They say that life at sea is like living in a prison, but you don’t have to live like an inmate.
A sailor’s life at sea means not stepping on land for long periods of time. Sailors have to live with the items they board the ship with until they get a care package or make their first port visit. They can also visit the ship’s store, but those items aren’t the kinds of things that can improve quality of life, necessarily.
Here are a few things that can, however:
1. Zip Ties
The bulkheads – Navy speak for ship walls – have exposed beams, pipes, and wiring. Zip ties come in handy for attaching items to the pipes and beams while also helping to organize the wiring of electronic devices.
Use Velcro tape for sticking items to smooth surfaces. Attach velcro tape to the back of your iPad and the ceiling of your coffin rack for movies in bed. You can also use velcro for your wireless alert chime when skating.
3. Power strip
The ship provides power strips, but you can’t claim ownership. Having one handy will save you the frustration of having to barter for one. Just don’t forget to safety tag it, since electronics that are not safety tagged are grounds for confiscation.
4. Wireless hard drive
The ship has great movies, but options are limited. Bring a wireless hard drive filled with movies to stream to your mobile device for days when “Top Gun,” “Master and Commander,” and “An Officer And A Gentleman” are the only things playing.
5. Pen springs
It could be a long time before hitting port, so use a pen spring to protect your charger cables from crimping. Coffin lockers are notorious for ruining perfectly good cables. I recommend a Neiko Steel kit for their size selection.
6. Laundry wash bags
Skivvies and socks go missing in the ship’s laundry all the time. Use a medium size wash bag with your name written on it to ensure return. Don’t exceed more than two pairs of skivvies and two pairs of socks per bag to get a good wash.
7. Baby wipes
Speaking of skivvies, use baby wipes to prevent earning the skid of the day award. Baby wipes prevent rashes and preserve the ego.
8. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco
Even if you don’t smoke or dip, take a couple of cartons of cigarettes and chewing tobacco to use as bartering chips. You’d be amazed at what people are willing to give up for a tobacco fix.
9. Packs of energy shots
Whether you’re a snipe or an airedale, it’s important to stay alert, and it could mean the difference between life or death. Pack some energy shots for backup. We recommend RuckPack because they give you the extra boost without the jitters.
10. Packs of dry noodles
The galley is only open during specified hours, but work doesn’t just stop. Pack a box of dry noodles to prevent from going hungry when your schedule doesn’t align with the galley’s hours.
11. Hot water dispenser
You can’t eat those dry noodles without hot water. Hot water dispensers are especially handy for airedales whose break time is determined by the flight schedule.
Sailors live in close quarters to other shipmates. With racks (Navy bunks) stacked three high in berthings that can have 80 or more people, they have to endure each other’s funk. Take some Febreze to help you tame the smells.
13. Foot locker storage bin
Personal space on a ship is limited to your coffin rack and a stand-up locker. However, if you have a good relationship with your LPO and shop mates, you can probably take a foot locker that you can store in the shop. These are great for storing your bartering items and port souvenirs.
Would you add anything to this list? Add it in the comments.
Everyone knows there are risks to joining the Army, but there are the dangers that everyone knows about thanks to movies, and then there are the dangers that soldiers learn about during their time in service.
Most movies make it look like the only way to die is in combat. But movies like “Jarhead” and “Starship Troopers” remind everyone that there are a lot of under appreciated ways to die in the military, like being killed by your own artillery or friendly fire from a machine gunner.
Here are five relatively unknown ways to get your ticket punched in the Army
1. It’s not “Danger close” until it has a 0.1 percent chance of incapacitating you
“Danger close” is one of those military terms that pops up in movies from time to time. It’s usually used correctly with artillery observers yelling it on the radio when they need bombs or artillery.
Danger close fires are still often a good idea since they’re only used when a U.S. position is about to be overwhelmed, but they’re super dangerous. If the artillery line is asked to fire a total of 150 rounds in a danger close situation, then they have an 8.6 percent chance of hitting an American even if they do everything perfectly.
Any mistake increases the risk.
