What, you think only humans can become paratroopers? Okay, so humans do lead most airborne operations but the military often brings along animals — everything from bats to bears — they think might be helpful in a target area.
Check out this list of animals who have conducted jump operations:
Being “man’s best friend” is a double-edged sword. While domestication has allowed dogs to spread across the entire planet and cohabitate with humans while other species were pushed out of our sprawling cities, it has also resulted in dogs having to help defend those habitations.
And since nearly the invention of airborne operations, dogs have defended those habitations via paratrooper insertions. The British brought parachuting dogs with them on D-Day and Navy SEALs and other special operators bring dogs with them on missions today.
They settled on bears since their weight and dimensions were close enough to humans for the capsules to work similarly. At least six bears and one chimpanzee took the flight.
3. Beta fish
The “beta fish” title is singular for a reason. The military never sanctioned a beta fish airborne operation but Army Spc. Matthew Tattersall took “Willie Makeit” with him on a jump anyway, took a selfie in the air with the fish, and then landed. Willie was granted a meritorious name change to “Willie Did Makeit.”
Tattersall got extra duty. Sheesh, you would figure the man who single-handedly stood up the Airborne Beta Fish program would get more respect than that.
Bats are probably the only animal on this list capable of conducting an entire airborne operation on their own (except for piloting the aircraft). The Army, then Navy, then Marine Corps experimented with dropping bats in specialized bomb casings that carried up to 1,040 bats a piece.
These bomb casings, and the bats inside, would parachute down to 1,000 feet before the bats disperse across the target area and begin actions on the objective. Their “actions on the objective” were to find a nice place to sleep and then go up in flames thanks to the incendiary devices on their legs.
Beaver airborne operations were not military affairs, unlike these other entries. The idea to teach beavers to parachute started with a few researchers at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game which needed to establish new beaver colonies for fur production and watershed conservation in remote areas.
After horse and mule trains proved to be an expensive way to transport the beavers, the department decided to experiment with parachute operations. Seventy-five beavers ended up taking single-flights, but one beaver had to act as his species’ version of the test platoon. “Geronimo” conducted many experimental jumps before making his final, operational jump with three females to establish a colony.
So, yeah, there’s a decent chance that a polygamist beaver in Idaho had more jumps than you do.
Here are our picks for the 16 best quotes (or series of quotes) from “Full Metal Jacket.”
1. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “I am Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be ‘Sir.’ Do you maggots understand that?”
2. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “Bullsh-t. It looks to me like the best part of you ran down the crack of your mama’s ass and ended up as a brown stain on the mattress. I think you’ve been cheated!”
3. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “I bet you’re the kind of guy that would f-ck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around. I’ll be watching you.”
4. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “You goddamn communist heathen, you had best sound off that you love the Virgin Mary, or I’m gonna stomp your guts out! Now you DO love the Virgin Mary, don’t you?”
5. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “That’s enough! Get on your feet. Pvt. Pyle you had best square your ass away and start sh-tting me Tiffany cufflinks or I will definitely f-ck you up!”
6. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? Then quit, you slimy f-cking walrus-looking piece of sh-t! Get the f-ck off of my obstacle! Get the f-ck down off of my obstacle! NOW! MOVE IT! Or I’m going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Pvt. Pyle, EVEN IF IT SHORT-D-CKS EVERY CANNIBAL ON THE CONGO!”
7. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “I’m asking the f-cking questions here, Pvt.! Do you understand?”
Pvt. Cowboy: “Sir, yes, sir.”
Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “Well, thank you very much! Can I be in charge for a while?”
8. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “Were you born a fat, slimy, scumbag puke piece o’ sh-t, Pvt. Pyle, or did you have to work on it?”
9. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “If it wasn’t for d-ckheads like you, there wouldn’t be any thievery in this world, would there?”
10. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “Holy Jesus! What is that? What the f-ck is that?! What is that, Pvt. Pyle?!”
Pvt. Pyle: “Sir, a jelly doughnut, sir!”
Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “A jelly doughnut?”
11. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: “You forget your f-ckin’ name? 0300. Infantry. You made it.”
12. Unnamed Colonel in Vietnam: “Son, all I’ve ever asked of my Marines is that they obey my orders as they would the word of God. We are here to help the Viet-namese, because inside every gook there is an American trying to get out. It’s a hardball world, son. We’ve just got to keep our heads until this peace craze blows over.”
13. Animal Mother: “You talk the talk. Do you walk the walk?”
14. Crazy Earl: “These are great days we’re living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking the Earth — with guns. These people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we’re gonna miss not having anyone around that’s worth shooting.”
15. Da Nang Hooker: “Well, baby, me so horny. Me so HORNY. Me love you long time. You party?”
16. Pvt. Joker: “Sir, does this mean that Ann-Margret’s not coming?”
The military community is huge on rivalry and houses some of the most inventive d*ck-measuring contests ever imagined. Each branch is currently and forever waging a friendly war with one another that shows no signs of stopping — not that we’d want it to. And Navy homies, you’re up.
