9 awesome war novels everyone should read - We Are The Mighty
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9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Every military professional has his or her favorite war novel and picking the “greatest” is a tall order. But that’s what we do here at WATM. These are our picks for the greatest war novels ever written:


9 awesome war novels everyone should read

1. Catch 22

Written from several third person points of view with a circular dynamic centered around the paradox that is Catch-22, this Joseph Heller classic was in many ways years ahead of its time in that the wider audience didn’t relate to his reading of the military until well into the Vietnam War years. Beyond the biting satire and staccato pacing Catch-22 captures the personalities that populate the military to this day: inept commanders, opportunistic junior officers, and enlisted men staying sane by not taking anything around them too seriously. This is a must-read before every major deployment.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

2. The Things They Carried

Tim O’ Brien’s Vietnam-era literary masterpiece is brimming with pathos. The novel’s strength isn’t necessarily in how it deals with war straight-on, but it lies in O’Brien’s atmospherics and states of mind and the resultant permanent scars of an ill-defined conflict carried out by a nation riven by it.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

3. Mr. Midshipmen Hornblower

Most people think of Patrick ‘O Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series as the definitive historical fiction works around the heyday of warfighting sailing ships, but Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, the first book in C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series, skips getting bogged down in technical detail and instead offers timeless lessons in military leadership at sea and amazing perspective around what 17-year olds had to tackle responsibility-wise in the fledgling American Navy.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

4. The Hunters

James Salter’s poetic prose elevates this Korean War-era story about Air Force pilots to timeless art as well as a definitive reading of those drawn to that particular warfare specialty.  The Hunters has it all: a burned out CO, a confused chain of command, cocky junior officers, and significant others complaining about being ignored for the glory of air combat.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

5. The Hunt for Red October

Tom Clancy was an insurance salesman who couldn’t interest anyone in his manuscript until the Naval Institute Press – a publisher that had never done fiction – decided to take a chance based on the story’s level of technical detail that bordered on classified. The book’s sales were relatively flat until President Ronald Reagan was seen carrying a copy, and from that point The Hunt for Red October became the title that launched a thousand technothrillers as well as Clancy’s prolific and lucrative career.

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

6. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Author Ben Fountain paints an all-too-accurate portrait of what “support the troops” has come to mean a decade and a half after 9-11. “Halftime Walk” is set at the Dallas Cowboys stadium where an Army unit is feted by the team’s owner and his circle of Texas fat cats who demonstrate the distance between the American population and those sent to do their fighting.  More than a novel about war, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a national indictment.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

7. All Quiet on the Western Front

Remarque’s groundbreaking World War I novel was among the first to dispel any laudable mystique surrounding war through its detail about trench warfare and mustard gas attacks and the portrayal of the protagonist’s decent from idealistic recruit to member of a generation forever scarred by “The Long War.” Paul Baumer’s heartbreak is that of the hundreds of thousands of service members who followed him into battle in the decades after his war ended, many of whom certainly read the book but went anyway.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

8. Redeployment

An instant classic. Phil Klay’s much heralded debut novel about the Iraq War is worthy of the praise heaped upon it. Redeployment is at once timely and timeless in capturing the nuance of the emotions and states of mind of Marines at war and back home between tours. To get to what’s honorable about service you have to face the realities of an unclear mission without end and what accepting them does to those involved. In this effort Klay emerges as the de facto spokesman for the post-9/11 cohort of warfighters.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

9. Slaughterhouse Five

Kurt Vonnegut’s best-known novel if not his masterwork, Slaughterhouse Five builds off of the author’s real-life experiences as an eyewitness to the aftermath of the Dresden firebombing during World War II and adds a time-traveling protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, to create a book that deftly illustrates the pointlessness and futility of war. (Also recommended by Vonnegut: Mother Night.)

Now: 5 Sports Stars Who Saw Heavy Combat In The US Military

Articles

The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing in Tucson fly over an eastern Arizona training range. The 162nd Wing conducts international F-16 pilot training and manages a fleet of more than 70 F-16 C/D and Mid-Life Update Fighting Falcons

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen/USAF

Combat controllers from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron fast-rope from a CV-22 Osprey during Emerald Warrior near Hurlburt Field, Fla.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder/USAF

C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 317th Airlift Group, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, help U.S. Army and British paratroopers perform a static line jump at Holland Drop Zone in preparation for Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 at Fort Bragg, N.C.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Staff Sgt. Sean Martin/USAF

NAVY

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Marcus Jones, from Anderson, S.C., directs a helicopter during flight operations aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58).

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Desmond Parks/USN

A shooter launches an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Thunderbolts of Marine Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Josh Petrosino/USN

ARMY

A crew chief watches another CH-47F Chinook helicopter from 1st Battalion, 52d Aviation Regiment fly along the crevasses of Kahiltna Glacier April 27, 2015, on the way to the 7,000-foot high base camp on Mount McKinley.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: John Pennell/US Army

Soldiers, rappel from a Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, during the air assault course at Fort Bliss, Texas, April 21, 2015. The training is one of the final tests for students enrolled in course.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Sgt. Alexander K. Neely/US Army

MARINE CORPS

Senior Airman Nicholas Oswald, a loadmaster, 374th Operations Support Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, sits with Philippine air force aircrew members during a night flight.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Staff Sgt. Nathan Allen/USMC

Marines and U.S. Navy Sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and amphibious assault ship USS Wasp man the rails of the Wasp as it travels up the Mississippi River for Navy Week 2015 April 23, 2015. Marines and Sailors of the MEU, from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., participated in Navy Week New Orleans April 23-29.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Sgt. Austin Hazard/USMC

COAST GUARD

Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Alabama.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: USCG

As many Americans prepare for bed, Coast Guard men and women stand the watch.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: USCG

NOW: 13 lessons every new sailor learns the hard way

AND: 5 brilliant military hacks that are useless everywhere else

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Lists

The 10 greatest military operation names

7 Days in Entebbe (now in theaters) tells the story of Operation Thunderbolt, the daring 1976 rescue of 94 Israeli passengers and 12 crew members from an Air France grounded in Uganda after a hijacking by German PLO sympathizers. Inspired by the movie, we’ve got a list of the ten greatest operation names in military history.


The Entebbe raid was an enormous story back in 1976, so big that it wasn’t totally overshadowed by the fact that the raid took place on the American Bicentennial on July 4, 1976. The popular fascination with the successful raid inspired two better-than-average, all-star TV movies that fall: Victory at Entebbe (starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Dreyfuss, Kirk Douglas, Helen Hayes, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Hopkins, and Linda Blair) and Raid on Entebbe (starring Charles Bronson, Peter Finch, Jack Warden, James Woods, Sylvia Sidney, and Martin Balsam. Plus Irvin Kershner of The Empire Strikes Back directed).

