This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads 'the most unique memorial ever built' - We Are The Mighty
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This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

Johnny T. “Tommy” Clack has military heritage in his blood. He’s proud of being the eighth generation to serve and proud of his son for being the ninth. He wants to continue to recognize returning veterans, as well as those who came before.


“We go all the way back to founding of Savannah when Oglethorpe landed in Georgia,” Clack says. “We started out as redcoats. By the second generation, we were on Washington’s side and have been on the right side ever since. ”

Clack dropped out of college to enlist in the Army in 1966. He served as an artillery officer in Vietnam, a forward observer assigned to an infantry unit to call in artillery during firefights.

“Artillery is known as the King of Battle,” Clack muses. “It brings on massive destruction. I volunteered for artillery officer candidate school because I like to play with the biggest firecrackers. And I volunteered to go to Vietnam a few times before I finally got orders. I had to find out if I was half the man my dad was! He was a World War II and Korea veteran.”

After being in country for eight months, on My 29, 1969 then-Captain Tommy Clack was seriously wounded on the Cambodian border. He suffered massive internal injuries, hearing loss, and lost three of his limbs. He would spend 22 months recovering at a VA medical facility in Atlanta, undergoing 33 operations. Since May 1969, he survived 65 surgeries.

“Every day you wake up is a great day to be alive,” he says.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

Clack recently sat with former Air Force combat photographer Stacy Pearsall as a part of Pearsall’s Veterans Portrait Project (VPP). The VPP honors veterans from every conflict, hearing their stories, thanking them for their service and preserving their image for generations to come. In 2008, the first year of the VPP, she photographed over 100 veterans. Since then, she’s made portraits of nearly 4000 more. See more of the VPP here.

A popular perception of the Vietnam War is that a vast majority of the men who fought there were draftees. In reality – a reality Tommy Clack wants to make sure everyone remembers – two-thirds of the troops sent to Vietnam were volunteers.

“I got spit on and called a baby killer all the time,” he remembers. “When you got out, you dealt with that all the time from the community. I’m missing three limbs. I didn’t have to explain to anyone how that happened. But I’m not afraid to stand up for myself or any other vet. I will not be intimidated by anyone who disagrees with me.”

That dedication to supporting those like him drove much of Tommy Clack’s life. He spent his post-war career as a Georgia state Veterans Service Officer. Now 68 years old, he spent the time in-between standing up for veterans and their families, working to get them the help they need and the benefits they deserve.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

“You continue to be yourself,” Clack says. “That’s what God left me alive to do. The meaning of life is to get involved and be productive. That’s what I do.”

That is exactly what Clack does. He is now the President of the $32-million Walk of Heroes memorial in Rockdale County, Georgia.

“It’s the most unique memorial ever built in America,” he says. “It’s an educational complex honoring everyone who served in the U.S. military – Active, Guard, or Reserve – from January 1, 1900 through today.”

Clack was part of the original concept, after Georgia donated the land in 1998. They broke ground in 2000 but the memorial sat unfinished for years. In 2011, Captain Clack took over.

“I decided to finish this baby,” he recalls. “When I became president in 2011, I put together a Board of Directors who aren’t afraid of doing the hard work. This is all I do now. I work on this memorial 12-18 hours a day.”

The memorial walkway is crossed by 71 marble bands ranging from 10 to 20 inches wide, engraved with the actions of America’s military during that year. From the Boxer Rebellion to the Global War On Terrorism, each marble band represents a year where American Armed Forces were deployed overseas in armed conflicts.

“We have to ensure our vets from every era are remembered for what they did,” Clack says. “Today’s generation is no different, and we need to recognize that.”

To learn more about preserving the images of American veterans visit Veterans Portrait Project and donate.

You can also learn more about the Walk of Heroes memorial or donate to its completion here.

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

OR: The crazy story of the man who fought for Finland, the Nazis, and US Army Special Forces

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3 reasons things could still get worse because Turkey shot down that Russian jet

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’


First the good news: Despite Internet memes about Putin having Turkey for dinner last week, the chances are low that Armageddon will be on the menu any time soon.

In other words, the chances that World War III will erupt this holiday season are mighty slim because a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Federation Su-24 Fencer M bomber last Tuesday after it apparently violated Turkey’s airspace.

Outraged Russian officials are already talking about economic sanctions. During a news conference, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the shoot-down a “planned provocation” but said the two countries would not go to war over the incident.

