Just replace Kenobi’s spirit form at the end of “Return of the Jedi” with Ulysses S. Grant’s love of spirits and you have a strong case that the famed Union general and 18th president was the real world inspiration for the legendary Jedi Master.
Both of these bearded military masterminds have just way too much in common.
1. Both are widely regarded for the first half of their accomplishments, but were immortalized by their final ones.
Quick history lesson for anyone living under a rock since 1977 or never picked up a history book.
Obi-wan Kenobi was a Jedi Knight in the prequel trilogy of “Star Wars.” His level head and skill in battle shot him up the ranks before eventually being recognized as the mentor to Luke Skywalker in the Original Trilogy.
Ulysses S. Grant was the top general of the Union Army during the American Civil War. His level head and skill in battle shot him up the ranks before eventually being elected to be the 18th President of the United States during the Reconstruction era.
2. Both accepted their adoptive names early in life.
Each of them have semi-arbitrary names, Ben Kenobi and Ulysses S. Grant.
According to the canon novel “Kenobi,” Obi-wan was meditating in an attempt to contact Qui-Gon. In his conversation, he remembers that Ben was a name he saw on a map and liked it. His fling would then call him by it and it sort of stuck.
It came in handy when he needed to go into hiding (because I guess Kenobi was a common name).
Grant was actually born Hiram Ulysses Grant. When his father wrote his representative to help get the 16-year-old Grant into West Point, the forms were filled out incorrectly and mistakenly written as “Ulysses S. Grant.”
Because this was the biggest opportunity for him at that point, he adopted the name. He would also go by the name “Sam,” because his initials U.S. were a play on Uncle Sam. Eventually that U.S. became “Unconditional Surrender.”
Even though his mother’s maiden name was Simpson, he joked with his wife, “You know I have an ‘S’ in my name and don’t know what it stands for.”
3. Republic versus the Confederacy.
Civil War breaks out for both men. The Galactic Republic fights the separatists, The Confederacy of Independent Systems. War rages on between them in many star systems.
As in our timeline, the United States of America fought the separatists, the Confederate States of America. War rages on between them in many states.
4. Both were responsible for the first major victory in their wars.
The people of Naboo were losing the invasion by the Trade Federation. Tides were turned when a young padawan, Obi-wan, struck down Darth Maul in an epic light saber battle. He was promoted to Jedi Knight for his actions.
The Union was losing the skirmishes along the Tennessee-Kentucky border, most notably at the Battle of Fort Donelson. Tides were turned when a young Brig. Gen. Grant pushed back Brig. Gen. Floyd in an epic counterattack (and earning him the “Unconditional Surrender” Grant nickname). He was promoted to major general for his actions.
5. Both had beaten major adversaries in other generals — and a comrade.
Kenobi fought many great enemies during the Clone War and after. In “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” he fought General Grevious, commander of the CIS forces. Afterwords, his largest enemy was the commander of the 501st, Darth Vader himself. Twice (if you consider him being struck down and achieving more power than Vader would ever know a victory).
Darth Vader, previously Anakin Skywalker, was once a great ally to Kenobi, fighting at his side other during the Clone War. By the end, they would both become each other’s greatest enemy.
Grant lead the Union Army through many of its more memorable victories. Grant defeated Confederate generals left and right — many of whom hold the name of U.S. military bases today. General Bragg, Gen. Polk, Gen. A.P. Hill, and of course, Gen. Robert E. Lee. He would defeat Lee at Petersburg and then force his surrender at Appomattox.
Robert E. Lee and Grant had first met each other during the Mexican-American War. Both were present at Scott’s March to Mexico City. This was back when Grant was a still a lieutenant and Lee a lieutenant colonel long before they were both Generals-in-Chief of their respective armies.
6. Both saw their people in turmoil after their Civil Wars.
After the Galactic Republic collapsed into the Empire, Obi-wan needed to go into hiding and assumed the name of “Ben.” He witnessed the collapse of the Jedi Order and the chaos that was brought by the Emperor and Darth Vader. More about what happened in those years is rumored to be played out in the upcoming “Obi-wan” stand-alone film.
Grant may have been victorious, but Reconstruction wasn’t an easy step. The short time between the Union victory and Lincoln’s death was mixed with the moderate positions and vetoes of Andrew Johnson and the devastation of white supremacists had on the newly freed slaves. Grant would try his best to push through his Enforcement Acts, which were in place to protect African Americans and combat the Ku Klux Klan.
7. Their successors (mostly) ended the strife.
Obi-wan was slain by Darth Vader, giving his pupil the next step in his hero’s journey. By the end of “Return of the Jedi,” Luke Skywalker would help (spoiler alert: by the way for those aforementioned people under a rock) his father, Darth Vader, renounce the Dark Side and overthrow the Empire, bringing peace until “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”
Grant tried to reunite the divided country again, make peace with the Native Americans, and help with civil rights. They still weren’t enough. The Luke Skywalker in this comparison? Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican nominee who took his place. Even still, Hayes only withdrew troops from the South.
*Bonus!* The strong connection with “McGregor.”
First being portrayed by Alec Guinness of “Bridge on the River Kwai” fame in the original trilogy, he would later be brought to life by Ewan McGregor from “Trainspotting” and “Black Hawk Down.”
As for Ulysses S. Grant, he spent the last weeks of his life at his friend’s cottage atop Mount McGregor while he finished his memoirs.
Action movies featuring Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta were supposed to be safe bets, but most viewers were disappointed by ‘Basic.’ Military viewers yelled themselves hoarse when they first saw Jackson’s cape in the movie. The flick follows the investigation into the deaths of multiple Rangers during training in the jungles of Panama.
While many soldiers may hate on “The Hurt Locker,” we’re just going to go ahead and call “Basic” the worst Army movie ever. Yes, ever.
