US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s - We Are The Mighty
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US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s

The Air Force is looking at possible plans to retire the F-15C/D Eagle as early as the mid-2020s, officials told lawmakers Wednesday.


While the decision would mean divesting an entire aircraft class, officials said the F-15 capability would be replaced by the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a potential cost-saving measure that would allow pilots to train on fewer platforms.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
An air-to-air view of two F-15 Eagle aircraft armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles. (McDonnell Douglas, St. Louis)

Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice said the Air Force as a total force is in “deep discussions” and will further assess the F-15 inventory next year.

“The F-15C [has] served our nation well, as have its pilots for decades. And it was our air superiority fighter; now F-22 has taken that role,” said Maj. Gen. Scott D. West, director of current operations and deputy chief of staff for operations for the service at the Pentagon.

Also read: Watch the F-22 take on 5 F-15s — and dominate

Air Force officials were testifying before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness on Capitol Hill.

“We do have capacity in the F-16C community to recapitalize that radar to serve the same function as the F-15 has done and thereby reduce the different systems that we have to sustain and operate, so that makes it more efficient,” West said about the effort to minimize the number of systems pilots operate.

Taking questions from reporters after the hearing, Rice elaborated, “It’s a bigger picture. There’s a balance between capability and capacity — capacity being, do we have … 1,900 to 2,000 fighters in our inventory? But at the same time, we also look at capability. Does it have all the right radar on it [at] the right time? Certainly, an F-15 right now is a very capable platform … [but] as we move into maintaining our capacity and keeping our capability, we have to address those needs.”

Rice said “planning choices” for the F-15C within the 2019 budget started last fall.

The F-15 is all-weather, tactical fighter; the now-retired F-15A made its maiden flight in 1972. The single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered the Air Force inventory beginning in 1979, and have been in almost every theater across the globe, according to the service.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Javier Alvarez)

American F-15s are stationed at overseas bases such as RAF Lakenheath, England, and Kadena Air Base, Japan. A deployment of F-15s moved across Europe last summer as a deterrent for Russia during Operation Atlantic Resolve, and F-15E Strike Eagles have been used throughout the air war against the Islamic State.

Rice said planned F-15 upgrades will be fulfilled. However, the Air Force may want to look at the next block of upgrades to save on future sustainment and operational costs, he said.

Rep. Martha McSally, a former Air Force pilot and advocate for the A-10 Thunderbolt, questioned the choice to scrap the F-15 — a capable fighter, “the best in air-to-air” as a fourth-generation aircraft.

“The F-16 kind of fills in those gaps, [but] comparing the capabilities side-by-side we have to be careful through that analysis,” the Arizona Republican said. “But I realize the funding challenges that you have as you go through this decision process — but it doesn’t bring the same capability.”

Rice said he believes the Air Force is getting beyond comparing aircraft platforms “especially in the digital age” when looking at the platforms as systems and “how they integrate is as important and, in the future, will be even more important than the platform itself,” he said.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
An F-15C cockpit at sunset. (Dept. of Defense photo)

The Air Force wants more manpower, more maintenance, more pilots to ramp up readiness and sustain the force for a high-end fight with a near-peer adversary.

West, Rice and Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, chief of the Air Force Reserve, testified they need pilots to sustain each part the force: at least 800 for the Guard; 300 for the Reserve; and nearly 1,500 — including 700 fighter pilots — for the active-duty component.

When asked if retiring the F-15 is a good idea amid a push to ramp up pilot — especially fighter pilot — production in the next few years, Rice said, “That’s true that is a challenge, because it’s not just capability-capacity, it’s all sorts of things. The readiness, the training, the people, the equipment. They all have to be at the right balance.

“So as we look at potentially doing a ‘what if’ drill [with the F-15 retirement] … over a certain period of time, ‘How much will that hurt? How much do we have to fill in the gap? Where do we go to gain that capability back at the right time, in the right place?’ ” he said.

It will be about “fitting into a system of systems,” Rice said.

Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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America’s ‘most decorated woman’ fought from the Philippines to Korea

Ruby Bradley was an Army combat nurse on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Bradley survived the attacks, days on the run, years as a prisoner of war, and years as one of the top combat nurses treating and evacuating the wounded from Korea.


She also rose to the rank of colonel and became one of America’s most decorated female veterans before retiring in 1963.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Army Col. Ruby Bradley saved hundreds of lives as a prisoner of Japanese forces by stealing surgical tools and using them for 230 major operations. She also delivered 13 babies while in captivity. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Hours after the Pearl Harbor attacks began, other Japanese forces began striking U.S. troops and ships across the Pacific, including at bases in the Philippines which was a U.S. commonwealth at the time. Bradley ran a hospital in northern Luzon and treated patients there during the Japanese landings and follow-on attacks.

