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This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Capt. Edward Rickenbacker Photo: US Army Air Force


Capt. Edward Rickenbacker was one of the few American fighter pilots to earn the title “Ace of Aces,” given by the press for his 26 kills in World War I. He is arguably one of the most decorated service members to ever live.

But before he was a decorated hero, Rickenbacker was a professional race car driver who almost wasn’t allowed to fly.

Rickenbacker raced cars from 1912-1917, racing in a number of events including the first Indianapolis 500. He even broke the land speed record, reaching a blistering 134 mph.

When America entered World War I, he volunteered to organize a very unique unit: a fighter squadron filled entirely with race car drivers.

The guts, reflexes, and situational awareness needed to succeed racing early automobiles 100 mph or faster would have served flying squadrons well, but the U.S. Army wasn’t interested. Worse, Rickenbacker was considered too old to become a pilot himself.

Rickenbacker enlisted anyway and was assigned as a chauffeur. While driving for senior officers he met Col. William Mitchell, the chief of the Army Air Service. Rickenbacker, then 27-years-old and two years over the Army’s standard age cap, spoke to Mitchell about becoming a pilot.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Eddie Rickenbacker in San Francisco for a race before World War I. Photo: Wikipedia/San Francisco Public Library

Mitchell encouraged him to do so and just had Rickenbacker lie about his age, claiming he was 25 in order to start training.

The young aviator graduated the pilot’s course 17 days after starting it and began the career that would make him famous.

In his first few months as a pilot, he scored 7 victories, becoming an ace pilot. He took command of his unit, the 94th Pursuit Squadron, and scored two more kills in a daring attack on Sep. 25, 1918, his first day as the commander.

While conducting a solo patrol, he spotted five aircraft. He maneuvered above them unseen and then dove through the formation, downing two and scattering the rest. He received both the French Croix de Guerre and the Medal of Honor for his valor.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

It was when he reached 12 kills that the press began calling him the “Ace of Aces,” a title he didn’t like, according to History Net. The three aviators who had been adorned with the title before Rickenbacker were all killed in combat.

The nickname served Rickenbacker better than it did his predecessors. He didn’t just survive the next month, he scored 14 new victories and ended the war with 26.

After the war, Rickenbacker became a businessman who made a number of breakthroughs in the aviation and automobile industries.

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11 fighter pilot rules that can be applied to everyday life

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Artist’s conception of an F-35 taking it to the Russians.


Fighter pilots have a lot of cool sayings like, “Don’t ask somebody if he’s a fighter pilot. If he is, he’ll tell you. If he’s not, why embarrass him?” and “Faster fighters, older whiskey, younger women,” but not all of these can be applied to real life.

Fortunately, they also have a few saying that can be applied to real life. Here are 11 of them:

1. Train like you fight

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

This saying was made popular by “Duke” Cunningham, Navy Vietnam-era ace who served a stint in federal prison for misdeeds committed while serving as a congressman from California. It seems obvious, but think of how many processes your organization has that don’t really matter when it comes to executing the mission.

2. Don’t be both out of airspeed and ideas

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

That’s a bad combo. As Dean Wormer said in the movie “Animal House,” “Fat, dumb, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

3. Keep your knots up

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

Speed is life. It gives you options. In business “speed” can be resources, revenue, people. Having X+1 is a good idea.

4. Keep your scan going

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

If you’re only focused on one thing, something else is about to jump up and bite you. While you’re staring at the bandit in the heads-up display, you’re missing the fact you’re about to run out of gas or get shot by the other bandit who just rolled in behind you.

5. Lost sight, lost fight

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

Regardless of Gucci technology or whatever, you can’t kill what you can’t see.

6. You can only tie the record for low flight

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

So don’t fly into the ground.

7. There’s no kill like a guns kill

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

This is as pure as it gets for a fighter pilot. Feels. So. Good. And, remember, stealth doesn’t work against bullets.

8. Don’t turn back into a fight you’ve already won

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

Know when to bug out and then do it. Live to fight another day.

9. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
F-14 assigned to VF-1 shooting an AIM-54 Phoenix missile in the early days.

You also miss 100 percent of the shots you take out of the missile’s operating envelope . . . which gets back to No. 1: Train like you fight.

