The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are arguably the best among military aerial demonstration teams. While they claim to be no better than any of their fleet peers, Blue Angel pilots operate with margins that only the “best of the best” could handle day in and day out.
The Blues have been soaring through the wild blue yonder since 1946, dazzling hundreds of thousands of fans from March to November every year.
Join the team for a close formation, high-G ride in this amazing video:
During the mid-1950s, the Soviets fooled the U.S. into believing that they had hundreds of Bison bombers ready to deploy, but in reality they still lacked a way of reaching the U.S. mainland.
Their solution to this problem was the Bartini-57, a long-range strategic bomber that could land on water and refuel by submarine mid-way through its mission. The aircraft was the brainchild of Italian designer Robert Ludvigovich Bartini, who built some of Russia’s most advanced aircraft between the 1920s and 1950s.
But Bartini’s bomber was cancelled when Sputnik was launched in 1957 by his protegé, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. The Soviets would then set their sights on missiles rather than bombers, which triggered the Space Race, according to this video.
If you’ve watched Top Gun, you probably enjoyed the dogfight scenes. Meanwhile, the ladies in the audience fiercely debated over who was more handsome, Maverick or Iceman (though the mustache fans out there might opt for a dark-horse candidate in Goose). But Top Gun, like many military aviation films, left out a crucial person who’s response for getting those jets ready to fly into the danger zone and blast MiGs out of the sky.
Lance Cpl. Nicholas Levins, an F/A-18 aircraft mechanic with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 and an Issaquah, Wash., native, poses inside of an intake of an F/A-18 Hornet aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
(U.S. Marine Corps)
One of the jobs a plane captain has is making sure the canopy is absolutely spotless.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Dave Hites)
That person is the plane captain. According to a United States Navy release, he or she is responsible for making sure that a plane is fit to fly. This includes performing daily checks on all aircraft and additional checks made before and after each flight. Some of the things a plane captain looks for include cracks on the plane, missing fasteners (which could allow foreign objects to damage an engine), emergency oxygen levels, and canopy cleanliness.
Plane captains assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 carry intake screens on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicolas C. Lopez)
Here’s the kicker: The people responsible for this are some of the newest, youngest personnel in the unit. We’re talking men and women who are anywhere from 19 to 21 years of age. They spend up to six months learning everything necessary to be responsible for a high-performance fighter. A Marine Corps release notes that these people spend as much as 14 hours per day keeping a jet ready. Oh, and they don’t get any overtime pay or comp time.
The real challenge is to keep from becoming complacent. After all, one mishap could cost the United States a multi-million dollar jet and the life of the pilot (or the crew). But the plane captains, like the pilots, get their name on the jet.
Learn more about what plane captains do in this Korean War-era film from the United States Navy.
The M982 Excalibur is the world’s most sophisticated artillery munition designed for a weapons system that was introduced during the Vietnam War: The M109 Howitzer.
This smart munition was co-developed by U.S.-based Raytheon Missile Systems and Swedish BAE Systems Bofors to precisely kill targets from long range and eliminate collateral damage. It gives a projectile the same precision you’d expect from a missile.
“You can aim the gun off target up to 20 degrees off angle and the round will still fly itself back to your target,” said Jim Riley from Raytheon Missile Systems in the video below.
Congress has created a new subcommittee on military intelligence and special operations.
Part of the House Committee on Armed Services, the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations will have jurisdiction over the policy, programs, and accounts that are related to military intelligence, national intelligence, weapons of mass destruction, and conventional weapons counter-proliferation, counterterrorism, sensitive operations, and special operations.
Representative Ruben Gallego (Democrat, Arizona) was chosen to head the subcommittee. Gallego served six years in the Marine Corps (2000-2006), reaching the rank of corporal and deploying once to Iraq for a 12-month deployment. Gallego holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Harvard University.
Representative Gallego said in a statement on Twitter that “When I walk to the committee room for the House Armed Services Committee, I walk by a wall with names of all service members that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. 24 of those names are men I served with. As the new Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations, I serve in their name and honor. I remember being a young man in war hoping someone was looking out for me. If you are out there, know that I am.”
Representative Stephanie Murphy (Democrat, Florida) will serve as the vice-chair of the subcommittee. Murphy has experience in the field from her stint at the Pentagon office that oversees the Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) office.
