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7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

It is the year 69 BC. A Roman man stands before the state of an ancient conqueror. The Roman weeps, realizing that at his age this conqueror was master of the known world, while the Roman has accomplished nothing. The Roman’s name is Julius Caesar, and the statue is of Alexander III of Macedon, whose conquests changed the course of European and Middle Eastern history. Here are seven things to know about Alexander the Great.

1. His father conquered ancient Greece

In the middle of the fourth century BC, Macedon was a small kingdom north of classical Greece. City-states like Athens and Sparta looked down on their northern neighbors as barbarians. But for a hundred years the Greek cities had worn each other down through war, and King Philip II of Macedon knew the time was right to strike. He reformed his army and, through a series of diplomatic and military victories, came to dominate ancient Greece. The last resistance was crushed at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, uniting all of Greece under the king of Macedon.

2. He was tutored by Aristotle

alexander the great

In 343 BC, Philip hired the Greek philosopher Aristotle (who was Macedonian, but taught in Athens) to tutor then-thirteen Alexander. The prince studied everything from politics to philosophy to natural science, but he fell in love with Homer’s Iliad, the epic poem about the demigod Achilles and his struggle with pride. Aristotle even wrote an abridged version of the text for Alexander, who carried it with him during his campaigns. Alexander would also send rare plants and animals found on his campaigns to Greece for Aristotle to study. By all accounts, Alexander had an education fit for a king.

3. He fought to claim his father’s throne

Alexander’s mother Olympias, Philip’s fourth wife, was not Macedonian, but Alexander was still Philip’s heir. The prince even fought with Philip at the Battle of Chaeronea and proved himself a capable warrior. That same year, however, Philip married a Macedonian noblewoman named Cleopatra Eurydice, whose pure Macedonian offspring could challenge Alexander’s succession. When Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, Olympias had Cleopatra Eurydice and her daughter by Philip burned alive; Alexander was furious, but he also assassinated several of his relatives to prevent them from stealing his throne. There was a rebellion from several city-states, but Alexander suppressed it, proving himself the Macedonian king of Greece.

4. He conquered the Persian Empire

Alexander spent two years pacifying the Balkans and stabilizing his rule before turning eastward. In 334 he and his army crossed the Hellespont, the straits connecting Europe and Asia Minor (modern Turkey). He then conquered, in just four years, the Persian Empire which had controlled all the land between the Levant coast and the Iranian Plateau for centuries. Alexander chased the Persian king Darius III – one of the most powerful men in the world – through the empire until Darius was captured and executed by one of his own nobles. Throughout his conquests Alexander established many cities, all of them named Alexandria.

5. He pushed his troops to their limit

Alexander reached as far as the land the Greeks called India (modern Pakistan). In 327 BC Alexander left the Middle East for his Indian campaign, where he continued carving through kingdoms and founding cities named after himself – Alexander’s bread and butter. After defeating the Indian king Porus, Alexander’s Macedonian army mutinied and refused to march any further. The disappointed king was forced to turn back.

6. He died under mysterious circumstances

alexander the great

Alexander started marching his troops back to Persia. After dealing with unscrupulous governors and another rebellion from his troops, he arrived at the imperial capital of Susa, where he would spend the rest of his short life. The king contracted a fever in the city and died soon after. For thousands of years scholars have debated the cause of his death, from natural causes to poisonings. Alexander’s proclivity towards alcohol, many say, exacerbated whatever made him ill in the first place. In 323 BC, a mere thirteen years after his coronation, Alexander the Great was dead.

7. He changed the course of Western civilization

Alexander’s conquests established an empire from the Balkan Peninsula to the Indus River. Greek became the language of the upper class from Macedon to Persia, creating a new path for social advancement. After his death, Alexander’s empire was divided up between his generals, whose successor-states came to be known as the Hellenistic (or “Greek-ish”) kingdoms. In the coming centuries, those states would be swallowed up by the Romans and the Arabs, who were inspired by the greatness of Greek culture. It was Alexander whose conquests created the Greek-speaking world that would provide the foundation for the civilizations to come.

Articles

Items the military refuses to call by their proper names

A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. That’s a lesson the military has taken to heart, changing the names for plenty of items that civilians all know by another name.


1. “100 mph tape” and “Tape, adhesive cloth, 2 in.” are both Duct tape/Duck tape

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Oddly enough, duct tape was originally a military item that the troops called “duck tape” for its ability to repel water. But, since “Duck tape” is now a brand name and duct tape was trademarked, the military calls its tape 100 mph tape. The rumor was that it could stick to things moving 100 mph.

Interestingly, airplane maintainers and race car crews eventually did need tape that could stick at well over 100 mph, and so they created speed tape. Speed tape is similar to duck tape in use, but it’s much stronger both in terms of stickiness and tensile strength.

2. “Hook and loop fasteners” and “hook pile tape” are Velcro.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Army

3. “Slide fastener (and tab thong)” is a zipper

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Rabensteiner

4. “Elastic retention strap” is just a rubber band.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

5. Chem lights are glow sticks.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Army Timothy L. Hale

6. Most candy in an MRE is called by a made-up name.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

MMs are called pan coated discs, Skittles are fruit discs, and Combos are called filled pretzels or filled crackers.

7. Don’t dare call uniform items by civilian names

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Army Maj. Meritt Phillips

Hats are covers or patrol caps. Rain jackets and waterproof pants are called wet weather gear or foul weather gear. The outer shirt on most combat uniforms is called the jacket or blouse.