Also read: The 10 best military movies in the last 10 years

It’s forty years later, so it’s probably time to revisit one of the greatest military successes of the 20th century. Directed José Padhila (Narcos and the excellent Robocop reboot) and written by Gregory Burke (’71), the new movie tries to explore the motivations of the Palestinians and gives them more sympathy than the German terrorists but ultimately comes down firmly on the side of the Israelis and their rescue mission.

 

 

Thunderbolt was one of the greats, both in name and execution. Here are ten military operations with indelibly memorable names.

1. Operation Overlord

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
American troops, part of the U.S. 1ID, leaving a Higgins Boat on Omaha Beach.

The Allied invasion of France on D-Day may have been the best-kept secret in military history right up until landing on June 6, 1944. The outcome of the war in Europe was essentially settled that day, even though fighting with Germany carried on into 1945.

Overlord sounds like the Bringer of Doom from a medieval fantasy epic or sci-fi video game. Ultimate success must have seemed inevitable from the moment someone came up with the name.

2. Operation Rolling Thunder

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
North Vietnam: Rolling Thunder (Photo from National Museum of the USAF)

Rolling Thunder was the 1967-68 bombing campaign of North Vietnam that American generals were sure would break the will of the enemy and lead to victory in the war. It did massive damage but, as history later revealed, the United States underestimated the commitment of the Vietnamese people to unified self-government and overestimated their commitment to Communism.

That doesn’t make Rolling Thunder any less of a fantastic name. It perfectly evokes the waves of destruction wrought by the bombing campaign. Plus, it later inspired the name of a powerful Vietnam vet B-movie starring William Devane and that movie, in turn, inspired the name of Quentin Tarantino’s movie production company.

Related: 6 of the most disappointing military movies of all time

3. Operation Red Dawn

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
The Ace in the Hole: Saddam Hussein is found hiding in a small hole in the ground on December 13, 2003

Red Dawn was the mission to capture Saddam Hussein after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. American forces finally tracked him down in a spider hole in December and, unlike Osama bin Laden, he hadn’t spent his last days of freedom living in relative luxury.

What lands Red Dawn on this list is the fact that it’s named after the 1984 film that’s one of the greatest pro-America movies ever made. Faced with a Soviet invasion, a group of regular teenagers forms at guerrilla force that takes on the oppressors and fights to regain American freedom. Most of them already knew how to hunt and they even taught the girls how to shoot at the Soviets.

4. Operation Vittles

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Berlin Airlift 1948.

World War III might have started in 1948 after the Soviet Union blockaded access to the western sectors of Berlin. Faced with starving citizens, President Truman authorized the airlift of live-saving food supplies for nearly a year before the Soviets relented and allowed normal access.

Most military bureaucrats would’ve come up with a boring name like “Operation Food Basket” or “Operation Dinner Table.” A Brit might have come up with “Operation Victuals.” We all know it was a red-blooded American who had the sense to call it “Vittles.”

5. Operation Urgent Fury

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
M102 howitzers during Operation Urgent Fury.

Was it totally necessary in 1983 for U.S. forces to invade a tiny (population: 91,000) Caribbean nation that was flirting with Communism? Were they a falling domino that would set off a flood of pro-Soviet regimes in the American sphere of influence? It was over in a week with 19 U.S. killed and 116 wounded.

The name, on the other hand, was one of the best. “Operation Urgent Fury” sounds like the title of a movie that would pair Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme as grizzled special ops leaders who join forces to put down the Sandinistas once and for all.

6. Operation Desert Storm

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
During Operation Desert Storm, American soldiers wave to the camera from a truck as their convoy moves into Iraq. (Photo by DOD)

Back in 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and President George H.W. Bush sent American troops to the Middle East in hopes that Saddam would back down. He didn’t and American forces launched a 6-week war to retake Kuwait and cripple Iraq. It was fast and won widespread homefront support, partially because of the excellent live 24-hour television coverage from the fledgling news network, CNN.

A Desert Storm is created by wind and sand. It’s sudden, ruthless, and incredibly disorienting. Not to take away from the men and women who have fought the War on Terror, but “Operation Iraqi Freedom” doesn’t have the same unforgettable fury as a Desert Storm.

More: 4 reasons why it’s impossible to make movies about the military

7. Operation Wrath of God

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
PLO terrorist on a balcony in the Olympic Village, Munich 1972.

Palestinian terrorists from Black September and the PLO attacked the athletes’ village at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games, taking the Israeli team hostage and eventually massacring 11 athletes and coaches. The horrific result of the standoff could have been at least partially behind the risky decision to attempt the risky Entebbe operation four years later.

Over the next 16 years, Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency conducted a covert operation to retaliate against the terrorists responsible for the massacre and several of their most important supporters. Since it was covert, the exact number of retaliation killings is unclear. Steven Spielberg dramatized the operation in his underrated 2005 film, Munich.

Does the name really need any explanation? Israeli Jews worship an Old Testament God, one who’s known for his spells of anger and vengeance. The Mossad brought down the wrath on what Israelis justified as a mission from God. Black September didn’t have a chance.

8. Operation Barbarossa

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
German troops crossing the Soviet Frontier June 1941 as part of the largest invasion force ever.

In June 1941, German military leaders were looking forward to crushing Stalin as they invaded the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa. They would take the western lands of the USSR and put the people and natural resources to work expanding the Nazi war machine. Short version: Hitler underestimated this foe and the invasion was a huge misstep that led directly to Germany’s defeat in World War II.

How did a German military operation get an Italian name? Barbarossa is Italian for “Red Beard.” Frederick I was a king of Germany who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1155. A great military leader and charismatic ruler, Frederick died in Asia Minor while leading the Third Crusade. Which, come to think of it, foreshadows the practical end of Germany’s attempt to rule Europe after their defeat at Stalingrad.

9. Operation Magic Carpet

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
DC-4 of Near East Air Transport on Airlift of Habbanim Jews from the South Arabian Peninsula, Operation Magic Carpet.

A 1949-1950 secret airlift brought almost 50,000 Yeminite Jews from Aden to the new state of Israel. Like most things connected to the nation of Israel, the mission attracted controversy, most notably from Israeli officials who focused on the number of Jews left behind by British and American rescuers.

Still, Operation Magic Carpet is the best possible name for an operation aimed at flying refugees to safety across the Arabian deserts.

Further reading: 4 military movies whose hero should be dead

10. Operation Dynamo

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
British expeditionary troops arriving home from Dunkirk, somewhere near the English coast, June 6, 1940.

2017 was the year of Operation Dynamo at the movies, with both Dunkirk and Darkest Hour winning multiple Oscars. Dynamo was the hastily-conceived plan to evacuate British troops from French beaches after the German invasion of France in May 1940. Over 338,000 troops were rescued, a miracle that allowed Great Britain to regroup and eventually win the war in concert with its Allies.

The movie Darkest Hour suggests that the name was given to the operation in haste after Churchill demanded that the rescue begin and telling his commanding officer that it needed a name. The officer glances up and sees a physical dynamo with a metal badge that says “Dynamo” and the movie cuts to the next scene without further comment. Sometimes, the best names are the ones you don’t think too hard about.

