The 6 most-secret units in military history - We Are The Mighty
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The 6 most-secret units in military history

Secrecy is one of the best currencies in war, so it’s sometimes best for commanders to keep their best assets hidden from the enemy and the public. While the military has admitted that most of the units on this list existed at some point, a lot of their missions were classified for decades before being disclosed to the public. For the units that are still operating, America still only gets glimpses into their secret activities.


1. Task Force 88/Task Force Black

They may or may not be the same group and they may or may not still be in operation. Task Force Black and Task Force 88 are names floating around the media for the unit that conducted raids against terror organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the wars. The unit was commonly described as being a joint U.S.-U.K. force made up of the best that SEAL Team 6, Delta Force, and the British SAS had to offer. Controversy erupted when they were blamed for a cross-border raid into Syria. There is speculation that Task Force Black may be back in operation to destroy ISIS, if it ever stopped.

2. 6493rd Test Squadron/6594th Test Group

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: US Air Force

 

These Air Force units existed from 1958 to 1986 and were tasked with catching “falling stars.” They would fly out of Hawaii and catch film canisters falling from America’s first spy satellites. The satellites, part of the Corona program, orbited the Earth and took photos of Soviet Russia. Then, the satellites would drop their film canisters over the Pacific ocean where these Airmen would try to snatch the canisters out of the air.

The recovery process was surprisingly low-tech. A plane with a large hook beneath its tail would try to catch the canister’s parachute as it fell. When the planes failed to make the grab or the weather was too bad to attempt it, Coast Guard rescue swimmers in the unit would fish the film out of the water. The unit boasted a perfect record with more than 40,000 recoveries in 27 years. When its airmen weren’t snatching film from the air, the unit supported rescue missions near Hawaii. It was credited with 60 saves.

3. Delta Force/Combat Applications Group/Army Compartmented Elements is more well known, but still pretty secret

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Department of Defense

 

Like many of the units on the list, Delta has gone through a few name changes over the years. Formation of an elite counter-terrorism unit had been proposed multiple times in the 1970s and Delta Force is widely believed to have been formed in late 1977. Its operational history got off to a horrible start with the failed Operation Eagle Claw in 1980. Since then, Delta has distinguished itself in combat from the invasion of Panama to the Gulf War to hunting Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora Mountains. Since the unit is still operational, many of their missions remain classified.

4. SEAL Team 6/DEVGRU

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eddie Harrison

 

SEAL Team 6 specializes in counter terrorism, special reconnaissance, hostage rescue and close protection missions. You’ve probably heard of them, but many of their missions are still secret. Since 9/11, their budget and responsibilities have expanded to where they are now thought to have over 1,800 members, including some women who serve in intelligence roles. Perhaps most famous for both killing Osama Bin Laden and rescuing Captain Phillips from Somali pirates, it has been conducting combat operations since 1981.

READ MORE: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

5. 7781 Army Unit/39th Special Forces Operational Detachment

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Bob Charest

Operating in Berlin from 1956 to 1984, this team of green berets went through a few names during their history. They worked to keep West Berlin safe from communist incursions but also prepared to foment resistance if the city was taken over. Trained in classic spy craft skills, they were equipped with Bond-like gadgets such as cigarette-lighter guns and C-4 filled coal.

Master Sgt. Bob Charest, a retired former member of the unit, wrote for WATM about the unit.

6. The OSS

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: US Office of Strategic Services

The Office of Strategic Services was formed in 1942 with the very broad mission of collecting and analyzing strategic information and conducting “special operations not assigned to other agencies.” Since few agencies had special operators in World War II, this gave the OSS a lot of room to run. Under Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the tiny agency conducted raids, smuggled weapons and spies, supported resistance groups in Axis territory, and collected intelligence. The OSS even employed the first “sea, air, and land” commando in U.S. history.

NOW: The secret Air Force program that his an even more secret program

OR: This is the FBI’s dream team of elite counterterrorism operators

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5 TV characters from the 90s who should’ve joined the military

One of the habits we develop as veterans is to watch military-themed movies and TV shows and point out everything that is wrong with them, from jacked-up uniforms to what appears to be “STOLEN VALOR!”