2. Human chemical detectors
In the unlikely event of a chemical or biological attack, all members of the military don protective masks and suits and chemical soldiers track how the enemy agents break down until it’s safe. But someone has to be the first to take off their mask.
3. Every weapon malfunctions and malfunctions can kill you
The Army works hard to purchase and deploy effective and dependable weapons, but every weapon has a chance to fail even when it’s properly maintained. While soldiers usually act in training like helicopters only fall when shot at and weapons always fire until they overheat, that simply isn’t the case.
American soldiers are trained to target enemy combatants with radios in an attempt to shutdown the adversary’s command and control networks. Unfortunately, the enemy has figured this out too and uses the same tactics.
What that means for every platoon leader and sergeant, every radio telephone operator, and every artillery observer is that their antenna is a huge target painted on their backs.
5. Even in training, the weakest link can get you killed
But the scariest thing about being in the Army is when you realize that you’re life depends on everyone around you, and some of those guys are pretty stupid. In combat, these guys can get you killed by not being good at their jobs, but there are risks in training as well.
Artillery crews can miscalculate and hit friendly troops, helicopter pilots can crash, troops who have negligent discharges can send rounds anywhere. Obviously, sexier training is more dangerous. Shoot houses with live ammo and artillery ranges are more dangerous than practicing to escape a rolled over vehicle.
While pretty much all of the veterans here at WATM served in the military fairly recently, we weren’t on first sergeant’s speed dial. If he or she wanted something, he’d send a “runner,” but with technology going the way it has been, it’s probably only a matter of time before troops start getting texts instead.
This is probably not a good thing. Here are nine messages you probably never want to see coming from the phone number of “The Diamond.”
1. Get your ass outside my office. Time: RIGHT F–KING NOW.
He doesn’t need to give you details, because he’s the frigging First Sergeant. But what you can be very sure of just from this very short text: He’s pissed. He’s really pissed… AT YOU.
2. We’re going out to the field this weekend. Gear inspection Friday at 1730.
There goes your plans for the weekend. After you read this one, you’ll have to call off your plans to support your local strip club and tattoo parlor. But look on the bright side: At least you’ll be saving money.
3. Gas mask PT tomorrow. Company office at 0500.
Do you hate breathing? Do you like to run? Why not combine both of these things into something your leaders call “Gas Mask PT.”
4. Why was a member of your squad caught drunk and naked at the front gate?
This is a question that really has no good answer. In the first sergeant’s mind, that drunken naked idiot is a direct reflection of your leadership, and anything you say is going to be bad. Prepare to have your butt completely chewed off.
5. Just got call from MPs. Report to my office in dress uniform in 15.
This is more upsetting than a scary movie. A call from military police, and now you have to report in to “the diamond.” What the hell did I do now? Did I not check her ID card?
6. ALL HANDS PISS TEST. Company office in 10.
It’s not necessarily that you did drugs or are worried about popping on the piss test (although that could be a concern). But pissing into a cup as some dude checks out your junk can make anyone nervous. Back off, dude.
7. Too many DUIs in company. Recall formations this weekend at 0600, 1200, and 1800 daily.
Mass punishment. It’s First Sergeant’s favorite pastime. In his mind, you may not have driven drunk, but you could have done something to stop those other guys. Somehow.
8. I’m inspecting the barracks in two hours.
You have a few options: You can try hard to clean your room because first sergeant will probably break out the white gloves to look for dust. Or you can run to the 7-day store and pick up Maxim magazine, Playboy, and a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and place them where he’s guaranteed to look. This distraction may just save your life.
9. What are you wearing?
If you get this text from your first sergeant, you should probably be worried. DON’T RESPOND. Let’s just pretend this one never happened.
Although the perfect movie doesn’t exist, 1994’s Forrest Gump gets pretty damn close. Directed by legendary filmmaker, Robert Zemeckis, the film chronicles the fictional life of a man who lacks social intelligence but makes up for it with an incredible amount of heart.
Out of all the outstanding characters the film showcases, outside of Forrest, many moviegoers wanted to see “Lt. Dan” overcome his demons and succeed at life, but we only catch a glimpse of it.
