These are the changes coming to US Army and Marine Corps infantry arsenals - We Are The Mighty
Articles

These are the changes coming to US Army and Marine Corps infantry arsenals

The M16/M4 rifle platform, long the standard for the US Army and Marine Corps, could soon be set aside, as officials in both service branches are looking at new options for both weapons and ammunition.


Army researchers are reportedly looking at six different types of ammunition of “intermediate calibers,” according to Army Times.

Those calibers fall between the current 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm rounds and include the .260 Remington, the 6.5 Creedmoor, and the .264 USA, as well as other variants that aren’t available commercially, Army officials told the Times.

The search for alternatives for both weapons and ammo comes in response to concerns with the 5.56 mm round and about the M16 and the M4, which has been continuously upgraded and modified since being first introduced in the 1960s.

Related: This sniper rifle company is trying to lighten the M240 medium machine gun

The M16 and M4 and their variants continue to have problems with jamming, an issue the system has dealt with since its introduction. Improvements in body armor have lessened the lethality of the 5.56 round. Groups like ISIS have also made use of large rounds that outperform the US military’s ammo. (Russia is reportedly working on its own assault rifle using a 6.5 mm round.)

According to some research, Army firefights in Afghanistan, where the US has been engaged for more than 15 years, have mostly taken place at distances of more than 300 meters, or about 1,000 feet. At that range, the 5.56 mm round is far less lethal.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Branden Quintana, left, and Sgt. Cory Ballentine pull security with an M4 carbines on the roof of an Iraqi police station in Habaniyah, Anbar province, Iraq, July 13, 2011. Ballentine is a forward observer and Quintana is a platoon leader, both with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kissta Feldner/Released)

At least two studies presented to the US Army have pointed to rounds in the 6.5 mm to 7 mm range as better options.

“Right now the [M16/M4] platform we have is a workhorse and very effective in the hands of a trained soldier or Marine,” Maj. Jason Bohannon, the lethality branch chief at Fort Benning’s US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, told Army Times.

Going forward, Bohannon said, the Army wouldn’t be able to get more out of the platform and would likely look for a new one.

A report last month from the Marine Corps Times also indicates the Corps is looking to replace the M4 carried by almost every infantry rifleman with the M27, the infantry automatic rifle first introduced in 2010 to replace the aging M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

Currently, each Marine Corps infantry fire team is equipped with one M27, carried by the automatic rifleman.

“Most Marines like it, and so do I,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Marine Corps Times in April, saying M27s have been “the most reliable, durable, and accurate weapons” carried by rifle squads.

Expanding the use of the M27 would be the most recent of several weapons changes.

In late 2015, Neller approved the move from the M16 to the M4 carbine as the primary weapon for Marine Corps infantry. About a year later, the Corps started testing the M27 infantry assault rifle, which offered a longer effective range, better firing, and more resistance to wear.

A senior Marine officer noted the M27’s rate of fire as a point of concern, suggesting the weapon, which carries 30 rounds and can be fired in full-automatic mode, could lend itself to ammo overuse. (Both the M4 and the M27 use the 5.56 mm round, and the US and NATO militaries have an abundance of that caliber stockpiled.)

One drawback to the M27 is the cost of the rifle, which is produced by German gunmaker Heckler Koch and runs about $3,000. The M4, built by Colt Defense and FN America costs less than $1,000.

Outfitting the 11,000 Marines — members of companies and fire teams, but not squad or platoon leaders — who would get the M27 under the new plan would cost roughly $33 million, though a Marine Corps official told the Marine Corps Times that cost was not a primary concern during the evaluation process, and the price may change as the Corps continues to inquire with weapons makers.

“I am considering it,” Neller told the Marine Corps Times of the possible change, “but we have to balance improved capabilities and increased lethality with cost.”

Articles

This Marine legend went from the beaches of Iwo Jima to the fields of the Negro League


The Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Greason’s voice echoed from the curved white ceiling of Bethel Baptist Church. Direct and robustly musical, Greason’s message pulsed around his congregation.

“I didn’t buy this breath,” he said. “Somebody gave it to me.”

Greason, 90, still measures in at a lanky 5’10” and, other than a smattering of grey, resembles his 1948 Birmingham Black Barons rookie card. His eyes retain their youthful charm and twinkle with wisdom and humor.

