National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans - We Are The Mighty
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National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Like so much in 2020, Veterans Day celebrations will look different this year, but one national nonprofit is taking the opportunity in stride. 

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) will be hosting the first-ever virtual Veterans Day recognition celebration, “Honoring Our Warriors”, to encourage Americans everywhere to celebrate Veterans Day from home. 

“Veterans Day is set aside for all of us as Americans to acknowledge those who have served in the military and sacrificed so greatly on our behalf,” Jennifer Silva, Chief Program Officer at Wounded Warrior Project, told We Are The Mighty. “Although many parades are cancelled, we can still show our appreciation and celebrate veterans who have made tremendous sacrifices for the liberty of this great nation.”

The event will take place on Wednesday, November 11 at 11:30 a.m. EST / 10:30 CST / 8:30 PST on the nonprofit’s Facebook Page and YouTube channel, and will be hosted by Jesse Palmer, former NFL quarterback and current football analyst for ESPN.

“Throughout my time as an NFL player and broadcaster, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many active servicemembers and veterans alike, whose integrity, valor and bravery continues to inspire me to this day,” Palmer said. “It is an honor to celebrate the brave men and women who have served our country, and I am looking forward to hosting this special program with Wounded Warrior Project that commends their service and sacrifice.”

The nationwide virtual celebration will bring to life stories of strength, courage and hope through personal anecdotes from generations of military veterans and touching reunions. Attendees can also anticipate musical performances by multi-platinum singer Sara Evans and male a cappella group Straight No Chaser – all to honor the United States armed forces and celebrate America’s heroes.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to honor our brave U.S. veterans and support the impactful work of Wounded Warrior Project,” Sara Evans said in a statement from the press release.

Throughout the broadcast, WWP will encourage participants to share their own stories and veteran tributes.

“At Wounded Warrior Project, we believe that every day is Veterans Day, and we work diligently throughout the year to fulfill our mission of honoring and empowering wounded warriors and their families,” Silva said. “We do this not only to help provide a better future for those living with the visible and invisible wounds of war, but in honor and respect of those military men and women who have gone before us.”

Through the generous support of donors and partners, Wounded Warrior Project serves more than 185,000 warriors and family support members by providing life-changing programs and services.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Linnington.

“Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project has been a tireless advocate for our nation’s finest, improving the lives of post-9/11 warriors and their families, and empowering veterans to live their best lives,” WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Linnington said. “While this Veterans Day looks different than years past, we are committed to honoring our nation’s heroes and hope you will tune in to our virtual celebration.”

Featured

Disney honored this 92-year-old Navy vet cast member for Armed Forces Appreciation Day

Walt Disney and the Disney Company have always been a strong supporter of the military, especially the Navy. In fact, much of Disney’s construction in the first few decades was overseen by a former Navy Admiral. In 2021, another former Naval officer was honored by Disney for Armed Forces Appreciation Day.

Alex Stromski enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17. Although WWII was coming to an end, he felt a calling to serve his country. Stromski served honorably and earned a commission as a Naval Aviator. He attended flight school at NAS Pensacola where he was classmates with future astronaut Neil Armstrong. After earning his wings of gold, Stromski served in maritime patrol squadrons at bases around the world. Following the signing of the Korean War armistice, Stromski was part of the team responsible for keeping the peace in the newly designated demilitarized zone. He even worked on experimental naval aircraft like dirigibles.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
Stroski retires as a Lieutenant Commander in 1967 (Disney)

In 1967, Stromski retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. Four years later, Walt Disney World in Florida opened its doors. Stromski became a regular annual passholder and often visited the resort with his family. His love for all things Disney grew to the point where he applied for a job in the parks. “I loved how Walt had great respect for the military,” Stronski said. “I realized that this was something I wanted to be a part of, so I applied and got a full-time job at Pinocchio’s Village Haus in 2013.”

Now working as a cast member in the happiest place on earth, Stromski brings his military experience with him to enhance guest experiences. “I love helping create the experiences that families will remember for years,” he said. “I especially enjoy meeting the military families and veterans who visit us.”

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
Stromski joins the Disney flag detail as the color bearer (Disney)

At the Magic Kingdom, the flags that line Main Street, U.S.A. only have 49 stars. Technically not American flags, they don’t have to be raised and lowered daily or illuminated at night. The only official American flag in the park flies proudly in the Town Square at the entrance. In observation of U.S. code, the flag is ceremoniously raised and lowered daily. In recognition of Armed Forces Appreciation Day, Stromski joined the flag detail and proudly carried the stars and stripes during the sunrise flag-raising ceremony. As the flag was raised, the 92-year-old Navy vet rendered a salute. “I’m honored and humbled,” Stromski said holding a shadowbox of the flag flown over the park the previous day in his honor. “This is something I never would have expected.”

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
Stromski holds a shadowbox of the flag flown over the park in his honor (Disney)

Stromski is one of thousands of military veterans working for the Walt Disney Company. To encourage veteran hiring in other companies, the Disney Institute is holding the 2021 Veterans Institute Summit from September 13-14 at Walt Disney World. The complimentary event is geared towards helping companies who want to build or enhance their own hiring, training, and support of veterans and their spouses.