The 34-year-old evacuated the camp and hospital with other soldiers on Dec. 23 as the Army fell back. Bradley hid in the hills with another nurse and a doctor for five days before a local gave them up to the Japanese.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
POWs interned by the Japanese in the Philippines were malnourished and subject to brutal conditions. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

For the rest of the war, Bradley was a POW. But she refused to stop treating the Americans and allies around her. The POW camp was established at Bradley’s former base, and she broke into the old hospital with a doctor and stole World War I-era morphine and a large number of surgical tools.

Their trip into the hospital had been risky. Japanese forces in World War II were known for treating prisoners harshly and for conducting sudden executions, but it paid off the very next day. Bradley took part in the emergency removal of an appendix the very next day.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Surgery in the Pacific in World War II was challenging no matter the circumstances. (Photo: U.S. Army)

In a 1983 interview with the Washington Post, Bradley said of the incident, “The Japanese thought it was wonderful we could do all this without any instruments.”

Bradley assisted in hundreds of operations and the delivery of over a dozen babies during her time in captivity. None of the patients experienced an infection from their surgeries despite the conditions, most likely thanks to the firm attention to detail by the Army and civilian nurses who sterilized the area and tools before each procedure.

But Bradley didn’t just deliver babies, she also helped care for many of the children captured by the Japanese soldiers or born in the camp. Prisoners were allotted only one cup of rice per day. Bradley would save rice from her portions to give to children who were struggling.

The nurses even made birth certificates and stuffed animals for the children from hemp that they gathered from plants in and around the camp.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Then-Cpt. Ruby Bradley is evacuated with other prisoners from a Japanese POW camp after its liberation. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The medical staff established a number of other lifesaving measures in the prison camp — everything from forced hand washing to making sure utensils were covered when not in use to assigning people to swat flies.

When the war ended, Bradley returned to normal service and earned a new degree in nursing. By the time the Korean War broke out, she was a major with experience running nurse teams. She was sent forward with the 171st Evacuation Hospital from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and evacuated troops wounded in combat.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A U.S. soldier is evacuated by the Air Force 3rd Air Rescue Squadron in Korea. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Her duties often took her to bases near the front lines. During the evacuation of Pyongyang, she refused to leave while any of her patients were still on the ground. She got the last one onto a plane and was running up the ramp when an artillery shell struck her ambulance.

Bradley later said, “You got to get out in a hurry when you have somebody behind you with a gun.”

The aircraft made it out safely and Bradley remained in the Army. The next year, she was featured on an episode of “This is Your Life,” a TV program that sought to tell the stories of amazing Americans.

She retired in 1963 as possibly the most decorated woman in military history to that point. She died on July 3, 2002, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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This is how researchers are trying to stop sand from killing aircraft engines

If you’ve ever seen some of the DOD videos – or photos, for that matter – from Iraq or Afghanistan, they’re often accompanied by huge clouds of dust as helicopters come in for a landing.


But here’s what you don’t see; the damage the sand and dust does on the engines of those helicopters.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter comes into land at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan following a mission. Note the huge cloud of dust. (UK MoD photo via Wikimedia Commons)

That matters – because the engines of helicopters and jets have one naturally-occurring enemy: FOD, which stands for “foreign object debris.” According to an FAA fact sheet, FOD was responsible for the June 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people.

What the fact sheet doesn’t mention is that sand and dust are also foreign objects to an engine. What they do isn’t as spectacular as what happened in Paris almost 17 years ago, but it can be just as lethal.

Worse, while regular FOD walks can handle the larger objects, you can never quite get all the sand and dust away from an air base in Afghanistan or Iraq. So, there is a need to figure out how to keep the sand and dust from damaging engine components.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter lands as U.S. Army paratroopers secure the area in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, July 23, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and the helicopter crew is assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The soldiers evacuated a wounded insurgent. (US Army photo)

The Department of Defense recently released a video about efforts to address this. For instance, one of the researchers in this video one component in the T-700 engine is supposed to last 6,000 hours, but sand and dust reduce that to 400 hours – 1/15 of the planned operating life.

The price tag for the component in question? $30,000. That is a minor inconvenience. When a helo goes down, things get even uglier.

So check out the new ways researchers are attacking the problem of sand-damaged engines.

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That time the Coast Guard tried using pigeons for sea rescues

Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, the Coast Guard thought they had a better way to search for people lost in the ocean. They tested using pigeons affixed to the underside of helicopters.


Yes, like the pigeons in the park. And, yes, it did work. The birds performed about twice as well as their human counterparts at spotting “appropriate targets” on their first pass over an area.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
The pigeons performed amazingly at spotting debris in the ocean but were only trained on orange, yellow, and red objects. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

The pigeons involved in Project Sea Hunt, as the effort was known, were first sent to “basic training.” For obvious reasons, about the only thing pigeon basic shared with human basic was the name.

Pigeons were placed in training chambers with “peck keys” that released food when pressed. Once the pigeons got the hang of the keys, their training boxes would be faced toward Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where a buoy with a radio-operated orange plate floated. Trainers would expose the orange plate and then reward the pigeon when it hit the keys, but wouldn’t feed the pigeons if the plate wasn’t exposed.

