These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization - We Are The Mighty
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These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
(Photo: Semper Fi Fund)


During the spring of 2003, the first medivacs were returning to Camp Pendleton from the battlefield of Iraq. Karen Guenther, a Marine Corps spouse who’s husband was deployed at the time, was working at the Naval Hospital on Camp Pendleton, and saw firsthand the needs of the wounded arriving there.

Guenther immediately realized most of them were in need of basic health and comfort items, so she enlisted the help of some fellow military spouses and began assembling “welcome bags” full of toiletries, phone cards, and other items intended to make life better for the wounded Marines.

“We went out to local churches and Boy Scouts and had everybody help,” said Wendy Lethin, one of the first to join Guenther’s effort. “Everybody was very generous, but we realized there was much more than welcome bags needed.”

During this same time, the spouses learned of parents of wounded Marines sleeping in their cars while visiting hospitals because they could not afford to stay at local hospitals, and they also helped to provide an adapted vehicle to a Marine whose wife was having difficulty lifting him into their truck

“That was kind of the idea for the Semper Fi Fund,” Lethin said.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Sgt. John Peck, USMC and his wife accept their brand-new adapted vehicle from the Semper Fi Fund in 2004. (Photo: Semper Fi Fund)

Guenther gathered her group of spouses around her kitchen table in her house aboard Camp Pendleton and started brainstorming what they should do to get their collective arms around all of the needs that they saw rapidly emerging. They researched existing non-profits and were surprised that there didn’t seem to be any that were doing what they had in mind.

“We had the right group at the right time,” Lethin said. “We read all kinds of books on non profits and did our research. And we agreed to the ideals and tenants of the organization that still guide us today.”

As stated on the Semper Fi Fund’s website, the organization’s mission is to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, ensuring that they have the resources they need during their recovery and transition back to their communities.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Semper Fi Fund founder Karen Guenther. (Photo: Semper Fi Fund)

The Fund’s first official donation came for the Lighthouse Christian Church in Oceanside, California. The entire donation was given to the first three wounded Marines referred by the hospital with the thought that even if that was all that was raised it would at least help those three and their families at a difficult time in their recovery. Little did the organizers realize that that donation would be the first of many.

In the 12 years since the Semper Fi Fund has transformed the lives of thousands of wounded service members and their families. The Fund now has a dedicated staff supplemented by hundreds of volunteers around the world.

“I’m proud of what we do and how we do it,” Lethin said. “It’s a sacred duty to be able to do what we do.”

The Fund’s next major event is the “InVETational,” a charity golf tournament hosted by comedian and actor Rob Riggle (who, among other roles, is currently playing Col. Sanders in KFC commercials). Riggle is a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who served as a public affairs officer in Afghanistan. The tournament will take place at Valencia Country Club in Los Angeles on Dec. 5.

“We are so excited that Rob is doing this for the Semper Fi Fund,” Lethin said. “He has the heart of our mission. He’s a Marine who knows the power and good of what we do.”

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These fathers and sons served together in the same war (including me)

There’s a time honored tradition of military service within some families. The father serves his country to build a better life for his children. He raises his child brave enough to survive this harsh and crazy world. After their job finishes and their baby boy stands tall and raises his right hand for the oath of enlistment.


There are countless examples of fathers who watched their sons leave home to fight in the next war. But this one goes out to the fathers who raised their kid to fight in the same conflict as them.

1. Theodore Jr. and Quentin Roosevelt – World War II

Brigadier Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the only general to on D-Day onto Utah Beach. He is also the only father to have a son land that day too. Captain Quentin Roosevelt landed on Omaha Beach. Brigadier Gen. Roosevelt passed 36 days later.

For his leadership, he was post-humorously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

2. Kalvin and Matthew Neal – Iraq War

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
(Photo via The Telegraph)

This father and son served in the same unit together. Unlike in the US military, The United Kingdom’s 4th Regiment The Yorkshire Regiment allows them to deploy at the same time.

Related: This sea battle claimed the lives of 5 brothers in World War II

The father, Sgt. Neal, enlisting during the Falklands War and his son joined him in 2016. Private Neal told The Telegraph “I’m glad I’m making my dad proud. But I don’t mind going up against him when it comes to the fitness side of things. We do a mile and a half run, and we always go head-to-head there.”

