The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps - We Are The Mighty
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The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

A combat jump and the gold star on your wings is the desire of all airborne personnel. During World War II, the U.S. Army fielded five airborne divisions, four of which saw combat, as well as numerous independent regimental combat teams and parachute infantry battalions. Today, the U.S. military fields one airborne division, two airborne brigade combat teams, and a number of special operations forces, all airborne qualified. Throughout the history of these forces, they conducted all manner of combat operations and tactical insertions. Here are the eighteen times, in chronological order, that the U.S. military conducted large-scale combat operations with airborne forces.


1. Operation Torch

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

The first large-scale deployment of American paratroopers took place on 8 November 1942 as part of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. The men of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion (at the time designated 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment) were tasked with securing airfields ahead of the seaborne force landings. To accomplish this, they conducted the longest flight of airborne forces, originating from airfields in England. However, the jump was unsuccessful with troops widely scattered and ten planes having to land in a dry lake bed to disembark their troops due to a lack of fuel. A week later, three hundred men of the battalion conducted a successful combat jump on Youks-les-Bains Airfield in Algeria.

2. Operation Husky

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Paratroopers board a Douglas C-47 Skytrain for Operation Husky (U.S. Army photo)

America’s second attempt at a combat jump was during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. On the night of 9 July, the 505th PIR reinforced by 3/504 PIR and with attached artillery and engineers spearheaded Operation Husky. Two nights later on 11 July, the remainder of the 504th parachuted into Sicily to block routes toward the beachhead. However, due to numerous Axis air attacks and confusion within the invasion fleet, the troop carrier aircraft were mistaken for German bombers and fired on. This resulted in twenty three planes being shot down and the loss of eighty one paratroopers with many more wounded.

3. Landing at Nadzab (Operation Alamo)

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Paratroopers landing at Nadzab

The first airborne operation in the Pacific Theatre was carried out by the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment in the Markham Valley of New Guinea as part of Operation Alamo on 5 September 1943. The 503rd seized an airfield that allowed follow-on Australian infantry forces to conduct an airlanding as part of the greater New Guinea campaign and were successful in driving out Japanese forces from the area.

4. Operation Avalanche

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

With the success of the invasion of the Italian mainland hanging in the balance, on 13 September 1943 the paratroopers of the 504th donned parachutes and quickly boarded planes before jumping into American lines to shore up the perimeter around the Salerno beachhead. The drop zone was lit by flaming barrels of gas-soaked sand arranged in a T-shape. The next night, the 505th followed the 504th and continued to continue to reinforce the American lines.  A few nights later, the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion was dropped in the vicinity of Avellino in an attempt to disrupt activity behind German lines but was widely dispersed and failed.

5. Operation Overlord

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

This is the airborne operation that all other airborne operations are measured against. In two separate missions, code named operations Albany and Boston, the paratroopers of both the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions jumped behind enemy lines as part of the invasion of Normandy and the cracking of Hitler’s Fortress Europe. Though the paratroopers were widely scattered over the French countryside due to misdrops, the havoc and confusion they created behind German lines was crucial to the success of the landings on the beaches.

6. Operation Table Tennis

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Paratroopers of the US Airborne establish a stronghold on the Japanese-built Kamiri Airfield on Noemfoor Island. (U.S. Army photo)

As part of the greater battle of Noemfoor in Dutch New Guinea on the 3rd and 4th of July 1944, the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 503rd PIR conducted a combat jump to reinforce American positions and to secure the Kamiri airfield. Due to poor jump conditions that led to excessive casualties, the drop of the 2nd battalion was scratched and they were landed by sea instead.

7. Operation Dragoon

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Paratroopers dropping into Operation Dragoon (U.S. Army photo)

As part of the 1st Airborne Task Force the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team, the 509th and 551st Parachute Infantry Battalions, 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and numerous glider and parachute units in support, performed a combat jump into Southern France as the spearhead of Operation Dragoon on 15 August 1944. Due to poor visibility, most of the pathfinders and therefore most of the follow-on forces missed their drop zones and were widely scattered. Despite this, as had happened in Normandy two months prior, many of the men were able to regroup and secure their objectives.

8. Operation Market-Garden

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

During the infamous “a bridge too far” operation, American airborne units, the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, jumped into Nazi occupied Holland during the daylight hours of 17 September 1944. Operation Market, the airborne component of Market-Garden, was the largest airborne operation ever undertaken, though due to a number of circumstances, it would ultimately be a failure and ended the Allies’ hopes of finishing the war by Christmas.

9. Battle of Luzon

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
11th Airborne Division Landing Near Aparri Luzon Philippine Islands (U.S. Army photo)

As part of the battle for the island of Luzon in the Philippines and the drive by the U.S. Sixth Army to take Manila, the 511th PIR and 457th PFAB, part of the 11th Airborne Division, dropped onto Tagatay Ridge south of Manila on 3 February 1945. The jumped linked up the 511th and 457th with the 187th and 188th Glider Infantry Regiments and the rest of the 11th Airborne Division for the drive to Manila.

10. Operation Topside

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

On 16 February 1945, the 503rd PRCT performed the combat jump that would give it the enduring nickname “The Rock” onto the fortress island of Corregidor. The 503rd dropped right on top of Japanese positions and, in conjunction with the 34th Infantry Regiment, fought viciously to recapture Corregidor, which had been the last bastion of American resistance in the Philippines some three years earlier.

11. Operation Varsity

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

American Paratroopers in Operation Varsity

The largest single-day airborne operation in history was carried out by the American 17th Airborne Division alongside the British 6th Airborne in an airborne assault crossing of the Rhine River on 24 March 1945. The entire operation was carried and dropped by a single lift and was conducted in broad daylight. The daylight drop and the fact that it was on German soil led to intense fighting with the 17th Airborne Division, gaining two Medals of Honor during their initial assaults. The operation was intended to be even larger but due to a lack of aircraft, the American 13th Airborne Division was unable to participate.

12. Task Force Gypsy

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Gliders on Aparri Field, Luzon (U.S. Army photo)

On 23 June 1945 Task Force Gypsy, consisting of 1st Battalion 511th PIR, Companies G I of the 2nd Battalion, a battery from the 457th PFAB, engineers, and glider troops from the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment conducted the final airborne operation of World War II, by jumping onto an airfield in northern Luzon to cutoff the retreating Japanese and linkup with the 37th Infantry Division as it drove north. Strong winds and treacherous terrain on the drop zone led to two fatalities and at least seventy injuries during the drop. This was the only time gliders were used in combat in the Pacific.

13. Battle of Yongju

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

Spearheading the UN Forces drive north the 187th Airborne RCT conducted a combat jump north of Pyongyang in an attempt to cutoff North Korean forces retreating from the capital. The paratroopers captured their objectives with only light North Korean resistance. In the following days, they would work with British and Australian forces to destroy the North Korean 239th Regiment.

