Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created - We Are The Mighty
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Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

On July 12, 1862, the Medal of Honor was created.

Congress first introduced a “certificate of merit” in 1847, to be presented by the President when quote “a private soldier distinguishes himself in the service.” It came with a $2 monthly stipend. 

Over the years, the award evolved to honor both Army and Navy service members and in July 1862, President Lincoln signed the legislation approving the official Congressional Medal of Honor. At the time, 88 service members had already performed heroic actions that would ultimately merit the decoration.

The stipend evolved, too. Today, the Medal of Honor pension is $1259 per month as well as other benefits like Space-A travel and impressing the hell out of anyone they meet. 

Receiving the Medal of Honor confers a great deal of prestige on the recipient as well as an acknowledgement that the recipient and their unit members went through an especially dire and dangerous experience or gave a heavy sacrifice for the American people. The celebrity that goes with the medal allows recipients to cast light on issues that affect veterans and active duty troops.

But in addition to the intangible benefits like honor and stature, there are some tangible benefits that the military and the U.S. government give to medal recipients to acknowledge their sacrifice, such as preferred access to military academies for their dependents and special status in the exchange of salutes. (While military members aren’t required to salute Medal of Honor recipients, they are encouraged to do so as long as the recipient is physically wearing the medal, even when the recipient is in civilian clothes. Also, while military salutes in other situations are always up the rank structure — meaning the junior soldier salutes the senior one — anyone may render a salute to a MoH recipient first. There have even been cases of American presidents saluting MoH recipients.)

There have been over 3,400 Medal of Honor recipients, 71 of whom are still alive today. If you meet one, know that you are in the presence of greatness.

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Army networks 50-cal sights to helmet display

The U.S. Army will soon begin to produce new high-tech, crew-served thermal weapons sights able to automatically adjust range, see through adverse weather, detect targets with a lightweight laser range finder and use a wireless targeting link between weapons and a soldier-worn helmet display, service officials said.


Designed for the M2 .50-cal, M240 machine gun and Mk 19 grenade launcher, the system brings higher-resolution thermal imaging technology and increases field of view, developers explained.

Also read: From shoot to BOOM! This is the deadly science behind the RPG

“This is the first time the soldier will have a system which combines a true day and night capability with a laser range finder to adjust for the ballistics of the various ammunition types for the crew served weapons,” an Army official told Scout Warrior.

BAE Systems was recently awarded an Army contract to develop the technology, called Family of Weapons Sights – Crew Served (FWS-CS), in a deal worth up to $384 million.

Using a wireless link, gun-mounted thermal sights send a targeting reticle from the gun to a soldier head-worn display, allowing soldiers to hit targets without needing to physically “look” through the gun-sights themselves in a certain physical position — such as crouching, lying down or standing exposed in a vehicle-mounted gun-turret, the Army official explained.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo by BAE Systems

A wireless helmet mounted display is designed to provide a more natural firing position as well as allow soldiers to remain more protected, a BAE systems statement said. Crew-served weapons, such as the .50-cal machine gun, are often used to “blanket” enemy areas so that troops can maneuver while under attack or deliver suppressive fire.

A wireless link allowing soldiers to remain in a standing position or different configuration than what is otherwise needed to look through the sights naturally lowers the risk of exposing soldiers to enemy fire.

BAE Systems’ FWS-CS system is also engineered to improve targeting speed and precision. It uses a 12-micron sensor technology to provide soldiers with greater clarity and range, developers said.

“FWS-CS also, for the first time, incorporates a high-resolution day camera and laser range finder into the weapon sight, allowing the user to engage targets with a range correct reticle,” John Koltookian, technical director at BAE Systems, told Scout Warrior.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika

With an initial development order of $10.5 million, work will be performed at the company’s facilities in Hudson, New Hampshire and Austin, Texas.

This crew-served weapons technology is engineered to function alongside a similar Army program called Family of Weapons Sights – Individual (FWS-I); in similar fashion to the FWS-CS, this system uses a wireless link to connect thermal sights on an M4 rifle with an individual soldier’s night-vision goggles display.

A key advantage of this technology is, by design, to allow soldiers to target and attack enemies without having to “shoulder” the weapon and bring it up to their face.

FWS-I is already in Low-Rate-Initial Production and slated to be operational by 2018, service officials said.

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10 beautiful quotes about war from Shakespeare’s literature

Teenagers dread reading Shakespeare’s works because the old English can be difficult at times. In fact, Shakespeare deliberately made up words and expanded the English dictionary by extension. It is not hard to imagine a young mind shying away from his written works. However, Shakespeare did not just write about love, but also war. His take on the art of destruction still echoes today.

The arms are fair, when the intent of bearing them is just.

Henry IV

I interpret this as another way of saying “the end justifies the means.” Men can do great things when they believe their cause is just. However, the most evil men who have ever existed believed they were doing good. In essence, to fight, we must be right.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Pictured: People who thought they were the “good guys.” (U.S. Army photo)

Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge, with Até by his side come hot from hell, shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice Cry “Havoc,” and let slip the dogs of war.

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar was one of the greatest warriors in the history of warfare. Shakespeare’s depiction of him is equally as epic. This quote in particular is famously quoted across many movies and TV shows.

