When the military needs to get where they’re going, they climb into some of the most intimidating military vehicles on the planet.
Gun turrets, heavy armor, and aggressive stylings all make sure enemies know death is bearing down on them. But in the World Wars, many of the vehicles of industrial warfare were just getting started. These are six of the scariest military vehicles that generation served in.
Though quieter in a dive than their nuclear counterparts, diesel submarines were fraught with dangers. The batteries could catch fire and asphyxiate the crew or explode and sink the boat. Sub crews also had to fear their own weapons as torpedoes would sometimes “circle run,” traveling in a loop and hitting the sub that fired them.
M4 Sherman Tank
Early design flaws, such as ammunition storage in the tank turret, made these military vehicles susceptible to large explosions from minor hits. While the flaws were later fixed, it was just in time for the tanks to start facing off against newer Axis tanks with larger guns and thicker armor than the M4. Tank crews were forced to sandbag the inside of their vehicles and weld spare steel or old vehicle tires to the outside. The 3rd Armored Division deployed with 242 tanks and lost 1,348 over the course of the war.
Flying Aircraft Carrier
Two were built: The USS Akron and the USS Macon. The Akron was introduced to the fleet at the end of 1931 and experienced fatal accidents in 1932 and 1933. The first occurred while the ship was attempting to moor in California. Three ground crew members were killed and one was injured. In 1933, a crash at sea resulted in 73 of the 76 members of the crew dying and the total loss of the ship.
One of the survivors, Lt. Cmdr. Herbert Wiley, later took command of the USS Macon. Another storm at sea in 1934 brought down the Macon, but due to the addition of life jackets and the launching of rescue boats, only two members of the crew died. All three fatal accidents involving the airships, as well as multiple other crashes, were caused or complicated by trouble balancing the large ships’ lift and ballast. Flying aircraft carriers were largely abandoned until November of last year when DARPA put out a call for new designs to carry drones.
Mark I Tank
The first tank to see combat, the British Mark 1 was revolutionary, but serving in it was rough. Inadequate ventilation meant the crew breathed carbon monoxide, fuel and oil vapors, and cordite fumes. Temperatures in the tank could climb to over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Crews endured the heat and noxious gasses while wearing metal face masks because rivets from the hull would shoot through the cabin when struck by enemy rounds.
Within two months of fielding, multiple wing failures led to the aircraft being grounded until it could be reinforced. One of the failures occurred while the famed Red Baron piloted it. In addition, the radiator was positioned immediately above the pilot, meaning holes from enemy fire caused the hot radiator fluid to immediately boil onto the pilot’s face.
Sherman DD Amphibious Tank
A descendant of the M4 Sherman above, the DD carried a rubber screen that would hold out water and allow it to float. But the craft could only handle waves up to one foot. They were deployed at D-Day where many sank due to rough seas and being launched far from shore. Crews were given breathing apparatuses in case they floundered, but the equipment only provided five minutes of air.
In the military, service members come and go as their orders cause them to relocate frequently. This means, at a moment’s notice, you need to pack up your gear and move on to the next portion of your military career.
It’s all a part of the job.
Many troops embrace the change while others have a minor fear of the unknown, which is natural. Although military service can be highly unpredictable, moving on to a new unit or command has its perks.
These are the six best things about checking into a new infantry unit:
6. Make a lifetime of memories
Many infantry units just deploy to isolated combat zones, but others sail across the ocean. So, if you’re shipping out on a MEU, grab that shock-proof camera and take some damn photos.
5. A change of scenery
You know that ratty looking place you once called your “workspace?” Yeah, it was kind of crappy, but you still made it work. Luckily, you’re moving on.
Although you might be working in another craphole, at least it’s at a different duty station that you probably chose — since you have a little more “say” where you go for your second command.
4. You could travel the world
Infantrymen and, now, some infantrywomen deploy on combat missions and or sails on ships the world over. You’d never have gotten to experience those moments if you hadn’t left the couch to go to the recruiter’s office.
3. More of chance for advancement
Now that you’re at your new duty station and you have some experience under your belt, you might not have as much competition when it comes to picking up rank rate.
Importing some of the valuable lessons you learned from your previous unit can only boost your appeal — but don’t be cocky.
2. Create new brother and sisterhoods
In the infantry, you’ll meet tons of people from Texas and a few from the other states. Since you’re going to be spending a sh*tload of time with them, friendships tend to build themselves, and those will last for a while — like forever.
Although the infantry community is small and your new first sergeant probably knows your old one, it’s still possible to get a fresh start and be better than you were in your previous unit… If you had a previous unit.
Being on a foot patrol in a war zone means you’ll need to have your eyes peeled and your ears open; troops need to be able to visually identify possible threats and hear commands and other instructions. When a firefight kicks off and bullets start to fly, things can get pretty damn hectic — and loud. In most cases, the “ground pounders” usually get a fix on the enemies’ position in a matter of minutes.
