This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table - We Are The Mighty
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This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

According to medieval legend, King Arthur lived in the late 5th and early 6th centuries where he fought off the Anglo-Saxons with his legendary sword, Excalibur. He lived in Camelot, and his life long mission became the quest for the Holy Grail.


While Arthur would attend festivals, his noble knights often got into violent brawls over who should be sitting at the head of the table — granting them power over those in attendance. The other war-hardened Knights just couldn’t figure out a resolution to the issue.

Therefore, King Arthur used his wisdom had a round table constructed, making all his men feel equal. It was a good leadership move and created what we all know today as the “Knights of the Round Table.”

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
The Knights of the Round Table (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

The Knights embodied a unique code of chivalry like righteousness, honor, and gallantry towards women — but one of them was bound to carry it too far.

Sir Lancelot was King Arthur’s closest friend, the best swordsman and knight in all the land. He was also known for sleeping with a lot of women. He even started a romantic affair with Arthur’s wife, Queen Guinevere. This action sparked a civil war, which led to the death of King Arthur and the dissolution of his knights.

But the legacy of the Knights of the Round Table lives on forever. Learn more in the video above.

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Here’s how US Marines brought karate back home after World War II

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Tech Sgt. Manuel S Prado Jr. (left), a chief master instructor, and Staff Sgt. Carlito M Englatiera Jr. (right), a martial arts instructor, both with the Republic of the Philippines Marine Corps Martial Arts Program demonstrate Pekithtirsia defense moves to U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines (BLT 2/7), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael A. Bianco)


It’s not too big a leap in logic to say that the American military is responsible for popular martial arts icons like Billy Jack, the Karate Kid, and even Chuck Norris.

Karate earned its moniker in 1936 when a summit of karatekas in Naha officially adopted the name for their art. Despite the recognized influence of Chinese martial arts on Okinawa, the patriarchs of the various schools saw a need to reform as a distinctly Okinawan fighting style and so chose the “The Empty Hand” as their means of rebirth.

World War II stifled the growth of karate in Japan as all fighting age men were sent abroad to die for the Emperor, but the war also heralded its global exportation. After a bloody fight to suppress the Japanese Imperial forces on Okinawa, hundreds of Marines took karate back to the U.S. Since then, karate has enjoyed a massive amount of support in America with the first documented dojo being Robert Trias’ Shuri-ryu school in Phoenix, Arizona that opened in 1945. In the 1950’s at least seven other disciplines of karate made their way to the States and in the 1960’s even more styles of the art migrated across the Pacific Ocean to our shores.

In the 1960’s Southern California quickly became the hotbed of karate activity when it was introduced by Tsutomu Ohshima, a student of Shotokan’s founder, Gichin Funakoshi. Ohshima was a fifth-degree black belt (the highest rank attainable) under Funakoshi and it was Ohshima who formalized the judging system of karate tournaments. In 1969 he renamed his organization “Shotokan Karate of America.”

Like anything popular in American culture, karate made its way to the big and little screen along with Kung Fu and “Bruceploitation.” From “Billy Jack” to Chuck Norris to “The Karate Kid” in 1984, celluloid films commercialized karate, sending droves of impressionable fans to dojos only to be disappointed to learn there really was no five finger death touch or karate chop that would render an opponent incoherent.

“Movies and television depicted karate as a mysterious way of fighting capable of causing death or injury with a single blow,” says Shigeru Egai, Chief Instructor of the Shotokan Dojo. “The mass media present it as a pseudo art far from the real thing.”

By the early 1990’s karate’s popularity was waning when a new fighting competition hit pay-per-view. UFC 1 might have been a revolution for martial arts, but it only hurt karate’s reputation when Zane Frazier, a highly touted karateka lost to an overweight Kevin Rosier. Frazier had studied Shotokan Karate and Kempo for over twenty years and had recently won two heavyweight kickboxing tournaments as well as a North American Sport Karate Association regional championship. His early dismissal left a bad taste in his mouth, but it also shook the foundations of karate.

“Gracie Jiu Jitsu taught you to fight off your back and defeat a bigger opponent,” says Frazier. “It was a unique innovation because prior to that we thought all fights had to end by knocking a guy out or knocking him off his feet. This was the first time you could do something like that in open competition.”

Discounted by many as unrealistic, karate would go on a very long hiatus until Lyoto Machida knocked out Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 98. In his exuberance, Machida exclaimed to the crowd, “Karate is back!” but in many opinions, it was never gone,

Machida wasn’t the only karate-based fighter wearing a UFC championship belt, either. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre had his start in Kyokushin Karate and still credits it with helping shape the fighter he is today.

“Shotokan Karate is based on timing and distance,” says Machida. “I don’t go in there to get into a brawl. The timing, the distance, the perfection of everything; that is the pinnacle of Shotokan. MMA made it clear that my style, which includes takedowns and other things you don’t see in karate normally, is the best. If I hadn’t trained the discipline, I don’t think I would be the same Lyoto I am today.”

Would any of this have been possible if it weren’t for American soldiers, sailors and Marines returning from the Pacific in WWII with experience in karate? Probably not. Okinawa was very isolated and secretive about their martial art. It’s possible karate would only just now be making its way to our shores.

WATCH

Watch a makeshift SAM battery in Yemen hit an attacking Strike Eagle

It’s interesting to see how some countries come up with solutions that would fit perfectly in a military-themed episode of MacGyver. Egypt, for example, came up with a solution for the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship when it needed some extra air defense – they tacked some M1097 Avenger air-defense vehicles onto the flight deck of the otherwise unarmed vessel.


Of course, the good guys are not the only ones capable of innovation. The Houthi rebels in Yemen, who made the news in 2016 by taking pot shots at American ships on multiple occasions and earning a few Tomahawks in return, jury-rigged an AA-11 Archer air-to-air missile to fire at a Saudi fighter earlier this year. That Saudi F-15S, thankfully, was able to decoy the missile away using flares.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

Now, the Houthis have made some more impromptu innovations, this time using the R-27 air-to-air missile, known to NATO as the AA-10 “Alamo.” A propaganda video recently released by the Houthis show an apparent hit on a Royal Saudi Air Force F-15S, causing “severe damage.”

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
A Royal Saudi Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle departs for a training mission over the Nevada Test and Training Range during Red Flag 12-2 Jan. 27, 2011, at Nellis Air Force Base. (DOD photo)

The AA-10 is a medium-to-long range air-to-air missile that was introduced in the 1980s and first used on MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker fighters. Depending on the version, it has a range of up to roughly 80 miles. Some versions of the missile use semi-active radar-homing guidance, while others are heat seekers.

