27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of - We Are The Mighty
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27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of

Sadly, the heroes of World War 2 are leaving us every day. With the vast majority of war veterans past the age of 90, it won’t be long before only a few WW2 heroes and veterans are left to tell their stories of courage and triumph in the face of murderous odds. While some soldiers and important figures of the time are well known to the culture in general, most aren’t. Some didn’t survive, and many others simply never spoke about what they did. This list of World War 2 heroes will show the courage, bravery, and selflessness of many men you may not have heard of, but who made important contributions to the war nonetheless.


World War Two made heroes out of countless soldiers, scientists, officials, and even cooks and the World War 2 timeline is dotted with remarkable and heroic individuals. Whether fighting the Nazis on the European front or making a difference against the Japanese in the Pacific, these real life heroes helped the Allies win the war and helped make the world what it is today. Their sacrifices for their fellow fighters and even strangers they’d never feet were truly heroic.

This list features many World War 2 soldiers, pilots, and fighters who you should know something about. Some were officers and aces, others peasants and ordinary foot soldiers. They hailed from around the world, and some never even wore a uniform. But all of them took actions that saved lives, inflicted damage on the enemy, and collectively won World War II, the worst war in human history.

27 Unsung WWII Heroes You May Not Know About

 

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A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident

In the 1982 film “First Blood,” a disaffected Special Forces veteran who served in Vietnam is harassed and detained by local authorities. After giving him flashbacks to his captivity by the Viet Cong, he fights his way out of the sheriff’s office and flees into the woods. 

The cops give chase, and it doesn’t go well for them. John Rambo systematically takes them down, one by one. Now, there may be a real-world Rambo hiding in a European park in Belgium at this very moment.

This time, the enemy isn’t the treatment of Vietnam veterans, it’s COVID-19 and the restrictions placed on people to control the virus. 

Jurgen Conings is a 46-year old Belgian air force special operations commando who served in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He went missing in a national park near Belgium’s border with the Netherlands on May 18, 2021. He is alleged to have stolen a cache of weapons that he is presumed to still be carrying. 

Before he went missing, Conings penned a letter that threatened a number of government officials, especially those associated with the state’s coronavirus response.The Belgian was already on a government watch list for his far-right political views. 

Authorities were alerted to the disappearance and weapons theft after Conings girlfriend hounda letter that stated he “ could no longer live in a society where politicians and virologists have taken everything away from us.”

No matter what his political views or threats, there appears to be a large vocal voice of support for Conings on the internet, a voice that Belgian officials call “disturbing.” 

Conings was still serving the Belgian military as a weapons instructor when he went missing in the national park. So far the only trace authorities have managed to find of the soldier is an abandoned campsite and his abandoned car, which carried four rocket launchers inside it – and was booby-trapped with a grenade. 

Before becoming the target of the manhunt, Conings is believed to have reconnoitered the town and home of one of Belgium’s top virologists, a man Conings seems to hold responsible for the country’s continued coronavirus restrictions.  

Special police search units from four countries have joined the hunt for Conings, using everything from helicopters to armored cars. The search team includes 400 soldiers along with German and Dutch Special Forces units with thermal cameras. 

He is known to be armed with at least a FN P90 machine gun and a sidearm. Shots were heard ringing throughout the wooded park, but no one could confirm its source or what type of weapon was fired. It’s not known what other weapons he may have. 

Conings also stated that he “would join the resistance and would not surrender.” He has two children from a previous relationship and his girlfriend has a daughter of her own. She said that she just wanted Conings to return, calling him a “loving father.” She also said she had no indication of his anti-lockdown beliefs or that he would take the beliefs this far. 

If Conings is using John Rambo in “First Blood” as a model, it would do everyone involved some good to remember that Rambo didn’t directly kill anyone in the film and the only death came after an overzealous police officer fell from a helicopter. 

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This event is helping military influencers take over the world

The Military Influencer Conference, held in Dallas, Texas, from Oct. 22 to Oct. 24, was organized by recently retired Army 1st Sergeant Curtez Riggs, who dreamed of designing a conference that merged entrepreneurship, military spouse networking, and the blogging community into what would ultimately become the Military Influencer Conference.