10. A letter of reprimand is better than no mail at all

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

As John Paul Jones once said, “He who will not risk, cannot win.” Nobody ever made history or changed the world by only worrying about his or her career.

11. If you know you’re about to die, make your last transmission a good one

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

No whining. Just key the radio and say, “Have a beer on me, boys.”

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Afghan soldier opens fire on US troops, wounds seven

An Afghan soldier has opened fire on American troops, wounding at least seven of them, before being shot dead in a military base in northern Afghanistan, officials said, in the second so-called “insider attack” in the past week.


Abdul Qahar Araam, spokesman for the US military, said on June 17th that the attack took place at Camp Shaheen in Mazar-i-Sharif. Araam added that the soldiers returned fire and killed the attacker.

General Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan defense ministry, also confirmed the incident.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Presentation of the Resolute Support colors. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Resolute Support, the international training mission to Afghanistan, announced on its Twitter feed that seven US service members were wounded, adding that there were no US fatalities.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, said NATO soldiers were training their Afghan counterparts at the base where the attack took place.

“A source told Al Jazeera that the attack happened at the end of a training exercise,” he said.

“We understand that the soldiers were getting back into their vehicle when a soldier from the Afghan national army picked up what is said to be a rocket-propelled grenade and fired it at the group of soldiers, and that is how these injuries have happened.”

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
A helicopter flies over Mazar-i-Sharif. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Another insider attack

Three US soldiers were killed and a fourth was wounded on June 11 when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them at a base in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the armed group, said at the time that a Taliban loyalist had infiltrated the Afghan army “just to attack foreign forces.”

On June 17th, Mujahid praised the Camp Shaheen attack in a statement sent to the media, but did not claim Taliban responsibility.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
The Taliban Flag. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

In April, scores of Afghan soldiers were killed when fighters breached security at the camp, detonating explosives and shooting hundreds at a mosque and dining hall on the base. The attackers were disguised in Afghan army uniforms.

Coalition countries, led by the US, are considering sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan to help advise and assist Afghan forces struggling against Taliban and the ISIS.

On June 19th, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said he would present options on Afghanistan to President Donald Trump “very soon.”

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This Navy plane is causing ‘physiological episodes’ in pilots

The U.S. Navy on April 15 said it will allow a fleet of its training jets to fly again under modified conditions while it determines what’s causing a lack of oxygen in some cockpits.


Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said in a statement that its nearly 200 T-45C aircraft will resume flights as early as April 17 after being grounded for more than a week.

Its pilots had become increasingly concerned late March after seeing a spike in incidents in which some personnel weren’t getting enough oxygen. The concerned pilots had declined to fly on more than 90 flights.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Student pilots prepare to exit a T-45C Goshawk assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 2 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zach Sleeper)

Instructors and students will now wear modified masks in the two-seat trainers. They will also fly below 10,000 feet to avoid use of on-board oxygen generating systems.

The planes train future Navy and Marine fighter pilots. Shoemaker said students will be able to complete 75 percent of their training flights as teams of experts, including people from NASA, “identify the root cause of the problem.”

Two T-45s are now at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland where the teams are taking them apart to figure out what’s gone wrong.

“This will remain our top safety priority until we fully understand all causal factors and have identified a solution that will further reduce the risks to our aircrew,” Shoemaker said.

The Navy operates the training planes at three naval air stations in the Southern United States. They are NAS Meridian in Mississippi, NAS Kingsville in Texas, and NAS Pensacola in Florida.

Related: Navy grounds T-45 Goshawk fleet after pilot protests

Since 2015, the number of “physiological episodes” has steadily increased among personnel who fly in the plane.

Symptoms of low oxygen can range from tingling fingers to cloudy judgment and even passing out, although Navy officials said conditions in the trainer jets haven’t been very severe.

Cmdr. Jeanette Groeneveld, a Navy spokeswoman, told The Associated Press on April 17 that nine people out of more than 100 affected since 2012 have been required to wear oxygen masks after a flight.

The T-45C was built by Boeing based on a British design. It has been operational since 1991. Production stopped in 2009, according to Groeneveld.

Each plane cost $17.2 million to produce, according to the Navy’s website.