Featured image: Alex Stromski, a Disney World cast member and U.S. Navy veteran, holds a 1950 photo of himself in uniform. (Disney)

Featured

This Memorial Day, honor through action. Here’s how.

There’s a reverence that surrounds Memorial Day in the military community. A day that’s typically associated with summer barbecues and mattress sales has a very different meaning to those of us who understand that “the fallen” we’re all asked to honor are our brothers and sisters in arms, husbands, wives, mommies, daddies, friends.

It’s a day that feels heavy, weighted with nostalgia and fraught, wanting to honor their sacrifice by living, but wanting the rest of the world to pause alongside us, to bear some of the burden of the grief and to mourn our collective, irreplaceable loss.

This year, we’re asking you not just to pause, but to act.


In 2018, USAA, in partnership with The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, created the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor to ensure the sacrifice of our military men and women is always remembered, never forgotten. The wall contains more than 645,000 artificial poppies – one for each life lost in the line of duty since World War I. Red flowers fill one side while historic facts about U.S. conflicts cover the opposite.

The exhibit was installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., over the Memorial Day weekend in 2018 and again in 2019. This year, USAA is making it available to more people by presenting the educational panels of the wall digitally. We encourage you to take the time to look at the wall, to teach your children and grandchildren about service and sacrifice. But more than that, we’re asking you to dedicate a poppy.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

WATM had the opportunity to sit down with Wes Laird, Chief Marketing Officer at USAA, to talk about why this event matters, not just to the company, but to him.

“I tell people I grew up in a Ranger Battalion,” Laird said. “A long, long time ago in a land far, far away. Just eight and a half months after I enlisted, I was in combat on a tiny island called Grenada. I lost five people from my company, including a young man named Marlin Maynard, who was a PFC. When I got back, I was asked to eulogize PFC Maynard. I just turned 19 and I had to talk about the sacrifice he’d given. It was a very formative, impactful moment in my life.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Wes Laird in his Army days. Photo courtesy of Wes Laird.

“Every Memorial Day since, every 4th of July, every time I hear the National Anthem, I think about PFC Marlin Maynard. I think about how I went to college with my veteran benefits. I think about how I went on to have a family, to raise two boys — one who is in the Air Force — how I had a career and a whole life, and how he, and 645,000 other soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, Coast Guardsman, how they didn’t. But that’s why this – why Memorial Day, and what we’re doing at USAA – is so important. I want Marlin’s family to know that he is remembered and honored. That his sacrifice, all these years later, has never been forgotten.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

PFC Marlin Maynard, Grenada Company A, 1st Battalion (Ranger)

75th Infantry, kia October 25, 1983. Photo via Sua Sponte Foundation.

“This Memorial Day and every Memorial Day, I dedicate a poppy to him and the four others we lost in Grenada that day. What we’re doing at USAA with the USAA Poppy Wall is giving others an opportunity not just to honor, but to act. This year especially, with the COVID crisis, we are providing people the ability to come together, to unify around something we can all agree on — the importance of remembering the ultimate sacrifices of so many men and women.

“We are proud to partner with the incredible team at the Tragedy Assistance Survivors Program (TAPS) to provide meaningful opportunities for Gold Star families. You see these kids come in who have lost a parent, and the fact that we’re able to assist in their journey is so humbling. These kids need to know that their moms and dads are remembered and honored by all of us. Yes, it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also part of our DNA. We were formed by the military for the military. We say we know what it means to serve and we do know what it means to serve. It’s part of who we are, why we exist — to honor the great sacrifices of so many thousands of men and women who have served before us, alongside us and will continue to serve after us. Memorial Day is the most important day of the year for us. We hope you’ll join us this year by honoring through action.”

For more information about the USAA Poppy Wall, click here.

Featured

Watch the new F-15QA perform a vertical takeoff and pull 9 Gs in its first ever flight

The most advanced version of the F-15 ever built took to the skies in St. Louis, MO, on April 14, 2020, and highlighted just how impressive its capabilities are. In the 90 minute flight, the F-15QA (QA stands for Qatar Advanced) showcased its speed, maneuverability and, in general, just how badass of a force this new jet will be.


What’s a “Viking takeoff”? Watch as the Qatar Emiri Air Force #F15 demonstrates the maneuver during its first flight.pic.twitter.com/wLHEuvH0Lt

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With the F-15QA’s unmatched speed and maneuverability, Chief Test Pilot Matt Giese was able to showcase the capabilities by performing a vertical “Viking” takeoff and by pulling nine Gs during the test in various maneuvers. The maiden flight highlighted just how advanced this aircraft is. Avionics, radar and other systems all performed as designed and the flight was deemed a success.

