On June 25, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry was massacred by Lakota and Cheyenne warriors at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
The Battle was the largest encounter of the Great Sioux War of 1876, also known as the Black Hills War.
The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie had promised the Lakota Tribe the land in the Black Hills as an Indian Reservation, but the 1874 discovery of gold in the area caused a massive influx of settlers — and the U.S. Army to ignore treaty agreements and invade the region. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse (c.1840-77), leaders of the Sioux on the Great Plains, strongly resisted the mid-19th-century efforts of the U.S. government to confine their people to Indian reservations.
In 1876, a three-pronged expedition was launched to force the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes onto new reservations, but commanders underestimated Native American strength.
On June 25, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s force was spotted while it attempted to scout enemy positions and he ordered his men forward to prevent an escape of Lakota and Cheyenne. Approximately 475 men were quickly enveloped by thousands of Native warriors.
Within an hour, Custer and hundreds of others were massacred. The next morning, reinforcements arrived and relieved the few survivors of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. The battle, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, marked the most decisive Native American victory — and the worst U.S. Army defeat in the Indian War.
White Americans were outraged that Native Americans would defend themselves against invasion and the U.S. government increased its efforts to subdue and break Native tribes. Within five years, nearly all of the Cheyenne and Sioux confederacy tribes, including the Lakota, would be confined to reservations.
Featured Image: The Battle of Little Bighorn. (Lithograph: Library of Congress by Charles Marion Russell)
Marines in Afghanistan who need critical supplies in remote areas won’t have to lug their gear in trucks anymore. Instead, Corps planners have developed a new airdrop system that literally flied the supplies to their exact location.
Take that Amazon.
According to a Marine Corps Systems Command release, the last of 162 Joint Precision Air-drop Systems were delivered to the Marines in April. The system, based on the Firefly from Airborne Systems, is capable of delivering 2,200 pounds of supplies to within roughly 500 feet of an aim point when dropped from about 15.5 miles away.
“An average combat logistics patrol in Afghanistan that’s running behind a route clearance platoon may travel at only five to six miles an hour,” Capt. Keith Rudolf of the Marine Corps Systems Command’s Ground Combat Element Systems said. “Depending on how much supply you have on there, you may have a mile worth of trucks that are slow-moving targets.”
The United States Army also operates the 2,200-pound version of the system and also operates a version of the system capable of delivering five tons of supplies. The Marines have also acquired a version known as JPADS ULW – which can deliver 250 to 700 pounds of supplies.
Both versions of the system enable a cargo plane like the C-130J Hercules or the MV-22 Osprey to drop the pallet from an altitude of 24,500 feet – far outside the range of man-portable surface-to-air missiles, RPGs, heavy machine guns, and small arms.
Marine Corps Systems Command is now shifting from the acquisition of the JPADS to sustainment of the system. This includes planning for upgrades to the system to keep it relevant as the missions evolve.
The Marines are also considering a version that will allow reconnaissance Marines to be parachuted in with their gear.
In November 1978, 909 members of a fanatical cult died — killing themselves and their children using a cyanide and Valium-laced grape drink — to make a political statement: they would die on their own terms in a “revolutionary suicide.” It would be the largest single loss of civilian life until the September 11th terror attacks.
The People’s Temple, as the cult was called, was founded by Jim Jones, a former monkey salesman and self-ordained minister in 1950s Indianapolis. He later moved the church to California. There, the size of the cult grew to around 20,000.
With that growth, Jones became a public figure and fled to the South American country of Guyana to escape the negative press surrounding the People’s Temple. Jones faced accusations of financial fraud and child abuse and sought to escape what he thought was the persecution from U.S. intelligence agencies.
More than 1,000 members went with him.
Jones and his cult founded Jonestown, an agricultural cooperative on 4,000 acres of poor soil and limited access to fresh water. Temple members worked long days and were punished for disobeying Jones’ orders. They were allowed limited contact with friends and family. Jones even confiscated their passports.
