Tanks are a staple of ground warfare. Militaries around the world deploy a wide range of tanks, but typically they conform to some basic principals. In nearly all of them, a large turret sits on top of an armored vehicle that moves on treads.
But this wasn’t always the case. In the early 20th century, engineers around the world were scrambling to figure out how exactly to pass uneven terrain and mobilize troops. This period of innovation resulted in today’s technologically marvelous tanks, but before that, they had some truly outrageous ideas.
The Tsar Tank
Tank development was in its earliest stages when Tsar Nicholas II ruled Russia in the first decades of the 20th century. The Tsar differed from modern tanks in that it didn’t have treads, instead using two massive 27-foot-tall front wheels and a small third wheel, 5 feet in diameter, that trailed behind for steering. Reportedly, when Nicholas II saw a model of the tank roll over a stack of books he was sold on the project and gave it his blessing.
Russian engineers Nikolai Lebedenko, Nikolai Zhukovsky, Boris Stechkin, and Alexander Mikulin developed the Tsar from 1914 to 1915. The vehicle resembled a hanging bat when viewed from above, so it gained the nickname “Netopyr,” which translates to “pipistrellus,” the genus name for “bats.”
The giant bicycle-style wheels in front of the tank did prove effective for traversing a variety of terrains. But they severely limited the firing range of the 12 water-cooled machine guns situated in between the massive wheels. Thanks to two 250-horsepower Sunbeam engines powering either wheel, the Tsar could reach a respectable speed of up to 10.5 mph.
But mobility eventually doomed the Tsar.
When testing began in a forest outside Moscow, the rear wheel became mired in soft soil. Despite the Russian military’s best efforts to free the 60-ton behemoth, it remained in that spot until 1923, when it was sold for scrap.
The Boirault Machine
The French also had their own ideas about what a mobile weapons platform should look like.
In 1914, a few months before Britain began work on the “Little Willy” tank that would set the precedent for modern tanks, French engineer Louis Boirault presented the French War Ministry with plans for the Boirault Machine.
Boirault’s tank design was 26 feet high and has been described as a rhomboid-shaped skeleton tank without armor, with a single overhead track.” The machine weighed a whopping 30 tons and was powered by a single 80-horsepower motor, which enabled the craft to move at a leisurely rate of less than 1 mph.
The Boirault did have success in crossing trenches and trampling barbed wire. But more conventional tanks were taking shape around Europe by 1915, and the French War Ministry abandoned the project.
The Screw Tank
GIF: Wikimedia Commons/Бага
Before tracked wheels came into prominence as the most efficient way to traverse difficult terrain, there was some exploration into corkscrew-driven machines that could twist and crush their way through ice, snow, and mud. As early as 1899 patents were filed for agricultural machines that used auger-like wheels for work in the fields.
In the 1920s, the Armstead Snow-Motor kit made waves across the Northern US and Canada as a screw-driven tractor that could haul up to 20 tons through unwelcoming northern conditions.
Then, in World War II, the unorthodox inventor Geoffrey Pyke worked with the US military to developed a screw-driven tank to pass over ice and snow in Northern Europe.
The tank made it to a prototype stage but was never fully realized, and it died on the drawing board.
Recently, the idea of a screw tank has resurfaced, with the Russians seemingly perfecting the design as illustrated in the video below:
Military test pilots are a rare breed, undertaking the responsibility of flying new aircraft to their design limits . . . and then beyond. In his classic book The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe puts it this way:
A career in flying was like climbing one of those ancient Babylonian pyramids made up of a dizzy progression of steps and ledges, a ziggurat, a pyramid extraordinarily high and steep; and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were one of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff and could move higher and higher and even–ultimately, God willing, one day–that you might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men’s eyes, the very Brotherhood of the Right Stuff itself.
Here are six of those who over their test pilot careers proved they were badasses with ample amounts of the Right Stuff:
1. Jimmy Doolittle
Jimmy Doolittle felt the test pilot itch very early in his life. At age 15, he built a glider, jumped off a cliff, and crashed. He stuck the pieces back together and tried again. The second crash was worse, and when he came to rest there was nothing left to salvage.
In 1922, Doolittle made a solo crossing of the continental United States in a de Havilland DH-4 in under 24 hours. Two years later, he performed the first outside loop in a Curtiss Hawk. In 1929, he flew from takeoff to landing while referring only to instruments — a feat The New York Times called “the greatest single step in safety.”