3. John, John Jr and Robert Kelly – Iraq and Afghanistan War

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
(Photo via Arlington National Cemetery Website)

Both sons of new Homeland Security chief Gen. John F. Kelly’s sons become officers in the Marine Corps — Maj. John Kelly Jr. and 1st Lt. Robert Kelly. Lieutenant Kelly was killed in action in 2010. General Kelly became the highest-ranking officer to become a gold star parent during the Global War on Terrorism.

4. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr and Richard B. Fitzgibbon III – Vietnam War

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
(Photo via The Boston Globe)

Tech Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. was the first American killed in the Vietnam War. Years later, Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III was also killed in action. They are one of three father and son duos that both lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

5. George H. and William (Edward) Black – Civil War

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Lieutenant George H. Black was commissioned in the 21st Indiana Volunteers. His son, Pvt. William Black, would join him as a drummer boy. Private Black is the youngest soldier in United States history at the age of 8. Private Black became wounded at 12, making him also the youngest wounded in combat.

Related: This is the youngest soldier wounded in the Civil War

Is there any notable father and sons that served together in the same war left out? Did you and your father (or you and your child) serve together? Let us know in the comment section.

*Bonus* William, Andrew and Eric Milzarski

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo via Facebook

Writer’s Note– This goes out to my father, 1st Lt. William Milzarski. Happy Father’s Day. I love you, dad.

Lieutenant Milzarski first enlisted in 1990 and deployed during Operation Desert Storm. After raising three badass kids, he commissioned around the same time both of his sons enlisted. All three deployed to Afghanistan between 2010 and 2012.

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85,551 things the Pentagon could have bought with that wasted $125 Billion

A recent report by FoxNews.com and the Washington Post noted that the Pentagon bureaucracy covered up over $125 billion in “administrative waste” over five years. So, what could the Pentagon have gotten for $125 billion? Let’s take a look at a combination of three things that the wasted money could have bought for the troops:


21 Zumwalt-class destroyers at $3.96 billion each (total: $83.16 billion)

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
USS Zumwalt, first of three commissioned DDG-1000 Destroyers | U.S. Navy

The Navy, short on land-attack hulls, could use the extra firepower for amphibious groups. The thing is, buying 21 more Zumwalts would probably also knock down the unit cost some more, as buying in bulk usually does. If you don’t believe me, compare the price of soda at Costco to the cost at your local grocery store.

As a side effect, getting 24 Zumwalts would probably have saved the Long-Range Land-Attack Projectile from cancellation, largely because with a larger purchase order, the price per shell would have gone way down.

200 F-22 Raptors at $154.6 million each (total $30.92 billion)

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
F-22 Raptors from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, fly over Alaska May 26, 2010. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

With this, you get a much larger force of F-22 Raptors – the premiere air-dominance fighter in the world. The fly-away cost is actually comparable to the LRIP cost of the F-35. The real thing this does is it gives the United States Air Force more quantity for the missions it has. Originally, plans called for 749 airframes from the Advanced Tactical Fighter program (which lead to the F-22).

Congress has already studied putting the Raptor back into production, incidentally. The 200 purchased would push the total to a little more than half of the initial planned total.

360 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles at $22 million each (total $7.92 billion)

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

The AAV-7A1 first entered service in 1972. It’s slow, not as-well-protected as other armored vehicles, and has only a M2 .50-caliber machine gun and a Mk 19 grenade launcher as armament. It also has great difficulty keeping up with the M1A1 Abrams tanks in the Marine Corps inventory.

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle not only brought better protection, it had a 30mm chain gun, and could keep up with the Abrams while carrying 18 fully-armed Marines. It got cancelled by then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Maybe Secretary of Defense Mattis can bring it back?

85,000 XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement Systems at $35,000 each (total $2.975 billion)

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
U.S. Army photo.

This system has been in budget limbo since some initial combat deployments with the 10st Airborne Division (Air Assault) showed great promise. In fact, this system was quickly called “The Punisher” by the troops. The Army Times reported in 2011 that firefights that would usually take 15 to 20 minutes ended in much less time.

Why buy 85,000 systems? Well, the Army will need a lot to equip its active and National Guard forces. But why should the Marines, Navy SEALs, and other ground-pounding units be left out?

