WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help) - We Are The Mighty
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WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)

*This story was updated on 1/29 to reflect input from the Department of the Army*


Early in the world wars, many American women found roles open to them. While they were usually kept far from the direct combat (nurses excluded), the positions they filled were usually designed to “free a man to fight.” Female units formed throughout the U.S. military, though not without debate or criticism. Many of these were based on similar British organizations for women. After visiting Americans observed these female units in action, they brought the good ideas home.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Nancy E. Batson, WAFS pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Women’s Flying Training Detachment was one such unit. Created by Legendary Air Force (then-Army Air Corps) General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, these women pilots were hired to fill jobs flying aircraft stateside from base to base. They received hundreds of flying hours in training, but were not considered a real part of the Army and thus could not received veteran status. The WFTD and the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce Ferrying Squadron (WAAFS) were both formed separately in 1942.  The WAAFS would take fighters, bombers, and transports from the factories to stateside bases.  Both the WAAFS and WFTD would later be merged with the now-famous Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
WASPs uniforms on display in the Air Power Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The first director of the WASPs was Jacqueline Cochran, a contemporary of famed pilot Amelia Earhart.  She was only woman to win the Bendix Transcontinental Aeronautical Race and also a five-time Harmon Trophy winner, which was awarded to the world’s foremost leading aviator. Cochran would also become the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean, the first woman to break the sound barrier, and many more female firsts. She also currently holds more distance and speed records than any pilot of any gender, living or dead. If that wasn’t enough of a pedigree, Nancy H. Love, commander of the WAFS, was the Executive Officer for the new unit. Love was also an accomplished pilot by any metric. She was certified in 19 military aircraft and was the first woman to fly the B-17 Flying Fortress. After the creation of the independent Air Force, Cochran and Love would both joint the U.S. Air Force Reserve and rise to the ranks of lieutenant colonel.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Nancy Love and Betty Gillies (U.S. Air Force photo)

The WASP program would train over a thousand pilots as light training instructors, glider tow pilots, towing targets for air-to-air and anti-aircraft gunnery practice, engineering test flying, ferrying aircraft, and other duties. They were considered civil services employees, never being accepted into the Army Air Forces despite their proven ability.  WASPs were capable of flying any aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, including the P-51 Mustang and B-29 Superfortress,, often remarked by men as being difficult to fly. In fact, the first person to fly an Army Air Forces jet was WASP Ann Baumgartner.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
A WAFS pilot flying a B-17 (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASPs were required to complete the same training as male Army Air Corps pilots, save for combat flying, such as gunnery and acrobatics. WASPs did their training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas and were stationed at 120 air bases across the U.S. They would deliver more than 12,000 aircraft of 78 different types.

Thirty-eight WASPs died during the program’s run. The accident rate was similar to that of males doing the same work. Hap Arnold himself would address the last class of WASPs to graduate from training.

“You … have shown that you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers. If ever there was doubt in anyone’s mind that women could become skilled pilots,” Arnold said. “The WASPs dispelled that doubt. I want to stress how valuable the whole WASP program has been for the country.”

The WASP program was classified and sealed until 1977, when a false press release from the Department of the Air Force announced that the first women would be trained to fly military aircraft. Then-Colonel Bruce Arnold, son of General Hap Arnold, lobbied Congress for full recognition of the WASPs as veterans. President Carter ordered their recognition as veterans in 1977 and in 1984, they received their World War II Victory Medal. In 2009, the WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, with 300 surviving members on hand to receive them.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
(U.S. Air Force photo)

The family of WASP Elaine Danforth Harmon started a petition to get WASPs their recognition as veterans eligible for inurnment at Arlington. According to the Department of the Army, WASPs have never been eligible either for inurnment or burial at Arlington.

“The service of Women Air Force Service Pilots during World War II is highly commendable and, while certainly worthy of recognition, it does not, in itself, reach the level of Active Duty service required for inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery,” Lt. Col. Patrick Seiber of the Army’s Media Relations Division clarified.

“The confusion is caused, in part, by Public Law 95-202 Section 401,” Seiber continued. “Which authorized the Secretary of Defense to declare that certain groups be considered active duty for the purpose of allowing certain Veterans Affairs benefits, which include burial and inurnment at national cemeteries maintained by VA.”

“Arlington is not administered by the VA, and its eligibility criteria are far more stringent, due to space limitations. Burial space at Arlington National Cemetery is ultimately finite. Based upon current demand and capacity, Arlington will exhaust interment and inurnment space for any Active Duty service member or veteran in the next 20 years, by the mid 2030’s.”

