This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history - We Are The Mighty
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This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history

Before the advent of stealth technology, the variable that mattered more than any other in terms of tactical aircraft survivability and lethality was speed. So in 1955 the U.S. Air Force issued a request for a high-altitude, long-range bomber that could go Mach 3 while carrying either a conventional or nuclear payload.  After a few trips to the drawing board and some mods to the Air Force’s requirements, North American Aviation was awarded a developmental contract based on their submission.


This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
The Valkyrie XB-70 (U.S. Air Force photo)

Enter the B-70 Valkyrie, a revolutionary scream-machine that was nearly four times as fast as the legacy B-52s it was designed to replace. The Valkyrie was huge — 185 feet long and 30 feet tall with a maximum takeoff weight at a whopping 542,000 pounds. The bomber was powered by six General Electric J-93GE turbojet engines that could each deliver 30,000 pounds of thrust in full afterburner. But it’s massive size and power was belied by sleek lines that made it arguably the most aesthetically-pleasing aircraft ever built.

The B-70 had a crew of four — a pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, and defense systems operator each seated in comfortable cocoons with clamshell doors. In the event of an emergency each cocoon could rocket away from the aircraft individually.

The Valkyrie used “compression lift” — a phenomenon that occurs when a conical body (the fuselage) under the center of a wing pushes air to the sides, which increases pressure and therefore lift — to travel upwards of 7,500 nautical miles supersonic. At takeoff the wingtips were straight, but a high speeds they’d angle down as much as 65 degrees to create the necessary compression.

The bomber had a number of unorthodox moving parts including movable canards on the nose and a ramp in front of the windscreen that would raise at high speed to create a more aerodynamic airframe (and it also gave the pilot very poor visibility in that regime).

Mach 3 creates a lot of air friction, and friction creates heat, so the Valkyrie was built with honeycomb stainless steel and (sparingly, like 9 percent) titanium, which was expensive and in short supply back in those days.

North American was funded to built a single test aircraft — designated the XB-70 — at a cost of $750 million. The inaugural test flight was delayed by maintenance and other technical issues by three years. All of the Valkyrie’s revolutionary subsystems came with their own problems — honeycomb structures broke, hydraulic systems hemorrhaged fluid, and control surfaces didn’t fit right.

At the same time the tactical world began to change.  Better ICBMs made Air Force planners wonder whether they needed long-range bombers at all. And the introduction of the Soviet-made SA-2 surface-to-air missile rendered even the speedy B-70 vulnerable. Based on these factors as well as the projected cost of the Valkyrie, the Eisenhower administration grew sour on the program. The Air Force reduced the program funding to a single asset that would be used for experimental research testing only.

But the presidential election of 1960 changed the landscape. President Kennedy believed the Valkyrie was important in the arms race. The program budget was upped by $265 million and the test plan was reworked to include warfare capabilities and not just research.

A year later the Kennedy administration understood the Eisenhower administration’s issues with the airplane, and the Valkyrie was once again relegated to a research program — however the requirement was reworded with the caveat that if the Air Force requirement necessitated the need for the B-70 the program would be quickly modified to also test for combat operational capabilities.

The Valkyrie’s maiden flight occurred on May 11, 1964 out of Edwards Air Force Base. The plan was to take the airplane supersonic on the first flight, but a landing gear problem kept them subsonic. The XB-70 also had a minor hydraulic fire but managed to land safely.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
North American XB-70A Valkyrie in flight. (Official USAF photo)

The airplane finally went supersonic on it’s third test flight and eventually broke a number of speed records including 70 sustained minutes of supersonic flight, 50 of them at greater than Mach 2.

But the test team also discovered that extended supersonic flight punished the airframe beyond its existing design limits, and they had to modify parts of the intake system and fuselage as the test plan went forward.

The first XB-70 reached Mach 3 only once — on it’s 18th test flight on October 14, 1965 — and that speed did substantial damage to the leading edge of one of the wings. (Luckily nothing was sucked into the intakes.) After that the airplane was limited to no greater than Mach 2.5.

A second XB-70 was built after comprehensive wind tunnel testing that yielded a modified design of the intake system, the hydraulics, and the wings. The new design made the airplane more stable, especially at high speeds. On May 19, 1966 the second Valkyrie flew Mach 3 for 33 minutes.

But test problems persisted. One flight forced test pilot Joe Cotton to jump a circuit breaker with a paper clip to get the landing gear to come down. (Basically, a $750 million airplane was saved with a 39 cent paperclip.)