So, think about what that $125 billion could have bought … then be furious that the money got wasted and that the waster was covered up. Oh, and food for thought: That means there is $25 billion a year in “administrative waste” every year.

So, what would you use that extra $25 billion a year for after taking care of this shopping list?

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These 18 photos show the bravery of US troops during the Battle of the Bulge

On Dec. 16, 1944, Nazi Germany launched a counteroffensive against the Allied powers. The sneak attack began with a massive assault of over 200,000 troops and 1,000 tanks, aimed to divide and conquer the Allied forces. Some English-speaking Germans dressed in American uniforms to slip past the defenses.


After just one day of fighting, the Germans managed to isolate the American 101st Airborne Division and capture a series of key bridges and communication lines. Over the next two days, Patton’s Third Army would batter through miles of German tanks and infantry to reach the trapped paratroopers.

The fighting continued through the beginning of Jan. 1945 when Hitler finally agreed with his generals to pull back the German forces.

Here are 18 photos from the historic battle that show what life was like in the winter Hell.

1. American and German troops battled viciously for Belgian villages that were destroyed by artillery, tank fire, and bombs.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
3rd Armored Division infantrymen advance under artillery fire at Pont-Le-Ban, Belgium on Jan. 15, 1945. Photo: US Army

2. The battle was fought across a massive front featuring forests, towns, and large plains.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

3. With deep snow covering much of the ground, medics relied on sleds to help evacuate the wounded.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Medics remove an American casualty from the wood near Berle, Lusxembourg on Jan. 12, 1945

4. Troops lucky enough to get winter camouflage blended in well with the snow.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Two elements of the 84th Division meet up at an abandoned mill near River L’Ourt, Belgium on Jan. 15, 1945

5. Troops who weren’t so lucky stood out in stark contrast to the white ground during the Battle of the Bulge.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
American infantrymen of the 290th Regiment fight in fresh snowfall near Amonines, Belgium on Jan. 4, 1945.

6. Troops were often separated from their units due to the chaotic nature of the battle. They would usually find their way back on foot.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
101st Airborne Division paratroopers Pfc. M.L. Dickens of East Omaha, Nebraska, Pvt. Sunny Sundquist of Bremerton, Washington, and Sgt. Francis H. McCann of Middleton, Conn., set out to rejoin their unit near Bastogne on Jan. 11, 1945.

7. Each side lost about 1,000 tanks in the battle and the burned out wrecks littered the countryside.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Infantry supporting engineers pass a knocked out German tank on their way to the front at Compogne, Belgium on Jan. 15, 1945.

8. In towns, Luftwaffe bombing killed many soldiers and civilians while destroying the buildings and equipment everywhere.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

9. Medics would evacuate the wounded from these areas to safer hospitals when possible.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

10. In caves and bomb shelters, Allied doctors and medics treated the civilians wounded by battle or sick from exposure to the elements.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Captain Charles S. Quinn (right) of Louisville, Kentucky, bandages the gangrene-infected foot of Belgian refugee child in a cellar in Ottre, Belgium on Jan. 11, 1945. Captain Quinn was a battalion surgeon with the 83rd Division, First Army.

11. The soldiers could also fall prey to the elements. The extreme cold and sometimes rugged terrain posed challenges for the defenders.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Two paratroopers advance through a snow-covered, wooded section of the battlefield near Henumont, Belgium on Jan. 14, 1945.

12. Many of the forces holding the line were tank and airborne units.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: US Army

13. Camouflage was used to protect equipment when possible.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Soldiers use bedsheets donated by the locals to hide military equipment from Luftwaffe bombers and German army artillery.

14. Until the Third Army was able to open a land corridor through the siege of Bastogne, 101st Airborne Division paratroopers relied on air drops for resupply.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: US Army Signal Corps

15. The Luftwaffe and U.S. fighters fought overhead, each attempting to gain air dominance.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

16. Though the Allies would eventually win in the air and on the ground, a number of aircraft were lost.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
A crashed plane lies in the snow near Remagne, Belgium on Jan. 13, 1945.

17. As more Allied troops were sent to reclaim the lost territory in Jan. 1945, they were forced to pass the remains of those already killed.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

18. Troops held memorial services for their fallen comrades whenever possible.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Engineers fire in a memorial service during the Battle of the Bulge. Photo: US Army

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Marine receives Silver Star for thwarting assassination attempt

The Marine Corps will present the third-highest combat award to an Iraq War veteran on Thursday, following a review that upgraded his commendation.


Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Glenn M. Walters, is slated to present the Silver Star Medal to Capt. Andrew Kim, an officer serving with Marine Corps Logistics Operations Group, at the Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms on Thursday.

The ceremony stems from a Pentagon initiative to review all valor awards after Sept. 11, 2001. Kim initially received a Bronze Star Medal for valorous actions performed on Aug. 6, 2003, while serving as a counterintelligence specialist with Task Force Scorpion of the 1st Marine Marine Division in Iraq, according to a press release issued Monday by the Marine Corps.

An Iraqi man approached Kim, his team chief, a linguist and a source. He suddenly drew a pistol and shot Kim’s team chief in the neck.

A sergeant at the time, Kim immediately returned fire, killing the assassin. He was then hit repeatedly by small arms fire from the rear. Disregarding his own wounds, Kim ushered his fallen team chief into a vehicle and exited the ambush’s kill zone, pursued by five Iraqis in a white pickup truck.

His vehicle sprayed by volleys of enemy fire, Kim drove to a light armored reconnaissance security element and ordered a deadly counterattack on the enemy — “bold” actions theMarine Corps concluded showed “undaunted courage and complete dedication to duty,” plus “gallantry and effectiveness under fire” that “saved the lives of all those conducting the mission,” according to this award citation.

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Congress just made it a crime to post nude photos of troops without permission

The House has unanimously approved legislation that makes it a crime for U.S. service members to distribute intimate photos or videos of people without first getting their consent.


The measure is a direct response to a nude-photo sharing scandal that has rocked the Marine Corps. Lawmakers voted 418-0 to pass the bill Wednesday.

The scandal came to light after it was discovered that sexually explicit photos of female and male Marines were being shared on a secret Facebook page.

Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona, the bill’s sponsor, says the “Neanderthals” who posted the photos aren’t emblematic of the vast majority of U.S. troops. But she says the idea that any one in uniform thinks it’s acceptable to upload and comment on nude photos is a problem that must be fixed.

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The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

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


AIR FORCE

The Air Force and its mission partners successfully launched the AFSPC-5 mission aboard the Space and Missile Systems Center procured United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, May 20, 2015.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: United Launch Alliance

Tech. Sgt. Bruce Ramos, a 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 1 radio operator, raises an American flag from an MC-130P Combat Shadow while it taxis at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 15, 2015.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson/USAF

NAVY

The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, perform a flyover during a graduation and commissioning ceremony for the Naval Academy Class of 2015.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Anthony Koch/USN

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for an independent deployment.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan/USN

ARMY

BIG STEP – On Tuesday, May 19, students at the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School conducted helocast drills. Helocasting is an airborne insertion technique used by small special operations forces to enter denied areas of operations.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Janice Burton/US Army

An Army AH-64 Apache air crew, assigned to 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division conducts pre-flight checks prior to an air-assault operation, part of the Network Integration Evaluation 15.2 exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Sgt. Jose D. Ramirez/US Army

MARINE CORPS

Landing craft air cushion conduct an amphibious assault during the MARFORPAC-hosted U.S. Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS) at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Staff Sgt. Jason W. Fudge/USMC

An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank with 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires its 120 mm smoothbore cannon during a live-fire event as part of Exercise Eager Lion 2015 in Jordan.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Sgt. Devin Nichols

COAST GUARD

Rescue crews from the Coast Guard 1st District don immersion suits to practice cold water survival in Boston Harbor near the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell/USN

A Coast Guard crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols Boston Harbor near the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Photo: Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell/USCG

NOW: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

AND: 19 of the coolest military mottos

OR: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

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The reason the M1 Garand used to jam every 7th round

The M1 Garand was the standard service rifle of the United States during WWII. Technologically superior to the bolt-action rifles primarily fielded by other armies, the semi-automatic M1 gave American G.I.s a distinct advantage in fire superiority on the battlefield. Even General George S. Patton called it, “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” However, the M1 did exhibit an unusual hiccup early in its production.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
The M1 Garand served on all fronts in American hands and even with foreign allied armies (Public Domain)

The adoption of the Garand by the Army in 1936 placed America on the cutting edge of infantry small arms. Other self-loading rifles like the Pedersen and Johnson rifles were also presented to the Army. However, John Garand’s design was chosen for its reliability and ease of use. Most notably, the Garand’s en-bloc clip was the same on the top and bottom and could be loaded into the rifle either way. Moreover, the eight double-stacked rounds could be loaded into the clip with the top round on the left or right. This simplified production and logistics and made the Garand easy to load in the heat of battle.