He is slow to talk about himself and his accomplishments, but his story is one that begs to be told.

The tale of Bill Greason begins long before he was scouted as a baseball wunderkind by the Negro American League, and contains more substance than a beefy ERA.

Greason was born in 1924 and grew up in Atlanta, Ga., on Auburn Avenue, across the street from playmate Martin Luther King, Jr. Auburn Avenue, also known as Sweet Auburn, was a historically black neighborhood deep in the heart of the segregated South.

Greason explained that he and his four siblings were aware of racial inequality, but were not defined by their circumstances or overcome by anger.

“My parents taught us ‘you are somebody,’ Greason said. “Don’t let anybody make you feel that you’re not. If anybody doesn’t like the color of your skin, tell them to talk to God. But your character — that’s on you.”

Greason’s character and sense of identity fortified him when he joined the Armed Forces in 1943 after graduating from high school.

In the midst of World War II, Greason was called to enlist and serve among the first black Marine recruits, The Montford Point Marines. These exceptional men had been denied access to full democratic freedom at home and were prepared to die for their country, yet Greason and his comrades continued to experience prejudice from their white counterparts during service.

“We were told in the beginning that we weren’t wanted in there,” Greason said. “So we had to prove ourselves.”

This is exactly what they did. In what became one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, Greason and fellow Marines took to the shores of Iwo Jima, Japan to win a decisive victory for the United States, despite heavy casualties.

On Nov. 23, 2011, President Barack Obama signed legislation to award a collective Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines, the highest civilian honor.

“As the Congressional Gold Medal for the Montford Point Marines is issued, it is a special privilege to extend our fullest appreciation to Reverend William Greason and salute his exceptional life and service to his community and his country,” said U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus in a tribute to Greason in 2012.

“Surviving the island,” Greason said, “was a miracle that had an everlasting impact.”

“When I was on the island of Iwo Jima, with the Marines dying all around and two of my best friends were killed, I promised the Lord that if he saved me, if I was able to get off that island, anything He wanted me to do I would do it,” he said.

Greason left Iwo Jima unscathed, but memories of the island remain with him and he is eager to share their lessons.

“It taught you something about life and how precious it is,” Greason said. “You don’t want to destroy anybody — you want to help wherever you can.”

After occupational duty in Japan for 13 months, Greason returned stateside with a rekindled passion for life and a new talent: baseball.

Most of the literature on Greason’s remarkable baseball career concerns itself with statistics: his 3.61 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 1953, the pennant he led the Black Barons to in ’48, his snappy curving fastball and his nickname, “Double Duty,” earned for his workhorse mentality on the mound and at the plate.

The numbers provide a chill, sterile glance — a press box view — of a history won in grit, nerve and determination.

When the undefeated Black Barons suffered their only loss to the Asheville Blues at the hands of 24-year-old Greason in 1948, player-manager Lorenzo “Piper” Davis was in the process of scouring the Negro League for raw talent to add to his unrivaled team. Recruiting Greason was a no- brainer.

Black players in America’s favorite pastime had a special burden according to Greason.

“We were blessed to be part of this great history of Negro League Baseball,” he said. “Wherever we would go and play, they recognized us as being gentlemen.”

The Birmingham Black Barons and other Negro League teams seemed to understand that baseball, unlike other sports at the time, held national significance. They stepped up to bat and they represented not only themselves, but also the hope of equality for their entire race.

“We were taught to retain and maintain our dignity,” Greason said. “We didn’t disgrace our parents. We didn’t disgrace the people we worked for. We didn’t disgrace the city.”

1948 proved to be the last year of the Negro League World Series, and though the Barons lost the championship in the final hour to the Homestead Grays, Greason’s physical talent and emotional maturity preceded him.

He pitched two years in the Mexican League (1950–1951); eight in the minors (1952–1959), as the first black player for the Oklahoma City Indians; and five years in the winter leagues (1951; 1954- 1958), where he notably played against Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba.

After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, there was a major decline in support for the Negro Leagues. As the players were scouted into minor and major leagues, fans followed, ultimately sealing the Negro League’s fate.