Although the movie does feature his character arch, seeing his unique journey, start to finish, would have been awesome.
These are four reasons why we think Lt. Dan should have gotten his own freakin’ sequel.
4. He knew his sh*t
We first meet Lt. Dan as Forrest and Bubba wrongfully salute him in the field. He quickly corrects their saluting and just as quickly explains why.
To other veterans, this is an excellent detail. We’ve seen many films where enlisted troops salute an officer in a war zone, and they don’t get briefed on why they shouldn’t do that.
Lt. Dan knows his sh*t, plus, he told them to take care of their feet, which is huge in the infantry and often left out of movies.
Lt. Dan Taylor informs Forrest and Bubba of a few of the “what-nots” to surviving in Vietnam. (Image from Paramount Pictures’ Forrest Gump)
3. Focus on Lt. Dan before Forrest shows up
We get a pretty comedic backstory of Lt. Dan’s family members fighting and dying in previous wars. However, we don’t know too much of what he’s done in Vietnam other than he’s probably been “in-country” for a while when we meet him.
We think it would be pretty awesome to see him when he was just a boot.
Maybe he looked a lot like this? (Image from Columbia Tristar Home Video’s A Midnight Clear)
2. What happened to Lt. Dan after he left the war?
We were all a little surprised when Forrest tried to give Lt. Dan some ice cream, only to find out he was transported back to the States. For the most part, we know how sh*tty Vietnam vets were treated after they returned from the war, which f*cking sucks.
“Lt. Dan, ice cream.” (Image from Paramount Pictures’ Forrest Gump)
Personally, we would love to have seen Lt. Dan bark back at some of the Vietnam protestors when he encounters them on the street… or something like that.
Lt. Dan was a yeller — we all know that. He yelled at Forrest when he had legs, and even more after he’d lost them. But, toward the end of the film, we see a cleaned up version of Lt. Dan, married, and sporting new, magic legs.
As veterans, we all know the struggle of overcoming adversity, and to see Lt. Dan clean up his life up — that’s impressive. But, we’d like to see how it all happened in a sequel.
Lt. Dan all cleaned up with his new magic legs at his best friend’s wedding. (Image from Paramount Pictures’ Forrest Gump)
DoD’s embed program and other mechanisms have given journalists and filmmakers substantial access to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it’s no surprise that those conflicts have been some of the best documented in history. Here is WATM’s list of 11 post 9-11 documentaries that did the best at capturing what really happened:
The Hornet’s Nest
A father-son journalism team embedded on what was supposed to be a three-day raid but ended up being nine days of intense fighting by the 101st Airborne.
A group of paratroopers is deployed to the Korengal Valley, one of the most dangerous spots in Afghanistan, for 15 months. During that time, they fight smugglers and insurgents, attempt to win over the locals, and try to save themselves. A camera crew followa them for much of the deployment, documenting their interactions with Afghans and the deep love the men have for each other.
A group of Danish cavalry soldiers deploy on a six-month tour of Helmand and a Danish filmmaker goes with them. The film includes a lot of the tedium of a soldier’s life as well as a raid where the soldiers find themselves within a few meters of a Taliban machine gun team.
Hell and Back Again
Nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Academy Award, this film tells the story of a Marine injured in Afghanistan who, after returning to the states, struggles with his post traumatic stress disorder and a badly broken leg. “Hell and Back Again” gives a visceral look at how hard it can be for wounded troops to return to civilian life.
This is a very critical look at the American drone program. Drone explains the factors that make drones so popular with troops while also looking at the moral burdens on drone operators and emotional pain of those who’ve lost family members to drone strikes.
The War Tapes
Directed by Deborah Scranton and shot by National Guard soldiers over the course of their training and deployment to Iraq, the documentary focuses on three men with very different views on the war and their commander in chief. This film is arguably the best in terms of capturing the burdens on the modern-day citizen soldier.
Taxi to the Dark Side
An in-depth look at torture during the opening years of the War on Terror, including the decisions made by the Bush administration. It covers Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and the leadership (or absence of it) that governed actions in two prisons. Made by the son of a former Navy interrogator, the film went on to win an Academy Award.