See the attack go down in the video below!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rHTlruHnSA
MIGHTY HISTORY

6 reasons why Vikings were just like our Marines, long before Tun Tavern

Troops today love to liken themselves to the warfighters of old — Spartans, crusaders, knights, pirates, or whatever else. It helps our troops buy into the classic warrior mentality and it makes us feel more badass. When it comes to U.S. Marines, there’s really one comparison that stands out above the rest as apt: the Vikings of the middle-ages.


I’m not going to sit here and tell you, young Marine, which historical badass you should try to emulate — you do you. But if you’re looking for some inspiration from history’s toughest customers; if you’re looking for some sea-faring, slightly-degenerate tough guys that howl for a fight, you’d do well to start your search with the Vikings.

Here’s where Vikings and modern Marines overlap:

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

1. Both were masters at disembarking amphibious landing ships to fight on land

First and foremost, there are no two groups in history more feared for their ability to storm beaches and absolutely destroy everything within range than Vikings and U.S. Marines. The Vikings are famous for their sieges on Northumbria while the Marines are known for successes during the South Pacific campaign of WWII. For both groups, their presence alone is often enough to force a surrender.

But their skills on the coastline don’t discredit their ability to fight inland. Vikings, accustomed to the frigid north, fared extremely well when fighting in the Holy Lands — not too far from there was where the Marines fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

Hell, one of the stories of Thor is about him basically trying to drink an entire ocean made of booze.

2. Both are known for intense post-combat partying

Another key trait of the Viking lifestyle that isn’t too far off from what happens in the average lower-enlisted barracks of any Marine Corps installation: consuming volumes of alcohol that would incapacitate mere mortals is just the pregame for Vikings and lance corporals.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

​I’m highly confident that a Jomsviking leaderwould have been completely cool with wall-to-wall counselling to solve any issues.

3. Both share a deep brotherhood with their fellow fighters

Most troops, regardless of era, become friends with the guys to their left and right, but Marines and Vikings are known for taking that brotherhood to a new level.

The Viking mercenaries, known as the Jomsvikings, followed a strict code that revolved around brotherhood among their ranks and their motto is roughly translated as, “one shield, one brotherhood.” This way of live was written into their 11 codes of conduct. It doesn’t matter who you were before you became a Jomsviking, but so as long as you’re a brother, you will not fight with each other and you will avenge another should they fall in combat. And if there was infighting, the dispute was mediated by the leadership (or chain of command).

All of these things are essentially within the UCMJ.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

Or the story of Harald “Bluetooth”… because he ate a blueberry that one time.. Yep, Vikings were creative like that.

4. Both had a penchant for giving each other nicknames

Giving someone a terrible nickname after they made a silly mistake is one of the more bizarre tidbits of Viking lore — but it is exactly what Marines still do to one another today. The platoon idiot is “boot,” the big guy in the unit is “Pvt Pyle,” and you know damn well that certain guy they call “Mad Dog” did something to earn that name.

History speaks of the famed viking warrior named Kolbeinn Butter Penis (named after his sexual exploits) and Eystein Foul-Fart (named for the noxious small that came from his ass). Hell, even Erik the Red got his name because he was a ginger — or because he was a violent sociopath at the age of ten… nobody can say for certain there.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

On the topic of Valhalla, Marines hold Tun Tavern with about the same level of respect.

5. Both believe that the older the fighter, the more terrifying the man

There’s an old, anonymous saying that’s often attributed to Viking culture:

Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young.

The only thing more terrifying than a 47-year-old Master Gunnery Sergeant who’s fueled entirely by alcohol, tobacco, and hatred was a 47-year-old, bearded-out berserker who’s lived in the woods for the better part of twenty years.

Unlike their contemporaries, Vikings had a special place in their groups for the older warrior men and treated their cumulative knowledge as sacred. Younger Vikings would pick their brains, trying to learn their tactics. And, at the end of the day, the old viking were said to fight even more ferociously in battle, knowing that their time was short. After all, dying sick in bed won’t get the Valkyries’ attention — only through glorious combat could they earn entry into the hall of Valhalla.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

Ah, vikings. You unruly, blood-thirsty a**holes. Some things never change.

6. Both enjoyed fighting more than anything else

The most glaringly obvious similarity between these two groups of warriors is how sacredly they hold the concept of fighting. Much like a Marine being told their deployment got pushed back a few months, Vikings would complain if they weren’t given their time on the battlefield.

Vikings’ culture wasn’t based entirely on fighting, but man, were they good at it. That’s probably why nobody ever talks about the Vikings’ expansive trading network. There’s also a reason why people never really talk about a Water Dog’s “water purification skills.”

H/T: to Ruddy Cano, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and fellow We Are The Mighty contributor, for helping with this article.

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5 times the US military ripped victory from the jaws of defeat

The U.S. military has a history of finding effective ways around serious tactical and strategic problems. Here are five times they found themselves outgunned, outnumbered, or outmaneuvered but managed to pull off a victory anyway.


1. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller and the troops at Chosin Reservoir

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Photo: US Marine Corps

When Marine legend Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller found himself hopelessly surrounded and outnumbered at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, he had few options and worst prospects. But instead of surrendering to the 7 Chinese divisions surrounding him, he ordered his men to advance south.

From Dec. 6, 1950, to Dec. 11, Puller and his Marines fought viciously to reach the relative safety of Hungnam. They not only made it to the port, but they brought out their wounded and dead, all of their important equipment, and a large number of refugees while also inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese forces.

While Puller’s withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir was an unlikely success, the overall U.N. campaign was a failure and North Korea fell to Communist forces.

2. Samar Island at the Battle of Leyte Gulf

At Samar Island in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, a 13-ship Navy task force of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts found themselves facing a Japanese force of 23 ships including the largest battleship ever built, the Yamato. The largest guns of the American fleet were 5-inch cannons that were unlikely to pierce the hulls of the Japanese attackers.

Though the only weapon they had capable of killing the heavy Japanese ships was their limited torpedo supply, the destroyers and destroyer escorts of the Navy task force charged at the Japanese force in an attempt to let the U.S. carrier escorts escape.

Over the next two hours, the limited American ships and Naval aircraft attacked the Japanese force so viciously that Japanese Adm. Takeo Kurita believed he’d run into the entire U.S. Third Fleet. Kurita retreated. Three of his cruisers were sunk and a fourth crippled while the U.S. lost four ships but protected the troops landing on Leyte Island.

