This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail - We Are The Mighty
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This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail

Whenever one thinks of the Marines, one usually envisions certified badasses landing on some remote shore, ready to undertake a dangerous mission. For anyone familiar with the Marines’ track record, that image is accurate — with ample evidence from history like the courageous charges into German gunfire at Belleau Wood to the men raising the American flag over Iwo Jima. Amphibious landings on the shores of Guadalcanal in order to halt the Japanese southward expansion in 1943. On the shores of Incheon, where the tide of the Korean war turned in 1950. Marines have proven time and again that they will accept nothing less than victory, no matter the cost.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Cue up the metal music (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony Kirby)

Naval traditions

The U.S. Marine Corps specializes in amphibious missions in hostile territory. Their selection criteria and training are particularly exacting, making them an elite unit. As Marine Corps lore tells, on 10 November, 1775, at the height of the American Revolution, the first Marines were recruited in Tun Tavern. The Marines have served the U.S. military as both land and sea specialists, taking part in countless missions during every major war.

First intended as a support to the fleet, the Marine Corps was a part of the U.S. Navy until July 11, 1798, when they became an independent branch of the U.S. military. However, they still work very closely with the Navy making the link between sea and land.

That common past and the enduring cooperation between the two branches has left an imprint on Marine traditions. The Marine lexicon is full of naval terms. Floors are called “decks,” and ceilings are called “overheads.” “Gangway” is a common expression to clear a path, and Marines will answer “Aye, sir” to acknowledge an order. “Head” means toilets or bathroom and “sick bay” is for the Battalion Aid Station.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Or one of our personal favorites — this is a “scuttlebutt” (Wikimedia Commons)

The Marines are married to the sea

The emblem of the Marine Corps, which appears on the flag and the seal of our beloved Corps, is the Eagle, Globe and Anchor (EGA).The anchor represents the naval root of the Corps. The seal of the Marine Corps displays a navy blue band, again emphasizing naval ties. The phrase “By sea and by land,” one of the US Marines’ mottos, is a translation of “Per Mare, Per Terram,” the motto of the Royal Marines, their British counterpart.

The Marines, although independent from the U.S. Navy, still serve on Navy ships for various purposes. Marines at sea are not a thing of the past. That is why sailing is an important skill to learn for Marines. Beyond the benefit of sailing for leisure, it is a great way to honor the Marine Corps’ history and remember those who came before.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Plus, they’ll still have plenty of PT to do on ship, it’s always a good idea to have your “sea legs” (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

It could lead to a job

Learning new skills, challenging oneself and upholding great traditions sounds like the perfect job for a Marine. Every Marine should take the time to learn how to sail. For the most sea-minded, it can even turn into a hobby to share with family and friends during precious time at home. Bases such as Camp Lejeune offer classes to learn how to sail. Yacht clubs around the world offer free lessons and even employment if you show talent and ambition. It is still possible to become a modern ‘soldier of the sea’ chasing the horizon – and get paid for it.

Feature image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan M. Breeden

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‘We’ve been hit’: A personal account of 9/11 at the Pentagon

By Cmdr. Randy Lescault, U. S. Navy (Ret.)

It was a beautiful, summer day in Arlington, Virginia, on the bank of the Potomac River on that Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The sky was clear. The blistering heat and humidity had departed the area. It almost felt as if a huge broom had swept across the area, cleansing the air of soot, pollution and pollen. 

I was serving as a Navy Reserve officer assigned as the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) Editor and Publisher in OPNAV’s Programming Division N80, (the Bullpen in Navy parlance) at the Pentagon, Room 4D683. 

At the time, I was personally burdened by the fact that my latest set of Reserve orders were about to expire. As most military folks know,  being on active duty as a reservist is a lot like being a contractor. You are brought on board for a set amount of time. The Navy Reserve was working with my N-80 colleagues to get another set of orders to take me forward through the end of the calendar year. I was quick to answer every phone call or check each incoming email to confirm whether my orders had been approved, or whether I needed to prepare to pack up and head back to Indiana. 

With no answer from the Navy, I was concerned by the uncertainty of my situation. I consider myself a devout Christian, having given my life to Jesus as a teenager, and followed Him as closely as I could. I made this issue a matter of prayer before I slept each night, but, beginning on Thursday night, September 6, and the nights following, I perceived it was perhaps something more. 

Each of those nights after laying down, I was seized by a terrible weight on my being. A sensation like a bird flapping over my face and chest, depriving me of rest, visited me. The feeling left only when I rose to walk and pray aloud or quote Scriptures (quietly, so as not to disturb my roommates) for hours, before finally falling into an exhausted sleep. 

This same routine interrupted my sleep until Monday night, 10 September. That night I slept like a baby, undisturbed. 

At my office in the Pentagon the next morning, it was the usual busy routine of checking messages and correspondence and listening to my colleagues as they chatted back and forth. We were arranged in a double row of cubicles, with one side of the cubicles with their back to the outer wall, where the plate glass windows behind us had just recently been replaced with newer blast-proof materials. We had moved into 4D683 recently, occupying the newly remodeled section, relocating from an older section of the Pentagon.  

I could hear my colleagues talking about the news, when I heard someone say, “Hey, a report here says a plane flew into one of the Twin Towers in New York City!” It was quiet for a moment as everyone logged onto the news to confirm the story. “Must have been bad weather, and maybe a Piper Club lost their way,” one said. Another offered, “Nope, that hole at the impact site doesn’t look like a Piper Cub, and the weather is as clear as a bell”. 

Moments later, at 9:03 a.m., we understood what was happening. 

Recorded live, a Boeing 767 passenger airliner crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Silence descended on the Bullpen, as we all tried to make sense of this terrible, deliberate attack. 

At that moment, I was impressed in my spirit that the Pentagon would be the next target. I said a quick prayer and sent an email to my wife to alert her as to what was going on. I also called and left a message on our answering machine, letting her know my concerns, and sending her and the children my love. A calm descended upon me, and I went back to my work.

Little did I know that she was unaware of the situation but was at home praying for me at that very moment.

At 9:45 a.m., we experienced the odd sensation of a pressure drop in our office area. It lasted only a split second before we heard a muffled explosion. The blast windows actually bulged inwardly for a moment, knocking against the blinds. The lights went out, and some of the overhead tiles popped out. I jumped from my seat and looked out the window, where I could see a dark cloud of smoke coming from the outer ring of the Pentagon, and fine debris falling into the courtyard between our Ring D, and Ring E. I immediately yelled, “We’ve been hit!”

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
USAF photo

An automated announcement instructed us to evacuate immediately. The smell of burning jet fuel (which I was very familiar with, having lived on several air bases, and served on an amphibious assault ship that carried Harrier jets) began to infiltrate the space. 

Everyone began moving quietly to the outside corridor, and from there to the Pentagon Courtyard, a five-acre, open air space in the center of the Pentagon nicknamed “Ground Zero” (because everyone assumed the Soviets used it as their aim point for a nuclear strike). There was no panic that I could detect, only people checking on each other, and trying to make their way to safety. 

