This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster - We Are The Mighty
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This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster

Only in Patton’s Army could a mild-mannered history teacher from Moline, Illinois, join the service and become forever immortalized as “Bazooka Charlie.”


Charles Carpenter joined the Army as a pilot shortly after America’s entry into World War II. He became an aerial artillery observer with the 4th Armored Division of Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army. It was here Carpenter became a legend on both sides of the war.

By the time he arrived in Europe in 1944, then-Maj. Carpenter had a lot of flying time training for artillery observation and reconnaissance. However, his first great feat in Europe was not in the air, it was on the ground.

While scouting for advanced landing fields in a jeep near Avranches, France, Carpenter came across a unit pinned down by Germans holding a nearby town. He ran up to the lead tank, jumped on the .50 cal machine gun, fired off a burst at the Germans, and yelled, “Let’s Go!”

Although technically not the leader of the unit, the men followed his commands and assaulted the town, capturing it in minutes. Unfortunately, Carpenter ordered the tank he was riding to fire at what he thought was an enemy tank. The shot took the bulldozer plow off a fellow American tank.

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Carpenter next to his L-4. (Library of Congress photo)

He was arrested after the incident and threatened with a firing squad before his commanding general came to his rescue. He was told to expect a court-martial — until word of his exploits reached Gen. Patton. Patton personally stopped the court-martial proceedings and instead awarded Carpenter a Silver Star for his bravery, saying Carpenter was “the kind of fighting man I want in my army.”

After the incident, Carpenter kept to the skies, but he certainly wasn’t out of the fight. Though discouraged by his plane’s lack of armament and offensive capability, he heard rumors of other scout pilots attaching weapons to their planes. He conceived an idea that would truly make him famous in the European Theater.

With the help of an ordinance tech and a crew chief, Carpenter attached two M1 bazookas to the struts of his L-4 Grasshopper (the military version of a Piper Cub), which he then promptly dubbed “Rosie the Rocketer.” Each bazooka was controlled electronically from switches in the cockpit and could be fired individually or at the same time.

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster

It wasn’t long before Carpenter scored his first kill, taking out a German armored car. He wasn’t satisfied with just blasting light vehicles, so he added four more bazookas. He also managed to acquire the improved M9 bazooka, which was capable of firing M6A3 High Explosive Anti-Tank rounds.

Carpenter’s methods for destroying German armor earned him another nickname, the “Mad Major.” His technique was to perform a shallow dive at enemy tanks and then blast them from 100 meters before pulling up and out of range of enemy small arms fire.

Although the technique was effective, it was downright crazy. Many of Carpenter’s fellow pilots who heard his exploits decided they would give it a try as well “but found that driving their frail aircraft into a hail of German small arms fire was extremely unhealthy,” the Lawrence Journal-World reported, “and returned to their observation duties.”

“Bazooka Charlie” soon racked up more kills – including two of the feared German Tiger tanks. In one instance, Carpenter destroyed a German column, then landed in a field to check out the still-burning remnants of his work. While on the ground, he captured six Germans with a discarded rifle he happened to pick up.

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
A German Tiger tank in Sicily, 1943. (U.S. Army photo)

In another instance, he spotted infantry forces under attack by German armor. He dove into the fray and fired all his rockets. He then returned to his airfield to reload then returned to the battle. Carpenter made three trips to the battlefield. He helped break up the attack, destroying two German tanks in the process.

“Some people around here think I’m nuts,” Carpenter once said, “but I just believe that if we’re going to fight a war, we have to go on with it 60-minutes an hour and 24-hours a day.”

And get on with it he did. By war’s end, Carpenter was credited with destroying six enemy tanks, making him a tank ace, though his total count and contributions are likely much higher.

It wasn’t just the Americans who took notice of Bazooka Charlie’s exploits. Carpenter himself once said “Word must be getting around among those Krauts to watch out for Cubs with bazookas on them. Every time I show up now, they shoot with everything they have. They never used to bother Cubs. Bazookas must be bothering them a bit.”

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Crew chiefs attach a bazooka to Carpenter’s L-4. (U.S. Army photo)

Despite flying an unprotected aircraft right into the enemy to score his kills, Carpenter was never wounded. For his exploits during the war, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster to go with his Silver Star.

After the war, “Bazooka Charlie” once again became Mr. Carpenter and went back to teaching high school history in Illinois before losing a battle with cancer in 1966.

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Rob Riggle to host ‘InVETational’ golf tourney to benefit Semper Fi Fund

We Are The Mighty and Marine Corps veteran, actor and comedian Rob Riggle present The Rob Riggle #InVETational Golf Classic. The veteran­/celebrity golf tournament will raise money and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund. The Rob Riggle #InVETational Golf Classic will take place at the world-class Valencia Country Club in Los Angeles on Dec. 5, 2016.