In 1954, after returning from serving in the Korean War, Greason was scouted by the St. Louis Cardinals as the team’s first black pitcher. He was honored September 2014 with a Living Legend Award.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” Greason said. “It gave our players opportunity to earn more money in ‘organized ball’ as they called it.”

It is the entrepreneurial spirit of the Negro League players that Ora Jerald, executive director of the American Negro League Baseball Association, is striving to inspire in Birmingham youth.

Along with Greason and other Black Barons legends, Jerald established the legacy initiative Project HELP (History Entrepreneurs Leadership Program).

What started out as baseball camps and demonstrations developed into a pointed effort to prepare economically compromised children for brighter futures.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship and leadership is very much a part of the overall history of the Negro Leagues,” Jerald said. “And the legacy then is to make sure that something profound is left in the lives and hearts of the children.”

Jerald explained that the historical impact of Greason’s life has helped inspire children beyond the baseball diamond.

“We’ve developed something that we think — entrepreneurship and leadership, certainly — is reflective of what the Negro League baseball history stands for and what it represented at the time when Greason was at his peak as a player,” Jerald said.

In addition to Project HELP, Greason, in collaboration with members of his congregation at Bethel Baptist, has curated a museum depicting not only his life in baseball: uniforms, trophies and awards, but also the lives of outstanding community members, including Michael Holt.

“We want our community to see that your circumstances don’t define who you are,” said Holt, who spent 31 years in government service as the assistant director for Homeland Security.

The Rev. William “Bill” Greason Museum of Legends is currently open to the public and is most easily accessed on Sundays after church at Bethel Baptist.

When asked what he wishes his legacy to be, Greason smiles and says, “Humility. The way up is down. It’s a paradox. Popularity wanes, but character is retained.”

Wise words from a man with much to be proud of.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Market Magazine.

Articles

The USS Pueblo is now the main attraction at North Korea’s Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum

For the uninitiated, the USS Pueblo was a Navy Signals Intelligence ship which was attacked and boarded by North Koreans in international waters in 1968. The crew didn’t just give up; they deftly maneuvered away from the attackers. It took two North Korean


It took two North Korean subchasers, four torpedo boats, and two MiG fighters to stop Pueblo, even allowing for the fact that the crew didn’t man the ship’s guns due to restrictive Navy regulations. The crew destroyed all the classified material they could, but they were simply outgunned and outnumbered. One sailor was killed and eighty-three others were held by North Korea for 335 days before being returned to the U.S.

And they took the time to let the North Koreans know how they felt about their stay.

The Pueblo is still commissioned in the U.S. Navy and is the only ship to be held by an enemy country. For decades, the ship was moored on the Taedong River in the capital of Pyongyang. After a restoration begun in 2013, the ship is now a part of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in keeping with the North Korean label for the war.

Seriously though, the U.S. really flattened North Korea.

Related: I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 47 years

The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum was founded right after the 1953 armistice was signed. (Note: The U.S. is still technically at war with North Korea as the armistice ended the conflict but not the Korean War.)  As Communists often do, the North Koreans wanted to put their spin on the war immediately, and thus the museum was born.

Ten years later, it was moved to a building built just to house the museum’s collection, a massive trove of North Korean tanks, weapons, and aircraft, along with captured American equipment, jeeps, and downed planes, all supporting the North’s consensus that they actually won.

This is how they believe the Korean War looked.

Of course, with the Pueblo comes the newest exhibit in the Museum, the Pueblo section.

If you’re wondering how the war became a “liberation war to the North, young North Koreans are taught that a joint South Korean-U.S. army started the war, and not that it was started by a North Korean sneak attack.

The North is not likely to return the ship, considering how immensely proud they are of having captured it.

The Pueblo on the Taedong River in 2012

Articles

Tom Cruise gets firearms training from a former British SAS operator

A few weeks into 2016, Keanu Reeves lit up the internet (and a few targets) when video of his John Wick-level shooting skills hit YouTube. Rightfully so, because Reeves has some legitimate “3-Gun” shooting range ability. He’s not the only actor who does intense training for roles, however. The silver screen’s “Jack Reacher” works just as hard, getting his training from some of the world’s most elite special forces.


In this video, Tom Cruise gets firearms training from Mick Gould, a former British SAS operator.

