This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning - We Are The Mighty
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This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
(Photo: Augie Dannehl, We Are The Mighty)


Jeremiah Woznick dropped out of community college at 19 years old. “I never felt any personal connection between my professors and me,” he said. He joined the Navy, and his first duty station was an aircraft carrier. He took advantage of the ship’s distance learning program and passed his first course in accounting. He fully intended to keep going, but his plans were altered by the 9/11 attacks.

“I was working 15-18 hour days on the flight deck as a firefighter,” Woznick said. “I was trained to know how to shut down the various types of aircraft as well as being able to be a first responder in the event of a flight deck fire or aircraft crash landing.”

By the time Woznick’s enlistment was up, he was a seasoned veteran of three combat cruises at the ripe old age of 21. He moved to Hawaii with the intention of starting his own landscape design business while also pursuing his education using his post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

“The credits I had received while in the Navy would easily transfer, and — along with the discounts for veterans — the distance learning opportunities had me sold once again on the possibilities,” he said. After some research, Woznick decided to pursue an associate’s degree at Grantham University.

“I found I was using key lessons in my curriculum to apply to my everyday business model,” Woznick said. “My studies were becoming more and more a part of my life, and the results were apparent.”

Woznick finished his associate’s degree in 19 months, and celebrated by surfing some of the biggest recorded waves in history, on the North Shore of Oahu. A few days later Woznick hurt his hand while working his landscaping business, and while he was healing, decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree. Again he chose the distance learning option.

“I always had a hard time focusing in a room full of students and the nuisances of driving to school every day to fight for parking and a good seat was never anything that I looked forward to,” he said. “Being able to study at home in a peaceful environment or even on the beach in Waikiki was such a great way for me to be able to focus.”

While Woznick was working on his degree he began to teach surf lessons. But before he could officially be a surfing instructor he had to earn his “blue card,” which meant he had to pass tests in first aid, CPR, and water safety.

“I couldn’t have trained for these tests if I was sitting in a classroom all day,” he said.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
(Photo: Augie Dannehl)

Somewhat ironically, teaching surf lessons allowed Woznick to choose the direction he wanted to go with his bachelor’s degree.

“Teaching surf lessons to 50 students and being able to corral everyone together — different sizes and ages — in a safe way in a dangerous environment was very challenging,” he said. “The students were like different stakeholders, and I was like the project manager trying to manage them and get the project done correctly.”

Always looking for the next opportunity, Woznick had just leveraged his Grantham learning to start a tourism business when he heard about a job a FEMA.

“I found a project specialist in emergency management position with FEMA’s public assistance program through USA Jobs,” Woznick said. “My degree proved to be the major factor in me getting the job.”

His first deployment with FEMA was to Kansas City due to a major flooding event. While onsite he took the time to visit Grantham’s campus.

“It was extremely coincidental that my first FEMA deployment sent me to a spot near Grantham University, the institution that helped me get educated and hired,” Woznick said.

While back in Hawaii between FEMA deployments, he decided to continue his education by pursuing his master’s degree.

“Once I saw the curriculum for project management at Grantham University, I finally realized that that was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he said.

As Woznick started to work toward his MBA — Project Management degree, his grandfather started showing signs of Alzheimers and dementia. His grandmother needed his help.

“I would study at night while my grampa incoherently moved around in his wheelchair nearby,” he remembered. “This was another example of how the school was flexible with my learning schedule. I couldn’t have made it if I’d had to be in class at a set time in a physical location the next day.”

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
(Photo: August Dannehl, We Are The Mighty)

Woznick’s second deployment put much of what he’d learned while pursuing his MBA to work. He was sent to Wimberley, Texas, a city ravaged by floodwaters. “The destruction and devastation were enormous,” he said.

“I worked directly with the city’s fire department and was even honored by the fire chief for my service,” Woznick said. “I could clearly see that the graduate courses I was taking were paying off. The skills I had acquired were being put to the test as I helped the community get grant funds to rebuild the city.”

