D-Day The First Hours - We Are The Mighty
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D-Day The First Hours

Hours before the Allied Forces hit the beaches of Normandy, courageous British and American soldiers entered France with parachutes and gliders to secure key bridges and enemy artillery positions.  Their dangerous missions led the way for the D-Day invasion and ultimate victory in Europe.  Wally Parr, Terance Otway and Bill True recount their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.

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Here are the best military photos for the week of May 6

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

An F-35 Lightning II assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, flies alongside a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker during a flight to Estonia on April 25, 2017. The F-35s are participating in their first-ever flying training deployment to Europe. 

D-Day The First Hours
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

Airmen conduct a high altitude, low opening jump from a MC-130J Commando II April 24, 2017, above Okinawa, Japan. Kadena Air Base land and water drop zones are suited for multi-pass jump operations which maximize proficiency and limited resources.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier

Army:

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from A Company, 1/150th Assault Helicopter Battalion, flies over Belize City while transporting Soldiers and Marines on their way back from Dangriga, Belize, April 10, 2017. The 1/150th is providing lift support and medevac, if necessary, for Beyond the Horizon 2017, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, Army South-led exercise, designed to provide humanitarian and engineering services to communities in need, demonstrating U.S. support for Belize. 

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U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Joshua E. Powell

A Best Sapper competitor completes an Australian rappel, April 25, 2017, as part of the 2017 Best Sapper Competition being held at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. 

D-Day The First Hours
U.S. Army photo by Michael Curtis

Navy:

HOMER, Alaska (April 29, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) prepares to moor in Homer, Alaska, for a scheduled port visit. Hopper is visiting Homer in conjunction with its participation in exercise Northern Edge 2017. The biennial training exercise conducted in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex and includes participation from units assigned to Alaskan Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, and U.S. Army Pacific.

D-Day The First Hours
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph Montemarano

SOUTH CHINA SEA (April 30, 2017) Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 run tests on the the MQ-8B Firescout, an unmanned aerial vehicle, aboard littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).

D-Day The First Hours
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Deven Leigh Ellis

Marine Corps:

Reconnaissance Marines prepare to conduct night time helo-casting training operations during the Reconnaissance Team Leader Course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 24, 2017. The purpose of the Reconnaissance Team Leader Course is to provide the students with the required knowledge and skills needed to perform the duties of a Reconnaissance Team Leader.

D-Day The First Hours
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt Ezekiel R. Kitandwe

Marines with the Silent Drill Platoon perform during an evening parade at Marine Barracks Washington, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2017. Col. Tyler J. Zagurski, commanding officer of MBW, hosted the parade and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller was the guest of honor.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Samantha K. Braun

Coast Guard:

Crew members from Coast Guard Cutter Tarpon, an 87-foot Coast Patrol Boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida, offload 1,735 kilograms of cocaine, an estimated wholesale value of $56 million and transferred custody of eight suspected drug smugglers to partner federal agencies Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Florida. The contraband and suspected smugglers were interdicted during four separate cases supporting Operation Martillo, a joint interagency and multi-national collaborative effort among 14 Western Hemisphere and European nations to stop the flow of illicit cargo by Transnational Criminal Organizations.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

A boat crew for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare gets underway between Cuba and Hispaniola during drug interdiction operations in April, 2017. The cutter Legare’s crew completed a 35-day tour of the strait between Cuba and Hispaniola, completing drug interdiction missions, building partnerships with local agencies and aiding local communities.

D-Day The First Hours
U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Legare

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Pacific War Marine in WWII

John Nicely was a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps during the brutal Pacific island campaigns of WWII.  He saw his first action in the battle for the island of Saipan on June 15th, 1944.  From there he continued fighting from island to island and eventually prepared for the invasion of Japan. Nicely and his unit entered the devastated city of Nagasaki, just 25 days after the nuclear blast.  We met up with him at a reunion of the 2nd Marine division in 1994 and he shared his vivid personal memories of front-line combat.

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It’s surprisingly easy to earn a modern-day knighthood

Being knighted today holds a much different meaning than it did in the days of old. Nations with a monarch as their head of state would, once upon a time, issue knighthoods to their loyal subjects and foreign citizens who have done great deeds for their country.