Harmon was too young to volunteer for the war effort, but she got her parents’ permission to join. Her 40 hours of flight time earned her a training spot in Sweetwater, Texas, and then later a spot for more training at Nellis, in Nevada. It was a rare opportunity, only one woman was accepted for every ten males. Even then, they were treated like the backwater of the flying corps. WASPs did not even have uniforms until about seven months before they were deactivated. They wore coveralls when they flew and had to wash them in the showers.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Elaine Harmon, one of just over 1000 women who served as WASPs, or Women Airforce Service Pilots.

“My grandmother was just a generally very adventurous person. When she saw an advertisement for a program to learn how to fly, she said ‘Oh that sounds like something I’d be interested in doing,'” Harmon’s granddaughter Erin Miller told PRI. “My grandmother and the women she served with, the other WASPs, were just really excited to be able to serve their country, like they would gladly have gone overseas if they had been allowed to — they had no hesitation about that. They were just very glad to serve their country.”

You can sign the WASPs petition here.

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11 fighter pilot rules that can be applied to everyday life


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 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

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
U.S. Navy

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

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

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
U.S. Navy

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

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

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

So don’t fly into the ground.

7. There’s no kill like a guns kill

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar

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

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

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tom Reynolds)

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

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

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)

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


Feature image: DoD photo/ Staff Sergeant Alexander Cook

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This missile could make the Army’s grenade launcher more deadly

Everyone who’s fired one knows that the M320 grenade launcher isn’t the most accurate weapon in the infantry arsenal.


Propelled with a standard charge, the 40mm grenade follows a ballistic arc that forces a trooper to lob the projectile onto its target rather than shoot it straight in.

But new technology has allowed some weapons makers to miniaturize the same guidance systems housed in air-dropped missiles into ones that can be easily carried by ground troops.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
The Pike™ munition measures 40 mm in diameter, only a half-inch larger than the 25 mm rounds fired by some military machine guns. (Photo from Raytheon)

That’s resulted in a missile small enough to be fired from an M320 or FN Mk-13 grenade launcher but with near pinpoint accuracy up to two miles away.

Built by defense manufacturer Raytheon, the Pike missile is only 16 inches long and weighs less than two pounds. The missile is guided to its target by following a laser pointed by a second shooter.

“Pike uses a digital, semi-active laser seeker to engage both fixed and slow-moving, mid-range targets,” said J. R. Smith, Raytheon’s Advanced Land Warfare Systems director. “This new guided munition can provide the warfighter with precision, extended-range capability never before seen in a hand-held weapon on the battlefield.”

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
The Pike munition is the world’s only hand-launched precision-guided weapon. (Photo from Raytheon)

The missile ejects 10 feet from the shooter before the rocket motor ignites and is smokeless in order to reduce the missile’s signature and keep the shooters concealed.

The system was successfully tested in 2015 and weapons experts in the Army and special operations units are looking hard at using the system in combat, documents show.

Raytheon says future developments include giving Pike the ability to network with other missiles so more than one can ride the same laser, and company officials say the missile is being adapted for UAVs and small boats.

“Pike will become smarter and smarter as we continue to develop its capabilities,” said Smith. “In the current configuration, the warfighter will enter programmable laser codes prior to loading Pike into its launcher. Spiral development calls for multiple-round simultaneous programming and targeting with data link capabilities.”

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US commandos just took out a bunch more terrorists in Somalia

Several al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab members were killed in a joint US-Somalian raid July 13, the Associated Press reports.


US Africa Command confirmed a “advise and assist” mission took place but offered no details to the AP. The raid is the latest in a series of escalating actions against the terrorist group under new authorities provided by President Donald Trump.

Trump declared Somalia an “area of active hostilities” in late March, giving the US military greater autonomy in green-lighting airstrikes.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Photo from AMISOM Public Information

A US Navy SEAL was killed in Somalia in May during a similar raid, marking the first US combat death in the country since the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident that killed 18 service-members. Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters July 5 the US keeps approximately 50 troops in Somalia to advise and assist the Somalian army.

Al-Shabaab famously carried out a 2013 attack on Westgate Mall in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. The US joined a coalition of several African nations after the attack in an attempt to curtail the terrorist group.