Lists

5 videos that show how the F-22 Raptor is an awesome dogfighting machine

The F-22 is a maneuverable fighter. Here are some videos of the Raptor demonstrating what it can do:


1. Near-vertical climb immediately after a ridiculously short takeoff

The F-22 show starts as soon as the jet leaves the ground. Following a short takeoff the airplane goes straight into the vertical.

BONUS: Flashing the crowd

It’s not an advanced maneuver, but the F-22 generally uses it’s first or second pass along the show line to “flash” the crowd, opening its weapon bay doors to let the crowd see where the missiles and bombs are carried.

2. J-Turn (Herbst maneuver)

The J-Turn is a way of slowing down fast by putting the jet into a controlled stall. The maneuver requires vectored thrust for the pilot to control the pitch of the plane after it stalls. A NASA graphic explains the maneuver step-by-step.

3. Mongo flip

The mongo flip is basically a glorified backflip. Air show aficionados may notice it’s similarity to a “Kulbit maneuver.” The Kulbit is basically the same except the Kulbit is using inertia, gravity, and the flow of air to tumble the plane while the Mongo is a flip controlled by vectored thrust from the F-22s engines. The Mongo Flip is tighter than the Kulbit due to this extra control. If you can’t tell exactly what’s going on in the mongo flip, check out this newspaper graphic that illustrates the mongo flip and the cobra, shown below.

4. Cobra maneuver

The Cobra Maneuver is a classic air combat move made even more effective by the Raptor’s vectored thrust. A pilot being pursued would draw the enemy in close, execute the Cobra and spit the bandit out in front of him, kind of like Maverick’s move in ‘Top Gun’. The F-22 is capable of executing the maneuver to 140 degrees, nearly laying on its back, but always in control courtesy of vectored thrust.

5. Here’s the full show . . .

This video shows a full demonstration of the F-22, showing how demo pilot puts everything together.

Read more: 5 differences between Navy and Air Force fighter pilots

Lists

5 ways for spouses to survive a duty station they hate

As your time is nearing an end at your current duty station and your rotation date is approaching, you are probably getting extremely anxious waiting to hear where your next assignment might be.

You want to prepare, maybe even start packing, but you don’t even know what to save for immediate use at your next duty station or what to let the movers pack.


Friends and family ask you every day if you know where you are going.

How do you answer their questions when you, yourself, have a million questions running through your mind?

“Will it be hot or cold where I’m going next?”

“What will the housing be like? Is there space on base or will I be looking for a home in town?”

“How am I supposed to enroll my kid in school if I don’t even know where I’m going?”

“We are supposed to have our PCS Move in a couple of months and have not heard anything. We are still PCSing, RIGHT?!”

Your neighbors and peers are getting assignments left and right. Every time you hear of a new assignment drop, you can’t help but judge their next base.Regardless if it’s a dream location or one that you would like to avoid, there is a sense of jealousy for the fact that they at least KNOW where they’re going.

That’s when it happens. You get the phone call, email, tap on the shoulder, whatever it is, that you have been (im)patiently waiting for.

“Congratulations! Your next assignment is ___________.” Is this a joke? There’s actually a military installation there?

I’ve only ever heard it referred to as the location that you spend your whole career trying to avoid. I’ve heard others even console themselves after receiving a less-than-ideal assignment by saying, “well at least it’s not ___________.”

What do you do in this situation?

I’ll tell you what you do.

You hold your head high and hope for the best. Chances are, you only have a split second to figure out your emotions before people start looking for your reaction.

And guess what? Your reaction to this news is what sets the stage for the rest of your move.

So how do you stay positive when you’ve only ever heard negative things about this duty station?

1. Forget Your Past Wants

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Everyone puts together a “dream sheet” of assignments, whether actually written down on paper or just in your head. You imagine all of the amazing places the military could send you.

It’s time to let go of all of that.

Your past wishes and desires for assignments don’t matter anymore (at least not right now). Turn your new assignment into your first choice and make yourself believe that it’s what you have wanted all along.

Our very first assignment drop was a public event. My husband stood in front of a room full of people as he was told where he would be going next, while I sat in the audience.

We were waiting to hear whether we would be living on the East Coast or West Coast. When my husband was told that we would be moving across the globe to a remote island, my world was rocked.

Everyone around me immediately turned to see my reaction, mouths wide open. Someone asked, “Is that what you wanted?” I was numb and don’t even know how I managed to get any words out, but I responded, “It is now.”

I have tried my best to keep this mentality EVERY time we move. I try to get excited for any assignment and research everything I can about our new “home.” It’s not always easy, especially when you are leaving a fantastic place for the unknown, but it sure makes moving a lot easier when you’re looking forward to the place you’re going.

2. Go Straight to the Source

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Most of what you have probably heard about this new location is hearsay. You’re likely hearing rumors from people that have NEVER been there before. Before you get all riled up, try speaking to people that have been there recently, or better yet, are currently there.

One of the best resources I have found for gathering intel on a new duty station has been social media. Simply type your new duty station into the search bar of Facebook and you will probably find a number of informational pages.

Join the local classifieds pages, spouse pages and activity pages. Here you will be able to ask any questions you might have and receive up-to-date answers.

3. Debunk the Rumors

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Each duty station has a number of rumors associated with it, whether good or bad. Try to figure out why your new assignment has a bad rap and focus on the positives. Here is an example for our current assignment:

“There is nothing to do.”

“Think about all of the family time we will have. We can go camping, hiking, horseback riding, check out local farms and attend rodeos.”

There will always be something to do and places to explore, but you have to actively search for them.

“It’s in the middle of nowhere.”

“We can do road trips on the weekend and see parts of the country we’ve never seen before.”

Attempt to find the silver lining to each of the negative statements. Maybe even make it a challenge to dispel each of the rumors during your time at your new location.

4. It’s Only Temporary

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Do you remember how quickly your last assignment flew by?

Be prepared for that to happen again.

Three years (plus or minus) is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. Make the most of your assignment and get to know a new part of the country (or world!) in the short time that you are there.Make a point to visit that local landmark, attend the parade downtown, see the state park and just go for a drive.

Immerse yourself in the local culture and get to know your new home. If you’re not careful, it might be time to move again before you even got to know this new town.

5. Remember that Attitude Is a Choice

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

You, and only you, can decide how you feel about something. You can make the choice to be excited about a new assignment, or you can choose to dread every minute of it.

Don’t be tempted by those around you trying to bring you down.

When you tell people where you are going next, you might hear, “I’m sorry” or, “Maybe you’ll get a good assignment next time.”

They might be trying to be sympathetic, but in a sense they are peer pressuring you into feeling lousy about your assignment.

You still have a choice. You can still choose to look forward to your move. You can still choose to stay positive.

Finally, appreciate the fact that you have been given the opportunity to experience a place that you most likely would not have lived had it not been for the military.

I am often told by civilians that I am “so lucky” to move every three years and travel the world. Even though PCSing most definitely has its ups and its downs, I do try to remind myself that we REALLY ARE lucky.