It will be interesting to see if the new subcommittee will have any real jurisdiction—and thus power—given the plethora of lawmaking bodies with similar duties already in existence. There are, for example, the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the House Committee on Armed Services
Representative Adam Smith (Democrat, Washington), the chair of the Armed Services Committee stated that the new subcommittee will allow Congress to exert more scrutiny and oversight were needed.
“As the country faces unprecedented threats from our adversaries and competitors, especially the disruptive impact of disinformation attacks, we will ensure that special operations forces and the Defense Intelligence Enterprise are postured to address those threats,” Walsh said.
“It is critical that these highly sensitive areas of the Committee’s jurisdiction receive the time and attention they deserve, and this new subcommittee structure will facilitate exactly that.”
Gallego has indicated that the subcommittee will be reviewing the deployment of special operations forces across the world to ensure that they are utilized for the US’ best national interest.
The forthcoming movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has already inspired parodies, including the latest Navy spirit video ahead of the Army-Navy football game on Saturday, December 12.
In classic rivalry fashion, the Midshipmen predict their 14th straight win against the Black Nights. (Navy has enjoyed a winning streak since 2002.)
The video description follows episode IV’s plot of the rescue of princess Leia. (Just replace Star Wars terms with Navy ones.)
Luke and his band of fellow Mids set out on a journey to rescue Midshipman Leia from Army West Point on the eve of Navy football’s 14th victory. Losing streaks are a path to the dark side. May the 14 be with them.
And the jabs don’t stop there. The video cleverly pokes fun at West Point’s pillow fight incident earlier this year in which 30 first-year students were injured.
When Darth Vader asks what the current state of the academy is, a West Point cadet answers:
My general, everything is normal. It is cold, morale is low and the football team is … like I said, everything is normal.
The elaborate production includes 27 midshipmen, the varsity offshore sailing team, the Commandant of Midshipmen, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, and even the Chief of Naval Operations.
The Mustang will appear at the Flying Legends Airshow on July 8 and 9, and then will take part in the International Air Tatoo on July 15 and 16 in Fairford, England. During that show, the “Berlin Express” will fly alongside the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.
The pilot of the plane, Dan Friedkin, owns one of the largest private military warbird collections in the world. In addition to the P-51, he has also flown the F6F Hellcat, F4U Corsair, Supermarine Spitfire, F-86 Saber, and T-6 Texan, among other aircraft.
“The ‘Berlin Express’ is an iconic war plane that is symbolic of our country’s strong aviation history,” said Friedkin, who’s chairman and CEO of The Friedkin Group. “It’s an honor to pilot this aircraft in the Flying Legends Airshow as we pay homage to the brave men and women who have flown in the U.S. Air Force.”
Friedkin founded the Horsemen Flight Team — an aerobatic demonstration team that flies vintage warbirds — and the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, which honors the men and women of the U.S. Air Force.
The P-51B being flown to England was originally designated 43-24837 before it was restored and painted to look like the original “Berlin Express.” The 43-24837 plane crashed in the U.K. after its pilot bailed out during a training mission on July 10, 1944.
The “Berlin Express” was famous for a dogfight in which its pilot, William Overstreet, Jr., was engaging a German fighter. During the battle, the Nazi pilot tried to evade Overstreet by flying through the Eiffel Tower.
Overstreet followed the Nazi, flying between the tower’s arches, and proceeded to shoot the enemy plane down. Despite heavy enemy ground fire, Overstreet made good his escape.
In 2009, Overstreet was awarded France’s highest military decoration, the Legion of Honor, for the engagement. He died in 2013. The release did not mention whether or not there would be a repeat performance of the flight through the Eiffel Tower.
You’ve probably heard of North Korea, but there are probably a few things about the totalitarian nation you didn’t know.
Despite having its borders closed to prevent its people from leaving and outsiders from coming in, there is actually a great deal known about the country. The U.S. and South Korea have gathered intelligence about the hermit state since the 1950s from defectors, undercover reporters, activists, and many other ways.
The country has made it illegal to watch “The Interview” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, possessing Bibles, watching South Korean movies, and distributing pornography, which are all punishable by death. Yet, smoking weed is no big deal.
This video shows these and other crazy facts about the infamous country:
The Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up with the crew of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) to grant Peter, a 16-year-old cancer survivor, his wish to become a Navy pilot for a day.