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The demon hordes are back in ‘World of Warcraft: Legion’

World of Warcraft, one of the world’s most successful RPGs, is releasing a new expansion where an army of demons invades the world, forcing heroes to fight beside a new demon hunter class to prevent the coming apocalypse.


“World of Warcraft: Legion” is a highly anticipated expansion with tons of changes to gameplay, class structure, professions, and more. Many players have already experienced pieces of the expansion by taking advantage of the pre-order perks. Since there’s so much going on, we’ll just give you a quick overview of new gameplay in Legion.

Legion offers gamers the chance to play as the new hero class, demon hunters — cursed elves who consume the blood and powers of demons to make themselves more powerful.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Shooting laser beams out of your eyes is a power move. (GIF: WATM Logan Nye)

Drinking the blood grants them the ability to fly around the battlefield, shoot energy from their eyes, grow spiked armor, and explode in waves of fire.

New class abilities for all heroes and artifact weapons help make players feel truly powerful even as they’re facing off against demons larger than most buildings.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Some of these guys are seriously huge. (GIF: WATM Tracy Woodward)

A new quest zone, the Broken Isles, has Alliance and Horde heroes facing off against the Legion in a hunt for the “Pillars of Creation” and the Tomb of Sargeras. Sargeras is the creator of the Legion who the demons are trying to revive.

To prevent it, heroes will have to fight through the Broken Isles, attempting to save mortally wounded dragons and topple invading armies to prevent a living hell from consuming the world.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots

The best thing about questing in the Broken Isles is that Blizzard made the new zones scale to the player’s level. So no matter what order a player fights through the new areas, the enemies there are powerful enough to pose a challenge without feeling impossible.

Players will get access to class halls where they can do quest lines unique to their character type.

Demon Hunters are marshaling armies against the Legion. Druids hunt down nightmares that have invaded their dreamscape. Mages seek to rebuild an elite order of battle mages, the Tirisgarde.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Being a druid, turning into a bear, and killing a bunch of players is as fun as it sounds. (GIF: WATM Logan Nye)

When players want to take some time away from the fight against the Burning Legion to play against each other, they’ll find that class changes have made player versus player combat much easier to enter.

The new, lighter spell books of Legion make it easy to build a toolbar that works for both PVP and player versus enemy content.

Grab the game today from battle.net to go and beat back the vanguard of the Legion. The full invasion comes on August 30.

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How and why the Stryker would be the ultimate pillbox at Verdun

The Battle of Verdun lasted for nearly ten months in 1916 and according to some estimates, resulted in almost 950,000 casualties. In essence, it was perhaps the epitome of the trench warfare that dominated World War I.


Indeed, trench warfare really didn’t end until the emergence of the early tanks at the Battle of the Somme. Could some of America’s most modern armored fighting vehicles do better? Specifically, the Stryker family of wheeled armored fighting vehicles.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
M1126 Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicle. (U.S. Army photo)

At first glance, the Strykers seem very capable of punching through the trenches. With add-on armor, the Stryker can resist RPGs. They have a top speed of just over 62 miles per hour, according to army-recognition.com. The fire from a MG 08 would just bounce off a Stryker that didn’t have the add-on armor. But that misses one problem: Sheer numbers on the German side.

The Germans committed over a million troops to the battle. The Stryker Brigade would have roughly 4,500 troops and 300 vehicles, most of which are M1126 Infantry Combat Vehicles. The vehicles couldn’t roam in the enemy rear — resupply would be very difficult at best. But those vehicles have technology that would enable them to decisively rout the German offensives.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
A look at the Kongsberg M151 Protector Remote Weapon Station. (U.S. Army photo)

The key to what the Stryker would use, would not be in mobility, but in the M151 Protector Remote Weapons Station. The Strykers primarily use the M2 heavy machine gun and Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. These outclass the MG 08 by a significant margin. Furthermore, they can be fired from within the Stryker, which negates one of Germany’s most powerful weapons in 1916: poison gas.