We hate on each other for various reasons, but at the end of the day — we’re still on the same side. Do not get it twisted. If we didn’t mock our brothers and sisters, how would they know that we love them? Think of it more like healthy competition than bad blood.
We Are The Mighty is made up of members from all branches of service. This time around, it’s a soldier ribbing his fellow sailor counterparts. Upset? Wait until your retort comes around. Argue in the comment section and maybe you’ll bring up good snap-backs.
With the upcoming Army-Navy football game, now’s the time to break out the salt on those squids.
6. You guys are heroes during fleet week. We just show up drunk at Hooters.
Everyone wants to roll out the red carpets when you guys get drunk, but when we do, there’s a company-wide recall because the FNG got a DUI off-post.
5. In-country deployments versus at-sea deployments.
I mean, we get it: 7th Fleet is supposedly terrible. Want to know what else sucks? Damn near everything about Iraq and Afghanistan. Just know that your ships have mess decks instead of CONEXes filled with expired MREs.
4. If you’re not a fake Marine Seabee or Corpsman, we don’t know who the hell you are.
We’re constantly working with airmen because they’re our taxis. We constantly work with Marines because they’re cool. I mean, technically there’s got to be at least a few soldiers who run into a sailor while on active duty, but that’s rare.
3. Seabees get better toys while on actual in-country deployments.
On the subject of Seabees, if you don’t know, Seabees are kind of like construction workers. They get actual supplies and use actual tools to build actual buildings. Want to know what we get? Sandbags. And we get to use them like floppy Lego blocks.
2. We see them only as glorified sea-taxi drivers for their cooler sibling (Marines).
We use the Air Force when we’re trying to Uber the hell out of Afghanistan — and they do the same for the Marines and the fake Marines. Shy of launching a few missiles (which every branch does — there’s nothing special about your Tomahawks), your entire purpose is to deliver Marines as if terrorists ordered them on Amazon Prime.
1. How the hell did we lose the “drinking and cussing like a sailor” sayings to a bunch of beach-volleyball players that dress like anime schoolgirls?
Have a conversation with an soldier and they’ll use a expletives like a f*cking comma. Catch them out of uniform and they’ll have a bottle of something in their hands. Those sayings should be ours! But no, they go to you guys even though…
Lightning round: …your crackerjacks are silly. Your blueberries are pointless. We won’t ever let you live down Top Gun. The “100 sailors” joke will never stop being funny. Nearly your entire branch is made up of POGs. You literally call you lower enlisted “seamen.” You ruined Godsmack. And d*mm*t are we still jealous that your SEALs popped OBL instead of our Green Berets.
*Bonus* We’re still upset about those 14 years of Army / Navy games.
Go Army. Beat Navy. Let’s kick their asses for 13 more years and see how they like it.
Americans have a generous plethora of options when it comes to picking their favorite foods and restaurants. After all, if we only stuck to the traditionally patriotic hot dogs and apple pie, dinner would get pretty boring.
This is a philosophy that many Americans would be best served to translate not only into what they eat, but also how they eat. We’ve developed some cultural habits and norms that, in the end, might not actually be what’s best for our bodies.
These seven solutions to common American dietary mistakes come from as far and wide as Mexico to Japan. Here’s what they think we’re doing wrong.
1. Oftentimes, Americans don’t focus on portion size.
By now, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the 2004 documentary, Super Size Me. It’s common for Americans to focus on larger portions, picking the large or “supersized” options as they go out to eat.
Foreign visitors often notice the shocking differences between portion sizes at meals and it’s been said that an American small translates to a medium or large in other countries. Even the sizes of drinks from McDonald’s, the subject of the aforementioned documentary, vary greatly from country to country, with America’s drinks falling in a supersized category.
Remember: you don’t have to eat everything in front of you. According to WebMD, it’s best if you just stick to keeping leftovers, listening to your body, and focus on greater portions of healthy items as opposed to piling up a plate with processed, sugar-filled, or fatty snacks.
2. Americans eat solely for the sake of maintaining or losing weight.
Food doesn’t need to be the enemy. An estimated 45 million Americans go on diets each year, but food is beneficial for the body beyond being a source of energy or a way to lose weight. Food can make a difference in your lifestyle in many unexpected ways.
In India, for example, curry is a dietary staple and not just because it’s tasty and low-calorie. Many believe that it can also be great for the liver, can prevent Alzheimer’s, and relieve pain and inflammation. There are several small studies that seem to back this up, but more research is needed.
Food doesn’t just need to be about how our bodies look or our shape, it can also serve to improve how our body functions.
Also, food can be fun. In France, one of the greatest traditions is the idea of eating for pleasure. Food is delicious, so they enjoy it and appreciate it. That doesn’t mean it has to be eaten in large or heavy amounts, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a negative.