I have made friends all over the world.

Ihave artifacts from each of our assignments proudly displayed in our home.

I have lived in the Deep South, the West Coast, a foreign country and the Great Plains.

I have a greater understanding and appreciation for new people that I meet.

The military has provided me with wonderful opportunities to try new places and has really shaped me as a person. I am more resilient, more patient and more curious than before.I have to remember that each assignment, no matter where it is, is simply adding to my life experience.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Lists

4 of the most famous deserters in US military history

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl now faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and if he’s found guilty, he’ll join a list of U.S. military deserters throughout history that includes famous names such as Steve McQueen and Mark Twain.


We looked back and found some of the more infamous cases of soldiers deserting or going AWOL from their military service. Here’s what we found.

1. Mark Twain

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Mark Twain

Before his writing career took off under his pen name of “Mark Twain,” Samuel Clemens was training as an apprentice steamboat pilot in New Orleans in the late 1850s. According to the Hannibal Courier-Post, he received his pilot’s license in 1859, but his career was cut short after the outbreak of Civil War shut down traffic on the Mississippi River.

From History.com:

The Civil War severely curtailed river traffic, and, fearing that he might be impressed as a Union gunboat pilot, Clemens brought his years on the river to a halt a mere two years after he had acquired his license. He returned to Hannibal, where he joined the prosecessionist Marion Rangers, a ragtag lot of about a dozen men. After only two uneventful weeks, during which the soldiers mostly retreated from Union troops rumoured to be in the vicinity, the group disbanded. A few of the men joined other Confederate units, and the rest, along with Clemens, scattered. Twain would recall this experience, a bit fuzzily and with some fictional embellishments, in The Private History of the Campaign That Failed (1885). In that memoir he extenuated his history as a deserter on the grounds that he was not made for soldiering.

2. Steve McQueen

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Steve McQueen

The actor who became known as “The King of Cool” had a rocky time while serving in the Marine Corps. Having joined the Marines in 1947, McQueen was promoted to Private First Class and was demoted back to private seven times, according to AllDay.com. Yes, SEVEN.

It gets better, via Military.com:

His rebellious nature came to a head when he let a weekend pass turn into a two week tryst with his girlfriend. Shore patrol apprehended him, but he resisted and spent 41 days in the brig; the first 21 were spent living off of bread and water.

3. Gen. George Custer

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Custer after the Civil War.

Before his famous “Last Stand” at the Battle of Little Big Horn, George Custer was court-martialed for abandoning his post to go and see his wife. After taking over the newly-formed 7th Cavalry, Custer led an expedition against the Sioux and Cheyenne indians in 1867.

But he took a slight detour and left his regiment to see his wife Libbie back at Fort Riley, according to History.com. He was court-martialed and convicted on eight counts, including absence without leave (AWOL), and was suspended from duty for one year without pay.  Ironically, his court-martial also included testimony that Custer ordered deserters to be shot without trial, according to the Kansas Historical Society.

4. Private Eddie Slovik

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

A World War II draftee, Eddie Slovik was sent to France to serve with the 28th Infantry in Aug. 1944. As combat replacements, Slovik and a companion become lost while trying to join the unit at the front lines and they ended up joining a Canadian unit that took them in, according to History.com.

History.com has more:

Slovik stayed on with the Canadians until October 5, when they turned him and his buddy over to the American military police, who reunited them with the 28th Division, now in Elsenborn, Belgium. No charges were brought; replacements getting lost early on in their tours of duty were not unusual. But exactly one day after Slovik returned to his unit, he claimed he was “too scared and too nervous” to be a rifleman and threatened to run away if forced into combat. His admission was ignored-and Slovik took off. One day after that he returned, and Slovik signed a confession of desertion, claiming he would run away again if forced to fight, and submitted it to an officer of the 28th. The officer advised Slovik to take the confession back, as the consequences would be serious. Slovik refused, and he was confined to the stockade.

Slovik admitted in his confession that he was so scared at times that he “couldn’t move.” He wrote: “I said that if I had to go out their again I’d run away. He said their was nothing he could do for me so I ran away again AND ILL RUN AWAY AGAIN IF I HAVE TO GO OUT THEIR [sic].”

His trial lasted less than two hours, and he was sentenced to death by firing squad. His sentence was carried out on Jan. 31, 1945, Business Insider reported.

Before he was killed, Slovik said (according to The Spectator):

“They’re not shooting me for deserting; thousands of guys have done that. They just need to make an example out of somebody and I’m it … I used to steal things when I was a kid, and that’s what they’re shooting me for. They’re shooting me for the bread and chewing gum I stole when I was 12 years old.”

Articles

These are the 11 biological weapons the Soviets wanted to use on the US

World War II and the Cold War brought out the worst in everyone. So it should be a surprise to no one to find out the Soviet Union developed biological warfare agents almost as soon as the dust from the October Revolution settled.


Despite being a signatory to the Geneva Convention of 1925 – which outlawed chemical and biological weapons – and the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, the Soviets had dozens of sites to develop eleven agents for use on any potential enemy.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Guess who.

The Russian Bioweapons program would be the most capable, deadliest program in the world. It was complete with viruses and pathogens that were genetically-altered and antibiotic resistant, with sophisticated delivery systems.

When the Soviet Union fell, the scientists at these facilities lost their jobs and their work became vulnerable to theft, sale, and misuse. Enjoy this list!

Category A Agents

Category A agents are easily weaponized, extremely virulent, hard to fight and contain, and/or have high mortality rates. They have the added bonus of being an agent that would cause a panic among the enemy population.

1. Anthrax

For most of us post-9/11 veterans, Anthrax was the one that could have been all too real. In the days following 9/11, letters containing Anthrax spores were sent to members of Congress and the media. Subsequently, troops deploying overseas to countries like Afghanistan and Iraq were given a course of Anthrax vaccines.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Thanks, assholes.

Anthrax can present in four ways: skin, inhalation, injection, and intestinal. All are caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria. Before antibiotics, Anthrax killed hundreds of thousands of people, but now there are only 2,000 or so worldwide cases a year.

The mortality rate is anywhere from 24 to 80 percent, depending on which type you get.

2. Plague

Ah, plague. The biblical weapon. This one makes a little bit of sense. Since the Soviet Union would most likely go to war with Western Europe, the best weapon to use would be something that regularly wiped out more Europeans than the Catholic Church.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
There was a time when everyone expected the Spanish Inquisition.

Plague works fast, incubating in two to six days, with a sudden headache and chills at the end of the incubation period. Gangrene and buboes (swollen lymph nodes in the armpit and groin) are the best indicator of plague.

There are other symptoms too, but after two weeks, it won’t matter. Because you’ll be dead.

3. Tularemia

Never hear of Tularemia? Good for you. Tularemia is one of the many reasons you shouldn’t touch dead animals. It’s a nasty bug that can survive for long periods outside of a host.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Like any Kardashian not named Kim.