Admin note: Parts of the movie are witnesses giving false testimony, but we still counted the technical errors we saw. Even in fantasyland you should get the details right.
1. (2:15) The movie takes place as Fort Clayton is being transferred over to the Panamanian government which happened in 1999. The Jungle School was at Fort Sherman, not Fort Clayton where the movie is set.
2. (2:20) West is wearing a patch on the front of his sweater where it is visible under his cape. Soldier uniforms don’t include chest patches, that sweater, or a cape.
3. (2:30) Master Sgt. West is giving a speech about Ranger standards to a bunch of Rangers about to go into combat exercises in the jungle. Despite this being tactical training and West being obsessed with standards, one of the Rangers is wearing a shiny watch, one is wearing a t-shirt with nothing over it, and people are wearing six different pieces of headgear, because screw uniform standards. Also, the red and black berets aren’t worn by the Army without flashes and crests.
4. (2:55) It’s revealed to be a live-fire exercise at night in the jungles of Panama during a hurricane and the entirety of the safety brief is, “Keep your weapon on safe so as not to shoot off your nonexistent d-cks.” Live-fire exercises are rarely done in hurricanes and the the method of signaling would not have been white phosphorus grenades since those would be nearly impossible for West to see from the jungle floor. Also, there would have been a real safety brief.
5. (4:00) A different helicopter comes to pick up the Rangers. For some reason, the Rangers are getting picked up by U.S. pilots in a Eurocopter Ec-120 (typically operated by Spanish and Chinese militaries, never by the U.S.). In theory, the helicopter is there to pick up all seven Rangers. The Ec-120 only sits four people in addition to the pilot and co-pilot.
6. (4:16) Col. Styles, later revealed to be the base commander, is on the helicopter looking for the Rangers. He would typically be, you know, commanding the search while allowing a specially trained crew to look for the Rangers. Also, the actual base commander at Fort Clayton from 1986 to its closing in 1999 was the U.S. Army South Commander, a two-star general.
7. (5:10) Col. Styles, shocked, asks the pilot whether the Rangers are shooting live rounds. Live rounds shouldn’t be shocking since the Rangers were on a live-fire exercise.
8. (5:15) “Dunbar” is firing, on full-auto, an M16 into the jungle when he has an M203 slung underneath the weapon and his vision is obscured by rain. The idea that he hit anything is laughable.
9. (6:25) Osborne is wearing no ribbons on her dress uniform.
10. (6:30) Somehow, the Ranger colonel never became jumpmaster qualified. No wonder they won’t make him a general. Also, his highest award is the Army Commendation Medal. How did he ever make colonel?
11. (6:35) Styles says that, if they don’t get to the bottom of this, they’ll have people from Washington crawling all over them like ants. Considering the fact that four Rangers are missing, one is dead, and one is injured, it’s pretty likely that Washington will be all over you anyway.
12. (7:15) Questioning is being done personally by the base commander and the provost marshall. Where is everyone else? Maybe the Criminal Investigation Division and the military police investigators are all at sergeant’s-time-training.
13. (8:40) It’s later revealed that Hardy is in the top-secret Section 8, not in the D.E.A., or at least not in normal D.E.A. And, all his actions in Panama are authorized by the few people who know he’s doing it. So, who is calling him and busting his chops about the bribe he was never actually accused of taking? Why check up on him if his suspension isn’t real?
14. (9:35) It’s revealed that Hardy was an amazing military police investigator and Army Ranger. It’s not exactly impossible, but it’s so rare for MPs to graduate Ranger school that Army public affairs writes press releases when it happens. Even if Hardy graduated Ranger school though, why was an MP assigned to an infantry unit under Styles? Styles would have been leading infantry companies and working in infantry battalions. He’d only meet MPs when he had too much to drink.
15. (9:45) Osborne tells Styles that, if Hardy isn’t Army, then the investigation won’t be official and Styles agrees. An unofficial investigation will make Washington more suspicious, not less. Plus, there’s no way that evidence turned up by a suspended D.E.A. agent not assigned to the base would be admitted into court later. Styles just guaranteed C.I.D. would send legions of agents to Panama.
16. (10:37) Osborne is surprised and grossed out by Hardy dipping. In the Army though, every meeting is adorned by five or six spit bottles on the table.
17. (10:52) Hardy says West was his “black hat.” “Black hat” is refers to airborne school instructors, not Jungle School instructors.
18. (13:00) “Dunbar” was misidentified by his dog tags, a major plot point of the movie. There was no one else who could identify him? No one from the Jungle School could come and tell them they have the wrong name? He wasn’t carrying an I.D. card? Everyone just trusted that the probable murderer was wearing the correct dog tags?
19. (13:35) It’s revealed that the injured Ranger, 2nd Lt. Kendall, is the son of a joint chief. Good luck avoiding a horde of men from Washington.
20. (13:45) Hardy explains to Osborne, the base provost marshall, how interrogation works. And, he’s an investigator known for being good in the room but has a deep-seated aversion to interrogation rooms.
21. (14:15) Osborne points out that Hardy can’t testify at trial and she’ll have to testify instead. Military trials are still trials and the defense will jump on the fact that a shady D.E.A. agent was in the interrogation but disappeared before trial.
22. (15:00) In the 1:15 since Hardy told Osborne to move Dunbar, neither of them have spoken to anyone else or moved Dunbar, yet Dunbar is already in the cafeteria when they arrive. I guess the other MPs heard about Hardy’s hatred of interrogation rooms and just went ahead and moved a dangerous prisoner on their own.
23. (15:11) Armed guard leaves the room without a word once Osborne and Hardy arrive. Good thing Ranger-qualified murderers aren’t dangerous or anything.