Toward the end of the Jonestown experiment, Jones became inceasingly paranoid as his mental state broke down. Congressman Leo Ryan came to Jonestown to investigate allegations that his contituents’ loved ones were actually hostages there. People’s Temple members asked to return home with the Congressman, who took them back to his plane.
That’s when tragedy struck.
After arriving at the airstrip that took Congressman Ryan to the People’s Temple collective, Jones’ armed thugs gunned down the contingent, along with members of the press and some of the defectors. At the same time, Jones was distributing the poisoned punch (which was actually Flavor-Aid, not Kool-Aid, as the saying goes) to the cult members.
An aerial view of the bodies of the victims of the Jonestown tragedy. U.S. Army personnel from Fort Bragg, North Carolina (NC), are placing the remains into body bags. (Photo by: Staff Sgt. Jose L. Sanchez, Nov. 20, 1978.)
There is evidence that those who didn’t want to imbibe were forced to drink the punch. Jones himself was found dead with a bullet in his head, among the other 900+ bodies.
Within hours of learning about Congressman Ryan’s death, the U.S. State Department received assistance from the 437th Military Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina. Charleston C-141 Starlifters led what would be “the most unusual airlift operation since the Berlin Airlift.”
Col. Bruce M. Durvine, vice commander of the 39th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing, and members of the 55th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron carry boxes of plastic body bags to an HH-53 Jolly Green Giant helicopter for use in the evacuation of bodies from Jonestown. (Photo by: Staff Sgt. Jose L. Sanchez, Jonestown, Nov. 20, 1978.)
Air Force Combat Controllers were the first American forces on the ground, securing the airstrip area, providing security, and operating the airspace. The Starlifters had to be staged more than 150 miles away from the dirt airstrip where Ryan’s body was found because they were too large for the field.
The military Aeromedical Evacuation Team repatriated eight wounded survivors from the area. It wasn’t until November 20th that Guyanan Defense Forces could reach the Jonestown Compound. The small contingent was overwhelmed by what they found there and asked the Americans to take over.
A U.S. Air Force HH-53 Jolly Green Giant helicopter from the 55th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron stands by to assist in the removal of the remains of the victims of the Jonestown tragedy. (Photo by: Staff Sgt. Jose L. Sanchez, Georgetown, Nov. 20, 1978.)
Jonestown victims’ bodies were to be airlifted to Dover Air Force Base, but first they had to be moved by three HH-53 Jolly Green Giant helicopters to the Starlifter staging area. There were so many bodies, the Air Force ran out of remains transfer cases.
U.S. Army UH-1 Iroquois helicopters are loaded aboard a C-141 Starlifter aircraft for transport back to their home base in the Canal Zone. The helicopters were used during humanitarian relief efforts following the Jonestown tragedy. (Photo by: Staff Sgt. Jose L. Sanchez, Georgetown, Nov. 20, 1978.)
“Stacked like cordwood,” the bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition. It took 30 helicopter sorties carrying 30 bodies each to get the remains to the Starlifters for transport. Each C-141 could handle 81 remains cases — as long as they were stacked on pallets.
The stench of death in the helicopters was so bad, they were deemed medically unsafe. Task Force personnel who handled the bodies burned their clothing on the runway at the end of the mission.
U.S. military personnel place a body bag containing the remains of the victims of the Jonestown tragedy in a coffin for transport to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. (Photo by: Staff Sgt. Pedro J. Gonzalez, Georgetown, Nov. 20, 1978.)
Jeff Brailey, the Army medic who entered Jonestown, wrote a book about his experience, “The Ghosts of November.”
The U.S. military has truly gone bonkers for unmanned aerial systems, with a vast inventory of surveillance drones alongside a few that are big enough to carry missiles for precision strikes.
But imagine if a UAS could observe a target for units on the ground, providing intel on a key terrorist leader or bomb making factory and be the bomb that takes them out.