Gould talks about giving Cruise the kind of training he would have had if the actor spent eight to twelve years in special forces.

“Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Tom Cruise and the late Marlon Brando, they are and were ultra-professionals at all times,” Gould told Dangerous Magazine in 2012. “It was a pleasure working with them, absolutely no ego at all.”

Cruise is known for his dedication to stunt work. For “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation,” Cruise learned to hold his breath underwater for a full six minutes. For “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol” The 53-year-old actor held on to the outside of an Airbus A400M military aircraft during takeoff and up to 5,000 feet over Great Britain.

Articles

3 at defense firm admit defrauding US by $6M on Humvee parts

Two brothers who formerly owned a Pennsylvania defense contractor and their former chief financial officer have pleaded guilty in a $6 million scheme to overcharge the U.S. Defense Department for Humvee window kits.


The Butler-based contractor, Ibis Tek LLC, removed the former co-owners, Thomas Buckner, 68, of Gibsonia, and John Buckner, 66, of Lyndora, in January along with former CFO Harry Kramer, 52, of Pittsburgh.

The three pleaded guilty on May 31st in Pittsburgh to charges of major fraud against the government and income tax evasion for filing returns that didn’t include the illegal income, and other irregularities. The Buckners will be sentenced Oct. 10 and each faces a likely prison sentence of 41 to 51 months, while Kramer will be sentenced Oct. 18 and faces a likely sentence of 24 to 30 months, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nelson Cohen told the judge.

DoD Photo by Staff Sgt. Teresa Cleveland

“Ibis Tek was not and will not be charged” in the scheme, Cohen said. The company released a statement when the criminal charges were announced in March, saying, “Our company was cleared in the related investigation which dates back to activities eight years ago and we, the over 250 employees of the new Ibis Tek, continue forward on our mission, which is to proudly serve the warfighter and our various government customers.”

The Buckners have agreed to repay more than $6 million to the government, and have already repaid nearly $900,000 in income tax losses, according to their attorneys who spoke in court, but declined comment after May 31st’s proceedings. Thomas Buckner has agreed to forfeit $5,085,709 to cover his share of the losses and has already paid $1 million of that debt, defense attorney Alexander Lindsay Jr. said. John Buckner will repay the government $1 million.

Additionally, Thomas Buckner has already repaid more than $423,000 in federal income tax losses, and John Buckner has repaid nearly $457,000, their attorneys said.

The target of the fraud was the Warren, Michigan-based U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, or TACOM, an arm of the Defense Department which procures military vehicles from contractors.

DoD Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Natalia Murillo

The brothers scammed the government by purchasing emergency escape window kits for $20 each from a Chinese firm, but selling them to TACOM through a shell company they created called Alloy America, Cohen said. Alloy America was located at Ibis Tek’s address and “served little purpose other than to commit this fraud,” Cohen said. Kramer kept the books for Ibis Tek and Alloy America, Cohen said.

The Buckners and Kramer not only passed on the bogus $70-per-frame cost to TACOM, they also sold scrap aluminum relating to the manufacture of the frames, but kept the money. The Buckners and Kramer were supposed to credit the scrap revenue to TACOM as a way of helping the government agency control costs, Cohen said.

Kramer was charged because he helped the Buckners by filing false tax returns that understated Ibis Tek’s income in 2009 and 2010. The Buckner brothers’ personal tax returns for those years also understated their income because they owned the company 50-50 at the time, Cohen said.

Ibis Tek was sold in February to investors who say the new company had nothing to do with the scam.

Articles

These were some of the ballsiest pilots of WWII, and their planes didn’t even have engines

In World War II, airborne units were really in their infancy. The Germans pioneered their use in combat, and the United States built perhaps the largest airborne force in the world, with five airborne divisions.


But these divisions had a problem. There weren’t many planes to transport them for large-scale airborne ops. Today, most transports used in airborne operations have rear ramps for loading cargo (like, jeeps and artillery). Back then, they didn’t.

The C-47 Skytrain was based on the DC-3 airliner. The C-46 Commado was also based on an airliner.

