5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit - We Are The Mighty
Humor

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

The thing veterans miss most about deployment life is the camaraderie. Your brothers- and sisters-in-arms become as much a family as those related by blood. While every troops’ mission is different, ranging from the operator-AF SpecOps guy to the admin clerk who’s doing their part, there will always be beautiful moments of shared downtime where everyone just chats.


These idle hangouts happen most often in the smoke pit — even if a troop doesn’t smoke — because it’s where everyone relaxes.

There’s only so much you can talk about with your buddies. Quickly, you’ll learn where they’re from, what they’re like, and if they prefer blondes, brunettes, or redheads. Basic questions like this might sound lame, but they can actually tell you a lot about a person — and take your mind off war.

These are the ones that always seem to be brought up in the smoke pit (we apologize to our mothers):

5. What are your plans after you get out?

The answers vary depending on how far along you are in your deployment. They start out reasonable: “Oh, I’m thinking about going to work at my dad’s butcher shop.” Eventually, however, they turn into: “I’m going to start a band that will rival Five Finger Death Punch!”

The bands never work out. And for some reason, it’s never the guy who brings a guitar (and knows how to play it) who comes up with the idea.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
They’ll talk a big game, but when they get out they don’t even use their GI Bill. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

4. Who’s your favorite pop star to sing along to?

Even the most macho gym rat gets in on this conversation — and you get some weird results. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, or Amy Winehouse are the usual go-to choices, but every now and then a Justin Bieber gets thrown in there by a brave soul.

Funny enough, you can actually find out more about your comrade if they’re cornered into picking just one. If they deny having one, they’re lying. If they complain, “Why just one?” you really get to mock them.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

3. Marry, f*ck, kill.

For this game, you pick three celebrities and decide which one you would wed, bed, and want dead.

For some reason, troops will never pick challenging choices, like “Emma Watson, Emma Stone, or Emma Roberts” or “Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, or Chris Evans.” It’ll always be obvious choices that kill the game immediately.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
My heart kind of goes out to these three. They always get brought up in the first round of MFK. (Image via Reddit)

2. Would you rather ___ or ___?

This one also takes a turn for the weird the further into the deployment you are. Someone comes up with an unrealistic scenario and you pick between two unpleasant things (or two awesome things).

They usually start out as basic as “no internet or no sex” and eventually become, “would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?”

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
I mean, the duck-sized horses seem like the easy option because you could just kick them aside, but they can definitely over-run you. (Image via Digital Trends)

1. “Not even for $1M?”

In this hypothetical situation, a troop is offered an absurd amount of money to perform certain “acts.” This can get very inventive and it is always deranged, but people will really commit some emotions to their answers.

It’s completely hypothetical, of course — the logistics alone wouldn’t make much sense, but it’s entertaining to make your friend squirm.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
How much would it take for you to get to know Kim Jong-Un in the biblical sense? (Image via Flickr)

MIGHTY HISTORY

How to rise to power in a dictatorship without getting killed

The problem with being a rising star in a dictatorship where the only rules are the whims of one individual is that you tend to attract a lot of attention. This, of course, could put a target on your back. If you outlive the dictator, the purges, and the possible wars, however, it could be you occupying the big chair when the dust settles. Nowhere is this more clear than in the life of Nikita Khrushchev.


Before rising to the top of the Soviet Union’s oligarchy, Khrushchev started his Communist career as a political commissar during the Russian Civil War, was then sent to Ukraine to carry out Stalin’s purges, and somehow survived World War II’s Eastern Front, where Communist Commissars were specifically targeted by the Third Reich. After the war, he spent much of his time very close to Stalin…and survived.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

He even told the USSR that Stalin was stupid and his policies sucked. Not in those words, but that was the gist.

Khrushchev implemented many of Stalin’s policies without question, and did as he was told throughout his ascendancy. He also didn’t make any move against his boss while he was alive. Instead, Khrushchev waited until after the death of Stalin to denounce the “Man of Steel,” along with his domestic policies, his personality cult, and probably his mustache. But while Stalin was alive, Khrushchev was the best salesman for global Communism Stalin could have had.

During his time as the leader of the Soviet Union, he met with everyone who would have him, including famed anti-Communist Richard Nixon. He even managed to avoid a nuclear war with the U.S. President Kennedy. He didn’t need the bravado the Red Army wanted him to show during the Cuban Missile Crisis – Khrushchev already showed his by surviving every deadly situation thrown at Russia.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

If you can survive Stalingrad, you can survive anything.