“Since fourth or fifth grade I wanted to be a naval aviator,” said Peter, in a video produced by the U.S. Navy. “We live within twenty miles of Annapolis and so you have the Naval Academy there, everyone is a Navy fan.”
He didn’t know what to expect when he learned that he was going to be on an aircraft carrier. Little did he know that he would be traveling by air and landing on its deck. Peter got the Navy’s V.I.P. treatment and did way more than he could imagine.
If not for a high draft number, Joe Mantegna might have chosen a career in the military instead of a forty-year career in entertainment. On Criminal Minds, Mantegna portrays David Rossi, an ex-FBI agent who was also once a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War. This aspect of his character is especially important to Mantegna, who comes from a military family and is very passionate about military and veterans’ issues.
In the video above, Mantegna talks about his experiences with the military and why veterans mean so much to him. He and freelance writer Danny Ramm also talk about how and why they decided to highlight the plight of homeless veterans in multiple episodes of one of the biggest shows on television.
The CBS procedural is the second highest rated drama on the network. In its tenth season, its ratings are actually rising. The Hollywood Reporter says it is “aging most gracefully” as one of the top ten shows of the Fall of 2014. Mantegna and Ramm decided to use Rossi’s background as a Vietnam veteran to highlight the struggles of homeless veterans.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs estimates there more than 8,000 homeless veterans living on the streets of Los Angeles. This is the largest population in the United States. They struggle with substance abuse problems, post-traumatic stress, and many chronic health issues.
Two past episodes of Criminal Minds feature subplots about the man who was Rossi and Mantegna’s commanding officer in Vietnam, Harrison Scott, played by the late Meshach Taylor. On the show, Scott is a homeless veteran who transitions with help from the New Directions shelter in Los Angeles. Through Rossi, we get to know Scott, his issues, and the every day problems he and those like him face, living on the streets. Mantegna and Ramm also wanted to bring attention to the New Directions shelter.
New Directions was founded in 1992 to provide services to help these homeless veterans. These services include substance abuse treatment, counseling, education, job training and placement, and parenting classes. Veterans leave New Directions with a savings account, housing, a job, and most importantly, a sense of confidence in the future and a support system to see them through.
A third episode of Criminal Minds will air Wednesday, January 21st with another story about Harrison Scott. In this episode, Rossi discovers his friend has died. He flies to Los Angeles to make funeral arrangements and lay his friend to rest with the honor he deserves. It is also a tribute to actor Meshach Taylor, who died of cancer last year. The episode also feature two real-life three-star generals as well as real veterans instead of extras, with an emphasis on Vietnam-era vets.
Mantegna is also the national spokesman for the campaign to build the National Museum of the United States Army (museums for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy already exist).
Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS and can be watched at CBS.com.
They had just completed a punishing land navigation course up in the mountains east of San Diego during heavy snowfall. They lost another four students from cold casualties and poor navigation skills that had resulted in them getting lost in the snowy mountains after dusk. Now the 28 students were headed out to “The Rock” at San Clemente island 80 miles off the coast of California.
On the Rock, they would learn basic marksmanship skills, weapons cleaning and breakdown, how to build electric and standard demolition charges, small unit tactics, and then do all that in and out of the water. It was basically pre-school for what was coming when they would graduate and go on to the three months of SEAL tactical training and then onto more core training in their SEAL platoons.
Everything got tougher on the Rock. The class worked with bare minimum sleep, three-four hours a night, and was expected to be sharp on the firing line and demolition range.
Everyone was fired up and they could taste graduation: it was so close but so far away.
The students were mentally tough, their minds were honed razor-sharp like a blade. They could take almost anything at this point. And the instructors knew that they had essentially created Godzillas in the closet who were banging to be let out.
Olga and JJ were the top shooters in the class. It didn’t matter what weapon system, be it the HK.45, M4, or M60, they were deadly accurate, much to the surprise of their class.
The first time Olga felt the rumble of the big M60 in her hands she was hooked, like a heroin addict after shooting up dope for the first time, she couldn’t get enough. “I’m in love with this fucking machine gun,” she’d said to herself.
But she, JJ, and the rest of the class would face one of their biggest challenges in the weeks to come.
Every day, every minute, was a test for them. They were pushed harder and harder. The instructors knew they had to mold them into hardened steel because life in the Teams was harder.
“The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.”
