5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends - We Are The Mighty
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5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

We’ve all heard about those legendary astronauts and fighter pilots who did those things that live in the annals of history, but here are five lesser-known and seldom-told tales about noteworthy Air Force legends who served around the Wild Blue Yonder:


1. The Tuskegee airman who almost shot Muammar Qaddafi

 

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Wheelus Air Force Base was located right outside the city of Tripoli in Libya. In 1968, a coup brought then 27-year-old Muammar al-Qaddafi to power. The young dictator demanded the closing of the American bases in what he now considered his country.

Before the base could be formally closed and handed to the Libyans, Qaddafi ordered a column of half-tracks to drive at full speed right through the middle of the base’s housing area. Qaddafi himself waited outside of Wheelus’ main gate for the armored column to return.

Unfortunately for Qaddafi, the commander of Wheelus Air Force Base was already legendary – he was Colonel Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. “Chappie” was a veteran of World War II and had also flown missions in Korea and Vietnam. And he was not happy with the Libyans. When he found out what was happening, James strapped his .45 onto his belt and went right to the base’s main gate. He immediately shut down the barrier and walked to face off with Qaddafi. The Tuskegee Airman was not impressed with the dictator.

“He had a fancy gun and holster and he kept his hand on it,” James recalled. He ordered Qaddafi to move his hand away from the weapon. The dictator complied with Colonel James. “If he had pulled that gun, he never would have cleared the holster.”

Qaddafi never sent another column.

2. The Original Airman Snuffy

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

By the time airmen leave Joint Base San Antonio, they have come to know the stories of Airman Snuffy; he’s the Every-Airman, the average Airman, sometimes the slacker Airman. Airman Snuffy is the example Air Force instructors use to describe a situation. “Let’s say you’re charge of quarters duty one night and Airman Snuffy reports a fire…” or “Airman Snuffy applies a tourniquet to the injured area. What else should he do?”

Airman Snuffy is not just an example… he’s a real person who did something legendary. During WWII, Sgt. Maynard “Snuffy” Smith was the 306th Bomber Group’s slacker in residence. Before joining the Army Air Corps, Smith was known as “spoiled,” living off an inheritance and was forced to join the Army by a judge as a sentence for failure to pay child support. No one wanted to fly with him. He didn’t like taking orders, especially from younger officers. He chose to be an aerial gunner because it was the fastest way to make rank and thus, pay.

His first mission took him over St. Nazaire, France – aka “Flak City.” On the way back from the mission, the pilot mistook what he thought was Southern England for the heavily fortified city of Brest, France. German fighters suddenly ripped his plane to shreds: the wing tank had been shot off and was pouring fuel into the plane. The fuel caught fire, and then everything else caught fire. The plane became a flying inferno. Soon, the fire on the plane started to burn so hot it set off ammunition and melted a  gun mount, camera, and radio. Airman Snuffy started to throw whatever wasn’t bolted down out of the plane, lest it melt or explode.

When the German fighters returned, he manned the B-17’s machine guns to repel them. Then he had to start putting out the fire. When the extinguisher ran out, he dumped the plane’s water and urine buckets on the fire. He even peed on the fire in the middle of repelling another German fighter attack. When all else failed, he wrapped himself in available clothing and started to put out the fire with his body.

Airman Snuffy administered aid to the six wounded men on the plane. So, he spent 90 minutes alternatively shooting down German fighters, putting out fires, throwing hazardous material out of the plane, and giving first aid to his wingmen. The plane made it back to England and landed with 3,500 bullet and shrapnel holes in the fuselage and nothing but the four main beams holding it together. Ten minutes after landing, the whole thing collapsed. For his actions on board the plane, Airman Snuffy was awarded the Medal of Honor, the first enlisted Airman to receive the award.

When Secretary of War Henry Stimson arrived to give Airman Snuffy the Medal of Honor, he was noticeably absent from his own ceremony, having been put on KP duty for disciplinary reasons.

3. The Combat Cameraman Who Lived the Entire History of the US Air Force

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Douglas W. Morrell was a US Army Air Corps (and later US Air Force) combat cameraman with a long service record. In World War II, he was assigned to bombers in Europe and North Africa. He flew 33 combat missions over German, Austria, Italy, Hungary, France, Yugoslavia, and Albania. In March 1944, his B-24 was shot down over the Iron Gates of Romania. Evading capture in Romania (an Axis country from the beginning of the war), he walked for 25 days across occupied Yugoslavia and Albania where he bribed fishermen his .45-caliber pistol and $100 in gold certificates for a lift to Italy across the Adriatic Sea.

Two months later, he was documenting bombing raids against the oil fields of Ploesti when his bomber was knocked out of formation. He bailed out right before it exploded, killing half the remaining crew. He was immediately captured by the Germans upon landing and was held as a POW in Bucharest. Morrell made an escape attempt from his POW camp via a trap door in the mess hall.

He walked halfway through Bucharest before a German army truck stopped him. Morrell told the Germans he was Italian pilot, trying to make it back to Bulgaria. He caught a ride with the Germans until he reached a post near the Danube, where he was outed by an Italian kid who spoke to Morrell in Italian.

“I couldn’t understand him, ” Morrell recalls. “He told the Germans I wasn’t Italian and they took me back.”

Morrell was held in the POW camp until Romania capitulated in August of 1944. He stayed in Bucharest for a few days until the Russians, who treated the American POWs as allies, liberated it.

“They found out I was an ‘Americanski’… they got me in there, said ‘we drink!’ and poured glasses of vodka. They’d toast: ‘ Stalin. Roosevelt. Churchill,'” he remembered. “I’ve never been that blasted in all my life.”

He left the US Air Force in 1947. This was not the end of his combat career, however. Morrell was soon right back in, re-enlisting in 1952. He saw service in the Sahara documenting missile tests, the Pacific islands documenting nuclear tests, Iceland documenting Russian movements, and even the Panama Canal Zone.

By the time the Vietnam War started to heat up for the US, Douglas Morrell had become Chief Master Sergeant Morrell. At age 50, he was documenting operations over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, when his O-2 Skymaster’s wing was shot halfway off by anti-aircraft fire. He and the pilot bailed out at 5,000 feet, taking fire the entire way down. He landed in the jungle, just yards from a truck depot on the Ho Chi Minh Trail itself, guarded by six anti-aircraft gun positions. For nine hours, he called in rescue teams and directed fire on the enemy positions, before finally allowing himself to be rescued.

4. The Racecar Driver Who Taught Himself to Fly, Then Broke all the Records

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Teaching yourself to fly seems like a terrible idea, especially during World War I when most pilots were college-educated and you’re an enlisted aircraft mechanic. Not so for Eddie Rickenbacker, the racecar driver-turned Airman who learned to be an engineer through a correspondence course.

Rickenbacker enlisted immediately after the US entered The Great War and arrived in France in June of 1917. By May of the next year, he had taught himself to fly, earned an officer’s promotion, and had shot down his fifth enemy craft, earning the title of “Ace.”

By September 1918, Rickenbacker was in command of his entire squadron, the 94th Aero Squadron. By the time of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, he had racked up 26 victories, a record he held until World War II, and had flown 300 combat hours, more than any other US pilot in the war. Captain Rickenbacker was known for flying right at formations of enemy aircraft, no matter how outnumbered he was, and winning every time. Through the course of the War, Rickenbacker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with six oak leaf clusters, the Croix de Guerre with two palms, the Legion d’Honneur, and was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

After the Great War, Rickenbacker went on to found his own car company, his own airline, and wrote a popular comic strip – which became a film and radio program.

5. Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler, Enemies Who Became Friends

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

In 1943, Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown was piloting his B-17 Flying Fortress, Ye Olde Pub, back to England after bombing industrial centers in Bremen. During its run, the nose was torn apart by flak fire, causing the plane to drop out of formation and come under attack from fifteen enemy fighter planes. The plane lost sixty percent of its electric capacity, lost its oxygen, and half its rudder. Of the ten crewmen on board, the tail gunner had been killed, the rest wounded. Brown himself was hit in his right shoulder. He then passed out from oxygen deprivation and woke up to find the bomber in a 4,000-foot dive.  He pulled the plane up and headed home, having been left for dead by the pursuit fighters.

On the way back to England, Germans on the ground spotted the bomber. The Luftwaffe dispatched ace fighter pilot Oberleutnant Franz Stigler to finish it off. He had already shot down two B-17s that day and needed one more kill to earn the Knight’s Cross – the highest Iron Cross award for bravery and leadership. Stigler easily caught up to the Allied plane in his Messerschmitt 109, but wondered why the Flying Fortress hadn’t started shooting at him. From his cockpit, he could see how badly damaged the plane was, how the crew struggled to care for the wounded, and even Brown’s face as he struggled to bring Ye Olde Pub and its crew back home alive with one good engine. He’d never seen a plane so badly damaged and still flying.

“You are fighter pilots first, last, always,” A commander had told Stigler’s unit when he was stationed in North Africa. “If I ever hear of any of you shooting at someone in a parachute, I’ll shoot you myself.” He looked to the man struggling at the bomber controls. Brown looked back. To Stigler, these men were like men in parachutes. Even though getting caught letting the bomber go would mean execution, he just couldn’t shoot them down.

Stigler moved to fly in a formation on Brown’s left, a formation German ground spotters would recognize as friendly. He escorted Brown’s bomber halfway over the North Sea and departed with a salute.

After the war, Stigler moved to Canada. Brown returned to the US. Over forty years later, Stigler responded to an ad Brown placed as he searched newsletters of former Luftwaffe pilots for the German ace who spared his crew. One day, Stigler responded:

“Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to the B-17; did she make it or not?”

The two became close friends after meeting (on the ground) in 1990. The story of Stigler and Brown is told in detail in the 2012 book A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II.

Articles

57 technical errors in ‘Courage Under Fire’

While watching “Courage Under Fire” it was surprising how much they got right. Everyone was wearing branch insignia except for the general officer, just like it’s supposed to be. Most radio calls were about right, and helicopters and tanks worked about the way they should.


Still, Hollywood never gets it all right. We found 57 errors that we’ve listed below.

1. (3:30) Someone fires an illumination flare over a bunch of tankers as they’re preparing for a night fight. Better hope the enemy that is only a few kilometers away hasn’t crept closer in the darkness. Also, most of the soldiers look up at the light, something they’re trained not to do since it ruins their night vision. The light is bright enough to damage vision for minutes afterwards.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

2. (5:20) Lt. Boylar has the call sign of “Cougar 6.” That call sign would typically mean he was the commander of an element. As a lieutenant, Boylar would most likely be the executive officer or a platoon leader. An executive officer wouldn’t use the number 6 and a platoon leader would have another number mixed in, “Cougar 2-6” or “2 Cougar 6.”

3. (5:26) Lt. Col. Serling allows a subordinate element to pull off from the planned route because they have “No joy over here.” He doesn’t ask why the tanks can’t move as planned or which alternate route Cougar element will use. He just tells them to meet up at Phase Line Hammer.

4. (5:31) Cool tank fight, but that guy with the flare at the beginning was doubly stupid if the Iraqi tanks were that close to the Americans. Enemy scouts could have been trying to get a glimpse of the tanks, and the illumination would’ve lit up the whole formation for them. The scouts would have seen the tankers getting ready and known the attack was coming.

5. (6:40) Serling is in an important discussion with the general, but leaves it to shoot at infantry his crew chief could easily kill instead.

6. (7:00) Surrendering Iraqis are allowed to move forward with their weapons.

7. (7:15) Iraqis apparently buried their mines with the entire upper quarter of the ordnance above ground. Aren’t mines supposed to be a secret?

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

8. (8:54) There’s a possible friendly fire incident, and suddenly every single tank in the battle quits firing. Pretty unrealistic, especially since it is later revealed that quite a few Iraqi tanks were still alive at this point.

9. (10:00) A medevac pilot lands, looks at Lt. Col. Serling significantly, and then leaves. The dialogue suggests that they’re picking up Boylar’s body, but no one is shown going to or from the helicopter.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

10. (10:40) The investigating officer of a battalion commander suspected of killing his own tank crew would almost certainly outrank the officer he is investigating. The Army would choose a former battalion commander for this job, not a major.

11. (11:45) Serling isn’t wearing a unit patch. Even if he was removed from command, which would be a messed up decision from the general if an investigation was ongoing, he would still be in a unit.

12. (12:45) This captain is pretty casual with speaking to a superior officer. No one calls a superior officer by their rank.

13. (13:00) They have inquiries from press about a very sensitive incident and no one mentions the public affairs office that exists to deal with the press.

14. (15:10) Serling is assigned to be an investigating officer for an award, and only seconds later is in a room listening to testimony. He didn’t get a file, didn’t get background, and didn’t even get a chance to grab a notepad.

15. (15:15) Almost no one in the briefing is wearing a distinctive unit insignia (DUI) or regimental unit insignia (RUI). Soldiers are assigned DUIs when they graduate job school and can be given RUIs while they serve. They are always required to wear one in the dress uniform.

16. (16:05) The lieutenant is wearing his helmet with the chinstrap undone. The Army calls this John Wayne helmet and loses it when soldiers do it in training, let alone in a combat situation. The other guys at the crash site have their body armor open, even though they know they could take contact at any moment.

17. (16:07) The soldiers testify that they were flying in a Blackhawk, but this is a Huey wreck.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

18. (16:35) The medevac bird shouldn’t be flying into enemy held territory on its own. If Walden did pilot into the area without an attack helicopter escort, it would prove she was brave and call later testimony against her into question.

19. (16:45) Medevac birds are typically not allowed to have machine guns on them. They are never allowed to engage in offensive warfare against a tank.

20. (18:30) Everyone says “nothing else sounds like an M-16” But M16s aren’t all that distinct, especially when you’re in a helicopter booking it away from a fight.

21. (19:00) Why is there even such a push to give the Medal of Honor so fast? Medal of Honor investigations and deliberations take years. The White House aide keeps talking about how good the photo opportunity will help the president. Does he have an election coming up? An election that will rely on people being happy about a Medal of Honor?

22. (20:05) Serling imagines Cougar 6 going up in flames. American tank rounds generally kill the crews within milliseconds and Serling would know this.

23. (26:12) Monfriez yells, “We’re taking fire!” There are rounds ricocheting through the helicopter. Everyone knows they’re getting shot at. The information they could use is direction, distance, and description of the enemy, which is why you’re supposed to yell that.

24. (27:25) Even big Molotov cocktails with flares will not kill a tank, especially not in seconds.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

25. (27:35) All of the crew should be tied off to the helicopter. They shouldn’t be sliding nearly out of the bird.