Khrushchev survived Stalin because he’d proved his mettle many times over. Khrushchev was the epitome of the Soviet worker class. He was from a poor family of peasants, he went on strike against the Tsarist government as a metal worker in World War I, and he chose the right brand of Communism when the time came. When given a choice between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, he chose the group who prioritized winning over everything else. He was so loyal to Communist ideals that he refused to allow his wife a religious funeral after she died. That’s dedication.

He immediately joined every Communist government program and school he could, using connections to get into everything, like a good oligarch. When it came time for Stalin to purge, Khrushchev was in a trusted position. To maintain that trust, Khrushchev was willing to send his closest friends and coworkers to the gulag and the executioner.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

In case you were wondering, he killed a lot of people. Like, a lot.

So to survive the dictator’s whimsy, you have to prove you aren’t out to topple the dictator. The best way to do that is help kill the dictator’s enemies… before someone else accuses you of being the dictator’s enemy. The second best way is not to make waves. When Khrushchev appealed to Stalin to help fight the famine in Ukraine, Stalin thought Khrushchev was getting weak and sent him an overseer from Moscow. Khrushchev promptly became “ill” and all but disappeared for two years.

Not annoying Stalin about starving people probably saved his life and career. In Stalin’s last days, Khrushchev was called to be near Stalin and in the dictator’s inner circle. Here, the future Soviet leader survived many long nights of drinking and dancing at Stalin’s command, coining the saying: “When Stalin says dance, a wise man dances.”

Krushchev learned to take a nap in the afternoon so he wouldn’t fall asleep in front of his boss.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

These guys killed several hundred thousand people, maybe more. That’s not even counting the famines.

After Stalin died, his inner circle vied for power and fought amongst one another publicly. Not Khrushchev – he was demoted and accepted his situation. He soon found the others had fought themselves out of a job while “humble” Khrushchev was elevated to the title of First Secretary of the Communist Party. By not overstepping his bounds as his rivals did, Khrushchev became the least objectionable choice. It didn’t hurt that he was generally very good at whatever his job was.

He was so good even after he was ousted from power, Khrushchev managed to avoid being murdered by enemies like most powerful people in dictatorships so often are. He retired to a dacha in the countryside and died of a heart attack.

Military Life

Your AAFES coins from deployment may be worth more than you think

When deployed troops buy whatever they need, if they pay in cash, they won’t be given pennies, nickels, dimes, or quarters as change. Instead, they’ll be given cardboard coins (colloquially called “pogs,” like the 90s toys). And, now, coin collectors are going crazy for them.


Depending on where in Iraq or Afghanistan troops are stationed, they may have easy access to an AAFES (Army Air Force Exchange Service) store. Bigger airfields have larger stores that sell all an airman could want — meanwhile, outlying FOBs are just happy that their AAFES truck didn’t blow up this month.

Giving cardboard in return for cash isn’t some complex scheme to screw troops out of their 85 cents. Logistically speaking, transporting a bunch of quarters to and from a deployed area is, to put it bluntly, a heavy waste of time. While a pocket full of quarters may not seem like much, having to stock every single cash register would be a headache. So AAFES, the only commercial service available to troops, decided in November 2001 to forgo actual coins in favor of cardboard credit.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Carrie Bernard)

The AAFES coins aren’t legal tender. They are, essentially, gift certificates valid only at AAFES establishments. If troops can manage to hold on to their cardboard coin collection throughout a deployment, they can exchange the coins for actual money at any non-deployed AAFES customer service desk. Occasionally, AAFES runs promotions that gave double-value to troops returning their pogs — but troops who decline to cash in might be getting the best value in the end.

The weirdest thing about the AAFES pogs is the collectors’ community that has grown from it. Coin collectors everywhere have been going crazy for our AAFES pogs. On eBay, you can typically find a set of mint-condition paper coins going for ridiculous prices. Of course, like every collector’s item, complete sets and the older coins go for much more.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
I get that it’s a typo on President Reagan’s name, but seriously… that was just worth five cents. (Screengrab via eBay)

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Turkey celebrated getting the F-35 will blow your mind

Turkey held a flamboyant and bizarre ceremony to celebrate its first F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters, but if the US Senate has its way, those two fighters will be the only ones they get.

Turkey, as well as a host of other US allies, are awaiting the F-35 to replace aging fleets of Cold War-era warplanes and bring them into a networked, futuristic style of aerial combat.

