This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk - We Are The Mighty
Articles

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk

Chritsopher Nolan’s new “Dunkirk” movie features Sir Kenneth Branagh as the cool-under-fire Commander Bolton, but his character is largely based on a real British officer who underwent greater hardships to save British and French forces and was tragically lost at sea during the evacuation.


Operation Dynamo, as the evacuation of Dunkirk was known, was a desperate play by the British to salvage as much of their expeditionary force as they could after Hitler’s war machine tore through allied forces and nations in Europe faster than nearly anyone anticipated.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
The German blitzkrieg took many by surprise. Here, the Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium, thought to be one of the world’s best fortresses and practically impregnable, sits occupied after a single morning of fighting thanks to a daring German paratrooper attack on May 10, 1940. (Photo: Public Domain)

The original goal was to get 45,000 men out in two days before the defensive line at Dunkirk, the last Allied-held territory in the area, collapsed. A Canadian member of the Royal Navy, Cmdr. James Campbell Clouston, was assigned to getting as many men as possible off the “East Mole.”

The East Mole was actually one of two breakwaters used to protect the beach and channel from ocean currents. It was about a mile long and just wide enough for four men. It was a clear target for German planes to attack and provided little opportunity for cover. But, it was an efficient way to get large numbers of men off.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
British troops board the destroyer HMS Vanquisher during low tide by using scaling ladders to climb down from the Mole (at left). (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

Clouston quickly got the Mole operating as the top method of evacuating troops. He ordered evacuating troops to move in groups of 50 to cut down on the chaos on the span and positioned as many ships as possible along the length for simultaneous boarding.

On the first day that Clouston and other members of a commanding party under Capt. William Tennant were operating on the beach, the number of troops evacuated rose from 7,669 to 18,527. Many of these men made it out thanks to Clouston’s efforts on the Mole, which was averaging 1,000 evacuations per hour.

But German air raids targeting the Mole began to take real effect. The third of three air raids on May 29, 1940, three ships were lost including the destroyer HMS Grenade, which had been providing defensive support of the operation as well as embarking evacuating troops.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
170802-DLN-The Royal Navy’s HMS_Grenade_(H86) which was later sunk by a dive bomber while evacuating troops at Dunkirk. (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

Panic broke out on the Mole after a bomb blew a hole in a section. Troops attempted to rush off, but Clouston ordered a lieutenant to draw his revolver and restore order. The troops on the Mole were quickly corralled onto a trawler and sent away.

A panicked junior officer drove to a resort northeast of Dunkirk and called an officer in England to erroneously report that the harbor was blocked by one of the sunken ships. Evacuations slowed as most vessels headed to other places instead the East Mole.

But word got out that the Moles were still in operation, and the pace picked up. One of the best days for the Mole came on June 1 when, despite a devastating air raid, over 47,000 men made it onto ships from the pier.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk

That night, six days into what was supposed to be a 48-hour operation, Clouston was recalled to Dover to take part in a planning meeting for a massive lift on June 2. After the meeting ended, Clouston was headed back to Dunkirk in the pre-dawn hours in a small motorboat when he was attacked by German bombers. His boat quickly sank.

Clouston waved off the assistance of a second boat. Survivors said that he was worried the Germans would spot it and attack while the boat was stationary. He attempted to swim to another vessel a couple of miles away but was lost at sea.

In the end, a total 338,226 men were evacuated through June 4. Almost 240,000 of them made it off from the harbor and the Mole.

Articles

It’s official — the US Air Force has no idea what it’s doing trying to retire the A-10

On Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office released a scathing report about the US Air Force’s half-baked plan to replace the A-10, essentially concluding that the Air Force had no good end game in sight.


“The Department of Defense (DOD) and Air Force do not have quality information on the full implications of A-10 divestment, including gaps that could be created by A-10 divestment and mitigation options,” the report from GAO, a nonpartisan entity, states.

The A-10, a relic of the Cold War-era, flies cheap, effective sorties and is well suited to most of the US’s current operations. But surprisingly, it’s not really the plane itself that’s indispensable to the Air Force — it’s the community.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
U.S. A-10s and F-16s take part in an Elephant Walk in South Korea | US Air Force photo

Ground forces know A-10 pilots as undisputed kings of close air support, which is especially useful in today’s combat zones where ground troops often don’t have an artillery presence on the ground.