The event was supported by major sponsors, including USAA and National Geographic, which helped contribute to its massive success.

We Are The Mighty was there and we were blown away by how great the event was — but don’t take our word for it. Here are 18 sources who will back that up:

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Military Influencer Conference 2017.

1. a spouse ful™

Lakesha Cole, entrepreneur, blogger, and military spouse, explains how the Military Influencer Conference “reset the standard moving forward” for all other military oriented conferences. Diversity and the ability to network are just two of the things Cole found to be game changers for future conferences.

2. The Hive and Co.

Shiang-Li and Miranda from The Hive and Co. were motivated to find different content than they normally see at conferences. Their thoughts on whether you should attend the conference next year? “You won’t be disappointed.”

3. Operation Supply Drop

The team from Operation Supply Drop noted that hundreds of years of military service and tens of millions of dollars in revenue were represented in the 35 speakers presenting in 21 different sessions.

4. Jennifer Pilcher, MA- Strategic Military Communications, LLC, MilitaryOneClick

Pilcher’s in depth focus on TNT, or Trust, Need, and Transparency, explains how Military Influencer Conference founder Curtez Riggs was able to put together this explosive conference in only months. A little help from Philip Taylor — (PT Money and founder of FitCon) — and a whole lot of elbow grease, and Riggs set the whole place on fire.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Fred Wellman, Lakesha Cole, and Paul Szoldra deliver the final panel at the Military Influencers Conference. (Image A Spouse Ful)

5. Vet2BizLife, LLC

Dan Dwyer, owner of Vet2BizLife, LLC, recognized the passion, motivation, and ambition of the attendees at the Military Influencer Conference, and he has 10 tips on how to keep that ambition moving forward after the fact. His 10 tips will help you solidify “an action plan that you’ll be able to execute once you’re recovered, reinvigorated, and ready.”

6. MilitaryByOwner

Founders Dave and Sharon Gran both had two very interesting things to say about the Military Influencer Conference. Sharon: “The Military Influencer Conference is the only conference around for military spouses, veterans, and active duty members who blog, write, speak or own businesses in the military space to come together and learn from each other.” Dave: “The conference is not only a venue to hear the stories and advice from successful entrepreneurs, but an opportunity to network and build relationships.”

7. Her Money Moves

Christine, owner of Her Money Moves, is here to tell you WHY you should attend next year’s conference, even if you’re a nobody and brand new to this entire thing called military life.

8. Medium

Retired Air Force veteran and founder of the Unconventional Veteran Bernard Edwards praised the Military Influencer Conference in its hands on approach and ability to relate to the typical veteran (who is, apparently, not a general or a pilot).

9. Countdowns and Cupcakes

Blogger Rachel McQuiston writes about her four biggest takeaways from the Military Influencer Conference. She writes of her fellow attendees “these are my people.”

10. Consilium

Global business advisor Ed Marsh outlines what made the Military Influencer Conference different from most conferences, and how that difference is what made the entire experience worth him waiving his normal speaking fees and travel costs. Calling the attendees “Quiet Professionals,” Marsh notes that “there was the quiet confidence of a group that knows they’ll win. They may not yet be sure how, and may not even yet be clear on what challenge they’re facing — but experience tells them that their grit, determination, doggedness, ingenuity, and flexibility will enable them to prevail.”

11. GreenZone Hero

Founder of GreenZone Hero John Krotec writes “I can’t ever recall experiencing anything like it at any of the professional conferences that I’ve attended throughout my thirty-plus year business career. Honestly, it was electric.” His observations of the Military Influencer Conference are a must read.

12. The Fortitude Coach

Nicole Bowe-Rahming, aka “The Fortitude Coach,” notes that the Military Influencer Conference elicited moments of “aha!” and humility, as well as a need to get back to the harmony between being an entrepreneur and an influencer. Her biggest “aha” moment? When Daniel Alarik, CEO and founder of Grunt Style, said “You can’t, but WE can.”