Upon receiving its first-ever F-35s from the US, Turkey held a memorable celebration that gave viewers a “taste of Turkey’s rich heritage and diverse culture,” with a long intro song that depicted skydivers, birds, and ended with a man dressed as a bird or plane doing an aviation-themed dance.


But after the curtain rolled back on Turkey’s single F-35, and Turkey’s military leaders expressed hope for a powerful and networked new air force, a major question remains: Will Turkey even get its promised 100 F-35s?

Turkey took part in building the F-35, as did many countries. It’s an important NATO ally positioned as a bridge between east and west. The US bases airmen and nuclear weapons in Turkey, but lately, the relationship has soured.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
F-35
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago)

There’s deep concerns in the US over Turkey’s human rights record, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan authoritarian regime, and Turkey’s recent interest in Russian missile defenses.

Turkey is on track to buy Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.

Retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula told Business Insider that NATO countries “don’t want to be networking in Russian systems into your air defenses” as it could lead to “technology transfer and possible compromises of F-35 advantages to the S-400.”

If Turkey owned the F-35 and the S-400, it would give Russia a window into NATO’s missile defense network and the F-35’s next-generation capabilities. Basically, as NATO is an alliance formed to counter Russia, letting Russia patch in would defeat the purpose and possibly blunt the military edge of the most expensive weapons system ever built.

For that reason, and human rights concerns, the US Senate wrote into its Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that it wanted Turkey’s F-35s held back.

Lockheed Martin officials said they still expected the sale to go through and the planes to be delivered, but if the House backs up the Senate, and Trump approves, Turkey could be stuck with only two F-35s for a long time.

Potentially, Turkey may be persuaded by the US to give up on its S-400 purchase from Russia, but it’s also possible that a scorned Turkey will go through with the purchase and have a single US-made stealth jet networked into Russian technology.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

13 hilarious memes for the next time you need to mock an airman

Look, airmen are technically people. That’s why we can’t slap a fence around the Air Force, call it a zoo, and call the day done. Especially since we need a few of them to fly close-air support and whatever else it is that they do. So, the boys in blue tiger stripes are going to keep wandering around, quoting Nietzsche (even if they are finally getting rid of those stripes).


If you are forced to interact with one of them, here are some pics you can drop on the ground and escape while they argue the semantics or parse the meaning of it:
5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(funnyjunk.com)

Remember: They’re more trained for large airbases than small unit tactics.

Keep them inside and they won’t rub their coffee grounds into their helmet like that.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(memeguy.com)

All that fancy radar and signals intercept equipment, and this is what we get.

This does, however, really make me want to get into meteorology.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(tumblr.com)

In her defense, she’s probably well schooled in PowerPoint.

You’re probably gonna have to just carry her out of combat, Sgt. Joe.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(tumblr.com)

Must suck to be forced to use that internet for so much targeting and so little streaming.

Do it for Khaleesi, airmen.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(imgflip.com)

There is a rumor that the Air Force has a shortage of elbow grease.

That poor Marine probably doesn’t even know that the task is never getting done by that junior airman.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(memesboy.com)

Airmen are so prissy about teeth extractions and medical care.

They probably use anesthetic and hand sanitizer, too.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(citationslist.com)

Most airmen don’t embody the “whole airman concept.”

Though, in their defense, they don’t all look like they ate a whole airman.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(Aviation Memes)

Shouldn’t the plane get its bombs at home and drop them while they’re out?

Oh crap, now I’m parsing the memes like some sort of over-educated airman.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(Air Force AMN/NCO/SNCO)

President calls for Space Force. Air Force subsumes Space Force concept. Airmen check Stargate IDs.

Would be the coolest gate guard duty in the universe, though. Might even see some three-breasted women or something.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(Reddit)

To be fair, airmen aren’t the only folks who will fall to their own forms.

All Department of Defense forms are ridiculously horrible.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(quoteswell.com)

 I could use a snack. And a nap.

Crap. Does the Air Force really have snack time? This is backfiring. I want to be an airman now. AIR POWER!

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(RallyPoint)

Seriously, why can Gru never get his slides right?

There’s no way an Air Force version of Gru would struggle with slides, though.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

(Valhalla Wear)

The Air Force version of Uber Eats is abysmal.

