Tunnel Rats in Vietnam - We Are The Mighty
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Tunnel Rats in Vietnam

The tunnel rats were courageous soldiers who performed underground search and destroy missions during the Vietnam War.  American and Australian troops uncovered the enemy’s intricate network of tunnels while conducting larger operations. Tunnel rats were tasked with gathering intelligence within them, and killing or capturing their occupants–often in conditions of close combat. CW Bowman, Gerry Schooler and Art Tejeda spent days maneuvering through the tunnel complexes clearing and destroying lethal booby-traps.

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Here are the best military photos of the week of Jan. 7

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:

U.S. Air Force Capt. Raymond Whisenhunt, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing chief of protocol, tumbles to the ground as a military working dog locks onto the bite suit he is wearing at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 30, 2016. MWD’s are highly motivated canines utilized for patrol, drug and explosive detection, and other specialized mission functions.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cynthia A. Innocenti

An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 134th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron performs preflight checks at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, Dec. 29, 2016. The 134th EFS is flying combat missions for Operation Inherent Resolve to support and enable Iraqi Security Forces’ efforts with the unique capabilities provided by the fighter squadron.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson

ARMY:

Nevada National Guard soldiers patrol the Las Vegas Strip last night as part of Operation Night Watch, an annual law enforcement mission supporting the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department during the annual New Year’s Eve celebration.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Army photo

U.S. Army U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, United States Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard Service members conduct an Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Ceremony for for the departing commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama at Comny Hall on Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 4, 2016.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Army Photo by Pvt. Gabriel A. Silva

NAVY:

NORFOLK (Dec. 30, 2016) Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) as it returns to homeport. Dwight D. Eisenhower and its carrier strike group conducted a 7-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole Keller

VENICE, Italy (Jan. 3, 2017) Sailors man the helm aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) as it departs Venice, Italy. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ford Williams

MARINE CORPS:

Marines with Alpha Battery, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, conduct an M777 Howitzer live-fire night fire mission during Exercise Alligator Dagger, Dec. 18. This nightscape was taken as a single, long exposure photograph. The chaos of different colored lights are red-lensed headlamps worn by the artillery Marines moving and operating the different gun positions around the M777. The unilateral exercise provides an opportunity for the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to train in amphibious operations within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery C. Laning

Marines with Tank Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct tank maintenance during Exercise Alligator Dagger, Dec. 8, 2016. Maintenance checks are done around the clock to ensure equipment is operating safely and efficiently and to ensure the safe conduct of training. The unilateral exercise provides an opportunity for the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 11th MEU to train in amphibious operations within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. The 11th MEU is currently supporting the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation’s mission to promote and maintain stability and security in the region.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery C. Laning

COAST GUARD:

Two kayakers recover from the seas and weather aboard a Coast Guard Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Dec. 15, 2016. Coast Guard crews responded to a call for assistance from the kayakers when they were beset by weather off Maui.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Linda Bashqoy

Members of the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard stand at parade rest during the Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony on Coast Guard cutter Taney in Baltimore Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jasmine Mieszala

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What will China’s role be on the global tech stage?

Thinking and talking about China’s rapid rise in technological capability in recent years is naturally going to create a wide range of opinions and emotions.

For a few, it brings out most noticeably bad feelings of totalitarianism with the rising revisionist control China shows; but others yearn to know what the Chinese tech sector will focus on in the future on the global technology stage.

The inclination to misrepresent China’s worldwide impact is, to some degree, a reflection of how difficult it is to divorce their tech advancements from the context of their political objectives. Meanwhile, China’s global conduct is frequently compared to and contrasted with that of the United States.

In short, making a complete picture of the burgeoning superpower’s role on the global tech stage is complicated, to say the least. Here’s what you must consider:


Tech sector growth

Existing records of China’s tech sector all together propose three different methodologies dependent on their needed advantage, outcome, and goals. The crafty methodology is halfway determined upon the material prevalence needed to create hardware devices, rising nationalist patriotism, and a hardline stance that looks to solidify China’s legitimate status as a tech superpower.

Indecision sometimes can most acutely communicate China’s tech methodology and global initiatives as well as a characteristic feeling of authentic privilege that China uses to place their country as the leader in conveying global technology, trade, merchandise.