During World War II Doolittle was sent off to train crews for a mysterious mission, and he ended up leading the entire effort. On April 18, 1942, 15 B-25s launched from the USS Hornet and bombed Tokyo. Most ditched off the Chinese coast or crashed; other crew members had bailed out, including Doolittle. Though he was crushed by what he called his “failure,” Doolittle was awarded the title Brigadier General and a Congressional Medal of Honor, which, he confided to General Henry “Hap” Arnold, he would spend the rest of his life earning.
2. Bob Hoover
After his Spitfire was shot down by a Focke-Wulf 190 over the Mediterranean in 1944, Hoover was captured and spent 16 months in the Stalag Luft 1 prison in Barth, Germany. He eventually escaped, stole a Fw 190 (which, of course, he had never piloted), and flew to safety in Holland.
After the war Hoover signed up to serve as an Army Air Forces test pilot, flying captured German and Japanese aircraft. He befriended Chuck Yeager and eventually became Yeager’s backup pilot in the Bell X-1 program. He flew chase in a Lockheed P-80 when Yeager first exceeded Mach 1.
Hoover moved on to North American Aviation, where he test-flew the T-28 Trojan, FJ-2 Fury, AJ-1 Savage, F-86 Sabre, and F-100 Super Sabre, and in the mid-1950s he began flying North American aircraft, both civil and military, at airshows. Jimmy Doolittle called Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived.”
3. Chuck Yeager
As a young Army Air Forces pilot in training, Yeager had to overcome airsickness before he went on to down 12 German fighters, including a Messerschmitt 262, the first jet fighter. After the war, still in the AAF, he trained as a test pilot at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he got to fly the United States’ first jet fighter, the Bell P-59.
Yeager then went to Muroc Field in California, where Larry Bell introduced him and fellow test pilot Bob Hoover to the Bell XS-1. On October 14, 1947, ignoring the pain of two cracked ribs, Yeager reached Mach 1.07. “There was no ride ever in the world like that one!” he later wrote. The aircraft accelerated so rapidly that when the landing gear was retracted, an actuating rod snapped and the wing flaps blew off.
He test piloted the Douglas X-3, Northrop X-4, and Bell X-5, as well as the prototype for the Boeing B-47 swept-wing jet bomber. And on one December day in 1953, he tried to coax an X-1A to Mach 2.3 to break Scott Crossfield’s Mach 2 record attained in the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. At 80,000 feet and Mach 2.4, the nose yawed, a wing rose, and the X-1A went out of control. He managed to recover the airplane at 25,000 feet.
Yeager was sent to Okinawa in 1954 to test a Soviet MiG-15 that a North Korean had used to defect. When he stopped test-flying that year, he had logged 10,000 hours in 180 types of military aircraft.
4. Scott Crossfield
In 1950 former Navy fighter pilot Scott Crossfield was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and sent to Edwards Air Force Base in California to fly the world’s hottest X-planes, including the X-1, the tail-less Northrop X-4, the Douglas D-558-I Skystreak and D-558-II Skyrocket, the Convair XF-92A and the Bell X-5. He made 100 rocket-plane flights in all.
On November 20, 1953, he took the D-558-II to Mach 2.04, becoming the first pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound.
He gained a reputation as a pilot whose flights were jinxed: On his first X-4 flight, he lost both engines; in the Skyrocket, he flamed out; the windshield iced over in the X-1. After a deadstick landing in a North American F-100, he lost hydraulic pressure and the Super Sabre slammed into a hangar wall, which caused Chuck Yeager to proclaim: “The sonic wall was mine; the hangar wall was Crossfield’s.”
In 1955, he quit NACA and started flying the sinister-looking X-15. Crossfield made the first eight flights of the X-15, learning its idiosyncrasies, and logged another six after NASA and Air Force pilots joined the program.
On his fourth X-15 flight, the fuselage buckled right behind the cockpit on landing. But his most serious mishap happened on the ground while testing the XLR-99 engine in June 1960.
“I put the throttle in the stowed position and pressed the reset switch,” Crossfield wrote in his autobiography Always Another Dawn. “It was like pushing the plunger on a dynamite detonator. X-15 number three blew up with incredible force.” Fire engines rushed to extinguish the blaze, and Crossfield was extracted from the cockpit.
“The only casualty was the crease in my trousers,” he told reporters. “The firemen got them wet when they sprayed the airplane with water. I pictured the headline: ‘Space Ship Explodes; Pilot Wets Pants.'”
5. Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong’s path to being the first man on the moon was a somewhat circuitous one. He entered Navy flight training right out of high school and wound up flying 78 missions over Korea. He left active duty at age 22 and went to college at Purdue where he earned an engineering degree that, in turn, landed him a job as an experimental research test pilot stationed at Edward Air Force Base.
Armstrong made seven flights in the X-15 from November 1960 to July 1962, reaching a top altitude of 207,500 feet and a top speed of Mach 5.74. He left the Dryden Flight Research Center with a total of 2,400 flying hours. During his test pilot career, he flew more than 200 different models of aircraft.
Then the real work began. In 1958, he was selected for the U.S. Air Force’s Man In Space Soonest program. In November 1960, Armstrong was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the X-20 Dyna-Soar, a military space plane under development by Boeing for the U.S. Air Force, and on March 15, 1962, he was selected by the U.S. Air Force as one of seven pilot-engineers who would fly the space plane when it got off the design board.
In the months after the announcement that applications were being sought for the second group of NASA astronauts, Armstrong became more and more excited about the prospects of both the Apollo program and of investigating a new aeronautical environment. Armstrong’s astronaut application arrived about a week past the June 1, 1962, deadline. Dick Day, with whom Armstrong had worked closely at Edwards, saw the late arrival of the application and slipped it into the pile before anyone noticed.
Astronaut Deke Slayton called Armstrong on September 13, 1962, and asked whether he would be interested in joining the NASA Astronaut Corps as part of what the press dubbed “the New Nine”; without hesitation, Armstrong said yes, which made him the first (technically) civilian astronaut.
Armstrong was ultimately given the nod to lead the Apollo 11 mission because he was generally regarded as the guy with the most analytical mind and coolest under pressure among the astronauts.
6. John Glenn
John Glenn is best known as the first American astronaut to orbit the earth, but before he was one of the Mercury 7 he was a test pilot. Then-Major Glenn flew an F8U-1P Crusader (BuNo 144608) from NAS Los Alamitos, California nonstop to NAS Floyd Bennett Field, New York at a record speed of 725.55 mph. The flight, which involved Glenn refueling from airborne tankers at waypoints across the country — the only times he pulled the power out of afterburner (besides his final approach to landing) — lasted just three hours, 23 minutes and 8.4 seconds, and that beat the previous record holder (an F-100F Super Sabre) by 15 minutes.
The purpose of the Project Bullet was to prove that the Pratt Whitney J-57 engine could tolerate an extended period at combat power – full afterburner – without damage. After the flight, Pratt Whitney engineers disassembled the J-57 and, based on their examination, determined that the engine could perform in extended combat situations. Accordingly, all power limitations on J-57s were lifted from that day forward.
(An interesting side note is that the Crusader that Glenn used for Project Bullet was reclaimed from the “Boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB and made into a Navy RF-8G reconnaissance aircraft. Following a photo mission over North Vietnam in December of 1972, the jet was lost while trying to land aboard the USS Oriskany operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. The pilot ejected and survived.)
The Army has a few ways it breaks down deployments, chief among them is the “Army Force Generation Cycle.” But that looks at how Big Army assigns different units to different missions. Here’s how deployment cycles actually work for soldiers.
1. It starts by getting sweet new uniforms.
For soldiers, pre-deployment is a special time when one can shed the Universal Camouflage Pattern and put on a camouflage that actually works. Also that switch and the IR flags lets everyone know that a soldier is about to go to combat, allowing them to feel really special at the PX and commissaries.
2. Packing, repacking, then packing other stuff
Those new uniforms will get sweaty quickly as the unit packs, repacks, and stows gear for the deployment. Connexes and vehicles traveling by ship go first, then everything moving by plane, and then personal gear has to get packed away. All of it will have to be unpacked for inspection at least once during the process, and probably twenty times.
3. Being jammed like sardines into a flying can
Finally, the soldiers get to actually deploy. To do this, they get on a plane with limited access to hygiene facilities and then jam themselves in so tight that they can barely breath without inhaling each other’s sweat. Ladies, tell us again how you like a man in uniform, but go ahead and cover your nose while you do it.
4. “OMG, this place is so hot/cold/wet/dry!”
Coming off the plane is always punctuated with a lot of curses for the local weather. This is kind of dumb since complaining won’t help and the weather isn’t going to change. But in troops’ defense, it really is stupid hot, cold, wet, and/or dry, and sometimes all four at once somehow.
