Considered the “grandfather of smart bombs,” the Fritz X was a 3,450-pound explosive equipped with a radio receiver and sophisticated tail controls that helped guide the bomb to its target.
According to the US Air Force, the Fritz X could penetrate 28 inches of armor and could be deployed from 20,000 feet, an altitude out of reach for antiaircraft equipment at the time.
Less than a month after it was developed, the Nazis sank Italian battleship Roma off Sardinia in September 1943. However, the Fritz X’s combat use was limited since only a few Luftwaffe aircraft were designed to carry the bomb.
The Nazis’ Goliath tracked mine was anything but Goliath-like in stature. Known as the “Doodlebug” by US troops, the mini-tank was controlled with a joystick and powered by two electric motors, later replaced by gas burners.
Goliath was designed to carry between 133 and 220 pounds of high explosives and was used to navigate minefields and deliver its explosive payload to defensive positions.
The Nazis built more than 7,000 Goliaths during the war and paved the way for radio-controlled weapons.
A rocket-powered plane that was nearly 300 mph quicker than the fastest aircraft around
By the late 1930s, the Germans were developing the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, a rocket-powered jet with speeds of up to 700 mph.
“During this time the vaunted American P-51 Mustang fighter, in comparison, topped out at less than 440 mph,” according to Weapons of WWII magazine.
More than 300 Komets were built and equipped with twin 30 mm cannons. The Komet’s speed was both a gift and a curse. The plane was fast enough to avoid Allied gunners but it was too fast to hit Allied aircraft.
Cooks in the military try their hardest. If you befriend them, they’ll always find a way to slide a few extra slices of bacon your way. But no matter how close you get with the cook in your unit, you’re always going to swing by the gut truck when they arrive.
For those not in the know, gut trucks (or “roach coaches”) are like a civilian food truck except that their menu doesn’t need to be elaborate to attract customers. The bar for quality is set at “better than a scoop of powdered eggs.”
And it’s nothing personal — hell, even the cooks will skip their own food to grab a breakfast burrito from the gut truck. Why?
Doesn’t matter what time it is; they got you.
(Photo by Maj. Wayne Clyne)
They can be ordered on speed dial
If you want to grab chow from the dining facility, you have to go to them. If you’re in the field and the cooks joined you for the morning, you still have to go to their stand.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the battalion area, the motor pool, or the back 40 in a field exercise — the gut truck is just a quick call away.
There might be healthy options. No one knows for sure because no one ever orders it.
(Photo by Ens. Jacob Kotlarski)
They have all the POG bait
Coffee isn’t known for its quality in the military. Yeah, it’ll get you up in the morning, but that’s about it. If you want an energy drink or some junk food, you’ll need to bring it with you.
Don’t worry. That retired Sgt. Maj. who realized how much money is blown on junk food every day has you covered. The truck is always fully stocked.
Everyone from the lowliest private to the commanding general is treated to the same fatty, delicious burger.
(Photo by Spc. James Wilton)
They’re faster — even if the lines are longer
Food trucks work on civilian time. To them, more customers means more money. Now, don’t get this twisted — we know military cooks are giving it their all.
Food trucks simply don’t allow high-ranking officers and NCOs to play rock, paper, chevrons and cut the line to ask for an extremely complicated custom order that backs the line up. (If you or someone you know does this, know that troops talk sh*t behind their or your back.)
Gut truck drivers know that throwing out that much bacon is fraud, waste, abuse… and just not cool.
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Navratil)
The food is always plentiful, hot, and ready
Gut trucks over stock with food before heading out and they have a good idea of how many troops they’ll be feeding. If they don’t have the breakfast burrito you wanted, they’ll have tons of whatever else you’re thinking of.
Conversely, cooks will ration every last piece of bacon like it’s the end of the world only to throw tubs of it away at the end of the meal.
Who ever read that comment card at the end of the DFAC and implemented it is a real American hero.
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Navratil)
Even cooks caught on to how awesome gut trucks are
See the cover photo at the top of this article? That’s actually not a civilian-owned gut truck. That’s actually a military food truck from the 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade as part of a test to judge troop reception. And so far, it’s working!
The cooks caught on to what works best for troops in the field and, unlike civilian trucks, these accept the meal-card given to the soldiers in the barracks. It serves all the stuff that troops want — with a little less tasty, tasty junk.
Military drills for service members is what training camp is for football players and their coaches — learning the playbook on how to maneuver and react to intense combat situations when seconds count and delay is deadly.
Most militaries do the standard maneuvers — target practice on the range, moving through a MOUT town or repelling out of a helicopter on a mock objective. But some countries prefer to go all out to show their toughness.
So here are five dangerous military drills conducted throughout the world.
Each year in Thailand, seven countries partake in the multinational military exercise called “Cobra Gold.” Held in February, this 11-day training includes 13,000 troops from countries like Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.
Cobra Gold promotes foreign military collaboration with events such as humanitarian relief, amphibious assault, and jungle survival. And sometimes that means making use of the wild game that calls the jungle home.
2. Body Smashing
North Korean special forces candidates endure several body-hardening workouts to prove their physical and mental toughness to become members of the “Storm Corps.”
3. The Road to Heaven
The finale of a 10-week pain-filled training program where Taiwanese Marines strive to become frogmen is called the “Road to Heaven.” This initiation consists of low-crawling over 164 feet of sharp rock coral without the use of their arms while conducting various calisthenics along the way.