14. Operation Tomahawk

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

As the airborne component of Operation Courageous on 23 March 1951, the 187th ARCT, this time complimented by the 2nd and 4th Ranger Companies, once again conducted a combat jump against Communist forces in the Korean War. Though there was confusion and misdrops, the Regimental Combat Team captured its objectives quickly and allowed UN Forces to regain the 38th parallel in that sector.

15. Operation Junction City

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Air drop of supplies in Operation Junction City (U.S. Army photo)

As part of the larger Operation Junction City, the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, centered on the 503rd PIR, made the only large-scale combat jump of the Vietnam War on 22 February 1967. The plan was to create a hammer and anvil scenario with the 173rd along with other units forming the anvil while other forces, the hammer, would flush out and drive Viet Cong forces into the waiting trap. Though there were numerous clashes with Viet Cong forces, a decisive victory was not obtained by the American operation.

16. Operation Urgent Fury

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
82nd Airborne in Grenada, wearing the PASGT protective vest. (U.S. Army photo)

On 25 October 1983, Rangers from the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions along with Delta Force operators, Navy SEALs and Air Force Combat Controllers descended on the southern portion of the island of Grenada and captured the unfinished airfield at Point Salines. This opened the way for follow-on forces from the 82nd Airborne Division. By 3 November, hostilities were declared to be at an end with all American objectives met.

17. Operation Just Cause

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
S Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry, parachute from a C-130E Hercules aircraft into a drop zone outside the city to conduct operations in support of Operation Just Cause. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond)

In the early morning hours of 20 December 1989, the entire 75th Ranger Regiment, followed by the reinforced Division Ready Brigade of the 82nd (consisting of 1st and 2nd Battalions 504th PIR, 4/325th AIR, 3/319th AFAR, and Company C 3/73rd Armor), conducted combat jumps to secure the Rio Hato and Torrijos-Tecumen airports in Panama. In the following days the Rangers and paratroopers continued combat operations in conjunction with other forces of Task Force Pacific. This marked the first and only combat parachute deployment of armored vehicles, the M551 Sheridan.

18. Operation Northern Delay

After Turkey denied access for American forces to attack Iraq from the north through Turkish territory, the 173rd ABCT was alerted for a combat jump into northern Iraq. On 26 March 2003, the unit, along with members of the U.S. Air Force 786th Security Forces Squadron conducted an airborne insertion onto Bashur Airfield to establish an airhead and allow for a buildup of armored forces in the north. This effort held numerous Iraqi divisions in the north rather than allowing them to be diverted south to oppose the main effort. The jump by the 786th marked the first and only combat jump by conventional USAF personnel and was the only large-scale airborne operation conducted as part of the War on Terror.

Lists

The longest wars in history

Some conflicts are passed down from generation to generation, either because of their size, or because they simmer at a low boil with little violence. Others were ostensibly declared wars that never ended due to various diplomatic irregularities or political quirks. In either case, the wars listed here are the longest wars in history.


In fact, the longest war in history, the Punic Wars, lasted over two thousand years – but only had 80 years of combat. Another incredibly long war, the 335 Years War, never had a shot fired and had been forgotten about until a ceremonial treaty was signed ending it.

At the same time, some conflicts that have lasted for decades have seen incredible violence, massacres and bloodshed – often between countrymen. There’s nothing fun about the longest war, and these wars all long wars all lasted longer than 30 years, either because they just dragged on for a long time or there was never an official peace treaty. Read on to learn more about the longest wars ever, some of which are still being fought today.

The Longest Wars in History

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Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Mo’ memes, mo’ prob– wait, that’s not right. Whatever, check out our memes of the week. If you’ve got some great ones, bring them to our page and “Like” us while you’re there.


1. This is why you don’t sham near your unit (Via Team Non-Rec).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Either hole up in the barracks or get way off post.

2. Maybe this is why Marines are so obsessed with pull ups (via Marine Corps Memes).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
They’re not that challenging when you can fly.

SEE ALSO: Me as ‘vibe coordinator’ and other stories from military transition hell

3. Air Power (Via Team Non-Rec).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Muscles developed through years of chair sitting.

4.  Just wish there was video of this (Via Sh*t My LPO Says).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
It’d be even better if she slipped into some fuzzy slippers before walking off.

5. They’re very important tools.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Getting a drawing on the commander’s fridge is an automatic OER bullet.

6. The sound of freedom is a Rip-It can being opened.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Seriously, this might be the serum given to Capt. America.

7. Switches back and forth like a metronome (via Marine Corps Memes).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Seriously, it’s like he’s a mole and getting to lance corporal is when he gets whacked.

8. Meh, it’ll be fine (Via Sh*t My LPO Says).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
It looks like quality wood. What could go wrong?

9. “Why shouldn’t I be comfortable, chief?”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Don’t worry. His hands will come out when he starts doing push ups.

10. Basic training is no reason to let yourself go.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

11. When your commander seems to have no experience (Via Air Force Memes and Humor)

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Of course, the rest of your unit is going to give you the same look if you really start talking about ribbon count.

 12. There’s nothing to do but climb trees (via Marine Corps Memes).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Just kidding. If you climbed a tree, gunny would murder you.

13. V.A. care. Earned, not given (via Marine Corps Memes).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
It’s a long quest to see a V.A. doctor, but at least you’ll get 800 mg ibuprofen and some water when you complete the ordeal.

NOW: The 8 most iconic Marine Corps recruiting slogans

AND: 11 steps to turning a puppy into a badass military working dog

Humor

5 reasons why troops hate going to sick call

The military is widely known for giving free medical and dental benefits to its service members and their families. Sometimes there can be a co-pay, but overall it’s a pretty sweet deal.


Although going to medical is also a smart way to skate your way through the day.

But many hate the idea and just want to conduct their business and get out. The fact is, unlike sick commandoes (you know who you are), you’ve got work to do and don’t want to spend your day fighting your way through the process of being seen.

So check out these reasons why troops hate going to sick call.

Related: 4 unusual tasks Corpsman do that their recruiters left out

1. Long waits

Depending on what command you report to every morning, you’re required to be there at a specific time. In most cases, medical is usually open before you need to get to work or it never closes. Since the majority of the military population (not all) are seeking to get an SIQ chit (Sick in Quarters) and stay home, they show up at the butt-crack of dawn like everyone else, causing long lines.

Unless you’re very high ranking or know the doctor well — you’re going to have to wait.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Military members wait in a sick call line. (Photo: Senior Airman Josie Walck)

2. One chief complaint at a time

Military doctors treat dozens of patients per day then have to write up and complete the S.O.A.P. note. They’re typically face-to-face with the patient for just a few minutes, but behind the scenes, they can spend valuable time developing a treatment plan.

An unwritten guideline is a doctor only has time to treat one symptom or chief complaint per visit — that’s if the issues aren’t related. So in many cases, if you have a headache and a twisted ankle, pick one then wait in line to be seen for the other. So hopefully the medic or corpsman who’s helping out knows what he or she is doing and can treat you on the side.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
A Corpsman takes a look at his patient during sick call. (DOD photo)

3. Missing paperwork

Depending on your duty station, you may notice that the staff hand wrote the majority of your documented medical visits and probably never scanned them into the computer. That means there’s only one copy floating around.

