What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays? - We Are The Mighty
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What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?

Some time ago, when movies were still black and white and Second World War themes were frequently used in screenplays, seeing a soldier with the cigarette both on screen and in public wasn’t a rare occasion. The war was actually the moment when the relationship between the US military and tobacco industry has been established, mainly through advertising. Furthermore,cigarettes were a part of army rations and often used as a valuable trading currency.


After the war, the connection between armed forces and tobacco did not end as many young recruits started smoking soon after they joined the service. Besides being a matter of tradition and way of bonding, smoke breaks were sometimes used in “boot camps” as a form of reward and punishment system. Meanwhile, as it was proofed that smoking influence troop’s readiness and raise health costs, as predicted, the tobacco use was restricted in military facilities not designated as “tobacco use areas”. What could’ve not been predicted was that after 2011 the statistic will change and vape mods will be used rather than tobacco among military personnel.

Statistics and policy changes

According to the Department of Defense report presented in the year 2011, 24 percent of active duty personnel were smokers compared with 19 percent of civilians and 38 percent of the servicemen and women started smoking after enlisting. In the year 2015, studies showed that the number of troopers who are occasional smokers dropped by nearly half, since 2011 — down from 24 percent to 13.9 percent. Overall, the statistic also showed that since 2009 tobacco use rates have decreased in the US army, although it is possible that these numbers are also closely connected with the increased use of vape mode kits.

There are several reasons why these figures are going down, slowly but firmly. The decision to ban tobacco use entirely during recruit training, which was done at most training centers, was an important step in starting to modify the surrounding in order to change military-driven behavioral patterns and reduce tobacco use among service members. It also helped a higher percentage of smokers to quit at a rate higher than would be expected without the ban.Restrictive smoking regulations in military facilities seem to have a significant effect on cigarette consumption too. Enlarged efforts involving educational, motivational, and social changes such as stronger educational messages, including ones orientated toward changing social norms regarding smoking in the military, resulting in a decreased number of new smokers among recruits.

Some military policies which tolerated tobacco use to some point came under the spotlight and their alterations are taken under consideration.For example, starting October 2019 all Department of Veterans Affairs health care facilities, which historically permitted smoking in designated areas, will be completely smoke-free, and this new policy will cover all forms of tobacco use, including e-cigarettes and vaping. The policy change ends the use of designated smoking areas at VA hospitals and applies to everyone at VA facilities, including patients, visitors, volunteers, and staff. The fact that this and similar decisions cover vaping as well, shows that the number of army personnel who use e-cigarettes and vape mods significantly increased over the last few years.

Is vaping a new trend in the US army?

The rise of vaping among US troops occurred quickly. According to some researches, made since 2015, 11 percent of service members said they were daily e-cigarette users, while nearly 20 percent of junior enlisted ranks are current e-cigarette smokers. The Marine Corps and Navy have the highest percentage of those vaping among the service branches, at 16 and 14 percent,despite restrictions on e-cigarettes imposed by the Navy a few years ago.

Based on a study of 105 U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers made by University at Buffalo it seems that daily users often see e-cigarettes satisfying or even more satisfying, and less harmful, than cigarettes. According to researchers L.T. Kozlowski and G.G. Homish, perception of danger from e-cigarettes decreased as the frequency of use increased. One finding, related to the perception that participants have had toward vaping products showed that articles which were considered much more satisfying than cigarettes were also perceived as less dangerous than cigarettes.

Financially speaking, switching from smoking to vaping has probably a lot to do with prices of tobacco in military stores. As a result of increased efforts to encourage troops to quit, prices became higher and the sales of traditional tobacco have fallen. As opposed to that, starting with the year 2018, sales of vaping products nearly doubled. A chart that represents these numbers in sales, starting with the year 2013, has a very interesting line: from 2013 it was an upward trend with the peak in 2015, then sales decreased by nearly half till the end of 2017, and was trending up again in 2018.

Judging from the personal experiences shared anonymously by the military personnel vaping has been used to reduce stress while overseas, and after returning home. For some of them, it is a way of relating to flavors of being home which ease their mental strain and helps them to reduce the tension. In some units, smoking is forbidden so using e-cigarettes and mod vape is the only way to cope with the smoking habit.