NOW: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

AND: 32 terms only airmen will understand

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The 6 types of people you meet outside of every military base

There are things common to the military no matter what branch a service-member joins, and they often extend outside the front gate of the installation. We all have a type, right?


Whether in the Air Force or the Army, troops can count on regulations sometimes making no sense, or running into the same types of people during their daily routine. But outside of bases — which are often a major driver of the local economy — there are archetypes that exist just about everywhere. Here they are.

1. The civilian girl at the bar who knows military rank structure way too well.

You’re at the local watering hole kicking back a few beers with your friends, and you see a pretty girl at the other end of the bar. So you get up, walk over, and introduce yourself. “Oh, are you a soldier?” she asks, as if the haircut and demeanor doesn’t give it away. “What rank are you?”

Just run away. Now.

 

2. The retired sergeant major or chief who corrects you at the gas station.

Troops are basically free and clear of the military once they get past the gate of a base outside of a big populated area like Camp Pendleton (Orange County-San Diego, Calif.) or Fort Jackson (Columbia, S.C.), but that isn’t always the case in some other posts. At places like Camp Lejeune (Jacksonville, N.C.) or Minot Air Force Base (Minot, N.D.), the base is arguably one of the main drivers of the local economy, and many people are connected to it in some way.

And for some military retirees especially, sticking close to their old base gives them the opportunity to stay connected to their service — by telling you how terrible your haircut is at the local gas station.

 

3. The guy at the tattoo parlor who has put the same lame tattoo on everyone since Vietnam.

The town surrounding a military base is pretty much guaranteed to have a good assortment of tattoo parlors. But the tattoo parlors don’t really have an assortment of different designs. Marine bases can expect “USMC” in every possible font, while sailors will see plenty of anchors to choose from on the wall. And the artist has been tattoing the same designs for so long, he or she can probably do it in their sleep.

4. The shady used car dealer who thinks E-1 and up can easily afford a brand new 2015 Ford Mustang at 37% interest.

The used car dealer is guaranteed to be a stone’s throw away from the base gate, and it usually has signs that read “E-1 and Up!” along with “We Support our Troops!” Most of the time, the way they support the troops is by screwing them out of their hard-earned money with insanely lopsided deals.

“Oh hey, I’m a former Marine too, so I’ll definitely hook you up, brother,” is probably a red flag from the salesman. Another red flag is your financing statement showing an interest rate consisting of more than one number. Go somewhere else, so you don’t end up paying $100,000 over a period of six years for a Ford Taurus.

 

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

 

5. The guy at the Pawn Shop selling gear that suspiciously went missing from the back of your car last week. We don’t like this type.

You may have heard the phrase “gear adrift, gear a gift.” As it turns out, that gear may sometimes end up as a gift being sold at the local pawn shop. Or on eBay.

 

6. The police officer who used to be in the military but isn’t cutting you any slack on this speeding ticket.

You may be able to pull the military veteran card in small town U.S.A. to help you get out of a ticket, but outside of a major military installation — where the cops are pretty much pulling over troops all day long — that probably isn’t a good strategy.

Especially when you run into a cop who used to be in your shoes a couple years ago. Of course, you could always just, you know, slow down.

What other types of people or places do you always see outside the base? Leave us a comment.

Articles

The human cost of the most daring special operations raids in history

A joint U.S.-Peshmerga raid on an ISIS compound in Iraq freed some 70 prisoners, killed many ISIS fighters, and captured five of them. The cost was four injured Kurdish fighters and one U.S. Delta Force operator killed in action. Some would say the price of one KIA for rescuing 70 people is a fair cost, others might say a Delta Operator is an invaluable loss. No matter which side of the debate you stand, risky raids are rarely without casualties. Here are a few of the most famous raids, with what was gained and at what cost, to help determine which were worth the risk. Some are more obvious than others.


Operation Ivory Coast (1970)

The commando raid on the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam was one of the riskiest missions in spec ops history. Planning for the mission began in early May 1970 after Air Force aerial photos confirmed the camp’s existence, which for years had been suspected of housing more than 60 POWs. 130 Special Forces began training at a secret base in Florida over several months. Commandos and Air Force Special Operations air crews rehearsed the raid on a scale model of the camp.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

In the late hours of November 20, support aircraft including A-1 Skyraiders, F-4 Phantoms and F-105G Wild Weasels and the assault force of six Jolly Green Giant helicopters lifted off for the rescue from bases in Thailand and South Vietnam. At about 2:00am, 50 Green Berets deliberately crash landed their helicopter into the main courtyard of the prison camp guns blazing. After a methodical search of the prison barracks and multiple engagements with guards, the assault force boarded a second helicopter for its exfiltration, empty handed.

Though the mission didn’t recover any of the POWs (intelligence later found they had been moved in July), the raid was a major success, involving a host of joint service assets — including a Navy decoy mission using A-7 Corsairs and A-6 Intruders that tied up North Vietnamese air defense assets as cover for the raid.

POWs Rescued: 0

Guards Killed: 42

Cost: 2 wounded, 2 aircraft down

Israeli Raid on Lebanon (1973)

In response to the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics by the Palestinian terror organization Black September, Israeli intelligence (Mossad) launched the intelligence operation with the coolest name ever: Operation Wrath of God. Wrath of God was directed by Mossad to assassinate members of Black September and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) responsible.