13. Anna Blanch Rabe

Anna Blanch Rabe, an Army veteran who’s worn so many hats she could open her own hat store, attended the Military Influencer Conference against her will after spending 4 months touring the country. She wrote of her concerns with attending the event: “I would regret not spending extra days in Washington D.C. with my husband after the Marine Corps Marathon.” Rabe soon found she was mistaken.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
The 2018 Military Influencer Conference will be in Orlando, Florida, from Sept. 23 – 25, which logically means we all unofficially meet up at Disney World after, right guys? (Image A Spouse Ful)

14. Stacey Peters

Freelancer Stacey Peters notes that at first she felt awkward, unsure of herself, and how she “was wrong — dead wrong.”

15. Erica McMannes

MadSkills co-founder Erica McMannes discusses three things that you missed if you missed this year’s Military Influencer Conference: how to perfect your pitch, the way the military spouse community was embraced as part of the group rather than just married to it, and how important validation is.

16. Adventures of a Natural Family

Air Force veteran and current military spouse Alana Wilson digs in to what it means to be a military influencer, and how impressed she was with the over-all community. She writes “My biggest takeaway is that I sit back in awe of the military community. Even after being in this community for 14 years now, I have a whole new wave of appreciation for the kind of people that make up this group. These people are some of the most creative, loyal, hard working, no-quite, all grit, give you the shirt off their back type of people.”

17. The Seasoned Spouse

Lizann Lightfoot, the founder of The Seasoned Spouse, writes about the 8 big lessons she took away from the Military Influencer Conference. Among them? “Never underestimate the power of a dream.”

18. ScoutComms

According to Fred Wellman, “It was hard to predict how the first MIC would go. It was clear something special was in the making, based on the incredible list of speakers and sponsors taking the leap of faith on a first-time event.”

And special it was. He listed big takeaways from the event, including the fact that sixty percent of the attendees were military spouses, proving what we’ve known for a long time: our families are a vital part of our military experiences and capabilities.

Featured Image via milblogging.com. From left to right: Glenn D BantonEric MitchellMichael KellyBernard EdwardsCurtez RiggsMatthew Griffin, Eli Crane, Abe Minkara and Adam Whitten of Marc Cuban Companies.

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This 18th Century rifle had firepower that was way ahead of its time

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of


When thinking about 18th and 19th century weaponry, the standard perception is of cumbersome muskets loaded standing up and only the skilled and lucky getting off as many as three rounds in a minute. But an innovative air-powered semi-automatic rifle developed by an Austrian watchmaker in 1779 or 1780 served several armies for decades, and even played a role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Bartholomaus Girandoni, an watchmaker from the Austrian Empire province of Tyrol, had developed an innovative form of firearm, especially for the technological limitations of the time. A pressurized container of air, in the form of a removable stock, would propel a .46 calibre musket ball at speeds comparable to modern day handguns. A tube magazine, typically holding more than 20 rounds, fed through a manual switch.

The weapon was pointed upward and a switch was pressed to reload. Considering that standard muskets at the time required the operator to be standing while reloading, this let soldiers keep low to the ground, presenting a much smaller target and allowing them to stay under cover. It was comparable in range, accuracy, and penetration to a standard musket.

A soldier armed with the rifle typically carried three air tanks and a hundred lead shot in a special leather case.The air canister was good for perhaps 30-40 effective shots, with range and accuracy dropping as the pressure went down. An additional benefit was that it was much quieter than gunpowder based weapons.

A semi-automatic weapon of this level of effectiveness was basically unknown, and the Austrian Army eagerly adopted the design. It saw extensive action in the Napoleonic Wars, and was used for over 30 years.

Thomas Jefferson, who always had a keen interest in inventive new technology, purchased several of the rifles. One of them was carried by the legendary Lewis and Clark expedition, whom demonstrated the rifle to American Indian tribes they met along the way. The Indians were impressed with the weapon’s firepower and it’s much quieter report than a standard musket.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of

But the weapon had a number of disadvantages. Recharging a canister could take over 1,500 cranks from a small hand pump, though larger horse drawn recharge stations were often used. The weapon was complex and easily damaged, and the leather seals connecting the tank to the gun had to be kept wet in order to prevent leaks. Compared to the relative simplicity of regular muskets, it required a lot of training to maintain and suffered from serious reliability issues.

The weapon was simply too complex for the technology at the time, and in mass production suffered from too many defects and expense. The conscript armies of the period needed simple weapons that could be built and maintained anywhere, and it was never widely adopted by other European armies.