Then, as if by grand design, the day Woznick found out he’d earned his MBA from Grantham was the same day he got his first pay raise with FEMA.

“I was once training people how to surf, and now I am training people how I can serve them with the FEMA Public Assistance program,” he said. “I could not be the person that I am today without distance education.”

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These massive balloons are key to cruise missile defense

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Photo: US Army


The white craft look innocuous, like small blimps, but veterans of the war in Afghanistan may remember the difference they made in combat, allowing friendly forces to constantly see everything happening in an area.

The aerostats have traded their cameras for sophisticated radars and are now part of a cruise missile shield for America’s capital.

Cruise missiles can be armed with either conventional or nuclear warheads. Russia is inventing new missiles and disguising old ones, according to the Atlantic Council. One Russian missile, the Club-K, can be smuggled in civilian shipping containers.

The blimps work in pairs to defeat these threats. One collects 360 degrees of radar information at all times while the other holds a fire control radar that hones in on specific threats. Flying from 10,000 feet, they can cover an area nearly the size of Texas. The targeting information can be passed on to defending forces in the area. Adm. William Gortney, NORAD and U.S. Northern Commander, wants the aerostats’ radars to be integrated with Navy ships and Air Force fighter jets in the area.

If the upgrades are approved, ships and planes would be able to collect targeting data from the ships and launch missiles to bring down the threat immediately.

Like the video above states, the blimps don’t only watch out for cruise missiles. They can also see approaching ships and vehicles, allowing defenders to identify cruise missile launchers and other threats as well. This would allow forces to target the launchers before the missiles are in the air, a much cheaper and safer option than going after in-flight missiles.

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Here is how Soviet flight crews entered the Tu-22 bomber

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning


The Tupolev Tu-22 Blinder might just have been one of the least pilot-friendly aircraft ever built by the Soviet Union in the 1960s, and that’s saying something, considering that MiG fighters were notorious for their cramped quarters and poor pilot visibility. The very first supersonic bomber to enter service with the Soviet Air Force, around 311 models were produced with a number going to Iraq and Libya as part of large export deals brokered by the USSR in the 1970s. Not only did the Blinder look like something out of a space-age comic book, it seemingly functioned like one as well. I mean, at least with how its aircrew entered the aircraft. Its performance characteristics were anything but next-generation, far from what the Soviets had hoped to accomplish with such an aircraft.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

The Tu-22 flew with a pilot, a navigator and a weapons officer as its full complement. Each crewmember sat in front of the other, and had to be “lifted” into the aircraft using a motorized chair. Unluckily for them, they were also firmly strapped to downward-firing K-22 ejection seats, which could not be used at altitudes below 820 feet. The runway handling dynamics of the aircraft were atrocious, leading to numerous mishaps without the Blinder even leaving the ground. But, at least it looked cool, right?

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Wounded veterans helped amputee victims of the Boston Marathon bombing

The Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013 killed three and wounded 264 others. The attack was committed by two American brothers of Chechen descent who set off a couple of pressure cooker explosives they learned to make from an English language al-Qaeda magazine. One of the brothers died after the other brother ran him over with a stolen SUV following a shootout with law enforcement. The other brother is in prison, awaiting execution.


At least 14 of the the bombing victims required amputations. Anyone who undergoes amputations of limbs for any reason will go through the five psychological stages of grief, but 20-22 percent of all amputees will experience some form of post-traumatic stress, according to studies from the National Institute of Health. For the civilian victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, their stress is coupled by the two explosions, just 12 seconds apart, that killed three, injured scores more, and took one or more of their limbs.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

The aforementioned studies show the ability to cope with an amputation be affected by pain, level of disability, the look of the amputated limb and associated prosthetics, and the presence of social supports. The 14 amputee survivors of the bombing received a ready network of support from wounded warriors, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who lost limbs during their service. Within days of the attack, injured veterans arrived in Boston to meet the survivors.

“We felt as amputees compelled to get out here,” said Captain Cameron West, a Marine who lost a leg in Afghanistan. “It won’t define them as a person … soon all of them will be able to do everything they could before the terror attack.”