On April 10, 1973, as part of Wrath of God, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Sayeret Matkal (the Israeli equivalent to Delta Force) special operatives came ashore near Beirut and Sidon, Lebanon. They met Mossad agents on the beaches who drove them to their targets in rented cars. At the same time, paratroopers raided a building guarded by 100 militants and engaged in close-quarters battle as they cleared the structure. Two IDF troops were killed. Another paratroop unit destroyed a PLO garage in Sidon and Shayetet 13 commandos (IDF equivalent to Navy SEALs) destroyed an explosives workshop. Steven Spielberg recreated the raid in his 2005 film Munich.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qZHZv_jji4

All Israeli forces either returned to the beach to leave the way they came or were airlifted out by the Israeli Air Force.

Enemy Killed: 100

Cost: 2 IDF paratroopers

Raid on Entebbe (1976)

In June 1976, Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijacked AirFrance Flight 139 on its way from Tel Aviv, Israel to Paris, France. Two PFLP hijackers and two Germans from the German Revolutionary Cells captured 12 crewmembers, 246 mainly Jewish Israelis, and 58 other passengers. They ended up Entebbe, Uganda, which was under the control of the notorious dictator Idi Amin Dada at the time.

Supported by Amin’s troops, the hijackers moved the hostages to Entebbe’s passenger terminal, where Amin visited them everyday and promised he was working for their release. The PFLP demanded $5 million and the release of 53 Palestinians prisoners, 40 of whom were in Israel. They promised to start killing the hostages if their demands were not met in three days.

The hijackers separated the Jewish and Israelis from the rest of the passengers. 48 sick and elderly non-Jewish hostages were released. When the Israelis agreed to negotiations, the hijackers extended their deadline by an extra three days and release 100 more non-Israeli passengers. This left 106 hostages in Entebbe. When diplomacy failed to secure their release, the Israelis launched a rescue attempt.

Israeli C-130s and a Boeing 747s flew from the Sinai Peninsula over Saudi, Egyptian, Sudanese, and Ugandan territory at 100 ft to avoid detection. The landed and offloaded a Merecedes-Benz and motorcade of Land Rovers similar to Amin’s own motorcade. they drove right up to the terminal, took out two sentries and entered the terminal shouting in Hebrew and English that they were Israeli soldiers there to rescue the hostages. Three hostages and all the hijackers were killed. the remaining C-130s launched Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) to pick up the hostages and take them back to the waiting 747s. The Israelis had to shoot their way back to their planes as Ugandan soldiers descended on them, injuring five and killing one Yonatan Netanyahu, older brother to current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A hostage who was taken to the hospital in Kampala, Uganda due to illness was killed by Ugandan Army officers after the raid.

Hostages Rescued: 102 

Hijackers Killed: 4

Cost: 4 hostages, 1 IDF commando killed

4 IDF commandos wounded

Desert One (1979)

This is the disastrous attempt to rescue American hostages being held by Iranians at the former embassy in Tehran. To this day, President Carter maintains the biggest mistake of his Presidency was not sending one more helicopter.

Desert One was a secret staging area in Iran set up by special operators where eight Navy helicopters and Delta Force aboard three C-130 transport planes. Three more C-130s with 18,000 gallons of fuel for the helicopters were also supposed to deploy at Desert One. The Navy helicopters would refuel and fly the Delta Forces to Desert Two, another desert area South of Tehran, conceal the helicopters and hide out during the day.

The next night Delta Force would board trucks driven by Iranian operatives, drive to Tehran, storm the U.S. embassy, free the hostages, and transport everyone to a nearby soccer field, where they would be picked up by the helicopters, who would then fly everyone to an airfield secured by Army Rangers and everyone would fly to Egypt on C-141 Starlifters after the helicopters were destroyed.

During the operation, three helicopters were unable to continue, forcing the team to abort the rescue. During the evacuation, one of the helicopters crashed into a C-130 carrying fuel and personnel, destroying both aircraft and killing eight troops, five airmen and three Marines, without ever getting close to the hostages.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Hostages Rescued: 0

Cost: 5 U.S. troops

Nord-Ost Siege (2002)

In 2002, 40 Chechen separatists besieged a Moscow theater holding more than 800 people captive for nearly a week, demanding the Russian withdrawal from the Republic of Chechnya. The terrorists killed two hostages after negotations failed. The Russians called up their elite Spetznaz Alpha Group to handle the situation.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

The Russians used a specialized gas to knock out both the terrorist captors and their hostages through the theater’s air ducts. The Spetznaz then stormed the theater, killing all 40 Chechen seprtatists, their suicide vests still strapped to their torsos, but barely conscious.

Most of the hostages were rescued, but more than 130 died from suffocating from the gas. It was the first time gas was used in such a way, but likely the last, as it also injured much of the Spetznaz response team. Welcome to Putin’s Russia.