It is important to underline that in most US army facilities vaping falls under the same rules as all other tobacco products, meaning vaping is only allowed in designated smoking areas. Also, it is necessary to point out that although the health effects of e-cigarettes are not yet known, they can contain chemicals that may cause harm to users and those exposed to secondhand vapors

References

1.Terry L. Conway, San Diego State University-Tobacco use and the United States military: a longstanding problem

2.The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)-Military Tobacco Policies: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

3.L.T. Kozlowski, G.G. Homish, University at Buffalo-Daily users compared to less frequent users find vape as or more satisfying and less dangerous than cigarettes, and are likelier to use non-cig-alike vaping products

About the author: Christina Matthews, the journalist who studies the latest news in the health industry. Now she studies the effects of smoking and vaping on health and reasons for such its popularity.

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These 32 photos show a rare side of World War II

World War 2 pictures capture everything from presidents and prime ministers to ordinary soldiers. As cameras became smaller and more portable, World War 2 images were taken in every country at war, and of virtually every battle. These rare World War 2 pictures capture not just the combat and danger, but the mundane moments in the lives of troops on both sides.


Many unseen pictures of World War 2 are just of soldiers goofing around, mugging for the camera, or posing with their weapons. Such candid pictures aren’t just found on the Allied side, but on the Axis as well, as many young German soldiers were captured playing around and carrying out their daily tasks. The photos make the war come alive in a way that most WWII documentaries or history books don’t – showing young men in difficult situations trying to retain their humanity and have a little bit of fun, even with danger all around them.

Here are some of the best old school photos of WW2, taken all over the world.

Old School Pictures from World War 2

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The best kept secret of the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is so many things. All the football, merch, traditions and fanfare … and all the money in the land to attend.

But turns out, one of the very best parts of the Super Bowl is absolutely free.

The USAA Salute to Service Lounge is colocated with the NFL Experience, but unlike the Experience which requires purchasing a day pass, the Salute to Service Lounge is open to anyone with a valid military ID.


Of course lounge-goers love all the free drinks and chips, the swanky leather furniture and the sweet set up, but more than anything, the candid conversations with NFL superstars was second to none.

This year’s lineup was absolutely incredible. Players sat down for a one-on-one interview with lounge host Dave Farra and then the audience had the opportunity to ask questions, followed by a chance to get an autograph and chat with the individual players.

This year’s lineup:


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WATM and Roger Staubach

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Legendary Dallas Cowboys QB and Navy QB Roger Staubach

Tessa caught up with legendary Cowboys football player and Vietnam Veteran Roger Staubach to hear about his ongoing relationship with the military…

WATM and Deshaun Watson

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Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson

Listen as Tessa interviews Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson about growing up in a Habitat for Humanity house, the importance of paying it forward and the…

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Christian McCaffrey at the USAA Salute To Service Lounge at the Super Bowl LIV NFL Experience.

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Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey

Arguably the best running back in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey talks with Tessa about his Super Bowl pick, his love for the military and his harmonica.

Steelers running back James Conner at the USAA Salute To Service Lounge at the Super Bowl LIV NFL Experience.

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Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner

Tessa catches up with Pittsburgh Steelers’ James Conner to talk about his brother’s military service, his Super Bowl prediction and his unbelievable…

Also joining the Salute to Service Lounge was Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill and Washington Redskins Coach Ron Rivera. Next year, join USAA at the Super Bowl in Tampa and don’t miss this once in a lifetime experience.

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This is the fictional country the Russians are training to fight

Russia is sending what NATO thinks is thousands of troops into Belarus – and the transatlantic alliance is worried the Russians may not leave. The move would pose a counter to the recent movement of NATO forces into the area, including former Soviet states Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, and Poland.


What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
Russian troops form to move on the fictional enemy Veishnoriya.

Every four years, the Russian military conducts its Zapad military exercise with neighboring Belarus. In the exercise, three “aggressor countries” (Veishnoriya, Vesbaria, and Lubenia) attack Belarus. Veishnoriya, according to legend, is located in the western part of Belarus; Vesbaria is on the territory of Lithuania and Latvia; Lubenia in Lithuania and Poland. The two intervening countries are pro-Western client states.

The Russian and Belorussian response, they claim, is purely defensive. The Russians say it emulates a terrorist threat with external support – that support comes from the West, which the Russian military will move to counter.

Just as Americans embrace the fictional countries the U.S. military uses to train its troops, fictional Twitter and Facebook accounts representing Veishnoriya’s various official ministries have popped up around the war games. There are even fictional seals, flags, and histories surrounding the fictional country. You can even apply for a Veishnoriyan passport.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?

One Facebook discussion boasted that Veishnoriya has never lost a war, while detractors say, “It’s not Vesbaria, it’s not Lubenia. Volodya, your soldiers will be torn to pieces!”

An estimated three thousand to 100,000 Russian troops are involved (depending on who you ask), along with the Russian 1st Guard Tank Army. It’s an exercise they’ve been running every four years since the 1970s, except for the decade or so after the fall of the Soviet Union.