“It’s true that the French eat for pleasure, but they enjoy cream, cheese, and wine in moderation,” says Mary Brighton, RD, a health and food blogger who lives in Pau, France, told FitnessMagazine.com.
3. Americans make a habit of skipping breakfast and lunch and focusing on dinner.
It’s a common scenario. Busy day at work with hardly any time to think, let alone grab lunch, enjoy the food, and take a second out of the day for yourself. There’s always dinner, right?
The saying doesn’t state that dinner is the most important meal of the day. In Mexican culture, almuerzo, which translates to ‘lunch,’ is a staple, and this is supported by research that states weight gain could be attributed to heavier meals in the evening or later at night.
In fact, in Korea, breakfast looks a whole lot like what we might think is actually dinner, which gets the day off to a full start.
4. Americans keep meals monochromatic.
As mouth-watering as bread, pasta, and potatoes are, there’s one problem: your plate shouldn’t be 50 shades of beige. Often, fruits and veggies — aka the healthy stuff — varies in color.
In comparison, Japanese meals tend to look like a rainbow of different foods and Japanese dining culture emphasizes food’s appearance, according to Shape. Try incorporating color-rich, healthy seafood, which is packed with omega-3s, and fresh, vibrant vegetables into a meal, taking a plate from plain to pizzazz.
5. Americans consume tons of coffee without exploring other options.
Coffee has become a part of our daily routine and it’s how many people function in the morning. Eighty-three percent of American adults drink coffee, according to USA Today, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
Coffee has its risks and rewards, but if you’re hoping for an alternative to a morning cup of joe, it might be worth checking out South Africa’s favorite tea: Rooibos. Many claim that Rooibos has several benefits, including being good for the skin and a preventer of kidney stones. Of course, more research is needed to prove these claims.
6. Americans tend to go out to eat for many meals.
As much fun as it is to go out to eat with friends or to grab a tasty meal from a new restaurant, going out to eat can be just as bad as grabbing fast food, according to Men’s Fitness. Not only are you likely to be unaware of how the food is prepared or which ingredients are left unspecified, it can also add up and be a budget-breaker.
According to The Daily Meal, only 5% of the average Polish family’s budget is spent on going out to eat, unlike Americans, who spend an average of over $3,000 a year at restaurants. Not only is this good for your wallet, it also allows you to have direct insight into the cooking process. It can be just as fun to cook for yourself or friends, so maybe going out to eat can become a rare treat.
7. Americans often skip spice.
Everyone’s definition of “spicy” differs, but there are some impressive pros to at least adding a little bit of zing and heat to a meal.
According to Health, traditional Thai food is not only abundant in spice, it’s also got some benefits: spicy food can help slow down the eating process, causing you to eat more slowly and feel fuller more quickly.
“Americans eat too fast,” Dr. James Hill, the past president of the American Society for Nutrition, told Health. “By the time your body signals that it’s full, you’ve overeaten. Eating slower is a good weight-loss strategy, and making food spicier is an easy way to do it.”
1. Marine Brian Chontosh’s incredible response to an Iraqi ambush
Working Title: Killing Up Close
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Tom Hardy
Hollywood has a reputation for embellishing “true stories” with an extra dose of drama, special effects, and too-beautiful-to-be-real actors. “Brian Chontosh: The Movie,” however, would require no exaggeration — this story of military valor is unbelievably badass from start to finish.
Then-Lt. Brian Chontosh was a Marine platoon leader during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. On the morning of March 25, he was sitting shotgun in a Humvee when a large berm appeared in the distance. Before he and his men knew what was happening, Iraqi soldiers began showering the vehicle detail with machine gun fire, grenades and mortars from behind the shelter — instantly killing a medic and damaging a tank.
Most people would try to organize a hasty exit at this point. Not Brian Chontosh. As bullets and explosives screamed past their Humvee, Chontosh ordered driver Cpl. Armand McCormick to drive forward, straight through the berm. McCormick floored it as another Marine, Cpl. Thomas Franklin, manned the Humvee’s .50-caliber machine gun, crashing through the obstruction and into the trench on the opposite side.
As Iraqi soldiers began to swarm the Humvee, Chontosh swung out of his vehicle guns-a-blazing, firing from his pistol and rifle until he was out of bullets. Iraqi soldiers dropped dead left and right, and Chontosh continued to pull the trigger, machine gun fire clouding his senses as he pushed his way through the maw. It was the first time he had ever killed anyone.
“It’s nothing like TV,” Chontosh told Newsweek. “It’s ugly. It’s contorted. People fall how they fall. It’s not like the bullet hits and they’re blown back or anything like that.”
When his rifle jammed, Chontosh ripped an AK-47 off of a dead Iraqi, unloading every bullet in it before picking up a second AK as he ran, shooting everything he could. By the end of the battle, he would shoot and kill nearly two-dozen Iraqis single-handedly. At this point the exhausted Marine finally reconnected with his men and headed back towards the Humvee, when they noticed an Iraqi soldier huddled on the ground, playing dead but holding a grenade.