A C-47 takes off, towing a Waco CG-4 glider during Operation Market Garden. (Imperial War Museum photo)

Yeah, paratroops could be dropped, but they could be scattered (thus creating the rule of the LGOPs). How would they drop the heavier equipment, and keep the crews together? The answer came with the development of gliders. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union pioneered the use of them, but the U.S. and Great Britain built lots of them.

According to the National World War II Glider Pilots Association’s web site, the United States built over 13,000 CG-4A Waco gliders. Each of these gliders could carry 15 troops, or a Jeep and four paratroopers, a trailer, up to 5,000 pounds of supplies, an anti-tank gun plus operators, or a 75mm artillery piece and its crew.

Troops with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment load some heavy firepower onto a CG-4 glider. (US Army photo)

The U.S. also used British Horsa gliders to carry even larger groups of troops (up to 30 in a glider) or bigger amounts of supplies. Over 300 of these gliders were used on D-Day, one of those instances where the arsenal of democracy had to borrow a plane made by an ally.

About 6,500 glider pilots were trained during World War II, taking part in eight missions from Sicily to Luzon. In the 1950s, advancements in transport aircraft, both fixed-wing and rotary-wing, led to the glider units being deactivated in 1952. But the gliders helped deliver firepower, troops, and supplies during World War II – when that ability was needed.

The video below shows how gliders were used during the Normandy invasion.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Future body armor could be two atoms thick

If you’ve been a grunt, then you probably have a love-hate relationship with body armor. You love having it in a firefight — it can save your life by stopping or slowing bullets and fragments — but you hate how heavy it is — it’s often around 25 pounds for the armor and outer tactical vest (more if you add the plate inserts to stop up to 7.62mm rounds). It’s bulky — and you really can’t move as well in it. In fact, in one firefight, a medic removed his body armor to reach wounded allies, earning a Distinguished Service Cross.


Marines in Interceptor Body Armor (USMC photo)

Imagine if the body armor were just another part of your clothes, like a light jacket. Imagine not having to haul around those extra 30 pounds. Well, troops may not have to imagine much longer. According to a release from the Advanced Science Research Center at the City University of New York, body armor could soon have the thickness of just two atoms. This is due to how graphene acts under certain conditions.

By applying pressure at the nanoscale with an indenter to two layers of graphene, each one-atom thick, CUNY researchers transformed the honeycombed graphene into a diamond-like material at room temperature. (Photo by Ella Maru Studio)

“Previously, when we tested graphite or a single atomic layer of graphene, we would apply pressure and feel a very soft film. But when the graphite film was exactly two-layers thick, all of a sudden we realized that the material under pressure was becoming extremely hard and as stiff, or stiffer, than bulk diamond,” lead researcher Elisa Riedo, a physics professor at CUNY said in the release.

The Torso and Extremity Protection System

This could have profound implications for personal protection and for creating protective coatings to reduce wear on essential components, like tires. While the new armor is still years away, troops can look forward to a lighter load, thanks to graphene, at some point in the future. That will be a huge weight off their minds — and bodies.

Articles

This is Russia’s ‘father of all bombs’ in response to the U.S.’s ‘mother of all bombs’

Russian Government Photo


On September 11, 2007, Russia announced to the world that it had successfully tested the world’s most powerful nonnuclear bomb.

The “father of all Bombs,” (FOAB)named in response to America’s smaller “mother of all Bombs,” has the power of a nuclear bomb but does not produce chemical or radioactive fallout.

“The results of tests of the aviation explosive device that has been created have shown that it is comparable with nuclear weapons in its efficiency and potential,” Alexander Rukshin, deputy chief of the Russian armed forces, told Russia’s ORT First Channel in 2007.

“The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature. All that is alive merely evaporates. At the same time, I want to stress that the action of this weapon does not contaminate the environment, in contrast to a nuclear one.”

The lack of environmental damage from the FOAB is as a double-edged sword as it makes the bomb less likely to cause the sort of massive destruction that a nuclear bomb would produce through fallout. This lack of fallout, though, also heightens the chances that the FOAB would be used in a military confrontation.

The FOAB, according to RT, is a thermobaric bomb. This sort of weapon explodes in midair, which ignites a fuel-air mixture.

This then proceeds to cause an incredibly hot and powerful outward blast that vaporizes targets and can collapse structures. The FOAB can produce blasts and aftershocks as powerful as a nuclear blast.

