The decision to get out of the Navy can be just as tough as the decision to join.
Everyone’s exit experience is different, but they all have these basic elements in common:
1. It all starts with a thought.
It sure would be nice to come and go as I pleased without having to worry about liberty restrictions. *Sigh* What a fantasy.
2. You begin to research life outside of the Navy.
Some Navy jobs transfer easily into the civilian world, maybe even with higher pay. Some of your training even counts for school credit. (The key word here is “some.”)
3. You tell a friend.
4. The word gets out.
Some of your friends will think you’re stupid while others will wish they had the courage to join you in facing the insecurities of civilian life.
5. You get the CMC talk.
This is the retention talk. The CMC will paint a picture of doom and gloom of life without the support of the Navy. It’s his job; he’s protecting the Navy’s investment. It costs a lot to train, feed, and house a sailor.
6. You make it official.
This is a big deal. It’s just as nerve-racking as signing your enlistment contract. “Come to me, DD-214.”
7. You celebrate.
You live up to the Navy song (Anchors Aweigh) and drink to the foam while partying one last time with shipmates — the best friends you’ve ever had.
8. You disappoint the CMC.
The CMC feels like he failed you and the Navy.
9. The feeling you get when you’re finally out.
All this time you were providing freedom and now you know what it feels like. You will never take it for granted again.
10. You become the token military guy.
You become the unofficial spokesperson for all veterans. No matter what branch of the military you were in, you’ll get the questions. You’re now the expert in all things military, you know all the ranks in every branch, every custom, every piece of gear, every operation, etc. Our friends at Ranger Up made a video about this. Check it out.
11. You miss it.
After a few years, maybe even a few months, you begin to miss it. You miss the adventure, the awesome stuff you got to do, and most of all, the camaraderie. Congratulations, you experienced what one percent of America gets to do. When they say, “thank you for your service,” you can reply, “thank you for funding it.”
Please, please, please. Don’t ask this question. We are trying very hard to live in la la land. Right now that date is spoiling everything and haunting our every thought. Do you go to buy milk at the grocery store and cry when you happen to see THAT date on it? No? We do. We know you mean well, but instead of reminding us of impending doom….distract us. Oh, and don’t ask when he’s coming home either.
Uh….we don’t have a choice. We are the lucky ones that fell head over heels in love with a man that happened to be in the military. It’s not something we chose, but someONE. If you really love someone, you’ll make whatever sacrifice necessary. And by the way…it’s not ALL bad! I truly love this life. Have you ever had a homecoming? You’ll never experience what I feel is the most amazing event EVER. I do it because I love him; I do it because I love military life.
Just stop. Have you met a military spouse? We don’t ask for help. You don’t survive this life by being weak – we do it all ourselves. We fall into bed at the end of a very long day wondering how we’re going to do it again tomorrow and the next day for the next…how many days do we have left? In order to help us out, please be pushy. Try mowing the lawn without asking. I will never forget when I was cleaning the house one day only to look out the window and see my neighbor mowing the front lawn. He GOT it. And of course I cried. Someone noticed and didn’t make me ask for it. Yeah, maybe you don’t want to just show up with dinner because you don’t know our plans for that night…so instead pop a gift card to Panera in the mail. Or bring a dinner you prepared and froze to be used when we’re having that day. Tell her you feel the need to hang with the kids for a few hours at the park – we’ll know you are lying. But we’ll pretend you’re not. The point is, just do it. TELL us what you are doing. If you give us the opportunity to say no, we will.
5. How do you do it all?
Through God’s unending grace. Grace has become something I’ve been clinging to over the last several months. I always thought of grace as in forgiveness. To me they were simple synonyms. But man, God’s grace is so much more than that. It’s not just forgiveness for my screw-ups, it’s allowing me to screw up in the first place. See, I’m no longer afraid to fail. I WILL fail. It is something I have only now learned – I am not superwoman though non-military members will tell you so. I think that gets in your head after a while. We constantly worry that to everyone else we at least look like we have it altogether and I’m sure most of us take pride in that. But we forget that it’s okay to be a broken mess sometimes. We simply can’t be perfect. Once we begin to accept that, so much stress just seems to dissipate. Our life is stressful enough, don’t carry the baggage of being superwoman on top of it.
This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.
We here at WATM love putting together lists and rankings, so it makes sense for us create one for non-fiction books. We read quite often, and not surprisingly considering we’re a bunch of military veterans, those books often deal with military topics.
These are our picks for best military non-fiction books of all-time. (If you’d like to see our picks for fiction, click here.) The books below are numbered but not in rank order. All of these are great reads.
If you want to gain an understanding of America’s war with radical Islamists, look no further than “The Forever War” by journalist Dexter Filkins. As a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, Filkins begins his book as the Taliban rises to power in Afghanistan, writes of the aftermath following the Sept. 11th attacks, and then continues through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Told from ground level by the only American journalist who reported on all of these events, Filkins does not write a neat history lesson. Instead, he tells individual stories of people — from ordinary citizens to soldiers — and how they are affected by the incidents that happen around them. He does it using beautiful prose, and with little bias.
Former Air Force Col. James Burton gives the inside account of what it’s like when the Pentagon wants to develop a new weapons system. Having spent 14 years in weapons acquisition and testing, Burton details his struggle during the development of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle with those above him who were often more interested in supporting defense contractors instead of troops in the field.