“This successful first flight is an important step in providing the QEAF an aircraft with best-in-class range and payload,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager in a press release issued by Boeing. “The advanced F-15QA not only offers game changing capabilities but is also built using advanced manufacturing processes which make the jet more efficient to manufacture. In the field, the F-15 costs half the cost per flight hour of similar fighter aircraft and delivers far more payload at far greater ranges. That’s success for the warfighter.”

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Image via Boeing

The F-15QA was developed for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF). The Department of Defense awarded Boeing a .2 billion contract in 2017 to manufacture 36 F-15 fighter jets for the QEAF with delivery date being 2021. To put it mildly: the QEAF is stoked.

“We are very proud of this accomplishment and looking forward with great excitement to the continued successes of this program,” Col. Ahmed Al Mansoori, commander, QEAF F-15 Wing said in a press release. “This successful first flight is an important milestone that brings our squadrons one step closer to flying this incredible aircraft over the skies of Qatar.”

In addition to being able to perform seamless Viking takeoffs, Boeing shared the other impressive features of the advanced aircraft. According to Boeing, the F-15QA brings to its operators next-generation technologies such as fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit; modernized sensors, radar, and electronic warfare capabilities; and the world’s fastest mission computer. Increases in reliability, sustainability and maintainability allow defense operators to affordably remain ahead of current and evolving threats.

[VIDEO]: Qatar Emiri Air Force F-15QA will get large area display cockpit with touch screen made by Elbit Systemspic.twitter.com/6kUzF0VHby

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Don’t worry, this fun and excitement isn’t only for Qatar. Boeing is preparing to build a “domestic variant” of the F-15QA, the F-15EX, as approved in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. According to Boeing, in January, the Air Force announced their intention to award a sole-source contract to Boeing for eight of the F-15EX, with future plans for as many as 144.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

The F15EX. Image via Boeing

Boeing considers the F-15EX the cost-effective, ready solution. According to their website:

In support of the National Defense Strategy, the United States Air Force must purchase an additional 24 combat aircraft per year. F-15EX is the only way to rapidly and affordably meet the Air Force’s critical requirements.

Boeing’s F-15EX is the most cost-effective, ready, advanced solution to meet U.S. Air Force capacity requirements and add capability to the fleet. Driven by Boeing’s active production line, the next-generation jet enables pilots and mechanics to transition in a matter of days as opposed to years while delivering unmatched total life cycle costs.

The F-15EX leverages B+ in technology investments over the past decade to bring the U.S. Air Force the world’s most modern variant of the undefeated F-15. Complementing other aircraft, the F-15EX enhances the air combat capabilities of the fleet to ensure the U.S. remains ahead of current and emerging threats. With next-generation technologies to provide unrivaled capabilities in a broad spectrum of environments, Boeing’s F-15EX delivers more payload, capacity and range than any fighter in its class.
National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Image via Boeing

We can’t wait.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How ‘upskilling’ with Microsoft can kickstart your new civilian life

‘Upskilling’ is the new corporate buzzword taking employers by storm. Never heard of it? Don’t be shocked; be prepared for a whole new mindset. 

Upskilling is when a corporation takes already-talented individuals and teaches them an entirely new skill set. It gives the company a new expert in a critical role and it gives an employee an entirely new career trajectory. 

While the word may be new, it’s something Microsoft has been doing with active duty military personnel for years.

Employers need skilled workers. But technology changes fast and the pace of that advancement changes the ways we live and work faster than we may realize. For job seekers, this can be an intimidating prospect. For veterans leaving the military and entering the civilian workforce for the first time, it can be overwhelming. 

Finding a career in tech as newly-separated veterans can be especially daunting if their military career wasn’t in a technical field. Those looking to go to college or technical training may not know what to study or be fearful of missing an emerging trend. 

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Wouldn’t it be great if America’s leading tech companies just offered training in the most necessary fields and then offered career prospects for those trainees? That’s what “upskilling” is all about. And the company leading the way is one of the world’s most valuable: Microsoft.

Microsoft isn’t just recognizing veterans’ service to a higher calling, the company recognizes their near-limitless potential. Microsoft knows what the military community has known all along: separating veterans leave the military with highly desirable skills that uniquely position them for a career in tech. 

Veterans come with the technical skills of their military career, which can provide valuable problem-solving abilities. They also come with the soft skills employers in this industry so desperately need. These are skills like self-actualization, leadership, being a part of a team and – of course – the value of a good day’s work. Some of us even come with security clearances.

That’s why Microsoft started Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA). 

MSSA is a training academy for high-demand careers in cloud development and server and cloud administration. The course lasts 16 or 18 weeks and graduates are guaranteed an interview for a full-time job at Microsoft or one of its hiring partners. The program is open to honorably discharged veterans and active duty service members with authorization from their units or commands. 

The program is the result of Microsoft’s ambitious 2015 goal of establishing 14 MSSA programs throughout the country and eventually having the ability to graduate 1,000 veterans every year. In January 2020, it met that goal, graduating its 100th cohort. 