But there are other planes for close air support when it comes down to it. The B-1 Lancer has superior loiter time and bomb capacity compared to the A-10, but it turns out, close air support is only one area where the A-10s excel.

The report finds that A-10 pilots undergo many times more close air support, search and rescue, and forward air control training than any other community of pilots in the force.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
GAO

While the Air Force seems determined to replace this community, and reallocate their resources elsewhere, the report finds that the cost estimates used to justify the retirement of the A-10 just don’t make the grade.

According to the GAO, “a reliable cost estimate is comprehensive, well-documented, accurate, and credible.”

The report finds that the Air Force’s cost estimates for replacing the A-10 are almost comprehensive, minimally documented, and just plain not credible.

Indeed we have seen some pivots on the Air Force’s official position on the A-10. At one point, they wanted to retire it stating that the F-35 would take over those capabilities, but then the Senate told them to prove it.

More recently, we heard that the Air Force wants to replace the A-10 with not one, but two new planes, one of which would be developed specifically for the role.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
US Air Force members troubleshoot an electronic error on an A-10 Thunderbolt II on April 25, 2007, on the flightline at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. | US Air Force

What the GAO recommends, however, is that the Air Force come up with a better, more concrete plan to mitigate the losses in capability caused by the A-10’s mothballing.

Lawmakers were not shy about the relief the report brought to the complicated question. Perhaps the best testimony came from Congresswoman Martha McSally, a former A-10 pilot herself:

“Today’s report confirms what I’ve argued continuously — the Air Force’s flawed and shifting plan to prematurely retire the A-10 is dangerous and would put lives in danger… I’ve fought for and won full funding for our entire A-10 fleet and to make the retirement of any A-10 condition-based, not-time based.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

The British Museum will return these war trophies to Afghanistan

Over the years, the British have taken a good many significant artifacts back to England with them. To its credit, the British Empire did an excellent job of preserving those relics. Still, plundering any country’s cultural treasures is kind of an a-hole thing to do. But there is one set of priceless antiquities that the British can feel good about rescuing and returning.

This one isn’t their fault.


One of the most troublesome incidents of the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years was the theft and complete loss of priceless cultural treasures from the distant fields and local museums around these two countries. Many of the things looted in the chaos of these two conflicts may never be seen again. Not so for nine sculpted heads from the Fourth Century AD. These were intercepted at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2002 on a flight from Pakistan. The British Museum took control of the sculptures and restored them – but how did they get there?

It’s because the Taliban are the a-holes in this situation.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk

They usually are the a-holes in any situation.

These statue heads would have been atop artworks in the Buddhist temples of the ancient kingdom of Gandhāra some 1,500 years ago. The kingdom of Gandhāra straddled parts of what is today India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan at the time. As for what happened to the temples and the statues, the Taliban blew them up with dynamite. The terror group’s biggest destructive act was the use of anti-tank mines on Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Temples, which destroyed the beautiful pre-Islamic statues along the temple walls. The heads that were found in London were probably smuggled through Pakistan and on their way to the black market.

After their discovery, the British Museum was called in to document and catalog the priceless ancient sculptures. The heads will be on display in the museum for a short time, but will then be returned to the people of Afghanistan.

Articles

10 military units that define ‘the tip of the spear’

When America needs to break its way into an enemy country, these are the people who slip, kick, or explode their way past the defenses and blaze the way for follow-on forces.


1. Marine Raiders

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: US Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Robert M. Storm

Marine Raiders are the rank and file of the Marine Special Operations Command. MARSOC fields three Raider battalions that conduct special reconnaissance, counterinsurgency, and direct action missions. The Raiders trace their lineage to World War II where Marine Raiders led beach assaults, conducted raids, and used guerrilla tactics against Japanese defenders.

2. Green Berets

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Steve Hebert

The Army’s special forces soldiers were famously some of the first troops in Afghanistan where they rode horses to get to the enemy. They guarded Hamid Karzai when he was an unknown politician putting together a militia to aid an American invasion, and they’ve served in dozens of unpublicized conflicts around the world.

3. Delta Force

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: Department of Defense

Composed of the Army’s best green berets as well as operators from around the Department of Defense, Delta Force takes on high-stakes missions far ahead of the rest of the military. It was Delta Force that led the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains in 2001.

4. Navy SEALS

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William S. Parker

They got Bin Laden in Pakistan, saved Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, and produced “American Sniper” legend Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle. Navy SEALs are the sea services’ most capable fighters on terra firma.