5. No sleep till fully mission capable
Arrival in country kicks off a long series of briefings, gear checks, travel, acclimation, orientation, set-up, and more. Sleep is hard to come by until all of this is done. Sometimes, troops get lucky and are replacing a unit that streamlined the process. More often, the sergeant major decides the previous unit built the base wrong and orders it redone from scratch.
6. “Groundhog’s Day”
Once taking over the area, Army units find themselves in a “Groundhog’s Day” situation where they just experience the same things over and over again for months. The places may change a little bit, like going to a school in the morning instead of the district center, but that’s about it.
6. “Groundhog’s Day”
Once taking over the area, Army units find themselves in a “Groundhog’s Day” situation where they just experience the same things over and over again for months. The places may change a little bit, like going to a battalion base in the morning instead of the shura, but that’s about it.
Oddly, getting down to the last 100 days of a deployment is generally considered a bad thing. This is because troops can get cocky or lazy as they dream of heading home. First sergeants have to walk around saying, “Complacency kills,” and “It’s just as easy to die on the last day as it was on the first.”
8. Social media offensive
As the time dwindles down, troops will start spending more time on Facebook, Tinder, and anywhere else they can find people who might want to party once they land. They have to create a long list of potential “Welcome Home!” partygoers, since only about 10 percent will show up and at least half of those will leave once the first staff duty runner is tossed over a barracks railing.
9. Packing, flying, and partying
Getting to that “Welcome Home!” banner is basically repeating steps two and three. Pack, pack, pack, get onto a crammed plane, build up a thick layer of funk, and then march into a hangar to hug family members and friends. Then, party.
We scraped through job reviews on Glassdoor.com, a site that lets employees rate their employers and their careers anonymously, to find out what the most loved jobs in the military are. Here are 12 of the highest rated careers in uniform:
Access to all of the ship or command’s goods while hanging out on ships (mostly) near the coasts. Sounds great. Storekeepers can go further out, serving primarily on icebreakers and cutters when they’re not on the shore. They specialize in inventory and supply. (Average rating is a 4.1.)
8. Coast Guard Information Systems Technician (4.2)
It’s an IT job, but with the Coast Guard. Keep computers properly hooked up and set up new networks when needed; you could even get called to keep all the computers on an ocean-going cutter working together. And odd note about the Glassdoor for this job though: the IT guys are less likely to recommend the Coast Guard to a friend (62 percent vs. 88 percent) than Coasties as a whole reported. (Average rating is a 4.2.)
A combination of hospital nurses and field medics, Navy corpsmen give medical aid to sailors, Marines, and others both on ship and shore as well as in combat around the world. Obviously, this can result in a lot of stress but can also be very fulfilling. (Average rating is a 4.2.)
5. Army Human Resources Specialist (4.2)
It’s one of the more ridiculed jobs, an “uber-POG” position that rarely sees combat. But human resource specialists seem happy with their desk jobs, tracking personnel and making sure pay goes through properly. (Average rating is a 4.2, vs. an average of 3.4 for the infantry).
4. Army Logistics Manager (4.2)
The Glassdoor ratings for “Army Logistics Manager” cover a variety of jobs, mostly in the transportation branch. They drive trucks, plan routes, and send convoys through enemy territory. So, a little adventure on some days, but humdrum the rest of the time. A sweet life, unless we run into another era like the rise of the IED. Then it sucks. Horribly. (Average rating is a 4.2.)
3. Military officer (4.4)
“Officer” is a wide catch-all that includes everything from the folks who manage door kickers to those who manage desk jockeys to those who manage truck drivers. (Glassdoor has a separate “Officer” category for each branch, but they all average ratings between 4.3 and 4.5.)
2. Army Operations Manager (4.5)
This is another ratings category where the reviewers came from different jobs, but these are the folks who worked their way into an operations shop and are now in charge of planning missions and ensuring the teams have everything they need for success, from engineers building new roads to infantrymen slaying bodies. (Average rating is a 4.5.)
Getting your paperwork to Fort Couch seems like the sweetest gig in the world. However, you’ll soon realize that while you’ve spent the last however-many years having the civilian broken out of you, the rest of them have kept their “civilian mentality” completely intact.
You may think the military trained you well enough to handle a world full of PowerPoint presentations, but that’s not even scratching the surface. These are some of the many roadblocks you’ll run into in the civilian workplace that may have you explaining to HR that you’re, in fact, not crazy, just military-raised.