Over time, the target would be moved further away from the pigeons to train them to look further out to sea.

Once the pigeons passed basic training, the top graduates would proceed to advanced training where the pigeons were actually placed in chambers mounted beneath a helicopter and had to find orange, yellow, and red objects in the ocean. Each bird covered a 120-degree window, so a pod with three pigeons could see in 360 degrees.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A pigeon is loaded into its pod during training in Project Sea Hunt. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

In testing on the helicopter, the pigeons spotted targets on the first pass 90 percent of the time. The human crewmembers were capable of finding the target on the first pass only 38 percent of the time. In a later test, when the humans knew they were trying to catch up to the pigeons, the humans scored a 50.

In passes where both humans and the pigeons spotted the target, the pigeon spotted it first 84 percent of the time. The pigeons were proving to be amazing day-time searchers.

There were a few drawbacks to the use of pigeons. First, the weight of the pigeons had to be carefully maintained. Pigeons at 80 percent of their “free food” weight were generally hungry enough to search the ocean for hours without losing focus. Dropping below that weight threatened the pigeons’ health but going above it would reduce their effectiveness.

And there was one tragedy in the program. A flight was sent to hunt for a missing boat and the helicopter stayed out too long. It ran out of fuel and conducted a forced landing at sea. The crew escaped with no injuries but they couldn’t get the pigeons out in time.

A second batch of pigeons was sent through training to both replace the lost pigeons and to increase the number of pigeons available for missions.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
The small bubble on the bottom of this helicopter contains three pigeons trained to spot life rafts. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

Overall, Project Sea Hunt was so successful that a 1981 audit of the program recommended that the pigeons serve at a Coast Guard air station on proper missions and that new pods be developed so that the birds could fly on newer helicopters. Federal budget cuts resulted in the program being shuttered instead.

Advances in technology have made the pigeons less necessary. Planes designed to hunt subs using magnets are much better at finding plane debris than pigeons ever were, and improved homing beacons for rafts and wrecks make the job of scanning miles of ocean less necessary.

Still, there’s a niche that pigeons could still fill better than almost any gadgets, that of looking for orange rafts and flotation devices in the open ocean.

(More photos and background on the program are available at the Coast Guard’s web page for Project Sea Hunt.)

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Skipper Of “The Last Ship” Looks To Help Families Of The Fallen

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s


TNT’s “The Last Ship” was a surprise hit last year, earning the loyalty of civilians and service members alike with a mix of great characters, intriguing plots, and technical accuracy. The last element, of course, is the one that always seems to trip up the military crowd because Hollywood is notorious for taking creative license with technical details and plot lines in the pursuit of “entertainment.” And while “The Last Ship” is no “Das Boot,” the series does pride itself on accuracy.

To whatever degree TNT’s “The Last Ship” is able to “get it right” real Navy-wise, veteran actor Eric Dane, who plays Commander Tom Chandler, the commanding officer of the USS Nathan James (DDG 151), credits the close working relationship between the show’s writers and the Navy officials in LA and at the Pentagon who are charged with making sure the sea service is well and accurately represented.

“There is no tension between the two camps,” Dane said from the podium in the Pentagon’s press briefing room. “If the Navy doesn’t like something we change it.”

That sort of cooperation is unusual if not unprecedented. Hollywood is motivated by commercial success, the thing that keeps the lights on around Century City and Burbank. The Department of Defense has other goals in mind.

“We judge the efforts we’ll support by two main criteria,” said Phil Strub, DoD’s director of entertainment media. “Whether they’ll paint the U.S. military in a fair light, and whether they’ll help recruiting.”

The tension between those two motivations historically has been an issue in that Hollywood has a tendency to find technical accuracy superfluous and boring and the Pentagon finds Hollywood’s fictions insulting. However in recent months that tension has seemed to mitigate in the face of commercial success like that of “American Sniper,” a movie that prides itself on accuracy and, more so, presenting military service in a more honest, apolitical, light.

“The goal of ‘The Last Ship’ is to show what the Navy does each and every day,” Dane said. “It’s my honor to go to the set and put on my blue digi-cams and play Commander Tom Chandler.”

Dane also allowed that – even in an era of computer-generated imagery – “The Last Ship” needs the U.S. Navy to succeed. “We need a real destroyer,” he said.

Beyond the hardware there are myriad details to nail down. “I thought the medical world had a lot of acronyms and jargon,” Dane said, referring to his popular role as Dr. Mark ‘McSteamy’ Sloan in the hit TV show ‘Grey’s Anatomy. “The military has a lot more.”

“The Last Ship” has been popular enough to earn a second season, which is scheduled to air on TNT in June.