But something I have caught myself doing is watching shows that have absolutely nothing to do with the military and point out characters I believe would benefit from heading down to the local recruiting office.

Here are five television characters from the 90s who probably should’ve served in the military.

1. Cody Lambert  from “Step by Step” 

Cody Lambert

This guy, it’s the Code man! Of course we all loved him. He was the adorable nephew who lived in a van behind his Uncle’s house. You have to respect his Uncle Frank for allowing his grown nephew to stay there while he was working on a new marriage with 3 new step kids who really didn’t appreciate him.

But Cody, of all people, needs to realize he’s intruding and the lifestyle he’s leading is not a good influence on the six kids in the house. What are you trying to teach them Cody? That it’s perfectly acceptable to live in a van and that somebody will bail you out when you’re older? No, Cody, that’s not what you teach them!

How about you be a better influence? Cody should have signed up for the military and shown them that there are other options in life than what he has been living. I mean, come on, how many “Codys” did we have in the barracks? He would have fit in just fine. Then maybe after his time in the service was done, ol’ Code man could have used that sweet, sweet VA loan to buy himself a little two-bedroom ranch with a little white picket fence.

I’m happy the show stopped when it did because after the influence he was putting on the Lambert family, I would hate to see how those kids turned out. This mainly applies to J.T., of course.

2. Dylan McKay from “Beverly Hills 90210” 

The 6 most-secret units in military history

Time to trim up those side burns and turn those sexy locks into a high and tight, Dylan McKay. This guy’s life was a mess to start with but I think he had all the tools to make a decent soldier. Dylan was the loner out of those seven featured students from West Beverly High. No I don’t mean loner when he got to school, but in life.

His parents divorced and left McKay by himself to live. After receiving that nice inheritance, Dylan took off to Beverly Hills and lived by himself WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL! Dylan was winning the war on life. He showed all the Army values before he even graduated high school, but then he became arrogant in life.

This guy, when he should have joined the service, decided to hit the bottle and lose his girlfriend. He then turned into a Blue Falcon and started sleeping with all of his friend’s girlfriends. Not a good move, Dylan, not a good move! I have a feeling that if he would have joined, Brenda would respect his decision and turn into a great military wife and would have ran Bingo games at the local NCO Club.

3. Jazz  from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” 

The 6 most-secret units in military history

This guy, more than anything, needed guidance. If you ask me, Jazz was that neighbor that Will just kept around to feel better about himself. Pretty selfish move, Will. In a few episodes, Jazz showed off some serious basketball skills which might have led him to a community college for two years of college hoops but probably not much after that.

Here’s what should have happened: Uncle Phil needed to stop being a bully. As we all know, Uncle Phil felt big and bad throwing poor Jazz out of the house all the time. This isn’t an Olympic sport, Uncle Phil, this is a HUMAN BEING!

Uncle Phil should have taken Jazz to a military career office and perhaps put those basketball skills to use for a military academy. He would have gotten to shine while gaining a military work ethic. He would have then become the man that Hilary needed. I’m putting this one on you, Uncle Phil. Oh yeah, and don’t think we weren’t dumb enough to notice that you switched out wives in the middle of the show. I guess that’s a privilege of being a judge. Shame on you, Your Honor.

4. Six Dorothy Lemeure from “Blossom” 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Blossom and Six (right)

She arguably had a much harder life than everyone else on this list. Six once said that she got her name from the amount of beers that her dad fed her mom to get her pregnant. But that’s not even the worst thing: During the show, Six battled alcoholism, dated a much older man, and even had a pregnancy scare. Sounds like she’s already lived the life of an Army private.

Six had an undying passion for Blossom’s brother, Joey. WOAH! Here’s the thing though, Six. You’re putting your family and friends through stress because of these poor decisions. If you were as passionate about bettering yourself as you are about Joey, you would do just fine in the service and realize that it would be a great decision for you.

5. A.C. Slater from “Saved By The Bell” 

The 6 most-secret units in military history

So many of you are probably saying it should be Zach Morris and not A.C. Slater. But let me remind you, Zach scored a 1502 on his SAT test (the highest of all of the gang) and he had something special with Kelly. If Zach would have went to boot camp he wouldn’t have been able to keep his head in the game with that beautiful woman back home.