Olga also loved this small remote California island off the coast of San Diego, a shame that she had to share it with the wannabe environmentalists that were more interested in sucking off the Navy and justifying their existence than they were about protecting local species.
When Olga stepped off the plane she could smell the musty odor of kelp and sea salt in the air. Looking down the declining slope off the runway she could see the dark shaded blue of the Pacific Ocean and the tip of the SEAL training base, the obstacle course, and the rifle range with smoke coming from the demo range.
The north side of the Rock and the northwest harbor was owned by Naval Special Warfare. It housed the BUD/S camp and the advanced training camp where the SEAL Teams rotated in and out. The SEALs had a demolition range, a 1,000-yard rifle, and pistol range just north of the runway, and the rough Pacific to play in. Northwest harbor was also home to a small seal lion habitat which attracted the “man in the grey suit,” as the instructors liked to remind the students. Sharks… and big ones.
To the south, there was a small town that housed mostly a few air traffic controllers, support personnel, and some Navy contractors. It had the island’s main pier, a chow hall, a small store, and “The Salty Crab”, a local restaurant and bar.
The main road ran down the center of the island, winding up and down small hills. The backside of the island to the south had incredibly jagged cliffs which the SEALs used to practice climbing, large surf operations, and rugged beach entries.
It was not for the faint of heart. San Clemente “The Rock,” 80-0miles off the California coastline was the perfect place for SEALs to train.
San Clemente was also used by the pilot community that practiced bombing runs on the south side of the island and landings and approaches on the main runway. The SEALs had the run of the island which was mostly barren with the exception of small shrubbery, cactus, and the island fox which was still hanging on despite the best efforts of the environmentalists to “fix” the delicate ecosystem. Their fixes turned into one fuck up after another.
Olga overheard the instructors talking at lunch one day about how the Navy-contracted environmentalists had decided that the snowy plover bird needed more food supply so they started hauling in mice. Soon the mice had overtaken the island and were threatening the local human population because they carried a strain of Hantavirus called “Sin Nombre.”
The “Envirotards” brought in cats by the boatload and soon the cats had taken over, eaten most of the mice, and the snowy plover’s food supply. Then contractors were brought to the island to hunt and shoot the cats at night with big spotlights.
The whole thing was a fucking mess.
Olga believed in protecting the environment. She had heard the nightmare stories from her grandmother about the nuclear meltdown of Cherynobl and how it destroyed so many lives. But, she agreed with the instructors who mentioned they should have just shot the environmentalists if they really wanted to solve the problem.
The town was off-limits to the students. Just as well for Olga who was a huge cat lover and would have loved to punch one of the envirotards in the nose. It was better if she stayed on her side of the island, she thought.
Today she was excited because the class was shooting for expert pistol and rifle qualification. Olga was sure she’d have no problem but that didn’t make her less nervous.
The pistol qualification was first. She shot the Sig Sauer P226 9mm and scored near perfect.
Next was the M4 rifle qual. This was a little more challenging because the wind howled on the north end of the island and sometimes the air that blew up from the ocean swirled around the jagged rocks and found its way up to the range in gusts. All this meant that even at 200 yards it could affect the bullet a few inches even if the shooter was holding perfect iron sight focus.
Olga timed the gusts. At the bottom of her exhalations, she unloaded the full magazine.
She felt good about the rifle test.
She and Ty were the top shooters in the class and she felt compelled to remind her classmates that evening at chow, how most of the top snipers in combat were women so there should be no surprise.
“You’re insane but I like your kind of insane Olga,” said Wedge at the dining hall.
A few of their classmates were outside on the cold metal tables nicknamed “Seaport Village.” The real Seaport Village was along the bay’s edge in downtown San Diego and had shops and outdoor restaurants. Her classmates didn’t meet the minimum pull-up requirements to eat dry or had cheated with half-empty water canteens. Now they had to do 20 dead hang pull-ups with full kit, any less and it was a trip down to the beach.
She liked Wedge because he led by example. So few leaders do this, Olga thought.
They were so close to graduation but it seemed so far away on this crazy rock off the California coast.
Like any genre or series, over the years the Army-Navy game “Spirit Spot” videos have run the gamut in terms of production values, imagination, and humor. This one gets the WATM vote for best one produced this year:
Watch the 2014 Army-Navy game live from MT Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on CBS at 3 PM EST.
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.