Hostages Rescued: 700

Cost: 133 Hostages Killed, 40 Terrorists Killed, 700 injured

Neptune Spear (2011)

This is the SEAL Team Six raid which ended in the death of Osama bin Laden. In the early hours of May 2, 2011, 79 SEAL Team Six operators and a working dog flew from Jalalabad in specially designed stealth Blackhawk helicopters in nap-of-the-Earth style. They arrived at bin Laden’s compound in 90 minutes. The first Blackhawk experienced  hazardous airflow condition caused by the concrete walls surrounding the compound (practice runs used mesh fencing), causing the helicopter to softly crash land. No one was injured.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

SEALs entered the house, killing defenders (including bin Laden), securing noncombatants and gathering all the intelligence they could, all within 40 minutes. The SEALs destroyed the damaged helicopter to protect classified technology. A reserve Chinook was sent to extract the team from the crashed helicopter and (with bin Laden’s body) leave Pakistan for Bagram Air Base. Bin Laden would later be buried at sea.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
A woman in Times Square celebrates the death of Osama bin Laden (wikimedia commons)

Enemy Killed: 5 (including Osama bin Laden)

Enemy Captured: 17

Cost: 1 Stealth Blackhawk

NOW: Here’s what it’s like when special forces raid a compound

OR: An American soldier killed in Iraq while rescuing 70 ISIS hostages

Articles

9 of the most evil weapons of all time

Of course, anything made to kill another human being has an element of dubiousness about it; but some designs go above and beyond merely killing and add suffering to the equation. Here are nine of these evil weapons:


1. Boiling Oil/Hot Tar

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

One of the earliest forms of evil weapons. When defending a castle, use arrows and spears and rocks to simply kill. Use hot tar to terrorize and demoralize the enemy as well as kill him.

2. Mustard Gas

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Mustard gas was first used in battle by the Germans in World War I with the expressed intent of demoralizing the enemy rather than kill him. The skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, their eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. This was extremely painful. Fatally injured victims sometimes took four or five weeks to die of mustard gas exposure. (Source: Wikipedia)

3. V-1 Buzz Bomb

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

The V-1 rockets were not intended to hit specific targets, but instead, they were designed terrorize the population of England during World War II.

4. Flamethrower

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

What do you do when you don’t want to crawl into tunnels and pull Japanese soldiers out of their hiding places one-by-one? You strap on your flamethrower and burn them out — a torturous way to go.

5. Firebombing

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Firebombing is an air attack technique that combines blast bombing with incendiaries to yield much more destruction than blast bombs would alone. The Germans firebombed Coventry and London in 1940, and the British paid them back in spades toward the end of the war, most notably at Dresden.

6. Atomic Bomb

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Since August of 1945 service academies and war colleges have studied the calculus of using the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but regardless of whether the strategy ultimately saved lives that would have been lost during a manned invasion of the Japanese homeland, it inflicted great suffering on the population in the form of destruction on an unprecedented scale and the follow-on radiation poisoning.

7. Anti-personnel Mines

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

These mines are designed to maim, not necessarily to kill. Stepping on them causes the mechanism to bounce up to pelvis level before exploding, causing maximum suffering before a slow painful death.

8. Punji Sticks

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

An evil booby trap most notoriously associated with the Vietnam War, Punji Sticks were a low-fi weapon used by the Vietcong to terrorize American forces patrolling the jungle. The sharp sticks were hidden under tarps or trap doors covered with brush, and they inflicted nasty and painful wounds to lower extremities.

9. Napalm

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

A bomb full of a gelling agent and petroleum, Napalm was originally used against buildings but later became an anti-personnel weapon. The flaming goo that erupts when the weapon goes high order sticks to skin and causes severe burns.

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of April 14

Ready for a payday weekend? So are we once we finish these little articles and get through the editor’s safety brief.


One intern falls out of the window and all of a sudden we can’t be trusted. Anyway, here are 13 funny military memes to help you get the weekend started:

1. “Yeah, Navy, Imma let you finish. But the Air Force has the greatest bombs and I can prove it.” (via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
That MOAB is Air Force AF.

2. Don’t laugh, don’t coo at him. Don’t laugh, don’t …. (via Air Force Memes Humor)

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Guarantee you’ll lose control and laugh when his voice cracks.

Also read: Why deadly wounds aren’t treated first in combat

3. But what are you going to do with the extra space in the bin? (via U.S Army W.T.F! moments)

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Maybe that’s where you can place their DD-214s as well.

4. The warrant recruiters wouldn’t have to send all those emails if they only made this their motto (via Sh*t my LPO says).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
For warrants, it’s actually a pretty accurate description.

5. You’ll spend the whole weekend waiting for the other shoe to drop (via Sh*t my LPO says).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
What’s really going on around here?

6. “Wait … this surf and turf doesn’t even taste like rubber. Why would they send fresh food unless …”

(via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

7. Know what’s a good topic for those application essays? “How I smoked that terrorist shooting at my buddies.” (via @rachaaelbrand)

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

8. It’s funny because it’s true (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
It’s also sad because it’s true, but let’s not focus on that.

9. Speaking of sad because it’s true:

(via Military Memes)

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Sorry, Jody. No one is cutting orders yet.

10. Just think of all the dry socks and water onboard too (via Decelerate Your Life).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Silver bullets as far as the eye can see.

11. That DD-214 isn’t always a golden ticket (via Team Non-Rec).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Guess you’re just going to have to console yourself with doing whatever you want and getting to see your wife and children.

12. Sorry, corporals, but we were all thinking it (via The Salty Soldier).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Army corporals enjoy twice the responsibility without any of that pesky extra pay.

13. Nope. Nope. Nope (via Sh*t my LPO says).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
You do get plenty of free salt though, so that’s nice.

Lists

5 of the ugliest battleships ever floated

Some warships bring the hurt to the enemy and look good while doing it. Take Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, for example: They pack a huge punch inside a powerful, refined exterior. Or look to the Iowa-class battleship, whose long career and heavy firepower speaks for itself — but it also looks majestic. Other ships, however, look as though they fell off the ugly tree and hit every damn branch on the way down. But which are the ugliest battleships?