This is the second advantage the Stryker would have. The NBC protection capabilities in the Strykers would enable the defense to hold despite German chemical weapons. In essence, rather than facing incapacitated – or dead – defenders, the German troops would be going across “no man’s land” into mission-capable defenders.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
The Stryker’s remote weapon system and NBC protection would make it a formidable presence on a World War I battlefield. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sandra M. Palumbo) (Released)

Worse for them, the M2 heavy machine gun and the Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher would tear massed infantry attacks apart. The optics of the Protector remote weapons stations would allow the Americans to pick out the guys with flamethrowers first. In essence, the Strykers would be able to bleed the Germans dry.

It gets worse for the Germans when the inevitable counter-attack comes. The same optics what would let a Stryker gunner pick out a machine gun position and take it out. Here, the M1128 Mobile Gun Systems and M1134 Anti-Tank Guided Missile Vehicles would also come into play, destroying bunkers. The M1129 Stryker Mortar Carrier Vehicles would be able to lay down a lot of smoke and high-explosive warheads on targets.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
The 105mm main gun would be a formidable bunker buster. (U.S. Army photo)

In essence, the Stryker would drastically alter Verdun, not by its mobility, but by virtue of being a poison gas-proof pillbox.

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This Marine Corps vet’s swift actions saved lives during the Orlando shooting

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
(Photo: Imran Yousuf)


Marine Corps veteran Imran Yousuf was working as a bouncer at Pulse nightclub in Orlando when he heard a rapid-fire series of gunshots crack across the venue.

“You could just tell it was a high caliber,” Yousuf told CBS. He saw the patrons were frozen in fear and that no one was moving to open a nearby door.

“There was only one choice — either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance,” Yousuf said, “and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there.”

Orlando law enforcement officials credit Yousuf with saving about 70 lives with his unflinching action. “I wish I could’ve saved more,” he told CBS. “There’s a lot of people that are dead.”

Yousuf’s six-year stint as an electrical systems tech included a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 according to records. His last command was the 3rd Marine Logistics Group in Okinawa, Japan. He left active duty at the rank of sergeant.

Yousuf posted the following message on his Facebook page:

There are a lot of people naming me a hero and as a former Marine and Afghan veteran. I honestly believe I reacted by instinct. I have lost a few of my friends that night which I am just finding out about right now and while it might seem that my actions are heroic I decided that the others around me needed to be saved as well and so I just reacted.

We need to show our love and profound efforts to the families and friends who have lost someone and help them cope with what happened and turn our efforts to those who truly need it. Once again I sincerely thank everyone and bless all those who are recovering and trying to make sense of it all.

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Some guy is using Twitter to show where Russia has SAM sites in Syria

Want to see where in Syria that Russia is parking its surface-to-air missile batteries? If you do, you may think that you are out of luck by not being in the military or part of the intelligence community. Guess again – you just have to go to Twitter.


A person going by the username “Rambo54” – Twitter handle @reutersanders – has been posting some images from Google Earth showing where the Russians are parking their air-defense systems.

Among the sites that Rambo54 is pinpointing for any interested parties are two with the S-300 surface-to-air missile system (also known as the SA-10 Grumble), five of the SA-8 Gecko (a short-range radar-guided system), one of the Buk-M2 (also known as the SA-11 “Gadfly”), one of the SA-6 “Gainful” surface-to-air missile system (best known as the missile that shot down Scott O’Grady over Bosnia in 1995), one site for the S-200 (the SA-5 “Gammon”), and one for the Pechora (the SA-3 “Goa,” known as the missile that shot down a F-117 Nighthawk over Serbia). Pretty impressive work.

This Twitter feed also has satellite-eye views of various aircraft and air bases in the region, including photos of an Il-28 “Beagle” (a Soviet-era bomber) in Aleppo, and photos of MiG-21s and MiG-23s, among other planes. This Twitter feed even features photos of an air base overrun by ISIS.

Rambo54 has posted other images as well, including moon landing sites (to refute those who claim the moon landings were faked), as well as submarines (he had photos of an Indian Kilo-class sub and a Type 212), and air bases. And that’s just in the last 48 hours.

So if you want some very interesting military photos, go to https://twitter.com/reutersanders and start scrolling.

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Navy tests unmanned ‘swarmboats’ to patrol ports

Securing a port can be the type of job that hits the three Ds: dull, dirty, and dangerous.


