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Asperiores odit

Amphibious Assault in the Pacific

By 1943, the war in the Pacific burned in its full fury. On November 20th, the Allies launched the first amphibious assault against heavily defended beaches in US history. The 2nd division of the US Marine Corps, used amphibious tractors and assault boats to reach the beaches of the Tarawa atoll, an enemy stronghold protected by 5,000 hardened Imperial Japanese marines. Ed Moore and Tommy Reed were decorated veterans of the 2nd Marine Division during the island campaigns in the Pacific War.

Asperiores odit

This is Mattis’ response to skepticism about ISIS plans

As the Islamic State group loses its remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is facing a growing chorus of questions from NATO allies and partners about what the next steps will be in the region to preserve peace and ensure the militants don’t rise again.


Heading into a week of meetings with Nordic countries and allies across Europe, Mattis must begin to articulate what has been a murky American policy on how the future of Syria unfolds.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Finland, Mattis said the main question from US allies is: what comes next? And he said the key is to get the peace process on track.

“We’re trying to get this into the diplomatic mode so we can get things sorted out,” said Mattis, who will meet with NATO defense ministers later this week. “and make certain (that) minorities — whoever they are — are not just subject to more of what we’ve seen” under Syrian President Bashar Assad until now.

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Russia President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Syrian President Assad. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in late October repeated Washington’s call for Assad to surrender control, looking past recent battlefield gains by his Russian-backed forces to insist that “the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”

Tillerson made the comments after meeting with the UN’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who later announced plans to resume UN-mediated peace talks Nov. 28. It will be the eighth such round under his mediation in Geneva since early 2016.

Related: How the US is caught between Turkey and the Kurds

Mattis said intelligence assessments two to three months ago made it clear that the Islamic State group was “going down.” He said information based on the number of IS individuals taken prisoner and the number of fighters who were getting wounded or were deserting the group made it clear that “the whole bottom was dropping out.”

But while he said the effort now is to get the diplomatic process shifted to Geneva and the United Nations, he offered few details that suggest the effort is moving forward.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.

In addition to the diplomatic efforts, Mattis said the US is still working to resolve conflicts with Russia in the increasingly crowded skies over the Iraq and Syria border, where a lot of the fighting has shifted.

On Nov. 3, Assad’s military announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants’ last significant urban area in Iraq.

Focus has now turned to Boukamal, the last urban center for the militants in both Iraq and Syria where Syrian troops —backed by Russia and Iranian-supported militias — and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are vying for control of the strategic border town.

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Fighters of the Euphrates Liberation Brigade, part of the Manbij Military Council of the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the city of Manbij in northern Syria. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Kurdishstruggle.

The proximity of forces in the area has raised concerns about potential clashes between them as they approach Boukamal from opposite sides of the Euphrates River, and now from across the border with Iraq.

Mattis said that as forces close in, the fighting is getting “much more complex,” and there is a lot of effort on settling air space issues with the Russians.

He also declined to say whether the US will begin to take back weapons provided to Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG. The US has argued that the YPG has been the most effective fighting group in the battle to oust IS from Raqqa, but Turkey opposed the arming effort because it believes the YPG is linked to a militant group in Turkey.

The US has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons, to insure that they don’t make their way to the hands of insurgents in Turkey, known as the PKK. The US also considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and has vowed it would never provide weapons to that group.

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A Kurdish YPG militant. The US has provided arms to this group, with a stated intent to recollect them. Photo from Kurdishstruggle Flickr

Turkish officials have said that Mattis reassured them by letter that arms given to the Syrian Kurds would be taken back and that the US would provide Turkey with a regular list of arms given to the fighters.

Also Read: 17 Brilliant Insights From Legendary Marine General James Mattis

While in Finland, Mattis will attend a meeting of a dozen northern European nations, which are primarily concerned about threats from Russia.

“They are focused on the north,” said Mattis, adding that he plans to listen to their thoughts on the region and determine how the US can help, including what types of training America could provide.

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DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

“It is an opportunity to reiterate where we stand by our friends,” said Mattis, “if any nation, including Russia, seeks to undermine the rules of international order.”

During a press briefing later on Nov. 6, Denmark Defense Minister Claus Hjord Frederiksen told reporters that allies must continue to be present in the region because of the risk that IS would rise again.