Though it was phased out by 1815, the weapon’s technology was unique, and an infantry weapon of similar capabilities in sustained rapid fire were not seen again for 50 years. In the end, it’s real flaw is that it was ahead of it’s time.

More here.

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Here are 6 things you may not have known about the US president’s personal jet

It’s the most famous aircraft in the world, a highly-visible symbol of the United States wherever it travels.


Known as Air Force One, and popularly nicknamed ‘the Flying White House’, this massive jumbo jet, decked out in a special blue, white and silver livery, ferries U.S. presidents, their families, members of the press and various staffers and Secret Service protective agents across the globe on official trips to foreign and domestic destinations.

While Air Force One itself is incredibly famous, it turns out that not a heck of a lot about this unique aircraft seems to be known in public circles. So the next time you find yourself at a party and you feel like impressing a few folks with Air Force One facts they probably didn’t know, today’s your lucky day! Here are 6 things about the President’s personal aircraft that you more than likely didn’t know:

1. “Air Force One” is technically a callsign and not the aircraft’s actual designation.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Columbine II, Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s official transport and the first presidential plane to use the Air Force One callsign (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

“Air Force One” is the callsign attached to any USAF aircraft the president is physically present on. The famous Boeing 747 decked out in the presidential scheme is officially designated “VC-25.” The Air Force One callsign originated in 1953 after air traffic controllers mistakenly put an aircraft carrying President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the same airspace as a civilian airliner over New York City, after confusing the presidential transport’s name and code for a commercial flight.

Ever since, every military vehicle carrying America’s head honcho is temporarily relabeled with the name of the service the vehicle belongs to, followed by “One” (e.g. Marine One).

2. Each VC-25 has its own medical suite aboard the aircraft.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Pres. George W. Bush in the Presidential office aboard Air Force One in 2008 (Photo White House)

You read that correctly; whenever the president is aboard, Air Force One carries a qualified military surgeon/physician along for the ride. A small medical center aboard the aircraft, fully stocked and equipped, can be converted into an operating room should the need arise. While no sitting president has had to avail of the on-board doctor’s abilities and talents, it’s still helpful to always have one nearby, just in case.

3. Both VC-25s are equipped with extensive countermeasures and defensive systems.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
A Secret Service protective agent stands vigilant over Air Force One as it refuels at Ramstein Air Base in Germany (Photo US Air Force)

On any given day, the threats to the president’s life number in the hundreds, though the Secret Service does everything it can to make sure the risks are largely negligible.

The Air Force also does its part by outfitting each VC-25 with the very best in defensive systems available at the moment.  It’s unknown what exactly these systems consist of, but it could be safely assumed that the VC-25 comes standard with missile jammers, flare dispensers and more. On top of that, each Air Force One flight carries a small army of well-armed Secret Service agents and Air Force security specialists to provide security for the President and the aircraft on the ground.

4. It is one of the most expensive aircraft the US Air Force has ever operated.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
A VC-25 arrives at Andrews AFB with the casket of deceased Pres. Gerald Ford (Photo US Air Force)

Not only is the VC-25 one of the largest jets flown by the USAF, it’s also one of the most expensive the service has ever flown in its entire history. At an operating cost of approximately $200,000 per hour, Air Force One flights dwarf the expenses incurred by every other military-crewed and flown aircraft like the E-4B Nightwatch, the C-5 Galaxy and the B-2 Spirit. The security measures, passenger support (for members of the press, Secret Service and White House Staff), and communications systems operations all come together to account for this sky high figure.

5. The President can seamlessly interface with the military and government while airborne.

Each VC-25 possesses a highly integrated communications suite, staffed by a team of Air Force communication systems operators. These CSOs constantly monitor the aircraft’s satellite data-links, intranets and phone lines, ensuring that all incoming and outgoing calls on each flight are secured and highly encrypted.

In the event of national emergencies, the President can interact with military units from the aircraft, or direct the government and stay appraised of the situation at hand, thanks to the communications center and its CSOs.