3. The Battle of the Bulge

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Photo: US Army Sgt. Bill Augustine

The Allied advance across eastern Europe was nearly stopped at the Battle of the Bulge when three German armies managed to launch a surprise attack against four American divisions strung across a 124-mile front.

One of the key positions in the battle was Bastogne, Belgium where 22,000 Americans — mostly paratroopers with the 101st Airborne Division — were holding off a massive force of 54,000 Germans backed by heavy artillery. The Germans suggested an American surrender after two days of fighting.

The American general responded simply, “NUTS!” and the American force held out for another five days, giving time for armored units from the Third Army to reach them. Rather than withdraw to rest, the paratroopers then began retaking Allied positions lost in the previous weeks.

4. John Paul Jones and his sinking flagship capture his enemy’s ship

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Painting: US Naval History and Heritage Command/Thomas Mitchell

The father of the American Navy was watching his flagship, the Bonhomme Richard, sink beneath him after attacking the HMS Serapis on Sep. 23, 1779 at the Battle of Flamborough Head.

When the British commander offered John Paul Jones’s the chance to surrender, Jones uttered his famous response, “I have not yet begun to fight!” He then crashed his ship into the Serapis, had his sharpshooters clear the enemy deck, and captured the Serapis while the Bonhomme Richard sank.

5. Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold commands an ad hoc navy to save his army

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Photo: Wikipedia/National Archives of Canada

In Jun. 1776, elements of the Continental Army retreated to Fort Tinconderoga and Fort Crown Pont in New York. Knowing that a larger and more capable British army and navy was trying to finish the war before Winter fell, Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold had to find a way to stall.

So, he created an ad hoc navy over the summer. Despite having almost no naval experience, Arnold led his fledgling fleet north against a British fleet in Oct. 1776. The 25-ship British fleet sank 11 of the 15 American vessels.

As he lost ship after ship to damage, Arnold would grab all of the sailors he could from foundering vessels and then leave the ships burning or grounded. Then he retreated across land and burned his remaining ships and Fort Crown Point to the ground.

Despite losing nearly all of his ships and Fort Crown Point, Arnold successfully evacuated his men to Ticonderoga and delayed the British long enough that they couldn’t attack the fort before winter settled in. The British were ordered into winter quarters and the Continental Army prepared for 1777 — the year they would gain the advantage in the war at the Battle of Saratoga.

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These are the 9 general officers who have earned five stars

Even though the five-star general rank essentially died in 1981 with Omar Bradley, the idea of a five-star general rising above all others to command so much of the American and allied militaries is remarkably heroic.


The five-star general officer was born in WWII because American generals and admirals were often placed above allied officers of a higher rank. Someone elevated to that position could never retire and was considered an active-duty officer for the rest of their life.

That’s a lot of trust. The list of the 9 officers we deemed worthy of the honor rightly reads like a “who’s who” of U.S. military history.

1. Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
How many WWII-era Admirals were issued that hat?

Leahy was the first officer to make the rank. He was the senior officer in the U.S. Navy and the senior-most officer in the U.S. military. He retired in 1939 but was recalled to active duty as the Chief of Staff to President Roosevelt and then Truman until 1949. During the latter years of his career, he reported only to the President.

2. General of the Army George Marshall

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Gen. Marshall looks like he’s already sick of your shit.

George Marshall was a major planner of the U.S. Army’s training for World War I and one of Gen. John J. Pershing’s aides-de-camp. He would need those planning skills when World War II broke out, as he oversaw the expansion of the U.S. Armed Forces and the coordination of U.S. efforts in the European Theater. After the war it was Marshall who helped rebuild Western Europe with an economic plan that came to be named after the man himself.

3. Fleet Admiral Ernest King

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

King was the Commander in Chief of U.S. Naval Forces (the U.S. now only uses the term “Commander-In-Chief” to refer to the President) and the Chief of Naval Operations. Though he never commanded a ship or fleet during a war, as the Navy representative of the Joint Chiefs, he helped plan and coordinate Naval Operations during WWII.

4. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

MacArthur graduated from West Point in 1903, fought in the occupation of Veracruz, World War I, and resisted the Japanese invasion of the Philippines for six months during WWII. MacArthur, despite having to retreat to Australia, oversaw the defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific and accepted their surrender less than four years later.

He would also orchestrate the occupation and rehabilitation of Japan, and the American counterattack during the early months of the Korean War.

5. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Even though he looks sad, Chester Nimitz will f***ing kill you.

Nimitz was the Navy’s leading authority on submarine warfare at the outbreak of World War II.  He would rise to be Commander-in-Chief of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and eventually take control of all U.S. forces in the Pacific Theater. He served the Navy on Active Duty in an unofficial capacity until his death in 1966.

6. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
“Hitler! Macho Man Dwight Eisenhower coming for youuuuuu OHHHHH YEAHHHHHHH.”

Ike never saw combat as a soldier, but his planning skills were essential as Supreme Allied Commander of all allied expeditionary forces in Europe during World War II. He planned and executed the invasion of North Africa in 1943, and of course the D-Day invasion of France in 1944. After the war, Eisenhower was the first Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and was elected President in 1952.

7. General of the Army and Air Force Henry H. Arnold

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

“Hap” Arnold is the only officer ever to hold two five-star ranks in multiple branches and is the only person to ever to be General of the Air Force.

Before WWII, Arnold was the Chief of the Air Corps and became commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces when war broke out. He was one of the first military pilots ever, being trained by the freaking Wright Brothers themselves.

If Billy Mitchell is the Father of the Air Force, Hap Arnold helped raise it — he took a small organization and turned it into the world’s largest and most powerful air force during the WWII years.

8. Fleet Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
That is one salty sailor.

“Bull” Halsey started World War II harassing Japanese fleet movements in the Pacific in his flagship, the Enterprise. He was later made commander of all U.S. forces in the South Pacific and commander of the Navy’s third fleet. Halsey earned his status after the war ended but took the Navy on a goodwill cruise of friendly countries

9. General of the Army Omar Bradley

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

As mentioned, Omar Bradley was the last surviving five-star general, dying in 1981. He fought alongside the U.S. Army’s greatest all under the command of Dwight Eisenhower. He excelled during the D-Day landings and subsequent European campaigns. He eventually commanded 1.3 million fighting men as they invaded fortress Europe — the largest assembly of U.S. troops under a single commander.