Dane’s recent visit to the Pentagon was to thank the DoD public affairs officials for their work that has informed the show’s success. He was also there to announce that he is throwing his celebrity weight behind the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the national organization for all of those grieving the loss of a fallen service member.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s

Dane knows how it feels to lose a family member to military service. When he was seven his father was killed while serving in the Navy.

“I lost my military dad at a very young age,” Dane said. “Dealing with that loss has been a very big part of my life.”

“TAPS has been blessed with an effective network over the years, including the voices of Hollywood,” director and founder Bonnie Carroll said. “We’re very happy to be connected with Eric Dane who takes his role as Commander Tom Chandler very seriously. He portrays the Navy in the absolute best light.”

“Bonnie has been there for over 13 years,” said Rene Carbone Bardorf, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community and Public Outreach. “When the funerals for the fallen are over and life stands still for the survivors TAPS has been very effective in giving them a sense of purpose and helping them make it though. Eric’s involvement is a great example of that. We are all a part of one military family, that one percent.”

Both Carroll and Dane admitted they haven’t quite figured out what form the actor’s support of TAPS will take, but if his impact with the crowd in the Pentagon’s briefing room was any indication, it will be effective whatever it is.

Now: This Triple Amputee Has Taken Hollywood By Storm

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This vet nonprofit is mustering in Motown and looking for volunteers

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
(Photo: missioncontinues.org)


National veterans nonprofit The Mission Continues is launching a new program that positions veterans to be catalysts for long-term change and positive impact in communities facing daunting challenges. The inaugural Mass Deployment program will send hundreds of veterans and volunteers to participate in a week-long service engagement that will jump-start a long-lasting transformation in a city or community identified with a particularly high level of need.

For the first-ever event of its kind – dubbed Operation Motown Muster – The Mission Continues will bring more than 75 military veterans to Detroit to partner with more than 200 local veterans and community volunteers. Following Operation Motown Muster, The Mission Continues will maintain a sustained veteran volunteer presence in Detroit over the next several years to continuously support local nonprofits invested in revitalizing local neighborhoods.

“With the skills, leadership and experience they cultivated in the military, veterans are uniquely positioned to help accelerate Detroit’s comeback,” said Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “We’re looking forward to an impactful week of service that will make a difference for the people who continue to call Detroit home and that will inspire others to take action and make a long-term positive impact in the community.”

Home to nearly 700,000 residents — many of whom are already hard at work shaping the future of their city — Detroit was a prime location for The Mission Continues’ inaugural Mass Deployment. During Operation Motown Muster, The Mission Continues veterans and local volunteers will add much-needed capacity to local organizations that are carrying on Detroit’s revitalization efforts. Projects planned for Operation Motown Muster include:

  • Refurbishing facilities at Central High School and Priest Elementary School to foster a safe and inviting environment for students to learn and the community to congregate.
  • Beautifying parks and future green spaces in the Osborn neighborhood, creating much-needed safe play spaces in a community that is home to one of Detroit’s highest concentrations of young people.
  • Converting vacant lots and portions of the Chene Ferry Market into clean, vibrant spaces for community events and an urban farm to help restore the once-thriving working-class neighborhood.

The Mission Continues has operations across the country that engage veteran volunteers every day to have a deep impact on critical challenges facing underserved communities. Veterans participate in operations by serving with The Mission Continues either as a member of a Service Platoon, undertaking regular service missions that leverage veterans’ skills and leadership to make a positive impact, or as an individual The Mission Continues Fellow, embedding as a skilled volunteer with one of the operation’s nonprofit partners for a period of six months.

Operation Motown Muster is happening from June 25-29. To learn more about The Mission Continues’ programs and opportunities to get involved, visit www.missioncontinues.org.

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Nate Boyer climbing Kilimanjaro with wounded warrior to help thousands get clean water

Just one day after Nate Boyer entered the Guinness World Record book for the longest football long snap, former Texas Longhorn, Seattle Seahawk, and U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer embarks on a mission to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with disabled veteran Blake Watson to help 10,000 people gain access to clean water.


US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Nate Boyer

The charity is called Waterboys. It was started by Chris Long, a former defensive end for the Rams who rallied NFL players to digging clean water wells in Tanzania,” Boyer says. “His initial goal was to find thirty-two players from thirty-two teams and to have thirty-two wells dug.”

The effort now has 21 NFL players involved, including the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, the Steelers’ Lawrence Timmons, and the Eagles’ Sam Bradford, who currently has raised the most money for the campaign.

“Chris went out there a couple years ago and did Kilimanjaro himself,” Boyer recalls. “But he was leaving and he felt like he wanted to do more for those people. They walk five miles a day for clean water for their villages; they can cook and drink water and try to live healthy.”

Tanzania is currently suffering from a devastating water crisis. In a country where one-third of the land is semi-arid, access to clean, sanitary water is a daily struggle. Many of the country’s current wells are dug near toxic drainage systems and are contaminated by runoff. Water-borne illnesses, such as malaria and cholera, account for over half of the diseases affecting the population.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Aid agencies struggle to build clean water wells like this UN-built well in Tanzania. (UN photo)

“Long went out there last year and dedicated the first clean water well” says Boyer. “It’s pretty cool because the people, they come out of the woodwork for this thing. It’s a huge deal to them.”