The blast from the FOAB is equivalent to a blast yield of 44 tons of TNT. The FOAB has a destruction radius of nearly 1,000 feet.

Everything within that area becomes superheated to the point that surfaces melt, and the ground takes on an almost moon-like quality.

In addition, the burning of gases within the vicinity by the blast produces a vacuum, which can compound damage by dragging nearby objects toward the epicenter of the explosion.

Watch:

Articles

Meet the zombie ISIS leader who seems to never die

A US military commander said on Aug. 31 that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is probably still alive and hiding in the Euphrates River valley between Iraq and Syria.


“We’re looking for him every day. I don’t think he’s dead,” Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the counter-IS coalition, said in a conference call with reporters.

Townsend said he didn’t “have a clue” where Baghdadi is precisely, but he believes the reclusive extremist leader may have fled with other IS militants to the river valley region after IS lost control of its former bastions in Mosul, Tal Afar, and parts of Raqqa.

US Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve commanding general, speaks with Airmen, Marines, and coalition personnel thanking them for the many contributions in support of OIR during an all-call. USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Andy M. Kin.

“The last stand of ISIS will be in the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” Townsend said, using another well-known acronym for the extremist group. “When we find him, I think we’ll just try to kill him first. It’s probably not worth all the trouble to try and capture him.”

There have been reports of Baghdadi’s death as recently as June, when the Russian Army said it was trying to verify whether he died in an air strike in Syria.

“I’ve seen no convincing evidence, intelligence, or open-source or other rumor or otherwise that he’s dead,” said Townsend. “There are also some indicators in intelligence channels that he’s still alive.”

Articles

This is how the ‘Miracle at Dunkirk’ saved World War II for the Allies

From May 26 to Jun. 4, 1940, one of the largest evacuations in human history saved approximately 338,000 Allied troops and gave the Allies the strength to continue resisting Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich.


The operation was more successful than the planners’ wildest dreams, partially because of the skill and bravery of boat crews and troops but also because of horrible decisions by the German high command.

The days leading up to the evacuation were characterized by one of the most effective German Blitzkriegs. British, Belgian, and French forces were falling back across France and a thrust by Germany through the Ardennes successfully cut the Allied force in half. By May 19, Britain was looking for ways to get its expeditionary force back across the channel.

Troops line up on the beaches in hopes of rescue at Dunkirk. Photo: Imperial War Museum

A failed counterattack on May 21 sealed France’s fate but Germany’s advances made it appear impossible to stage a large evacuation. The Germans crossed the canals near Dunkirk by May 24 and were about to capture Dunkirk, the last port the British could feasibly use. Luckily, Hitler ordered his Panzers to stop advancing and to even fall back a short distance to the canals.

Hitler’s reasoning is a source of debate, but two main factors are thought to have been uppermost in his mind.

First, Hermann Goering may have been successful in his attempts to convince the fuhrer that the Luftwaffe could kill the troops on the beaches of Dunkirk . Also, there was a chance that Hitler believed that Britain was more likely to surrender if it hadn’t been embarrassed and didn’t have the slaughter of approximately 200,000 of its own troops to rally around.

French troops fill a ship evacuating Dunkirk. Photo: Public Domain

Unfortunately for Hitler, Britain sent nearly the entirety of the Royal Air Force, including planes from the defensive-in-nature British Metropolitan Air Force, to cover Operation Dynamo. Working with French and British navy ships in the waters below, they were able to establish a weak air superiority over the beaches and parts of the channel, limiting the chances for the Luftwaffe to attack.

On May 25, King George VI declared a national day of prayer and attended a special service at Westminster Abbey. The next day, Operation Dynamo kicked off. Almost 400,000 British, Belgian, and French troops lined up in the water and on the beaches in hopes of rescue. Senior commanders were skeptical that they could get even 25 percent of them to safety.

British troops walk through the water to waiting ships. Photo: Imperial War Museum

In a perimeter around Dunkirk, British and French units prepared to fight delaying actions, often to the last man, to give their buddies a chance to retreat. On May 26, these troops were sorely tested. The Belgian King Leopold, whose troops were cut off in small pockets and being quickly overwhelmed, surrendered to the Nazis and Hitler allowed the Panzers to attack Dunkirk.