That’s the kind of capability special operations units like the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command are looking for, and a few companies displaying their wares at the 2016 Modern Day Marine Expo and this year’s Association of the U.S. Army conference are offering the technology to fit that mission.
Developed by Israeli defense firm UVision, the Hero-30 is a beyond line of sight unmanned aerial vehicle that packs into an 11 pound launch canister that can be carried onto battle on a trooper’s back. The drone is about 4 feet long and is launched by a pneumatic shot of air. Once airborne, a soldier flies the vehicle using a handheld control unit which allows him to orbit his target for up to 30 minutes.
Once the bad guy is in sight, the operator just flies the drone straight into its target for the kill. The Hero-30 warhead can be configured for point detonation or air burst while still in flight.
“It is lightweight for a special ops team or an infantry squad to be able to provide them with a precision munition they can fly themselves,” said Clinton Anderson with Mistral Inc., which represents UVision in the U.S. “You can designate how you want it to attack and how you want the fuse to operate and you launch it in attack mode and it comes in right on the target and blows up.”
UVision also has a new version dubbed the Hero-40 that’s a bit longer with greater range and explosive payload and is intended for vehicle-borne operations and missions.
One of the oldest companies in the small UAV business Aerovironment has a more scaled-down answer to the kamikaze drone requirement with its Switchblade miniature lethal aerial system.
Coming in at just under 5 pounds with its diminutive launcher, the Switchblade has a 10 km range and can loiter over a target for about 10 minutes. It’s so small the Switchblade can fit inside a typical tactical pack and delivers a lethal blast on target using a small, handheld ground control system.
“This miniature, remotely-piloted or autonomous platform can either glide or propel itself via quiet electric propulsion, providing real-time GPS coordinates and video for information gathering, targeting, or feature/object recognition,” the company says. “The vehicle’s small size and quiet motor make it difficult to detect, recognize and track even at very close range.”
Company officials say the U.S. Army is buying the Switchblade for testing with its infantry troops and special operations soldiers.
It’s no secret in the military that everyone guns to rip on each other for one reason or another. Rank plays a huge part on how and when you can talk smack and get away with. Sergeants verbally disciplining their juniors in the wide open commonly happens on military bases regardless of who’s watching.
Outside of boot camp, getting ripped on happens with fellow service members you don’t even know — and lower enlisted personnel are prime targets.
So now let’s turn the tables for a change. Getting a chance to rip on an officer and get away with it is an extremely rare. So take notes and keep an eye out for one of these juicy opportunities for a little payback.
1. During PT
The military is highly competitive, so when you manage to beat your commanding officer in a push-up contest — it’s time to gloat.
In the field, Army medics and Navy Corpsmen have the power to call the shots when it comes to taking care of their patients. Regardless of the rank the”Doc” has on their sleeve or collar, it’s their time to shine and order how things go down (but you need to earn that power).
Most infantry line officers are just starting out and are going to make mistakes — and that’s when the experienced enlisted troops can step forward and publicly correct an officer on how the mission should go.
Be slightly more professional when you address them, though. (images via Giphy)
Many officers like to believe they know everything about everything — they don’t.
Crypto rollover is when the codes on your communication system are adjusted so the bad guys can’t hack them. Although it’s easy for the E-4 and below comm guys to handle the task, many officers don’t know the first thing about it even though some try very hard.
It’s okay sir, maybe you’ll get it next time. (images via Giphy)
6. Buying dumb sh*t after deployment
After months and months of saving up their money, officers — like enlisted — spend their earnings on things that don’t make sense either. They’re only human.
When you blow your money on something you don’t need, stand by for some sh*t talking.
Hundreds of strangers paid tribute at a Kentucky funeral home to a “humble” survivor of World War II’s Normandy Invasion whose caregiver had worried that no one would come to his funeral.