Al-Shabaab continues to remain active in Somalia’s rural areas despite nearly four years of combined US coalition efforts. The terrorist group’s stated mission is to take the Somali capital of Mogadishu and impose its interpretation of Islamic law on the population writ large.

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Here’s why a US attack on North Korea could be catastrophic

As North Korea draws ever closer to possessing a nuclear weapon that could hit the US mainland, President Donald Trump and his top military advisers must weigh whether or not they’d launch a preemptive strike on North Korea and risk potentially millions of lives in the process.


But even though a US military strike on North Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale,” according to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, that doesn’t mean it’s off the table.

At a National Committee on US-China Relations event in New York City, Samuel J. Locklear, the former head of the US military’s Pacific Command made it clear: “Just because it’s tragic doesn’t mean he won’t do it.”

“If the national interests are high enough, and I think this is the mistake that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un needs really to think about, if you start pressing on an issue that has to do with the survival of the United States against a nuclear attack, the tragic becomes conceivable to stop it,” said Locklear. “It could be tragic.”

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, another former commander of Pacific Command, echoed Locklear’s statement.

Related: This is where North Korea would strike if it had a nuclear missile

“There are a wide range of options” that are “readily available to the president and the secretary of defense resident in the planning warrens at Pacific command,” Keating said at the event.

The discussion between two former top military commanders shows what a difficult situation the US is in with regard to North Korea. Pyongyang may wield up to 15 or so nuclear weapons, and they repeatedly threaten to use them against US forces, South Koreans, and Japanese.

Though the US has in place the world’s most advanced missile defenses, there are no guarantees when it comes to stopping ballistic missiles. Even a single nuclear warhead touching down near Seoul could kill millions of innocent South Koreans in an instant.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

Additionally, South Korea’s new, progressive government would likely not approve of a military strike.

But the US has its own citizens to worry about. Experts contacted by Business Insider have spoken with near unanimity saying North Korea wants a thermonuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile to hold the US at risk.

What exactly the US military planners discuss behind closed doors rightly remains classified, but if they calculate that a relatively small tragedy today could avert a massive tragedy tomorrow, then the US may see war with North Korea at some point.

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Navy to fire 150Kw ship laser weapon from destroyers, carriers

The U.S. Navy is moving at warp speed to develop lasers with more lethality, precision and power sources as a way to destroy attacking missiles, drones aircraft and other threats.


“We’re doing a lot more with lasers,” Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director, Surface Warfare Division, said earlier this month at the annual Surface Naval Association national symposium.

The Navy plans to fire a 150-kw weapon off a test ship within a year, he said. “Then a year later, we’ll have that on a carrier or a destroyer or both.”

Related: The real purpose behind China’s mysterious J-20 combat jet

That’s quite a jump from the kw AN/SEQ-3(XN-1) Laser Weapon System (LaWS), which deployed in 2014 on the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce.

And the kind of power needed to power such a weapon won’t come with a simple flip of a switch.

“The Navy will be looking at ships’ servers to provide three times that much power,” says Donald Klick, director of business development, for DRS Power and Control Technologies. “To be putting out 150 kws, they (the laser systems) will be consuming 450 kws.”

That is more than most currently operational ships are designed to accommodate, at least when they are conducting other tasks. “Few power systems onboard ships can support sustained usage of a high-powered laser without additional energy storage,” noted a recent Naval Postgraduate School paper titled “Power Systems and Energy Storage Modeling for Directed Energy Weapons”.

The paper said, “The new DDG-1000 may have enough electrical energy, but other platforms … may require some type of ‘energy magazine.’ This magazine stores energy for on-demand usage by the laser. It can be made up of batteries, capacitors, or flywheels, and would recharge between laser pulses. The energy magazine should allow for sustained usage against a swarm of targets in an engagement lasting up to twenty minutes.

The ship’s integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 78 megawatts of on-board electrical power, something seen as key to the future when it comes to ship technologies and the application of anticipated future weapons systems such as laser weapons and rail guns. The ship’s electric drive uses two main turbine generations with two auxiliary turbine generators which power up two 35-megawatt advanced induction motors, developers explained.

Ideally, it would charge up as fast as it discharges, allowing for indefinite use (as long as there is ship’s fuel to expend). Low maintenance, high safety, and long lifespan are other desirable characteristics.

DRS Power and Control Technologies is one of the companies which is developing a specialized energy source. “We have enough for well over 100 shots before we go to recharge,” DRS’s Klick said during a break at SNA, pointing out there’s even a mode for continuous recharge. “If you’ve got power this kind of power, you don’t go Winchester.”

