This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor - We Are The Mighty
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This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor

In 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard had been turning away recruits for years during the Great Depression. But, the Seattle office found itself with seven openings in September of that year and admitted seven new men to the force. One of them was future Signalman First Class Douglas Munro who would go on to earn a Medal of Honor at the Battle of Guadalcanal. He is the only Coast Guardsman to earn the award to date.


This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Photo: US Coast Guard

Douglas Munro was born to American parents in Vancouver, Canada in 1919, but grew up in Washington State. After one year of college, he enlisted in the Coast Guard. He volunteered for service aboard a Coast Guard cutter and was promoted. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Coast Guard to man certain positions on Navy ships, Munro volunteered for service on the USS Hunter Liggett.

Munro saw service on different Navy ships, gaining rank and changing commands until becoming a signalman first class aboard the USS McCawley. Meanwhile, U.S. military planners had their eyes set on Guadalcanal, a strategic island chain in the Pacific that was part of the Solomon Islands. Guadalcanal was especially important because Japanese forces were building an airstrip on the island.

The Marines began their campaign on August 7, 1942. The airstrip was quickly captured but Japanese defenders maintained control of the westernmost portion of the island. A river separated most of the U.S. and Japanese territory. Repeated attempts by the Marines to cross the river were rebuffed by Japanese forces.

The Marines adopted a new plan, commanded by none other than then-Lt. Col. Chesty Puller, for three companies of Puller’s Marines to land at Port Cruz, a position north of the Japanese forces, and push their way south.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Photo: US Coast Guard

Munro commanded the ships for the assault, and things initially went smoothly. The Marines landed with no resistance and quickly pushed 500 yards inland without major incident. After dropping off the Marines, all but one ship returned to the American base.

But the Marines had walked past hidden Japanese positions, and their counterattack was brutal. A friend of Munro was in the landing craft that remained at the beach. Then-Signalman Raymond Evans described what happened next in a Coast Guard video.

“In the meantime, all our boats had gone back to the base except the major had requested we leave one boat behind, for immediate casualties.  And so I stayed, I elected to stay behind and I had a coxswain named Sam Roberts from Portland, and the two of us were laying to in this LCP.  Unfortunately, we laid too close to the beach and the Japanese fired an automatic weapon at us and hit Roberts, hit all the controls, the vacuum controls on the boat. I slammed it into “full-ahead” and we tore out of there and I tore back to the, to the base, four miles, and when I got to the base, I pulled it out of gear, but it wouldn’t come out of gear, so we ran up on the beach, which is a long sloping sand beach.  Ran up on the beach the full length of the boat before it stopped.”

Roberts died during a medical evacuation. Soon after Evans returned to the American base, word came down that the Marines at Port Cruz were to be evacuated. Puller headed out to sea to personally supervise the Naval artillery fire covering the evacuation while the Coast Guard hopped into their boats to go and pick up the Marines. Evans moved into Munro’s boat for the return mission.

When the Coast Guard arrived at the beach, it was clear that the Marines were in a desperate position. They had 25 wounded and were under heavy fire. The beach was only five to six feet wide from the water to the jungle, and the Japanese were using the jungle for cover and concealment while firing on the Marines.

All of the Coast Guard boats were made of plywood and were susceptible to enemy fire. To allow the other ships time to load Marines and move out, Munro and Evans began laying cover fire with the .30-cal. machine guns, the heaviest weapons the small landing force had. Under the cover of the Naval bombardment and the Coast Guard machine guns, the Marines were able to scramble onto the small craft.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
US Coast Guard

The small flotilla began making it’s way back out to sea, and Munro ordered his boat in-between the beaches and the retreating craft while continuing to provide cover fire.

When the other ships were clear, Munro and Evans began their own slog back to the American parts of the island. On their way, they saw one of the landing craft stuck on a sand bar. Munro again ordered the ship stopped to assist the beached craft even though the nearby shoreline was controlled by Japanese forces.

Munro, Evans, and an engineer managed to pull the ship back into the water so it could make good its escape. Once Munro’s craft was finally headed out, Evans spotted Japanese forces placing a machine gun. He yelled a warning to Munro, but the engines drowned out his yell. Munro was struck in the base of the skull by a single bullet and died before reaching the operating base.

Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the only Coast Guardsman to receive the award. Evans received the Navy Cross and stayed in the Coast Guard, eventually retiring as a commander. After Munro’s death, his mother joined the Coast Guard as an officer.

The Coast Guard has a collection of photos from Munro’s life, including him as a baby and him boxing in the Navy.

NOW: Two heroic soldiers are finally getting the Medal of Honor they were cheated out of 97 years ago

OR: 10 incredible Post-9/11 combat medics who risked their lives to save others

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One Sentence Highlights The Pre-9/11 Wall Between The Intelligence Agencies

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


The New York Times posted a fascinating story Thursday about the mysterious sculpture called “Kryptos” in the courtyard at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and one short sentence really highlights barriers that existed between the intelligence agencies prior to Sep. 11, 2001.

Created by sculptor James Sanborn, Kryptos features four encoded messages that have baffled many for years. As a dedicated fan base has grown around the sculpture in trying to figure out the hidden message, three of the four had been decoded by 1999.

