This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a 'cowboy cavalry' into the battle-ready 'Rough Riders' - We Are The Mighty
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This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’

Few figures in American history loom as large as Teddy Roosevelt. The man embodied the can-do American spirit and the gritty resolve of the American fighting man.


But when the former “Rough Rider” was offered up his first military command, the gutsy Roosevelt initially demurred.

Theodore Roosevelt was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy when war with Spain broke out in April 1898. As soon as Congress authorized three volunteer cavalry regiments, Secretary of War Russell Alger offered command of one of those regiments to Roosevelt.

A former frontiersman and staunch advocate for American intervention in Cuba, Roosevelt was eager to join the fight. But as ready as Roosevelt was to go, he had no idea how to lead men in combat, as he explained in his recollection of the war:

“Fortunately, I was wise enough to tell the Secretary that while I believed I could learn to command the regiment in a month, yet that it was just this very month which I could not afford to spare, and that therefore I would be quite content to go as Lieutenant-Colonel, if he would make [Leonard] Wood Colonel.”

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
In case you were curious what a young TR looked like on the American frontier. #Amerigasm

The next month, Roosevelt resigned his position in the Navy Department to join his friend Leonard Wood in raising the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The original recruiting plan called for nearly 800 volunteers from New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and the Indian Territory. However, the regiment was allowed a strength of 1,000 men drawn from anywhere. So Roosevelt recruited his old acquaintances from Harvard as well as other Ivy League men from Princeton and Yale.

The regiment would eventually consist of cowboys, ranchers, and miners from the territories, former lawmen and soldiers, college scholars and athletes, as well as Indians and even a few foreigners. Considering the diversity of his volunteers, Roosevelt was often worried discipline would be an issue. But in the end, he was “agreeably disappointed.”

The men gathered in San Antonio, Texas, to begin preparations for war. It was around this time that the term “Rough Riders” was first applied to the unit. Though Wood and Roosevelt initially fought against it, they eventually embraced the name.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
You don’t get your own GI Joe without a combat deployment.

While Wood had the military wherewithal to lead the men, it was Roosevelt’s connections that made it all possible. Roosevelt used his political connections to ensure his people received the same equipment as regular army units. Wood, knowing the system, expedited the requests through the ordinance and quartermaster departments. Roosevelt then greased the wheels in Washington to make sure their equipment arrived promptly.

The regiment issued the Krag-Jorgensen .30-caliber carbine and Colt .45 revolver to its troops. The regular army equipment was vital, as it meant the Rough Riders could link up with regular army cavalry units and share supplies. Roosevelt’s affluence and family ties also garnered a pair of M1895 Colt machine guns from a wealthy donor.

Finally, the unit adopted a uniform appropriate to its nickname. The Rough Riders’ uniform consisted of a slouch hat; blue flannel shirt; khaki trousers; leggings; boots and a handkerchief tied loosely around the neck. It was “exactly as a body of cowboy cavalry should look.”

Once equipped and outfitted with the necessities, the unit set about training as a standard cavalry unit. Wood was mostly engaged in acquiring the equipment necessary to deploy the regiment. This left much of the training in the hands of Roosevelt. Though most of the men were already excellent horsemen, they drilled in shooting from horseback and fighting in military formation. After some deliberation, Roosevelt decided to neither train nor arm the men with the standard cavalry saber, as they were wholly unfamiliar with it. Instead, their secondary weapon would be the revolver, a weapon the cowboys knew well.

By the end of May, with scarcely a month of training, the men departed San Antonio for Tampa, Florida, where they would embark for Cuba. A transportation shortage meant only eight of the regiment’s 12 companies would make the trip – with no horses. Those companies arrived in Cuba on June 23, 1898, and were assigned to the Cavalry Division, Fifth Army Corps commanded by Maj. Gen. William Rufus Shafter.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
This is what deploying in 1898 looked like.

The very next day, the Rough Riders saw their first action at the Battle of Las Guiasimas. Led by Gen. ‘Fighting Joe’ Wheeler, a former Confederate officer, the Rough Riders –  along with the 1st and 10th Cavalry Regiments and Cuban units – advanced against a Spanish outpost. In the excitement of the fighting, Wheeler is said to have exclaimed “Let’s go boys! We’ve got the damn Yankees on the run again!” confusing his time in the Civil War over 30 years prior.