When you plan on separating and you file for disability claiming you were seen in medical for that shoulder injury, if it isn’t in your medical record, it didn’t happen.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
HM3 Tristian Thomas reviews a patient’s medical record. (Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Randall Damm)

Also Read: 5 key differences between Army medics and Navy corpsmen

4. The ole run around

When doctors order labs or x-rays in hospitals, staff members usually come to the patient to either extract the sample or transport them to the right area.

In a sick call setting, those services may not even be located in the same building. So good luck getting from A to B.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Getting around on base in a hurry can feel like New York City traffic.

5. Not getting what you want

Patients frequently enter medical feeling sick as a dog and convince themselves they wouldn’t be efficient at work. So when your temperature reads normal and the doctor doesn’t see a reason to let you go home for the day, don’t hate on medical when you get…

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

 

Can you think of any others? Comment below

Articles

5 bad luck military events that happened on Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is more than just a classic movie series. It’s estimated that 17-21 million people are affected by Paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th. This fear has its roots in biblical history, referencing the thirteen people present at Jesus’ last supper on the 13th day on the night before his death on Good Friday. Another legend links the superstition to the liquidation of the Knights Templar by French king Philip IV.


The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
They were stoked about it.

No matter its origin, in Western culture, the 13th day of the month falling on a Friday has been an unlucky day for at least 200 years. Around the Western world, businesses take an estimated $800-900 million hit on Friday the 13th. A 1993 study in the British Medical Journal even revealed “a significant level of traffic-related incidences on Friday the 13th as opposed to a random day.” Maybe it’s just superstition, maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, maybe it’s not a bad idea to stay in bed. Warfighters aren’t exempt. These five events added more than a few warriors to the ranks of the paraskevidekatriaphobic:

1. The Aztecs get pwned by Cortes

Stubbing your toe on Friday the 13th is bad luck. Losing your entire empire is literally the end of the world. At least, YOUR world. Losing your empire despite outnumbering a bunch of foreigners 200 to 1 is almost tragic.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Why is that woman the only one who sees the giant fire snake? Maybe she should have been Emperor.

On Friday the 13th, 1521, Conquistador Hernán Cortés captured Tenochtitlán with 1,500 Spaniards against 300,000 Aztecs after a two month siege. They chained the Emperor of the Aztec Empire and then tortured the city’s aristocracy, looking for hidden treasure.  They held him as a slave for four years before executing him. Bad luck.

2. Robert E. Lee accidentally loses the Civil War

One of the famed general’s officers wrapped a copy of Lee’s Special Order 191, the secret instructions for the invasion of Maryland, around three cigars in his camp.  The order was a detailed, ten-part instruction for units involved in the rebel invasion. Somehow, the paper was dropped in an abandoned campsite and spotted by a Union scout, who picked it up on Friday, September 13, 1862 and sent it up the chain. It would affect every Confederate invasion of the North for the rest of the war.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Did you even notice that’s not Robert E. Lee? Stay thirsty, my friends.

Knowing the entire set of instructions, Union forces were able to beat the Confederates at the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single battle of the entire war, and the bloodiest day in American military history. It ended Lee’s first invasion of Union territory. It allowed President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which would be instrumental in keeping foreign powers out of the war, and set the stage for Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

3. The King of England gets a up-close view of WWII

Nazi Germany was relentlessly bombing London during the Blitz, a period of intense aerial attacks on Britain where the Nazis dropped 100 tons of high explosives on the city. Just a week after the Blitz began, King George VI and Elizabeth the Queen Mother (not the current Queen Elizabeth, but rather her mom) were having tea when the Luftwaffe dropped bombs on Buckingham Palace. Elizabeth recalled “battling” to remove an eyelash from the King’s eye, when they heard the “unmistakable whirr-whirr of a German plane” and then the “scream of a bomb”.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
The King would thumb his nose at the Nazis by making himself as shiny as possible, wearing the biggest hat in all the land.

The King and Elizabeth only had time to look foolishly at each other before the bombs exploded nearby. The King and his wife were as stiff-lipped as the rest of the British people, refusing to flee London, which won them the respect of the British people. The bomb destroyed a glass ceiling and the palace chapel.

4. Japanese admiral decides to have an actual “Battle of Friday the 13th”

Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto led a 39-ship task force against the small American presence around Guadalcanal on Friday, November 13th, 1942. The idea was to land 7,000 Japanese troops on the island and retake the strategically-located Henderson Field (though that’s probably not what the Japanese called it).

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Next time, maybe wait a day.

Yamamoto lost two battleships, three destroyers, a heavy cruiser, and seven fully-loaded troop transports sunk and four destroyed on the beach. The Japanese also lost 64 aircraft and nearly 2,000 killed. The Americans lost seven destroyers, two light cruisers, 36 aircraft and more than 1,700 men, including Admirals Daniel Callaghan and Norman Scott, the highest ranking officers to die in combat during the war. The American win cemented the Guadalcanal campaign in U.S. favor.

5. The Cold War in the Baltic teeters on becoming ballistic

Soviet Fighter planes shot down a Swedish military C-47 Dakota cargo plane over international waters on Friday, June 13, 1952. The plane was unarmed and all eight crewmen died in the attack. The Swedes send out two PBY Catalina aircraft to search for the missing plane. One of those is intercepted and shot down as well. The crew of the rescue plane survived, but Moscow denied the incident until 1991.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Looks like an accident to me.

After the incident, Swedish authorities discovered a life raft with remnants of a Soviet shell. The Swedes would later admit the first plane was conducting signals intelligence. The name of the rescue plane lent itself to color the name of the event, which became known as the “Catalina Affair.” In 2003, both aircraft were located in the Baltic Sea and when the first plane was raised from the ocean, the bullet holes showed the it was shot down by a MiG15. The clock in the cockpit read the exact time the plane went down and all eight crewmen’s remains were recovered.

Lists

9 infamous KGB assassination attempts straight out of spy novels

It’s well known that the fearsome Soviet spy agency, the KGB, used brutal tactics to eliminate and intimidate rivals.


Legend has it that when Soviet diplomats were kidnapped by terrorists in Lebanon in the mid-1980s, KGB officers kidnapped and killed a relative of one of the perpetrators, mailing body parts to the terrorists to demonstrate why Russia’s enemies shouldn’t poke the bear.

Now-declassified CIA documents reveal the KGB had a special team created exclusively for assassinations. The KGB’s 13th Department was called the “Directorate of Special Tasks” and used “executive actions” or “liquid affairs” (read: targeted assassinations) to eliminate threats to the Soviet state.

The directorate had two special labs that most officers didn’t know about – one for creating unique weapons and explosives, the other for developing new poisons and drugs. Poisons were a favorite for these extra-judicial killings because they attracted less attention and were often confused for natural deaths.

Here are nine KGB assassination attempts that will make you want to run background checks on your friends.

1. Leon Trotsky

Trotsky was a key player in the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1918. When Lenin died, many believed he would take over. But it was Stalin who won the succession struggle.