But in an interesting aside, journalist John Scwartz notes: “In fact, cryptographers at the National Security Agency cracked those messages in 1993, but kept the triumph to themselves.”

As a piece of artwork, the sculpture’s messages have nothing top secret within. Decoding it is really just a fun exercise for enthusiasts, but the fact NSA wouldn’t even tell their intelligence colleagues at CIA they had the answer for six years is rather telling.

In the sad postscript to the 9/11 attacks, it was found that a wall existed between law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and there was even separation between the different spy agencies themselves. As we now know, this compartmentalization of information was one of the major reasons Al Qaeda terrorists were successful in their attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

“We no longer operate largely on the principle of compartmentalization, that is, sharing information based on ‘need to know.’ We now start from the imperative of ‘responsibility to share,’ in order to collaborate with and better support our intelligence consumers—from the White House to the foxhole,” Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Now check out the full article at the Times

OR WATCH: 3 Veterans discuss “Are We Safer Now Than Before 9/11?”  

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Here are the winners of the 2015 US military photographer awards

Every year, the U.S. military’s photographers, videographers, and graphic artists submit their work to a panel of seasoned photographers in the Visual Information Award Program at Fort Meade, Maryland. There are nine separate categories in which photographers compete, including Military Photographer of the Year.


Here are this year’s winners along with detailed explanations of each photo:

Military Photographer of the Year: Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston, United States Air Force

“Generations of Battle”

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Dan Kelsey, a farmer from Clyde, N.Y. and World War II veteran who served in the Army Air Corps, sits on the rear bumper of his van, crouched over with both hands covering his face due to exhaustion and body ailments brought on by a long day of selling produce at the Central New York Regional Market, Sept. 5, 2015, Syracuse, N.Y. Dan and his son Carl Kelsey raise and harvest their own produce to sell at the market each week. Dan has been selling his crops at the market since 1938, in between his time in the military where he served as an aircraft mechanic on the B-26 Invader. While some years in the farming industry are better than others, 2015 has proven to be a tough one for Dan and his son as the production of their crops has been down due to weather conditions thus resulting in a loss of money. The father and son team normally bring approximately 150 baskets of tomatoes to sale at the market along with other produce which earns them nearly $1,500 on a good day but they have only been able to bring about 40 baskets each time this year knocking their earnings down to about $600, less than half their normal profit. As summer narrows and the weather changes, it could possibly be a long winter for the WWII veteran and his son. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

“No More”

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Residents of Baltimore, Md. protest, riot, and loot after the funeral of Freddie Gray, April 27, 2015. Gray, died April 19, 2015 from a severe spinal injury that allegedly occurred while in police custody. Looting and riots broke out in Baltimore after the funeral. The Maryland governor declared a state of emergency and enlisted the aid of 2,000 soldiers from the Maryland National Guard to help disseminate the riot. Some of the people participating in the riot/protest explained that their actions were a part of the Black Lives Matter movement which began sweeping across the nation in 2012 after Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman fatally shot Martin who was a 17-year-old African American. Zimmerman, was the neighborhood watch coordinator. He shot Martin, who was unarmed, during an altercation between the two of them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kenny Holston)

“The Heroin Highway”

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Allen Sanford, a homeless man with several health issues, a severe drug addiction and an impending divorce says he feels trapped and thinks he will be stuck on the streets and addicted to heroin for the rest of his life. Recently, Syracuse, N.Y. was statistically ranked number one for poverty and several town hall meetings have been held to come up with ideas on how to resolve the increasing heroin problem sweeping across the city. These images depict Sanford’s daily struggle with his addiction and surviving on the streets of Syracuse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

“Tucked In”

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
A U.S. Air Force crew chief assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, crawls out of the intake of an F-16 Fighting Falcon as she completes her post flight inspection on the aircraft, Jan. 15, 2015, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Crews chiefs work around the clock to keep Shaw’s fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons mission ready at all times.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

“Remembering a Legend”

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor

Combat Operations Category

1st place: “Rushing to Save Lives,” by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Anderson, USMC

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
A U.S. Air Force pararescueman with Joint Task Force 505 helps evacuate earthquake victims from an area near Cherikot, Nepal, after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the country, May 12. JTF 505 along with other multinational forces and humanitarian relief organizations are currently in Nepal providing aid after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country, April 25. At Nepal’s request the U.S. government ordered JTF 505 to provide unique capabilities to assist Nepal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jeffrey D. Anderson)

2nd place: “Operation Enduring Freedom Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa,” by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Soldiers from Alpha Company,1st Armored Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, East Africa Response Force (EARF) bound to cover by section during a live fire training exercise at the Arta training range in Djibouti, May 30, 2015. The EARF is a quick reaction force designed to defend U.S. assets within the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook)

3rd place: “Delivering Hope,” by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Anderson, USMC

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Nepalese army soldiers unload aid and relief supplies, delivered by Joint Task Force 505, from a UH-1Y Venom in the Kavrepalanchowk District, Nepal, May, 11, during Operation Sahayogi Haat. The Nepalese Government requested the U.S. Government’s assistance after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country, April 25. The U.S. government ordered JTF 505 to provide unique capabilities to assist Nepal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jeffrey D. Anderson)