7. Breaking highly sensitive equipment
In the military, everything is expendable from a certain point of view. If you smash something, there’s almost always someone on standby to fix it. Weapon? Armory. Radios? Radio guy. Everything else? Supply.
In the civilian world, wanton smashing will get you a stern talking-to.
We get all “accidentally” break things sometimes. (Image via GIPHY)
6. Crashing the company vehicle
If you crash a Humvee and you didn’t destroy anything too valuable in the process, you’ll get chewed out and maybe a reduction in rank, but you’re still going to be around the following week.
If you go joyriding in the company vehicle and don’t track the mileage, let alone smash it into a fire hydrant because you were trying to tactically park it as expediently as possible, you might end up in a performance-evaluation meeting.
5. Inter-office pranks
Sure, it may seem like fun to throwdown in random Nerf wars between cubicles, but when you join in, kick in the break room door, flip the table over for a hasty firing position, and lay down suppressive fire so you can bound to the fridge to get a more sturdy firing position, you might get a few stares.
Especially if you’re the one who starts it… and the only one doing it… (Image via GIPHY)
4. Telling off your coworkers
Apparently, civilians don’t appreciate being called “f*ckface” in the middle of a meeting on Monday morning because they didn’t answer their emails on a Saturday.
In the civilian world, if you do slip up and call that f*ckface a “f*ckface,” blame it on a lack of morning coffee. That seems to work.
Yes. Lack of coffee. Perfect excuse. (Image via GIPHY)
3. “Tactically acquiring” (totally not stealing) office supplies
Fraud, waste, and abuse is considered a thing in the outside world. You can’t just pocket supplies on the down-low to trade them for other supplies with the guy in the cubicle on the third floor. Especially if these supplies are more than just pens, batteries, or Gerber multi-tools.
“Gear adrift is a gift” totally counts for food in the break room. (Image via GIPHY)
2. Walking into any establishment with a weapon
Back in the day, if you heard someone scream “WHERE THE HELL DID I PUT MY RIFLE!?” no one batted an eye. If you reacted, it’s because someone who wasn’t armed should’ve been.
For some reason, civilians get antsy around weapons. Rifles, handguns, and even the 7-inch KA-BAR strapped to your ankle are all no-nos.
1. Showing up hungover every single weekday
Everyone wants to pretend that it’s cool to drink or that it’s hip to have a nightcap or two before bed until they run into someone who’s made alcoholism a dedicated profession.
If you find yourself hungover beyond function, blame it on the previously mentioned “lack of morning coffee.” Civilians are so accustomed to coffee that they have more than your standard “sh*t” and “decent” varieties of coffee.
*Bonus* Letting your sense of humor show
It’s all fun and games until you have to stop and explain why your sense of humor isn’t crazy. Sometimes, civilians just don’t get your dark and f*cked up sense of humor — so play it close to the chest.
So far, we’ve covered what the Army, Navy, and Air Force would probably like to find under their Christmas trees this year, but what about the Marines? Well, we think they’re looking forward to a few good gifts this year, too. These aren’t exactly Toys for Tots, if you know what we mean.
7. Super Hornets to go with Lightnings
The Marines’ Hornet fleet is so old that they needed to be bailed out by the boneyard earlier this year. While the first squadron of Marine F-35B Lightning is deploying, there’s another way to modernize Marine Corps aviation: Give ’em the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, too. This would let the legacy F/A-18 Hornets coast into a well-deserved retirement.
6. More amphibious ships
We put the A-10 on the Army’s wishlist, even though it’s an Air Force asset. Along those same lines, we think more amphibious ships would make a great present for the Marine Corps, even though they’re Navy equipment. Marines are meant for amphibious warfare, but they can’t do that if the sealift isn’t there.
5. More operations and maintenance funding
According to the Heritage Foundation, only 41 percent of Marine aviation assets are capable of flying if needed. This is clearly not a satisfactory situation, and it places both aviators and Marines on the ground at risk.
4. Resume the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program
The Marines are trying to replace the ancient AAV-7 with the Amphibious Combat Vehicle and the Marine Personnel Carrier. Problem is, the ACV doesn’t quite live up to the “Amphibious” part, per the Heritage Foundation’s Assessment of U.S. military strength. Why not scrap those programs and bring back the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle? The EFV was a superb design that was inexplicably cancelled — a replacement the AAV-7 and the LAV-25 would look good under the tree.