But does that mean Russia will forgive and forget? Hardly. Comments by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin indicate he is not only infuriated by events, he’s also willing to escalate Russian military presence in Syria as well defend Russian national pride.

Here are three reasons why things could still get out of hand very quickly in one of the world’s most volatile places:

1. In Putin’s world, nobody shoots down a Russian plane and gets away with it

Russian aircraft routinely test the limits of different nation’s sovereign airspace – including the U.S. and Britain. Those missions are absolutely designed and principally intended to appeal to Russian pride and national identity, as well as show the world that Russia military power is a force worthy of respect.

As recently as July 4, multiple nuclear-capable Tu-95 Bear bombers flew into U.S. air defense identification zones off California and Alaska. In fact, some of the Bears flew within 40 miles off the California coastline.

But even though we scramble fighters to intercept the bombers, the U.S. and other NATO nations don’t shoot them down. Turkey did, principally because in recent weeks Russian warplanes bombed Syrian rebels who are also Turkmen, an ethnic group considered kinsmen of the Turkish people.

What’s more, the rebels killed one of the Russian plane’s crew members as well as a Russian Marine who was part of the search-and-rescue operation.

To put it bluntly, Putin is pissed off by the shoot-down and what he considers a war crime committed against Russian fighting men.  In addition, he describes what happened a provocative act on the part of Turkey, hence his “stab in the back” comment.

As far as the Russian government is concerned, their men are heroes. Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, the dead Fencer pilot, posthumously received the Hero of the Russian Federation award “for heroism, courage and valor in the performance of military duty,” the Kremlin announced today. Both Alexander Pozynich, the Russian Marine killed during SAR operations, and the surviving Fencer co-pilot Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin both received the Order of Courage, the Kremlin said.

Yes, Lavrov says there will be no war between Russia and Turkey. However, the Russian president is also well-known for practicing the old maxim about revenge being a dish best served cold – and Putin has already amply proved he has no concern about civilian casualties when Russians fight their wars.

2. The Russian people are angry – really angry

In Moscow, crowds of protesters gathered outside of the Turkish embassy, carrying signs calling the Turks “murderers,” pelting the building with eggs, and even smashing windows with rocks. (As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the Russian economy has improved enough that the middle-class can spare the eggs for protest purposes.)

True, the protest could have been a good old-fashioned exercise in agitprop – as far back as the Soviet era Kremlin employees were often organized into groups for “spontaneous protest.”

But Russian social media is white-hot with comments like “f**k the Turks” and calls for revenge. There is even a parody of the Eiffel Tower peace symbol that went viral after the Paris attacks by Daesh – except the Russian version has the silhouette of a Su-24 with its fuselage and wings where the lines of the peace symbol should be, superimposed on the Russian flag.

So, Russians fury toward Turkey is also linked to fierce Russian nationalism. Consequently, the shoot-down is an incident that will not just blow over with the Russian people – and Putin knows that.

3. Syria is getting pretty damned crowded with belligerents

The area is rapidly filling up with the aircraft and missile systems of many nations. Turkey, Russia, France, Canada, Australia, and the United States all have planes in the air either over Syria or near Syrian airspace.

In response to the shoot-down, Russia is deploying its S-400 “Triumf” air defense missile systems (NATO name: “Growler”) to its Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria. Using three different missiles with varying ranges and an upgraded radar system, it can strike airborne targets up to 400 miles away.

Russian television also said that Russian bombers will now fly with fighter escorts.

All this hardware and manpower milling around in a very small place could cause things to get out of hand very, very quickly. The result could be old-fashioned nation-on-nation warfare. All it could take would be one more downed warplane.

One other thing to note: Past is not always prologue, but it’s interesting to consider that Russia and Turkey (in the guise of the Ottoman Empire) fought one of the longest conflicts in European history.

The Russo-Turkish Wars from the 16th century until the early 20th century included none other than Ivan the Terrible sending the so-called Astrakhan Expedition in 1569 to pound on 70,000 Turkish and Tatar soldiers, Peter the Great and his army capturing Azov in 1696, and Tsar Alexander II sending Russian troops into Ottoman territory in 1877 to protect Christians from Muslim subjugation.

Russian forces overwhelmingly prevailed over the Ottoman Turks during those wars.

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‘Irish Brigades’ have fought around the world for hundreds of years

Most people know about the French Foreign Legion, a military unit for foreigners to take part in combat on behalf of the French people. Turns out, one group of people has no need for foreign legions because they’ll just create their own brigade to fight on whichever side of any war they like.


