add your own drill instructor line in the comments below.

One Marine was compared to a sugar cookie for being sweaty and covered in sand.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

Another instructor accused a Marine of being part of a plot to destroy the Corps.

Reddit user nickcorvus remembers how a drill instructor yelled:

“You’re a communist plot to f— up my Marine Corps.”

At times, drill instructors could barely contain their rage …

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

… or their disdain.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

Some lines might not have had the intended effect.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

In this case, a drill instructor had a more serious impact, when he handed this Marine an Eagle Globe and Anchor (EGA) that signifies the end of new-recruit training.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

Ultimately, drill instructors always left their mark.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

Even decades later. 

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events

Articles

Army vet brothers create business to change the world one baby at a time

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events


Jon Boggiano had a brilliant idea. He and his brother Chris, both West Point graduates, would go back to graduate school at Stanford University. The duo had just sold their successful job training business, and Jon thought they needed a new adventure.

Chris was adamantly opposed to the idea at first, but as with many things between the two brothers just a year apart in age, eventually he relented. And with just 12 days to spare before the Stanford business school application period closed, the two pounded out extensive essays, sourced letters of recommendation from former CO’s, calculated costs, took the GMAT, told their wives their plan, and prepped for an interview with the admission folks. They got in.

That June, both families including three kids (one on the way) and one large dog packed up and headed west from Charlotte, North Carolina to campus housing in Stanford, California.

“The biggest transition was going from a 2,400 square foot house to an 850 square foot campus apartment with one bathroom,” Jon said. “It was more like a cabin.”

Almost immediately the two met Nicki Boyd, a British educated triathalete and fellow entrepreneur. The three would embark on the year-long Stanford MBA program together with a very clear goal in mind.

“The north star was to revolutionize education,” said Chris. That was the summer of 2013. Today, the Boggiano brothers and Boyd have 11 employees on the rolls of their company, VersaMe. And they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to manufacture their inaugural product, the Starling, the first educational wearable for babies and toddlers.

The wearable, a plastic orange star, tracks the number of words said to a child—the idea being that the more words said, the higher the child’s IQ potential. The research is there and parents will no doubt embrace the concept that, by simply verbally engaging with a child, they can truly affect his or her vocabulary.

But the story of how these two former Army guys wound up creating a little orange wearable for babies goes back both to their days growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey with a police officer (and former Marine) for a father and their time in the military.

“Service to our country was definitely part of our upbringing,” said Chris, who graduated from West Point in 2002 and later served in Kosovo. Then came a tough deployment to Iraq where he was a tank platoon leader with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry. “The Army got its money out of me during my time in Fallujah,” said Chris.

Similarly, Jon deployed to Kosovo and Iraq. After witnessing firsthand the unintended consequences of the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, the brothers returned home and transferred to the reserves to start a company that trained workers for careers in the green jobs sector.

During that time, it also became clear to both Jon and Chris that the education system was broken. Folks they were training had, for example, been employed for decades by a steel mill that then suddenly closed down.

“Some of them didn’t have email addresses,” Jon said. “Every academic opportunity had passed them by or failed them.”

“We started looking into trying to fix this economic problem and it always came back to education,” added Chris, who’s also a father to two girls. “We realized that fixing the system meant having a massive impact much earlier in life.”

And off to Stanford they went with an ambitious plan to “swing for the fences,” as Jon put it. By March of 2014, the idea for a wearable was born and the three entrepreneurs decided to solicit funding, hire ambitious employees and scale up. And thanks to far too much time spent in unsavory parts of the world, the team had much-needed perspective about launching a startup.

“Having been to places like Iraq and Kosovo where people have literally nothing I quickly realized that the risk of failing at a startup isn’t nearly as bad as what life could be like in a lot of places in this world,” Chris said.

“It’s really a great way to transition from military,” Jon said. “You can change careers, change geography and have an adventure.”

But the brothers also feel their company is much more than an adventure. “I really do think we are making the world a better place by doing what we are doing,” Jon said.

Now: How an Army vet podcaster pulls in over $2 million by chatting with ‘vetpreneurs’

Articles

A former Marine officer retells his journey from ‘fortunate son’ to hero in the Battle of Fallujah

Former Marine officer Elliot Ackerman is now an accomplished author living in Istanbul, but prior to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he considered himself a “fortunate son” of privilege who chose to serve while many of his peers did not.


“The best and the brightest didn’t show up for Vietnam. And I understand. I get that it was an unpopular war,” he told photographer Brandon Stanton for his popular Humans of New York project. “But they chose to not show up and there was a consequence for that. There were leadership failures. Standards were lowered and people were killed because of bad decisions.”

He graduated from Tufts University in 2003 and decided to join the Marine Corps as an infantry officer. He was assigned as a platoon commander in 1st Battalion, 8th Marines.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
Wikimedia

“I was a fortunate son of this country,” Ackerman told Stanton. “I went to a private school. I graduated from a great college. A lot of the guys who served under me didn’t have those advantages. They relied on me to make tough decisions in dangerous situations. And I’m glad I was there to make those decisions.”