Trotsky criticized the new Soviet state for suppressing democracy and was expelled from the government for his trouble. Eventually, Stalin exiled Trotsky out of the USSR.

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
In Soviet Russia, dictator overthrows YOU. (Russian public domain photo)

The Mexico City suburbs became his new home, but the distance couldn’t keep him safe from the death sentence Stalin ordered. In 1940, Trotsky was done in by a Spanish Communist agent with an ice pick.

2. Franz Josip Tito

The World War II leader of Yugoslavia would not give up his country’s hard-fought independence for anything. Tito’s refusal to align himself with the Soviet Bloc frustrated Stalin to no end. So the Soviet dictator decided to get rid of Tito — as he had done with many previous political roadblocks.

The Russians tried to kill Tito using a pneumatic spray of bubonic plague, a box that sprayed poison gas when opened, and 20 other ways to end the Yugoslav leader’s life. Tito thwarted so many of Stalin’s assassin attempts , he had to send a letter to Moscow that read:

‘Stop sending people to kill me… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.’

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
He only needed the one. (Library of Congress photo)

3. John Wayne

Film historian and author Michael Munn tells the story of John Wayne’s brush with a Soviet assassination order in his book, “John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth.” Wayne’s anti-Communist statements didn’t sit well with Stalin, who allegedly ordered The Duke’s murder. Two Russian filmmakers, Sergei Gerasimov and Alexei Kapler, warned film legend Orson Welles about the order. Wells told Wayne, but Wayne was also warned by the FBI and stuntman Yakima Canutt, whom Wayne once credited with saving his life.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
(publicity photo)

Wayne and a screenwriter friend planned to abduct the assassins, drive them to a beach, and stage a mock execution to pump them for information. The two hitmen turned and worked for the FBI while Wayne moved to a house behind a large wall.

4. Lev Rebet

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Rebet in Auschwitz (Library of Congress photo)

Rebet was a Ukrainian nationalist writer, Nazi death camp survivor, and staunch anti-Communist. He was also the leader of the Ukrainian government for a time. In 1957, Rebet died suddenly of “natural causes” while on a trip to Munich. In 1961, a KGB agent named Bohdan Stashynsky defected to the West and revealed Rebet’s death was an assassination. The weapon he used was a gun that sprayed a cloud of cyanide gas. Stashynsky also killed Rebet’s party boss, Stepan Bandera, with the gas weapon.

5. Georgi Markov

A gray-haired man waiting for a London bus in 1978 would have attracted little attention from passers-by. In this case, that man was Georgi Markov, a Communist defector from Bulgaria who made England his new home. The man next to him dropped his umbrella, hitting Markov in the leg. It hurt, but Markov barely noticed. The man apologized and they both went on their way. Markov died four days later.

His autopsy revealed a pellet in his leg which contained .2 milligrams of ricin, a deadly poison used in chemical warfare and made famous by the show “Breaking Bad.” Vladimir Kostov, another Bulgarian defector, survived a similar fate with the pellet being stuck in his back. He told the world about the attack on Radio Free Europe four days after his brush with death.

6. Georgiy Okolovich

In 1954, Nikolai Khoklov appeared at the door of Georgiy Okolovich, the leader of a Russian anti-Communist group in exile. Okolovich lived in Frankfurt, West Germany, at the time. It must have been quite a shock when Khoklov said:

“Georgiy Sergeyevich, I have come to you from Moscow. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has ordered your assassination.”

But Khoklov didn’t kill him. Instead, the KGB agent defected to the U.S. and revealed (via press conference) the weapon he was supposed to use: a cigarette pack that was actually an electrically-operated, silenced gun that fired cyanide rounds.

7. Nikolai Khoklov

In retaliation for his defection and failed assassination of Okolovich, Khoklov’s wife was sentenced to forced resettlement in the Soviet Union and Department 13 ordered Khoklov’s own assassination. The weapon would be thallium poisoning, the first use of radiological weapons by the KGB.

Thallium is a soft metal element that was often used as a rat or ant poison but fell into disuse for its potential side effects. When Khoklov’s skin began to crack, he began to lose his hair, and bleed without clotting, he knew what was happening. German doctors irrigated him with antidotes and he survived.

8. Pope John Paul II

When Polish Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected Pope in 1979, the Soviet Union was less than thrilled. They believed he was the single greatest threat to their power, especially in Poland. So when the Pontiff was shot and wounded on May 13, 1981, the world looked to more than his attacker, a Turkish man named Mehmet Ali Agca, for answers.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

The Solidarity movement was a direct outgrowth of the Pope’s visit to Poland in 1979 and became a constant irritation in the side of the Soviet leaders. A book detailing the Mitrokhin Archive, a massive trove of Top Secret KGB documents carried over by Vasili Mitrokhin after his defection to the West, shows the KGB carried out this assassination attempt in retaliation for the Pope’s attempt to undermine Soviet regime.

9. Alexander Litvinenko

Litvinenko served with the KGB from 1986 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. He continued serving in Russia’s internal security service long after, working to infiltrate organized crime groups. In 1998,  he accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of a Russian media mogul in a public press conference. He was arrested twice for this and personally fired by Vladimir Putin, whom the agent accused of bombing Russian apartments and murdering a Russian journalist to get elected president.

He fled to London with his family and began to write books and advise the Britain’s intelligence community on Russian activities. Allegedly a target of the KGB’s susccessor, the FSB, in 2006 he suddenly became gravely ill, growing weak and unable to walk. When he was hospitalized, specialists conducted a test for radioactive materials and discovered the element Polonium-210, a radioactive element that emits alpha radiation – only damaging to human tissue when ingested.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

The UK’s Health Protection Agency discovered the Polonium poison in Litvinenko’s teacup, 200 times greater than a normally lethal dose.

Lists

What soldiers really want in their care packages

How do you know what a soldier really wants in a care package? If you’re not in the position to ask the recipient what they need, use this list of care package ideas for soldiers to help you figure it out. You should ask yourself a few questions before putting the box together: Where is the soldier stationed? How long will she/he be there? What would you want to receive if you were trapped in a remote space without access to all your favorite things? And most importantly, what can you send a soldier that will boost their morale?


Being in the military is a tough job, so the best care packages for soldiers include items that are absolutely necessary, like toiletries, personal hygiene items, and medical products (mostly foot repair items), as well as entertaining and/or personal items like comic books, a deck of cards, or memorabilia from home (letters, drawings, mixtapes, etc.). You want the recipient to be able to take care of their physical needs and discomforts by sending products they can’t buy when they’re away from commissary, and you want to promote some light-hearted interaction by sending games or puzzles.

You don’t need to have a friend or a family member in the military to send some care packages for troops – there are plenty of groups and websites that will guide you through the process of how to properly pack and ship care packages to soldiers. Vote up the items you consider the most important, and add any items you don’t already see listed here. If you’ve been on the receiving end of one of these packages, please add items, and leave any relative comments in the comments section below!