4. Drown Proofing– a panic-inducing military drill
SEAL trainees must learn to survive in complex water scenarios without sinking or drowning with their hands and feet bounded together. Considered the most grueling training the armed forces has to offer, hopefuls endure days of physically demanding training to become Navy SEALs.
5. Hot Potato
Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army pass around a live grenade before tossing it into a hole. The PLA troopers simultaneously leap away in the nick of time. This drill was created to promote discipline, communication, and teamwork.
See some more military drills that take things a bit too far below!
Everyone wants to know who’s carrying the biggest stick. While everyone has their own measurements for how to judge the size of a nation’s military, these 10 militaries are easily some of the best equipped and trained in the modern world:
It relies more heavily than most on armored fighting vehicles as opposed to tanks with almost 7,000 of the former and just over 400 of the latter. The nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle is the only non-American nuclear carrier in the world. Its foreign legion is one of the most famous combat forces in the world.
It’s most likely enemy is North Korea, which has one of the largest artillery stockpiles in the world stacked within range of the South Korean capital. And while the huge North Korean military is too badly equipped, trained, and prepared to make this list, it’s still likely that an invasion from the north would cripple South Korea and level its capital before the aggressors could be beat back.
Japan maintains a “Self-Defense Force” that is very capable on both offense and defense. With the fourth largest submarine force and four small aircraft carriers — often called “helicopter carriers” — as well as homegrown tanks and aircraft and imported weapons like the U.S. Apache, Japan has a varied and capable collection of military hardware.
India has a large number of troops, but those are largely reserve personnel (2.8 million reserve vs. almost 1.4 million active). It boasts a large number of armored vehicles at over 11,000, but has a relatively small air force and navy and relies on more prosperous allies for much of its defense development.
China has the world’s largest population at 1.4 billion and its largest military population at 3.7 million with 2.2 million of those being active troops. Those millions of men and women are equipped with almost 3,000 aircraft, 13,000 armored vehicles, and 714 ships.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps aren’t the largest of their respective groups worldwide, but they are some of the most capable. Both forces enjoy very high spending per service member compared to rival forces, and that allows them to bring their artillery and aircraft to the fight.
All four U.S. Department of Defense branches are trained to work together on a battlefield, combining their powers into one joint team.
It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining, if a hurricane is passing through Washington, DC or if a Tomb Guard accidentally gets stabbed in the foot. There will always be an American soldier of the highest caliber “walking the mat” at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 1937 there has always been a guard on watch.
Stationed at Arlington National Cemetery’s most popular tourist attraction, the Tomb Sentinels have the hardest and most coveted job in the entire U.S. Army. No other special assignment has such strict standards, and for good reason.
But there is a lot that goes into being the most visible symbol of America’s dedication and honor for its fallen heroes that the public may not know about.
1. They don’t wear rank insignia for a reason
Unlike every American soldier, sailor, airman or Marine, the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier do not wear rank insignia on their coats when guarding the tomb. Since the fallen inside the tomb are unknown, and no one knows what rank they actually were, Tomb Guards don’t wear visible rank so they don’t outrank who they might be guarding.
Only when the relief commanders come out to change the guard, do they wear an NCO’s rank. Their actual rank is separate from the uniform they wear while on duty at the tomb.
2. The Tomb Guard Badge is the 3rd least awarded badge in the Army
In third place behind the Military Horseman Identification Badge and the Astronaut Badge, acquiring the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge is not just rare, it’s incredibly difficult. Only 20% of applicants are accepted for training and the washout rate is astronomical.
3. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.
This is not just a lifestyle in the way that the Army life is a different way of life. When serving as a Tomb Guard, the job becomes your life for 18 months. The average sentinel take 8 hours to prepare everything required to go on duty for his next and that shift is a 24-hour shift.
4. Being on duty means the world’s strictest schedule
Tomb Sentinels stand two-hour watches in 24 hour shifts. In that time, they will repeatedly count to 21, which is representative of the 21-gun salute, the highest military honor given. The guard’s motions are a seven step process.
A 21 step march down the 63-foot-long black mat.
A turn toward the Tomb for 21 seconds.
A turn and face the opposite direction of the mat, weapon change to outside shoulder, and wait 21 seconds.
March 21 steps down the mat.
Turn and face the tomb for 21 seconds.
Turn and face the opposite direction, weapon shifted to outside shoulder, and wait 21 seconds.
Repeats the routine until the soldier is relieved at the Changing of the Guard.
5. The weapons and the gloves used to handle them are special
The gloves worn by Tomb Sentinels are usually wet to give them better control of the rifle in their hand as they switch it from shoulder to shoulder. Their weapons are special versions of whatever infantry rifle is standard issue at the time they’re posted, with ceremonial stocks. Currently, they use a fully functional but unloaded and well-cleaned M-14.
Non-commissioned officers wear a special sidearm during the Changing of the guard ceremony. The pistol is also whatever is standard-issue for the Army, but Sig-Sauer, the company that makes the Army’s standard-issue sidearm, created four special pistols just for the Old Guard, which includes wood from a ship that served in the Spanish-American War.
The Army originally placed guards at the Tomb of the Unknown to deter picnickers from having lunch on top of the hallowed gravesite. In the years that followed, the threat to the tomb became greater than having a good view during lunch and guards are posted to keep people from defacing or touching the monument. or even failing to show proper respect.