3. A few good aggressors
The Marines currently use the F-5 Tiger for aggressor training. That’s not a bad plane, but when Marine pilots could be facing Su-27/30/33/35 Flankers, a Tiger may not be enough plane to do the job. The Navy once had F-16s as aggressors — perhaps the Marines can get some late-model Falcons to supplement or replace the Tigers.
2. A lot more Ospreys, Lightnings, Cobras, King Stallions, and, well, everything…
The MV-22 Osprey, once targeted for cancellation by former Vice President Dick Cheney, is now in high demand. The problem is that procurement’s not keeping up with said demand. The same can be said for a lot of other airframes in the Marine Corps inventory.
1. Put the SAW back in the fire team
The Marines have been replacing the M249 SAW with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. We’re not saying that the M27 is a bad rifle, but the SAW just brings more ammo capacity to the fight. So, why not put the SAW back in the fire team, but keep the IAR as well to replace the rifleman without the M203. Win-win, right?
What do you think the Marine Corps needs to see under its tree for a Merry Christmas? Let us know in the comments.
Sparsely populated, disconnected from the contiguous states, subjected to a harsh Arctic climate, and almost unimaginably vast, the mere mention of Alaska conjures images of forbidding wilderness. But it’s in these conditions that the U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska must operate.
Dedicated to patrolling Alaska’s territorial waters, coming to the aid of damaged vessels, breaking through the routinely sea ice blocked ports, and carrying out scientific studies, the Coast Guard has its work cut out.
The Coast Guard in Alaska operates in some of the most isolated parts of the U.S. Here, a Coast Guard vessel gets underway in their winter Bering Sea patrol.
In this photo a Coast Guard vessel docks at Little Diomede Island in the middle of the Bering Strait. The island has a population of 135.
The Alaskan wilderness offers thousands of square miles of unspoiled natural beauty. Here, a Coast Guard ship makes port call at Kodiak.
Before taking part in operations, Coast Guard service members must receive substantial training, such as how to rescue people from icy waters.
Crew members of Coast Guard ships conduct 100-yard survival swims in 39-degree waters.
Here, a boatswain’s mate conducts surface-rescue training in Hogg Bay, in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.
Beyond rescue training, Coast Guardsmen must train on crew-served weapons in the event they’re needed. Here, units conduct night-fire exercises with a M-240B machine gun.
The Coast Guard must be ready for any scenario in Alaska’s unforgiving conditions. Here, a crew trains at recovering oil in ice-strewn water to prepare for possible oil spills.
Here, members of the Coast Guard Fire and Rescue team battle a simulated fire, to prepare for an actual aircraft-fire emergency.
Crew members routinely prepare for fires aboard vessels.
The Coast Guard constantly practices for helicopter evacuation missions at sea.
And the training is put to good use. Here, a Coast Guard MH-60 Jay hawk helicopter rescues two crew members of a fishing boat after it ran aground.
The Coast Guard is responsible for breaking the ice in northern ports for tankers. Here, a Coast Guard cutter breaks the ice near the city of Nome so that a Russian tanker could offload almost 1.3 million gallons of petroleum products to the city.
Cutting through the ice is a multiteam process. Here, a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter ascends from Nome after providing ice reconnaissance during the escort of the Russian tanker.
Members of an ice-rescue team survey an ice sheet before allowing crew and passengers of a vessel to disembark.
The Coast Guard constantly looks out to improve its capabilities. Here, Arktos Developments displays their amphibious Arctic craft, with heavy tank-style treads that can move through snow.
Keeping equipment in working order is difficult in Alaska, and a life-and-death issue for the Coast Guard. Here, a distress team leader clears ice and snow from solar panels that power a microwave link site for communications in western Alaska.
Another key job of the Coast Guard is to maintain navigation service aids throughout the waters around Alaska. Here, an electronics technician is lowered to a fixed aid on an island in Cold Bay.
Here, Coat Guard crew members service a shore aid near Dutch Harbor.
The Coast Guard plays the vital role of fisheries enforcement, making sure vessels don’t exceed their legal fishing limit and keeping the ecosystem intact.
The Coast Guard helps to conduct scientific experiments over the Arctic. In this photo, crew members deploy probes that measure sea temperature, salinity, and density to gain a better understanding of the Arctic during the summer season.