The men scrambled for weapons but were out of ammo. Amazingly, Chontosh saw a cluster of live M-16 rounds glinting in the dirt, where they had fallen when his rifle jammed. He dove for the rounds, loaded a single bullet — and shot the soldier in the head, saving himself and his men. Can you imagine that scene on an IMAX screen?
If that’s not Hollywood-blockbuster enough for you, they still had to get medical help for the Marines who had been wounded. Oh, and a sandstorm rolled in. Totally casual.
Chontosh would later be awarded the Navy Cross and two Bronze Stars for heroism, and is currently considered one of the top CrossFit athletes in the world. If that isn’t prime movie material, we don’t know what is. Your move, Hollywood.
2. The story of Larry Thorne’s military valor under three different flags
Have you ever watched a movie that you loved so much you didn’t want it to end? This is that movie — and don’t worry about a short running time, either. Lauri Törni’s story is filled with so many twists and turns that even a conservative film adaptation would give The Hobbit’s running time a run for its money — so maybe a two-part series would be best.
Törni’s story begins in Finland in 1938, when he joined the army at 19 years old, determined to fight the Soviet Union. It didn’t take long for his natural leadership skills and military instincts to shine, and he was soon promoted to captain — of a skiing troop. Törni and his men would pursue their enemies on skis, kicking up powder on the Finnish slopes. Is anyone else thinking of that chase scene from The Grand Budapest Hotel? Just add guns and Soviet Russians.
Everything was going great until Törni skied into a mine in 1942, leaving him badly wounded. The young soldier was soon back on his feet, however, and would later be honored with the Mannerheim Cross for his war efforts (the Finnish equivalent of the Medal of Honor).
But Törni wasn’t ready to give up the fighting — though he would give up his Finnish uniform. When Finland agreed to a ceasefire with the Soviet Union in 1944, he decided to switch teams to keep up with the action, joining the German SS for the promise of future combat against the Communists.
Unfortunately, as we know, Törni picked the wrong team. When the war ended, he was arrested by British forces for being a Nazi officer. Didn’t think the protagonist was going to get tangled up with the bad guys, did you? But he wasn’t in prison for long. Törni successfuly escaped his POW camp and snuck back into Finland, where, unfortunately, he was arrested again, this time by his own people. Things really went downhill after that skiing accident.
Luckily, however, the president of Finland had a soft spot for this adventurous turncoat, and Törni only served half his sentence before he was pardoned and released in 1948.
But wait, the story’s not over. In June of 1950, America would pass a law that would create an opportunity for foreigners to serve under the U.S. military, granting them citizenship if they stuck with it for five years. It was called the Lodge-Philbin Act, and it came right around the same time a new military unit was created — The Special Forces.
Törni, along with 200 other Eastern Europeans, joined the American military under this law. This wasn’t merely an opportunity to continue military service, however — the Soviet Union forced Finland to arrest Törni for his time fighting alongside the Nazis. When he found out he would be shipped to Moscow and tried for war crimes, Törni knew it was time to get out of dodge and start a new life. So he escaped — again — and changed his name to Larry Thorne, ready to embrace an American identity.
Not surprisingly, Thorne thrived in his new military environment. Originally enlisting as a private, he was quickly singled out for his skill and experience, and began teaching at the Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, where he instructed recruits on guerrilla fighting tactics and survival skills. Soon after, he would become a Captain in Special Forces, and successfully retrieved classified documents from a U.S. Air Force plane that went down in the mountains near the Turkish-Soviet border.
Thorne quickly made it into the U.S. Special Forces and in 1962, as a Captain, he led his detachment onto the highest mountain in Iran to recover the bodies and classified material from an American C-130 airplane that had crashed. It was a mission in which others had failed, but Thorne’s unrelenting spirit led to its accomplishment. This mission initially formed his status as a U.S. Special Forces legend, but it was his deep strategic reconnaissance and interdiction exploits with Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, also known as MACV-SOG, that solidified his legendary status.
If this wasn’t cool enough, Thorne was also awarded five Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star medal for his military bravery. His last ever mission was in Vietnam in 1965, when he led the premiere MACV-SOG cross-border mission into Laos. While his men successfully entered a clearing within Laos, Thorne watched and waited in a chase helicopter, ready to provide assistance if necessary. When his men had made it safe, he began flying his helicopter back to base.
Only a few minutes later, the helicopter lost control and crashed — likely the result of stormy weather conditions. The Army reported Thorne as MIA, and many of his comrades refused to believe this military legend was dead. Their beliefs were further cemented when the chopper and air crew were found without Thorne’s body, and many hoped that he had escaped the crash and was still making his way out of the jungle.
The legend of Larry Thorne and his mysterious disappearance lived on until 1999, when a second exploration of the crash site produced a body who’s DNA and dental records matched that of the beloved Special Forces soldier. His life was cut short, but the legacy he left behind was larger than life, and completely worthy of a couple hours on the big screen.