Worldwide delivery, but the deliveries might not be on time, complete, or structurally sound.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Operation Safety Net locates 25 more missing children; Operation Moving Target arrests 27 suspects

Operation Safety Net, the US Marshals Service-led child trafficking task force in Ohio, has located 25 missing children as of Saturday, according to a US Marshals press release. In addition, Operation Moving Target, led by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, concluded on Thursday with 27 online predators arrested for cybercrimes and attempted sexual conduct with children.

“Sometimes the situations they — they go to, believe it or not, may be better than the situations they left from,” US Marshal Pete Elliott told WOIO-TV. “We’re trying to do our part. A number of these children have gone to the hospital after we’ve recovered them to get checked out, so again this is something we take very seriously.”


Operation Safety Net focuses on Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and the surrounding area to locate missing and endangered children. The operation’s reach has extended into the northern portion of the state with help from the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force. According to the US Marshals press release, “Children have been recovered in Cleveland, East Cleveland, Akron, Mansfield, Euclid, Willoughby and as far away as Miami.” Even though the operation started in Ohio, leads developed in the state have led to locating missing children outside of Ohio.

U.S. Marshals launch initiative aimed at finding endangered, missing children

www.youtube.com

The US Marshals have been working with Cleveland, East Cleveland, and Newburgh Heights police departments for the past 20 days to locate missing children, ages ranging from 13 to 18 years old. One in every four cases resolved by the task force are related to human trafficking or prostitution.

While Operation Safety Net is still underway, Operation Moving Target was started by the Ohio ICAC on Aug. 24 and concluded on Aug. 27. The Ohio ICAC is a federal anticrime task force funded by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The operation was short in duration but concluded with the arrest of 27 suspects.

For Operation Moving Target, undercover law enforcement officers posed as children online to lure sexual predators. During conversations via various social media platforms, the suspects requested meeting times and locations for sexual activity, and some even sent photos of their genitalia to the purported children. Many of the suspects had firearms, condoms, personal lubricant, sex toys, and drugs in their possession at the time of arrest.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

Georgia’s Operation Not Forgotten, in action above, is comparable to Ohio’s Operation Safety Net. Photo courtesy of Shane T. McCoy/US Marshals Service.

When the suspects arrived at the meeting place, law enforcement arrested them for crimes including attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, importuning, and possessing criminal tools. The suspects were transported to Cuyahoga County Jail, and each case will be viewed by a Cuyahoga County grand jury.

“As we have seen the number of Cybertips dramatically increase this year, it is clear that online predators remain a serious threat to our children,” said prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley in a Cuyahoga County Office of the Prosecutor press release. “Hopefully the success of yet another operation serves as a stern warning to offenders that you will be found, you will be arrested, and you will be prosecuted.”

Federal, state, and local law enforcement have been pursuing missing children and their predators for years. The US Marshals partnered with the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children in 2005. Since this partnership began, the US Marshals Service has assisted in recovering more than 1,800 missing children, according to a US Marshals press release. In 2015, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act was approved, granting the US Marshals enhanced authority.

This legislation enabled the creation of the US Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, which has been setting up joint task forces to carry out operations across the country, including Ohio’s Operation Safety Net and Georgia’s Operation Not Forgotten, which located 39 missing children in a matter of weeks.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY HISTORY

How WWII propaganda is still convincing kids to eat carrots

Here in the modern world, many of us are more aware than ever of how the media can shape our perceptions of reality. While most debate about “perception management” these days is relegated to the arena of political mudslinging, the truth is, there has always been a concerted media effort to shape how we see the world in the form of advertising. And as many national governments learned early on, the same media infrastructure built to sell us products can also be used to sell us on ideas.

If you’re looking for a good example of how government initiatives can shape our idea of reality, you need to look no further than the air campaigns of World War II — because if you’re one of the millions of people that think eating carrots can help improve your vision, you’ve been duped by half-century-old wartime propaganda.


5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

Not the wartime propaganda posters you were expecting?

(World Carrot Museum)

British (and eventually American) pilots defending the U.K. from Nazi bombers were among the first aviators in history ever to be tasked with night-time combat operations. Less than four decades after the Wright Brothers first took to the sky, Allied pilots were fighting for their lives in pitch darkness over the European theater.

At the time, aviators had to rely on their senses, rather than on the suite of technological gadgets we use for intercepts in modern combat aircraft, but it wasn’t long before the advent of onboard Airborne Interception radar (AI) gave the Brits the edge they needed over inbound Nazi bombers. The British also knew that announcing their new technological advantage would put the Nazi’s to work on finding ways to counter it, so instead, they chose a very different track.