26. (33:45) Monfriez is from XVIII Airborne Corps, but the rest are from the 44th Medical Command. Monfries later says he was tasked out from another unit, but as a staff sergeant he wouldn’t have been tasked that way. He would’ve been busy working with his squad or platoon during the invasion, not hanging out near the helicopters looking for a side job as a door gunner.

27. (35:45) Seriously, why was no one wearing a helmet? Even keeping the standard crew helmet on would be preferable to not wearing one.

28. (36:00) Monfriez keeps firing his SAW the wrong way. It should be fired from a tri/bipod if possible, resting on the ground when not possible. He also should be firing controlled bursts, not sweeping the ridge. It makes the shooter more accurate and saves ammunition which will become important if you have to hold out without reinforcements or resupply.

29. (36:55) Ilario says that the night was pitch dark, but desert nights are famous for how bright the stars are.

30. (37:20) America had overwhelming air superiority in this war. But, apparently it left crashed helicopter crews on their own for hours and hours.

31. (38:00) Three members of the crew are hit in the firefight, but the medic doesn’t move to any of them.

32. (39:45) Helmets have specific sizes, and Ilario is wearing the helmet of another guy. It’s unlikely to fit him properly. On the other hand, at least he’s wearing one. He and Monfries are the only ones who think a crash site under fire is a good place to wear a helmet.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

33. (41:30) It’s more likely the Army would’ve sent Apaches to try to rescue the survivors of the two helicopter crashes, though it’s not impossible Cobras would arrive instead.

34. (41:52) Capt. Walden, with no clear damage to her legs and her abdomen good enough to keep flipping to different firing positions, says she won’t leave the crash site until someone returns with a stretcher.

35. (41:40) Capt. Walden’s pistol kicks up dirt like it’s a .50-cal.

36. (42:00) Why is Monfriez not wearing armor and has his uniform top unbuttoned? Everyone in this scene should be wearing armor.

37. (42:05) Ilario uses the world’s lightest touch to assess Capt. Walden’s pulse.

38. (42:50) Why does everyone keep pulling their helmets off?

39. (44:20) Unit runs by in background in full winter physical training uniforms, even though it’s warm enough for families to swim in the outdoor base pool.

40. (51:00) Serling tells the general that the investigation isn’t a rubber stamp situation. No Medal of Honor investigation is ever a rubber stamp situation.

41. (51:25) Hershberg doesn’t care that testimony doesn’t line up, even though his ass will be on the line if he’s involved and doesn’t follow up.

42. (54:00) Everyone keeps discussing the death of Boylar, but not the rest of his crew, because screw the enlisted.

43. (55:21) None of the infantry drill sergeants are wearing their blue discs for the campaign hat. One instructor isn’t even wearing his drill sergeant hat.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

44. (55:30) Recruit calls a drill sergeant “sir” and isn’t corrected.

45. (55:35) Monfriez sees a recruit run away from an obstacle, leaving a soldier trapped inside. Monfries yells at the soldier that he should never leave another soldier behind, then promptly allows the recruit to run off while the other guy is still trapped in the wire.

46. (57:51) Monfriez says he wouldn’t know what time the M16 ran out of ammo because he was on the SAW. He’s an infantryman and the senior noncommissioned officer and so should know that he needs to track the amount of ammunition for each weapons system.

47. (1:01:45) Monfriez keep complaining about not being able to hear movement with everyone speaking, but he isn’t even bothering to look out for enemies approaching.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

48. (1:04:00) The crew leaves the M16 behind when they depart.

49. (1:05:50) This scene supposedly happens at a base with basic training on it, but every unit patch on the walls is from XVIII Airborne which is headquartered at Fort Bragg and has no basic training.

50. (1:11:00) Capt. Walden wears medical insignia, but she would’ve fallen under aviation branch as a pilot.

51. (1:13:00) Hershberg tells Serling that he could give a direct order to Serling to turn in the report. The first time Hershberg told Serling to turn in the report, that was a direct order. It doesn’t matter if he says, “This is a direct order.”

52. (1:21:00) Staff Sgt. Monfriez is wearing a patrol cap even though he’s a drill sergeant at this point.

53. (1:28:25) Monfriez says he doesn’t need Walden’s permission to run from the crash site, but he does. Since Walden is in command, anyone who leaves without her permission is committing desertion in the face of the enemy. Since Monfriez follows up the threat by committing mutiny, seems like he’s not too worried about it.

54. (1:33:50) Walden has Ilario leave her behind to cover their escape, but the Army trains its soldiers on how to drag someone so the injured person can provide cover fire.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

55. (1:39:30) Recording of the Al-Bathra incident has interior tank comms as well as information from the battalion net and the signals coming in from the general. In the real world, these would have been on separate channels.

56. (1:46:45) Everyone is sitting at the Medal of Honor presentation. Awards are presented with all military in attendance at the position of attention.

57. (1:47:30) The Air Force conducts a missing man flyover for an Army pilot. First, Walden was in the Army which does a missing man roll call at memorial ceremonies, not a missing man flyover. Second, this isn’t a memorial ceremony so there wouldn’t be a missing man process at all.

NOW: 69 painful mistakes in ‘Basic’ – the worst Army movie ever

OR: 6 reasons why the guys from ‘The Hangover’ are like an Army unit

Lists

11 regional American foods we’d like to see in MREs

MREs do what they can to bring a little taste of home to deployed troops. How successful they are or have been in the past — and how tasty those attempts were — is open for debate.


For decades, we’ve seen dozens of flavors come and go. Some we remember fondly. Many we are happy to toss into the literal and figurative dumpster of history.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
The official Country Captain Chicken depository.

Also read: Army food will make you feel the feels

America is big place! Someone tell the people who make MREs to scour the best regions of the United States for our regional flavors! We could get some better food while learning a little bit about the different regional cuisines of our own country.

1. A better Buffalo Chicken.

What is more ‘Merica than adding butter to hot sauce and then pouring it over chicken wings? The answer is “not much.” But the MRE wizards decided to make it a “pulled” version of the dish, which ended up looking like an electric orange glop.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Glop: Flavor of America.

They gave us whole pieces of meat when it came to the Western Burger and the Frankfurters. Why they decided not to use actual wings (or even boneless wings) is beyond comprehension. And don’t get us started on the lack of Bleu Cheese.

2. Baltimore Crab Cakes.

I know asking for crab from the military is asking a lot. But I’d rather have it processed into MREs than eat what I tasted as it was steamed into a rubbery oblivion at the DFAC on Camp Victory.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Not seen: a crab cracker. Anywhere in country.

Besides the delicious crab cake, a little packet of Old Bay seasoning could totally replace the hot sauce packet as the go-to flavor enhancer.

3. Southern-Style Biscuits and Gravy.

This one isn’t such a great idea for being on-the-go, but if you have time to sit and eat, this would be a great idea. We all know the Elf snack bread can also be used for hammering nails so why not have the MRE people create a buttermilk snack bread that is designed to be moistened up in the field. With gravy.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
More gravy than that. I thought we were winning the war.

The end product will look nothing like the photo above, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Civilian rations already made this – and relatively well. Besides, it will show that the MRE people put some thought into texture and mouthfeel.

4. South Dakota’s Chislic.

Chislic is simple. It’s grilled or fried chunks of meat – usually game or lamb, but can also be beef – topped with seasoned salt or garlic salt. It’s eaten via toothpick and served with saltines. It’s like shish kebab.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
If shish kebab came with saltines and was served at bars in Pierre, SD.