No End In Sight
Although “No End In Sight” was released in 2007, the film concentrates on Iraq in the first year after the invasion. It features interviews with White House and State Department officials who were frustrated with missteps that fueled the growing insurgency and caused extra misery for both Iraqi citizens and the U.S. troops assigned to police them.
The Ground Truth
“The Ground Truth” follows a group of Marines and soldiers from the point they’re recruited and then on to their experiences in war. Troops tell their stories in their own words from their initial training through deployments and struggles once they get home.
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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.
Every single day, service members head down to their personnel office to pick up the most important document they will ever hold, second only to their birth certificate: a DD-214.
But, before they can obtain that beloved document, they must first get signatures on a checkout sheet, officially clearing them of debt of any kind, including owed gear or monetary debt.
Unfortunately, some troops may not have had the most positive experience serving and rush through the checkout process, skipping or side-stepping essential aspects to quickly get out the door.
It happens more often than you’d think.
These service members-turned-veterans end up regretting not taking the time to navigate through the process correctly. Since going back in time is impossible, we’ve created a list of things you should not skip in hopes that the next generation of veterans don’t find themselves in a world of hurt.
Here are the six steps troops shouldn’t skip before getting out of the military.
6. Hitting up dental
Until the day you get out, the military pays for all of your medical expenses. So, don’t skip out on getting all those cavities filled or those teeth properly cleaned before exiting.
That sh*t gets expensive in the real world.
5. Attending TAPS
The term is really ‘TAP,’ but most service members add the ‘S’ on for some reason. Anyways, the term means, “Transition Assistance Program.” This is where service members gather the tools to help with their transition out of the military. Some branches require taking this course, while others just recommend it.
Every service member should take advantage.
4. Openly talking about future plans with others
A lot of exiting troops don’t have a realistic path for their future, they don’t like to talk about it. The problem of not talking to others about your plans is, you never know what opportunities or ideas may arise from a simple conversation.
So, be freakin’ vocal!
3. Updating your medical record
Every medical encounter you’ve been involved in should be documented. From that simplest cold you had three years ago to that fractured bone you sustained while working on the flight deck — it should be in your record.
2. Getting your education squared away
If you plan on going straight to school when you get out, then hopefully you’ve already been accepted. Gather up all your training documents and school papers from your branch’s education archive. You could also save a lot of time by avoiding classes you don’t need if you have that sh*t squared away ahead of time.
Plus, the government is paying you to go to school, but don’t expect that first paycheck to be seamless — prepare for it to be late.
Remember when we talked about getting your medical records up-to-date? You’ll get a sh*tty disability percentage your first time up anyway, but having your medical record looking flawless will help your case in getting that much-earned money — and we like money!
A lot happened this week. It’s a good thing healthcare is still healthcare, because now the Juice is loose. So forget the news. It’s time to kick back and chill out with some clever, good-natured comedy.
Since we don’t have any of that, here are the top military memes of the week.
1. Fight senior leadership with words, not swords.
2. Somewhere a trainee got recycled so far back through basic training, they’re wearing BDUs.
3. If you break one soldier, there are literally thousands more.
The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
An MV-22 Osprey takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).
MARINETTE, Wis., (July 18, 2015) The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Little Rock (LCS 9) is launched into the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisc. after a christening ceremony at the Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard.
Lance Cpl. David Sellers, a refrigeration mechanic with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embraces his wife with a kiss during the Command Element’s homecoming at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
I SAW You
A Marine with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines provides cover for fellow Marines moving between buildings during a military operations in urban terrain training event aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C.
SOUTHWEST, Asia – U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Zachary Claus and Lance Cpl. Luis Alvarez, avionics technicians with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron – 165 (VMM – 165), Special Purpose Marine Air – Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, take multimeter readings from the engine of an MV–22 Osprey.
Marines assigned to 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and an Army instructor assigned to U.S. Army Alaska‘s Northern Warfare Training Center, conduct military alpine operations, at Black Rapids Training Site and Gulkana Glacier.
