You’re on a foot patrol in a dangerous war-zone and you haven’t taken any enemy contact yet. It’s hot outside and all you want to do is head back to the patrol base and snack on an MRE. When will your first firefight begin?
Then, it happens. Snap! Crack! Boom!
Your first firefight breaks out and you put all of your training to use engaging the enemy. After the chaos ends, these questions will enter your mind and help better prepare you for your next mission or patrol.
6. How well did you work under real freakin’ pressure?
Throughout your training, your instructors have done their best to stimulate combat stress by increasing your heart rate and making you complete tactical drills during squad-sized maneuvering.
If this is you, then you may want to consider a career change. (Image via GIPHY)
Ultimately, nothing can prepare you for when those AK-47 rounds buzz and snap near your head. Talk to your squad members off-line about what they saw and felt during the engagement. This helps build leadership and strengthens brotherhood.
5. Did you stow your gear in a reachable spot?
Newbies want to look as badass as possible in their staged gear, but when sh*t hit the fan and enemy contact was thick, were you able to grab that next magazine or tourniquet without fumbling?
If not, consider re-configuring everything on your flak jacket for accessibility.
4. Did you communicate effectively?
Communication is key while taking enemy contact. Firefights can pop off out of nowhere and from some unlikely places. If you’re in a leadership position or saw the insurgent first, did you call it out effectively enough to return fire towards the enemy position? Or did you race through everything too quickly?
Slow down. (Image via GIPHY)
3. Did you bring enough ammo gear?
The truth is, you can never bring too much gear since you can’t predict what’s going to happen next on patrol, but you also don’t want to carry the entire armory. That’s a lot of crap to haul and you’ve got enough sh*t on your back.
He put on a pearl necklace. That’s classic. (Image via GIPHY)
2. Were you really prepared for the worst?
Bad things can happen — it’s war. The question is, how prepared will you be for the next time?
On the downside, bunker residents would have to share space with the Air Force and NORAD whose 24-hour operations would dampen the boat party. Also, there’s no fighting in the War Room.
2. Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center
Equipped with radio and television studios so you can drop awesome mix tapes, the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is for the aspiring rap artist who will capture the post-apocalypse angst. An on-site water treatment plant prevents sewage build-ups and the facility houses 200 people, meaning your whole entourage could come.
Of course, all those amenities mean that senior military brass and even the president will head here, so expect the culture to get very stodgy very quickly.
4. National Audio-Visual Conservation Center at Mount Pony
The Mount Pony facility is a 140,000-square-foot bunker filled with 90 miles of shelving that hold 1.1 million video items and 3.5 million audio recordings stored there by the Library of Congress. Combined with the 200-seat movie theater in the complex, the Mount Pony facility is the perfect home for the cinephile.
Like the Greenbrier Resort, the site has been decommissioned as a nuclear bunker so denizens must bring their own supplies and should probably invest in a cot. A waste incinerator would also come in handy.
5. For the book lover: The Notch
The bunker at The Notch was originally the command center for the 8th Air Force in case of an attack, but after it was retired it served as storage for the Federal Reserve and is now where Amherst College which keeps a portion of its archive.
Complete with a gym, a cafeteria, and a barber shop, the Underground Complex at North Bay, Canada was the first major underground bunker for riding out the apocalypse. And, since the bunker is mainly manned by the Canadian military, it’s likely to have a very civil command climate.
Unfortunately, its generators draw from the same air as its personnel, limiting the amount of time the bunker can run before everyone suffocates. Originally, this window of time was measured in hours, though modern, efficient generators and computers might allow days of survivability.
When dictators get toppled or governments change, things get chaotic, to say the least. Sometimes a despotic leader gets to escape to Saudi Arabia to live the rest of his life, presumably not eating people.
Democracies tend to have a more peaceful transfer of power, ones that don’t involve revolutionaries storming buildings and stringing people up. But in any conflict, there is always the chance that something will get lost to history.
I’m willing to bet these seven military leaders didn’t expect to end up as a decoration somewhere.
1. Oliver Cromwell’s Head
Cromwell has been called a lot of things: tyrant, dictator, hero. It all depends on your point of view. When he died in 1658, the state gave the former Lord Protector of England a fine funeral under his son, the new Lord Protector, Richard.
