This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels - We Are The Mighty
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This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels

It was a common sight during Desert Storm: grainy black-and-white footage of an Iraqi bunker or hanger slowly getting closer and closer to the screen.


This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels

Munitions with cameras fed the footage of new, precision-guided “smart bombs” to Americans watching the war at home.

Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army used underground facilities beneath layers of sand and reinforced concrete to protect his command and control centers, research labs, and ammo dumps. The U.S. military tasked its defense apparatus to come up with a way to penetrate and destroy these shelters.

Thus, the GBU-28 Bunker Buster bomb was born.

The GBU-28 is a 4,400-pound monster of hardened steel and tritonal explosives, a mixture of TNT and aluminum powder. Once the target is marked with a laser, that laser guides the bomb to its target and the rest (like the target) is history.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels

That hardened steel is what protects the bombs for their initial penetration through concrete. Barrels of artillery guns are designed to hold up to repeated artillery blasts, which is why the U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal used barrels from 8-inch self-propelled howitzers as casings for the design.

That protection the spent barrels provide is perfect to give the bunker buster bomb time to penetrate a target while its time-delay fuse waits to unleash the real payload.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
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Engineering changes to the initial casing were made via telephone, even as the original barrels were being stripped and reconfigured by machinists on the assembly line. Watch the whole story of the birth of the bunker buster bomb in the video below.

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5 things you need to know about veteran and US Senator Gary Peters

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Senator Peters presented Vietnam Veteran lapel pins to Detroit Metro area veterans in October, 2016. Gary Peters


Politicians — we love to hate them. But occasionally we come across one that we want to know more about. Michigan Democrat Sen. Gary Peters is one of those politicians.

We Are the Mighty caught up with the senator last week to chat about his work for and with veterans, and we came away with five things we think everyone should know about him:

1. Peters is working on veteran issues

Peters served in the Navy from 1993 to 2005. He left the Navy Reserve in 2000, only to return to duty just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Not only has Peters had a heavy hand in incredibly pro-veteran legislation in the two years since he took office, he is actively looking for more ways he can contribute to the veteran community. Case in point: education.

The senator said that he was bothered that service members can spend entire careers in the military doing a specific job, and then find themselves in the civilian world and having to start completely over — either in college or in some sort of training for the very jobs they’ve just spent years doing.

“There should be some sort of translation,” Peters told WATM.

One of the career fields he specifically mentioned was that of EMTs and other first responders. After extensive military training in medical fields, service members find that, upon their return to the civilian world, they are required to do all of that training again in civilian schools.

His idea is to find a way to make sure that those veterans are getting legitimate credit for their experience, rather than as as electives credits.

Bottom line: Peters wants to look at the issues facing veterans and put into action actual solutions to solve them.

2. He knows his stuff

The Michigan Democrat holds four degrees, including two masters, and a law degree.

At 22 and fresh out of college, Peters was named the assistant vice-president of Merrill Lynch — a position he held for nine years. That was followed by a four year stint as the vice-president of Paine Webber (a stock broker firm acquired by Swiss Bank UBS in 2000) before he joined the Navy.

During his time in the Navy, Peters served as an assistant supply manager and achieved the rank of lieutenant commander. His deployments include the Persian Gulf and various locations immediately after 9/11.

Peters served as a Michigan representative to the U.S. Congress from 2009 to 2015.

Bottom line: Peters has spent time both as a veteran and a politician learning the ins and outs of veteran issues.

3. Peters is working on keeping jobs in America

We asked Peters about the Outsourcing Accountability Act, which serves to gather accurate information from American companies on whether they outsource work to other countries, where exactly that work is going, and how many American jobs are being lost to outsourcing.

The bill has wide bi-partisan support.

The question was, did the Peters believe that his bill as introduced to the House would help or hinder veterans who were trying to get jobs?

“The idea is to create more jobs stateside,” Peters told WATM. “This will, in turn, create more jobs for veterans stateside.”

Bottom line: Peters is working to make sure that veterans have better access to American jobs.

4. He’s working on PTSD and other mental and physical health issues veterans face

Peters authored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act called Fairness for Veterans.

Veterans who receive less-than-honorable discharges lose all of their benefits, and Peters says he strongly believes that those who received those discharges as a result of subsequently diagnosed PTSD should get an opportunity to have them reviewed.

Additionally, Peters cosponsored legislation to improve the veteran’s crisis line, cowrote the No Heroes Left Untreated Act, and was a cosigner on a letter to President Trump about the VA hiring freeze and how it would negatively impact veteran access to care.

Bottom line: Peters shows a determination to get as much work done as possible while he serves his constituents.