We’ve all seen Marine officer recruiting videos either on TV, on our mobile devices, or posted on a billboard next to the highway. For many, the video’s imagery, music, and testimonials cause young minds to consider joining the Corps — for one reason or another.
The video states what you’re going to learn and what awesome prospects lay ahead. Those who attend and complete the training can move on and serve in the Marine Infantry if that’s the path the individual has set for himself.
But what the training book doesn’t teach you is the role outside of the technical. Life in the Marines as an officer is a proud one, but it’s also stressful.
We sat down with our resident Marine infantry officer Chase Millsap and discussed what you should know before taking on the vital leadership role.
1. Your primary weapon is the field radio
It’s your job as a leader to organize your Marines while taking contact. Knowing how to use your radio to instruct your Marines and coordinate supporting arms is paramount.
Not that type of radio Jean-Claude. (Image via Giphy)
2. You will always eat last
In the Marines, enlisted Leathernecks get to eat their chow before anyone else, which means officers are always at the end of the line.
It’s tradition. (Images via Giphy)
3. You will almost always be the least experienced person starting day one
Everyone has to start out somewhere (unless you’re prior enlisted). Listen and learn as quickly as you can.
No doubt you’ll be motivated the first day though. (Images via Giphy)
4. Physical fitness isn’t optional
The minimum PT score is 300 — just saying. And you’d better never, ever let that squad leader beat you on a unit run.
None of those count, sir. (Images via Giphy)
5. Pony up the big bucks to take care of your grunts
We’re not suggesting you buy everyone in your platoon houses — that’s crazy talk. We mean forking out cash for cigarettes, rip its and dip. It will boost your unit’s morale.
Goodbye hard earned cash. (Images via Giphy)
6. You don’t have to be nice.
But you do need to be fair.
That’s hilarious but it’s so mean. (Images via Giphy)
7. You better know why you’re giving those orders
Having the power to give a Marine an order is a big deal. So you need to be sure that it’s well thought out ahead of time.
The chow line is the best part of a sailor’s day. It’s the heart of their social life and where he or she learns about shipmates.
In theory, this is the time to relax with friends, joke, laugh, and talk to people from other divisions who you don’t normally see. But life on the ship is busy, and chow can often be a rushed undertaking.
Chow lines seem to be longest when time is tightest. The lines are notorious for wrapping through workspaces, berthings, and even multiple levels. This is where the expression, “hurry up and wait” was conceived.
And there’s nothing a sailor can do but wait. This is where the real conversation with your buddies takes place. This also the place to people watch, and after much observation, here are the seven personalities that stand out:
1. The sailor who can’t wait to rank up so they don’t have to wait in another long chow line.
The chow line will never go away, but chiefs and officers get to wait in shorter lines.
2. Mr. Chipper
His happiness is annoying. It seems like some sailors have a special stash of sunshine and rainbows. (Check in with him five months into the deployment, and see just how chipper he still is.)
3. The foodie
The rule on ships is that you don’t take food from the galley, but Mr. Snax and Mr.Buff always ignore it. Snax is rounder than most and Buff spends his free time in the gym. Snax eats for fun and Buff eats to make gains.
4. The grease monkey
It’s easy to identify sailors with dirty jobs (machinists, maintenance personnel, and flight deck workers) by their greasy hands and dirty uniforms.
5. The snipe
Ship engineers work in the deep levels of the ship and rarely come up. Engineers work six hours on and six hours off and often lose their sense of time. To put this into context, a normal working schedule is either days or nights for 12 hours (12 on, 12 off), which allows for a regular sleeping pattern. Engineers have two days in a 24-hour period.
6. The newb
It’s easy to identify the new guy on a ship or shop. Just look for the sailor carrying all the boxed lunches for his entire shop.
7. The burglar
This sailor didn’t wait in chow line, he or she waited for an unsuspecting shipmate to set their food down – usually to grab a drink – to snatch their food tray.
We’ve all seen “Saving Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers,” but here’s a list of facts from World War 2 that you probably didn’t know:
1. The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese.
2. The first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians.
3. Over 100,000 Allied bomber crewmen were killed over Europe.
4. More U.S. servicemen died in the Air Corps that the Marine Corps.
5. Polish Catholic midwife Stanisława Leszczyńska delivered 3,000 babies at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust in occupied Poland.
6. In World War II, British soldiers got a ration of three sheets of toilet paper a day. Americans got 22.
7. In 1941, more than three million cars were manufactured in the United States. Only 139 more were made during the entire war.