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

MSSA is overseen by the Microsoft Military Affairs team, whose chief concern is helping veterans realize the full potential their military service offers them as well as any potential employer. Best of all, the team is made up of military veterans who know just how daunting a task leaving the military can be. 

Numbers don’t lie. To date, MSSA has a graduation rate of 94 percent and more than 600 companies have hired MSSA graduates. It’s a program that really works for the veteran community. 

Transitioning out of the military is a challenging time. Deciding what and where to study or finding that first post-military career is central to a successful transition. For vets who want a career in tech, Microsoft Software and Systems Academy is the place to hit the ground running. Their Tech Transition Toolkit offers some great tips on how you can get a head-start toward a fulfilling, rewarding career in tech.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This poignant speech on CBS’ military comedy brought millions of viewers to tears

Every once in a while, a tv show hits on something that resonates so deeply, we can’t help but find tears in our eyes. Last night, CBS’ military comedy “United States of Al” delivered such a scene.

As the show explores the relationship between an Afghan interpreter (Al) and the US Marine (Riley) who sponsored his immigration to the United States, viewers have been treated to laughs every Thursday night. We’ve cracked up watching Al fumble through the nuances of American life, giggled at the things quite literally lost in translation and felt the many pulls at our heartstrings as the complexity of life off the battlefield unfolds.

We’ve grieved with Riley’s sister over the loss of her fiance who was killed in action, we’ve struggled alongside Riley at the deterioration of his marriage during deployment and we’ve so deeply empathized with these characters as they find their “new normal” on the home front, away from the bizarre comfort a warzone offers when you’re side by side with your brothers and sisters in arms. 

We’ve seen glimpses of Al and Riley “over there,” but we haven’t truly understood the relationship between the two – representative of the relationships between thousands of interpreters and service members – until a speech by Al at the local veteran’s hall, where Riley’s dad is a member.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Throughout the episode, we’re given flashes into Riley’s discomfort at being honored at a ceremony at the post. In his dress uniform, Riley arrives at the ceremony, immediately lauded for his bravery, and asked the questions so many veterans face returning from war. Things like, “What was it like over there?” “Did you throw a grenade?” “I heard you’re a hero!” Riley is visibly uncomfortable and walks out before he is supposed to give his speech. While Al has prepped for his “big moment” by reading a speech giving book, his vulnerability and the harrowing truth about the “eyes” steals the show: 

“I read a book on giving speeches and it suggested opening with a joke. But I’m not going to. Because there is nothing funny about the 17,000 Afghan interpreters still waiting for visas which were promised them. When we decided to join the US forces, we were not only risking our lives, we were putting the lives of our families in danger. We were the eyes and ears of American troops and that is what the Taliban called us – the eyes. On missions I would hear them over the radio say, ‘Shoot the eyes first.’  And a lot of times, they did. 

But not me. 

My friend Riley saved my life on three separate occasions. Twice from gunfire, once from red tape. He got my visa application out from whatever pile it was buried under and brought me to America. I know he doesn’t like to be called a hero, but the interpreters who don’t have a friend like him are probably not going to make it here. So if he won’t let me call him a hero, I will call him my brother.”

Al’s speech is all too familiar to interpreters and veterans here at home. An estimated 18,864 Afghans are still waiting for approval in a process that has significantly slowed in the past few years. With violence against civilians and targeted killings increasing in Afghanistan, and with a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan looming in the near future, many SIV applicants worry that their visas will come too late, if at all.

They were our eyes and our ears over there. They gave us everything to aid our fight to advance freedoms across the world – they risked their lives, their families, their stability. We gave them our word we’d bring them home with us. The least we can do is to keep it.

Check out The United States of Al on CBS Thursday nights at 8:30pm EST/PST or stream on Paramount Plus.

Featured

New NATGEO series takes a deeper look at America’s race to space

Following World War II, the former Soviet Union and the United States began the ultimate race to space. The Right Stuff series by NATGEO premiering on Disney+ chronicles a period of time filled with excitement, fear and more than anything, hope.

The new series is based on the nonfiction book of the same name written by the late Tom Wolfe. “This book grew out of some ordinary curiosity. What is it, I wondered, that makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle such as a Redstone, Atlas, Titan or Saturn rocket, and wait for someone to light the fuse?” he wrote in his foreword for the 1983 edition of The Right Stuff.


The Right Stuff brings viewers into the intensity of a monumental time period in United States history. As the NASA space program began, President Eisenhower insisted that the first astronauts be pilots. Although the program stated that they would need decades to get a man on the moon and successfully in space, they were given an ultimatum. Two years.

The series follows the famed Mercury Seven as they began their quest to become the first men in space. When they were introduced to the world publicly, they were immediately idolized and revered by most Americans. What followed after their selection included rigorous training and tests to see who would be the first.

The famed Mercury Seven were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton – fighter pilots for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The new series boasts actors Jake McDorman, Michael Trotter, Patrick J Adams, James Lafferty, Aaron Staton, Colin O’Donoghue and Micah Stock. Executive producers of the new series include Oscar winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, founder of Appian Way Productions.