Unfortunately, Richard sucked at his job and the monarchy was restored. The new king, Charles II put everyone who killed his father, King Charles I, on trial immediately, with no exceptions. This included Oliver Cromwell’s corpse.
Cromwell’s dead body unsurprisingly stayed silent on his guilt or innocence, was pronounced guilty, and hanged. He was then beheaded and the head put on a spike outside Parliament.
For like, 20 years.
In 1685, a storm blew the spike down, and sent the head flying into Parliament Square. It was picked up by guard who secretly took it home to sell it for cash. Instead, he got cold feet and hid it in the chimney until the day he died.
To make a long story short, the head was sold from collector to collector for a full 301 years before it was reburied in Cambridge.
2. Napoleon Bonaparte’s Penis
In 2007, Evan Lattimer’s father died. From him, she inherited Napoleon Bonaparte’s penis even though the French government swears the little corporal is not that of the Emperor.
In 1821, he died in exile on the island of St. Helena and while the British weren’t watching, the Corsican conducting Napoleon’s autopsy cut off a few pieces for some reason.
It traveled around the world for decades, eventually ending up under the bed of American urologist John Kingsley Lattimer, who put it there and seldom showed anyone because “Dad believed that urology should be proper and decent and not a joke.”
3. Benito Mussolini’s Leg and Brain
Mussolini met a pretty ignominious end during WWII. He was captured by Italian anti-Fascist partisans, beaten and then strung up by his feet. The U.S. Army ordered the bodies taken down and eventually placed Il Duce in la tomba.
His unmarked grave was found by three young fascists who dug him up and took the body from place to place, eventually ending up in a monastery near Milan. By the time his body was found, it was missing a leg. The legless body was interred in his family crypt in Predappio.
The fun doesn’t stop there. While the body was in American custody, an autopsy was performed on the dictator’s brain. The Americans took half of the brain in an attempt to study what makes a dictator, returning it in 1966.
Every now and again, however, vials pop up on eBay, claiming to be the Italian’s remains. His leg was never found.
4. King Badu Bonsu’s Head
Dutch colonists in what is today called Ghana got pretty pissed when the Chief of the local Ahanta tribe killed two Dutch messengers, cut their heads off, and put them on his throne.
The Dutch, slightly miffed at having their citizens used as decoration, responded the way most colonizers would – with a punitive expedition. They captured Badu Bonsu and lopped off his head. This time, instead of putting it on a chair, they put it in a jar. Of formaldehyde.
Fast forward two hundred years later, the Netherlands have gracefully decided to give the old man’s head back to his home country. You might think the people who happened to be carrying around the pickled head of an African chief might keep track of it but no. It was found locked in a closet where it had presumably been for 170 years.
5. Che Guevara’s Hair
The Cuban revolutionary met his end in Bolivia in 1967, executed by Bolivian forces. His hands were cut off as proof and his body was thrown into an unmarked grave. But, like the people who surrounded Napoleon after his death, someone with access to Guevara’s body decided to take home a souvenir.
The person who happened to be present and bury Guevara was also a CIA spook. He kept a scrapbook that included photos, documents, fingerprints, and a lock of Guevara’s hair. In 2007, it was all sold at auction for $100,000.
6. Geronimo’s Skull
In 2009, native tribes sued the Yale University secret society known as the Order of Skull and Bones. They alleged the group had the skull of Apache leader Geronimo on display in the clubhouse. And the Apaches wanted it back.
Geronimo died as a POW at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1909. A Skull and Bones legend says Prescott Bush, father of George H.W. Bush and grandfather to George W. Bush, dug up the Apache’s body and stole the skull and other bones. He then brought it to the clubhouse in New Haven, Connecticut.
7. Thomas Paine’s Entire Body
Unlike everyone else on this list whose head or skull was stolen after death, Thomas Paine’s good friend John Jarvis was already thinking about getting his hands on the famous patriot’s noggin. Paine, of course, asked Jarvis to leave his bones the hell alone. When Paine died in 1809, they did just that. For a while. Somebody dug his body up ten years later.
Since Paine died a drunk in New York, very few people were present for his funeral. Wanting to give Paine a proper burial, newspaper editor William Cobbett and some friends exhumed Paine with the intent of moving his body to England.
The only problem happened when the body got to England – Cobbett couldn’t afford the burial. The old editor stashed the remains in his attic, where Tom Paine remained until Cobbett died. After that, no one knows what happened to the Revolutionary author.