This small fight brought initial fame to the Rough Riders when the stories hit newspapers back home. But the Rough Riders were not done yet. A week later, the unit would go down in history its their part in the battle of San Juan Hill.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Roosevelt poses with soldiers during the Spanish American War

On July 1, the bulk of Fifth Corps advanced on Santiago de Cuba. A bloody fight broke out at San Juan and Kettle Hills outside the city. Roosevelt was now leading the Rough Riders after Wood’s promotion to Brigade Commander. Disturbed by the inaction and slow pace of orders being given by Shafter, Roosevelt pressed his men forward under heavy Spanish fire. Roosevelt felt the orders to progress slowly were inadequate to take the hill. He ordered his men into a full frontal assault.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill by Frederic Remington. In reality, they assaulted San Juan Heights and the portion later called Kettle Hill by the Americans.

The Rough Riders, joined by surrounding units who were encouraged by their tenacity, surged forward in a series of rushes against the Spanish trenches and blockhouses. They succeeded in taking the position, though casualties were high. Roosevelt’s leadership during the battle earned him the Medal of Honor in 2001.

After the battle of San Juan Hill, the Rough Riders assisted in the siege of Santiago and the final defeat of the Spanish in Cuba. During the campaign, the Rough Riders suffered 23 killed in action and just over 100 wounded. On September 18, 1898, just four months after its initial formation, the Army disbanded the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry.

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The Air Force wants cyber weapons that can knock out Russia’s air defenses

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Ajvol


As foreign air defenses become more and more sophisticated, Air Force planners are working solutions to keep America’s technical edge, an edge that has been narrowing for the past few years. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh wants cyber solutions to enemy systems like the Russian Buk, the probable weapon that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. He’s looking for cyber weapons that do things like filling an operator’s screen with false contacts, stopping a missile from launching or, the ultimate solution, allowing a missile to launch before redirecting it to attack its own launcher.

For the full rundown, check out this article at Defense One 

NOW: The 9 weirdest projects DARPA is working on 

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

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16 intense photos that show how sailors fight fires at sea

Firefighting is dangerous, scary work even when it’s done on solid ground where firemen can fall back if the flames get too fierce.


Sailors at sea, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. They have to battle the fire on a ship filled with fuel. And failure means that the ship, the only home they have on the waves, will sink and take some of their brothers with it.

To keep everyone as safe as possible, the Navy uses dedicated firefighters and cross-trains some sailors to assist them in an emergency. Here’s how they prepare to protect their floating cities from burning up:

1. They conduct frequent drills in their firefighting equipment.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mason M. Gillan)

2. They keep full firefighting suits on board and practice using them in hallways and other tight areas.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Sykes)

3. To help them spot flames behind bulkheads or in sections filled with thick smoke, firefighters carry thermal imaging devices.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Patrick Enright)

4. The Navy Firefighting Thermal Imager displays infrared video that can show sources of heat even when there’s no visible light or thick smoke obscures firefighters’ vision.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ellen Hilkowski)

5. Firefighters have to operate as teams to stay safe in flame-filled areas of the ship.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher S. Haley)

6. The ship’s spaces can turn into a living hell once the flames start to spread.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Sykes)

7. Frequent communication is key to keeping everyone safe and fighting the fire.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bill Dodge)

8. While firefighters are forced to concentrate on saving the ship, rescuing injured personnel is also a huge part of the mission.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan U. Kledzik)

9. If an aircraft is aflame on the flight deck, sometimes the best option is to cut out any survivors and then throw the plane or helicopter overboard. The Navy practices for this possibility on land.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Cdr. Chad Falgout)

10. It’s best to fight fires while they’re small, which is why suited up firefighters will position themselves to respond during dangerous landings.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeanette Mullinax)

11. Ships have some automated systems to help firefighters. Here, sailors practice with firefighting foam during ship trials.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dennis Grube)

12. Sailors often compete in “Damage Control Olympics” where they try to show who’s the best at putting out fires and other damage control activities.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Mai)

13. Other preventative training includes simulated firefighting on the ship.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg)

14. Different flags are used for various types of fire, and observers will keep track of how teams respond.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael J. Lieberknecht)

15. Teams learn to respond during an actual emergency through realistic training scenarios.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Grady T. Fontana)

16. There’s just a thin yellow line between sailors and the potentially catastrophic danger of a fire, and the Navy works hard to make sure that line is as robust as possible.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Sykes)

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Ailing Korean War vet gets a lesson in Semper Fi from his fellow Marines

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’


“Marines will low crawl through a thousand miles of barbed wire and broken glass to help a brother Marine or a member of his family – even when they have never met.” – MSgt Andy Bufalo, USMC

On January 24th, Marine Corps veteran Bobby Donald Diaz suffered a major stroke. Diaz, 79, has been receiving treatment at The Woodlands Hospital in Texas for swelling of the brain. He has lost some function of his left side and some of his vision.

On Saturday, he asked his immediate family to call on his Marine family to visit him.