When I got to the corridor, I hesitated. I knew that somewhere below me was a burning, exploding aircraft. I was seized momentarily by a desire to run. But across the corridor was a lone Marine major. He was kneeling on one knee, and, looking toward the outer ring of the Pentagon (where smoke was beginning to pour out like a chimney) he was yelling over and over ‘Follow my voice’. Encouraged by this sight, I decided to stay and help. We took turns shouting out, until the smoke was so thick we were lying on our bellies. No one showed up, so we looked at each other and nodded, and made our way to the Courtyard. 

The Courtyard was an incredible sight. Over a thousand military, civilian and contractor personnel stood or sat silently, their eyes trained toward the sky. Again, I was struck by the calm and the orderliness of it all. Finally, a civil defense officer appeared with a bullhorn, asking everyone to move out into the South parking lot. I thought I would join the crowd, but I noticed the Pentagon health clinic professionals setting up a triage area there in the Courtyard. Since I had received first aid training many times over the years, I thought I would remain for awhile to assist as needed. 

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
FBI photo

I made my way into the first floor entrance on the west side of the Pentagon, where the aircraft had obviously impacted the building. Smoke was escaping from the upper floors through broken windows. The first floor was filled with a smoky haze, but you could see figures moving in and out of the corridors. I saw the same Marine major standing there. He had been asked to prevent folks from probing deeper into the burning belly of the Pentagon, since most of us didn’t have any fire protection, breathing gear or helmets, but his efforts were fruitless.  People wanted to help and were headed in anyway. He asked me to take his place on guard, but I couldn’t stop anyone trying to help, either. 

At that moment, someone came out of the smoke and said they badly needed fire extinguishers. I stepped out into the Courtyard and yelled for everyone’s attention. I asked them to go to the other parts of the Pentagon not affected by the impact or fire and grab whatever fire extinguishers they could find and bring them to the first floor entrance. Within minutes, we had quite a pile, ready for rescuers. 

I decided to probe a little deeper into the Pentagon myself to see if I might find someone in need. Just 50 feet or so down the smoky corridor, I could see a figure walking toward me. As I approached him, I could see he had been badly burned and was in shock. There was nothing left of his dress shirt, and about all that remained of his undershirt was the collar around his neck. His skin hung down in sheets from his body, resembling wet newspaper. I tried to find a place to put my hand on him so I could guide him out. I made the mistake of placing my hand on his burned back, and he moaned loudly. I finally figured out that I could get up under his arm. A Navy colleague of mine got him on the other side, and we led him to the Courtyard, where we called out for a medic. 

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
DoD photo

I turned to go back and saw a few men bringing out a Navy petty officer, an African American lady in her summer white uniform. She was clearly in shock. When she reached the clean air of the Courtyard, she rolled her eyes to the clear sky above, slightly smiled in relief, and then collapsed in a heap. 

In the Pentagon corridor again, I saw another figure in the smoke, and walked toward him. It was an Army enlisted man. He was as red as a boiled lobster, and soaking wet from the sprinklers. His glasses were fogged up, and he kept asking me over and over if he was burned bad. I assured him he had what looked like first degree burns, and that he would be okay. I got him to the aid station, where he was collected by the medics. 

Finally, a call rang out for stretcher bearers from inside the Pentagon. An Army officer, Navy officer and I grabbed the only available stretcher, a backboard, and we raced into the smoky darkness. 

By the light filtering through windows and broken doors in the corridor, we could see the floor littered with pieces of mortar and stone, unidentified objects, and what looked like body parts. Figures moved in and out of the smoke with flashlights. We entered the courtyard between Ring C and B. We put down the backboard on a metal desk sitting on the ground. The courtyard was filled with about a foot of water from the broken fire mains. The water was filled with small, sticky pieces—it reminded me of the remains you throw into the lake after cleaning fish. I had a strange feeling as we walked around in it, trying to find a survivor. 

Fire was coming from a large hole that had been punched through the exterior wall of Ring C, probably by what looked like the remains of an aircraft wheel strut. Smoke poured out of the upper floors. Suddenly, there was an explosion, and a few large pieces of the Pentagon façade came crashing down, along with an intact blast window. An Arlington Fire Department officer approached us and asked us to leave immediately, due to the danger and our lack of protective gear. Reluctantly, we departed, finding our way out through one of the many service tunnels that honeycomb the Pentagon. 

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
DoD photo

There are many other things I could share personally about that day: the long delay trying to get through to my wife and family with the news I was okay; the emotional toll; trying to find my way back to my rented room some 12 miles away with the highways and all public transportation shut down; the shock of discovering the Twin Towers had collapsed; the rumors; and the reunion with my colleagues and friends. 

But my final thought is God’s keeping power in the midst of the worst terror attack on American soil in our history, for which I am continually grateful. I mourn the loss of my Pentagon colleagues, some who I knew, and many who I did not know. May they always be remembered and honored. I know I will never forget.

Articles

ISIS is about to lose its biggest conquest in the Middle East

As Iraqi security forces continue the push to liberate Mosul, terrorists with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant find themselves trapped in the city’s west, a Pentagon spokesman said Feb. 7.


This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Members from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service present Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with a flag from Bartilah, a town recaptured just outside of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This flag symbolizes the efforts of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve composed of U.S. Army Soldiers, U.S. Marine Corps Marines, U.S. Navy Sailors, United States Air Force Airmen and coalition military forces. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/released)

“At this point, ISIL fighters are stuck in Mosul,” the Defense Department’s director of press operations, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, told reporters.

With Iraqi forces closing in and bridge access to eastern Mosul severed, the terrorists in the western quadrant are unable to resupply and reinforce, he said.

“The fighters who remain in west Mosul face a choice between surrendering or annihilation, as there’s not a place to retreat,” Davis said.

It is nearly impossible to cross the Tigris River, which separates east and west Mosul, since access to the five bridges that spanned the river is closed off, Davis pointed out.

“Without the ability to resupply or reinforce, [ISIL] is in a situation there where their loss is certain,” Davis said.

The coalition continues its strikes in support of the shift to western Mosul operations, he said, noting since the push for Mosul began in mid-October, the coalition has conducted 10,850 strikes in support of operations to liberate the city.

“We know going into western Mosul that they are more dug in there; they have had more time to place encampments and firing positions [and] fighting positions,” Davis said, adding ISIL used its best fighters in eastern Mosul.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
821st Contingency Readiness Group Airmen wait for approaching MH-47 Chinooks at Qayyarah Airfield West, Iraq, Nov. 17, 2016. The 821st CRG is highly-specialized in training and rapidly deploying personnel to quickly open airfields and establish, expand, sustain and coordinate air mobility operations in austere, bare-base conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

The strikes, he said, have destroyed vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, buildings and facilities, tunnels, boats, barges, vehicles, bunkers, anti-aircraft artillery, and artillery mortar systems.

Iraqi security forces are back clearing eastern Mosul, Davis said, pointing out they have disrupted raids, uncovered sleeper cells, and found terrorists in “spider holes.”

In addition, approximately once a day, Iraqi security forces are encountering small unmanned aerial vehicles that are dropping hand grenades, he said.

Davis pointed out tests have confirmed the presence of the skin irritant sulfur mustard from samples recovered from Mosul University, a central location in ISIL’s chemical weapons program.