Once that happens, adrenaline kicks in and time moves a bit differently, but there are a few sounds you’ll never forget.
7. When your platoon sergeant says, “Hey gents, watch this!”
At times, well-trained troops make it a game to blow up the enemy’s position. It’s also a morale booster. When the platoon sergeant wants to draw a crowd to witness their combat efforts, you know the attack is about to be freakin’ epic.
6. The whistle of incoming ordnance
Calling in mortars on the bad guys means they weren’t sneaky enough to fire a few rounds at your position and then bug out. Once you hear the whistle of incoming ordnance, it’s just a matter of time before a mortar detonation will follow.
5. The BRRRRT of an A-10
This is hands down one of the best sounds you can ever hear in combat. Just to know you have a tank killer flying above you makes a world of difference on a foot patrol.
4. When the platoon passes word of a “gun run.”
After the ground troops get a fix on where the bad guys are hiding, the platoon sergeants love to call upon the efforts of their flying arsenal that patrols the skies.
A “gun run” is when an attack plane or helicopter initiates a nose dive toward a target with their heavy machine guns blazing. After they complete the “gun run,” they’ll fly back up and out of the enemy’s range. They’ll return if called upon and authorized.
After all the commotion, the sound of silencing the enemy offensive is awesome. But knowing you’re still standing tall and healthy is the one best feelings ever.
We love rubbing in a victory. (Image via GIPHY)
2. When “RTB” is announced over comms
“RTB” is short for “return to base.” Hearing these words calmly spoken after a firefight means you guys did your job and it’s time to go home to debrief and eat chow.
After a gunfight, most ground troops will “pop smoke” when they leave an area to give themselves cover of smoke. The hiss of the smoke grenade is an excellent way to put a mental check mark in the win column.
We’ve all seen “Saving Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers,” but here’s a list of facts from World War 2 that you probably didn’t know:
1. The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese.
2. The first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians.
3. Over 100,000 Allied bomber crewmen were killed over Europe.
4. More U.S. servicemen died in the Air Corps that the Marine Corps.
5. Polish Catholic midwife Stanisława Leszczyńska delivered 3,000 babies at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust in occupied Poland.
6. In World War II, British soldiers got a ration of three sheets of toilet paper a day. Americans got 22.
7. In 1941, more than three million cars were manufactured in the United States. Only 139 more were made during the entire war.
8. Four of every five German soldiers killed in the war died on the Eastern Front.
9. Only 20 percent of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war.
10. In World War II, the youngest serviceman in the United States military was Calvin Graham – age 12. Graham lied about his age when he enlisted in the US Navy. His real age was not discovered after he was wounded.
11. Only one out of every four men serving on U-boats survived.
12. The Siege of Stalingrad resulted in more Russian deaths (military and civilian) then the United States and Britain sustained (combined) in all of World War II.
13. To avoid using the German sounding name ‘hamburger’ during World War II, Americans used the name ‘Liberty Steak.’
14. Adolf Hitler’s nephew, William Hitler, served in the US Navy during World War II.
15. During World War II, the largest Japanese spy ring was actually located in Mexico.
16. The mortality rate for POWs in Russian camps was 85 percent.
17. The first bomb dropped on Berlin by the Allies killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
18. Had it been necessary for a third atom bomb, the city targeted would have been Tokyo.
29. An Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer, who fought in World War II, Hiroo Onoda never surrendered in 1945. Until 1974, for almost 30 years, he held his position in the Philippines. His former commander traveled from Japan to personally issue orders relieving him from duty in 1974.
20. Total casualties for World War II totaled between 50 – 70 million people, 80 percent of which came form only four countries – Russia, China, Germany and Poland. Over 50 percent of the casualties were civilians, with the majority of those being women and children.
We’ve all heard about those legendary astronauts and fighter pilots who did those things that live in the annals of history, but here are five lesser-known and seldom-told tales about noteworthy Air Force legends who served around the Wild Blue Yonder:
1. The Tuskegee airman who almost shot Muammar Qaddafi
Wheelus Air Force Base was located right outside the city of Tripoli in Libya. In 1968, a coup brought then 27-year-old Muammar al-Qaddafi to power. The young dictator demanded the closing of the American bases in what he now considered his country.
Before the base could be formally closed and handed to the Libyans, Qaddafi ordered a column of half-tracks to drive at full speed right through the middle of the base’s housing area. Qaddafi himself waited outside of Wheelus’ main gate for the armored column to return.
