This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes - We Are The Mighty
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This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

U.S. Army doctor Col. William Gorgas paved the way for the construction of the Panama Canal by destroying the mosquitoes that spread disease and doomed an earlier French effort.


When the Panama Canal Commission began construction in 1904, they began with the remains of a failed French canal. The French effort ended in bankruptcy in part because too many workers were hospitalized or died due to infections of malaria and yellow fever. Some estimates put it as high as one-third of all workers.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
The excavation of the Panama Canal was back-breaking work. Photo: H.C. White and Co.

In Colón, an important city near the future Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, about 1 out of every 6 people was infected with malaria at any given time.

When the U.S. bought out the French company and began work, Gorgas was named the chief medical officer of the project. He immediately set his sights on controlling malaria. Gorgas had previously controlled yellow fever and malaria in Havana, Cuba by applying the research of U.S. Army Maj. Walter Reed and British Army Dr. Ronald Ross.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
US Army Maj. Walter Reed. Photo: National Library of Medicine

Ross and Reed had previously proven, during experiments with other doctors, that mosquitoes were the primary way that many diseases spread.

Gorgas drew up a $1 million plan with engineers and other doctors to reduce or eliminate the mosquitoes along the route of construction. Unfortunately, many other decision makers, including President Theodore Roosevelt, supported the “bad air” theory that said the diseases came from the soil and vapors in the air.

Roosevelt was eventually persuaded by his personal physician to back Gorgas’ plan.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
US Army Maj. Gen. William C. Gorgas during his tenure as US Army Surgeon General. Photo: US Army

Once he had the funding and support of the president, Gorgas launched one of the largest sanitation campaigns ever. More than 4,000 people were enlisted into mosquito brigades that deployed across the isthmus.

Workers cut all grass to less than 12 inches high, drained open water where possible or sprayed a film of oil on it where it wasn’t. Custom poisons were spread across areas where larvae grew. Workers cleaned homes regularly and placed screens over windows and doors.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: The Field Museum Library via Wikipedia

Progress was slow, but success did come. The campaign launched in the summer of 1905. In Aug. 1906, new yellow fever cases were at less than half of their historical norm. After Nov. 1906, no more canal workers would die of yellow fever. Malaria never went away completely, but in Jan. 1910 the death rate fell to 1 percent of the historical norm.

Gorgas went on to fight disease in South African gold mines before becoming the Army’s 22nd Surgeon General.

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9 reasons candidates are disqualified from military service

With sequestration and troop drawdowns forcing the military to record low levels of readiness, the requirements for joining the U.S. armed forces have become more stringent, and the pool of eligible recruits has become smaller. Out of the 34 million 17-24 year olds in the U.S. only 1 percent are both eligible and inclined to pursue military service, according to the Defense Department.


Here are the nine most common reasons civilians are disqualified from service:

1. Weight

Being overweight is the number one reason civilians are disqualified from joining the military, and it’s the only getting worse.

2. Education

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Having a diploma or GED is essential but with the military being more strict in their selection, having a GED doesn’t guarantee anything.

3. Can’t pass the ASVAB

The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) exam determines what job you are eligible to perform in the military.

4. Failing Urinalysis / Drug use

5. Financial/Credit history

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Recruiters will be concerned about your ability to stay focused on the mission if you have too much debt or financial stress on low junior grade pay.

6. Medical history

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Doctors will evaluate your physical readiness to ensure you can meet the physical demands of serving.

7. Gauges: Holes in ears

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

More of  the members of today’s generation are expressing their individuality in various and extreme ways, and that could be grounds for disqualification.

8. Tattoos

Even though the Army has recently relaxed their tattoo policy, tattoos on your neck, hands, and face are still not authorized.

9. Criminal record

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

If you have a history with the law it’s important you be up front about it rather than lie and have it come up in your background check later.

To see if you meet the requirements, click here for the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

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11 hiding spots for an E-4 to sham

Yeah. Sure. Not every E-4 has an engine room to hide out in, but there are plenty of other places to skate.


Now, there’s a fine line between when you just need a moment to yourself and when you’re screwing over your comrades — don’t be the guy who crosses this line.

If you need to hide, do it in a place where you’re only just a call away. That way you can keep shamming and your buddies can still cover for you.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
You can’t win wars without ’em. (Image courtesy of Under the Radar)

This list is purely for entertainment purposes. If you get caught and blame it on an article you read — that’s on you.

1. In plain sight

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

If you look like you’re squared away, people will assume you are…and will be none the wiser if you conveniently aren’t around when there’s a call for parade practice volunteers.

2. Sick Call

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Some say it’s “malingering.” Others say it’s “documenting it for the VA down the road.”

3.  Dental

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

As long as you actually show up, your leader shouldn’t see an issue with you getting your teeth taken care of.

4. Smoke Pit

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

How many times have we all heard the phrase “if you smoke, take five to ten. If you don’t, I need you to…”

There’s a lot of new faces around the smoke pit whenever they hear that.

5. Alterations

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Hey. You never know when the next Dress Uniform inspection is. Why not take the time to get it ready?

6. Post/Base Exchange (PX/BX)

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

You’d be amazed at how lenient everyone becomes when you say the phrase “Anyone want anything from the shopette?”

#7. Inside a vehicle

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Motor Pool Mondays. Someone has to check to see if the air conditioner is working or not.

8. Latrine

via GIPHYIf you got to go, you got to go. Just turn the sound off your phone before you play games.

 9. Charge of Quarters (CQ)

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Always try to get duty on a Thursday or the day before a four day starts. Who doesn’t want an extended weekend?

10. Barracks

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Be sure to use buzz words like “spotless” and “maintained” before sneaking off to play that new game you picked up earlier at the PX/BX.

11. Behind your rank

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

It’s called a “Sham Shield” for a reason. Push that duty onto someone else while you wait for close of business formation.