The Right Stuff series follows two men in particular, Major John Glenn, a Marine, and Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, highly regarded as the best navy pilot in its history. It also brings the viewer into the around the clock work of the NASA engineers as they fought their way to space, with the timeclock of their deadline continuously ticking ominously in the background.

In an interview with Business Wire, Disney+ weighed in on the excitement of the new series. “As our audiences around the world turn to Disney+ to find inspiration and optimism, we believe the true-life heroism of the Mercury 7 will showcase the tenacity of the human spirit and inspire a new generation to reach for the stars,” said Ricky Strauss, President, Content Marketing, Disney+.
National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Patrick J Adams as John Glenn. (National Geographic)

In the first episode of season one, the viewer enters into the height of the Cold War in 1958. It opens in the Mojave Desert as the United States reacts to Sputnik and the mission to beat the Soviet Union in the race to space. The premise of the show brings a new generation into the heart of the life and world changing experience of that time. After the seven become overnight celebrities, the series follows their struggles and triumphs on their journey to space.

With the Mercury Seven astronauts constantly in the public eye, each episode digs deep to showcase the PR machine that existed to present the perfect picture, but they were far from it. What will it take to make it to space? The ending of the trailer highlights dramatic events unfolding in an eerily voiced countdown.

The opening line of the compelling trailer says it all, “American’s love stories and this story ends with a climax in space.” The Right Stuff showcases the raw cost of that ambition coming to fruition, as well as the invigorating hope and excitement it all brought to a country in desperate need of both.

Featured

New video shows Kim Jong Un in South Dakota

In this brand new video created by the very talented and quarantined folks here at We Are The Mighty, we showcase our exclusive footage of North Korea’s Supreme Leader all over the world. From atop the Taj Mahal to smooching the Big Buddha, we’re wondering if he was just on a vacation this whole time, not dead like this senior executive in China stated for her 15 million fans to hear. After making an appearance on Monday, no one really knows where Kim has been.


Where is Kim Jong Un? It’s kind of like a game of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Or Where’s Waldo? Except it’s not fiction. Or a suitable game for children. Also, why doesn’t anyone know?

The only thing we really ever know about North Korea is that we can’t ever be sure about what’s happening there, but rumors about Kim’s grave health and possible passing were circulating for weeks before he allegedly made an appearance at a ribbon cutting on Monday.

When Kim failed to make an appearance on April 15 for the country’s most important holiday which honors the founder of the country (Kim’s late grandfather Kim II Sung), suspicion started building that Kim was sick. April 25 was another major holiday – the 88th anniversary of their armed forces, the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army and again, Kim was noticeably absent. People across the world started saying he was, indeed, dead.

But then, plot twist: According to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Mr Kim was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials, including his sister Kim Yo-jong at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday.

The North Korean leader cut a ribbon at a ceremony at the plant, in a region north of Pyongyang, and people who were attending the event “burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ for the Supreme Leader who is commanding the all-people general march for accomplishing the great cause of prosperity,” KCNA said.

In the absence of any information about where Kim’s been the last month, we drew our own conclusions. And made our own video.

Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

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Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

New video surfaces showing that Kim Jong Un was just on a worldwide vacation this entire time.

Articles

The Navy’s only squadron dedicated to special operations support

The Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment is the primary aviation unit that flies in support of special operations. When Rangers, Delta Force and Navy SEALs hunted Mohamed Farah Aidid in Somalia, the 160th supported them from the air. When the Navy SEALs took down Osama bin Laden, the Nightstalkers flew them in and out. When the British SAS and Navy SEALs rescued aid workers taken hostage by Afghan bandits during Operation Jubilee, well, you can guess who flew them. However, despite SEALs being flown by the 160th in the aforementioned operations, the Navy does have its own dedicated squadron for special operations.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
An MH-60S Seahawk of the HSC-85 FIREHAWKS (U.S. Navy)

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron EIGHT FIVE (HSC-85) is a U.S. Navy Reserve squadron based at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California. The squadron traces its lineage back to the legendary FLEET ANGELS of Helicopter Utility Squadron ONE (HU-1), established on April 1, 1948. As the Navy’s first operational helicopter squadron, HU-1 paved the way for all future naval rotary wing missions.

In 1966, HU-1 was redesignated as Helicopter Combat Squadron ONE (HC-1). When the squadron deployed the Vietnam, the demand for rotary-wing assets grew the squadron until it broke up into four new squadrons. One of these squadrons was the SEA DEVILS of Helicopter Combat Squadron SEVEN (HC-7), assigned the mission of combat search and rescue. Another was the SEAWOLVES of Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) THREE (HA(L)-3), assigned the mission of special operations support.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
HH-60H Seahawks of HSC-85 FIREHAWKS conduct fast-rope operations (U.S. Navy)

Throughout the Vietnam War, these squadrons developed new tactics and procedures for the unique demands of their top-tier missions. After the Vietnam War, the Navy recognized the need to retain the skills of the experienced combat aviators and maintenance personnel of HC-7 and HA(L)-3. In 1975, Helicopter Wing Reserve (HELWINGRES) was established at NAS North Island.