These are not the Buckingham Palace guards, and they will take steps to deter any encroachment on the tomb, by any means necessary.
There are three people you should always be friends with: The cook. The medic (or Corpsman). And whatever the MOS of the person repeating the phrase.
Everyone in the military serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things, but this week we’ll break down why the cook always belongs on the top of that list.
This is first in a series that will cover the benefits, both obvious and subtle, of befriending service members of another MOS. Stay tuned for more! Who knows? Your MOS might be next!
Why they’re important
6. Everyone needs food
Just a fact of life. The average human needs 2,000 calories a day to stay functional — and that number is far higher for people with an active lifestyle, like troops.
There’s only a certain amount of MREs you (and your digestive tract) can take. That’s where the chef comes in — with fresh food.
Even on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re so POGgy that all you eat is fast food — well…you do you. You f*cking POG.
5. Despite the jokes, they’re actually really good chefs
“But they always serve those gross eggs that come in plastic bags!” the uninformed are typing furiously in the comment section.
This is true. Not denying that they do serve mass quantities of food that can only be eaten doused in sauce. But take a look at the stuff they can make when they have the time, like on holidays or “best chef” competitions. Even that awkward E-2 you only ever see in the smoke pit can probably pull off some really impressive work those days.
Why they’re actually important
4. They can get you more of the good food
They do have to hold on portion sizes during meal rushes to make sure everyone can get something to eat. It’s just the way things go if you’re told you have 400 pieces of bacon and 100 people to feed. You’d logically give four pieces to everyone. But the cooks know that there won’t be 100 people who want bacon.
Once they know that it’s cool, they will definitely toss those extra bacon strips your way.
3. They have access to the real deployment gold: Rip-Its, muffins, beef jerky, etc.
The weirdest thing happens on deployment. Money becomes meaningless (because everyone has expendable cash and nothing to spend it on) and minor things like Rip-Its, despite being half the size of the same ones they sell at the dollar store, have more value and trading power than the 5o cents it’s probably worth.
Why barter for gold when you could go to the goldmine itself?
What happens when you’re their bro
2. They can get you food on the off-hours
If you’ve ever worked KP, you will probably notice the bullsh*t that is all of the leftover food being tossed. Just trays of bacon being thrown directly into the trashcan. Most cooks are just like every other troop: plenty of them would rather save that bacon for their bros than see it in a landfill.
On top of that, there’s this weird thing about cooks. Most actually enjoy cooking — on and off duty. They may also just whip you up something in the barracks kitchen if you ask them nicely.
1. They will make you the food you actually want
Remember those disgusting bagged eggs from earlier in this article? Cooks can make you a real egg omelet if you ask them. Same goes for everything else in the “made to order” lines.
But the real kicker are those little comment suggestion cards they always have at the end of the dining hall. Not to blow their secret, but most cooks have a hard time coming up with countless menu options day in/day out, so they’ll stick to a schedule or a guide that has been passed down since god knows when.
If you say to your cook friend, “Hey man, I found this recipe for some Brazilian food. Looks easy enough,” they’ll likely give it a shot — and you’ll feast at “Brazilian Day” in the chow hall sooner or later.
Cartoon characters with machine guns, sexy pin-ups riding phallic bombs, and/or — for the more skilled — an array of Nazi Swastikas or Japanese Rising Sun flags indicating the number of aircraft or ships destroyed . . . these are just a few of the common images worn on the backs U.S. Army Air Corps pilots, bombardiers, and navigators in World War II.
Whether it was for good luck, a sense of home or belonging, or just because wearing a jacket featuring Bugs Bunny Pulling Hitler’s severed head out of a hat fueled stories for the grandkids, there’s no doubt these jackets will always be enduring icons of a hard-fought air war.
16. Props (see what we did there?) to this unit. This jacket looks pretty damn good for being hand painted:
15. After 35 bombing runs, this probably says it all. TWANNGGG:
14. Does that type look familiar? During WWII, the Walt Disney Company was much looser with its trademarks when it came to the war effort. Disney designed many of the unit and morale patches used by the Army Air Corps:
13. Native American imagery was a popular theme, not just because this imagery was born in the Western Hemisphere and is associated with the Western U.S. and Great Plains, but also because the percentage of Natives who serve in the U.S. military is disproportionately high:
12. Lady Liberty was every pilot’s best girl:
11. Not just an awesome jacket with great art, using German seems like a it would be a bigger F**k You to Hitler and the Nazis, and it’s a really funny name. Der Grossarschvogel translates to “The Big Ass Bird”:
10. John McClane preferred Roy Rogers, But the Lone Ranger is good too (Yippy Ki Yay, Motherfu**er):
9. Finally, a play on words using an aviator’s term:
8. This gets to the point faster than TWANNGGG:
7. The award for incorporating (what would become) the Air Force song:
6. The thing about being crazy is if you know you’re crazy, then you’re not crazy.
5. This way, you’d always remember your crewmen’s names.
4. Who among us hasn’t dated Ice Cold Katy at least once? This guy is a hero.
3. Nice use of the Air Corps star:
2. Ramp Tramp – n. military/aviation term for a semi-skilled or unskilled airbase flightline worker, typically a baggage handler or aircraft cleaner. Flight crew and skilled mechanics/avionics personnel would not be considered “ramp tramps.” This is a nice shout out:
1. The top spot has to go to this guy. There’s no room for scantily-clad women when you’re trying to work in 100 bombing runs, five Japanese aircraft kills, and 12 ships, one of them a battleship.