“Military combat veterans are not the only victims of PTSD,”  said Dr. Philip Leveque, a pharmacology researcher, WWII veteran, and author of “General Patton’s Dogface Soldier of WWII.” “Civilians in a horrific event like those in Boston will not only be victims of these events but may be mistreated by their physicians with morphine-like drugs, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs, which can cause adverse side effects, including suicide.”

Chris Claude is a 33-year-old Marine Corps veteran from Pennsylvania. He met with marathon amputees and  told the Associated Press it was his chance to provide the kind of support he got after the amputation of his right leg following a 2005 bomb blast in Iraq. B.J. Ganem, a Marine who lost his left leg in Afghanistan, said all he saw was resilience. The two groups came together again later in 2013, at the New England Patriots home opener. They were honored on the field together before the game.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

“I like the idea of the amputees coming out on the field together,” Claude said. “It’s another way for people in the crowd to see the human spirit can’t be broken.”

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The number of counter-terrorism missions this White House has authorized will surprise you

Counter-terrorism operations outside of active war zones under President Donald Trump are outpacing the Obama administration by nearly five times, Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Micah Zenko said July 31.


The US has launched at least 100 counter-terrorism operations since Trump took office. Zenko compared this number to the mere 21 operations launched under former President Barack Obama in his last six months in office. These operations include raids by US special operators, drone strikes, and other lethal actions.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
An MQ-9 Reaper, loaded with four GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs is ready for a training mission March 31, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. USAF photo by Senior Airman Christian Clausen.

The majority of the operations listed in Zenko’s analysis occurred in Yemen where the US is actively battling an al-Qaeda insurgency. Trump declared Yemen an “area of active hostilities” after taking office, which allows the military to carry out counter-terrorism strikes without going through a White House-led approval process.

Zenko’s previous April analysis revealed that the US averaged approximately one counter-terrorism strike per day in the first 74 days of Trump’s presidency. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more — and so they are,” a senior US defense official said of the Trump administration in April.

Trump has also considered changing the way the US targets terrorists in drone strikes. The new rules would instead target terrorists under military protocols which allow for some civilian casualties, as long as they weighed proportionally by the commander responsible for approving the operation. The loosening of drone strike protocol couples with broader counter-terrorism policy changes by the administration, including a change in rules of engagement in the fight against ISIS, more leeway for Pentagon commanders considering ground raids, and increased willingness to use military force.

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Here are 7 times the commander-in-chief fired a high-ranking military leader

Although the Constitution states that the U.S. military is subordinate to civilian authority, presidents and top military commanders have clashed periodically throughout American history. Presidents, who often have little or no military experience, are tasked leading and providing orders to professional warfighters with decades of experience. Still, the relationship is usually respectful and both sides work together to do right by the American people.


But, when policy disputes erupt into the public eye, it can get ugly quick. The president has a few options when this happens, the most extreme of which is to either fire the officer directly or request their resignation.

Here are 7 times that presidents felt the need to fire top military officers:

1. Fremont got canned for going rogue against slavery

US-Army-Maj.-GEN.-John_C._Frémont Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont was known for his explorations in the American West. (Portrait: Public Domain)

John C. Fremont was a famous explorer with multiple expeditions to the American west under his belt. Lincoln tapped him to administrate the west during the Civil War and had him commissioned as a major general.

That proved to be a mistake. Fremont’s department was riddled with corruption and Fremont attempted to free all slaves in Missouri whose owners wouldn’t swear allegiance to the U.S. This created a political crisis for Lincoln. When Fremont refused to rescind the order, Lincoln overruled him and began preparations to fire him.

Knowing that Fremont would try to avoid being fired for as long as possible, Lincoln had two officers dress up in disguises to deliver notices to both Fremont and his replacement. It took the messenger multiple attempts to deliver the orders but Fremont was eventually canned.

2. McClellan was fired for rarely attacking

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan was too reluctant to use the Army. (Photo: Public Domain)

When the Civil War broke out, the Union Army was being commanded by the 75-year-old Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott. It was obvious that he would have to be replaced quickly, and the only general racking up victories in the early days was Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan.