Tularemia can enter the body through lungs, skin, or eyes. It can present as a skin ulcer, but the most dangerous form is when it’s inhaled. Pneumoic tularemia will quickly spread into the bloodstream, killing 30-60 percent of those infected.

4. Botulism

This is deadly neurotoxin, the deadliest substance known. It was used as a biological agent by Japan in WWII and was subsequently produced by almost every biological warfare program – for a good reason. Botulism is easy to produce and presents in 12-36 hours once in the body.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
This is why you don’t eat food from bulging cans.

In an aerosol infection (like a bioweapon attack), even detecting botulism could be difficult. Treatment is mainly supportive, there is little that can be done once symptoms start to present. The only known antitoxin even produces anaphylaxis, which means it can only be administered in a hospital setting.

5. Smallpox

Smallpox is the disease that won the new world for the Europeans, more than guns, horses, or booze. It killed off 90 percent of the indigenous population of the Americas, whose immune systems were unprepared for it.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

The World Health Organization announced the eradication of Smallpox in 1980. The smallpox vaccine was developed in 1796 and after the eradication of the disease, widespread vaccinations were halted. This gave the Soviets the idea to rigorously pursue it as a weapon.

6. Marburg Virus

The Marburg Virus is a hemorrhagic fever, in the same family as the Ebola virus, the deadliest of hemorrhagic viruses. In an unprepared population, the mortality rate can be as high as 90-100 percent. So if you’re unfamiliar with Marburg Virus, imagine someone making Ebola airborne and killing you with it.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Just let me choose how I die, please.

While an experimental vaccine and treatment for Marburg Virus has been developed and shows promise, it’s still untested on humans. So why did the Soviets design a type of virus that could be loaded into an ICBM warhead and kill people in days?

Because they’re assholes.

Category B Agents

Category B agents are also easy to transmit and/or virulent among a population, but is less likely to kill or cause panic. Still, they should be taken seriously. Some, like Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis can have lasting effects.

7. Glanders

Glanders can enter the body through the skin and eyes, but also via the nose and lungs. The symptoms are similar to the flu or common cold, but once it’s in the bloodstream, it can be fatal within seven to ten days.

I’m not going to include a photo, because it’s really gross to look at.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Stupid Glanders.

The bacteria is at the top of the list for potential bioterrorism agents and was even believed to be intentionally spread to the Russian Army by the Germans in WWI. The Russians allegedly used it in Afghanistan during their ten-year occupation.

8. Brucellosis

This is usually caused by drinking raw milk or imbibing other raw dairy products. If an animal has brucellosis, they’re transmitting it to you. It’s also an inhalation hazard that can affect hunters dressing wild game. Symptoms are flu-like when inhaled and soon inflame the organs, especially the liver and spleen. Symptoms can last anywhere from a matter of weeks to years.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
First Vietnam, now Brucellosis.

Brucellosis was once called both “Bang’s Disease” and “Malta Fever.” It has been weaponized since the 50s, with a lethality estimate of one to two percent. Just kill me with fire if I have the flu for two years.

9. Q-fever

Like most of the agents on the list, Q-fever is also spread via inhalation or contacts with infected domestic animals – unless the Russians bombed your town with it. The agent can survive for up to 60 days on some surfaces.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
No, Q-Bert didn’t die from Q Fever. Don’t be silly. It was cancer.

When the American Biological Weapons arsenal was destroyed in the early 1970s, the U.S. had just under 5,100 gallons of Q-fever.

10. Viral Encephalitis

The worst part about this agent is that there is no effective drug treatment for it, and that any treatment is merely supportive – meaning that there is no way to treat the cause of the disease, only to manage the symptoms.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Pictured: how your body determines your response to Encephalitis.

The incubation period is fast, one to six days, and causes flu-like symptoms. It can incapacitate the infected for up to two weeks and cause swelling of the brain. Up to 30 percent of infected persons have permanent neurological conditions, like seizures and paralysis.

11. Staphylococcal Enterotoxin

Staph infections are pretty common but as a biological agent, it’s stable to store and weaponize as an aerosol agent. At low doses, it can incapacitate and it can kill at higher doses. The biggest concern is that a mass infection of a population is extremely difficult to treat effectively.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
There’s at least one surefire treatment.

This agent can infect food and water but is deadliest when inhaled. High doses of inhaled Staph can lead to shock and multi-organ failure. Symptoms of any dosage appear within 1-8 hours.

Category C Agents

Category C consists mostly of potential agents, but the Soviet program didn’t use any of the C category as we know it today. This category includes virulent but untested (for biowarfare) agents like SARS, Rabies, or Yellow Fever.

Lists

These 7 tiny details changed the outcomes of wars

Sometimes the smallest thing can mean the difference between nations emerging triumphant or collapsing in defeat. Here are 7 moments from military history where the outcomes hinged on a minor detail:


1. A colonel didn’t read a note, and his men were slaughtered by Washington

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Public Domain

Col. Johann Rall was the commander of Hessian soldiers in Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas Day in 1776. Rall was partying with his officers when someone handed him a note that he shoved in his pocket without reading it. A few hours later, he and his men were effectively wiped out by Patriots fighting under Gen. George Washington.

The note Rall warning him of the attack was found in his pocket after he was killed. If he had read and believed it, the Hessians could have conducted an ambush on Washington’s attacking forces, possibly ending the war. Instead, it was a huge Patriot victory that helped led to America being a thing.

2. A weather report and a birthday party changed World War II

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
The Seabees land at Omaha Beach on D-Day. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Nazi and Allied planners had forecasted potential dates for a summer invasion based on tides, phases of the moon, and weather trends. The best window for the Allies was June 4 to June 6, 1944. June 4 started with clear skies but Allied meteorologists believed it would turn nasty, which was true.

Allied Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower postponed the invasion, and Nazi commanders left their coastal defenses for war games. German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel even left for home to celebrate his wife’s birthday. But the Allies had more Atlantic weather stations and found a lull in the bad weather that the Nazis didn’t know about. The invasion was launched into rough seas and winds Jun. 6, but the weather cleared early in the day.

The Allied invasion was a success partially because a single meteorologist believed the weather would clear. Hitler slept in, Rommel went to the birthday party, and other senior leaders played war games because none of them knew the weather had broken and the invasion was underway.

3. World War I began because of bad driving directions

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
The Archduke and Archduchess before they were killed. Their assassination kicked off World War I. (Photo: Public Domain by Henry Guttman)

Conspirators attempted to kill the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 by attacking his car during a parade. One assassin threw a grenade but it bounced off the Archduke’s vehicle before the royal was rushed to safety.

Reports vary about whether the royal couple attempted to leave the city after the attack or continue the parade, but they definitely were driving back along the route when they were spotted by another assassin, Gavrilo Princip. The car stopped directly in front of Princip as the occupants argued about the proper directions.

Princip took two shots, killing both the Archduke and his wife, which set off the powder keg that was 1914 Europe and began World War I.