“We’re not so naive that we think that terrorism is removed from this earth, but of course it is very important to have taken geographical areas from them so they can’t attack or rob or whatever — using the income from oil production to finance their activities,” said Frederiksen. “We foresee therefore years ahead we will have to secure that they cannot gain new ground there.”

Asperiores odit

Adolf Hitler had a British nephew who joined the Navy during WWII

Hitler’s nephew, who he would come to call “my loathsome nephew”, was originally named William Patrick Hitler, but he later changed it to William Patrick Stuart-Houston to distance himself from his uncle’s name after WWII.


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William was born in Liverpool, the son of Adolf Hitler’s half brother, Alois Hitler, Jr., and an Irish woman named Bridget Dowling.

Prior to WWII, William moved from England to Germany where Adolf Hitler got him a job in a bank, which he subsequently left after convincing Hitler to get him a job at an automobile factory, as a salesman. At this point, Hitler began calling him “my loathsome nephew” and began publicly calling him out, stating, “I didn’t become Chancellor for the benefit of my family … No one is going to climb on my back.”

Getting nowhere further with his uncle, William then returned to London for a time and attempted to capitalize on his uncle’s fame there. He later returned to Germany where Hitler eventually offered William a top ranking position with the Nazis if William would renounce his British citizenship. William turned down the offer, fearing he’d be trapped in Germany in the coming conflict.

No longer caring to ask for a job or high ranking position, William subsequently began trying to blackmail his uncle, threatening to tell the media stories about Hitler and his family, including threatening to confirm a rumor that Hitler was the illegitimate grandson of the Jewish merchant, Leopold Frankenberger, if Hitler wouldn’t give him money. As you might imagine, this didn’t sit well with Hitler and William was forced to flee back to England, though some reports say he was given a sizable sum before being forced to leave.

Just before the start of WWII, William and his mother were invited to the United States at the invitation of famed publisher William Randolph Hearst. Hearst then sponsored William on a nationwide lecture tour titled “My Uncle Adolf”, where William would tell stories about Hitler and the Nazis to audiences.

Once the war broke out, William tried to join the British forces, but was denied. When the U.S. eventually entered the war, William appealed to President Roosevelt to be allowed to join the U.S. forces, stating why he felt he wasn’t being allowed to serve in the British forces: “The British are an insular people and while they are kind and courteous, it is my impression, rightly or wrongly, that they could not in the long term feel overly cordial or sympathetic towards an individual bearing the name I do.”

Roosevelt turned the matter over to the F.B.I. who eventually decided to allow William to join the U.S. Navy, despite being a British citizen and the nephew of Hitler. He served in the navy as a corpsman and was discharged in 1947 after three years of service.

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Bonus Facts:

  • After the war, William married and moved to Long Island where he set up his own blood sample analysis business.
  • William had four sons: Alexander, Louis, Howard, and Brian. Three of them live on Long Island today. The fourth son, Howard, died in a car accident in 1989, two years after William died. Two of his remaining sons live together and own a landscaping company, and the third is a social worker.
  • The apartment William Hitler and his family lived at in Liverpool was destroyed in a German air raid on January 10, 1942.
  • William’s mother, Bridget Dowling, once wrote a manuscript, My Brother-in-Law Adolf, to try to capitalize on Hitler’s fame. Most of the content of the manuscript has been dismissed by historians including allegations that Hitler spent nearly six months living in Liverpool with her family in 1912 and into 1913. She also claimed she was the one who convinced him to cut his mustache the way he did, rather than the more traditional handlebar style and claims to have introduced Hitler to astrology, which is something he is said to have taken great stock in while planning some of his military strategies.
  • William’s father, Alois Hitler, left the family to return to Austria in 1914. Bridget and William did not go with him, though the two did not divorce. After WWI began, Alois Hitler married Hedwig Weidemann, which subsequently got him in a lot of trouble once authorities discovered he was already married. Alois had a son with his new wife in Austria, Heinz Hitler, who served as a Nazi in WWII and was captured, tortured, and killed by the Soviet Union in 1942.
  • Interestingly, Alois Hitler only managed to escape punishment for getting married while he was already married when his first wife Bridget Dowling intervened with the authorities, claiming she had separated from him before he left for Austria.
  • When Alois Hitler first met Bridget Dowling, he claimed to be a wealthy hotel owner, when, in fact, he was just a waiter at a hotel. He then eloped with Dowling, despite her father’s threats against him.