5. Peters has a sense of humor

Peters was extremely limited in the amount of time he had to chat with We Are the Mighty, but when it was time for him to move into his next appointment, there was still one burning question that had been rolling around the office for days.

Given a choice, would the senator rather go into battle with one horse-sized duck or 1,000 duck-sized horses?

Peters’ answer?

“Absolutely, 1,000 duck sized horses. I like to overwhelm my enemies with sheer numbers.”

Bottom line: He’s familiar with the sense of humor here at We Are the Mighty, and he digs it.

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That time a parachuting airman shot down a Zero with nothing but a handgun

If you take a peek at a list of pilots who were considered flying aces during WW2, you’ll notice that the top of the list is dominated by Luftwaffe pilots, some of whom scored hundreds of aerial victories during the war. While their skill and prowess in the air is undeniable, it’s arguable that the finest display in aerial combat during WW2 was achieved, mostly by luck, by an American B-24 co-pilot when he scored a single enemy kill with nothing but a handgun, at about 4,000-5,000 feet (about 1.3 km) in altitude, and without a plane. This is the story of Owen Baggett.


Born in 1920 in Texas, after finishing high school, Baggett moved to the city of Abilene to enroll in Hardin–Simmons University. While we were unable to discern what Baggett studied from the sparse amount of information available about his early life, the fact that he went to work at Johnson and Company Investment Securities in New York after graduating suggests he studied finance, business, or another similar subject.

Whatever the case, while still working at the investment firm in New York in December of 1941, Baggett volunteered for the Army Air Corps and reported for basic pilot training at the New Columbus Army Flying School.

After graduating from basic training, Baggett reported for duty in India, just a stone’s throw away from Japanese occupied Burma with the Tenth Air Force. Baggett eventually became a co-pilot for a B-24 bomber in the 7th Bomb Group based in Pandaveswar and reached the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. During his time with the 7th Bomb Group, Baggett’s duties mainly consisted of flying bombing runs into Burma and helping defend allied supply routes between India and China.

Baggett’s career was mostly uneventful, or at least as uneventful as it could be given the circumstances, for around a year until he was called upon to take part in a bombing run on March 31, 1943. The mission itself was fairly simple- Baggett and the rest of the 7th Bomb Group were to fly into Burma and destroy a small, but vital railroad bridge near the logging town of Pyinmana.

However, shortly after taking off, the (unescorted) bombers of the 7th Bomb Group were attacked by a few dozen Japanese Zero fighters. During the ensuing dogfight, the plane’s emergency oxygen tanks were hit, severely damaging the craft. Ultimately, 1st Lt. Lloyd Jensen gave the order for the crew to bailout. Baggett relayed the order to the crew using hand signals (since their intercom had also been destroyed) and leapt from the aircraft with the rest of the surviving crew.

Not long after the crew bailed out, the attacking Japanese Zeros began training their guns on the now-defenceless crewman lazily floating towards the ground.

Baggett would later recall seeing some of his crewmates being torn to pieces by gunfire (in total 5 of the 9 aboard the downed bomber were killed). As for himself, a bullet grazed his arm, but he was otherwise fine. In a desperate bid to stay that way, after being shot in the arm, Baggett played possum, hanging limp in his parachute’s harness.

According to a 1996 article published in Air Force Magazine, this is when Baggett spotted an enemy pilot lazily flying along almost vertically in mid-air to come check out whether Baggett was dead or not, including having his canopy open to get a better look at Baggett. When the near-stalling plane came within range, Baggett ceased to play dead and pulled out his M1911 from its holster, aimed it at the pilot, and squeezed the trigger four times. The plane soon stalled out and Baggett didn’t notice what happened after, thinking little of the incident, being more concerned with the other fighters taking pot shots at he and his crew.

After safely reaching the ground, Baggett regrouped with Lt Jensen and one of the bomber’s surviving gunners. Shortly thereafter, all three were captured, at which point Baggett soon found himself being interrogated. After telling the events leading up to his capture to Major General Arimura, commander of the Southeast Asia POW camps, very oddly (as no one else in his little group was given the opportunity), Baggett was given the chance to die with honour by committing harakiri (an offer he refused).

Later, while still a POW, Baggett had a chance encounter with one Col. Harry Melton. Melton informed him that the plane that Baggett had shot at had crashed directly after stalling out near him and (supposedly) the pilot’s body had been thrown from the wreckage. When it was recovered, he appeared to have been killed, or at least seriously injured, via having been shot, at least according to Colonel Melton.

Despite the fact that the plane had crashed after his encounter with it, Baggett was still skeptical that one (or more) of his shots actually landed and figured something else must have happened to cause the crash. Nevertheless, it was speculated by his compatriots that this must have been the reason Baggett alone had been given the chance to die with honour by committing harakiri after being interrogated.