Vet Warren McDonough was 91 when he died Saturday. He never married and his only known survivor was a nephew in Florida. The big crowd who attended his wake Thursday night at Ratterman’s Funeral Home in St. Matthews showed up in response to a call from Lena Lyons, who runs a boarding home where McDonough spent his final days.
Lyons told WHAS-TV McDonough deserved to be remembered because of what he did for his country. He was part of the first wave at Omaha Beach and earned a Purple Heart. But he never talked about his wartime experience—except for one time, she said.
“He said he pretended to be dead until they all went away,” she told WHAS-TV. “He said, ‘And then I inched slowly across other bodies and I went across this one guy and his lips were moving and I got up close to him and he was saying the Lord’s Prayer.’ And he said. ‘I laid with him and stayed with him and prayed with him until he died.'”
More strangers are expected to attend McDonough’s funeral Friday at Fairmont Cemetery in Central City. He is being buried with full military honors.
At the wake George Southern and other members of the Kentucky and Indiana Patriot Guard stood at the entrance to the funeral home in the cold as an honorary color guard, WLKY-TV reported.
“He gave his life and his days for us to have this freedom to do this and we stand in honor of him,” Southern told the station.
Lyons said McDonough wrote his own obituary but did not include everything.
“Nothing about the Purple Heart or his Medal of Courage, nothing, not even that he was in the Army, let alone that he went to Normandy,” she told WLKY. “He was a very humble man.”
Lyons told WHAS McDonough always said he was not a hero.
“I was just doing what I was supposed to do,” she quoted him as saying.
The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, announced the commanding officer for the 2018 and 2019 seasons at a press conference at the National Museum of Aviation onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, April 4.
A selection panel comprised of 10 admirals and former commanding officers selected Cmdr. Eric Doyle to succeed Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi.
Applicants are required to have a minimum of 3,000 flight hours and be in current command or have had past command of a tactical jet squadron.
Doyle, a native of League City, Texas, joins the Blue Angels after serving as the commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113. His previous assignments include six squadron tours, where he flew the F/A-18 Hornet and F-22A Raptor as an operational test pilot. He has deployed in support of Operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Inherent Resolve.
Doyle attended Texas AM University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1996. He earned his commission through the Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. Doyle has more than 3,000 flight hours and 600 carrier-arrested landings. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Strike/Flight Air Medal (with combat V), Navy Commendation Medals (one with combat V), and Navy Achievement Medal, as well as various campaign and unit awards.
“This was a childhood dream come true,” said Doyle. “My motivation to become a pilot came from watching the Blue Angels.”
Doyle will serve as commanding officer and flight leader for the 2018 and 2019 Blue Angels air show seasons. He will report for initial training in Pensacola, Florida in September and officially take command of the squadron at the end of the air show season in November. The change of command ceremony is slated for Nov. 12, at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
As the Blue Angels’ commanding officer, Doyle will lead a squadron of 130 personnel and serve as the demonstration flight leader, flying the #1 jet. The Blue Angels perform for 11 million people annually across the United States, and are scheduled to perform 61 shows in 33 locations for the 2018 season.
The internet has previously noticed that the guys from “The Hangover” bear certain similarities to a military unit, but these guys function a lot more like an Army unit than drunk civilians have any right to. Here are six reasons why “The Hangover” is really about bad soldier stereotypes.
1. The lieutenant is only there because the commanding officer said he should be and he screws everything up.
For the eight of you who haven’t seen the movie, “The Hangover” centers around a group of guys who lost their friend, Doug (labeled “The CO” in the meme), and have to find him before his wedding.
How did they lose their friend? Alan, “The lieutenant,” roofied them. Alan is the brother of the bride and so Doug said he should be allowed to come. Two other characters tell Doug he should leave Alan behind, but the Doug insists on bringing him. Alan repays this kindness by attempting a blood pact and then drugging the group.
2. The senior enlisted is obsessed with the paperwork and is always on his phone.
Stu, the “Senior Enlisted,” wants to keep everything under the radar and so he is obsessed with the paper trail. He wants to use cash rather than credit cards, needs to get his marriage annulled and out of the public record, and is always on his phone lying to his girlfriend.