5. Army Rangers

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: USASOC Public Affairs Trish Harris

U.S. Army Rangers first led the way into combat in 1775. These elite infantrymen took out key positions on D-Day, led the way into Panama in Operation Just Cause, played a huge role in Somalia, and conducted airborne assaults into both Afghanistan and Iraq.

6. Force Recon Marines

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Anna Albrecht

Recon Marines work for Marine ground commanders, moving ahead of other forces into any area where the commander needs “eyes on” but can’t otherwise get them.

The popular miniseries “Generation Kill” followed a group of these Marines spearheading the invasion of Iraq and feeding information up the chain to Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis and other senior leaders.

7. Carrier-based aircraft

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: US Navy

The Navy’s carrier groups provide an awesome platform for launching jets against American enemies, quickly conducting air strikes when the wars opened in Afghanistan, Iraq, and then Syria. This is done primarily by Navy Super Hornet air wings, though Marine Corps Harriers fly missions from carriers as well.

8. F-22 fighter wings

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Image: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Jim Araos

While the F-22 has not yet fought in the first wave of an invasion, it’s proven that it’s capable in Syria. When it entered the fight about a month after airstrikes against ISIS began, it slipped past enemy air defenses to take out protected targets. It now escorts other jets past enemy air defenses, using its sensors to detect threats and targets.

9. Naval ships

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman

While U.S. ships rarely get to mix it up with enemy navies these days, they still get to launch the opening blows in a fight by using long range cruise missiles, especially the Tomahawk Block IV. Navy destroyers, cruisers, and submarines have launched Tomahawks against Syria, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Kosovo … ( actually, just see the full list at the Naval History Blog).

10. 509th Bomb Wing

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

The 509th Bomb Wing operates most of America’s B-2s, the stealth bomber that can slip into enemy airspace, destroy air defenses and runways, and then leave without the enemy knowing what happened. The B-2 has been used in strikes in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq and flew many of its missions from Missouri to the target and back, taking about 30 hours for each mission.

Articles

The weird arms race between Napoleon and England

Napoleon_England


If you were a higher-up in the British Empire in the late 1790s, you were probably a little freaked out, and understandably so. You’d just said goodbye to the American colonies and watched the French populace rise up in bloody revolution against their monarchic government—and now French general Napoleon Bonaparte was seizing territory all over Europe and even beyond. You wouldn’t be crazy to think that the general had his eye on the British Isles next. But exactly how you expected the French armies to land on British shores… let’s just say the Brits let their imaginations run away with them a little bit.

For your viewing pleasure, we’ve collected a series of slightly bonkers popular engravings of imaginary invasion methods dating between 1798 and 1805, when the Napoleon’s troops seemed to be looming on the horizon.

Napoleon’s moving castle

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk

This slightly histrionic plan from 1798 shows perhaps the most visually striking paranoid fantasy to come out of the period. In it, a massive windmill-propelled barge carries not only 60,000 men but also an entire castle across the English Channel.

This… thing

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Similarly relying on windmills for power, this illustration of an invasion raft described by a French prisoner of war (who we assume got a kick out of the credulous Brits) somehow makes even less sense than the barge above. It’s basically a fortress on a floating island. Not the most hydrodynamic contraption—and what happens if the water is choppy?

This… thing, part 2

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Also from 1798 is this intricate engraving of the imaginary “Raft St. Malo,” which was likely based on the same false information as the last raft. It allegedly “was 600 feet long by 300 broad, mounts 500 pieces of cannon, 36 and 48-pounders, and is to convey 15,000 troops for the invasion of England. In the midst is a bomb-proof, metal-sheathed citadel.”

Oh look, a real boat

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk

Dating to 1803, when hostilities broke out again after a hiatus, this print showing “A Correct VIEW of the FRENCH FLAT-BOTTOM BOATS intended to convey their TROOPS for the INVASION of ENGLAND” is a little more realistic. As the National Maritime Museum explains,

Unlike the earlier prints… with their monstrous and bizarre ‘rafts’ for transporting huge numbers of troops, this shows much more feasible vessels and appears to be based on much better founded information.

“My ass in a band box”

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Not all Brits bought into the technological hype, however. The cartoon above shows a small-statured Napoleon on a donkey, sailing over to the British Isles in a decidedly non-threatening box labeled “Invasion.”