Then one of the contractors pushed the notion of a “family photo,” an idea that proved to be the true beginning of the end for the Valkyrie. General Electric wanted to use a private Learjet to shoot both film and still photos of the XB-70 flying in formation with a T-38, F-4, F-104, and an F-5 — all GE-powered jets.

The requisite approvals were obtained, and on June 8, 1966 the four Air Force test jets launched to rendezvous with the XB-70 at the end of a test event. The five-jet formation flew around the Edwards AFB airspace for about 40 minutes without incident while the Learjet got the desired footage and photos. But as the formation was breaking up to return to base, disaster struck.

The F-104 drifted left until its left wing hit the XB-70’s right wing. At that point the Starfighter flipped over and rolled inverted over the top of the Valkyrie, striking the vertical stabilizers and left wing of the bomber. The F-104 exploded, destroying the Valkyrie’s rudders and damaging its left wing. With the loss of both rudders and damage to the wings, the Valkyrie entered an uncontrollable spin and crashed into the ground north of Barstow, California. NASA Chief Test Pilot Joe Walker (who was flying the F-104) and Carl Cross (the XB-70’s co-pilot who was on his first Valkyrie flight) were killed. Al White (XB-70 pilot) ejected, sustaining serious injuries, including one arm crushed by the closing clamshell-like escape crew capsule moments prior to ejection.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
F-104 in flames after hitting the XB-70 during a PR formation flight over Edwards Air Force Base on June 8, 1966. (Official U.S.A.F. photo)

The investigation concluded that Walker was unable to properly perceive his motion relative to the Valkyrie, leading to his aircraft drifting into contact with the XB-70’s wing. The accident investigation also pointed to the wake vortex off the XB-70’s right wingtip as the reason for the F-104’s sudden roll over and into the bomber. There was also a lot of CYA and finger-pointing among Air Force leadership regarding who had actually approved the “family photo,” and ultimately the punishment for improperly vetting the event fell to the lowest levels of the chain of command.

Although the remaining Valkyrie continued to fly test events, the mishap crushed any chance of the airplane being used as an operational asset. On February 4, 1969 the XB-70 flew to Wright-Patterson AFB to be made into an exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force — the final flight for a powerful and visually stunning airplane the likes of which will never be seen again.

Here’s a video that shows the Valkyrie in action:

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Watch one of the baddest A-10 pilots ever land after being hit by a missile

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul T. “PJ” Johnson is right up there with the best pilots to have ever flown the A-10. While serving as a captain during Operation Desert Storm, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross for leading the rescue mission of a downed Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot deep behind enemy lines.


Capt. Johnson was en route from another mission when he received the call to search for the F-14 crew that had been shot down the night before. During the next six hours, he lead the search through three aerial refuelings, one attack on a possible SCUD missile site, and three hours of going deeper into enemy territory than any A-10 had ever flown. When he finally spotted the survivor, an enemy vehicle was heading in his direction, which Johnson proceeded to destroy, thus securing the target.

The mission was successful and a first for the A-10. A few days later, Johnson’s skills were on full display when he was hit by an enemy missile while trying to take out a radar site. The explosion left a gaping hole on his right wing, which disabled one of the hydraulic systems. Still, he managed to fly back to safety.

This video shows how Johnson pulled through his “high pucker factor” experience, which he credits to a “wing and a prayer.”

Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7JM82fa5ZY
 

Gen. Johnson received his commission in 1985 from Officer Training School, Lackland Air Force Base. He’s a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours on the A-10 and served as commander of the 75th Fighter Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C.; the 354th Operations Group, Eielson AFB, Alaska; the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; and 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. He’s retiring on July 01, 2016, according to his Air Force profile.

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This circus song was supposed to be a badass military marching theme

Czech-born composer Julius Fucik was known for his love of military marches. So much so, he was the “Bohemian Sousa.”


The classically-trained music producer trained under such legendary composers as Antonín Dvořák and served in the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Army with the “Austrian March King” Josef Wagner.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Julius Fucik in Imperial Army uniform.

Fucik so loved to compose marches, he pretty much served in the Austrian military just to do that. By 1897 he had joined the Army twice in order to play music.

It was that same year, while in the 86th Infantry Regiment in Sarajevo that he composed “Einzug der Gladiatoren” — “Entrance of the Gladiators.”

More than 120 years later, the cultural meaning of the song has sure changed. No longer associated with martial might, the song is now more easily teamed up with clowns, lions, and everything else in a modern three-ring circus.

What happened was his work was rearranged for a smaller band by Canadian Louis-Philippe Laurendeau in 1910, who called his version “Thunder and Blazes.”