BONUS (16:00) Hardy shows off his crotch to Dunbar while talking about baseball. Odd interrogation tactic if not technically an error.
Photo: Youtube.com Note: These are the actual subtitles.
24. (17:31) Hardy says he was stationed in Panama with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Little problem, there never was a Ranger Battalion stationed in Panama. Rangers went there for Jungle School and they were part of the invasion in 1989, but they didn’t stay there. And, again, there are no military police units in the Ranger Regiment.
25. (19:15) Osborne jumps to parade rest for Styles. First, she’s been talking back and being sarcastic to this guy so far. Why do the customs and courtesies now? Second, the proper position would be attention.
26. (20:06) Let’s just get all of Master Sgt. West’s uniform violations in this scene out at once. 1: Nope, those glasses would not be authorized. 2: That collar rank is for Army specialists, four ranks below master sergeant. 3: That damn chest patch is back. 4: West is apparently special forces in addition to Ranger qualified; it’s a shame the Army has used him as an instructor for the past dozen or so years. 5: The patch, while right for Panama, is too far below the Ranger and SF tabs. This guy is starting to look like a stolen valor case.
28. (20:36) Why are none of the students wearing patches? Either they’re in Ranger Regiment and should be wearing scrolls, or they’re coming from other units to the Jungle School and should be wearing their home unit patches, or they’re in 192nd Infantry with West and should be wearing the same patch as him.
29. (20:48) West admonishes “Pike” for surrendering his sidearm. Um, why? Soldiers do give their weapons to their superiors when ordered.
30. (21:15) Just about everyone in this formation is an E-1 who has not been assigned to a unit. So, they’re doing Jungle School ahead of basic training? But apparently after Ranger school? Also, why are none of these “Rangers” wearing Ranger tabs or scrolls?
31. (21:49) Green Hell is a training event in Jungle School, but it’s just an obstacle course. It certainly doesn’t take place in Darien, a completely different province of Panama that’s miles outside of the U.S. controlled canal zone. If Green Hell were that bad though, 20 days of 40 kilometers per day, it would have to be somewhere besides the Canal Zone since the zone is less than 80 kilometers long.
32. (21:54) “Dunbar” says they’re all in the Jungle Leader Course. JLC was six days long and only five of them were training days.
33. (23:00) West accepts the answer of “1,100 meters per second,” for the muzzle velocity of the M16. The M16’s muzzle velocity is actually 948 meters per second.
34. (23:26) We get a good look at Nunez who is regularly referred to as a Ranger. Women are going through Ranger School for the first time now and none have graduated, ever.
35. (25:00) The entire unit has horrible muzzle awareness. Considering the fact that West gives them live ammunition for nearly every exercise, that seems pretty dangerous.
36. (25:30) Prior to 2004, only deployed soldiers wore the U.S. flag and they wore a reversed flag replica (blue field of stars to the front of the soldier’s sleeve). Also, why the cape!?
37. (26:05) “Pike” is getting hemmed up by West, but doesn’t go to parade rest. Every Army private knows the solution to a pissed off sergeant is to go to parade rest and say, “Yes, sergeant,” and, “No sergeant,” as appropriate.
38. (27:25) Apparently, the Rangers now have a code instead of a creed. Also, the code is much shorter.
39. (31:55) Apparently, 2nd Lt. Kendall’s dad, a joint chief of staff, wanted to keep his son’s homosexuality secret. So West, who had never met Kendall before, would have no way of knowing it.
40. (32:55) Kendall tells the investigators that no one could hear anything on the chopper. He doesn’t explain how he heard the entire mission brief on the helicopter.
41. (33:40) The Rangers rappel from the helicopter with their weapons simply slung on their shoulders where they could easily fall off and get lost in the jungle.
42. (34:58) The live-fire training is apparently in the middle of a thick jungle, is done without a safety officer able to oversee the training, and none of the students wear anything to mark themselves to prevent friendly fire. It’s frankly a miracle that the base only had three training accidents per year.
43. (35:00) All of the students apparently have full-auto M16s — even though only two models — neither popular in the Army in the ’90s, had fully automatic settings. Castro, a top student, fires from the hip constantly.
44. (37:40) Rangers find their dead instructor and don’t leave a guard, mark the map, or recover the body.
45. (38:25) In the middle of super tactical training, one of the Rangers decides not to use a red filter on his flashlight.
46. (39:30) Enlisted soldiers tell the officer with a joint chief for a father to shut up.
47. (41:30) “Pike” is wearing a camouflage t-shirt, not an approved uniform item.
48. (41:40) “Pike” is, in this version of the story, an admitted killer. Other Rangers are letting him sit within arm’s reach of a fully automatic weapon. He also only has one guard.
49. (42:46) Ranger gets shot and immediately grabs his weapon. Instead of picking his target, he sprays the inside of the shack with about 60 rounds from a 30-round magazine without bothering to check what he’s shooting.
50. (45:40) “Dunbar” admits to using drugs and Hardy says drugs come with a 20-year sentence in the Army. Actually, they come with military separation unless your chain of command recommends otherwise. There is no minimum sentence for drug use and few offenders serve jail time.
51. (51:45) Finally, someone mentions the radios. “Pike’s” is busted, but what about the rest of them? Why isn’t someone trying to raise West or Fort Clayton on the radio?
52. (52:30) Nunez walks around the tent with her weapon cocked and pointed up. No one protests the weapon safety problem. Also, there’s no need to cock an M9.
53. (53:00) During a high tension moment in the shack, Nunez takes the chance to kiss another Ranger. No wonder Rangers are scared of women being allowed in the school.
54. (53:25) “Dunbar” partially searches one pocket of someone’s pack, can’t find the grenade in that pocket and decides the grenade isn’t in there. Hope he’s never in charge of searching enemy prisoners of war.