Balloons, ships, and a tunnel

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Perhaps the craziest idea came from Napoleon himself, who imagined a three-pronged approach to invading Britain using hot air balloons, ships, and foot soldiers via a tunnel dug under the English Channel, as illustrated in this 1803 French engraving.

So what actually happened? None of the above. Urged on by fears of French innovation, the British government invested heavily in defense measures, including a number of forts and a massive naval blockade of the Channel. Napoleon’s attempt to piece together a big enough flotilla to break through the blockade ended up being a major flop.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The time a US Navy blimp turned into a flying ghost ship

For as long as there have been men sailing the high seas, there have been tales of ghost ships. From legends of the Flying Dutchman appearing near ports during inclement weather to the very real tale of the Mary Celeste, which was found adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872 completely abandoned and in good working order, it can be hard not to be drawn into these tales of mysterious happenings on the great waterways of our planet.


Of course, it makes perfect sense that men and women would occasionally go missing during an era of long and often grueling voyages across the high seas. For all of mankind’s domination of nature, the sea has long been too vast to manage and too treacherous to tame. For much of humanity’s history, traveling across the ocean was always a risky endeavor.

But by the early 1940s, however, sea travel had become significantly less hazardous, and mankind had even managed to find new ways to avoid the ocean’s wrath — like flying high above it in aircraft or hot air balloons. At the time, Americans had largely moved past their fear of the high seas in favor of new concerns about what was lurking within them: German U-Boats.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk

The Navy’s L-8 blimp was a former Goodyear Blimp repurposed for naval duty.

(National Archives)

Concerns about encroaching Nazi U-Boats near American shores had led to a number of novel sub-spotting approaches. One was using L-Class rigid airships, or blimps, to float above coastal waterways and serve as submarine spotters.

On the morning of August 16, 1942, Lieutenant Ernest Cody and Ensign Charles Adams climbed aboard their L-8 Airship, which was a former Goodyear Blimp that the Navy had purchased a few months prior to deliver equipment to the nearby carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) out at sea. Their mission that day was simple: head out from their launch point on Treasure Island in California to look for signs of U-Boats beneath the surf in a 50-mile radius around San Francisco.

A bit more than an hour into their patrol, the two sailors radioed that they had spotted an oil slick on the water and were going to investigate.

“We figured by that time it was a submarine,” said Wesley Frank Lamoureux, a member of the Navy’s Armed Guard Unit who was aboard the cargo ship Albert Gallatin. “From then on, I am not too positive of the actions of the dirigible except that it would come down very close over the water. In fact, it seemed to almost sit on top of the water.”

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk

This image of the L-8 was taken prior to the mission that would see Cody and Adams go missing.

(National Archive)

In Lamoureux’s official statement, he recounted seeing the blimp drop two flares near the slick and then circle the area — which was in keeping with sub-hunting protocols of the day. The nearby Albert Gallatin cargo ship, seeing the blimp’s behavior, sounded their submarine alarms and changed course to escape the area. Unfortunately, these reports would be the last time anyone would see the blimp with the crew onboard.

A few hours later, the former Goodyear Blimp appeared sagging and uncontrolled over the shores of Daly City, California. It drifted over the town until it finally dipped low enough to become snagged on some power lines and come crashing down onto Bellevue Avenue. Crowds quickly formed around the downed blimp, and a number of people ran to the wreckage in hopes of saving the crew… only to find the cabin was completely empty.

The pilot’s parachute and the blimp’s lifeboat were both right where they belonged. The pilot’s cap sat on top of the instrument panel, and the blimp’s payload of two bombs were still secured. A briefcase containing confidential documents that the crew had orders to destroy if they feared capture remained onboard as well.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk

The Navy’s L-8 Blimp, crashed and crew-less.

(National Archives)

The L-8’s crew had seemed to vanish without a trace, prompting a slew of differing theories. Some assumed both the pilot and ensign had simply fallen out of the airship, though for such a thing to happen, they would have had to both fall overboard at the same time. If there was something damaged that required both men to address on the external hull of the vessel, there was no evidence to suggest what it could have been in the wreckage.

Another theory suggested the two men lowered their blimp enough to be taken prisoner by the crew of the U-Boat or a Japanese vessel in the course of investigating the oil slick. Still, others wondered if the two men may have been entangled in some sort of love triangle that drove one to kill the other and then escape by diving into the sea. Despite a thorough investigation, no conclusion could ever be drawn.