As the tanks crashed against the defenders, the Royal Air Force and other planes desperately fought to keep the Nazis away from the ships. The Royal Navy was attempting to evacuate as many men as possible, but found itself unable to keep up.

British leaders finally announced to the public how desperate the situation on the beaches was. Dunkirk was burning to the ground and troops were being bombed on the sand and strafed as they stood neck-deep in the water. The public responded valiantly, cobbling together hundreds of privately-owned vessels to form a flotilla of “Little Ships” that became a symbol of British perseverance.

Troops rescued from Dunkirk celebrate on their way to safety. Photo: Public Domain

The action drug on for days as six destroyers, eight personnel ships, and about 200 small craft were sunk and tens of thousands of men were killed or captured. But, 338,000 troops were rescued, approximately 140,000 from the British Expeditionary Force and 198,000 from the Polish, French, and Belgian armies. Forty-thousand were lost, either captured or killed.

In Britain, “Dunkirk Spirit” became a symbol of national pride, an embodiment of how Britons could come together to face down any foe and overcome any challenge. Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke in the House of Commons, saying that Britain would fight on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields, and in the streets.

Articles

This milspouse went through the 9 circles of hell to get her family’s stuff out of storage

(Artist’s rendition)


The end of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move does not always mean that you’re having your household goods delivered immediately.  Thankfully, the military offers some free storage with each move.  But what happens when your free government storage ends?

Last summer, my family PCS’d from Europe to the US.  We decided to renovate our house before moving in, and so we moved in with my mother “temporarily.”  In August.

Our household goods arrived in September, and so our 90 days of temporary storage began.  When the 90 days was up, my husband requested, and was granted, an extension for another 90 days.  Which ended a bit ago.  And we’re still at my mother’s house.

After evaluating all the options, my husband decided that our best choice was to keep our household goods in their current storage location, but start paying for the storage ourselves.   In this type of situation, the military still retains responsibility for the final delivery fees, which makes this option attractive.

After approximately 4,276 emails back and forth between the company who has our storage shipment, the personal property people, the transportation management people, and the legal services office, we were told that in order to “move” (not move) our items from government storage to personal storage, we would have to have the shipment inspected.  The price for the inspection is based upon weight; ours is somewhere in the $900 range.

We asked a lot of questions about who is responsible for the items at which point in the process, and got a lot of conflicting answers and a lot of “well, the rules keep changing” type of answers.

Then, we had to decide what type of insurance we wanted on the items in storage:  the free basic coverage or additional coverage for an additional cost.  There was a lot of back and forth about whether which insurance choice required inspection, but it seemed we were paying for an inspection anyway, so I never did get all the details about that issue.

Which brings us to today, when many questions were answered and even more questions were developed.

We were told to show up at the warehouse at 9 am to inspect our shipment.  When we arrived, we were taken to a corner of the warehouse with 11 of our 15 crates staged.  We repeatedly asked “how does this liability thing work?” and “At what point the process do we file a claim for damages that occurred prior to today?” but didn’t get a lot of answers.  We also didn’t get any instructions.

Our very nice crew started uncrating our items.  Anything that was in a box or a wrapped tub, we noted any damages to the carton, and all furniture was unwrapped and inspected.  The moving company rep was making notes and we were making notes and discussing which damage was new and how much was old moving damage or just normal wear and tear of life.  I took some pictures of damage that was notable, and I thought things were going pretty well.  Items were being re-crated as we went, and the process was smooth and organized.

After lunch, someone in the company decided that the process wasn’t moving fast enough, so they simultaneously added an extra crew member and instructed them to “just get everything unpacked.”  I should have put my foot down right then, but I couldn’t possibly have anticipated the chaos that ensued.  Instead of taking things out, inspecting what needed to be inspected, and then putting things back, it became a mad rush to empty the remaining 8 crates onto the warehouse floor.  I did occasionally ask, “Um, how is this going to work?” and was repeatedly reassured that they had a plan.