During this high-­octane golf tourney, veteran and celebrity teams will contend for the lowest scores and most laughs to raise funds and awareness for the renowned Semper Fi Fund, one of our nation’s most respected veteran nonprofits. Semper Fi Fund provides immediate and lifetime support to post-­9/11 critically ill and injured service members from all branches of the military. Since inception, Semper Fi Fund has assisted over 16,800 service members and their families totaling more than $133 million in assistance.

“The #InVETational celebrates two of my greatest passions – veterans and golf,” Riggle said. “I am excited to partner with We Are The Mighty, a media brand that veterans love and trust, and Semper Fi Fund, which assists thousands of veterans and their families. It’s truly an honor to serve my fellow veterans with this special event.”

“We are honored to partner with Rob to give serious golfers and entertainers the chance to use their sport to bring attention to the great work of Semper Fi Fund,” said David Gale, WATM’s CEO and co­founder. “We Are The Mighty is committed to sharing the experiences of our nation’s military and will feature the remarkable stories of the veteran athletes participating in this tournament.”

Semper Fi Fund President and Founder Karen Guenther added, “As a Marine veteran, Rob Riggle truly understands the sacrifices our nation’s military heroes make for us every day, and how important it is to be there to support these men, women and their families for a lifetime. We are thrilled to be working with Rob and WATM to bring attention to the many needs of recovering and transitioning veterans and their families.”

Best known for his roles in “The Hangover,” “21 Jump Street,” “The Other Guys,” “Step Brothers,” “Modern Family,” “Dumb and Dumber To,” and “The Daily Show” among other popular movies and TV shows, We Are The Mighty’s InVETational host Rob Riggle served over twenty years in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserves as a Civil Affairs Officer and Public Affairs Officer across the globe including in Afghanistan. Riggle cares deeply about our veterans and has used his success as a comedian and actor to support those who have served our country.

The Rob Riggle #InVETational Golf Classic will be produced by We Are The Mighty in conjunction with charity golf tournament expert Bob Levey of Independent Events & Media. The tournament will be featured on wearethemighty.com and shared via WATM, Riggle, and Semper Fi Fund social media sites. Celebrity and veteran golfers from Semper Fi Fund’s athletics program will be announced soon.

Visit the #InVETational official website here.

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Here’s the technique Navy SEALs use to swim for miles without getting tired

With the beginning of summer, pools all over the US are opening for recreational swimming — but in the Navy, recruits are getting ready for the brutal Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, or BUD/S, that will turn some of them into Navy SEALs.


In the SEALs, where recruits of the elite special operations unit are pushed to their limits, there is no room for inefficiency. So it developed a more efficient swimming stroke: the combat swimmer stroke.

The stroke combines the best elements of breaststroke and freestyle to streamline a motion that not only reduces resistance on a swimmer’s body, but makes the swimmer harder to spot underwater.

Here’s a sample of the stroke:

Unlike freestyle, the combat sidestroke calls for the swimmer to stay submerged for most of it.

To do the combat swimmer stroke, dive in or kick off as you would in freestyle, but at the end of your glide, do a large, horizontal scissor kick instead.

Now comes the unique part — as the horizontal scissor kick tilts your body so that one arm is slightly higher than the other, pull that arm back while leaving the other outstretched.

Turn your face up toward the surface as you pull that arm down, take a breath, and begin to pull down your other arm. Another scissor kick, then reset your arms. You should not switch your orientation or the order in which you pull back your arms.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

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7 awesome features JSOC wants for future vehicles

Two U.S. military commands involved in buying and fielding new gear for special operators have released a list of what features they would like to see in future military vehicles — and the list shows some serious upgrades for warfighters.


The Joint Special Operations Command and the Program Executive Office Special Operations Forces Warrior released their wish list in a Federal Business Opportunities solicitation. While some of the upgrades they’re searching for are pretty standard — such as more reliable drivetrains and cheaper brakes — these five technologies could be game changing:

1. Invisible armor on civilian vehicles

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
American EOD sailors and Marines test a light armored SUV against a variety of munitions. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. James Frank)

The document calls for low visibility “Armor materials/panels, etc., that can be transferred and integrated from one commercial vehicle to another with minimal manpower and in a minimal timeframe.” This could allow operators to fortify a civilian vehicle for a mission. Then, if that car is compromised, quickly move the armor to a new ride for the next mission.

2. Transformer vehicles

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jad Sleiman)

Spec ops buyers are looking for a chassis that could survive after the car body wears out. In other words, operators would have a truck or SUV that they use for some operations, and after the vehicle gets banged up, worn out, or just stops looking cool, the troops could trade out the body for a new one for cheap.