3. The story of the orthodontist who became America’s first Navy SEAL
Working Title: Another Navy SEAL Movie
Director: Stephen Spielberg
Starring: Christoph Waltz
Everyone loves a good underdog, and Navy Lt. j.g. Jack Taylor is one of the best “little guys” we’ve ever heard of. Before the start of World War II, Taylor was an orthodontist in Hollywood, California. When the U.S. declared war on Japan, however, Taylor swapped his dental scrubs for a Navy uniform, planning to teach boat handling skills to American and Allied servicemen — a pretty safe wartime occupation.
Fate had other plans for Taylor however, and they were way more exciting than pulling teeth or rigging sails.
He didn’t know it yet, but DDS Jack Taylor would soon become Lt. j.g. Taylor, and would prove his worth as the first ever Navy SEAL, undertaking ocean operations in Greece, land operations in Albania, and parachuting into Austria — 20 years before the first SEAL team had ever been assembled.
In the Maritime Unit, Taylor personally commanded fourteen missions into the enemy-occupied Greek and Balkan coasts. He and his team delivered spies, weapons, explosives, and other supplies to friendly forces from Sep. 1943 to March, 1944.
Taylor also commanded a land team in Central Albania around this time, escaping near-capture by enemy forces at least three times. For his valor, he received the Navy Cross.
Before Taylor and his men could head to Italy to meet up with American troops, the group was captured on Dec. 1, 1944, and sent to prison in Vienna before being transferred to Mauthausen, a camp that was notorious for its cruel treatment and deplorable living conditions. There Taylor was jailed as a political prisoner, and watched as inmate after inmate was executed — a brutal reminder of what his own fate would surely be.
Taylor was nearly executed on two different occasions. The first time a friend who worked in the camp’s office found his papers among a stack of to-be executed prisoners and removed it, burning it before his superiors noticed it was gone.
Eventually the Nazis realized Taylor had evaded his sentence, and scheduled a second execution. But just when it seemed that his number was up, the 11th Armored Division liberated the camp, only days before he would have been killed.
When an American film crew arrived and asked him for an interview, Taylor got the chance to tell the world what he and so many others had experienced under Nazi prison conditions, later recounting the same information at the Nuremberg trials, where his testimony of the horrors of Mauthausen would lead to the conviction of all 61 camp personnel.
4. “Mad Jack” Churchill’s sword-wielding World War II victories
Working Title: Mad Jack
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Star: Harvey Keitel
When it comes to movie characters, American viewers seem to agree on the same cinematic mantra: The more eccentric, the better. If you’re skeptical, just Google John Malkovich, or ponder how “The Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise continues to grind out terrible sequels that people continue to pay for. Sometimes, people don’t want quality, they just want crazy.
Luckily, however, we’ve found a story that fits the bill in both categories: A war account so bizarre it sounds more like an urban legend than a part of America’s WWII history.
Lt. Col. John Malcom Thorpe Fleming Churchill, or “Mad Jack” as he would later be known, may have been one of the most badass — and insane — people to ever walk the earth. Picture the weirdness of Jeff Bridges a la “The Big Lebowski” crossed with sheer majesty of Mel Gibson in “Braveheart” and you’ll be in the ballpark.
Churchill joined the British military in 1926 at age 20, only to leave shortly after to pursue professional bagpiping and compete in the World Archery Championship in 1939 — because why not. But when WWII rolled around, Churchill was more than ready to jump back into the fray, and racked up a war record so unbelievable we’re shocked his story hasn’t already made it to the big screen.
Churchill stormed the beaches of Normandy carrying a Scottish sword, wore his bagpipes in battle and made many of his kills with a longbow he wore on his back. During a night raid on the Nazi lines, Churchill led his men to capture 136 enemy soldiers — and he himself captured 40 plus Germans at sword point. During a different battle on the Nazi-controlled island of Brac, “Mad Jack” fought until he was the last of his men standing. Then when he ran out of ammo, he stood his ground, playing his bagpipes on top of a hill until a grenade knocked him out and he was captured by the Germans. That scene alone could win an Academy Award.
Churchill would later escape his POW camp and meet up with American troops, only to find out — to his profound disappointment — that two atomic bombs had been dropped, and the war was essentially over. According to Vice, Churchill reportedly complained, “If it hadn’t been for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going for another ten years!”
Who knows, with the film industry being so sequel-happy these days (we’re looking at you, Peter Jackson), maybe his movies could go on for ten years.
Being a solid Corpsman or combat medic in the infantry takes discipline, determination, and, above all, passion. Some aid station medics are more brainiacs than their grunt-like counterparts who lug heavy packs out in the field.
However, many of these ‘docs’ quickly transition from being badasses who put rounds downrange to being the squad’s doctor when someone gets hurt.
When the bullets start flying and the adrenaline pumps through your veins, it’s incredible how fast you can become fatigued if you aren’t physically ready.
You don’t need a bodybuilder’s biceps to keep up with the physical demands of being a combat medic, you just need to strengthen these key areas.