*Bonus* At Fort Couch

If none of these places work for you and you just have to sham, PCS to Fort Couch. No one will get on you to do anything. You really will be on your “own f-cking program.”

via GIPHY
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Here’s what embassy guards carry in case things get hot

The upcoming movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” highlights the veteran security team who protected the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya during the 2012 attack. Below is a list of weapons the defenders used to valiantly defend the compound:


1. Western assault rifles

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
A US Navy SEAL aims his SCAR during training. Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Martin L. Carey

 

Private security contractors who are alums of elite US military units often prefer the same weapons they carried in the service such as the SCAR-L or M4 assault rifles that fire 5.56mm rounds. If they want to up the caliber a little, they can go with the SCAR-H or M14, which both use a 7.62mm round.

2. AKs of varying types

Contractors and their companies can’t always get the import/export licenses they need to bring weapons into their area of operations, so companies sometimes source weapons from local vendors.

Obviously, this results in a number of contractors carrying Kalashnikovs. This was especially prevalent in the early 2000s in Iraq when the State Department started hiring private companies for overseas security but hadn’t yet begun issuing them the needed licenses to import weapons.

3. Grenade launchers

 

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
A soldier fires the M320 grenade launcher. The M320 can be slung under an M4 or M16 or carried as a standalone weapon. Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman

While private military contractors are generally associated with lighter weapons, they’re sometimes authorized mass-casualty inflicting systems like M203 or M320 grenade launchers. The grenade launcher at Benghazi was one of the defenders’ most effective weapons.

4. Shotguns

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
The Saiga-12 Shotgun. Photo: Wikimedia/SpetsnazAlpha

Shotguns can be loaded with buckshot to cripple all enemies in a confined area or slugs to immediately shutdown a single target. They also allow contractors to quickly “unlock” doors if they need to evacuate their client.

5. Light machine guns

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Characters in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi carry modified M249s like their real-world counterparts did. Photo: youtube/Paramount Pictures

When their contract and laws allow, contractors like an automatic weapon as much as any uniformed shooter. Triple Canopy guards in Iraq used the RPK which is similar in appearance to the better known AK-47. At Benghazi, contractors carried a modified version of the M249 known as the Mk 46.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

RSVP here to attend a free screening of “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” at ATT Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on Jan. 13.

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Here are the best military photos for the week of Mar. 4

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


AIR FORCE:

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron approaches the boom pod of a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 909th Aerial Refueling Squadron to receive fuel during Cope North 2017, Feb. 22, 2017. The exercise includes 22 total flying units and more than 2,700 personnel from three countries and continues the growth of strong, interoperable relationships within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region through integration of airborne and land-based command and control assets.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith James

Staff Sgt. Todd Hughes checks the anti-ice detector during an intake inspection on a Thunderbirds F-16C at Daytona Beach, Fla., February 24, 2017. The Thunderbirds will be performing the flyover during the opening ceremonies of the Daytona 500 race on Sunday. Hughes is a dedicated crew chief assigned to the team.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz

ARMY:

1st Sgt. Erik Carlson, Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division awaits transportation at an extraction point after a successful airborne operation in Deadhorse, Alaska, February 22. The battalion’s Arctic capabilities were tested as temperatures with wind chill reached as low as 63 below zero.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love

Members of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special response team prepare to board a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crewed by Soldiers with the 185th Aviation battalion, Mississippi Army National Guard before conducting airborne insertion training Feb. 14, 2017 in Jackson, Mississippi. The Soldiers are assisting the DEA train for interdiction and disaster response operations.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Mississippi National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann, 102d Public Affairs Detachment

NAVY:

SOUTH CHINA SEA (Feb. 21, 2017) Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 1st Class Derik Richardson, right, and Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Kevin Brodwater, both attached to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 embarked aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4), conduct a live-fire exercise aboard an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amy M. Ressler

SOUTH CHINA SEA (Feb. 23, 2017) Sailors assigned to the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) swim in the South China Sea. Coronado is a fast and agile warship tailor-made to patrol the region’s littorals and work hull-to-hull with partner navies, providing the U.S. 7th Fleet with the flexible capabilities it needs now and in the future.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amy M. Ressler

MARINE CORPS:

U.S. Marines and Sailors with Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, and 12th Marines attached to Alpha Battery, 3D Battalion, make final preparations before heading to the field in the Hijudai Maneuver Area, Japan, Feb. 24, 2017. Marines and sailors participate in the artillery relocation training program to provide timely and accurate fires to sustain military occupational specialty skills, train Marines/sailors in common skills, and promote professional military education for the overall goal of enhancing combat operational readiness and international relationships.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. Christian J. Robertson

Sri Lankan Marines assault a beach as part of an amphibious capabilities demonstration during the Sri Lanka Marine Corps Boot Camp graduation at Sri Lankan Naval Station Barana in Mullikulum, Sri Lanka, Feb. 27, 2017. The SLMC will be an expeditionary force with specific missions of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peacekeeping support.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Robert Sweet

COAST GUARD:

Pictured here is Boomer, the mascot of Coast Guard Station Crisfield, Maryland, sitting on the deck of a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Feb. 28, 2017. Boomer was rescued from a shelter and reported to Station Crisfield as the mascot in December 2013.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jasmine Mieszala

Petty Officer 3rd Class Dakota Crow and Fireman Cody Rogers of the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty fire a .50 caliber machine gun during a practice fire exercise at the Juneau Police Department firing range in Juneau, Alaska, Feb. 24, 2017. Strict safety guidelines are practiced by all Coast Guard members when it comes to operating any firearms.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Shawn Eggert.

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This congressman wants to change the title of Department of Navy

As US Rep. Walter Jones continues a 15-year effort in Washington to re-designate the title of the Department of Navy, not everyone in his North Carolina home and military community sees the need.


Retired Marine Col. Pete Grimes of Hubert refers to the adage “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” when asked about Jones’ fight to re-name the Department of Navy the Department of Navy and Marine Corps.

Beyond the surface of the name change, Grimes doesn’t see any benefit to the organization by disrupting the status quo.

“Why change the name? What does it achieve? At the end, I can’t think of anything that would improve the stature of the Marine Corps,” Grimes.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Emblems courtesy of US Navy and USMC

Jones has seen things differently.

He first introduced a proposal to change the title of the department to Department of the Navy and Marine Corps in 2001 and has stuck to his belief that the two separate services deserve equal recognition.