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) aboard USS Ponce. | US Navy photo

The DRS system uses a Li-Ion battery subsystem designed and provided by Lithiumstart housed in three distributed steel, welded cabinets that are 48″ x 66″ x 100″ – although they are modular, Klick says, and can be arranged for a tailored fit. Each cabinet contains 18 drawers with 480 Li-Ion phosphate cells in each drawer.

The redundant power modules can provide 465 k each for a total of 930 kw. It can hold that full-power mark for about three minutes, Klick says – although most “lases” are normally of relatively short duration.

An at-sea demonstration of the magazine is slated for 2018, Klick says, mostly with the 150-kw laser being developed by Northrop Grumman for the Office of Naval Research.

The system still must go through rigorous Navy certification testing, Klick says.

He also sees the energy magazine as a candidate for other U.S. military units. “We’re looking at Air Force Special Forces on a C-130. You have to strike a car, but you’re worried about collateral damage. With that pinpoint accuracy, you don’t have to worry about collateral damage. You can just cause a car to stop running. There’s a lot more capability.”

Long-Term Effort

The Navy has already been working with Northrop Grumman on a three-year deal to develop a ship-board laser weapon engineered to quickly incinerate enemy drones, small boats, aircraft, ships and missiles, service officials told Scout Warrior.

“This system employs multi-spectral target detection and track capabilities as well as an advanced off-axis beam director with improved fiber laser technologies to provide extended target engagement ranges. Improvements of high power fiber lasers used to form the laser beam enable the increased power levels and extended range capabilities. Lessons learned, operating procedures, updated hardware and software derived from previous systems will be incorporated in this demonstration,” Dr. Tom Beutner, director of the Air Warfare and Weapons branch, Office of Naval Research, told Scout Warrior in a written statement at the time of the contract announcement.

A previously established 12-month, $53-million deal between Northrop and the Office of Naval Research will develop a Laser Weapon System Demonstrator through three phases; the phases include an initial design phase, ground-testing phase and then weapons testing at sea aboard a Navy Self Defense test ship, a Northrop statement said.

“The company will design, produce, integrate, and support the shipboard testing of a 150-kilowatt-class solid state (electric) laser weapon system,” the Northrop statement added. “The contract could grow to a total value of $91 million over 34 months if ONR exercises all of its contract options.”

Office of Naval Research officials told Scout Warrior an aim of the developmental program is to engineer a prototype weapons for further analysis.

“The possibilities can become integrated prototypes — and the prototypes become reality when they become acquisition programs,” an ONR official said.

It is not yet clear when this weapon might be operational but the intention seems to be to arm surface ships such as destroyers, cruisers and possibly even carriers or an LCS with inexpensive offensive or defensive laser weapons technology.

“It is way too early to determine if this system will ever become operational. Northrop Grumman has been funded to set-up a demo to “demonstrate” the capabilities to senior leadership, who will then determine whether it is an asset worth further funding and turning into a program of record,” a Navy official told Scout Warrior.

Both Navy and Northrop Grumman officials often talk about the cost advantages of firing laser weapons to incinerate incoming enemy attacks or destroy enemy targets without having to expend an interceptor missile worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Navy officials describe this as getting ahead of the cost curve.

“For about the price of a gallon of diesel fuel per shot, we’re offering the Navy a high-precision defensive approach that will protect not only its sailors, but also its wallet,” said Guy Renard, director and program manager, directed energy, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

As mentioned, the Navy has already deployed one laser system, called the Laser Weapons System, or LaWS, which has been operational for months.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
A rendering of the weapon system in action. | Boeing

LaWS uses heat energy from lasers to disable or destroy targets fast, slow, stationary and moving targets. The system has successfully incinerated UAVs and other targets in tests shots, and has been operational aboard an amphibious transport dock in the Persian Gulf, the USS Ponce.

The scalable weapon is designed to destroy threats for about $59-cents per shot, an amount that is exponentially lower that the hundreds of thousands or millions needed to fire an interceptor missile such as the Standard Missile-2, Navy officials explained.

While at sea, sailors have been using the LaWS for targeting and training exercises every day and the weapon has even been used to disable and destroy some targets, service officials said.