All military working dog (MWD) handlers — no matter what branch of service they are in, go through the same basic handlers course and advanced dog training schools. As a result, all handlers in the military use key terms and phrases that every handler will understand. Here are the most common terms and what they mean.
All handlers will learn how to decoy — aka pretend to be the bad guy — and it’s important they know how to “agitate” properly to provoke the dog to bite them. To do this they need to make noises and watching them scream and grunt for the first time can be hilarious. To make it simple, instructors tell beginning handlers to yell “HOT SAUCE!” very quickly over and over to provoke the dog.
Inverted V (Lackland shuffle)
To conduct a proper detection search, all handlers are taught the “inverted V” method in which the dog detects low, then high, then low again. To do this, handlers must learn to walk backward and beginners move their feet so slow it’s known as the “Lackland shuffle” in reference to the basic handler’s course at Lackland Air Force Base.
The toy used as a universal reward for all military working dogs is the kong. Handlers reward their dogs so much that they call themselves nothing but a kong dispenser.
MWD’s are incredibly strong and athletic and so when the situation calls for a handler to maintain tight control of their dog, they will apply a “short safety.” All handlers use a 6-foot leash and, with the dog on their left, they will hold the end of the leash in their right hand while using their left hand to grab the leash halfway down and wrap it once around their hand to ensure the dog stays close.
When an MWD is released to bite, handlers want them to get a full mouth bite, clench tight, and hold on until the handler gets there so the suspect can’t get away. However, dogs that are not fully confident will not clench and hold and instead will bite, then release, and then bite a different area. MWDs that do this are known as typewriters.
This is when a military working dog runs and hits a decoy so hard that the decoy ends up dazed and confused on the ground, and handlers watching are more than likely laughing their butts off.
This refers to MWD’s whose speed, strength, and bite are a cut above the rest.
These are MWD’s who are so well trained overall, especially in obedience, that they will rarely need a correction, if any.
Change of behavior
When an MWD is trained to detect specific odors it will show a “change of behavior” when it encounters it. Handlers must get to know their dog’s change of behavior so they know their MWD is about to find something.
Reverse. (Not at source. Pinpoint.)
No handler wants to hear “reverse.” When doing detection with their MWD, if a handler hears “reverse” from the instructor, they know they missed the training aid and now must do the embarrassing action of backtracking. Sometimes, a “not at source” or “pinpoint” is added when the instructor notices the dog is on the odor but hasn’t found the training aid yet.
Most MWD’s that defecate in their kennels will simply wait for their handler to clean it up. Unfortunately, some MWD’s like to play with it and spread it every where they can. By the time the handler comes to clean it, the MWD has “painted” the kennel with feces.
Drop the purse
Most novice handlers unknowingly hold the leash up high while their dog is detecting making it look as though they are holding a purse. It is unnatural, there’s no reason for it, and typically it’s a sign of the handler not being relaxed. Instructors will tell them to “drop the purse” so they lower the leash and assume a more relaxed hold of it.
Military working dogs are the world’s most-highly trained dogs and must be controlled or in a controlled environment at all times for everyone’s safety. When an MWD has escaped a controlled environment, handlers will yell “LOOSE DOG!” to alert everyone in the area.
Catch my dog
When a handler asks another handler to decoy for their MWD.
Want peanut butter with that jam?!
MWD’s build up a lot of momentum when they run after the decoy. At the moment of impact it’s important the decoy is not so stiff to allow the dog’s momentum carry through. If the decoy is too stiff, they can jam the dog which can potentially hurt them. The typical response from a handler whose dog was jammed is to ask the decoy if they want peanut butter.
Emotions run up and down leash
Dog teams form a bond so strong that a handler’s attitude will affect the dog’s attitude and vice versa. To keep the dog motivated, it’s important the handler stay motivated.
Trust your dog
This is ingrained in every handler’s head. Dogs who become certified as military working dogs have gone through an extensive selection and training process. They have proven themselves to be the best at what they do. Yet, with the bond a dog team creates and all the training they have gone through, handlers will, at times, doubt their dogs abilities. It’s important to always remember to trust your dog because if there’s anyone who is wrong, it’s the handler because the dog is always right.
The real bad guys these days are known as the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, and others. But for decades, U.S. troops have been fighting wars against fictional enemies that only exist in training exercises. They usually have ridiculous-sounding names and strange back stories.
While we received plenty of help on social media and this post at Mental Floss on these opposition forces (OPFOR), to include name and which training exercise or location they operate in, some details remain murky.
If you find yourself fighting these forces in the future, here’s the basic intel you need to know.
The Krasnovians (National Training Center)
These are your hard-core fighters from a Soviet bloc country called Krasnovia. Unpredictable and a very non-traditional enemy force, the Krasnovians are known to switch up their tactics and quickly adapt, like stopping the use of radios and moving to cell phones to throw off U.S. soldiers they are fighting.