“He was getting depressed on his back for so long,” Diaz’ wife of 40 years, Marilyn, said. “He wanted to talk to one of his brothers, so my son-in-law put the word out.”

Within hours, Marines – many of whom Diaz had never met — came running. The former sergeant, who served for four years in the Korean War, has received a steady stream of visits and calls from Marines of all ages, from all over.

“I’ve lost count,” Marilyn said. “I’m overwhelmed; it’s unbelievable, and the stories [they share] are unreal.”

Marine vet Adam Blancas shared this about his visit with Diaz on his Facebook page:

I had the extreme honor of being able to show love and support to a Marine brother in need. Bobby Diaz had a bad stroke a few weeks back and had told his son/daughter in law he wanted to see a couple of his brothers (Marines). This was two days ago. When I saw him today the family said over 100 people have been by, not a single one knowing anything about Bobby other than his shared service with us.

About 45 minutes in Congressman Brady stopped by to visit. He couldn’t have been nicer and made sure the focus stayed on Diaz. Bobby’s reaction to being surrounded with brothers was amazing. He started talking and laughing while sharing old corps stories with anyone eager to listen, and we all were.

The oldest Marine on deck visiting was 82, I was the youngest at 26. Seeing that kind of love in action was an experience I’ll never forget.

“It just goes to show you that in the Marine Corps: once a brother, always a brother, no matter what,” Diaz told a KHON reporter. “When you feel bad, you can’t feel bad because all your brothers are here.”

In true joint military fashion, the Marine visitors discovered there was an Air Force veteran two rooms down from Diaz, and many of them visited him as well.

Watch video coverage of Marines visiting Diaz here.

Contribute to the gofundme campaign set up to assist with Diaz’ medical care costs here.

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

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


AIR FORCE:

An MC-130J Commando II from the 9th Special Operations Squadron airdrops a Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System over the Gulf of Mexico during a training exercise Nov. 12, 2015. This was the first time aircrews from the 9th SOS successfully completed an MCADS airdrop.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Plew/USAF

Maj. Cristina Moore Urrutia, the commander and conductor of the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific, walks to a podium during the Japan Self-Defense Force Marching Festival at the Nippon Budokan Arena in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 13, 2015.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by Airman 1st Class Delano Scott/USAF

ARMY:

An Army tank crew, assigned to 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, fire an M1 Abrams tank during gunnery at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, South Korea, Nov. 23, 2015.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by Staff Sgt. John Healy/US Army

Soldiers, assigned to 1-2 SBCT, 7th Infantry Division, select items for their Thanksgiving meal at the Ghost Dining Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 26, 2015.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by US Army

Soldiers, assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, sing during their Thanksgiving celebration at the Caserma Del Din Dining Facility in Vicenza, Italy, Nov. 24, 2015.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by Sgt. Lance Pounds/US Army

NAVY:

Happy Thanksgiving from your U.S. Navy and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) at sea.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by US Navy

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departed Naval Station Norfolk, Monday, in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in U.S. 5th and 6th fleets. Along with Truman, guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68) and guide missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Gravely (DDG 107) and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) are also deploying.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by US Navy

MARINE CORPS:

Middle of Nowhere: Marines with the Marine Air-Ground Task Force load a simulated casualty on to a waiting MV-22 Osprey during Integrated Training Exercise 1-16 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 23-Nov. 15, 2015. The Aviation Combat Element provides additional mobility, reconnaissance and firepower capabilities to the MAGTF.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by Sgt. Tia Nagle/USMC

Hydration is Continuous: Pfc. Beto Chavarria sucks the blood from the head of a python in a jungle survival course during Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise 2015. Chavarria is an automatic rifleman with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. During the course, Marines learned how to trap, clean, and cook wildlife.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/USMC

COAST GUARD:

“Semper Paratus” means USCG members must train to maintain mission readiness. Members train on a variety of weapons including pistols, shotguns and rifles.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi/USCG

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Semper Paratus from USCG Air Station Detroit.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw/USCG

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Here are the US troops that are fighting on the ground (and in the air) for Mosul

Iraqi security forces began the effort to liberate the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Oct. 17, with a combined force of Kurdish Peshmerga to the east aided by coalition troops from Germany, Canada and the U.S.


Obama Administration officials have admitted that American troops are “in harm’s way” despite being in “support” roles. So, which units are actually there?