Navy sailors and engineers have discovered some unanticipated intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance value from the laser weapons system by using its long-range telescope to scan for targets as well, Navy officials said.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) during first at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic. | U.S. Navy

Laser weapons are expected to figure prominently in the Navy’s future plans in several respects. New Navy platforms such as the high-tech destroyer, the DDG 1000 or USS Zumwalt, is engineered with an electric drive propulsion system and extra on-board electrical power called an Integraed Power System. This system is in part designed to power-up ship electrical systems and accommodate emerging future weapons systems such as lasers and rail guns.

“Laser weapons provide deep magazines, low cost per shot, and precision engagement capabilities with variable effects that range from dazzling to structural defeat against asymmetric threats that are facing the US Naval force,”  Beutner added.

In addition, laser weapons integrate fully into the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” strategy aimed at better arming the surface fleet with a wide array of offensive and defensive weapons.

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These kamikaze drones pack an explosive surprise

The U.S. military has truly gone bonkers for unmanned aerial systems, with a vast inventory of surveillance drones alongside a few that are big enough to carry missiles for precision strikes.


But imagine if a UAS could observe a target for units on the ground, providing intel on a key terrorist leader or bomb making factory and be the bomb that takes them out.

That’s the kind of capability special operations units like the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command are looking for, and a few companies displaying their wares at the 2016 Modern Day Marine Expo and this year’s Association of the U.S. Army conference are offering the technology to fit that mission.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Developed by an Israeli defense company, the Hero-30 can fly over 3 miles to its target and orbit for more than 30 minutes before homing in for the kill. (Photo by We Are The Mighty)

Developed by Israeli defense firm UVision, the Hero-30 is a beyond line of sight unmanned aerial vehicle that packs into an 11 pound launch canister that can be carried onto battle on a trooper’s back. The drone is about 4 feet long and is launched by a pneumatic shot of air. Once airborne, a soldier flies the vehicle using a handheld control unit which allows him to orbit his target for up to 30 minutes.

Once the bad guy is in sight, the operator just flies the drone straight into its target for the kill. The Hero-30 warhead can be configured for point detonation or air burst while still in flight.

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

“It is lightweight for a special ops team or an infantry squad to be able to provide them with a precision munition they can fly themselves,” said Clinton Anderson with Mistral Inc., which represents UVision in the U.S. “You can designate how you want it to attack and how you want the fuse to operate and you launch it in attack mode and it comes in right on the target and blows up.”

UVision also has a new version dubbed the Hero-40 that’s a bit longer with greater range and explosive payload and is intended for vehicle-borne operations and missions.

One of the oldest companies in the small UAV business Aerovironment has a more scaled-down answer to the kamikaze drone requirement with its Switchblade miniature lethal aerial system.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
The Aerovironment Switchblade lethal drone munition can be carried in a backpack and launched at a moment’s notice by troops in contact. (Photo by We Are The Mighty)

Coming in at just under 5 pounds with its diminutive launcher, the Switchblade has a 10 km range and can loiter over a target for about 10 minutes. It’s so small the Switchblade can fit inside a typical tactical pack and delivers a lethal blast on target using a small, handheld ground control system.

“This miniature, remotely-piloted or autonomous platform can either glide or propel itself via quiet electric propulsion, providing real-time GPS coordinates and video for information gathering, targeting, or feature/object recognition,” the company says. “The vehicle’s small size and quiet motor make it difficult to detect, recognize and track even at very close range.”

Company officials say the U.S. Army is buying the Switchblade for testing with its infantry troops and special operations soldiers.

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Ronald Reagan got a Marine recruiting letter while he was President — his response was classic

Even though he was 73 years old and serving as President of the United States at the time, Ronald Reagan received a letter from the Marine Corps asking him if he would like to enlist in 1984.


It may have been a clerical error or just a practical joke from the service to its commander-in-chief, or in the words of Reagan in his response, the result of “a lance corporal’s overactive imagination.” In any case, on Tuesday the U.S. Marine Corps Historical Company shared on its Facebook page the letter he sent back to then-Commandant Gen. Paul X. Kelley on May 31, 1984, and well, it’s classic.

“I regret that I must decline the attached invitation to enlist in the United States Marine Corps,” Reagan writes on official White House letterhead. “As proud as I am of the inference concerning my physical fitness, it might be better to continue as Commander-in-Chief. Besides, at the present time it would be rather difficult to spend ten weeks at Parris Island.”

With his trademark wit, Reagan noted the Democrats would probably appreciate it if he left The White House, but had to pass since his wife Nancy loved their current residence and Reagan himself was “totally satisfied with his job.”