Today, you can earn a knighthood through military badassery or if your artistic, scientific, or civil service shines greatly upon the crown. No squiring or learning to fight on horseback required! Then again, you could also be a genocidal Marxist dictator who overthrows the government and you’ll eventually be knighted — or you could just be a penguin.

While various knighthoods exist, we’ll be discussing the two most recognized: The United Kingdoms’ Order of the British Empire and the Holy See’s Order of St. Gregory the Great. Fun fact: Bob Hope earned both of these.

Order of St. Gregory the Great

To be knighted by the Pope into the Order of St. Gregory the Great, you must do something good for the Holy See by setting an excellent example for their community and country. Though usually reserved for Catholics, there have been exceptions made for converts and non-Catholics.

A notable knight is Wilfred Von der Ahe, co-founder of the Southern California supermarket chain, Vons. He and his wife were well-known philanthropists in Los Angeles and would donate much of their earnings to Catholic churches in the area. Von der Ahe was a founding donor to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles after the previous mother church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was severely damaged in an earthquake.

So, in short, help out a church and you could become a knight.

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Which, in a way, happens in Season 3 of Boardwalk Empire. (Image from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire)

Order of the British Empire

Formal knighthood is definitely the easiest. The Queen remains fairly neutral in political matters, so she chooses to not elect her own knights and appoints everyone chosen by the Cabinet Office twice a year. The only real stipulation is you have to be recommended for doing something good for the Commonwealth of Nations. Though highly illegal, because you need to be nominated by British politicians, people in the past have been nominated to knighthood through political donations.

You don’t need to go that far, though. It seems like every British general officer, professor, and celebrity is knighted eventually. Since you don’t nominate yourself, there have been a few instances where people have turned down the honor. David Bowie, for example, was offered the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000 but politely declined. He was offered full knighthood in 2003 and again declined. He said, “I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don’t know what it’s for. It’s not what I spent my life working for.”

Anyone can get this award, but only Brits get the title of ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ before their first name.

D-Day The First Hours
On the bright side, Americans don’t kneel. (Photo by Jack Tanner. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museums)

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Airborne Assault On D-Day

June 6th, 1944…D-Day. It was the greatest military assault ever staged. Code named Operation Overlord, the massive invasion of Normandy by the Allies involved more than a quarter of a million soldiers, sailors and airmen as well as 5000 ships and 3000 aircraft.  

Tom McCarthy and Francis Lamoureux were Parachute Infantrymen during the epic conflict. They tell their riveting first-hand accounts in this dramatic presentation, Airborne Assault on D-Day. 

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Congress could overturn the 9/11 law authorizing ever-expanding war

A Navy SEAL, killed alongside civilians in a January raid on a village in Yemen. Another SEAL, killed while accompanying Somali forces on a May raid. And now four Army soldiers, dead in an ambush this month in Niger.


These US combat deaths — along with those of about 10 service members killed this year in Afghanistan and Iraq — underscore how a law passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has been stretched to permit open-ended warfare against Islamic militant groups scattered across the Muslim world.

Also read: It looks like there’s going to be a GWOT memorial after all

The law, commonly called the AUMF, on its face provided congressional authorization to use military force only against nations, groups, or individuals responsible for the attacks. But while the specific enemy lawmakers were thinking about in September 2001 was the original al-Qaeda and its Taliban host in Afghanistan, three presidents of both parties have since invoked the 9/11 war authority to justify battle against Islamic militants in many other places.

D-Day The First Hours
A US Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes as a Nigerien soldier bounds forward while practicing buddy team movement drills during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros.

On Oct. 30, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as lawmakers renew a debate over whether they should update and replace that law, revitalizing Congress’ constitutionally assigned role of making fundamental decisions about going to war.

But even as President Donald Trump’s administration moves to ease some Obama-era constraints on counter-terrorism operations, political obstacles to reaching a consensus on new parameters for a war authorization law look more daunting than ever.

Related: 6 surprising things that are against the laws of war

Previous efforts collapsed under disagreements between lawmakers opposed to restricting the executive branch’s interpretation of its wartime powers and those unwilling to vote for a new blank check for a forever war. Among the disputes: whether a replacement should have an expiration date, constrain the use of ground forces, limit the war’s geographic scope, and permit the government to start attacking other militant groups merely associated with the major enemies it would name.