Unfortunately for Qaddafi, the commander of Wheelus Air Force Base was already legendary – he was Colonel Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. “Chappie” was a veteran of World War II and had also flown missions in Korea and Vietnam. And he was not happy with the Libyans. When he found out what was happening, James strapped his .45 onto his belt and went right to the base’s main gate. He immediately shut down the barrier and walked to face off with Qaddafi. The Tuskegee Airman was not impressed with the dictator.
“He had a fancy gun and holster and he kept his hand on it,” James recalled. He ordered Qaddafi to move his hand away from the weapon. The dictator complied with Colonel James. “If he had pulled that gun, he never would have cleared the holster.”
Qaddafi never sent another column.
2. The Original Airman Snuffy
By the time airmen leave Joint Base San Antonio, they have come to know the stories of Airman Snuffy; he’s the Every-Airman, the average Airman, sometimes the slacker Airman. Airman Snuffy is the example Air Force instructors use to describe a situation. “Let’s say you’re charge of quarters duty one night and Airman Snuffy reports a fire…” or “Airman Snuffy applies a tourniquet to the injured area. What else should he do?”
Airman Snuffy is not just an example… he’s a real person who did something legendary. During WWII, Sgt. Maynard “Snuffy” Smith was the 306th Bomber Group’s slacker in residence. Before joining the Army Air Corps, Smith was known as “spoiled,” living off an inheritance and was forced to join the Army by a judge as a sentence for failure to pay child support. No one wanted to fly with him. He didn’t like taking orders, especially from younger officers. He chose to be an aerial gunner because it was the fastest way to make rank and thus, pay.
His first mission took him over St. Nazaire, France – aka “Flak City.” On the way back from the mission, the pilot mistook what he thought was Southern England for the heavily fortified city of Brest, France. German fighters suddenly ripped his plane to shreds: the wing tank had been shot off and was pouring fuel into the plane. The fuel caught fire, and then everything else caught fire. The plane became a flying inferno. Soon, the fire on the plane started to burn so hot it set off ammunition and melted a gun mount, camera, and radio. Airman Snuffy started to throw whatever wasn’t bolted down out of the plane, lest it melt or explode.
When the German fighters returned, he manned the B-17’s machine guns to repel them. Then he had to start putting out the fire. When the extinguisher ran out, he dumped the plane’s water and urine buckets on the fire. He even peed on the fire in the middle of repelling another German fighter attack. When all else failed, he wrapped himself in available clothing and started to put out the fire with his body.
Airman Snuffy administered aid to the six wounded men on the plane. So, he spent 90 minutes alternatively shooting down German fighters, putting out fires, throwing hazardous material out of the plane, and giving first aid to his wingmen. The plane made it back to England and landed with 3,500 bullet and shrapnel holes in the fuselage and nothing but the four main beams holding it together. Ten minutes after landing, the whole thing collapsed. For his actions on board the plane, Airman Snuffy was awarded the Medal of Honor, the first enlisted Airman to receive the award.
When Secretary of War Henry Stimson arrived to give Airman Snuffy the Medal of Honor, he was noticeably absent from his own ceremony, having been put on KP duty for disciplinary reasons.
3. The Combat Cameraman Who Lived the Entire History of the US Air Force
Douglas W. Morrell was a US Army Air Corps (and later US Air Force) combat cameraman with a long service record. In World War II, he was assigned to bombers in Europe and North Africa. He flew 33 combat missions over German, Austria, Italy, Hungary, France, Yugoslavia, and Albania. In March 1944, his B-24 was shot down over the Iron Gates of Romania. Evading capture in Romania (an Axis country from the beginning of the war), he walked for 25 days across occupied Yugoslavia and Albania where he bribed fishermen his .45-caliber pistol and $100 in gold certificates for a lift to Italy across the Adriatic Sea.
Two months later, he was documenting bombing raids against the oil fields of Ploesti when his bomber was knocked out of formation. He bailed out right before it exploded, killing half the remaining crew. He was immediately captured by the Germans upon landing and was held as a POW in Bucharest. Morrell made an escape attempt from his POW camp via a trap door in the mess hall.
He walked halfway through Bucharest before a German army truck stopped him. Morrell told the Germans he was Italian pilot, trying to make it back to Bulgaria. He caught a ride with the Germans until he reached a post near the Danube, where he was outed by an Italian kid who spoke to Morrell in Italian.
“I couldn’t understand him, ” Morrell recalls. “He told the Germans I wasn’t Italian and they took me back.”
Morrell was held in the POW camp until Romania capitulated in August of 1944. He stayed in Bucharest for a few days until the Russians, who treated the American POWs as allies, liberated it.
“They found out I was an ‘Americanski’… they got me in there, said ‘we drink!’ and poured glasses of vodka. They’d toast: ‘ Stalin. Roosevelt. Churchill,'” he remembered. “I’ve never been that blasted in all my life.”