Baggett never really talked about his impressive feat after the fact, remaining skeptical that he’d scored such a lucky shot. He uneventfully served the rest of his time in the war as a POW, dropping from a hearty 180 pounds and change to just over 90 during the near two years he was kept prisoner. The camp he was in was finally liberated on September 7, 1945 by the OSS and he continued to serve in the military for several years after WW2, reaching the rank of colonel.

The full details of his lucky shot were only dug up in 1996 by John L Frisbee of Air Force Magazine. After combing the records looking to verify or disprove the tale, it turned out that while Col. Harry Melton’s assertion that the pilot in question had been found with a .45 caliber bullet wound could not be verified by any documented evidence, it was ultimately determined that Baggett must have managed to hit the pilot. You see, the plane in question appears to have stalled at approximately 4,000 to 5,000 feet (so an amazing amount of time for the pilot to have recovered from the stall had he been physically able) and, based on official mission reports by survivors, there were no Allied fighters in the vicinity to have downed the fighter and no references of anyone seeing any friendly fire at the slow moving plane before its ultimately demise. Further, even with some sort of random engine failure, the pilot should have still had some control of the plane, instead of reportedly more or less heading straight down and crashing after the stall.

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This is the amazing way the Navy rescues trapped submariners

The crews of submarines around the world face the very real and terrifying possibility that their submarine could fail and become stuck at the bottom of the ocean. While a surface vessel that suffers a mechanical failure at sea can be reached by most other surface vessels, something special is needed to rescue crews thousands of feet under the surface.


That’s why the Navy has the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System, a three-part system that can reach a distressed submarine stuck 2,000 feet beneath the surface and recover the submariners inside. The SRDRS can be deployed anywhere in the world within a maximum of 72 hours.

Many civilian and military vessels can carry the SRDRS and the system can be rapidly installed on any appropriate ship, known as a “vessel of opportunity.” Once an appropriate vessel is identified near the rescue site, the SRDRS is flown, driven, or shipped to a port where it can meet the vessel. The Undersea Rescue Command, which operates the SRDRS, is stationed near both a port and a C-5 capable airfield so the unit can rapidly deploy anywhere in the world.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
The Atmospheric Diving System 2000 allows divers to quickly reach 2,000-foot depths and return without needing to decompress. Photo: US Navy courtesy photo

When the Navy crew and the system arrive at the submarine site, a diver wearing the Atmospheric Dive System 2000 is lowered to where the submarine rests on the bottom of the ocean. The ADS2000 allows a single sailor to dive to the sub and inspect it. If the diver sees signs that the crew are still alive inside the hull, he’ll signal the surface to let them know to launch the rescue mission. He’ll also begin removing any blockages or debris near the submarine’s hatches.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
The pressurized Rescue Module Falcon is raised from the water after an exercise near San Diego, California. Photo: US Navy Mass communication Specialist 2nd Class Alexia M. Riveracorrea

Next, the remotely-operated Pressurized Rescue Module, the Falcon, is lowered into the water and descends to the submarine. When it reaches the sub, it links with the hull on the sub and seals a skirt around the hatch. Then, it pumps air into the skirt, creating an open tube with breathable air. The sailors are then able to climb from their submarine to the PRM through the air chamber. Sixteen sailors can be carried by the PRM at once.

Once 16 sailors are safely aboard the PRM, it delivers them to the 32-seat Submarine Decompression Chamber where they are able to remain at their previous pressure until they reach the hyperbaric systems on the surface vessel. This prevents the decompression sickness they would face if they simply rushed to the surface.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
A U.S. Navy sailor sits in one of the Navy’s two 32-seat submarine Decompression Systems. Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Carlstrom

Meanwhile, the PRM returns to the submarine to rescue another 16 sailors. Because the PRM has a tether that provides it power from the surface, it can ferry survivors from the submarine around the clock until it has rescued everyone. The Navy’s previous system, the Mystic-class Deep Submergence Resce Vehicles, used batteries that required charging between rescues.

The Mystic class of vessels was developed after the loss of the USS Thresher and her crew.

For distressed submarines at lower depths, usually 850 feet or less, the Navy can deploy the Submarine Rescue Chamber Flyaway System instead. The SRCFS is a diving bell that is lowered to the submarine via a cable attached to the sub by a diver. Sailors climb into the chamber and are raised to the surface.

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This is how olives could bring peace to the Middle East

Israel.