6. It always parks with its left side facing the crowds gathered to see its arrivals.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
President Trump during a welcome ceremony at Brussels Int’l Airport. Note that the VC-25 is parked with its left side facing the crowd (Photo White House)

Though it seems almost arbitrary, Air Force One does indeed park with its left side facing onlookers crowding behind the security cordon at airports. While the exact reasons for this are unknown, as both sides of the aircraft seem identical, it could be reasonably assumed that this is done for security purposes and practicality.

Positioning the big jet in such a way masks the President’s office from sight on the right side, while it also enables the use of air stairs built into the aircraft on the left side should an external stair unit be unavailable. Air Force One never parks at an airport terminal, nor does it accept a jet bridge connection.

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History’s 20 coolest floating fortresses

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who get the appeal of floating fortresses, bristling with guns and missiles and all manner of things awesome – and those who drive Priuses. There is no middle ground. And if there were, most of the ships on this list would turn it into a giant, smoking crater.


Yes, there’s definitely something about a big military ship that takes us back to the most primal part of ourselves. There’s a bit of romance to that part; maybe a bit of the old idealist, who appreciates the aesthetic appeal of naval warfare. Maybe it’s the risk-taker, the gambler who understands that all that lay between sailor and sea is one well-placed shot to the stern.  Maybe it’s just the fact that big guns are cool, and ships carry the biggest guns of them all.

But no matter what the appeal, you would have to be of a pretty small group not to find something to love about these cool military surface ships. And if you’re one of those people, please park your Prius on the beach…we’re working up a firing solution… Vote up the coolest military surface ships below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section!

The Coolest (Military) Surface Ships Ever

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This whiskey is a WWII victory, distilled

…I was goin’ over the Cork and Kerry Mountains…

Musha rain dum a doo, dum a da…
There’s whiskey in the jar, oh
— Thin Lizzy, Whiskey in the Jar

Whiskey is a mountain spirit. After a cold day on the slopes, are you thirsting for a Cosmo? A margarita? Nope. And we’re not even offering rum as an option. In the mountains, you long for an end-of-day bourbon, scotch, or rye to light your insides on fire. It’s tradition and it’s awesome.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
You… ( Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
…complete me. ( Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

In Vail, Colo, there’s another mountain spirit that has to be reckoned with and unlike whiskey, it’s 100 percent military. It’s the legacy of the Army’s venerable 10th Mountain Division, the special alpine tactical force that trained at nearby Camp Hale during WWII.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Men of the 10th Mountain Division. Not a cocktail in sight.

Spirits, however, are made to blend. It’s tradition and it’s awesome.

Now, almost 75 years after 10th Mountain defeated the Germans in Italy, a Vail whiskey distillery is honoring the Division by taking its name. In the tradition of service, 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co. is distinguishing itself as an ardent supporter of area veterans.

Sensing the makings of a 90-proof military food story, Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl made the trek out to the Colorado mountains to meet the founders of the 10th Mountain Whiskey over two fingers of their best bourbon.

The distillery was founded by Christian Avignon, the grandson of an 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment medic, and his friend and fellow Colorado ski obsessive, Ryan Thompson. Together, they made it their mission to honor the 10th, whose veterans are responsible not only for key victories against the Nazis, but also for the establishment and leadership of so many of America’s great mountain institutions.

The Northern Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the Sierra Club, the Peace Corps chapter in Nepal, even the famous ski resorts at Vail and Aspen, all count 10th Mountain Division vets among their founding leadership. A storied fighting force inspires a whiskey maker determined to give back. It’s a potent cocktail of tradition, patriotism, and mountaineering that will absolutely warm your insides on a cold day.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

Army food will make you feel the feels

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

This is what it means to be American in Guam

MIGHTY SPORTS

How the national anthem came to sports

On May 15, 1862, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played at the inauguration of the Union Base Ball and Cricket Grounds in Brooklyn. Of course, the song wasn’t the national anthem at the time and was played as a patriotic tune in the midst of the Civil War. The band commenced the proceedings with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and continued to play at intervals throughout the opening game. After this, the song was played at baseball games throughout the rest of the 19th century, but only on opening day. It was over 50 years later, during another horrific war, that the future anthem became forever connected to baseball.


The 1918 World Series saw Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox taking on the Chicago Cubs. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, American troops were fighting tooth and nail in the muddy trenches of Western Europe. In addition to the daily names of war dead in the papers, September 4 saw Game 1 in Chicago rained out as well as a deadly bombing by the radical Industrial Workers of the World labor union at the Chicago Federal Building. The next day wasn’t much better; the weather was still unfavorable and the Cubs were playing poorly.