Often, those charged with that security operate using rigid-hull inflatable boats or other small craft – often in proximity to huge vessels like Nimitz-class carriers or large amphibious assault ships.

One wrong move, and Sailors or Coast Guardsmen can end up injured – or worse.

However, the Navy may be able to reduce the risk to life and limb, thanks to a project by the Office of Naval Research called Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, or “CARACaS.”

With CARACaS, a number of RHIBs or small craft can be monitored remotely, thus removing the need to put personnel at risk.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
An unmanned rigid-hull inflatable boat operates autonomously during an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored demonstration of swarmboat technology held at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. During the demonstration four boats, using an ONR-sponsored system called CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command Sensing), operated autonomously during various scenarios designed to identify, trail or track a target of interest. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

According to a U.S. Navy release, these “unmanned swarming boats” or USBs, recently carried out a demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, where they were able to collaborate to determine which one would approach a vessel, classify it, and then track or trail the vessel.

The USBs also provided status updates to personnel who monitored their activity.

“This technology allows unmanned Navy ships to overwhelm an adversary,” Cdr. Luis Molina of the Office of Naval Research said. “Its sensors and software enable swarming capability, giving naval warfighters a decisive edge.”

A 2014 demonstration primarily focused on escorting high-value ships in and out of a harbor, but this year, Molina noted that this year, the focus was on defending the approach to a harbor.

The biggest advantage of CARACaS? You don’t need to build new craft – it is a kit that can be installed on existing RHIBs and small boats.

Check out this video of CARACaS-equipped USBs:

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North Korea’s missile shot at Japan could be a warmup for a Guam strike

North Korea fired a missile over Japan’s Hokkaido province in the early morning hours of August 29, and the early figures coming out from the launch indicate it could have been a warm up for similar action toward the US territory of Guam.


North Korea has expressed vitriolic anger over US and South Korean war games throughout the month of August. It culminated in the announcement of a plan to fire missiles toward Guam, where the US keeps nuclear-capable bombers and some 7,000 military personnel.

The launch August 29 overflew Japan and traveled almost 1,700 miles before crashing down into the sea, hitting a high point of about 340 miles over land. Japan has previously said it would shoot down any missiles headed toward its territory, but this one simply flew over. The missile launch coincides with the completion of Northern Viper, a joint US-Japanese military drill in Hokkaido.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Lance Cpl. Mario Anderson checks on a team member during a live fire training event Aug. 16, 2017 at the live fire range in Hokudaien, Japan, in support of Northern Viper 17. USMC photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger.

Specifically, North Korea threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan into the waters just about 20 miles short of Guam.

Experts contacted by Business Insider said it would be unlikely that North Korea could pull off such a feat with a missile that has only been tested once successfully. Furthermore, doubts remain about North Korea’s ability to create a warhead that can survive reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Based on early estimates, the launch August 29 appears to have used a single Hwasong-12 rocket in a possible confidence-building measure before any possible attempt on Guam.

But even if the launch ends up having been another missile, or not intended to sure up capabilities headed for a shot toward Guam, the violation of Japan’s sovereign air space will likely demand a response. And US and Japanese policymakers may look to shoot down further tests if they travel the same route.

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The Pentagon has a new plan to annihilate IS terrorists

The Pentagon has shifted its focus in the battle against Islamic State (IS) and now is aiming to “annihilate” the extremist group’s foreign fighters so they cannot return home to the West, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis says.


Mattis told reporters on May 19 that U.S. President Donald Trump approved a Pentagon recommendation for a “tactical shift from shoving ISIS out of safe locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds so we can annihilate ISIS.”

The Pentagon believes that strategy will lead to fewer terrorist attacks like the ones in Paris, Belgium, and elsewhere by IS militants and sympathizers, which killed hundreds of people.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
A line of ISIS soldiers.

“The intent is to prevent the return home of escaped foreign fighters,” Mattis said. “The foreign fighters are the strategic threat should they return home to Tunis, to Kuala Lumpur, to Paris, to Detroit, wherever.

“Those foreign fighters are a threat. So by taking the time to de-conflict, to surround and then attack, we carry out the annihilation campaign so we don’t simply transplant this problem from one location to another,” he said.