War gives the right to the conquerors to impose any condition they please upon the vanquished.

Julius Caesar

This one is self-evident.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Japanese General Yoshijiro Umezu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on board the USS Missouri, Sept. 2, 1945. (DoD photo)

In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.

Julius Caesar

We can all think of a war or two that were started by asinine reasons. One war was literally fought over a stolen bucket. Other times trivial causes for war are used to justify military action without being ousted as an aggressor.

Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars and brought in matter that should feed this fire; and now ’tis far too huge to be blown out with that same weak wind which enkindled it.

King John

It’s easier to start a war than to end one. The same goes for trying to control the scope of the war. Things can get out of hand quickly, and stay in chaos for years to come.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
(U.S. Army photo)

I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hacked.

Macbeth

Throughout history, countless troops on the losing side of a battle have fought to the last breath. Their stories are often retold as our tales of patriotic heroism.

A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers.

Much Ado About Nothing

This is true. It is much better to cross the wire and return with all your troops, even if there was no contact with the enemy. However, if there is an enemy and there are no friendly casualties in combat, it is definitely double the cause to celebrate.

He which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart; his passport shall be made.

Henry V

Not everybody is cut out for combat. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
)U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

Fight, gentlemen of England! fight, bold yeomen! Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head! Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood; Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!

Richard III

Pre-battle speeches are paramount to get the troops fired up. Speaking of war speeches, my favorite film speech is from “We Were Soldiers” delivered by Mel Gibson in his role of Lt. Colonel Hal Moore.

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor.

William Shakespeare

Another that might be self-evident, but carries no less weight. The reason for this warning has played out countless times in human history.

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How some special operators are turning to illegal drugs to deal with deployment stress

They have achieved cult hero status for their exploits since 9/11, but their success on the battlefield is taking a personal toll on Navy SEALs and members of other US special operations elite forces.


Reports of rampant illicit drug abuse by special operators — while on deployment and at home — have prompted congressional lawmakers to call for an accountability review of the “culture” inside special operations units.

Drug and alcohol use by some members of special operations units is nothing new to the culture within the teams, who see such behavior as a coping mechanism in response to the unforgiving tasks these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have been asked to carry out.

“They are pretty much out there on a daily basis in very dangerous situations and working with [partners] who you don’t know if they are going to put a bullet in your back,” one former team member with knowledge of personnel issues told The Washington Times. “The level of stress these people are experiencing is off the charts,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

The unprecedented pace and tempo in which US special operations forces have been used in the post-9/11 global war on terrorism, beginning with al Qaeda and the Taliban and now encompassing Islamic State, Boko Haram, and other groups, has exacerbated those stress levels, leading to even riskier coping behaviors.

“Kill/capture” missions by US special operations units combined with clandestine drone strikes formed the backbone of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism doctrine. Six months into his term, President Trump has shown little sign of abandoning that strategy. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in May that the United States is entering an era of global conflict defined by protracted small wars with extremist militant groups.

“This is going to be a long fight,” Mr. Mattis said.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley.

Aside from deploying hundreds of special operations military advisers to the front lines of the Islamic State fight in Syria and Iraq, the Trump administration has ordered the expansion of US Special Operations Command’s mission in Africa, battling the Somali-based terrorist group al-Shabab.

“You see our forces engaged in that from Africa to Asia. But, at the same time, this is going to be a long fight. And I don’t put timelines on fights,” Mr. Mattis told CBS News.

‘Something has to give’

The operational tempo for Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and other “Tier One” US special operations forces units, which spend a majority of their time overseas on deployment, is a vicious cycle but a prerequisite for the job, the former team member said.

“We’re not talking about 18-, 19-year-old kids. You have to have a level of resilience to get where they are,” he said. But even with the most seasoned and battle-hardened veterans, “something has to give” from the relentless demands to deploy.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo credit Tanjila Ahmed

A pair of random, command-wide drug screenings conducted from November through February uncovered a total of 59 cases of illicit drug use among sailors serving in Naval Special Warfare Command.

Seven command members tested positive for illicit drug use from among more than 6,300 subjected to a sweep of random tests late last year, according to figures that command officials provided to The Times. The command also uncovered 52 cases of illegal drug use among 71,000 tests carried out since August 2014.

Of the 52 command members who tested positive for illegal drug use during the most recent round of tests across the Navy command, 10 were SEAL team members. Command officials could not confirm how many SEAL members were part of the seven positive drug tests found during a round of testing in November and December.

Drug abuse, domestic abuse, or other behaviors tied to the seemingly constant rotations to conflict zones are “endemic of what these people are going through,” the team member said. “These are your franchise players. They want to be the best of the best. It’s a quality you need but also makes it hard to disengage. A lot of it is just coping just the physical toll [the job] takes on you. You have to find an outlet.”

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
USAF photo illustration by Senior Airman Chad Strohmeyer

The problem of drug use within the special operations community gained unwanted attention in April when news leaked of a closed-door speech by Capt. Jamie Sands, head of all East Coast-based Navy SEAL teams. The captain warned all 900 Navy special operators in the command about cracking down on the use of illicit drugs — including cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, and ecstasy — among the SEAL teams that went public.