4. Germany lost the Battle of the Marne (and maybe World War I) because of a rumor

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
(Photo: Public Domain)

Early in World War I, Imperial Germany was marching quickly towards Paris after forcing British and French forces into a series of retreats. At the Battle of the Marne in Sep. 1914, the British and French barely stopped the Germans through a series of desperate actions like using taxis to ferry troops to the frontlines.

Germany might have won if it had the two divisions it had sent to the Belgian coast. The Germans had believed rumors that Russian soldiers were forming in Britain for an amphibious assault. This false rumor was later traced by historians to either a shipment of 100,000 Russian eggs that was noted in a train report as “100,000 Russians now on way from Aberdeen to London” or a group of soldiers from Ross Shire being misheard by local train officials.

Either way, the rumor began circulating that large numbers of Russian soldiers were entering the fight on the Eastern Front and Germany redeployed troops to deal with them. Those troops then weren’t available for fighting near Paris, and France was able to hold on, prolonging the war and allowing an Allied victory.

5. A slight time miscalculation ended the Bay of Pigs invasion

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Fidel Castro became a close friend of the Soviet Union, something JFK tried to stop with the Bay of Pigs invasion. (Photo: Keizers)

On Apr. 17, 1961, 1,400 Cuban exiles invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and attempted to overthrow the Castro regime. If successful, this invasion would have led to the downfall of Communist Cuba and allowed America more influence over its southern neighbor. It also would’ve cut off Soviet access to the island, preventing the Cuban Missile Crisis and giving American a stronger hand in the Cold War.

The Bay of Pigs invasion went badly from the start, and America was quickly outed as a backer of the invasion. To save the botched operation, President John F. Kennedy authorized fighter cover for bombing missions on Apr. 18 but the bombers arrived an hour late, missing the protective cover of the fighters and leaving them exposed to the Cuban Air Force.

Later investigations showed that the bombers probably arrived late because someone miscalculated the time difference between the base and the destination. The bombers were shot down, the Cuban exiles were captured, and Castro was still in power a month later when the Soviet Union asked if he would be interested in hosting nuclear missiles as a deterrent to future U.S. aggression. That meeting led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

6. Nagasaki was destroyed because of a single cloud at the original target

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
The nuclear cloud spreads over Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. (Photo: Hiromichi Matsuda via Public Domain)

There are two cities that are synonymous with the destruction from atomic bombs: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, America’s target list actually included Kokura. On Aug. 6, Hiroshima was the primary target and Kokura was the backup. Since Hiroshima was clear, the bomb was dropped there.

On Aug. 9, Kokura was the primary target and Hiroshima was the backup. The B-29 crew (bomber nicknamed Bock’s Car) flew over Kokura multiple times but had orders to only drop the bomb if they could physically see the targeted weapons factory beforehand. A single cloud kept blocking their view, and so they moved on to Nagasaki, sparing the city of Kokura.

7. Constantinople fell because of an unlocked gate

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Constantinople in 1453 was facing serious problems. The skilled conqueror Mehmed II was hammering at the walls with his cannons while the defenders fought among themselves about whether the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church of Byzantium was the true Christian faith.

These troubles got worse when somebody left an outer gate open and Mehmed’s soldiers were able to pour into the city. If the gate had remained closed, slow-to-arrive reinforcements may have been able to break the siege and relieve the city. Instead, Constantinople was conquered and became Istanbul, and Islam gained a permanent foothold in eastern Europe.

Articles

4 military fails so awful they’re actually hilarious

1. That one time the Australian Army fought a bunch of emus … and lost

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Pretty intimidating, no? Photo: Flickr


Australia’s known for being a pretty badass country — a worthy reputation when your nation is populated by a bunch of outlaws on one of the world’s harshest continents. What Australia doesn’t want you to know, however, is that in between all that crocodile-wrangling and kangaroo-eating, it got its butt kicked once by a bunch of flightless birds.

The year was 1932. Australian farmers were struggling to save their wheat crops from a fierce, egg-laying pack of scavengers that had migrated into the area. And we’re not talking a pesky flock of chickens, either. This was a battalion of 20,000 emus.

Being Australian, the farmers figured they could probably take out these birds themselves. That plan quickly failed, since there were simply too many birds to handle, though one does wonder how they attempted to solve the problem in the first place (maybe some vegemite traps?).

Regardless, the crops were failing and it was decided reinforcements were necessary. Enter the Royal Australian Artillery. Major G.P.W. Meredith led two regiments of machine-gun wielding Australian soldiers against the bird infestation, figuring the issue would be taken care of in a few days.

He was wrong.

The emus proved wilier than expected. They dodged bullets with shocking finesse, weaving in and out of troops and scattering into the brush before they could be herded together. Many of the birds that were hit still got away — whether because of their dense feathers or sheer force of will, they would not not bend to the Aussie military.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
These guys don’t mess around. Photo: unrealfacts.com

Meredith decided to up the ante, organizing a surprise ambush near a dam where 1,000 emus were gathered unawares. This failed as well. Ego bruised, Meredith decided that the only way to destroy an army of demon emus is to do it yourself. In what no doubt would have made a soul-stirring slow-motion montage, Meredith climbed in the back of a truck and manned its machine gun, firing at the birds as he sped beside them.

The emus outran the truck, leading it through terrain so uneven and wild that the vehicle ended up crashing through a fence in its pursuit. As the emus disappeared into the sunset, the AA had no choice but to accept defeat.

According to Scientific American, Dr. Murray Johnson’s entries in Journal of Australian Studies reflect Australia’s humorous response to the skirmish:

“On 8 November, it was reported that Major Meredith’s party had used 2,500 rounds of ammunition – twenty-five per cent of the allotted total – to destroy 200 emus,” says Johnson. “When one New South Wales state Labor politician inquired whether ‘a medal was to be struck for those taking part in this war’, his federal counterpart in Western Australia, responded that they should rightly go to the emus who ‘have won every round so far’.”

In the end, less than 1,000 of the 20,000 emus were killed, and the farmers were left to weep over their wheat and gather an army of wallabies to fight back. Totally kidding — the government decided to cut out the middleman and give the farmers the ammunition they needed to finally fry the birds, taking the lives of 57,034 emus and restoring peace once and for all.

2. The time Japan deployed a new battleship and flooded Nagasaki

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
There’s no flooding, just go about your business… Photo: Getty Images

The saying “bigger is better” is traditionally an American mantra, but the Japanese Navy tried it on for size in 1940, and the results were pretty hilarious.

Not yet at war with the United States, Japan still wanted to assert military dominance. The plan? Build the biggest battleship it had ever commissioned, and call it the Musashi.

Now, Japan understood that an incredibly large battleship would not be impressive unless it was also outfitted with incredibly large weapons. To remedy this, the Japanese Navy decked out the Musashi with the best of the best. Amongst the weapons on board were cannons that could fire 18-inch shells over 26 miles and 9×450 mm guns — stats that were impressive for any military at the time.