Deployed medical professionals carry stretchers and Army litters for prolonged periods of time. This can tire out your shoulders in a matter of minutes if you’re not prepared.
Build up those shoulders by knocking out a few sets of “shoulder shrugs” during your workouts. It’ll help.
2. Keep that muscle memory tight
Jackie Chan isn’t one of the greatest stuntmen in Hollywood history because he sits in his barracks room playing Call of Duty all day. He continually practices his craft to get better and better every day.
Combat medics should do the same with applying tourniquets and battle dressings.
3. Use those legs for lifting
Docs are going to do a lot of lifting.
Most wounded patients are going to be laying on the ground when you arrive on the scene, and the medic will have to summon the strength to pick them up. If you use too much of your back, you’re looking at injury. Use those legs to lift.
4. Cardio is key
Medics do a lot of running. They run from patient to patient in the event of a mass casualty situation, then, they have to haul ass to the medevac to relay the proper medical information to the in-flight surgeon.
The job can be tiresome if you’re not in good shape. So, workout with a buddy if you need extra motivation, but be sure to get that cardio in.
No matter how familiar you are with the military culture, no matter how prepared you think you are to embrace it, when you say “I do” to someone who wears combat boots to work every day, there are things you will learn that may never have occurred to you. Some of us pick up on those things quickly, and some of us are still (after decades of this life) figuring things out on a daily basis. We asked a group of our incredible Military Spouse contributors to share some of the things they really wish they had known early on. We want to know, what would you add to this list?
Contributors: Stacy Huisman, MJ Boice, Erin Whitehead, Cassandra Bratcher, Morgan Slade, Kama Shockey, Ashley Frisch, Kate Dolack, Kiera Durfee, Davelda Edgington, Michelle Aikman
I wish I had known to give up on planning as soon as possible. The sooner you give in to having no set plan, the easier everything becomes.
Honestly, I wish I understood what a valuable resource military spouses can be – instead of being afraid.
I wish I had taken all those classes specifically for spouses a lot sooner.
I wish I had known it was okay to ask questions sooner. And who would have the answers! (Hint: It is not usually the service member)
I wish I had known to accept that my husband doesn’t and never will have a set schedule, so I can’t really plan much ahead of time.
I wish I knew how unbreakable military spouse bonds could be.
I wish I had immersed myself in our community sooner. I thought being a National Guard spouse meant being a loner in the military realm, but have come to find that there is a great deal of support and camaraderie.
I wish I had realized that rank shouldn’t be a factor in friendships. We are all in the same boat and anyone who ever tells you they can’t be your friend due to rank isn’t a person you want to associate with anyway.
I wish I had known that it is okay to have a life outside of the military and your military spouse friends.
I wish I had become more involved in the local community, outside of the base, sooner.
I wish I had worried less what others might think of me. If I want to wear a hundred shirts proudly displaying my spouses branch of service…then I will!
I wish I had been more of a tourist at every duty station. There are so many local things I wish I had experienced in every place we lived over the years.
I wish someone had explained what “hurry up and wait” really meant.
I wish I knew that you CAN have a successful career you can take with you everywhere.
I wish I knew we truly are like a family. We have our issues in this community, but when someone tries to attack one of us, we rise up and come to their defense…even we don’t personally know him or her.
I wish that I had known that even though the mission comes first, I don’t always come last. (Understanding THAT little nugget might have diffused an argument or two over time.)
I wish I knew that you can be eligible for unemployment when you lose your job due to transfer!
I wish I knew not to buy expensive furniture in the first year of marriage – only to anxiously watch it moved six times in ten years. Needless to say my stuff is gently bruised, but the upside is discovering the world of IKEA!
I wish I knew I didn’t always have to have a stiff upper lip.
Actually, I didn’t know anything coming into this life and I am kind of glad that was the case! It allowed me to experience baptism by fire and I’m not sure I would have as much faith in myself as I do now if I hadn’t experienced it that way.
I wish I had known to ALWAYS purchase refundable/transferable/changeable tickets, lodging, etc.
I wish I had known how hard it can be to find a career again. I wouldn’t have worried so much and would have enjoyed the new experiences much more…instead of being on a constant job hunt.
I wish I had started planning for retirement years before it is recommended your family does so.
I wish I had taken the time to laugh more, and curse less, when Murphy came to visit. Again.
I wish I had known from the beginning that our collective voices can move mountains and create significant change!
I wish I had known moving overseas is not only harder, but exponentially so. And more complicated. And more expensive.
I wish I had known that reintegration was going to be harder than the deployment itself.~I wish I had known that it was okay to ask for help…that it is not a sign of weakness.
I wish I had known how fast it would go by!
I wish I hadn’t felt the need to spout off my resume to every spouse I met when I first married into military life. It was a sign of insecurity, walking away from my career. Little did I know many other spouses had similar feelings.
I wish I had given my friends who did not understand military life a little more of a break. I now know that you simply can’t understand if you haven’t lived it.