One active-duty SEAL attached to the East Coast teams told CBS News at the time that a number of his team members had tested positive for illegal drugs multiple times but remained on active duty since the Navy was unable to monitor their drug usage on a regular basis. Their frequent, extended deployments overseas allowed team members to avoid regular drug screenings.

Capt. Sands said that would no longer be a loophole in the command.

“We’re going to test on the road,” the officer said. “We’re going to test on deployment. If you do drugs, if you decide to be that selfish individual, then you will be caught.”

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
DoD Photo by Maj. Will Cox

Accountability review

Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, in June pushed for legislation requiring US special operations command and the head of the Pentagon’s special operations directorate to conduct an accountability review of the military’s elite units amid reports of heavy drug abuse within the teams.

The review was included in the House draft version of the Pentagon’s spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which sets aside $696 billion for military programs and operations. The full House overwhelmingly approved the defense spending package this month.

The measure would require Mark Mitchell, acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, as well as top brass from Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, “to provide a briefing regarding culture and accountability in [special operations forces].”

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Gardner

Critics say the Pentagon’s policies do not properly address the problem of illicit drug use among special operators, a claim US Special Operations Command officials vehemently deny.

“No one has turned a blind eye to the challenges special operations forces face after a decade and a half of continuous combat operations,” command spokesman Kenneth McGraw said in a statement to The Times.

Command officials and their counterparts in the services’ special operations directorates formed a task force to address issues such as drug use and other symptoms related to prolonged deployments of the elite US troops. The task force takes a “takes a holistic, integrated approach” to post-deployment issues unique to Special Forces units “designed to maximize access to treatment and minimize any stigma associated with seeking help,” Mr. McGraw said.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay

Despite the command’s task force and other associated efforts, lawmakers are pressing command officials on the problem of drug use inside the teams.

Ms. Speier’s office declined repeated requests for comment on the legislation and the level of cooperation House members are receiving from command officials and the Pentagon. But her characterization of the need for accountability within the special operations teams to address drug use is the wrong way to view the problem, the former team member said.

“I do not know if this is an accountability issue. It is not just about bad people. I think a lot of it is just what they have been through,” he said. “You have to realize you are not going to eradicate this [problem]. You cannot eradicate those experiences” of war.

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The Punisher revealed its episodes via Morse Code

On Twitter this morning, the official twitter handle for the upcoming “Punisher” series on Netflix released a series of cryptic tweets.


Quick translation into the regular alphabet gives you: “3am, two dead men, and Kandahar.” Kandahar, Afghanistan, is more than likely where Frank Castle was deployed, since he mentioned to an old Marine veteran back in Daredevil Season 2 that he was in Afghanistan.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
…and definitely where this scene takes place, given the headgear (Screengrab via Marvel)

The name of all of the episodes are:

  1. “3 AM”
  2. “Two Dead Men”
  3. “Kandahar”
  4. “Resupply”
  5. “Gunner”
  6. “The Judas Goat”
  7. “Crosshairs”
  8. “Cold Steel”
  9. “Front Toward Enemy”
  10. “Virtue of the Vicious”
  11. “Danger Close”
  12. “Home”
  13. “Memento Mori”

Following the standard 13 episode format for all of the series, this seems to make sense. The series of tweets ends with a very cryptic video meant to invoke the feeling of something being classified by the military.

The video ends with an ambiguous date in 2017. However, I have my own personal theory on this.

One of the directors on The Punisher accidentally revealed the show’s premiere month. The director said Netflix was planning to release his episode in November. Knowing the structure of every Netflix’s television show, this basically means that every episode drops with the whole season for maximum binging results. Netflix also releases a lot of their shows on a Friday, once again for maximum binging results.

If Marvel and Netflix were to drop it on any Friday to get the best results, it would be over Veteran’s Day weekend. The day before Veteran’s Day is also the Marine Corps’ Birthday. What better way to celebrate the anniversary of the Corps than by having its favorite fictional son’s television show released on the same day?

I’m open to criticism if I’m wrong, but if I’m right this could be one of the best birthday gifts ever.

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The Army found an M2 .50 caliber machine-gun still shooting perfectly after 90 years of service

The .50 caliber M2 machine gun was designed in 1918, near the end of World War I by John Browning.


Production began in 1921 and the weapon was designed so a single receiver could be turned into seven different variants by adding jackets, barrels or other components.

Roughly 94 years after the first production run of M2 machine guns came off the assembly line, the 324th weapon produced made it to Anniston Army Depot for overhaul and upgrade.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Cody Bryant, left, and Corby Tinney inspect the 324th M2 receiver ever produced. The weapon arrived at Anniston Army Depot to be converted to a M2A1 in May. Photo: Army Materiel Command Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus

In more than 90 years of existence, the receiver with serial number 324 has never been overhauled.

“Looking at the receiver, for its age, it looks good as new and it gauges better than most of the other weapons,” said John Clark, a small arms repair leader.

Despite the fact that the weapon still meets most specifications, it may be destined for the scrap yard.

Modifications made to the weapon in the field mean part of the receiver would have to be removed through welding and replaced with new metal, a process which usually means the receiver is scrap.