Palestine.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
It’s the soldier at back right that really gets us. (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)


The ongoing conflict between the citizens of these two nations has become, in our time, the textbook case of intractability in human coexistence, an example of the kind of horizonless mistrust that pits neighbor against neighbor in enmity over a mutually claimed homeland.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Say what you will, this kid has got balls. (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

…in general, there is no meeting between them. It’s not something normal between Israeli and Palestinian people. There is a fear, there is a stereotype…both sides lost their humanity in the other side’s eyes. —Mohammed Judah, NEF Staff

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Extremism for any cause make us strangers to our own humanity. (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

How does one begin to help unbind this locked, loaded, boundary-straining situation? What universal balm exists to cool the friction between these factions?

Could it, perhaps, be food?

There is an organization — the Near East Foundation — that thinks so. And what’s more, given the industrial preoccupation of this region of the world (read: petrolium), this organization is prepared to make its theory even more audacious. NEF thinks the answer could be found in oil: olive oil.

Meet Olive Oil Without Borders. At the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the West Bank, this USAID-funded project seeks to bring olive farmers from both sides together. Mutual economic benefit is the primary goal. NEF consultants teach best practices in cultivation, harvest, and olive oil production without regard for politics and for the good of the region as a whole.

And by coming together around a mutual interest, and perhaps sharing the fruits of their labors, Israelis and Palestinians may, slowly, gently, come to trust in each other’s humanity.

In Part 1 of its two part finale, Meals Ready To Eat journeys to the Middle East to witness the struggle between divisive conflict and unifying food culture.

Watch as Dannehl extends many olive branches, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

Army food will make you feel the feels

This whiskey is a WWII victory, distilled

This is what happens when you run your kitchen like a platoon

This is what it means to be American in Guam

This is what happens when Israelis and Palestinians eat dinner together

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Navy announces applications for tuition assistance are due

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Petty Officer 1st Class Abdul Yusef teaches a Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) business course in a training classroom aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower


The Navy announced Wednesday that sailors interested applying for fall classes should get their applications for tuition assistance turned in as soon as possible.

The Navy tuition assistance program covers up to 100 percent of tuition for eligible sailors. Eligibility depends on grades, active duty time (for activated reservists), accreditation of the chosen institution, and whether the sailor agrees to fulfill an obligatory 2 years of service beyond the his or her scheduled end of active service.

Covered under tuition assistance are high school and general equivalent degrees, vocational and technical programs, undergraduate and graduate programs, and certification programs. The funds can only be applied toward tuition, and may not be used for books, fees, and other course materials.

Tuition assistance is capped at 16 semester hours at $250.00 per semester hour, 24 quarter hours at $166.67 per quarter hour, and 240 clock hours at $16.67 per clock hour.

The Navy requires that sailors wishing to utilize tuition assistance follow these steps:

  • Notify the command
  • Complete required training
  • Complete education counseling and formulate an education plan
  • Submit education plan to Navy and review with counselor
  • Submit WebTA application at My Education Portal
  • Generate voucher and submit to institution

Command approval is required for tuition assistance, and that approval must come from the sailor’s commanding officer or by Direction Authority. Sailors will be required to enter their commanding officer’s email into the application.

There are specific obligations required for sailors utilizing tuition assistance. Grades must be a C or higher for undergraduate studies and a B or higher for graduate studies. Tuition assistance must be reimbursed for any grades that are determined to fall below those requirements.

Sailors must notify their Virtual Education Center of any changes in courses (including those changes which are not controlled by the sailor). Failure to notify the Virtual Education Center of changes can result in loss of tuition assistance and a requirement for reimbursement to the institution.

For more information and to apply for tuition assistance, Sailors can visit the Navy College Program.

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This Army pilot shielded troops with his helicopter . . . twice

Col. Robert A. Hefford was a decorated pilot in Vietnam who received Silver Stars for shielding troops with his helicopter on two occasions and a Distinguished Flying Cross for flying into heavy resistance in another firefight.


This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Col. Robert Hefford. Photo: US Army

On Jan. 21, 1968, then-Maj. Hefford was a mission commander flying against enemy forces during the Tet Offensive. He was performing low-level recon ahead of a friendly advance. When he found the enemy, he engaged with rockets and mini-guns. Hefford received seven hits from enemy ground fire to his aircraft and was wounded in his face, hand, leg, and an eye.

Another helicopter was then hit, wounding the pilot and killing the scout observer aboard. Hefford, despite his own wounds and damage to his aircraft, maneuvered between the enemy and the stricken bird, acting as a shield for his men. He then evacuated the downed crew and took them to a hospital. He received the Silver Star for his actions.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class James K. F. Dung

A few months later, on April 18, 1968, Hefford was flying a UH-1H helicopter on a combat mission when an OH-6A scout was shot down. He flew in to the battle area to provide command and control and immediately started mixing it up with the enemies on the ground. The ground forces got in trouble and started calling for airstrikes, but the Air Force jets started dropping it too close to friendly forces.