He left the US Air Force in 1947. This was not the end of his combat career, however. Morrell was soon right back in, re-enlisting in 1952. He saw service in the Sahara documenting missile tests, the Pacific islands documenting nuclear tests, Iceland documenting Russian movements, and even the Panama Canal Zone.
By the time the Vietnam War started to heat up for the US, Douglas Morrell had become Chief Master Sergeant Morrell. At age 50, he was documenting operations over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, when his O-2 Skymaster’s wing was shot halfway off by anti-aircraft fire. He and the pilot bailed out at 5,000 feet, taking fire the entire way down. He landed in the jungle, just yards from a truck depot on the Ho Chi Minh Trail itself, guarded by six anti-aircraft gun positions. For nine hours, he called in rescue teams and directed fire on the enemy positions, before finally allowing himself to be rescued.
4. The Racecar Driver Who Taught Himself to Fly, Then Broke all the Records
Teaching yourself to fly seems like a terrible idea, especially during World War I when most pilots were college-educated and you’re an enlisted aircraft mechanic. Not so for Eddie Rickenbacker, the racecar driver-turned Airman who learned to be an engineer through a correspondence course.
Rickenbacker enlisted immediately after the US entered The Great War and arrived in France in June of 1917. By May of the next year, he had taught himself to fly, earned an officer’s promotion, and had shot down his fifth enemy craft, earning the title of “Ace.”
By September 1918, Rickenbacker was in command of his entire squadron, the 94th Aero Squadron. By the time of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, he had racked up 26 victories, a record he held until World War II, and had flown 300 combat hours, more than any other US pilot in the war. Captain Rickenbacker was known for flying right at formations of enemy aircraft, no matter how outnumbered he was, and winning every time. Through the course of the War, Rickenbacker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with six oak leaf clusters, the Croix de Guerre with two palms, the Legion d’Honneur, and was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
After the Great War, Rickenbacker went on to found his own car company, his own airline, and wrote a popular comic strip – which became a film and radio program.
5. Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler, Enemies Who Became Friends
In 1943, Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown was piloting his B-17 Flying Fortress, Ye Olde Pub, back to England after bombing industrial centers in Bremen. During its run, the nose was torn apart by flak fire, causing the plane to drop out of formation and come under attack from fifteen enemy fighter planes. The plane lost sixty percent of its electric capacity, lost its oxygen, and half its rudder. Of the ten crewmen on board, the tail gunner had been killed, the rest wounded. Brown himself was hit in his right shoulder. He then passed out from oxygen deprivation and woke up to find the bomber in a 4,000-foot dive. He pulled the plane up and headed home, having been left for dead by the pursuit fighters.
On the way back to England, Germans on the ground spotted the bomber. The Luftwaffe dispatched ace fighter pilot Oberleutnant Franz Stigler to finish it off. He had already shot down two B-17s that day and needed one more kill to earn the Knight’s Cross – the highest Iron Cross award for bravery and leadership. Stigler easily caught up to the Allied plane in his Messerschmitt 109, but wondered why the Flying Fortress hadn’t started shooting at him. From his cockpit, he could see how badly damaged the plane was, how the crew struggled to care for the wounded, and even Brown’s face as he struggled to bring Ye Olde Pub and its crew back home alive with one good engine. He’d never seen a plane so badly damaged and still flying.
“You are fighter pilots first, last, always,” A commander had told Stigler’s unit when he was stationed in North Africa. “If I ever hear of any of you shooting at someone in a parachute, I’ll shoot you myself.” He looked to the man struggling at the bomber controls. Brown looked back. To Stigler, these men were like men in parachutes. Even though getting caught letting the bomber go would mean execution, he just couldn’t shoot them down.
Stigler moved to fly in a formation on Brown’s left, a formation German ground spotters would recognize as friendly. He escorted Brown’s bomber halfway over the North Sea and departed with a salute.
After the war, Stigler moved to Canada. Brown returned to the US. Over forty years later, Stigler responded to an ad Brown placed as he searched newsletters of former Luftwaffe pilots for the German ace who spared his crew. One day, Stigler responded:
“Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to the B-17; did she make it or not?”
The two became close friends after meeting (on the ground) in 1990. The story of Stigler and Brown is told in detail in the 2012 book A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II.
During the 2016 election, Russian-linked bots and trolls on social media attempted to inflame relations among Americans by spreading fake news and highlighting vulnerable racial and political divisions. They bought ads on Twitter and shared posts on Facebook, concealing their identities while pretending to be real Americans.
But the Kremlin has another, more conspicuous way of spreading propaganda and trolling the West that doesn’t normally get as much attention.
In the last few years, Russia has used official government Twitter accounts to undermine the West and hit back against criticism, often with tantalizing and meme-filled rhetoric. The Twitter accounts of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and its Embassy in the UK, both of which tweet in English, have been particularly active.