Five years earlier, the GOLDEN GATERS of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron EIGHT FIVE (HS-85) were formed at NAS Alameda, California. In 1993, the squadron moved to NAS North Island. The next year, HS-85 was assimilated into HELWINGRES and took on the mission of search and rescue.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
HSC-85 supporting Marine and Air Force special operators during Talisman Saber in Australia (U.S. Air Force)

In 2006, HS-85 gained the combat designation and became HSC-85 and became the HIGH ROLLERS. They also began flying the Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk. In 2011, USSOCOM requested that the Navy stand up a dedicated special operations support squadron. HSC-85 was assigned the mission and took on their current FIREHAWKS name. They also traded their MH-60S Seahawks for the HH-60H model. Along with their sister squadron, HSC-84 REDWOLVES, the FIREHAWKS supported special operations in the Pacific and Middle East. However, in 2016, HSC-84 was disbanded. Two years later, HSC-85 traded their HH-60H Seahawks for the Block III MH-60S Seahawks that they now fly.

Today, HSC-85 FIREHAWKS stands as the Navy’s only squadron dedicated to providing training and readiness support to Naval Special Warfare and sister service special operations units. As an expeditionary helicopter squadron, HSC-85 deploys deploys in response to requests for forces from geographic combatant commanders. With highly skilled aircrews and disciplined maintenance professionals, the FIREHAWKS are ready to deliver top-tier support to America’s special operators.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
HH-60H Seahawks flying in support of joint special operations in Iraq (U.S. Navy)
Featured

Welcoming home Vietnam War veterans 45 years later

In March of 1965, the first U.S. troops entered the jungle-filled country of Vietnam. This would begin America’s involvement in one of the most controversial wars in the nation’s history. While the service members were facing new dangers around every turn, the environment back home was growing increasingly hostile. As more of the population grew to protest the war, it became evident that the military members fighting in the jungles of Vietnam were quickly becoming public enemy number one.


By March of 1973, with the war coming to an end, demonstrations in the States began to die down. However, disillusionment with the war was as widespread as ever. The troops were withdrawing from Vietnam, but there was no warm welcome and appreciation waiting for them as they arrived home. The World War II era of celebration as troops returned to U.S. soil had passed, and the troops of the Vietnam era were met with nothing more than disdain, anger and protest.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

These war veterans were thrown back into “normal” life without ceremony and with little to no assistance to help them adjust to life after war. This combined with the anger of the American people led many of these service members to turn to addiction and worse to cope with their inability to adjust back to civilian life. Others adjusted well enough, but went on to live their lives without the pride of their fellow veterans, always knowing deep down that their service was seen with disdain as opposed to gratitude. Even decades later, those who served in Vietnam were ignored or seen with the same contempt they were met with when they arrived home.

It wasn’t until 2007 when the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War was being observed that the movement to give Vietnam Veterans the acknowledgment they deserve truly took form. It was then that Congress authorized a program to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that Vietnam Veterans Day was officially established to be celebrated every year on March 29. This enactment states that the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War should be commemorated through 2025, thus ensuring that Vietnam Veterans Day will be observed at least through that time.

Along with establishing a specific day to acknowledge these veterans, there has been a movement across the country to give Vietnam Veterans the welcome home they never received 45 years ago. This movement encourages Americans to thank a Vietnam Veteran, shake their hand, and tell them, ‘Welcome home,’ when they meet them. Each of these veterans sacrificed something in those jungles many decades ago. Many sacrificed everything — while over there, or after they returned home. It is long overdue that those men are given the welcome home and the gratitude they deserve.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

They didn’t choose to enter that war, or trek through those jungles. Many of them didn’t even choose to be in the military in the first place, their choice was taken away from them when they were drafted. However, they did their duty. They fought the war. And they faced contempt when they arrived home, living with it for decades since.

This Vietnam Veterans Day, and every day, take the time to thank a Vietnam Veteran. Take a moment to shake their hand, thank them for their service and welcome them home. It’s a small gesture, but to them it means more than anyone could possibly know. For them, 45 years later, they are finally gaining the acknowledgement and gratitude they should have received the day they stepped foot back on U.S. soil.

To each and every Vietnam Veteran: Welcome Home.

Articles

Army veteran and FOX News Media’s Pete Hegseth reflects on Memorial Day

Army veteran and FOX and Friends Weekend co-anchor Pete Hegseth will be hosting two brand new programs for Proud American. This will be the network’s eighth consecutive Memorial Day event.

Memorial Day is a day which really hits home for Hegseth. “Those of us that are really close to it… I mean, it’s on my wrist, it’s on my mind. It’s always part of why we do what we do — because we’ve seen firsthand that sacrifice, and we want to make sure we follow through on it,” he shared. 