55. (54:40) “Pike” exposes the scars from his needle injections. His scars would’ve been visible every time he had to take a shower with the other students.
56. (1:00:25) “Dunbar” was in custody for hours. The military police would have searched him and removed the hypodermic needle that could be used as a weapon.
57. (1:02:05) Osborne smacks a suspect/her former lover across the face with a telephone book. Military trials have different rules than civilian ones, but this would still get the case thrown out.
58. (1:02:15) Drug dealing doctor can’t remember Kendall’s name. He targeted and recruited Kendall, the homosexual son of a joint chief, worked with him for months, rigged his regular drug tests, and now can’t remember his name. This drug dealer pays no attention to his illegal enterprise.
59. (1:12:15) Osborne says that C.I.D. has arrived to take the doctor to Washington. First, why move him to D.C.? His trial would be easier to organize at larger bases like Fort Bragg or Fort Hood and he should be transported by the unit’s chaser detail, not C.I.D. Also, if C.I.D. is on the base, they should take over the investigation. They are the criminal investigation division.
60. (1:12:30) Osborne and Hardy learn that they have Pike and Dunbar backwards. See, that’s why you can’t use dog tags as a sole form of identification.
61. (1:13:30) Osborne says Army files don’t show weight, but they do. Also, dog tags are not enough to identify a criminal. Check ID cards.
62. (1:14:00) C.I.D. would almost certainly be wearing suits, not uniforms.
63. (1:13:35) Hardy and Osborne wouldn’t race to the plane. They’d call the flight line. Phones and radios are awesome inventions.
64. (1:14:17) Hardy steals an agent’s weapon and fires it in the air. Only two guys draw their weapons in response and no one stops Hardy from pulling Pike off the stairs and shoving him towards the prop. The agent at the top of the stairs actually stays at parade rest the whole time.
65. (1:15:00) So, West decided to confront the druggies in his unit and he decided he’d pick that fight in a remote area while he was severely outnumbered. Great tactics, super Ranger!
66. (1:17:00) The female Ranger runs out of the hut on her own without looking around or bringing her weapon to the ready, something no combat trained soldier would do. West kills her with dual pistols. Soldiers are trained to properly use one pistol because it’s more effective than using two.
67. (1:25:15) Hardy tells Osborne to contact him if she needs him to testify about the shooting. The investigators would actually take his sworn statement right then since he was the only witness to the shooting of a base commander by one of his subordinates.
68. (1:26:00) Osborne is driving a military vehicle to her personal residence and turns off to follow Hardy. She shouldn’t be able to take the vehicle home at night and she really shouldn’t be able to drive it around the isthmus without someone asking what’s going on.
69. (1:31:00) The movie ends on a happy note because the whole squad was in Section 8 and the mission was sanctioned! But, Kendall, the joint chief’s kid, is still dead. That’s going to come up later.
Since the halcyon days of World War II frogmen, Navy SEALs have completed some of the most dangerous missions ever largely in the shadows — until the book comes out, that is.
When done correctly, Hollywood has produced a few films that give those brave men credit where it’s due. However, some films try to capitalize on the respected SEAL image by creating characters that are so far-fetched, many veterans call bullsh*t on it right way.
So check out our list of unrealistic Navy SEAL characters we’d love to forget.
1. Lt. Dale Hawkins
Played by Charlie Sheen, the action film “Navy SEALs” showcased Hawkins as being the “wild child” within the SEAL team. The movie decided to show his recklessness by having the character leap out of a moving car and into a river — it worked.
2. Chief Casey Ryback
Steven Seagal plays Chief Casey Ryback, a decorated Navy SEAL who specializes in explosives, weapons, and counter-terrorism turned culinary specialist, spending his remaining years in the Navy as a cook.
3. John “Bullfrog” Burke
OJ “The Juice” Simpson, played a Navy SEAL in 1994’s TV movie “Frogmen,” but unfortunately it never saw action. The show focused on Simpson’s character “Bullfrog” who conducted secret operations out of a dive shop in Malibu.
Unfortunately, 1994 was a big year for Simpson but not in a good way.
4. Lawrence Hammer
Rob Lowe plays a young rebel navigating through life as an elite member of the Navy SEALs as he’s sent off to fight in Desert Storm in 1992’s “The Finest Hour.”
Talented musician Ice Cube plays Stone in “XXX: State of the Union,” where the character’s backstory just happens to include being a Navy SEAL — imagine that. Stone is released from jail and given the mission to stop a coup attempt against the President and save the day.
6. The whole cast of “Seal Team Eight: Behind Enemy Lines”
Starring Tom Sizemore, the mission is to locate a secret mining operation in the Congo and stop international terrorists from selling uranium.
Demi Moore plays the motivated Navy SEAL candidate in 1997’s “G.I. Jane” directed by Ridley Scott. Although the film doesn’t show her earning her trident, the implication that she will soon enough is there.
We’re not saying women aren’t tough enough to be a Navy SEAL, it just hasn’t happened yet.
Despite Hot Shots Part Deux‘s claim to be the bloodiest movie ever, we actually did the math and found the top body counts for war films featuring the U.S. military. These counts are only for onscreen, confirmed dead. If they’re still moving when the director cuts to the next shot, it doesn’t count. The results are surprising.
9. Delta Force
Despite his online reputation for ceaseless badassery, Chuck Norris’ seminal work Delta Force only has 78 confirmed kills. Though admittedly, 43 of those are at the hands of Chuck Norris himself.