What Soldiers Really Want in Their Care Packages

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Articles

9 Movies Every Marine Needs To Watch

Whether it kept them entertained in the barracks or inspired them to enlist, there are certain films that every Marine knows and loves.


Just about every Marine can quote Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket.” The same can be said of the intense courtroom scene in “A Few Good Men” that has Col. Jessup proclaiming, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Super quotable lines, great stories, or intense combat scenes are just some of the reasons why we picked the following nine films as “must-watch” for Marines. But whether you are in the Corps or a civilian, these movies shed some light on the U.S. military’s smallest service.

Here are our picks:

Taking Chance (2009)

Plot: Based on real-life events, Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a volunteer military escort officer, accompanies the body of 19-year-old Marine Chance Phelps back to his hometown of Dubois, Wyoming.

Reason to watch: While most military movies focus on battle scenes, “Taking Chance” focuses on the part often overlooked: What happens when troops lose their lives in combat. As people in the military know, the belongings are packed and shipped, the body is taken to Dover, and an escort brings them to their final resting place. Actor Kevin Bacon does a superb job of depicting the real-life story of one such escort duty, for Pfc. Chance Phelps.

Jarhead (2005)

Plot: Based on former Marine Anthony Swofford’s best-selling 2003 book about his pre-Desert Storm experiences in Saudi Arabia and about his experiences fighting in Kuwait.

Reason to watch: While the main character is a less-than-stellar Marine who often gets in trouble, this film shines in realistically depicting infantry life. The camaraderie, the dumb games, and the sheer boredom grunts experience when they are in a combat zone but not seeing combat is what makes this worth watching.

Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

Plot: A dramatization of the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.

Reason to watch: It has John Wayne. Really, that should be enough. But seriously, it’s a classic war film that shows Marines battling it out on Tarawa and Iwo Jima — site of the famous flag raising in 1945 — which also includes cameos by the three Marines who raised the flag over the island that was captured in the iconic Joe Rosenthal photo.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Plot: A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the U.S.-Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.

Reason to watch: “Full Metal Jacket” is really two films in one, with act one depicting a realistic look at Vietnam-era boot camp, and act two showing life for Marines in the battle of Hue City. The performance Marines love — and can perfectly quote — comes from R. Lee Ermey, who plays Drill Instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, a seemingly never ending source of great zingers.

Flags of our Fathers (2006)

Plot: The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in WWII.

Reason to watch: While most people have seen the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo from the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima, many don’t know the flag raising happened just days into the battle, when it was not yet clear when the Japanese would be defeated. Three of the six flag raisers would be killed later in the battle, while the remaining three would be brought back to the U.S. to help raise war bonds. This film, directed by Clint Eastwood, tells that story. (You should also check out Eastwood’s telling of the Japanese side, in “Letters from Iwo Jima”).

Heartbreak Ridge (1986)

Plot: A hard-nosed, hard-living Marine gunnery sergeant clashes with his superiors and his ex-wife as he takes command of a spoiled recon platoon with a bad attitude.

Reason to watch: In the main character of Gunny Highway, Marines will see the one staple of just about every unit: The crusty old-timer who doesn’t take any crap from anyone. Clint Eastwood plays Highway, delivering such classic lines as “Be advised. I’m mean, nasty and tired. I eat concertina wire and piss napalm and I can put a round in a flea’s ass at 200 meters,” and “if I were half as ugly as you, Sergeant Major, I’d be a poster boy for a prophylactic.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i2P2VzoPL0

Rules of Engagement (2000)

Plot: An attorney defends an officer on trial for ordering his troops to fire on civilians after they stormed a U.S. embassy in a third world country.

Reason to watch: Starting in Vietnam with two Marine lieutenants — played by Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson — a firefight sets them on separate career paths that ultimately see them coming back together after an embassy evacuation in Yemen goes terribly wrong. Col. Childers (played by Jackson) gives the order to fire into the crowd — which he says is armed — and he’s later charged with murder. Besides the intense courtroom drama, the movie shows the strong brotherhood among Marines, with Jones and Jackson picking up right where they left off many years before in the jungles of Vietnam.

Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Plot: Major Kirby leads The Wildcats squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.

Reason to watch: Again, John Wayne. Another classic from the fifties, this film gives a look at Marine air power in World War II, with Wayne playing Maj. Kirby, a gruff commander who takes over a squadron of fliers before they head into combat at Guadalcanal.

A Few Good Men (1992)

Plot: Neo military lawyer Kaffee defends Marines accused of murder; they contend they were acting under orders.

Reason to watch: It’s a great courtroom drama which explores the question of what is a legal order. When two junior Marines are told to carry out a hazing ritual by their commander, should they have followed it? That’s what a court-martial is to decide, which ultimately ends in an epic shouting match between Navy Lt. Kaffee and Col. Jessup (played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson).

BONUS: Generation Kill / The Pacific

While they aren’t movies, these two HBO miniseries show Marines in combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the island-hopping campaigns of World War II, respectively. In “Generation Kill,” viewers follow along with the men of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion as they battle their way into Iraq in 2003, while “The Pacific” melds together narratives from Marines who took part in the Pacific campaign to tell their story.

Lists

7 military movie deaths we’re still bummed about

Goose didn’t have to die in “Top Gun,” and there are six more military movie casualties that we are still bummed about.


Sure, taking out a character throws a curveball to others in the film and creates tension and emotion in an audience, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

1. Goose from “Top Gun”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

While Maverick was a brash cowboy often pushing limits and making enemies, Goose was the likable family man that everyone loved. He was a nice guy, funny, an awesome aerial photographer, and he could sing a mean rendition of “Great Balls of Fire.” And the man even had a wonderful family.

But the worst part: He totally didn’t have to die. As our own ex-naval aviator Ward Carroll pointed out, the proper procedure is to jettison the canopy before ejecting. Damn you, Goose. WHY?????

2. Sgt. Apone from “Aliens”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

From the moment the Colonial Marines wake up, Sgt. Apone is there to deliver whatever amazing line pops into his head. From asking Hudson whether he’d like him to fetch his slippers to describing what it’s like as “another glorious day in the Corps,” the character of Apone excels at bringing to life the crusty old-timer of a platoon sergeant that real troops are used to seeing.

Which makes sense, since the guy who played him was actually a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam. While Hudson fiddled around with the motion sensor that is a piece of crap, Apone asks him where the aliens are. Then moments later, his famous last words are “Aaaargggghhh!” It was a total bummer for the next 60 minutes, since we had to endure more of Hudson and Newt.

Newt: Worst character in a movie ever, until George Lucas dumped Jar Jar Binks on all of us.

3. Pvt. Jackson from “Saving Private Ryan”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

There’s something really compelling about a character dropping Bible quotes as he’s whacking bad guys. “I just thought it was some cold-blooded sh– to say to a motherf–ker before I popped a cap in his ass,” as Jules from “Pulp Fiction” famously said. But Pvt. Jackson, a left-handed sniper from Tennessee, seems to always have the right Bible quote for the appropriate kill.