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Asperiores odit

Amazing WWII photographs you’ve never seen before

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Photo: US Army


Argunners will be publishing a series of amazing WWII photographs recently uncovered from the archives of General Charles Day Palmer, who was a four-star General. Most of the photographs were confidential photographs taken by the U.S. Signal Corps not fit for publication, Brig. Gen. was allowed to have them for private use after censoring (names of places etc.).

Charles Day Palmer was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 20, 1902. After graduating from Washington High School in Washington, D.C., he entered the United States Military Academy, where he graduated in 1924. During World War II, he worked in the British West Indies to establish military bases and ran projects on anti-submarine warfare. In 1944, he became the Chief-of-Staff of the 2nd Armored Division, nicknamed “Hell on Wheels”, participating in the Invasion of Normandy, break-out from Saint-Lo and the crossing of the Siegfried Line. In October, he was transferred as Chief-of-Staff to the VI Corps, where he received a battlefield promotion to Brigadier-General.

After World War II, Palmer took part in the Korean War. During his career, he received various valor and service awards such as the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze and Silver Star. He passed away on June 7, 1999 in Washington, D.C. The photographs were shared by his grandson, Daniel Palmer, honoring the memories and service of his grandfather.

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Robert F. Stubenrauch

U.S. soldier examines the grave of an unknown U.S. soldier, who was buried by the enemy before retreating. The first American soldier that noticed the grave decorated it with mortar shells and ferns. (#P03)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Allan G. Smith Jr.

Dead American and German soldiers at a cemetery before burial, place unknown. Each body is placed in a mattress cover. German prisoners are doing the work of digging the graves and placing the bodies in them. (#P04)

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Photo: US Army

M-10 Tank Destroyer from the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion supporting the 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division in Rohrwiller, February 4, 1945. You can see the town’s church damaged by shell blasts. (Backside – #P06)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Albert Gretz

Prisoners of War from the German Military Police force and Gestapo agents of the city of Strasbourg are led to the 3rd Infantry Division. POW are escorted by the French FFI. (#P07)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Robert F. Stubenrauch

Dead horses and wrecked vehicles equipment of a German convoy are strewn along the road in the vicinity of Lug, Germany, following an attack from U.S. artillery. The Germans were trying to escape encirclement by 3rd and 7th Armies. (#P08)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Allan G. Smith Jr.

A German underground ball-bearing factory in Germany, where all size bearings were made. Shown is a row of polishing and grinding machines used to finish the bearings. This might be in Schweinfurt? (#P09)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Ernest Brown

English M-5 Anti-tank mines are used to blow up German pill boxes. 400 lbs of TNT are being set off inside the pill box. (#P11)

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Photo: US Army Technician 4 Edward G. Newell

American forces try to recapture Wingen-sur-Moder from German Mountain 6. SS-Gebirgsjäger Division troops, who infiltrated it during the night, dislodging American troops and taking a number of prisoners. The Hotel ‘Wenk’ had gasoline are in yard and it was hit by a tracer bullet, resulting in the burning seen in photograph. In the church tower on the left is a German lookout, who is also sniping at the U.S. soldiers. (#P12)

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Photo: US Army Technician 4 Sidney Blau

Helmet and rifle mark the spot in a ditch by road where two Infantrymen gave their lives, during a new drive by Seventh Army which opened on a front of fifty miles from Saarbrücken to the Rhine. (#P13)

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Photo: US Army Technician 4 Benneth Fenberg

Seventh Army men looking for snipers in the Bobenthal, Germany. (#P14)

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Photo: US Army

When this wrecker towing a 155mm Howitzer became stuck in the mud in a road, nothing less than a bulldozer could budge it. (#P15)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Allan G. Smith Jr.