NATO experts believe the game represents what Moscow thinks is a scenario most likely to come from Western efforts to undermine the Russian sphere of influence.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
Russian tanks align for Zapad exercises every four years.

If the war game did have upwards of 100,000 troops and tanks, the Russians would be required to report the exercise and submit to having foreign observers monitor the exercise, according to the Vienna Document, a 2011 security agreement.

The Russians say it involves just 12,700 troops, 300 shy of the number that would trigger the Vienna agreement. But even if the West isn’t able to observe the exercise, they can still monitor Russian troop movements, something experts say will give NATO a good idea of just how capable the Russian military can be.

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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.


What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?

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.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?

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.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?

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US military to ground CH-53 helicopters after accident in Okinawa

The US forces in Japan will ground all CH-53E helicopters to confirm their safety after the same type of chopper crash-landed near a US military training area in Okinawa on Oct. 11, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said.


The minister said that Maj. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, deputy commander of US Forces Japan, told him of the decision during their talks in Tokyo on Oct. 12. An official of the Defense Ministry’s local bureau, meanwhile, said the accident site was found to have been about 300 meters away from residential houses.

The Japanese and US governments apparently decided to act quickly to address local concerns in a bid to minimize any repercussions from the incident with a general election in Japan slated for Oct. 22.

The US Marine Corps in Japan separately announced a four-day operational halt for the CH-53E transport helicopters stationed in Okinawa. The southern island prefecture hosts the bulk of US military facilities in Japan.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter inserts components of the Improved Ribbon Bridge into the water in the Central Training Area, Okinawa, Japan. USMC photo by Cpl. Drew Tech.

In the Oct. 11 accident, the helicopter caught fire in midair during a training flight and burst into flames as it made an emergency landing near the US Northern Training Area on the main island of Okinawa. None of its seven crew members or local residents were hurt.

The US Naval Safety Center has rated the accident as a most serious “Class A” mishap, saying that a fire broke out in one of the aircraft’s engines, forcing it to make an emergency landing.

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga expressed his dismay over the incident as he visited the site in the village of Higashi, saying, “I felt disconcerted at seeing the sudden change from ordinary life to this horrible situation. I feel sad.”

In Tokyo, Onodera told Chiarotti the accident was “deplorable” and had caused “considerable anxiety among the residents living nearby and other people in the prefecture.”

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
US Marines with Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 (HMLA-369), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, exits a CH-53E Super Stallion. USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Clare J. Shaffer.

The minister also urged the United States to clarify the cause of the accident, provide detailed information, and take thorough safety measures, noting that the crashed aircraft is a variant of the one that crashed in 2004 at a university in Ginowan City in Okinawa.

Chiarotti told Onodera that the helicopter made the emergency landing after smoke, apparently from the engine fire, made its way inside. The aircraft headed to an area where there were no houses, he added.

He also said the US military is aware of the concerns of local people and will consider measures to prevent such incidents.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa. Wikimedia Commons photo by Sonata.

The CH-53E helicopter belongs to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa. Its crash-landing is the latest in a string of accidents involving US aircraft in Okinawa, including the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

People in Okinawa have long been frustrated with noise, crimes and accidents connected to US bases.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces to use their expertise in looking into the cause of the incident rather than solely relying on US investigations, a senior government official said.

Local police dispatched officers and cordoned off the accident site, investigating the case as a possible violation of a Japanese law on endangering aviation.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
The crashed CH-53. Photo from Kyodo News+ via NewsEdge.

But it remains unknown whether Japanese authorities can probe the cause as they do not have the power to search or seize US military assets without consent under the Japan-US status of forces agreement.

The Okinawa prefectural government said it had tried to conduct some environmental tests Wednesday night at the accident site, suspecting the helicopter may have been equipped with a safety device that contained a low-level radioactive isotope, but its officials were denied entry by the US military.

The CH-53E is a large transport helicopter used by US Marines. It has three engines and can carry up to 55 personnel.

The Northern Training Area, straddling the villages of Higashi and Kunigami, has helipads that are also used by the Osprey aircraft and some of them are located close to residential areas.

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Saudi Arabia is paying $15 billion for this advanced anti-missile system

The Pentagon says the US State Department has approved the possible sale of the advanced THAAD missile-defense system to Saudi Arabia for $15 billion, citing Iran among threats in the Middle East.


The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in an Oct. 6 statement that it had notified the US Congress about the possible sale, saying the deal would “support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States.”