Burton spends much of the book writing of the small band of military reformers who worked hard trying to fix the problems of Pentagon procurement from the 1960s to the 1980s, and he suffered professionally for “rocking the boat” as a result. For example, after suggesting that the Bradley’s armor should be tested against Soviet antitank weaponry, the Army — knowing it would never hold up — tried to get Burton transferred to Alaska. The very serious book also inspired a very funny movie made by HBO:
Most people have seen the movie, but this is one of those times when you should definitely read the book. This brilliant account by journalist Mark Bowden tells the story of the Oct. 3, 1993 battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, when hundreds of elite U.S. Army soldiers fought back against thousands of militants when a routine mission went wrong.
With remarkable access, research, and interviews, Bowden recreates the battle minute-by-minute and perfectly captures the brutality of the fight and the heroism of those who fought and died there.
This book gives an inside look at the transformation that takes place from civilian to Marine Corps officer. A classics major at Dartmouth, Fick joins the Marines in 1998 an idealistic young man and leaves a battle-hardened and skilled leader after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At times very personal and unpleasant, Fick’s book recounts plenty of combat experiences. But that is not the real draw. His wonderful detailing of the training, mindset, and actions of Marine officers on today’s battlefields makes this a must-read.
Historian Stephen Ambrose’s account Easy Co. in “Band of Brothers” is quite simply, an account of ordinary men doing extraordinary things. The book — which later became a 10-part miniseries on HBO — takes readers from the unit’s tough training in 1942 all the way to its liberation of Hitler’s “Eagles Nest” in 1945.
“Band of Brothers illustrates what one of Ambrose’s sources calls ‘the secret attractions of war … the delight in comradeship, the delight in destruction … war as spectacle,’ writes Tim Appelo in his review.
One of the first significant engagements between American and Vietnamese forces in 1965 was also one of the most savage. The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley is told by Lt. Col. Moore and Galloway, a reporter who was there, and it serves as both a testament to the bravery and perseverance of the 450 men who fought back after being surrounded by 2,000 enemy troops.
While the book was later made into a movie, it’s well-worth reading if only for the stories of Rick Rescorla, the platoon leader featured on the cover of the book whose nickname was “Hard Core.”
More than 2,000 years old and still relevant today, “The Art of War” is a must-read book on military theory and strategy. But its maxims can be applied by those far outside the combat arms. Tzu offers advice relevant to everyone from Army generals to CEOs.
“Absorb this book, and you can throw out all those contemporary books about management leadership,” wrote Newsweek.
There have been many contemporary accounts written of World War II, but “Flyboys” manages to bring to light something that had remained hidden for nearly 60 years. James Bradley tells the story of nine Americans who were shot down in the Pacific off the island of Chichi Jima.
One of them, George H.W. Bush, was rescued. But what happened to the eight others was covered up and kept secret from their families by both the U.S. and Japanese governments. Bradley, who wrote “Flags of our Fathers,” conducted extensive research and uncovered a story that has never been told before.
Written in a compelling narrative style, David McCullough’s “1776” retells the year of America’s birth in wonderful detail. McCullough is an incredible storyteller who puts you right there, feeling as if you are marching in the Continental Army.
From the Amazon description:
In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence—when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.
As a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, Evan Wright rode with the Marines of 1st Recon Battalion into Iraq in 2003. Embedded among the men, Wright captures the story of that first month of American invasion along with the grunt mindset, how the Marines interact, and captures the new generation of warriors that has emerged after 9/11.
Soldiers today are “on more intimate terms with the culture of the video games, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own families,” Wright told Booklist (One 19-year-old corporal compares driving into an ambush to a Grand Theft Auto video game: “It was fucking cool.”)
A monster of a book at 704 pages, journalist Jake Tapper tells a powerful story of an Afghan outpost that was doomed to fail even before soldiers built it. Beginning with the decision to build a combat outpost in Nuristan in 2006, Tapper reveals a series of bad decisions that would ultimately lead to a battle for survival at that outpost three years later — one that would see multiple soldiers earn the Medal of Honor for their heroism.
Known as Combat Outpost Keating, the story of the base is one that is worth reading. With its bestseller status, rave reviews by critics, and most importantly, the soldiers who fought there, it’s safe to say “The Outpost” gets it right.
Found on many military reading lists, Grossman’s “On Killing” is a landmark study of how soldiers face the reality of killing other humans in combat, and how military training overcomes their aversion to such an act.
A former West Point psychology professor, Grossman delves into the psychological costs of war and presents a compelling thesis that human beings have an instinctual aversion to killing. With this, he also shows how militaries overcome this central trait through conditioning and real-world training.
This Pulitzer-Prize winning book is a masterpiece of military history. Delivering an account of the first month of World War I in 1914, Tuchman tells not just a war story, but an event that would upend the modern world.
“This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war,” reads the publisher’s description. “How quickly it all changed, and how horrible it became. Tuchman is masterful at portraying this abrupt change from 19th to 20th Century.”
Embedded among the soldiers of 2-16 Infantry as part of President Bush’s last-chance “surge” in Iraq, journalist David Finkel captures the grim reality as troops face the chaotic, and often deadly, streets of Baghdad. The book often follows the overly-optimistic Col. Ralph Kauzlarich (motto: “It’s all good”).