News Category:

1st place: ” Dueling Demonstrations, by “Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Dueling demonstrations clash as the Klu Klux Klan holds a protest rally on the steps of the S.C. State House building at the same time as a New Black Panther Party rally coupled with other black activist groups, July19, 2015, Columbia, S.C. The KKK held the rally to protest against the removal of the Confederate Flag from the State House grounds which was taken down July 10, 2015. The demonstration groups nearly went head-to-head as both rallies concluded and ended up face-to-face in the streets of downtown Columbia. In this photo young African American men push past medal barricades which are the only thing between them and several KKK members as they shout at the Klan members to leave or die. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

2nd place: “Goodbye,” by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brett Baker, assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing, kisses his wife before leaving for a deployment from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 6, 2015. Members of the Air Force typically deploy several times throughout their career, often times leaving family members behind. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

3rd place: “Chairman In Thought,” by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp, USA

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
38th Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, and 39th Chief of Staff of the Army Mark A. Milley stand in line prior to the start of the United States Army Change of Responsibility ceremony held at Summerall Field on Fort Myer, Va., Aug. 14, 2015. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno relinquished command of the U.S. Army to Gen. Mark A. Milley during the ceremony hosted by Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)

Combat Training Category:

1st place: “Chow time,” by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
U.S. Air Force Combat Control trainees assigned to Operating Location C, 342nd Training Squadron, laugh with each other while sharing a meal ready to eat during a long day of training Feb. 13, 2015. Working as a team and keeping morale high within the unit is vital to each Airman’s success as they push through training. At the 342nd TRS both CCT and Special Operations Weather Team trainees go through four months of grueling tactical and class room training. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston)

2nd place: “Air Force Basic Military Training,” by Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Trainees practice proper security procedures before being sent out to their field training exercise. The week-long event exposes the trainees to conditions similar to what they’d see in a deployed environment and also gives the trainees an opportunity to work together as a team without the guidance of their instructors. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin)

3rd place: “View Behind the Lens,” Senior Airman Damon Kasberg, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Airman 1st Class Lane Plummer, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, photographs paratroopers from multiple allied nations as they exit a C-130J Super Hercules during International Jump Week, July 9, 2015 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The five-day event was led by the 435th Contingency Response Group and provided multiple nations the opportunity to work side-by-side, increasing interoperability and strengthening relationships. Paratroopers traveled from throughout Europe and as far away as New Zealand to build stronger partnerships by jumping out of aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein. (U.S. Air Force photo taken by Senior Airman Damon Kasberg)

Features Category:

(This category is for storytelling pictures, not news-related; usually situations that have strong human interest or a fresh view of a commonplace occurrences.)

1st place: “Tug Of War,” by Lance Cpl. Ryan P. Kierkegaard, USMC

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
U.S. Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division participate in a tug of war competition during warrior night at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 1, 2015. Warrior night is an annual event held to build camaraderie in the battalion. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan P. Kierkegaard)

2nd Place: “Warrior CARE Event,” by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
A U.S. Air Force wounded warrior engages her core in preparation for exercises during an Air Force hosted North East Regional Warrior CARE event at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 17, 2015. The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program is a federally mandated program that provides personalized care, services and advocacy for wounded, ill and injured service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

3rd Place: “Koalafying,” by Master Sgt. Michel A. Sauret, USA

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor

Illustrative Category:

(This category shows photographs produced to illustrate a pre-conceived theme, concept or idea, and does not include text or graphics.)

1st place: “The Last Patrol,” by Sgt. Matthew Callahan, USMC

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Advanced Recon Commandos rush to cover after being ambushed by separatist forces. The troopers were conducting a security patrol outside their company forward operating base when the droid forces attacked.
This image of 12-inch action figures is part of a larger photo essay telling the stories of the rank-and-file ground troops of the Star Wars universe through the lens of a combat correspondent. Conflict generally has been one of the biggest informants in the way pop culture creates stories. This photo essay, entitled “Galactic Warfighters” tethers the real and fictitious worlds more closely to each other. All elements of this image were captured in-camera. The image was converted to black and white with a contrast adjustment, sharpening and minor burning of the vignetted edges in post. (U.S. Marine Corps illustration by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)

2nd Place: “Smoking Costs,” by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
The average smoker spends more than 1,500 dollars a year on cigarettes. Most smokers overlook how much they are spending because buying cigarettes come in small, frequent purchases. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

3rd Place: “Let Them Speak,” by Staff Sergeant Douglas Ellis, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Three women die each day at the hands of their intimate partner according to the National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The military provides its members and families a variety of programs to reduce occurrences and aid victims. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Staff Sergeant Douglas Ellis)

Portrait Personality Category:

1st Place: “Arvin,” by Senior Airman Jordan A. Castelan, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Maj. Sherrill Arvin (ret.) has his portrait taken during an interview recapping his time in service during the 1940s 50s, 60s and 70s as an aviator in the Airman Heritage Museum on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, April 16, 2015. Arvin began his military involvement on JBSA-Lackland at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center and continues by volunteering at the Airman Heritage Museum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan A. Castelan)