Since the late 1600s, Irish brigades have fought in everything from English wars of succession to the American Civil War to World War II, often in conflicts where Ireland was a neutral nation.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
The 6th Inniskillings, 38 (Irish) Brigade fighting in Sicily in August 1943. (Photo: Lt. Gabe, Imperial War Museum)

The first known “Irish Brigades” fought on behalf of James II, a king of England who converted to Catholicism and was deposed by William III, a Protestant, triggering the War of the Grand Alliance from 1689 to 1697.

While the Catholics failed to return James II or his son James III to the throne, the French and Spanish monarchs had sent armies on the same side as the Irish brigades to the war and had helped organize and equip them as the war dragged on. Many of the Irish veterans returned to France and Spain and created permanent Irish units there.

Other units were formed in other European countries such as Austria and Russia. Like the French Foreign Legion, the Irish Brigades were often kept deployed as much as possible.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Chaplains of the 2nd Brigade (Irish) of the Union Army in 1862. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Irish forces — then organized as three separate regiments — fought on behalf of American colonists after the French openly threw their weight behind the revolution in 1778.  Irish marines served on Capt. John Paul Jones Bonhomme Richard during his attacks on British shipping.

Two French Irish regiments also deployed to the Caribbean to weaken the British there. 500 volunteers from those regiments later took part in the failed Siege of Savannah.

A few decades later, an Irish battalion fought on both sides of the Mexican-American War. The battalion, composed mostly of Irish immigrants new to the U.S., initially were part of the American invasion force. But they faced strong discrimination in U.S. ranks and switched sides.

Unfortunately for them, the U.S. was still the overwhelmingly superior force, and the Mexican forces were defeated. When 85 of them were captured after the Battle of Churubusco, 50 were killed for desertion. Thirty-five who deserted before war was declared were instead branded with a “D” and flogged.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Army Brig. Gen. Robert Nugent, commander of the 2nd (Irish) Brigade, and his staff in 1864. (Photo: William Morris Smith, Public domain)

Just over a decade later, Irish brigades fought on both sides of the Civil War, though they overwhelmingly favored the Union. An estimated 150,000 to 160,000 Irish soldiers fought on behalf of the Union while approximately 20,000 fought on behalf of the Confederacy.

Most of those soldiers fought in regular units, but the Confederacy had one Irish regiment, the 10th Tennessee Infantry Regiment (Irish), and the Union had at least five: the 63rd, 69th, and 88th New York Infantry Regiments and the 9th and 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiments.

The Tennessee 10th saw service in the West while the Union regiments, minus the 9th Massachusetts, were part of the 2nd Brigade (Irish) and fought predominantly in the East. Over the course of the war, the Irish Brigade lost 4,000 men; 11 members of the brigade were awarded the Medal of Honor.

But it’s important when looking at those numbers to remember that some regiments assigned to the Irish brigade — such as the 116th Pennsylvania and the 29th Massachusetts — were non-Irish units.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
The Tyneside Irish Brigade advances in World War I during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

During World War I, Ireland was still subordinate to the Kingdom of Great Britain and so Irish units were sent directly to the British Expeditionary Force. Still, most volunteers from within Ireland served in units either officially designated as Irish or named for the Irish areas where the unit was formed.

For instance, the 10th (Irish) Division, 16th (Irish) Division, and 36th (Ulster) Division all served in heavy fighting, as did units like the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and Royal Munster Fusiliers. All-in-all, an estimated 200,000 Irish soldiers served in units designated Irish, while an unknown number served in other militaries of the British Commonwealth.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Universal carriers and Irish soldiers of the 6th Inniskillings, 38th Irish Brigade, 78th Division in Sicily in August 1943. (Photo: Lt. Gabe, Imperial War Museum)

By the time World War II rolled around, the Republic of Ireland enjoyed self-rule and was officially neutral. But Irish volunteers served in all branches of the British armed forces.

Enough Irish volunteers for the army were found that the 201 Infantry Brigade was reorganized as the 38 (Irish) Brigade and was initially commanded by The O’Donovan (the title and name held by the reigning chief of the O’Donovan clan). The 38 (Irish) Brigade consisted of three Irish regiments and served primarily in Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

Three other Irish regiments fought in World War II.

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This wounded “Harlem Hellfighter” held off a dozen Germans almost single-handedly

Sgt. Henry Johnson received the Medal of Honor for his actions taken on May 15, 1918, when he beat off a German attack with grenades, his rifle, a knife and, finally, his bare hands to protect a fellow soldier and his unit, the “Harlem Hellfighters.”