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
A Marine assigned to Task Force Taqaddum (TF TQ) escorts Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, Command Sgt. Maj. of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, during his visit to Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, September 2016. The mission of Operation Inherent Resolve is to defeat Da’esh in Iraq and Syria by supporting the Government of Iraq with trainers, advisors and fire support, to include aerial strikes and artillery fire. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ethan Hutchinson/Released)

Perhaps the most obvious are the Air Force, Navy, and Marine aviation units flying missions against ISIS. One notable unit taking part is the Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group. The carrier’s air wing includes two squadrons of F/A-18E Super Hornets (VFA-86 “Sidewinders” and VFA-105 “Gunslingers”), one of F/A-18C Hornets (VFA-131 “Wildcats”), and one of F/A-18F Super Hornets (VFA-32 “Swordsmen”).

Other aircraft have taken part, including the A-10 Thunderbolt (courtesy of the 190th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing), the B-52H Stratofortress (From the 96th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron), and the F-15E Strike Eagle (from the 4th Fighter Wing).

On the ground, the major United States forces have been the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, usually consisting of a medium tilt-rotor squadron with MV-22 Ospreys and a company of Marines. These units also can have attached air assets, including the V-22 Osprey, the AV-8B+ Harrier, and the AH-1Z Viper.

A battalion from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the Screaming Eagles, is also on the ground, slated to be replaced by troops from the 1st Infantry Division. The United States Army has also sent AH-64 Apache gunships to the theater.

Naturally, there are also special operations forces, including the Green Berets, SEALs and British SAS. It can also be safely assumed that Air Force Combat Controllers are also on the scene.

The Green Berets will likely be helping Iraqi security forces, advising Peshmerga troops and helping direct coalition air support. These units have in the past also carried out direct action missions. In 2015, one such mission, a prison break, lead to one of three American KIAs — a member of the United States Army’s Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, better known as Delta Force, Master Sergeant Joseph Wheeler.

The other two American KIAs are Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating IV, who was killed in a firefight with ISIS thugs, and Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, who was killed in a rocket attack on a base used by coalition forces.

The fight for Mosul is continuing, with the word at this writing indicating that the Iraqi advance has slowed.

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This is the history behind the Navy’s ‘dixie cup’

The Navy’s famous “dixie cup” is one of the most iconic symbols worn in the military today. You can spot a sailor from a mile away who’s wearing the traditional white cover.


Historically speaking, the familiar headgear wasn’t the first worn by the brave men and women who man their battle stations.

According to the Blue Jacket manual, so-called “flat hats” were first authorized in 1852 and became the standard cover for sailors throughout the American Civil War.

Related: This is why some Marines wear the ‘French Fourragere,’ and some don’t

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
These two sailors wearing the classic flat hats and enjoying cigars were assigned to the destroyer USS McDougal during the Great War in 1918. (Source: Robert F. Dorr Collection photo)

The flat hats were made from dark blue wool and commonly featured an embroidered headband of the ship name the sailor belonged to on the front of the brim. Reportedly, that feature ended in January 1941 to make it harder for adversaries to learn the what U.S. ships were in port. The ship’s names were replaced with a U.S. Navy embroidery instead.

In 1866, a white sennet straw hat was authorized to be worn during the summer months to help shield the hardworking sailors from the bright sunlight.

But it wasn’t until 1886 where a high-domed, low rolled brim made of wedge-shaped pieces of canvas was written into uniform regulation.

Also Read: This is why some sailors wear gold stripes, and some wear red

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Chief Boatswain’s Mate Keith Oliver (left) evaluates his sailors during a service dress blues uniform inspection. (Source Wikipedia Commons)

Eventually, the canvas material was replaced by a cheaper, more comfortable cotton. This option became popular with the sailors who wore them as they could bend the cover to reflect their individual personality — and still be within regs.

It’s unclear exactly when the term “dixie cup” was coined, but since the popular paper product made its public debut in the early 1900s, it’s likely that’s when the term was coined.

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Taliban kill 7, kidnap 6 along highway in western Afghanistan

Taliban rebels killed seven people and kidnapped another six along a highway in western Afghanistan, official sources told EFE Ingles July 12.


The incident, in which 10 rebels were also killed, took place on July 11 along a national highway near Farah, capital of a province by the same name, when the Taliban stopped several vehicles and captured more than 10 people, according to Nasser Mehri, spokesperson for the provincial governor.

“According to initial information, they killed seven of the kidnapped passengers,” explained Mehri, adding that five of the victims were former members of the Afghan security forces.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
The flag of the Taliban. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Mehri added the insurgents were planning to capture more people when the Afghan troops arrived and there was a shootout.

A police official from the province, who asked not to be named, told EFE that at least seven passengers are still being held hostage by the Taliban, and that security forces have launched a rescue operation in areas around the incident spot.

In 2016, the Taliban abducted hundreds of people from the country’s unsafe highways, including members of the security forces traveling in buses or in specific vehicles.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Intersection of Highway 1 and Route 606 in Delaram, Afghanistan. (Photo from Leonard J. DeFrancisci)

Afghanistan is witnessing its most violent phase since 2001, when the Taliban regime was overthrown with the help of the United States.

