Simo Häyhä, also known as “The White Death,” was a Finnish sniper who is credited with killing more than 500 enemy troops within 100 days during the Winter War against the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1940.
Häyhä accomplished this incredible feat with a Russian-made Mosin-Nagant M91 rifle and iron sights. He preferred the iron sights as opposed to the scope because it allowed him to shoot from a lower, less visible position. The sights also didn’t fog up in the cold or glare in the sun, which could give away his position, according to Special Forces Sniper Skills by Robert Stirling.
His career ended when he was shot in the face, blowing off part of his cheek and lower jaw. He survived the shot, becoming one of Finland’s most legendary heroes. He died in 2002 of natural causes.
The Confederate flag’s dark and nuanced history has long made the rebel banner an uncomfortable topic of conversation. In the minds of many Americans, it is a symbol of slavery and institutionalized racism – an emblem on par with the Nazi swastika. For others, it’s simply an expression of regional pride.
However, after the racially-motivated church slayings in South Carolina last week – committed by a man who was a proud flyer of the stars and bars – state governments have begun to remove the Confederate flag from their federal buildings. The United States military, on the other hand, has yet to address the issue officially.
South Carolina’s Army Guard still flies 16 streamers that were created under the Confederacy, and servicemen and women are allowed to sport the Confederate flag on clothing and tattoos — something the Defense Department does not consider offensive material. Still, some military officials have decided to retire the flag after the shootings, including The Citadel, South Carolina’s famous military academy, which removed the Confederate Naval Jack from its chapel.
Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of the U.S. Army, spoke to the The Military Times about the rebel flag’s importance within the American military:
“I think that, when you are a student of military history, let’s face it: One of our greatest military generals in the history of our nation was Robert E. Lee,” Allyn said, referring to the legendary Confederate commander.
At Army posts throughout the country, there are “thousands of battle pictorials of Grant and Lee going up against each other with their requisite flags,” he added, noting Lee’s Union counterpart, Gen. Ulysses Grant, who later became America’s 18th president. “So yes, you will find those resident. And if those are offensive to people, I’m sure that our commanders will deal with that.”
“We swear our allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,” Allyn said, “… and we will protect and defend that flag.”
Russia almost blew the United States away with a nuclear strike in 1995 after mistakenly thinking it was under attack. If it weren’t for Russia’s then-president Boris Yeltsin, America as we know it wouldn’t exist. Under the “launch-on-warning” policy used by both nations, Russia had 30 minutes to decide to nuke us but Yeltsin only had five.
Here’s how this monumental mistake almost took place:
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.
Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills is one of only five quadruple amputees of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now recovered and continuing to live his life despite the physical barriers of having no arms or legs, Mills’ story is an inspiration to all. Especially when he has a philosophy of “Never give up. Never quit.”
“I woke up for the first time on my 25th birthday to find out that I had no arms or legs anymore, and I was a quadruple amputee,” Mills says in this video from NowThis News.
“You’re gonna fall down, but don’t be embarrassed about it. Just get out there and keep going at it,” he says. Mills himself has lived by this advice, keeping positive and even joking about his injuries, while serving other wounded warriors through his non-profit The Travis Mills Foundation.
The Fighting Season is a six part documentary series that captures what ending a war looks like. The film, which is out now, shows the sacrifices of the men and women who fought for the freedom and security of Afghanistan as America’s longest war drew to an end. Producer Ricky Schroder put himself in harm’s way as an embedded cameramen to deliver the best account possible.
In this edition of “At The Mighty,” Schroder discusses his motivations for filming this series and his experience with the troops in Afghanistan.
Understanding the mental cost of taking someone’s life can be nearly impossible for those people who have never experienced it. In this StoryCorps video, Joseph Robertson, an infantryman who served during the Battle of the Bulge, tries to explain to his son-in-law the guilt he has carried since he killed a German soldier approaching his position.
StoryCorps, which works nationwide to collect oral history, has a veteran specific program, Military Voices Initiative, where veterans and service members can tell their stories.
China is at it again, starting off the first 100 days of the Biden Presidency with a number of cyberattacks aimed at shaking American businesses, local governments and even those agencies with their own interests in what happens inside the Chinese government.
The latest round of Chinese attacks on American data services was one of the most advanced hacks yet, especially in terms of the measures taken to evade detection. This time, the hackers weren’t necessarily targeting the Department of Defense or critical infrastructure, they were targeting individuals with information China would consider valuable.
A hacking group called Advanced Persistent Threat 5 (or APT5) is the culprit in the latest round of attacks according to Charles Carmakal, chief technology officer of Mandiant, a division of FireEye. FireEye has routinely aided the U.S. government in its cybersecurity efforts and has detected or thwarted a number of high-profile attacks in the past decade.
“This looks like classic China-based espionage,” Carmakal told the Washington Post. “There was theft of intellectual property, project data. We suspect there was data theft that occurred that we won’t ever know about.”
Though the defense department was a target of this round of hacking, a number of other U.S. government agencies were, along with some critical defense contractors. The attacks began in June of 2020 and may even be ongoing. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), acknowledged as much in an April 2021 alert.
This time, the flaws exploited by Chinese hackers were inside of Pulse Secure virtual private network servers (VPN) that allow remote working employees to access company servers while offsite.
Hackers also got into hardware devices near the victims’ locations, and renamed their servers to mimic those of current employees. Hiding in plain sight with a common name and the accounts of persons they just hacked is what made the intrusion so difficult to detect.
FireEye has a long history of exposing high-profile hacks from state actors. In 2015, the company discovered Chinese hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word and Office applications as well as Adobe Flash Player. In 2016, it discovered a vulnerability in the Android mobile operating system that allowed hackers to access text messages and phone directories.
The cybersecurity firm was also a target of hackers itself in 2020, when state-funded hackers stole the FireEye toolkit. FireEye had to then begin to fight its own software, releasting tools to make the use of its toolkit more difficult in cyberattacks.
Most importantly, FireEye detected the 2020 SolarWinds attack and reported it to the National Security Agency (NSA). The SolarWinds attack allowed hackers to breach multiple government agencies, grant themselves privileged access to their networks. This attack was allegedly conducted by hackers working for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR.
In response, President Biden implemented seeping sanctions on the Russian economy upon taking office. There is no word yet on retaliation against China from the Biden Administration, the White House has only commented that it was aware of the situation and was monitoring it closely.
The most recent cybersecurity breach by APT5 is the third detected attack in 2021, all suspected to have links to China’s Communist Party. One of the previous two attacks hit 30,000 Americans in small business and local government, the other targeted tech giant Microsoft.
James Mitchell had a successful 22-year career in the U.S. Air Force — most notably as a top trainer at the Air Force’s survival school — before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
And while he earned some awards and accolades for his service as a SERE leader, it was what he did as a contractor for the CIA after his retirement that truly marks his career.
See, Mitchell is the man who broke al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (often called “KSM”) and other high-ranking members of the terrorist group in the months and years after 9/11.
After the release of his new book about the interrogation program titled “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” Mitchell sat down for an interview with Marc Theissen, a Washington Post columnist and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
During the 90-minute discussion, Mitchell both clarified details about the controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques” he used and provided insights into the minds of the terrorists.
First, Mitchell explained the difference between interrogation and what he describes as “how do you do” visits.
“These enhanced interrogations that I was part of really only dealt with about 14 of the top folks. I didn’t have anything to do with the mid-level or low-level folks at all,” Mitchell, who’s a licensed psychologist, said. “And most of these interrogations took place over a period of time of about two weeks. KSM’s took about three weeks. And then after that, there was no enhanced interrogations for KSM — you know, none at all.”
He later added, “[O]ur goal in doing enhanced interrogations was to get them to make some movement, to be willing to engage in the questions instead of rocking and chanting and doing the other sorts of things that they had previously been doing.”
Once they broke, it was all about “cigarettes and beer,” to borrow a quote from Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis.
“We switched to social influence stuff because we know that the real way that you get the cooperation that you want is not by trying to coerce it out of them,” Mitchell said. “It’s by getting them to provide the information in a way that they don’t feel particularly pressured to do it.”
Mitchell made it clear that after the terrorists broke, the nature of his visits were more along the lines of maintenance. During one of those visits, he described how the mastermind of 9/11 revealed that he had personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
“He describes cutting his head off and dismembering him and burying him in a hole. And [we] asked him, was that difficult for you to do, thinking emotionally this had to be hard to do,” Mitchell said. “And he said, ‘Oh, no. I had sharp knives. The toughest part was getting through the neck bone’ — just like that.”
Mitchell also described KSM’s shock at George W. Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks, revealing that the terror leader thought the U.S. would treat the attack as a law enforcement problem and not go to war over it.
“And then he looks down and he goes, ‘How was I to know that cowboy George Bush would say he wanted us dead or alive and invade Afghanistan to get us?’ And he said it just about like that, like he was befuddled, like he couldn’t imagine it,” Mitchell said.
And Mitchell firmly denies that his EITs were torture.
“If it was torture, they wouldn’t have to pass a law in 2015 outlawing it because torture is already illegal, right?” Mitchell said. “The highest Justice Department in the land wouldn’t have opined five times that it wasn’t torture — one time after I personally waterboarded an assistant attorney general before he made that decision three or four days later, right?”
Mitchell’s book, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” is published by Crown Forum and is available at Amazon.com.
The Nazis had plans to blow up the Hoover Dam during World War II, in an effort to cripple aircraft manufacturing in Los Angeles.
Born out of the Great Depression and completed in 1935, the dam was the largest ever built and stood as a symbol of America’s ability to overcome adversity. It fueled Southern California’s incredible growth – its large cities, its industrial base, its massive agricultural industry, and the nation’s biggest defense plants, according to the National Archives.
This video from American Heroes Channel gives an idea of what happened:
Fortunately, the government was tipped off to the plot and upped security in the area. But it kept fears of the plot secret for more than 60 years, until a historian unearthed documents while doing research at the National Archives, according to Mental Floss.
Aerial dogfights are less likely to happen nowadays than in previous decades, and it’s especially true as drones have begun to takeover the battlefield.
Still, the exploits of legendary flying aces like Manfred von Richthofen “Red Baron,” Randy Cunningham “Showtime 112,” and Robin Olds “Wolf 01” have continued to spark the imagination of Hollywood. The following video shows ten of the most memorable aerial dogfights in movies. The list includes any aircraft or spaceship.
“I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work. The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it. I promised myself that if I ever got away from it, it wasn’t going to be that way anymore.”
Bob Ross is known for producing beautiful landscapes, his soft-spoken demeanor, and bushy facial hair. Whenever anyone mentions the joy they get from painting, it’s tough not to think of Ross smiling at a camera and filling hundreds of canvases with happy clouds, secret trees, and accidental bushes. Even if you aren’t a student of art, putting on an episode of “The Joy of Painting” will lull anyone into a total state of serenity. What many people don’t know is that one of the biggest influences on Ross’s persona and painting technique was the twenty years he spent in the Air Force, especially his time as a drill sergeant.
Born Robert Norman Ross and raised in Orlando, Florida, his first career move was enlisting in the Air Force at the age of 18. He was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska which is where he saw snow and mountains for the first time. In order to paint as much as he wanted, he developed quick-painting techniques including wet-on-wet oil painting. Ross credited William Alexander with teaching him the wet-on-wet technique, which enabled him to paint 25 to 30 thousand paintings over the course of his lifetime.
During his twenty years in the Air Force, Ross reached the rank of Master Sergeant. He often commented in “The Joy of Painting” that his landscape choices were influenced by his time in Alaska. ”I developed ways of painting extremely fast,” Ross said. ”I used to go home at lunch and do a couple while I had my sandwich. I’d take them back that afternoon and sell them.” Ross eventually discovered that he could earn more selling paintings than he could in the Air Force and quit.
Upon his return to civilian life, Ross launched his famous program, “The Joy of Painting.” Each episode could be filmed about as quickly as he could paint, and he did the entire thing for free. His main source of income stemmed from the Bob Ross Foundation which sold art supplies and taught painting. Ross subsequently earned widespread fame and success but kept a low profile. He passed away in 1995 from lymphoma, but his legacy endures.
Here’s a short video of Bob Ross painting a landscape:
A masked ISIS fighter speaking perfect Hebrew threatened to “eradicate this disease [of Jews] from the world” last month, so a group of Israeli comedians have responded — with mockery.
“You ran to Syria because you couldn’t find work,” one comic says in a YouTube video response, which is shot much like a rap battle.
The comedians were responding to a video released by ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State, or Daesh), in which a fighter addresses the Jewish state speaking in what The Washington Post referred to as “impeccable Hebrew.”
The real war between ISIS and Israel, the militant claimed, “hasn’t started yet, and what has happened to you in the past is child’s play in comparison with what will happen to you in the near future, God willing.”
In the response video titled “Escalation 2015 – Battle Daesh (ISIS), five Israeli comics dress in the uniforms of the Israeli Defense Forces and poke fun at the amateur way he holds his AK-47, and that he is threatening the powerful Israeli army “with a knife you stole from your mother’s kitchen.”
“You ran to Syria because you couldn’t find work,” one raps. “You want to be Abu Ali? Don’t speak behind our backs, tell it to the faces of five border police,” he continues, referring to the impressive record of border police officers in dispatching terrorists.
“Don’t come with your jihad – a year ago you served me hummus!” he adds.
You can watch the video below (it’s all in Hebrew):