On March 6, 2018 for example, after UK Prime Minister Theresa May slammed Russia for planting fake stories and Photoshopping images on social media “in an attempt to sow discord in the West,” Russia’s MFA tweeted a satirical response.
This was one of several examples of official Russian government tweets aimed at sparking controversy among Moscow’s adversaries.
In a report published in November 2017, the watchdog group Freedom House noted that in few places is “the hypocritical link between state propaganda and legal restrictions on the media stronger than in Russia.” This gives Russia monopoly over the flow of information within its borders. Increasingly, the report says, Russia has used similar information manipulation tactics abroad.
Here are 10 other times Russia has used its official Twitter accounts to troll Western leaders and the media:
1. The Russian Embassy in the UK reacted to former President Barack Obama expelling diplomats and closing Russian compounds in December 2016 in retaliation for meddling in the US election.
2. Stories of Russian hacking and election interference became more widespread in the US, and the Russian Embassy was at it again.
3. Theresa May said Belgium was meddling in its general election — and Russia was happy they weren’t being accused this time.
7. Amid fears of spying, England said its football team would travel in Russia with a surveillance team. The Russian Embassy shot back with a zinger about England’s football team.
8. Critics alleged that President Donald Trump is a Russian pawn, and the Russian Embassy shared a meme from The Great Gatsby.
9. The British member of parliament leading the UK investigation into Russian election meddling talked about fake news, and the Russian Embassy egged him on with some #ThursdayThoughts.
10. On March 7, 2018, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert sent a series of tweets that condemned Russia’s military involvement in Syria, and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded with a low blow.
Cartoon characters with machine guns, sexy pin-ups riding phallic bombs, and/or — for the more skilled — an array of Nazi Swastikas or Japanese Rising Sun flags indicating the number of aircraft or ships destroyed . . . these are just a few of the common images worn on the backs U.S. Army Air Corps pilots, bombardiers, and navigators in World War II.
Whether it was for good luck, a sense of home or belonging, or just because wearing a jacket featuring Bugs Bunny Pulling Hitler’s severed head out of a hat fueled stories for the grandkids, there’s no doubt these jackets will always be enduring icons of a hard-fought air war.
16. Props (see what we did there?) to this unit. This jacket looks pretty damn good for being hand painted:
15. After 35 bombing runs, this probably says it all. TWANNGGG:
14. Does that type look familiar? During WWII, the Walt Disney Company was much looser with its trademarks when it came to the war effort. Disney designed many of the unit and morale patches used by the Army Air Corps:
13. Native American imagery was a popular theme, not just because this imagery was born in the Western Hemisphere and is associated with the Western U.S. and Great Plains, but also because the percentage of Natives who serve in the U.S. military is disproportionately high:
12. Lady Liberty was every pilot’s best girl:
11. Not just an awesome jacket with great art, using German seems like a it would be a bigger F**k You to Hitler and the Nazis, and it’s a really funny name. Der Grossarschvogel translates to “The Big Ass Bird”:
10. John McClane preferred Roy Rogers, But the Lone Ranger is good too (Yippy Ki Yay, Motherfu**er):
9. Finally, a play on words using an aviator’s term:
8. This gets to the point faster than TWANNGGG:
7. The award for incorporating (what would become) the Air Force song:
6. The thing about being crazy is if you know you’re crazy, then you’re not crazy.
5. This way, you’d always remember your crewmen’s names.
4. Who among us hasn’t dated Ice Cold Katy at least once? This guy is a hero.
3. Nice use of the Air Corps star:
2. Ramp Tramp – n. military/aviation term for a semi-skilled or unskilled airbase flightline worker, typically a baggage handler or aircraft cleaner. Flight crew and skilled mechanics/avionics personnel would not be considered “ramp tramps.” This is a nice shout out:
1. The top spot has to go to this guy. There’s no room for scantily-clad women when you’re trying to work in 100 bombing runs, five Japanese aircraft kills, and 12 ships, one of them a battleship.
These 21 images (shared with WATM courtesy of Lou Reda Productions) vividly capture the nature of war from a variety of angles. Each of them was awarded the Pulitzer prize for photography in the year indicated in the caption:
1944 – Aftermath of a flamethrower attack on Tarawa
1944 – Lt. Col. Robert Moore, USA, returns to his family after fighting the Germans in North Africa
1945 – The flag raising at Iwo Jima
1951 – Refugees fleeing across the Taedong River during the Chinese invasion of North Korea
1965 – South Vietnamese casualties after a firefight with the Vietcong
1966 – Vietnamese refugees fleeing an attack
1969 – Lt. Col. Nguyen Loan summarily executes a VC prisoner on the streets of Saigon
1972 – Marine on top of a war-torn hill after battle with NVA
1973 – Vietnamese children fleeing after napalm attack on Vietcong-held village
1974 – Lt. Col Robert Stirm, USAF, returns to his family after 5 years as a POW in North Vietnam
1977 – Vietnam veteran and wounded warrior Eddie Robinson at Chattanooga Veterans Day parade
1978 – American mercenary, member of “Grey’s Scouts,” holds gun to the head of a Rhodesian prisoner
While nuclear weapons usually get the big, scary headlines when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, the whole triad is a serious threat. Chemical and biological weapons are easier for rogue states to produce and deploy and any WMD can cause severe damage to American warfighters.