Handmade Garands performed flawlessly in testing. To streamline future mass production, the Springfield National Armory produced Garands on tooling machinery to evaluate the process. This way, if a war broke out and hundreds of thousands of rifles needed to be produced by contracted civilian companies, Springfield would be able to share their best practices for efficient production. Sure enough, a problem was found in the Garand: the rifle would jam every 7th round.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
The M1 wouldn’t jam if the top round was loaded on the left (Miguel Ortiz)

Upon further evaluation, Springfield engineers discovered that the M1’s 7th round would jam if the clip’s top round was loaded on the right. This bizarre problem puzzled the engineers. However, there was no time to solve it. The Army wanted to showcase its new rifle at the 1938 National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. Like the SHOT Show of its time, any attendee would be able to try out the newly adopted M1 Garand on the range. It wouldn’t seem like such a great rifle if every 7th round jammed though. The Army needed to do something to hide the issue.

A stopgap measure was developed by Col. James Hatcher of the Ordnance Department. Hatcher modified the followers of the Camp Perry rifles so that they would only accept clips with the top round loaded on the left. Additionally, because all the ammunition would be provided by the Army, Hatcher dictated that all the Camp Perry clips be loaded with the top round on the left. This eliminated any chance of the Garands experiencing the 7th round jam. Thanks to Hatcher, the 200 M1 Garands showcased at the National Matches worked perfectly.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
The guide rail nub circled in yellow that must remain intact to prevent the jam (Miguel Ortiz)

Eventually, an assistant foreman at Springfield named Walter Campbell discovered the cause of the jam. Within the rifle’s receiver are two large guide rails that hold the clip in place. In order to install the barrel in the receiver, the nub on top of the right fore guide rail was removed. As it happens, this was the cause of the jamming. The guide rails of the 200 Camp Perry rifles were welded to replace the cut nub and all future Garands were produced with the nub intact. With these fixes, the 7th round jam was eliminated.

Thanks to Hatcher, the reputation of the Garand remained intact through its production hiccup. More importantly, thanks to Campbell, the rifle functioned properly by the time it reached the hands of American troops. The Garand went on to serve as the standard U.S. service rifle until 1958 and was even used in the Army Reserves, National Guard, and Navy until the early 1970s.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
John Garand (left) shows the M1 rifle to U.S. Army Chief of Ordnance Gen. Charles M. Wesson (center) (Public Domain)

Featured image: World War II Infantryman, kneeling in front of M3 Half-track, holds an M1 Garand rifle at the ready. Fort Knox, Kentucky, June 1942. Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

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This American POW disfigured himself so he couldn’t be used for propaganda

“I will never surrender of my own free will. If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.”

These statements, and others, are part of the Six Articles of the Code of Conduct. Applying to all members of the U.S. military, the Code of Conduct provides guidance to service members on the battlefield and in the event that they become a prisoner of war. During the Vietnam War, one American sailor exemplified the code like no other.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Stockdale exits his A-4 Skyhawk (U.S. Navy)

James Bond Stockdale (yes, that was his real name) began his naval career as a surface officer. Following his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1947, Stockdale served primarily on destroyers.

In 1949, Stockdale was selected for naval flight training. The next year, he was designated a Naval Aviator. He trained at Pensacola, Corpus Christi and Norfolk. In 1954, Stockdale was accepted into the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River and completed the training in July of that year. As a test pilot, Stockdale tutored Marine Aviator and future first American to orbit the Earth John Glenn.