2nd Place: “Cowboy Al,” by Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy, New York Air National Guard

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
At 95 years old, Al still works as the manager of a small ranch in Norco, California. A veteran of the Second World War, Al fought with the Seventh Armored Division, landing on the beaches of Normandy and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. Additionally, Al has survived a major propane explosion and open heart surgery (New York Air National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Muncy)

3rd Place: “Cowgirl,” by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl, USA

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Susan Peterson rests on her horse barn’s door in Norco, Calif., June 18, 2015. Peterson spent the morning playing with her horses and mule. The photo was taken during the 2015 Department of Defense Photography workshop held in Riverside, Calif. The workshop brought photographers and videographers from across the DOD together, while industry and military leaders mentored and developed them for a week. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl)

Pictorial Category:

(This category contains photographs that exploit the visual qualities of the subject with primary emphasis on composition and aesthetics.)

1st place: “Dusky Night,” by Cpl. Matthew Howe, USMC

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
A U.S. Marine with Bravo Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, stands untop of a Light Armored Vehicle 25 during duck for Steel Knight 16 (SK-16), at National Training Center Fort Irwin, Calif., Dec. 13, 2015. Steel Knight is an annual field training exercise that enables 1st Marine Division to test and refine its command and control capabilities by acting as the command element for a forward-deployed Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew Howe)

2nd place: “Gone, but Not Forgotten,” by Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo, Sr., USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Headstones pave the lawns of Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, Calif., June 17, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by by Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo, Sr.)

3rd place: “USNS Mercy Steams Forward,” by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark El-Rayes, USN

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) steams ahead during Pacific Partnership 2015. Pacific Partnership is in its tenth iteration and is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark El-Rayes)

Sports Photography Category:

1st place: “Catch!,” by Senior Airman Jordan A. Castelan, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Two soldiers play catch with a football while a fellow soldier watches the perimeter of the training grounds during the Expert Field Medic Badge course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Sept. 24, 2015. The EFMB is the non-combat equivalent of the Combat Medical Badge and is awarded to medical personnel of the U.S. military who successfully complete a set of qualification tests. (U.S. Air Force photo by by Senior Airman Jordan A. Castelan)

2nd place: “Overcomer,” by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr., USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Staff Sgt. Gideon Connelly leaps over a gutter during training at an adaptive sports camp in Crested Butte, Colorado. In 2011, Connelly was involved in a motorcycle accident where he lost his left leg below the knee. He rehabilitated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. Connelly was returned to duty and currently serves at the 175th Maintenance Squadron. Connelly takes part in many of the adaptive sports events and his main love is sprinting. He is training to be a part of the Paralympic track and field team for the 2016 Paralympic Games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

3rd place: “Fight Night,” by Cpl. Elize McKelvey, USMC

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
U.S. Marine Cpl. Roman Fernandez, left, and 1st Lt. Paul Hollwedel duke it out in the hangar bay of the USS Essex (LHD 2) at sea in the Pacific Ocean, May 29, 2015. Fernandez is a team leader and Hollwedel is the executive officer with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Marines found unique ways to continue to maintain combat readiness during their seven-month deployment through the Pacific and Central Command areas. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Elize McKelvey)

Picture Story Category:

(This category is for photos that reveal a storyline or a single theme.)

1st place: “Air Force Boot Camp,” by Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Air Force Basic Military Training is an 8-week life changing program of physical and mental training required in order for an individual to become an airman in the U. S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force picture story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Griffin)

2nd place: “Norco.” by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl, USA

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Citizens of Norco, Calif., share a lifestyle that stands as an oasis of Americana in the middle of Southern California, here, Jun. 18, 2015. (U.S. Army picture story by Staff Sgt. Marcus Fichtl).

3rd place: “Obstacle Course.” by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos, USAF

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
U.S. Marine Corps recruits endure a 54-hour long training called the Crucible, a test that gauges their physical, mental and emotional strength. As recruits use different parts of their bodies to accomplish tasks and challenges along the way, they also have to work together and move as a unit in order to conquer the Crucible and become Marines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos, USAF)

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This combat controller kept taking it to the enemy after he was shot in the chest

Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez had accompanied top special operators in some of the most dangerous missions of the War on Terror, including the Battle of Shok Valley. He was a combat controller assigned to Army Special Forces, calling in attack runs from aircraft supporting the Green Berets.


In 2009 he was tested like never before when, during a raid to capture a high-level Taliban leader, Gutierrez was shot in the chest. The round passed through his lung, collapsing it and ripping a chunk out of his back.

Gutierrez had seen this kind of wound before and estimated he had three minutes left to live.

“I thought about [my job], what I would do before I bled out,” Gutierrez told Fox News while discussing the raid. “That I would change the world in those three minutes, I’d do everything I could to get my guys out safely before I died.”

He stayed on the radio, calling in strikes from aircraft to help the team escape alive. At one point, enemy fighters were lined up on a wall only 30 feet from him. Gutierrez called in three A-10 danger close gun runs against the fighters. The rounds struck so close to Gutierrez that his ear drums burst from the explosions. After the first of the three runs, he allowed an Army medic to insert a needle into his lung, relieving some of the pressure that was forcing his lungs closed. It was the only time he came off the radio despite his injuries.