What Japan did not take into account, apparently, was how much this thing would weigh. When the Japanese Navy joyously deployed the ship into the sea, the mammoth watercraft displaced so much water (63,000 tons) it caused a four foot high tidal wave, flooding the riverbank homes of Nagasaki and totally killing the mood.

The Musashi‘s wake capsized nearly all of the ships in the surrounding harbor, and did some serious damage to the shops and houses closest to the water’s edge. Frightened citizens rushed into the streets as water poured through their doors, completely bewildered by the source of the flooding.

They were quickly urged back inside their water-sogged homes by the Imperial Navy, which was too embarrassed to tell the people of Nagasaki what had actually gone down. It makes you wonder what they did blame it on…

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Flickr

3. A pilot ejects from his plane and watches it fly itself

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Sometimes in life, things go incredibly wrong. And other times, they just go incredibly weird. 1st Lt. Gary Foust was preparing for the first scenario during a test flight in 1970, when his fighter jet began an uncontrollable flat spin. After struggling to regain control of the F-106 interceptor jet for a few moments, he did the smart thing and pressed the eject button 8,000 feet above the ground.

Or … he thought it was the smart thing. Once his chute deployed and buoyed him up in the air, Foust looked down towards the ground, expecting his plane to light up like the Fourth of July upon impact. What he saw instead was his plane cruising along, as if the spin had never happened and it was being piloted by a very casual, aircraft-savvy ghost.

One of Foust’s wingmen, Maj. Jim Lowe reportedly shouted over the radio “Gary, you better get back in it!” But Gary could not get back in. All he could do was watch with wonder as his plane flew itself in a straight line before landing gently in a snow-covered wheat field.

When police arrived on the scene, the F-106’s engine was still running. Wary of whatever had possessed this thing, the Air Force suggest the cops wait until the plane ran out of fuel, rather than attempt shutting it off. It took a while.

When the plane finally breathed its last it was collected and repaired by the Air Force, and eventually returned to active service. Freaky.

Check out the video below to hear Foust recount the events of that day:

4. Helicopter pilots nosedive into Lake Tahoe for a Facebook pic

Back in 2010, two presumably experienced and level-headed pilots from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 (HSM-41) were flying MH-6OR helicopters over Lake Tahoe. Everything appeared to be normal, when suddenly one of the aircrafts took a dip in the water, like a pelican trying to nab a fish.

Civilian witnesses caught the whole thing on video, and everyone wondered what the heck was going on. Had the engine failed? Were they trying to practice a mock search and rescue mission? The women in the video below seem to think its some sort of elaborate training exercise:

The answer is no. The pilots had the $33 million chopper surface-hover incredibly low over the water to try and get a cool profile picture for their squad’s Facebook page. And no, we’re not kidding.

The pilots allegedly took their hands off the controls to snap photos of one another flying the choppers. Then one helicopter began to plummet through the air, quickly losing altitude and skimming the water. The pilot was able to regain control and bring the chopper back up out of the water, but the stunt cost a cool half-a-million dollars worth in damages to the electronic flying antenna and other expensive equipment.

When they returned to base, the unnamed pair immediately lost flight status — shocker. Let it be a lesson to us all to not do it for the Vine, or the Facebook profile picture.

NOW: 4 amazing military stories that should totally be movies

OR: The 6 scariest military vehicles of WWI and WWII

Lists

16 celebs who grew up as military brats

April is Month of the Military Child, so here are 16 celebrities who grew up in military families. Which one of these military brats surprises you the most?


1. Amy Adams was born in Italy while her Army father was stationed at Caserma Ederle. He moved the family around for eight years before settling in Colorado.

2. Julianne Moore was also raised in an Army home (and was born on Fort Bragg).

3. LeVar Burton was born into an Army family at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. He would grow up to be the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise under Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

4. Luke Skywalker (actor Mark Hamill) was from a Navy family and even graduated from high school on Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. Strangely, Luke fights best on the Dune Sea. There must be a SeaBee in the family somewhere.

5. Robert Duvall was born into a Navy family. His father started at the Naval Academy at 16, made Captain at 39, and retired a rear admiral. His family is descended from the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Duvall served in the Army during the Korean War, but “barely qualified on the M-1 rifle in basic.” Still plays a badass Air Cav Commander, though.

6. Author and Church of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard was born into a Navy family. Much of Hubbard’s travel throughout the Pacific is due to his father’s Navy career. He later served as a Naval officer himself, although his record has major discrepancies.

7. Author of the novel Push Ramona Lofton (best known by her pen name Sapphire) was raised in an Army household.

8. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels (born Michael Shawn Hickenbottom) was raised in Arizona, England, and San Antonio, following his father’s Air Force career. He was a linebacker on Randolph Air Force Base’s high school football team.

9. Annie Leibovitz took her first photos when living with her father, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, while he was stationed in the Philippines. She moved frequently with him.

10. Comedian Patton Oswalt was born to Larry Oswalt, a career Marine Corps officer – and was named for General George S. Patton.

11. Stephen Stills’ military childhood in places like Florida, Louisiana, Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador was an influence on his musical style. Crosby, Nash, and Young had equally interesting childhoods, though outside of the military.

12. Bruce Willis’ dad was a soldier who married a German woman while stationed there. Two years later, he moved the Willis family back to New Jersey.

13. James Woods’ father was an Army intelligence officer.

14. Tiger Woods was born to Lieutenant Colonel Earl Woods, an Army officer and Vietnam veteran.

15. Former MLB player Johnny Damon was born at Fort Riley, Kansas to Army Staff Sergeant Jimmy Damon.

16. Legendary Doors frontman Jim Morrison‘s dad was a Navy admiral, the youngest to attain flag rank at the time.

Lists

7 movies every sailor needs to watch

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.

1. The Sand Pebbles — 1966

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.

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: 20th Century Fox

 

2. The Hunt For Red October — 1990

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.

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Paramount Pictures

 

3. Top Gun — 1986

Dogfights, explosions, rivalries, and love, this movie was the beginning for a lot of aviators. A look at Maverick and you’ll understand what a lot of Navy pilots think of themselves.

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Paramount Pictures

 

 

4. Crimson Tide — 1995

On one hand you have a trigger-happy skipper ready to unleash his nukes onto Russia and on the other you have a subordinate staging a mutiny. It’s a sailor’s fantasy played out.

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Hollywood Pictures

 

5. Officer and a Gentleman — 1982

This story plays out every day in the military. It’s about a guy wanting to turn his life around by joining the Navy. Sound familiar?

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Paramount Pictures

 

6. Master and Commander — 2003

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.

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

7. Cinderella Liberty — 1973

A quick read of the captions and you could probably think of a sailor or two that fit the profile.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Lists

17 photos that show why the F-14 Tomcat was so darned awesome

During more than 34 years of fleet service, the F-14 Tomcat transformed from analog fighter to digital precision attack platform. Originally designed to keep Russian bombers away from the battle group by employing Phoenix missiles at very long range, by the time the Tomcat was retired in 2006 it was capable of missions as far ranging as forward air controller (airborne), reconnaissance, close air support, and precision deep-strike, which made it CENTCOM’s platform of choice over Afghanistan and Iraq.