The crowd of just over 19,000 was unimpressed by the game, with one New York Times reporter recalling that the people in the stands were yawning. The mood at Comiskey Park completely changed during the seventh-inning stretch, however, when the band started to play “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Though it was still 13 years off from becoming the national anthem, the song was familiar to most American ears and ignited a surge of patriotism in the crowd and on the field.

All the ballplayers took off their caps and faced the flag save for one. Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas was an active-duty sailor on furlough from Naval Station Great Lakes to play in the World Series. Thomas kept his cap on, snapped to attention, faced the flag and rendered it proper honors with a crisp salute. Thomas’ actions inspired the rest of the stadium as the crowd sang along, reinvigorated with patriotic fervor.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Third Baseman Fred Thomas (Society for American Baseball Research)

The Navy band played the song again during Games 2 and 3 in Chicago. The wave of patriotism followed the Series to Boston and Fenway echoed to the sound of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during Games 4, 5 and 6. Wounded troops in the crowd, returned from the frontlines, were cheered by the people around them who helped them to their seats; some troops were even given seats and carried to them. The Red Sox won the Series 4-2, but the song won the hearts of a war-weary nation.

Over the next two decades, the song became a regular occurrence in baseball as well as hockey and football. In 1931, “The Star-Spangled Banner” became the official national anthem, playing in newsreels before feature films in movie theaters. During WWII, all but one Major League club was playing it before the start of every game, with the Cubs being the lone holdout for over 20 years. Following the war, the anthem became something that people expected and insisted on before a game of any sport.

While the national anthem in sports originated as a show of support, it has also been used as a platform for protest. From the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Black Power protest to today’s Black Lives Matter movement, demonstrators have used the anthem as a challenge to the state of the country.

While people’s actions during the anthem remain a subject of debate, “The Star-Spangled Banner” persists like the flag for which it’s named and continues to be played before the start of sporting events across the nation.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
A Marine Color Guard displays the flag during the national anthem at Petco Park (US Navy)

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15 awesome photos of what mountain warfare looks like

Fighting at sea level is tough, but it doesn’t get any easier thousands of feet up a mountain. The military prepares for fights at altitude by training extensively in challenging weather and terrain. Here are 16 photos that show what it’s like.


1. Narrow passes of ice-covered rocks

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Sarah Mattison

2. Getting down the mountain is faster – but more dangerous – than climbing up.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corp Cpl. Drew Tech

3. Helicopters can make a big difference when they’re available.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Army National Guard Master Sgt. Paul Wade

4. For getting across the soft snow, skis and snowshoes are handy.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Suzanna Lapi

5. Sleds can carry extra gear that won’t fit in a pack.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Sergio Jimenez

6. The Marines train on both riding horses and mules, and use them as pack animals.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

READ MORE: Military working bees and other animals you didn’t know serve in the US Military

7. When the snow is melted, standard boots can get the job done.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

8. But again, a controlled fall is the easiest way to travel.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of

9. Traveling across the rock face takes skill and trust in the equipment.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Ben J. Flores

10. Getting around the mountain isn’t enough. Troops have to fight up there.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas Lienemann

11. The terrain makes it hard for troops to maneuver on well-placed snipers, so they can be especially effective.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Sarah Anderson

12. Working as a team is key in the mountains.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Sarah Mattison

13. The “Red Hats,” trainers who specialize in mountain operations, know to move as a group.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: Wikipedia

14. Even on the ropes, it’s best if the team can stay together.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Alex P. Creasia

15. You get cool points for taking photos on top of a mountain, but you would get more if you removed the blank adapters first.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. David J. Loeffler

NOW: 21 photos showing the life of an elite US Army Ranger

OR: Project goes into the woods with ‘off the grid’ veterans

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The Army bought this tiltrotor aircraft over 30 years before the Osprey flew

When the military adopted the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft in 2007, there were legions of naysayers who thought the military’s first tiltrotor was too unsafe and too expensive to be added to the fleet.