In fact, through all the chaos of the fight, Gutierrez remained so calm and clear on the radio that the pilots supporting the operation didn’t realize he was injured until he was removed from the battlefield.

“He said he would be off of the mic for a few to handle his gunshot wounds,” Air Force Capt. Ethan Sabin told Business Insider. “Until that point he was calm, cool and collected.

Gutierrez was medically evacuated from the battle after nearly four hours of fighting and losing over half of his blood. No American lives were lost in the raid, a success credited largely to Gutierrez’s extraordinary actions. He recovered from his wounds and was awarded the Air Force Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor for valor awards.

Watch the ceremony below

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John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam

Over the weekend, real-estate mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said he did not like “losers,” like US Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), in reference to McCain’s 2008 presidential election loss to President Barack Obama.


“I never liked him after that, because I don’t like losers,” Trump said.

He then dug into McCain’s military career. Trump said the US Navy veteran imprisoned for nearly six years in Vietnam was not a “war hero.” He quickly caveated that statement.

“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Photo: US Navy

Amid the backlash, Trump has accused the media of taking his remarks about McCain’s military record out of context in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

McCain has talked and written extensively about his service and his experience as a prisoner of war.

On October 26, 1967, then-US Navy Lieutenant Commander John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Vietnam.

“I reacted automatically the moment I took the hit and saw my wing was gone. I radioed, ‘I’m hit,’ reached up, and pulled the ejection seat handle. I struck part of the airplane, breaking my left arm, my right arm in three places, and my right knee, and I was briefly knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection.”

Writing in 2000 memoir “Faith Of My Fathers,” this is how McCain describes the moment he became a prisoner of war for nearly six years. He continues:

“I landed in the middle of the lake (Truc Bach Lake), in the middle of the city, in the middle of the day. An escape attempt would have been challenging.”

Wearing approximately 50 pounds of gear and not being able to use either of his broken arms to deploy his life vest, McCain sank to the bottom of the shallow lake. He managed to inflate his life vest by pulling the plastic toggle with his teeth and shot to the surface. Floating in the lake, McCain fell in and out of consciousness until a group of Vietnamese villagers pulled him out of the water.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
McCain being pulled from Trúc Bạch Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Several hundred Vietnamese gathered around me, shouting wildly, stripping my clothes off, spitting on me, kicking and striking me repeatedly. When they had finished removing my gear and clothes, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I looked down and saw that my right foot was resting next to my left knee, at a 90-degree angle … Someone smashed a rifle butt into my shoulder, breaking it. Someone else stuck a bayonet in my ankle and groin.”

Before the angry mob could do more harm, Vietnamese soldiers arrived and transported McCain to Hoa Lo, a French-built prison.

“As the massive steel doors loudly clanked shut behind me, I felt a deeper dread than I have ever felt since … for the next few days I drifted in and out of consciousness. When awake, I was periodically taken to another room for interrogation. “

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

McCain was accused of being a war criminal and tortured until he shared classified military information in exchange for medical attention. As he refused to reveal more than his name, rank, and date of birth, his condition steadily worsened.

“For four days I was taken back and forth to different rooms. Unable to use my arms, I was fed twice a day by a guard. I vomited after the meals, unable to hold down anything but a little tea. I remember being desperately thirsty all the time, but I could drink only when the guard was present for my twice-daily feedings.”

McCain, who was forced to lay in a puddle of his own vomit and other bodily wastes, became feverish and lost consciousness frequently and for longer periods of time.

One day the camp officer, who the PO Ws called Bug and who McCain referred to as “a mean son of b—-,” entered his filthy cell to examine his injuries.

“Are you going to take me to the hospital? I asked.

“No,” he replied. “It’s too late.”

“Take me to the hospital and I’ll get well.”

“It’s too late,” he repeated.

Hopeless, McCain assumed we would die and began mentally prepping himself of his approaching death; but a few hours later, Bug rushed into his cell and shouted: “Your father is a big admiral. Now we take you to the hospital.”

“A couple of days later I found myself lying in a filthy room about twenty by twenty feet, lousy with mosquitoes and rats. Every time it rained, an inch of mud and water would pool on the floor … I received no treatment for my injuries. No one even bothered to wash the grime off me.”

Meanwhile, McCain’s interrogators continued to pressure him for more information and threatened to terminate his medical treatment if he did not cooperate.

“I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron. When asked to identify future targets, I simply recited the names of a number of North Vietnamese cities that had already been bombed.”

Since McCain could not feed himself, a young boy was assigned to feeding him. The boy forced three spoonfuls of food down McCain’s throat twice a day. There were usually leftovers, which the boy helped himself to in front of McCain.

Two months into his captivity, McCain underwent an operation on his leg.

“The Vietnamese filmed the operation, I haven’t a clue why. Regrettably, the operation wasn’t much of a success. The doctors severed all the ligaments on one side of my knee, which has never fully recovered.”

Shortly after his surgery, McCain was moved into a cell with two other American Air Force POWs. They took care of each other and McCain notes that his condition improved.