Here’s a gallery of 17 photos that celebrate the legendary F-14, the last of the Grumman cats:

 

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

The Tomcat came in three different models: A, B, and D. Here an F-14D — with two General Electric F-110 engines and the fully digital APG-71 radar system — makes a supersonic pass.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

The F-14A had the less powerful (and less reliable) Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engine that required the pilot select afterburner when launching from the carrier. The F-14A and B also had the AWG-9 weapons system, which used physical tape to transfer data.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Because the GE F-110 had the same thrust at military power as the TF-30 had in Zone 2 afterburner F-14B and D pilots could launch from the carrier without selecting afterburner, which didn’t look as cool but was much safer.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Unlike the F-4, which extended its nose strut for catapult launches, the F-14 “knelt,” or compressed, the nose strut, giving it the look of a dragster about to zorch down the quarter mile.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Airborne off Cat 3! Here Tom Twomey, a radar intercept officer with the VF-111 “Sundowners,” takes a selfie (before that was a thing) as his pilot starts a left-hand clearing turn away from the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

The engineers who designed the Tomcat swore that asymmetric wing sweep was impossible, but test pilots proved them wrong during test. In spite of this over the history of the airplane the wing sweep system proved to be very reliable.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Because 25 percent of the Tomcat’s lift came from the large area between the wings — popularly referred to as the “tennis court” — the Tomcat didn’t have a very impressive roll rate relative to airplanes like the A-4 or F-16. But its large horizontal stabilizers gave Tomcat pilots significant pitch authority, which made the jet a lethal dogfighter in the right hands.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

People tend to forget that the United States sold Iran F-14s back when the Shah was in charge in the late ’70s and that they’re still flying them today (although none of them are believed to be fully mission capable). The Iranian Air Force used the Phoenix missile to shoot down Iraqi opponents during the Iran-Iraq War, something U.S. Navy crews never did.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Iranian ace Jalil Zandi shot down 11 Iraqi aircraft during the Iran–Iraq War, which makes him the most successful F-14 pilot by far.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

The first Gulf of Sidra incident occurred in 1981 when a section of Tomcats from VF-41 flying off of the USS Nimitz shot down two Libyan Su-22s. Wing RIO Lt. Jim Anderson (far left) was later killed in a skiing accident. Lead pilot Cdr. Hank Kleeman (second from left, squadron CO at the time) was later killed when he flipped an F/A-18 while taxiing. Wing pilot Lt. Larry Muczynski (second from left) got out of the Navy to become an airline pilot. Lead RIO Lt. Dave Venlet (far right) became a pilot and ultimately rose to the rank of Vice Admiral and headed the Naval Air Systems Command.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

The second Gulf of Sidra incident took place in 1989 when two Tomcats from the VF-32 “Swordsmen” shot down two Libyan MiG-23s. (Read the full amazing story here.)

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

The Tomcat’s size — nearly 70 feet from wingtip to wingtip — demanded pilots be right on azimuth when they crossed the aircraft carrier’s ramp. Here a pilot makes a last-second lineup correction that almost leads to disaster.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

The F-14 had a lot of moving parts in the landing pattern — flaps, slats, speed brake, spoilers, rudders, and horizontal stabilizers — which earned the airplane the nickname “Turkey” because of how it looked to be flapping when the pilot was actively moving the controls. (Also note the LANTIRN pod — the gear that made the Tomcat a smart bomber — mounted on the right weapons station.)

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

“The John Wayne loadout,” six Phoenix missiles. Although this is why the Tomcat was initially fielded, during the years the fighter flew the real-world threat never demanded this complement of missiles.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

A Tomcat tanking from an Air Force KC-135, an always-sporty evolution because of the adapter that was placed at the end of the boom to accommodate Navy aircraft that didn’t give much slack and had a tendency to rip off probes if pilots weren’t careful.

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Arguably the coolest paint job in the history of military aviation. VX-4’s “Vandy One” was a big hit on cross-countries and at airshows in the days before the Playboy bunny came to represent pure evil (and JAGs figured out the U.S. Navy was in gross violation of copyright laws). (But you could be somebody climbing out of this one, tell you what . . .)

9 awesome war novels everyone should read

Those who flew you miss you, Big Fighter. Tomcats forever, baby!

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7 signs you’re a Blue Falcon

Everyone knows being a Blue Falcon is bad, but no one believes that they’re the blue falcon. Here are 7 indicators that maybe you should start shopping for nests.


1. When someone asks for volunteers, you immediately start thinking of who isn’t doing anything.

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Look, it’s the platoon sergeant’s or the chief’s job to figure out who is doing what. If they don’t have a grip on their troop-to-task, that doesn’t make it O.K. for you to start naming who’s free for a tasking.

2. You find yourself saying, “Well, so-and-so did it earlier, first sergeant.”

9 awesome war novels everyone should read
Blue falcons have their own barracks.

Keep your mouth shut, snitch. First sergeant doesn’t need to know who snuck to the barracks first during those engrossing Powerpoint presentations battalion put together. Let him yell at you until he runs out of steam, then go back to the stupid briefings and suck it up.

3. You make the kind of mistakes that trigger company recalls.

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Everyone screws up a few times a year, which is normal. Not everyone screws up so badly that the entire rest of their unit has to come in Saturday morning. Maybe keep your infractions a little more discreet in the future.

Or, make your mistakes epic enough that the unit will enjoy the recall just because they get to hear the story. “Wait, we’re here because Schmuckatelli crashed the general’s car with the installation command sergeant major’s daughter in the front seat? Can I make popcorn before you start, first sergeant?”

4. You frequently hear bus sounds or the words, “Caw! Caw!”

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Yeah, your friends are trying to give you a hint, dude. You’re throwing people under the bus and then buddy f-cking them as they crawl out.

5. You take too much credit — especially for stuff you didn’t do with your own hands.

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Always share credit. When you’re praised for rifle marksmanship, mention who helped you train. If you perform superbly at the board, mention the guys in your squad who quizzed you.

But, when you weren’t there, you shouldn’t take any credit. Say who actually did the work. Do not take the recognition, do not take the coin, do not tell stories about it later.

6. You’re always the guy that the team or squad leader has to pull aside.

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Look, sucking at your job is a version of being the blue falcon. It’s not as malicious or direct as being a credit hog or a snitch, but not learning how to fulfill your position in the squad screws everyone else over. Read the manuals, practice the drills, watch the other guys in the squad. Learn your role.

7. Someone sent you this list or tagged you on Facebook in the comments.

Yeah, there’s a reason someone thought you, specifically, should read this list. Go back through it with a comb. Read each entry and keep a tally of which apply to you. Then, stop being a blue falcon. Caw caw.

NOW: The 7 biggest ‘Blue Falcons’ in US military history

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