The House Armed Services Committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018. As a member of the committee, Jones was involved in drafting the defense bill and has several measures attached, including the re-designation of the Department of Navy title.

“The Marine Corps is an equal member of this department, and therefore, deserves equal recognition in its title,” Jones said in remarks on getting the language included in the defense bill.

Jones said the defense bill is expected to go to the House floor for a vote in July. If successful, NDAA will then go to the Senate.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joe Kane

Retired Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Ball of Jacksonville, who served 23 years in the Marine Corps, said whatever name is used is a matter of perception and will vary by a person’s point of view. Regardless of the name, Ball said the operations of the two services are separate and should stay that way.

He said the organization as it is now has been working well.

“Leave it the way it is,” Ball said.

Brian Kramer, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, said the unique Navy-Marine Corps relationship is an exceptional one within the Department of Defense that should not be changed. He questions whether a name change now could lead to larger, negative changes later.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee

“I am a traditionalist, and on this issue I think the longstanding relationship between the Navy and the Marine Corps should remain unchanged. This relationship has served both services exceptionally well over the centuries. We ( Marines) are called ‘Soldiers of the Sea’ for a reason,” Kramer said. “Our roots are with the Navy, and I see the short-term ‘feel-good’ benefit of a name change having possible long-term negative consequences. Might this be a first step to the Corps being a separate service? I am not certain we want to go there.”

Retired Navy Capt. Rick Welton of Swansboro doesn’t have a particular opinion on the proposed change the Department of Navy’s title but agreed that the two services have long had a history of working together.

“We’ve been working as a team from the beginning,” Welton said. “We have depended on each other, worked with each other, and done outstanding things together.”

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The secret air campaign in Laos during the Vietnam War

“The job of the Ravens was to, literally, look for trouble. And they often found it . . .”


—Orr Kelly, FROM A DARK SKY, The Story of U.S. Air Force Special Operations

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
The Cessna O-1 Bird Dog FAC aircraft was unmarked when flown by Raven Forward Air Controllers. Photo: Wikipedia/US Air Force

Two wars were being waged in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and early 1970s. One was the “public war” in Vietnam. Highly publicized and highly controlled from Washington, it had all the media trappings associated with major military operations. The other was a “secret war” in Laos. Waged under the tightest of security, little oversight and with minimal assets compared to the conflict in Vietnam, its objective was to interdict and destroy the flow of men, equipment and supplies along the Ho Chi Minh trail from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. Responsibility for conducting day-to-day air operations, in what one pilot called a “high risk, no-bullshit war,” was assigned to volunteers operating under the call sign Ravens, a small group of unconventional and incredibly fearless air combat controllers thinly disguised as civilian operatives.

The reason the campaign in Laos had to waged in secret was the terms of the Geneva Accords signed between the United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) on July 23, 1962, that guaranteed the neutrality of the Kingdom of Laos, a land-locked nation abutting Vietnam’s western border. One of the provisions in the Accords was the requirement that all foreign military forces had to leave Laos. Though the United States complied North Vietnam ignored it. Laotian Prime Minister Price Souvanna Phoumo’s request for American military aid against North Vietnam’s violation presented President John F. Kennedy’s administration with a quandary: how to comply with the prince’s request without violating the accords. Another concern was that official American military involvement might inspire a tit-for-tat response by China and the Soviet Union that risked escalating hostilities, touching off World War III.

But Laos’ strategic location, along with the fear that doing nothing would cause the country to go communist, caused President Kennedy to direct the Air Force to formulate a plan to assist Laos. Working in partnership with the CIA, the result was a covert operation placed under the command of America’s ambassador to Laos, William Sullivan, and later his successor G. McMurtrie Godley, who closely controlled all American activities there. Air Force Attaché Colonel Gus Sonnenburg and his successors directed air operations. The covert air program began modestly with the deployment in 1963 of four combat control team sergeants, call sign Butterfly.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
A CIA U-10D Helio Courier aircraft sits on a covert mountaintop landing strip (LS) “Lima site” in Laos. The planes were owned by a CIA front company, Air America. Photo: Wikipedia

To get around the Geneva Accords restrictions, the Air Force Butterfly NCOs (and all subsequent volunteers) were scrubbed of their military identity and given a new civilian cover for the duration of their deployment in Laos, a process colorfully referred to as “sheep dipping.” Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat of the spotter aircraft, Butterflies would issue targeting instructions to Thai, Laotian, and later Hmong pilots trained through Project Water Pump. Originally created to teach indigenous and Thai pilots how to conduct Search and Rescue missions from forward bases along the Laotian border with Vietnam, Water Pump was soon expanded to train pilots for combat roles.

The Butterfly program came to an abrupt end in April 1966 when General William Momyer, the 7th Air Force commander, learned that the Butterflies were NCOs, and not jet fighter pilots, per doctrine. The following month, on May 5, 1966, Air Force lieutenants Jim F. Lemon and Truman (“T.R.”) Young, upon returning to Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base after directing air strikes at the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Vietnam, were presented with an offer they couldn’t refuse by their commanding officer: volunteer for a secret program, and a variety of minor disciplinary breaches including “rat-racing” (unauthorized acrobatics in O-1 Bird Dogs) and furniture broken during an excessive outburst of enthusiasm at a recent party would not appear in their personnel files. The lieutenants volunteered and the Raven program was launched.

The Ravens were part of a new air campaign in Laos begun in 1967 under the code name Palace Dog/Project 404. FACs for the program included pilots trained by Colonel Henry “Heinie” Aderholt following his tour of duty as commander of the 56th Air Commando Wing at Nakhon Phanom. After that deployment he was assigned deputy chief of staff for operations at the Special Air Warfare Center (now Air Force Special Operations Force) at Eglin Air Force Base.

After completion of their training and upon arriving for duty in Vietnam the FACs were informed that after six months they could volunteer for special duty through the Steve Canyon Program. After being successfully vetted and screened, the volunteers were sent to the American embassy at the Laotian capital of Vientiane where they were sheep dipped and assigned.