This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Photo: US Army

The Harlem Hellfighters were a “colored unit” attached to French forces because segregationist policies at the time discouraged allowing black and white U.S. forces to serve side by side. Pvt. Henry Johnson was assigned to sentry duty on the night of Feb. 12 with his fellow soldier, Pvt. Needham Roberts. The pair were attacked by a raiding party of at least 12 Germans. The attackers quickly gained the upper hand against the two soldiers.

This directly threatened not only Johnson and his friend but the Harlem Hellfighters and the French soldiers they were with.

Johnson fought bitterly to protect himself and his friends even after he and Roberts were wounded. Roberts fed Johnson hand grenades as Johnson made it rain on the enemy fighters. Johnson also used his rifle to hold the enemy off until he ran out of both grenades and rifle rounds.

The Germans even tried to abduct Roberts and Johnson protected him with just a knife and personal grit. Johnson was eventually wounded 21 times in the fight but still managed to bring down a few Germans and stab one of them through the head with a bolo knife.

Yeah, even severely wounded he had the strength to shove a knife through a man’s head.

While Johnson soon received the French Croix de Guerre and was eventually promoted to sergeant, he wouldn’t receive an American medal while he was alive. He received a Purple Heart in 1996, a Distinguished Service Cross in 2002, and a Medal of Honor in 2015.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

Still, his actions were a big deal when they happened. Johnson’s deeds inspired a lithograph depicting his bravery and Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing, the head of the American Expeditionary Force and one of America’s highest-ranked generals, personally praised him and Roberts:

Pte. Henry Johnson and Pte. Roberts, while on sentry duty at some distance from one another, were attacked by a German raiding party estimated at twenty men who advanced in two groups, attacking at once from flank and rear.

Both men fought bravely in hand-to-hand encounters, one resorting to the use of a bolo knife after his rifle jammed and further fighting with bayonet and butt became impossible.

President Theodore Roosevelt was a fan of Johnson as well, calling him “one of the five bravest American soldiers in the war.”

After the war, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina native returned to New York where he had been living since his teens. He lived there until his death in Jul. 1929 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Author’s note: This story originally stated that Henry Johnson’s valorous actions took place on Feb. 12, 1919. Johnson actually saved his unit on May 15, 1918. He received France’s highest valor award, the French Croix de Guerre, on Feb. 12, 1919. We regret the error.

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This commander prepped for war by organizing a beard growing contest

In May 1941, the United States was on the brink of war.


This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed an “unlimited national emergency” and ordered American forces to prepare “to repel any and all acts or threats of aggression directed toward any part of the Western Hemisphere.”

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

While the situation seemed grim, at least one commanding officer decided to lighten the mood. He allowed his men to grow their beards in what would be the most hirsute event in the U.S. military until Robin Olds headed to Vietnam.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

Related: This Air Force fighter pilot is the inspiration for ‘Mustache March’

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Your winner, ladies and gentlemen.

Japan attacked the Philippines on December 8th, 1941. Six months later, the Philippines fell and the American troops who survived were submitted to the harshest treatment of any POWs in the Pacific War. The Allies did not retake the Philippines until October 1944.

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This is how to apply camo paint — according to a Navy SEAL

Decades before store-bought camo-paint hit the shelves, soldiers on the frontline would smear mud on their faces and clothes to help them blend into their physical surroundings.


Then, shoe polish became a favorite source of camo-paint.

Fast forward to today and using camo face-paint is still a thing for some operations, but the application process has been modified for tactical use.

For many, creating a badass camo paint design on your face is a top priority when we plan to engage targets at the range. But in actuality, the pattern and color style a troop uses could save their life on the battlefield.

Related: 7 epic ‘gearing up’ montages from action movies you love

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
We still love you, Air Force.

With many different color options to choose from, the operator would first acknowledge what environment they’d be exposed to before apply the stealth look.

If you’re headed to a desert region, you may want to use a few different shades of tans and blacks.

Headed out on a nighttime mission? Using the darkest colors available is the smart way to go.

During daytime operations, covering all exposed skin with a base coat is key during application. Then, adding another darker color to cover up the highlighted landmarks of the face such as your nose, cheeks, and chin are important.

The primary goal behind camo paint is to reshape the human face to appear as if it were a flat surface. The design can be as badass as you can make it, but keep in mind covering those curved areas to eliminate any shine.