This uncertainty additionally provides another level of uneasiness with China’s focus on improving worldwide leadership all while keeping their strategies aligned with their own national interests.

Defenders of the dominance approach shown by Chinese tech companies often look for social esteem by continuously expanding their worldwide duties; assuming more responsibility for an extensive range of tech sectors; and upgrading China’s commitments to universal harmony, security and advancement as per its government positioning in the worldwide tech sector.

Every one of the three methodologies are unmistakable practically speaking, making it hard to observe a reasonable position with respect to the Chinese tech initiatives. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, it is conceivable to recognize another strategy that is bringing together China’s job market more in line with the worldwide tech industry.

This includes setting China at the focal point of new and existing tech operations and hardware manufacturing, advancing Chinese ideals and goals, whole pushing global relations in the tech industry, though, with expressly Chinese qualities such as government oversight.

Patterns

Three patterns in the contemporary Chinese tech industry outside conventional strategy bolster this new approaching but relies on a few key decisions on their part.

The first is China’s key economic reorientation. China’s biggest concern lies with the post-WWII US-drove partnership framework, which is principally observed as a deterrent against the progression of Chinese tech sector interests.

China’s vital stance is currently outlined based on geopolitical objectives that plan to put China at the focal point of an East-West pivot in both tech and hardware. China’s pledge to the protection of its outskirts is underscored by the One Belt, One Road, and its endeavors to merge vital locations in the South China Sea.

The second pattern is China’s initiative in worldwide tech aligned with their national priorities. At the onset Chinese approach to outside talks in the tech sector is loaded with references to the significance of a Chinese role in worldwide tech operations. China’s portrayal as a leader in the universal tech sector is spreading progressively over the financial, security, and legal domains as well as global policymaking.

China’s responsibilities for peacekeeping and improvement have additionally expanded exponentially as of late, furthering their tech dominance. The United Nations remain a partner of China’s institutions, providing them with access to the European market. In any case, progressively Chinese tech arrangements and partnerships are all the more increased with territorial expansion and international manufacturing, for example, the G20.

The Chinese sponsorship of an Asian Tech Infrastructure Investment Bank shows the direction of the government to put China at the focal point of changes in the worldwide financial market as it relates to tech.

The third pattern is China’s accentuation on social recovery as an offset to ideological differences and clashes. Chinese strategy and tech elites advocate the possibility of a tranquil partnership between countries dependent on their tech, all while spreading their political culture worldwide.

Another legislative issue that is expected to provide various methods for beating out the other tech giants is the close alignment of governmental issues through the development of worldwide tech dominance.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam

Authenticity issues

What are the suggestions for China to gain a worldwide tech advantage? China looks to assume a pivotal role in the creation of a more comprehensive and fair worldwide tech industry that at the same time is lined up with its very own national advantages and goals.

In any case, its new strategy makes an authenticity issue: China’s capability to add to the change of the global tech sector and the production of universal devices and standards requires social buy-in. This must be completely acknowledged whether its play for power status in the tech world, and is viewed as a real issue according to different countries.

The Achilles foot rear area of Chinese outside arrangement is political authenticity. Right now, both interior and outside observers see issues with China’s authenticity especially with the Chinese Communist Party giving preferential treatment to patriotism and monetary value.

Other issues with outer authenticity are most apparent on the issue of China’s interesting position in the South China Sea, which is said to compromises the region and puts pressure on smaller countries when working with a global tech superpower like China.

With regards to current basic power moves inside the tech sector, China’s dynamic commitment to the worldwide stage is a positive indication of their potential to lead the global tech industry and its improvement.

Past the subject of national revival, if China is to assume a leadership role in the tech sector, as well as setting up universal guidelines as they pertain to tech, it should connect with the goals of different countries, companies, and people groups.

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B-29 Bomber Pilot in WWII

Charles L. Phillips was a 26-year-old Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps, piloting B-29 bombers in the Pacific theater during the final years of WWII.   He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroics during the strategic bombing campaign over Japan. One of Phillip’s last missions was on August 6, 1945, the same day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.   During the air battle he was forced to ditch his B-29 into the sea.  We interviewed Charles Phillips in 1991 and he told us remarkable stories, from his early training in Texas to the firebombing of Tokyo.