The following five battleships make the winners of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest look like models. They might be powerful, they might have outstanding combat records, but their designers certainly aren’t winning any any plaudits for their aesthetic choices.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Not only were the Ekaterina II-class battleships ugly, but this one, the Chesma, was so overweight that its armor was submerged.
(Russian Navy)

Russia’s Ekaterina II-class battleships

Russia built four of these vessels in the 1880s. Two served as guard ships in World War I. Not only were they eyesores, but they were also poorly designed. One of the vessels, the Chesma, was so overweight that her armor belt listed underwater, making it practically useless in a fight. The last of these ships survived until 1930, when it was scrapped by the French.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
The Gangut-class ships were both ugly and impractical — not a winning combo.
(Illustration from Brassey’s Naval Annual 1912)
 

Russia’s Gangut-class battleships

This ship was also intimately familiar with the ugly stick. It also wasn’t the most graceful vessel to take the sea. The turrets were split evenly across the ship, meaning half of its firepower was rendered completely useless when the ship was turned broadside to the enemy. They saw action in World War I and World War II, but were quickly scrapped thereafter

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Since she packs 14 12-inch guns, it’s probably not a good idea to call the HMS Agincourt ugly to her face.
(US Navy)

 

HMS Agincourt

The Brazilians responsible for this ship’s designed sold her, incomplete, to the Ottoman Turks. Then, when World War I started, the British took it over. She didn’t look graceful, but she did pack 14 12-inch guns. She saw action at Jutland, but after World War I, she was scrapped under the terms laid out by the Washington Naval Treaty.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Which is uglier, the Fuso-class battleship or its combat record?
(Kure Maritime Museum collection)

 

Japan’s Fuso-class battleships

This ship’s superstructure is essentially a small skyscraper on top of an armored hull. The ship did pack a dozen 14-inch guns, but it was slow, capping off at a top speed of 23 knots. An upgrade in the 1930s made it a little faster, but the Fuso-class ships were still ugly.

Their only notable combat experience was in the Surigao Strait – where both went down against American battleships, some of which had been at Pearl Harbor.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
The Nelson-class battleships look like tanker hulls strapped with lots of guns.
(Imperial War Museum)
 

Britain’s Nelson-class battleships

These two ships were designed with the entire main battery forward of the superstructure, creating a look that’s closer to a supertanker with big guns than a battleship. It also means it’s completely safe to talk about these ships behind their back — they’ve no guns at the rear. HMS Nelson saw action in the Mediterranean theater, Operation Overlord, and in the Pacific, while HMS Rodney is known for being the only battleship to torpedo another. Both went to the scrapyard by 1950.

Let’s face it, while these ships found varying levels of success in combat, none would’ve won any beauty pageants.

Lists

6 Reasons Why The Korengal Valley Was One Of The Most Dangerous Places In Afghanistan

Nestled between high mountains on the Afghan side of the border with Pakistan, the Korengal Valley has been one of the hardest fought over patches of ground in the War on Terror. 54 Americans have been killed and four Medals of Honor were earned in the valley — or it’s immediate vicinity — while the case for a fifth is under review. One was that of the first living recipient of the award since Vietnam: Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.


Today, the American military rarely moves into the valley, but handpicked Afghan commandos, some trained by the CIA, fight constantly with militants there. The Afghan government maintains offices at the Pech River Valley, the entryway to Korengal. Their police execute raids and patrols in a continuing attempt to shut down or limit the shadow government operating there.

When the American military was there, they faced the same challenges the Afghan forces do today. Some of these dangers are common across Afghanistan, while some only existed in Korengal Valley and the other branches of the Pech River Valley.

The terrain is a nightmare.

 

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Army Sgt. Matthew Moeller

Steep mountains, loose shale, thick forests, and open patches of land made the area a nightmare for an occupying force. Combat outposts were built in relatively open areas so that defenders could see approaching militants. However, this meant patrols returning to the base had to cross the open ground, sometimes under heavy small arms fire from nearby wooded areas and houses. The thick trees in the area allowed fighters to attack U.S. forces from cover and concealment.

The attackers would then hide their weapons in the forests and return to the civilian population. The steep hillsides allowed snipers to climb above outposts and fire into the bases as soldiers slept. Loose rock on the steep land led to injuries from trips and falls.

Building new bases — and keeping them resupplied — presented constant challenges.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Army Spc. Jon H. Arguello

Tied to the problem of the terrain, engineering in the valley has historically been difficult. To build the infamous Restrepo outpost, soldiers slipped up the hilltop in the night and frantically dug ditches in the dark. Working until dawn, they were barely able to create shallow trenches to lay in before sunlight exposed them to enemy fire. They created the outpost over the following weeks and months, chipping away at the rock and throwing the fragments into bags or Hesco barriers to create walls and fighting positions. Everything in the valley had to be made this way as the hills were too steep to move heavy equipment and there was little dirt or sand to put in the bags and barriers.

Supply was similarly constricted as many vehicles couldn’t make it into the hills. Trucks would move through washed out roads to deliver supplies to positions near the bottom of the valley. Getting food, water, and gear to the tops of the hills required either helicopter lifts or infantry carrying it up on their backs.