ISIL is surrounded in the Syrian city of Al Abab on multiple axes, Davis said.

“We continue to conduct strikes, in fact there were just some strikes earlier today in Al Bab by the United States and the coalition in support of the Turkish operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the fight to liberate the key city of Raqqa continues and a third axes, an eastern axis, kicked off in the last day, Davis said. The new axis adds to the northwest and northeast efforts where isolation is either in progress or complete.

The coalition has conducted bridge strikes south of Raqqa along the Euphrates to restrict ISIL’s ability to move fighters and equipment, he said.

“It further isolates [ISIL] fighters so that they’ll have to take their chances with either fighting or dying or surrendering to the SDF or using what narrow window they have of escape they have right now, which is really only in this direction [to the southeast], toward Deir ez-Zur,” he said.

In addition, the Syrian Democratic Forces have cleared an additional 48 square kilometers along two axes Feb. 6.

The coalition is taking steps to further limit ISIL’s ability to maneuver across Syria, and will continue to degrade, dismantle and militarily defeat the terrorists, Davis said.

The coalition has delivered 2,310 munitions since Nov. 5 in support of the SDF, he said.

“In the past 24 hours, we conducted an additional six strikes with a total of eight engagements using 18 munitions in support of SDF operations to isolate Raqqa,” he said.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The barely successful inventor who pioneered repeating rifles

Quick! Name the inventor who has had the most impact on the military. Are you thinking of John M. Browning who invented all sorts of weapons including the M2 .50-caliber machine gun? Maybe Oliver Winchester, Benjamin Tyler Henry, or Horace Smith, the creators of Smith & Wesson?

Well, all of those guys owe their weapon success, in part, to the inventiveness of one man that’s largely forgotten by history.


This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Walter Hunt

Walter Hunt and his impressive forehead created a lot of important inventions, including an early repeating rifle that would help propel the arms industry forward.

Walter Hunt created all sorts of life-changing things, but was constantly selling his inventions for a fraction of their worth in order to pay off debts.

One of these inventions was an early repeating rifle that would lead to the Henry Repeating Rifle, a weapon that was decisive in some Civil War battles. He was also the man behind the safety pin, an attachment for icebreaker ships, and an improved fountain pen, in addition to lots of other things that our audience doesn’t care about.

Hunt’s design for repeating rifles was patented in 1849 as the “Volitional Repeater.” His design incorporated earlier patents he filed, like a specific ammunition cartridge, and breakthroughs made by others to create a rifle capable of firing approximately 12 rounds in quick succession without reloading.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Walter Hunt’s 1849 repeating rifle patent calls for ball ammunition to be stored in a tubular magazine. A spring feeds the ammunition into the proper position so it can be breech-loaded by the operator quickly.
(Patent filed 1849 by Walter Hunt)

 

So, basically, it was a rifle with cartridge ammunition that fed from a magazine into the breech for firing. Make the magazine removable and add a gas-operated piston and pistol grip and you have the basic idea of the M16.

But, like the early M16s, Hunt’s design had reliability issues, and he didn’t have the money or the inclination to go through a series of prototypes and redesigns. So, he sold the patent and design to investor George Arrowsmith who got the weapon into production and asked three men to improve the design. Benjamin Tyler Henry, Horace Smith, and Daniel B. Wesson made improvements on the design to create the Henry Repeating Rifle.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
The Henry Repeating Rifle carried up to 16 rounds and was a direct descendant of Hunt’s Volitional Repeating Rifle.
(Hmaag, CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

It was one of these Henry Repeating Rifles, direct descendants of Hunt’s design, that President Abraham Lincoln fired on the White House grounds at the request of the manufacturer. The company hoped to get Lincoln to intervene on their behalf with the Ordnance Department in order to get the Union Army to buy much more of them.

The Henry Repeating Rifle and similar designs were unpopular with many generals but mid-level officers who embraced them saw the potential early. One of the first wide-spread deployments of repeating rifles came in 1863 when Union Col. John T. Wilder got a loan from his own bank to outfit his entire mounted infantry brigade with the Spencer Repeating Rifle, similar in design to the Henry.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
General Burnside marches his men through the Cumberland Gap. In mountainous areas, the terrain limits the numbers of troops who can fight each other, making repeating rifles even more advantageous.
(Harper’s Weekly)

 

The plan was to ride to the battle on horses, then dismount and put the new repeating rifles into effect. Wilder’s brigade was sent to secure Hoover’s Gap in Tennessee ahead of a Union attack on Manchester. The Confederates anticipated the maneuver and were working to reinforce the gap before the Union could arrive in force on June 24, 1863.

The Northerners were able to scatter the Confederates deep into the gap and made it six miles ahead of their planned limit of advance. The infantrymen were so far forward, that the corps commander repeatedly ordered them to withdraw because he was sure they would be overwhelmed.

But with their repeating rifles, the single Union infantry brigade and its one artillery battery held its ground against a counterattack by four Confederate infantry brigades and four artillery batteries.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
​At the Battle of Franklin, some of the Union soldiers had repeating rifles, mostly Spencer and Henry models, that allowed them to overwhelm Confederate troops.
(Library of Congress, originally by Kurz and Allison)

 

When the corps finally arrived, its commander credited the repeating rifles with saving a thousand lives and three days of fighting.

Later battles, like the 1864 Battle of Franklin, saw similar results as Union soldiers carrying repeating rifles were able to vastly out fire their Southern opponents. At Franklin, the defending Union troops carrying 16-shot Henry Repeating Rifles could average 10 rounds per minute against the two or three of Confederate attackers. The Union suffered less than 200 soldiers killed while it inflicted over 1,700 losses on the enemy.

And the man who helped lead the repeating rifle revolution, Walter Hunt? Well, he had died four years earlier. He had achieved economic security, at least, before he died, but he never achieved the fame or fortune of the other men who contributed to the changing face of warfare.

But hey, at least he also didn’t have to see the Civil War.

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The real purpose behind China’s mysterious J-20 combat jet

The US Marine Corps did not mince words when deploying F-35s to Japan, saying that the “arrival of the F-35B embodies our commitment to the defense of Japan and the regional-security of the Pacific.”


Tensions between the US, US allies, and China have been steadily mounting for years as China builds artificial islands and outfits them with radar outposts and missile launchers in the South China Sea, home to a shipping corridor that sees $5 trillion in trade annually.

One area where the US and China have indirectly competed has been in combat aviation.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
China’s Chengdu J-20. | CDD

In November, China debuted the Chengdu J-20, a large, stealthy jet that some have compared to the F-22 Raptor. But, according to experts, the J-20 is not a fighter, not a dogfighter, not stealthy, and not at all like the F-22 or F-35.

Dr. Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at Australia Strategic Policy Institute, told Business Insider that the “J-20 is [a] fundamentally different sort of aircraft than the F-35.”

Davis characterized the J-20 as “high speed, long range, not quite as stealthy (as US fifth-gen aircraft), but they clearly don’t see that as important.” According to Davis, the J-20 is “not a fighter but an interceptor and a strike aircraft,” that doesn’t seek to contend with US jets in air-to-air battles.