8. Four of every five German soldiers killed in the war died on the Eastern Front.
9. Only 20 percent of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war.
10. In World War II, the youngest serviceman in the United States military was Calvin Graham – age 12. Graham lied about his age when he enlisted in the US Navy. His real age was not discovered after he was wounded.
11. Only one out of every four men serving on U-boats survived.
12. The Siege of Stalingrad resulted in more Russian deaths (military and civilian) then the United States and Britain sustained (combined) in all of World War II.
13. To avoid using the German sounding name ‘hamburger’ during World War II, Americans used the name ‘Liberty Steak.’
14. Adolf Hitler’s nephew, William Hitler, served in the US Navy during World War II.
15. During World War II, the largest Japanese spy ring was actually located in Mexico.
16. The mortality rate for POWs in Russian camps was 85 percent.
17. The first bomb dropped on Berlin by the Allies killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
18. Had it been necessary for a third atom bomb, the city targeted would have been Tokyo.
29. An Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer, who fought in World War II, Hiroo Onoda never surrendered in 1945. Until 1974, for almost 30 years, he held his position in the Philippines. His former commander traveled from Japan to personally issue orders relieving him from duty in 1974.
20. Total casualties for World War II totaled between 50 – 70 million people, 80 percent of which came form only four countries – Russia, China, Germany and Poland. Over 50 percent of the casualties were civilians, with the majority of those being women and children.
Marine infantrymen thrive on hardship. Whether it’s training and deploying to austere environments, learning to do more with less, or figuring out how to catch Z’s anywhere, grunt life in the infantry is very different from the rest of the Marine Corps.
There are also some problems specific to the infantry community. We came up with five, but if you can think of some more, leave a comment.
1. Physical training often consists of “death runs” and they feel just like it sounds.
Physical training is a part of being a Marine, but it’s much more demanding as an infantryman. Life in the grunts usually means waking up early to go on a “death run,” which isn’t that far off the mark. While the Marine physical fitness test (PFT) has a timed three-mile run, grunts can expect to go way beyond that.
On “death runs” that I’ve personally been on — also known jokingly as “fun runs” — our platoon commander or platoon sergeant would take us on runs over the seven-mile mark at an insane pace. And for extra fun, sometimes we wore gas masks. Gotta love it.
2. Your platoon commander is guaranteed to get you completely lost at some point.
When he’s not running you into the dirt, your platoon commander is supposed to be planning missions and leading. But sometimes that means leading you into who-knows-where. It’s a running joke that second lieutenants are terrible at land navigation, but it’s not that far off. He’s guaranteed to get you lost at least once. Let’s just hope it only happens in training.
3. I hope you’re ready for the non-grunt company First Sergeant who wants to “get back to the basics.”
Infantry Marines hold the 0300 military occupational specialty, as do their officers with 0302. But since company first sergeants perform mostly administrative duty (compared to Master Sergeants who remain in their field), they aren’t required to hold the infantry MOS. Although plenty of them do come up from the infantry ranks, some come from completely unrelated fields.
Grunt first sergeants are usually focused on the mission of the infantry (locating, closing with, and destroying the enemy), but first sergeants outside of the MOS sometimes focus on “getting back to the basics” — aka cleaning the barracks, holding uniform inspections, and marching properly. These are all good things for junior Marines to be exposed to in their careers. Just don’t expect them to like it.
4. Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to talk about prickly heat?
Training in the field can lead to some weird physical problems for grunts. In humid places, Marines can expect something called “prickly heat” — a very annoying rash that develops after sweating profusely. When you’re out in the field for days or weeks and not able to take a shower, that tends to happen quite a bit.
Then of course, there’s that terrible smell you develop. But luckily, you’re around a bunch of other people who smell terrible so you don’t even notice. Great success!
5. Range 400.
This legendary training range is a rite of passage for infantry Marines. With machine guns firing over their heads and mortars dropping down in support, grunts rush forward to attack a fortified “enemy” position in 29 Palms, California. It sounds awesome, and it is. It’s also an ass kicker.
“It’s the only range in the Marine Corps where overhead fire is authorized,” Capt. Andy S. Watson explained in a Marine Corps news release. “We are also granted a waiver to close within 250 meters of 81mm mortar fire. Normally, it is only 400 meters. Therefore, Range 400 gives Marines a realistic training experience of closing close into fires. They can’t get that anywhere else in the Marine Corps.”