So, McClellan got the top job despite misgivings from Lincoln. It turned out Lincoln was right as the former railroad executive frequently failed to attack, even when he had technological and numerical advantages and the best ground. Frustrated by McClellan’s lack of progress on executing the war, Lincoln replaced McClellan on Nov. 5, 1862.

3. Richardson got sacked for arguing against the fleet staying at Pearl Harbor

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Adm. James O. Richardson wanted to bring the Pacific Fleet back to the West Coast. (Photo: Public Domain)

Japan and the U.S. were the “Will they, won’t they?” couple of 1940-1941. Japan’s ever-growing war against China was ratcheting up tensions with America, especially after Japanese planes bombed a U.S. ship evacuating American citizens from a Chinese city. As the two powers stumbled towards war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration ordered the Pacific Fleet to stay at Pearl Harbor.

The commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. James O. Richardson, disagreed with Roosevelt and the chief of the Navy. He argued, forcefully, that the U.S. was not ready for a war in the western Pacific and that the fleet should return to the mainland U.S. coast. In Jan. 1941, Richardson was replaced by Rear Adm. Husband E. Kimmel.

4. Kimmel and Short were booted for not properly preparing for the Pearl Harbor attack

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Lt. Gen. Walter Short, at left in the front row, and Rear Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, on the right, pose for a photo with a Royal Navy officer on Hawaii in 1941. (Photo: Department of Defense)

Of course, basing the fleet at Pearl didn’t go swimmingly for Kimmel either. Kimmel and his Army counterpart, Lt. Gen. Walter Short, were fired in the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attacks for not preparing for the attack.

In his defense, Kimmel did know that an attack in the Pacific was likely, but he thought that Wake Island or Midway was the more likely target. He had requested additional assets for those locations. Amid rumors of a possible court martial after Pearl Harbor, Kimmel asked to retire and was allowed to leave the Navy.

5. MacArthur was recalled for triggering war with China

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Gen. Douglas MacArthur speaks to the crowds at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1951. (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

While other officers on this list were fired for speaking out or for resisting presidential policy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was fired for drastically expanding the scope of a war.

MacArthur was immensely popular in the U.S. as a bona fide war hero who came out of retirement to fight World War II. But Truman found him overly aggressive in his role as the supreme leader of United Nations forces in Korea, pressing his attack too far north despite Truman’s warnings and orders.

When China jumped into the war, MacArthur asked for permission to expand the fight even further by bombing forces within China. The arguments between MacArthur and Truman went public and Truman recalled MacArthur in Apr. 1951.

6. Fallon was retired early because he wanted out of Iraq

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Adm. William Fallon in 2002 while he was the vice chief of naval operations. (Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Philip McDaniel)

Adm. William “Fox” Fallon was the head of Central Command during the Surge in Iraq. As the war dragged on, Fallon became convinced that Iraq was a waste of resources. President George W. Bush’s administration continued to believe that they could salvage a victory there.

What resulted was a public debate with Fallon on one side and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Gen. David Petreaus,  the commander of forces in Iraq at the time, on the other. As the last of the Surge units were leaving Iraq, Gates stated that there would be a pause in the drawdown after they left and Fallon publically contradicted him (in a cover feature in Esquire magazine). Fallon was pressured into resigning within a couple of weeks.

7. Obama fired two war commanders in two years

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Presidet Barack Obama meets with Gen. Stanley McChrystal in May 2009. Photo: White House photographer Pete Souza

The public sacking of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for insulting comments he and his staff gave to Rolling Stone dominated the news for days in Jun. 2010. But McChrystal’s infamous firing was the second time the U.S. commander in Afghanistan had been fired by President Barack Obama.

Gen. David McKiernan held the job before McChrystal and was pressured into resigning by Secretary Gates in 2009 due to concerns that he was waging the war too much like a conventional military conflict instead of an anti-insurgency campaign.