Instead, “The Chinese are recognizing they can attack critical airborne support systems like AWACS (airborne early warning and control systems) and refueling planes so they can’t do their job,” said Davis. “If you can force the tankers back, then the F-35s and other platforms aren’t sufficient because they can’t reach their target.”

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Without tanker planes to refuel, US jets like the F-35 have a severely limited range. | US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian Burdett

Retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula gave a similar assessment of the J-20 to Defense Aerospace Report in November.

“The J-20 in particular is different than the F-22 in the context that, if you take a look and analyze the design, it may have some significant low-observable capabilities on the front end, but not all aspects — nor is it built as a dogfighter,” said Deptula.”But quite frankly, the biggest concern is its design to carry long-range weapons.”

What the J-20 lacks in stealth and dogfighting ability, it makes up for by focusing on a single, comparatively soft type of target. Unlike the US, which has fielded extremely stealthy aircraft, China lacks the experience to create a plane that baffles radars from all angles.

Instead, the J-20’s design makes for a plane that’s somewhat stealthy from the front angle, as it uses its long range and long-range missiles to fly far out and hit tankers and radar planes that support platforms like the F-35 or F-22.

“They’re moving into an era where they’re designing aircraft not just as an evolution of what they used to have, but they’re going into a new space,” said Deptula of China’s J-20 concept.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
A rendering of the Chengdu J-20. | Screenshot via hindu judaic/YouTube

However, the J-20 may still be a long way off.

In November, Justin Bronk, a research fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider that the models displayed at Airshow China were not much more than showpieces: “It’s possible that the aircraft that were shown are still instrumented production aircraft,” or planes with “loads of sensors to monitor performance” instead of in a combat-ready formation.

Former F-35 and F-22 pilot Lt. Col. David Berke also questioned China’s progress in an interview with Business Insider, saying “it’s really, really, really hard to make an effective nose-to-tail platform in the fifth gen.”

Far from feeling threatened by the J-20, Berke seemed vindicated that the US’s potential adversaries have worked so hard to counter emerging US capabilities like the F-35.

“If the things we were doing [with the F-35, F-22] weren’t relevant, effective, the competition wouldn’t be worried about trying to match it,” said Berke.

Articles

How to cope with injury like an Army Ranger

This article by former Army Ranger and professional fitness athlete Leo Jenkins first appeared in The Havok Journal on 26 March 2014.


How do you define yourself?

This question does a great deal to provide insight to our mental well being. If you are a powerful attorney but you suck at golf you likely don’t identify yourself as a golfer. If you are an animal in the gym but have a job where you are the lower ranking member, taking shit from everyone and their spouse then chances are you define your self by your one-rep dead lift. We all do it, it is one of the things that separates us from other primates, that and the inability to throw feces without the fear of incarceration.

Related: How to make yourself hard to kill, according to a special operator

So what happens when we we sustain an injury that alters our ability to maintain our self internalization? It can be devastating to ones psyche. This is applicable beyond the scope of a sports injury. If you are the VP of a big company and get fired, your entire reality just caved in on it’s self. If you are a professional athlete and you are told that you can not train or compete for several weeks or months it is a serious shock to who you are.

So what do you do? Just end it now, bro! It’s not worth living anymore. Okay, that is poor advice. Unless….. no, that’s ALWAYS poor advice, don’t ever do that.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
A group of U.S. Army Ranger students, assigned to the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, carries a zodiac boat to a a river. | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Berner

Step 1: Create a multi-dimensional self worth.

Before the injury ever occurs it is important to understand that your role in your community and life in general is not one dimensional. You hold a great deal of value outside of the place where you identify yourself. I know several professional athletes that also own and run their own business. Having the ability to quickly shift your self perception from athlete to boss man business owner immediately following your injury is paramount. It is very easy to fall into a state of despair when we continue to identify ourselves as athletes after an injury. Don’t let that, “well fuck, now that I am broken I am useless” mentality get a chance to creep in.

Step 2: Seek professional diagnosis.

You can not begin correcting the problem until you know what the problem is. As much as your coach at your gym wants to have an answer for you he is not a doctor. If he was he would be coaching in a white lab coat with a stethoscope around his neck. That would be creepy and weird. If your coach does that…. Step 2.1 find a new gym. You can’t create a plan until you know exactly what is wrong.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
2nd Lt. Marin Lohn pulls himself along a rope during the obstacle course Ranger Training Assessment Course. | U.S. Army Photo

Step 3: Create a plan

Creating a plan immediately after your injury is really important. I am very guilty of mopping around, drowning my sorrows in chocolate ice cream and Jameson after an injury. That isn’t good, don’t do that. If the Doc says it is going to be 2-3 months plan for some ups and downs in that time. When you start hitting a low point have an activity that takes your mind from the negative to the positive. Look at this time as an opportunity to get better at something that you have been deficient in. If you can’t train 6 hours a day invest that time into becoming a better version of yourself.

Related: This is how special operators ’embrace the suck’

Step 4: Train around your injury

When I was in Iraq I tore some of my abdomen. I took a great deal of pride in being one of the stronger guys in my company boasting a 600+ pound dead lift and 480lb squat. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to lift anything over 15lbs for several months. The doctor (see step 2) told me that swimming and easy cycling would be okay. So that is what I did. Everyday. By the time that I was cleared to start lifting again I had become decent at swimming and cycling and since running was a staple of Ranger PT, I decided why not do a triathlon. Before I knew it I had a closet full of spandex and a garage full of bicycles. I hadn’t done a heavy dead lift in years but had a shelf full of trophies from various races. Redefining yourself in the face of adversity is a crucial part of survival. We have to be able to adapt and overcome. Plus, check out how good I look in a speedo….

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika

Step 5: Enjoy the process, it’s all circular.

After several years of racing triathlon I was hit by a car on a training ride, shattering my collar bone and breaking my hip. I wasn’t able to do anything. Three weeks to the day after my surgery, totally against the Doctors orders, I was back on my bike. I was terrified but I rode straight to the place where I had been hit. I had to overcome that hurdle before I could move forward. I did a couple of races after that but through the course of my recovery I began to lift again and remembered how much I enjoyed it. Here it is almost two years since my last race and I spend more time in the gym than any human should.

Just a few hours ago I was told that I have a tear in one of the muscles in my shoulder and that I probably shouldn’t lift anything overhead for a while. Hearing that was great. I have been mopping around for two weeks, defeating myself mentally. (Again, not a good idea) Now that I know exactly what is wrong I can move on. I am about to get really good at running and cycling again. Watch out tri geeks the world over, this new injury may be the start of my comeback!

Moving forward requires looking forward, beyond your injury and beyond your own self defeating attitude. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go inflate my bike tires and find my helmet.

Articles

Air Force mini-drone swarms will be used for attack, reconnaissance

The Air Force is expected to rapidly increase its fleet of small drones to blanket enemy areas with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets, jam enemy air defenses and potentially use drones as small explosives designed to overwhelm enemy targets with fire power.


The Air Force recently unveiled a Small UAS Road Map which, among other things, calls for the increased use of smaller drones to accomplish missions now performed by larger ones. This includes initiatives to explore algorithms which allow for swarms of mini-drones to perform a range of key ISR and combat functions without running into each other, Brig. Gen. John Rauch, Air Force Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Having numerous drones operating in tandem creates a redundancy which is significant as it increases the likelihood that a mission can still succeed if one or two drones are shot down by enemy fire.