8. Rambo Series
First Blood (commonly known as “the Rambo movie”) is the most surprising. With a body count of one confirmed kill, you wonder how John Rambo earned the reputation of being Hollywood’s biggest military badass… until you see the rest of the Rambo films (lots of cops go through windows, though). Body counts rise at a near exponential rate after the commies kill Rambo’s love interest, with 80 kills in First Blood Part II, 158 in Rambo III, and a whopping 273 in 2008’s Rambo. At that rate, I imagine that Rambo: Last Bloodwill maim more people than a movie starring 100 untamed lions.
7. The Patriot
Another surprise is the number of onscreen deaths in The Patriot. Mel Gibson’s Revolutionary War film, based on the Southern colonies’ fight against brutal British Colonel Banastre Tarleton, only had 123 onscreen kills.
6. Black Hawk Down
Black Hawk Down is considered one of the most realistic portrayals of any military action ever depicted onscreen, but the 135 deaths (122 Somalis, 13 Americans) doesn’t reflect the real-world body count of 1,500 Somalis, 18 Americans, 1 Malaysian and 1 Pakistani.
5. Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg’s WWII epic Saving Private Ryan defined the distinctive WWII onscreen look and feel, replicated again and again. Appropriately, the film starts with his vision of the intense D-Day landings at Normandy. The final tally, including the dog tags of the KIA, stands at 243.
Platoon’s 277 kills are enough to give anyone a thousand-yard stare.
3. We Were Soldiers
The 305 total onscreen deaths between US forces and the North Vietnamese Army in We Were Soldiers gives Mel Gibson war film extras a higher mortality rate than Sean Bean in any film or TV show ever.
2. Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino’s films have a reputation for violence and his WWII masterwork Inglourious Basterds delivers Lieutenant Aldo Raine’s scalps and then some with a confirmed kill count of 315.
The all-time top body count of any movie featuring US troops in combat goes to Nicolas Cage’s Windtalkers with a whopping 548 onscreen kills.
The American militia movement had been mostly dormant during the Bush Administration, but the election of Barack Obama gave it new life – and thousands of new members. There are currently hundreds of small local militias in the US, groups of “patriotic citizens” who own a lot of guns and spend a lot of time tramping through various wilderness areas training to use them.
These groups train to prepare for what they see as the inevitable consequences of a Democratic president, such as gun confiscation, martial law, imprisonment of dissenters, mass purges, and totalitarian fascism. Most of these groups are also opposed to federal law and feel they’re somehow above the rules than the rest of us live by. This means many have been shut down and raided by police or the FBI – with some groups involved in murders, kidnapping, massive fraud and plots to overthrow the presidency.
Listed here are the more well-known militia groups operating in the US, both now and in the recent past. Read on to learn more about these groups and what drives them.
The military is always evolving and new things happen every day. With each changes comes a new set of challenges and new opportunities to succeed. Thankfully, there are many talented photographers in the community that capture these struggles and triumphs.
Here are some of those moments from this past week:
A crew chief from the 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, prepares one of the unit’s F-16 “Fighting Falcons” to shut down after the aircraft arrives at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 19, 2018, in preparation for the Thunder Over Louisville air show on April 21. The Kentucky Air Guard is once again serving as the base of operations for dozens of military aircraft participating in the show, providing essential maintenance and logistical support.
Medical Soldiers participating in Eager Lion 2018 carry a simulated casualty on a litter to a UH-60 Blackhawk. The 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, Charlie Company, along with the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment, Assault Helicopter Battalion conduct a medical evacuation validation for Exercise Eager Lion 2018 from King Abdullah II Air Base in Az-Zarqa, Jordan, April 14, 2018. Eager Lion is a major Exercise with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, designed to exchange military expertise and improve interoperability among partner nations.
Field grade officers and noncommissioned officers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division arrive to their first destination as part of a Mungadai exercise at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on April 17, 2018. The Mungadai is used as a Bronco Brigade leader development program is to create disciplined, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent.
U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 1ST Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, fire an M777 Howitzer during Decisive Action Rotation 18-06 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., Apr. 16, 2018. The National Training Center allows units to integrate indirect fire into live fire training exercises, enhancing training for Army BCTs.
(U.S. Navy photo courtesy NSWG4 Public Affairs)
Special Boat Team 20 personnel execute the insertion of two Combatant Craft Assault vehicles using the Low Velocity Airdrop Delivery System during a training exercise April, 19, 2018.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams)
Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided- missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) fire a .50-caliber machine gun during a bi-lateral interoperability live-fire gunnery exercise with the Finnish guided-missile patrol craft Hamina (PTG 80) April 17, 2018. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is on its fifth patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
U.S. Marine Corps Rct. Vivienne Herrera, with Platoon 4016, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, stands with her fellow recruits after completing an obstacle during the Crucible at Parris Island, S.C. April 20, 2018. The Crucible, a 54 hour day and night test of endurance, is the final and most demanding step before earning the title of United States Marine.
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua P. Main, a rifleman assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 2/6), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fires an M203 rifle at a simulated target during a combat mastery shooting range as part of Eager Lion 18 combat rehearsal, in Jordan, April 17, 2018. Eager Lion is a capstone training engagement that provides U.S. forces and the Jordan Armed Forces an opportunity to rehearse operating in a coalition environment and to pursue new ways to collectively address threats to regional security and improve overall maritime security.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Kaczoroski)
A Coast Guard Station Islamorada 33-foot Special Purpose Craft—Law Enforcement boatcrew prepares to rescue a family of four from the water Sunday, April 15, 2018 in Blackwater Sound near Key Largo. The boatcrew took the family to Gilberts Marina with no reported injuries.
Pin-Ups For Vets is an organization that supports hospitalized veterans and deployed troops through nostalgic pin-up calendars.
The organization was founded by Gina Elise in 2006 after learning about under-funded veteran healthcare programs and lonely service members. Inspired by her grandfather who served during World War II and the pin-up girls of that era, Pin-Up For Vets was born. The calendars are:
used to raise funds for hospitalized veterans.
delivered as gifts to ill and injured veterans with messages of appreciation from the donors.
sent to deployed troops to help boost moral and to let them know that Americans back home are thinking of them.