Its proximity to Pakistan gives the Taliban a cross-border sanctuary.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Army Sgt. Matthew Moeller

The Korengal Valley is located on the border with Pakistan in steep mountains and thick forests where it has served as a major conduit for smugglers for decades, especially during Soviet occupation. The Pakistan side of the border is in the tribal region which has historically served as a recruiting and training ground for terrorists. The valley itself is so inaccessible that the Afghan government temporarily gave up on trying to control it, even before the people began a strong resistance.

The civilian population is largely confrontational toward outsiders.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Army Spc. David Jackson

The Americans in the valley found that the Korengalis were even less hospitable to U.S. and NATO forces than those in most of the war torn country. Most of them follow a sect of Islam known for its particularly conservative and hardline attitudes. They also all speak a dialect that not even their neighbors in the Pech River Valley — which Korengal Valley intersects — can understand. In addition, the Korengalis have a history of lumber smuggling and bad blood with other tribes. Meetings between U.S. and Afghan military leaders and tribal elders were generally tense if not confrontational.

The U.S. faced multiple insurgent groups, along with criminal elements.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Army

Most NATO units faced opposition from multiple factions in their regions, but the Korengal Valley was a high priority for both the Jamaat al Dawa al Quran, or JDQ, and Al Qaeda. JDQ is suspected of having connections to Pakistani intelligence and both groups are certainly well-funded. In addition, local insurgencies cropped up under former timber barons who lost family members and money when the Americans moved in.

The Taliban often used human shields in battle.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Marine Corps Robert M. Storm

Though civilians were used as shields in much of Afghanistan, it was constant in Korengal Valley. Women and children were nearly guaranteed to show up on the roof of any house that came under attack from US forces. Vehicles filled with civilians tested checkpoints, forcing soldiers to choose between firing at potentially unarmed civilians or leaving themselves open to a potential suicide vehicle attack. This drastically limited the ability of U.S. forces to engage the enemy.

NOW: This Video Shows What The Military’s Awesome ‘Iron Man’ Suit May Look Like 

AND: 21 Photos That Show What It’s Like When Soldiers Assault A Taliban Stronghold 

Lists

The most decorated animals in military history

Military service animals have a longstanding history of taking care of our service men and women overseas without complaint. Maybe that’s because they don’t speak English, or maybe it’s because they’re the best darn soldiers the military has ever seen. Either way, they’re not only adorable, they’re also brave animals who risked life and limb to take care of the people that they loved. Some of the animals on list gave their lives for their country, and some survived the most heinous terrorist attack on American soil. Many have been awarded for their valor.


Check out this list of military animals through history and vote for your favorite ones, whether they be dogs, cats, horses, pigeons, or whatever.

The Most Decorated Animals in the Military

Lists

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

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, fly over Europe on March 20, 2015. The aircraft participate in a training sortie with the Estonian air force.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Senior Airman Christine Griffiths/US Air Force

Leaving a trail of dust in its wake, an MC-130J Commando II takes off April 2, 2015, at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M. The aircraft’s crew demonstrated its capability to take off, land and perform airdrops in remote areas during a joint exercise.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/US Air Force

NAVY

More than 630 Sailors, Marines and civilians aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) from a teal ribbon and spell out “ESX ARG” to show support for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Navy

Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Keron King signals the pilots of an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter attached to the Vipers of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 48 during preflight preparations aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abe McNatt/US Navy

ARMY

A Trooper assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, fires a mortar from a mortar tube mounted onto a Stryker Combat Vehicle during the unit’s platoon live-fire exercise at Smardan Training Area, Romania, Apr. 8, 2015. The purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate unit capabilities to Romanian military counterparts during live-fire training in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve-South.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Sgt. William A. Tanner/US Army

Infantrymen, assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment, provide security during an #OperationAtlanticResolve-South live-fire exercise at Smardan Training Area, Romania, April 6, 2015.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Sgt. William A. Tanner

MARINE CORPS

U.S. Marines attending the infantry officer course prepare to conduct a fast rope exercise during Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) on Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 27, 2015. WTI is a seven-week event hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) cadre.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Lance Cpl. Jodson B. Graves/US Marine Corps

A U.S. Marine with Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, completes a pre-inspection before operating the M1A1 Abrams tank during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) aboard Camp Pendleton, California, March 28, 2015. Marines with BLT 3/1 trained for combined arms operations in restricted terrain in preparation for their deployment this spring.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/US Marine Corps

COAST GUARD

Marine Safety Security Team Honolulu conduct flight ops with crews from Air Station Barber’s Point to ensure U.S. Coast Guard Hawaii Pacific remain Semper Paratus.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Errik Gordon/US Coast Guard

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Photo: US Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

NOW: 9 tips for ‘skating’ in the Navy

AND: 62 glaring technical errors in ‘The Hurt Locker’

OR: Hurry up and watch ‘Predator’ in under 3 minutes:

Articles

13 best military memes for the week of Feb. 10

It’s Firday, the day of libo briefs and the best military memes from around the Internet.


1. Hey, if you can pass while only running during the actual test, then you do you (via Decelerate Your Life).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Of course, if you can’t ….

2. Come on, it’s just a few years (via Sh-t My Recruiter Said)

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
And you get to lurk in all those high schools and stuff.

ALSO SEE: That time a bad radio call won the WWII Battle of Cape Esperance

3. Ooooh, should’ve double checked what they’re testing for (via Coast Guard Memes).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Hey, there’s always future servicewide exams. After all your buddies pin before you.

4. A-10 puns are brrrrrtiful (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
But I don’t recommend catching anything from A-10s. Not super safe.