Mavericks, with an aggressiveness and courage bordering on the foolhardy, and stamina to endure flying twelve or more hours a day under some of the most harrowing combat and weather conditions, the Ravens and their Hmong counterparts the Nokateng (Swooping Bird) fought the war from bases at Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Savannakhet, and Long Chieng, flying O-1 Bird Dogs, O-2 Skymasters, modified for combat AT-28 Trojans, Porter Pilatus and other aircraft.

To say that the flights were dangerous is an understatement. Of the 191 who served as Ravens, thirty-one paid for their dedication with their lives.

Major Mike Cavanaugh was a Raven in 1969. He recalled that the intensity of action over Laos caused them to become extraordinarily adept at spotting signs of enemy presence. “One time,” he recalled, “I saw bushes which came to a ninety- degree angle. The clever devil that I am, I know that bushes don’t grow in ninety- degree angles. That’s all I had to go on; I hit it with a set of fighters. I uncovered pallet after pallet of 122 mm rockets. . . . [W]e had secondary explosions for two solid days.”

One Raven’s routine was to do a dawn patrol scouting flight before breakfast,looking for such signs of enemy activity as smoke from cook fires that might indicate an enemy bivouac, or trails where the early morning dew had been brushed away by troop traffic. Upon returning for breakfast, he’d have a checklist of locations to investigate later that morning.

On one flight another Raven, Captain Karl L. Polifka, spotted a suspicious mound in the Plaine des Jarres (Plain of Jars), so named for the thousands of megalithic stone jars scattered throughout it. After alerting the base of his finding, he was informed that Intelligence indicated it was the entrance to a cave storing 500 barrels of fuel. Polifka called in a fighter-bomber who dropped a guided bomb on the mound. The resulting explosion created a fireball 1,000 feet across and was so hot that a passing rain cloud was sucked into its vortex.

While the Ravens participated because they were volunteers, their Hmong counterparts fought because it was their country. Polifka said that the Hmong pilots’ dedication was “unsurpassed by any combat pilot anywhere. . . . They seemed to have no fear, although I do think they had a vision of early mortality.” Raven Darrel Cavanaugh said, “In close, they were damned accurate. They liked to get down there and mix it up with the bad guys.”

The best pilot among the Hmong, and his admirers argued the best combat pilot in Laos regardless of nationality, was Ly Leu (also spelled Lee Lue). A schoolteacher and son-in-law to the charismatic Hmong leader General Vang Po, Captain Ly Leu was the first Hmong to volunteer for Project Water Pump. After completing T-28 training and earning his wings at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, he returned to Laos to wage war against the communists. His motto was “Fly ’til you die”

The Ravens who worked and fought with him loved him. One Raven who observed Ly Leu in action recalled that in strafing runs it was not unusual for him to fly twenty feet above the ground and that his idea of strafing “was to stick a .50 caliber gun in the enemy’s ear and pull the trigger.” From dawn to dusk, Ly Leu flew non-stop, as many as ten missions a day. After returning from a mission, to reduce downtime he’d assist in loading ordnance for the next mission before flying off again. When he landed at dusk he was so tired he had to be lifted out of the cockpit. Ly Leu averaged 120 missions a month and racked up more than 5,000 sorties during his career. On July 12, 1969, the newly promoted Major Ly Leu flew his final mission. Attacking Pathet Lao forces in Moung Soui, northwest of the Plaines des Jarres, he was shot down and killed by enemy anti-aircraft fire. Posthumously promoted by General Vang Po to lieutenant colonel, in gratitude the Americans posthumously awarded Ly Leu the Silver Star.

Though Ravens operated throughout Laos, their major base was at Long Chieng (or Long Tieng). Located southwest of the Plaine des Jarres in Xiangkhouang Province in the north central highlands of Laos, Long Chieng (officially code-named by the Americans Lima Site 30, but usually referred to as Lima Site 20 Alternate, or just “Alternate”) was located in a mountainous valley at an elevation of 3,100 feet. The Hmong are mountain dwellers and General Vang Pao made Long Chieng his headquarters, eventually gathering 30,000 troops into his guerilla army.

At its peak of operations, Long Chieng had a population of more than 40,000, and its airfield conducted about 400 flights a day, making it one of the busiest in the world. Long Chieng gained a reputation of being “the most secret place in the world” because despite its size (it was the second largest city in Laos after the capital, Vientiane, and had the world’s largest Hmong population), it never appeared on any map.

Compared to the air war over Vietnam, the forces available in Laos were negligible—the number of Ravens in Laos at any one time was always small, and General Vang Pao’s air arm often numbered less than a dozen serviceable aircraft. That was a major reason why Hmong pilots flew the high number of missions they did. Even so, they were not alone in the skies. Raven FACs, who also flew a grueling schedule, became expert in calling in Air Force assets when needed, whether it was to aid Hmong ground troops in danger of being overrun or taking out a target of opportunity.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
An armoured North American T-28D-5 Nomad plane at Long Tieng airfield in Laos. Photo: Wikipedia

In some cases, the enemy ironically helped the Ravens in their interdiction missions. Polifka recalled that enemy troops had been taught that an AK-47 was capable of shooting down an F-4 Phantom, something that was possible if it was flying a low-flying strafing mission. Cruising at 12,000 feet or more was another matter. But Polifka said the enemy troops didn’t take that difference of distance into account.

He recalled there would be times that he’d be on a Raven mission, flying between 2,500 and 3,000 feet and he’d look down and suddenly see a ridge line light up with muzzle flashes. “[Enemy troops] wouldn’t really be shooting at [me]; they would be shooting at a bunch of F-4s flying somewhere.” With the enemy soldiers having revealed themselves, Ravens would then call in an air strike. He said, “We know of one case where there were three survivors of a five-hundred-man battalion that straggled into a regimental command post.”

By 1969 Raven guided air operations had become so deadly and successful that Vang Pao was able to switch from guerrilla to conventional war and launch an offensive that wrested control of the Plaine des Jarres from the Pathet Lao. Though because of what happened in Vietnam ultimate victory in Laos was not achieved, the record of the Ravens’ accomplishment demonstrated that when the time came, a handful of highly skilled, dedicated, resourceful, and courageous men could accomplish a mission others regarded as impossible.