But while the V-22 did have a spotted history during development, it wasn’t the first military tiltrotor aircraft. A few such aircraft were in the early stages of development during World War II, and the U.S. Army bought a tiltrotor aircraft in 1956 — over 30 years before the first V-22 flew in 1989.

Video: YouTube/AIRBOYD

The Doak Model 16 was a vertical take-off and landing aircraft that used ducted tilt-rotors to generate forward thrust and — in the vertical flight mode — lift. Like the V-22, the Model 16 only rotated its rotors when transitioning between flight modes.

The Doak company spent years developing VTOL technologies before it sold a single Model 16 to the Army for further testing and development. For its part, the Army dubbed the Model 16 the VZ-4 and flew it for three years, evaluating its flight characteristics and the potential for full production and deployment.

Cobbled together with parts from other planes and using still experimental tiltrotor technologies, the VZ-4 had fairly impressive stats. It was capable of flying at 229 mph and had a 229-mile range.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
The Doak VZ-4 hovers during flight testing. (Photo: U.S. Army)

But, the plane struggled with some “undesirable characteristics,” especially during the transitions between vertical and horizontal flight. The most problematic was a tendency for the nose of the aircraft to rise in relation to the tail during the switch between flight modes.

Ultimately, the Army passed on purchasing more of the planes and loaned its single Model 16 to NASA for continued tests. When NASA was finished with it, the aircraft was sent to the Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Nowadays, the performance of the CV-22 and MV-22 Osprey has left little doubt that there’s a place in the military inventory for tiltrotor aircraft. The Ospreys can fly from patches of dirt or relatively small ships at sea that traditional planes could never operate from. And they can fly for over 1,000 miles without refueling, over twice the range of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

These traits have earned the Ospreys spots in special operations units and Marine air-ground task forces around the world. And for the U.S. military, the road to tiltrotor aircraft all started with a single plane purchased in 1956.

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This martial art was originally developed to beat up Nazis

One of the most effective hand-to-hand combat techniques taught today — and one that has become closely identified with the Jewish state that embraced it — Krav Maga – was a product of the Nazi-era streets of pre-World War II Czechoslovakia.


The martial art’s inventor, Imi Lichtenfeld was quite the athlete. Born in Budapest in 1910, he spent his early years training to be a boxer, wrestler and gymnast with his father. The elder Lichtenfeld was also a policeman who taught self-defense. Under his father’s tutelage, Imi won championships in all his athletic disciplines. But fighting in a ring required both people to follow certain rules. Street fights don’t have rules, Imi Lichtenfeld thought, and he wanted to be prepared for that.

 

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
These guys are just sparring. Now think about a real Krav Maga street fight.

 

At the end of the 1930s, anti-Semitic riots struck Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, where Imi and his family were then living. Like many large cities in the region, the rise of National Socialism, or Nazism, created an anti-Jewish fervor that took young men to the streets to assault innocent and often unsuspecting Jews.

When the streets of his neighborhood became increasingly violent, Lichtenfeld decided to teach a group of his Jewish neighbors some self-defense moves. It came in the form of a technique that would help them protect themselves while attacking their opponent – a method that showed no mercy for those trying to kill the Chosen People.

Young Imi taught his friends what would later be called “Krav Maga.”

 

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
For the record, this is what happens when you attack an Israeli nowadays.

Translated as “contact-combat” in Hebrew, Krav Maga is designed to prepare the user for real-world situations. The martial art efficiently attacks an opponent’s most vulnerable areas to neutralize him as quickly as possible, uses everything in arm’s reach as a weapon, and teaches the user to be aware of every potential threat in the area. It developed into one of the most effective hand-to-hand techniques ever devised.

Krav Maga’s widespread use began in the Israel Defence Force, who still train in the martial art. These days, Krav Maga is a go-to fighting style widely used by various military and law enforcement agencies. In 1930s Europe, it was a godsend. Lichtenfeld’s technique taught Bratislava’s Jews how to simultaneously attack and defend themselves while delivering maximum pain and punishment on their attackers.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
A Krav Maga lesson in the IDF. One of these two is Imi Lichtenfeld. Guess which one. (IDF photo)

Imi Lichtenfeld escaped Europe in 1940 after the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia. He arrived in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1942 (after considerable struggles along the way) and was quickly inducted into the Free Czech Legion of the British Army in North Africa. He served admirably and the Haganah and Palmach – Jewish paramilitary organizations that were forerunners of what we call today the Israel Defence Forces – noticed his combat skill right away.