One of those tough decisions came in Nov. 2004, during the bloody second Battle of Fallujah during the Iraq War. He and his platoon of 45 men moved across a highway in the middle of the night on Nov. 10 to establish a fighting position in what they called “the candy store.”

It was only about 150 meters away from the rest of his company.

“The guys were excited at first because the place was filled with chips and soda,” he said. “And we were starving and thirsty. But all hell broke loose when the sun came up.”

At dawn, the insurgents had figured out where they were and surrounded them, while opening fire on the platoon with everything they had. The Marines were getting razed by AK-47 and RPG fire from all sides, with every exit blocked.

“You couldn’t even poke your head out,” he said. “We were pinned down all day. And suddenly my company commander is on the radio saying that we’ve got to advance. And I’m shouting into the radio over the gunfire that we’re probably going to die if we leave the store. I’m shouting so loud and for so long that I lost my voice for four days. But he’s saying that we have no choice.”

He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire while trying to pull wounded Marines to safety, and coordinated four separate medical evacuations, despite being wounded by shrapnel himself.

In order to get out, he ordered his men to set up explosives on a back wall. Once it blew, he and his men — with nearly half the platoon having been wounded — were able to escape, alive.

“Twenty-five guys were wounded, but everyone survived,” he said. “A lot of that was luck. And a lot of that was our platoon and how good those guys were. But I also feel that my decisions mattered that day. And if I had decided not to serve, and stayed home, it could’ve ended much worse. So no, I don’t have any regrets about going to Iraq.”

He was awarded the Silver Star for his heroics in the battle, along with the Purple Heart for his wounds. He later received the Bronze Star for valor in 2008 while leading a Marine special operations team in Afghanistan.

Humans of New York is featuring a number of stories from veterans on its page, in partnership with non-profit The Headstrong Project (Full disclosure: The author is a friend of the executive director).

See more of Ackerman’s story below:



Articles

Why women should be allowed – and required – to register for the Selective Service

Women have been part of our all-volunteer service since the Revolutionary War when females worked as nurses in camps and dressed up as male soldiers. While nearly 2 million men were drafted to serve during Vietnam, more than 265,000 American women served during this time, and 11,000 served in Vietnam. Around 90% of women who served were volunteer nurses.

The role of women in the military has grown and evolved with new opportunities. Today, women have the ability to serve in all jobs within the U.S. military. Because of the increasing role of women in the military, there has been talk of requiring women to register for the Selective Service alongside men, as well. A U.S. Senate Committee has approved legislation that would accomplish exactly that, giving the potential for women to be drafted for the first time in the nation’s history.

Although women have been officially serving in the military for over 100 years, there are some who find this proposal as being a step too far.  As a veteran who advocates for young women considering military service, I believe this change is necessary. When I joined the military in 2007, although women were “welcomed” to join, there were still a number of limitations and an underlying culture that women didn’t belong.

While the military has a place for women, the culture of the U.S. still creates and provides for a gender bias toward women. As a woman veteran I regularly have to defend my service, even though I deployed to Afghanistan with the Army and received an Air Force Combat Action Medal. Women face an uphill battle while they serve and they often find more challenges than their male counterparts when they take off their uniform.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
U.S. Army photo

It may seem that changing the Selective Service registration requirement for women is not related to how women are treated both in and out of the military. However, just as the underlying issue of sexism toward civilian male military spouses is having an effect on women rising to the top, so is the underlying stigma that women don’t belong because their military service is not regarded as equal to a male’s. If a draft was implemented, women would be perceived as being unaffected and kept out of harm’s way.

Allowing women to be part of the Selective Service registration changes everything — and changes nothing. We haven’t implemented the draft since Vietnam, but this change will have an increasing impact on women who serve in the next generation. Being a service woman won’t be something they won’t consider just because they do not have to register for the draft. It will help normalize the role of women and their place in the military, and it will surely have an impact on how women who are veterans are viewed in future generations.

The more we adapt to an equal role for women in the military and normalize within our culture, the more equal the playing field will be. For example, new legislation authored by the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., suggests we remove any reference to “male” in current law. 

An equal playing field

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan G. Wright

Without this change, women continue to be told their value is less than men’s. Our current system of a male-only draft tells women: You are not going to be relied on if the nation needs your service. It’s a system that discounts the value women provide and one that forgets that men sometimes are just as likely as women to not fit the mold of what military service requires.

President Biden said it best: “The United States does not need a larger military, and we don’t need a draft at this time…I would, however, ensure that women are also eligible to register for the Selective Service System so that men and women are treated equally in the event of future conflicts.” Opening the door to having women registering for the Selective Service is an open door to equality — something women have long since earned, but are still fighting for. 

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This top secret mission kept the Nazis from getting Amsterdam’s diamonds

When Germany began its assault on Holland on May 10, 1940, the international community was not just worried about the lives of the Dutch people but also about the massive stocks of industrial diamonds in Amsterdam.


These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
The German invasion of Holland featured the use of paratroopers in costumes and Dutch uniforms. Photo: Dutch National Archives via Wikipedia

Industrial diamonds were used for many manufacturing purposes and the country that controlled the diamonds could create more weapons, vehicles, and sophisticated technology like radar.