Slater, on the other hand, already lived the experience. He was an Army brat so he was familiar with the lifestyle. He also showed signs of weakness when he decided to attend Cal U. and not attend Iowa (a national powerhouse in wrestling) on a wrestling scholarship. He was a proven leader in a group environment but still needed a little more discipline. The biggest fear, for me, with Slater being in the service is his pride in being a “male chauvinist pig.” He better not call any female service member “mama.”

That stuff won’t fly, A.C.

NOW: The top 5 military-themed songs that aren’t written by Toby Keith

 

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8 Presidents who actually saw combat in a big way

American Presidents are civilians by design, some with little or no military experience at all – and are unlikely to ever serve in a combat role while in office (unless they’re in office while aliens attack Earth). In the voters’ minds, military experience always seems to be a plus when considering who would be the next Commander-In-Chief. It probably helps  when they actually take the office.


The 6 most-secret units in military history
Like Ike.

But not every veteran POTUS saw action. Eisenhower was a great logistical planner but never served in a direct combat role. George Washington’s combat record as a junior officer is spotty, but his decision-making capacity, strategic vision, and ability to inspire those around him were infinitely more essential to his legacy and to the history of the United States.

And then there were those whose service would affect the outcomes of battles, of entire wars, and of the nation itself.  Here are 8 presidents who actually saw combat in a big way:

1. Andrew Jackson (War of 1812, Indian Wars)

No president ever held a grudge like Andrew Jackson. This was a guy who fought 103 duels before he was ever elected President. Yet he only killed one man (in a duel, I mean).

When he was 13, he served as a messenger for a militia unit in the Revolutionary War. When captured, he refused to shine the boots of a British officer, who then used his saber to give the Young Jackson the scars that would be on his face for the rest of his life. That sort of thing stays with a young man.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Historians still argue about his relationship with Native tribes. No, really. Look it up.

 

As a general, his most famous military success was at New Orleans during the War of 1812. The British threatened the city under Jackson’s command. Jackson pulled together Army regulars, militia, sailors, Marines, citizens, Choctaw warriors, and a band of pirates under Jean LaFitte, to a force of 4,700 men. They held off 11,000 British troops and the Royal Navy fleet in a battle that couldn’t be won.

His victory would (eventually) put Jackson in the White House, where Old Hickory would be the first US President anyone tried to assassinate. An unemployed house painter pulled two pistols on Jackson but they both misfired, allowing Jackson to beat the would-be killer with his cane.

2. William Henry Harrison (War of 1812, Indian Wars)

Harrison was the commander of American forces at Tippecanoe, architect of Shawnee leader Tecumseh’s defeat, and gave the United States its first victory against violent religious extremists. Not bad.

Tecumseh and his brother, a “prophet” called Tenskawata, began using visions and magic to incite Natives in the Indiana territory against American settlers. In 1810, Tecumseh met then-Governor Harrison with 400 warriors to demand the rescission of a treaty. When Harrison refused, Tecumseh ordered his warriors to kill Harrison, who responded by drawing his sword. A Potawatomi chief intervened and Tecumseh’s warriors left for the time being.

When the war came, Harrison assaulted the tribes repeatedly – most notably at Tippecanoe, where the magical forces were defeated by actual forces.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Guns over Magic. Every time. 

 

Tecumseh made a comeback in the War of 1812, backed up by the British. Harrison quickly captured Detroit (for better or worse) and then invaded Canada. He defeated the British and got some vengeance against Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh was killed, the Americans burned a local settlement (built by pacifists probably to avoid getting their settlement burned down), and then went back to Detroit.

Harrison delivered the longest inaugural speech in American history without a coat on a cold, wet day, which resulted in the shortest presidency in American history.

3. Zachary Taylor (War of 1812, Indian Wars, Mexican-American War)

Taylor also cut his teeth fighting Tecumseh during the War of 1812, famously holding Fort Harrison with 20 men against 600 under the “inspiring” battle cry “Taylor Never Surrenders!” Turns out, he was pretty good at checking native tribes. He also fought them in the Black Hawk War and Seminole War.