Though IS has lost 55 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria and over 4 million people have been liberated from its control, much remains to be done to fully expel IS from Mosul, the group’s stronghold in northern Iraq.

Moreover, the battle for Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital, has barely begun.

To further the “annihilation campaign,” Trump made the controversial decision this month to arm Kurdish forces in Syria that have been the most effective U.S. allies in the battle against IS. The decision caused consternation in Turkey, which views the Kurdish forces as “terrorists.”

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
A member of ISIS in Syria.

The Pentagon’s move to encircle IS in Syria also appears to have contributed to an incident this week where U.S. forces bombed a convoy carrying Syrian and Iranian-backed militia forces engaged in Syria’s civil war, killing eight of the fighters.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, who Trump reappointed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on May 19, said the Pentagon had made a proposal to Russia to try to avoid such conflicts in areas where both countries are operating in the future.

“We have a proposal that we’re working on with the Russians right now,” Dunford said. “I won’t share the details, but my sense is that the Russians are as enthusiastic as we are to de-conflict operations and ensure that we continue to take the campaign to ISIS and ensure the safety of our personnel.”

Russia reacted with outrage to the U.S. air strike on Syrian and Iranian-backed forces near Al-Tanf on Syria’s border with Jordan, calling it “illegitimate” and a “flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty.”

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

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The last US troops killed in the Vietnam War actually died two years after it ended

Most Americans know the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C, displays the names of every servicemember who died in the war or remain missing in action. But what many may not know is that the last names on the wall were killed in an operation launched two years after the conflict officially ended.


In a hastily thrown together mission to save civilians captured in Cambodia, three Marines were left behind to die at the hands of a Khmer Rouge executioner. And though the mission occurred well after American combat forces withdrew from Vietnam, the names of those Marines were still given their place on the Vietnam Memorial wall.

The 1973 Paris Peace Accords ended U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and two months later the last U.S. combat troops left along with prisoners of war held by the Vietnamese.

But in May, 1975, Communist Khmer Rouge troops from Democratic Kampuchea (modern-day Cambodia), captured an American-flagged merchant ship, the SS Mayaguez, off its coast. And though America was trying to distance itself from the war, President Gerald Ford vowed a response, and historians acknowledge the attempted rescue by U.S. troops as the last official battle of the Vietnam war.

Mayaguez Aerial surveillance showing two Khmer Rough gunboats during the initial seizing of the SS Mayaguez. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ford ordered the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea, the destroyer Harold E. Holt, and the guided missile destroyer Henry B. Wilson into the area. He also put the Seventh Air Force and contingents of Marines in the region on alert.

P-3 Orion aircraft dropped flares on the Mayaguez’ last known position, which drew small arms fire from the attackers. The Air Force continued to harass the captured ship. So the Khmer troops took the crew prisoner on fishing boats close to the nearby island of Koh Tang.

The Air Force then loaded 75 Security Forces airmen onto five HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant helicopters and seven Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallions to retake the Mayaguez. This plan was aborted when one of the helos, call sign Knife 13, crashed on its way to Thailand, killing all 18 airmen and its five-man crew.

These twenty-three USAF Airmen en route to the Mayaguez died when their HH-53C helicopter crashed due to a mechanical malfunction. (U.S. Air Force photo) These 23 airmen died en route to the Mayaguez when their HH-53C helicopter crashed due to a mechanical malfunction. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The next plan called for the Air Force to stop all ships between Koh Tang and the Cambodian mainland.

Meanwhile, Marines staged for a simultaneous assault on the Mayaguez and Koh Tang Island. Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines moved to capture the ship, while 600 troops from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines rescued the crew from the island. The plan called for two helicopters to make a diversionary attack on the eastern beach while the rest of the Marines landed via helicopter on the western side.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
BIT 2/9 command group, with Lt. Col. Austin, disembarks from Jolly Green 43 on the west coast of Koh Tang, south of the perimeter of Company G.

Unfortunately, the ship’s crew wasn’t on Koh Tang; they were on nearby Rong Sang Lem. Koh Tang had 100 defenders who were dug in and armed to the teeth, prepared for an attack from Vietnam, not the United States. And they had enough firepower to give the Marines a real fight.