“This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats,” the statement said.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
The first of two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors is launched during a successful intercept test. DoD photo courtesy of Missile Defense Agency.

Washington deployed THAAD, which is used to guard against ballistic-missile attacks, to South Korea this year for defense against North Korea.

Iran maintains one of the largest ballistic-missile programs in the Middle East, seeing it as a key element of defense against the United States and other opponents, including Israel and Gulf Arab states.

Both Washington and Saudi Arabia accuse Tehran of aggressive and disruptive behavior in the region.

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First Helicopter Combat Rescue Mission

Welcome to the first episode of Season Two of Warriors In Their Own Words. This episode is about the first Combat Helicopters. Today these aircraft carry the firepower of an artillery battery and can strike targets deep behind every lines, flying day or night in any weather. But back in 1944 helicopters were a brand new technology.  Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky supplied the first primitive choppers to the US Army and four pilots were trained to fly the untested aircraft in the jungles of Burma.  Carter Harman was one of those first courageous pilots and he performed the world’s first helicopter combat rescue mission. 

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Turkey raises alarm with purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile system

Turkey finalized its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system earlier this month.


The acquisition has stirred concern in other NATO countries since it was first reported several months ago, and the sale comes at time of increased tensions between Ankara and the West, the US in particular, over the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as the US-led campaign against ISIS in Syria.

Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu appeared to make pointed references to the S-400’s potential use against NATO and US planes on Sept. 20, when it tweeted out an infographic displaying the specifications of the S-400 and which US planes it could shoot down.

The graphic, as noted by Military Times, says the S-400 can react to targets in less than 10 seconds and can hit targets at a range up to 250 miles while traveling at about 10,000 mph. It also says the system can eliminate such US aircraft as the B-52 and B-1 bombers; F-15, F-16, and F-22 fighters; as well as surveillance aircraft and Tomahawk missiles.

 

Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 raised alarm among other NATO countries for the consequences it would have for military cooperation as well as the signals it appeared to send about the contentious diplomatic relationships within the defense alliance.

Militarily, the missile system would not be interoperable with NATO defense systems and would not be subject to the same restrictions on deployments, meaning Turkey could put it in places like the Armenian border or Aegean coast.

The S-400 is Russia’s most sophisticated missile-defense system (though Turkey is unlikely to get the most advanced version). It can detect and target manned and unmanned aircraft and missiles, and hit targets up to 250 miles away.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
SA-400. Photo by Vitality Kuzmin

A Turkish official said this summer that the S-400 would not come with friend-or-foe-identification system, meaning it could be used against any target. Turkey has said that a domestic firm would install software so it could distinguish between friend and foe aircraft, but there are doubts that process is technically feasible.

Diplomatically, the sale seemed to be the culmination of a period of frosty relations between Turkey and its partners in Europe and the US.

Ankara has clashed with Germany in the wake of a failed coup against Erdogan, after Berlin criticized the Turkish government for a crackdown on people accused of involvement.

Turkish-US relations have also suffered because of the war in Syria, where the US backs Kurdish fighters who Turkey sees as aligned with the Kurdish PKK, which both the US and Turkey have designated a terrorist group.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
Kurdish PKK Guerilla. Photo from Flickr user Kurdishstruggle

Turkey has threatened to target US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria several times.

The deal also underscores for many in the West who believe there is an increasingly cozy relationship between Russia and Turkey.

Some view the sale as another step by Moscow to undermine NATO — a sentiment Russian presidential adviser Vladimir Kozhin may have tried to nurture earlier this month by saying, “I can only guarantee that all decisions taken on this contract strictly comply with our strategic interests.”

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Here’s the amazing story of the famed “Flying Tigers”

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
R.G. Smith painting of the Flying Tigers’ P-40s in formation over China.


Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek knew he had a problem. The Chinese air force was in terrible shape, beset with a lack of trained pilots and aircraft, and the war brewing with the highly professional military of Imperial Japan in 1937 made reforms a priority. His decision to bring in American experts to help led to the formation of one of the famed air groups of the war, the Flying Tigers.

Captain Claire Chennault had resigned from the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1937 over dissatisfaction with his promotion prospects. A former tactical instructor, he took an offer to help train and survey the Chinese Air Force. When the second Sino-Japanese war broke out later that year, Japanese air superiority let them bomb China with virtual impunity. The massive destruction and loss of life would presage the terrible destruction wreaked on Japan by American bombing years later, with biological weapons taking the place of nuclear ones.

Faced with the utter collapse of an already Chinese inferior air force, Chennault was sent back to the United States with a Chinese delegation in 1941 to arrange for as many planes and as much logistical support as possible. Chennault had conceived of raising a small, elite air force of American personnel to fight the Japanese directly. President Franklin Roosevelt and key members of his administration were sympathetic to the Chinese cause.

As Chennault saw it, war between the United States and Japan was all but inevitable, and unlike many of his former colleagues, believed that China could serve as a base for later offensive operations against the Japanese home islands. Many senior military leaders totally opposed the idea, seeing it as draining experienced and vital personnel during a time of large scale armed buildup.

In the end it took direct presidential intervention to make the idea a reality. Roosevelt authorized Chennault to recruit U.S. pilots and support personnel to work directly for the Chinese government. An executive order was issued allowing members of the Army, Marine Corps, and Navy to resign in order to join the group. The new organization was designated the American Volunteer group.

Despite the small size of the proposed group, consisting of a few squadrons averaging a total of 60 aircraft, getting the planes needed proved difficult. In the end, they had to settle on P40B fighters that had no modern gunsights or bomb racks, necessitating the fabrication of crude substitutes. This made their later successes all the more astonishing.

What are the reasons for such vaping popularity in the US military nowadays?
The Flying Tigers personnel pose around one of their airplanes. (Photo: U.S. Army Air Corps)

The AVG essentially operated as legal mercenaries, in the tradition of privateers operating under Letters of Marque. Recruits would operate under one year contracts and the pay, ranging from $250 to $750 a month depending on the position, was excellent for the time. It included extensive allowances and paid leave, while pilots received an unofficial bonus of $500 for each confirmed kill of a Japanese plane. This served as an excellent motivation for aggressive flying.

The lack of available infrastructure was a serious problem. Chennault arranged for the formation of a large air spotting network across much of China using radios, telephones, and telegraphs, since they had no access to radar. An extensive network of airfields was built using mass Chinese civilian labor. “All over Free China these human ant heaps rose to turn mud, rocks, lime and sweat to build 5000 ft. runways,” Chennault later said.

Chennault instituted an extensive training program for his new recruits, based off everything he had learned about Japanese tactics and aircraft over the last four years of fighting. This included Japanese flight manuals captured by the Chinese and studies of crashed Japanese aircraft. This first hand knowledge would prove to be invaluable

The AVG was first deployed on Dec. 12, 1941. It was split between the vital port city of Rangoon Burma, and the southern Chinese city of Kunming. They faced overwhelming Japanese numbers, but their preparation and experience paid off. In one lopsided example, a large Japanese air raid on Rangoon on Christmas Day led to the AVG downing 29 enemy planes with no losses. After the fall of Burma to a Japanese invasion, the AVG retreated to southern China, where they would continue to score remarkable numbers of kills. In 7 months of ferocious fighting stretching to July of 1942, the small force of often less than 40 pilots shot down nearly 300 enemy aircraft, destroyed dozens more on the ground, and took out hundreds of enemy bridges, trucks, and riverboats. This kill ratio was seldom equaled in the war, and the Chinese air minister T.V. Soong later called the AVG “the soundest investment the Chinese ever made.”

In the face of a string of defeats from the Japanese, the U.S. public and media went wild over the AVG’s exploits. The media dubbed them the Flying Tigers, even though the unit itself did not use the name and actually painted shark mouths on the noses of their planes. Winston Churchill himself stated that the Tigers achievements equaled what the Royal Air Force did in the Battle of Britain against Germany. Even a wartime movie starring John Wayne was made to celebrate their achievements. Eventually the AVG was merged back with the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942, but they had achieved a romantic image of volunteers defending China and Burma against impossible odds.

American volunteer pilots fighting before war was actually declared stretched back to World War I and the Lafayette squadron, but the Tigers amazing performance in combat despite small numbers and extreme logistical difficulties made them a breed apart. They straddled the line between military and mercenary, something like the modern military contractors of today’s wars. Unlike the often unsavory reputation such quasi-mercenaries have today, they became national heroes and showed that such hybrid organizations could fight as well or better than their more formal military counterparts.

 

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WWII Fighter Ace Flies In Korea

Col. Walker “Bud” Mahurin was an American combat fighter pilot. Flying P-47s with the 56th FG in WWII, he became an ace three times over in the skies over France and Germany. He was shot down once but returned with the help of the French underground. 

After the war Mahurin remained in the newly independent U.S. Air Force. The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 found him in the Pentagon, working on new fighter aircraft procurement. The skills he exhibited in WWII would once again be tested, this time in a new arena of air warfare…the jet age dogfight.  In this episode, Mahurin tells his dramatic story of returning to combat in Korea.

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