A small class of mini-drone weapons already exist, such as AeroVironment’s Switchblade drone designed to deliver precision weapons effects.  The weapon, which can reach distances up to 10 kilometers, is engineered as a low-cost expendable munition loaded with sensors and munitions.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
A Switchblade drone.

Air Force strategy also calls for greater manned-unmanned teaming between drones and manned aircraft such as F-35s. This kind of effort could help facilitate what Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said about mini-drones launching from a high-speed fighter jet.

Along these lines, Rauch talked about a “loyal wingman” concept wherein larger platforms such as an F-35 or F-22 will be able to control a fleet of nearby drones, drawing upon rapid advances in autonomy and computer technology.

“Teaming is where you might put a couple of different platforms and use them together to perform something. The loyal wingman concept will make an extension of the same aircraft,” he explained.

Part of the progression of this technology incorporates a transition from the current circumstance wherein multiple operators control a single drone to a situation where one human is performing command and control functions for a number of drones simultaneously.

For instance, the Air Force is now advancing a new drone Block 50 Ground Control Station wherein a single operator will perform functions now done by multiple operators.

The new Block 50 will also include auto take-off-and land, within and beyond line of sight capability and an ability to use “open architecture” to integrate new software as technologies emerge, Rauch said.

Predator Retiring

The Air Force is advancing plans to retire the Predator drone by transitioning pilots to the operation of its larger Reaper drone – all while developing small drone technology and expanding technology and mission scope for the Reaper itself, service officials said.

“As we sundown Predator, we will train people from one system to the next to focus on Reaper. The current members that are flying Predators will transition from Predator to Reaper,” Rauch said.

This trajectory for the Reaper is evolving alongside a separate effort to harness increasingly smaller, lighter-weight sensors, transmitters and receivers.

In addition, as technology continues to progress and lead to the miniaturization of sensors, receivers and transmitter and lighter materials, smaller drones are increasingly expected to perform those larger missions currently reserved to large drone platforms.

However, this developmental phenomenon is not likely to lead to a replacement for the larger, weaponized Reaper anytime soon – given its importance to strike and reconnaissance missions.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
U.S. Air Force

At the same time, Rauch did say the evolution of drone technology will likely lead, ultimately, to a new platform which will replace the Reaper over time.

Over time, the Air Force plans to upgrade the software as well as the arsenal for the Reaper, giving it a wider range of weapons and mission sets.

The idea is to further engineer the Reaper with what’s called “open architecture” such that it can easily and quickly integrate new weapons and technologies as they emerge.

“There are some composites that allow for lighter weight engines that are coming along for power and thrust output. Also, what they might burn can save a lot of fuel – and offer the hope of something miniature able to do theater wide ISR and not just over the next hill,” Rauch said.

Rauch added that the Air Force is now working through various kinds of sensor developments from the largest drones to the smallest ones, analyzing weight, power and sensor fidelity issues.

The Air Force Adds Weapons, Fuel Tanks to Reaper

The Reaper currently fires the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, a 500-pound laser-guided weapon called the GBU-12 Paveway II, and Joint Direct Attack Munitions or JDAMs which are free-fall bombs engineered with a GPS and Inertial Navigation Systems guidance kit, Air Force acquisition officials told Scout Warrior.  JDAM technology allows the weapons to drop in adverse weather conditions and pinpoint targets with “smart” accuracy.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Staff Sgt. Randy Broome signals a jammer operator to move a Bomb Rack Unit 61 forward, while loading it onto an F-15E Strike Eagle at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, on Aug. 1. The NCO is an aircraft weapons specialist with the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. | U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung

“Weight starts causing an issue. We will give it an arsenal that rounds out that will be done as test time is available. JDAM is something that is within that realm and AIM-120 changes air to air engagements,” Rausch added.

The Air Force Military Deputy for Acquisition told Scout Warrior in an interview that the service has begun the process of adding new weapons to the Reaper, a process which will likely involve engineering a universal weapons interface.

“We are looking at what kind of weapons do we need to integrate in. We’re looking at anything that is in our inventory, including the small diameter bomb. We’re working to get universal armament interface with an open mission systems architecture,” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch told Scout Warrior several months ago.

A universal interface would allow the Reaper to more quickly integrate new weapons technology as it emerges and efficiently swap or replace bombs on the drone without much difficulty, Bunch explained.

“If I can design to that interface, then it costs me less money and takes me less time to integrate a new weapon – I don’t want to go in and open up the software of the airplane. As long as I get the interface right, I can integrate that new weapon much sooner,” he added.

There are many potential advantages to adding to the arsenal of weapons able to fire from the Reaper. These include an ability to strike smaller targets, mobile targets or terrorists, such as groups of enemy fighters on-the-move in pick-up trucks as well as enemies at further ranges, among other things.

Drone attacks from further ranges could reduce risk to the platform and help strikes against Al Qaeda or ISIS targets to better achieve an element of surprise. Furthermore, an ability to hit smaller and mobile targets could enable the Reaper drone to have more success with attacks against groups of ISIS or other enemy fighters that reduce the risk of hurting nearby civilians. Both ISIS and Al Qaeda are known for deliberately seeking to blend in with civilian populations to better protect themselves from U.S. drone strikes.

Also, at some point in the future it may not be beyond the realm of possibility to arm the Reaper for air-to-air engagements as well.

One new possibility for the Reaper drone could be the addition for the GBU-39B or Small Diameter Bomb, Bunch said.

The Small Diameter Bomb uses a smart weapons carrier able to include four 250-pound bombs with a range of 40 nautical miles.  The bomb’s small size reduces collateral damage and would allow the Reaper to achieve more kills or attack strikes per mission, Air Force officials said.

The Small Diameter Bomb, which can strike single or multiple targets, uses GPS precision. It is currently fired from the F-15E, F-16, F-117, B-1, B-2, F-22 and F-35, Air Force officials stated.

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Raytheon

The Air Force currently operates 104 Reaper drones and has recently begun configuring the platform with additional fuel tanks to increase range. The Reaper Extended Range, or ER as it’s called, is intended to substantially increase and build upon the current 4,000-pound fuel capacity of the drone with a range of 1,150 miles.

The upgrades to Reaper, would add two 1,350-pound fuel tanks engineered to increase the drones endurance from 16 hours to more than 22 hours, service officials said.

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8 Presidents who actually saw combat in a big way

American Presidents are civilians by design, some with little or no military experience at all – and are unlikely to ever serve in a combat role while in office (unless they’re in office while aliens attack Earth). In the voters’ minds, military experience always seems to be a plus when considering who would be the next Commander-In-Chief. It probably helps  when they actually take the office.


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Like Ike.

But not every veteran POTUS saw action. Eisenhower was a great logistical planner but never served in a direct combat role. George Washington’s combat record as a junior officer is spotty, but his decision-making capacity, strategic vision, and ability to inspire those around him were infinitely more essential to his legacy and to the history of the United States.