This thought process is visibly present in the programming FOX has created for the holiday weekend. One of the shows Hegseth is most proud of for this weekend’s lineup is Modern Warriors: Reflections. He’s been hosting the Modern Warrior series for a few years and even wrote a book with the same name, highlighting many of the veterans stories from the show. 

“Just sitting down with combat vets over a beer and in a comfortable setting, telling the real story. Unvarnished, like, ‘talk to me like it is.’ Three and four minute segments on the news show don’t don’t do justice to a lot of the topics we end up talking about,” Hegseth said. 

Modern Warriors: Reflections focuses on the day and what it really means for veterans and how the country should approach it as well, he said. “Ultimately it’s all about remembrance. Each guy shares someone they are thinking of and how they honor Memorial Day,” Hegseth explained. He said viewers can catch the FOX News version of the show or go on FOX Nation and get the director’s cut, which is longer. 

This is a series Hegseth said he always wants to keep doing. “There are so many different, interesting characters we’ve done it with…Each time you get a new layer of what the post-9/11 life has been like for veterans in the military,” he said. 

Inevitably, there will be those in the American public who will thank military members and veterans for their service on Memorial Day. Educating those individuals and recognizing what the day entails is a vital message Hegseth is hoping to get across. 

“It is important to draw the distinction. It is not about the veterans here, it’s about the folks who never came home and remembering their ultimate sacrifice,” Hegseth said. “My message to people this Memorial Day and every day is to stop for a moment and think about whether you are living worthy of that maximum sacrifice. Are you following through for those who gave everything or are we taking it for granted and letting it slip away?”

Hegseth was direct about his own experiences in combat and the weight the day holds for him. “It is a very real thing that has affected the lives of so many. As a vet myself and with your community, I say it all the time myself that I was one bullet, RPG, IED – and really in my instance it was an RPG that didn’t explode – from being thanked on Veterans Day rather than being memorialized on Memorial Day,” he explained. 

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans
Hegseth in Samarra, Iraq (2006)

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate or gather together, he said. “Number one, drive home the consequence of the day. Number two, throw a big ‘ol party. Drink some beers and hang out with the people you love. The people who aren’t here would want us to do both,” Hegseth said. “Remember and then celebrate the lives we were gifted.”

With the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 approaching quickly, it was equally important to FOX for those heroes to be talked about as well, Hegseth said. “I was joined by about 50 NYPD, FYNY, Port Authority and New Jersey City Fire and Police Officers. I know Memorial Day is about military service and sacrifice, but these days supporting those who serve is a 24-7 365 day thing and Tunnel to Towers does that every day,” he explained. 

Those terrorist attacks on America would ripple across the world and begin the now almost 20-year long War on Terror. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation not only supports those impacted by those events, but military veterans and Gold Star families too.

Hegseth spent time with the foundation’s Chairman and CEO, Frank Siller, who lost his brother in the attacks. He said there will be a few familiar faces on the special, too. One is Connor McGreggor, the world renowned fighter who is a big supporter of the foundation and their work. 

In honor of Memorial Day, FOX News Media gave $25,000 to the Navy Seal Foundation to support their mission and $15,000 to the USO, so they can continue supporting military members deployed for COVID-19 vaccination efforts. They’ve also pledged to give FOX Nation to military members and veterans for a year, completely free. 

“I am really proud of FOX Nation and FOX for doing this one year free for vets and the military…I think the vets and military that utilize it are going to love what they’re going to find there,” Hegseth shared. “It’s a platform committed to vets, our country, patriotism, to faith, the military and history, just things you won’t find elsewhere.”

“Weekends like this are another reminder of why I am so proud to be a part of FOX News and FOX Nation,” Hegseth said. “It’s one of the very few places that still does it right, the moments where we should be pausing and thinking about what really matters. I think viewers will see that reflected in the content that comes on this weekend.”

You can see the full lineup of shows for Memorial Day by clicking here and if you are a military member or veteran, you can grab your free year’s subscription to FOX Nation here

MIGHTY CULTURE

How technical training can help veterans find careers they love

Mike Slagh is on a mission to help military members and veteran discover their full potential. Slagh is the founder of Shift.org, a career advancement company designed to help veterans and members of the U.S. military acquire the skills they need to advance and thrive in today’s information economy.

Leaving military service can be daunting. Finding a meaningful career makes the transition to civilian life so much easier. While each branch of the military makes a considerable effort to prepare troops for that jump, it can still be a difficult time. 

Slagh knows this; he went through a difficult transition period of his own. When he left the Navy in 2016 after six years of service, he wanted to find a career in tech. The possibilities in the industry seemed endless and Slaugh was excited to find one that fit his skills. The problem for a talented veteran like Slagh was that he couldn’t get his foot in the door. 

A career as a naval officer wasn’t the only qualification under Slagh’s belt. He also had a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy school and utilized his entrepreneurial  experience to co-found TroopSwap. 

Now imagine how difficult it could be for other separating veterans. Every year, 250,000 service members leave the U.S. military looking to get their foot in the door somewhere. Some 80 percent of that quarter million people leave the military without a job. 