So what really did happen to the two-man crew of the L-8? Did they simply fall out of their blimp and die? Were they captured by Nazis that didn’t bother to check for any classified material on the blimp? To this day, their remains have never been found, and no other details have surfaced. For now, it seems, the legend of the L-8 “ghost ship in the sky” will live on for some time to come.

Articles

This Army private is to blame for military cadence calls

Don’t like yelling in formation? Well, you can blame one soldier from World War II for all those early morning sing-alongs.


Pvt. Willie Duckworth was a young soldier at Fort Slocum, New York in May, 1944, whose unit was dragging their feet during a march. To pep his brothers up, he began calling a chant to hep the men keep in step and to give them more energy.

The chant was an instant hit on base. The next year, the Army worked with recording engineers to make a V-Disc, a special recording distributed during World War II to aid morale. It was known as the “Duckworth Chant,” on base, but it was recorded and distributed as “Sound Off.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1v=Q6bhv4i8qso

Many of the traits of today’s calls are apparent in this first cadence. There is a back and forth between the caller and the formation, the lines are catchy, and Jody even makes an appearance (at 2:15 in the video above).

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Photo: Youtube

The chant’s fame worked out very well for Duckworth. He received royalty checks for the recordings and used them to start a successful pulpwood company he operated until his death in 2004. A section of Georgia highway near Duckworth’s former home has been renamed the Willie Lee Duckworth Highway and a granite marker was erected at the county courthouse.

Now, if only we could find the evil genius who came up with “C-130 rollin’ down the strip.”

NOW: 9 firsts in military aviation history

MIGHTY MOVIES

Before this stuntman flipped trucks in Batman movies he fought the Vietnam War

WATM’s Ryan Curtis hits the streets with stuntman Jim Wilkey, a Vietnam War vet whose Hollywood credits include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “Rush Hour,” “Inception,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” and several others. Jim’s experience in the Navy working with a wide range of equipment gave him the knowledge to get started as a stuntman.


Now, watch as Jim gives our man Ryan a crash course in basic stunt driving skills.

Articles

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)

The KGB—or Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti— was the Soviet Union’s main security agency from 1954 until its break up in 1991.


Conventional media and entertainment paint the organization as the Soviet version of America’s CIA. However, a more realistic description of the KGB includes the roles of the NSA, FBI, and state media along with the CIA. Its responsibilities included intelligence gathering, border security, and propaganda enforcement. Additionally, the KGB served as the state’s secret police and was a military service governed by military laws and regulations; the CIA, on the other hand, is a civilian foreign intelligence service.

A 1983 Time article called “The KGB: Eyes of the Kremlin,” reported that it was the world’s most effective information-gathering organization at its peak. The USSR liked to keep things simple; information flowed freely throughout the agency, which avoided any hiccups that may occur between multi-agency cooperation.

After the Soviet collapse, the KGB was succeeded by the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) of Russia, which was in turn succeeded by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). Although the KGB doesn’t officially exist, many argue that its mode of operation lives on under former KGB agent and current Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Case in point is the mysterious poisoning of former KGB and FSB agent Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko by radioactive polonium-210 that resulted in his death. Litvinenko and other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. After being arrested and acquitted, he defected to the United Kingdom in 2000 until his suspected murder in 2006.

In January 2016, the BBC reported that Putin ‘probably’ approved Litvinenko’s murder after years of personal antagonism. This TestTube News video explains the KGB’s evolution and why it was so feared.

Watch:

Articles

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

Lee Hernandez wants everyone to call him or text him. Anyone and everyone in America.


The 47-year-old has undergone three brain surgeries but still suffers from strokes that affect his vision and cognitive function.

But a few notes from his military family are just what the doctor ordered.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Lee Hernandez wants to hear from you. (photo by Arizona Veterans Forum)

As Lee lay dying in a Texas hospice, his wife Ernestine told the Arizona Republic that phone calls or texts are what brighten Lee’s day. It doesn’t matter who sends them.

He asked Ernestine to hold on to his phone one day in case someone called him. For two hours, no one called.

“I guess no one wants to talk to me,” Lee told his wife.

Lee Hernandez has trouble with speaking, so Ernestine figured that’s why people don’t take much time to attempt a conversation. So she reached out to a group called “Caregivers of Wounded Warriors” to get more texts and call pouring in.

He is a veteran of the Iraq War who served 18 and half years in the Army. He’s been fighting for his life for the last five years.