I wish I had learned the signs of PTSD and Combat/Operational Stress sooner…and knew how to help my spouse get the help they deserve.
I wish I knew how strong I would become.
I wish I knew that my definition of “home” and “family” would change over time.
I wish I knew that this life is like a roller coaster. We put on that harness and hang on for the ride, even if we beg for them to stop it sometimes, we barrel along a single track with no control over many parts. We may hit some walls hat are slow to come, then we barrel down. Others are abrupt, we feel our stomachs drop out at the low parts but we also get to throw our hands up in the air! We enjoy the thrill with the other riders then embrace each other when it’s over and say, “that was a wild ride, I would do it again with you guys any time.”
As a military spouse, it can feel overwhelming to try to have a career of your own, and even then, its tough to find one you want that meshes well with the military lifestyle.
Recently I came across an article We Are The Mighty syndicated a few years ago: The 10 coolest jobs for military spouses. The list was filled with things like “be a babysitter!” and “be a dog groomer!” among other things.
I understood the premise behind the article: careers that are mobile. But overall, it was a list of starter jobs that — when you’re in your mid 30s and trying to have a serious career — don’t exactly scream “I am a professional!”
Adulting is hard, but it’s even harder when you’re constantly moving, constantly having to search for a new job, and constantly juggling the responsibilities of parenthood and spousehood and…you get the point.
This made me wonder if typical spouses generally just settle into jobs like babysitting and dog grooming and selling mascara, so I went to a group of military spouses who’ve managed to have successful careers and successful marriages, and I asked them to tell me what they do.
The following careers are all careers that current and former Military Spouses of the Year have, and it just goes to show that being a military spouse does not have to mean you’re doomed to sell makeup or babysit for the rest of your service member’s career (that is, if you don’t want to).
*Note: there isn’t anything wrong with direct sales. In fact, I’ve done direct sales, and a lot of spouses do, because it is extremely mobile. The purpose of this list is to think outside of the “military spouse” box.
Brittany Boccher owns an apparel company called Mason Chix
Lakesha Cole owns a brick and mortar children’s boutique called SheSwank in Jacksonville, NC
Valerie Billau founded a kids consignment shop, which she sold after three years when her husband took orders elsewhere
Melissa Nauss owns Stars and Stripes Doulas
Andrea Barreiro is an agent for professional athletes.
Heather Smith is a tennis coach.
Ellie OB coached college basketball for 12 years
Physical and Mental Health care:
Lisa Uzzle is the director of healthcare operations at a medical facility
Melissa Nauss is a certified doula
Alexandra Eva is a nurse practitioner who hosts clinics in rural areas of third world countries that don’t have much access to medical care. She has worked in Uganda, South Sudan, DRC, and Mozambique, among others
Paula Barrette is a licensed optometrist, though due to the difference in each state’s current licensing laws, she often finds herself volunteering as an optometrist at military clinics rather than getting paid
Dr. Ingred Herrera-Yee is a clinical psychologist for the Department of Defense, and the founder of a network for military spouses in the mental health field
Amber Rose Odom works as an administrator in a dental office
Michelle Lemieux is a registered nurse for adolescent psychiatry
Zinnia Narvaez is a medical assistant, and practices OB/GYN at a community health center
Stephanie Geraghty became a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) in order to provide better care for her son, who has special needs. In some states, the state will pay for up to a certain number of hours per day of in home nursing care, and in Geraghty’s state, immediate family members qualify to provide the care. Geraghty put herself through the schooling and passed the board, and now officially works for her son
Anna Blanch Rabe is the CEO of a communications company that specializes in service non-profit organizations with high quality communications content, strategic planning, and business advice. She started her professional career as an attorney, but current licensing issues prevent her from practicing in most states her service member gets orders to
Erica McMannes is the CEO of an outsourcing and virtual staffing agency for military spouses
Amy Hanson is the executive assistant to the Vice President of a “billion dollar company”
Lisa Wantuck is the Director of National Sales for an IT staffing company
Elizabeth Groover is an executive management specialist for a chemical and biological firm
Kori Yates and Cassandra Bratcher founded non-profit organizations that involve military spouses
Maria Mola is the development director for a non-profit that focuses on providing 24 month transitional housing for homeless veterans and families and formerly incarcerated veterans
Erin Ensley, along with her daughter, make and send teddy bears for the Epilepsy Foundation
Amy Scick is the Director of Community Relations for a non-profit that focuses on military spouse employment
Leslie Brians is a graphic designer and creative director for a military spouse focuses non-profit
Mindy Patterson works with an agency that is addressing the need for assisted living for people who don’t qualify for it through other various government programs
Jessica Del Pizzo is an account manager for a cyber security firm
Alex Brown works in cybersecurity, and notes that analysts, remote support, network security design, consultants, and even administrative database managers are excellent remote positions, and with the need for cybersecurity specialists, most places are willing to work with remote employees
Education and child focused:
Jennifer Delacruz is a special education teacher, who also writes children’s books about special education
Elizabeth Lowe is a personal in home one-to-one therapy caregiver to a child with severe special needs
Brittany Raines is in foster parenting licensing
Rebekah Speck is a “parent navigator” for a state run program that provides families of disabled children with an advocate to help them address things like IEPs, etc
Courtney Lynn is a 3rd grade teacher
Christina Laycock is an accountant
Stacy Faris is a business administrator
Grace Sanchez is a bookkeeper
Kelli Kraehmer is an account manager for a large wireless company
Kennita Williams is a legal aid for a DoD Staff Judge Advocate
Whenever a new weapon sees widespread deployment, all the rules get rewritten. The draft version of the new rules can be a bit strange though. Here are five crazy ways Britain thought it might get a handle on Germany’s U-Boats in World War I.