Troops on the ground called off the strikes, but the Air Force pilot didn’t get the message right away. Hefford flew his helicopter into the jet’s flight path, forcing the jet to abandon its approach right before it released its napalm. He was again awarded the Silver Star.

Perhaps Hefford’s greatest act of gallantry came years before. On July 7, 1965, then-Cpt. Hefford provided security for medical evacuations. Intense enemy fire on the birds required Hefford to provide heavy suppressive fire in response. His first mission in was successful with little incident. When he returned with another evacuation bird, he drew enemy fire while the Medevac picked up its patients.

A burst of machine-gun fire struck inside the cockpit just over Hefford’s head. Hefford continued his assault on the enemy positions, allowing the medical helicopter to complete the evacuation. Hefford was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Hefford retired from the Army as a colonel in 1984.

(h/t purpleheartaustin.org)

NOW: The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback

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Two more 9/11 victims were identified just before the 20th anniversary

On September 11, 2001, Dorothy Morgan went to work at the World Trade Center. She was an insurance broker in the North Tower, the first to be hit. Although Morgan was likely one of the 2,753 victims at Ground Zero that morning, her remains were never identified. As a result, her daughter, Nykiah, was unable to give her a proper burial.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Smoke from ground zero as seen from across the Hudson River (George W. Bush Presidential Library)

In August 2021, nearly 20 years after Dorothy’s presumed death, two New York detectives made a trip to Nykiah’s home on Long Island. Her son, Dante, called her at work. “They’re here about Grandma,” he said to her. The New York City Medical Examiner’s office positively identified Dorothy Morgan through advanced DNA testing.

The identification of her mother was a surprise to Nykiah. “I didn’t know they were still attempting that after all these years, that it was something that was ongoing,” she told New York Times. In fact, the ME’s office continues to conduct the largest missing persons case in the history of the United States. Scientists work around the clock to identify the remaining 1,106 victims who are still unaccounted for.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) overlooking the 9/11 Memorial & Museum (Miguel Ortiz)

Another victim was identified along with Dorothy. However, their identity has been withheld at the request of the family. Together, they are the 1,646th and 1,647th people to be identified following 9/11. Moreover, they are first victims to be identified since October 2019.

“Twenty years ago, we made a promise to the families of World Trade Center victims to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to identify their loved ones, and with these two new identifications, we continue to fulfill that sacred obligation,” said Dr. Barbara Sampson, New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner, to New York Times. “No matter how much time passes since September 11, 2001, we will never forget, and we pledge to use all the tools at our disposal to make sure all those who were lost can be reunited with their families.”

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This DNC delegate joined the Army after spending 22 years as a state lawmaker

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Massachusetts state congressman, DNC delegate, and Army reservist Hank Naughton at the Philadelphia Convention Center for the Democratic National Convention. (Photo: Ward Carroll)


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Hank Naughton had been a Massachusetts state lawmaker for 22 years when 9/11 happened. Like many Americans, the horror and tragedy of that day compelled him to try and do something to support the wounded nation he loved. And in his case, even though he was 42 years old, he decided to join the Army Reserve.

“I had a great life to that point — family, political career, law practice — and I thought I needed to step up and do something,” Naughton says. “I joined the Army. It took some effort at 42 years of age. I showed up at basic 17 years older than the next younger guy.”

Since Naughton was a lawyer, the Army naturally put him into the JAG Corps. “I thought I would just do my duty at Fort Devens in Massachusetts doing wills and legal work for ‘Pvt. Snuffy,” he says. “But then things started coming down the pike.”

Naughton wound up deploying multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting the highest levels of the war effort — commands like the 3rd Army, Multinational Force Iraq, and 4th Infantry Division in Kandahar — with legal rulings on rules of engagement and the laws of armed conflict. He also started the first women’s shelter during his time in Afghanistan, an effort for which he’s particularly proud.

Following those tours in the Middle East, he served in the Congo, an effort that he sums up as “trying to teach the soldiers there that rape is not a legitimate form of warfare.”

Between deployments, Naughton mounted a bid for Attorney General in Massachusetts, but “it didn’t work out,” as he puts it, so he continued to serve in the House. In 2015, he was sent back to the Middle East as part of Task Force 2010, an anti-corruption effort in Afghanistan, and then as a law of armed conflict advisor to the war effort in Syria.

This week Naughton is in Philadelphia where, among other duties, he’s serving as a Massachusetts delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He brings with him a legal and legislative background combined with years of recent firsthand war experience that give him a unique perspective on American foreign policy, the efficacy of which, he believes, has been convoluted during the current election cycle.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been dealing a hand they were dealt by the Bush Administration,” he says. “There are a series of questions as to whether or not the Iraq War ever should have happened. Without the Iraq War, ISIS — Daesh — would never have come to fruition.”