In 1959, Stockdale attended Stanford University and earned a Master of Arts in international relations. Though he preferred flying fighter planes to studying textbooks, Stockdale later credited Stoic philosophy with helping him get through his time as a POW in the Vietnam War.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
USS Maddox (DD-731) was involved in the initial Gulf of Tonkin Incident (U.S. Navy)

On August 2, 1964, USS Maddox (DD-731) engaged three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats in the Tonkin Gulf. When the ships broke contact, four F-8 Crusader fighters from USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) engaged the torpedo boats. As commander of VF-51 (Fighter Squadron 51), Stockdale led the attack on the boats. Although none of their rockets connected, they scored multiple hits with their 20mm cannons. Two nights later, Stockdale again flew overhead during a second reported attack. However, he later recounted that there were no enemies in the area. “[I] had the best seat in the house to watch that event, and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets…There was nothing there but black water and American firepower.”

The next morning, August 5, 1964, President Johnson ordered bombing raids on North Vietnamese military targets. When Stockdale was informed of the retaliatory strikes, he responded by asking, “Retaliation for what?” During his time as a POW, Stockdale constantly feared that he would reveal his knowledge of the controversial Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Stockdale takes pre-flight notes in 1965 (U.S. Navy)

On September 5, 1965, Stockdale flew a mission over North Vietnam from the USS Oriskany (CV-34). His A-4 Skyhawk was hit by enemy fire and disabled, forcing him to eject. He landed in a small village, was badly beaten and taken prisoner. For over seven years, Stockdale was held at the Hỏa Lò Prison, better known as the infamous Hanoi Hilton.

As the senior naval officer in the prison, Stockdale was one of the primary organizers of American POW resistance. He created and enforced the Code of Conduct for his fellow prisoners. This included their behavior under torture/interrogation, secret communications and even planned escape attempts. All of this made Stockdale a favorite of North Vietnamese interrogators who knew that the high-ranking aviator would have valuable information.

During his time in captivity, Stockdale was routinely beaten and denied medical care for his leg which was severely broken during his capture. Stockdale’s leg would be broken twice during his time at the Hanoi Hilton. Whenever he was caught with information that could implicate his fellow prisoners, he would slit his own wrists so that he could not be tortured into confessing. Still, his most famous act of defiance came in the summer of 1969.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Stockdale with President Nixon at the White House (White House)

Stockdale was locked in a bath stall and chained in leg irons to be tortured and beaten. His captors told him that he was to be paraded in public and made an example of. To keep from being exploited, Stockdale used a razor and slit his own scalp. Disfigured, the North Vietnamese wouldn’t be able to use Stockdale for their propaganda. When his captors tried to cover his head with a hat and salvage their exploitation, Stockdale used a stool to beat his own face swollen beyond recognition. As a result, the North Vietnamese gave up on trying to exploit him for propaganda.

On Feb. 12, 1973, Stockdale was released as a POW during Operation Homecoming. Three years later, he received the Medal of Honor for his actions and leadership in captivity. Although his injuries as a POW prevented him from returning to flight status, Stockdale remained in the Navy and made Vice Admiral before retiring in 1979.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Stockdale after his Medal of Honor ceremony (White House)

Today, Stockdale’s exemplary resistance in captivity is used as a model for SERE School students learning the Code of Conduct.

Feature Image: U.S. Navy photo

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5 real life games you can play to get ready for war

Most service members played Army when they were kids. And throughout our childhood educational years, we were presented with a host of games that stretch our minds and hone our analytical skills.


In the military, the goal isn’t much different — though the information is just delivered through alternative means like “death by PowerPoint.” And isn’t nearly as much fun

Related: 5 crazy games you played while in the military

So to avoid the boredom of paper and screens, we compiled a list of real life games you can play stateside that will increase your unit’s communication, physical stamina, and mental toughness.

1. Laser Tag

Running into a low-lit terrorist cell with weapons at the ready with your adrenaline pumping and still being ready to “expect the unexpected” while you clear the room can be incredibly stressful.

Dial back the dangerous nature of the mission and you could have a friendly game of laser tag.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

2. Treasure hunt

In grade school, we used to bury or hide objects at the playground, draw a detailed map where we left them and dare our friends to hunt down the prize — sounds easy.

Pretty much what land navigation is today minus the prize, it’s now your objective.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

3. Flag football

It was in the late 1860s that the football game kicked off between Princeton and Rutgers — and at the time, players typically played both offense and defense. This game requires plenty of communication and sets each player into different jobs and rolls.