The music website Sound And The Foley points out that this was the same time when circuses like PT Barnum’s and the Ringling Brothers’ were becoming a strong cultural phenomenon in the United States.

Though no one knows just how and when the song first became inextricably linked with the circus or even which circus used it first, the fact is that the two are now culturally linked.

Both Laurendeau and Fucik died in 1916, never knowing their work become synonymous with the circus…instead of being battle anthems.

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Keanu Reeves shows trigger skills at a ‘3-gun’ shooting range

A video released by firearms dealer Taran Tactical Innovations features the star of John WickPoint Break, and The Matrix throwing some serious lead downrange at what’s known as a “3-gun course.”


This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history

3-gun is a shooting exercise where competitors use three firearms: a sporting rifle, a pistol, and a shotgun. The shooter must move through stages and hit targets from various ranges using each of the different firearms. And, judging by the video footage, Keanu Reeves is good at it.

The targets on the range are anywhere from 5 inches to 100 feet away. The video caption reads “Keanu and the guys at http://www.87eleven.net/ are putting in WORK!”

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
87 Eleven with Reeves (Facebook photo)

87 Eleven is an “Action Design” company whose directors, David M. Leitch and Chad Stahelski, also provide fight choreography, stunt work, and training for movie projects. The company provided training on Reeves’ film John Wick as well as 300, Fight Club, the Hunger Games series, and even Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video.

Taylor Swift, it’s time for your own CQB video.

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These are the 15 smartest US presidents of all time (and no. 3 might surprise you)

In 2006, University of California at Davis psychology professor Dean Simonton completed a comprehensive study examining the “intellectual brilliance” of 42 US presidents.


The top 15 who appear on this list were compiled by Libb Thims — an American engineer who compiles high IQ scores as a hobby — using the results of Simonton’s study.

Because IQ scores weren’t available for all of the presidents, Simonton estimated their scores based on certain personality traits noted in their biographies that would indicate a higher-than-average level of intelligence, such as “wise,” “inventive,” “artistic,” “curious,” sophisticated,” “complicated,” and “insightful.”

Simonton then gave each president a score based on his personality traits, which he then interpreted as a measure of the chief executives’ “Intellectual Brilliance.”

In honor of President’s Day, here are America’s 15 brightest commander in chiefs.

15. Franklin Pierce

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

Franklin Pierce was the 14th president and served between 1853 and 1857. By Simonton’s estimates, Pierce had an IQ of 141.

After graduating from Bowdoin College, Pierce was elected to the New Hampshire legislature at the age of 24 and became its speaker two years later.

14. John Tyler

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

John Tyler served as the 10th US president after his predecessor, William Henry Harrison, died in April 1841.

Tyler attended the College of William and Mary and studied law. Although he had an (estimated) IQ of 142, his peers often didn’t take him seriously because he was the first vice president to become president without having been elected.

Despite his detractors, Tyler passed a lot of positive legislation throughout his term, including a tariff bill meant to protect northern manufacturers.

13. Millard Fillmore

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

Millard Fillmore was the 13th president and the last Whig president.

He had an IQ of 143, according to Simonton’s estimates, and lived the quintessential American dream. Born in a log cabin in the Finger Lakes country of New York in 1800, Fillmore became a lawyer in 1823 and was elected to the House of Representatives soon after.

When Zachary Taylor died, Fillmore was thrust into the presidency, serving from 1850 to 1853.

12. Franklin D. Roosevelt

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office during the Great Depression, serving an unprecedented four terms as the nation’s 32nd president from 1933 from 1945.

With an estimated IQ of 146, Roosevelt attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School before entering politics as a Democrat and winning election to the New York Senate in 1910.

Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio in 1921 but that didn’t stop him from winning the presidency in 1932. He’s perhaps best remembered for his New Deal program, a sweeping economic overhaul enacted shortly after he took office that aimed to bring recovery to businesses and provide relief to the unemployed.

11. Abraham Lincoln

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

Abraham Lincoln became the country’s 16th president in 1861, shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War.

The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln worked on a farm and split rails for fences while teaching himself to read and write. He had an IQ of 148, according to Simonton’s estimates, and was the only president to have a patent after inventing a device to free steamboats that ran aground.

He is best remembered for keeping the Union intact during the Civil War, and for his 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that forever freed slaves within the Confederacy.

10. Chester Arthur

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

Chester Arthur succeeded James Garfield as America’s 21st president after Garfield was assassinated in 1881. He had an IQ of 148, according to Simonton’s estimates.