That’s what brings Boyer to Kilimanjaro. When Long recruited him for the charity, Boyer was at the gym, working a stair climber machine, on the “Kilimanjaro” setting. Boyer spoke with Dave Vobora, who runs Dallas, Texas’ Performance Vault Inc., a sports performance training center for elite athletes and U.S. Special Forces.

“I told him I’m doing this climb and asked if he had anybody in mind that would be a good counterpart,” Boyer said. “I wanted to go with a guy who was going to spend the next four months working towards this goal and grinding. He’s like, ‘I got just the guy.'”

Vobora linked Boyer up with Marine veteran Blake Watson, a single leg amputee. During Watson’s first deployment he accidentally knelt down onto an IED. Watson lost his leg and his pulse rate went to zero on the helicopter during the flight to the hospital, but the medics were able to resuscitate him.

“I approached Blake and started explaining what we were doing, what I wanted to do with him and why,” Boyer remembers. “I talked about the clean water wells and before I could even finish my pitch he was like, ‘I’m in, dude. I’m in.’ He was excited about was not only the challenge and the climb and all that but what we would be doing for those people.”

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Watson training for Kilimanjaro

Blake struggled for three years with dependency, depression, and thoughts of suicide. With the help of others and his Marine mindset, he pulled himself out of a rut, started training again, and got back in shape. Got involved at this gym called Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, also run by Vobora. A gym for adaptive athletes, many of them amputees. They all have a goal they’re pursuing.

“It’s not just, ‘I want to work out. I want to get in shape,'” Boyer says. “It’s like, ‘I want to go climb Kilimanjaro,’ or ‘I want to be on the Paralympic bobsled team.’

Those wounded warriors led Boyer to another goal. The clean water initiative is important, but for Nate Boyer and Blake Watson, it’s also about inspiring veterans and current service members who might be struggling back home.

“We’re people of service. Whether we joined because we had no other options or because we wanted to serve our country, at the end of the day, we became men and women of service. If we don’t have that element in our life moving forward, working towards a mission, something bigger than us, then it’s really easy to get lost and feel like you’re never going to do anything as important as what you did when you served. That’s the impetus behind this whole thing.”

To help Boyer and Watson raise money and awareness for the people of Tanzania and American wounded warriors donate here. Donations will go toward digging more clean water wells for the people of an important U.S. friend and ally.

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This woman was likely the first journalist to ever make a combat jump

In February 1967, the U.S. Army launched Operation Junction City, one of the largest operations of the Vietnam War and one that included the only major combat jump of the war.


Joining the 173rd Airborne Brigade on their historic mission was a young civilian, Catherine Leroy, who many believe to be the first civilian journalist ever to participate in a combat jump.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s

Catherine Leroy was born in Paris in 1945 in the shadow of World War II. Raised in a convent, she was intrigued by the photos of World War II she saw. Then in 1966, at the age of 21, she bought a one-way ticket to Southeast Asia and left home with nothing but a camera and $100 in her pocket.

When she arrived in Saigon, she met legendary photojournalist Horst Faas who gave her three rolls of film and promised to pay her $15 for every photo that was published.

At 5 foot nothing and weighing only 85 pounds, she humped the jungles in combat boots two sizes too big – she couldn’t find any small enough to fit her size four feet – and carrying near her body weight in camera equipment and other gear. But she was determined to capture the human element of war.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A Marine screams in pain, Operation Prairie, near the DMZ (Photo by Catherine Leroy)

Not long after arriving in country, she found her way to the front lines with American forces. Her determination lead her so far forward that on February 22, 1967 she joined the 173rd during their combat jump as part of Operation Junction City. This made her the first newsperson to jump into combat with American forces. However, she was soon slapped with a 6-month ban from the front lines for cussing out an officer – in her defense, most of the English words she had learned up to that point had come from hanging out with foul-mouthed grunts, so cussing was about all she could do in English.

In early 1968, Leroy was with the Marines during the Battle of Khe Sanh. It was while she was with the Marines battling for Hill 881 that she took her most famous photo “Corpsman in Anguish” depicting a Navy Corpsman tending to a wounded Marine as he passes away.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Corpsman in Anguish (Photo by Catherine Leroy)

Two weeks later during more intense fighting Leroy was wounded and nearly killed by an enemy mortar. She was badly wounded and as she lay stunned, she heard what she thought would be her last words: “I think she’s dead, Sarge.” She credits her camera with saving her, as the largest piece of shrapnel destroyed it instead of entering her chest.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A soldier of the 1st Air Calvary Division punches a Viet Cong who was caught hiding in a stream, Bong Song (Photo by Catherine Leroy)

Later in 1968, she was captured by the North Vietnamese during the Tet Offensive. Relying on nothing but wit and charm she was able to convince her captors to let her go. Before she left, she managed to do something no other photographer had done in the war, get pictures of the NVA behind their own lines. These pictures made the cover of Life Magazine under the title “A Remarkable Day in Hue: The Enemy Lets Me Take His Picture.”