As Allied fighters started closing with and destroying Nazi bombers in increasing numbers despite the difficult to manage night sky, the English Ministry of Information launched a propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the world that their pilots had impeccable Nazi-hunting night vision thanks to a steady diet of — you guessed it — carrots.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

Technically speaking, they’re not wrong. A serious Vitamin A deficiency could make you go blind.

(US National Archive)

Like any good misinformation campaign, they needed to find a basis in fact to use as the bedrock for their campaign, and carrots are known to be a good source of Vitamin A. Technically speaking, eating more vitamin A won’t do anything for an otherwise healthy person’s vision, but not getting enough of it can cause vision problems. Because of this, it was easy for the Brits to twist the story away from eating carrots to avoid a Vitamin A deficiency, and instead toward the idea that eating enough carrots could actually make you see better at night.

The decision to use carrots was also informed by the nation’s sugar rations limiting snack options for the U.K. populace. Carrots were a great snack for school kids to munch on and the nation had plenty of them to spare — so selling the public on the idea that eating more carrots could turn your kid into a hawk-eyed fighter pilot benefited the war effort in ways beyond German perceptions.

It wasn’t long before the idea of carrots improving one’s night vision simply became carrots improving vision altogether. Soon, no one remembered where they first heard about carrots being so important to eye health and just started accepting it as the truth.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

Amazing what a few posters can do.

(Bryan Ledgard on WikiMedia Commons)

Even today, mothers and fathers all over the world continue to tell their kids to eat their carrots because they’re good for their eyes. This isn’t because there’s a great deal of Vitamin A deficiencies in the modern world, but rather, because we’re still operating off of the familiar wisdom we gleaned from propaganda posters printed while Hitler was touring Paris.

Propaganda, it pays to remember, is little more than advertising paid for by governments, rather than corporations. We all know and accept the idea that advertising works (to the tune of 3 billion in the United States last year alone). Whether we like it or not, it seems that propaganda does too.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian military wants to shoot down passenger jets

Russia’s Defense Ministry has outlined draft legislation that would allow Russian forces to shoot down civilian passenger planes within the country’s airspace.

The draft document placed on the government’s list of proposed legislation says passenger planes that cross into Russian airspace without authorization and do not answer warning signals or respond to warning shots can be shot down if they are deemed to pose a threat of mass deaths, ecological catastrophe, or an assault on strategic targets.


MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s what equipment the Navy uses to clear mines

Naval mine countermeasures have not gotten a lot of attention in the press, which is strange considering that the job is crucial. Of the last four US Navy ships damaged by hostile action, three were by mines — the other was an Oct. 2000 terrorist attack on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67).


In 1988, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) suffered severe damage from an Iranian mine, which put the vessel out of action for over a year. During Operation Desert Storm, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) and the Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LPH 10) were both damaged by mines.

So, what keeps today’s Navy safe from deadly mines?

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

USS Scout (MCM 8), an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, in Los Angeles for Fleet Week.

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

11 Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships

The Navy built 14 of these vessels, starting with USS Avenger (MCM 1), which was commissioned in 1987. Prior to that, the bulk of the Navy’s minesweeper force consisted primarily of World War II-era vessels. The other 13 Avenger-class vessels entered service within the following seven years. Eleven of these ships are still in service. USS Avenger and USS Defender (MCM 2) have been decommissioned, and one vessel, USS Guardian (MCM 5), ran aground and was a total loss.

These vessels have a top speed of 14 knots and a crew of 84 officers and enlisted. Their primary systems for mine warfare are remote operated vehicles that can descend hundreds of feet below the ocean to neutralize mines.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

A MH-53 Sea Dragon lowers its mine-hunting sonar.

(US Navy photo by MCSN William Carlisle)

30 MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters

The Navy operates 30 of these heavy-lift helicopters that were acquired in the 1980s. While they bear a superficial resemblance to the CH-53E Super Stallion, there are some big differences. Most notable is the fact that they have larger sponsons to hold more fuel. They can also carry additional fuel tanks in the cargo compartment.

The MH-53E has a maximum range of 885 miles and a top speed of 172 miles per hour. These helicopters tow a mine-sweeping sled and can operate from any aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship. These helicopters are slated to retire in 2025.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

A MH-60S Seahawk helicopter hovers while a technician drops down to handle a mine.