* General of the Armies of the United States John J. Pershing

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

Pershing was promoted to this rank and title in 1919, though no official rank insignia existed at the time. It was made by Congress to recognize his role in the American entry into World War I in Europe.

* Admiral of the Navy George Dewey

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

Dewey received the title “Admiral of the Navy” by act of Congress in 1903. Admiral Dewey’s service during the Spanish-American War made him a national hero and celebrity.

* General of the Armies of the United States George Washington

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

President Gerald Ford promoted Washington to this rank and title — essentially a six-star general — in 1976 to always ensure Washington would be the senior-most officer of any group.

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8 post-9/11 heroes who should have received the Medal Of Honor — but didn’t

In the wars since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been sixteen Medals of Honor conferred, but ask any military member and they’ll likely bring up some other heroes who deserved the nation’s highest award but didn’t receive it.


Whether it be the chaos of battle, lack of witnesses, or that they were not recommended for the Medal of Honor although they almost certainly should have been, some troops never got the recognition they really deserved.

As articles in The Washington Post and Army Times have pointed out, the standards for military awards are rather inconsistent. The muddled process of which actions earn the nation’s highest award has resulted in a generation of “forgotten heroes” in the War on Terror, as I wrote previously at Business Insider.

Here are seven of those heroes who arguably should have received the Medal of Honor.

1. Marine Pfc. Christopher Adlesberger cleared part of an insurgent-filled house in Fallujah all by himself.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Christopher Adlesperger

During the second battle of Fallujah, then-Marine Pfc. Christopher Adlesperger singlehandedly cleared part of a house filled with insurgents in a heroic action that was recommended for the nation’s highest military award.

Upon entering an insurgent-infested house in Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004, Adlesperger pushed forward despite the death of his point man and the wounding of two others. Adlesperger, wounded in the face by grenade fragments, then single-handedly cleared a stairway and a rooftop, throwing grenades and shooting at insurgents while under blistering fire.

“Adlesperger was killing insurgents so they couldn’t make it up the roof,” said platoon corpsman Alonso Rogero, in his written statement of events. “The insurgents tried to run up the ladder well, but Pfc. Adlesperger kept shooting them and throwing grenades on top of them.”

From Defense.gov:

Finally, an assault vehicle broke through a wall on the main floor. Adlesperger rejoined his platoon and demanded to take point for the final attack on the entrenched machine gun. He entered the courtyard first, and eliminated the final enemy at close range. By the end of the battle, Adlesperger was credited with having killed at least 11 insurgents.

He died a month after his heroics in that Fallujah house, but Adlesperger was posthumously promoted to lance corporal and recommended for the Medal of Honor. The award recommendation from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines originated with 1st Lt. Dong Yi and moved up the chain of command, with concurrence from Adlesperger’s battalion commander, regimental commander, and division commander.

Two years later, when his recommendation reached the MEF Commander, Lt. Gen. John Sattler, it was downgraded to the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award. His award recommendation did not include any comments or reasons as to why. He was awarded the Navy Cross on April 13, 2007.

2. Army Master Sgt. Thomas Ballard led a 12-man team of soldiers against an overwhelming enemy force. Three hours later, more than 265 insurgents would be dead.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Photo: Army.mil

After receiving a call for support from Iraqi Army soldiers being attacked by insurgents on Jan. 28, 2007, a small team of soldiers with Master Sgt. Thomas Ballard — believing the enemy strength was only around 15 to 20 militants — went out to help them.

As they neared the beleaguered Iraqis, an AH-64 Apache helicopter providing air cover crashed. “When I saw the Apache go down, it immediately changed everything,” Ballard, the non-commissioned officer in charge of Military Transition Team 0810, told Army Public Affairs. “Everything was focused on that crash site; nothing else mattered. That’s where we had to go and that’s what we did.”

Once they got to the crash site, the soldiers quickly realized the insurgent force was much larger than 20. The vehicle of Ballard’s commander started getting slammed by machine-gun and RPG fire and a major firefight broke out.

“We began engaging, and continued engaging. There were 265 bodies reported at the end, but I can tell you, there was more than that,” Ballard told Army Public Affairs. “Everything we shot was targets and collectively, we burned up about 11,000 rounds of machine gun ammo, M4 ammo, M203 grenade launcher ammo and 10 air strikes.”

The team of 12 soldiers had apparently fought nearly 1,000 insurgents, according to Ballard. The entire team received the Army Commendation Medal and two others received the Bronze Star. Ballard was awarded the Silver Star.

3. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez kept calling in crucial air strikes on enemy positions, even after he was shot in the chest and believed he would die in minutes.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Photo: US Air Force

As the lone combat controller assigned to an Army Special Forces team, Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez brought critical skills of directing accurate air strikes on enemy positions in past battles. On Oct. 5, 2009 while on a mission to find a high-value target in Afghanistan, those skills would be put to the test again — this time while he was seriously wounded.

The team was ambushed, and after a fellow soldier’s weapon had jammed, Gutierrez began firing at enemy fighters until he was struck in the upper chest. The enemy bullet just missed his heart, collapsed his lung and he began to cough up blood, according to Fox News.

“I thought about [my job], what I would do before I bled out,” Gutierrez later told Fox News. “That I would change the world in those three minutes, I’d do everything I could to get my guys out safely before I died.”

Ignoring his injuries and refusing to take off his body armor, Gutierrez remained calm and stayed on the radio to call in gun runs. Enemy fighters were lined up on a wall just 30 feet from him at one point in the battle, but the staff sergeant called in three A-10 strikes at “danger close” range to take them out.

As Robert Johnson wrote at Business Insider:

The A-10 pilot talking to him on the ground said he had no idea Gutierrez was wounded, that his voice was calm the whole time, and only realized the man was injured when his team moved to the medical landing zone.

“He said he would be off of the mic for a few to handle his gunshot wounds,” Air Force Capt. Ethan Sabin said. “Until that point he was calm, cool and collected.”

After losing nearly half his blood, Gutierrez was medically evacuated from the battlefield after four hours of fighting. He received the Air Force Cross for his heroism in 2011.