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A North Vietnamese soldier atop his foxhole (Photo by Catherine Leroy)

During her time in Vietnam, Leroy also became known as “the woman with the wine” to the troops out in the field. Instead of carrying the heavier C rations in her already heavy pack she would bring a six-pack of wine in cans and trade or share it for food with the troops she was with.

Leroy also said she never had a problem being a woman in Vietnam. “I was never propositioned or found myself in a difficult situation, sexually,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 2002. “When you spend days and nights in the field, you’re just as miserable as the men – and you smell so bad anyway.”

Catherine Leroy would continue to cover the war in Vietnam until the Fall of Saigon in 1975. In 1972, she made a documentary, “Operation Last Patrol,” about anti-war Vietnam Veterans, particularly Ron Kovic. Kovic was inspired by the movie to write a book, “Born on the Fourth of July,” that would later become a movie starring Tom Cruise.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Wounded soldier being bandaged (Photo by Catherine Leroy)

After Vietnam she covered other war zones. She covered the civil war in Lebanon and later the Lebanon War between Israel and Lebanon. She co-authored a book, “God Cried,” about the siege of West Beirut by the Israeli Army in 1982.

During her career, she was awarded the George Polk Picture of the Year in 1967 and the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award for her coverage of the street fighting in Beirut in 1976. Leroy died of Lung Cancer in 2006.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Leroy in Vietnam

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The 8 worst guns in the history of warfare

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Latente Flickr


In “The World’s Worst Weapons,” Martin Dougherty details the long history of over-ambitious, under-achieving weapons that failed to hit their mark.

From brass knuckle-knife-revolvers to rocket propelled ammunition, we’ve described the eight worst guns ever produced.

8. Sten gun MK II

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Half length portrait of a paratrooper carrying a Sten gun, having loaded it ready for immediate action. | Imperial War Museums via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately the Sten gun MK II tended to misfire frequently. Furthermore, there were reports of the gun’s bullets bouncing off of targets.

“At a time when Britain faced invasion and vast numbers of weapons were needed, the Sten was quick and easy to put together, and it was a lot better than nothing,” Dougherty wrote.

Country: United Kingdom

Entered service: 1940

Type: Submachine gun

Range: 230 feet

Capacity: 32 rounds

7. The Bazooka

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
US Army Signal Corps

One glaring problem with the bazooka was the massive flare it created when fired, which both exposed the shooters position and shot dust, debris, and flames back at the soldier firing the weapon. Later versions of the bazooka included a back blast shield.

“The best thing about the bazooka was that it formed the basis for better weapons that came along later,” Dougherty wrote.

Country: United States

Entered service: 1942

Type: Unguided antitank weapon

Range: Under 500 feet

Capacity: Single shot rocket launcher/ 3.5 pound explosive

6. LeMat grapeshot revolver

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
The LeMat grapeshot revolver. | Forgotten Weapons via YouTube

The LeMat grapeshot revolver is another great idea for the battlefield that suffered from poor execution. Designed as a cavalry weapon late in the US Civil War, the LeMat revolver stored 9 pistol rounds in a revolver set up, with an additional barrel and single shotgun shell in the middle.

The user would toggle the movable firing pin to select which round they wanted to fire. While it was a great idea in theory, in practice the guns proved to be poorly made.

Country: United States

Entered service: 1856

Type: Handgun

Range: 164 feet

Capacity:  9 rounds

5. Krummlauf

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
A soldier holds an extreme 90 degree version of the Krummlauf. | Public Domain

The Krummlauf looks like a good idea, if only the physics from Elmer Fudd cartoons held true in real life.

This gun was meant to shoot around corners with its curved barrel, between 30 and 45 degrees, and a mounted periscope sight on a fairly standard assault rifle.

After much time and money spent tinkering with the design, it was deemed too expensive and unsuccessful to produce on a larger scale.

Country: Nazi Germany

Entered service: 1945

Type: Longarm

Range: 6,561 feet

Capacity: 30 rounds

4. Chauchat

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Belgian machine gunner in 1918 guarding trench with the much-hated ChauChat. | Wikimedia Commons

In 1915 at the height of World War I, France’s Chauchat light machine gun exemplified everything a light machine gun should not be.

The weapon was both poorly manufactured to the point that it kicked like a mule. The firing mechanism frequently jammed, and even when it did work perfectly, the gun’s 20-round capacity was inadequate for combat.

Country: France

Entered service: 1915

Type: Support weapon

Range: 3,280 feet

Capacity: 20 rounds

3. Gyrojet

The Gyrojet pistol was one of the most creative ideas in modern history of firearms.