The situation has worsened following the end of NATO’s combat mission in 2015.

Since then, insurgents have been gaining ground in various parts of Afghanistan and currently control, influence, or are in dispute with the government over at least 43 percent of the territory, according to the US.

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US calls on Russia to withdraw support for Syrian president

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser is calling on Russia to re-evaluate its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, leaving open the possibility of additional U.S. military action against Syria.


In his first televised interview, H.R. McMaster pointed to dual U.S. goals of defeating the Islamic State group and removing Assad from power.

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was making the Trump administration’s first official trip this week to Russia, McMaster said Russia will have to decide whether it wanted to continue backing a “murderous regime.” Trump is weighing next steps after ordering airstrikes on April 6.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017 (local time). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams)

“It’s very difficult to understand how a political solution could result from the continuation of the Assad regime,” McMaster said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Now, we are not saying that we are the ones who are going to affect that change. What we are saying is, other countries have to ask themselves some hard questions. Russia should ask themselves [why they are] supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population?”

He said Russia should also be asked how it didn’t know that Syria was planning a chemical attack since it had advisers at the Syrian airfield.

“Right now, I think everyone in the world sees Russia as part of the problem,” McMaster said.

After the chemical attack in Syria on April 4, Trump said his attitude toward Assad “has changed very much” and Tillerson said “steps are underway” to organize a coalition to remove him from power.

But as lawmakers called on Trump to consult with Congress, Trump administration officials sent mixed signals on the scope of future U.S. involvement.

While Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, described regime change in Syria as a U.S. priority and inevitable, Tillerson suggested that the April 6 American airstrikes in retaliation for the chemical attack hadn’t really changed U.S. priorities toward ousting Assad.

Pressed to clarify, McMaster said the goals of fighting IS and ousting Syria’s president were somewhat “simultaneous” and that the objective of the missile strike was to send a “strong political message to Assad” to stop using chemical weapons.

He did not rule out additional strikes if Assad continued to engage in atrocities against rebel forces with either chemical or conventional weapons.

“We are prepared to do more,” he said. “The president will make whatever decision he thinks is in the best interest of the American people.”

Reluctant to put significant troops on the ground in Syria, the U.S. for years has struggled to prevent Assad from strengthening his hold on power.

U.S.-backed rebels groups have long pleaded for more U.S. intervention and complained that Washington has only fought the Islamic State group. So Trump’s decision to launch the strikes — an action President Barack Obama declined to take after a 2013 chemical attack — has raised optimism among rebels that Trump will more directly confront Assad.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
ISIS militants in Syria (Photo: Flickr)

Several lawmakers said on April 9 that decision shouldn’t entirely be up to Trump.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, praised Trump’s initial missile strike for sending a message to Assad, Russia, Iran, and North Korea that “there’s a new administration in charge.” But he said Trump now needed to work with Congress to set a future course.

“Congress needs to work with the president to try and deal with this long-term strategy, lack of strategy, really, in Syria,” he said. “We haven’t had one for six years during the Obama administration, and 400,000 civilians have died and millions of people have been displaced internally and externally in Europe and elsewhere.”

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, agreed.

“What we saw was a reaction to the use of chemical weapons, something I think many of us supported,” he said. “But what we did not see is a coherent policy on how we’re going to deal with the civil war and also deal with ISIS.”

Still, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., said he believed that Trump didn’t need to consult with Congress.

“I think the president has authorization to use force,” he said. “Assad signed the chemical weapons treaty ban. There’s an agreement with him not to use chemical weapons.”

Their comments came as Tillerson planned to meet with Russian officials. Russia had its own military personnel at the Syrian military airport that the U.S. struck with cruise missiles. But in interviews broadcast April 9, Tillerson said he sees no reason for retaliation from Moscow because Russia wasn’t targeted.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike against the Shayrat Airfield in Syria using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield. (Photo from DVIDSHub.net)

“We do not have any information that suggests that Russia was part of the military attack undertaken using the chemical weapons,” Tillerson said. Earlier, U.S. military officials had said they were looking into whether Russia participated, possibly by using a drone to help eliminate evidence afterward.

Tillerson said defeating the Islamic State group remains the top focus. Once that threat “has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria,” he said.

“We’re hopeful that we can prevent a continuation of the civil war and that we can bring the parties to the table to begin the process of political discussions” between the Assad government and various rebel groups, he said.

Haley said “getting Assad out is not the only priority” and that countering Iran’s influence in Syria was another. Still, Haley said the U.S. didn’t see a peaceful future for Syria with Assad in power.