Extra bonus: Stu fits the worst enlisted stereotypes in a few additional ways. He eloped with a stripper/escort at a chapel with military discounts and he constantly tries to sound more important than he is (calling himself a doctor when everyone insists he go by dentist).
3. The CO thinks everyone will follow the rules despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.
Doug picks up the rest of the pack in a Mercedes his future father-in-law loaned him. On the way to the hotel, he seems to honestly believe that everyone will act like responsible adults. He even gives some ground rules for the car even though it’s clear his friends can’t be trusted.
At this point, Alan has revealed he can’t go within 200 feet of a school or Chuck E. Cheese. Phil, “The Enlisted,” has screamed profanities in a neighborhood and is currently drinking in the car. Stu, “The Senior Enlisted,” has asked the team for their help lying to his girlfriend so she won’t know they went to Vegas. Doug goes right on trusting them, even after Alan discusses a plan to count cards and Phil tricks Stu into paying for a villa on the strip.
4. The junior enlisted causes a lot of the chaos but takes none of the responsibility.
As the meme noted, the enlisted guy does all the work. But he shouldn’t really complain since he caused most of the chaos after they woke up in the hotel. When the group finds out they stole a cop car, he drives it onto a curb, turns the lights on, and uses the speakers to hit on women. After the cops catch up with them, he gets the group shocked with stun guns. While visiting a chapel, he leaves a baby in a hot car, telling the others, “It’s fine. I cracked the window.”
5. The lieutenant won’t stop asking dumb questions and saying stupid things.
Alan just can’t find his way in the world, much like a new lieutenant. He asks the hotel receptionist if the hotel is “pager-friendly.” He gives an awkward, prepared speech before he roofies the group. When he learns Stu accidentally gave away his grandmother’s “Holocaust ring,” Alan tells the group he “didn’t know they gave out rings at the Holocaust.”
6. CO can’t solve problems without help from the unit.
Doug, like a bad commander stereotype, can’t get stuff done without his unit. For most of the first movie, he is trapped on the roof of a hotel. It’s revealed that he tried to get help by throwing his mattress off the roof. That’s a good start, but he was up there for more than 24 hours. He was fully clothed with a sheet but didn’t yell for help, turn the sheet into a flag, or use the sheet to prevent his serious sunburn. He could’ve gotten attention by cutting an air conditioning hose, or at least tried to get back inside through the access door.
Flying missions out of Takhli Air Force Base, in Thailand, Maj. Harold Johnson served as an Electronic Warfare Officer of an F-105 Wild Weasel, which due to its dangerous, top-secret missions had about a 50 percent survival rate.
“Everyday you were shot at very severely,” Johnson states in an interview. “I’d have a lot of the electronics there and hopefully do the job that I’m supposed to do to protect the rest of the flights.”
In April 1967 — and just seven missions shy of rotating back home — the North Vietnamese fired a heat-seeking missile that struck Johnson’s Wild Weasel. While both crew ejected safely, they were later captured.
Before being taken to a POW camp, the Vietnamese paraded Johnson through a village where the locals poked and prodded him with sharpened bamboo sticks.
“I still got scars on my legs. The kids were the worst, they could slip through the guards and get at you,” Johnson calmly admits. “I had a lot of holes in me when I got to the camp.”
After eight days of intense daily beatings, torture, and hallucinations from lack of sleep, Johnson began falsely pointing out targets on a map.
Due to Johnson being constantly isolated in his cell, he learned to secretly communicate with other prisoners using an alphanumeric tapping system. “If you can picture a box with five units that you put your letters in, one would be your first line, and then you go ABCDE,” Johnson states.
After six long agonizing years, Harold Johnson was released from the prison camp and sent back to the US.