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New House bill proposes providing veterans with service dogs

A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ron DeSantis would pair eligible veterans with service dogs provided by the VA system.


“Thousands of our post-9/11 veterans carry the invisible burden of post-traumatic stress, and there is an overwhelming need to expand the available treatment options,” DeSantis said in a statement. “The VA should use every tool at their disposal to support and treat our veterans, including the specialized care offered by service dogs.”

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
A Marine assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, learns to groom Ona, a dog from the Hawaii Fi Do, Sept. 23. Hawaii Fi Do trains dogs as either service dogs or therapy dogs and they visit wounded service members, which in turn helps relax the service members as they recover from mental or physical wounds. The dogs and U.S. Marines get together every Friday for training and enrichment. The Marines learn to train the dogs and the dogs help relax the Marines and put them in good spirits.

The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act is a five-year, $10 million program to give post-9/11 veterans with a service dog and veterinary health insurance. The veteran must have been treated for PTSD and have completed an established evidence-based treatment. They must remain significantly symptomatic, rating a 3 or 4 on the PTSD scale.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Adamari Muniz, 10, and her family meet a service dog at the Defense Commissary Agency here July 29. Milk-Bone and the DCA will donate a dog to Adamari, who suffers from epilepsy. A service dog can alleviate many of the tasks she finds difficult and give her more independence in that she will not have to ask for constant assistance.

Service dogs are known to be effective in treating veterans with anxiety disorders, physical pain, and other limitations. The animals are proven to give new life and independence to recovering veterans.

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This ‘cloneworthy’ police dog found the last survivor of the 9/11 attacks

A Canadian police dog who helped find 9/11 survivors impressed the CEO of a biotech firm so much, he cloned the canine five timesTime Magazine called the dog named Trakr “one of history’s most courageous animals.”


One good turn deserves another.

James Symington made history in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for founding the canine unit of the Regional Police Department. During the September 11th attacks on New York, Symington and his coworker, Cpl. Joe Hall, drove to NYC with their dog, Trakr, to help find survivors. They arrived the morning of September 12, and Trakr immediately found a survivor — one of only five found that day, according to ABC News.

Officers pulled out Genelle Guzman-MicMillan, who was on the 13th floor of the South Tower when it collapsed. She spent 26 hours under the rubble before the German Shepherd found her.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Trakr and Symington at Ground Zero. (photo from PRWeb)

On September 14th, Trakr collapsed from chemical and smoke inhalation, burns and exhaustion. He was treated and the sent home with the Canadian police officers who brought her.

In 2005, Symington and Trakr were presented with the “Extraordinary Service to Humanity Award” for their heroism during the aftermath of the attack. It was presented by famed anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Symington was suspended without pay when his bosses saw him on TV, even though he was on leave at the time. He left the force and sued his old office. He moved to Los Angeles and became an actor and stunt double.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

Trakr developed a degenerative disease and could no longer use his hind legs – a condition presumed to be from his experience at Ground Zero. He spent the remainder of his life at an LA hospice center for dogs. He died at 16 years old.

Before the heroic dog died, Symington entered Trakr in the “Best Friends Again” essay contest, sponsored by BioArts International – one of the first pet cloning biotech companies. It was a giveaway contest. Trakr’s DNA was sent to a lab in South Korea where five puppies were bred from the sample; Trustt, Solace, Valor, Prodigy, and Deja Vu. Normally this service would cost more than $140,000 per dog.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Five puppies cloned from Trakr, a German shepherd, who made headlines by rescuing victims from the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Yonhap News photo)

All five pups were trained by Symington to follow in Trakr’s pawsteps, and each becoming rescue dogs themselves.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Five German shepherds, shown with owner James Symington. Symington is training the dogs to help in search and rescue efforts throughout the world. (Photo courtesy of Team Trakr)

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The alleged ‘mastermind’ of the Paris terrorist attacks bragged about how he had evaded the police

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Photo: Dabiq


The alleged mastermind of Friday night’s terrorist attacks in Paris gave an interview to ISIS’ English-language magazine earlier this year in which he bragged about how he had evaded authorities after his photo was circulated in connection to a plot in Belgium.