Since starting the organization she’s crisscrossed the country to deliver gifts to hospitalized veterans at their bedsides and mailed hundreds more. Pin-Ups For Vets also ships care packages to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Proceeds from the organization are used to carry out its various veteran and troop initiatives.
Her latest project, the 2nd annual Salute and Shimmy World War II style fundraiser takes place Saturday, January 17th in Hollywood, CA. The event will feature burlesque acts, music, and more. RSVP here to attend.
In the meantime, here are 15 awesome photos from the Pin-Ups For Vets collection:
Gina Elise as a pin-up on a motorcycle…
Marine veteran Jovane Henrey as a runway pin-up…
Gina Elise prepping her bath tub…
Julia Reed Nichols in a two-piece…
Gina Elise as a pin-up at the bowling alley…
Navy veteran Jennifer Hope in a purple dress…
Gina Elise in a one-piece at the beach…
Navy veteran Jennifer Marshall in a green and black polka dot dress…
From special operations weathermen to musicians and DJs, there plenty of jobs in the military that seem like they don’t belong. Some are essential, while others just make life better for troops and their families. Here are 24 of the most unexpected careers a recruit can choose.
Sailors on ship want to rent videos and buy Pringles like everyone else, but the Navy doesn’t have convenience stores staffed by civilians out at sea. Instead, they have sailors whose job it is to run the vending machines, small shops, and rental booths that offer services on ships underway.
No, they’re not keeping Chesty Puller’s body ready to thaw for the next big war. Cryogenics, though typically associated with keeping bodies on ice, refers to the production and behavior of materials at very low temperatures. The Marine Corps and other services use this technology to safely store oxygen for pilots’ tanks and nitrogen for planes’ tires.
These guys specialize in defending U.S. military networks against a constant barrage of cyberattacks. They also conduct counter-attacks when called to do so. To see just how hard their job can be, check out this live map of suspected cyber attacks around the world.
Bugs can be a major threat to military operations and it’s the job of military entomologists to take care of it. They seek out evidence of infestations and combat them. They can order pesticides and traps, introduce an insect’s main predator, or cover troops in delousing powder.
Financial managers supervise the purchase of the military branches’ equipment and supplies. They cut the checks for MREs, plan how much money to save for potential conflicts, and track grants given to friendly militaries.
Many of the images and videos of military operations are taken by service members assigned to public affairs and combat camera units. The Navy combined most of its photographer and videographer jobs into one rating, while other services still allow troops to specialize. Specialties include combat camera — the military term for photographer — print journalists, who concentrate on writing articles for base newspapers and/or web stories, and broadcast journalists, which shoot and edit video, and serve as DJs.
Army multimedia illustrators support the creation of military publications as well as civil affairs and psychological operations. These are skilled artists who — you guessed it — spend a lot of time drawing.
The military branches have a surprising number of bands. Most major commands have at least a small band that plays at special functions. While many of these musicians are service members temporarily assigned to a band, some are actually recruited into the service as a musician. They travel the world playing for both American and foreign audiences.
Yes, these sailors spend all day working on or with nuclear reactors. Reactors are used to power all of the Navy’s active carriers and submarines, and their safe operation depends on vigilant and capable operators. The title of nuclear reactor engineer only goes to the commissioned officers, but there is an enlisted version of the job.
Ammunition, weapons, chemicals, the military packs and ships a lot of dangerous items. In order to ensure everything is packed legally and safely, some Marines specialize in packing materials for shipment.
The military provides doctors for its service members and their families, and that includes the kids. Pediatricians do the same job in the military that they do in a civilian hospital, though they can also be deployed worldwide to support humanitarian missions.
Water from rivers can be very gross, and it can be even worse after Army and Marine personnel use it. To treat water both before and after troops use it, the Army and Marine Corps have personnel assigned to testing and treating water.
This job used to be present in every service, but the other branches have combined the job into other supply positions. Marine Corps postal clerks ensure that U.S. postal laws are followed and that Marines’ mail flows quickly into and out of the civilian postal system.
The Air Force has airmen trained as standard HVAC technicians. The Marine Corps version is a little different with some Marines being trained in refrigeration and air conditioning while others handle heating systems. In either case, these service members are the ones called when the desert is too hot or the mountains are too cold.
22. Shower/Laundry and Clothing Repair Specialist (Army)
Like the HVAC technicians, these service members try to make deployed life just a little more comfortable. Soldiers in this job set up and operate deployed showers, laundry facilities, and repair damaged uniforms.
Weather specialists track weather patterns and advise commanders on how it will affect operations. These guys can get insanely exact, giving a near-exact time a dust storm will shut down an airfield or a typhoon will strike a carrier group. The Air Force has both conventional operations weather specialists and special operations weather team specialists.
A lot of popular music artists have attempted to capture the military experience over the years, but only a small percentage of them have gotten it right in the eyes of the community. Here are the 9 that did it best:
1. “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Of Company B,” The Andrews Sisters (1941)
A fast-living jazz musician from Chicago gets drafted and winds up in the heat of the action with Bravo Company. But his CO is a music fan who uses his power and influence to get the rest of the guy’s band drafted and assigned to the same unit. They all wind up hated by their fellow soldiers because they’re the ones who play reveille every morning, never mind whether or not it’s a hip version of it. As classic a military tale as there is.
2. “Billy, Don’t be a Hero,” Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods (1974)
A young patriot goes to war against his fiancees’ wishes and gets killed because he didn’t follow her sage guidance. And in the end she tears up the letter that documents his heroism because she feels like his service and sacrifice were a waste. This classic by these one-hit wonders may qualify as “bubblegum pop,” but its subject matter is super intense.