President Donald Trump has emphasized military might during his first year in office, but the US is not the only country seeking to expand its battlefield capacities. Between 2012 and 2016, more weapons were delivered than during any five-year period since 1990.
Arms sales indicate who is beefing up their armed forces, but head-to-head military comparisons are harder to come by. Global Firepower’s 2017 Military Strength Ranking tries to fill that void by drawing on more than 50 factors to assign a Power Index score to 133 countries.
The ranking assesses the diversity of weapons held by each country and pays particular attention to the manpower available. The geography, logistical capacity, available natural resources, and the status of local industry are also taken into account.
While recognized nuclear powers receive a bonus, the nuclear stockpiles are not factored into the score.
Moreover, countries that are landlocked are not docked points for lacking a navy, though they are penalized for not having a merchant marine force.
Countries with navies are penalized if there is a lack of diversity in their naval assets.
NATO countries get a slight bonus because the alliance would theoretically share resources, but in general, a country’s current political and military leadership was not considered.
“Balance is the key — a large, strong fighting force across land, sea and air backed by a resilient economy and defensible territory along with an efficient infrastructure — such qualities are those used to round out a particular nation’s total fighting strength on paper,” the ranking states.
Below, you can see the 25 most powerful militaries in the world:
South Korean Soldiers in the 631st Field Artillery Battalion, 26th Mechanized Infantry Division Artillery. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Dasol Choi, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 1st Cav. Div.)
Army mariners are a rare breed — soldiers who spend most of their time out on the water, sometimes even transiting open oceans like sailors or something.
While the Army’s boat program is relatively unknown outside of the service, it fills a crucial role in military logistics, allowing commanders to ferry supplies along coastlines and up and down rivers — even when there is little or no Navy support. Here are 14 photos that give a glimpse into the life of Army watercraft operators:
1. Mariners have to train for special emergencies that the rest of the Army rarely thinks about, like man overboard or a capsized vessel.
2. Watercraft operators and other mariners can be assigned to a number of different ships, but logistics vessels like these Landing Craft Utility 2000s are the most common.
3. The LCU 2000s, Logistics Support Vessels, and other craft are designed to deploy heavy Army equipment to unimproved beaches.
4. Different vessel types have different lift capabilities, and the largest can carry over a dozen M1 tanks per lift.
5. While the boats are made to operate in as little water as possible — 12 feet for the LSV and as little as five feet for the Landing Craft, Mechanized 8 — most of them are capable of crossing open ocean when necessary.
6. The boys in blue may look like Coast Guardsmen, but they’re actually the soldiers who crew these small vessels.
7. Watercraft engineers maintain the boats. Because there are no specialty fields for watercraft engineers, they have to learn the ins and outs of each vessel type.
8. Watercraft operators pilot the ships and work the decks. Other soldiers, like medics and cooks, are also assigned to Army vessel crews.
9. Most army boats have ramps that allow vehicles to be driven on and off.
10. But cranes are often used to move pallets and machines onto and off of the vessels.
11. Everything from Humvees to tankers to armored vehicles can be loaded this way.
12. In addition to the sealift vessels, the Army maintains a small fleet of tugboats and engineering vessels like dredges and cranes.
13. Army boats are deployed all around the globe, supporting operations from the American coast to the Middle East and Asia.
14. Just remember, the crews are soldiers and mariners, not sailors or Marines.
Submitting vouchers through the Defense Travel System is one of those tasks that probably originated in military purgatory. Sure, an automated, online form for documenting travel expenses and getting paid sounds like a miracle, but it’s actually like having to do your taxes a few extra times per year.
Here are common reasons that DTS vouchers get kicked back, each with a quick example of what you will hear from the DTS manager for the mistake.
1. You checked a box the way your old unit wanted it.
“This isn’t your old unit. Re-do your request. No, you can’t just edit your last voucher. I deleted it so that you would learn how to do it right.”
2. You put airfare and airfare taxes in the same box.
“Do you think the DoD doesn’t want to save some tax money? Figure out what your airfare is without taxes, figure out what the taxes are, and separate those numbers into different line items.”
“The system might try to make you assign different legs of your trip to each dollar amount. If your flight only had one leg, that won’t work. You should’ve booked a trip with a layover.”
3. You changed an entry to how your unit-level reviewer wants it, but the next higher reviewer wants it the opposite way because screw you.