But Finkel excels at capturing everyone up and down the chain-of-command, and tells their stories incredibly well. His book is less about big-picture surge strategy, and more about the soldiers on the ground who fought it. That is a very good thing.
Those are our picks. Did we miss one that you loved? Leave a recommendation in the comments.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl now faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and if he’s found guilty, he’ll join a list of U.S. military deserters throughout history that includes famous names such as Steve McQueen and Mark Twain.
We looked back and found some of the more infamous cases of soldiers deserting or going AWOL from their military service. Here’s what we found.
1. Mark Twain
Before his writing career took off under his pen name of “Mark Twain,” Samuel Clemens was training as an apprentice steamboat pilot in New Orleans in the late 1850s. According to the Hannibal Courier-Post, he received his pilot’s license in 1859, but his career was cut short after the outbreak of Civil War shut down traffic on the Mississippi River.
The Civil War severely curtailed river traffic, and, fearing that he might be impressed as a Union gunboat pilot, Clemens brought his years on the river to a halt a mere two years after he had acquired his license. He returned to Hannibal, where he joined the prosecessionist Marion Rangers, a ragtag lot of about a dozen men. After only two uneventful weeks, during which the soldiers mostly retreated from Union troops rumoured to be in the vicinity, the group disbanded. A few of the men joined other Confederate units, and the rest, along with Clemens, scattered. Twain would recall this experience, a bit fuzzily and with some fictional embellishments, in The Private History of the Campaign That Failed (1885). In that memoir he extenuated his history as a deserter on the grounds that he was not made for soldiering.
2. Steve McQueen
The actor who became known as “The King of Cool” had a rocky time while serving in the Marine Corps. Having joined the Marines in 1947, McQueen was promoted to Private First Class and was demoted back to private seven times, according to AllDay.com. Yes, SEVEN.
His rebellious nature came to a head when he let a weekend pass turn into a two week tryst with his girlfriend. Shore patrol apprehended him, but he resisted and spent 41 days in the brig; the first 21 were spent living off of bread and water.
3. Gen. George Custer
Before his famous “Last Stand” at the Battle of Little Big Horn, George Custer was court-martialed for abandoning his post to go and see his wife. After taking over the newly-formed 7th Cavalry, Custer led an expedition against the Sioux and Cheyenne indians in 1867.
But he took a slight detour and left his regiment to see his wife Libbie back at Fort Riley, according to History.com. He was court-martialed and convicted on eight counts, including absence without leave (AWOL), and was suspended from duty for one year without pay. Ironically, his court-martial also included testimony that Custer ordered deserters to be shot without trial, according to the Kansas Historical Society.
4. Private Eddie Slovik
A World War II draftee, Eddie Slovik was sent to France to serve with the 28th Infantry in Aug. 1944. As combat replacements, Slovik and a companion become lost while trying to join the unit at the front lines and they ended up joining a Canadian unit that took them in, according to History.com.
History.com has more:
Slovik stayed on with the Canadians until October 5, when they turned him and his buddy over to the American military police, who reunited them with the 28th Division, now in Elsenborn, Belgium. No charges were brought; replacements getting lost early on in their tours of duty were not unusual. But exactly one day after Slovik returned to his unit, he claimed he was “too scared and too nervous” to be a rifleman and threatened to run away if forced into combat. His admission was ignored-and Slovik took off. One day after that he returned, and Slovik signed a confession of desertion, claiming he would run away again if forced to fight, and submitted it to an officer of the 28th. The officer advised Slovik to take the confession back, as the consequences would be serious. Slovik refused, and he was confined to the stockade.
Slovik admitted in his confession that he was so scared at times that he “couldn’t move.” He wrote: “I said that if I had to go out their again I’d run away. He said their was nothing he could do for me so I ran away again AND ILL RUN AWAY AGAIN IF I HAVE TO GO OUT THEIR [sic].”
His trial lasted less than two hours, and he was sentenced to death by firing squad. His sentence was carried out on Jan. 31, 1945, Business Insider reported.
Before he was killed, Slovik said (according to The Spectator):
“They’re not shooting me for deserting; thousands of guys have done that. They just need to make an example out of somebody and I’m it … I used to steal things when I was a kid, and that’s what they’re shooting me for. They’re shooting me for the bread and chewing gum I stole when I was 12 years old.”
Many of the world’s most famous brands have a military heritage.
Some brands proudly display their backgrounds in their logos, websites and marketing, while others would rather consign their early beginnings to the history books.
Either way, a surprising amount of brands started off by supplying products to the armed forces or discovered the products that made them famous during times of conflict.
1. The original Jeeps went into production in 1941, purpose-built for the military. Willys MB Jeeps became the most commonly-used 4-wheel drive vehicles of the US army during World War II.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
2. Mars invented the recipe for MMs during the Spanish Civil War, when Forrest Mars Sr. saw soldiers eating pieces of chocolate covered in a candy coating, which prevented them from melting in the sun. He was on his visit behind the lines with a member of the Rowntree family, which went on to make Smarties — a candy very similar to MMs — sold outside of the US.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
3. Vodafone began its life in the 1980s as a subsidiary of Racal Electronics, the UK’s largest military radio technology producer at the time. Racal was also once the third-largest British electronics company. Here’s Vodafone’s first mobile phone, the Mobira Transportable, which weighed 11 pounds.