After Israel won its independence, Lichtenfeld gave his now-perfected martial art of Krav Maga to the IDF and became the Israeli Army’s chief hand-to-hand combat instructor. He even modified it for law enforcement and civilians.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
A Krav Maga lesson at the IDF’s paratrooper school in Israel. (IDF photo)

 

Lichtenfeld taught Krav Maga until 1987 when he retired from the IDF. He died in 1998, after essentially teaching the world’s Jewish population how to defend themselves when no one would do it for them.

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Inside the USS Zumwalt, the Navy’s most advanced warship

The United States Navy’s newest destroyer, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), is the most advanced ship in the ocean today. So what actually goes into making this ship the hottest of maritime hotrods?


27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) sails under the Pell Bridge. (US Navy photo)

According to All Hands magazine, the 15,656-ton vessel is equipped with many new advances. The most visible is the 155mm Advanced Gun System. Now, the Long-Range Land-Attack Projectile program was cancelled, but this gun has other ammo options. The Zumwalt also features 20 Mk 57 vertical-launch systems, each with four cells, capable of launching a variety of weapons, including the BGM-109 Tomahawk and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) emerges past a point. (US Navy photo)

But the Zumwalt has more than just new firepower. The wave-piercing tumblehome design and the composite superstructure help reduce the ship’s radar cross-section, and the ship is also one of the quietest vessels in the world.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
The 1,000-ton deckhouse of the future destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is craned toward the deck of the ship to be integrated with the ship’s hull at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works. The ship launch and christening are planned in 2013. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The ship also has the new Integrated Power System, a highly-survivable system that allows the power output from the ship’s LM2500 gas turbines to be used for anything from propulsion – taking the ship to a top speed of over 30 knots — to charging a crewman’s Kindle to powering the AN/SPY-3 radar.

27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of
The future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is underway for the first time conducting at-sea tests and trials on the Kennebeck River. The multi-mission ship will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. (U.S. Navy photo /Released)

The ship can also carry two MH-60R multi-role helicopters and has a crew of 158.

Below, take a look at a pair of videos of this American maritime hotrod.

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The first version of the Marine Corps’ Harrier crashed a lot

In the late 1960s the United States Marine Corps fell in love with the idea of an attack airplane that could take-off and land vertically. In theory, that airplane could be based very close to the action on the battlefield because it wouldn’t need a long runway to operate, and that short range would allow for quick close air support response times.


A couple of senior-ranking Marine pilots went to England to take a test flight in the British Harrier, and they were impressed enough to convince the Pentagon budgeteers to buy the service 110 of them. Since DoD had a thing about foreign-built hardware, they came up with a special arrangement where the airplanes were manufactured in England and assembled in America.

Starting in 1971, Marine Corps AV-8A Harrier squadrons were stood up at Yuma and Cherry Point. Because of the unique flight characteristics, only the best pilots were accepted for Harrier training. Unfortunately, in too many cases no amount of stick-and-rudder talent was enough to make up for an airplane that was poorly designed and overly ambitious, performance-wise, for the technology of the day.

Marine Air lost 55 AV-8As between 1971 and 1982. The Harrier had a Class A mishap (over $1 million in damage or aircraft destroyed) rate of 39 per 100,000 flight hours — the worst in modern military aviation history by far. Some of the mishaps were due to the inherently dangerous aspects of the attack mission — like dropping bombs in a steep dive and flying close to the ground in mountainous terrain — but about half of them happened in the vertical flight regime, the thing that made the Harrier unique.

The Harrier’s vectored thrust is what gives it the ability to take-off and land vertically and hover like a helicopter. Unlike the Harrier II that has a computer interface that prevents the pilot from accidently commanding the nozzles in a way that would throw the airplane out of balance, the first version of the jump jet required that the pilot manually adjust each throttle precisely to maintain a hover or to launch or land vertically. The result was an airplane that pilots described as “unforgiving” and that other tactical jet communities labeled as a “widow maker.”

Now watch this awesome documentary about the Harrier:

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