So it would be one MRE our Middle Eastern allies could eat with us. We all know MRE makers are fans of crackers and chunked meat. This one sells itself.

5. Hawaiian Spam Musubi.

Bear with me here. Spam gets a bad rap but this Hawaiian snack is pretty great. In Hawaii, Spam is even getting a gourmet makeover. Musubi is fried or grilled Spam on a bed of rice and held together with nori seaweed.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
It will definitely not look like this in an MRE.

The best part about Spam Musubi is that it tastes great hot or cold and is designed to be eaten on the run.

6. Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits.

The coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina, especially Charleston, are culinary heaven. Grits are a boiled ground hominy, a corn product. How it’s made isn’t important, but how it’s prepared definitely is. My first breakfast with locals in Charleston had them each prep their grits in a different way. Some add cheese, some add grape jelly, and the chefs add shrimp, tomatoes, sausage, peppers, bacon, spices…

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
No matter how you feel about grits, this is something we can agree on, I promise.

7. West Virginia’s Pepperoni Rolls.

Just like it sounds, the Pepperoni Roll is a bready roll baked with pepperoni in the middle. The idea is to heat the bread and let the pepperoni oils soak into it as the entire thing gets softer. It can also be eaten cold, which is a boon to troops on the move.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
If it works for coal miners, it will work for you.

For those of you asking if we should really be taking nutrition tips from Appalachia, my response to you is that if we really cared that much about it in the field, we wouldn’t be eating MREs.

8. New Mexico’s Green Chile Stew.

If you’ve eaten MREs for long enough, you’ve come to realize they all taste the same after a while. Why not make one that was prepared the way it was intended, with a sh*tton of green chiles in it?

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

It can also be a vegetarian option, but the best part about having Green Chile Stew in an MRE is that it can be poured over every other MRE, instantly making even the worst meal edible. Chicken chunks and veggie crumbles aren’t just for lining the reject box anymore!

9. Upstate NY’s Utica Greens.

There are always a lot of complaints that MREs don’t have a lot of vegetable matter in them. Here’s our chance to appease those people while teaching the rest of America that New York State is large and there’s a lot to see between NYC and Buffalo.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Utica Greens are any kind of leafy green sautéed in chicken broth and mixed with bread crumbs, cheese, prosciutto, and hot peppers (and sometimes other things). Serve the bread crumbs in a separate packet, MRE wizards. Ideally, this is downed with a Utica Club Beer.

10. Alaskan Akutuq

Sometimes known as “Eskimo Ice Cream,” Akutuq is an Inuit dish of hard fat whipped with berries or meat. Originally meant to be a dessert, the dish has been modified dozens of times over and now includes savory variations.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
It’s still very much a homemade dish.

The use of hard fats and lean meats (usually game meat) means a high-protein, high fat MRE meal perfect for troops who want that kind of diet and don’t mind where they get it.

11. Cincinnati Chili

Cincy’s chili features finely-ground meat in a thin sauce that includes ingredients like cocoa powder and cinnamon. Three-way, four-way, and five-way variants add onions, kidney beans, or both. It’s served over spaghetti and then covered with so much cheese, it looks like a plate of cheese.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Pictured: Not enough cheese.

Cincinnati Chili has its detractors (aka everyone outside of the Ohio-Kentucky area) but people in Chicago pour tomato soup in a bread bowl and call it pizza and Californians think In-n-Out is the pinnacle of burgers. E pluribus unum. This sort of exists for backpackers, but it’s probably not the same.

I haven’t been to every place in America. What regional foods would make a good MRE? Email blake.stilwell@wearethemighty.com with your suggestion, a recipe, and maybe even the best restaurant to find it.

Articles

5 military leaders that would make great drinking buddies

There has probably never been a more symbiotic relationship than the one between a war-fighter and their alcohol. Roman Centurions and wine. Vikings and mead. Samurai and sake. American troops and whatever is cheapest on non-first and fifteenth weekends.


We have a storied history with our booze.

I like to think that I put my liver through its rounds, but looking through military history — damn. If I went drink for drink with some of the best, I’d get drunk under the table by the greatest minds the world has ever known.

This beer goes out to the badasses who have awesome stories to talk about over one — and who would still probably carry my ass back to the taxi.

5. William the Conqueror

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
(Painting by John Millar Watt)

As the last ruler to successfully conquer England in almost a thousand years, William I lived up to the viking heritage of the Normans. For an over-simplification of what William did, think of Robert Baratheon from Game of Thrones.

The story goes, as King of England, William I threw lavish parties for his guests. Because he left his viking lifestyle and worries about consolidating power behind him, he became fat as f*ck.

To the point that his horse would be in great pain.

So how did this guy try to lose that weight? By going on an “all alcohol” diet. He wouldn’t do anything but drink. Contemporaries at the time wrote of this “illness and exhaustion from heat.”

This diet, surprisingly enough, didn’t lead to his death — unless you attribute him falling face first off his horse because it bucked his rotund rear off it. Then maybe.

4. Napoleon Bonaparte

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Napoléon visiting the cellars Moët Chandon in 1807. (Painting via Chateau Loisel)

The man most credited with why we open bottles of Champagne with a sword, Napoleon and his Hussars were famous for drinking the bubbly.

“Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it” was Napoleon’s famous toast.

Napoleon and his men would frequent the hotel of Madame Clicquot, a beautiful business woman who was widowed young. The Emperor of France’s men would always try to woo her but she would just keep making money off their drunk asses.

3. Ulysses S. Grant

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
General of the Army Grant (Colorized photo via History)

The stories of the 18th President of the United States and his drinking were historic when he was still a young officer. As a Captain, his drinking from the night before lead to a forced resignation by then Colonel Robert Buchanan. The two had mutual animosity for many years before then.

“I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals,” remarked Abraham Lincoln on Grant’s alcoholism.

The outbreak of the American Civil War brought him back into the fold where he would then rise to General of the Army with Major General Buchanan underneath him. At the age of 46, Grant won the 1868 election in a landslide and urged for the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment and the proper treatment of Native Americans.

2. George S. Patton

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

The Father of American Armor himself shared his love with his armored divisions with a mixed drink he called “Armored Diesel.” He said it would build camaraderie within the division and pride.

The drink was made with many different bourbons, whiskeys, and scotches, however, the Patton Museum officially lists his drink as being: bourbon, shaved ice, sugar, and lemon juice.

“You can’t run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn’t fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag.” — Patton on swearing.

Patton was also very close with another great WWII leader and alcohol enthusiast, Winston Churchill.

Which brings us to…

1. Winston Churchill

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
250 cm^3/mL (or for those of you sh*tty at the metric system, 5.7 shots) was the minimum amount his doctor proscribed him per meal during his visit to the Prohibition era USA. (Photo via Quora)

There may be no military leader with a more celebrated and documented history with alcohol than Winston Churchill. Professor Warren Kimball of Rutgers authored several biographies on him saying, “Churchill was not an alcoholic because no alcoholic could drink that much!” He was amused when people said he had a “bottomless capacity” for alcohol.

“I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” —Churchill on drinking in moderation.

He would drink heavily during every meal, including breakfast. In pure amazement, the King of Saudi Arabia said that “his absolute rule of life requires drinking before, during, and after every meal.”

Who would you grab a beer with? Let us know in the comment section.