4. Aquascutum was founded in 1851. British army officers wore its water-repellent grey raincoats during the Crimean War to help withstand the rain and mud in the Russian trenches (the brand’s name is derived from Latin words “aqua,” which means water, and “scutum,” which translates as shield.) And, a few decades later, here’s former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill wearing one of its classic trench coats.
5. Probably the best-recognized sunglasses in the world, the Ray-Ban Aviator. Bausch Lomb developed the style after being asked by the US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General to create sunglasses that would reduce the nausea and headaches pilots flying at high altitudes were experiencing. The original prototype was created in 1936 and had green lenses, which served as anti-glare without obscuring pilots’ vision.
6. Kotex sanitary pads actually started out as medical gauze to treat soldiers during World War I. Army nurses then adapted the wadding for menstrual purposes. In 1920, Kotex became Kimberly-Clark’s first consumer product.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
7. Super glue was first discovered in 1942 when a team of scientists, who were looking for materials to make clear plastic gun sights for the war, came across a material that stuck to any other material it contacted. American researchers rejected cyanoacrylates (the chemical name for glue) because it was too sticky. But in 1951, they were rediscovered by researchers at Eastman Kodak. Super Glue began being sold as a commercial product in 1958.
Photo: The Original Super Glue
8. Victorinox originated in 1864 from a knife cutler’s workshop Ibach-Schqyz, Switzerland. Founder Karl Elsener I went on to become the first major supplier of soldiers’ knives to the Swiss Army. Here’s one of the original designs.
Photo: Victorinox Swiss Army
9. Silly Putty was an accidental creation. It was invented in the 1940s by an engineer looking to create a synthetic rubber. During World War II, rubber was rationed in the US and the government asked companies to attempt to make an alternative in order to speed up wartime productive efforts. A practical use for the putty was never really found but, after a marketer placed a batch of the putty into little plastic eggs and began selling them for a $1, it became a world-renowned toy.
10. Hugo Boss was a member of the Nazi Party and in 1928 became an official supplier of uniforms organizations within the National Socialist party, including the Hitler Youth, Sturmabteilung (paramilitary), and the SS.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
11. Fanta was first invented due to a trade embargo on importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II. The then-head of Coca-Cola Deutschland decided to create a new drink made up ingredients actually available in the country at the time, such as whey and pomace. The result was Fanta, which comes from the German word “Fantasie.” Coca-Cola relaunched Fanta worldwide in 1955.
12. Banana Republic was founded by husband and wife team Mel and Patricia Ziegler in 1978, who began by re-purposing and selling vintage military surplus clothing and safari wear. The clothing retailer later expended to its own original lines and was acquired by Gap in 1983. Here is the very first Banana Republic in Mill Valley, California.
Photo: Banana Republic
13. Porsche created the Volkswagen Beetle after Adolf Hitler expressed demand for a mass-market, sturdy, but cheap vehicle for Germany’s newly established road network. The first Beetle was manufactured in 1938. Here’s a 1963 Beetle, made famous by the movie “Herbie.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
14. Motorola originally started out as a battery-maker called Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. But in 1940 it developed the Handie-Talkie SCR536 portable two-way radio, which became a World War II icon.
15. The founders of Adidas and Puma were two brothers (Adi and Rudolf) who were partners at the Dassler Brothers Sport Shoe company in the 1920s and even supplied shoes to gold medal-winning African-American athlete Jesse Owens during the 1936 Olympics. But a fierce rivalry grew between them, which came to a head during World War II when the Allies bombed Herzogenaurach. Adi is reported to have exclaimed: “The dirty bastards are back again,” as he and his wife climbed into a bomb shelter already occupied by Rudi and his wife. Rudi thought it was directed at him, and as their conflict escalated, the two split the company in 1945. Adi named his new company Adidas, and Rudi called his Puma.
16. Duct Tape was first created by Johnson Johnson during World War II, where soldiers had a need for strong, flexible, waterproof tape that could repair their machinery, equipment, and ammunition. It was nicknamed “Duck Tape” by soldiers, due to its duck cloth backing.
The U.S. military is an expeditionary force capable of deploying anywhere in the world, and as a consequence of that, aircrews flying into harm’s way might get shot down or crash in hostile lands. That’s when the work starts for combat search and rescue teams.
1. When the military needs to recover downed aircrews, it conducts a “personnel recovery” mission.
2. Different branches have different names and preferred methods for these missions, but all of them include a lot of planning and attention to detail.
3. Once a plan is created, a group of specialized warriors prepares to jump, fly, or drive into combat. In this photo, an Air Force pararescue team gets ready to parachute into a simulated mission.
4. If the service doesn’t know the exact location of a downed aircrew, they dispatch people to go search for them. The preferred method is to fly over the area and use sensors to search the ground.
5. Sometimes, aircraft are limited by weather, enemy activity, or other factors. This can lead to troops having to search through a dangerous area on foot.
6. Personnel can get to the search area in a variety of ways, including parachuting in.
7. Helicopters are the most popular method of insertion of recovery personnel.
8. In recent years the V-22 Osprey has been increasingly employed.
9. Once the rescue crews are nearby, isolated personnel are encouraged to signal them using pre-assigned methods. Here, a simulated casualty swings a chemlight to signal to other Marines landing in a cloud of dust.
10. On the ground, the recovery team is responsible for securing the area and watching out for enemy activity.
11. Medical assets assigned to the team will evaluate any casualties and conduct emergency care for members of the downed aircrew.
12. Then, everyone gets back on the birds to get out of dodge before any enemies show up.
13. For service members isolated in areas where helicopters can’t land, the rescue crews can bring in winches or other equipment to get everyone out anyway.
14. Once everyone is on board, the birds head back to base. The formerly isolated personnel will then be offered medical care and either return to their unit or be sent back to the U.S. for additional treatment.
Naval historians still argue about the legacy of the battleship. Critics call them too vulnerable and too expensive, while supporters laud their sheer offensive capability and awesome firepower. Whatever the opinions, the battleship will always have an important place in U.S. military history. Here are 19 pictures that show why:
The “Great White Fleet,” sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909, consisted of sixteen new battleships of the Atlantic Fleet. The fourteen-month long voyage was a grand pageant of American sea power.
One of the Great White Fleet’s Connecticut-class battleships at Villefranche, France, circa January 1909. This ship is either USS Vermont (Battleship No. 20) or USS Minnesota (Battleship No. 22).
“Crossing the line” ceremony as the Great White Fleet crosses the Equator, turning “Pollywogs” into “Shellbacks.”
The bridge of the USS Connecticut circa 1908. Note the ship’s name in lights.
Officers sporting ceremonial attire about the USS Connecticut.
U.S. Army aviation pioneer Billy Mitchell started an inter-service and inter-warfare specialty argument in 1921 when he demonstrated how bombers could take out a battleship. He later testified before Congress that “1,000 bombardment airplanes can be built and operated for about the price of one battleship.”
The USS Arizona was the pride of the fleet through the 1930s and is pictured here at sea with President Hoover aboard.
Things went very badly for the U.S. Navy’s battleship fleet, including the USS Arizona, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
The American war machine kicked into high gear after Pearl Harbor. Here the battleship Iowa is launched from New York Naval Shipyard in 1942.
Battleships were used extensively in the Pacific Theater during World War II, primarily for naval gunfire support during amphibious landings.
Here the USS New Jersey launches shells at the beach to soften up the LZ for the Marines as they get ready to take Okinawa.
Here the USS Missouri offers some gunfire support of her own in 1944.
Always the master of optics, MacArthur insisted that a battleship be the venue for the Japanese surrender. The ceremony was held aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
Battleships were brought back into service during the Korean War. Here the USS Wisconsin sails between the destroyer Buck and heavy cruiser Saint Paul off Korea, February 22, 1952.
On May 6, 1956, the USS Wisconsin collided with the USS Eaton, a destroyer, in heavy fog off of Hampton Roads and sustained severe damage to her bow.
As part of Navy Secretary John F. Lehman’s effort to build a 600-ship Navy in the 1980s, and in response to the commissioning of Kirov by the Soviet Union, the United States recommissioned all four Iowa-class battleships. Here the USS Iowa is seen shelling targets in Lebanon in 1984.
The Iowa met with disaster on April 19, 1989 when an explosion in the center gun room killed 47 of the turret’s crewmen and severely damaged the gun turret itself. Two major investigations were undertaken into the cause of the explosion, one by the U.S. Navy and then one by the General Accounting Office and Sandia National Laboratories. The investigations produced conflicting conclusions.
Today guests can visit the USS Arizona memorial where oil still seeps from the wreck resting against the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
And guests can also visit the Iowa-class battleships in various cities around the country, including the USS Wisconsin docked in Norfolk, Virginia.
And lets not forget what is perhaps the greatest tribute to the battleship of all: Cher’s video for “If I Could Turn Back Time,” shot aboard the USS Missouri docked in Long Beach on July 1, 1989. (And Navy officials were not happy with Cher’s outfit.)
So, the American warfighter is one of the most technologically advantaged warriors in history.
But we could still make it better, right? No one wants a fair fight in war, and nature is full of animal superpowers that would give the U.S. a greater advantage.
Here are four that might be on the way:
1. Snow fox rangefinder
Snow foxes have achieved internet fame recently for their “built-in compass” that makes them more successful in hunting mice under the snow or dirt when they strike at a small range of compass directions to the northeast of their position.
But it’s not exactly a built-in compass, it’s more of a range finder. This Discovery Blog article does a good job of explaining it, but the snow fox can basically sense disturbances at a fixed distance from them along a fixed direction. This allows them to much more accurately sense the exact range of the mouse from their position and attack with precision.
As for targeting enemy forces that aren’t actively engaging them, soldiers still have to spot the enemy and either guess, hit them with a laser rangefinder, or compare the enemy positions to their position on a map and do the math. No magic hunting powers are on the table yet.
There are still software limits, though. Someone will have to teach the mechanical noses what elements are present one, two, or eight days after an enemy infantry patrol passes a given point or a fuel point has been disbanded.
The short answer is maybe. Troops currently can see infrared energy through bulky optics, but there’s a possibility for contact lenses that sense infrared radiation. Because it’s tied to ultraviolet detection, it’s explained at the end of entry 4, below.
4. Jumping spider and bat eyes that see four primary colors
Yes. Four of them. We are told that the three primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. But that’s not exactly true. Red, yellow, and blue correspond with specific wavelengths of light that stimulate humans’ three kinds of color receptors. Human corneas filter out light in another, otherwise visible band, ultraviolet. Some bats and spiders can see this band.
Soldiers who can see UV light would have much better night vision with none of the “tunneling” of most NV goggles. They would also be able to see insects better, helping troops avoid them, and fingerprints, helping with site exploitation.
Is it coming?
Maybe. The major technology breakthroughs have already come thanks to graphene, which can be used to make “ultra-broadband” photoreceptors. Basically, sensors that can detect infrared energy, visible light, and UV rays and combine them into one final image.
Best of all, graphene is thin enough that the possibility exists to make these receptors into contact lenses. But no one has currently commissioned graphene contact lenses for the troops. Still, fingers crossed.
Though military members of all stripes probably have an easy time sleeping in places other than a bed, infantrymen are especially adept at being able to sleep just about anywhere. We’ve ranked the best spots for grunts to catch some Z’s.
1. On a cot less than a foot away from the grunt next to you
2. On the floor of an Air Force terminal before deployment
Sure, most people end up in one nice, consolidated grave. But these five generals were not “most people”:
1. Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s skeleton and flesh were buried 400 miles apart.
When Isaac Wayne arrived at the Army blockhouse in Erie, Pennsylvania, he expected to exhume his father’s bones and take them the 400 miles back to his hometown of Radnor, Pennsylvania for re-burial. His father was Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War and Northwest Indian War hero.
When the remains were exhumed, the body was found to be in good condition despite 12 years having passed since Gen. Wayne’s death in 1796. Isaac’s cart was too small to move a complete body though, and so Isaac had the body dismembered and the flesh boiled off of it. Then, he took the bones the 400 miles back to Radnor. The boiled flesh and the tools used in the “operation” were reburied in Erie.
2. Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell was buried 640 miles from his leg.
A Confederate leader in the Civil War, Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell was seriously injured at the Second Battle of Manassas. His leg was amputated and buried in a local garden. Ewell returned to combat after a one-year convalescence and was taken prisoner near the end of the war.
3. Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles’ leg is in the Smithsonian.
Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles led his men to their doom at the Battle of Gettysburg when he ignored his orders and marched forward of his designated positions. Exposed, he and his men were brutally attacked and Sickles himself was wounded by a cannonball to the leg.
After his amputation, he decided against having his leg buried and instead sent it to the Army Medical Museum where Sickles visited it every year. It now resides at the Smithsonian Museum while Sickles rests in Arlington National Cemetery.
4. Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood’s leg was buried somewhere by an army private.
Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood lost his right leg after it was struck by a Minie ball during the Battle of Chickamagua in Georgia. His condition after the surgery was so bad that his physician, assuming he would die, ordered Pvt. Arthur H. Collier to take the leg to a nearby town where the general was being treated.
5. Stonewall Jackson’s left arm has a famous grave.
The grave of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s left arm is well known. Jackson was returning from a reconnaissance of Union positions in 1863 when his own soldiers mistook him for the enemy. Pickets fired on him and injured his left arm which was later amputated.
Stonewall’s chaplain buried the arm near Chancellorsville while Jackson was taken to Fairfield Plantation, Virginia. Jackson was expected to make a recovery, but he died of pneumonia eight days after his injury. He is buried in Lexington, Virginia, 44 miles from his arm.
There are things common to the military no matter what branch a service-member joins, and they often extend outside the front gate of the installation. We all have a type, right?
Whether in the Air Force or the Army, troops can count on regulations sometimes making no sense, or running into the same types of people during their daily routine. But outside of bases — which are often a major driver of the local economy — there are archetypes that exist just about everywhere. Here they are.
1. The civilian girl at the bar who knows military rank structure way too well.
You’re at the local watering hole kicking back a few beers with your friends, and you see a pretty girl at the other end of the bar. So you get up, walk over, and introduce yourself. “Oh, are you a soldier?” she asks, as if the haircut and demeanor doesn’t give it away. “What rank are you?”
Just run away. Now.
2. The retired sergeant major or chief who corrects you at the gas station.
Troops are basically free and clear of the military once they get past the gate of a base outside of a big populated area like Camp Pendleton (Orange County-San Diego, Calif.) or Fort Jackson (Columbia, S.C.), but that isn’t always the case in some other posts. At places like Camp Lejeune (Jacksonville, N.C.) or Minot Air Force Base (Minot, N.D.), the base is arguably one of the main drivers of the local economy, and many people are connected to it in some way.
And for some military retirees especially, sticking close to their old base gives them the opportunity to stay connected to their service — by telling you how terrible your haircut is at the local gas station.
3. The guy at the tattoo parlor who has put the same lame tattoo on everyone since Vietnam.
The town surrounding a military base is pretty much guaranteed to have a good assortment of tattoo parlors. But the tattoo parlors don’t really have an assortment of different designs. Marine bases can expect “USMC” in every possible font, while sailors will see plenty of anchors to choose from on the wall. And the artist has been tattoing the same designs for so long, he or she can probably do it in their sleep.
4. The shady used car dealer who thinks E-1 and up can easily afford a brand new 2015 Ford Mustang at 37% interest.
The used car dealer is guaranteed to be a stone’s throw away from the base gate, and it usually has signs that read “E-1 and Up!” along with “We Support our Troops!” Most of the time, the way they support the troops is by screwing them out of their hard-earned money with insanely lopsided deals.
“Oh hey, I’m a former Marine too, so I’ll definitely hook you up, brother,” is probably a red flag from the salesman. Another red flag is your financing statement showing an interest rate consisting of more than one number. Go somewhere else, so you don’t end up paying $100,000 over a period of six years for a Ford Taurus.