3. “Ballad of the Green Beret,” Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, U.S. Army (1966)
“Silver wings, upon his chest . . .” This song was written by author Robin Moore and SSgt. Sadler while Sadler was recovering from wounds he sustained while serving as a medic in Vietnam, a fact that kept him from getting grief from fellow soldiers for going on TV in full uniform and singing with kind of a high voice. “Ballad of the Green Beret” became a no. 1 hit — amazing considering how the American public was rapidly going south about the war in Vietnam and pro-military sentiments were already hard to find.
4. I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag, Country Joe McDonald (1968)
Country Joe was a counterculture crooner from the Bay Area who walked on stage at Woodstock after Richie Havens’ opening set basically to kill some time. He played two songs with little response from the massive crowd and walked off. He thought better of it and walked back on and did what was commonly known as “the FISH cheer” (that actually spells something else). The crowd came alive, so he launched into “Fixin’ to Die Rag,” a satire of the military-industrial complex and the impact of the war on suburbia, which was included in the “Woodstock” movie and, as a result, became a classic hit of the Vietnam era.
Perhaps John Fogarty’s best recorded vocal performance, “Fortunate Son” hit the airwaves at a time when the Vietnam-era draft was starting to feel like class warfare and the hypocrisy of the ruling elite was revealing itself. With a driving beat, a searing guitar riff, and Forgarty singing lyrics like “I ain’t no senator’s son, no no,” the song resonated with those doing their duty while their richer and better-placed peers didn’t. “Fortunate Son” made it to no. 3 on the charts.
6. “The Star Spangled Banner (live at Woodstock),” Jimi Hendrix (1969)
Jimi Hendrix was not that well known in America when he took the stage at Woodstock on the morning of August 18, 1969. It was a Monday morning and all but several thousand of the nearly 1 million attendees had left the festival. Hendrix, an Army vet, surprised the audience (and his band) by launching into his rendition of the National Anthem, a version that many conservatives at the time criticized as unpatriotic. But history has shown it to be perhaps the most accurate musical portrayal of the state of America at the time and, beyond that, a timeless reading of the chaos of war. In 2011, the editors of Guitar World placed his rendition at number one in their list of his 100 greatest performances.
7. “War Pigs,” Black Sabbath (1970)
With an ominous air raid siren opening and lyrics like “generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses,” this track from Sabbath’s classic second album “Paranoid” was heavy metal before anyone even knew there was such a thing. And in Ozzy’s shallow metaphor lives the sentiments of millions who have gone in harm’s way since man first took up arms.
8. “99 Luftballoons,” Nena (1983)
The oldest military story ever told: 99 balloons are mistaken for UFOs, causing a general to send pilots to investigate. Finding nothing but child’s balloons, the pilots decide to put on a show and shoot them down. The display of force worries the nations along the borders and the war ministers on each side bang the drums of conflict to grab power for themselves. In the end, a 99-year war results from the otherwise harmless flight of balloons, causing devastation on all sides without a victor. (Wikipedia)
9. “Bodies,” Drowning Pool (2001)
The song that launched thousands of patrols out of the FOBs and into the dirty streets of Iraq and Afghanistan. “Bodies” may not have been written with the military in mind, but it’s urgent beat and overall atmosphere of brutality worked for those who answered the call after 9-11, and they adopted it as their own. Also of note is that the song was used by interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in 2003, including over a 10-day period during the “questioning” of terror suspect Mohamedou Ould Slahi.
These are 11 things recruiters might tell you, (along with what they’re really saying):
1. You’ll travel to exotic places.
This may be true but your definition of “exotic location” may be different than a recruiter’s definition. The word “exotic” may evoke imagery of Hawaii, when the recruiter really means Afghanistan. Where you may travel also depends heavily on which branch of service you join and what job you get.
2. Don’t want to be in combat? There are plenty of non-combat jobs available.
Having a non-combat job does not mean you will not be deployed to a combat zone. It simply means your chances of seeing combat are much less.
3. You can go to college while on active duty.
This is technically true but it can often be very difficult completing classes due to deployments, training schedules, and your unit operational tempo.
4. You have a good ASVAB score so you’ll get a good job.
While having a good ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test score can qualify you for specific jobs, it does not actually guarantee you anything. Make sure you get it in writing.
5. You only serve for 4 years.
While your initial active duty enlistment contract can vary in years (3, 4, 6) it is important to know that your inactive service time can extend much further. For example, A typical 4 year active duty enlistment normally includes another 4 year inactive ready reserve obligation. What that means is, once you get out, there is a small chance that you can be pulled back in.
6. Your job is guaranteed.
The job you sign up for is one of the most critical decisions you make so it’s important you get it guaranteed in your contract. However, your job is only guaranteed if you make it through all your initial training successfully. Should you fail or get into disciplinary trouble, your job can change and it will be at your branch’s discretion, not yours.
Just because you have Navy SEAL on your contract doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to be one.
7. You will get a wish list of bases to get stationed at.
Chances are you will be able to send in a wish list of bases to be stationed at but it does not guarantee anything. In regards to this, you’ll likely hear “needs of the Marine Corps” or “needs of the Army” if you ask why you didn’t get what you wanted.
8. Your military school credits will transfer over to a college.
This can be true, but this often heavily depends on the job you choose and if the college you are attending is military-friendly and accepts those credits.
9. Your military job skills translate directly to civilian job skills.
The skills you learn as a mortarman, cook, and many others may not translate directly to a post service career, but chances are you learned many skills that will. Leadership, initiative, work ethic, responsibility, and team work are examples of general skills all military service members acquire. Fortunately, there are also careers that give military preference.