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This corpsman has 10 useful tips to assist a gunshot victim

As a former Navy Hospital Corpsman who served in Afghanistan, treating sick and injured Marines was a daily task. So I compiled a list to help in the event you come across someone who is suffering from a fresh gunshot wound. Basically, follow these steps, and you too can help save a gunshot victim.


1. Don’t freak out.

During a traumatic event, adrenaline will enter your bloodstream, causing your heart rate to increase. You could also experience some tunnel vision. Remember to breathe. The calmer you are, the better you can maneuver your thought process during the situation.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

2. Call 9-1-1

Calling 9-1-1 is free from any phone in America, even if it’s turned off for “billing issues.” As long as the battery has some juice, you can dial the popular 3-digit number (just don’t ask the operator to do you a favor and call your relative and forward them a message; not cool).

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Note: It’s important to know your location. The operator may ask when you phone in.

3. Check the wound or wounds

While you’re on hold, locate the entry wound. Did the bullet exit anywhere?

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

A man has 7 holes, where a woman has 8. (Trust me, I was a corpsman.) If the person been shot, they’ll have 1 or 2 extra. Typically, the entrance wound won’t be as large in diameter as the exit, so it can be easily missed when you first go all Magellan exploring.

If the wound is pouring out blood or squirting out rapidly each time your heart beats you’ll want to . . .

4. Stop arterial bleeds

The location of the arterial bleed depends on what technique you’ll use to control the hemorrhage. If the victim’s arm or leg is the affected area, placing a tourniquet above the wound is the best option and only above the joint, never below. But how to make one?

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Use your belt or a loose fitting shirt to tie it around the limb – never use a shoelace! Using a shoelace can damage the surrounding healthy skin tissue and just adds to the laundry list of injuries. We don’t want that. For all other areas — arterial bleeds such as neck, groin, and armpit injuries — using a pressure dressing is your last and only option.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Packing the wound with really any fabric on hand – a shirt, t-shirt or a sock (yes, I said sock) – will limit the amount of blood loss. The goal is to get the wound to clot. But what if the bullet entered the chest cavity? Then you’re going to want to …

5. Know your A-B-C’s

No, I’m not referring to the alphabet (although you should totally know it). A-B-C stands for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. If the victim is screaming in pain, chances are, their airway is clear and they’re breathing well enough. If they’re not, the question becomes how good of a person are you? Good enough to pump oxygen into their lungs via mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

A bullet lodged in a lung is a bad thing. Oxygen and carbon dioxide shouldn’t be able to escape out any other path than your trachea. This can cause your lung to decompress on itself and collapse it. The room air can penetrate inside the chest cavity and further compress your lungs.

Implement the use of a chest dressing with a flutter valve. By covering the wound with a thin flexible plastic covering and taping 3 sides. Air can only escape, not be brought in. If done correctly, it works every time.

The circulation test is simple. Do they carry a pulse? By checking the patient’s major pulses in their neck, wrists or in their feet. You’ll find out the strength of the heart which will inform you the amount of the blood the body has lost. The stronger the better.

How do I know if the victim has lost to much blood?

6. Is it getting chilly in here?

Blood is the bodies main source of regulating its core temperature of 98.6 degrees. The more blood the victim loses, the lower body temperature will fall and the faster the pulse will become as it increases to provide oxygen through the body. Your buddy (or the stranger you’re trying to save) could start to feel as cold as if they were running naked through the Alaskan wilderness even though it’s a hot summer day in Southern California.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

This is called going into shock.

It’s time to warm up. Presuming the patient’s is laying down:

  1.  Raise their legs up above their heart. Gravity will pull the blood down their legs and send it back to the heart. Their legs will probably go numb, but it’s a small price to pay. They will either have to die or suffer from “pins and needles.”
  2. Cover the man or woman up with a blanket if you have one.
  3. “Spoon with them” – sounds crazy but I’ve had to spoon a few Marines in my time to warm them back up.
  4. And don’t forget to tell them…

7. The bleeding you can’t see is the one you need to worry about

Internal bleeding to the victim and the Good Samaritan is your worse enemy… but more so for the victim. Without proper medical instrumentation, controlling internal blood loss is impossible externally. Skin bruising may occur as a hematoma sets in.

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Treatment: I’ve got nothing, but good luck!

8. Check and recheck

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Only the paramedics know how long it will take before they show up. Depending on what neighborhood the crime took place, you could be waiting for a while.

Just kidding, but seriously it could be awhile. So this would be a good time to check all the tourniquets and pressure dressings you literally just learned how to install. Let’s face it: like any maintenance, it takes some practice to do the treatment right.

9. Hang in there

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

Encouraging the victim everything is going to be okay is a huge part of making it through this horrible event. It’s not a fun situation to be in. Little words of encouragement go a long way, but avoid asking for personal items or an ex-girlfriend’s phone number “just in case they don’t make it.”

10. Pass the word

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The paramedics showed up! Great. Now can you tell them what life-saving interventions you performed. Please include:

  1. Where the injuries are located
  2. If you put on a tourniquet, how long ago did you put it on?
  3. Their Zodiac sign
  4. How long ago the shooting occurred
  5. And the most importantly, if you want to go to the hospital with them, ask for a ride – Übers and Taxis can be expensive.
Articles

6 differences between the Air Force F-16 and the Navy’s F-18

The F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F/A-18 Hornet are both “lightweight” fighters. Each was intended to complement a larger, heavier fighter (the F-15 for the F-16, the F-14 for the F/A-18). But they also have some big differences. Let’s look over some of them:


1. The number of engines

The F-16 has one engine – the F/A-18 has two. This is largely due to their differing operational environments. The F-16 operates from land bases, while the F/A-18 operates primarily from carriers.

Of course, this also bears a lot on survivability. If an F-16 loses an engine, the pilot’s gotta grab the loud handle. An F/A-18, on the other hand, can limp back to the carrier.

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2. Operating from a carrier

The F-16 is tied to land bases – its landing gear cannot handle the shock of hitting a carrier deck. On the other hand, the F/A-18 can readily shift between a carrier operation and flying from land bases.