McMaster, Cornyn, and Cardin spoke on “Fox News Sunday,” Tillerson appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Haley and Graham were on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Haley also appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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The Amazing History Of US Navy Battleships In 19 Photos

Naval historians still argue about the legacy of the battleship. Critics call them too vulnerable and too expensive, while supporters laud their sheer offensive capability and awesome firepower.  Whatever the opinions, the battleship will always have an important place in U.S. military history.  Here are 19 pictures that show why:


 

The “Great White Fleet,” sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909, consisted of sixteen new battleships of the Atlantic Fleet. The fourteen-month long voyage was a grand pageant of American sea power.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’

 

One of the Great White Fleet’s Connecticut-class battleships at Villefranche, France, circa January 1909. This ship is either USS Vermont (Battleship No. 20) or USS Minnesota (Battleship No. 22).

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center)

 

“Crossing the line” ceremony as the Great White Fleet crosses the Equator, turning “Pollywogs” into “Shellbacks.”

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Historical Center)

The bridge of the USS Connecticut circa 1908. Note the ship’s name in lights.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Historical Center)

 

Officers sporting ceremonial attire about the USS Connecticut.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Historical Center)

U.S. Army aviation pioneer Billy Mitchell started an inter-service and inter-warfare specialty argument in 1921 when he demonstrated how bombers could take out a battleship. He later testified before Congress that “1,000 bombardment airplanes can be built and operated for about the price of one battleship.”

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: National Archives)

 

The USS Arizona was the pride of the fleet through the 1930s and is pictured here at sea with President Hoover aboard.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Historical Center)

Things went very badly for the U.S. Navy’s battleship fleet, including the USS Arizona, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

The American war machine kicked into high gear after Pearl Harbor. Here the battleship Iowa is launched from New York Naval Shipyard in 1942.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

 

Battleships were used extensively in the Pacific Theater during World War II, primarily for naval gunfire support during amphibious landings.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’

Here the USS New Jersey launches shells at the beach to soften up the LZ for the Marines as they get ready to take Okinawa.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’

 

Here the USS Missouri offers some gunfire support of her own in 1944.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’

 

Always the master of optics, MacArthur insisted that a battleship be the venue for the Japanese surrender. The ceremony was held aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Battleships were brought back into service during the Korean War. Here the USS Wisconsin sails between the destroyer Buck and heavy cruiser Saint Paul off Korea, February 22, 1952.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

On May 6, 1956, the USS Wisconsin collided with the USS Eaton, a destroyer, in heavy fog off of Hampton Roads and sustained severe damage to her bow.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

As part of Navy Secretary John F. Lehman’s effort to build a 600-ship Navy in the 1980s, and in response to the commissioning of Kirov by the Soviet Union, the United States recommissioned all four Iowa-class battleships. Here the USS Iowa is seen shelling targets in Lebanon in 1984.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Iowa met with disaster on April 19, 1989 when an explosion in the center gun room killed 47 of the turret’s crewmen and severely damaged the gun turret itself. Two major investigations were undertaken into the cause of the explosion, one by the U.S. Navy and then one by the General Accounting Office and Sandia National Laboratories. The investigations produced conflicting conclusions.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Today guests can visit the USS Arizona memorial where oil still seeps from the wreck resting against the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

And guests can also visit the Iowa-class battleships in various cities around the country, including the USS Wisconsin docked in Norfolk, Virginia.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’

And lets not forget what is perhaps the greatest tribute to the battleship of all: Cher’s video for “If I Could Turn Back Time,” shot aboard the USS Missouri docked in Long Beach on July 1, 1989.  (And Navy officials were not happy with Cher’s outfit.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsKbwR7WXN4

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Here’s the Russian jet that’s terrorizing Syria’s anti-Assad rebels

As the Syrian military begins its push to take back opposition-held areas in northwestern Syria, Russia has provided backing through an intensifying aerial campaign.


Among the planes Moscow has used to back the Syrian military’s attempted advance is a Russian combat aircraft that some have compared to the US’s venerated A-10 Warthog.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Alex Beltyukov

The Russian Su-25 Frogfoot is a low-flying tank-like plane that specializes in providing aerial cover and attacking ground targets.

The Frogfoot is a sturdy plane, and according to The National Interest, the plane can keep flying after suffering damage while striking targets with precision-guided munitions.

These systems make it ideal for the kind of operation that the Assad regime and its Russian partners are trying to launch against the opposition.

“The Russian air force will use the Frogfoots to support the Assad regime in the same way the USAF is using the A-10 Warthog to support the Iraqi government,” a former US Air Force aviator told The National Interest.