“Well, it finally happened, when you’re being interrogated that was the thing that gave us strength was you’re gonna to have to stay here, one of these days I’m going out of here.”
In January 2017, the CIA release a large number of newly-declassified documents about information collected on the Soviet Union. One of those documents included two pages of Russian jokes about the Soviet Union.
Headed “Soviet Jokes for the DDCI” (Deputy Director of Central Intelligence), the jokes make reference to Mikhail Gorbachev, so they date from at least as late as the 1980s. The jokes are surprisingly directed at all Soviet leaders, from Lenin to Brezhnev.
It’s good to know there were chances for levity behind the Iron Curtain. One thing’s for sure, people didn’t love Communism as much as the Russians led us to believe.
A worker standing in a liquor line says, “I have had enough, save my place, I am going to shoot Gorbachev.” Two hours later he returns to claim his place in line. His friends ask, “Did you get him?” “No,” he replied. “The line there was even longer than the line here.”
Q: What’s the difference between Gorbachev and Dubcek*?
A: Nothing, but Gorbachev doesn’t know it yet.
*(Alexander Dubcek led the Czech resistance to the Warsaw Pact during the Prague Spring of 1968, but was forced to resign)
Sentence from a schoolboy’s weekly composition class essay: “My cat just had seven kittens. They are all communists.” Sentence from the same boy’s composition the following week: “My cat’s seven kittens are all capitalists.” Teacher reminds the boy that the previous week he had said the kittens were communists. “But now they’ve opened their eyes,” replies the child.
A Chukchi (a tribe of Eskimo-like people on Russia’s northwest coast) is asked what he would do if the Soviet borders were opened. “I’d climb the highest tree,” he replies. Asked why, he responds: “So I wouldn’t get trampled in the stampede out!” Then he is asked what he would do if the U.S. border is opened. “I’d climb the highest tree,” he says, “so I can see the first person crazy enough to come here.”
A joke heard in Arkhangelsk has it that someone happened to call the KGB headquarters just after a major fire. “We cannot do anything. The KGB has just burned down!” he was told. Five minutes later, he called back and was told again the KGB had burned. When he called a third time, the telephone operator recognized his voice and asked “why do you keep calling back? I just told you the KGB has burned down.” “I know,” the man said. “I just like to hear it.”
A train bearing Stalin, Lenin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev stops suddenly when the tracks run out. Each leader applies his own, unique solution. Lenin gathers workers and peasants from miles around and exhorts them to build more track. Stalin shoots the train crew when the train still doesn’t move. Khrushchev rehabilitates the dead crew and orders the tracks behind the train ripped up and relaid in front. Brezhnev pulls down the curtains and rocks back and forth, pretending the train is moving. And Gorbachev calls a rally in front of the locomotive, where he leads a chant: “No tracks! No tracks! No tracks!”
Ivanov: Give me an example of perestroika*.
Sidorov: (Thinks) How about menopause?
* The literal meaning of perestroika is “restructuring” – usually referring to economic liberalization by Gorbachev.
An old lady goes to the Gorispolkom* with a question, but by the time she gets to the official’s office she has forgotten the purpose of her visit. “Was it about your pension?” the official asks. “No, I get 20 Rubles a month, that’s fine,” she replies. “About your apartment?” “No, I live with three people in one room of a communal apartment, I’m fine,” she replies. She suddenly remembers: “Who invented Communism? –– the Communists or scientists?” The official responds proudly, “Why the Communists of course!” “That’s what I thought,” the babushka** says. “If the scientists had invented it, they would have tested it first on dogs!”
* Gorispolkom is the local political authority of a Soviet city.
** A babushka is another term for older woman or grandmother.
An American tells a Russian that the United States is so free he can stand in front of the White House and yell “To hell with Ronald Reagan.” The Russian replies: “That’s nothing. I can stand in front of the Kremlin and yell, ‘to hell with Ronald Reagan’ too.”