“Let not mine enemies triumph over me,” he says moments before he takes out a German sniper with a bullet through his own scope. Then as he’s dropping Germans like flies from a bell tower, he recites Psalm 144. But sadly, our favorite sniper hillbilly gets taken out by a tank.

We know you were really busy aiming in on German soldiers but why couldn’t you notice that tank a little bit sooner?

4. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

Gunny Hartman is arguably the most quotable military movie character of all-time, and for good reason. His drill instructor quips are legendary, and the oft-improvised character elevated R. Lee Ermey to god-like status among Marines. But “Full Metal Jacket” is really two movies in one, and most people only like the first half.

He spent most of the movie berating Pvt. Pyle, which included one of the most awesome freak-outs on the obstacle course. “I’m going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Pvt. Pyle, EVEN IF IT SHORT-D-CKS EVERY CANNIBAL ON THE CONGO!”

No one really understands what that even means, but it sounded really bad. Sadly, Hartman’s persistent fat-shaming turned Pyle into a psychopath, and after his death, the movie transitioned to Vietnam. It should’ve just stayed at boot camp.

4. Sgt. Elias from “Platoon”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

In the Vietnam-version of the “good cop/bad cop” routine, “Platoon” had the gruff authoritarian Sgt. Barnes and the much nicer Sgt. Elias. Guess which one died first?

Above much of the B.S. and intent on actually helping out new guys to the unit, Sgt. Elias shows his leadership abilities right from the start, and earns the trust of his men. Meanwhile, Barnes just orders people around and ends up committing war crimes. When him and Elias get into a brawl, the audience knows how this will likely end.

Though we’re bummed he didn’t survive, his death scene — having been shot three times by Barnes and who-knows-how-many times by the Vietcong as he runs to the helicopters — is perhaps one of the best in military movie history.

5. Capt. Jimmy Wilder from “Independence Day”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

He was friendly, funny, and instantly lovable. But he wasn’t Will Smith, so you pretty much knew his fate was sealed the minute he appeared onscreen.

Jimmy Wilder was that smart-ass in your unit making you crack up during briefings, and the guy who lightened the mood even when aliens were destroying everything in their path. But when he’s in a dogfight with E.T., he inexplicably takes off his oxygen mask — you know, that thing delivering oxygen to you — and then complains over the radio that he can’t breathe.

Someone please explain this.

6. Pvt. Trip from “Glory”

Yes, we know “Glory” was based on a true story, but the death of one of the most complex characters of the movie was a big letdown. The ex-slave-turned-soldier played by Denzel Washington is the source of conflict with many other characters throughout the movie: He chastises other black soldiers, butts heads with his leaders, and is at the center of one of the most emotional scenes of the movie.

While he begins the film as a bitter man very much against the army he is fighting with, he eventually morphs into a heroic figure during the final assault of the film, picking up the American flag and inspiring his fellow soldiers.

7. Bubba from “Forrest Gump”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

Benjamin Buford Blue was a great American. He loved and knew everything there was to know about the shrimping business. He was taken from us way too soon. And that’s all we’d like to say about that.

NOW: 8 Reasons why ‘Aliens’ perfectly captures Marine infantry life

Articles

5 insane military projects that almost happened

1. Winston Churchill’s plan for a militarized iceberg

Everyone knows that Winston Churchill is a certifiable badass — his military strategy in WWII led to the Allied victory over the Nazi Regime, and has secured him a spot amongst history’s greatest leaders.


What few people know, however, is that Churchill’s most glorious military scheme never saw the light of day — and for good reason. It was insane. What exactly was the Bulldog’s grand plan, you ask? To create the largest aircraft carrier the world had ever seen, and to make it out of ice.

Yes, you read that right. Churchill’s dream was to create a 2,000 foot long iceberg that would literally blow the Axis powers out of the water. The watercraft, dubbed Project Habakkuk, was going to be massive in every way: the construction plans called for walls that were 40 feet thick, and a keel depth of 200 feet — displacing approximately 2,00,000 tons of water. Habukkuk was no ice cube.

Eventually the Brits realized that frozen water may not be the hardiest building material, and opted to replace it with pykrete, a blend of ice and wood pulp that could deflect bullets.

Despite the fact that this “plan” sounds like something out of a bad sci-fi movie, Habakkuk almost happened. It wasn’t until a 60 foot long, 1,000 ton model was constructed in Canada that people realized how freaking expensive this thing would be — the 1940s were a strange time. A full-sized Habakkuk would cost $70 million dollars, and could only get up to about six knots. And at the end of the day, Germany could still potentially melt the thing, though it would probably take the rest of the war to make a dent in this glacier.

2. Napalm-packing suicide bomber bats

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
A bat bomb in action Photo: schoolhistory.org.uk

Fire bombs were a huge threat during the height of WWII, and an excellent weapon to wield against unwitting enemies. The horrific damage done to London and Coventry during the London Blitz is a prime example of the power this weapon of war had when used on England and other Allied nations.

Determined to one-up the Axis forces, President Franklin Roosevelt approved plans for an even better bomb — one that was smaller, faster, and … furrier. That’s right. The plan was to strap tiny explosives to tiny, live bats.

Why people thought this would be a good idea is anyone’s guess. The guy who proposed the scheme wasn’t even military — he was a dentist, and a friend of FDR’s wife, Eleanor. But America didn’t care about that. It was time to blow the crap out of Japan, and they were going to do it with the one weapon Japan didn’t have — flying rodents.

FDR consulted with zoologist Donald Griffin for his professional opinion before giving an official green light, apparently worried this “so crazy it just might work” idea might just be plain-old insane.

Griffin was a little skeptical too, but ultimately thought the whole bat thing was too cool to pass on. “This proposal seems bizarre and visionary at first glance,” he wrote in April 1942, according to The Atlantic, “but extensive experience with experimental biology convinces the writer that if executed competently it would have every chance of success.” Aces, Griffin.

The official strategy was to attach napalm explosives to each individual bat, store about 1,000 bats in large, bomb-safe crates, and release about 200 of those cases from a B-29 bomber as it flew over Japanese cities. That meant up to 200,000 bats could be unleashed at once — which would be terrifying even if they weren’t on a suicide mission.

After they were released into the air, these little angels of death would roost inside buildings on the ground. Then after a few hours their explosives would detonate, igniting the building and causing total chaos.

At least, that was the plan. In reality, the bats were a little too good at their job, and escaped to nest under an American Air Force base’s airplane hanger during an experiment. You can guess how that went. Surprisingly, the incineration of the building didn’t put a damper on the operation — people were just more convinced of the bats volatility, and excited to see them used in real combat.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, let’s be real), the U.S. never got to add “weaponized bats” to its military repertoire. It was decided that equipping small flying animals with napalm bombs could yield unpredictable results, and the investment wouldn’t be worth the possible military gains. Shocker.

3. The “Gay Bomb” that would cause enemies to “make love, not war”

Hindsight is always 20-20, but how anyone took this “military strategy” seriously is completely beyond us. In quite possibly the least politically-correct display of derring-do in American history, the U.S. prepared to take its enemies out in a way they would never expect — by turning them gay.