Beyond the immediate threat as the weapons rain down, weapons of mass destruction leave agents that can persist for anywhere from minutes to years, leaving vehicles, buildings, and even the ground lethal for soldiers.
Of course, the U.S. can’t just avoid their equipment or the battlefield for years. Instead, they send specialized troops in to spearhead decontamination efforts.
1. After a chemical attack, the U.S. is left with few good options. Decontaminating takes time and resources, but leaving the chemicals in place could result in dead troops.
2. Typically, specially trained crews will rush with their gear into a staging area and prep for decontamination.
3. Once all gear and personnel are certified ready-to-go, the troops get to work.
4. Teams have to wade into the target area, assessing what areas have been affected by the weapon, whether chemical, biological, or nuclear.
5. Of course, these teams face the chances of follow-on attacks and have to be ready to defend themselves.
6. These teams will report to their headquarters what areas have been affected and specialists will assess how long it will take for the threat to dissipate on its own (if ever).
7. Any equipment in the affected area, whether present at the time of the attack or that entered during combat operations or decontamination efforts, has to be thoroughly decontaminated.
8. Chemical, biological, and nuclear threats are all broken down and removed using different techniques, but soap and water help in nearly all cases.
9. Depending on the type and extent of contamination, the cleaning process may be completed by special teams or by the vehicle’s normal crews.
10. Many biological and chemical agents spread throughout all the nooks and crannies of the vehicles, making them a nightmare to clean.
11. And any mistakes could be lethal. If the wrong biological agent is left behind, it could get into someone’s system and doom them, possibly triggering an epidemic.
12. Some positions, like aircrews, require especially challenging decontamination efforts. Their personal gear includes everything from g-suits to breathing gear.
13. And each crewmember and pilot has to be kept separate until they can be decontaminated, leading to hilarious photos like this one.
14. One of the more common powders used is the specialized resin in M291 Chemical Decontamination Kits. It absorbs many agents and facilitates their destruction.
15. One of the most important things about personnel decontamination is preventing recontamination, so troops are washed in a set process, typically top to bottom.
16. And protective gear has to be switched out at set intervals, so this process has to be repeated multiple times per day.
All in all, WMDs are terrifying at worst and a hassle at best. Let’s hear your MOPP gear stories.
We’re not just talking about the USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point (although 11 battles stars and a Presidential Unit Citation is nothing to shake a stick at). The entire history of Charleston, South Carolina, has been full-blown ‘Merica from Day One: independence, freedom, and local pride.
One of the first things the founders of Charleston did was to construct a wooden stockade to defend the colony from the surrounding tribes and Spanish outlaws. Since then, one of the friendliest cities in America has constantly contributed some of its best to the unfriendliest of situations.
1. Charleston saw the first defeat of the British Navy in America.
They fought off the British squadron after a full day of fighting and the British wouldn’t return to Charleston until 1780.
2. Andrew Jackson’s anger was born in Charleston.
After the Battle of Stono Ferry, Andrew Jackson was held as a POW by the British. The young Jackson was ordered to polish the boots of a British officer. Jackson, a crotchety old man even in his youth, refused. So the officer cut Jackson’s face and hands with his sword.
Jackson never forgot the event and carried his hatred of the British throughout his career. It came in handy at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, when Jackson and his outnumbered ragtag group of slaves, soldiers, and pirates fought the British in a lopsided victory for 12 straight days.
3. The opening shots of the Civil War were fired there.
With all the controversy surrounding the memories of the Confederacy, it’s a tribute to the people of Charleston that even when their state was in full rebellion against the United States, the opening siege of Fort Sumter managed not to kill anyone.
The Union troops were allowed to leave the city, with only one death. When they fired a 100-gun salute as the Union troops lowered the American flag, a Union artilleryman was killed when his cannon accidentally misfired.
4. Charlestonians developed the first submarine used in combat.
Fortunately, the mystery surrounding the CSS Hunley’s disappearance was solved after the ship was raised in 2000. The Hunley was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship, but as it rammed a spar tipped with explosives at the USS Housatonic, the blast wave caused the disappearance of the Hunley for more than a century.