A soldier, assigned to the Georgia National Guard, fires a Mark 19 40-mm grenade machine gun from a Humvee during mounted weapons qualification, part of the unit’s annual training, at Fort Stewart, Ga., July 21, 2015.
The Thunderbirds Delta Formation flies over Niagara Falls, N.Y., July 20, 2015.
Five members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation behind a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan, July 23, 2015. The Thunderbirds are the Air Force’s premier air demonstration team and perform at different events across the country every year.
Line handlers from the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer moor the Coast Guard Barque Eagle in Boston, Thursday, July 23, 2015. The Eagle was operated by the pre-World War II German navy and taken as a war reparation by the U.S., is now a training ship where cadets and officer candidates learn leadership and practical seamanship skills.
The Coast Guard Barque Eagle is in Boston Harbor, Thursday, July 23, 2015. The Eagle, operated by the pre-World War II German navy and taken as a war reparation by the U.S., is now a training ship where cadets and officer candidates learn leadership and practical seamanship skills.
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.
Most soldiers have a valid reason for joining the military: family, patriotism, better opportunities — chances are they made their mind up long ago. For those who joined during a “huh, that sounds like a good idea!” moment, they probably got the idea after seeing a television commercial or billboard — complete with noteworthy slogans.
While this list is compiled fairly loosely, it still illustrates a range from complete sh*tshow to absolutely iconic:
7. Army of One (2001 to 2006)
Oh boy. There’s no contest on which slogan goes to the very bottom.
Not only did it invoke the sense of individuality over teamwork, but all of the quotes that went on the posters just came off as pretentious.
6. Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Go Army! (1950 to early 70’s)
This slogan was plastered on billboards around the country. But during the draft, the second slogan was kind of…mean: “Your future, your decision…choose ARMY.”
Not really your decision if you’re drafted, huh?
5. Join the people who’ve joined the Army (mid 70’s)
Because of slogans like “Today’s Army Wants to Join You” (whaaaat?) and because of the rumors that there was beer in the barracks and loose rules and things like that, “…it was perceived by a great many Americans that the Army would be an undisciplined Army,” said Secretary of the Army Bo Callaway.
This campaign was very short lived before the Army reverted back to the next entry on our list because of a kickback scandal involving the ad agency. It was fairly basic in just giving the facts. It was created out of the fear of soldiers drinking in the barracks…which totally never happens…
4. Today’s Army Wants to Join You (early 70’s to 1980)
After the Vietnam War came to an end, the Army had a bit of an image problem. Drafting men to fight in an era of hippies took its toll when it came time to transition into an all-volunteer Army.
So the Army loosened many of its restrictions to try to appeal to the more free lifestyle of the youth counter-culture. It was a twist on the classic “I Want You for U.S. Army” poster with the added intensive that the Army would “care more about how you think than how you cut your hair.”
I mean, it was effective. So it lands firmly in the middle of the list.
3. Army Strong (2006 to Present)
After the blunder that was “Army of One,” they decided to strip down the advertisements to just show all the cool things you can do in the Army.
Nothing but the bare bones of soldiers doing awesome things. No lies being spread. No sense of individuality trumping your unit. Just “Look how cool this sh*t is!” Plus it gave us a catchy theme song that gets stuck in everyone’s head after a battalion run.
(The only down side is that the other branches definitely use this slogan against the Army.)
2. Be All You Can Be (1980 to 2001)
The Cold War still had not thawed when they came up with this scheme but then it seemed to fit with everything 80’s and 90’s — so it stuck.
The emphasis was more on using cool promises to get lost high schoolers to join after graduation. I hate to break it to the kid below, but are a lot of steps before you can become a pilot.
The original James M. Flagg poster turned countless heads across the country during the first World War. Even after the armistice, the posters stuck around.
The iconic poster made its round again to bring the Greatest Generation back into the fray. It has since been imitated, referenced, and adapted, even if it was also a reference to the British “Your Country Needs YOU” campaign.
Would you have ranked it differently? Were there any we left out? Let us know in the comment section!