The darkest moments of his capture occur when guards place him in solitary.

“It’s an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.”

A year later, several guards brought a resistant McCain to the camp commander in order to formally charge him of his war crimes.

“Knowing that I was in serious trouble and that nothing I did or said would make matters any worse, I replied: ‘F— you.'”

McCain was beat up, tied up for a night, and then dragged to an empty room for 4 days.

“At two-to-three intervals, the guards returned to administer beatings … still I felt they were being careful not to kill or permanently injure me.”

The worst beating came on the third night.

“I lay in my own blood and waste, so tired and hurt that I could not move…he slammed his fist into my face and knocked me across the room towards the waste bucket. I fell on the bucket, hitting it with my left arm, and breaking it again. They left me lying on the floor, moaning from the stabbing pain in my refractured arm.”

It was after this night, that McCain tried to commit suicide twice. He was stopped by the guards and received more beatings. Shortly after, he confessed to whatever war crimes he was accused of and was left alone in his cell for 2 weeks.

“They were the worst two weeks of my life … I was ashamed … I shook, as if my disgrace were a fever.”

This was 2 years into McCain’s almost 6 year imprisonment. He was released as a POW in March of 1973.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

These book excerpts are from John McCain’s memoir “Faith Of My Fathers.” 

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Podcast: Name the B-21 and the OV-10 Bronco is back


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

Last week the U.S. Air Force tweeted to the world that it needs help naming its newest bomber, the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber. (What could possibly go wrong?) Well … we discuss the possibilities and provide examples where crowdsourcing failed. We also discuss the OV-10 Bronco’s comeback and what it means in the fight against ISIS. And on a lighter note, we talk about which service branch we’d join knowing what we know about the military today.

Hosted by:

Selected links and show notes from the episode

• [1:45] CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

• [7:25] Here’s what it costs to fight ISIS (so bring your wallet)

• [7:35] These are the Air Force’s most expensive planes to operate

• [8:00] Articles about the A-10

• [13:00] 9 reasons it’s perfectly fine to be a POG

• [14:15] 32 terms only airmen will understand

• [18:40] The awesome callsigns of the pilots bombing ISIS

• [19:50] Watch these 5 vets admit what branch they’d pick if they joined again

• [36:00] Airmen have the chance to name the Air Force’s newest bomber

Music license by Jingle Punks

  • Lightning Ryder
Articles

Canadian and US generals discussed the possibility of fully ‘integrating’ the two countries’ militaries

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Canadian soldiers set a perimeter position after disembarking a U.S. Navy landing craft during a simulated amphibious landing. (Photo: Wikimedia)


Top Canadian and US generals once explored the possibility of creating a fully integrated military force for expeditionary operations, James Cudmorewrites for CBC news in an exclusive report.

In a series of meetings that occurred prior to October 2013, top military officials from Canada and the US discussed ways of increasing interoperability between the two military forces. On several occasions, Cudmorewrites citing information from the Department of National Defense, then-Chief of the Defense Staff Gen. Tom Lawson of Canada and now retired US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey attempted to create plans for “fully integrated forces.”

In a “fully-integrated force,” US and Canadian military members would serve side by side within the same units under one unified command. Canadian and US soldiers would then be deployed around the world on expeditionary operations under a unified military command structure.

Although the discussions were carried out at the highest levels, Canada decided that it was not in its best interest to fully integrate its military with the US’s for these types of missions. Among the Canadians’ concerns were the implications of Ottawa potentially having to cede control over its forces to US commanders in certain situations.

“The two armies do not intend to field formally integrated forces at this time,” a Department of National Defense spokesman wrote to CBC.

“Instead, they are developing the capability to operate together on any mission authorized by the government of Canada. Canada-US cooperation is excellent; we are trying to make it better.”

Canada and the US already have a high level of military interoperability. The two countries are both members of the NATO military alliance, and the militaries have served together recently in Afghanistan and in the fight against ISIS in Iraq.

Additionally, Canada and the US operate a fully integrated military organization under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD is responsible for defending North America from both external and internal aerial threats.

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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This lawsuit may spell the end of government torture

A settlement has been reached in a landmark lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union brought against two psychologists involved in designing the CIA’s harsh interrogation program used in the war on terror.


The deal announced August 17 marked the first time the CIA or its private contractors have been held accountable for the torture program, which began as a result of the attacks on September 11, said professor Deborah Pearlstein of the Cardozo Law School in New York.

“This sends a signal to those who might consider doing this in the future,” Pearlstein said. “There are consequences for torture.”

Also read: It turns out that bringing a flag to Arlington Cemetery can get you a year in jail

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed August 17. The deal avoided a civil jury trial that had been set for September 5 in federal court in Spokane, Washington.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Image from in-training.org

Pearlstein said the settlement also makes it unlikely the CIA will pursue torture again in the war on terror. “This puts an exclamation mark at the end of torture,” she said.

“We certainly hope this opens the door for further lawsuits,” said Sarah Dougherty, an anti-torture activist for Physicians for Human Rights.

The ACLU sued James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen on behalf of three former detainees, including one who died in custody, who contended they were tortured at secret CIA prisons overseas. Mitchell and Jessen were under contract with the federal government following the September 11 terror attacks.