Also Read: This video shows Taliban fighters trying to imitate SEAL Team 6

Check out Buds 131‘s video below to watch retired Navy SEAL Don Shipley teach a group of students how to apply camo-paint for yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCNxnKhwsZE
Buds131, YouTube
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The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Jun. 3

The hot weather is here so remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (unless you’re in the southern hemisphere and then remember to wear thick socks and change them every morning). For both hemispheres, remember to quickly treat any injuries with Motrin.


For now, grab some shade (or a heater) and check this week’s 13 funniest military memes:

1. Every time troops get a briefing:

(via The Salty Soldier)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

2. Video game violence and actual combat have different etiquette rules:

(via Military Memes)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

SEE ALSO: The RAF’s ‘Mach Loop’ turns intense fighter training into a spectator sport

3. We’re not advocating an invasion of Russia, but this is hilarious:

(via Devil Dog Nation)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
It’s funny because it’s true.

4. “Hey sir, when someone yells, “Backblast area clear!” maybe move.”

(via Marine Corps Memes)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

5. The Coast Guard does timed challenges?

(via Coast Guard Memes)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

6. What are they going to do if they can’t connect to Facebook?

(via Air Force Nation)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
The worst thing about losing WiFi access deployed is that you then have no internet on which to complain about losing WiFi access.

7. Truth:

(via Marine Corps Memes)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Mad Dogs don’t father mad puppies. They father Devil Dogs.

8. “Guys, this EST range is going to be so much fun.”

(via Military Memes)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

9. The Navy was into tiny living spaces before it was cool (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Dang hipster Navy.

10. His eyes are either glazed over with lust or pain (via Coast Guard Memes).

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Maybe he wants you to hit him again.

11. For some reason, volunteering as the Cookie Monster is a good way for airmen to prove they’re ready for promotion (via Air Force Memes Humor).

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

12. The Navy may have taken the lead for “Worst haircut from a military peer.”

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

13. D-mn. Everyone would be excited about presents like that (via The Most Combat Engineer Man in the World).

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’

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Fallen soldiers returned to US after nearly 200 years

Dover Air Force Base in Delaware is well known as the place where Americans killed in action abroad return home on their journey to a final resting place. Whether it was the Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or any conflict or incident in between, most of America’s fallen heroes have been honored with a Dignified Transfer Ceremony when they arrive.


This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Aviators from the Army Reserve Aviation Command assisted in the transfer of remains of U.S. Soldiers from the Mexican-American War. The multi-day mission required the aviators to fly into Monterrey, Mexico to retrieve the remains and then transport them to Dover Air Force Base for a Dignified Transfer Ceremony led by the U.S. Army’s Old Guard, Sept. 28. (U.S. Army Photo by Capt. Matthew Roman, Army Reserve Aviation Command Public Affairs Officer)

Now, some 170 years after having made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the United States, the remains of 11 soldiers killed during the Mexican-American war finally received their due honors at Dover Sept. 28.

According to a report by Fox News Latino, these American troops fell during the Mexican War at the Battle of Monterrey, which raged for three days in September 1846. American forces under Gen. (and future President) Zachary Taylor — a mix of regular troops and militia — decisively defeated a larger Mexican army under Pedro de Ampudia, Jose Garcia-Conde, and Francisco Mejia.

American casualties in the battle were somewhat light, with 120 dead, 43 missing, and 368 wounded. The fight ended when Ampuida surrendered the city of Monterrey, but Taylor’s decision to sign a two-month armistice and to allow the Mexican forces to fall back drew criticism.

Mexican casualties totaled 367.

The American troops whose remains have been recovered are believed to have been from the 1st Tennessee Regiment, a militia unit that served as part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Volunteer Division under Taylor’s command, dubbed the Army of Occupation. At least 30,000 volunteers came from Tennessee, and 35 were killed during the war.

The United States not only secured Texas after a lengthy border dispute with Mexico, but it also received parts of New Mexico; Arizona; Colorado; Utah; Wyoming; Nevada and California in the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo.

The first of the skeletal remains were discovered in 1995, and other remains were found over the next 16 years. The return of the remains was negotiated by the Mexican government and the U.S. State Department. Middle Tennessee State University professor Hugh Berryman is slated to lead a team of scientists to try to identify the remains.

“After working for several years with the State Department and our U.S. consulate in Monterrey, Mexico, I was pleased to learn that the remains of these U.S. soldiers will finally be returned to American soil,” said Tennessee Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais in a statement. “This joint effort embodies the longstanding commitment to our men and women in uniform that the United States does not leave our fallen soldiers behind,” .