Arthur graduated from Union College in 1848 and practiced law in New York City before being elected vice president on the Republican ticket in 1880.

When he assumed the presidency a little over a year later, he distinguished himself as a reformer and devoted much of his term to overhauling the civil service.

9. James Garfield

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

James Garfield was the 20th US president, serving for less than a year before being assassinated in 1882.

A graduate of Williams College, Garfield had an IQ of 148, according to Simonton’s estimates. Although his presidency was short, Garfield had a big impact. He re-energized the US Navy, did away with corruption in the Post Office Department, and appointed several African-Americans to prominent federal positions, according to White House records.

He was assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881, just 200 days after taking office.

8. Theodore Roosevelt

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th and youngest president in the nation’s history at the age of 43. He had an IQ of 149, according to Simonton’s estimates.

Roosevelt graduated Phi Betta Keppa from Harvard in 1880, according to the White House. He then went to Columbia to study law, which he disliked and found to be irrational. Instead of studying, he spent most of his time writing a book about the War of 1812.

Roosevelt dropped out to run for public office, ultimately becoming a two-term President best known for his motto, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

7. Woodrow Wilson

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president and leader of the Progressive Movement. He had an estimated IQ of 152.

Wilson was the president of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910 before serving as the governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. After he was elected President, Wilson began pushing for anti-trust legislation which culminated in the signing of the Federal Trade Commission Act in September 1914.

He is perhaps best remembered for his speech, “Fourteen Points,” which he presented to Congress towards the end of World War I. The speech articulated Wilson’s long-term war objectives, one of the most famous being the establishment of a League of Nations — a preliminary version of today’s United Nations.

6. Jimmy Carter

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr. served as the 39th president of the US from 1977 to 1981. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work in advancing human rights around the world and has an IQ of 153 by Simonton’s estimates.

Carter graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946 and was elected Governor of Georgia in 1970. After he was elected president — beating Gerald Ford by 56 electoral votes — he enacted a number of important policies throughout his four years, including a national energy policy and civil service reform.

5. James Madison

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

Hailed as one of the fathers of the Constitution, James Madison had an IQ of 155, according to Simonton’s estimates.

Madison graduated from what is now Princeton University in 1771 and went on to study law. He collaborated with fellow Federalists Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to produce the Federalist Papers in 1788. Madison also championed and co-authored the Bill of Rights during the drafting of the Constitution, and served as Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State from 1801–1809.

4. Bill Clinton

William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton was the 42nd President, serving from 1993-2001. He has an IQ of 156 by Simonton’s estimates.

After graduating from Georgetown, winning a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, and earning a law degree from Yale in 1973, Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas in 1978.

He went on to win the presidency with Al Gore as his running mate in 1992 and is perhaps best remembered for his efforts brokering peace in Ireland and the Balkans.

3. John F. Kennedy

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Flickr

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th president of the US, serving less than 3 years before he was assassinated in 1963. He had an IQ of 158, according to Simonton’s estimates.

Kennedy graduated from Harvard in 1940 and joined the Navy shortly thereafter, suffering grave injuries while serving in World War II.

He was elected president in 1960 and gave one of the most memorable inaugural addresses in recent memory, saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

He is perhaps best remembered for his successful fiscal programs which greatly expanded the US economy and his push for civil rights legislation that would enhance equal rights.

2. Thomas Jefferson

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikipedia

Thomas Jefferson was an American Founding Father and served as the country’s third president between 1801–1809. He had an IQ of 160, according to Simonton’s estimates.

Jefferson graduated from the College of William and Mary before going on to study law. He was a notably bad public speaker, according to White House records. He reluctantly ran for president after gradually assuming leadership of the Republican party.

As a staunch federalist and advocate of states’ rights, Jefferson strongly opposed a strong centralized Government. One of his first policy initiatives after becoming President was to eliminate a highly unpopular tax on Whiskey.

1. John Adams

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Wikimedia Commons

John Adams was the second president from 1797 to 1801, after serving as the nation’s first vice president under George Washington. He had an IQ of 173, according to Simonton’s estimates.

Adams studied law at Harvard and was an early supporter of the movement for US independence from the British. Ambitious and intellectual — if not a little vain — he frequently complained to his wife that the office of Vice President was insignificant.

He is perhaps best remembered for his skills in diplomacy, helping to negotiate a peace treaty during the Revolutionary War and avoiding a war with France during his Presidency.

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

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Maryland’s ‘Immortal 400’ saved the entire American Revolution

When British General William Howe landed 20,000 Redcoats on Long Island, the situation looked grim for the young Continental Army. General George Washington’s Continentals seemed to be pinned down as Howe simultaneously attacked the Americans head-on while he moved his troops behind Washington’s position.