10. You can get bonus money.
Sure, the bonus money is great but it’s being offered for a reason. It’s possible the job may not be desirable or the contract length may be longer. Make sure you fully understand all that is required to receive it.
11. There’s a waiver for everything.
Getting a waiver for something that would otherwise disqualify you for military service is possible. However, the likelihood of you getting one is dependent on how bad the branch of service needs new recruits. Currently, it is getting much harder to join the military.
Create a bunch of cards that your S.O. can open throughout their tour. Include jokes and encouragement, and make sure to label the envelopes with dates to open them.
2. Downtime Activities
By The Mighty
For every moment of combat your loved one faces, they’ll have downtime as well. Make sure they’re never short on entertainment by sending their favorite card and board games, books, and movies.
3. A Journal
By The Mighty
The pen is mightier than the sword. Give your service member a journal to reflect on their experiences. This can also be passed on as a family keepsake.
4. Junk Food
By The Mighty
Sometimes the best cure for homesickness is good old-fashioned junk food. Salty or sweet, load up the service member in your life with their favorite guilty pleasures.
5. 52 Things I Love About You
By The Mighty
Use a deck of cards to show your love for your military spouse. From silly quirks to sweet anecdotes, remind your S.O. of the little things that make you miss them like crazy.
6. Home Videos
By The Mighty
Take videos of everything while your trooper’s away: baby’s first steps, family get-togethers, etc. Put these on a USB drive so they can watch these moments, big or small, as if they were there.
7. Mess Hall Survival Package
By The Mighty
Military food can get old fast, but you can help! Spice up your serviceperson’s meals by sending some of their favorite condiments in restaurant sized packets.
8. Digital Picture Frame
By The Mighty
This gift can help your service member enjoy pieces of home without worrying about damaging photos! Digital picture frames hold multiple photos on a small hard drive, and shuffle them on a digital screen.
9. Latitude Necklace
By The Mighty
Give your loved one a piece of home wherever they go by engraving your house’s coordinates on a necklace. Get one for yourself with their location too, and keep each other close despite the distance.
10. Matching Bracelets
By The Mighty
A simpler spin on the necklace idea is a classic friendship bracelet to remind your trooper he or she is loved.
11. Snuggle Buddy
By The Mighty
Spray some of your perfume/cologne on your S.O.’s favorite sweatshirt, blanket or pillow. This way when your service member snuggles up for the night, he or she can ward off homesickness with a familiar smell.
12. Helping Hands
By The Mighty
It doesn’t get cuter than this! Kids can trace their hands on paper, cut them out, laminate them and then send them to Mom or Dad. Parents can carry the hands in their pockets while on tour.
13. Nostalgia To-Go
By The Mighty
Nothing beats the taste of home cooking. And while you can’t send your soldier a full meal, you CAN bake their favorite sweet treat in a jar for easy travel and eating!
14. Footprint Stamps
By The Mighty
Another great idea for military couples with kids – if you have a baby, put their hand/footprint on each envelope or box you mail your loved one. This way, they can watch their baby grow from afar.
15. Holiday in a Box
By The Mighty
Holidays away from home can be incredibly hard on our troops, but you can share the magic of the season by stuffing a package full of your service member’s favorite holiday music, snacks, mementos and more.
Sometimes you just feel a little under the weather and are looking for that extra day off. Everyone experiences it and you’re no different. But hey, take if from a “doc” who’s heard every excuse in the book. Here are some surefire ways to get yourself that 24-hour “Sick in Quarters” chit that says “no duty for me, and I’m going home.”
Here’s a few ways you can get sent home as sick in quarters — on your own terms.
1. Food Poisoning
Sounds bad right? Because it is bad.
Telling the medical personnel you ate sushi the night before (even if you didn’t) and you’ve been vomiting ever since is gold. Don’t forget to tell them you’re unable to hold down water.
They may conduct a “water challenge” which is when they monitor you to see if you can hold down a glass of water. They won’t tell you what they’re doing because they’re camouflaging the test. Spit it up onto the floor, or into a trash can, never in he sink. You want them to see the evidence.
Since there’s no real medical test for this, it’ll probably get labeled in your medical record as a case of gastroenteritis, which is a fancy word for stomach ache.
2. More Than 5 Days
Five days is typically the baseline where doctors believe your aliments may be bacteriological instead of viral — even without a fever. This is a huge tally in your win column. Once the medical professionals begin talking about giving you antibiotics, which they rarely do, hold the smile back when they put you on a five day Z-pak instead of a cold pack.
Letting you go back on duty and risk getting others sick makes more work for them. So away you go!
3. A History of…
Doctors have to be detectives ruling out the worst possible medical condition first, but they only know what you tell them.
Be careful of what you say and how you say it, you could be looking at a full day in medical getting blood work and x-rays. Your chances of going home early could be over.
4. Cough During Auscultation
Auscultation is the act of listening to sounds your heart, lungs, and other organs make using a stethoscope to diagnosis pulmonary and cardiac conditions. Here’s a common trick. Deliver a nice wet cough when the doctor puts the diaphragm of the stethoscope on your back and tells you to take a breath deep in. Timing is key. Deep breathes tend to trigger coughing.
Also note that you should dramatically clear your throat when left alone in the patient’s room. The medical staff can totally hear you from outside.
5. Have A Battle Buddy
You’re feeling so ill you can’t make it to medical alone. That’s a shame. Having a witness to testify on your behalf how sick you are is an incredible asset to have. Just remember, you now own him or her big time.
6. No partying for you
Now that you’ve got your SIQ chit. Get out of there and go home before the doc changes his mind.
Some quick words of advice. People are haters, and the military community is small. You get caught at the bar, mall, or strip club on your newly earned day off, you could be in a world of hurt as your new assigned place of duty is now where ever you call home.