4. Marine Cpl. Brady Gustafson kept directing heavy fire on insurgents despite an RPG partially amputating his leg.

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table
Lance Cpl. Brady Gustafson, a machine gunner with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, stands in from of the battalion at perfect parade rest, despite the amputation of his right leg below the knee. Gustafson received the Navy Cross and a meritorious promotion to corporal during a ceremony March 27 at Lance Cpl. Torrey Grey Field. Photo: Pfc. Michael T. Gams/USMC

On July 21, 2008 while manning the turret atop an MRAP in Afghanistan, Lance Cpl. Brady Gustafson continued to engage enemy fighters despite a devastating wound to his right leg.

Ambushed from multiple directions with rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns, Gustafson’s vehicle took a hit from an RPG that partially severed his leg and knocked his driver unconscious, according to The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe.

“I looked down, and a lot of my right leg wasn’t there,” he told Time Magazine. “I could see muscle and bone, and I was bleeding pretty hard.” Still, he remained calm and unleashed hell from his machine-gun.

The North-Shore Journal has more:

Despite his injuries, Gustafson remained vigilant on his M240B machine gun, locating and accurately firing on several insurgent positions, some as close as 20 meters from the vehicle.

He remained in the turret, reloading twice and firing over 600 rounds, while Lance Cpl. Cody Comstock, an Anderson, Ind. native, applied a tourniquet to his leg.

Gustafson was recommended for the Silver Star and ended up receiving the Navy Cross in 2009. But his battalion commander, Col. Richard Hall, later told The Marine Times that he regretted not putting him up for the nation’s highest award.

“When you consider that his leg is taken off, his driver is unconscious and he’s shouting to his driver to get him out of the kill zone. Meanwhile, he’s maintaining the presence of mind to keep returning fire on the enemy and to try to suppress them overwhelming that four-vehicle convoy, or patrol,” Hall told the paper. “The vehicle behind them was stuck, and Gustafson reloads no less than two times and wakes up his driver, tells him to push the burning vehicle behind them out of the kill zone, all while bleeding out and refusing medical aid for his severed leg.”

5. Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe pulled six soldiers from a burning Bradley fighting vehicle even though he was drenched in fuel.

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Following a devastating improvised explosive device strike under his Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Daliaya, Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005, Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe managed to escape from the burning vehicle, out of his spot in the gunner’s hatch.

Then he went back in under enemy fire to save his fellow soldiers three times, all while he was drenched in fuel.

From The Los Angeles Times:

Cashe rescued six badly burned soldiers while under enemy small-arms fire. His own uniform caught fire, engulfing him in flames. Even with second- and-third degree burns over three-fourths of his body, Cashe continue to pull soldiers out of a vehicle set ablaze when a roadside bomb ruptured a fuel tank.

“I told him, ‘Don’t go over there playing a hero. You learn how to duck and come home,”‘ his sister, Kasinal Cashe White told the Orlando Sentinel. “He said, ‘I’m doing the job I was trained to do. I have to take care of my boys.”‘

Cashe held on until Nov. 8, when he succumbed to his wounds at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. According to his sister Kasinal, who spoke with the Los Angeles Times, his first words when he was able to speak at the hospital were “how are my boys?”

The full extent of Cashe’s heroism became muddled in the chaos of war, and the soldiers he rescued were unable to provide details since they were hospitalized with severe wounds, The Times reported. He was recommended for, and posthumously received the Silver Star for his incredible bravery.

But many have advocated for Cashe to receive the nation’s highest award, including his former battalion commander.

“You don’t often find truly selfless sacrifice where someone put his soldiers’ welfare before his own,” Brig. Gen. Gary Brito told The Los Angeles Times. “Sgt. Cashe was horribly wounded and continued to fight to save his men.”

6. After being ambushed, 1st Lt. Brian Chontosh ordered his driver towards an enemy trench-line. Then he cleared much of it himself using his own weapons — and the enemy’s.

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As a platoon leader in the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 25, 2003, then-1st Lt. Brian Chontosh was ambushed and couldn’t escape the kill zone. So he ordered his driver to move right into the Iraqi trench-line as the turret gunner laid down fire with the .50 cal.

Corey Adwar writes at Task Purpose:

It was the first major firefight of the war for the anti-armor platoon Chontosh led, belonging to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Moments after the ambush began, Iraqi troops had already hit two vehicles with machine-gun, rocket-propelled grenade, and mortar fire, killing one soldier and severely wounding another.

Once his Humvee reached the enemy position, “Tosh” (as he calls himself) got out of the vehicle and jumped into the trench, mowing down enemy soldiers with his rifle until he ran out of ammo.

“I shot my pistol dry twice,” then grabbed an AK off a dead Iraqi, shot every bullet in it, picked up another AK and emptied it, too. “It’s just crazy,” he recalled to Phil Zabriskie for his book “The Kill Switch.”

When it was all over, Chontosh had cleared 200 meters of the enemy trench, killed more than 20 enemy soldiers, and wounded several others. He had used up all of his rifle and pistol ammo, along with two enemy AK-47s, and an RPG.

He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions, but he didn’t want to take all the credit, and instead commended the Marines with him that day for saving his life.

“They saved my life, multiple times that day, during the ambush,” Chontosh told Stars and Stripes. “That’s all them. If it wasn’t for them, I would be the lieutenant who would be reported as … a case of what not to do.”

7. Despite heavy enemy fire, Cpl. Jeremiah Workman ran into a house multiple times to save Marines who were trapped inside.

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Retired Gen. James Mattis is presented the Freedom Award by Marine veteran Jeremiah Workman at the No Greater Sacrifice 2014 Freedom Award Family Day, Washington D.C., September 13, 2014. The Freedom Award is awarded to a service member who gives in selfless service to their nation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Karnath/Released)

On Dec. 23, 2004, Cpl. Jeremiah Workman was leading one squad of Marines while his friend Sgt. Jarrett Kraft had another. Searching houses in Fallujah, Kraft took the left side of the street while Workman took the right.

On the third house they entered that day, Kraft’s squad came under heavy fire on the second floor. Workman immediately rallied his squad to rescue his fellow Marines.

“I was scared,” Workman told The Washington Post. “I really was … when you get caught in a situation like that, it’s a real man check. For two seconds, you have to look in that invisible mirror that’s not there and look at yourself and question yourself as a man. And say, ‘Okay, I’m a corporal in the Marine Corps and I have guys that are looking up to me for leadership. What am I going to do?’ … So I grabbed everybody in the house and we come running.”

The Marine Times has more:

Dreading the worst, Workman organized his squad to enter the building. A corporal at the time, he and his Marines faced a maelstrom of small-arms fire and grenades. Three times, he sprinted up a stairwell under fire to fight the insurgents and help the pinned down Marines, who eventually escaped through the roof. At times, the Marines were close enough to see the insurgents’ faces amid the smoke and flashes of gunfire.