Referring to the political opposition, Naughton adds, “They can be as critical as they want, but the decisions were made based on actions taken long before Barack Obama became President of the United States. They lose sight of the fact that there are still a significant number of our military brothers and sisters still there and a growing number back in Iraq.”

He’s also concerned that the political arguments between the parties are framing the solutions to the threats in dangerously simplistic ways.

“The Syria operation in the most complicated military/political/diplomatic/personnel operation that we’ve been involved in since World War II,” Naughton says. “There are 1,1oo different militias on the ground all with varying loyalties to each other and to parties outside the country.” He adds that he was in country when the Russians came in last summer, and he says that that “incredibly complicated the situation.”

Beyond the geopolitical realities, on a more personal level as a soldier-statesman, Naughton is worried how the campaign rhetoric is affecting troops’ morale.

“When I was on the Syria mission last year deployed with CENTCOM-Forward, we were not sensing a lot of support from our congressional leaders,” he says. “They can say all they want — ‘thank you for your service’ and pat us on the back — but they need to give us the resources we need and positive suggestions. Don’t just pull down for political profit.”

In spite of those fears, Naughton feels like gains have been made in the fight. “ISIS has lost close to 50 percent of the territory they had because of our efforts in the last year and a half,” he points out. “As we’re seeing, [ISIS] — because they want to have an effect on this election — they will continue to strike out on an international basis. I think we need to be prepared for that.

“And Donald Trump and the rest of his crowd can continue to blame immigrants and everybody else about these lone wolf attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge, but the truth is our service members and homeland security have done a tremendous job preventing attacks,” he says. “One attack is one too many, but think of all that we’ve avoided.”

Putting on his Army JAG hat, Naughton takes issue with some of the Republican nominee’s recommendations on how to deal with the enemy. “The suggestion that we go after the families of terrorists is against the law of war, and any officer in the military has to recognize a lawful order,” he says. “What he suggests is counter productive. Breaking up NATO — the most successful alliance in the history of the world? I question the sanity of that.”

Naughton points out that he served with Peshmerga and Turkish officers who’ve questioned Trump’s proposed policy of banning all Muslims from entering the United States until “we figure it out,” as he said on the campaign trail some months ago.

“These are the bravest soldiers I’ve ever seen in my life and they wonder, ‘these are our allies? They’re questioning us because of our faith?'” Naughton says.

Naughton blames a lot of the political dialectic on the fact that none of the candidates have served in the military. “When my father came back from World War II and returned to the little town of Clinton, Massachusetts they’d stop after work for a couple of pops at the local pub,” he explains. “And if you didn’t know the guy sitting on the barstool beside you, the conversation starter wasn’t ‘were you in the war?’ it was ‘where we you in the war?” because everybody served. We don’t have that anymore. That’s not good, bad, or indifferent; it’s just the way it is.

“But when supposedly knowledgeable people say ‘kill the relatives of the terrorist’ or ‘turn the desert to glass’ or ‘carpet bomb them’ they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, and that affects the men and women downrange. It’s obscene, and it’s insulting to the members of the military. Worse, it puts lives at risk.”

Naughton continues to drill as an Army reservist with a civil affairs unit at the Newport Naval Station while serving in the Massachusetts House, representing the 12th District (Worchester) and chairing the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee.

While at the DNC he’s taken on the role of “whip” among the state delegates, making sure they’re on the floor of the convention and “voting appropriately,” as he says.

Overall, Naughton sees this as a crucial time in American history, saying, “I’m 56 years old, served four tours in war zones, I have a son at the Naval Academy who will probably have a career much more stellar than mine, and I honestly think this is the most important election of my life.”

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Here are the best military photos of the week

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


AIR FORCE:

F-22A Raptors with the 94th Fighter Squadron drop joint direct attack munitions during the 95th anniversary of when Gen. William Billy Mitchell bombed the Ostfriesland, a captured German warship, at Langley Air Force Base, Va., July 21, 2016. Mitchell and the 1st Provisional Air Brigade demonstrated to the world the superiority of airpower by sinking the reputedly unsinkable Ostfriesland.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II

Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons and 176th Security Forces Squadron, along with the 163rd SFS from the California Air National Guard, participated in a mass casualty exercise on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 20, 2016. During the exercise, the rescue operators located, assessed, treated and evacuated numerous casualties while engaging and eliminating multiple attacks from opposition forces.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton

ARMY:

A CH-47 Chinook helicopter crews conduct mass casualty evacuation during a training mission at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Operations Group, JRTC and Fort Polk, La., July 23, 2016. The aviation units from the New York Army National Guard and Maryland National Guard joined more than 5,000 Soldiers for a training rotation aimed at increasing readiness and support capabilities to the homeland when needed.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. National Guard photo by Capt. Amy Hanna

A crew chief, assigned to the Arizona National Guard, directs German Bundeswehr soldiers off a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to an assembly area during Operation Stalwart Strike III, a Polish, Hungarian, German and U.S. exercise conducted by Kosovo Forces at Camp Vrelo, Kosovo, July 27.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Casey Martin

NAVY:

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 31, 2016) The nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) conducts helicopter operations at sunset during Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble

ARABIAN GULF (July 31, 2016) – A pilot performs pre-flight checks on an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). Ike and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado

MARINE CORPS:

Marines from 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, attached to Australian 1st Armoured Regiment, 1st Brigade, help support their M-88A2 Hercules Armoured Recovery Vehicle during Exercise Hamel in Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia, July 3-12, 2016. Exercise Hamel is a trilateral training exercise with Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. forces to enhance cooperation, trust, and friendship.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

An unlucky Marine sits under a tarp to keep dry from the rain at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii July 15, 2016. Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force are participating in Rim of the Pacific 2016, a multinational military exercise, from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra

COAST GUARD:

Piper has made it to Grand Haven, Michigan for the Coast Guard Festival!

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Coast Guard photo

The last 41-foot UTB to be retired from service welcomes visitors to Grand Haven, Michigan.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Articles

VA begins awarding compensation for C-123 agent orange claims

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Photo: Wikimedia


In 1997, 10 years after retiring from a 34-year career in the Army Reserve and Air Force Reserve, Edward Kosakoski was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Though his last assignment in the Reserve was as commander of the 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, it was during the mid-1970s and early 1980s that Lt. Col. K was exposed to Agent Orange while flying training missions on several C-123 aircraft previously used for spraying the chemical defoliant in Vietnam.

Last week, VA service connected Col. K’s prostate cancer, awarding him compensation for his C-123 Agent Orange claim.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Photo: Wikimedia

I’ve never met Col. K, but his story is captured in the claim file that his wife, Ingrid Kosakoski, filed on his behalf. That file shows a man who was drafted into the Army in 1953 and, after serving two years in France, had joined the Army Reserve, and who had received a commission in the Air Force Reserve after graduating from the University of Connecticut Pharmacy School in 1959. That file also shows that VA received Col. K’s claim prior to the recent regulation change.

After spending decades searching for proof of a connection between C-123s and the conditions known to be caused by Agent Orange, the Institute of Medicine issued a review that provided the supporting evidence VA needed to provide care and compensation to the Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel who were exposed to Agent Orange through regular and repeated contact with contaminated C-123s and who also developed an Agent Orange-related disability.

When the regulation change took effect earlier this summer, it took VA just 16 days to grant Col. K’s claim. Granting this claim represents a welcomed success for hundreds of flight, ground maintenance, and medical crew members who were assigned to certain Air Force and Air Force Reserve units from 1969 to 1986.

“I have only praise for the VA personnel who handled Ed’s claim in Baltimore and St. Paul,” Ingrid said. “They were professional and compassionate, and I would urge others exposed to Agent Orange with known disabilities to file claims as soon as possible.”

In a recent phone conversation, longtime C-123 advocate and close friend of Col. K, Wes Carter, also stressed the importance of not waiting.

“The Secretary and his staff have worked hard, along with C-123 veterans in getting to this point,” said Carter, who also chairs the C-123 Veterans Association. “VA is ready and eager, already reaching out and helping our aircrews and maintenance personnel who are ill.

“This is the time for C-123 Veterans to get their claims to VA if affected by any of the Agent Orange-associated illnesses. Call the C-123 hotline at 1-800-749-8387 for any questions. I also recommend that vets ask their local VA medical center’s environmental health coordinator for an Agent Orange Registry exam.”

If you or someone you know was exposed to Agent Orange (whether in in Vietnam or its inland waterways, an area the Department of Defense has confirmed use of AO, or as in Col. K’s case aboard a C-123) AND you have a condition presumed to be related to AO, please file a claim for compensation.

If you need help filing a claim or want to talk to someone, you have many options:

  • Speak with an accredited Veterans Service Officer who can help you gather records and file a claim online
  • Call VA at 1-800-827-1000 for advice
  • If you want the fastest decision possible, consider filing a Fully Developed Claim through ebenefits.va.gov. An FDC allows you to submit all your evidence up front, identify any federal records for VA to obtain, and certifies that you have no other evidence to submit.