3. Engine starters and batteries that work at -50 degrees

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
When you’re running out of the cold after hours of shoveling, you really want that heater to start. (Photo: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. David Bedard)

Batteries and starters that work at 50 degrees below zero would give soldiers confidence that they can always make a quick getaway, even in the Arctic Circle. In addition to delivering power in extremely frigid weather, the batteries should provide electricity for a longer time between charges. This would allow users to run the heat and electronic devices in the field for longer without turning on the engine.

4. Lighter, hidden armor

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Philip Diab)

In addition to the transferability of the armor described in the first entry, JSOC and PEO-SOF are asking for the hidden armor for civilian vehicles to be lighter. This would reduce the low gas mileage and high rollover problems associated with current vehicles using hidden armor.

5. Hybrid military dune buggies

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
(Photo: US Army)

The solicitation calls for electric or hybrid electric vehicle technology for LTATVs. The Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle is basically a souped-up ATV for light troops like special operators and paratroopers. Now, soldiers want an all-electric or hybrid version of the vehicle that would “increase range, reduce maintenance, and lower the audible signature.”

6. “Low Profile Antennas for Line of Sight, SATCOM, and ECMS”

This is exactly what it sounds like, a variety of antennas that work as well as current models while also being harder to detect. It would allow all vehicles — commercial and military — to be outfitted with more communications devices without drawing undue attention and enemy fire.

7. “Visual, Audible, and Thermal Signature Reduction”

The commandos want vehicles that are harder to detect, track, and target. Quieter vehicles are more difficult to hear, cooler vehicles are harder to see with IR, and better-camouflaged vehicles are challenging to pick out with the naked eye. Operators want all three upgrades.

See the full solicitation at fbo.gov (until it gets archived on Nov. 30).

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Terrorists are creating their own social media platforms

Islamic State militants are developing their own social media platform to avoid security crackdowns on their communications and propaganda, the head of the European Union’s police agency said on May 3.


Europol Director Rob Wainwright said the new online platform had been uncovered during a 48-hour operation against Internet extremism last week.

“Within that operation it was revealed IS was now developing its very own social media platform, its own part of the Internet to run its agenda,” Wainwright told a security conference in London. “It does show that some members of Daesh (IS), at least, continue to innovate in this space.”

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Social media is already challenging to regulate as it is.

During a Europol-coordinated crackdown on IS and al Qaeda material, which involved officials from the United States, Belgium, Greece, Poland, and Portugal, more than 2,000 extremist items were identified, hosted on 52 social media platforms.

Jihadists have often relied on mainstream social media platforms for online communications and to spread propaganda, with private channels on messaging app Telegram being especially popular over the past year.

Technology firms, such as Facebook and Google, have come under increasing political pressure to do more to tackle extremist material online and to make it harder for groups such as Islamic State to communicate through encrypted services to avoid detection by security services.

Also read: The US is amping up its cyber war force

However, Wainwright said that IS, by creating its own service, was responding to concerted pressure from intelligence agencies, police forces, and the tech sector, and were trying to find a way around it.

“We have certainly made it a lot harder for them to operate in this space but we’re still seeing the publication of these awful videos, communications operating large scale across the Internet,” he said, adding he did not know if it would be technically harder to take down IS’s own platform.

Wainwright also said he believed that security cooperation between Britain and the EU would continue after Brexit, despite British warnings it is likely to leave Europol and cease sharing intelligence if it strikes no divorce deal with the bloc.

“The operational requirement is for that to be retained. If anything we need to have an even more closely integrated pan-European response to security if you consider the way in which the threat is heading,” he said.

Related: DARPA held a contest to identify evil propaganda robots on Facebook and Twitter

Europe, he added, is facing “the highest terrorist threat for a generation”.

However, Wainwright said there were important legal issues that would have to be thrashed out and it was not easy “to just cut and paste current arrangements”.

“The legal issues have to be worked through and then they have to be worked through within of course the broader political context of the Article 50 negotiations (on Britain’s planned exit from the EU),” he said.

“In the end I hope the grown-ups in the room will realize that … security is one of the most important areas of the whole process. We need to get that right in the collective security interest of Europe as a whole, including of course the United Kingdom.”

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4 times North Korea held American troops hostage

The recent release of Otto Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia who was held for over a year for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel room, means that now three Americans are currently being held by North Korea. Warmbier suffered what some reports describe as extensive brain damage, and he is currently being treated.


But these are not the first Americans to have been held hostage. A 2017 list from USA Today before Warmbier’s release noted some other incidents dating from 2009 to the present. These cases have involved civilians. However, prior to 1996, when Evan Hunziker swam across the Yalu River, there had been some incidents where American troops were held hostage.

Here are four of them, from a 2003 Congressional Research Service report and other sources.

1. January 23, 1968

The environmental research ship USS Pueblo (AGER 2) was attacked and captured by North Korean Forces. One American was killed in the initial attack, while 82 others were held for 11 months. The vessel is still in North Korean hands.

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
USS Pueblo (AGER 2).