Let’s take a moment to let that sink in. The United States of America, one of the most powerful countries in the world, was convinced that getting the enemy to “switch teams” was the key to military prowess. Oh, and did we mention this happened in 1994?

The Wright Laboratory proposed a project that would require six years of research and a $7.5 million grant to create this bomb, along with other bizarre ideas — including as a bomb that would cause insects to swarm the enemy. So they really had the best and brightest American minds on this thing.

The goal was to drop extremely powerful chemical aphrodisiacs on enemy camps, rendering the men too “distracted” to um … leave their tents. Yes, this was a real idea that involved discharging female sex pheromones over enemy forces in order to make them sexually attracted to each other.

The project was still considered viable in 2002, when the proposal’s findings were sent to the National Academy of Sciences.

At the time the Pentagon and the Department of Defense held that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service,” consistent with Clinton’s infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The gay bomb never got off the ground because researchers at the Wright lab discovered no such “chemical pheromones” existed, leaving the crazy idea with zero means to execute it. The Wright Lab did, however, win the IG Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts, a tongue-and-cheek gesture from the Annals of Improbable Research.

4. B.F. Skinner’s pigeon-guided missile system

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Photo: the brigade.com

WWII is a treasure trove of weird military experiments, and famed psychologist B.F. Skinner’s contribution to the American cause may be one of the most bizarre.

The plan? Place live pigeons inside missiles, and train them to direct it to the correct target, ensuring that no target was missed. The target would be displayed on a digital screen inside the missile, and the pigeon would be trained to peck the target until the bomb would correct its course and start heading in the right direction.

Despite pretty hefty financial investment in the idea, it was ultimately decided that the time it would take to train the pigeons, and the fact that missiles would have to be updated with tiny screens for them to peck at, wasn’t worth the trouble.

5. America tried to take out the Viet Cong with clouds

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Maybe Forrest Gump was experiencing Operation Popeye Photo: duels.net

This is one experiment that actually did happen, though that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous than our other contenders. When people think of the American military’s methods of chemical warfare in Vietnam, Agent Orange is what immediately comes to mind — but this chemical wasn’t the only weapon the U.S. employed in its battle against the Viet Cong. The CIA developed a strategy called cloud seeding in 1963, which would release chemicals into the air that would manipulate weather patterns, causing unusual amounts of rainfall for the surrounding area.

And we’re not talking your run-of-the-mill thunderstorm, either. Vietnam gets a ridiculous amount of rain already (remember that clip from Forrest Gump?), so the U.S. needed weather that would literally wash away the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Or at least try to.

The mission, called Operation Popeye, involved dumping iodine and silver flares from cargo planes over Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Scientists predicted that these chemical agents would cause a surge in rainfall and even extend the monsoon period, screwing with the Viet Cong’s communication networks and basically making things more unpleasant for everyone involved.

The results weren’t fantastic, but the U.S. didn’t roll over. The operation continued for five years, undertaking over 2,000 missions and releasing nearly 50,000 cloud-seed chemicals throughout the trail. Lack of results aside, the dedication is still impressive.

Articles

These amazing Spanish-American War photos were found during a recent Navy office renovation

In 2014, archivists from the U.S. Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) uncovered a rare trove of photos while moving furniture around during an office renovation. The photos were a donation in their backlog, glass prints of 150 images of the Navy during the Spanish-American War and Philippine War that followed.


The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Admiral George Dewey, who led the defeat the Spanish at Manila Bay. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

The photos were taken by Douglas White, a special correspondent of the San Francisco Examiner during the conflict. His photos were uncovered at the beginning of a restoration project of the NHHC facility at Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard.

“Once it was realized what they had uncovered, there was tremendous excitement amongst the staff, especially the historians,” Lisa Crunk, the head of the NHHC’s photo archives told Navy.mil. “The images are an amazing find, though they were never really lost – they were simply waiting to be re-discovered.”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Captain Dennis Geary of the California Heavy Artillery rides his horse through Cavite in the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
American sailors pictured during the Spanish-American war. They are Dave Ireland, Purdy, Tom Griffin and John King. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

 

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Apprentice boys pictured aboard the USS Olympia, the flagship of the Asiatic Squadron. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

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The Spanish Fleet docked at the Suez Canal. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
David Colamaria, Naval History and Heritage Command’s photographic section archivist, looks at a glass plate photograph of Spanish Adm. Pasqual Cervera taken in 1898 or 1899. The photo archives staff found a wooden box containing approximately 150 glass plate photographs depicting scenes from the Spanish American and Philippine Wars. The glass plate photographs were likely prepared by photographer Douglas White, a war correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner during the Philippine War. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford)

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Spanish sailors aboard the cruiser Reina Cristina in prayer before battle on April 24, 1898. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
An undated photo show American troops disembarking from a ship onto small boats near Cavite, Phillipines in 1898 or 1899. The photo archives staff found a wooden box containing approximately 150 glass plate photographs depicting scenes from the Spanish-American and Philippine Wars. The glass plate photographs were likely prepared by photographer Douglas White, a war correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner during the Philippine War. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
This photo shoes the Spanish cruiser, the Castilla, that was lost in the Battle of Manila Bay with 25 men killed and 80 wounded.

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
The USS Petrel, part of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet during the Spanish-American War.

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
The USS Raleigh in action against the Spanish in 1898.

 

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The USS Boston, ca 1898. The Boston was in the Battle of Manila.

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
An undated photo shows soldiers manning a battle signal corps station during the Spanish American War. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command/ Released)

Lists

The 14 best military non-fiction books of all-time

We here at WATM love putting together lists and rankings, so it makes sense for us create one for non-fiction books. We read quite often, and not surprisingly considering we’re a bunch of military veterans, those books often deal with military topics.


These are our picks for best military non-fiction books of all-time. (If you’d like to see our picks for fiction, click here.) The books below are numbered but not in rank order. All of these are great reads.

1. “The Forever War” by Dexter Filkins

If you want to gain an understanding of America’s war with radical Islamists, look no further than “The Forever War” by journalist Dexter Filkins. As a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, Filkins begins his book as the Taliban rises to power in Afghanistan, writes of the aftermath following the Sept. 11th attacks, and then continues through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Told from ground level by the only American journalist who reported on all of these events, Filkins does not write a neat history lesson. Instead, he tells individual stories of people — from ordinary citizens to soldiers — and how they are affected by the incidents that happen around them. He does it using beautiful prose, and with little bias.

 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

2. “The Pentagon Wars” by James Burton

Former Air Force Col. James Burton gives the inside account of what it’s like when the Pentagon wants to develop a new weapons system. Having spent 14 years in weapons acquisition and testing, Burton details his struggle during the development of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle with those above him who were often more interested in supporting defense contractors instead of troops in the field.