The answer was that the blast wave killed the crew immediately. Though far enough from the explosion that sank the enemy ship, the blast wave – traveling slower through the water – cause three times the damage to their soft tissue. The crew of the Hunley knew the boat sank twice during testing and knew the dangers of the underwater blast, but went on the mission anyway.
5. Charleston has been training military leaders forever.
Ok, not forever, but The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, has been in operation since 1846 and in that time has created so many notable officers, heroes, football stars, and other alumni (including one Miss USA and an Oscar nominee), listing them all would be time consuming.
Its more notable alums include General William Westmoreland, who commanded all U.S. forces in Vietnam as well as and Charleston’s own former Mayor Joe Riley, who led the city for more than 40 years.
6. Charleston is where legends are born and honored.
All five living former American Presidents – Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – agreed to serve as honorary directors for the National Medal of Honor Museum going up in the Mount Pleasant area of greater Charleston.
Patriot’s Point is going to be the home that preserves the stories of America’s bravest (or craziest) fighting men and women.
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:
Marines with 14th Marine Regiment carry the casket of Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt, who was laid to rest at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, July 24, 2015. Wyatt is one of five service members who died when a gunman attacked the Naval Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center on July 16, 2015.
Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit load gear onto an MV-22B Osprey before departing from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex. The Marines are flying to Kenya in support of President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya.
A Marine with the “Greyhawks” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), wipes down an MV-22B Osprey after takeoff and landing drills at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The Marines are in Kenya to support President Barack Obama’s visit.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (July 26, 2015) – Glenn Palermo, from Athens, Tenn., kneels to view a section of the memorial in front of the Armed Forces Recruitment Center. The memorial honors the four Marines and one Sailor who died in the Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga July 16.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (July 28, 2015) Vice Adm. Robin Braun, commander of Navy Reserve Force, speaks during the funeral service for Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith. Petty Officer Smith died from his injuries two days after a shooting at Navy Operational Support Center, Chattanooga July 16.
ROSEAU, Dominica (July 27, 2015) Deck mechanic Donald Rodriguez, a Military Sealift Command civil service mariner, watches as the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrives in Roseau, Dominica during Continuing Promise 2015.
INDIAN OCEAN (July 27, 2015) An MV-22B Osprey from the Greyhawks of Marine Medium-lift Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced) lands on the flight deck of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2)
A CV-22B Osprey assigned to the 7th Special Operations Squadron performs an aerial display of its capabilities during the Royal International Air Tattoo at Royal Air Force Fairford, England
Staff Sgt. Joseph Pico trains at the firing range on Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, N.Y.
An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, flies during a Red Flag 15-3 sortie at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Soldiers, assigned to 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment-Blackhorse, National Training Center, fire a BGM-71 Tow Missile simulation round, during Decisive Action Training Rotation 15-08.5, Fort Irwin, Calif. July 26, 2015.
A Soldier, assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, navigates a single-rope water crossing obstacle during the McChrystal-Briles Competition held on Fort Drum, N.Y., July 24, 2015.
A New York Army National Guard Soldier prepares to load a M119 105 mm howitzer during annual training at Fort Drum in preparation for an upcoming Joint Readiness Training Center rotation.
Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg is making sure they’re ready for anything by doing a little tactical training!
Oh, the beautiful places the men and women of the Coast Guard get to go!
Sure, the Academy Awards have categories like “Best Actor” and “Best Adapted Screenplay,’ and, yes, military movies like “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game” are in the mix this year. But all of that falls somewhat short of capturing the true military cinematic essence that this year’s crop of films produced. Here are nine categories that the Oscars forgot and the winners in each:
1. Best Misuse Of Government Property By A Leading Man: Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Because Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle was a super badass sniper, he had a phone so that generals and even the president could call him to tell him who he should put the crosshairs on next. What did Cooper’s Kyle use the phone for? To call his wife, usually right before a firefight was about to break out. And once it did he wouldn’t hang up (in order not to alarm her or anything).
2. Best Use of Kristen Stewart’s Bitch Face By An Actress In A Leading Role: Kristen Stewart, “Camp X-Ray”
Kristen Stewart plays a U.S. Army guard at Gitmo who develops a sympathetic relationship – through a prison door – with one of the detainees. But her sympathy is buried under the same expression she’s used in every movie she’s ever been in, that signature bitchy pouty girl face, so it’s hard to tell when she’s sympathetic and when she’s bored or pissed off. But, hey, like B.B. King said, “You can play just one note if it’s the right one.” We say bravo, Ms. Stewart.
3. Best Supporting Actor In A Role About The Fact All Vets Are Doomed: Brad Hawkins, “Boyhood”
Brilliantly filmed over a 12-year period, director Richard Linklater’s gem focuses on the life of a sometimes single mom and her two kids. The mom’s third love interest is a returning vet who’s just back from Iraq. He seems like a nice, well-adjusted guy, but after a while he’s holding down a job as a prison guard and sitting on the front porch guzzling beer and yelling at the son about being a good-for-nothing, which is to say they got it exactly right because that’s what always happens to returning vets.