2. July 14, 1977

A CH-47 Chinook was shot down by North Korean forces, killing three of the crew. The surviving crewman was briefly held by the North Koreans until he was released, along with the bodies of the deceased.

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
A CH-47 in flight. (Photo: US Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jorge Intriago)

3. December 7, 1979

An American foot patrol strayed into a North Korean minefield. One was killed, at least two were wounded. While the wounded were able to return to friendly territory, the body of the dead American was held for a few days.

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Serving on the DMZ… just not during declared conflict.

4. December 17, 1994

A U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa was shot down by the North Koreans. One crewman was killed, the other was held for 13 days.

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo

Most returns took place at the Joint Security Area, near Panmunjom, the site where a village stood until the armistice that ended the fighting of the Korean War.

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House-Senate to negotiate key military benefit changes

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Wikimedia commons


The House and Senate, in passing separate versions of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, haven’t yet agreed on the size of the next military pay raise, or how to reform health care or housing allowances, or whether to require all 18-year-old women to register with Selective Service to be part of a conscription pool in future major wars.

Ironing out these disparities, and many more consequential to military personnel, retirees and family members, will now fall to a House-Senate conference committee comprised of armed services committee members.

The committees’ professional staffs will negotiate many decisions in advance, on guidance from chairmen Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Max Thornberry (R-Texas), and senior Democrats Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) and Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.). But the principals will need to engage behind closed doors on larger and more controversial topics to produce a single bill that either avoids or challenges a threatened veto from President Obama.

To achieve compromise, conferees will need to shed the political posturing routine in election years and make hard choices based on real budget ceilings. The House, for example, had refused to support another military pay raise cap in 2017 and deferred TRICARE fee increases to future generations of service members. Yet it only authorized funding for seven months of wartime operations next year in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Here are some of the tough decisions to be negotiated:

Pay Raise – The House bill supports a 2.1 percent January raise to match wage growth in the private sector. The Senate voted to cap the raise, for a fourth consecutive year, at 1.6 percent. A long-shot floor amendment from McCain to add $18 billion in defense spending authority, including several hundred million to support a larger pay raise, was defeated.

Basic Allowance for Housing – The Senate supports two substantial BAH “reforms.” It would dampen payments stateside to members, married or now, who share housing off base. It would cap payments to the lesser of what individuals actually pay to rent or the local BAH maximum for their rank and family status. House is silent on these. The White House opposes them.

TRICARE Reforms – The Senate embraces a portion of TRICARE fee increases that the administration proposed for working age retirees. It also incentivizes the fee system so patients pay less for services critical to maintaining their health and they pay more for incidental health services. Senate initiatives also emphasize improving access and quality of care.

The House rejects almost all higher fees and co-pays intended to drive patients, particularly retirees, back into managed care and military facilities. Both bills would narrow TRICARE options down to managed care and a preferred provider organization. But the House would require all current TRICARE Standard users to enroll annually to help better manage costs and resources. The House, however, would subject only new entrants to the military on or after Jan. 1, 2018, to higher TRICARE enrollment fees.

Female Draft Registration – Without debate on the topic, the Senate voted to require all women attaining the age of 18 on or after Jan. 1, 2018, to register with Selective Service. The House voted to strike similar language from its own defense authorization bill, leaving the issue to be fought behind closed doors of the conference committee.

The two defense policy bills, HR 4909 and S 2943, are aligned on some other important, even surprising benefit changes. These include:

Commissary Reform — The Senate approved the same sweeping changes endorsed by the House to modernize commissary operations. They include a pilot program to replace the cost-plus-five-percent pricing formula with variable pricing across local markets. Both chambers also endorse allowing the Defense Commissary Agency to offer its own brand products to generate more profits and enhance patron savings, and to convert commissaries to non-appropriated fund activities like exchanges.

DeCA is to calculate and set a baseline level of savings that patrons now enjoy and maintain it. Meanwhile, a new Defense Resale Business Optimization Board will be formed to oversee the reforms including the streamlining of commissary and exchange operations to gain efficiencies.

The Senate rejected McCain’s push to privatize up to five base grocery stores for two years to test whether a commercial grocer could operate base stores at a profit and still offer deep discount. McCain hopes privatization over time ends the need for DeCA with its $1.4 billion annual appropriation. Defense officials estimate the approved reforms will cut commissary funding by about $400 million a year over their first fives years.

Meanwhile, DoD last week gave Congress a promised report on prospects for making commissaries and exchanges “budget neutral” or self-sustaining. It concludes that budget neutrality is unattainable without gutting the benefit. This helped to weakened support for a privatization test.

Ending Former Spouse Windfalls — Another issue the House and Senate agree on is modifying how the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act calculates retirement pay for sharing as marital property in divorce settlements. Current law allows courts to divide final retired pay, even if it was bolstered more years served and promotions gained after divorce. Congress agrees this creates a windfall for ex-spouses that should be eliminated, but only for divorce finalized after the bill becomes law.