“Would you consider a deferment until 1989?” Reagan wrote. (It’s worth noting that Reagan served stateside in the U.S. Army Air Force’s first motion picture unit during World War II).

Check out the full letter below:

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)

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7 coolest ways to blow up the enemy’s HQ

Dude, your enemy sucks. I don’t know who they are (is it ISIS? Are you fighting ISIS right now?), but they’re really dangerous and I’m pretty sure they just said something untoward about your mother. It’s time to take out most of the leadership in one fell swoop by hitting their headquarters.


But how do you blow up an entire castle/fortress/tent (again, I don’t know who your enemies are. Nazi Germans? They liked castles…)? Here are seven plans that will always work, but you may want to pack some ear plugs. Spoiler alert: there will be explosions:

1. Cruise missile to the face

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
This is a Tomahawk Cruise Missile. It will absolutely ruin the day of any recipients. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Leah Stiles

You still have at least three days of killing the enemies’ goons before you can get inside the building to send them to their makers, but all the leadership may flee before you arrive. What should you do?

Time for a cruise missile. These bad boys fly at low levels below most radar coverage, turning and winding their way through mountain passes and other obstacles until they reach their target. Once they arrive, they’re going to “disrupt” the headquarters pretty hard.

2. Sustained artillery barrage

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Naval artillery barrages are still artillery barrages. (Photo: U.S. Navy PH1 Jeff Hilton)

Of course, if you’ve already gotten your forces close to the enemy headquarters, it can be fun to put on the world’s most lethal fireworks show and all-percussion concert. Just give your artillerymen a few minutes warning, and they’ll be ready to orchestrate a masterpiece.

3. Bombing mission

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Ooooh. Hope you didn’t recently redecorate or anything. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris)

If you already own the airspace (which, with the F-22, is likely), then you can get all the pyrotechnics of a cruise missile strike at a fraction of the cost per weapon. Just send a few fighters to keep your bombers and ground attack planes safe and let nature take its course.

Warheads on foreheads.

4. Close combat air/close air support

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
The Warthog in all her glory. Sorry, sorry–the Thunderbolt II. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

If you realize that the castle/fortress/tent is a headquarters only at the last minute, you may not have time to do the full integration and planning needed for a standard bombing mission. All of a sudden, that JTAC in your unit stops being the butt of all those Air Force jokes and starts being the answer to your prayers.

The JTAC will tell all those nearby air assets where the guys who need to die are, where the nearest friendlies are, and from what angle you will be filming them for the YouTube video. The pilots will take care of the rest.

5. Clear the HQ with infantry, then let the engineers go nuts

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
The engineers use controlled detonations to get rid of buildings. It looks kind of like this except, instead of just the door blowing up, everything blows up. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff)

No air assets at all? Feel like you didn’t coordinate this attack very well but now isn’t the time for armchair generals. Let the infantry run wild and take the building by force. You won’t get the immediate satisfaction of an air strike, but the combat engineers come with the grunts and are pretty good at destroying literally anything. Expect your C4 stock to fall low very suddenly.

Of course, if your infantry is carrying enough missiles and mortars, you may not need the engineers.

6. Tanks at close range

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Army 1st Infantry Division Soldiers conduct a live-fire accuracy screen test to calibrate the tank’s fire control system on Nov. 13, 2014, in Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (Photo: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Austin McGuin)

Hey, if you brought a bunch of armored beasts with 120mm cannons on the front, you know what to do. High explosive rounds are the obvious choice for the mission, but this writer humbly suggests trying canister shot. It takes longer and there’s no tactical advantage, but watching the building get chewed up by a constant barrage of steel balls would be pretty entertaining.

7. Screw it–hit it with nukes

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
(Photo: U.S. Archives)

Is the building too thick for canister shot? And high explosive rounds? And bunker busters and artillery and engineers? Oh well. Time for the ultimate trump card. Just be sure to accurately measure the effects of any lithium included in the mix. That stuff can quickly ruin your day at the beach.

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Someone coined a term for the English spoken by military veterans

Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book “The Right Stuff” documented the United States’ postwar love affair with high-speed, high-powered aircraft, rocketry, and the test pilots who flew them. Wolfe used an interesting term to describe how military personnel and veterans speak English, “Army Creole.”


Army Creole, according to Wolfe, was a “language in which there were about ten nouns, five verbs, and one adjective.” In the book, the word “f*ck” is used for all of these.

 

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Also, the movie is really good too. (Warner Bros.)

