If you’ve clicked into this article, then you already know what you’re looking for here. A bunch of huge metal tubes launching high-explosives into the air that are destined to rain down on firing ranges and enemy targets, right? You probably want a couple of them to use as computer wallpapers or something. Yeah, artillery is pretty great, so let’s just skip the wordplay and get into it:
1. An M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer fires a 155mm round through the night skies of Fort Riley, Kansas.
2. U.S. Marines in Japan fire their own 155mm howitzer round from an M777A2.
3. A North Carolina National Guard artillery team fires their Paladin at night in Fort Bragg.
4. Artillerymen from the 101st Airborne Division fire their M777 at night in support of Iraqi Security Forces battling ISIS.
5. More 101st artillerymen send a 155mm round downrange to slaughter ISIS jerkwads under attack by Iraqi security forces.
6. Army paratroopers fire high-angle during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
7. American Marines practice moving and firing their towed howitzers during an exercise in Japan.
8. A mortar crew fires during a training mission. Mortars are historically an artillery weapon but are employed by infantrymen in the modern Army and Marine Corps.
9. For the record, the definition of artillery usually centers on “high-caliber guns,” and American mortars typically range from 60 to 120mm. Also, they look awesome.
10. Air defense artillerymen send a Stinger into the sky and it slams into a drone target.
11. Avengers are vehicle-mounted missile launchers that fire Stingers, short-range air defense weapons that annihilate low-flying targets.
12. A U.S. Army howitzer crew fires at night in Joint Base Lewis-McChord while supporting an artillery observer competition.
So, check out five things we wished we knew before joining the Navy.
5. All the additional duties
In some smaller naval commands, there typically aren’t enough Masters-at-Arms (the Navy’s military police) to guard all the bases’ gates. What’s even worse, there sometimes isn’t enough room in the budget to pay civilians to defend those iron fences either.
So, what does the Navy do to fill those roles? They turn to the junior enlisted personnel who aren’t even trained to guard a box of coloring books.
The Navy created A.S.F. — or Auxiliary Security Force — made from various Navy rates, like cooks and mechanics, to stand guard duty.
4. The rank of ‘seaman’ sounds worse when it’s yours
Some rates in the Navy aren’t even called seamen when they get to the rank of E-3 — so that’s a plus. Corpsman who are E-3s are referred to as Hospitalman while Seabees are called constructionmen, so we luck out.
Other ranks don’t have that privilege. It can be embarrassing saying, “Seaman Smith, reporting for duty.”
Catch our drift?
3. You can graduate boot camp as an E-3
Some young adults score so high on their ASVAB that when they pick an academically challenging rate, they’re automatically promoted in boot camp.
There are others ways to get promoted, like earning college credit before enlisting or recruiting other people, which most people don’t know.
Seaman Richard Cassube (left) assists Seaman Jeremy Cryer (right) with the proper measurements of the ribbons on his dress uniform in preparation for their upcoming graduation. (U.S. Navy Photo by Susan Krawczyk)
2. All the different bases you can be stationed at
Many people don’t know that the Navy integrates with the other branches. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a sailor to serve in an office building on an Air Force base. So, not only can you serve on a ship or a Naval base, but you can be stationed on an Army, Air Force, or Marine Base, too.
1: A 56-year-old general stormed the beaches with a cane
Not many people know that Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of Teddy himself, fought on D-Day. What’s even more badass is the fact that he wasn’t even supposed to be there.
At 56 years-old, the arthritis-riddled general wasn’t expected to survive the landing and so his division commander denied two verbal requests from Roosevelt to take part in the landings. This didn’t slow Roosevelt down though, and after a written request was reluctantly approved, he stormed Utah Beach with the first wave of troops. Upon landing, Roosevelt single-handedly changed his division’s entire plan of attack, saving many of his comrades and earning himself the Medal of Honor. Sadly, he died of a heart attack the night before he would be notified of his nominations for the award, promotion to major general, and command of the 90th infantry division. He was the oldest person to storm the beaches that day.