Path of a B-17 as it crash-landed into a snow covered field on the Seventh Army front. Pilot escaped with minor cuts when he rode the plane in after the crew bailed out. Note: The pole in foreground was clipped by the plane as it came in. (#P16)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Robert F. Stubenrauch

Charred remains of a German pilot, the plane was brought down by small arms fire on March 15, first day of Seventh Army offensive in Germany. – Interesting note, thanks to this forum, the plane was I.D. and it turns out that it is most likely an U.S. P-47! (#P19)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Ernest Brown

A German bridge is blown sky high by U.S. Engineers, destroying span as a defensive measure against German troops pressing towards the town. (#P20)

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Photo: US Army Technician 5 Robert F. Stubenrauch

 

U.S. soldier standing next to the remains of a German soldier he just discovered near German Howitzers, which were destroyed by the Seventh Army. (#P21)

Argunners Magazine is looking for help identifying some of the places, personalities, equipment, or units that are shown on the photographs, as many of the backsides are unreadable due to age and wartime censoring. Contact us, if you can help. Supply the referral number in the e-mail (ex. Backside – #P01) so we know which photograph you are talking about.

More from Argunners Magazine:

This article originally appeared at Argunners Magazine. Copyright 2015. Follow Argunners Magazine on Twitter.

Asperiores odit

Iran threatens to drop missiles on US bases if White House imposes new sanctions

The chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Oct. 8 the US should move its military bases farther from Iran’s borders if it imposes new sanctions against Tehran, the official IRNA news reported.


The Oct. 8 report quotes Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying, “If new sanctions go into effect, the country should move its regional bases to a 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) radius” out of the range of Iranian missiles.

Currently, US military bases are located in countries neighboring Iran, including Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, and Afghanistan, less than 500 kilometers (310 miles) from Iran’s borders.

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Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Photo from CounterExtremism.com

Jafari rejected the idea of negotiating with the US over regional issues and said if the United States designates the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, the Guard — which has suffered significant casualties fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq — will also consider the US army a terrorist group.

He said such moves by the US will eliminate “any chance for engagement forever.”

President Donald Trump appears to be stepping back from his campaign pledge to tear up the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, instead aiming to take other measures against Iran and its affiliates.

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Photo from White House Flickr.

New actions expected to be announced by the White House in the coming days will focus on the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group blamed for sowing discord in the Middle East and seeking Israel’s demise. They include financial sanctions on anyone who does business with the Revolutionary Guard, as well as millions of dollars in rewards for information leading to the arrest of two operatives of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

On Saturday, Iran’s president defended the nuclear deal and said not even 10 Donald Trumps can roll back its benefits to Iran.

Asperiores odit

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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The B-17 Flying Fortress debuted exactly 80 years ago — here’s its legacy

On July 28, 1935, the plane that would become the B-17 “Flying Fortress” first took to the skies.


Immediately, the plane started breaking records.

An icon of World War II, the aircraft gained an ironclad reputation for both its staggering offensive output and its durability and resilience in the heat of battle.

“Without the B-17 we may have lost the war,” the World War II general Carl Spaatz said.

Relive the legacy of this iconic American warplane from a prototype to its eventual enshrinement in military museums in the slides below.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Boeing Model 299, later known as the B-17, was built as part of a United States Army Air Corps (precursor to the Air Force) competition to create a bomber that could fly faster than 200 mph with 2,000 pounds of bombs and a range of over 1,020 miles.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The development of the 299 was completely paid for by Boeing with no promise of reimbursement by the US government. The competition and the sunk costs represented a make-or-break trial for the young aircraft manufacturer.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Despite achieving a record-setting 2,100-mile flight from Seattle to Ohio, Boeing lost the competition after crashing the prototype because of a technical error.

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Photo: US Air Force

As war brewed in Europe, however, the need for a long-range strategic bomber like the B-17 became apparent. In 1940, 20 B-17s were delivered to Britain’s Royal Air Force. They were hastily deployed and performed poorly.

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Photo: US Air Force

The tail of the aircraft was reinforced to sturdy the ride at high altitudes, and additional .50-caliber machine guns were added to turrets behind and below the aircraft to defend against fighter planes during bombing missions. The result was the B-17E, or the “Big Ass.”

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Photo: US Air Force

The B-17E was the first mass-produced model of the plane. It featured nine turret-mounted machine guns and could carry up to 4,000 pounds in bombs. Each newer version that came along would be more and more heavily armed.

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Photo: US Air Force

The various versions of the B-17 flew with crews of about 10 airmen, who praised the plane for its ability to withstand heavy fire, sometimes completing missions even after losing engines. The unsung heroes of this operation were the ground crews and mechanics, who routinely made tattered B-17s safe again.