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You need to see this incredible B-1B Bomber crash landing

In a 1989 incident, the Air Force crew of a B1-B bomber found itself unable to lower the front landing gear during a training flight and was forced to execute an emergency landing in the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, California.


The four-person crew was executing a routine training flight without nuclear weapons onboard on Oct. 4, 1989, and realized three hours into the flight that the front landing gear was malfunctioning. Over the next nine hours, the crew worked to get the gear down.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
(GIF: YouTube/airailimages)

Investigators later blamed a hydraulic failure, but the crew in the air just knew that they had to reach the ground safely. The Air Force routed the plane to a dry lakebed in California that was often used for landing the space shuttle.

The dust of the Rogers Dry Lake bed is more likely than most surfaces to allow for a safe skid, reducing the risk to the crew and plane. The full landing is visible from a few angles in this video from airailimages:

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The U.S. Army had a whole battalion of armed dune buggies

In the early 1980s, the U.S. Army created a unique battalion with a fleet of militarized dune buggies. The unit was supposed to scout ahead, as well as harass its enemy counterparts.


2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry and its unusual vehicles are one of the more recognizable parts of the ground combat branch’s “High Technology Light Division” experiment. The Army expected a “Quick Kill Vehicle” to be an important part of the final division design.

But the ground combat branch had few firm requirements for the vehicle. The HTLD planners only knew they wanted a vehicle that was small and fast, according to an official history.

At the same time, the U.S. Navy’s SEAL teams were testing a light vehicle of their own. The ground branch borrowed eight of these buggies to see if they might fit the bill. Chenowth Racing Products made the small vehicles for the sailing branch’s commandos. The name became synonymous with the company’s combat designs.

In October 1981, Maj. Gen. Robert Elton decided to get more Chenowths for the 9th Infantry Division—the HTLD test unit. The ground combat branch leased over 120 of the armed buggies in the end.

The vehicles got weapons and other military equipment once they reached the 9th Infantry Division’s home at Fort Lewis. The Chenowths sported machine guns, grenade launchers and even anti-tank missiles.

In 1982, the “Quick Kill Vehicle” got the less aggressive moniker of “Fast Attack Vehicle.” The Army eventually settled on “Light Attack Battalion” for its planned dune buggy contingents.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
A Chenowth equipped with a TOW anti-tank missile. | US Army photo

2–1 Infantry became the first — and eventually only — one of these units and got over 80 FAVs. Almost 30 of these new vehicles were armed with heavy TOW missiles, one of which is depicted in the picture above.

The Chenowths made good use of their diminutive size during trials. The vehicle’s low profile made it hard to spot and potentially difficult to hit in combat. Helicopters could also whisk the FAVs around the battlefield in large numbers. The Army’s new Black Hawk helicopter could lift two buggies, while the bigger Chinook could carry a seven at once.

However, the Chenowths were only ever meant to be “surrogates” for a final vehicle design. But the HTLD’s proponents couldn’t sell the concept.

The FAV just looked vulnerable regardless of any potential benefits. This visual stigma couldn’t have helped Elton and his team make their case. In addition, the Army worried about a possible maintenance nightmare. The Chenowths had little if anything in common with other tanks and trucks.

After four years, the ground combat branch was also tired of experimenting and wanted to declare its new motorized division ready for real combat. Finicky, specialized equipment wasn’t helping the 9th Infantry Division meet that goal.

In 1985, Congress refused to approve any more money for the buggies and other unique equipment. The following year, 2–1 Infantry traded their FAVs for new High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles — better known as “Humvees.”

The ground combat branch spent the rest of the decade trying to figure out what parts of the experiment could be salvaged. The end of the Cold War finally sealed 9th Infantry Division’s fate — and it broke up in 1991.

Still, American commandos diduse improved Chenowths—called Desert Patrol Vehicles—during Operation Desert Storm. The U.K.’s elite Special Air Service also picked up a few of these combat cars.

Special operators were still using upgraded variants when they rolled back into Iraq in 2003. Special Operations Command eventually replaced them with a combination of specialized Humvees, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles.

The ground combat branch also continued to refine their plans for a wheeled fighting force. These efforts led to the creation of the Army’s Stryker brigades.

The FAV might be lost to the history books, but the Strykers have become a key part of the Pentagon’s ground forces.