2: One company of soldiers saw 60 percent casualties in the first 20 minutes of battle
American battalions suffered crippling losses during the Normandy invasion, but the story of A Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry is especially devastating. Tasked with capturing a road that led to the small French village of Vierville, things began to go wrong for the company before it even reached the shore. Rough seas left the men dazed and sea sick. Heavy clouds blocked the view of U.S. bombers, stopping them from taking out the German gunners that waited for the company in the Dog Green Sector of Omaha Beach. When company A finally did run aground, it was overwhelmed by German mortar, artillery and machine gun fire. In under 20 minutes, 60 percent of the company’s men — many of whom had never seen battle before — were dead or wounded.
3: The first fatality was an airborne lieutenant who still rallied his men out of the aircraft despite his wounds
One of the first American officers to die on D-Day met his end before he got out of his parachute. Lt. Robert Mathias, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division’s E Company, 508th Parachute Regiment, prepared to jump from his platoon’s C-47 at around 2 a.m. on June 6, 1944. Before the officer leapt from the aircraft, German artillery fire sprayed the belly of the plane. Mathias was hit just as the door light turned green, but survivors recount that the bleeding paratrooper shouted “Let’s go!” and jumped with the rest of the men anyway. His battered remains were later found on the ground, tangled in his parachute.
4: Much of the operation was planned by the British
Despite the perception that D-Day was mainly an American operation, it was actually the Brits who took the lead in battle. Nearly the entire plan for D-Day — or Operation Overlord, as it was codenamed — was orchestrated by British Gen. Bernard Montgomery, the land force commander. The naval plans for the battle were also created by the Royal Navy, and of the 1,213 warships in the sea that day, the British boasted 892 compared to the American fleet of 200. The divide was even greater when it came to landing craft, with 4,126 pulling for the Queen and only 805 repping for Uncle Sam. Still, it was an Allied effort that involved planning and contributions from more than a dozen countries.
5: Future author J.D. Salinger was in the second wave — and carried chapters of his novel “The Catcher in the Rye”
“Mad Jack” Churchill storms the beach with his sword, far right Photo: Wiki Commons
Machine guns and explosives weren’t the only weapons tearing up the beaches on D-Day. One British officer, Lt. Col. John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, appropriately nicknamed “Mad Jack,” actually jumped from his landing craft with a sword in hand, chucking a grenade for good measure as he ran towards the battle. Churchill managed to capture over 4o German officers at sword point in only one raid, and also holds the last recorded longbow kill in history for a kill shot he made in 1940. He was also, not surprisingly, a little insane, and is reported to have complained that “If it wasn’t for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another ten years.” Yikes.
7: Everyone was afraid to wake up Hitler to ask for reinforcements at Normandy
German forces were greatly outnumbered at Normandy, largely because the details of where the Allied invasion would take place was kept under lock and key until the moment troops hit the beaches on June 6th, 1944. A double agent working for the allies also gave the Germans false information about where the operation would occur, leaving the real locations with little German defense in place. It’s estimated that there were 175,000 allied troops on the beaches that day compared to a measly 10,000 Germans. Which begs the question: Why didn’t Germany just order reinforcements to those locations? Apparently, it was because Hitler was asleep! German officers were too afraid to wake up the Fuhrer, and too scared to send more troops without his permission. So long story short, Hitler’s nap may have contributed to the Allied victory.
Today’s most sophisticated aircraft are the things of science fiction.
In a few years, drones that can fit in the palm of a person’s hand and 117-foot-wingspan planes that can launch satellites will both be a reality.
At the same time, drone and advanced-fighter technologies will spread beyond the US and Europe, and countries including China, Russia, and Iran may have highly advanced aerial capabilities.
Here’s our look at the most game-changing aircraft of the past few years — and the next few to come.