And then there were those whose service would affect the outcomes of battles, of entire wars, and of the nation itself.  Here are 8 presidents who actually saw combat in a big way:

1. Andrew Jackson (War of 1812, Indian Wars)

No president ever held a grudge like Andrew Jackson. This was a guy who fought 103 duels before he was ever elected President. Yet he only killed one man (in a duel, I mean).

When he was 13, he served as a messenger for a militia unit in the Revolutionary War. When captured, he refused to shine the boots of a British officer, who then used his saber to give the Young Jackson the scars that would be on his face for the rest of his life. That sort of thing stays with a young man.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Historians still argue about his relationship with Native tribes. No, really. Look it up.

 

As a general, his most famous military success was at New Orleans during the War of 1812. The British threatened the city under Jackson’s command. Jackson pulled together Army regulars, militia, sailors, Marines, citizens, Choctaw warriors, and a band of pirates under Jean LaFitte, to a force of 4,700 men. They held off 11,000 British troops and the Royal Navy fleet in a battle that couldn’t be won.

His victory would (eventually) put Jackson in the White House, where Old Hickory would be the first US President anyone tried to assassinate. An unemployed house painter pulled two pistols on Jackson but they both misfired, allowing Jackson to beat the would-be killer with his cane.

2. William Henry Harrison (War of 1812, Indian Wars)

Harrison was the commander of American forces at Tippecanoe, architect of Shawnee leader Tecumseh’s defeat, and gave the United States its first victory against violent religious extremists. Not bad.

Tecumseh and his brother, a “prophet” called Tenskawata, began using visions and magic to incite Natives in the Indiana territory against American settlers. In 1810, Tecumseh met then-Governor Harrison with 400 warriors to demand the rescission of a treaty. When Harrison refused, Tecumseh ordered his warriors to kill Harrison, who responded by drawing his sword. A Potawatomi chief intervened and Tecumseh’s warriors left for the time being.

When the war came, Harrison assaulted the tribes repeatedly – most notably at Tippecanoe, where the magical forces were defeated by actual forces.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Guns over Magic. Every time. 

 

Tecumseh made a comeback in the War of 1812, backed up by the British. Harrison quickly captured Detroit (for better or worse) and then invaded Canada. He defeated the British and got some vengeance against Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh was killed, the Americans burned a local settlement (built by pacifists probably to avoid getting their settlement burned down), and then went back to Detroit.

Harrison delivered the longest inaugural speech in American history without a coat on a cold, wet day, which resulted in the shortest presidency in American history.

3. Zachary Taylor (War of 1812, Indian Wars, Mexican-American War)

Taylor also cut his teeth fighting Tecumseh during the War of 1812, famously holding Fort Harrison with 20 men against 600 under the “inspiring” battle cry “Taylor Never Surrenders!” Turns out, he was pretty good at checking native tribes. He also fought them in the Black Hawk War and Seminole War.

By the time war with Mexico broke out, Taylor was a general and was widely known as “Old Rough and Ready.” He lost only 37 men against an army that vastly outnumbered his own, marched on the “impregnable” city of Monterrey, and captured it in four days. This wasn’t even his biggest victory.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
He also reportedly had a killer smile.

 

President Polk deliberately gave all but 4,650 of Taylor’s troops to General Winfield Scott to capture Veracruz in an effort to check Taylor’s growing popularity back home. Having learned of Taylor’s weakened army, Mexican General and dictator General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna sent his entire army of 15,000 to annihilate him.

As Taylor’s army turned the Battle of Buena Vista into a complete rout of the numerically superior Mexicans, his order “Double-shot your guns and give ’em hell” was used as a campaign slogan to catapult Taylor to the presidency.

He was so popular, he was elected as the Whig Party candidate despite disagreeing with almost every issue for which the party stood.

4. Franklin Pierce (Mexican-American War)

Franklin Pierce was so itchy to fight for his country, he turned down President Polk’s nomination as Attorney General. For this he gets a lot of respect. The first part of his military career, however, was less like Zachary Taylor’s and more like Ernest goes to Mexico.

He volunteered to join the Army as soon as war with Mexico broke out in 1846, despite the lack of New England regiments actually existing. When Congress authorized those regiments, he was appointed the Colonel in command and sent to Veracruz.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Seems easy to lead units that don’t exist.

 

When he arrived in Mexico, he was promoted to Brigadier General and linked up with General Winfield Scott at the Battle of Contreras. Everything was okay until his horse was startled, causing his saddle to jam his groin as hard as possible. The horse then fell into a crevice, pinning Pierce under it and forcing someone else to take command. He injured his knee the next day and fell so far behind his men, the battle was over by the time he caught up.

General Scott wasn’t going to let Pierce command his brigade at the Battle of Churubusco the next day, but he eventually did. But Pierce’s wounded leg hurt so much, he passed out on his horse in the middle of the battle.

5. Ulysses S. Grant (Mexican War, Civil War)

Grant famously became the general the Union needed to win the Civil War. He was forced to resign from the Army for drunkenness before the war. But when the South seceded, he raised a regiment of volunteers that he used to take the fight to the Confederates in the West.

Eventually, he commanded friend and General William T. Sherman to burn the South to the ground.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Not all alcoholics are lost causes.

 

He always showed this level of doggedness in his military career. During the Mexican War, he led cavalry charges despite only being a quartermaster. As a messenger, he braved the sniper-lined streets of Monterrey while hanging off the side of his horse, using it as a shield.

At the Battle of Chapultepec, he carried a howitzer to the top of a church steeple, a move essential to the final assault on Chapultepec Castle and to winning the war itself.

6. Rutherford B. Hayes (Civil War)

Not much is really said about Rutherford B. Hayes these days, but the former President has probably one of the most active war records of any Chief Executive. He was a Union officer during the Civil War, volunteering after Fort Sumter fell and serving in an active combat role until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

In September 1862, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was advancing northward into Maryland. The Union Army under General George B. McClellan met the divided Confederates in a series of three pitched battles. At the head of the lead regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes.

As Hayes’ 23d Ohio charged an entrenched Confederate position, a bullet tore through his arm, shattering the bone. After tying a handkerchief tourniquet around it (and presumably rubbing some dirt on it), he continued the attack.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Also the originator of the american icy stare.

 

While most Civil War veterans would lose an arm to such an injury, Hayes probably didn’t get an infection because gangrene was afraid of him. Instead, he spent the next two years skirmishing with Confederate forces in Tennessee and Virginia.

He had his horse shot from under him Battle of Kernstown, where he was then shot in the shoulder. He was also struck in the head by a spent round at Cedar Creek in 1864, the year he was promoted to Brigadier General and Brevet Major General.

He was elected to the Presidency by sheer force of will in 1876, despite not winning a majority of electoral or popular votes.

7. Theodore Roosevelt (Spanish-American War)

Colonel Roosevelt was an adventurer, explorer, scholar, author, historian, boxer, cowboy, big game hunter, and elected official. Teddy, as he hated being called, was also fearless and nearly indestructible even before he went to war.

Unfortunately for Spain, when the USS Maine was sunk in Havana harbor, Roosevelt resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to go and liberate Cuba. He and Colonel Leonard Wood raised the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment – known to this day as the “Rough Riders.”