(U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Devin Wray)

256 MH-60S Seahawk multirole helicopters

This helicopter will assume the airborne mine-countermeasures role among the many other missions it carries out when the Sea Dragons retire. This versatile helicopter is responsible for vertical replenishment, combat search-and-rescue missions, anti-surface warfare, medical evacuation, and supporting special operations forces. They can operate from any carrier, amphibious vessel, or surface combatant.

This helicopter has a top speed of 180 knots and a maximum range of 245 nautical miles. While the 256 MH-60S helicopters purchased by the Navy offer a lot of versatility, the range and endurance are a significant step down from the Sea Dragon.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

USS Coronado (LCS 4), an Independence-class littoral combat ship, is intended to help replace the Avenger mine countermeasures ships.

(U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Kaleb R. Staples)

12 Littoral Combat Ships

So far, the Navy has commissioned 12 littoral combat ships. These ships were primarily intended to replace the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, but also being given double duty in also replacing the Avenger-class mine countermeasures vessels. Their mine-clearing capability is based on a mission package that is centered around the use of MH-60S helicopters and remote-operated vehicles.

The littoral combat ship has been controversial due to numerous breakdowns and a smattering of other issues, and the production run is being cut short in favor of new guided-missile frigates.

MIGHTY HISTORY

History’s most daring thief may have been this Army paratrooper

The mysterious plane hijacker known as “D.B. Cooper,” who has eluded authorities for more than 45 years, was an ex-military paratrooper from Michigan who boasted about the daring heist to a friend, a publisher plans to reveal May 17, 2018.

Michigan publisher Principa Media says Cooper was former military paratrooper and intelligence operative Walter R. Reca, and Principa worked with Reca’s best friend, Carl Laurin, in compiling the evidence. While the publisher did not disclose if Reca was still alive, an obituary online lists Reca, of Oscada, Mich., as having died in 2014 at the age of 80.


“Evidence, including almost-daily discussions over a 14-year period and 3+ hours of audio recordings featuring the skyjacker, was compiled by Reca’s best friend. It was then analyzed by a Certified Fraud Examiner and forensic linguist,” the publisher said in a news release. “The audio recordings, created in 2008, include Reca discussing skyjacking details that were not known to the public prior to the FBI’s information release in 2015.”

The publishing company worked with Laurin for the memoir “D.B. Cooper & Me: A Criminal, A Spy, My Best Friend,” and plans to present evidence at a press conference on Thursday in Grand Rapids linking the crime to Reca. Evidence includes:

  • Witness testimony from an individual who spoke with Reca within an hour of his jump
  • Documentation concerning how the $200,000 in stolen cash was spent
  • Confessions from Reca to two individuals at two different times
  • An article of clothing Reca wore during the jump

In 1971, on the night before Thanksgiving, a man calling himself Dan Cooper, wearing a black tie and a suit, boarded a Seattle-bound Boeing 727 in Oregon and told a flight attendant he had a bomb in a briefcase. He gave her a note demanding ransom. After the plane landed he released the 36 passengers in exchange for $200,000 in ransom money and parachutes. The ransom was paid in $20 bills.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

The hijacker then ordered the plane to fly to Mexico, but near the Washington-Oregon border he jumped and was never seen or heard from again.

In one of the audio recordings provided by the publishing company, Laurin is heard asking Reca about how he felt going through life knowing he was D.B. Cooper and if he ever had second thoughts about the heist.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
Water Reca as seen in Detroit in the mid-1970s.
(Lisa Story)

“Never even a second thought,” Reca says.

After the heist, Reca said he put the money in the bank, and that he had “family to take care of” before jobs “overseas” came up. The daredevil said he treated it as any bank heist.

“It was no [big] deal really, it was done,” Reca is heard saying. “It was done, and I lived through it.”

After the skyjacking, Reca later became a high-level covert intelligence operative, according to the publishing company.

Reca possessed skills to survive jumping out of the plane because he was on the Michigan Parachute Team, according to the publisher. He attended the team reunion in 2000 and was pictured in a photo released by the publisher.

Despite the claims of the publishing company, the FBI has never ruled out the possibility that the hijacker was killed in the jump — which took place during a rainstorm at night, over rough, wooded terrain. The hijacker’s clothing and footwear were also unsuitable for a rough landing.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
A flier for a Michigan Parachute Team event. The MPC was a group of young men who performed daredevil parachuting stunts.

Over the years the most lasting image of Cooper, who became somewhat of a legend, may be the two sketches the FBI released of the suspect.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
A photo of the Michigan Parachute Team reunion in 2000.