F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 may cost as much as $1.5 trillionover its lifetime. But it’s also supposed to be the most fearsome military aircraft ever built, a plane that can dogfight, provide close air support, and carry out bombing runs, all with stealth capabilities, advanced maneuverability, and the ability to take off and land on aircraft carriers.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way so far, and problems with everything from the plane’s software system to its engines has both delayed its deployment and made its costs spiral upward. And it isn’t nearly as effective at close air support as existing platforms such as the A-10.
The predecessor to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II is the single-seat, twin-engine F-22 Raptor, currently the world’s most advanced combat-ready jet.
The US is the sole operator of the F-22 thanks to a federal law that prohibits the jet from being exported. Lockheed Martin built 195 of the planes before the last one was delivered to the US Air Force in May 2012.
Russia’s Su-50, also known under the prototype name of the T-50 PAK-FA, is the Kremlin’s fifth-generation fighter and its response to the F-35.
Though still at the prototype stage, Moscow thinks the Su-50 will ultimately be able tooutperform the F-35 on key metrics such as speed and maneuverability. The stealth capabilities of the Su-50, however, are believed to be below those of both the F-22 and F-35.
The Kremlin plans to introduce the Su-50 into service by 2016. Once the plane is combat-ready, it will serve as a base model for the construction of further variants intended for export. India is already codesigning an Su-50 variant with Russia, and Iran and South Korea are possible candidates to buy future models of the plane.
The Chengdu J-20 is China’s second fifth-generation fighter in development and a potential game-changer in East Asia.
The J-20 bears striking resemblance to the F-35 because of Chinese reverse-engineering and extensive theft of F-35 data. Once completed, the J-20 is assumed to have stealth capability along with the range needed to reach targets within Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam from mainland China.
As of January, Beijing had developed six functional prototypes of the aircraft, with new prototypes being released at an increasingly quick pace. The final iteration of the aircraft is expected to be released and combat-ready sometime around 2018.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine multirole fighter that was originally developed to be the primary combat aircraft of Europe and NATO.
The Typhoon is Europe’s largest military program and was founded by four core nations: Germany, Spain, Italy, and the UK.
In 2011 the Eurofighter was deployed to its first combat mission, to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya during the NATO bombing campaign in the country. There are 402 Eurofighter jets designed for the Austrian, Italian, German, Spanish, UK, Omani, and Saudi Air Forces.
The Eurofighter has been called Europe’s version of America’s most expensive weapons system, the F-35 Lightning II.
MH-X Silent Hawk
The military’s secret MH-X Silent Hawk program was publicly disclosed only after one of the helicopters crashed during the SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011.
It is unclear when the US Army Operations Security’s top-secret helicopter program began and how many of these stealthy aircraft are in service.
While the Silent Hawk appears to be a highly modified version of the widely known UH-60 Black Hawk, there are no unclassified details about this secret helicopter.
The Navy’s X-47B is a strike-fighter-size unmanned aircraft with the potential to change aerial warfare.
Northrop Grumman’s drone is capable of aerial refueling, 360-degree rolls, and offensive weapons deployment. It carried out the first autonomous aerial refueling in aviation history and has taken off from and landed on an aircraft carrier.
It cruises at half the speed of sound and has a wingspan of 62 feet — as well as a range of at least 2,400 miles, more than twice that of the Reaper drone.
The Stratolaunch will be one of the most astounding planes ever built.
Now in its development stage, the plane will serve as a midair launch platform capable of carrying satellites into orbit. The aircraft, whose 117-foot wingspan will be the largest of any plane ever built, will fly to an altitude of 30,000 feet and then angle upward before blasting its payload into space.
The plane would be a relatively cheap and reusable launch vehicle for satellites and would revolutionize how hardware and possibly even human beings can access orbital space. It could fly as early as 2016.
Here’s a video of how it’ll all work:
The Air Force’s secretive space drone returned from a two-year mission in October. It wasn’t clear exactly what the X-37B was doing up there, but it wasrelaunched on May 20 for another extended stint in orbit.