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Army mortuary affairs is a solemn duty to honor the fallen

Standing in front of a projector that displays the remains of a deceased man, an Army Reserve instructor is not explaining to his 11 students the gruesomeness of what happened to the man, but the proper way to effectively serve in a unique and honorable job as a mortuary affairs specialist.

“Being in mortuary affairs isn’t easy because I know everybody can’t deal with remains,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Garcia, the lead instructor for the Mortuary Affairs Specialist Course held at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, May 12-28, 2018.


“The thing about our job is take those heroes and do all the preparation and help with the valuable effects,” said Garcia, who is assigned to the 5th Multifunctional Battalion, 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment, 80th Training Command (Total Army School System).

The mortuary affairs course falls under the command and control of the 94th Training Division, and the 94th Training Division supports the 80th Training Command’s mission of more than 2,700 instructors providing essential training to Army Reserve, National Guard and Active Duty Soldiers.

“When you are dealing with the remains, you are thinking of the families and focused on treating the fallen hero with the utmost respect and dignity,” said Garcia. “It’s an honor to be here and to instruct because this job is like no other.”

Garcia’s students will graduate and move on to serve as combat-ready leaders in their units, but a few received first-hand experience shortly after switching to this military occupational specialty in 2017, and helped when Hurricane Maria hit land.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
(U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton)

“One day I’m learning at the morgue. Then I graduate from the mortuary affairs reclass course, and one day later I’m at the morgue again. This time I’m helping them because of the hurricane,” said Sgt. Pedro Cruz, assigned to the 311th Quartermaster Company. “We were working over there every day. I’m doing things I won’t do on deployment because as I hear, ‘you don’t work with remains every day on deployments.'”

Sgt. Adrian Roman-Perez, also assigned 311th Quartermaster Company, was another student who stepped out of the classroom and put what he learned to use shortly after the class ended.

“I worked alongside our instructor because we had to provide support to the morgue,” Roman-Perez said. “It wasn’t that the hurricane happened; it was about the aftermath after it happened.”

“In the Army, we train as we fight but you can’t do that in this job,” said Roman. “Most of the time, you are dealing with a mannequin and never have the opportunity to experience remains or have your body have that kind of stress.”

“For me it was kind of useful and it will be useful on my deployment because it helped prepare me for what is coming up,” Roman-Perez said. “That type of stressful situation helped me and taught me how to cope with it.”

According to Staff Sgt. Izander Estrada, a soldier assigned to 5th Battalion and helping Garcia with the mortuary affairs course, said that Hurricane Maria left a lasting impression not only on the students, but the instructors and staff at the organization.

“There were no trees, and it was so quiet,” he said. “You didn’t hear cars or birds or anything. It was completely quiet. It was a surreal experience.”

“It was a lot of stuff that if you’re not here, living there it’s impossible to understand or to explain,” he added. “Seeing people not having water and electricity, you start think about how important things are and that you take them for granted. Like when the air conditioning is always on, that’s electricity that you’re using.”

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam
Sgt. Axel Ayala and Sgt. Carolina Ortega, both students attending the Mortuary Affairs Specialist Course, work together to set up one side of the Mobile Integrated Remains Collection Systems.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Emily Anderson)

Despite dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Estrada was one of several individuals tasked with ensuring the future courses at the schoolhouse could still happen.

“This area had buildings actually demolished because of Maria,” he said. “This was September and we had to demonstrate that we could conduct the next class in February.”

The staff at the 5th Battalion worked with the 94th Training Division, the 80th Training Command and Fort Buchanan to secure a building, equipment, power and so on to ensure the next course could take place.

Eight months later classes are still steadily scheduled through the rest of the year, and staff and students are working hard to show why mortuary affairs is a crucial piece of the Army Reserve.

“One of the things I’m grateful for in the class is that I’ve been able to know the instructors and know how they work aside from them instructing,” said Roman. “I can ensure you, they are people that know their job. They know what they are doing, and they know their material and are experienced instructors.”

Both Cruz and Roman-Perez agreed that this job specialty is one that many may not consider, but is worth doing and instructing, if given the opportunity.

“I’ve thought about being an instructor. It is not an easy task but it’s a rewarding one you’ve got the ability to mold soldiers and help them, tell them the proper way of doing stuff, prevent them from slacking and taking up bad habits,” said Roman Perez.