Articles

39 Awesome photos of life in the US Marine Corps infantry

YouTube, We Are The Mighty


From fighting pirates in the First Barbary War of 1801 to seizing the Kandahar International Airport in 2001 and beyond, Marine Corps infantrymen have been fighting and winning our nation’s battles for more than 200 years.

Known as “grunts,” infantrymen receive specialized training in weapons, tactics, and communications that make them effective in combat. And while many things have changed for grunts over time, they continue to carry on the legacy that was forged from the “small wars” to the “Frozen Chosin” to the jungles of Vietnam.

After more than a decade of war following the 9/11 attacks, many grunts have deployed to combat …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… In Iraq, where they earned their place in history at Nasiriyah, Najaf, and Fallujah (shown here), and many others.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

While others deployed to Afghanistan, into the deadly Korengal Valley …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Darren Allen

 … Or more recently to Marjah, in Helmand Province.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

But before infantrymen join their units, they need to complete initial training. For enlisted Marines, that means going to the School of Infantry, either at Camp Pendleton, California or Camp Geiger, North Carolina.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

For officers, their training at Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, Va. involves both tactics and weapons, along with a more intense focus on how to lead an infantry platoon.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

While most enlisted grunts become 0311 riflemen, others receive more specialized training, like 0331 machine-gunners, which learn the M240 machine gun (shown here), the MK19 grenade launcher, and the M2 .50 cal.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

0341 Mortarmen learn how to operate the 60 mm (shown below) and 81 mm mortar systems, which help riflemen with indirect fire support when they need a little bit more firepower.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

0351 Assaultmen learn basic demolitions, breaching, and become experts in destroying bad guys with the SMAW rocket system. The Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) is shown below.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Packing even more punch that’s usually vehicle-mounted, 0352 Anti-tank missilemen learn their primary M41 SABER (below) heavy anti-tank weapon and the Javelin, a medium anti-tank weapon.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Some more experienced infantrymen go into specialized fields, such as Reconnaissance or snipers (below).

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

Always present is a focus on mission accomplishment, and to “keep their honor clean” — to preserve the legacy of the Corps …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Library of Congress

… That grunts are proud of. Always remembering heroics from the Chosin Reservoir Marines in Korea …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… To those who fought in Vietnam jungles, or the storied battles of Hue and Khe Sanh.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Since Vietnam, grunts have been repeatedly been called upon for minor and major engagements, such as Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Operation United Shield in Somalia in 1995 (below).

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Darren Allen

But it’s not all combat.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Darren Allen

Marine grunts are constantly training, whether it’s practicing amphibious landings …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… Or learning the skills needed to survive and thrive in a jungle environment.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Sometimes they take a break to catch up on their reading.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Michael Sinclair

And when they’re not training, they are trying to have fun.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Josh Boston

Sometimes … maybe too much fun.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Donnie Hickman

While technology has made today’s infantrymen even deadlier, the life of the grunt has always been spartan.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Grunts often work in rough conditions, and they need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Nate Hall

And quite often, they need to be self-sufficient. At remote patrol bases, that means everything from burning their trash and other waste …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Paul Martin

To fixing their morning coffee in any way they can.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

Grunts learn to appreciate the little things, like care packages from home …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Matt McElhinney

… Any privacy they can get …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

… Or a “FOB Pup” to play around with in between missions.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

When they get into a fight with the enemy, they battle back just as their predecessors did.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

And with solid training and leadership, they can easily transition, as Gen. Mattis says, from no worse enemy to no better friend.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Nate Hall

When things don’t go exactly as planned …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Josh Boston

… Grunts can usually shake it off with a smile.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: JC Eliott

Especially in a combat zone, humor helps a unit through tough times.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

And there are plenty of opportunities for laughs.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Marc Anthony Madding

Whether it’s graffiti on a barrier …

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: JC Eliott

 Or taunting the Taliban with a Phillies t-shirt.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

But the bottom line is that grunts are the Marine Corps’ professional war-fighters.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Nate Hall

They forge brotherhoods that last for a lifetime.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Photo Credit: Nate Hall

And they never forget those who didn’t make it home.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Memorial ceremony for Sgt. Thomas Spitzer. (Photo Credit: US Marine Corps)

Humor

The 13 funniest memes for the week of June 8th

Just when you thought things were getting nice and boring, a 1st Lt goes and steals an APC and drives it through Richmond. You know, deep down, the mechanic responsible for that vehicle is secretly proud that their M577 managed to keep up in a police pursuit.

The APC started up, managed to get off base and drive 60 miles to Richmond with the cops on his ass within 2 hours — all without breaking down. Sure, that lieutenant is going to be turning big rocks into smaller rocks for a while but, holy crap, someone give that motor sergeant a medal!


5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via Air Force Nation)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Says)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

“I went where you told me. I took a left on Victory Road and still didn’t see it.”

(It’s funny because every installation has at least two “Victory Road”s.)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

I swear that this is the last ACP Joyrider meme… this week…

(Meme via Artillery Moments)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via OAF Nation)

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

popular

9 troops who became heroes after they disobeyed orders

Entering the military requires an oath to obey the lawful orders of those in the higher chain of command. Commanding officers can order troops into a suicide mission if it serves the greater purpose. When obeying orders, it’s necessary for those troops to believe a commander wouldn’t order them into harm’s way unless it was necessary, that the order serves a greater good, and it’s not an illegal order.


Most of the nine men listed here (in no order) did not disobey orders because they were illegal. They disobeyed them because lives were at stake and felt saving those lives was worth the risk. Others pushed the envelope to keep the enemy on its heels. People make mistakes, even when the stakes are life and death. It can mean the difference in the course of the entire war (as seen with Gen. Sickles) or to a few men who are alive because someone took a chance on them (in the case of Benaya Rein).

1. Dakota Meyer, U.S. Marine Corps, Afghanistan

In 2009, Meyer was at the Battle of Ganjgal, where his commander ordered him to disregard a distress call from ambushed Afghan and American troops, four of them friends, pinned down by possibly hundreds of enemy fighters. He repeatedly asked permission to drive his truck to help relieve his outnumbered and surrounded friends and allies. He and another Marine hopped in a Humvee. Meyer manned the gun while the other drove the vehicle.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
White House photo

 

They drove right into the firestorm, loading the beleaguered Afghans, mostly wounded, onto their humvee. As weapons jammed, Meyer would grab another, and another. They drove into the melee five times, until they came across Meyer’s friends, now fallen, and pulled them out too. Meyer received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

2. Daniel Hellings, British Army, Afghanistan

Hellings was on a joint patrol in Helmand Province with Afghan allies when his patrol was hit by an explosion. An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in an alleyway, injuring two of the patrollers. Then another went off, injuring a third man. Hellings’ commander ordered an immediate withdrawal. Instead, Hellings got down on the ground and started a fingertip search for more bombs — and found four more. He was on the ground, poking around in the dirt until he found all of the IEDs. For his bravery and quick thinking, he was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

 

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Public domain

3. Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, Soviet Army, Cold War

Petrov was in command of the Oko Nuclear Early Warning System on the morning of September 26, 1983 when it detected a probable launch of American nuclear missiles. Suspecting it was a false alarm, he disobeyed the standing order of reporting it to his commanding officers, who likely would have “retaliated” with their nuclear arsenal.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Screenshot/YouTube

In this case, doing nothing was doing something big, as in completely averting World War III, and mutually assured destruction. It also showed a flaw in the USSR’s early warning system and helped to avert further misunderstandings.