Many investigators have come forward with their theories for who the infamous hijacker may be. In early 2018, the leader of the private investigative team who has spent years trying to crack the D.B. Cooper hijacking case claimed he believes the mysterious criminal was a CIA operative whose identity has been covered up by federal agents.

Thomas Colbert, a documentary filmmaker who helped put together the 40-member team, said in January 2018, his team made the connection from work a code breaker uncovered in each of the five letters allegedly sent by Cooper.

Since January 2018, the FBI has released more than 3,000 documents to Colbert’s team investigating the hijacking. The FBI said in court papers that it has more than 71,000 documents that may be responsive to Colbert’s lawsuit.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This real soldier’s photo is still hanging at Checkpoint Charlie

It’s been almost 30 years since the infamous Checkpoint Charlie, the primary crossing post between East and West Berlin, was taken down with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The original guardhouse was little more than a temporary shack for much of its life and has since been replaced. As the area in Berlin began to grow and become a tourist attraction, more and more Cold War-era sights were added to the checkpoint.

One of those sights is a photo of a real American soldier, looking East.


These days, the area in Berlin that saw some of the most intense showdowns between East and West is full of tourists and Berlin residents who probably wish they had taken a different route to work. For three Euro, you can take a photo with one of the soldier-reenactors who dress up to man the post. If you’re hungry, there’s a McDonald’s across the street. It’s very much not the Checkpoint Charlie of old, but still worth a visit. For military veterans approaching the once-legendary area, there might be a different question – who is that guy in the photo?

The “soldiers” holding the U.S. flag and posing for tourists were never troops, that’s just fun for the onlookers. But staring at the photo of the American soldier posted at the guardhouse, it’s clear that he’s wearing a real U.S. Army uniform.

His name is Jeff Harper.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the checkpoint’s rise as a prime tourist attraction in the German capital, the photos of Sgt. Harper and his Soviet counterpart on the other side have become as synonymous with the checkpoint as anything else in Cold War lore. But Harper wasn’t exactly the stereotypical Cold Warrior. He was a U.S. Army tuba player with the 298th Army Band in Berlin from 89-94 and never pulled guard duty at the checkpoint. He was just 22 when the photo was taken.

In an interview with the German publication Der Tronkland, Harper said he almost dropped his coffee when he first saw his face up on the sign. That was 1999.

“I am very proud to have become part of the story to this extent and still be part of what is happening in Berlin today,” Harper said. “I can hardly imagine in how many photo albums I have been immortalized.”

Harper has since retired from the Army, but he was still in Berlin for the fall of the wall.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

Jeff Harper after his retirement in 2010.

The most important thing to know about the photos is that they’re not part of any authentic recreation of the site. They’re an art exhibit, called Ohne Titel – or “Light Boxes.” The photo was taken by Berlin photographer Frank Thiel in 1994, as an attempt to capture photos of the last Allied soldiers in the city. The young Russian troop isn’t wearing a Soviet military uniform, he’s wearing a 1994 uniform of the Russian Federation.

“… These portraits translate the omnipresent sector signs of the past – “You are leaving the American/British/French sector” – into picture form. They are likewise a reference to the historical moment when Soviet and American tanks faced off against each other right here,” said Thiel. “By using two portraits to symbolize almost 50 years of history, I am suggesting that these two faces are representative.”

These days, Harper is enjoying the retired life driving his motorcycle around the highways of the American West. He says the highlight of his career in Berlin was being able to play in the band for President Bill Clinton. As for the Russian soldier on the opposite side, no one really knows who he is or where he ended up.

Humor

6 ways military life would be easier if it were like a video game

Young civilians often tend to equate life in the military with what they see in video games. By their very nature, video games are supposed to be fun and engaging. You often find yourself in the boots of an impossibly badass character, doing over the top things.


By contrast, life in the military usually involves sitting around, waiting to hear what the next training exercise will be. It’s definitely not the video-game-like experience some might expect.

We can’t blame you for using your imagination, though. In fact, these are some things about video games that would make real military service so much better.

6. The tutorial would be much shorter

At the beginning of nearly every game, you’re first taught how to play the game. Use the sticks to move around, press ‘X’ to jump, press ‘R2’ to shoot, and so on. In the real world, you spend 9 weeks in basic/boot camp, additional time learning your specific MOS, and then god-knows-how-much time before you actually deploy.