In his book, “Washington’s Immortals,” Patrick O’Donnell describes how their only way out was a small gap in the British line, somehow being held open by a handful of Marylanders.

Well before the signing of the Declaration of Independence put the nascent United States on a war footing with the world’s largest, most powerful empire, Col. William Smallwood started forming a regiment of men for the coming conflict.

Smallwood formed nine companies of  infantry from the north and west counties of the Maryland Colony. Though they would be reassigned multiple times, the 400 men of the 1st Maryland Regiment took part in many major battles of the American Revolution, most notably covering the American retreat out of Long Island through a series of brave infantry charges.

British forces occupied “The Old Stone House” with a force that outnumbered the aforementioned Marylanders. While the rest of the Americans retreated in an orderly fashion, the few hundred Maryland troops repeatedly charged the fortified position with fixed bayonets.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Lord Stirling leading an attack against the British in order to enable the retreat of other troops at the Battle of Long Island, 1776. (Painting by Alonzo Chappel, 1858.)

American forces survived mostly intact — except for the Marylanders. Only nine of them made it back to the Continental Army.

Their rearguard actions against superior British troops in New York City earned them the nickname “The Immortal 400.” Their stand against 2,000 British regulars allowed Washington’s orderly retreat to succeed so he could fight another day.

There were 256 Marylanders who died to keep the Redcoats at bay and save the fledgling United States Army.

The Immortal Regiment went on to fight at the pivotal battles of Trenton, Princeton, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, and Yorktown. The unit continued its service long after the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War.

Maryland earned one of its nicknames, “The Old Line State,” because Washington referred to Maryland units as his “Old Line.” The U.S. Army National Guard’s 115th Infantry Regiment could trace its origins back to the Immortal 400, but the 115th is now merged with the 175th Infantry Regiment.

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This ship survived 7 torpedos at Pearl Harbor and went on to help crush the Japanese

The USS West Virginia was one of the hardest hit ships at Pearl Harbor but rose from the ashes to destroy Japanese forces in the years after that surprise attack.


This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
The USS West Virginia headed back to sea in 1944. Photo: US Navy

On Dec. 7, 1941 the West Virginia was struck by torpedoes launched from a midget sub and immediately began sinking. As it sank, it listed to port and each subsequent torpedo strike hit the ship further and further up its hull. The damage was so severe that the salvage officer said, “The damage on the port side … is so extensive as to beggar description.

At least seven torpedoes struck the ship and two bombs pierced the outer hull but failed to detonate. Knowing West Virginia was going down, the captain and crew counter-flooded the starboard side of the ship so that is would go down on its keel instead of capsizing. An oil fire raged through the ship for the next 30 hours, buckling the metal.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
The USS West Virginia burns in Pearl Harbor. Photo: US Navy

The captain and many of the crew died during the attack. Capt. Mervyn S. Bennion received a posthumous Medal of Honor for saving the ship while he lay dying from shrapnel that pierced his abdomen.

One of the men who carried the dying captain from the fight was Navy Cook Dorie Miller who then returned to the fight. He noticed an unmanned .50-cal. machine gun and used it to destroy three or four Japanese planes that were still attacking the ships. He became the first African-American to receive the Navy Cross.

Recovery of the West Virginia was a long process. Patches of concrete and wood were used to plug the damage and the ship was sent to Washington State for a full repair. Entire decks and much of the armor belt had to be replaced. When the work was completed in late 1944, the West Virginia was a state of the art battleship, more capable than it had ever been.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
The USS West Virginia during salvage operations. Photo: US Navy

The crew wasted no time in getting her back into the fight to achieve vengeance. The ship returned to Pear Harbor, fueled, and rushed into the Pacific War.

West Virginia pounded Japanese positions on Leyte during the Army’s Oct. 17 invasion of the Japanese-held Philippines. After nearly a week of their army getting destroyed by the American bombardment and infantry, the Japanese navy finally arrived in force and the Battle of Leyte Gulf began.

On the night of Oct. 24, West Virginia and three other battleships resurrected after Pearl Harbor spotted four Japanese ships approaching the Philippines. The Americans got the jump on them, sinking two battleships and a cruiser in a nighttime firefight. It was the last time opposing battleships fired on each other in combat.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
The USS West Virginia undergoes repairs on the floating drydock USS Artisan. Photo: US Navy

West Virginia left for some small repairs but returned and supported other operations in the Philippines until Feb. 1945.