5. The Air Force has an amazing headless chicken budget (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

6. Not gonna lie, would promote the guy who painted this (via Coast Guard Memes).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Of course, I issue all my order in the voice of Gru.

7. Gave you one job, Timmy (via Sh-t my LPO says).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Timmy is going to have an uncomfortable next few days.

8. Bubba knows what’s up.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
And yes, Forrest is misspelled. Let it go.

9. American airports are not keeping pace with our needs (via The Salty Soldier).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

10. “Take all commands from the tower. Rotate your selector switch from safe to semi ….”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
The 15-6 investigation is going to be epic.

11. This would have gotten me to join the Navy (via Military Memes).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

12. Secrets of the E-4 mafia:

(via Air Force Memes Humor)

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Another secret: They can’t get you to re-enlist if you’re barred from doing so.

13. Not usually into Carl jokes but this one is great (via Pop smoke).

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Carl: The most Marine Marine who ever Marined.

Articles

The 12 most iconic roles in military movie history

We’ve all served with the zealot, the screamer, the wild man, the badass, the strange agent, and other signature personalities, but have we seen them accurately presented in movies? Well, sometimes. And in some cases when Hollywood has tackled military topics they’ve gone beyond simply “getting it right” and moved into the arena where icons are forged. Here are 12 examples of when movie makers got it absolutely right and then some:


1. Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in “A Few Good Men”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Col. Jessup is as badass as grunts come . . . right up to the point where he gets his ass handed to him by a weenie JAG officer. With classic lines like “I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4000 Cubans who are trained to kill me, so don’t think for one second that you can come down here, flash a badge, and make me nervous,” and, of course, “You can’t handle the truth!” Nicholson’s reading of this somewhat psycho colonel is among the best military characters Hollywood ever created.

2. Steve McQueen as Captain Virgil Hilts in “The Great Escape”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Arguably the late Steve McQueen’s best work, Capt Hilts of the Army Air Corps is known around the stalag as the “cooler king” because of all the time he’s logged in solitary confinement following his escape attempts. In the climactic scene he jumps a barbed wire fence on a motorcycle (the only stunt McQueen didn’t perform himself in the film) but gets caught up in a second fence and is recaptured. The final scene shows him being thrown back into the cooler, but his attitude shows that it’s only a matter of time before he tries to escape again (because he’s an American fighting man).

3. Robert Duvall as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore in “Apocalypse Now!”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

In a high-budget blockbuster full of stars like Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando, Duvall steals the show with his portrayal of Army helo squadron skipper Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore. As Sheen’s character muses, Kilgore “had that light in his eye . . . you knew he wasn’t going to get so much as a scratch on him in Vietnam.” And Kilgore cements his military movie icon status with lines like “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” and “Charlie don’t surf!” Cue “Ride of the Valkyries” and go win some hearts and minds.

4. R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Before “Full Metal Jacket” came out in 1987 the pop culture standard for a DI was Sergeant Carter from the TV comedy “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” That changed in a big way with Ermey’s brilliant portrayal of Gunny Hartman, as tough as he is doomed (oops, spoiler alert for any of you maggots who haven’t seen this Stanley Kubrick-directed masterpiece). Hartman remains the cinematic boot camp standard by a mile with lines like “did your parents have any children that lived?” and “choke yourself, Pyle!” Ooh-rah, Devil Dog!

5. Gregory Peck as General Frank Savage in “12 O’ Clock High”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Peck plays General Frank Savage, a B-17 driver who inherits a shitty command in the middle of high-tempo ops. Loses have been high and morale sucks, and Savage’s initial attempts to square the unit away are met with stiff resistance. In time his superior leadership techniques take hold and things improve. Peck does a great job of capturing the nuances surrounding the age-old facts that life is lonely at the top and being in charge is no popularity contest. There’s a reason this movie is shown in military leadership courses.

6. John Wayne as Captain Rockwell “Rock” Torrey in “In Harm’s Way”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Some fans of “The Duke” may argue that “The Green Beret” or “Sands of Iwo Jima” are his signature military roles, but he brings a lot more to the role of Capt. Rock Torrey. “In Harm’s Way” was a groundbreaking (and shocking with subplots that tackle themes like adultery and professional misconduct) film in its day and still holds up in many respects for how it presents the complexities of Navy life during wartime. “In Harm’s Way” allows Wayne to do more than just swagger; he stretches his talents as an actor. And because of that it’s his best military work.

7. George C. Scott as General George S. Patton in “Patton”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Everything the nation knows about General George S. Patton is a function of this movie and George C. Scott’s amazing performance in it. “Patton” presents the general as the flawed genius he was, as brilliant as he was self-destructive and reckless. The opening soliloquy alone is total money:  “No damn bastard ever won a war by dying for his country,” he says in front of a giant flag backdrop. “He won it by making the other poor damn bastard die for his country.”

8. Alec Guinness as Lieutenant Colonel Nicolson in “Bridge on the River Kwai”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Before he was in “Star Wars” as Obi-Wan Kenobe urging Luke Skywalker to use the force, Sir Alec Guinness played Lt. Col. Nicolson, the senior ranking officer among prisoners held by some nasty Japanese troops. Guinness’ Nicolson is tough and resourceful and good at messing with his captors, especially when it comes to figuring out ways of keeping the construction of the Bridge on the River Kwai from proceeding. His performance is as good a cinematic example as there is for why the Brits make great allies.