With the X-37B, the Air Force has a reusable satellite that it can control and call back to earth. The ability to re-equip an orbital platform for specific mission types gives the US military unprecedented flexibility in how it can use outer space — and its long periods in orbit and reusability are impressive engineering feats.
These tiny Darpa-developed surveillance drones could become future military staples. Small enough to evade enemy detection or fire, the Nano Hummingbird can fit in the palm of your hand and relay images and intelligence from the air.
Most surveillance drones, such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk, are large aircraft that fly at altitudes of 60,000 feet. Aircraft such as the Nano Hummingbird, which is light, stealthy, and easy to launch, could be a routine part of a future combat soldier’s arsenal.
Watch it in action here:
Iran has been under sanctions and a Western arms embargo for much of the past 30 years, something that has denied Tehran the chance to obtain high-quality European or American arms. That’s about to change, with the signing of a nuclear agreement that will lift all international arms import limitations within the next decade.
Iran’s drones aren’t game changers because of their high quality but because of what they represent: Even countries chafing under international pressure can develop their own drone technology with enough patience and technological expertise. The Fotros and Ababil-3 suggest that an era of widespread drone proliferation is just around the corner.
Senior Airman Adan Solis, 921st Contingency Response Squadron aircraft maintainer, marshals a C-130 Hercules aircraft during the Joint Readiness Training Center exercise, April 9, 2018, at the Alexandria International Airport, La. Contingency Response Airmen conducted joint training with Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, providing direct air-land support for safe and efficient airfield operations.
Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 307th Civil Engineer Squadron hone their skills on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, April 11, 2018. The firefighters practice dousing a simulated aircraft fire in a realistic, but controlled environment.
Soldiers from across 25th Infantry Division continued to strive for the title of Best Warrior by participating in an eight-mile ruck march, preparing a weapon for close combat, and draftingan essay about what it means to be a leader and how to prevent sexual harassment and assault with in the military. The Tropic Lightning Best Warrior Competition is a week-long event that will test Soldiers competing on the overall physical fitness, warrior tasks and battle drill, and professional knowledge.
Bearing the weight of heavy combat loads, paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade move to the flight line to board US Air Force C130 Hercules turboprop aircraft for an joint forcible entry into northern Italy.
Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Michael DeCesare, assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 4, Det. Guam, fires an M2 machine gun aboard a Mark VI patrol boat during a crew-served weapons qualification in the Philippine Sea, April 12, 2018. CRS-4, Det. Guam, assigned to Costal Riverine Group 1, Det. Guam, is capable of conducting maritime security operations across the full spectrum of naval, joint and combined operations. Further, it provides additional capabilities of port security, embarked security, and theater security cooperation around the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Granito)
Capt. Gregory Newkirk, deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, prepares to take off in an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the “Blue Blasters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson Strike Group is currently operating in the Pacific as part of a regularly scheduled deployment.
MV-22B Ospreys attached to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One conduct an aerial refuel during a Long Range Raid simulation in conjunction with Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-18 in Tuscon, Ariz., April 11. WTI is a seven-week training event hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force and provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.
U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Thomas Johnson, an assaultman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, bear crawls on Fort Hase beach during a scout sniper indoctrination course, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 11, 2018. The overall goal of the course is to familiarize students with the main aspects of sniper skills so that when they go to the Scout Sniper Basic School, they will continue to improve and successfully complete it.
(U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christin Solomon)
Sunset falls on an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bear during a three-month deployment in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The Bear is scheduled to return to homeport April 12, 2018, in Portsmouth, Virginia. During the patrol, the Bear’s crew performed counter-narcotic operations, search and rescue, and maritime law enforcement.