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India gets into the global nuke game with test of Agni V ICBM

While North Korea is in the headlines over Kim Jong Un’s push for intercontinental ballistic missiles, India has quietly carried out its own arms race and is building a very solid nuclear triad for strategic deterrence.


According to a report from Bloomberg News, India’s efforts are bearing fruit — a marked contrast to those of the North Koreans, which apparently drove Kim Jong Un to get blackout drunk and demand apologies from his generals.

This Vietnam-era wounded warrior heads ‘the most unique memorial ever built’
Agni missile. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The missile India tested was the Agni V, which GlobalSecurity.org notes has a range of about 2,700 nautical miles. This would allow the missile to hit most of the People’s Republic of China.

An Arms Control Association fact sheet estimates India has about 110 nuclear warheads, but a November 2015 report from the Institute for Science and International Security claimed India could have enough plutonium to make up to 230 nuclear weapons.

India made news earlier this year when it commissioned the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant. This submarine, capable of carrying four K-4 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, puts India into the “boomer club” with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia.

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INS Arihant. (YouTube screenshot)

Bloomberg News reported that the Agni V missile was launched from a Road Mobile Launcher. The Federation of American Scientists notes that the Soviet Union’s SS-25 Sickle (later taken over by the Russian Federation) was also designed as a road-mobile system.

According to Designation-Systems.net, the United States planned to use the MGM-134 Midgetman as a road-mobile system, but it was cancelled at the end of the Cold War.

The Indian Air Force has a number of aircraft that could carry nuclear weapons, including the MiG-27, the Jaguar, and GlobalSecurity.org reports that Indian Tu-142 “Bear F” anti-submarine escorts have been wired to accept air-launched cruise missiles.

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This is the Air Force’s massive training exercise in Alaska

The U.S. Air Force needs a lot of space to train, especially when it wants fighters, refuelers, and other aircraft to work together in a way that realistically simulates combat conditions where jets chase each other at twice the speed of sound and refuelers run race tracks near the edges of the battlefield.


That’s why it conducts the Red Flag – Alaska training exercise. While the Red Flag exercises in Nevada are more famous, Red Flag – Alaska lets the Air Force conduct missions using approximately five times the space available in Nevada. The total area is roughly equivalent to the state of Florida.

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A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron out of Kadena Air Base, Japan, connects with a KC-135 Stratotanker out of McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., Oct. 10, 2016, during a RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-1 mission. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

“The large amount of space forces pilots to figure out the logistical problem of working in such a large scale, similar to an entire theater of operations,” Lt. Col. Julio Rodriguez, the 18th Aggressor Squadron commander, told a military journalist. “The multiple uses the [Joint Pacific Alaska Range complex] provides is imperative to the success of our training. We can go faster here than any blue force has ever trained, almost to Mach 2 to show the pilots what it’s like if the enemy were to do use that as one of its tactics”

The JPARC contains 65,000 square miles of airspace, 2,490 square miles of land, and 42,000 nautical miles of sea and airspace in the Gulf of Alaska.

International partners are invited to the exercise which usually lasts 10 days. While most of the participating aircraft are American, Korean, Canadian, and New Zealand crews have participated in recent years.

The Red Flag exercise attempts to simulate combat conditions across a broad range of missions. Obviously, this includes air combat, but it also includes refueling, resupply, and even the air insertion of paratroopers.

“I’ve got a lot of young aviators that have never seen something at this level with this many aircraft going against a very good and proficient threat, both on the air-to-air side and the surface-to-air side,” said Marine Lt. Col. Gregory A. McGuire, commanding officer of a Marine Corps fighter unit. “For me, I’m happy about giving my guys the opportunity to see this kind of real-world kinetic, large-force exercise so they can see how we would employ should we be called upon to do so.”

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Paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, board a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules during Red Flag Alaska 17-1 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 12, 2016. During Red Flag-Alaska 17-1, approximately 2,095 U.S. service members will participate in the exercise – approximately 1,295 personnel from outside Alaska and 203 international visitors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Monroy)

Thousands of people from around the world take part in the exercise. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson takes in an additional 1,000 personnel on its own when the exercise comes to town.

Of course, with so many pilots coming from so many places, the support staff on JBER have to increase their activity and precision, meaning that they get good training as well.

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Three U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 137, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wa., take off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 2, 2016, during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-1. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Turner)

For instance, pilots from Kadena Air Force Base in Japan took part in the exercise in 2016, and weather squadron personnel took extra care to make sure that their weather predictions were as accurate as possible. This ensures that air crews unfamiliar with Alaska weather will at least know what to expect.