Two Marines — Cpl. Raleigh Smith and Lance Cpl. James Phillips, both 21 — were mortally wounded in the house, while several others were hurt but survived. Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenburg, 21, was killed nearby, cut down by enemy sniper fire as he and his fire team raced to the house to help. Workman sustained multiple shrapnel wounds from grenade explosions, but escaped without being seriously hurt.

Workman and his fellow squad leader Kraft were awarded the Navy Cross for their actions that day. Workman’s citation credited him with the “elimination of 24 insurgents.”

“I accepted this medal for three guys who didn’t make it back,” Workman told The Post. “So it’s really theirs.”

8. Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal took 43 pieces of shrapnel while shielding another Marine from a grenade blast.

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On Nov. 13, 2004 while serving in Fallujah as the company first sergeant for Weapons Co., 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, Brad Kasal joined up with a squad entering a house to rescue Marines inside.

Soon after he found a wounded Marine inside, Kasal and another Marine were both severely wounded in the legs by enemy fire. Then the insurgents threw grenades at them. The bleeding first sergeant rolled on top of the wounded Marine with him and absorbed the shrapnel.

Kasal took 43 pieces of shrapnel and was shot seven times inside the “House of Hell.” He lost roughly 60 percent of his blood, according to an article in VFW Magazine.

“When First Sergeant Kasal was offered medical attention and extraction, he refused until the other Marines were given medical attention. Although severely wounded himself, he shouted encouragement to his fellow Marines as they continued to clear the structure,” reads his citation. He was awarded the Navy Cross.

As Kasal was carried out of the house by two of his Marines — covered in blood and still clutching his pistol — Lucian Reed captured the scene, in what was perhaps one of the most iconic photographs to come out of the Battle of Fallujah.

NOW: Meet the 16 heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan who did receive the Medal of Honor

 

MIGHTY HISTORY

How GIs trained to take out Japanese tanks

American troops in World War II didn’t just face enemy tanks in the African and European theaters. German Panzers get much of the attention when it comes to WWII-era armor, so it might surprise you to learn that Japan also used tanks in both the Pacific and China-Burma-India (CBI) theaters. That being said, there’re good reasons why Japanese tanks haven’t enjoyed the same level of hype as their counterparts from Nazi Germany.

One of the biggest of those reasons is the nature of the theaters themselves. Pacific campaigns were dominated primarily by air and naval battles. Most of the ground fighting there was done on small islands — the terrain didn’t allow for much tank-versus-tank action. As for the CBI theater… well, that was largely a sideshow — and much of the attention there was spent on the Flying Tigers.

But occasionally, Allied infantry would find themselves facing off against a Type 95 Ha-Go light tank — it’s a good thing they were prepared to take them out.


Over 2,100 Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks were produced between 1936 and 1943. As was typical of a light tank in the pre-World War II era, it had a 37mm main gun and two medium machine guns.

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Note the tread arrangement of the Type 95 — it’s one of the tank’s weak points.

(Mkethorpe)

This tank, as it turns out, wasn’t exactly the best of the bunch. While German tanks, like the Tiger, held an edge over many of their Allied opponents in the European theater (a deficit the Americans arguably inflicted upon themselves), American tanks usually had a huge edge over Japanese armor.

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Even when Japan was “running wild” in the Pacific, Type 95s were easy to kill.

(Australian War Memorial)

Although Japanese tanks were able to do real damage to the large but under-equipped Chinese Army, they were quite easy for American troops to deal with. These tanks could be disabled by landing a well-aimed rifle shot in the tread’s front-most bracket. Additionally, they didn’t stack up well against American armor. For instance, comparable M3 Stuart light tanks were nearly 25% faster than Type 95s (the M3 had a top speed of 36mph compared to the 28 of the Type 95), making them easy to outmaneuver and outgun.

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This Type 95 was destroyed and became something for Marines to check out.

(National Archives)

In fact, one of the biggest problems of the Type 95 was its turret design. It had an exploitable gap that an American GI could jam with a canteen, a bayonet, or rock, completely disabling it.

To learn more about this nuisance of a tank, watch the video below. 

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Army chief wants power to select new pistol

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1st Lt. Lyndon Hill, assigned to 30th Medical Command, fires the M9 pistol during United States Army Europe’s Best Junior Officer Competition | U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach


The U.S. Army‘s chief of staff said Thursday that if he had his way, he’d abandon the bureaucratic Modular Handgun System effort and personally select the service’s next pistol.

Speaking at the Future of War Conference 2016, Gen. Mark Milley said he has asked Congress to grant service chiefs the authority to bypass the Pentagon’s multi-layered and complex acquisition process on programs that do not require research and development.

“We are not exactly redesigning how to go to the moon, right?” Milley said. “This is a pistol. And arguably, it is the least lethal and important weapon system in the Department of Defense inventory.”

The Army launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August to replace its Cold War era M9 9mm pistol. One of the major goals of the MHS effort is to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time.

Gunmakers had until Feb. 12 to submit proposals to the Army.

Milley used the program as an example of the bureaucratic acquisition system that often makes it overly complicated to field equipment to soldiers in a timely manner.

“We are trying to figure out a way to speed up the acquisition system,” Milley said. “Some of these systems take multiple years, some of them decades to develop.”

As the service chief, Milley said he should be able to say “here is your purpose; here is the end-state I want to achieve … if you succeed, you are promoted and I give you a medal. If you fail, you are fired. You hold people accountable.

“I’m saying let me and then hold me accountable,” he added. “Let me figure out what type of pistol we need and let me go buy it without having to go through nine years of incredibly scrutiny.”

The program has a “367-page requirement document. Why?” Milley asked. “Well, a lawyer says this and a lawyer says that and you have to go through this process and that process and you have to have oversight from this that and the other.”

Milley also criticized the lengthy testing process for MHS that’s slated to cost $17 million.

“The testing — I got a briefing the other day — the testing for this pistol is two years,” Milley said. “Two years to test technology that we know exists. You give me $17 million on the credit card, I’ll call Cabelas tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine with a pistol and I’ll get a discount on it for bulk buys.”

That calculation appears off, though, since the handguns under consideration retail between $400 and $700 apiece and the military may purchase nearly a half million firearms as part of the program.

Current plans call for the Army to purchase more than 280,000 full-size handguns and 7,000 compact versions, officials maintain. The other military services participating in the MHS program may order an additional 212,000 systems above the Army quantity.