At 0613 on May 15, the Air Force saturated the decks of the Mayaguez with tear gas as the Holt came alongside. Marines wearing gas masks boarded the vessel in one of the first hostile ship-to-ship takeovers since the Civil War but found the Mayaguez empty.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Members of Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines board the Mayaguez. Gas masks were worn because the ship was bombed with tear-gas canisters by the Air Force. (U.S. Navy photo)

At the same time, eight helicopters began the assault on Koh Tang and immediately came under heavy automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire. One of the CH-53s was hit and ignited, killing six Marines, the pilot, and two Navy corpsmen. Three more Marines died from the defending machine guns. The landing troops had to calling in an AC-130 Spectre Gunship to break out of the beachhead.

Just a few minutes before the attack began, the Khmer Rouge Propaganda Minister issued a radio broadcast announcing the release of the Mayaguez crew. The Wilson intercepted the boat carrying the crew and brought them aboard. In the morning in the U.S., President Ford announced the release of the Mayaguez crew to the American public, but not that the Khmer government had released them.

The Marines were still fighting on Koh Tang when the order from stateside came to break off and withdraw. The fighting lasted 14 hours.

Two hours after the evacuation, a Marine Corps company commander discovered three of his men missing — a machine gun team who protected a helicopter evacuation from the island. The abandoned Marines included Lance Cpl. Joseph N. Hargrove, Pvt. 1st Class Gary L. Hall, and Pvt. Danny G. Marshall.

Rear Adm. R.T. Coogan would only green light a rescue if the Marines were still alive. The Navy signaled the island in English, French, and Khmer that they wanted to search the island with Cambodian permission if they received a signal.

No signal came.

Mayaguez A picture from an OV-10 over two helicopters shot down on the East Beach of Koh Tang Island (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ten years later, an eyewitness report told the story of Cambodian troops on patrol under fire from an M-16 the very next day. They encircled and captured an American in the incident and were ordered not to discuss the event. That American was Lance Cpl. Hargrove. He was captured and subsequently executed.

One week later, Cambodian troops noticed their food stores were raided at night with strange boot prints left in the mud. They left a trap which captured Hall and Marshall. The two were taken to the mainland and beaten to death with a B-40 rocket launcher, their remains never conclusively found.

A total of 15 men were killed during the Mayaguez rescue mission, with another three missing and presumed dead. That’s on top of the 23 airmen lost in the helicopter crash preceding the assault on Koh Tang.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
Marines of 3rd Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division on the eastern LZ evacuate aboard Jolly Green 11 (U.S. Navy photo)

The names of the dead and missing at Koh Tang were the last names to be included on the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the wall bearing the names of all Americans killed or missing in the war.

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McCain takes aim at Littoral Combat Ship, wants new fleet

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain wants to restructure how the Navy buys its frigates, and possibly redesign the program to add new capabilities.


The Senate Committee on Armed Services seapower subcommittee will hold hearings this spring to reexamine the future of the frigate program.

“The frigate acquisition strategy should be revised to increase requirements to include convoy air defense, greater missile capability and longer endurance,” McCain said at an event outlining the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ recent U.S. Navy fleet architecture study, U.S. Naval Institute News reported.

Related: Here’s how the US is sticking it to Beijing in the South China Sea

The littoral combat ship program (LCS) is the skeleton for the Navy’s frigate strategy. Currently, the Navy pans to release a request for proposals on the new frigates in March or April.

This World War I hero wanted to recruit race car drivers to be fighter pilots
The US Navy littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) moors pier side at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to refuel. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay

McCain criticized the LCS program in December for costing $12 billion, but producing 26 ships, which have “demonstrated next-to-no combat capability.”

“When you look at some of the renewed capabilities, naval capabilities, that both the Russians and the Chinese have, it requires more capable weapon systems,” McCain said.

Each LCS costs around $478 million initially. But as repairs cost increase, the total amount for the 26 ships already delivered to the fleet amounts to $12.4 billion, and the Navy wants to buy a total of 40.

Should the Navy continue to purchase the LCS to bring the total number to 40, the cost will be closer $29 billion for ships that have failed to live up to capabilities promised, and continually breakdown.

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