If you want to send Lee a message of support or just see how he is, be sure to reach out between 2 pm and 6pm Arizona time. Lee is now blind, but Ernestine will read your texts to him.

He can be reached at 210-632-6778.

Articles

Suddenly The Navy Has A Bill Cosby Problem (Updated)

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk


The Naval History and Heritage Command – the U.S. Navy’s official historical arm – has a loving biography – hagiographic even — of Bill Cosby on its website.  The article highlights his upbringing, stating that Cosby “had a naturally good image of himself, one that had been carefully instilled by his mother, Anna Pearl Cosby, a domestic worker who read Mark Twain and the Bible to her three sons at night.”

The article also highlights Cosby’s Navy career:

At the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia, his high IQ scores earned him training as a physical therapist, followed by assignment to the Bethesda Naval Hospital, Maryland. There he worked as a corpsman, helping to rehabilitate mostly Korean War veterans, a duty that he liked and at which he excelled. He was also sent briefly on board ship, from Newfoundland to Guantanamo Bay. Finally he was assigned to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital.

With the track team, he traveled around the country and improved his skills, getting his time in the hundred-yard dash down to 10.2 seconds; clearing six feet, five inches in the high jump; and reaching forty-six feet, eight inches in the hop-step jump. He also had a more-than-passing interest in three other sports (football, basketball, and baseball), playing with the Quantico Marine football team in 1956 and playing guard and forward on the National Naval Medical Center varsity basketball team. In 1954 he had tried out for the Baltimore Orioles. During his Navy years, the popular, jocular Cosby made a lot of friends, meeting people who were working hard to better their prospects through the courses offered in the service. Realizing that many of them were applying themselves more than he had ever done–it had never taken much effort for him to do minimally well, thanks to his mental prowess–Cosby came to appreciate the gift he had been born with and resolved to put it to work. He began by earning his high-school diploma while still in the Navy.

Cosby left the Navy with an honorable discharge in 1960, and the rest is wholesome humor history – until a few weeks ago when Cosby posted a request to his Facebook followers to comment on their favorite expressions of his.  One poster wrote “Jello Pudding and rape,” and that went viral and caused upwards of 16 sexual harassment and assault allegations to resurface against the comedian.  As a result of these allegations venues have cancelled dates on Cosby’s current tour and networks have killed projects or stopped airing episodes of “The Cosby Show.”  Seems the court of public opinion has ruled on Mr. Cosby in a hurry and organizations that care at all about the fair treatment of women are unflinchingly cutting any ties to him.

Which brings the topic back to the U.S. Navy. On February 17, 2011 then Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus made Cosby an honorary chief petty officer in a ceremony held at the U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center.

“Bill Cosby is not just a comedian and an actor, although he’s pretty good at both, he’s also been a tireless advocate for social responsibility and education – and a constant friend to the Navy,” Mabus said during the ceremony.

And it gets worse (or better depending on your appetite for these sort of scandals). In 2010 the U.S. Navy Memorial Association gave Cosby their vaunted Lone Sailor Award.

So now what? WATM asked the Navy what action the sea service intended to take as a result of the growing number of women coming out with rape charges against Cosby. The public affairs duty officer who answered had no statement, and at press time officials were still researching the matter.

With the military’s crackdown on sexual harassment as a result of the pressure applied by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and others last year, will the Navy allow Cosby to retain his honorary chief status?  And in an ever-competitive fundraising and membership environment, will the Navy Memorial Association yank his Lone Sailor Award?

UPDATE (Dec. 4, 2014, 2:30 PM EST):  The U.S. Navy has announced that they have revoked Bill Cosby’s honorary chief petty officer status.  No word yet from the Navy Memorial Association on the Lone Sailor Award.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the anti-aircraft tank more likely to attack toilets than jets

The M247 Sgt. Alvin York was pitched to officials and lawmakers alike as a precision shooter in the same vein as its legendary namesake and the silver bullet that would stop all Soviet aircraft — especially the feared Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter — that dared fly too low and close to ground troops.


Instead, it was an expensive boondoggle that couldn’t fight, couldn’t shoot accurately, and couldn’t tell the difference between a toilet and an enemy aircraft.

 

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Not a great record for a weapon named after one of the Army’s greatest sharpshooters from history. (Photo: Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0)

The M247 came from a requirement for a “Division Air Defense” weapon, a platform that could move forward with armored and infantry divisions and protect them from air-to-ground attacks. But the program was opened when the U.S. was already in the middle of five large weapons programs, and money was tight.