Authorities on Monday identified the ringleader of the attacks that killed 129 people and injured hundreds more as “Belgium’s most notorious jihadi,” Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Eight terrorists took hostages, detonated suicide vests, and shot people in attacks across Paris on Friday night. The police are now seeking Abaaoud.

Abaaoud has reportedly escaped to Syria and is believed to be behind several planned attacks in Europe, according to Reuters.

In his interview with Dabiq magazine, a slick ISIS propaganda publication, Abaaoud talked about how he went to Belgium to mount attacks against Westerners.

“We spent months trying to find a way into Europe, and by Allah’s strength, we succeeded in finally making our way to Belgium,” he said. “We were then able to obtain weapons and set up a safe house while we planned to carry out operations against the crusaders.”

Their plot was thwarted — the police raided a Belgian terrorist cell in January and killed two of Abaaoud’s suspected accomplices, according to The Associated Press. The group had reportedly planned to kill police officers in Belgium.

Abaaoud said the police released his photo after the raid, and he was nearly recognized by an officer who had reportedly stopped him.

“I was even stopped by an officer who contemplated me so as to compare me to the picture, but he let me go, as he did not see the resemblance!” Abaaoud said. “This was nothing but a gift from Allah.”

He then boasted about how he had been known to Western intelligence agents, who he said arrested people all over Europe in an effort to get to him.

“The intelligence knew me from before as I had been previously imprisoned by them,” he said.

“So they gathered intelligence agents from all over the world — from Europe and America — in order to detain me,” he added. “They arrested Muslims in Greece, Spain, France, and Belgium in order to apprehend me. Subhānallāh, all those arrested were not even connected to our plans!”

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning
Abdelhamid Abaaoud’s interview in Dabiq magazine. (Photo: Dabiq)

This appears to have some basis in truth. The BBC reported in January that authorities seeking Abaaoud had detained people in Greece.

Abaaoud also taunted intelligence agencies who failed to capture him.

He said he escaped to Syria “despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies.”

“All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the crusader intelligence,” he added. “My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely when doing so became necessary.”

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5 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about the French Foreign Legion

1. Legionnaires are instilled with a “fight to the death” attitude. Giving up is not really an option.

In April 1863, a battle between the French Foreign Legion and the Mexican army showed how effective and ballsy legionnaires really could be. With a total of just 65 men, the legionnaires fought back against a force of approximately 3,000 at the Battle of Camarón. Despite the overwhelming odds, the small patrol of legionnaires inflicted terrible losses on the Mexican forces and they refused to surrender.


Instead, their French officers actually called on the larger Mexican force to surrender multiple times. Holed up inside of a hacienda, only five men remained able to fight (most were killed or wounded) — and incredibly — mounted a bayonet charge against the opposing force, until they were ultimately surrounded and forced to surrender.

“Is this all of them? Is this all of the men who are left?” a Mexican Major said at the time, according to the book Camerone by James W. Ryan. “These are not men! They are demons!”

The Legion still celebrates and commemorates the battle today — and the wooden hand of their slain commander, Capt. Danjou, is the most prized possession at the Legion’s museum in Aubagne, writes Max Hastings.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

2. Legionnaires who are wounded are granted automatic French citizenship.

Though troops serving the Legion hail from 138 different countries, they can become French citizens eventually. After serving at least three years honorably, they can apply to be citizens. But they also have a much quicker path: If they are wounded on the battlefield, they can become citizens through a provision called “Français par le sang versé” (“French by spilled blood”), according to The Telegraph.

The French government allowed this automatic citizenship provision in 1999.

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

3. More than 35,000 foreigners have been killed in action while serving with the Legion.

Throughout its history, the French Foreign Legion — and the fighters who make up its ranks — were seen as expendable. The foreigners who continue to join do so accepting the possibility of their death in a far-off place, in exchange for a new life with some sense of purpose. But meaningless sacrifice has gradually become a virtue in itself, according to a Vanity Fair article about the Legion.