“I’d rather put this one on display than send it to the scrap yard,” said Clark, adding the weapon’s age makes it appealing as a historical artifact.

Currently, the 389th M2 is on display in the Small Arms Repair Facility. There is an approval process the older weapon would have to go through in order to be similarly displayed. Clark and Jeff Bonner, the Weapons Division chief, are researching and beginning that process.

In 2011, the depot began converting the Army’s inventory of M2 flexible machine guns to a new variant.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo Credit: US Army Gertrud Zach

The M2A1, has a fixed headspace, or distance between the face of the bolt and the base of the cartridge case, and timing, the weapon’s adjustment which allows firing when the recoil is in the correct positon.

In the past, every time a Soldier changed the barrel on the M2, the timing and headspace had to be changed as well. If that wasn’t done properly, the weapon could blow apart. The fixed headspace and timing eliminates this risk to Soldiers.

“It only takes 30 seconds to change out the barrel on the M2A1 and you’re back in business. The M2 Flex version could take three to five minutes, depending upon your situation,” said Jeff Bonner, weapons division chief.

Bonner said this is the first major change to the M2 weapon system since the machine gun was first fielded.

Since the overhaul and upgrade work began in fiscal year 2011, the depot has brought more than 14,000 of these .50 caliber machine guns to better than new, and upgraded, condition.

Once the weapon is rebuilt, it has to be readied to be fired, repeatedly, without jamming or suffering other mechanical difficulties.

To assist with this process, a machine known as the exerciser is used to ensure the new parts work well with the old.

After all, the older parts of the weapon could be nearly 90 years old.

The exerciser simulates charging the weapon, or preparing it to be fired, 700 times.

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15 Unforgettable Photos From Operation Desert Storm

Operation Desert Storm kicked off 24 years ago on Jan. 17, 1991.


The Gulf War officially lasted from August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991. It consisted of two phases; Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Desert Shield was the codename used for the part leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Desert Storm was the combat phase by the coalition forces against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

15,000 Western civilians – including 3,000 Americans – living in Kuwait were rounded up and taken to Baghdad as hostages. In this YouTube screen capture, 5-year-old Briton, Stuart Lockwood refuses Saddam Hussein’s invitation to sit on his knee … Awkward.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: YouTube

700,000 American troops were deployed to the war; that’s more than 2015’s entire population of Nashville, TN.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: DVIDS

Desert Storm was the largest military alliance since World War II; 34 nations led by the United States waged war in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

American troops prepared for every scenario since Iraq was known for employing chemical weapons in the past.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: DOD

Untested in combat, Desert Storm would be the first time the M1 Abrams tank saw action; 1,848 of them were deployed to the war.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

The Iraqi Army used T-55, T-62, and  T-72 tanks imported from the Soviet Union and Poland.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

But they were no match for U.S. forces.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

More than 1,000 military aircraft were deployed to the Gulf War.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

One of the key players in Desert Storm was the stealthy F-117 Nighthawk.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

Coalition forces flew over 100,000 sorties and dropped more than 88,500 tons of bombs.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

You can’t hit what you can’t see. Iraq’s anti-aircraft guns were useless against the F-117.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

Here’s the aftermath of a coalition attack along a road in the Euphrates River Valley…

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

The Gulf War was the last time the U.S. Navy used battleships in combat.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

The famous oil fires were a result of Iraq’s scorched earth policy –  destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy – as they retreated from Kuwait.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

737 oil wells were set on fire…

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Photo: Wikimedia

The following video is an hour-long BBC documentary of the Gulf War:

NOW: The Spectacular CIA Screwup That Probably Helped Iran Build A Nuke

AND: This Guy Kept Fighting The War For 30 Years After Japan Surrendered

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America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

Before the advent of maneuver warfare, nations defended their territory with massive fortifications. This was particularly true of coasts and harbors, especially if a nation owned the finest harbor in the Orient. This was the case for the American port at Manila Bay.


After the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain during the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Board of Fortifications recommended that important harbors be fortified. This led to the development of defenses on several islands at the mouth of Manila and Subic Bays. One of these was El Fraile Island which would later become Fort Drum, America’s concrete battleship.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

While other islands were fortified by more conventional means, the plans for El Fraile were much more extensive. Construction began in 1909 and completed by 1916. What was originally a rocky outcropping of an island was excavated down to the waterline. From there, the concrete battleship began to take shape.

The new structure was 350 feet long and 144 feet at the widest point. The exterior walls of the fortification were constructed of reinforced concrete 25 to 36 feet thick and rising 40 feet above the water. The top deck of the structure was reinforced concrete 20 feet thick that mounted two turrets containing twin fourteen inch guns and a 60 foot fire control tower to complete the battleship look.

The fort’s armament was rounded out by dual six-inch guns in armored casemates on each side as well as three-inch anti-aircraft guns mounted on the top deck. The fort’s 240 officers and enlisted lived deep inside the impregnable walls of the concrete ship along with all the stores they would need to hold out against a siege.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

That siege came after the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941. In January 1942, the Japanese began to target Fort Drum and the rest of the harbor defenses from the air and by February the concrete battleship was in range of Japanese artillery on shore. The fort endured bombing and shelling, destroying the anti-aircraft batteries, temporarily disabling a six-inch gun, damaging its casemate and searchlight, chipping away large chunks of concrete.