D-Day The First Hours
Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn, left) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz). Photos from Wikimedia Commons.

Adding to the political headwinds, two of the Republican lawmakers most interested in drafting a new war authorization law are lame ducks and estranged from the White House: Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has proposed a new war authorization bill with Sen. Tim Kaine, D- Va. Both Republican senators, who have announced that they will not seek re-election, have publicly denounced Trump in recent weeks as dangerously unfit to be the commander in chief.

But as the 9/11 war enters its 17th year, questions about the scope and limits of presidential war-making powers are taking on new urgency.

Trump is giving the Pentagon and the CIA broader latitude to pursue counter-terrorism drone strikes and commando raids away from traditional battlefields. Two government officials said Trump had recently signed his new rules for such kill-or-capture counter-terrorism operations, without major changes to an inter-agency agreement first described last month by The New York Times.

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Combat Medics in Vietnam

Combat Medics courageously fought to save lives as the war raged around them in Vietnam. Helicopters became virtual hospitals in the air, buying the combat medic valuable time to heal the wounded.  Max Cleland, a future US Senator from Georgia, lost three limbs when a grenade exploded in his hand. His life was saved by four beleaguered field medics. In this dramatic episode, Max Cleland recounts his story and we also hear from Clarence Sasser, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions as a Combat Medic in Vietnam.

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These are the 3 soldiers going to the 2018 Winter Olympics

Every time the Olympics roll around, we’re proud to cheer for the American veterans who make the team. Not only have they made their country proud with their service; as world-class athletes, they’ll represent the United States and try to bring home the gold.


For the 2018 Winter Olympics, three of the current 102 American competitors are U.S. Army soldiers, part of Army’s World Class Athlete Program. They are Sgt. Emily Sweeny, Sgt. Taylor Morris, and Sgt. Matt Mortensen.

Sgt. Emily Sweeny — Women’s Singles Luge

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(Image via Army MWR)

Sweeny was the first soldier to secure a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic team. She is a military police officer in the New York National Guard. After joining the Guard in 2011, she took on more of a leadership role within the USA Luge team where she not only competes, but helps identify and recruit talented youth to the sport.

She won the Gold Medal at the 2017 Winterberg Germany World Cup sprint race. Currently, she is ranked 8th in the world for women’s luge.

Sgt. Taylor Morris — Men’s Singles Luge

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(Image via Army MWR)

Morris secured his place at the Olympics when he earned the Bronze medal at the Lake Placid World Cup sprint race. He solidified his position on the USA Luge team after his career-best run. He joined the U.S. Army in 2011 as a Human Resource Specialist in the New York National Guard.

Sgt. Matthew Mortensen — Doubles Luge

D-Day The First Hours
(Image via Army MWR)

Mortensen is an Engineer out of the New York Army National Guard, joining in February 2010. He is a two-time Olympian who missed the bronze at the 2014 Sochi Olympics by a mere 0.005 seconds with his luge teammate, Sgt. Preston Griffall. For PyeonChang, Griffall chose to focus on his studies and Jayson Terdiman stepped into his role.

Mortensen and his new teammate finished the 2016-2017 seasons ranked 3rd internationally and together have won three straight Norton National Championships.

The 2018 Winter Olympics will begin Feb. 9, 2018 and end on Feb. 25, 2018.

Go Team USA!

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How stupid-looking minisubs could sink a US aircraft carrier

While there has been a pause in tensions with North Korea — to the point where the dictatorship, led by Kim Jong Un, is taking part in next month’s Winter Olympics — that regime has always been tricky. Remember, we’re talking about a rogue nation that sank the South Korean corvette Cheonan with a minisub out of nowhere on March 26, 2010, killing 46 of her crew.


D-Day The First Hours
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Rear Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea, and Rear Adm. Park Sung-bae, commander of the Republic of Korea Navy Second Fleet, tour the ROKS Pohang-class corvette Cheonan that was sunk by a North Korean torpedo on March 26, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bryce Bruns)

Now, you might think that an American carrier isn’t at the same risk as a South Korean corvette. After all, a North Korean minisub can’t carry that many torpedoes. A Yono-class minisub, the type suspected of sinking the Cheonan, packs two 21-inch torpedoes. The larger Sang-o-class sub carries four.