 

The original Army Creole as described by Wolfe was a manner of speech similar to actual creole. The term now refers to the military-veteran propensity toward including swear words as intensifiers and the sometimes overwhelming use of acronyms.

Accoring to Wolfe, no one was more proficient in Army Creole than Mercury 7 astronaut Deke Slayton, who made people cringe whenever he got near a microphone, for fear he was “going to Army Creole the nationwide TV and scorch the brains of half the people of the U.S.A.”

 

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Slayton was actually very well-spoken in front of the mic. (NASA)

 

The unique name given to the dialect is not to be confused with Seaspeak, the official, universal language of mariners the world over. Developed in 1983, shipping experts and linguists devised a communication system, defining the rules for speaking on the ship’s radio.

In 1988, the International Maritime Organization made seaspeak official.

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6 armored vehicles Russia could parachute into your backyard

Who’s ready for summer, huh? Grills, pool parties, and long lazy days to replace all the cold dreariness, am I right?


NO! Because Russia is always watching, and it’s always capable of dropping a bunch of armored vehicles on our heads and forcing us into a Red Dawn-style conflict to preserve American freedoms.

The old Red Dawn, with Patrick Swayze and Soviets.

But don’t fear. The first step is always identifying the threat. Here are six armored vehicles that could erupt from the sky in the middle of your final exams, pool party, or whatever.

1. BMD-4M

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
(GIF: YouTube/armyreco)

The BMD-4M packs a 100mm gun, a 30mm automatic cannon, a Konkurs anti-tank guided missile launcher, two machine guns, and aluminum armor. It’s powered by a 500hp multi-fuel engine and moves on two thick treads. In addition to shells, the main gun can fire Bastion laser-guided anti-tank missiles.

The whole 13.6-ton shebang can be thrown out of the back of a plane with the crew already inside. The crew of three can be joined by five infantrymen. As a special bonus, they can swim and fire in the water.

2. BMD-3

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
(Photo: Vitaly V. Kuzmin CC BY-SA 4.0)

The BMD-3 is a predecessor to the BMD-4M and features the same Konkurs ATGM launcher, machine guns, and a 30mm automatic cannon, but it’s a little lighter at 13.2 tons and lacks the 100mm main gun. It also features a 40mm grenade launcher.

It can carry five infantrymen in its standard configuration and eight in an emergency. Like the 4M, it’s amphibious.

3. BTR-MD

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
(Photo: Smell U Later CC BY-SA 3.0)

The BTR-MD is based on the BMD-4 chassis but is designed as a multi-role armored transport. It has a crew of two and can be configured as a command and control vehicle, ammo or fuel transport, ambulance, or infantry fighting vehicle.

It carries a 7.62 machine gun and a 30mm grenade launcher and weighs just over 13 tons.

4. BTR-ZD

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
(Photo: Serge Serebro, Vitebsk Popular News CC BY-SA 3.0)

The BTR-ZD is an anti-aircraft vehicle based on the older BTR-D armored personnel carrier. It has little permanent armament, just a pair of 7.62mm machine guns. But it usually packs a ZU-23-2 antiaircraft gun either strapped to the roof or towed on a trailer. The ZU-23-2 has two 23mm machine guns.

It can also carry two man-portable air defense teams equipped with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. The whole thing weighs only 8 tons, is amphibious, and can be airdropped.

5. 2S25 Sprut-SD

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
(Photo: SLonoed – Танки в городе CC BY 3.0)

With a 125mm smoothbore main cannon that can fire both conventional rounds and laser-guided anti-tank missiles that can also target enemy helicopters. The three-man crew can fire up to seven rounds per minute, but they can’t easily change the order of the rounds because it uses a 22-round autoloader.

The weapon is amphibious and, like many of the vehicles on this list, can be airdropped with the crew inside.

6. 2S23 Nona

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
The 2S23 Nona is in the center of the photo, just ahead of where Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is walking. (Photo: Office of the Ukrainian President CC BY-SA 4.0)

This self-propelled mortar can fire standard rounds to distances of over 5.5 miles, rocket-assisted ones to nearly 8 miles, and anti-tank rounds to over a half mile. The 2S23 Nona can swim and jump from planes.

Based on the BTR-80 armored personnel carrier chassis, the 2S23 rolls on eight tires rather than tracks.

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How a band of locals helped American Rangers save 500 prisoners of war

American soldiers moving north during the liberation of the Philippines in 1944-1945 faced a real problem. Their men stranded on the islands at the outbreak of the war had been subjected to years of mistreatment, malnourishment, and disease. They needed to be liberated as soon as possible.