“It’s like this,” an old legionnaire told William Langeweische of Vanity Fair. “There is no point in trying to understand. Time is unimportant. We are dust from the stars. We are nothing at all. Whether you die at age 15 or 79, in a thousand years there is no significance to it. So f–k off with your worries about war.”

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

4. The Legion used to accept anyone — criminals and misfits especially — with no questions, but now there is a thorough screening process.

Since its founding in 1831, the Legion has become the one place of escape for those with haunted pasts. Men with criminal records, shady business dealings, or deserters from their home country’s armies were accepted into the ranks, with no questions asked. Stripped of their old identity and given a new one, the new legionnaires are able to begin their new life with the slate wiped clean.

The legion will still accept deserters and other minor miscreants, but it’s not as easy as it once was. New recruits are given a battery of physical, intelligence, and psychological tests before they even get any kind of training. Later on in the process, recruits are screened for “motivation” in order to weed out those who don’t have the drive to make it in the ranks.

Some of the process was detailed by Simon Bennett at Vice:

Finally, after countless hours spent lingering in uncomfortable conditions, the only thing standing between us and a spot with the Legion was what was referred to as the “Gestapo.” Rumor had it that at this point, the Legion knew everything about you. The word Interpol is thrown around a lot—any financial, criminal, family, and employment background information is supposedly fair game. Call it a hunch, but I think that’s bullshit. Make no mistake, I believe someone, somewhere has access to all of that information. But a sweaty, apathetic French administration in a run-down, quasi-bureaucratic shithole in suburban Marseille isn’t that someone or somewhere. In any case, they called me in for an interrogation.

While they may not necessarily be running from their past when they join the Legion these days, all new legionnaires are still stripped of their old identities and given new ones, which they maintain for at least their first year of service.

“Legionnaires begin a new life when they join,” a legionnaire named Capt. Michel told NBC News. “Each and every one of them is allowed to keep his past a secret.”

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

5. The pay is terrible, and so are the benefits.

Legion recruiters could easily steal the infamous U.S. Marine Corps recruiting poster with the slogan, “We don’t promise you a rose garden.” The pay is terrible, as are the benefits, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Despite the promise of a very rough life and the possibility of being sent to fight anywhere, thousands continue to show up each year.

Legionnaires can expect deployments to austere environments and/or see plenty of combat. The Legion is currently in Afghanistan and Mali, for example.

Their starting pay is roughly $1450 per month for at least the first couple of years in. That’s a pretty small paycheck compared to the lowest-ranking U.S. Army soldier making $1546, which is guaranteed to go up to $1733 after being automatically promoted six months later (if they don’t get in trouble of course).

There is at least one bonus to the Legion if you fancy yourself a drinker: There’s plenty of booze. Even in a combat zone, legionnaires are drinking in their off time, and their culture of heavy drinking would make any frat-boy blush.

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That time Taylor Swift dropped in on a World War II vet

World War II vets often have tales of meeting Hollywood stars doing USO tours. Well, Clyde Porter has one that is a lot more recent.


According to a report by the BBC, Porter got something many vets wished they got from Ingrid Bergman (among others), 71 years after the end of World War II.

This visit was from none other than music superstar and sometime actress Taylor Swift!

Porter’s been a fan of Ms. Swift – one of her oldest – as a way to get closer with his grandchildren. He told a local TV station that he’d taken two of his granddaughters to some of her concerts.

Well, word got back to the superstar, and she decided to surprise Mr. Porter, who saw action in the European Theater of Operations.

And what a surprise it was! She dropped by the 96-year-old vet’s home, spending hours with the family, and giving them a private performance of her hit “Shake it Off.” Porter, who is fighting cancer, has expressed his goal is to catch a concert on Ms. Swift’s next tour.

Bravo Zulu, Taylor Swift! Here’s the video for the song she sang:

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A sailor snuck “Remember Pearl Harbor” onto Tojo’s dentures before his war crime trial

Japanese Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo took office just a month before the Pearl Harbor attacks, but had served as the Army minister for over a year before that and helped to draft the plan — from the attack at Pearl Harbor through the hopeful Japanese victory — for war with the western powers.