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Speak softly and carry a big stick. Use it once in Cuba and let everyone else cower.

 

They distinguished themselves at the Battle of San Juan Hill. During the fight for nearby Kettle Hill, he lead the charge as the only man on horseback. Roosevelt moved from position to position as his men advanced up the hill, over open ground, against an entrenched enemy. When his horse was stopped by barbed wire, he walked the rest of the way.

The Americans reached the top of the hill fighting hand-to-hand to dislodge the Spaniards. In Spain’s defense, there’s no shame in getting dropped by a punch the face from Teddy Roosevelt.

Roosevelt would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for that action (he is still the only President with one), blocked at the time for political reasons – the most likely being that he was Theodore Roosevelt and everyone else was not.

8. Harry S. Truman (World War I)

Truman was initially denied enlisting into the Missouri National Guard because of poor eyesight – well past the standard for legal blindness.  Not one to let not being able to see keep him from killing Germans, he secretly memorized an eye chart and passed the vision test. He was even elected to be the lieutenant of his unit.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
I wonder if the other potential Lt. was named Dewey.

By the time he arrived in France, he was the captain of an artillery company. He was unpopular at first… until his unit was overrun by the Germans in the Vosges Mountains. His men started to break and run but Truman let rip a string of profanity so awful and venomous his men were actually more afraid of him than the Germans – and they stayed to fight.

His time in the mud didn’t stop there. At the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918, Captain Truman observed German artillery setting up to attack a unit out of his area of responsibility. An animal lover, Truman waited until the Germans moved their horses before lighting them up.

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The story behind Saddam Hussein’s massive $1 billion bank robbery

Three trucks pulled out of the Central Bank of Iraq at 4 a.m. local time on March 18, 2003. Their cargo was nearly $1 billion dollars, a full quarter of the country’s currency reserves. The loot was taken by a team led by Qusay Hussein, the son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

It’s safe to say that Qusay didn’t quite get away with the heist. The heir-apparent to the Ba’athist regime would meet his end a few months later in an ill-advised shootout with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division and a team of Special Forces operators. Still, a huge chunk of the money was never recovered. 

If March 18, 2003, sounds like a familiar date to many post-9/11 veterans, that’s because it is. The air war that signaled the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was set to begin the next day. Anticipating the American move, The dictator (correctly) predicted that once the air war began, it might be difficult for him to move about the country and get things done, so he sent his son to get a useful supply of liquid assets. 

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U.S. troops guard the Central Bank of Iraq several months after the invasion (Wikimedia Commons)

Qusay Hussein arrived at the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad with a handwritten note from his father, ordering that $1 billion in U.S. greenbacks be withdrawn and released from the country’s coffers. Three trucks and a number of Iraqi regime officials, including Qusay, supervised the transfer of funds. 

Despite the large sum of money, the forced withdrawal may not have actually been illegal, according to some legal experts. Saddam Hussein was an absolute dictator with personal, direct control over every aspect of the country’s governance, including the central bank and other economic institutions. The $1 billion might even have been Saddam Hussein’s own personal funds, collected over the course of more than two decades of ruling Iraq. 

At first, American intelligence officials believed that Hussein may have been trying to transport the spoils of his time in power over the border to escape the American invasion. A team of U.S. Army Special Forces near Iraq’s border with Syria reported seeing trucks matching the description crossing over the border to escape. 

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Evidently, he was not using it to pay a barber (U.S. Army photo)

Others believed that Hussein would use the money to foment resistance inside of Iraq as the American troops advanced throughout the country. Many Iraqis agreed with that assessment. The money may have also been used to fund the flight of those closest to the Iraqi dictator, including his family and personal friends. 

In the days and weeks that followed, Coalition forces managed to find an estimated $650 million of the money taken from the central bank. They found the caches of funds through searches and various patrols around the country that led them to the money, stashed away in one of the palaces used by Uday, Saddam Hussein’s other son. 

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Flame erupts from a building hit with a TOW missile launched by soldiers of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) on July 21, 2003, in Mosul, Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s sons Qusay and Uday were killed in a gun battle as they resisted efforts by coalition forces to apprehend and detain them. DoD photo by Spc. Robert Woodward, U.S. Army. (Released)

When Qusay was finally tracked down to a house in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, he tried to resist numerous raids on the house from American forces. He and his brother Uday were turned in by one of the other guests of the house who wanted the $30 million reward. American troops began firing TOW anti-tank missiles, 12 in all, into the house, killing everyone inside. 

When they were finally able to search the premises, there was no sign of the remaining $350 million from the Iraqi Central Bank. No one has seen or heard of the money since.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail

Feature image: A stack of playing cards displaying Iraq War’s “most wanted” rests on a shelf in the Louisiana National Guard Museum’s archive department. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson/Released)

Articles

Exclusive interview with US Naval Undersea Museum curator Mary Ryan

Mary Ryan has been the curator at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum since October 2010. As curator, she leads the museum’s exhibit program, shapes the artifact collection, and connects the public to the museum’s rich subject matter. Mary has worked for 15 years as a curator, interpretive planner, and exhibit developer creating exhibitions and interpretive plans for museums and historic sites across the country. She earned her Master’s Degree in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New York, and completed her undergraduate training in science and anthropology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

WATM: How did you decide to become a curator and a steward of our Nation’s history?

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Screen capture from YouTube

I discovered the museum field at a crossroads in my life, shortly after deciding not to attend medical school. I was immediately drawn to curatorial work — it’s intellectually challenging, always interesting and artifacts and exhibits have such power to tell meaningful stories. After completing a museum internship with an excellent mentor, I earned my graduate degree in history museum studies in 2008 and have worked as a curatorial and exhibit developer ever since.

When I joined the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum staff as curator in 2010, I didn’t know how much I would come to love the subject matter — the history, science, innovation and human ingenuity of the undersea communities is fascinating. I’ve met the most incredible people working here. It’s a privilege to do this job and serve these communities.

WATM: The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum was closed for COVID; what can attendees expect on their tour as it reopens?

We’re thrilled to share we reopened on May 24! We are excited to welcome visitors back to the museum. Initially, our open hours will be 10 AM to 4 PM on Monday, Wednesday through Friday, with weekend hours to resume as state and federal guidelines continue to expand.

Because the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff is our top priority, we have implemented extra safety measures at the museum. We will be using a reservation system to ensure capacity stays within state guidelines (visitors can make a reservation here), disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces and limiting group sizes to 10 or fewer people. And for the short term, our exhibit interactives have been converted into touchless experiences. As always, there are no admission or parking fees to visit!

WATM: What virtual content do you have available?

We have a mix of virtual content for different ages and interests! We post social media content several times a week on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts — lots of “this day in history” posts, sailor profiles, artifact features, STEM activities, behind the scenes content. In the past five years, our virtual community has grown to more than 20,000 people across our platforms. 

Our virtual 3D tour lets anyone explore our exhibit galleries from any location. Having a virtual tour became an invaluable resource while we were closed during the pandemic. Now that we’re reopening, it makes the museum accessible to many people who can’t visit us in person. A handful of our artifacts have been turned into highly detailed, interactive 3D models by The Arc/k Project, and more than 500 artifacts are digitized on our Flickr page.