By the time war with Mexico broke out, Taylor was a general and was widely known as “Old Rough and Ready.” He lost only 37 men against an army that vastly outnumbered his own, marched on the “impregnable” city of Monterrey, and captured it in four days. This wasn’t even his biggest victory.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
He also reportedly had a killer smile.

 

President Polk deliberately gave all but 4,650 of Taylor’s troops to General Winfield Scott to capture Veracruz in an effort to check Taylor’s growing popularity back home. Having learned of Taylor’s weakened army, Mexican General and dictator General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna sent his entire army of 15,000 to annihilate him.

As Taylor’s army turned the Battle of Buena Vista into a complete rout of the numerically superior Mexicans, his order “Double-shot your guns and give ’em hell” was used as a campaign slogan to catapult Taylor to the presidency.

He was so popular, he was elected as the Whig Party candidate despite disagreeing with almost every issue for which the party stood.

4. Franklin Pierce (Mexican-American War)

Franklin Pierce was so itchy to fight for his country, he turned down President Polk’s nomination as Attorney General. For this he gets a lot of respect. The first part of his military career, however, was less like Zachary Taylor’s and more like Ernest goes to Mexico.

He volunteered to join the Army as soon as war with Mexico broke out in 1846, despite the lack of New England regiments actually existing. When Congress authorized those regiments, he was appointed the Colonel in command and sent to Veracruz.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Seems easy to lead units that don’t exist.

 

When he arrived in Mexico, he was promoted to Brigadier General and linked up with General Winfield Scott at the Battle of Contreras. Everything was okay until his horse was startled, causing his saddle to jam his groin as hard as possible. The horse then fell into a crevice, pinning Pierce under it and forcing someone else to take command. He injured his knee the next day and fell so far behind his men, the battle was over by the time he caught up.

General Scott wasn’t going to let Pierce command his brigade at the Battle of Churubusco the next day, but he eventually did. But Pierce’s wounded leg hurt so much, he passed out on his horse in the middle of the battle.

5. Ulysses S. Grant (Mexican War, Civil War)

Grant famously became the general the Union needed to win the Civil War. He was forced to resign from the Army for drunkenness before the war. But when the South seceded, he raised a regiment of volunteers that he used to take the fight to the Confederates in the West.

Eventually, he commanded friend and General William T. Sherman to burn the South to the ground.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Not all alcoholics are lost causes.

 

He always showed this level of doggedness in his military career. During the Mexican War, he led cavalry charges despite only being a quartermaster. As a messenger, he braved the sniper-lined streets of Monterrey while hanging off the side of his horse, using it as a shield.

At the Battle of Chapultepec, he carried a howitzer to the top of a church steeple, a move essential to the final assault on Chapultepec Castle and to winning the war itself.

6. Rutherford B. Hayes (Civil War)

Not much is really said about Rutherford B. Hayes these days, but the former President has probably one of the most active war records of any Chief Executive. He was a Union officer during the Civil War, volunteering after Fort Sumter fell and serving in an active combat role until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

In September 1862, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was advancing northward into Maryland. The Union Army under General George B. McClellan met the divided Confederates in a series of three pitched battles. At the head of the lead regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes.

As Hayes’ 23d Ohio charged an entrenched Confederate position, a bullet tore through his arm, shattering the bone. After tying a handkerchief tourniquet around it (and presumably rubbing some dirt on it), he continued the attack.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Also the originator of the american icy stare.

 

While most Civil War veterans would lose an arm to such an injury, Hayes probably didn’t get an infection because gangrene was afraid of him. Instead, he spent the next two years skirmishing with Confederate forces in Tennessee and Virginia.

He had his horse shot from under him Battle of Kernstown, where he was then shot in the shoulder. He was also struck in the head by a spent round at Cedar Creek in 1864, the year he was promoted to Brigadier General and Brevet Major General.

He was elected to the Presidency by sheer force of will in 1876, despite not winning a majority of electoral or popular votes.

7. Theodore Roosevelt (Spanish-American War)

Colonel Roosevelt was an adventurer, explorer, scholar, author, historian, boxer, cowboy, big game hunter, and elected official. Teddy, as he hated being called, was also fearless and nearly indestructible even before he went to war.