“Mortuary affairs is not for everyone. I will say if new soldiers decide to join mortuary affairs, they will not regret it, ever,” said Cruz. “Maybe they’ll stay there forever because I don’t know if it’s just me, but I really love this MOS. It makes me feel like I’m really doing something for my nation.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

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Brain surgery to bear hugs: One wounded warrior’s story

Born with a birth defect causing seizures, battling anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and facing divorce and separation from a child can be a lot for anyone to handle, but with a community of support, things can get better.

For retired Air Force Capt. Rob Hufford, no statement could ring truer. From an all-time low to bear-hugging England’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, while in Australia to compete in the Invictus Games, things are looking up for Hufford.

“I researched the effect of lingering hugs,” Hufford said. “Psychotherapist Virginia Satir said four hugs a day for maintenance, eight hugs a day for survival, and 12 hugs a day for growth.”


After graduating the Air Force Academy in 2006, Hufford became a civil engineering officer and, over the next nine years, was stationed in four locations and deployed to Iraq twice.

It was during this time that Hufford’s life seemed to fall apart and things began to spiral. He reached the limit on the medicine he could take for his condition, which was a good and bad thing.

The drugs were causing anxiety and anger, but without them, his physical activity was limited until surgery. His outlook became bleak.

In January of 2013, he had a temporal lobectomy to remove a piece of his brain.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam

Retired Capt. Lawrence “Rob” Hufford yells triumphantly after lifting 418 pounds, setting a personal best in the heavyweight category of power-lifting at the 2018 Invictus Games.

“It was about the size of a tube of Chapstick,” Hufford said.

In 2015, the secretary of the Air Force decided that he should be medically retired. In 2016, his marriage fell apart and he became geographically separated from his son.

Keeping a positive attitude while coping with everything was a constant struggle.

His lifeline came in the form of friend, Dana Lyon, Air Force Academy javelin and strength conditioning coach. She had noticed that Hufford was a shell of what he once was and pushed him to become involved with the Air Force Wounded Warrior program.

In June of 2017, he attended Offutt Air Force Base’s AFW2 Caregivers, Adaptive Sports, Resiliency, Empowerment and Transition event. Hufford was able to share his stories with others who were suffering and got to know himself better.

“I could finally see the effects that denial issues and my illnesses had had on my relationships with other people,” Hufford said. “It was a turning point in my life.”

It was also during the CARE event that he heard about the Warrior Games. He applied for the winter trials at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and was one of 40 selectees and 10 alternates to participate in the games at the Air Force Academy.

Tunnel Rats in Vietnam

Team Air Force athlete Capt. Rob Hufford looks at the scoreboard after competing in the rowing competition during the Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 9, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

The next thing he knew, he was invited to participate in the Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia. The event, created by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, in 2014, was inspired by the Warrior Games created by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2010.

Hufford said he was honored to see Prince Harry during the sailing event. He called out to the prince to inform him that he could expect to receive a hug when he met him again.The Duke decided that there was no better time than the present and accommodated him with a big bear hug.

As Hufford continues to compete in Wounded Warrior programs, he has also made an effort to pay it forward. He works with Omaha organizations that help to identify what he calls “invisibly wounded” individuals throughout the community.

His efforts don’t go unnoticed.

“Rob is always the person there supporting everyone else regardless of what he is going through,” said Marsha Gonzales, Warrior Care Support branch chief.

Impressed by his attitude, Gonzales assisted Hufford in returning to Air Force employment.

He is currently the lead engineer for the upcoming Offutt AFB runway restoration project and the Omaha Lincoln Airfields due to kick off in 2019.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

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Peter Everest Air Force Test Pilot

General Frank “Pete” Everest was a record-setting U.S. Air Force Test pilot. As a fighter pilot in World War II he flew over 150 combat missions. He then went on to lead the Air Force flight test program, flying with other legendary pilots like Chuck Yeager and George Welch.

From 1950 to 1956 he flew an average of eight newly designed aircraft a month, setting records like taking the Bell X-1 to an altitude of 73,000 feet and the X-2 to a speed of over 1900 miles per hour, making him the “fastest man alive” at the time. In this episode Pete Everest tells stories of those pioneering days of experimental aircraft and daring test pilots.

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The 5 biggest stories in the military world right now (June 29)

Good morning! Here’s what’s happening around the national security space:


NOW CHECK OUT: 5 mind-blowing facts about the US Military

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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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