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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 4, 2016, takes off from the base during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-1. Aggressor pilots are trained to act as opposing forces in exercises like RF-A to better prepare U.S. and allied forces for aerial combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Turner)

3. Initial weapons suite

Did you know the F-16 originally didn’t have any radar-guided missiles? Aviation historian Joe Baugher notes that early A/B versions (Blocks 1, 5, 10, and 15) didn’t have the ability to fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM or AIM-7 Sparrow. The Block 15 ADF was the first version to carry a radar guided missile, the AIM-7.

The F/A-18, though, could carry radar-guided missiles from day one. This was because while the F/A-18 was replacing an attack plane, it was also intended to help defend the carrier.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
An AIM-120 AMRAAM being loaded onto an F-16CJ. | US Air Force

4. Pure speed

The F-16 has a top speed of Mach 2.0. The F/A-18 can only reach Mach 1.8. Still, these planes are both very fast when they need to be. But in a pure drag race, the F-16 will win – and by a decent margin.

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U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano

5. How they refuel

The F/A-18 uses a probe to latch into a drogue. The good news is that it can use just about anyone’s tankers – even USAF tankers, which are modified to carry drogues in addition to their booms.

The F-16s in the United States Air Force inventory, though, have a receptacle for the boom from a KC-135, KC-10, or KC-46 to plug into. Part of this is because the Air Force also has to refuel big bombers and cargo planes that need a lot of fuel quickly – and the boom can do just that.

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Image: Joe Stephens/Youtube Screen grab

6. Movie career

The F-16 has a clear edge in this one. In the movie “Iron Eagle,” the F-16 is arguably the star alongside Louis Gossett, Jr. (Chappy Sinclair) and Jason Gedrick (Doug Masters). The F/A-18 played a role in “Independence Day,” but it wasn’t quite the star the F-16 was in Iron Eagle.

So, what other differences can you think of between these two planes?
Articles

Russia has threatened to nuke Norway

A senior member of Russia’s defense and security committee told Russian TV that Norway has been added to the list of potential targets for a nuclear strike after Norway agreed to host 330 U.S. Marines for a rotational training deployment.


Norway has allowed other NATO militaries to use its country for cold weather training for years.

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A U.S. Marine trains in the snow in Norway. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Immanuel Johnson Fmall)

The Marines rotating into Norway are expected to stay at Værnes, an area 600 miles from the border with Russia.

A deputy chairman of Russia’s defense and security committee made the threats, saying, “How should we react to this? We have never before had Norway on the list of targets for our strategic weapons. But if this develops, Norway’s population will suffer.”

He later said, “Because we need to react against definitive military threats. And we have things to react to, I might as well tell it like it is.”

It’s not clear how the Marines provide a definitive military threat to Russia. While significant U.S. hardware is cached within Norway, the 330 Marines would have to invade through famously neutral Sweden to use a 700-mile route. Going around would add on hundreds of miles of travel distance and logistics problems.

And even Marines would struggle if they took on the Russian military in such small numbers.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
A U.S. Marine drifts a tank on ice during training in Norway. (Photo: YouTube/Marines)

Meanwhile, the U.S. already has troops permanently stationed in Germany, which is about the same distance from Russia, as well as service members on training rotations in Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine — all of which share a border with Russia.

The Air Force, meanwhile, has forces permanently deployed to Incirlik, Turkey, which is also much closer to Russia than Værnes.

So it’s doubtful that Russia’s bluster is really about countering a valid military threat. More likely, this is Russia protesting what it sees as its continuing isolation as more and more countries deepen their ties with NATO.

Norway, for its part, insists that the Russian reaction to a training rotation of Marines is ridiculous.

The country’s defense minister told journalists, “There is no objective reason for the Russians to react to this. But the Russians are reacting at the moment in the same way toward almost everything the NATO countries are doing.”

Tensions between Russia and NATO have been on the rise, partially due to conflicting agendas in Syria where the U.S. and Russia are both conducting air strikes. But the dispute also comes from disagreements over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threatening actions, such as the Russian abduction and jailing of an Estonian intelligence officer.

Articles

This letter General James Mattis wrote to his Marines is a must-read of historical proportions

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes


Marine Gen. James Mattis is something of a legend in the US military. Looked at as a warrior among Marines, and well-respected by members of other services, he’s been at the forefront of a number of engagements.

He led his battalion of Marines in the assault during the first Gulf war in 1991, and commanded the task force charging into Afghanistan in 2001. In 2003, as a Major General, he once again took up the task of motivating his young Marines to go into battle.

Also read: These 4 Marines killed so many Germans, the Nazis thought they were an allied battalion

One day before beginning the assault into Iraq, on March 19, 2003, every member of 1st Marine Division received this letter, written in Mattis’ own hand.

In the letter, he tells them, “on your young shoulders rest the hopes of mankind.” He conveys a sense of staying together and working as a team, writing, “keep faith in your comrades on your left and right and Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and a strong spirit.”

He finally signs off with the motto of 1st Marines: “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.”

You can see the full letter below:

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Articles

Here’s how a little girl who lost her Marine dad taught the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the full cost of war

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General Dempsey talking to the troops in Iraq. (Photo: CBS News)


Like most general officers commissioned right after the Vietnam War ended, Gen. Martin Dempsey’s firsthand experience of dealing with combat losses came relatively late in his career. During the summer of 2003, then-Major General Dempsey was commanding “Task Force Iron” in Iraq when the post-invasion lull ended and the insurgency began going after American troops.

“We started taking casualties,” Gen. Dempsey recounted. “And during the morning briefing, after we talked about the high-level mission items and what we called ‘significant incidents,’ we’d flash up the names of the fallen and have a moment of silence.

“The names were up there on the screen and then, whoosh, they were gone,” he said. “After about two or three weeks of the same thing, I became really uncomfortable with that. One minute it was there and real, and then the next minute it was somebody else’s problem.”

Gen. Dempsey attended a number of the memorial services held at the forward operating bases downrange for those killed in action.

“They were both heart wrenching and inspirational,” the general said about the services. “To see the love that these soldiers had for each other made me take my responsibilities that much more seriously.”