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Photo: US Air Force

B-17s dropped 640,036 tons of bombs over Europe in daylight raids alone, mainly targeting Axis airfields and arms factories.

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Photo: US Air Force

The name “Flying Fortress” refers to the many machine-gun turrets located along the sides, top, front, tail, and bottom of the aircraft, which helped defend the plane against enemy fighter planes.

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Photo: US Air Force

Thanks to its many turrets, the B-17 was over twice as effective at downing enemy aircraft as similar bombers of the time. The famed 91st Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force alone shot down a confirmed 420 enemy planes, with another 238 probably destroyed and 127 damaged.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

After World War II, the B-17 saw action in wars in Korea, Israel, and Vietnam.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Today fewer than 100 B-17 airframes exist. Toward the end of World War II the B-29 Superfortress began to take over, and later the B-52 emerged, but the B-17 remains an indelible symbol of the US war effort.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Boeing B-17 Super Fortress Museum of Flt Ken Fielding

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Asperiores odit

10 Inspirational Military Accounts to Follow in 2020

The world of military influencers is growing with every recruit.

What has formed as an organic community based around the military, there are a lot of Instagram accounts out there that have provided a valuable commentary for those who have served.


Ranging from meme accounts to those who have gone through the trials of war, military Instagram has really become its own niche community. Regardless of whether you’ve served or not, learning about these inspirational accounts is a learning process in itself, which is why we’ve provided you with a list of ten of our favorites. Check them out below:

Art 15 Clothing

Art 15 (short for Article 15- the provision that enables punishment in the US military), is a clothing brand started by vets, for vets. With an aesthetic that definitely matches their intent, Art 15 explores a lot of American military culture that’s prideful over service, as well as the audience of people wearing their shirts. Growing one of the fastest-growing communities, you’d be surprised at how responsive this team is, as well as their fans.

Yes, to get engagement like they do might require to buy Instagram followers, however, for Art 15, their base is well-ingrained in the military community, and certainly a point of pride for many members of service to represent. Check them out if you’re looking for a brand by vets for vets.

Dan Bilzerian

Despite never serving, Dan Bilzerian has a lot of military-friendly content that definitely resonates with a level of respect for the community most Instagram celebrities don’t have. Often known as “The King of Instagram” as well as a “man’s man”, Bilzerian has grown quite the brand for himself around travel, women, weightlifting, and of course, guns and politics.

Typically showing love to troops and our military, Bilzerian is a force be reckoned with, providing often what people perceive as the pinnacle of the American dream (including American ideals and beliefs) As one of the most entertaining accounts on the web, Dan Bilzerian is well-worth the follow for military and non-military folks alike.

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Military

As straightforward as it sounds, Military isn’t actually the official account of the US military. Instead, they’re one of the most popular content sources for soldiers, posting different anecdotes from the procedure, drills, and even random events.

With a podcast that has amassed a popular following as well, Military has made themselves a prominent voice in the military community, and definitely an account you should follow for a mix of content that’s reminiscent of being in the service.

Task and Purpose

Another popular military magazine, Task and Purpose does a great job of curating content for the military community. As one of the most popular meme accounts for military members, Task and Purpose has nailed down the culture behind being in the armed services, as well as knows how to make people laugh about the trials and tribulations they had to go through.

While you might not understand some of the jokes if you haven’t served, Task and Purpose does a great job of being an inclusive space for people who have been in the military as well as those who are trying to understand their loved ones that have been a part. Give them a glance if you’re looking for more lighthearted content about the military.

Military Ops

According to ViralRace, if you’re looking for what it’s really like for day-to-day military activity, then Military Ops is the account for you. Primarily posting things from real-life combat and stations, Military Ops is really out here for those who have served, providing a level of empathy a lot of people can’t match for what it’s like to be alone overseas.

While a lot of it is humorous, some of Military Ops content is focused on guns and gear, which is really reserved for those who really nerd out about those things. Especially if you’ve served, Military Ops is well worth the follow if you’re looking for a little bit of nostalgia.

Terminal Lance

If you haven’t heard, Terminal Lance is pretty famous…like, so big of an account they have a Wikipedia page big. A satire site for members of the Marines, Terminal Lance has been building quite the following for the antics and jokes that go around the military.