The military has built generations of outstanding citizens who have been leaders, entrepreneurs, and hard-working members of their communities. But we can also thank the military for the rise of some interesting pop culture phenomenon, from stand-up comedy to Dr. Seuss.
We found nine examples with some surprising roots in military service, detailed here. Have any more? Let us know in the comments.
Joseph Heller served as a B-24 crewman in World War II, and his experiences with dealing with unreasonable officers and the overall futility of war became the basis for the legendary novel Catch-22.
In many ways the novel was ahead of its time. The movie Catch-22 was released over ten years after the book was originally published, when the American public was more ready for irreverent portrayals of military life due to the attitudes that surrounded the Vietnam War.
Stand Up Comedy for the Masses
George Carlin was an Air Force radar tech stationed a Barksdale Air Force Base in 1954 when he started working as a DJ at a local radio station on the side. What made him popular on the airwaves made him a problem to his chain of command, and his wise-ass attitude got him court-martialed three times and earned him the official label of “unproductive airman.”
Carlin later said that as far as his military service went, he was most proud of barely avoiding getting a dishonorable discharge.
Kurt Vonnegut was a private in the U.S. Army when he was taken prisoner by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. “Bayonets aren’t much good against tanks,” he later said. He was taken to Dresden and made the leader of his group of prisoners because he spoke some German.
He was there when Dresden was firebombed by allied bombers and said that the aftermath of the attack on the defenseless city was “utter destruction” and “carnage unfathomable.” The experience was the inspiration for his famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, and is a central theme in at least six of his other books.
Harvey Milk served as a diver during the Korean War, remaining a closeted homosexual primarily due to the attitudes of the shipmates who surrounded him.
When he left the Navy as a lieutenant (junior grade) he was tired of hiding his true self, and he started down a path that eventually took him to the Castro District in San Francisco where he led the first national gay rights movement.
The Beat Generation
Jack Kerouac joined the U.S. Merchant Marines in 1942, and in 1943 joined the U.S. Navy, but he served only eight days of active duty. The medical examiner reported Kerouac’s military adjustment was poor, quoting Kerouac: “I just can’t stand it; I like to be by myself.”
Two days later he was honorably discharged on psychiatric grounds. Kerouac’s military failure eventually led him to San Francisco where he joined Alan Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs and other writers to become the spiritual leaders of “The Beat Generation,” the first creative influencers to widely suggest that dropping out of normal American society was a viable option. Kerouac is best known for his book On the Road. (Source: The Smoking Gun)
While the facts surrounding his war record are disputed, it’s true that L. Ron Hubbard was a U.S. Navy officer during World War II. In spite of his claims to being wounded in battle, the Navy has no official records to document it.
According to U.S. Navy records, the majority of Hubbard’s experience is marked by poor performance, poor evaluations, no record of any combat experience, and Hubbard over-inflating his medical conditions to avoid any theater of war. Critics say Hubbard sensationalized his military record in order to aid in launching Scientology. (Source: The New Yorker)
The Rock Guitar God
Jimi Hendrix had a run-in with the law over stolen cars that led to a choice: he could either spend two years in prison or join the Army. He enlisted on May 31, 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. But he wasn’t a model soldier.
His CO at the time said, “His mind apparently cannot function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar.” Hendrix was discharged early as his problems were judged to not be treatable by “hospitalization or counseling.” An alleged ankle injury during a parachute jump showed Hendrix the door with an honorable discharge. The benefit of dental care while on active duty came in handy later in his musical career when he made playing with his teeth one of his trademarks. (Source: Military.com)
As World War II erupted, Theodor Seuss Geisel was a political cartoonist for a left-leaning New York newspaper and highly critical of isolationists like Charles Lindberg.
He joined the war effort officially in 1943, and was made the commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces, where he wrote films that included Your Job in Germany, a 1945 propaganda film about peace in Europe after World War II; Our Job in Japan, and the Private Snafu series of adult army training films. His war experience motivated him to create a more gentle world: the Dr. Seuss series of books.