Gyrojet pistols used rocket propulsion to fire its ammunition. However, the guns were terribly inaccurate and were therefore discontinued.

Country: United States

Entered service: 1965

Type: Handgun

Range: 165 feet

Capacity: 6 rounds

2. Mars Pistol

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Two Mars pistols, which despite being manufactured within 13 serial numbers of each other have small but significant differences. | Forgotten Weapons via Youtube

Two Mars pistols, which despite being manufactured within 13 serial numbers of each other have small but significant differences.

At the beginning of the 20th century, inventors tried to create a self-loading pistol. Eventually, the Colt M1911 would become the standard, but before that, many mistakes, like the Mars pistol were made.

The Mars was very complicated to operate and ejected used cartridges directly into the shooters face.

“About 80 were made, after which the Mars quite rightly faded from the scene,” Dougherty wrote.

Country: United Kingdom

Entered service: 1900

Type: Handgun

Range: 131 feet

Capacity: 6 rounds

1. Apache pistol

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Apache revolver – Curtius Museum, Liège. | Latente Flickr

Perhaps no other gun on this list over promises and underperforms like the Apache pistol. This pistol appears to combine the effective ingredients of a knife, brass knuckles, and a small caliber revolver into a neat, fold-out package.

In practice none of the three components of the weapon deliver.

The brass knuckle component works well enough, but the knife is thin and flimsy on its hinge. The revolver, with virtually no barrel to speak of, is terribly under-powered and inaccurate.

Additionally, because of the unguarded trigger, the user is likely to accidentally fire the weapon often.

Country: United States

Entered service: 1880

Type: Personal defense

Range: Close combat

Articles

This torpedo was WWII Japan’s other Kamikaze weapon

The torpedo the Japanese called kaiten was a human-driven suicide bomb, the kamikaze of the seas. Its name translates literally as “return to the sky,” which is as descriptive of the driver as it is for its targets.


US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s

By 1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy recognized the war was not going its way. This was six months after the decisive Battle of Midway, widely considered to be the turning point in the naval war of the Pacific Theater. The Japanese considered many types of suicide craft, the most well-known and successful are the kamikaze planes, used to great effect toward the end of the war.

The Japanese developed many other kinds of suicide weapons, however. They deployed shinyo suicide boats, fukuryu suicide divers, and human mines. Kaiten suicide submersible torpedoes were more successful than any of these, second only to the kamikaze planes.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
The sinking of Mississinewa came as a surprise to everyone, absolutely everyone.

Many different types of kaiten were developed, though only the type-1 was ever used in combat. Early designs allowed the pilot to attempt to escape from the torpedo, but since no pilot ever tried, this feature was left off later designs. The sub/torpedo also featured a self-destruct mechanism for the pilot to use if the fuse failed. 300 type-1 kaiten were built, and 100 of those were used in combat.

The Kaiten Type-1 on display in a Japanese museum (wikimedia commons) The Kaiten Type-1 on display in a Japanese museum (wikimedia commons)

The torpedo was a rudimentary submarine, based on the design of a Japanese Type 93 torpedo. It was launched from a submerged submarine and had basic pilot controls and air bottles, all positioned behind more than 1,000 pounds of explosives.

The kaiten kill count numbered more than 187 American troops, the fleet oiler USS Mississinewa in November 1944, a small infantry landing craft (LCI-600), and the destroyer escort USS Underhill in July 1945.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
The Underhill, before the Japanese threw an explosives-laden person at it.

Articles

US wants to issue special operators a new personal defense weapon

It’s the caliber that’s beloved by the commando crowd for its close-in ballistics and smooth shooting through a short-barreled, suppressed rifle. And what was once a weapon for the secret squirrel types has now gone high-profile with a new solicitation from U.S. Special Operations Command asking industry for options to outfit spec ops troops with a new personal defense weapon.


US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Special Operations Command wants a new close-in battle weapons with nearly impossible specs. (Photo: Army Special Operations Command)

In a formal Request for Information, SOCOM is asking for options to equip its commandos with an M4A1-compatible upper receiver group that fires the .300 Blackout cartridge and configures the weapon into a short-barreled rifle no longer than 26 inches with the stock fully extended.

The whole PDW with the upper can’t weigh any more than 5.5 pounds and has to have a collapsed or folded length of a tick over 17 inches.

Also Read: Delta Force and SEAL Team 6 want these new weapons

Those dimensions will be tough to meet, firearms experts say, and combined with the requirement that the weapon be able to fire with the stock collapsed or folded narrows the current options significantly.

And, oh, the upper has to convert from a .300 BLK barrel to a 5.56 one in less than three minutes.

(Could a variation of the Honey Badger be the only real option out there? Ah, the sweet irony!)

Aside from the dimensions, weight and conversion time, the selection of the .300 BLK cartridge for the new kit is one of the first public acknowledgements of special operators’ preference for the caliber in its close-quarters combat arsenal.