We’ve heard the key to beating them is by offering them vodka as a peace offering, or just send in this guy:
The United Provinces of Atlantica (Special Forces “Q” Course)
A northern neighbor to Pineland, the UPA is a former Cold War ally of the Soviets. The Atlanticans aren’t fans of the U.S. or their neighbors. That’s especially true, since they invade and take over peaceful Pineland around eight times a year.
Fortunately, Army Special Forces candidates come in and save the day on a regular basis.
The Mojavians (Combined Arms Exercise at 29 Palms, Calif.)
Not much is known about the Mojavians, except that they like to exclusively fight against U.S. Marines during a 22-day period of combined arms training at their desert base in Twentynine Palms, California. These bad guys operate in similar fashion as insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will rarely engage in a real fight. Instead, they rely on hit-and-run tactics.
The Centralian Revolutionary Force (The U.S. Marine Corps Basic School)
In the depths of a three-year civil war, the people of Centralia hope to have a democratic state and live in peace. But their neighbors in Montanya, and an oppressive rebel force known as the Centralian Revolutionary Force, continue to harass the local populace.
Both the CRF and the Montanyan Regular Forces continue to attack the Centralian Army and civilians in the region. Let’s all just hope those fresh Marine Corps officers are able to bring stability to Centralia, a country which has been oppressed for far too long.
Arianan Special Purpose Forces (Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La.)
A force from Ariana — an enemy nation seeking nuclear weapons and hostile to the U.S. and Israel which sounds kind of like Iran — the ASPF constantly invades its neighbor in Atropia, a key U.S. ally.
The ASPF is a threat to U.S. interests — including the consulate in Dara Lam — and it continues to support a local insurgency known as the South Atropian People’s Army. This enemy is unpredictable and employs similar tactics to enemy forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Possibly worst of all: U.S. soldiers only have 11 days to beat them and save Atropia. Good luck.
Have any more you would add to the list? Let us know the enemy force and where you heard it in the comments.
Daenerys Targaryen FINALLY landed on Westeros in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” She’s even started using the dragons and Dothraki on Westerosi armies! Even though she hasn’t (yet) moved on King’s Landing, there’s a lot of reason to believe it’s just a matter of time before the “game” is over.
This gives us a chance to stop and reflect on all the battles and strategies in the game that led us here. Even better, it gives us a chance to laugh at the worst leaders in the place and question why the hell they thought they could hang in the first place. At least Tommen knew he just wasn’t cut out for it.
7. Theon Greyjoy
Theon’s big victory wasn’t even really a fight. He told the Stark Army there was an attack somewhere else, and when they left he forced Bran to concede Winterfell to him. Then, right before the Iron Born immediately turned on him, he killed some farmer’s family and torched their two kids. Cool.
You know who the real loser was in the sack of Winterfell?
Rickon Stark. Rickon is the real loser in all this. By the time the Starks retake Winterfell, Bran can see through time, Arya has face-melting assassin skills, Jon Snow is hanging with the Mother of Dragons, and Sansa runs the place. What did Rickon get?
Theon sucks. He knew it, his men knew it, the Boltons knew it. And he’s at number seven on this list because we knew it too.
6. Ramsay Bolton
Sure, he seized the North (after it was decimated by the Iron Born, but whatever). We’ll give that to him. But the thing about the way a ruler like Ramsay Bolton operates is that there has to be an element of fear to fighting for him. That also means that there has to be a good chance you’ll survive. If you know you’re going to die no matter what, it makes it difficult to fight for survival.
In the Battle of the Bastards, Ramsay so casually mows down his own troops with arrows to the point that they’re indistinguishable from the enemy in the pile of bodies. See if you can spot the point when a bunch more guys from the Bolton Army would have really come in useful during the Battle of the Bastards:
Where was the shirtless Ramsay Bolton who fought the Iron Born at the Dread Fort?
5. Joffrey Baratheon
If only Stannis Baratheon had attacked King’s Landing with a bunch of prostitutes, then Joffrey would know how to kill the enemy. Donning the King’s Armor in the one time he had a chance to be a real leader, he bravely left the battlefield to go see what his mom wanted.
And don’t forget, Arya was embarrassing Joffrey before it was cool…and before she even had face-wrecking assassin powers.
4. Balon Greyjoy
Remember Balon? No? Funny how the worst among us are completely forgotten as soon as someone with skills and ability comes along.
The thing about Balon that’s different from most of the people on this list is that the other people had a reputation for valor, daring, and strategic thinking before the events depicted on the show. Not Balon. Before the events of the show, Balon led a rebellion from the Iron Islands and was quickly owned by Ned Stark. His biggest win was having Theon taken hostage.
Everyone spends the first season making fun of Balon in front of Theon. Only Yara gave a damn when Euron threw the old man over a bridge. In fact, the whole Game of Thrones series got exponentially better as soon as someone killed Balon.
3. The Night King
The Night King has existed since the age of the Children of the Forest. He has practically unlimited manpower that only grows the more he fights. And it’s next to impossible to stop his army in close quarters combat…unless you can figure out the three things that can actually hurt them. And the Night King is giving the living SO MUCH TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
Seriously, what is he doing beyond the wall? Every time we see him, he and his army of White Walkers look like they’re just walking around endlessly. Don’t they know they’re supposed to attack in the winter? I know it’s supposed to be the longest winter ever but that doesn’t mean he has to wait until the last minute to attack.