The former spouse law (Sec. 1408, 10 U.S.C.) will be changed so retired pay to be divided is based on a member’s rank and years of service at time of divorce, plus cumulative military pay raises up through retirement.

This is the first substantive change to the USFSPA in at least a decade. It surprised the former spouse support group EX-POSE, which calls it unfair to future ex-spouses who might sacrifice their own careers to raise children or to accommodate the frequent moves that are part of service life.

ABA Therapy Rates Restored – Both bills direct the Department of Defense to restore higher TRICARE reimbursement rates paid through last March for applied behavioral analysis therapy for children with autism. The change is to take effect when the bill is signed. Though appreciative of the rollback, family advocates worry that months more of delay could see more ABA therapists decide to drop or to refuse to accept more military children.

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Here are some other name suggestions for future US Navy ships

In light of the controversy over the announced names of new fleet replenishment oilers, including one after Korean War veteran and gay rights activist Harvey Milk, here some other suggestions for future U.S. Navy ships:


Suggested America-class Amphibious Assault Ships

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
(Photo: U.S. Navy, Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill)

USS The Battle of Fallujah

During the Global War on Terror, the Marines have been fighting far from the ocean. However. those battles have featured just as much valor as was seen during Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, or Tarawa. Notable among these was the Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004. Perhaps the most iconic picture of Operation Iraqi Freedom was the one of First Sergeant Bradley Kasal gripping his M9 Beretta as he was assisted out of the house where he heroically protected a wounded Marine. No matter what you think of the Iraq War, the valor American forces showed during the battle should be honored.

USS Battle of Khe Sanh

During the Vietnam War, the Marine outpost at Khe Sanh was besieged for nearly three months as part of a six-month battle. Unlike the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Marines at Khe Sanh held out – with the aid of massive air power. This is one proud moment of Marine Corps history that deserves to be remembered – and it should not have taken nearly five decades to honor.

USS Battle of Khafji

One of the biggest fights the Marines had during Operation Desert Storm, the Battle of Khafji lasted three days. The Marines worked with Saudi and Qatari forces to free the city from its brief occupation by Saddam Hussein’s forces, knocking out at least 80 armored vehicles. That heroism is well worth remembering.

Suggested John Lewis-class replenishment ship

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

USS Joe Foss

He’s a Medal of Honor recipient, and either a Zumwalt or a Burke would seem more fitting, but Joe Foss was more than a Marine Corps ace. He was governor of South Dakota for four years, the first commissioner of the American Football League (now the AFC), and he was President of the National Rifle Association for two terms – leading America’s foremost defender of the Second Amendment.

Suggested Zumwalt-class destroyer

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

USS Robert A. Heinlein

While best known as the best American science-fiction author of all time, Robert Anson Heinlein graduated from the Naval Academy. While his career ended due to tuberculosis, Heinlein worked with Isaac Asimov at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard during World War II. This is a cultural giant of American literature and deserves to be recognized with the Navy’s most advanced surface combatant.

Suggested Arleigh Burke-class destroyers

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
(Photo: U.S. Navy, Journalist 2nd Class Patrick Reilly)

USS Tom Clancy

The inventor of the techno-thriller genre made the United States Navy the big star in his first two novels. His iconic character, Jack Ryan, was a former Marine. Clancy was one of the few civilians to receive the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement from the Navy League.

USS Joe Rochefort

Rochefort is the unsung hero of the Battle of Midway. His code-breaking efforts gave Admiral Chester W. Nimitz the advance warning needed to send Raymond Spruance and Frank Jack Fletcher to ambush the Japanese fleet. Rochefort waited over 30 years to see his story told, and a decade afterward to be officially recognized.

USS Edwin T. Layton

There was one officer that Nimitz kept by his side throughout World War II. Edwin T. Layton was retained when Nimitz took over for Husband E. Kimmel and stayed until Japan signed the  surrender documents in Tokyo Bay. If Rochefort was the unsung hero of Midway, Layton is the man who ensured Rochefort got some of the official recognition he deserved.

USS Brian Chontosh

Brian Chontosh received the Navy Cross for heroism during the initial invasion of Iraq. During a firefight on March 25, 2003, he personally cleared over 200 meters of trench and killed over 20 enemy troops. Sheer awesomeness (that arguably should have resulted in him receiving the Medal of Honor).

USS Justin Lehew

Then-Gunnery Sergeant Justin Lehew received the Navy Cross for his actions during March 23 and 24. On the 23rd, he led a team that rescued some of the members of the 507th Maintenance Company. The next day, he continuously exposed himself to enemy fire during an attack on a bridge, then while recovering Marines from an Amphibious Assault Vehicle that was hit.