4. Benaya Rein, Israel Defence Forces, Second Lebanon War

Several Israeli soldiers, lacking accurate maps, became lost in 2006 while downrange in Southern Lebanon. As they attempted to get their bearings, about 20 men appeared in the distance, and the commander — thinking they were Hezbollah fighters — ordered Benaya Rein to open fire.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Benaya Rein, IDF

Rein wasn’t so sure. Instead, he took a tank out to the location to investigate. When he arrived, he found 20 of his fellow IDF soldiers. “Because he refused to follow his commander’s order, the lives of these soldiers were saved,” his mother told an Israeli paper.

Rein would later be killed after the tank he was commanding was hit by a Hezbollah missile. He was one of the last Israelis killed during the war.

5. Lt. David Teich, U.S. Army, Korean War

Teich was in a tank company near the 38th parallel in 1951 when a radio distress call came in from the Eighth Ranger Company. Wounded, outnumbered, and under heavy fire, the Rangers were near Teich’s tanks, and facing 300,000 Communist troops, moving steadily toward their position. Teich wanted to help, but was ordered to withdraw instead, his captain saying “We’ve got orders to move out. Screw them. Let them fight their own battles.”

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Teich during the Korean War. Public Domain.

 

Teich went anyway. He led four tanks over to the Rangers’ position and took out so many Rangers on each tank, they covered up the tank’s turrets. He still gets letters from the troops he saved that day, thanking him for disobeying his order to move out.

6. Cpl. Desmond Doss, U.S. Army, World War II

Doss wanted to serve, he just wasn’t willing to kill to do it and refused every order to carry a weapon or fire one. However, Doss would do anything to save his men, repeatedly braving Japanese fire to pull the injured to the rear. As his unit climbed a vertical cliffside at Okinawa, the Japanese opened up with artillery, mortars, and machine guns, turning his unit back and killing or wounding 75 men. Doss retrieved them one by one, loading them onto a litter and down the cliff.

 

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
President Truman awards the Medal of Honor to Desmond Doss. National Archives.

A few days later, in the mouth of a cave, he braved a shower of grenades thrown from eight yards away, dressed wounds, and made four trips to pull his soldiers out. He treated his own wounds and waited five hours for a litter to carry him off. On the way back, the three men carrying him had to take cover from a tank attack. While waiting, Doss crawled off his litter, treated a more injured man, and told the litter bearers to take the other man. While waiting for them to come back, he was hit in the arm by a sniper and crawled 300 yards to an aid station. He was the first conscientious objector to earn the Medal of Honor.

7. Lt. Thomas Currie ‘Diver’ Derrick, Australian Imperial Force, WWII

The Battle of Sattelberg in the Pacific nation of New Guinea was as hard-fought as any in the Pacific Theater. It took the Australians a grudgingly slow eight days to push the Japanese out of the town and they paid dearly for it. On November 24, 1943, Lt. Derrick was ordered to withdraw his platoon because the CO didn’t think he could capture the heights around Sattelberg.

Derrick’s response: “Bugger the CO. Just give me twenty more minutes and we’ll have this place.”

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Courtesy: Australian War Memorial 067887

Derrick climbed a vertical cliff by himself, holding on with one hand and throwing grenades with the other, stopping only to fire his rifle. He cleared out 10 machine gun nests that night and forced the Japanese to withdraw. The Aussies captured Sattelberg and Derrick was awarded the Victoria Cross.

8. 1st. Lt. Frank Luke, Jr., U.S. Army Air Corps, WWI

In September 1918, Luke was grounded by his commanding officer and told that if he disobeyed, he would be charged with being AWOL. Luke, an ace with 15 aerial victories, flew anyway, going out to find military reconnaissance balloons. Balloons sound like an easy target, but they were heavily defended by anti-aircraft weapons.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Public Domain.

He knocked out three balloons that day before he was forced down by machine gun fire. Once out of his plane (which he landed, he wasn’t shot down) he kept fighting the Germans with his sidearm until a bullet wound killed him. Luke is the first pilot to receive the Medal of Honor.

9. Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, Union Army, Civil War

Sickles’ slight disobedience to orders during the Battle of Gettysburg changed the momentum of the war and may have changed the entire history of the United States. In a move historians haven’t stopped talking about for 150 years, Sickles moved his men to Peach Orchard instead of Little Round Top, as Gen. George G. Meade ordered him. This move prompted Confederate Gen. James Longstreet to attack the Union troops in the orchard and the wheat field, nearly destroying the Union forces there. Which, admittedly, sounds terrible.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Public Domain.

The Confederate move allowed Union troops to flank them in a counteroffensive and completely rout the Confederate forces, winning Gettysburg for the Union and ending Robert E. Lee’s invasion of the North. Sickles himself lost a leg in the fighting, but received the Medal of Honor and helped preserve Gettysburg as a national historic site after the war.

Lists

5 more of the greatest military heroes you’ve never heard of

When a person joins the military, they make a commitment to their country, service, and their brothers- and sisters-in-arms. Some, however, go beyond expectations and, determined that the lives of others are more important than their own, decide to go full beast-mode.


Here are just a few of those badasses:

Related: 5 reasons you should know about the hardcore Selous Scouts

5. Staff Sergeant Albert L. Ireland

Prior to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 1941, Albert Ireland served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

After earning numerous purple hearts during World War II, Ireland was recalled to active service for the Korean War. He was unable to go back to combat service, however, due to having earned more than two purple hearts.

He then decided to go to Washington D.C. and talk to General Clifton B. Cates, the Commandant of the Marine Corps at the time, to try and convince him to let him go anyway. The commandant bought him a plane ticket to San Francisco, en route to Korea.

In 1953, Ireland received an honorable discharge after being wounded in the leg, hand, neck, and face. Overall, he earned 9 purple hearts on top of two bronze stars, along with campaign and service medals with eight bronze stars.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Marines typically won’t take, “no,” for an answer. (Image via Zero Foxtrot Instagram)

4. Duane Edgar Dewey

In 1951, Duane joined the Marines on an indefinite enlistment (the duration of the war plus an additional 6 months). He was a machine gun squad leader with Company E, 2nd battalion, 5th Marine regiment in Korea when he was wounded by a grenade that fell into his position.

While being treated by a corpsman, another enemy grenade landed near him. Quickly, he tossed the corpsman away before jumping on the grenade. When it exploded, Dewey was lifted off the ground, suffering shrapnel wounds all over the lower part of his body. He survived.

Dewey went on to be the first person awarded the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for his actions.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Duane Edgar Dewey is still alive today. (Image via Zero Foxtrot Instagram)

3. Staff Sergeant Nicky Daniel Bacon

During the Vietnam War, Nicky Daniel Bacon took command when his platoon leader was wounded. He then led his men to destroy enemy emplacements. But, when another platoon lost their leader, he took on command yet again.

During that attack alone, Staff Sergeant Bacon was personally credited with killing 4 enemy soldiers and an antitank gun.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
It takes a true warrior to take command of two platoons and spank the enemy. (Image via Free Republic)

2. Havildar Lachhiman Gurung

As a rifleman with the 8th Gurkha Rifles as part of the British Indian Army during World War II, Havildar Gurung was serving in Burma when over 200 Japanese soldiers attacked his position.