If he just started attacking now, he could swarm The Wall before Jon Snow can mine the Dragon Glass. Or before Dany can beat Cersei and focus the dragons on the North. But no, he’s going to walk around the land beyond The Wall because it’s apparently much more fun than winning. People who are older than history love to take walks.
2. Jaime Lannister
For all the stories you hear about Ser Jaime’s fighting ability, all he ever seems to do is get captured or almost die. When he does win, it’s not because he’s actually fighting. He makes the disappointment list because you feel like he should be better at fighting. And yet we have come to love him anyway.
Jaime didn’t kill Tyrion even though he believed Tyrion killed his son. Jaime failed to kill a small child by throwing him out a window. Even in combat, we’ve seen more success from Samwell Tarly. Tyrion managed to get a few kills in at the Blackwater — the most Jaime ever did was kill his cousin and lose a hand for his trouble.
It’s mind-boggling why Tyrion is the most disappointing Lannister (to the Lannisters, I mean). Jaime is the biggest liability in Westeros and all Tyrion has to do is tell an Army, “Let’s go kill those dudes attacking our city,” and he wins the day.
“But what about Riverrun?” you might ask. Early on, we hear about Jaime taking Riverrun from the Riverlords but by season six, he has to go retake it from the Blackfish. Taking a castle doesn’t do you any good if you can’t keep it. Ask Theon Greyjoy about that.
For the ultimate in Jaime Lannister’s bad decision-making skills, see the last five minutes of the seventh season episode “The Spoils of War” and remember Jaime’s quote: “We can hold them off.” Hey bud, everyone knows she’s got fire-breathing dragons and a barbaric horde of Dothraki horse archers.
Not only did Jaime do nothing for his troops, he didn’t even get the anti-dragon gun ready to fight. That thing stayed in the wagon waaaaaaaaaay too long.
1. Stannis Baratheon
For what all the bookreaders have to say about Stannis Baratheon, we sure expected some magic from this guy. The only magical thing about Stannis came out of Melisandre.
At the Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis drove his Navy into the bay, which would seem like the best idea. But a little bit of intel work and he would have known the Lannisters poured a ton of electric green stuff into the bay in anticipation of the battle, which everyone knew was coming. Then, Stannis did exactly what everyone expected him to do – a frontal assault. No wonder the Lannisters knew exactly how to wipe the floor with his gate crashers.
Also, underestimating the wealthiest family on the continent was a terrible call. They control Casterly Rock and King’s Landing. Why did Stannis never consider the possibility of a relief force from Casterly Rock? Tywin Lannister was known for his ability as a soldier and general and the Lannisters were allied with the Tyrells. Stannis, whose moves surprise no one, never considers outside forces. Like…did he forget he was in The War of Five Kings?
To top that, the real heir to Robert Baratheon led a depleted army against Winterfell. A real commander would work to prepare the army, maybe get some more allies at the last minute, work on a secret plan or weapon to even the odds of assaulting a fortified position. Not Stannis. His ace in the hole was to roast his daughter alive.
Shortly after Orville and Wilbur stopped making bicycles and started hanging out around Kitty Hawk, Hollywood took to making movies about those who venture into the wild blue yonder.
Here are the best Air Force characters they’ve created over the years. Remember: half of these guys are real people. That’s what makes being in the military so great – the chance to do something someone might make a movie about one day.
1. Captain Virgil “The Cooler King” Hilts — “The Great Escape”
The Great Escape is one of the best heist-style films of all time. It’s also one of the best military films of all time, based on the true story of a group of Allied POWs put together in a Nazi “escape-proof” camp because of their ability to escape from POW camps.
Captain Hilts of the Army Air Corps constantly frustrates guards with escape attempts, landing him in solitary confinement, or the “cooler.” Hilts is easily #1 on this list, not only because he’s depicted on screen by Steve “The King of Cool” McQueen, but also because the real guy this character is based on David M. Jones.
Jones was an Air Corps pilot who started World War II as a Doolittle Raider (the character can also be seen in “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo”), and flew sorties over North Africa before being captured and held by the Germans for nearly three years. Jones survived the war and went on to a 37-year career in the Air Force.
2 . Lt. Col. James Rhodes aka War Machine — “Iron Man”
James Rupert “Rhodey” Rhodes is not based on a real character, though having the War Machine around IRL would make life a lot easier for much of the Air Force (and the lawless areas of Pakistan too… probably).
Rhodes is the stable, dependable version of Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (In the Marvel Comic, Rhodey is a Marine). Colonel Rhodes is also Stark’s best friend and the DoD liaison to Stark Industries, which means he gets to pal around on private jets and hang with the Avengers while taking down terrorists and robot drones (that aren’t American).
3. Lt. Colonel Iceal Hambleton — “BAT 21”
BAT 21 is a the dramatized story of the rescue of Lt Col. Hambleton (whose call sign was BAT 21 Bravo), the largest, longest and most complex search and rescue operation of the Vietnam War. He was the navigator on a USAF EB-66 aircraft and an expert in signals intelligence whose aircraft was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Hambleton was the only survivor, but his parachute took him well behind the North Vietnamese lines.
With the amount of classified information in Hambleton’s head, capture by the communists would have been extremely detrimental to U.S. security. Hambleton (played by Gene Hackman, who is awesome in every movie) makes radio contact with Birddog and makes his way South to be picked up.