9. Robert De Niro as Staff Sergeant Michael Vronsky in “The Deerhunter”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

Staff Sergeant Vronsky is ballsy-as-pozz, especially during the Russian Roulette scenes. And good luck not yelling “hell yeah!” at the screen when he overpowers his VC captors and escapes. De Niro’s performance is moving and feels authentic, and he does the special forces community proud while at the same time showing the sometimes tragic impact of war on a small town.

10. Tom Hanks as Captain John H. Miller in “Saving Private Ryan”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

“Saving Private Ryan” did much toward dispelling the myth that World War II was somehow cleaner than the wars that followed, and that cinematic landscape is made all the more real by Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Capt. John Miller, a school teacher-turned-war-weary-warfighter who knows the meaning of duty and leads by example. His on-screen sacrifice is truly felt and is a worthy representation of what earned The Greatest Generation their label.

11. Sterling Hayden as General Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

This Cold War satirical masterpiece about B-52s gone wild by the orders of a lunatic wing commander is made pitch perfect by Sterling Hayden’s performance as General Jack D. Ripper (get it?). From his musings about post-coitus epiphanies (“loss of essence,” as he calls it) to his fears about the commie plot that is fluoridation, Hayden’s Ripper should be funny enough to scare us all that he might actually exist (and have his finger on the button).

12. Jürgen Prochnow as Captain-Lieutenant Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock in “Das Boot”

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great

The U-boat war was a little-explored part of military movies until “Das Boot” was released in 1981. Jürgen Prochnow does an amazing job playing the captain of the submarine toward the end of the war. The crew is beat down and the Nazi rhetoric has long since rung hollow, but there is still a mission to carry out and a war to survive. Lehmann-Willenbrock is as good a leader as military movies have ever created, and his courage, skill, and empathy are timeless. Watch this one and find yourself routing for the other side. (“Das Boot” is best viewed in German with English subtitles, by the way.)

Now: The 16 best military movies of all time

Articles

6 Navy bombers that flew for the Air Force

The Air Force and the Navy have their own little rivalry going.


Granted, United States Navy pilots are pretty good in many respects, and so are the planes, but the Air Force claims they’ve got air superiority. So when they need to buy a plane from the Navy, it’s… awkward — especially when it involves bombers, something that should be the purview of the Air Force.

Here are six of the most…notable acquisitions the Air Force ended up making from the Navy.

1. Douglas A-24 Banshee

While better known as the SBD Dauntless, the Army Air Force bought a number of these planes. Aviation historian Joe Baugher noted that some were intended to help defend the Philippines, but the outbreak of World War II saw them diverted to New Guinea. Others saw action in the Aleutians and Gilbert Islands.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
A-24B Banshee, the Army Air Force’s version of the SBD Dauntless, at a base on Makin Island. (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Curtiss A-25 Shrike/Helldiver

The Army Air Force got the SB2C — the notorious “Son of a [Bleep] Second Class” — during World War II. Joe Baugher noted that the Army Air Force never even bothered using them in combat, either exporting them to the Royal Australian Air Force or handing them over to the Marine Corps for use from land bases.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
An A-25A Shrike in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

3. Douglas B-66 Destroyer

When the Air Force was looking for a replacement for the A-26/B-26 Invader as a tactical bomber, they settled on a version of the Navy’s A3D Skywarrior. However, the Air Force planned to use it very differently, and so a lot of changes were made, according to Joe Baugher.

The B-66 turned out to be an ideal electronic-warfare platform. One was famous under the call-sign “Bat 21,” leading to one of the most famous — and costly — search and rescue efforts in history.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
An EB-66E Destroyer electronic-countermeasures plane. (U.S. Air Force photo)

4. Lockheed RB-69A Neptune

The Air Force was looking for some planes for electronic intelligence missions around the Soviet Union and China when they settled on taking seven P-2 Neptune maritime patrol planes from the Navy, and designating them as RB-69As.

Aviation historian Joe Baugher reveals that the exact origin and ultimate fate of these planes is a mystery, probably intentionally so, given the top-secret nature of intelligence-gathering flights over China and Russia.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
One of seven RB-69A Neptune ELINT planes the Air Force acquired. (U.S. Air Force photo)

5. Douglas A-1 Skyraider

Joe Baugher reported that the Air Force found this classic warbird to be so suitable for the counter-insurgency mission in 1962, they took 150 A-1Es from Navy surplus. The planes were modified for dual controls.

In fact, the Air Force wanted the plane as early as 1949, but harsh inter-service rivalry (including controversy stemming from the “Revolt of the Admirals”) meant the Air Force had to wait to get this plane. It was a fixture on search-and-rescue missions during the Vietnam War.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
An Air Force A-1E Skyraider loaded with a fuel-air explosive bomb. (U.S. Air Force photo)

6. Vought A-7 Corsair

This is probably one of the most successful purchases of a Navy bomber by the Air Force. As was the case with the Air Force basing the B-66 off the A3D, they made changes to the A-7.

Most notable was giving it the M61 Vulcan and a thousand rounds of ammo. Yes, the Air Force gave the A-7 the means to give bad guys the BRRRRRT! The A-7s saw action over Panama in 1989, and were even used to train F-117 pilots. The A-7D was retired in the early 1990s with the end of the Cold War.

7 kingly facts about the life of Alexander the Great
Three U.S. Air Force A-7Ds in formation. Air Force Corsairs flew thousands of sorties with only four losses. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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