Russian state-owned media outlet RT reports that since Tuesday Kremlin forces have carried out 40 airstrikes against rebel and ISIS forces throughout five Syrian provinces. The majority of these strikes occurred around the city of Aleppo and in the neighboring province of Idlib, which is completely under opposition control.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo: Youtube

At the same time as these airstrikes, the Assad regime is massing a large counter-attack against rebel forces in Idlib, Hama, and Aleppo. The regime offensive initially stalled last week after rebels armed with anti-tank missiles destroyed several Syrian armored vehicles.

Russia launched airstrikes ahead of the Syrian military advance. Iran has also sent additional soldiers to Syria to help bolster the government around Hama, and to prepare for a possible offensive against Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

Moscow’s entry into the war, along with the apparent surge of Iranian military support, have escalated a war that’s already killed over 300,000 people and displaced another 11.7 million.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo: Wikipedia

In the past, Saudi Arabia and other US allies have suggested funneling man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs) to the Syrian rebels to help shoot down Syrian, and now Russian, fighter jets.

MANPADs are relatively easy-to-use shoulder-launched missiles that could prove to be of pivotal importance against low-flying aircraft, like Russia’s Su-25s.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo: Youtube

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA provided Stinger missiles to anti-Soviet forces, weapons that allowed the mujahedeen to down enemy transport planes and attack helicopters. The use of the missiles bogged down Soviet forces and led to an eventual Soviet withdrawal from the country.

The US has consistently opposed the idea of providing MANPADs and other anti-aircraft weaponry to Syrian rebels, as the weapons could conceivably end up in the hands of al Qaeda or its affiliates and could be used to down a civilian airliner or a US military aircraft.

At least for now, the Frogfoots are largely uncontested in Syria’s skies.

Articles

This Ranger-veteran Santa granted a dying child’s final wish

An Army Ranger veteran who plays Santa was called for an emergency visit to a dying child in Tennessee, arriving just in time to present the boy with a present and hold him as he passed away.


Eric Schmitt-Matzen is a 60-year-old engineer and the president of Packing Seals Engineering, according to Fox News. He carefully cultivates Saint Nicholas’s appearance and performs at approximately 80 events throughout each year.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo: Facebook/Eric Schmitt-Matzen

A nurse contacted him from a hospital near his home in Tennessee to ask that he rush over and comfort a dying child. According to the BBC, he was given a PAW Patrol toy by the child’s mother.

“She’d bought a toy from [the TV show] ‘PAW Patrol’ and wanted me to give it to him,” he told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “I sized up the situation and told everyone, ‘If you think you’re going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I’ll break down and can’t do my job.’ ”

Schmitt-Matzen told the sick boy that he was Santa’s “Number One Elf” and that no matter where the boy went next, that title would get him in. Schmitt-Matzen gave the boy the gift and the child asked, “Santa, can you help me?”

“I wrapped my arms around him,” Schmitt-Matzen said, according to the Independent. “Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.”

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Photo: Facebook/Eric Schmitt-Matzen

The Ranger veteran left the hospital in tears that any soldier could easily understand. Rangers Lead The Way.

The first reference to this story that WATM has been able to find comes from Sam Venable at the Knoxville News Sentinel. You can learn more about Eric Schmitt-Matzen and his visits as Santa Claus there.

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This WWII veteran will be laid to rest after being MIA for 72 years

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Dick Lohry, the nephew of Army Pvt. John P. Sersha, took a moment to touch Sersha’s casket Tuesday after a planeside honors ceremony. (Photo: Aaron Lavinsky – Star Tribune)


The remains of a World War II veteran – who left the U.S. to serve his country 72 years ago – have been exhumed from an anonymous grave at the United States Military Cemetery in Neuville-en-Condroz, in Belgium, and brought back to the family and land that he died to protect.

Army Private John P. Sersha will be buried in his hometown of Eveleth, Minnesota today with full military honors — just in time for Memorial Day.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Army Pvt. John P. Sersha

A railroad worker, John P. Sersha, was drafted into the military in 1943 and inducted into the Army at Fort Snelling later that year. He received his training in Texas, and then joined the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, Company F, of the 82nd Airborne Division in Maryland.

On September 23, 1944, he and his company landed in Holland during Operation Market Garden –  the unsuccessful mission where the Allies attempted to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands. He had been entrenched in Kiekberg Forest with his company for just four days when he and two other ‘bazooka men’ were sent on an assault mission behind enemy lines. They were never seen again.