After Japan’s surrender, Tojo knew that he would be arrested and executed. He attempted suicide on Sep. 11, 1945 as American soldiers moved into position around his house but he survived.

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Photo: Navy Medicine

As Tojo awaited trial in 1946, the Navy sent Lt. j.g. Dr. George Foster, an oral surgeon, to examine the prime minister’s heavily damaged teeth. The surgeon removed all but seven of Tojo’s and then consulted with a Navy dental prosthetics officer, Lt. j.g. Dr. Jack Mallory.

Mallory recommended complete upper and lower dentures, but Tojo refused because he thought it would be a waste of effort to make both dentures for someone about to be executed. Instead, he asked for only an upper set of dentures so he could speak well at his trial.

Mallory and his friends devised a prank. They decided to engrave “Remember Pearl Harbor” on the back of the general’s dentures. Knowing that he would get in trouble if caught, Mallory opted to engrave the message in Morse code instead of standard letters.

Only Foster and Mallory knew that Mallory had gone through with the joke.

You could see it clearly when it was dried, but 99 percent of the time you couldn’t tell,” Mallory told the Chico News and Review in 2002.

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Photo: Department of the Army

The secret got out though. Mallory bragged about the prank to two new members of the dental team and one of them told his parents in a letter. The parents passed the story on and it was broadcast on a Texas radio show.

When word began to circulate through Tokyo, Mallory went to his superior and confessed.

Army Maj. William Hill told the young dentist, “That’s funny as hell but we could get our asses kicked for doing it.”

Mallory and Foster knew a guard at the prison and got access to the prison on Feb. 14, 1947, to grind the message off of the dentures. Their mission was successful.

An Army colonel found out about the story the next morning and summoned the dentists to his office, but both men denied the rumors.

Tojo later complained that the dentures fit differently after they were adjusted that February night, but there are no signs that he ever knew about the trick the dentists played on him. He was sentenced to death during the trial and executed in 1948.

h/t Mental Floss.

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This is the only flag allowed to fly above the Stars and Stripes

Death’s flag is the flag flying above Old Glory when the nation is in mourning. No, you can’t see it, but at least you’re thinking about it, and that’s the whole point of the American flag being at half mast.


The tradition dates back to the 1612, when the British ship Heart’s Ease arrived in Canada with her captain dead. When it next arrived in London, its Union Jack was at half mast, making room for the invisible flag of death.

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This is is what it might have looked like, if the Royal Navy of the 1600s had destroyers and such.

The U.S. Navy first observed the custom in 1799 to mark the death of George Washington. The Navy Department ordered U.S. Navy ships to “wear their colours half mast high.” The country would follow suit after that, but no guidelines were given for when and for whom it was appropriate.

Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7 of the United States Code outlines strict guidelines for flying the U.S. flag, and for lowering it, depending on who died. All Presidents are remembered for thirty days while the current Vice-President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Speaker of the House get ten days. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a handy quick reference page for flying the flag at half mast, adding “The flag should be briskly run up to the top of the staff before being lowered slowly to the half-staff position.”

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President Eisenhower declared structure for lowering the flag in 1954. the President can order the flag lowered to mourn the deaths of other officials and foreign dignitaries as well as to mark tragic events in the history of a nation. And no, President Obama did not order the flag at half mast for Whitney Houston.

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Whitney, we hardly knew ye . . .

The flag was lowered nationally for Pope John Paul II, Neil Armstrong, Rosa Parks, Winston Churchill, Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and Nelson Mandela. It was also lowered to mourn the shootings in Virginia Tech, Newtown, Conn., and Charleston, as well as for the Boston Marathon Bombing and the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.

Governors of the states, territories, and the Mayor of Washington, D.C. also have the authority to lower the flags in areas under their jurisdiction.

If you can’t lower you flag because its in a fixed position on the pole, the American Legion advises you to put a black ribbon to the top of the pole.