The whole time Fort Drum was under attack, it returned fire against the Japanese. The fort’s resistance continued even after the fall of Bataan on April 10, 1942 left Fort Drum and the other islands of the harbor defense as the last American forces in the Philippines. The guns of the concrete battleship dealt serious blows to Japanese forces assaulting the island of Corregidor, inflicting heavy casualties.

Unfortunately for the men of E battery, 59th Coastal Artillery, their efforts were not enough to halt the Japanese onslaught as General Wainwright made the decision to surrender the remaining U.S. forces in the Philippines. However, the fort was never taken and its main guns were still firing five minutes before the surrender was announced.

After capturing the Philippines, the Japanese manned all former American positions, including the concrete battleship. Eventually, American forces recaptured Manila and a daring assault by the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment U.S. forces recaptured Corregidor as well. That left Fort Drum once again as the last bastion of resistance. However, unlike the Americans some three years earlier, the Japanese had no intention of surrendering. This combined with the fact that the Americans had designed the fort to resist all manner of bombings and gunfire meant they would have to find another way to remove the defenders.

Unfortunately for the Japanese manning the concrete battleship, the idea the Americans came up with was rather grisly. The troops poured a mixture of two parts diesel oil and one part gasoline into the fort, lit it, and burned the defenders alive. The fire burned for several days afterwards but all the defenses of the harbor had been cleared of Japanese. The fort has never been reoccupied and still stands like a ghost ship in Manila Bay to this day.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

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7 craziest commando missions of World War II

World War II was an exciting time for special operations and commandos. The advent of airborne operations gave them a whole new angle of approach, and the sheer scale of the war guaranteed that they’d have plenty of chances to use their skills.


But even accounting for those things, operators on both sides of the war distinguished themselves with daring missions.

Here are eight of the craziest:

1. A costly canoe raid against German ships

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
(Photo: Royal Marines Museum)

The “Cockleshell Heroes” were a group of British Royal Marines assigned the task of launching from a submarine and canoeing miles up the River Gironde to place limpet mines against the hull of German ships. The mission hit problems almost immediately as canoes were lost to tide and river obstacles.

Only two of the original five made it to the Bordeaux-Bassens docks. The four men who crewed the canoes placed mines on a few ships, which damaged some commercial vessels. While the material damage was limited, it boosted British morale and forced the Germans to devote more resources to defense in a way similar to the U.S. Army Air Force’s Doolittle Raid.

2. The failed attempt to kill Erwin Rommel

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
(Photo: German Federal Archives)

Operation Flipper had the lofty goal of crippling an Italian headquarters and intelligence office as well as killing Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. The mission was beset by bad weather and the assault force that hit the German officer’s headquarters was smaller than planned.

Still, the British commandos broke into the headquarters building only to learn that Rommel had been delayed in Rome by his own weather problems. Only two raiders survived, but even Rommel admitted that it was a “brilliant operation.” He had the senior officer, British Lt. Col. Geoffrey Keyes, killed and buried with full honors and photos sent to the family.

3. Norwegian resistance destroys Germany’s nuclear stockpile, twice

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
(Photo: Public Domain)

A first attempt on the Norsk Hydro Plant, where radioactive heavy water was processed and stored, failed but the survivors and their reinforcements hit the plant on Feb. 28, 1943, despite suffering from starvation and exhaustion. They were able to blow the storage facilities, setting German nuclear research back by at least months.

Months later, a new stockpile of German heavy water was being transported on a ferry when the Norwegian Resistance attacked once again, sinking the ferry and ending Germany’s last best chance at a nuclear reactor or bomb. One man, Knut Haukelid, participated in both raids.

4. German paratroopers take the world’s strongest fort

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Fort Eben-Emael was arguably the world’s strongest fortress in May 1940, but it fell to 85 German paratroopers with the right plan. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

In 1940, the Belgian Fort Eben-Emael was arguably the world’s strongest fort. Constructed from 1932-1935, it was heavily armed and guarded by upwards of 800 soldiers. But Germany had to destroy or negate it to get the blitzkrieg into Belgium.

They did it in a single morning with 85 paratroopers. The men landed on the fort in gliders and quickly took hold of large sections of it, destroying or capturing the guns aimed at the countryside. When the rest of the German army arrived, the remaining defenders surrendered.

5. Benito Mussolini is rescued from a mountaintop retreat by German paratroopers

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
(Photo: Bundesarchiv)

In July 1943, Italian defeats turned the country against Benito Mussolini and he was exiled to a series of locations. A German commander was able to track the dictator to Gran Sasso, a mountaintop ski resort accessible only by cable car or glider. At 6,300 feet, it was too high even for an airborne assault.

German Capt. Otto Skorzeny led the glider assault. The paratroopers brought along an Italian general in the hopes that he would prevent a shootout. It worked. The Italian guards decided not to fight when the gliders crashed into the mountains and the paratroopers stormed out. Skorzeny and Mussolini departed on a small, high-altitude plane.