Once every crate was unpacked, the team decided to do a thorough search through the approximately 250 items, looking for 5 missing items.   This is when I realized that my discomfort was not irrational – this was madness!  The day was ending, we had 8 crates of stuff scattered across about 1000 square feet, with random things stacked this way and that, and about 10 items of furniture unwrapped but not yet inspected and additional items still wrapped.  I’m not sure if it was the tone or the actual words, but the crew finally got the message that we were not happy.  They pulled in additional crew members and everyone started frantically organizing and inspecting and (still!) looking for the missing items.

During this frenzy, it somehow became clear what was happening with regard to the inventorying.  The crew wasn’t helping us inspect for damage to make a claim; they were inventorying the condition of items to cover their own liability.  Any information being used for our claim needed to be coming from our notes.  This makes perfect sense, in retrospect, but it would have been significantly more helpful to have known that BEFORE we started, not 7 1/2 hours into unpacking and repacking.

At 5 p.m., some guy who we’d not yet seen (despite having talked to at least 10 people) showed up and announced that the warehouse was closing for the evening and we’d have to come back tomorrow.  Whoa, Nellie!  Number one, we’re not available tomorrow.  Number two, this is the sort of information that should have been shared at any point prior to now.  Number three, the reason we’re in this situation is because someone in your company decided that the previous system wasn’t working and messed with it.  I’m pretty irritated that has somehow become my problem.

After a few heated words, it became clear that we really didn’t have any choice but to return.  Neither my husband or I can cancel our activities for tomorrow, so it was decided that the company would do their inspection, repack as much as possible, and leave out the items that we needed to inspect when I return on Friday.

On the way out, we checked with our office contact and asked a few more questions.  It was at this point in time that we were told that we should have been making all those damage notes on the claim form.  I asked where we got those and was informed that we should have been given them at the beginning of the day.  She tracked down our forms and handed them over for us to transcribe all our notes before returning on Friday.  It seems that our 70 days to claim damage starts with today’s inspection.  Nice to know.

It feels like there is a lot more to say about this “process,” and I suspect I’ll be updating this as things evolve, but I want to get it all out to you while it is fresh in my head.

If you find yourself in a situation where your government storage ends before your storage needs end, be sure to explore all the other options.  Hopefully, this will provide some insight into the option of keeping your items with the same company that is already storing them.  It is by no means a complete or definitive guide, but our experiences that may help you do it better than we are.

Articles

This guy built a flying Spitfire from scratch

Bob DeFord really wanted to fly one of the iconic Spitfire airplanes that saved England from Nazi invasion during the Battle of Britain, but the things can sell for millions of dollars at auction, even in rough condition.


So instead he worked with a small group of friends for eight years and created a full-scale Spitfire Mk. IX, the plane that gave British pilots a better chance against the feared Focke-Wulf 190.

(Image: YouTube/EAA)

DeFord’s creation isn’t a perfect replica. The wings and some other parts are wood where the true Mk. IXs are metal, and the engine is an Allison V-1710 instead of the Merlin 60.

But for what amounts to a flying model, DeFord’s piece is amazingly accurate. The distinct Spitfire wings are properly shaped and a rear-view mirror, improvised from a soup ladle and a car mirror, sits over the cockpit in a nearly picture-perfect imitation of the real thing.

(Image: YouTube/EAA)

The rear-view mirror cost DeFord an estimated $12 — not bad when original mirrors from World War II sell for $300.

There are even stand-ins for the four 20mm cannons that gave the Spitfire its deadly punch.

DeFord tells his story in the video below. Cut to 3:09 to see the bird in flight:

Articles

This 1941 cartoon nailed modern Army life

As 1941-America faced the prospect of entering World War II, Looney Tunes made a cartoon that perfectly captured the struggles of Army life. Surprisingly (or maybe not considering the timeless nature of serving), the jokes still work in the modern Army.


There are those annoying times that soldiers playing bummer Army games like “Never-Ending Ruck March” have to walk past a sign for civilian luxuries like trains.

The cartoon, voiced by legends like Mel Blanc, even takes shots at what it’s like to train with tight budgets, something service members dealing with sequestration can understand.

In 1941, the paratroopers appear to have been the most affected by budget cuts and having to use “simulated” gear.

GIF: YouTube/CC Cartoons

The machine gunners get off easy since they can practice firing in 3 to 5-second bursts using food in the chow hall.

GIF: YouTube/CC Cartoons

(The whole thing is pretty funny, so check it out below):