The Japanese had implemented a “kill-all policy,” ordering the deaths of any prisoner attempting escape or about to be liberated. On Jan. 7, 1945, the Army learned about the Palawan Massacre where 135 of the 146 prisoners on a work project were brutally murdered. The other 11 men escaped, most with serious injuries.

So the American forces wanted to rescue the prisoners as quickly as possible but couldn’t advance too quickly or the prisoners would be killed.

North of the advancing American soldiers was a camp near Cabanatuan, Philippines, where 512 American, Canadian, and British troops were held. Lt. Col. Henry Mucci, commander of the Sixth Ranger Battalion, moved with his Rangers and Alamo Scouts to work with Filipino guerillas to raid the camp and rescue the prisoners before the Japanese forces could repeat the Palawan Massacre.

The Americans slipped behind enemy lines on Jan. 28, 1945. The Alamo scouts split off and moved north of the camp to begin reconnaissance. Capt. Robert Prince, one of the Rangers, moved to a Filipino guerilla camp to meet Capt. Juan Pajota, a commander of local forces resisting the Japanese.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Lt. Col. Henry Mucci and Capt. Robert Prince discuss the raid plans. Photo: US Army Signal Corps

They devised a bold strategy where the 121 Rangers would assault the camp while the 275 guerillas would hold off a large Japanese force camped within earshot of the prison camp. They scheduled the attack for the evening of Jan. 29, only 24 hours after they had slipped behind enemy lines and begun reconnaissance.

Due to increased Japanese activity in the area, the assault was delayed another day. Late on Jan. 30, the Rangers and the guerillas began their assault.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Capt. Juan Pajota’s geurilla forces. Photo: US Army Signal Corps

The guerillas slipped up to blocking positions near the camp. Seventy-five of them set up a position to watch for forces that might come from nearby Cabanatuan while the other 200 others planted themselves firmly between the main Japanese encampment and the prison camp.

Meanwhile, the Rangers began a slow crawl across the open ground around the prison. To prevent them from being spotted, Pajota had suggested a plane fake distress near the camp.

WWII-era female flyers are fighting for military burial honors (and you can help)
Photo: Department of Defense

A Navy P-61 flew over the camp and began shutting off and restarting one of his engines, causing it to backfire. Then, still simulating engine distress, he allowed the plane to lose altitude and dropped behind a nearby ridge. The Japanese focused on the plane while the attackers moved in.

The assault was scheduled for 7:30, but the main force of Rangers were surprised when the attack didn’t begin. The Rangers of Fox Company were ten minutes late in reaching their position.

At 7:40, the attack began. Fox company assaulted the camp from the rear while the main force, Charlie Company, slipped up to the front. Bazooka teams quickly eliminated enemy machine gun nests. One platoon of Charlie company began searching out guards and killing them while the other immediately began evacuating prisoners.

Within five minutes, Pajota and his guerillas began taking fire from suicidal Japanese forces. But they held the Japanese back, allowing the evacuation to continue.

Soon after 8 p.m., Prince searched through all the buildings to ensure all the prisoners had made it out. He then fired a flare to signal the all clear at 8:15, barely 35 minutes after the assault began. The prisoners and the Rangers began moving along their escape route to American lines. The scouts and the guerillas stayed behind to block Japanese forces.

All 512 prisoners were successfully rescued and more than 500 Japanese were killed. Two Rangers also died in the battle.

For their parts in the raid, Mucci and Prince were awarded Distinguished Service Crosses and the rest of the Americans were awarded Silver and Bronze Stars.

NOW: The 10 most daring commando raids in history

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Just-released ‘Battlefield’ trailer shows new game set in World War I

After a rather unexceptional outing in cop-and-robbers shenanigans, the Battlefield franchise is returning to its military warfare roots by exploring a setting that may as well be uncharted territory in the modern shooter genre.


The ‘Battlefield 1’ reveal trailer confirms existing rumors of a WWI setting, while clearly seeking to dispel concerns that the entrenched stalemates of the Great War are a poor choice for Battlefield’s signature fast-paced, vehicle-centric gameplay. After all, who wants to spend the majority of a multiplayer match ducking machine gun fire and waiting to die of trench foot?

Instead, the trailer presents a visceral montage of bi-plane dogfights, lumbering tanks, and shovel-to-shovel melee combat, accompanied by the thrumming bass of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

Check out the trailer below:

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