So the military asked manufacturers to keep to a few reasonable rules. Importantly, as much technology as possible needed to come from existing commercial or military surplus sources to keep the weapon relatively cheap to manufacture and maintain.

The winning design came from the Ford Aerospace Communications Corp. and featured two Swedish-made 40mm cannons mounted in a turret and controlled by the Doppler radar from the F-16. The whole thing rode on an M48 Patton tank chassis.

Every part of the weapon had a demonstrated history of performance, and so the anti-aircraft Frankenstein monster was expected to perform. But the F-16’s radar was never designed to deal with the amount of ground clutter that the York would have to deal with. And the M48’s chassis were getting worn out after years of service.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
An M247 sits behind an M108 105mm self-propelled howitzer at Yuma Proving Grounds,Arizona. (Photo: Mark Holloway, CC BY 2.0)

 

So the first M247s hit the field and performed horribly in tests. They frequently failed to spot targets. Software changes made it more sensitive, but also caused it to start identifying ground clutter as probable enemies.

Second, the old chassis sometimes broke down under the increased weight of the larger York turret and the engines weren’t strong enough to propel the weapon quickly.

In fact, the York weighed 62 tons, 17 tons more than the original Pattons. The extra weight slowed the M247 so much that it couldn’t keep pace with the M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradleys that it was designed to primarily protect.

Third, the awesome Swedish cannons on the York provided their own problems. While capable, they were mounted in such a way that a weapon pointing high in the sky would confuse the already troubled radar.

And finally, the weapon wasn’t even accurate. In some tests, it failed to hit helicopters hovering completely still.

 

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
An M247 Sgt. Alvin C. York Division Air Defense gun on display in Camp Robinson, Arkansas. (Photo: Mark Holloway, CC BY 2.0)

So, it couldn’t keep up with the vehicles it escorted, couldn’t properly find low targets because of ground clutter, couldn’t find high targets because of its own gun, and then couldn’t accurately hit anything it could find.

Army and Ford engineers worked hard to iron out the kinks, but they still had to resort to gimmicks like attaching radar-bouncing panels to targets to get the system to pass basic tests.

In one important display, VIPs from the military and Congress were invited to watch the York perform. The system failed to spot its target and instead locked onto something in the stands. It swung its own gun around to track it and several visitors suffered injuries in the scramble to escape the stands.

After total spending of $1.8 billion, the Army had received 65 unsatisfactory weapons and sent the request to the Secretary of Defense for the funding for $417.5 million for another 117 weapons. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger withheld the funds until an ongoing test was completed.

The York once again failed, and Weinberger canceled the program in August 1985.

Articles

10 memes that pretty much describe life as a military spouse

Military spouses are just as resilient (and sometimes just as crazy) as their uniformed husbands and wives. They are the backbone of our military families, and while you’ll never hear (or read) me saying that the job of being a military spouse is the toughest job in the [insert branch here] (because I’ve both worn the uniform AND been up at 3:00 AM ironing HIS), you will hear (or read) me acknowledge that- without the support of our spouses- our service member’s jobs would be hella harder than they already are.


That’s why former President Ronald Reagan declared the Friday before Mother’s Day as Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 23rd, 1984. Every year since, it is typical for the President of the United States to issue a similar declaration.

Here at We Are the Mighty, we decided to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day the best way we knew how: by laughing at our life.

After-all, its like my crusty old Marine of a dad used to tell me “If you don’t laugh at yourself, Kate, I will. And I’m sure there’s others happy to join in.”

So in no particular order (because I can shine boots and clean a rifle, and you could cut yourself on the 45 degree angled crease of the nurse’s fold on my bed, but heck if I’m not the most disorganized wife on the block), here’s a bunch of memes that pretty much exactly describe life as a military spouse:

1. This one time, we got orders…

…And then we got different orders. And then, they came and packed the house up and took all of our sh*t and sent it to California, and THEN I said “hey remember that you just got promoted? Could that impact your orders?”

It could.

It did.

And the Marine Corps forgot to tell us.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
There is a plan, and it’s a good one. Or two. Or three. Source

2. Wedding vows are horribly unrealistic…

…And comedienne Mollie Gross might’ve said it best when she relayed how her husband convinced her to marry him. “Babe, you can have as many babies as you want, ’cause it’s free!”