A man goes into a shop and asks “You don’t have any meat?” “No,” replies the sales lady. “We don’t have any fish. It’s the store across the street that doesn’t have any meat.”
A man is driving with his wife and small child. A militiaman pulls them over and makes the man take a breathalyzer test. “See,” the militiaman says, “you’re drunk.” The man protests that the breathalyzer must be broken and invites the cop to test his wife. She also registers as drunk. Exasperated, the man invites the cop to test his child. When the child registers drunk as well, the cop shrugs and says “Yes, perhaps it is broken,” and sends them on their way. Out of earshot the man tells his wife, “See, I told you is wouldn’t hurt to give the kid five grams of vodka.”
Not all Soviet commercials were made for non-existent products. An ad for the ‘ZAZ-966B’. Also known as the “Zipper”, it was also made for the foreign market. Archival photo/Russia Beyond.
If the Soviet Union’s legacy could boil down to just one memory, it would have to be its complete distortion of reality. Given its history of disinformation campaigns outside of the USSR, it should not be a surprise that life inside the Iron Curtain wasn’t exactly clear as day either.
Gaslighting Soviet citizens was second nature to the people running communist eastern Europe, almost as common as buying off third-world dictators. It should be no surprise that, in the grand tradition of creating a recipe book that used ingredients no one could actually obtain, the Soviet Union produced commercials for luxuries it didn’t actually make.
It’s a well-known fact that people living in the Soviet Union didn’t have a lot of choices when shopping for luxury goods. They didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to shopping for any goods, and probably waited in a long line to get any of it.
There were, of course, things they could always buy. Common farm products like butter, oil, tomato or apple products were readily available. To get something like fresh meat, Russians pretty much had to “know a guy” who could get it for them. They could forget about anything like bananas or cheese.
Unfortunately, the lack of abundance experienced in the West didn’t make the Soviet system look so appealing. Instead of importing that abundance or attempting to create these products on their own, the Soviet Union (in predictable fashion) just made it look like they were available somewhere.
Decadent imperialist Americans who didn’t grow up under communism might have a difficult time understanding why Soviet citizens had commercials — or even money — at all. People in the USSR still had to use money to buy goods, they just bought them all from the government.
Commercials on state television weren’t designed to persuade people to buy one brand over another, they were designed to inform people about the products available to them. Or just make them think the products were available.
For the record, the people of the 15 republics in the USSR weren’t stupid. They knew exactly what they could get and what they couldn’t. Everyone assumed that if everyone could actually get those products, they probably weren’t all that good. The good stuff was hoarded by people with first dibs, comrade.
The Soviet Union had just one advertising agency, Eesti Reklaamfilm (ERF), based in Estonia. Over the course of its life, it produced some 6,000 commercials for products both made in the Soviet Union and allegedly made in the Soviet Union.
Members of the communist party were in charge of the economy. They would create all of the scripts used by ERF, and ERF would just produce them. No one really seemed to care about the outcome. All of the products that were real would sell because there was nothing else for people to buy. The fake products would just make the Soviet Union appear to have these products. Sometimes, the ad agency never showed the product at all.
From the outside looking in, it might seem like this would annoy the Soviet population, but in reality, the opposite occurred. Soviet citizens began to enjoy the entertainment value of the commercials.
He was injured while serving as an Infantry Officer during Vietnam, and after months of surgeries and recovery, he extended his commitment to teach counterinsurgency tactics before finally separating.
Deep down, Smallwood is a soulful artist. An actor, writer, singer, and musician, he has made a career for himself in theater and on-screen, but it’s his writing and his music that really makes him stand out.
We Are The Mighty sat down with him to talk about his relationship with music.
“I can hear some music and know the setting behind it, and it just goes straight to my part that feels.”
He couldn’t speak when he woke up in the hospital in Vietnam, but rest assured, his voice healed and transformed into something rich and soothing.
Check out his video, not only for the Battle Mix that makes him think of his time in service, but for a performance with his acoustic guitar that will leave you wanting more: