Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history. Amid heavy losses on an island of questionable strategic importance, it also became one the most controversial battles of World War II. Heroes emerged and countless books and movies were created about Iwo Jima, but how much do you really know about the battle? Test your knowledge with this quiz:
Today’s media is saturated in documentaries, TV series, and movies that all claim to depict the “realities” of war. But the truth is, binge watching “Band of Brothers” will never come close to mirroring a flesh-and-blood experience.
This audio clip of WWII vet George Chrisman proves that. In the recording, the 88-year-old recounts his experience at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 to Audioburst.
Chrisman was shot in the hand in the midst of the grisly battle and describes what it was like to rip the bullet out of his flesh with his teeth. At one point he remembers there was nothing left to do but “spit it out, burn your lips, [and] just do what you have to do.”
Heat, smoke, and that loud “wop-wop” sound make helicopters easy targets on the battlefield. For these reasons, helicopters make the unlikeliest candidates for stealth technology. But during the 1990s and early 2000s, Boeing-Sikorsky challenged that notion with the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.
The Light Helicopter Experimental program is the brainchild of the U.S. Army. It charged Boeing-Sikorsky with developing armed reconnaissance and attack helicopters. The result incorporated stealth technologies that minimized radar and human detection. It used advanced sensors for reconnaissance intended to designate targets for the AH-64 Apache. The helicopter was also armed to the teeth with tucked away missiles and rockets to destroy armed vehicles. Two prototypes were built and tested but the project was ultimately canceled in 2004.
Former Georgetown grad Matthew VanDyke is fighting ISIS the only way he knows how — through a grassroots military training initiative he calls Sons of Liberty International (SOLI).
The self-made nonprofit aims to equip the Christian north of Iraq against the threat of the so-called Islamic State, mobilizing local volunteers against insurgents that have devastated Assyrian communities since ISIS invaded last year.
Despite VanDyke’s zeal for the cause, reactions to SOLI and the involvement of fellow Westerners in the Arab conflict are greatly divided. The American Evangelical community hails VanDyke’s work as revolutionary, while others are suspicious of SOLI, which has zero backing from Iraqi or American governments.
SOLI’s main objective is to empower the Ninevah Plain Protection Units (NPU), a volunteer Christian militia that is comprised of Iraqi civilians, American ex-soldiers and everything in between. Originally operating as a ragtag defense unit, VanDyke and senior NPU members are shifting the group to the offensive, hoping to reclaim ISIS-occupied Assyrian villages and eventually join the fight for the ISIS-stronghold of Mosul.
VanDyke himself has no formal military training, but he’s no stranger to Middle Eastern conflict. The 36-year-old ‘s rap sheet includes living as a POW after fighting with Libyan rebels in 2010, as well as working alongside war journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff while filming a documentary short to promote the Free Syrian Army.
“Sometimes I question if it was a wise decision,” he said. “But once you become aware of the brutality of the modern world, there’s no plugging back into the matrix. There’s no un-ringing that bell.” Then, after a long pause, he added: “I’m fully committed to the cause. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
For the full story, check out Maxim
To watch SOLI train, watch the video below:
As Russian military supplies continue to enter Ukraine, it becomes harder by the day for Putin to deny that Moscow is providing arms to the separatists.
In fact Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the US Army’s top commander in Europe, says that Russian support for separatists has “doubled” since Ukraine and Russia reached a tentative ceasefire.
“When you look at the amount of Russian equipment that the proxies were using prior to the Minsk agreements, that amount has doubled beginning in December into the hundreds,” Hodges told reporters on his first visit to Ukraine.
Russian support for the separatists include artillery, surveillance drones, and armored vehicles that would otherwise be next to impossible for a rebel group to obtain.
“Those are not the types of things you would find in a militia. They clearly are coming from a modern military force coming from Russia,” Hodges said.
In November, the Armament Research Services has released their third report on the arms and munitions being used by both the Ukrainian government and the rebels in the ongoing conflict. Complete with photographic evidence, it is clear that Moscow has been covertly supplying an assortment of older Soviet weaponry along with recently introduced Russian equipment to the separatists.
AK-47 (Photo: Wikimedia)
Self-loading rifles are a popular weapon of the separatist forces.
Aside from a number of AK rifle varieties, the separatists also sport a host of recreation hunting and sport firearms. In one case, a separatist was documented using VSS rifles. These are Russian-made marksman rifles that are analogous to those used by Russian forces during the annexation of Crimea.
The self-loading rifles used by the separatists include:
- Soviet AK-74
- Soviet AKS-74U
- Soviet AR-10 and AR-15 hunting rifles
- Russian VSS designated marksman rifle
Light Machine Guns
Light machine guns make up some of the most common weaponry of the separatists.
The light machine guns utilized by the separatists include weaponry used by the Ukrainian military, as well as Russian-produced guns that are not in service with Ukrainian forces. The PKP ‘Pecheneg’ light machine gun, for example, is not used by the Ukrainian forces and has been exported outside of Russia in only minimal quantities.
The light machine guns used by the separatists include:
- Russian RPK-74
- Russian PK and PK GPMGs
- Russian PKP ‘Pecheneg’
Shotguns and Bolt-Action Rifles
The use of shotguns and bolt-action rifles have been documented as being used by separatists who are incapable of accessing better quality small arms.
Some older bolt-action sporting rifles have also been documented being used by the separatists. These rifles are in some cases antiques, dating to use with the Russian infantry from World War II or earlier.
The shotguns and bolt-action rifles used by the separatists include:
- Russian semi-automatic Saiga 12 shotguns
- Turkish semi-automatic Akkar Altay shotguns
- Philippino Armscor Model 30 pump-action shotgun
- Russian infantry Mosin M91 rifle
Makarov PM Handgun (Photo: Wikimedia)
Russian crafted handguns dominate as the principal choice for the separatists.
Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, the former leader of the Donbass People’s Militia and governor of Luhansk, has had photos carefully taken of him handling a Russian Stechkin APS. The APS was originally designed for Russian vehicle, artillery, and RPG crews.
The handguns used by the separatists include:
- Russian Makarov PM
- Russian Stechkin APS
Anti-material rifles are light weapons that have been designed for use against military equipment rather than use against people.
The anti-material rifles being used by the separatists include outdated and obsolete Soviet World War II era anti-tank rifles (the PTRS-41) and the equally old PTRD. In at least one case, separatists were found to be using the Russian ASVK anti-material rifle. The ASVK has only been introduced into the Russian military within the past two years and none have been known to have been exported.
The anti-material rifles used by the separatists include:
- Soviet PTRS-41
- Soviet PTRD
- Russian ASVK
Heavy Machine Guns
The origins of the heavy machine guns used by the separatists in Ukraine is murky. Both the Ukrainian government and the separatists use similar weaponry, and it is possible that the rebels salvaged the weaponry from Ukrainian military vehicles.
In general, the heavy machine guns used by the separatists are fairly old. Most date
back to the Soviet Union, while the Maxim PM1910 may date back as early as the Russian Empire. The PM1910 was likely looted from a museum or a historical re-enactment community.
The heavy machine guns used by the separatists include:
- Soviet DShKM
- Soviet NSV and NSVT
- Soviet Maxim PM1910
Underbarrel and Automatic Grenade Launchers
Like the heavy machine guns, both the Ukrainian government and the separatists have used the same variety of underbarrel and automatic grenade launchers.
In the case of eastern Ukraine, it is impossible to determine whether the grenade launchers were captured from Ukrainian soldiers or were provided to the separatists from Russia.
The grenade launchers used by the separatists include:
- Soviet GP-25
- Soviet AGS-17 AGLs
Portable Anti-Tank Systems
The separatists have a wide variety of portable anti-tank systems. For the most part, the rebels seem to prefer the use of rocket propelled grenades of the legacy RPG-7 launcher. However, the rebels have also used more modern RPG-18 and RPG-22 systems.
Notably, separatists have also been documented using MRO-A disposable incendiary rocket launcher systems. These systems are not known to have ever been exported outside of Russia.
The portable anti-tank systems used by the separatists include:
- Soviet RPG-7
- Soviet RPG-22
- Soviet RPG-26
- Russian RPG-18
- Russian RPO-A
- Russian MRO-A
Crew-Served Recoilless Guns and Mortars
Used alongside the portable anti-tank systems are a mixture of Soviet-era recoilless guns and mortars. These weapons are generally dated. There is no direct evidence that these weapons have been provided by the Russians to the separatists, as both the Ukrainian government and the separatists make use of similar systems.
The crew-served recoilless guns and mortars used by the separatists include:
- Soviet SPG-9 recoilless gun
- Soviet 82 and 120 mm mortar tubes
- Soviet 120 mm 2B16 Nona-K
Anti-Tank Guided Weapons
Anti-tank guided weapons (ATGWs) have been documented in large numbers in the hands of the separatists. The majority of these ATGWs are used by both the Ukrainian military and the separatists.
However, the separatists have also been documented using the 9K135 Kornet ATGW system. The Kornet is not in service with the Ukrainian military, although it is used by the Russians. Based on discarded components found on the battlefield, the missiles used for the Kornet were produced in Russia in 2007.
Russia has exported the Kornet to several other states around the world, and militants in Gaza, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have all been documented using the weapon system.
The ATGWs used by the separatists include:
- Soviet 9K111
- Soviet 9K114
- Soviet 9K115
- Russian 9K135
Man-Portable Air Defense Systems
Separatist forces have a large array of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs) and anti-aircraft guns. By and large, the MANPADs that the separatists have been using are of the same make as what is within the Ukrainian arsenal. There have been reports of separatists seizing supplies of MANPADs from the Ukrainian military early in the conflict.
However, in one notable exception, Polish PPZR Grom MANPADs were captured from the separatists. One of the only countries that Poland ever exported the PPZR to was Georgia. In 2008, during Russia’s invasion of the country, Russia was known to have captured some of the Polish-supplied PPZRs. It is likely that those captured weapons are now being funneled to the separatists.
The MANPADs used by the separatists include:
- Soviet 9K38
- Soviet 9K32
- Polish PPZR Grom
Aside from MANPADs, the separatists also have a varied arsenal of anti-aircraft guns. At times, these weapons have also been turned against Ukrainian military personnel and light vehicles.
The anti-aircraft guns that the separatists, and to a smaller extent the Ukrainian government, have been utilizing are heavy machine guns mounted in one, two, and four barrel configurations. The separatists likely captured the anti-aircraft weapons from the Ukrainian military.
The anti-aircraft systems used by the separatists include:
- Soviet 14.5 x 114 mm ZPU
- Soviet ZU-23-2
Artillery has become one of the primary methods of engagement between the Ukrainian government and separatist fighters. Indiscriminate shelling by both sides has led to widespread destruction throughout portions of eastern Ukraine, along with significant civilian casualties.
Both the Ukrainian government and the separatists use the same varieties of Soviet and Russian artillery in their engagements. As such, it is difficult to determine whether the rebels had received these arms directly from Russia or had looted them from the Ukrainian military.
The artillery systems used by the separatists include:
- Soviet 122 mm D-30 howitzer
- Soviet 100 mm BS-3 anti-tank gun
- Soviet 100 mm MT-12 anti-tank gun
- Soviet 152 mm 2A65 Msta-B
- Soviet 76 mm ZiS-3 field gun
Main Battle Tanks
Both Ukrainian governmental forces and the separatists have placed high value on the use of main battle tanks. In many cases, the separatists are utilizing captured Ukrainian tanks, or tanks of the same model provided by the Russians.
However, the separatists have also used Russian tanks that are not known to have ever been exported outside of the country such as the T-72B and T-72BA. Notably, the separatists have also deployed the T-72B3, the latest T-72 model in the Russian service. The tank is not known to have been exported and it was just introduced into service in 2013 indicating Russian involvement in the crisis.
The main battle tanks used by the separatists include:
- Soviet T-64A, B, BM, and BV models
- Russian T-72 B
- Russian T-72BA
- Russian T-72B3
Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Armored Personnel Carriers
Infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and armored personnel carriers (APCs) are the most documented type of armored fighting vehicle in use in Ukraine. Both IFVs and APCs are designed to function as armored troop carriers, with IFVs being differentiated as having an armament of 20 mm in calibre or larger for offensive capabilities.
Although the separatists and the Ukrainians use many of the same IFVs and APCs, separatists have been documented using Russian-variants of APCs in the Ukrainian arsenal that were designed in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Strikingly, separatists have also been documented driving the BTR-82AM IFV. This model was inducted into Russian service in 2013 and is not known to have ever been exported.
The IFV and APC systems used by the separatists include:
- Soviet BMP-2
- Soviet MT-LB
- Russian BTR-82Am
- Russian MT-LB 6MA, MT-LBVM, and MT-LBVMK
Both the Ukrainians and the separatists have utilized the same variants of self-propelled artillery. Given the models and the Ukrainian numerical advantage in fielding these weapon types, the separatists likely looted or captured their self-propelled artillery.
The self-propelled artillery systems used by the separatists include:
- Soviet 2S1 Gvozdika
- Soviet 2S3 Akatsia
- Soviet 2S5 Giatsint-S
- Soviet 2S9 Nona-S
Self-Propelled Rocket Artillery
Much like self-propelled artillery, the Ukrainian government has used self-propelled rocket artillery significantly more than the separatists have. In almost every occasion that the separatists have used rocket artillery, the weapons systems used were identical to what is in the arsenal of the Ukrainian government.
Although the separatists have generally used the 9K51 Grad rocket system, which may or may not have been looted from Ukrainian forces, the rebels also have used a 9K51M Tornado-G. This is a modernized Grad system that was likely supplied by the Russians. However, documented proof of the separatist’s using this system is limited.
The self-propelled rocket artillery systems used by the separatists include:
- Soviet 9K51 Grad
- Russian 9K51 Tornado-G
Self-Propelled Air Defense Systems
In addition to MANPADs, the separatists have made frequent use of self-propelled air defense systems. These systems seek to negate the Ukrainian government’s complete aerial dominance. The systems have proved effective at downing Ukrainian aircraft and were also involved in the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
The rebels in general have used air defense systems that are present in the Ukrainian military. However, the separatists have also utilized Russian Pantsir-S1 and Buk missile systems that were not in the Ukrainian arsenal.
The self-propelled air defense systems used by the separatists include:
- Soviet 9K33, 9K35, and 9K37
- Russian Pantsir-S1
- Russian Buk missile system
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A local news crew was there when a group of middle schoolers got their first taste of MREs at Caruso Middle school in the Chicago suburbs, and it turns out they don’t really like them either.
Also Read: The Best Military Meals Ready-To-Eat, Ranked
The event was put on by the school council last year as part of their “Empathy Meal” program where students eat meals like those consumed by people of different backgrounds.
The school went for the authentic experience, with students heating their meals using chemical pads and eating on the ground outside.
It was a communal meal and students, like the service members they were emulating, exchanged components of the meals.
The popular items with the teens were, to the surprise of no one, the cookies and trail mix. Check out the full video.
And also, via Buzzfeed, it turns out adult civilians don’t like them much either:
North Korea is an enigmatic place with a virtually unknown leader, though tales often slip out of the tyrannical domination of the ruling Kim family.
Through snippets of information leaked from the Hermit Kingdom (as North Korea is commonly known), experts have gleaned a picture of the country, its society and its leader, 37-year-old Kim Jong Un.
A new National Geographic documentary, “North Korea: Inside the Mind of a Dictator,” examines the country and the people who live there and delves into the psychology of its young leader.
The series is full of interviews with experts, childhood friends, escaped bodyguards and even former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, who sat down with Kim during his summits with President Donald Trump.
Before you watch, here are some fundamental things to know about the country and its equally closed-off leader, courtesy of North Korea expert B.R Meyers and his book, “The Cleanest Race.”
1. North Korea has its own brand of communism.
Much to the chagrin of other communist countries, North Korea slowly developed its own kind of “socialist utopia,” seen in the symbolism used by its ruling party. Where most communist countries use the hammer and sickle to symbolize the union of the peasantry and the working class, the Korean Workers Party integrates a Korean calligraphy brush, to incorporate Korean intelligentsia.
In traditional Leninism, intelligentsia were considered part of the bourgeoisie, and many found themselves jailed, deported or executed in other communist states. After the fall of the Soviet Union, North Korea purged itself of any link Marxism-Leninism in favor of its own policy, “Juche.”
2. “Juche” is North Korea’s guiding philosophy — and it’s bunk.
In the earliest days of North Korean nationalism, founder Kim Il Sung needed to come up with a guide for his people, similar to Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book.”
North Korea expert B.R. Meyers says Kim’s official ideology, “Juche,” reads like a college term paper, designed to fill a certain amount of space while ensuring no one actually reads it. The result, he says, is thick books with little substance.
In short, the doctrine pushes for North Korea’s total self-reliance and independence from the outside world. Forget that the country was completely dependent on the Soviet Union for the first 50 years of its existence, Meyers says. North Korea isn’t anywhere close to self-reliant.
“Juche” was meant to be worshipped, not read.
3. North Korea makes money like the Mafia because it has to.
When news stories report that North Korea lives under “crippling sanctions,” that’s both true and misleading. It’s true that the country lives under sanctions that block everything from military equipment to coal. It can’t even get foreign currency. To get around that, North Korea reportedly operates an underground crime syndicate.
It allegedly runs black markets in human trafficking; illegal drug production and smuggling; counterfeiting foreign currency and legal drugs; wildlife trafficking; and arms dealing. There’s even a special office designed just to create a slush fund of cash for Kim Jong Un’s personal use.
4. The North Koreans think they’re better than you.
Not in so many words, but that’s what it amounts to. North Korea’s propaganda machine finds its origins in an ideology similar to that of the Japanese before and during World War II. One of the central tenets of that ideology is that Koreans have a moral superiority above that of all other races.
According to Meyers, this innate goodness is the reason they’ve been invaded and mistreated by foreign powers so often over the years. The goodness of the Korean people is exactly why they need a powerful, charismatic leader to protect them. Someone like, say … the Kims.
5. Each Kim had his own personality cult.
In “The Cleanest Race,” Meyers describes the pillars that hold up the legitimacy of each successive North Korean ruler. Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and founder of the North Korean state, had a cult of personality that relied on protecting the good Korean people from the excesses and evils of outsiders. His strength and military skills kept them safe from being killed by invaders or starving to death.
His son, Kim Jong Il, took over with an entirely different set of issues. He rose to power after the fall of the Soviet Union and amid a growing famine in North Korea. His personality cult centered around his military ability. The famine would undermine his economic abilities, so instead his cult created the idea of a looming threat from outside North Korea — America.
He implemented the infamous “military first” policy that left many North Koreans to fend for themselves, redirecting what few resources the state had to what was then the fourth-largest army in the world and a developing nuclear program.
The famine lasted four years and killed somewhere between 2 million and 3.5 million North Koreans.
6. Kim Jong Un was expected to be a reformer.
After Kim Jong Il’s 2011 death, his son Kim Jong Un took over. Given his extensive experience with the West, many thought he would be more willing to open North Korea up to Western culture and ideas. Others thought he might abandon the country’s nuclear program and turn North Korea into a Chinese-model economy. Others, Like Foreign Policy Magazine’s Victor Cha, weren’t so certain.
Instead, Kim Jong Un developed a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States. He also consolidated his power by executing rivals. Kim even told Trump about how he executed his own uncle and displayed the body. It’s now believed that Kim Jong Un is empowering his sister Kim Yo Jong to do the dirty work, while he works on becoming more of a world leader.
Learn more about the life and regime of Kim Jong Un by watching “North Korea: Inside the Mind of a Dictator” on Monday, Feb. 15, on the National Geographic Channel.
When you hear the word “jetpack,” you picture someone zooming through the sky like the Rocketeer. But DARPA and Arizona State University’s version of the jetpack is a complete let down.
“We’re not able to fly with our jetpack,” said graduate engineer Jason Kerestes, in a video from Arizona State University. “We have instantaneous thrust and we can pretty much trigger it to allow for faster movement and agile motions.”
The pack is designed to enable troops to run a mile in four minutes, but it doesn’t look like they’re quite there yet. At 3:07 of the video, the engineers say to a runner that his time improvement with the jetpack was only three seconds.
Watch the jetpack in action:
This Russian soldier has been dubbed “The Terminator” after catching an AK-47 round between the eyes. The video description is light on details, so we’re thinking if — IF — this is real, the bullet had to have been a ricochet. A direct shot to the head from a 7.62mm would go right through, Russian “Terminator” or not.
Still, here’s a crazy video of a guy using a pair of pliers pulls the bullet out of his noggin. And then the soldier is all smiles.
Ever since Eugene Ely became the first person to take off from — and land on — a ship in 1911, naval aviation has forged a unique identity within the American military. They fly, but they’re not the Air Force. They’re sailors, but only some of them never drive ships.
With a record of accomplishment in peace and war, they have a few things to brag about. Some of them might even surprise you.
1. The U.S. Navy is the second largest air force in the world.
Judged on number of airplanes, the U.S. Navy is the second-largest air force, not just in the United States, but in the entire world. It has over 3,700 aircraft — far fewer than the U.S. Air Force’s 5,500 but more than the Russian Air Force’s 3,000 planes. That is, at least until Vladimir Putin buys more.
2. They were the first Americans in WWI.
The first American military force to arrive in Europe after the United States entered World War I was the 1st Naval Air Unit, commanded by Lt. Kenneth Whiting (Naval Aviator #16, who had been trained by Orville Wright… yes, that Orville Wright).
He led seven officers and 122 sailors to Europe aboard USS Jupiter (which would later become USS Langley, America’s first aircraft carrier) and USS Neptune. For his service in leading the first Yanks “over there,” he was awarded both the Navy Cross and France’s Legion of Honour (Chevalier).
3. They completed the first crossing of the Atlantic by air.
Naval aviators must have decided riding colliers across the ocean wasn’t such a good deal because not long after the war, they started figuring out a better way to make the crossing. In May 1919, the Navy’s flying boat NC-4 made the transatlantic flight. Departing from Long Island with an unscheduled stop in Massachusetts, Lt. Cmdr. Albert C. Read and his crew routed via Halifax and the Azores before arriving in Lisbon eight days later.
It was the only plane out of three that started the journey to make it, the other two made forced landings along the way. Commander Read would later call it, “a continuous run of unadulterated luck.”
4. U.S. Presidents are naval aviation alumni.
Naval Aviation came of age in World War II, when — thanks, in part, to the Imperial Japanese Navy — the aircraft carrier replaced the battleship as the Navy’s most important capital ship. Future-President Gerald Ford served with ship’s company on USS Monterey, a light carrier, while George H. W. Bush flew missions from the decks of USS San Jacinto.
When Bush earned his Wings of Gold, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy. He was shot down in September 1944 and rescued by a submarine. His son would later become the first American president to make an arrested landing, flying in an S-3B Viking and trapping aboard USS Abraham Lincoln.
5. Naval Aviation in the Space Program.
The Navy has been well represented in space, too. Four of the Mercury Seven — America’s first astronauts — wore Wings of Gold. Alan Shepard, who flew F4U Corsairs before becoming a test pilot, was the first American in space. John Glenn, a Marine pilot (hey, they wear the same wings) who flew in WWII and Korea, was the first American to orbit the earth. He’d later be the oldest person — and, so far, only sitting senator — to fly in space.
And how about Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon? You guessed it — he flew in the Navy, too, taking the F9F-2 Panther to war in Korea. Jim Lovell, who commanded the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, flew Banshees and Demons before graduating first in his class at test pilot school. Eugene Cernan, the commander of Apollo 17, was the last man to walk on the moon; he bagged over 5,000 hours and 200 traps flying the FJ-4 Fury and A-4 Skyhawk.
And when NASA was ready to take their new hotness — the Space Shuttle — out of the atmosphere, who did they trust? Two Naval Aviators. John Young and Robert Crippen both flew from carriers before becoming test pilots.
If you find yourself near the gulf coast of Florida, you can visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation to learn more. Its director, Captain (retired) Sterling Gillam, and historian, Hill Goodspeed, graciously offered their time and expertise in helping with this article.
Brig. Gen. Viet X. Luong, who now oversees the training of Afghan forces, was only 9 when his father, a major in the South Vietnamese Marines, told the family that Saigon would soon fall to the North Vietnamese and they must escape.
A reporter friend was able to get them papers to evacuate through Tân Sơn Nhứt Airport.
Arriving just as it came under artillery and rocket bombardment, Luong recalls laying on the ground, listening to the groans of the wounded and praying for salvation. U.S. Marines flew the family to the USS Hancock where, as Saigon fell, Luong decided to join the U.S. military.
Hear the full story at NPR
Sappers are the Army’s experts in mobility on the battlefield. They stop the enemy from moving around and clear obstacles that inhibit the U.S. infantry and other ground troops. To do these jobs, they have to know how to fight an enemy, construct infrastructure like bridges and fences, and destroy enemy obstacles with explosives and tools.
Here are 19 photos that show their mission:
1. Engineers clear routes through enemy territory for maneuver forces.
2. To do this, they detect enemy mines, IEDs, barbed wire, trenches, and other obstructions.
3. If an obstruction or explosive is detected, the engineers ‘interrogate’ (sapper speak) the obstacle and decide what to do.
4. Once they identify a threat, they may mark it so infantry units know where the safe path is.
5. But they often decide to blow the obstruction up. Sappers are known for their skill with explosives.
6. When the enemy is hiding in a building, the sappers can cut through the walls or doors to get to them.
7. They could also just blow the door off the hinges or a hole in a wall. Again, sappers blow up a lot of stuff.
8. Once the building is open, they can force their way inside but will often leave the task of searching the building to the infantry or other maneuver units.
9. When the enemy protects the objective with barbed wire and other obstacles, the engineers use Bangalore torpedoes to blow open a path.
10. Another specialty of engineers is getting themselves and equipment to hard to reach places. Here, sappers create improvised rafts to cross a lake.
11. They also have proper boats, like the Zodiac, that they’ll use to cross the water.
12. Sappers can even drop directly into the water with their equipment and boats via a helicopter.
13. They’ll climb up cliff faces or repel from ledges to open a route or block an enemy.
14. Sappers use many different explosives, including missiles, to complete their missions.
15. Javelin Missiles are most commonly used to destroy enemy armored vehicles.
16. Engineers may aim to hit an enemy tank or armored vehicle while it’s in a choke point, preventing other vehicles from crossing there.
17. Enemy ground units can be stopped or slowed with mines. Claymores fire a barrage of steel bearings at enemies.
18. For more security, the sappers and other engineers can put up fences or other obstacles.
19. This prevents enemy soldiers from getting to friendly forces as easily.
Jayson Floyd and Tyler Grey discuss their new documentary “That Which I Love Destroys Me” with Jack Osbourne in part 3 of this 3 part interview with We Are The Mighty.