“I know how Mr. X says he likes the voucher filled out. Do I look like Mr. X? Exactly. Now re-do your voucher from scratch. And staff it through Mr. X before it gets to me.”
4. You forgot to collect passport photos from the people in front of and behind you in line while traveling.
“How do we know you went on the trip if you can’t even be bothered to steal the passport photos of people near you in line? Did you really go on the trip? No, your jump manifests, training certificates, and hotel receipts don’t count. We want those passport photos.”
5. You haven’t bribed anyone yet.
“Seriously, what is wrong with you? You think we handle your DTS vouchers because we’re charitable? Or because we like collecting our salaries? No. It’s for the bribes.”
6. You failed to sacrifice at least three virgin sheep to the dark undergods of the Defense Travel Service.
“How am I going to go back to my bosses and tell them that I reviewed your packet without a single dead, unblemished sheep to gift to them?”
7. You have a firstborn son, but have not relinquished him to your reviewer.
“We probably won’t actually take your child, but you have to offer. It’s an ‘Abraham and God’ sort of thing.”
8. You didn’t attach the right receipts.
“Seriously, this is easy stuff. Just do the paperwork and you’ll get your money.”
There are movies that fizzle, and then there are movies that last for generations.
At any given moment on any given ship, one of these movies is guaranteed to be on rotation. They’re not only relatable, but timeless too. For example, “Cinderella Liberty” was made in the 1970s and yet a variation of the plot still happens to sailors in today’s Navy. And, when sailors watch “Master and Commander” they realize that the Navy hasn’t changed much since the 1800s.
Then, there are movies like “Top Gun” and “Officer and a Gentleman” that motivated a generation of sailors to join the service. “Top Gun” debuted in 1986 and until this day you can hear the echoes of aviators throughout the ship referring to each other as Maverick and Goose (our resident ex-naval aviator Ward Carroll disagrees. We’re guessing he’s a huge “Behind Enemy Lines” fan instead).
Another reason for the longevity of these films is because sailors relate to different characters at different stages of their careers. Early on they see themselves as Mayo in “Officer and a Gentleman” and years later they find themselves relating to Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hunter in “Crimson Tide.”
Here’s our list of movies movies every sailor needs to watch. Got any more? Add them to the comments.
This Navy engineer is transferred to a new ship in a foreign land where tensions are high with the United States. He doesn’t get along with the shipmates or the skipper and to make matters worse, he gets implicated in an incident that could cause full out war. Every sailor will relate to Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Holman played by Steve McQueen at some point in their career.
Set during the Cold War, the USSR’s best submarine captain and crew plan to defect to the United States without triggering full out war. After watching this movie, you’ll realize that the USSR Navy isn’t very different from the U.S. Navy.
Although this film is recent compared to the others, it made our list for its timelessness. With phrases such as port side, starboard, head, and others, sailors quickly realize that if they were to be transported to the 1800s that they would still make good sailors.
Infantrymen and women are hard to impress. They’re even harder to impress if they’re Marines. It’s not just chest beating and grunting noises. There is more than meets the eye of what it takes to be the lethal edge of the blade of democracy. Impressing the infantry is an uphill battle but not impossible.
Here are 10 reasons why it’s so hard to impress infantrymen:
1. We shoot better than most
Shooting on the annual rifle range is clinical compared to the live-fire training the infantry does in the field. Weapons’ maintenance is continuous, rain or shine. Shooting high on table one and two is child’s play compared to the rest of the firing tables the infantry has to do. Infantry have to charge across various terrain, coordinating an assault with combined arms, in concert to seize the objective. A good score on table one is not impressive. Firing rounds on target while tired, muddy, and maneuvering with heavy gear is.
2. We’re more physically fit
Health is taken seriously. They get paid to be physically fit. The infantry will do their due diligence to make sure proper form is maintained to avoid injury during weight training. They take diets seriously because one cheat day can ruin a week’s goal. Pain is weakness leaving the body. So, they push themselves to the limit because the enemy is also training. An infantryman is a weapon, the rifle is an extension of the body.
3. We’ve travelled more
There is one promise my recruiter told me that I can say without a shadow of a doubt was not a lie: I would travel the world. Personally, I’ve been to Cuba, Spain, Turkey, Djibouti, Japan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Korea and other countries in just six years. The infantry deploys a lot. So, if you have an overseas story, the infantry has many more.