If you (or your loved one) meet certain conditions, such as financial hardship, advanced age, or terminal illness, VA can expedite your claim – just make sure we are aware of your situation. You or your VSO can notify us in writing, or by calling 1-800-827-1000. If your situation is dire, don’t wait!

More from VAntage Point:

This article originally appeared at VAntage Point Copyright 2015. Follow VAntage Point on Twitter.

Articles

This is how one Marine earned a Navy Cross fighting in the ‘Punchbowl’

Intense firefights, mortar attacks, and rough terrain were just some of the many threats the Marines faced as they battled their way across the 38th Parallel of the Korean War.


In the fall of 1951, the infantrymen of 3rd Battalion 5th Marines dealt with overwhelming odds as they occupied an extinct volcano known as the “Punchbowl” located in the Taebaek Mountains.

While taking enemy contact, a Chinese mortar struck a Marine bunker near where replacement Marine Cpl. Salvatore Naimo was engaging opposing forces. From this position, he heard the screams of his wounded comrades coming from inside the newly-damaged area.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Salvatore Naimo’s boot camp graduation photo. (Source: Salvatore Naimo)

Naimo, who joined the Marines to avoid being drafted into the Army, dashed over to aid his brothers, exposing himself to enemy fire.

Related: These ax murders along the DMZ almost started another Korean War

As mortars continued to destroy the surrounding area, Naimo spotted two severely wounded Marines and scooped up one of them up, protecting him with his own body. Soon after, Naimo dropped off the first injured Marine at the aid station and headed right back for the second man as waves of incoming enemy fire blanketed their position.

After returning to the aid station with the second wounded Marine, Naimo informed the corpsmen that he was going to head back to the bunker and continue to fight.

This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Salvatore Naimo in Korea. (Source: Salvatore Naimo)

Upon his arrival at the unmanned bunker, he was lucky to discover the Marines before him had stockpiled it with machine guns, ammo, and extra grenades. As the next wave of Chinese attacks throttled, Naimo fired the arsenal of weapons into the enemy — who closed within 15 yards of his position.

Also Read: The ‘Chosin Few’ gather to dedicate a monument to Korean War battle

Hours later, Marine Lt. Walter Sharpe came across Naimo’s bunker, where he found 36 dead soldiers from the 65th Army Group of Mongolian laid out. Sharpe decided to recommend Naimo for the Navy Cross but sadly was killed in action two days later. He never filed the proper paperwork to get Naimo his Navy Cross.

More than six decades after his heroic efforts, then-Lt. Bruce F. Meyers (who was injured in that same battle) filed the necessary paperwork to award Cpl. Salvatore Naimo the well-deserved Navy Cross.

Articles

Here’s why Gen. Stanley McChrystal only eats one meal per day

 


This is why Bunker Buster bombs are made from spent howitzer barrels
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Even while he was working long hours at the Joint Special Operations Command and then later overseeing all NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was eating just one meal per day.

The 60-year-old retired general continues to maintain the strict diet as a civilian, but why? He likes the “reward” of food at the end of the day, as he explained on “The Tim Ferriss Show” podcast.

“When I was a lieutenant in Special Forces many many years ago, I thought I was getting fat,” said McChrystal, who cofounded The McCrystal Group and recently penned the book “Team of Teams.” “And I started running, and I started running distance which I enjoyed. But I also found that my personality is such that I’m not real good at eating three or four small disciplined meals. I’m better to defer gratification and then eat one meal.”

For McChrystal, the one meal he eats is dinner after he’s finished with work, which he said was usually around 8 to 8:30 p.m.

“I sort of push myself hard all day, try to get everything done, and [then] sort of reward myself with dinner at night.”

Still, he doesn’t cut out everything during the day. He drinks coffee and water throughout, and he admitted to grabbing a snack during especially strenuous times, like when he’s on a road march. On certain days “your body says eat and eat right now,” McCrystal said. During those times, he grabs a handful of pretzels or some small snack to keep him going.

His unusual diet ended up rubbing off on some of his soldiers while he was in Afghanistan, explained his aide-de-camp Chris Fussell, while noting that he would warn soldiers about the diet.

“He doesn’t do this as a demonstration of personal strength,” he would say. “Don’t think you’re impressing him by not eating lunch or whatever.”

But since he was always with him, McChrystal’s command sergeant major ate just one meal per day like his boss. Then about a year later, he found pretzels in his quarters in Afghanistan and completely lost it.

“I almost whipped out my gun and shot him,” Fussell recalled the sergeant major saying. “You’ve been eating pretzels? I’ve been eating one meal a day for a year and you had pretzels in your room?!”

You can listen to the full podcast here.

 

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