Developed about five years ago by the now Remington-owned Advanced Armament Corp. for SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force types who wanted a replacement of the MP-5 submachine gun, the .300 BLK is essentially a 7.62 bullet in a cut down 5.56 case. That gives it good short-range ballistics and allows operators to use the same magazines, lower receivers and bolts of standard-issue rifles but with a different barrel.

Because of the shortened case, the .300 BLK also performs better than 5.56 in rifles with extremely short barrels (under 9 inches) and when shooting with a suppressor, ammo experts say, which aligns with special operations troops’ preference for suppressed rifles in close-in shootouts.

The SOCOM request states that companies have until April 10 to respond with their options.

 

Articles

The Navy just developed invisible armor that is easy to fix

When most people think armor, they think of thick steel, ceramic or Kevlar. It stops (or mitigates) the harm that incoming rounds can do, but there’s one big problem: You can’t see a friggin’ thing if you’re behind it.


This is no a small problem. Put it this way, in “Clausewitzian Friction and Future War,” Erich Hartmann, who scored 352 kills in World War II, was reported to have believed that 80 percent of his victims never knew he was there. Project Red Baron, also known as the Ault Report, backed that assessment up based on engagements in the Vietnam War.

Bulletproof glass exists, but it can be heavy. When it is hit, though, the impact looks a lot like your windshield after it catches a rock kicked up by an 18-wheeler on the interstate.

That also applies in firefights on the ground – and according to a FoxNews.com report, the Navy has made it a little easier to maintain situational awareness while still being able to stop a bullet. The report notes that the Navy’s new armor, based on thermoplastic elastomers, still maintains its transparency despite being hit by bullets.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Current bullet-resistant glass after ballistic tests during the IDET 2007 fair in Brno. The good news is the bullets were stopped. The bad news: You can’t see through the window. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In a Department of Defense release, Dr. Mike Roland said, “Because of the dissipative properties of the elastomer, the damage due to a projectile strike is limited to the impact locus. This means that the affect on visibility is almost inconsequential, and multi-hit protection is achieved.”

That is not the only benefit of this new armor. This new material can also be repaired in the field very quickly using nothing more than a hot plate like that used to cook Ramen noodles in a dorm room – or in the barracks.

US Air Force considers retiring F-15C/D in 2020s
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

“Heating the material above the softening point, around 100 degrees Celsius, melts the small crystallites, enabling the fracture surfaces to meld together and reform via diffusion,” Dr. Roland explained.

Not only will this capability save money by avoid the need to have replacement armor available, this also helps reduce the logistical burden on the supply chain, particularly in remote operating locations that were very common in Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror.

Articles

Mr. T’s military career is more awesome than you imagined

 


Before he nearly pounded Rocky Balboa into submission in Rocky III, and went on to fame as B.A. Baracus on the hit TV show A-Team, Mr. T was a member of the biggest team of them all — the U.S. Army.

In the beginning Mr. T was just plain old Laurence Tureaud, a kid from the projects in Chicago, part of a large family (four sisters and seven brothers) just struggling to get by. His physical abilities were evident from an early age, when he became the city-wide wrestling champion two years in a row at high school. Unfortunately, he also didn’t have much motivation for academics, and ended up getting expelled from Prairie View AM University after one year on a football scholarship.

After leaving school Tureaud enlisted in the United States Army in the mid-70s, and served in the Military Police Corps. In November 1975 he was awarded a letter of recommendation by his drill sergeant, and in a cycle of six thousand troops he was elected “Top Trainee of the Cycle” and promoted to Squad Leader.

In July 1976 his platoon sergeant punished him by giving him the detail of chopping down trees during training camp at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, but the sergeant did not specify how many trees that were to be cut down — so Tureaud single-handedly chopped down over 70 trees in the span of three and a half hours before being relieved of the detail.

After his discharge from the Army, Tureaud tried out for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers but failed to make the team because of a knee injury. However, his Army police training served him well in his next job, as a bouncer at Chicago nightclubs, where he began cultivating his ultra-tough “Mr. T” persona (the famous gold chains he wears were a result of picking up discarded jewelry from the nightclub every night). Perhaps the first “celebrity bodyguard,” and certainly one of the most famous, Mr. T would charge more than $3,000 a night for his services, protecting stars such as Steve McQueen, Diana Ross, and Muhammad Ali.

When he appeared on a televised bouncer competition, he caught the eye of director and actor Sylvester Stallone, who decided to cast him as the formidable, outrageous boxer Clubber Lang in Rocky III (1982), which turned out to be his launchpad to super-stardom. Fittingly enough, Mr. T’s Army roots came back into play when he was cast as Sgt. B.A. Baracus, Army Special Forces vet, in The A-Team (1985). Still as colorful as ever, Mr. T currently lives in L.A., and as you would expect from a tough guy, is healthy even after a 1995 bout with T-cell Lymphoma.

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