Humphrey Bogart’s Trademark Lisp
The legendary star of movies like “Casablanca” and “The Maltese Falcon,” Humphrey Bogart served in the U.S. Navy during World War I.
He was injured while on assignment to take a naval prisoner to Portsmouth Naval Prison in Kittery, Maine. While changing trains in Boston, the handcuffed prisoner asked Bogart for a cigarette and while Bogart looked for a match, the prisoner raised his hands, smashed Bogart across the mouth with his cuffs, cutting Bogart’s lip, and fled. The injury affected Bogart’s speech, giving him his trademark lisp that wows movie buffs to this day. (Source: Wikipedia)
There are currently 20 aircraft carriers in service with nine different countries around the world today. Five of those countries are currently building new aircraft carriers, which are expected to take to the seas in the next few decades.
The US, UK, China, India, and Italy are all either in the process of building new flattops or are in the final stages of planning. Aircraft carriers that support fixed-wing, smaller helicopters are being built and may be upgraded to carry aircraft, like the F-35B, which has vertical take-off and landing capabilities.
See the newest aircraft carriers here:
1. USS Gerald R. Ford
The USS Gerald R. Ford was laid down in November 2009, completed in October 2013, and commissioned in July 2017. It is the lead ship of its class and is planned to be the first of 10 new aircraft carriers.
The ship has a number of new technologies, like the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, which is intended to replace the steam-powered launch system on current aircraft carriers.
With a length of 1,106 feet, Ford is expected to carry over 75 individual aircraft, with most of them planned to be F-35 variants. However, due to technical and delivery issues, Ford will likely not see F-35s on her deck until late 2018 at the earliest.
Ford recently tested launching F/A-18F Super Hornets off of its deck. It is expected to be fully operational and integrated and into the US Navy by 2022.
2. USS John F. Kennedy
USS John F. Kennedy is the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier to be built for the US Navy. The ship was reportedly 50% structurally complete as of June 2017.
Kennedy is currently under construction at a Huntington Ingalls Industries facility in Newport News, Virginia. The carrier was originally supposed to be completed in 2018, but it ran into a number of problems during construction.
Most of the problems stem from cost issues relating to the Gerald R. Ford. Ford had a cost increase of 22%, topping $12.8 billion in 2008.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended delaying the commissioning of the ship in 2013. It is now expected to be commissioned in 2020.
3. USS Enterprise
USS Enterprise is the third Gerald R. Ford-class carrier currently being built. The first cut of steel was cut in a ceremony August 2017 by the ship’s sponsors, Olympians Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles.
Enterprise will the be the ninth vessel in the US Navy to have the name. The previous ship was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ever built and was decommissioned February 2018.
Like the Ford and the Kennedy, Enterprise expected to carry over 75 aircraft.
4. HMS Queen Elizabeth
Commissioned in 2017, HMS Queen Elizabeth is the newest aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy, and currently Britain’s only active one as well.
Queen Elizabeth is unique from other carriers in that she has two control towers, one for sea operations, and one for air operations.
With a deck that is 932 feet long, Queen Elizabeth is intended to have up to 40 aircraft, with the F-35 being the main fixed-wing jet for the ship. Other aircraft planned to be included are Chinook helicopters, Apache AH MK1 gunships, AW101 Merlin transport helicopters, and AW159 Wildcat anti-surface warfare helicopters.
Queen Elizabeth docked for the first time at an overseas port on February 2018, when it visited Gibraltar.
5. HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Prince of Wales is Britain’s second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier. It is currently under construction at the Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland and will be Britain’s second aircraft carrier when complete.
Prince of Wales was officially named at a ceremony September 2017, which was attended by the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Rothesay.
December 2017, Prince of Wales un-docked and was afloat for the first time. The carrier was moved to her fitting-out berth, where she will have all of her equipment and controls added on.
The carrier is structurally complete and is expected to start sea trials in 2019 and be officially commissioned in 2020.
Liaoning is the Peoples Liberation Army Navy’s first combat-capable aircraft carrier. China had bought other aircraft carriers before to use as casinos and museum ships, but it wasn’t until it purchased a half-built Soviet carrier in 1998 that China seriously started its carrier program.