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
To have and to hold, in richer and in poorer, in deployments and in field ops and in career changes and in… source

3. Civilians TOTALLY understand…

I mean, obviously they get it. I have this friend, we’ll call her Not-Amy-From-College to protect her identity. Not-Amy-From-College used to tell me ALL. THE. TIME. how she totally understood what I was going through when my husband was in Sangin with 3/5 because one time, when they’d been married for about 7 months, her husband had to take the train up from D.C. to NYC and he didn’t even come back until the next day. The. Horror.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Yes, your husband going out of town for work for an entire day is EXACTLY like my husband deploying… could you hold this bag for a moment so I can knife hand you? K, thanks. source

4. What do you mean I’m only allowed to have an MLM job or run a daycare in my house?

*BIG DISCLAIMER: there isn’t anything wrong with running your own multi-level-marketing (MLM) business or running a daycare in your home.*

The military spouse community boasts a pretty healthy number of lawyers (check out MSJDN), behavioral and mental health professionals (check out MSBHC), entrepreneurs (check out the MilSpoProject), teachers, politicians, business consultants, authors, actors — basically if it’s a grown up job, military spouses either have it or have had it.

We have professional hopes and dreams just like every other adult who doesn’t live off of Daddy’s money (here’s looking at you, Not-Amy-From-College-Who’s-Identity-We’re-Quasi-Protecting).

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
The audacity! A grown adult actually having plans of his or her own for his or her own career… wha? source

5. Drama… drama everywhere…

I’m only partially joking with this one. We’ve lived in some excellent housing communities where, seriously, our neighbors were the bees knees. And then? We’ve lived in communities that made Degrassi look like a family TV show that came on between “Boy Meets World” and “Step-By-Step.”

I think most military spouses can appreciate this one if they’ve lived at multiple installations.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Military housing is GREAT. Except when you have to go outside. Source

6. Finally found my daughter’s kindergarten graduation cap that accidentally got packed a month before graduation…

And it was only eight years after her kindergarten graduation.

Other things we thought were lost in a decade and a half of PCSing:

  • A Dell computer
  • An elephant tusk carved out of fish bone that looks suspiciously like an adult toy that caused my husband a rather embarrassing stop and search in a Japanese airport but that I am still laughing about 13 years later
  • A Japanese vase
  • My DD214 and military medical records
  • Wedding band (I’m still holding out hope that that one is in a box and really didn’t get vacuumed up like my daughter insisted)
  • A metal canister of Maxwell House coffee

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
You know those military spouses that get everything unpacked and put away within a week of moving into their new house. We hate them. source

7. No one cares what you think, Judy Judgy McJudgy-Pants

This one is so true it needs two memes to make sure the point is made. People are judgy and rude.

When people judge military members, they get labeled as unpatriotic and it’s done. When they judge military spouses, they get laughs, some cheers from a select few military members who lack integrity and good character, and maybe a few frowns from everyone else.

But military spouses are used to it. And that’s just a sh*tty deal all around.

To be honest, we’re just people who are married. Being military spouses doesn’t make us any more or any less likely to be a) a mess, b) unfaithful, c) fat, d) Wonder Woman or e) all of the above

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Everyone is a critic. source

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
There’s a pretty good chance one of these is totally accurate. source

8. Dear Deployment: you suck…

Deployments make warriors out of princesses, men out of boys, and they separate the strong from the weak.

But even the strongest feel exceptionally weak sometimes, and we hate that.

This is, of course, when we put our big kid pants and our gangter rap on, and we handle it.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Deployments are stupid, and yes we do hate them. But we’re proud of our service member for them. source

9. Operational Security pisses us off…

But it must be done.

That doesn’t mean we want to deal with the OPSEC police. You know the ones: Becky just posted “Missing my soldier today on his 21st birthday!” And Bernice, who’s husband is a fearsome E4, busts into the convo with “OPSEC ladies! You don’t want the enemy knowing when his birthday is if he gets captured!”

Hey Bernice, if he’s captured, he gives his name, rank, service number and date of birth. Go haze yourself.

But seriously, we do take OPSEC and PERSEC (personal security) seriously.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Don’t you dare accidentally have a number in your status during a deployment. The OPSEC police will be all over you. source

10. Someone must have a death wish

So… you decided to go to the commissary on pay day. That is either the bravest or stupidest thing you’ve ever done.

Jury is still out.

This is the true story of the pier master at Dunkirk
Commissary on payday? Newbie. source