Burton spends much of the book writing of the small band of military reformers who worked hard trying to fix the problems of Pentagon procurement from the 1960s to the 1980s, and he suffered professionally for “rocking the boat” as a result. For example, after suggesting that the Bradley’s armor should be tested against Soviet antitank weaponry, the Army — knowing it would never hold up — tried to get Burton transferred to Alaska. The very serious book also inspired a very funny movie made by HBO:

3. “Black Hawk Down” by Mark Bowden

Most people have seen the movie, but this is one of those times when you should definitely read the book. This brilliant account by journalist Mark Bowden tells the story of the Oct. 3, 1993 battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, when hundreds of elite U.S. Army soldiers fought back against thousands of militants when a routine mission went wrong.

With remarkable access, research, and interviews, Bowden recreates the battle minute-by-minute and perfectly captures the brutality of the fight and the heroism of those who fought and died there.

4. “One Bullet Away” by Nathaniel Fick

This book gives an inside look at the transformation that takes place from civilian to Marine Corps officer. A classics major at Dartmouth, Fick joins the Marines in 1998 an idealistic young man and leaves a battle-hardened and skilled leader after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At times very personal and unpleasant, Fick’s book recounts plenty of combat experiences. But that is not the real draw. His wonderful detailing of the training, mindset, and actions of Marine officers on today’s battlefields makes this a must-read.

5. “Band of Brothers” by Stephen Ambrose

Historian Stephen Ambrose’s account Easy Co. in “Band of Brothers” is quite simply, an account of ordinary men doing extraordinary things. The book — which later became a 10-part miniseries on HBO — takes readers from the unit’s tough training in 1942 all the way to its liberation of Hitler’s “Eagles Nest” in 1945.

Band of Brothers illustrates what one of Ambrose’s sources calls ‘the secret attractions of war … the delight in comradeship, the delight in destruction … war as spectacle,’ writes Tim Appelo in his review.

6. “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young” by Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway

One of the first significant engagements between American and Vietnamese forces in 1965 was also one of the most savage. The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley is told by Lt. Col. Moore and Galloway, a reporter who was there, and it serves as both a testament to the bravery and perseverance of the 450 men who fought back after being surrounded by 2,000 enemy troops.

While the book was later made into a movie, it’s well-worth reading if only for the stories of Rick Rescorla, the platoon leader featured on the cover of the book whose nickname was “Hard Core.”

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Rick Rescorla

7. “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu

More than 2,000 years old and still relevant today, “The Art of War” is a must-read book on military theory and strategy. But its maxims can be applied by those far outside the combat arms. Tzu offers advice relevant to everyone from Army generals to CEOs.

“Absorb this book, and you can throw out all those contemporary books about management leadership,” wrote Newsweek.

8. “Flyboys” by James Bradley

There have been many contemporary accounts written of World War II, but “Flyboys” manages to bring to light something that had remained hidden for nearly 60 years. James Bradley tells the story of nine Americans who were shot down in the Pacific off the island of Chichi Jima.

One of them, George H.W. Bush, was rescued. But what happened to the eight others was covered up and kept secret from their families by both the U.S. and Japanese governments. Bradley, who wrote “Flags of our Fathers,” conducted extensive research and uncovered a story that has never been told before.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
George H.W. Bush

9. “1776” by David McCullough

Written in a compelling narrative style, David McCullough’s “1776” retells the year of America’s birth in wonderful detail. McCullough is an incredible storyteller who puts you right there, feeling as if you are marching in the Continental Army.

From the Amazon description:

In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence—when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

10. “Generation Kill” by Evan Wright

As a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, Evan Wright rode with the Marines of 1st Recon Battalion into Iraq in 2003. Embedded among the men, Wright captures the story of that first month of American invasion along with the grunt mindset, how the Marines interact, and captures the new generation of warriors that has emerged after 9/11.

Soldiers today are “on more intimate terms with the culture of the video games, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own families,” Wright told Booklist (One 19-year-old corporal compares driving into an ambush to a Grand Theft Auto video game: “It was fucking cool.”)

11. “The Outpost” by Jake Tapper

A monster of a book at 704 pages, journalist Jake Tapper tells a powerful story of an Afghan outpost that was doomed to fail even before soldiers built it. Beginning with the decision to build a combat outpost in Nuristan in 2006, Tapper reveals a series of bad decisions that would ultimately lead to a battle for survival at that outpost three years later — one that would see multiple soldiers earn the Medal of Honor for their heroism.

Known as Combat Outpost Keating, the story of the base is one that is worth reading. With its bestseller status, rave reviews by critics, and most importantly, the soldiers who fought there, it’s safe to say “The Outpost” gets it right.

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps

12. “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

Found on many military reading lists, Grossman’s “On Killing” is a landmark study of how soldiers face the reality of killing other humans in combat, and how military training overcomes their aversion to such an act.

A former West Point psychology professor, Grossman delves into the psychological costs of war and presents a compelling thesis that human beings have an instinctual aversion to killing. With this, he also shows how militaries overcome this central trait through conditioning and real-world training.

13. “The Guns of August” by Barbara Tuchman

This Pulitzer-Prize winning book is a masterpiece of military history. Delivering an account of the first month of World War I in 1914, Tuchman tells not just a war story, but an event that would upend the modern world.

“This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war,” reads the publisher’s description. “How quickly it all changed, and how horrible it became. Tuchman is masterful at portraying this abrupt change from 19th to 20th Century.”

14. “The Good Soldiers” by David Finkel

Embedded among the soldiers of 2-16 Infantry as part of President Bush’s last-chance “surge” in Iraq, journalist David Finkel captures the grim reality as troops face the chaotic, and often deadly, streets of Baghdad. The book often follows the overly-optimistic Col. Ralph Kauzlarich (motto: “It’s all good”).

But Finkel excels at capturing everyone up and down the chain-of-command, and tells their stories incredibly well. His book is less about big-picture surge strategy, and more about the soldiers on the ground who fought it. That is a very good thing.

Those are our picks. Did we miss one that you loved? Leave a recommendation in the comments.

Articles

6 reasons to fear the knife-hand

The “knife-hand” is the multi-tool gesture of the military. Actually, you can think of it as a Swiss army knife – pun intended.


The knife-hand is used in a plethora of ways ranging from administrative to instructional and even to gauge anger, according to Terminal Lance creator Maximilian Uriarte. “Never, anywhere in the Marine Corps, have I ever seen the knife-hand so flagrantly used. I always took note, however, that the higher the knife-hand is on the drill instructor, the more pissed off he is.” 

The 18 times America did crazy combat jumps
Image courtesy of Terminal Lance

Perhaps the reason the knife-hand commands so much attention is because they’re deadly, according to Duffel Blog. Here are six videos showing knife-hand devastation:

1. A Marine demonstrates the knife hand knockout on his curious buddy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ej5mQODqwM

2. Another Marine nearly hits the deck after a knife hand attack.

3. This guy takes two hits but is still able to walk.

4. It’s a good way to stop friends’ annoying shenanigans (if you know what you’re doing).

5. This nice couple practices their knife hands in front of their kids.

NOW: 23 photos of drill instructors terrifying the Hell out of Marine recruits

OR: Marine veteran chokes the hell out of a guy trying to rob a gas station

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