To communicate his intended path, Hambleton, in true Air Force fashion, uses a code comprised of various golf courses he knows. The actual rescue of Hambleton took 11 days, six American troops’ lives, a lot more ARVN lives, and another plane being shot down.
In real life Hambleton was rescued by Navy SEAL Thomas R. Norris (who was awarded the Medal of Honor for the rescue) and a South Vietnamese Navy Petty Officer.
4. Capt. John Yossarian — “Catch-22”
Alan Arkin headlines the legendary cast of Catch-22 as Yossarian, a US Army Air Forces B-25 Bombardier, stationed in the Mediterranean during WWII. He’s committed to flying the dangerous missions as quickly as possible so he can go home, but his squadron commander keeps raising the required number of missions.
Yossarian can’t even claim a mental breakdown to go home because famously, Airmen “would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he’d have to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t, he was sane and had to.”
5. Airman Second Class Adrian Cronauer — “Good Morning, Vietnam”
Another real Airman, A2C Cronauer is an Armed Forces Radio Service DJ stationed in Vietnam whose DJ style is less than appreciated by his superiors but beloved by the men in the field.
When Cronauer is suspended for his style and his determination to read the news, the command is flooded with letters demanding his reinstatement. Few things in life are more satisfying than someone thumbing their nose at a stodgy old command.
Cronauer’s real-life show was called “Dawn Buster” and its opening was immortalized forever by Robin Williams’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM.
6. Hannibal Lee — “The Tuskegee Airmen”
Some points have to be added when the whole world is against you, even your own government. Lee was loosely based on Robert W. Williams, an actual Tuskegee Airman who helped co-author the screenplay.
In the film (and IRL), the famous group of African American pilots struggling to join the US war effort as capable fighter pilots finally get their chance when Hannibal Lee (Fishburne) and his wingman get the chance to protect B-17s over Italy and sink a destroyer for good measure.
7. Robert “Dutch” Holland — “Strategic Air Command”
Jimmy Stewart plays Holland, a St. Louis Cardinals baseball player who is on inactive reserve in the Air Force who gets recalled to active duty for 21 months, which would be unbelievable for anyone else but Jimmy Stewart. Stewart, whose family military tradition dated back to the Civil War, enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a private, was an officer pilot within a year, and so enjoyed bombing Germans in his spare time he would eventually retire from the Air Force Reserve after 27 years. Holland’s life is on constant hold as he is on alert status to deter the Soviets from starting WWIII. He forces a landing of a damaged aircraft in Greenland after his crew bailed out then flies new jets to Japan with a broken arm from that landing, an injury which ends both his military career and his baseball career, and he seems mildly okay with it.
Holland’s life is on constant hold as he is on alert status to deter the Soviets from starting WWIII. He forces a landing of a damaged aircraft in Greenland after his crew bailed out then flies new jets to Japan with a broken arm from that landing, an injury which ends both his military career and his baseball career, and he seems mildly okay with it.
8. Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper — “Dr. Strangelove”
A commie-obsessed Air Force General, he starts World War III after describing a Communist plot to pollute the bodily fluids of Americans. He launches an all-out attack on the USSR and refuses to give the codes that will belay the launch orders.
While the Kubrick’s masterpiece obviously isn’t based on a real war, the crazed General is based on Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who once threatened to bomb the Soviet Union back into the Stone Age.
9. Colonel Jack O’Neil — “Stargate”
Who better to lead a team through an alien-created wormhole navigated by hieroglyphs uncovered in Giza than a career Air Force Special Operations officer? No one, obviously, as Colonel Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell, with a severe flat top) takes a day off of contemplating suicide to lead one last mission to destroy the Stargate and ends up saving humanity by beaming a nuclear weapon onto an alien ship.
It’s not (just) science fiction. It’s what we do every day.
10. American Astronaut George Taylor — “Planet of the Apes (1968)”
George Taylor’s background doesn’t specifically mention his Air Force affiliation, but does mention he was a West Point grad in 1941 and flew missions in World War II and Korea, and his then becoming an astronaut is clearly indicative of a U.S. Army Air Corps to Air Force transition.
So the Air Force gets Charlton Heston (also Marky Mark Wahlberg‘s Capt. Leo Davidson from the 2001 remake, clearly identified his tribe as United States Air Force). Taylor earns a spot on this list because of Charlton Heston’s iconic performance.
Edit 5/28 2:07 pm:
Twitterati and US Air Force Pararescue Jumper @PJMatt reminded me about the 1983 epic The Right Stuff and Sam Shepard’s badass take on the legendary USAF test pilot Chuck Yeager.
@PaulSzoldra@blakestilwell So The Right Stuff never happened? You could put Chuck Yeager, correctly, at 1 (Sam Neil) and 2 (drunk in bar)
The author hangs his head in shame as both a film student and Air Force veteran. Few scenes in cinema rival the scene where Yeager is walking away from a smoldering heap, badly burned, holding his parachute because anyone who’s ever met Yeager in real life knows that’s the kind of badass sh*t he did every day of his career.
We sometimes overlook the accurate and fantastic portrayals of veterans and troops in fiction, instead criticizing Hollywood’s typical depiction of us as hyper-macho, high-speed ass-kicking machines or broken and fragile husks of human beings.
For a good portion of the armed services, this is far from the truth. This isn’t a grunt versus POG (Person Other than Grunt) thing. It’s a symptom of the civilian-military divide.
There seems to be a perpetual cycle of fiction blowing real military service out of proportion. Civilians who never interacted with service members often believe that fictional portrayal.
Let’s be honest. Veterans are combating the stigma, but it’s an uphill battle.
Hell, most of the stories we tell at bars aren’t helping.
This one goes out to the creators, writers, directors, and actors that gave the world a veteran and stayed away from the stigma. Either intentionally or not, these characters either embody what it was truly like in the service or have exceptional moments that can overlook some of the more silly moments.
If you can think of any others left out, leave them in the comment section.
1. Sgt. Bill Dauterive – “King of the Hill”
Though the 022 MOS doesn’t exist anymore, Bill from “King of the Hill” was a U.S. Army Barber. There are several episodes dedicated to his military service. The 2007 episode “Bill, Bulk and the Body Buddies” even revolved around him trying to get in shape to pass his APFT.
How he manages to go on all the adventures in the show and not be considered AWOL is also a plot point.
2. Capt. Frank Castle, aka “The Punisher” – Marvel Comics
Not every superhero gets their powers from a science experiment, being an alien, or just being super rich.
Frank Castle, The Punisher, learned his skills in the Marine Corps. Sure. He’s an extreme representation of a veteran. But The Punisher earns his spot on this list because of Jon Bernthal’s monologue in Season 2 of “Daredevil.” His performance and his story about his return from a deployment hits close to home for many people.
3. King Robert Baratheon – A Song of Fire and Ice, “Game of Thrones”
Let’s take away medieval fantasy elements of “Game of Thrones” and recognize that Robert Baratheon used to be a proud, respected, and feared soldier on the front lines.
Ever since putting his service behind him, he got fat, grew a glorious beard, spent his time drinking, hunting, and talking about his glory days. Sound like anyone you know from your old unit?
4. Pfc. Donny Novitski and his band — “Bandstand”
A Tony Award winning musical may seem an unlikely place to find a true to life depiction of a WWII veteran, but it’s the only Broadway musical with an official “Got Your 6” certification.
The musical is about a group of young vets returning home who form a band to try to reach stardom (the same half thought out plan we all had while we were downrange).
The lead character, Donny, spends most of the story showing his bandmates and the world their sacrifice and talents.
Veterans who’ve seen the show praise it. At the end of every show, they thank the troops around the world and dedicate each performance to a different veteran.
5. Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – “M*A*S*H”
The Capt. Hawkeye character is beloved by many for its accuracy. He was drafted right after his medical residency to deploy to the Korean War. Everything about his character was a fresh change to the ordinary war hero cliche.
He resented the Army for drafting him. Each loss of life affected him as the series progressed. He used humor to help cope with the daily stress of combat.
In the 1978 episode “Commander Pierce,” Hawkeye is temporarily in charge of the 4077th. For one episode, he drastically made the very real change to become the leader that his soldiers needed before reverting back to fit the semi-episodic formula.
6. Capt. Kathryn Janeway – “Star Trek: Voyager”
While on the topic of the burdens of leadership, the character that best exemplifies this is the commander of the USS Voyager. Many of the ongoing struggles in the series revolve around how Capt. Kathryn Janeway deals with the safety of the crew, the dream of returning home, and hiding her internal doubt.
Oh, and she always drinks coffee, and she always drinks it black.
The senile grandpa of the Simpson family is often the butt of many jokes. His long term memory is hazy and his short term memory isn’t any better.
But then there’s the 1996 “Flying Hellfish” episode. Art and story-wise, this episode is vastly different from most, and is regarded as one of the best in the series.
Grandpa Abe and Bart go on an adventure to reclaim the treasure Abe found back in World War II. Back in the day, Grandpa was a very competent and tactful leader.
When his unit, which also included series antagonist Mr. Burns, discover a fortune in stolen Nazi paintings, they place a life bet on who keeps them.
While Mr. Burns is willing to kill for the prize, Abe still holds onto his honor and loyalty to his unit after all those years. At the end, when the paintings are confiscated by police, Abe tells his grandson why he went after the paintings. “It was to show you that I wasn’t always a pathetic old kook,” he said.
8. Sgt. Donald Duck – Disney
The sailor suit he always wears isn’t just for show or stolen valor, Donald Duck legitimately was in the Navy and Army Air Force (hence why, in 1984, he was officially given the rank of sergeant and discharge by the real world Army on his 50th anniversary).
Hear me out on this.
In World War I, Walt Disney attempted to join the U.S. Army but was rejected for being too young. He then forged documents to join the Red Cross.
In France, the cartoons he sketched grabbed the attention of Stars and Stripes, later becoming the icon we all know today. In WWII, his love of country and understanding of how propaganda worked lead Disney to use Donald Duck to help the troops.
The “Buck Sergeant Duck” was used in counter-propoganda cartoons and recruitment shorts, even winning an Oscar for “Der Feuhrer’s Face.”
His time in both the Army and Navy is well depicted in many forms — from cartoons to comics. In “DuckTales,” Donald leaves his nephews because he’s being shipped out, which starts the series. The cartoon “Donald Gets Drafted” shows Donald learning (in an exaggerated manner) that recruiters sometimes tell fibs to get bodies in the door.
Even his short temper, aggression, loud voice, cynical attitude, and unprovoked tantrums aren’t a concept lost on veterans.