The lawsuit claimed they designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program. The techniques they developed included waterboarding, slamming the three men into walls, stuffing them inside coffin-like boxes, exposing them to extreme temperatures, starving them, and keeping them awake for days, the ACLU said.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Photo from Flickr user Val Kerry.

“This outcome shows that there are consequences for torture and that survivors can and will hold those responsible for torture accountable,” said Dror Ladin, an attorney for the ACLU. “It is a clear warning for anyone who thinks they can torture with impunity.”

James T. Smith, lead defense attorney, said the psychologists were public servants whose interrogation methods were authorized by the government.

“The facts would have borne out that while the plaintiffs suffered mistreatment by some of their captors, none of that mistreatment was conducted, condoned, or caused by Drs. Mitchell and Jessen,” Smith said.

Jessen said in a statement that he and Mitchell “served our country at a time when freedom and safety hung in the balance.”

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
The torture program began as a result of the attacks on September 11. USCG photo by PA3 Tom Sperduto.

Mitchell also defended their work, saying, “I am confident that our efforts were necessary, legal, and helped save countless lives.”

But the group Physicians for Human Rights said the case shows that health professionals who participate in torture will be held accountable.

“These two psychologists had a fundamental ethical obligation to do no harm, which they perverted to inflict severe pain and suffering on human beings in captivity,” said Donna McKay, executive director of the group.

The lawsuit sought unspecified monetary damages from the psychologists on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and the estate of Gul Rahman.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Gul Rahman. Photo from Dr. Ghairat Baheer.

Rahman, an Afghan, was taken from his home in Pakistan in 2002 to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. He died of hypothermia several weeks later after being shackled to a floor in near-freezing conditions.

According to the lawsuit, Salim and Ben Soud both were subjected to waterboarding, daily beatings, and sleep deprivation in secret CIA sites. Salim, a Tanzanian, and Ben Soud, a Libyan, were later released after officials determined they posed no threat.

A US Senate investigation in 2014 found that Mitchell and Jessen’s techniques produced no useful intelligence. They were paid $81 million for their work. President Barack Obama terminated the contract in 2009.

Mitchell and Jessen previously worked at the Air Force survival school at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane, where they trained pilots to avoid capture and resist interrogation and torture. The CIA hired them to reverse-engineer their methods to break terrorism suspects.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Demonstration of waterboarding at a street protest during a visit by Condoleezza Rice to Iceland, May 2008. Photo by Flickr user Karl Gunnarsson.

The ACLU said it was the first civil lawsuit involving the CIA’s torture program that was not dismissed at the initial stages. The Justice Department got involved to keep classified information secret but did not try to block it.

Though there was no trial, the psychologists and several CIA officials underwent lengthy questioning in video depositions. Some documents that had been secret were declassified.

The ACLU issued a joint statement from the surviving plaintiffs, who said they achieved their goals.

Related: This vet group says the Pentagon is disclosing private data on millions of troops

“We were able to tell the world about horrific torture, the CIA had to release secret records, and the psychologists and high-level CIA officials were forced to answer our lawyer’s questions,” the statement said.

The lawsuit was brought under a law allowing foreign citizens to have access to US courts to seek justice for violations of their rights.

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This is what the news would look like just before a nuclear war

The specter of nuclear war has been hanging over the world since the U.S. attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.


The real question is, though, how might the world see it break out? The video below features fictionalized coverage of how a nuclear war breaks out between the NATO and Russia.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Mushroom cloud rising over nuclear explosion on a beach.

What starts off the war is the downing of a Russian plane, similar to a real-life incident on the Turkish-Syrian border in November 2015. Things escalate quickly from there, as fire is exchanged in retaliation.

The nuclear threshold is crossed when a supply convoy gets hit with a nuclear-tipped torpedo. Nuclear detonations occur at Beale Air Force Base and Warsaw, Poland. Kaliningrad is destroyed by a Trident missile.

This sobering video is about an hour – but well worth the time to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ25RMezeLU
 

It isn’t unreasonable to remain vigilant against a nuclear threat; after all, many countries continue to pursue a nuclear program (with or without adhering to international laws). North Korea even has a propaganda video that features a nuclear attack on Washington.

Watching the events unfold in this fictional video should be a solemn reminder of the importance of nuclear deterrence, strong defensive postures, and, above all, strong international diplomatic relationships.

Articles

These stunning photos show supermodel Kate Upton doing some PT with Marines

The U.S. Marines put supermodel Kate Upton through her paces on Aug. 22 during a workout in Detroit to promote the upcoming Marine Week celebration in the city.


Upton struggled a bit at the end, but was able to complete the training routine that involved a series of aerobic exercises and running as her fiance, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, watched from afar. Upton joined several other Tigers players’ wives and significant others in the session at Wayne State University’s athletic complex that was led by Gunnery Sgt. Sara Pacheco, a Marine Corps fitness instructor.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Model Kate Upton was put through her paces to help the Corps promote a local event. (Photo from AP via News Edge)

“It was (a) very hard workout,” Upton said following the exercise session, which she concluded by collapsing to the grass in an exhausted embrace with a fellow workout warrior. “I knew it was going to be hard. The Marines are very tough.”