In Feb., West Virginia joined the 5th Fleet in their invasion of Iwo Jima. The ship got to 5th fleet as the invasion was already beginning and began firing at targets onshore. It later headed to Okinawa where it again supported amphibious landings by Marines.

West Virginia was present in Tokyo Bay Sep. 2 when the Japanese formally surrendered to the U.S. It continued in active service until 1947 when it joined the reserve fleet. In 1959, it was sold for scrap.

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The Soviet conspiracy that almost started World War III will blow your mind

In 1967, a Soviet submarine armed to the teeth with a deadly payload of nuclear missiles mysteriously disappeared off the coast of Hawaii.


During the Cold War, it was not unusual for Soviet and American subs to patrol each other’s coasts for months at a time waiting for orders to pull the trigger in case the war went hot.

“The Soviets called these patrols: ‘war patrols,’ ” said Red Star Rogue author Kenneth Sewell in the video below. “To them, we were at a state of war, and they took this very, very seriously.”

Related video:

www.youtube.com

Although no one knows for sure what happened to the sub, a conspiracy has emerged painting the captain as a hero for sacrificing his ship and crew to divert the apocalyptic scenario.

According to Sewell, Soviet sub K-129 was hijacked by a band of rogue KGB commandos to provoke a war between America and China by making it appear like China attacked Hawaii á la Pearl Harbor.

“They did that to weaken the United States, to strengthen the Soviet Union. Get your two enemies to fight and you pick up the pieces,” Sewell said.

But when the captain realized the mutiny wasn’t authorized by the Soviet government, he gave the KGB operatives the wrong launch codes to his missiles, Sewell alleges.

“When you had an attempted launch with the wrong code it would detonate the warhead, which would cause the missile to explode, which sank the submarine,” Sewell said. “We owe him a really big debt of gratitude. He’s one of these unsung heroes of history that will never really get credit.”

This American Heroes Channel video portrays how the conspiracy would have played out.

Watch:

American Heroes Channel, Youtube
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This soldier risked everything to save his friend in Tal Afar

Gary Villalobos left his civilian life to join the United States Army. By 2005, he found himself in Tal Afar, Iraq, as Sgt. First Class Villalobos. It was there he learned the true meaning of fear — and what it takes to overcome that fear to try and save one of his own.


“What I think about when I think about my four deployments in Iraq, I’m glad I was part of it,” Villalobos says. “I took part in something greater than myself, something significant. But most importantly, you know what I think about is the hundreds of people, the hundreds of soldiers that I connected with at a different level. Shared hardships really bring people together.”

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Villalobos in Iraq.
(Courtesy Gary Villalobos)

Now-Master Sgt. Gary Villalobos came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1970, moving into a small shack near the beach behind his grandmother’s house in California. By the time he graduated from high school, he had a job that wasn’t going anywhere. It was just after the 1991 Gulf War and young Gary watched as that war’s heroes were greeted triumphantly upon their return to the U.S.

So, he went to an Army recruiter. Twelve years later, the United States invaded Iraq and, in 2005, Villalobos was in Tal Afar for only a month before he found himself directing Iraqi soldiers with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry to take on an insurgent group and capture their leaders.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
(AARP Studios)

Villalobos and Army officer Lt. Col. Terrence Crowe took 14 Iraqi Army troops on a patrol to capture those leaders, stepping into an alleyway — an alleyway that was also an ambush killzone.

The Army officer took the full brunt of at least four AK-47s, not one shot hitting above his waist. .

Villalobos tried to suppress their fire but the incoming sounded like it was coming from all sides. Gunfire poured in on Villalobos and the patrol as he tried to make sense of the ambush. He suddenly realized he had an edge and chucked his only grenade as hard as he could into the ambush. The firing stopped and he was able to pull his officer out.

The enemy melted away.

Back to FOB Sykes, Villalobos learned Col. Crowe didn’t make it.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Terrence Crowe.

Crowe and Villalobos went on numerous patrols together and became quite close. They went on nearly every mission together. Crowe was a native of Upstate New York and was a talented carpenter in his civilian life.

“He treated me with dignity and respect,” Villalobos says. “Part of the reason I feel guilty is because I was not in the front, where I should have been. He should have been in the rear, or at least the middle… but not point man.”

Villalobos was awarded the Silver Star for making sure he pulled Crowe out of the ambush. To him, it’s the most important award, representing the sacrifice that Colonel Crowe made.

“I don’t see it as something I earned… I just wanted to get Colonel Crowe out of there,” he says.