USS Bradley Kasal

During the Battle of Fallujah, a photograph featuring then-First Sergeant Bradley Kasal being helped out of a building, clutching his M9 Beretta became an iconic image of Operation Iraqi Freedom. What happened before the photo, though, was the real awesome story: Kasal had shielded a fellow Marine from an insurgent’s grenades with his own body after both had been wounded. Kasal then refused evacuation until the other Marines in the house were safe. He got the Navy Cross. It should have been the Medal of Honor.

USS Justin A. Wilson

Corpsmen have long had a tradition of valor when it comes to treating wounded Marines on the battlefield. Justin Wilson is just one of the latest. He earned the Navy Cross by leaving his position, despite the threat of IEDs, to treat a wounded Marine explosive ordnance disposal tech, then did so again to find other wounded.

USS Arthur D. Struble

It is rare that a Vice Admiral is awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, but Stuble is one of two who got that honor. Struble received the Army’s second-highest decoration for valor for helping oversee the mine-clearance operation at Wonsan during the Korean War. Not too many people know about Admiral Struble’s service, and naming a ship after him would be a suitable way to change this.

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How this soldier became a collegiate wheelchair basketball star

For Army Sgt. Shaun Castle, the Army was becoming a career.


As a military policeman in the early 2000s, Castle had some key war-zone assignments to Kosovo, Macedonia and the Middle East that were tracking toward a bright future in the service.

But in 2005, Shaun suffered a spine injury that eventually ended his Army career. And while he recovered enough to serve as a police officer in Alabama, his prior-service injury worsened and he had to leave the force, losing the use of his legs.

Undaunted, Shaun focused on getting a college degree and earned a place on the roster of the University of Alabama wheelchair basketball team where he’s also a member of the 2020 Paralympic Games development team.

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
In 2012, after standing under the Paralympic banners of the Birmingham-based Lakeshore Foundation, Castle began training six days per week – hard work that has paid dividends for the now collegiate and professional sports star who plays for the University of Alabama’s men’s wheelchair basketball team and the USA Developmental team. Castle also has played professional wheelchair basketball in Lyon, France, and is a Paralympic hopeful for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo from Shaun Castle)

 

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
An advocate for Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Lakeshore Foundation, Castle has participated in numerous radio spots and other promotions in which he’s known for making mundane topics – like MREs (meals ready to eat) – sound interesting. In 2016, Castle pioneered the construction of an arena dedicated solely to wheelchair basketball at the University of Alabama. (Photo from Shaun Castle)

 

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Castle also is active with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and NORAD Tracks Santa. A lover of Christmas, Castle and his wife Stephanie buy presents each year for underprivileged children. (Photo from Shaun Castle)

 

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster

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

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


This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Photo: Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Photo: Department of Defense William D. Moss

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

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

Bonus Facts:

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

Most Americans don’t know much about General George Custer beyond the fact that he was killed — along with all of his troops — by Native American warriors at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Here are 9 other facts that illustrate there was a lot more to the man beyond the bad tactical decisions he made that day:


1. He didn’t graduate with the rest of his West Point class because he got in trouble

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Cadet Custer at West Point.

The night before he was supposed to graduate with the Class of 1861, he was the cadet duty officer. During his watch he came across two junior cadets having a heated discussion, and instead of breaking it up he suggested they settle it by fighting it out. He was punished by the officers on the staff for his lack of judgment and kept from getting his diploma and commission until a few months later.

2. His future father-in-law wasn’t a big fan at first

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Custer with his wife Libbie (seated).

Custer had a romantic interest in Libbie Bacon, who was from a prominent Michigan family, but her father was concerned about his working class roots and excessive drinking.

3. He was given sick leave following the Battle of Antietam

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Custer (right) with rebel prisoner.

Custer distinguished himself at the bloody Battle of Antietam near Maryland’s border with West Virginia on the Potomac River, but the campaign took a physical and emotional toll. He was given sick leave, which he used to return to Michigan and pursue his relationship with Libbie.

4. He pinned on his first general’s star at age 23

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster

Custer remains the youngest general officer in U.S. military history.

5. He became a national hero after the Battle of Gettysburg (and his future father-in-law started to like him)

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Custer hanging with the boys (and a dog) at Gettysburg.

Custer led several charges at Gettysburg, including one where his horse was shot out from under him. On his final charge (mounted once again), Custer raised his saber and shouted, “come on, you Wolverines!” as he drove off the dismounted Rebels. His glory came at a great cost, however: 50 percent of the soldiers in his company were killed during the battle. The tales of his heroism spread far and wide, and his name was soon synonymous with victory in the war.  His notoriety also shifted the attitude of Libby’s dad, and in time he was able to successfully ask for her hand in marriage.

6. He considered being a coal baron or a politician after the Civil War

Because of his celebrity Custer was well-connected, and as the military grew smaller and his sense of purpose after the war faded, he considered working in both the coal industry and politics. But before he could move on either option, Gen. Sherman summoned him to help move the country westward.