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit
Your Colonel would never get on the radio to teach you how to climb a ladder… (Screenshot from Konami’s Metal Gear Solid)

5. Traveling would just be a load screen

One of the worst waits in the military is the moment you pack your duffle bag for the last time to leave the deployment. You wait to get the order to move to the larger FOBs, you wait to get the order to leave country to a larger airfield, and then you wait for the plane to finally touch down. At least in a video game, the load screens don’t last three weeks.

Every troop while they “hurry up and wait.” (Image via GIPHY)

4. Having a choice in gear would be nice

The most common talking point between someone who plays military video games and someone who actually knows the military is weapon selection. You’ll hear the, “Oh, did you get to use the (insert weapon issued by another country’s SpecOps)?”

Almost always, you’re assigned a weapon by your squad leader. One person is the grenadier, another the machine gunner. Everyone else is a rifleman. Rarely will you even interact with someone who has a sniper rifle, let alone use one.

If you’re wondering who gets the machine gun, it’s always the smallest person — because it’s funny. (Image via GIPHY)

3. Combat would be easy if the enemy was flagged for PvP

In massively multiplayer games, like World of Warcraft, you get to have fun duking it out with others in player-versus-player combat. For the most part, you’re always going to know who, exactly, is your enemy. Iraq and Afghanistan, on the other hand…

Also, looting stuff from the enemy is also generally frowned upon. (Image via GIPHY)

2. No need for medics!

Who needs an entire expertise that takes years of training when you can just step on top of a first aid kit or hide behind a rock until your screen stops glowing red?

You could get shot thirty times and get right back up to chainsaw someone in half a few seconds later.

Much simpler than changing your socks and taking a Motrin. (Image via GIPHY)

1. Changes from the developers usually make things easier

There’s no real rank structure in video games. Sure, you might have a guild leader or your e-sports team might have a captain, but the only words that come down the pipe to a gamer, generally, are patch notes. Games get patched to fix bugs, make the game more accessible, and usually have a positive impact on the overall game.

If you get word from the Big Military on something, it’s usually something dumb, like a change in the tattoo policy or a memo stating the uniforms you just bought are now obsolete.

If you think hearing your character got nerfed was bad, try hearing your deployment got extended. (Image via GIPHY)

MIGHTY TRENDING

13 photos of that huge, Air Force F-35 display

The ability to rapidly project power and force against any threat on a moment’s notice has long been a hallmark of American military might. Dozens of advanced stealth fighters carried on that tradition during a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018.

During the exercise, the US Air Force put a lot of destructive power in the air very quickly, launching a total of 35 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters in 11 minutes.

Check out these stunning photos of this show of force by dozens of F-35s.


5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

Maintainers from the 388th Maintenance Group prepare an F-35A for its mission Nov. 19, 2018.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing prepare for takeoff as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

2. The milestone drill marks the first ever F-35 “Elephant Walk” combat power exercise, the purpose of which is to fly as many sorties as possible in a predetermined time period in preparation for a possible combat surge.

Source: The Drive

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing prepare for takeoff as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing prepare for takeoff as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing taxi as they prepare for takeoff prior to a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

5. The Air Force revealed that on any given day, the F-35 wings at Hill Air Force Base fly 30-60 sorties.

Source: Business Insider

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

Pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings taxi F-35As on the runway in preparation for a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Fuchs)

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

F-35A Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing fly by in formation as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

F-35A pilots from the 388th and 419th conducted a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Nov. 19, 2018.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

An F-35A Lightning II from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing fly by as part of a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

9. The first of the US fifth-generation stealth fighters to fly an actual combat mission was an F-35B that was deployed against the Taliban in Afghanistan in late September 2018.

Source: Business Insider

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

F-35A Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing fly in close formation during the combat power exercise.

(United States Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

10. During development, the F-35 has faced numerous setbacks. The aircraft, recognized as the most expensive in military history, suffered its first crash in South Carolina the same week it completed its first combat mission.

Source: Business Insider

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

A formation of F-35 Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings stationed at Hill Air Force Base perform aerial maneuvers.

( U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cory D. Payne)

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

A formation of 35 F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings fly over the Utah Test and Training Range as part of a combat power exercise on Nov. 19, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

12. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has ordered the Air Force and Navy to achieve a minimum of 80 percent mission capability rates for their F-35s, F-22s, F-16s, and F/A-18s by September 2019.

Source: Defense News

5 conversations troops always have in a deployed smoke pit

A formation of 35 F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings fly over the Utah Test and Training Range during the exercise.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

13. Hill Air Force Base is expected to house three F-35 squadrons by the end of 2019.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information