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Trump’s vet endorsement came from a Super PAC disguised as a not-for-profit

On Tuesday, a Veteran’s group called Veterans for a Strong America (VSA) endorsed billionaire Donald Trump’s Presidential candidacy during a rally on board the decommissioned U.S.S. Iowa in San Pedro, California.


In a press release, Trump said, “I am honored to receive the endorsement of this fantastic group… If I win I am going to get our vets the care they need, treatment they deserve, and make America and our military great again!”

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history

Except details about this veterans group are not entirely clear. Founded in 2010, VSA is run by South Dakota lawyer Joel Arends, who says the organization doesn’t usually endorse a candidate until the general election but recognizes Trump as an “inherent leader capable of achieving mission success.”

What Trump can or can’t do is for American voters to decide, but the back story behind Veterans for a Strong America is a bit hazy.

The fundraiser on the battleship Iowa this week was ostensibly meant to be a fundraiser for the 501(c)4 VSA, which will “go towards helping Veterans for a Strong America supporting our warriors on and off the battlefield and not to any candidate or candidate’s committee.”

Except the nonprofit status of VSA has since been revoked for failure to file the IRS form 990 for three consecutive years. So, the money from the event will likely go to the VSA Super PAC, and thus, to Joel Arends, who as of last night, may have been the sole member of VSA.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Arends deployed to Iraq in 2004 and later served with the rank of Major in the Army Reserve. While in Iraq, he was awarded the Bronze Star for operations in and around Baghdad. So his veteran status is beyond reproach.

Though he did paint a rather rosy picture of the war in Iraq in 2006, telling a reporter from Sioux City, Iowa at the time that “Iraq is a place of great progress” and that “American troops in Baghdad won the locals’ hearts and minds,” with 14 of the 18 provinces “considered relatively peaceful.”

VSA is not a non-partisan group

The group dates back to at least 2012, when the left-leaning Mother Jones website ran an article about their attempt to “swift boat” Obama during the 2012 election.

“Swift Boating” is now a political term meant to surprise a candidate’s military record, either truthfully or not, by “Veterans” who may or may not be associated with the candidate. The term refers to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ad ran against John Kerry during the 2004 Presidential election. In the 2012 Mother Jones article, Arends made no bones about his group’s activities.

“Yes, it’s the swift boating of the president, in the sense of using what’s perceived to be his greatest strength and making it his greatest weakness,” which Arends meant as the Bin Laden raid.

Arends contends his group is nonpartisan, though he has a history of working for Republican candidates and causes, including as a field director for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 1999, as the Veteran’s Director in Iowa in 2007 for John McCain for President, and working to promote events for Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, according to his Facebook page. The group’s registration also lists it as a conservative action group, which means…

VSA is a Super PAC

Super PACs are the anonymous dark money receptacles that are a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, allowing anyone to to donate unlimited sums to be distributed by these groups, as long as the candidate does not help coordinate how that money is spent.

In the 2012 election cycle, VSA spent all of the more than $170,000 it raised on Republican candidates during that time and some of it was spent against another Republican candidate. It also appears most of that money was donated to itself (VSA has a 501(c)4 “social welfare” nonprofit with the same name).

The VSA Super PAC spent more than it brought in, ending the election $14,000 in the red. Where that money came from is not known, but what is known is before last night’s endorsement/Trump fundraiser, VSA had $30 in cash and $318 in debts.

When looking up the domain owner for VSA’s website, www.veteransforastrongamerica.org, we found it was registered to DomainsByProxy.com, a GoDaddy site which gained notoriety in the 2012 elections for allowing political entities to pay to hide the owners of certain websites.

Interestingly enough, VSA claims membership numbers that include its over 57,000 Facebook fans and “500k grassroots.” It’s a bit of a stretch to claim a Facebook fan as a “member,” since it could be practically anyone who just wants to learn more about VSA and clicks “like.” The grassroots membership claim comes from a Sep. 1 press release that claims “500,000 supporters nationwide.”

We have reached out to VSA and will update if we hear back.

NOW: Sorry, General Mattis won’t be running for President

OR: Which US President was the greatest military leader

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Incredible photos from the US Army’s massive European airborne training operation

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
An Italian paratrooper prepares for a static line jump in a US Air Force C-130J during exercise Swift Response 16. | Staff Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss/US Air Force


Staging aircraft carriers offshore or using drones from far away can be great assets in modern warfare. However, sometimes it’s necessary to go back to the basics when responding to a global crisis.