6. British commandos steal a German radar station

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
(Photo: Royal Air Force Squadron Leader A.E. Hill)

The insane plan for Operation Biting called for five groups of British paras to land in German-occupied France, capture a German radar station, and then make off with key pieces of the technology. The men landed under cover of darkness and quickly captured the building. They even managed to grab two technicians with intimate knowledge of the advanced German radar.

Paratroopers who missed their drop zone arrived late to destroy a German pillbox, a situation that almost ended with the withdrawing commandos being killed. Luckily, the men arrived in time to destroy the pillbox as it swept fire on the other commandos. The British escaped with their prize.

7. The British turn an entire ship into a bomb

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
The HMS Campbeltown sits on the lip of the Normandie dock after crashing into it. (Photo: German army archives)

Dubbed the “Greatest Raid of Them All,” the St. Nazaire Raid targeted the only German-held dry dock for heavy ships on the Atlantic that was accessible without passing German defenses. But the dry dock was heavily armed and far upriver.

The British sent a small flotilla of vessels led by the converted HMS Campbeltown. Sixteen were small motorboats, twelve of which were destroyed without reaching shore. But the Campbeltown managed to ram the gates of the dry dock. The Germans captured 215 of the 600 attackers and killed 169 more, but explosives hidden in the Campbeltown exploded the next morning, crippling the facilities.

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A brief history of coffee in the US military

Americans throwing tea in Boston Harbor was the start of our national movement toward the dark and bitter nectar of the gods. This is why tea time is gone and why we Americans take coffee breaks now.


Coffee houses were the center of political discussion during the American Revolution. These days, few things are as inextricably linked with the United States and its military as coffee.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Coffee: the real Arsenal of Democracy.

In the Civil War, coffee was the only fresh food troops on the battlefield could get. It might even have been the difference maker in the outcome of the war, if morale means anything at all.

In the South , a pound of coffee could run you upwards of $1000 in today’s dollars. Confederate troops desperately used things like roasted corn, rye, okra seeds, sweet potatoes, acorns, and peanuts as substitutes. One substitute, Chicory, is still popular in New Orleans.

Still, if you’ve ever had a “coffee” made from one of these, you know it’s just not the same.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

When future-President William McKinley was 19, he served in the Civil War, hauling vats of hot coffee so front line soldiers could get a cup and soldier on. This story was retold several times during his presidential campaign and proved how everyone in the war felt about coffee.

There is even a William McKinley Coffee Break monument in Maryland.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Hot coffee makes ration bread seem ok. That’s how amazing coffee is.

Back then, troops had to roast and grind their own beans. To make coffee easier to make, the Army introduced the first instant coffee. Called “Essence of Coffee,” it was basically a coffee reduction with sugar and milk added at the factory. All the troops had to do was pop a can open and add hot water.

Unfortunately, crooked entrepreneurs often sold the government spoiled milk, so the Essence not only tasted terrible, it caused a lot of bowel problems to boot. The government quickly switched back to the real stuff.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Coffee even earned its nickname via the military. President Woodrow Wilson’s U.S. Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels banned alcohol on ships in the U.S. Navy from the outset of World War I.

Coffee filled the void left by the outgoing rum and wine. Sailors were not pleased with the change and referred to the replacement as a “Cup of Joseph,” which soon became a Cup o’ Joe.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Somebody get me a coffee pot as big as a WWI field kitchen.

 

Coffee even helped win World War II. U.S. troops created one of the world’s most popular coffee beverages, the Caffé Americano, by watering down their Italian espresso shots – which was too strong for their taste palate.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Also it comes in those tiny sissy cups.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Marines make Coffee on Iwo Jima

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Bring back donut rations.

The Korean War saw coffee being brewed just as much as any other conflict.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Frontline coffee delivery. Amazing.

In Vietnam, G.I.s made coffee in the field using C-4 explosives as a heat source, as they did with all their c-ration cooking.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Lifer juice in ‘Nam.

You might have noticed women with the Red Cross serving coffee at the front throughout the 20th century.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

These days, coffee is one of the most popular things civilians send U.S. troops deployed to war zones.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

If you’re the first one at your unit in the morning and you didn’t brew coffee, everyone hates you. No one wants to walk all the way to Green Beans.

U.S. troops love coffee so much, many got out and started their own coffee companies. Check out Lock ‘n Load Java, Veteran Coffee Roasters, Black Rifle Coffee Company, and Ranger Coffee.

September 29th is National Coffee Day (as if coffee only deserved one day of recognition).

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Another open letter to Colin Kaepernick from a (more understanding) military veteran

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
(Photo: thesource.com)


EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of We Are The Mighty.

Thank you for using your platform to highlight a societal ill that needs our national attention and action to address and improve matters pertaining to equal justice under the law. Many will take issue with the manner of your “protest” and may never entertain the issue at the heart of your statement. These fellow Americans may have a concern about the nature of your protest rather than the substance of your protest.

Related: An open letter to Colin Kaepernick from a military veteran

I applaud you for risking the sure backlash and knee-jerk disdain sure to come for any American who dares to highlight an issue during the National Anthem. Because you are not a professional protestor, your methods may be crude and course. Because you are a professional athlete, your words may not convey the precise intent of your protest. But because you are an American, you have the right to express your thought or voice in a manner available to you. Some will offer advice on how to protest in a manner that is less upsetting to them and their sensibilities.