1. Training seagulls to sh-t on the periscopes
There is no explanation of how the seagulls would be trained to do this. Admiral Sir Frederick Inglefield, head of all “motor-boat patrols” (discussed below), believed seagulls would defecate on submarine periscopes if properly trained. The blinded submarines would then be forced to surface or attempt to escape the harbor.
2. Hammers and bags
The British tried to stop the submarine menace with a “motor-boat patrol.” There were hundreds of these boats, each with at least two crew members. The boats would patrol designated areas near the coast looking for periscopes. But only 1 in 10 was armed.
So, if the crew spotted a periscope, they were supposed to sneak as close to it as they could in the boat and then swim the rest of the way. One man would take a canvas bag and pop it over the periscope while the other would swing a hammer as hard as he could to break the periscope.
3. Meeting submarines under the surface with top notch swimmers and sharp hammers
There’s no record of the British ever attempting this method, but someone proposed the Royal Navy select some especially strong swimmers. When a submarine was spotted these swimmers could swim to the hull and attempt to hit it with a pointed hammer, piercing its hull and sending it down.
4. Training birds and sea lions to watch for periscopes
In an effort to more quickly identify submarines working near British and Allied shipping, the British Navy attempted to train seagulls and sea lions to chase periscopes. The training was done by creating dummy periscopes that dispensed food.
This was supposed to work in two ways. First, any submarine that raised its periscope while the ocean was covered in paint would be blinded as the paint covered the periscope glass. Second, the paint was generally green which may confuse the submarine captain as to what depth he was cruising at, possibly causing him to move higher in the water which would expose his hull.
Artillery on the shore or motor boat patrols could then target the blind, exposed U-boat. While this tactic was proposed to the Royal Navy, it’s not clear that they ever attempted it. This could be because they didn’t have enough green paint to cover the surface Great Britain’s 19,491 miles of coastline.
Tattoo and military culture often goes hand-in-hand, but some troops have gotten some subpar ink over the years.
WATM asked troops over social media what the worst tattoos they had ever seen, and we received plenty of submissions. Some respondents sent in images over Twitter or Facebook, while others just described the offending artwork.
Luckily, WATM has a resident artist in our own social media manager O.V., who went ahead and drew up recreations of what some of these terrible tats probably looked like. So, without further ado, here are the worst of the worst in military ink using real imagery and artist representations (some responses are edited for clarity):
1. The infantry spelling fail:
2. The spelling fail of Semper Fi, short for the Marines motto of Semper Fidelis: One respondent said a Marine had “Semer Fi,” while another said, “Smeper Fi is by far the worst.” It can’t be that hard to spell, Marines:
3. “‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’ — But it was in Arabic, along his collarbone. Which is convenient for anyone who wants to cut off his head, because it’s like ‘cut here’ instructions.”
4. “My brother got a sword with a ribbon that said ‘fly or die.’ He was an aviation electrician, never on flight status, who got out as a PFC.”
5. The Army nametape with the Marine Corps camouflage pattern:
6. “No joke, we get a 1-day pass for Family Day in the middle of basic training. My battle buddy gets this absolutely MASSIVE tattoo, shoulder-blade to shoulder-blade, that says ‘WARDOGS, Echo 1-50 Infantry’ between two growling Rottweiler heads. It was our basic training platoon callsign. When the drill sergeants found out, they changed the name of the platoon to the Mad Dogs for the rest of the cycle.”
7. Then there is this contender for terrible post-boot camp tattoos:
8. “Naval compass that read ‘North West South East.'”
9. “National Guard spouse with cross pistols on her upper back captioned with the words ‘MP Wife.'”
10. “Had a 60mm mortar man get 0342 tattoo on his arm” (if you don’t get it, a Marine Corps mortar-man’s MOS is 0341.)
11. “Tattoo of an elephant. Below the belt. Trunk was what you’d think. Saw it with my eyes. Wish I hadn’t.”
12. “When I was in Benning for jump, some mouth-breather got ‘AIRBORNE’ across his upper back in old English (Sublime style). He got kicked out a few days later for some incident out in town, and of course – isn’t airborne.”