Exercise Swift Response 16, a month-long operation led by US forces, was conducted to keep up with traditional and newer methods of combat. Over 5,000 troops from nations such as France, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy took part in this massive airborne exercise to conduct a rapid-response, joint forcible-entry scenario. While working with their European allies, US forces also participated in notable scenarios, such as staging a base within 18 hours of notification.

Here are several pictures of the multinational airborne exercise:

US Army and Italian paratroopers board a US Air Force C-130J Hercules during exercise Swift Response 16, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Staff Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss/US Air Force

A C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, takes off for Germany within several hours’ worth of notice.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford/US Air Force

British paratroopers conduct a static-line jump.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Staff Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss/US Air Force

Dutch Army paratroopers jump into Bunker Drop Zone at Grafenwoehr, Germany.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger/US Army

A US paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division lands with his parachute.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach/US Army

A French soldier watches soldiers descend from a Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Spc. Lloyd Villanueva/US Army

US soldiers locate a target on a map.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Spc. Lloyd Villanueva/US Army

Multinational soldiers move toward their target.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston/US Army

Multinational soldiers cut through the foliage.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston/US Army

Soldiers weren’t the only ones dropped from the sky. Here, a US soldier prepares to untie a vehicle that had landed in the drop zone.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston/US Army

A US paratrooper radios higher command while conducting defensive operations.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Spc. Gage Hull/US Army

A Polish soldier provides security while conducting defensive planning operations.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Spc. Gage Hull/US Army

Airplanes weren’t the only machines dominating the skies. Here, a United Kingdom Aerospatiale SA 330 Puma conducts an aerial-reconnaissance training mission.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Spc. Lloyd Villanueva/US Army

A British Parachute Regiment soldier prepares to load a helicopter while conducting a simulated medical evacuation.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Sgt. Seth Plagenza/US Army

In any real-life war scenario, bridges will be critical to both defensive and offensive forces. Here, military tactical vehicles prepare to engage their targets.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston/US Army

A Polish soldier reloads his weapon while securing a bridge.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston/US Army

Bridges will be fought for, from above and below.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston/US Army

A British soldier provides security while conducting medical-evacuation simulations.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Spc. Nathaniel Nichols/US Army

The US wasn’t the only country that brought out their toys. Here, German Bundeswehr soldiers provide security while conducting a mounted patrol.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Allen/US Army

A French paratrooper aims his antitank weapon at an enemy tank.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Sgt. Juan F. Jimenez/US Army

A US soldier from the legendary 82nd Airborne Division readies a 60 mm mortar system for a simulated-fire mission.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Spc. Gage Hull/US Army

US soldiers of Chaos Company, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division prepare to move out with their Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicles.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
Spc. Gage Hull/US Army

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A new quad-copter that swims and flies could one day help special ops

It’s a bird! It’s a fish! It’s … the Naviator.


At the Office of Naval Research’s annual Science and Technology Expo on July 21 in Washington, DC, a development team from Rutgers University demonstrated the unusual quadcopter, which can swim at depths of up to 10 meters, then seamlessly launch to the surface and soar into the air.

The drone, developed with sponsorship from the Office of Naval Research, shows promise as a tool for mine countermeasures and port security, to name a few possibilities.

There’s also interest from the special operations community, said Dr. Marc Contarino, vice president of technology for the program. It carries a 360-degree waterproof camera, making it well-suited for security and bridge and ship inspections, among other missions.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history
USMC photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

“Special ops have not told us exactly what they want. But we know for special ops, it’s all about speed and not being detected,” Contarino told Military.com. “So we’re building our system to be as fast as possible.”

While current prototypes are not much larger than a typical commercial quadcopter, Contarino said there are plans to build a six-foot-diameter model capable of carrying the 30-pound payload the Navy wants for its mine countermeasure mission. That UAV will be able to operate in waves of three-to-five feet and in 30-mile-per-hour winds, he said.

Developers have already put the Naviator through its paces in real-world conditions, launching the drone from the Delaware Memorial Bridge over the Delaware River and from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.

This ill-fated PR flight kept the Valkyrie from changing Air Force history

“Since we’re a Navy sponsor, I tried to find the biggest boat I could to showcase it,” Contarino said.

When a Phase Two development contract begins for the Naviator in 2018, Contarino said the team plans to expand its operational envelope, including work to develop a model that can operate at depths of up to 30 meters, and development of pressure-resistant features that could support much greater depths.

Whether the Naviator spends more time underwater or flying over it depends entirely on the mission.

“[It acts as if] air is a fluid, water is a fluid, and it doesn’t care,” Contarino said. ” … So we think the Navy really likes it because it does the air, the surface, and the underwater mission.”