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Master Diver Carl Brashear (via the museum’s Flickr)

And of course, our website is full of virtual content! Users can explore our online exhibit offerings, including our newest exhibit about Master Diver Carl Brashear, whose story was made famous by the movie Men of Honor. For families, our educator has created an extensive series of at-home STEM activities using common household objects. And for a look inside our artifact collection, users can visit our featured artifacts page to learn more about highlights from the collection.

WATM: What are some upcoming virtual events readers shouldn’t miss out on?

This past February we staged our biggest education program of the year, Discover E Day, entirely online. Following up on that success, our educator has teamed up with several local Navy groups to offer two virtual Navy STEM summer camp sessions July 13–15 and August 10–12. Families of local kids who will be in grades 3–8 this fall can email psns_kypt_stem.fct@navy.mil for more information or to register; it’s free and all learning will happen via Zoom.

I would definitely encourage readers to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — we’re most active there and always posting new content! Keep an eye on our website, too, as we’re developing a new online collections page that will share digitized documents and finding aid for archival collections.

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A photo from 2020’s “Discover E” Day (via the museum’s Flickr)

WATM: How can the public support the museum on its mission?

Our mission is to connect people to the U.S. naval undersea experience. Anyone who engages with our subject matter by learning about naval undersea history, technology, operations and people — whether through us or on their own — is supporting our mission.

As a federal organization, the museum is supported by a non-profit foundation that raises funds for education programs, new exhibits and artifact care and conservation. Their support allows us to take on projects that aren’t or can’t be funded by federal funding. Members of the public can support the museum by making a donation or becoming a foundation member.

We are lucky to have wonderful public support from the local community. Our volunteer corps includes more than 50 veterans, retired Navy civilians and community members that give generously of their time and expertise. Their contributions are almost immeasurable, and include greeting visitors, giving tours, operating the museum store, working with artifacts, supporting education programs and helping to build and install exhibits. Locals who are interested in joining our volunteer corps can learn more here.

WATM: Do you have anything you would like to say to the veteran and military audience?

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Retired Master Chief Machinist Mate Harry Gilger, one of many veterans volunteering at the museum (image courtesy of navalunderseamuseum.org)

Sharing the stories of undersea Navy veterans is an essential aspect of our work! There’s a lot we can’t say as a Navy organization because it’s not publicly cleared, but that just means we work harder to amplify the stories we can share.

We meet so many veterans at the museum and it’s an honor to be a place they can reminisce or show their families more about what they did in the Navy. To all the veterans out there, please come say “hi” if you visit the museum! Many of the volunteers who staff our lobby are veterans themselves. And if there is any way we can be of assistance, please reach out anytime!

WATM: What is next for you and the museum?

Every summer we host a popular education program called Summer STEAM, which offers hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math activities for kids. Summer STEAM will be back this July and August with a twist: this year families can pick up activity kits to take home! Our educators and volunteers have been hard at work assembling kits to make this possible.

And coming next spring, we’ll open a new temporary exhibit called “Giving Voice to the Silent Service.” It’s an inside look at the strong collective identity that submariners share. While it centers on the submarine community, many of the ideas will resonate with anyone who served. This was one of the most interesting and fun exhibits I have ever developed and I can’t wait to see it come to life in our exhibit galleries!

Readers can follow future developments at our website, www.navalunderseamuseum.org.


Feature image: photo courtesy of navalunderseamuseum.org

Articles

Former head of DIA says ISIS laptops are filled with ’80 percent pornography’

According to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a potential vice-president pick for Donald Trump, the hard drives of ISIS fighters are largely filled with porn.


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Lt Gen. Michael Flynn addresses an audience during a change of directorship ceremony at the Defense Intelligence Agency. (Photo: US Department of Defense Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

“We looked a ruthless enemy in the eye – women and children, girls and boys, raped and exploited, the beheadings stored on a laptop next to pornography,” he said in his new book. “At one point we actually had determined that the material on the laptops was up to 80 percent pornography.”

This isn’t the first time a western leader has leveled charges of a pornography epidemic at ISIS forces. Former London mayor British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson accused them of favoring adult material as well.

“If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn,” he said in 2015. “They are literally wankers. Severe onanists.”

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
These guys all have porn-filled hard drives*. (*Probably) (Photo Credit: YouTube/Vice News)

ISIS may be facing a porn shortage soon, though. As the “caliphate” is reclaimed by the coalition, ISIS strongmen have begun destroying internet cafes and cutting off web access.

Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s new book, “The Field of Fight: how We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies,” is available now.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Nuclear blasts used to be good ol’ Las Vegas entertainment

Long before Britney started her Las Vegas residency at the Planet Hollywood Casino, visitors and residents got their nightly entertainment elsewhere – likely from a member of the Rat Pack but every so often, they would get a thrill watching the United States Air Force. Not the Air Force rock band Max Impact, they were there to see mushroom clouds.


This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail

Between 1951 and 1992, the United States military conducted more than 900 atomic explosion tests, setting off nuclear bombs at what we now call the Nevada National Security Site. Back then, the same area in nearby Nye County was known as the Nevada Test Site. Some 100 of those nuclear tests were atmospheric detonations, and from just 65 miles away, the blasts and the resulting mushroom clouds could easily be seen from Las Vegas.

So obviously, the nuclear detonations, the brilliant flash of the detonation, along with the seismic tremors were great Las Vegas entertainment. And while the best views were supposedly from the downtown Las Vegas hotels, that didn’t stop visitor and locals alike from driving to the best views of the blast along the desert horizon.

This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail

That’s not the sunrise in the background.

In the 1950s, the population of Las Vegas more than doubled in size, as tourists and visitors moved to take advantage of the casino gaming industry as well as the hospitality industry in the city. Some tourists flocked to Vegas just to see the magnificent nuclear explosions in the distance. The nuclear tests were always done in the early morning hours, and hotels and bars would create Atomic Parties, where guests drank until dawn, finishing the night with a blast.

Articles

South Korea’s new real-life MechWarrior may be staring down North Korea in 2017

It’s not exactly supposed to be a weaponized robot (yet), but this pilotable giant robot from South Korea’s Hankook Mirae Technology looks like something from the video game series “MechWarrior.”


This is why Marines should learn the useful skill of how to sail
Just add rocket launchers. (Video still by Vitaly Bulgarov)

The 13-feet-tall, 1.5-ton behemoth, dubbed “Method-2,” was designed by Vitaly Bulgarov, who has film credits like “Transformers” to his name.

“Our robot is the world’s first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme, hazardous areas where humans cannot go,” Hankook Mirae Technology chairman Yang Jin-Ho told Unilad.

 

In all likelihood, Yang’s described “extreme, hazardous environment” is the North-South Korean border zone, widely known as the DMZ. Its metal arms weigh in at almost 300 pounds each, complete with human-like hands to allow the pilot to manipulate objects with the dexterity of its driver.

“It was quite an ambitious project that required developing and enhancing a lot of technologies along the way,” Bulgarov wrote on Instagram. “That growth opens up many real world applications where everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve real world problems.”

The Method-2 project is only one year into development and still needs work on its balance and power systems, but designers hope to have it ready for production by the end of 2017.

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