While on patrol or in a convoy, if allied forces take contact from the bad guys, it’s up to the leader to “quarterback” the defensive strategy and instruct men how to bring the fight to the enemy.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
The Company Grade Officers Council goes for another touchdown during their flag football game at Eglin Air Force Base, (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

4. 52 cards

You can pull many different infantry games from a deck of playing cards. The main focus is to develop a game to build muscle memory. Assign an exercise or action drill for every suit in the deck and use the cards’ face value for the number of repetitions.

First one through the deck is the winner.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

Also Read: 5 things I wish I knew before deployment

5. Blindfolded tag

We conduct military operations at night, attacking the enemy once the sun goes down when they least expect it. There’s no better way to learn to fight if your night vision goes down while you’re stateside than blindfolded tag.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

 

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

They’re like normal memes, but more violent and rude.


1. It’s getting towards fall. Make sure you don’t lose any officers.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
In their defense, there really aren’t any good landmarks in there.

2. The Marines really fight so aggressively because they want first dibs on the slide.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Some muzzle discipline would be nice, but it is a playground.

SEE ALSO: These crazy photos show 30+ ton tanks in flight

3. Why drill sergeants deserve special badges.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Seriously, how do they show up to basic this helpless? Have they seen ANY action movies?

4. If you give a Jodie a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Seriously, screw that guy.

5. Do not take on the mafia. It is not worth it.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
They are sneaky, fast, and do not give a crap if you bite them as long as they can bite you too.

6. Chair Force’s real fear from sequestration: a chair shortage.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Either that or he’s just trying to prevent the jet taking off.

7. Hurricanes are just training opportunities.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
And if you’re a boatswain’s mate, this is what you’re training on.

8. Marines are generous. Ooh-rah?

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
Just remember to not take seconds until everyone has had firsts.

9. Every career counselor ever.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
They do know that civilians make money and eat food and live in houses, right?

10. The Coast Guard trains for their most feared adversary.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization

11. When commandoes place a to-go order:

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
And yes, they want it in 30 minutes or less.

 12. Special Forces trainers do not want your excuses.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
They also expect you to kill someone with that weapon, doesn’t matter that it’s plastic.

13. Good luck at your libo brief. We’re sure it’ll be riveting.

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
There’s the problem. Two energy drinks for four grunts? Way below standard.

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This is what jail is like on an aircraft carrier

Most sailors who go out on deployment don’t get into trouble. Others may find themselves on the wrong side of the shore patrol, though. Much of that can be minor, and is usually addressed with a loss of pay, or placing a sailor on restriction. But in some cases, that sailor needs to be confined.


Now, when you’re deployed to the Middle East, Mediterranean, or some other hot spot, it’s hard to ship the guy (or gal) back to the States to lock them up. So, on carriers and other large ships, the jail is brought with them – and it’s called the brig.

And in case you think that an upcoming battle earns some leeway for misbehavior, you’d best keep in mind that heading towards a fight won’t keep a sailor from getting tossed in the brig. In the book “Miracle at Midway,” historian Gordon Prange related how Marc Mitscher, captain of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV 8), threw a couple of sailors in the brig for minor infractions prior to the Battle of Midway.

In many cases where that is necessary, the sailors are sent to the brig after what is known as a “Captain’s Mast,” which is covered under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. According to Naval Orientation, the amount of time someone may be confined is limited. The exact limits depend on the rank of the commanding officer and the rank of the accused. The chart below from the linked manual explains those limits.

 

These Marine Corps spouses built the Semper Fi Fund into a global organization
(Scanned from US Navy publication)

The video clip below is from the 2008 documentary mini-series “Carrier,” produced by Mel Gibson’s production company. It provides a tour of the brig on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as it was in 2005.


Feature image: Screen capture from video link.

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15 things you didn’t know about 4th of July

Do you think you know everything about the 4th of July? The U.S. national holiday has a surprising, enlightening, and sometimes worrying history that you probably don’t know about. Millions are unaware of the truths behind how and why America really celebrates Independence Day. Some of those nagging questions you have at the back of your mind will be answered in this revealing fact list about Independence Day in the United States.


What is the true story behind 4th of July? Why is it celebrated and how? From the number of hot dogs consumed, to inside jokes with Nicolas Cage (he was kind of right, you guys), to historical untruths revealed for what they really are, you’re about to learn the secrets behind one of the most popular national holidays in America.

15 Things You Didn’t Know About the 4th of July

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