MHS is set to cost at least $350 million and potentially millions more if it results in the selection of a more potent pistol caliber, sources said.

The request for proposal calls on gun makers to submit packages that include full-size and compact versions of their handgun as well as hundreds of thousands of rounds for testing.

In a break from tradition, the Army is also requiring competing firms to prove that they are capable of delivering millions of rounds of pistol ammunition per month in addition to delivering thousands of new handguns per month, according to the request.

The competition will also evaluate expanding or fragmenting ammunition, such as hollow-point bullets, that have been used by law enforcement agencies for years. The Army’s draft solicitation cited a new Defense Department policy that allows for the use of “special purpose ammunition.”

“We are not figuring out the next lunar landing,” Milley said. “This is a pistol.

“There is a certain degree of common sense to this stuff and that is what I am talking about — empower the service chiefs with the capability to go out and do certain things. Speed the process up.”

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Missile defense test reportedly fails after sailor presses wrong button

A missile defense test went awry last month after a Navy sailor accidentally pressed the wrong button, an investigation into the matter revealed.


The Missile Defense Agency conducted a test of the SM-3 Block IIA missile interceptor in late June. A medium-range ballistic missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, the MDA explained in a statement at the time. The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones detected and tracked the missile using the on-board radars and launched an SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, which ultimately failed to intercept the target.

An MDA investigation into the failure revealed that a sailor pressed the wrong button, causing the missile to self-destruct. The MDA reported that there were no problems with either the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor or the Navy’s Aegis combat system, according to Defense News.

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A Standard Missile-3. Photo courtesy of US Navy.

A tactical datalink controller mistakenly identified the incoming ballistic missile as friendly, causing the missile to unexpectedly self-destruct mid-flight, according to sources familiar with the recent missile intercept test.

The test in late June was the fourth flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, which is being developed by Raytheon and is a joint missile defense project between the US and Japan. The new interceptor was developed to counter the rising ballistic missile threat from North Korea.

North Korea has tested a batch of new short-, medium-, intermediate-, and long-range missiles this year, increasing the threat to its neighbors and extending the danger to targets in the US.

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US Pacific Command has deployed the first elements of the THAAD to South Korea. Photo courtesy of DoD.

The failed test was preceded by a successful test in May of the ground-based, mid-course defense system, which defends the US against intercontinental ballistic missiles. An interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California eliminated a mock long-range missile fired from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. Earlier this month, the US successfully tested the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system against an intermediate-range ballistic missile, with a THAAD unit in Alaska eliminating a target missile launched from an Air Force Cargo plane to the north of Hawaii.

The failure of the SM-3 Block IIA, which was tested successfully in February, initially represented a setback. That the cause of the failure was likely human error may come as a relief for those involved in the weapon’s development.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is why the American Civil War happened

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly caught a lot of heat for his comments about the cause of the American Civil War. Kelly said that it happened because of “a lack of ability to compromise.” And while that is technically true, it could be said that every war starts because of a lack of ability to compromise.


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And sometimes, a compromise is actually a terrible idea.

Even if you venture away from the politics of the moment and step back in time to the politics of 1860, the cause of the American Civil War is still because of one issue: slavery. Even a more holistic understanding of the war reveals the one true cause at the heart of the conflict.

State’s Rights

When someone is trying to make the cause seem like something other than slavery, the first issue they talk about is “state’s rights.” This happens so often, “state’s rights” has become a euphemism for slavery. But the power of federal law over state law was first settled by the Nullification Crisis in the 1830s.

South Carolina tried to declare certain federal tariffs null and void within the borders of the state. They also asserted they could nullify any federal law they declared unconstitutional. But they were dealing with a president who believed nullification was a step toward secession and he wasn’t having it.

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Andrew Jackson didn’t take sh*t from anyone.

While Jackson lowered the tariffs to resolve the crisis, he also signed the Force Bill into law, which said the federal government had the authority to implement federal authority by force if necessary. Here the first stones of the road to war were laid, but if the war was really about the authority of states versus the federal government, the Civil War would have started in the 1830s.

Bleeding Kansas

The Civil War was not the first time American started shooting at each other over the issue of slavery. As the Union expanded after the Revolutionary War and more states were added, the balance between slaveholding states and free states was carefully maintained.

Representatives from slave states believed if too many free states were added to the union, the power of slaves states would diminish so much that slavery everywhere could be easily outlawed. But as more destiny manifested in the form of new U.S. territory, someone had to organize the unorganized territory.

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That’s really what they called it.

In 1820, the Missouri Compromise determined the Free State-Slave State border at a latitude of 36° 30′ – a separation of North vs. South. After the Mexican-American War acquired new territory, and thus new states, the Compromise of 1850 determined which would be admitted as Free and Slaveholding states.

Then in 1854, the law of unintended consequences showed up and the Kansas-Nebraska Act said the people of a state would vote on whether or not their state would have slaves. Settlers flooded into the new territories and violence soon erupted between pro- and anti-slavery fighters.

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Abolitionist John Brown literally slayed bodies with a broadsword in Kansas.

It was a sign of things to come. Literally. Like Terminator 2, the second coming of John Brown is even more epic than the first.

The Dred Scott Decision

When a black slave named Dred Scott was sold to a white man who moved Scott into the free areas of Illinois and Wisconsin, Scott sued his owner, arguing that being in a state where slavery was illegal meant that he could not be a slave. That’s when the Supreme Court made the worst decision since declaring that black people in America were to be counted as 3/5 of a person.

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Someone hold Chief Justice Taney’s beer.

The Supreme Court ruled that any black person, free or slave, was property and neither a person nor subject to the protections of law. While the court and President-elect James Buchanan were hoping that the decision would end public debate about legislating slavery, Northerners saw the decision as removing the idea of “free” states entirely and fueled the conspiracy theory of a pro-slavery cabal of rich men in Congress.

John Brown’s Raid

Abolitionist John Brown led a raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, between Oct. 16 and Oct. 19, 1859. He wanted to seize the arms there and distribute them to the local slave population. His intent was to lead a revolt that would destroy slavery in the United States.

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Remember John Brown? Told you so.

Brown’s 22 fellow abolitionists fought a company of U.S. Marines under Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Ten of Brown’s men were killed in combat. Brown would be captured and hanged for treason and murder. He would also be considered a martyr by the northern states, which led the south to believe northerners wanted to exterminate their way of life.