This misses the point of social protest. It is to awaken those very sensibilities and highlight the moral deficit in our social fabric. There are not many avenues or ways for a social minority to highlight an issue to the majority. Our shared history, our American history is replete with examples worthy of outrage and protest that caused no action or discussion by the majority.

A notable example is the story of Emmet Till. Many are not aware that the injustice endured by the murder, disfigurement, mutilation and hatred visited on a 14-year-old boy and his family, were the chief impetus to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In short, this 14-year-old boy was kidnapped from his home and killed. The assailants were known and a mock trial held. No convictions were given.

Your protest method is not innovative but has been shown to be effective in generating discussion. A similar example is Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Many will accuse you of nefarious motives and unpatriotic underpinnings. Many will look to dissect your background for failings to lessen your protest moment. Many will discount your intended message because of your delivery (manner and voice). And many will never look to address the intent of the protest because that is hard and dismissing is easy.

In addition, not having a difficult discussion is easier than acknowledging a perspective not shared. Said another way is that the experiences that are not shared by the majority are often deemed non-existent. My nation, our nation, needs to continue the work to improve our social fabric and the actions of its institutions and agents to better provide equal justice. America, in its history, has made great strides in integrating many cultures, religions, and traditions.

America has led the world in demonstrating democracy in action. America has often led the world in being a champion for human rights and dignity. America is the greatest nation in this world and remains a beacon of hope for many people enduring deep levels of oppression.

While your manner of protest is not what I or many others would choose, I support you in this effort to highlight the need for a national engagement on the issue of equal justice. To those reading this letter, this is a call for us work together to discuss the issue, understand the perspectives/history and bring ideas and solutions to improve our America. I love my country and stand ready to serve again. This is the work needed to push us forward in making our nation a “more perfect union.”

Arthur Billingsley is a retired Navy commander, graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School with a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. He’s currently working as an IT professional in northern Florida.

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77 years later, WWII vet shares memories at Marine graduation

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
theChive


Last weekend, we got to spend time with a hero named Walter Jorgensen. Mr. Jorgensen is one of the oldest living U.S. Marines to survive the bloody battles in the Pacific Theater during World War 2.

Alongside a group of fellow veterans, Mr. Jorgensen attended the graduation of our youngest Marines at the USMC Recruit Base.

This is the same place Mr. Jorgensen went through boot camp and graduated at in 1939. Seventy-seven years ago. From here, he would prepare for America’s entry into WW2.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, his path into war would send him and his buddies to the islands of the Pacific to battle the Japanese Empire.

There he would fight in 3 of the deadliest conflicts: Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Saipan. During these battles, Mr. Jorgensen served as a Company Commander with the 2nd Division, 2nd Battalion from the 6th Marines.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
theChive

The following photos are just a glimpse of the horrors Mr. Jorgensen experienced as a leader of the legendary “Easy Company”.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

The battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands began on August 7th of 1942.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

The Marines were tasked with securing airfields for our aircraft to take-off from for both aerial defense of our Navy’s ships and ultimately to send bombers to the main land of Japan. This was the objective of America’s “Island hopping” campaign.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Unlike the battle at Normandy (D-Day), this beach landing was uneventful…however, holding the airfield at Lunga Point would cost thousands of lives.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

In total, 1,600 were killed with 4,200 wounded along with 24,000 Japanese soldiers killed during the first island destination of the Pacific Campaign.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Bullets weren’t the only killers during these campaigns. Malaria ran rampant in parts of the Pacific.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

The next island would be one of the costliest battles for the Marines of “Easy Company”. This was War; this was the battle for Tarawa.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

“There were 180 of us from Easy Company that hit the beach that morning. No more than 40 of us walked off the island.” — Marine Schultz Miller

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

“Early on the morning of Nov. 20, 1943, the order came: ‘Hit the beach with everything you’ve got’. It was the first day of the assault on Betio Island – the struggle would come to be known as the Battle of Tarawa.”

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

“Easy Company was a bonded group. I was part of a replacement unit, which was reinforcing Easy after the battle for Guadalcanal,” the 79-year old veteran recounted. “If there was one thing that was easy about Easy Company, it was that they really took all the younger fellows in. They didn’t treat us bad like some other units did with their new guys.”

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

“We were taking machine gun fire from both sides of us as we came up to the beach,” he said. “Easy was one of the first companies to assault the island. Soon after that, all of our officers were dead.”

With the absence of commissioned leadership, Schultz described how the non-commissioned officers took over the company and carried on with the mission.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

“At one point the highest ranking person was a sergeant. However, we were trained well and every man knew the job of the guy above him. If a machine-gunner went down, the guy behind him picked up the weapon and kept moving forward,” Schultz said.

It was all close combat as we took the island, Schultz said. Japanese were deeply entrenched in concrete and metal pillboxes with machine guns, cutting down Marines with raking fire right and left.

“I saw a few Marines make suicide runs, sprinting into the pillboxes with grenades or satchel charges,” he said. “After losing so many Marines, it was a last (recourse).”