That’s why two diamond traders in England, Jan Smit and Walter Keyser, offered their services to the British government. Jan’s father ran a large trading interest in Amsterdam and was friends with many more traders. Smit was certain that if he were allowed passage into and out of Amsterdam, he could get many diamonds out before the Nazis could seize them.

Approval for the mission went all the way to the new prime minister Winston Churchill himself. Churchill ordered a military officer to escort the two men and granted them the use of an old World War I destroyer, the HMS Walpole, to get them into the city. The Walpole had to thread a mile gap between German and British minefields at night under blackout conditions to get across the English Channel.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
The HMS Walpole Photo: Royal Navy

During the transit, the Walpole almost struck another British ship sneaking through the darkness. Those on the Walpole would learn years later that the other ship was evacuating members of the Dutch Royal family.

Keyser and Smit arrived in the harbor just before daybreak and spent the day working with Smit’s father to convince traders to release the diamonds to the Keyser and Smit. From their landing at the docks to their trips around the city, the men were driven by a Jewish woman, Anna, who protected them from possible German spies.

Throughout the men’s day in Amsterdam, Dutch police and soldiers were attempting to root out pockets of German paratroopers wreaking havoc in the city. Across the country, German forces were quickly taking over and quashing resistance. Gunfire interrupted a few of their meetings.

The Germans made quick progress and occupied the entire country within five days. Photo: German Army Archives via Wikipedia The Germans made quick progress and occupied the entire country within five days. Photo: German Army Archives via Wikipedia

Many of the diamond traders were Jewish and could have bribed their way out of the country with their stocks and possibly escaped the Holocaust. Instead, they took the chance to get them away from German hands. Most of the traders even refused receipts out of fear that the Germans would learn how many diamonds they had prevented the Third Reich from getting their hands on.

While the men gave many of their diamonds to the English agents, the attack had come during a bank weekend and many were in safes that couldn’t be opened for another day or more.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
Industrial diamonds are used in tools and manufacturing equipment because of their how hard they are. Photo: R. Tanaka CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia

Luckily another British agent, Lt. Col. Montagu R. Chidson, made his way to the massive vault at the Amsterdam Mart and spent hours breaking into it, even as German paratroopers forced their way into the building. He escaped with the diamonds as the soldiers forced their way down the stairs.

At the end of the day, Chidson escaped on his own while Anna rushed Smit, Keyser, and their military escort back to the docks just in time to rendezvous with the HMS Walpole. Smit carried a thick canvas bag filled with the diamonds and forced a tug driver at gunpoint to take them to the British destroyer.

Chidson’s diamonds made their way to Queen Wilhelmina while the diamonds recovered by Smit and Keyser were held in London for the duration of the war.

(h/t David E. Walker for his 1955 book, “Adventure In Diamonds” where he recounts much of the first-hand testimony of the men who took part in the operations to recover diamonds ahead of the Nazi advance).

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One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
An F-35B using its central lifting fan to perform a vertical landing | Lockheed Martin photo


The US Air Force’s push to develop operational flying saucers 60 years ago laid the conceptual groundwork for one of the variants of Lockheed Martin’s F-35, MIT Technology Review reports.

The F-35 comes in three variants, with key mechanical differences for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy – the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C respectively.

Of the three models, the F-35B is the most technologically different.

Unlike the F-35A and F-35C, the Marines needed their variant to be capable of conducting short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.

This request necessitated that the F-35B be given a lifting fan. And, as Desire Francine G. Fedrigo, Ricardo Gobato, Alekssander Gobato note in a paper at the Cornell University Library, the F-35B’s lifting fan has its conceptual roots in flying saucers.

Between 1954 and 1961, the US Air Force spent $10 million attempting to develop a flying saucer that became known as an Avrocar. The Avrocar was a vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) saucer that was powered by one giant central fan.

Despite its seven years of development, the Air Force failed to make the Avrocar into a mission capable vehicle that could potentially replace helicopters.

MIT Technology Review notes that the aircraft was “hot and almost unbearably uncomfortable for the pilot. And it demonstrated various idiosyncrasies such as taking five seconds to turn 90 degrees to the left but 11 seconds to turn the same amount to the right, presumably because of its central rotating fan.”

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
An Avrocar during flight testing. | Wikimedia Commons

However, despite the Avrocars’ failings, the technology did point researchers towards the feasibility of developing and embedding a central lift fan turbine within an aircraft for variations of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology.

“The concept of a lift fan, driven by a turbojet engine is not dead, and lives today as a key component of Lockheed X-35 Joint Strike Fighter contender,” Fedrigo notes, adding that the conceptual framework of the Avrocar helped General Electric’s own development of a booster fan propulsion system.

These 5 military drills would be amazing Olympic events
US Air Force

Whereas the Avrocar’s development ultimately failed, though, GE’s “Vertifan” went on to prove the concept of successful lifting fan technology. This in turn lead to a DARPA sponsored development challenge that gave birth to lifting fans being used in the F-35B.

The F-35B was declared ready for combat by the Marine Corps on July 31.

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