7.  He was demoted to colonel for a while

As tends to happen after every major war, the U.S. Army downsized following the Civil War, which reduced the number of general officer billets. In order to remain on active duty Custer had to accept being reduced to the rank of colonel for a while.

8. While he was popular with troops during the Civil War, his men hated him while he blazed across the wild west

From his first days establishing a more permanent U.S. military presence in Texas until that fateful day on the plains of Montana he was constrained by an unresponsive military bureaucracy and limited resources, and those things contributed to a draconian, self-centered, and often hypocritical leadership style that tended to trash morale.

9. He was killed at Little Bighorn only 15 years after leaving West Point

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Custer with a group of scouts, including Bloody Knife (kneeling left), who warned him about the number of Sioux braves waiting at Little Bighorn.

Custer miscalculated his enemy on June 25, 1876.  When his scout Bloody Knife told him there were more Sioux waiting for the Seventh Cavalry than they had bullets, he simply responded, “Well, I guess we’ll go through them in one day.” Somewhere Sitting Bull was saying the same thing, and his prediction proved to be the accurate one.

Here’s the Battle of Little Bighorn as portrayed in the movie classic “Little Big Man,” starring Dustin Hoffman as Custer’s scout and Richard Mulligan as Custer:

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There’s no business like the arms business — here’s how defense giants are doing

Nobody spends money on arms like the US of A.


Starting with a base of $534 billion in discretionary funding, coupled with another $51 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations funding (aka the “war budget”), the Pentagon’s spending power comes to a grand total of $585 billion.

Defense industry giants, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon posted second-quarter earnings on Wednesday (Lockheed Martin earnings released last week).

Here’s a look at how they did…

Boeing

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Boeing KC-46 Tanker program first test aircraft (EMD1) flies with an aerial refueling boom installed on its fifth flight. | Boeing

Boeing, the world’s largest plane maker, reported a smaller-than-expected second Q2 loss on Wednesday. The company’s first quarterly net loss in nearly seven years amounted to $234 million.

Boeing’s KC-46 tanker program for the US Air Force is delayed from August 2017 until January 2018 due to test flight problems. Modifications to the aircraft are expected to cost Boeing an additional $393 million (after taxes).

What’s more, Boeing could end production of its most iconic aircraft.

“If we are unable to obtain sufficient orders and/or market, production and other risks cannot be mitigated, we could record additional losses that may be material, and it is reasonably possible that we could decide to end production of the 747,” Boeing said in its filing on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Boeing won a US Air Force contract worth $25.8 million to start work on the next fleet of Air Force One aircraft.

The aging Air Force One and it’s twin decoy will be replaced with two Boeing  747-8 and are expected to be operational in 2020.

Up to Wednesday’s close of $135.96, the company’s shares had fallen about 6% since the start of the year.

Highlights from Boeing’s quarterly earnings report:

•Operating cash flow of $1.2 billion (with 28.6 million shares repurchased for $3.5 billion)

•Cash flow of $3.2 billion, (down 2% from 2015)

•Core earnings per share loss of $0.44

•Revenue rose 1% to $24.8 billion (from earlier estimate of $24.5 billion)

• Demand still high with more than 5,700 commercial plane orders still in the works

Reuters contributed to this report.

General Dynamics

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
The littoral combat ship USS Independence operates off the Hawaiian Islands during exercise RIMPAC 2014. | General Dynamics

General Dynamics began their earnings conference call on Wednesday highlighting their “very good second quarter.”

The Falls Church, Virginia-based company announced $7.6 billion in Q2 revenue and achieved $758 million in net earnings.

General Dynamics recognized their aerospace unit (with a revenue of $2.13 billion) and maritime division.

At the end of June 2016, the defense giants’ National Steel and Shipbuilding division won a $640 million Pentagon contract to construct a T-AO 205 Class Fleet Replenishment Oiler. The contract could be worth up to $3.16 billion if the Pentagon decides to buy an additional five ships.

In March, the US Navy announced that General Dynamics will be the prime contractor for development of 12 new submarines.

Shares rose less than 1% to $145.09 in the afternoon and since the beginning of this year, the company’s stock has climbed 5.2%.

Highlights from General Dynamics’ quarterly earnings report:

•Revenue fell to $7.67 billion (down by $217 million from the Q2 2015)

•Raised 2016’s full-year earnings forecast to $9.70 per share (from $9.20, analysts’ expect $9.52)

•Profit margins could be as high as 13.8% (up from January 2016 estimate of 13.3%)

Reuters contributed to this report.

Lockheed Martin

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Behold, the F-35. | Lockheed Martin

While the F-35 Lightning II continues its turbulent march to combat readiness, the jet’s manufacturer posted better than expected quarterly revenue earnings last week.

Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s top weapons supplier, also lifted its 2016 revenue and profit forecasts for a second time — despite significant snags in developing America’s most expensive arms program.