After returning two grenades, Gurung caught a third one, which exploded. It cost him his hand and an eye and inflicted serious damage to the rest of his arm, his torso, and his right leg. Despite this, he continued to fight for 4 hours with just one arm, ending 31 Japanese soldiers before reinforcements arrived.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
At age 27, Havildar Gurung stood at 4’11” and was 100% certified badass. (Image via Zero Foxtrot Instagram)

Also Read: 6 ways to be successful in the Marine infantry

1. Adjudant-chef Susan Travers

During World War II, Susan Travers, an Englishwoman, trained as a nurse before becoming an ambulance driver for the French Red Cross. While serving in Northern Africa with the French Foreign Legion, her unit was attacked by Rommel’s Afrika Corps, but she refused to be evacuated with all the other female personnel. She led 2,500 troops to safety, breaking through enemy lines and driving through machine gun fire and even over a landmine.

After the war, Travers applied to become an official member of the French Foreign Legion without specifying her sex. Her application was approved by an officer who admired her and she became the first ever female to officially serve as part of the French Foreign Legion.

She would go on to serve in Vietnam during the First Indochina War and, in 2000, published her autobiography, Tomorrow to Be Brave.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
(Image via Good Reads)

Lists

4 simple rules every infantryman ‘in the suck’ should obey

While troops in the infantry endure weeks and weeks of intense training to prepare them for patrolling through the enemy’s backyard, it’s tough to learn all the “do’s and don’t’s” of combat.


There’s so much training concentrated on combat effectiveness, that many troops forget the simplest, live-saving rules while deployed.

 

Related: 6 reasons why it’s not a good idea to attack a Marine FOB

So, check these four simple rules that every infantryman ‘in the suck’ should obey.

4. Never lose your weapon — ever

Sounds obvious, right?

Troops periodically lose their weapon when entering into some downtime just by simply setting down their rifle down for a few moments. It makes sense; when you’re stuck holding your weapon for hours on end, you’ll want to take a break eventually. It’s all too easy. A troop gets some downtime, puts their weapon down, starts to decompress, begins an activity, and, in the process, walks away from their rifle.

If you forget it at your “rack,” it’s not the end of the world, but absent-mindedly put it anywhere else and you’re asking for something bad to happen.

 

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
You better go look for it.

3. Know the weight of your rifle from muscle memory

Grunts commonly punish one another for various screw-ups. One of those punishments is removing the bolt assembly from the troop’s rifle.

Some POGs at a FOB may not know their rifle’s weight because they don’t hold it enough. Although the weight only changes by a few ounces when you remove the bolt, your weapon won’t fire without it. You should know, at first touch, when something’s not right.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends
Will they notice? Doubt it.

2. Mount your gear to your flak as needed

Every mission we go on is different. Each mission is unique in some way and requires various pieces of specialized gear.

If you think you’re going to end up in the prone position for extended periods of time, it’s probably not a good idea to stage all of your rounds on the front of your flak jacket. Pack strategically; your lower back will thank you later.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Also Read: 7 of the best sounds you’ll hear in combat

1. Don’t go anywhere without your security rounds

Some military FOBs don’t allow troops to keep their rifles in condition three (magazine inserted) while inside the wire. That’s not a big deal as long as you carry a loaded magazine inside your cargo pocket.

Being inside a FOB is relatively safe, but you never know when the bad guys might start feelin’ froggy and attack.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

A condition three rifle. (Photo source: ModernFirearms.net)

Lists

5 ways your service animal is trying to talk to you

Over the last several years, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of veterans looking to service and therapy animals to aid them through daily life. These faithful companions help vets navigate through various environments, provide crucial emotional support, and retrieve beers from the fridge (we wish).

Now, before anything else, let’s answer the important question: Yes, you can still pet these animals as long as the owner gives you permission.

Since our little buddies have thoughts and emotions just like us, they need to find a way to relay information. After a while, humans pick up on the little personality quirks that our furry friends put out there, like tapping the water bowl with a paw when they’re thirty or standing next to the door when it’s time to pee.

These tiny messages are easy to pick up if you’re paying attention, but some other messages are so subtle that you need to be a dog whisperer to understand. So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a brief list of those important messages.

You’re welcome, doggos.


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A slow tail wag

We’ve all seen a happy puppy quickly wag their tail when excited to see their owner. On the contrary, when a pup’s tail slows down, it’s not because they’re tired — it’s because you confused the sh*t out of them. They don’t know what you want them to do. Slow down and be clear with your commands.

A tucked tail

While humans show emotion using their eyes, a dog shows it through their tail. If your service animal tucks their tail between their legs, it’s a sign that they’re nervous and afraid of feeling pain.

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“What the hell is this granular substance?”

Ears up or forward

Dogs carefully examine new environments. When they’re settling in and paying close attention, they’ll shift their ears up and forward.

Resting their head on you

Humans require attention from their peers every now and then — your service animal is no different. When your little best friend walks up to you and puts his or her head on you, it’s because they want to be noticed.

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Too cute for words.

One paw up

When your furry friend gets in front of you and raises one of their paws, they’re attempting to ask you something. It could mean they want to go outside and play or they’re simply asking for a treat.

Lists

9 things we miss from our Afghanistan deployments

With possibility of a huge troop surge to Afghanistan coming from the Trump administration, We Are The Mighty asked several OEF combat vets what they missed most from their time “in the suck.” Here’s what they had to say.


Related: 7 items every Marine needs before deploying

Thanks to the Facebook page “Bring the Sangin Boys Back” for contributing.

1. Afghan naan bread

Regardless of the rumors how the bread is pressed (by Afghans’ feet) it was delicious.

Here they’re just mixing the bread. (image via Giphy)

2. Band of Brothers

The lifelong friends you made in combat are priceless, and there’s nothing else like it.

Yup. (images via Giphy)

3. Awesome nights

With a lack of electricity, there was no artificial illumination to spoil the night sky, it made the stars pop even more.

Not an Afghan night sky, but you get the point. (images via Giphy)

4. Low responsibility

You went on patrol, pulled some time on post, worked out, slept and…pretty much that’s about it.

woke right up when sh*t went down. (images via Giphy)

5. You got to blow sh*t up  

The best part of the job while serving in the infantry was delivering the ordnance.

3/5 Get Some! (image via Giphy)

6. Firefights

Getting a chance to put all your tough training to use and put rounds down range at the bad guys was freakin’ epic.

It was that fun. (images via Giphy)

7. Getting jacked

When you’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere and have 24 different of high-calorie MREs to choose from, there’s no better way to pass the time than hitting a gym made of sand bags, 2x4s, and engineer sticks.

1,2,… 12 (images via Giphy)

8. Movie night

Huddling around a small laptop watching a comedy or “Full Metal Jacket” was considered a night out on the town. And we loved it.

And felt like you’re in a real theater… not really.  (images via Giphy)

Also Read: How to make a movie theater with your smartphone on deployment 

9. Making memories

Although you we experienced some sh*tty times, nothing beats looking back and remembering the good ones while having a beer with your boys.

To the good times! (image via Giphy)

Bonus: The emotional homecomings

Leaving your family to deploy sucks, but coming home to them — priceless.

We salute all those who serve. Thank you! (images via Giphy) WATM wishes everyone to stay safe and watch your six. That is all.

Lists

9 celebrities who were military flyboys first

Before they were big-name celebrities, these nine men served as pilots and aircrewmen in the U.S. military.


Joseph Heller

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

In 1942, at age 19, Joseph Heller joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Two years later he was sent to the Italian Front, where he flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier.