Suddenly the Presidential election of 1860 became even more important. It was seen as a referendum on the future of the nation – the country would be free or slaveholding.

Lincoln Wins

Lincoln received zero votes in nine states, but still won 40 percent of the overall vote, including majorities in the most populous states. It was enough to beat a heavily divided opposition in the Electoral College. By the time of his inauguration, seven states already seceded from the union – even though Lincoln promised to leave slavery alone where it already existed.

No matter how you study the roads that led to the Civil War, it always comes back to one cause.

The Civil War would kill more Americans than the Revolution, WWI, WWII, and Vietnam – combined.
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7 key facts about the USO’s 75 years of service

The USO was formed on Feb. 4, 1941 as the nation prepared for the possibility that it would get dragged into another World War. Now, 75 years later, the USO serves America’s warfighters with an estimated 10 million “connections” every year in the form of entertainment tours, homecoming celebrations, care packages, and more.


Here are 7 facts about how the USO got where it is today:

1. The USO began at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Photo: Courtesy USO, Inc.

With the “War in Europe” spreading in the early 1940s, President Roosevelt knew he might soon have a massive military that would need morale assistance. He asked six private organizations — the YMCA, the YWCA, the National Catholic Community Service, the National Jewish Welfare Board, the Traveler’s Aid Association, and the Salvation Army — for their help.

Rather than just draw straws or split up areas on a map, the six organizations combined into a sort of entertainment Voltron that focused on one demographic, the troops.

2. The first services were USO shows and free Coke, both of which continue today

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The late Robin Williams performs for sailors in Bahrain in 2003. (Photo: US Navy Journalist 1st Class Dennis J. Herring)

As the Army and Navy grew in preparation for the war, the most urgent mission of the USO was giving service members the feeling and tastes of home. The USO began a partnership with Coke (that continues to this day) and started bringing in talented soldiers and entertainers to perform for crowds of troops.

3. The USO had a break in service

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Marilyn Monroe visited Korea in 1954. Photo: Department of Defense

In 1947 the occupying forces in Europe and Asia were shrinking and the USO was granted an “honorable discharge” from service by President Harry S. Truman. The Korean War kicked off in 1950 and the USO was back in service by 1951. It wasn’t until after American forces were withdrawn from Vietnam that the USO officially dedicated itself peacetime operations as well as wartime.

4. Bob Hope performed at the first USO center in a combat zone

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Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

While the USO is now known for setting up shop in combat zones, no large USO facilities existed in contested areas during Korea or World War II. The first was in Saigon, Vietnam where Bob Hope performed a Christmas Special in 1964. He would perform a Christmas special for U.S. troops nearly every year until 1973, most of them in Vietnam.

5. The USO is headquartered in the Bob Hope Building

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Bob Hope had a long and enduring relationship with the USO. He first performed with them a few months after their formation and before World War II even started. He continued to headline tours and recruit other entertainers through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War in addition to smaller conflicts and peacetime performances.

In 1985 the USO moved into a new headquarters building that they named for the performer in recognition of his hard work and dedication to the organization.

6. Stephen Colbert’s stint in the Army was in partnership with the USO

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Photo: US Army

While a lot of people remember when Stephen Colbert “enlisted” in the U.S. Army in 2009, not everyone remembers that his week-long trip to Iraq was a USO tour. Colbert filmed his show from the country for that week and allowed Gen. Ray Odierno to shave his had.

7. The longest-running USO tour is a Sesame Street experience

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Photo: US Department of Defense

The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families has run since 2008. In 2014, it celebrated a milestone as it reached its 500,000 military family member. The show has been performed over 1,000 times at more than 140 military bases worldwide.

(h/t to the USO’s interactive timeline where much of the information for this article was found. Check it out to learn more about USO history and see additional photos.)

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5 ways Russia trolled the US on July 4th

Russia is an expert-level troll.


During the Cold War, Syria remained a staunch ally to the Soviet Union – a source of power and stability for the Assad regime. In 2012, the United States began supporting Syrian rebels, stepping into the conflict and into Russia’s backyard.

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Remember when Syrian battle maps had only three colors and non of them were ISIS? Good times.

Ever since, the Russians have made it a point to antagonize the Americans at every opportunity. Not being content to cross “red lines” and annex Crimea, Putin expertly trolls the U.S. and its president every Independence Day.

2016: Vladimir Putin addresses the American people

President Putin took the time to write to the U.S. about his wish for better relations.

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“Американцы поверят чему угодно.”

“The history of Russian-American relations shows that when we act as equal partners and respect each other’s lawful interests, we are able to successfully resolve the most complex international issues for the benefit of both countries’ peoples and all of humanity,” Putin wrote to President Obama.

At the time, he was directing an all-out effort to disrupt the American election with a coordinated misinformation campaign.

2015: Russian bombers drop by to say hello

American fighters intercept two Russian bombers 39 miles off the coast of California. Upon interception, the Russians radio the Americans:

“Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your 4th of July Independence Day.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was on the phone with President Obama the entire time, calling to wish him a Happy Independence Day.

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At the same time, Russian aircraft are intercepted in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone.

2014: Russian bombers intercepted off of Alaska and California

American F-22 Raptors intercept four long-range Tupolev 95 Bear H bombers and their aerial refueler just 200 miles off the coast of North America.

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They actually do that a lot. This photo is from 2007. Just not July 4, 2007.

Two of them veer off back to Russian airspace while the other two skirt U.S. airspace 50 miles from the California coastline.

2013: Infamous Russian spy publicly proposes to Edward Snowden

Fully 10 days into his permanent residency in Russia, American whistleblower Edward Snowden received a public marriage proposal from Anna Chapman (aka Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko), an outed Russian spy– which was quickly spread by Russian state media.

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Everything we learned about Russian spies from movies was right. Apparently.

Chapman was exchanged with nine other Russian agents in 2010, garnering notoriety because of her bright red hair, history of modeling, and Cold War-era spy story.

She publicly tweeted her proposal more than once, even asking the NSA to babysit their potential children.

2012: Nuclear-capable bombers enter Alaska Air Defense Zone

The 200-mile zone between the U.S. and Russia was penetrated by two Tu-95 Bear H Bombers on July 4, 2012, but the planes did not enter American airspace.

Defense officials called it “Putin’s 4th of July Bear greeting to Obama.”

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Any Russian aircraft entering the area are always intercepted by American fighters, but this time it was notable because it happened on Independence Day – the first of many to come.