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Marine Corps fitness instructors bang out some squats with supermodel Kate Upton. (Photo from AP via News Edge)

Verlander, a former American League most valuable player and winner of the Cy Young award as the league’s top pitcher, said afterward that he was proud of Upton for her efforts.

“I think it’s easy to show your support with words. I think going out there and doing that workout I think really shows how much she supports (the military),” Verlander said. He is the founder of the Wins for Warriors charity that supports military service members and their families.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Time to ruck up Miss Upton! (Photo from AP via News Edge)

Upton, a world-famous model who has appeared three times on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, was on hand to promote Marine Week, which runs Sept. 6-10, and is designed to provide the public with a better understanding of the Corps and its mission and the chance to connect with hundreds of Marines.

Articles

EA releases combat stats for ‘Star Wars Battlefront’ and the results are amazing

In November 2015, Electronic Arts Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment (aka EA DICE) released their first Star Wars Battlefront game since Disney purchased the franchise. In less than a month, the action shooter picked up an impressive set of gameplay statistics that were released in an infographic, describing the characters, kill counts, and tactics players use in the game.


The stats give good insights around how to win. The first and most obvious one: Don’t try to replicate tactics seen in the film. You are not a Jedi; the Force is not strong with you.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Because a tow cable is not the way to take out a walking tank. Try that sh*t on a real battlefield, see how far it gets you.

 

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
For the record, we predicted this one. Who puts blinders on a fighter??

 

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
We nailed this one too. Maybe camouflage would make it easier to not get hit by rocks.

And it seems getting in a vehicle isn’t a good way to last longer. Or maybe it is. It’s definitely more fun.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Maybe avoid flying those TIE fighters.

There is definitely a choice vehicle.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Admittedly, we were wrong about that one.

See the full infographic on EA’s Star Wars Battlefront page.

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A-10 pilot manages to ‘belly land’ his plane after nearly everything falls apart

After a routine training run in Alpena County, Michigan in late July, US Air National Guard Capt. Brett DeVries survived the perfect storm of malfunctions to safely land his A-10 Thunderbolt II on its belly without the benefit of landing gear.


During a training exercise where A-10 pilots practice dropping inert bombs and ripping the planes’ massive gun, DeVries’ gun malfunctioned. Moments later, his canopy blew off his plane as he flew along at 375 miles an hour, according to a US Air National Guard write up of the event.

The incredible winds smacked DeVries head against his seat, nearly incapacitating him. “It was like someone sucker punched me,” he said. “I was just dazed for a moment.”

Related: The ‘Chopper Popper’ scored the A-10’s first air-to-air kill…against an Iraqi helicopter

DeVries wingman, Major Shannon Vickers, then flew under his plane to assess the damage, finding bad news. The panels under his plane had been damaged, and it was unclear if he would be able to lower his landing gear.

Meanwhile, DeVries struggled against the wind and having everything loose in his cockpit. He could no longer benefit from checklists, which had become a liability that could now potentially fly out and get stuck in his engine.

DeVries, having the flight from hell, had two of his radios go down and had to communicate with Vickers and flight control on his third backup system. They worked together to find him a nearby spot to land and Vickers observed that DeVries would not in fact be able to use his landing gear.

This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor
Capt. Brett DeVries (right) and his wingman Maj. Shannon Vickers, both A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots of the 107th Fighter Squadron from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. Vickers helped DeVries safely make an emergency landing July 20 at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center after the A-10 DeVries was flying experienced a malfunction. | US Air National Guard photo by Terry Atwell

“I just thought, ‘There is no way this is happening right now.’ It all was sort of surreal, but at the same time, we were 100 percent focused on the task ahead of us,” Vickers said.

Miraculously, thanks to the meticulous training A-10 pilots undergo and the incredibly rugged design of the plane, DeVries walked away unscathed, and maintainers will be able to fix the plane.

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This is why going mudding in a World War I era tank is a bad idea

The front line of WWI was a dangerous place. From bullets to bombs to poison gas, the death that could be dealt on the battlefield came from many directions.


Mother nature included.

Excessive rains made mobility difficult as troops were forced to navigate through the mud-choked battlefields, making resupply and transport nearly impossible. With both sides bogged down, tanks were thought to enable a breakthrough, but they too soon succumbed to the clutches of mud.

Known as “Mark 1,” the first tank was constructed with 105hp Daimler engine and carried two Hotchkiss six-pound (57mm) guns. The crew consisted four gunners and three drivers, and the tank maneuvered on caterpillar tracks with separate gearboxes.

Soldiers had to endure intense heat in the crew compartment, extreme noise and would sometimes be trapped for days if the tank got stuck.

After multiple design failures, the British considered canceling their tank program, but supporters kept them in the Empire’s arsenal.

Related: Why WWII soldiers nicknamed the Sherman tank ‘death trap’

New tactics breathed new life into the lumbering beasts, focusing them into mass attacks that took advantage of proper terrain.

Check out the History Channel‘s video below to see how these first tanks made an impact on the battlefields of the War To End All Wars.

(History Channel, YouTube)