Heller later remembered the war as “fun in the beginning … You got the feeling that there was something glorious about it.” After his military service Heller went on to write Catch-22, which to many represents the standard of American military sarcasm.  (Source: CNN)

Jimmy Stewart

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Before Jimmy Stewart starred in classic American films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Rear Window” he was an Army Air Corps pilot.  On March 31, 1944 he was appointed Operations Officer of the 453rd Bomb Group.  Subsequent billets included that of Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat wing, 2nd Air Division of the 8th Air Force. Stewart ended the war with 20 combat missions. He remained in the USAF Reserve and was eventually promoted to brigadier general.  (Source: Military.com)

Clark Gable

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Clark Gable may have frankly not given a damn when dissin’ Scarlett in the movie “Gone With The Wind,” but he most likely did when he served as an bomber crewman in World War II.

Gable flew five combat missions as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses, which earned him the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. During one of the missions, Gable’s aircraft was damaged by flak and attacked by fighters, which knocked out one of the engines and shot up the stabilizer. In another raid on Germany, one crewman was killed and two others were wounded, and flak went through his boot and narrowly missed his head. (Source: Wikipedia)

Charles Bronson

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Charles Bronson‘s steely-eyed glaze as seen in “The Dirty Dozen” was certainly perfected while staring down Japanese air defenses in the Pacific during World War II.

In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron. In 1945, as a B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group, Bronson flew 25 missions and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in battle. (Military.com)

Tom Landry

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Dallas Cowboys’ iconic fedora-wearing coach Tom Landry earned his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant at Lubbock Army Air Field, and was assigned to the 493d Bombardment Group at RAF Debach, England, flying the B-17 Flying Fortress.

From November 1944 to April 1945 he flew 30 combat missions.  During that period he also survived a crash landing in Belgium after his bomber ran out of fuel. (Source: Tom Landry: An Autobiography)

Norman Lear

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Before Norman Lear created groundbreaking TV shows like “All in the Family” and “Maude” he was a B-17 radio operator/gunner with the 772nd Bombardment Squadron, 463rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the 15th Air Force.

He flew 52 combat missions and was awarded the Air Medal. (Source: WNYC)

Paul Newman

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Paul Newman is best known for his salad dressing and the characters he played in movies like “Cool Hand Luke” and “Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid,” but he was also a sailor during World War II in the Pacific theater. He had hoped to be accepted for pilot training but was dropped when docs discovered he was color blind.

He was redirected to boot camp and eventually flew from aircraft carriers as a turret gunner in the Avenger torpedo bomber. He was aboard USS Bunker Hill during the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. He missed one mission when his pilot developed an ear infection, and all of those who wound up going were killed in action.

Ted Williams

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

The same eyesight that made Ted Williams a legendary slugger for the Boston Red Sox made him a great fighter pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Williams had earned his Wings of Gold at the tail end of World War II and was called back to active duty six games into the 1952 baseball season because the Corps needed pilots for the Korean War effort. Williams flew 39 combat missions, and his plane was hit by enemy gunfire on at least three occasions.  He was awarded three Air Medals before being sent home with a severe ear infection and recurring viruses.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Terry Dietz

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

Before he dominated the challenges and finished third on the hit TV series Survivor in 2005, Terry Dietz attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating with the Class of 1982.  He earned his Wings of Gold and served on the USS Carl Vinson with VF-51 flying the F-14 Tomcat.

He also served as an instructor at VF-124, the Tomcat training squadron on the west coast. Deitz left active service in 1992 and continued flying in the Navy Reserves on logistics missions around the world. He retired in 2001 at the rank of commander.  In recent years Dietz has kept his hand in the TV game by hosting military-themed shows on a variety of networks.

Originally published 2017.

Lists

8 types of recruits you’ll meet in Marine Corps boot camp

The Marine Corps is filled with individuals from all walks of life. Regardless of where you came from, every single person who bears the title of United States Marine started out at either the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California or the one at Parris Island, South Carolina.


Marine recruits come from all over the country (some are even originally from other countries) to earn their place among the world’s finest fighting force. So, it should come as no surprise that you’re going to meet several different types of people as you train. Everyone’s different, sure, but you’re definitely going to meet these archetypes.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Walter D. Marino II)

The athletic recruit

Atop the list is the most common type of recruit. It’s the people who spent their high school careers bouncing between different sports who have the easiest time with the physical training or “incentive” training. You might also find that some of the more physically fit recruits are some of the dumbest. But, then again, it is the Marine Corps.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

They’ll have no problem doing this kind of stuff.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Jacob)

The bodybuilder recruit

At first glance, you might think this guy is the same as The Athlete — he’s not. Someone who has big muscles might not have an easy time with the cardio-based workout regimen put forth by Drill Instructors. Usually, these types are the berserker-class of recruit and they’ll do as much heavy lifting as they can to maintain their mass.

Make no mistake, though, big muscles will not intimidate Drill Instructors. In fact, they’ll probably pick The Bodybuilder out as a prime target to break mentally.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

There’re always bigger fish.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Damon A. Mclean)

The JROTC douche

These are the types who show up to boot camp thinking they know how to play the game and usually try to be a guide for others right off the bat. The problem, however, is that they think their military knowledge is enough to get them through. They often underestimate the Drill Instructors and overestimate their own mental fortitude.

These d-bags show up cocky and leave feeling like the common folk.

The military brat

This person might not have been in JROTC, but they grew up hearing stories from one or both of their parents about boot camp from ages ago and show up thinking they know how it works. The truth is, they don’t — and they’ll come to understand that soon enough.

Their parents’ service isn’t encoded in their genetics. It doesn’t count for anything except (maybe) a cool story.

The ninja or thief 

They’ll try to tell you that no one steals in the Marine Corps. Yeah, that’s bullsh*t. People steal all the time and it’s certainly no secret. You’ll meet the thieving types during boot camp. The ones who will lie, cheat, and steal, either for personal gain or to help out their platoon.

When it comes time to return gear or someone needs a specific item (i.e. extra undershirts, peanut butter, etc.), you might be willing to cut a deal with them. Maybe you’ll take their midnight firewatch in exchange for their “services.” As much as it sucks to have something stolen, these types often come in handy in saving you (and the rest of the platoon) from an infamous “tornado.”

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

If they do become a scribe, make sure you’re friends. They may come in handy.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Angelica Annastas)

The nerd recruit

These recruits are not very common but every platoon will have at least one. You often question why they chose the Marine Corps since their intelligence and physical performance level screams Air Force. They may not always be the most physically fit, but they’re often the most mentally strong since they have to compensate in some way.

5 Seldom-told tales about Air Force legends

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Michael A. Blaha)

The artistic recruit

This can mean a few things. This recruit is good at drawing, painting, singing, or all of the above. Regardless, one thing is for sure: They’re here for the same reason you are. The drawing/painting types might end up as an “artist recruit” who paints emblems or draws cool things for the Drill Instructors, but they strive to be Marines first and foremost.

The grand old man recruit

They’re not actually very old, given the Marine Corps’ recruitment age cap is set to 28 without a waiver. Since a lot of recruits in boot camp are between 18 and 21, the “grand old man” is usually between 24 and 26. Most people around that age get sent during the spring or fall when the 17-year-old prospects are still in high school, but they still might end up in platoon full of much younger recruits.

They usually have a lot of life experience, some might even have college degrees or be married. These are the recruits you want to talk to for some wisdom since they know more about life than you do.

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