5. The guy at the Pawn Shop selling gear that suspiciously went missing from the back of your car last week. We don’t like this type.
You may have heard the phrase “gear adrift, gear a gift.” As it turns out, that gear may sometimes end up as a gift being sold at the local pawn shop. Or on eBay.
6. The police officer who used to be in the military but isn’t cutting you any slack on this speeding ticket.
You may be able to pull the military veteran card in small town U.S.A. to help you get out of a ticket, but outside of a major military installation — where the cops are pretty much pulling over troops all day long — that probably isn’t a good strategy.
Especially when you run into a cop who used to be in your shoes a couple years ago. Of course, you could always just, you know, slow down.
What other types of people or places do you always see outside the base? Leave us a comment.
Daenerys Targaryen FINALLY landed on Westeros in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” She’s even started using the dragons and Dothraki on Westerosi armies! Even though she hasn’t (yet) moved on King’s Landing, there’s a lot of reason to believe it’s just a matter of time before the “game” is over.
This gives us a chance to stop and reflect on all the battles and strategies in the game that led us here. Even better, it gives us a chance to laugh at the worst leaders in the place and question why the hell they thought they could hang in the first place. At least Tommen knew he just wasn’t cut out for it.
7. Theon Greyjoy
Theon’s big victory wasn’t even really a fight. He told the Stark Army there was an attack somewhere else, and when they left he forced Bran to concede Winterfell to him. Then, right before the Iron Born immediately turned on him, he killed some farmer’s family and torched their two kids. Cool.
You know who the real loser was in the sack of Winterfell?
Rickon Stark. Rickon is the real loser in all this. By the time the Starks retake Winterfell, Bran can see through time, Arya has face-melting assassin skills, Jon Snow is hanging with the Mother of Dragons, and Sansa runs the place. What did Rickon get?
Theon sucks. He knew it, his men knew it, the Boltons knew it. And he’s at number seven on this list because we knew it too.
6. Ramsay Bolton
Sure, he seized the North (after it was decimated by the Iron Born, but whatever). We’ll give that to him. But the thing about the way a ruler like Ramsay Bolton operates is that there has to be an element of fear to fighting for him. That also means that there has to be a good chance you’ll survive. If you know you’re going to die no matter what, it makes it difficult to fight for survival.
In the Battle of the Bastards, Ramsay so casually mows down his own troops with arrows to the point that they’re indistinguishable from the enemy in the pile of bodies. See if you can spot the point when a bunch more guys from the Bolton Army would have really come in useful during the Battle of the Bastards:
Where was the shirtless Ramsay Bolton who fought the Iron Born at the Dread Fort?
5. Joffrey Baratheon
If only Stannis Baratheon had attacked King’s Landing with a bunch of prostitutes, then Joffrey would know how to kill the enemy. Donning the King’s Armor in the one time he had a chance to be a real leader, he bravely left the battlefield to go see what his mom wanted.
And don’t forget, Arya was embarrassing Joffrey before it was cool…and before she even had face-wrecking assassin powers.
4. Balon Greyjoy
Remember Balon? No? Funny how the worst among us are completely forgotten as soon as someone with skills and ability comes along.
The thing about Balon that’s different from most of the people on this list is that the other people had a reputation for valor, daring, and strategic thinking before the events depicted on the show. Not Balon. Before the events of the show, Balon led a rebellion from the Iron Islands and was quickly owned by Ned Stark. His biggest win was having Theon taken hostage.
Everyone spends the first season making fun of Balon in front of Theon. Only Yara gave a damn when Euron threw the old man over a bridge. In fact, the whole Game of Thrones series got exponentially better as soon as someone killed Balon.
3. The Night King
The Night King has existed since the age of the Children of the Forest. He has practically unlimited manpower that only grows the more he fights. And it’s next to impossible to stop his army in close quarters combat…unless you can figure out the three things that can actually hurt them. And the Night King is giving the living SO MUCH TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
Seriously, what is he doing beyond the wall? Every time we see him, he and his army of White Walkers look like they’re just walking around endlessly. Don’t they know they’re supposed to attack in the winter? I know it’s supposed to be the longest winter ever but that doesn’t mean he has to wait until the last minute to attack.
If he just started attacking now, he could swarm The Wall before Jon Snow can mine the Dragon Glass. Or before Dany can beat Cersei and focus the dragons on the North. But no, he’s going to walk around the land beyond The Wall because it’s apparently much more fun than winning. People who are older than history love to take walks.
2. Jaime Lannister
For all the stories you hear about Ser Jaime’s fighting ability, all he ever seems to do is get captured or almost die. When he does win, it’s not because he’s actually fighting. He makes the disappointment list because you feel like he should be better at fighting. And yet we have come to love him anyway.
Jaime didn’t kill Tyrion even though he believed Tyrion killed his son. Jaime failed to kill a small child by throwing him out a window. Even in combat, we’ve seen more success from Samwell Tarly. Tyrion managed to get a few kills in at the Blackwater — the most Jaime ever did was kill his cousin and lose a hand for his trouble.
It’s mind-boggling why Tyrion is the most disappointing Lannister (to the Lannisters, I mean). Jaime is the biggest liability in Westeros and all Tyrion has to do is tell an Army, “Let’s go kill those dudes attacking our city,” and he wins the day.