Fields of Honor – a website that gives a face to the names of the U.S. WWII soldiers buried in Belgium and the Netherlands – posted this account in its database:

Private Sersha among its ranks first saw battle when it landed near Nijmegen on 23 September 1944. Operation Market Garden had been launched on the 17th, but it took till the 23rd when the elements of the 325th were sent to Holland to join in the battle. The 325th was inserted in the frontline south east of Nijmegen, in the forest-covered hills and valleys facing the Reichwald. Between 27 and 30 September, the 325th was involved in the Battle for Kiekberg Forest. The area was full of steep hills and valleys. Opposing the 325th was the German 190th “Hammer” Infantry Division. Men of this division had infiltrated the forest and were building up in order to attack towards Nijmegen. Private Sersha was MIA during the fighting in the Kiekberg Forest.

Sersha’s family spent decades looking for closure. Three years after the war ended, the remains of two soldiers were discovered in Keikberg Woods by a local woodsman. One of the bodies was identified – and while the other was thought to be that of Pvt. Sersha, the American Graves Registration Command could not 100 percent confirm this and thus did not inform the surviving family. They laid the body in an anonymous grave marked: X7429, and Sersha’s name was later inscribed – along with 1721 others  – on the Netherlands Wall of the Missing.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Wall of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery.

In the 1980’s Sersha’s brother Paul – now 97 years old – searched for those who could possibly shed light on the last months of his presumably deceased brother’s life.  He was able to track down a paratrooper with whom he served, but no new information came of the connection.

In 2005, Sersha’s nephew Richard Lohry picked up the quest. According to his interview with Fayetteville Observer, he was only 11 months old when his uncle had disappeared behind enemy lines, but still wanted to learn more about his Uncle John.  His grandmother kept a photo of  her son in her home.  “I was drawn to that photo for years and years,” Lohry told the paper.

In an effort to preserve and honor his life, Lohry, a pastor, began collecting whatever he could find on his uncle, which was very little information.  Finally, a couple who attended his church found a photo that had taken in 1994 while visiting the Netherlands American Cemetery. It just so happened to be the exact panel that bore his uncle’s name.  Inspired by that photo of the wall, he gave a sermon that Memorial Day titled: “God Never Forgets”.  Lohry had renewed hope in his search.

Memorial Stone in honor of Pvt. John Sersha placed in Virginia, Minnesota

In 2013, a memorial stone sponsored by Sersha’s family was placed in Virginia, Minnesota near the family home. The installation ceremony caught the media’s attention.  One day later, a family member received a call from Germany. Army sergeant Danny Keay, tracked down the relative from an article he had read online. According to Timberjay.com, Keay had put together information from Sersha’s “Individual Deceased Personnel File” with information from a file of a set of unknown remains.  That bit of information was a big first step in a lengthy, but rewarding process in determining who this unknown soldier was.

Two years later, after completing a slew of paperwork that included matching dental records and solving a height discrepancy – Lohry, with the help of U.S. Representative Rick Nolan, requested that the Secretary of the Army grant permission to exhume the body in grave marked “X7429.” Nine months later, the request was approved.  On December 16, 2015, the body was exhumed and flown to Offutt Air Base. They conducted series of lab tests including matching the DNA of Sersha’s brother Paul and Lohry, his nephew.

This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’
Members of a Minnesota Army National Guard Honor Guard retrieved the casket of John P. Sersha during a planeside honors ceremony on May 24, 2016.

This final step would serve to cross one name off the long list of the missing. The results were clear. The remains of John Sersha  – an uncle, a brother , and a son – that were missing for 72 years could make a final journey home.

On Jan. 4, 2016, that World War II Veteran’s tireless nephew now had the honor of delivering the investigation results. Mesabi Daily News published part of Lohry’s letter. He wrote:

“…. this is great news. My first contact with you was in April of 2013. By then, I had already been working on a history of John’s military services since spring of 2005. And it was not until November of 2013 that we even knew that John’s remains may have been found back n 1948. It’s been a long road indeed, and now I am happy to say:
John: You haven’t been forgotten — we’re coming to bring you home!

On May 24, 2016, members of the Minnesota Army National Guard’s Honor Guard received the flag-draped casket during planeside honors. Members of Sersha’s family, including his 97-year-old brother, Paul was there for the emotional moment.

According to Star Tribune, visitation for John Sersha is scheduled on Friday, May 28th 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Bauman Family Funeral Home, 516 1st St. S., Virginia, Minnesota with services to follow starting at 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 306 2nd St. S., Virginia, Minnesota.

To share condolences online, please see: www.baumanfuneralhome.com.

Sersha is survived by siblings Paul Sersha, of Virginia, and Julia Trunzo, of nearby Mountain Iron. Three sisters, including Lohry’s mother, Mary Pecher, and a brother are deceased.

Editor’s note: Operation Market Garden is the subject of the 1977 film: A Bridge Too Far with Sean Connery and Michael Cain.