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

 

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

 

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

The next destination was Saipan in the Mariana Islands.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

 

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

In Saipan a total of 3,426 Americans died with 10,364 others wounded.

Like the horrors on our side, 29 thousand Japanese soldiers died with an additional 22,000 civilians lost (many from suicide).

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Walter Jorgensen said little about what he experienced during the first 3 battles. He simply told me the following: “We began those campaigns with 29 Commanding Officers, all of them died on the battlefield.”

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

The loss of leaders would result in the following for Mr. Jorgensen, he would become a leader of his men at the battle for Okinawa. His new title was Executive Officer of the 6th Div., 3rd Battalion with the Marine’s 29th Regiment.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Like the first 3 battles, the numbers lost were unimaginable. The totals are so high that it becomes an estimate.

That estimate ranges from 77-110,000 Japanese killed. Along with the men from multiple Divisions of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps., the Marines battled for this final runway.

America’s total lost at Okinawa was 55,162 wounded and Thirty-Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifteen men killed in battle.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

 

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Back to the Marine’s graduation.

That morning we got to watch the band play as they raised the flag on base.

While driving into the base, Mr. Jorgensen pointed to a small building which he said, “that use to be the main entrance to the base”. The building in front of us, during the raising of the flag, was “new”.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

After the band played, we introduced Mr. Jorgensen to Brigadier General Jurney, the Commander of Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Their conversation would later be called out during the up-coming graduation.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

After the soon-to-be United States Marines marched onto the grounds, Brigadier General Jurney asked any Vietnam Vets to stand in the crowd followed by calling out any Veterans from the Korean War.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

Finally he said, “We have a guest in the crowd. This man fought as a Marine in Guadacanal, Tarawa, Saipan and Okinawa. Please stand Walter Jorgensen”.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

The pride and power of his memories were both unmistakable.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

 

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

 

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

 

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

This is what a 95 year old United States Marine looks like…this is “Easy Company” Commander Walter Jorgensen.

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created

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Collective impact is the key to social change that counts

Today in military history: Medal of Honor is created
Bill Rausch, Got Your 6 executive director, on a panel at SXSW. (Photo: GY6)


Recently, Starbucks, the Schultz Family Foundation and JP Morgan convened in Washington, D.C., to explore impactful ways to empower veterans. This meeting at its core was centered on finding a solution to corporate philanthropy – how can organizations work to produce social change in a chosen area, while still ensuring a return on investment? Across sectors, collective impact has emerged as the answer.

As it relates to the world of nonprofits, collective impact is a framework by which organizations can accomplish more through partnerships with others with shared values, than they can by going alone. Ten years ago this month, I deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, and in the military, I learned the phrase “one team, one fight,” which perfectly summarizes this concept. Pair this idea of cooperation, not competition, with the generous financial backing of corporate donors, and you have the foundation for real change.

Here is a real world example: To raise awareness for breast cancer research and domestic violence, the Avon Foundation gives grants to nonprofits to strengthen the work they do on the ground. Corporate partnerships are a key component of amplifying the work of nonprofits, but for companies looking to invest in social change, how do you find the right home for your dollars? For those looking to empower veterans and military families, the Got Your 6 campaign has perfected the solution.

Over the last three years, Macy’s has raised $6.7 million dollars for the national veteran campaign Got Your 6 through its annual American Icons campaign. These funds have gone to national programs and events as well as to Got Your 6’s coalition of nonprofit partners in the form of grants, in efforts to advance the veteran empowerment movement.

By vetting each nonprofit partner within its larger coalition, Got Your 6 ensures that corporate funding will go to organizations creating real change in communities across America. From the great work of Macy’s through American Icons, and the generosity of the American people, Got Your 6 was able to give 35 grants over three years to nonprofit partners such as The 6th Branch, a veteran-run nonprofit that utilizes the leadership and operational skills of military veterans to accomplish community service initiatives. Last year, Got Your 6 granted The 6th Branch $93,000, supporting a year’s worth of service to transform abandoned lots in Baltimore into urban farms and safe spaces for youth recreation. Last month, members from team Got Your 6 participated in an urban greening event with The 6th Branch at the Oliver Community Farm in Baltimore; a veteran-created community resource designed to provide fresh produce in response to a lack of healthy food options in the area.

From my time as a cadet at West Point to the 17 months I spent in Baghdad during the height of the surge, I’ve seen first-hand the power of collective impact and how critical it is to success, regardless of the mission. To continue supporting a resurgence of community in America, Macy’s is again working with Got Your 6 on this year’s iteration of American Icons. Veterans will directly benefit the more people know about this: Americans can shop at Macy’s for Got Your 6 Weekend on Friday, May 13 through Sunday, May 15 to donate $3 at the register or online at Macys.com to receive a special savings pass, with 100% of all donations going directly to Got Your 6 and its coalition of nonprofit partners.

I have been leading teams my entire life, in and out of the Army, and I couldn’t be more proud of Got Your 6 as we lead the veteran empowerment movement, leveraging a “one team, one fight” approach. Companies looking to support social change should seriously consider the collective impact mindset. As exemplified by Macy’s and Got Your 6, measurable impact can occur when all parties work together.

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