“But what about Riverrun?” you might ask. Early on, we hear about Jaime taking Riverrun from the Riverlords but by season six, he has to go retake it from the Blackfish. Taking a castle doesn’t do you any good if you can’t keep it. Ask Theon Greyjoy about that.
For the ultimate in Jaime Lannister’s bad decision-making skills, see the last five minutes of the seventh season episode “The Spoils of War” and remember Jaime’s quote: “We can hold them off.” Hey bud, everyone knows she’s got fire-breathing dragons and a barbaric horde of Dothraki horse archers.
Not only did Jaime do nothing for his troops, he didn’t even get the anti-dragon gun ready to fight. That thing stayed in the wagon waaaaaaaaaay too long.
1. Stannis Baratheon
For what all the bookreaders have to say about Stannis Baratheon, we sure expected some magic from this guy. The only magical thing about Stannis came out of Melisandre.
At the Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis drove his Navy into the bay, which would seem like the best idea. But a little bit of intel work and he would have known the Lannisters poured a ton of electric green stuff into the bay in anticipation of the battle, which everyone knew was coming. Then, Stannis did exactly what everyone expected him to do – a frontal assault. No wonder the Lannisters knew exactly how to wipe the floor with his gate crashers.
Also, underestimating the wealthiest family on the continent was a terrible call. They control Casterly Rock and King’s Landing. Why did Stannis never consider the possibility of a relief force from Casterly Rock? Tywin Lannister was known for his ability as a soldier and general and the Lannisters were allied with the Tyrells. Stannis, whose moves surprise no one, never considers outside forces. Like…did he forget he was in The War of Five Kings?
To top that, the real heir to Robert Baratheon led a depleted army against Winterfell. A real commander would work to prepare the army, maybe get some more allies at the last minute, work on a secret plan or weapon to even the odds of assaulting a fortified position. Not Stannis. His ace in the hole was to roast his daughter alive.
Troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere face plenty of hardships, from the threat of enemy fire to spending time far away from their loved ones.
While these can be serious problems for troops in harm’s way, there are also some other “first-world problems” that some of today’s military members are dealing with that their forefathers didn’t have time for. The keyword here is “some.”
Plenty of Post-9/11 troops have it rough on deployment and serve under extremely spartan conditions, while others live on sprawling bases with plenty of amenities. In Iraq and Afghanistan, experiences may vary. Your grandfather wasn’t complaining about the WiFi going down before he stormed the beach at Guadalcanal. Just sayin’.
If you find yourself complaining about the things below while overseas, you should stop, read the book “With the Old Breed,” then hang your head in shame. [Editor’s note: If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is lighthearted ribbing, all in good fun, and not to be taken too seriously.]
1. “The port-a-johns are too far away from my tent.”
Most forward operating bases (FOBs) in Iraq and Afghanistan are outfitted with plenty of general-purpose tents, Hesco barriers, and portable toilets. Unlike your old man having to dig a slit trench in Vietnam, you just have to walk to an outhouse that gets cleaned out every day.
The struggle is real.
2. “The guy at the DFAC won’t give me seconds.”
In the Post-9/11 era of war-fighting, the U.S. tried to bring all the creature comforts of home to Iraq and Afghanistan, including your base chow hall. Except this one is not just any chow hall. It’s a dining facility with a salad bar, and steak and lobster on Fridays.
World War II veterans want to throw their C-rations at your face right now.
3. “The bazaar doesn’t have the latest season of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ that I wanted.”
Plenty of FOBs have bazaars where locals sell everything from cheap TVs, rugs, and bootleg DVDs. Locals come on base and sell their wares and troops happily oblige, but not all is well in Afghan-land. You just got finished watching the last of your “Grey’s Anatomy” episodes and if the shopkeeper doesn’t have the latest, you’re going to be forced to watch some movie you’ve already watched ten times this deployment.
What? You watched a movie ten times this deployment? That old-timer at the VFW who served in Korea worried about more important things, like not freezing. How’s the A/C in your tent working, by the way?
4. “The internet is down.”
You are thousands of miles away from home — singularly focused on delivering 5.56 mm of freedom to the enemies of the United States — and working hard to serve that end, and, OH GOD, THE INTERNET IS DOWN.
While you are calling the S-6 shop to whine about not being able to access your Facebook account to instantly message your girlfriend, remember to think about your grandfather handwriting letters back home that would be delivered four months later.
5. “Is that incoming? No, that’s outgoing. That’s gotta be outgoing.”
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve actually said this one. When you’re sitting inside your nice tent watching a riveting episode of “The O.C.” you definitely don’t want to be interrupted. On heavily-protected FOBs, big attacks rarely happen, since the bad guys mostly harass with indirect fire from rockets and mortars. It’s usually ineffective.
The boys of Easy Co. don’t really relate.
6. “Ugh. We have to go sit in the bunker until IDF stops.”
When you finally figure out that yes, it is in fact, incoming. Those ineffective rockets need to be kept ineffective, so off to the concrete bunker you go. Yes, that’s right, you have a bunker made of concrete that some Seabee put there with a crane.
That’s almost the same as the grunts in Vietnam who built bunkers entirely with wood and thousands of sandbags, filled with their hands and e-tools. Almost.
7. “I’ve got blisters on my thumb from playing Playstation so much.”
Ok, fine. Pass me the damn controller. I want to learn what fighting in World War II was like by playing “Brothers in Arms.”