D-Day The First Hours
A North Korean-designed Yono-class mini-sub in Iranian service. A similar sub is suspected to have sunk the Cheonan. (Wikimedia Commons photo by ThePulleySystem)

Could the United States Navy lose an aircraft carrier if attacked by one of these minisubs? It seems far-fetched at first. The United States Navy has lost only one fleet carrier, USS Wasp, to a submarine-only attack. Two escort carriers, USS Block Island and USS Liscome Bay were also sunk in submarine attacks, and USS Yorktown was finished off by a Japanese submarine after being rendered dead in the water by aircraft.

D-Day The First Hours
USS Wasp was the last fleet carrier to be sunk by an enemy submarine. (U.S. Navy photo)

Wasp weighed in at 14,900 tons, according to MilitaryFactory.com. By comparison, today’s Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers have a much larger displacement of over 90,000 tons. When the Soviet Union was considering how to kill a Nimitz, they designed the Oscar-class submarine for the job. That was a huge vessel, carrying 24 SS-N-19 anti-ship missiles as well as eight torpedo tubes for disabling and destroying the carrier.

Fortune plays a big role in war, however. For example, The Japanese carrier HIJMS Taiho was sunk by a single torpedo in 1944. Additionally, since the end of the Cold War, American expertise in anti-submarine warfare has declined. In 2006, a Chinese submarine surfaced near and surprised the aircraft carrier, USS Kitty Hawk.

D-Day The First Hours
In 2006, a Chinese Communist submarine surfaced next to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, showing that American anti-submarine warfare skills had atrophied. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Lee McCaskill)

While two-to-four torpedos typically wouldn’t do the job against a U.S. carrier, North Korea could get lucky and sink one, but that luck would quickly turn into bad news for Kim Jong Un.

Learn more about North Korean submarine capabilities in the video below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rYwDjIiVf8
(Warthog Defense | YouTube)
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Marine Corps Rifleman in Vietnam

John C. Muir was a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He hailed from four generations of men and woman who served in distinguished military service.  He was also cousin to John Muir the famous naturalist and conservationist who has been called “The Father of America’s National Parks.”

In 1965, Muir volunteered for the US Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam as a Rifleman. John C. Muir was an excellent storyteller who delivered powerful words about fighting the war and returning home.

 

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Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s

The Lockheed F-35 Lightning is replacing the F-16 in many countries. For the most part, if a country is flying F-16s, then it’s a safe bet that they will get the F-35. There may be some exceptions to that rule, of course, but for the most part, it rings true.


One country slated to receive the F-35 is Belgium. F-16.net reports that, at one point, the Belgian Air Component had as many as 160 F-16A/B Fighting Falcons. Many of these planes were manufactured as part of a consortium with Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands.

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One of the first F-16s built for the Belgian Air Force. The F-16s currently in service will be replaced by F-35s. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Rob Schleiffert)

Today, that total stands at 45 F-16AM and nine F-16BM Fighting Falcons. These planes are divided into four operational fighter squadrons primarily equipped with F-16AMs, and one operational conversion unit equipped solely with F-16BMs. This comes out to roughly 11 F-16AMs per squadron.

According to a release on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency website, Belgium will begin to replace its F-16s with F-35s. The planned purchase total, coming in at just over $6.5 billion, is 34 F-35A Lightnings and 38 F135 engines (one for each F-35, plus four spares). This comes out to eight and a half F-35s per squadron.

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The second F-35 for the Netherlands rolls out of the hangar. The Dutch also helped produce the F-16. (Lockheed Martin photo)

Now, this may just be the first batch of planes, in which case, it comes out to a more reasonable 17 planes per squadron. A Belgian media report in 2016 noted that the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet were also considered by the Belgian government.

In what seems to be a repeat of history, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Denmark are all buying the F-35 to replace the F-16. In recent years, the Belgian Air Component has seen action in the War on Terror, the NATO intervention in Libya, and has also taken part in the Baltic Air Policing mission, often using F-16AMs.

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