As a niche community, they have a lot of fun with the content they source and produce. Check them out if you’re looking a military account that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but understands what it’s like to be in the trenches.

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Derek Weida

As a vet, Derek Weida is one of those accounts you can’t help but admire. With a leg missing, Weida has transformed himself into a weight-loss and motivational coach, providing inspiration for those who haven’t quite been able to hit their mark yet.

With an encouraging message for those who are just starting out, Weida does a great job of keeping motivation consistent. Check him out if you’re looking for a service member that really has made the most out of their situation, hands down.

Earl Granville

If you’re not familiar, Earl Granville went viral a couple of years ago for not only losing his leg in Afghanistan but by running as a Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s 8th district. Whether you follow his political beliefs regardless, Granville is an inspiring figure to admire.

He not only has come back strong in his political motives but also understands war first-hand, which is something not a lot of leaders have the acumen for. Instead, Granville represents a different breed of a politician based on an indelible personal experience, which is why you should definitely keep an eye on his IG.

Sarah Maine

Also known as the ‘curves queen’, Sarah Maine is a military alum of the Air Force, where she’s now started her own brand called Curves and Combat Boots: a legging company with a veteran/curvy woman appeal. A savvy entrepreneur, Maine is an excellent example of someone who took to becoming their own business owner after service, which is a hard feat to overcome.

As her brand follows a lot of influencer culture, she’s done a great job of producing content and materials that really resonate with her audience. As just an overall inspiring story, Maine is someone to definitely keep track of if you’re looking to learn about someone who’s made it after serving their time.

Vincent “Rocco” Vargas

To round out our list is Vincent “Rocco” Vargas, who is a former military member turned influencer. His view on culture is very much one that a lot of military people can resonate with, providing that edge as someone who moved on to work in film but also has a base in what it’s like to serve.

Vargas is now one of the biggest influencers who are former military, which is inspiring to see. Check them out if you’re looking for someone that’s like The Rock meets military service instead of WWE.

What are some of your favorite military influencers? Comment with your insights below!

Asperiores odit

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.

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(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.”

Vote Home Bru
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.

Asperiores odit

Why ‘The Janson Directive’ is going to an electrifying spy film

Seven Bucks Productions recently announced plans to adapt the critically-acclaimed novel The Janson Directive into a live-action film. Dwayne Johnson is producing the film and John Cena is cast in the lead role, playing Paul Janson. While that alone should be enough to get audiences excited, everything else about the film has it set to be an outstanding spy flick.


The author of the source material, Robert Ludlum, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and, during his assignment to Pearl Harbor, he spent every possible day in the library — learning the craft of storytelling and immersing himself in classical history. His other works include The Osterman Weekend and, most notably, The Bourne Identity.

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Just to set the stage for this man’s fantastic bibliography… and naming convention.
(Universal Pictures)

The script is being written by Akiva Goldsman, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of A Beautiful Mind, and adapted by James Vanderbilt, writer of Zodiac and White House Down.

Originally, Dwayne Johnson was cast as Janson but stepped back to produce it.

The novel is a spy thriller set after the Vietnam War. The protagonist is a former Navy SEAL and covert operative for a fictional spy agency turned corporate security consultancy. After a job to protect a Nobel Peace Prize-winning laureate goes horrible awry, Janson is blamed for their death.

In order to clear his name, Janson must single-handedly infiltrate his former spy agency to earn his freedom, but risks revealing countless government secrets that could shatter world peace in the process.

Outside of the insanely awesome plot, the novel actually delves deep into the psyche of a man living through post-traumatic stress as he struggles to determine whether his own life is worth revealing a placating lie that is keeping the world safe.

Asperiores odit

Battle of the Bulge

Toward the end of December 1944 it was clear the Germans were losing WWII. Low on fuel, munitions and morale, the ability of the rogue nation was slipping by the hour. Still with 6,000,000 men under arms, Hitler burned with a passion for one more mad drive into the Allied lines. In December, 1944 with the Russians closing in from the east and the Allies chipping away at the western front, the Nazis made their move. 600,000 Germans in 29 divisions with 11 armored panzer divisions, surged into the Allied front. The stage was set for total Allied defeat, but Hitler had failed to calculate the most important element of all. He could count the thousands of guns, the tons of munitions and the hundreds of tanks, but he could never grasp the unfailing courage and valor of the American fighting man.

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