The exercise takes place multiple times per year. See more photos from recent years below:

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A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson flies behind several C-130J Hercules during a training sortie, Oct. 19, 2016. Training sorties are imperative to pilot development and overall mission effectiveness. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Richardson)

 

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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft is prepared for a training sortie Dec. 14, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The F-16 is assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing and flown by pilots from the 18th Aggressor Squadron and 353rd Combat Training Squadron during routine training, RED FLAG-Alaska and other exercises around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

 

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From left, U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Robert Wallace, Anthony Marshall, and Eric Smith, all 354th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controllers, manage the air space around Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 5, 2016, during RED-FLAG Alaska (RF-A) 16-1. Eielson air traffic controllers must know how to operate radio equipment to relay flight and landing instructions, weather reports and safety information to pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Turner)

 

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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, receives fuel May 10, 2016, during a RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 exercise. The KC-135 Stratotanker, part of the Tanker Task Force, provides mid-air refueling to sustain fighter aircraft during a RED FLAG-Alaska exercise. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Cassandra Whitman)

 

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An E-3 Sentry lifts off the ground at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson June 8 during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-2. RF-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercise for U.S. and international forces, which provides joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large-force employment training in a simulated combat environment. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Kleiser)

 

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A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron out of Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 10, 2016, during the first combat training mission of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-1. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

 

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A U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II, assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron out of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, prepares to drops a heavy pallet over Malemute drop zone during Red Flag Alaska 16-1 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, May 11, 2016. Red Flag Alaska 16-1 provides joint offensive, counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment. The Commando II flies clandestine, low visibility, single or multi-ship, low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, as well as infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces in politically sensitive or hostile territories. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Alejandro Pena)

 

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A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, as part of Red Flag-Alaska, May 3, 2016. The F-15 is deployed to JBER for Red Flag-Alaska, a Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. and international forces, providing combined offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Javier Alvarez)

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This American tractor became the world’s first-ever tank

Benjamin Holt was a proud industrialist creating tractors and other farming equipment when World War I broke out. While he prided himself on innovation, he stuck to creating better and better farming equipment rather than trying to create arms for the war effort.


But it turns out his farming equipment was actually destined to become one of the greatest innovations of war to emerge from that conflict.

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The original Caterpillar Tractor from Holt. (Photo: HoltCat.com)

That’s because Holt had developed a new tractor design in 1904, the “Caterpillar,” which used treads instead of wheels, allowing it to stay above the mud of the San Joaquin River Delta near Sacramento, California.

Holt replaced the steam engines of his original design with gasoline power ones in 1908, and the design took off. When World War I opened, horses butchered in front line fighting were slowly replaced with tractors, including Holt’s.

His design was actually a favorite on the front lines because the amazing grip of his caterpillar treads allowed the tractor to operate in heavy mud and to pull itself out of shell craters.

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An early Caterpillar Tractor from Holt pulls artillery in World War I. (Photo: HoltCat.com)

So there was little surprise when the British government placed an order for about 1,000 Holt Caterpillar tractors.

But when those same tractors rolled onto the battlefield, there was plenty of reason for German soldiers to sh-t their pants.

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(Newspaper: Evening Public Ledger/Library of Congress)

That’s because those tractors had undergone the “Mad Max” treatment courtesy of the Royal Navy, who covered them in thick metal plates, packed them with machine guns and cannon, and sent them crawling across the battlefield at a whopping 4 mph.

And that’s how the first-ever tank was born.

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(Photo: Public Domain/British Government)

The British Mark I Tanks, built on the Holt Caterpillar tractor, were custom-made to end the stalemate of trench warfare. Their long bodies and treads allowed them to roll over many trenches and barbed wire obstacles like they weren’t there while their guns wiped out enemy defenses and infantry.

Behind them, infantrymen poured through the gaps created by the tanks and quickly seized German trenches and territory.

While the first attack at Flers Courcellette had its issues — mostly that the tanks broke down and were too slow to reposition themselves after the advance to prepare for the German counterattack — their rapid drive toward the objective served as their proof of concept.

British Gen. Douglas Haig, the commander of Allied forces at the Somme, requested hundreds more of the makeshift tanks, and armored warfare quickly became a new standard.

Better French and British tank designs soon followed the Mark 1, but it was an American tractor that carried the first tanks to fight in war.

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