Considered a bellwether for the US defense sector, Lockheed Martin’s stock also posted  a record high of $261.37 in early trading on July 19. What’s more, the world’s largest defense contractor’s shares were already up approximately 18% this year.

“(The) consensus expectations are finally positive for the F-35 and for improvement in the defense budget, which has led to a higher valuation,” Bernstein analyst Douglas Harned wrote in a note, according to Reuters.

The now nearly $400 billion F-35 weapons program was developed in 2001 to replace the US military’s F-15, F-16, and F-18 aircraft.

Read more about the F-35 »

According to Lockheed Martin, sales in its aeronautics business, the company’s largest, rose 6% in the past three months due to delivery of 14 F-35s.

The company has said it plans to deliver 53 F-35 jets in 2016, up from 45 a year earlier.

Highlights from Lockheed Martin’s quarterly earnings report:

• Net sales rose to $12.91 billion (from $11.64 billion in Q2 2015)

•Net income rose to $1.02 billion (or $3.32 per share), which is up from $929 million (or $2.94 per share) in Q2 2015

•Generated $1.5 billion in cash from operations

•Raised 2016’s profit forecast to $12.15–$12.45 per share (from $11.50-$11.80)

•Raised 2016’s full-year sales of $50.0 billion-$51.5 billion (from earlier estimate of $49.6 billion-$51.1 billion)

Reuters contributed to this report.

Northrop Grumman

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
Northrop Grumman/EADS Euro Hawk rollout on October 8, 2009 at Palmdale, CA, USA. | Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman’s earnings report showed sales reaching $6 billion with the company’s aerospace unit seeing a 4% increase in sales due to higher demand for drones and manned aircraft.

“Autonomous Systems sales rose due to higher volume on the Global Hawk and Triton programs, partially offset by lower volume due to the ramp down on the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance program,” the company said in a statement.

“Manned Aircraft sales rose due to higher restricted volume and higher F-35 deliveries, partially offset by fewer F/A-18 deliveries and lower volume on the B-2 program.”

It should be noted that Lockheed Martin, is the prime contractor for the F-35 Lightning II, however, Northrop Grumman develops the fifth-generation fighter jets’ center fuselage, radar and avionics suite.

Northrop is also a subcontractor to Boeing on the F/A-18 Hornet.

Highlights from Northrop Grumman’s quarterly earnings report:

•Sales increase by 2% to $6 billion (compared to $5.9 billion in Q2 of 2015)

•Earning per share increase by 4% to $2.85

•Earning per share guidance increase to $10.75 to $11.00

•Cash from operations of $604 million

Raytheon

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
A Patriot Air and Missile Defense launcher fires an interceptor during a previous test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The latest configuration of the system, called PDB-8, has passed four flight tests and is now with the U.S. Army for a final evaluation. | Raytheon

Raytheon, the world’s largest missile manufacturer, announced $6 billion in net sales for Q2 2016, which is up 3% compared to $5.8 billion in the second quarter 2015.

Earnings per share was $2.38 compared to $1.65, this time last year.

“We begin the second half of 2016 with continued confidence in our growth outlook, and we have increased our guidance for earnings and cash flow as a result of our strong year-to-date performance,” CEO and Chairman Thomas A. Kennedy said in a statement.

Highlights from Raytheon’s quarterly earnings report:

•Sales increase by 3% to $6 billion (compared to $5.8 billion in Q2 2015)

•Increase in operating cash flow to $746 million (compared to $376 million in Q2 2015)

•Backlog and funded backlog at the end of the Q2 2016 was $35.3 billion and $26.1 billion, respectively.

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This World War II hero was shot multiple times and still managed to destroy three machine gun nests

This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster
United States Army First Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II.


Senator Daniel Inouye served in WWII and was seriously injured while attacking a German position along a ridge in Tuscany.  He stood to throw a grenade into a machine gun nest, when one of the gunners shot him in the stomach.  Inouye ignored the wound and killed the machine gunners with his Thompson SMG.

Instead of getting out of combat, Inouye continued the attack and destroyed a second machine gun nest before collapsing from blood loss.  After collapsing, Inouye crawled toward a third machine gun nest to continue the assault.  As he prepared to throw another grenade, a German RPG severed his right arm.  He used his left hand to remove the live grenade from his dead right arm and tossed it into the machine gun nest.

After destroying three German positions, being shot in the stomach, having an arm severed by an RPG, and nearly being blown up with his own grenade, Inouye got up and ran around the ridge, shooting at the remaining Germans with his left hand.  He continued to do so until he was shot in the leg, fell off the cliff, and was knocked unconscious at the bottom.

When he awoke in a hospital, his friends told him what he had done.  He replied, “No.  That’s impossible.  Only a crazy person would do that.”

Read more from Josh Stein here.

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