4. They’ve watched every movie
Grunts watch anything they can get their hands on during a combat deployment. Every genre is smuggled on hard drives and then passed around more than…you get the idea. The point is, I’ve seen troops discuss the cinematography and plot of adult films with more seriousness than critics in Hollywood. I wish that was a joke.
5. You won’t catch sloppy uniforms in garrison
When in garrison the leadership’s go-to training to keep us busy is a uniform inspection. The only uniform you’ll see grunts wear like pajamas are ‘field cammies’. A field cammie faded camouflage utility uniforms in the field because it’s a sign that they’re saltier than one another. They’re soft and made comfortable by months or years of use. Walk past an infantry Staff NCO out of regs anywhere outside the field and you’ll catch a knife hand to the face, though.
6. They’re more inclusive of other races and cultures
The only thing that matters in the infantry is that you carry your weight. Now, they’re not going to use politically correct language but their heart is in the right place. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or your sexual orientation, if you can prove you can keep up. Everybody deserves respect – except boots. F’n new guys.
7. They have a ton of kids
They’re good at fighting wars and making babies. They often make good parents and will keep in contact with their families at every opportunity. The children have discipline and won’t run around screaming in a restaurant, probably.
8. We earn more medals
A natural perk of constant deployments to foreign lands. It is not rare to see an infantry E-3 have a larger ribbon stack then an admin E-5.
9. The infantry does not talk about combat with non-infantry
Other Military Occupational Specialties will brag about anything they think will make them look cool or exaggerate events in theater. A grunt is just going to look at you like you’re an idiot and walk away.
10. We’re the poster children of the military
Every great recruiting commercial has us front and center. We’re the best thing since sliced bread and we will never be humble about that. Everyone is necessary for the war effort but it’s hard to impress the people who have to do the actual door kicking.
The U.S. military does a lot of good around the world, but it also maintains a few quirks. Usually stemming from the mindset of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” some items common to the military experience don’t make much sense. These are those items.
Here is how this went down: The Navy was wearing its completely blue working uniform, and then the Marine Corps and Army went to new and improved digital patterns. The admirals got together and thought of how to best to spend the budget.
They got into a big room with presentations about cool laser beams that can destroy an entire terrorist compound, missiles for fighter jets that can travel 300 miles, and new GPS navigation systems that can tell you where you are with pinpoint accuracy and you can hit one button to call in naval gunfire. And then they decided to spend a bunch of money on uniforms that make no sense.
2. Wearing reflective belts everywhere
Yeah, we know. They reflect light from car headlights so that you don’t get flattened like a pancake when you’re on your run. So maybe that makes sense. But they are overused to the point of absurdity. You need to wrap a reflective belt around your pack on this hike, because drivers may not notice the 900+ people around you with flashlights and making lots of noise.
Make sure you also wear your reflective belt around your forward operating base so that Johnny Taliban can make that mortar fire more effective.
3. Those brown dive shorts that only Navy SEALs wear
The UDT SEAL swim shorts come in khaki, have an included belt, and are short enough to show how terribly untanned your legs are. According to NavySEALs.com, the shorts were issued to the original frogmen of World War II, and now all SEALs are issued them as part of that tradition.
Holding to traditions is important, but we’re talking 1940s-era fashion here. SEALs aren’t shooting at Taliban fighters with M1 Garands, because times, trends, and technology has changed. Which leads us to …
4. Marine Corps “silkies” physical training shorts
We can officially conclude that the military has a serious problem with short shorts. The worst offender is the U.S. Marine Corps, with their “silkies.” While Marines have been issued updated physical training uniforms, the silkie shorts that looked like they were stolen from Larry Bird’s locker room still prevail. And sadly, there’s always at least one weird guy in your platoon who actually enjoys wearing them.
There’s a reason Gen. Mattis banned the use of Powerpoint briefings when he was in charge at CENTCOM. Creating slideshows are boring, huge wastes of time, and as he so famously said, they “make you stupid.”
We’re absolutely certain there are other things out there. What can you think of? Add it to the comments.
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.”
The American military has been kicking ass and taking names for over 240 years. In all that time, it’s amassed a massive list of important victories and defeats. Below is a list of some that reshaped American history for better or worse.
The list is voteable, so click to advance your picks for most important battles and strike down ones you find less important.
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.”