4. Best Portrayal Of The Perils Of Having Sex In Combat: “Fury”
Brad Pitt’s Sherman tank crew stumble across the home of a war-weary German family with a hot daughter, and they enjoy a bit of normalcy. One of the crew hooks up with the daughter, and once they’re done the crew leaves and minutes later the family’s house gets blown to smithereens by an air strike.
5. Best WTFO? Moment: “300 – Rise of Empires”
In the middle of a kick ass war-at-sea between ancient sailing ships, General Themistocles suddenly produces a horse that he rides all over the deck while slashing and stabbing his foe. But it really gets good when the horse – without any hesitation – gallops through flaming wreckage, leaps into the water, and then jumps onto an enemy ship where Themistocles continues his savaging of the enemy – truly the year’s best WTFO? military movie moment.
6. Most Dramatic Flame-out Of A Military Movie Franchise: “Jarhead 2”
Three words: Straight. To. DVD.
7. Best Actress In A Role About The Joys Of Being A Military Mom: Michelle Monaghan “Ft. Bliss”
Michelle Monaghan plays a single mom soldier who returns home after 15 months in Iraq only to find that her 6-year-old son has forgotten who she is. (What, did the rest of family hide all the pictures of her? And no Skype?) About the point her son starts to warm to her she’s sent back to Iraq because that’s how the Army rolls. If the military wanted you to have a kid they would have issued you one.
8. Most Groundbreaking Guerrilla Warfare Sequence: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
One of the conniving chimps uses cute chimp moves to mollify two humans just long enough to get one of their automatic weapons and blow them away with it.
9. Best Actor In A Role About The Tortured Souls Of Those In The Intelligence Community: Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the intel genius who knows a thing or two about code breaking. Cumberbatch’s Turing is at odds with his sexual orientation and anti-social and basically pained by everything in his life – in other words, he’s a lot like most of those in the intel community.
When a veteran or active duty service member watches a movie that depicts life in the military, they automatically begin to look for flaws. With a little attention to detail, they can spot even the most subtle of goofs.
But even on the surface, there are some mistakes that Hollywood makes that can get pretty annoying — especially when it wouldn’t take much to get it right.
1. Radio etiquette
This is something that’s so simple that it’s frustrating when we see it done wrong. What most people don’t understand is that, in the military, using the word ‘repeat’ over the radio tells your fire support assets to repeat their mission. So, saying it is an absolute no-no unless, well, you want your destroyed target to be even more destroyed.
Aside from that, the proper response to a message over the radio is ‘roger,’ not ‘copy.’ The reason you would say ‘copy’ is if the messenger gave you the information that needed to copy down, such as map coordinates, headcounts, etc. If someone says, ‘stand-by,’ your response should be, “roger, standing by.”
You should also avoid cussing over the radio. Just saying. (Photo from Paramount Pictures’ Rules of Engagement)
Since military tactics vary between countries and branches, this is somewhat excusable. But, for the most part, all countries understand the fundamentals: never enter a room or building alone, don’t stand in the open while being shot at, and don’t move without covering fire.
These things are so simple that it’s practically common sense. Going against these concepts is a really bad idea but, for some reason, filmmakers just don’t get it right.
3. Customs and courtesies
The military is known for the respect and discipline that’s instilled in every service member — you’d think it’d be pretty easy to capture in a movie.
But what seems to be misunderstood is that a lower enlisted does not call a general by their rank in a conversation. In fact, no one calls an officer by their rank — not even other officers. They’re referred to as, ‘sir.’ Only when being discussed in the third person are they referred to by rank.
The only case you would refer to an officer by their rank is if you need to get their attention. For example, you would say, “Lieutenant Parker, sir.” When they talk to you, end every sentence with, ‘sir.’
4. Duty stations
If you’ve been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, you know about this. When someone on screen claims they were “stationed in Afghanistan” for four years or however long, it’s essentially the same as that one guy in the bar who claims they were a Marine scout-sniper Space Shuttle door gunner SEAL — it’s bullsh*t.
You may spend 9 months to a year in Afghanistan, but that’s not a duty station, it’s a deployment. This is something you can learn in a conversation with literally anyone who has been there.
5. Trigger discipline
This one should bother everyone. It’s pretty hard to believe someone on screen spent any amount of years in the service if they don’t know to keep their finger straight and off the trigger. Everyone learns this in boot camp — everyone.
This is even common sense in the hunting community or among anyone who has had even the most basic level of training on a firearm. That finger should NOT touch the trigger until you’re ready to unload some discontent toward a monster, alien, or person.
A captain should know better… (Photo from United Artists’ Apocalypse Now)