Liaoning is 999 feet long and has an air wing of 26 Shenyang J-15 multi-role fighters, 12 Changhe Z-18 anti-submarine warfare/transport helicopters, and two Harbin Z-9 utility helicopters.
The carrier was commissioned in 2012, and although the Liaoning is a fully functional aircraft carrier, it is currently classified as a training ship, so as to help the Chinese Navy (PLAN) become familiar with aircraft carrier operations.
The Type 001A is China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier. Initial construction started almost immediately after Liaoning was commissioned, and it has a number of improvements over its Soviet-built predecessor.
Most notably, the Type 001A has an overall length of 1,033 feet and is planned to carry 48 aircraft.
It is not known what the Type 001A will be named, but there was speculation that it will be named ‘Shandong.’ The carrier is currently being fitted out at the PLAN port in Dalian and is expected to be commissioned around 2020.
8. Type 002
The Type 002 will be China’s second domestically-built aircraft carrier, and the third in its fleet. It has been under construction since 2015 and is reportedly a massive leap forward for China’s aircraft carrier ambitions.
The Type 002 will be nuclear powered, which will make China only the third nation in the world to have nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the first two being the US and France.
The carrier will also have electromagnetic (EMALS) catapults to launch aircraft from its deck, which is expected to be longer than the Liaoning.
The EMALS systems will allow the carrier to launch more than just J-15s, the only jet that can be launched on China’s other two carriers. In fact, China announced that it wants its future aircraft carriers to launch its J-31 or J-20 stealth jets.
China announced that it intends to speed the development of the unnamed Type 002, which is part of its plans to have a “blue-water navy” by 2025.
9. INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya is currently India’s only aircraft carrier after India retired the INS Viraat in early 2017.
A heavily modified Kiev-class, it was originally built for the Soviet Navy in 1982 and served the Soviet Union under two names: Baku from 1987 to 1991, and Admiral Gorshkov from 1991 to 1996.
The carrier entered full service in the Indian Navy in 2013, after extensive modernization efforts.
Vikramaditya is 930 feet long and carries a total of 36 aircraft: 26 MiG-29K and 10 Kamov Ka-31 and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters. It is also the first ship in the Indian Navy to have an ATM on board.
1o. INS Vikrant
INS Vikrant is India’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier, and the first ship in the Indian Navy to be built completely using domestically-produced steel.
The carrier was ordered in 2004, and initial construction started in 2009. It is shorter than the Vikramaditya, with a total length of 860 feet. It will reportedly be able to carry 30 to 40 aircraft, mostly MiG-29Ks and helicopters.
The Vikrant has been the cause of a lot of headaches for India. It was delayed several times and has gone over budget, but is expected to finally start two years of sea trials by the end of 2018. It is planned to be commissioned in 2020.
Trieste will be Italy’s third aircraft carrier, after the Giuseppe Garibaldi and the Cavour. The Trieste is not a traditional aircraft carrier, but a Landing Helicopter Dock, more similar to the US Navy’s America-class amphibious assault ship.
Its total length is 803 feet, smaller than the America-class. It will hold 12 aircraft, probably AgustaWestland AW101s or NHIndustries NH90.
But the Italian Navy may put a small number of F-35Bs, the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F-35, on the Trieste, which would make it a conventional aircraft carrier that can carry fixed-wing aircraft.
Italy currently has San Giorgio-class amphibious transport docks.
Trieste is expected to be launched in 2019, and commissioned in 2022.
12. ROKS Marado
Like the Trieste, South Korea’s ROKS Marado is an amphibious assault ship. Construction started April 2017 and it is expected to be launched just a year later, in April 2018.
Current plans are to have Morado commissioned by 2020, which will make it South Korea’s second Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships, behind ROKS Dokdo, which was commissioned in July of 2007.
At 653 feet, the Morado can currently carry 10 helicopters like the UH-1H, UH-60P or the Westland Super Lynx. However, like Italy, South Korea is debating putting F-35Bs on the ships as well.