But as he greeted the battle buddies of the fallen, Gen. Dempsey wasn’t sure what to say to them that would help at those moments. “I had nothing,” he said. “I mean, I’d say, ‘hang in there’ or ‘we’re really sorry about what happened’ . . . I felt so superficial.”

Then it hit him one morning after he was just waking up in his quarters in Baghdad. “A phrase was echoing in my head,” he remembered. “Make it matter.”

He did two things immediately after that: First, he had laminated cards made for every soldier who had been killed to that point. The cards were carried by all the general officers in theater as a constant physical reminder of the human cost of the war. In time the number of casualties became so great that it was impractical to carry the cards at all times, so he had a mahogany box engraved with “Make it Matter” on the top and put all but three of the cards inside of it. He would constantly rotate the three he carried in his pocket with the ones in the box.

Second, from that point forward when he would address the soldiers in units that had experienced losses, he’d simply say, “Make it matter.”

“They knew exactly what I meant,” Gen. Dempsey said.

****

Five years after Gen. Dempsey’s introduction to the challenges a two-star leader faces during periods of significant combat losses, Marine Corps Major David Yaggy, a veteran of three combat deployments, was an instructor flying in the rear cockpit of a Navy T-34C trainer on a cross-country flight between Florida and South Carolina when the airplane went down in the hills of Alabama. Yaggy and his flight student at the controls in the front cockpit were both killed in the crash.

The day of that crash is burned into the memory of Maj. Yaggy’s widow, Erin. She first heard from a realtor friend that a helicopter had gone down, and she immediately went online and saw a report that, in fact, a T-34 had crashed in Alabama. Fearing the worst, she put her 18-month-old daughter Lizzy in a stroller and went for a walk, in denial and hoping to avoid any officials who might show up to tell her that her husband had been killed.

During the walk, she received a phone call from her cousin. “Where are you?” she asked.

“I’m at your house,” he replied. That was all he said.

Erin ran home pushing the stroller, in her words, “like a crazy person.” When she arrived she caught a glimpse of a uniform, and she broke down, hysterical. “That didn’t go so well,” she said.

She had a long period of vacillating between shock, anger, and sorrow. “I felt like other people wanted me to cry,” she said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want permission to cry, I just want him here.”

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Lizzy Yaggy visiting the Arlington National Cemetery gravesite of her father. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The sister of the flight student killed with Erin’s husband convinced her to get involved with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), and she wound up making the short trip from Baltimore to Washington DC to attend her first Good Grief Camp — the organization’s signature gathering — when Lizzy was four years old.

****

General Dempsey had just taken over as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army when his aide briefed him that he was scheduled to address the TAPS Good Grief Camp attendees gathered in a hotel ballroom across the interstate from the Pentagon. Although the general had heard of TAPS and was armed with the requisite three-by-five cards filled with talking points provided by his staff, when he got there he realized he wasn’t fully ready for what he was walking into.

“I walked into this room with 600 kids all wearing big round buttons with images of their parents, and I knew I was ill-prepared,” Gen. Dempsey said. “It was emotionally overwhelming. It’s hard enough meeting a single family that’s had a loss. It’s another thing altogether meeting 600 families.”

Gen. Dempsey started his appearance with a question-and-answer session, and after a couple of innocent ones like “do you have your own airplane?” and “do you like pizza?” a little girl dramatically shifted the mood by asking, “Is my daddy an angel?”

“I was stunned,” Gen. Dempsey recalled. “How do you answer that question?”

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Lizzy Yaggy greets Gen. Dempsey during TAPS Good Grief Camp. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The general thought for a few moments before calling an audible of sorts. Fearing that he could well break down if he tried to talk he decided to attempt something else.

“I knew I could sing through emotion instead of trying to speak,” he said.

So he answered that, of course, her father was an angel — like the fathers of everyone there — and that the entire group should sing together because singing is joyful and the fact that their fathers were angels should bring them great joy.

Then he launched into the Irish classic, “The Unicorn Song,” including a lesson in the proper hand gestures required during the chorus. Soon the entire room was singing.

After his appearance, General Dempsey asked Bonnie Carroll, the founder of TAPS, if he could meet the little girl who’d asked the question and her family, so Bonnie introduced him to the Yaggys. The general was immediately struck by Lizzy’s spark, and, as Erin put it, Lizzy was drawn to the man with lots of silver stars on his Army uniform who’d raised her spirits by singing with all of the kids.

“His timing was perfect,” Erin said. “Before [General Dempsey’s singalong], Lizzy had just said, ‘I don’t want to talk about daddy being dead anymore.’ Her attitude changed after she met General Dempsey.”

****

At the following year’s Good Grief Camp, they began what blossomed into a tradition: Lizzy introduced him as the keynote speaker.

“She stood up and said, ‘this is General Dempsey.  We love him, and he loves to sing, and he makes us feel good,'” the general recalled. “And she finished with, ‘and now my friend, General Dempsey.'” With that, once again, General Dempsey had to fight back tears as he faced hundreds of military survivors.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Lizzy introducing Gen. Dempsey at the TAPS Gala for the first time. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

General Dempsey and his wife Deanie stayed in touch with the Yaggys, exchanging email updates and Christmas cards. The third year Lizzy introduced the general he’d taken over as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon’s senior-most position. Before they got on stage together she gave him a little box with an angel-shaped medallion in it, saying, “You’re my guardian angel.”

The general was deeply moved and wanted to return the gesture, but all his aide had in his possession was a ballcap with the numeral “18” on the front of it, signifying the 18th CJCS. He wrote in black ink on the bill: “To Lizzy — From your chairman friend. Martin E. Dempsey.”

“It was so cute to see her wearing that hat for the rest of the night,” Deanie Dempsey said. “Here was this little girl in this long green dress with a ballcap on.”

“She wore that hat all the time after that,” Erin said. “She even took it to bed with her.”

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Lizzy wearing her favorite hat, a gift from the 18th CJCS. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The entire time General Dempsey served as the chairman he only had two things on his desk in the Pentagon: The mahogany “Make it Matter” box full of the laminated cards that profiled those who were killed under his command in Iraq and the guardian angel medallion Lizzy gave him.