This diagnosis is a broad term that refers to having pain in the front of the knee or, specifically, the patella. It’s a common issue among those who undergo high-impact activities, like running while wearing a heavy pack. Those who have patellofemoral pain syndrome will typically have problems kneeling down and maneuvering through uneven terrain and experience soreness during long platoon runs.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is caused by the roughening or softening of the cartilage under the kneecap. The typical treatment involves giving the patient two straws (to suck it up), a decent dose of ibuprofen or naproxen, taping the kneecap in place, and getting better PT shoes.
2. Hamstring pulls
You know that muscle in the back of your thigh? That’s your hamstring and it’s one of the thickest muscles in the human body. Pulling a hammy is a common injury in grunts who have to run fast but aren’t properly warmed up.
The hamstring helps flex and straighten the knee joint. So, if an infantryman hurts this important muscle, they might be out of the fight for a while.
This medical term merely refers to pain located in the lower back. Grunts have to shift through various fighting positions, like prone and kneeling, while wearing heavy gear on their backs for several hours throughout the day, making this a common ailment for infantrymen in training.
4. Shin splints
Shin splints are likely the most common type of lower-leg ailment across the entire military — and it’s especially common among the infantry. Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, the disorder is caused by putting extreme stress on the shinbone and other connective tissues in the area.
The problem develops as a result of having flat feet, not warming up with proper stretches, and weak lower-torso joints.
5. IT band syndrome
You know that pain on the side of your knee that flares up after a mandatory 12-mile run? It’s probably not a ligament — but it could be your iliotibial band. This slab of connective tissue runs down from the side of your hip and latches onto the outside part of your knee.
Straining this band will likely cause you to limp or even sideline you on crutches for an extended period of time.
Commonly known as a “twisted ankle,” this is one of the most highly diagnosed injuries to the lower leg due to inversion. This structure in the distal part of your leg can only bend and flex so far before sustaining damage. Ankle sprains can be just as nasty as some minor fractures due to the amount of time it can take to fully heal.
Since ligaments receive limited blood supply, a high-level sprain can take weeks to properly heal.
Military jobs all seem pretty similar from the outside. Everyone shoots at the range, everyone gets compensated according to the same pay tables, and everyone gets yelled at by the people with fancier symbols on their uniforms.
But some military jobs have hidden perks that just come with the territory. For example, if the mission requires that a soldier have access to the internet, then that soldier can usually use the internet for other stuff as long as they don’t abuse the privilege. So here are six jobs with hidden perks that help make life a little more bearable:
1. Corpsmen/medics usually have fridge access for medicines.
There are only a few groups of people who regularly had access to refrigeration during a deployment to the burning hot desert. The cooks (more on them later) and the medical folks — at smaller bases, this means Navy corpsmen and Army and Air Force medics.
The medical personnel need refrigeration to keep certain medicines from going bad. But whatever area of the fridge that’s left over is usually divvied up by the medics to keep drinks cold, a rare luxury on some bases.
2. The cooks also have refrigerators … and spare food.
The cooks have even greater access to fridges than the medics, and they can sometimes grab extra food and energy drinks to trade or share. Most forward operating bases with dining facilities feed hundreds of soldiers and Army recipes are usually written for batches of 100 servings.
It’s basically impossible to make and order the exact amount of food needed for any meal, so there’s always some spare servings of something left over — sometimes cooked and sometimes waiting to be cooked. Cooks will trade away those unused 15 servings of ribs or chicken to others for special favors.
3. Public Affairs has usually has Facebook access even when the rest of the base is on blackout.
The gatekeepers of the unit Facebook page, meanwhile, have their own great perk. When the rest of the base is put on communications blackout, public affairs troops are still required to keep the unit’s social media pages going to reassure family members back home and to keep up normal appearances.
This requires that the PA shop always has access to Facebook and Twitter, meaning its soldiers can exchange messages with family and update their own pages even when the base was otherwise blacked out.
4. Pilots and flight line folks have the best trading opportunities.
Anyone who is intimately involved in flight operations knows how to trade with people from other bases, ships, whatever, and they’ll take advantage of it. See, the economy on a deployment is limited to what goods are actually useful on the base. Pay sits in bank accounts while most people are trading the limited supply of available chewing tobacco and Girl Scout cookies.