Slagh set out to change all that and Shift.org was born.

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Shift.org offers fellowship opportunities, career accelerators and direct hire potential to any military member, past or present, no matter where they are in their career path. Whether they’re just starting their transition, have been out for a while or are looking for a new career, Shift offers training and resources to prepare for it.

By 2018, Shift was working within the Department of Defense to help service members get fellowships at major tech companies while still in the military. This gives them valuable work experience and an expanded resume before their first day of civilian life. 

The fellowships send service members and soon-to-be separated veterans on an immersive, 8-week program with tech companies and venture capital firms. There, they gain experience working on the company’s real-world projects using the latest technologies in the field. 

Shift’s career accelerators offer participants the opportunity to learn from industry experts, through four weeks of intense networking and interviewing development. 

Programs like these are changing the way veterans transition and helping address many of the systemic issues that persist within the veteran community — it’s exactly what Slagh hoped to find.

Developing talent 

National nonprofit to host virtual parade to honor veterans

Real-world training courses are an important aspect of developing talent in the tech industry. 

The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) is the tech giant’s answer to helping veterans get into technical careers like those that Slagh sought out when he left the military. MSSA trains veterans to gain the critical skills needed for America’s digital economy. 

Like Shift.org, MSSA supports veterans through career training and retraining, soft skills support and hiring opportunities. Since MSSA’s inception in 2013, more than 600 companies have hired MSSA graduates and 96 percent of those graduates are either still employed or have gone on to higher education. 

While it’s true veterans can pursue a traditional four-year degree in technical study areas, training with companies like Microsoft provides real-world experiences within the kind of companies they want to work in, while learning the exact skills necessary to get their foot in that door. 

Microsoft and Slagh agree that once a veteran has their foot in the door, the sky’s the limit. 

Veterans are exactly the kind of talent the tech industry needs on a daily basis. They can bring more than just the technical skills necessary to do the job, they also bring soft skills needed to be productive, force-multiplying employees. Service members uniquely understand the importance of diversity in the workforce and how to create high performing teams. 

Service members are natural leaders and capable of being an effective member of a bigger team. They understand the importance of teamwork and are trained to quickly assess, analyze and fix a situation with the resources at hand – all incredibly applicable to the tech industry. 

“I had no idea how the skills learned in the military translated to something of value in my next career,” Slagh said. “That’s when I realized that many veterans thrive in high-growth, ambiguous environments and there was serious potential to unlock.”

Now’s the time to begin unlocking your potential. To learn more, visit the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy website. Their Tech Transition Toolkit offers some great tips on how you can get a head-start toward a fulfilling, rewarding career in tech.

Featured

From Annapolis to Miami: Navy midshipman drafted by the Dolphins

Last night, the Miami Dolphins drafted one of the most dynamic players to ever take the field for the United States Naval Academy. If you have seen Malcolm Perry play, it should be no surprise that he is being given a chance to play in the NFL.


From Annapolis to Miami! Malcolm Perry selected by the @MiamiDolphins. #NavyFB | #BuiltDifferentpic.twitter.com/pkrOIOUwD2

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From Annapolis to Miami! Malcolm Perry selected by the Miami Dolphins!

The Navy quarterback is being drafted as a wide receiver as Dolphin scouts were deeply impressed with Perry’s athleticism which was on full display at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Perry was only the second midshipman to be ever invited to the Combine and showed off his versatility as both a passer and receiver. Listed at 5’9″ and weighing 186 pounds, Perry ran a 4.63 in the 40-yard dash.

As Navy football fans probably know, Perry switched back and forth from quarterback and slot back while at the Naval Academy. The Dolphins hope that he will be able to develop into a route runner and be used in the slot. His senior year, he set numerous Naval Academy records as he led Navy’s triple option offense to an 11-2 record and another win over Army. Perry rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns while also throwing for seven.

Malcolm Perry 2019 Navy Highlights

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Malcolm Perry 2019 Navy Highlights

For those of you wondering about his service commitment, the rules are different than what they used to be. Defense Secretary Donald Esper announced in November 2019 that service academy cadets and midshipmen could either defer their military service or pay pack the cost of tuition if they were drafted in a professional sports draft.

Perry comes from a military family. Both his parents served in the 101st Airborne division and are Gulf War veterans. Perry grew up an Army brat and always thought about enlisting but never gave thought to going to a service academy, especially the one in Annapolis.

“Growing up, I thought being in the military was the coolest thing,” he said. “I just always figured I would enlist, though I didn’t know much about the academies themselves.” But Perry’s athleticism in high school bought him the attention of both the Navy and Air Force Academies and he ended up going Navy.

ESPN had cameras in Perry’s house (as with most notable draft prospects) because of the virtual nature of the 2020 NFL Draft due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is awesome they did because, we can see Perry and his family’s reaction to him being taken. Those Army parents look really nice in Navy gear, don’t they?

Here it is! Congrats #malcolmperry and family – and @MiamiDolphins!!pic.twitter.com/QzKRYssuUp

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