****

When it came time for the general to retire, the Pentagon’s protocol apparatus sprang into action — after all, a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff change of command is like the Super Bowl of military ceremonies. As the officials were coordinating all the moving parts, including the details surrounding President Obama’s attendance, they were surprised to learn who the outgoing chairman wanted to introduce him. They pushed back, but the general was insistent.

The day arrived and at the appropriate moment in the event, a little girl on the dais confidently strode by the dignitaries and political appointees and the President of the United States and stood on the box positioned behind the podium just for her.

And without any hesitation, Lizzy Yaggy delivered her remarks to the thousands in attendance, and finished with, “Please welcome my friend, General Dempsey . . .”

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Lizzy hugging now-retired Gen. Dempsey at this year’s TAPS Good Grief Camp in DC. (Photo: TAPS.org)

Articles

A retired Navy SEAL commander explains 12 traits all effective leaders must have

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Retired Navy SEAL Task Unit Bruiser commander Jocko Willink. Photo: Courtesy Jocko Willink and Leif Babin


Jocko Willink is the retired commander of the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War: US Navy SEAL Team Three Task Unit Bruiser, which served in the 2006 Battle of Ramadi.

In his new book “Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” co-written with his former platoon commander Leif Babin, he and Babin explain the lessons learned in combat that they’ve taught to corporate clients for the past four years in their leadership consultancy firm Echelon Front.

During his 20 years as a SEAL, Willink writes that he realized that, “Just as discipline and freedom are opposing forces that must be balanced, leadership requires finding the equilibrium in the dichotomy of many seemingly contradictory qualities between one extreme and another.” By being aware of these seeming contradictions, a leader can “more easily balance the opposing forces and lead with maximum effectiveness.”

Here are the 12 main dichotomies of leadership Willink identifies as traits every effective leader should have.

‘A leader must lead but also be ready to follow.’

Willink says a common misconception the public has about the military is that subordinates mindlessly follow every order they’re given. In certain situations, subordinates may have access to information their superiors don’t, or have an insight that would result in a more effective plan than the one their boss proposed.

“Good leaders must welcome this, putting aside ego and personal agendas to ensure that the team has the greatest chance of accomplishing its strategic goals,” Willink writes.

‘A leader must be aggressive but not overbearing.’

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Photo: Courtesy Ecehlon Front

As a SEAL officer, Willink needed to be aggressive (“Some may even accuse me of hyperagression,” he says) but he differentiated being a powerful presence to his SEAL team from being an intimidating figure.

He writes that, “I did my utmost to ensure that everyone below me in the chain of command felt comfortable approaching me with concerns, ideas, thoughts, and even disagreements.”

“That being said,” he adds, “my subordinates also knew that if they wanted to complain about the hard work and relentless push to accomplish the mission I expected of them, they best take those thoughts elsewhere.”

‘A leader must be calm but not robotic.’

Willink says that while leaders who lose their tempers lose respect, they also can’t establish a relationship with their team if they never expression anger, sadness, or frustration.

“People do not follow robots,” he writes.

‘A leader must be confident but never cocky.’

Leaders should behave with confidence and instill it in their team members.

“But when it goes too far, overconfidence causes complacency and arrogance, which ultimately set the team up for failure,” Willink writes.

‘A leader must be brave but not foolhardy.’

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Task Unit Bruiser SEALs look up at an Apache flying overhead Ramadi in 2006. Photo: Courtesy Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Whoever’s in charge can’t waste time excessively contemplating a scenario without making a decision. But when it’s time to make that decision, all risk must be as mitigated as possible.

Willink and Babin both write about situations in Ramadi in which delaying an attack until every detail about a target was clarified, even when it frustrated other units they were working with, resulted in avoiding tragic friendly fire.

‘A leader must have a competitive spirit but also be a gracious loser.’

“They must drive competition and push themselves and their teams to perform at the highest level,” Willink writes. “But they must never put their own drive for personal success ahead of overall mission success for the greater team.”

This means that when something does not go according to plan, leaders must set aside their egos and take ownership of the failure before moving forward.

‘A leader must be attentive to details but not obsessed with them.’

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Navy SEALs on a roof overlook in Ramadi in 2006. (Faces have been blurred to protect identities.) Photo: Courtesy Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The most effective leaders learn how to quickly determine which of their team’s tasks need to be monitored in order for them to progress smoothly, “but cannot get sucked into the details and lose track of the bigger picture,” Willink writes.

‘A leader must be strong but likewise have endurance, not only physically but mentally.’

Leaders need to push themselves and their teams while also recognizing their limits, in order to achieve a suitable pace and avoid burnout.

‘A leader must be humble but not passive; quiet but not silent.’

The best leaders keep their egos in check and their minds open to others, and admit when they’re wrong.

“But a leader must be able to speak up when it matters,” Willink writes. “They must be able to stand up for the team and respectfully push back against a decision, order, or direction that could negatively impact overall mission success.”

‘A leader must be close with subordinates but not too close.’

“The best leaders understand the motivations of their team members and know their people — their lives and their families,” Willink writes. “But a leader must never grow so close to subordinates that one member of the team becomes more important than another, or more important than the mission itself.”

“Leaders must never get so close that the team forgets who is in charge.”

‘A leader must exercise Extreme Ownership. Simultaneously, that leader must employ Decentralized Command.’

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Photo: Amazon

“Extreme Ownership” is the fundamental concept of Willink and Babin’s leadership philosophy. It means that for any team or organization, “all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader,” Willink writes. Even when leaders are not directly responsible for all outcomes, it was their method of communication and guidance, or lack thereof, that led to the results.

That doesn’t mean, however, that leaders should micromanage. It’s why the concept of decentralized command that Willink and Babin used in the battlefield, in which they trusted that their junior officers were able to handle certain tasks without being monitored, translates so well to the business world.

‘A leader has nothing to prove but everything to prove.’

“Since the team understands that the leader is de facto in charge, in that respect, a leader has nothing to prove,” Willink writes. “But in another respect, a leader has everything to prove: Every member of the team must develop the trust and confidence that their leader will exercise good judgment, remain calm, and make the right decisions when it matters most.”

And the only way that can be achieved is through leading by example every day.

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