But flight operations people have access to goods and services that are housed in another Navy ship or on another base. That means that they can trade items that only Kandahar Air Field or Sigonella has.
5. Combat camera is basically military tourism.
Look, combat camera is full of brave people who wade into battle to document it and share stories with the American public and military leaders. This isn’t to disparage them or the work they do, but they’re basically military tourists.
If some unit is doing a cool training operation on the beaches of Italy or special operators are breaking into a Taliban fortress, there’s a decent chance that some combat cameraman is getting flown out there to document it. And they leave the service with their own collection of unclassified photos, making them some of the only people with multimedia support for their war stories.
6. Signal guys get admin access to the computers.
This one may sound less than impressive, but it’s actually amazing. See, military computer networks have a lot of user restrictions, but the IT guys within the communications shops are in charge of implementing those user restrictions, so they get admin logins.
That means that they have more access to whatever they want on the internet even when deployed, provided that they don’t abuse the privilege. So, they’ll have Facebook access even when public affairs is locked out and can set their own internet to have priority access when bandwidth gets tight.
Check out these shots of jets turning pounds and pounds of fuel into speed when the pilots push the throttles into afterburner.
An F/A-18C launches off of Cat 3 with both GE F-404 motors in full burner.
An Air Force F-16 launches out of Aviano, Italy at night with it’s single GE F-110 engine in full afterburner.
An F-22 Raptor makes a high-G pass at an airshow with it’s Pratt and Whitney F-119 engines at full power.
And F-15 Eagle launches with both Pratt and Whitney F-100s in full afterburner.
An F/A-18C Hornet raises the gear and starts a left hand clearing turn off the cat with vapes streaming off of the wingtips and both GE F-404s at full blower.
They didn’t call the F-14 the ‘big fighter’ for nothing. Here a Tomcat rages down Cat 1 with it’s Pratt and Whitney TF-30s at Zone 5 (full power).
A B-1 ‘Lancer’ (better known as “The Bone” — B+one . . . get it?) turns at sunset with all four GE F-110s (same engine used on models of the F-16 and F-14) in full afterburner.
An F-111B zorches over the water with wings swept aft and Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engines at full power.
Another shot of an F-14A Tomcat on the cat in afterburner.
A MiG-25 starts its takeoff roll with both Tumansky R-15B-300s at full power.
The F-35B Lightning II isn’t designed for speed as much as forward quarter lethality and survivability; but it’s single Pratt and Whitney F-135 does create a nice burner plume in this gorgeous sunset shot.
In 1999, the last official Morse code message was sent out from the Globe Wireless master station south of San Francisco. It was the end of an era for a form of communication that lasted well over 163 years. To put this into perspective, early forms of ARPANET email are about 47 years old and SMS text messaging has been around almost 26 years.
Today, only ten Airmen a year learn the craft of reading Morse code and it’s more of a history lesson than a practical one. You can still find the occasional radio enthusiast who picked it up as a party trick or a conversation starter. Once you learn the skill, however, you start realizing how many other Morse code nerds there are out there. Hell, even the original Nokia SMS notification chime was just “SMS” written in Morse code as (…/- -/…).
1. It’s an easy skill to learn that blows people away
You see it in the movies and on television all the time. In some tense action scene, someone blurts out, “oh my god! It’s Morse code!” Suddenly, everyone looks at the guy who figured it out like he’s a genius.
It’s really not rocket science. Once you realize that the letters are organized in a way that the most common letters in the alphabet, like ‘E’ and ‘T,’ have the least amount of dots and dashes (‘E’ is just one dot and ‘T’ is just one dash), it starts to make sense. Conversely, the rarer a letter, the more dots and dashes it requires. Numbers are five dots and dashes and punctuation marks are six. Standard guides are nice, but flowcharts like the one below make things so much easier.
2. Doesn’t always need electricity
Using an actual telegraph requires electricity. It was called the “electric telegraph” after all. But you can just as easily knock on things or even blink to get your message across.
A famous use of Morse code in military history was in the Vietnam War when Commander Jeremiah Denton was taken as a prisoner of war. He was forced into an NVA propaganda film and made to explain how “well” his captors were treating him. So, he said exactly what his captors wanted him to say while also blinking “torture” (-/- – -/.-./-/..-/.-./.). He got his message across while leaving the NVA completely unaware.
With an emphasis on versatility, range, and light weight, many modern firearms look nothing like guns of decades past. In fact, some look like they are futuristic weapons sent from centuries ahead of us, with their odd angles, accessories, and rounded edges. Many of these futuristic guns have actually been used in films and TV to depict weapons of the future, though usually with odd bits added on to look like scopes or grenade launchers.
Here are some of the most futuristic-looking weapons that could have come right out of science fiction. Vote up the cool weapons most likely to be from the actual future, as opposed to just nifty looking weapons in our present.
Often as the direct memories of events fade, our ability to place them into context and understand their meaning only increases. It only makes sense, then, that some of the best writing about the Civil War, the World Wars, and Vietnam is happening now.
As you prepare your reading lists for holiday travel or look for items to give to family and friends, we present our choices for this year’s best books on Military History.
5. Grant By Ron Chernow
Ron Chernow is an exceptional writer. Among his achievements have been an exceptional biography of Alexander Hamilton that served as the foundation of the Broadway show. His portrait of the Ohio general is equally beautiful. Chernow delves into the relationships and temperament that made Grant a terrific leader as well as his lifelong belief in emancipation.
Grant was a quiet, even shy man, who had concern even for animals, yet was called a “butcher” during the War. It was tacitly assumed that Robert E. Lee was the great General of the Civil War for years and that Grant was merely lucky to have been on the right side of history. The facts do not perfectly align with that viewpoint. Lee may have been a very good strategist, but several skilled men before Grant tried and failed to do what he did. Chernow’s biography gives wonderful insights into what made Grant different.
4. Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden
In the early part of 1968, the 400,000 strong armies of the North Vietnamese and Vietcong launched a general offensive against South Vietnamese and American troops, which, at the time, numbered 1.3 million. The American strategy had been to win a war of attrition in which the enemy reached a point where the number of soldiers being killed exceeded the number of new recruits, making clear the hopelessness of continuing the struggle. With that mindset, the American military elite, politicians, and journalists were shocked by the aggressiveness of the offensive. After the initial shock, the South and the United States regained control of the situation and 60,000 Communist troops died by the end of the year.
Of all the targets of the Tet offensive, the assault on the city of Hue was the most consequential. Hue was the third largest city in Vietnam and at a key logistical point in the country. While the fighting that began with the Tet offensive was generally over within a week, the battle for Hue lasted six weeks and the urban bloodbath changed the war.
Bowden does a wonderful job telling this story from the perspective of the ordinary soldier who fought for his life while being burdened with poor leadership.
3. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 by Stephen Kotkin
A brilliant recounting of the disastrous period of 1929 and 1941 in the Soviet Union, in which Stalin maintained his absolute grip on power, but whose purging of the military and terrible economic policies almost cost the Soviet Union the war with Germany that started in 1941. What is remarkable is how Kotkin is able to tell the tale from the viewpoint of a monster like Stalin and never loses his readers’ attention.
2. Alone by Michael Korda
Alone follows one of the heroes of history, Winston Churchill, as he rallies a country and averts disaster at Dunkirk before getting help from the previously neutral countries of the Soviet Union and the United States.
1. Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson
An incredible story that few had heard before its recounting by Bruce Henderson, author of And the Sea Will Tell. After escaping Hitler’s clutch, about 2,000 Jews trained at Camp Ritchie in Maryland were deployed in Europe as a key intelligence asset during the War. This is their story.