Unfortunately for Spain, when the USS Maine was sunk in Havana harbor, Roosevelt resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to go and liberate Cuba. He and Colonel Leonard Wood raised the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment – known to this day as the “Rough Riders.”

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Speak softly and carry a big stick. Use it once in Cuba and let everyone else cower.

 

They distinguished themselves at the Battle of San Juan Hill. During the fight for nearby Kettle Hill, he lead the charge as the only man on horseback. Roosevelt moved from position to position as his men advanced up the hill, over open ground, against an entrenched enemy. When his horse was stopped by barbed wire, he walked the rest of the way.

The Americans reached the top of the hill fighting hand-to-hand to dislodge the Spaniards. In Spain’s defense, there’s no shame in getting dropped by a punch the face from Teddy Roosevelt.

Roosevelt would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for that action (he is still the only President with one), blocked at the time for political reasons – the most likely being that he was Theodore Roosevelt and everyone else was not.

8. Harry S. Truman (World War I)

Truman was initially denied enlisting into the Missouri National Guard because of poor eyesight – well past the standard for legal blindness.  Not one to let not being able to see keep him from killing Germans, he secretly memorized an eye chart and passed the vision test. He was even elected to be the lieutenant of his unit.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
I wonder if the other potential Lt. was named Dewey.

By the time he arrived in France, he was the captain of an artillery company. He was unpopular at first… until his unit was overrun by the Germans in the Vosges Mountains. His men started to break and run but Truman let rip a string of profanity so awful and venomous his men were actually more afraid of him than the Germans – and they stayed to fight.

His time in the mud didn’t stop there. At the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918, Captain Truman observed German artillery setting up to attack a unit out of his area of responsibility. An animal lover, Truman waited until the Germans moved their horses before lighting them up.

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16 celebs who grew up as military brats

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles about military dependents that WATM will be presenting in concert with April’s Month of the Military Child


1. Amy Adams was born in Italy while her Army father was stationed at Caserma Ederle. He moved the family around for eight years before settling in Colorado.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiOEbQu9DYc

2. Julianne Moore was also raised in an Army home (and was born on Fort Bragg).

3. LeVar Burton was born into an Army family at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. He would grow up to be the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise under Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

4. Luke Skywalker (actor Mark Hamill) was from a Navy family and even graduated from high school on Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. Strangely, Luke fights best on the Dune Sea. There must be a SeaBee in the family somewhere.

5. Robert Duvall was born into a Navy family. His father started at the Naval Academy at 16, made Captain at 39, and retired a rear admiral. His family is descended from the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Duvall served in the Army during the Korean War, but “barely qualified on the M-1 rifle in basic.” Still plays a badass Air Cav Commander, though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkH5Ak4wAnY

6. Author and Church of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard was born into a Navy family. Much of Hubbard’s travel throughout the Pacific is due to his father’s Navy career. He later served as a Naval officer himself, although his record has major discrepancies.

7. Author of the novel Push Ramona Lofton (best known by her pen name Sapphire) was raised in an Army household.

8. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels (born Michael Shawn Hickenbottom) was raised in Arizona, England, and San Antonio, following his father’s Air Force career. He was a linebacker on Randolph Air Force Base’s high school football team.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nANf5C-cbTk

9. Annie Leibovitz took her first photos when living with her father, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, while he was stationed in the Philippines. She moved frequently with him.

10. Comedian Patton Oswalt was born to Larry Oswalt, a career Marine Corps officer – and was named for General George S. Patton.

11. Stephen Stills’ military childhood in places like Florida, Louisiana, Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador was an influence on his musical style. Crosby, Nash, and Young had equally interesting childhoods, though outside of the military.

12. Bruce Willis’ dad was a soldier who married a German woman while stationed there. Two years later, he moved the Willis family back to New Jersey.

13. James Woods’ father was an Army intelligence officer.

14. Tiger Woods was born to Lieutenant Colonel Earl Woods, an Army officer and Vietnam veteran.

15. Former MLB player Johnny Damon was born at Fort Riley, Kansas to Army Staff Sergeant Jimmy Damon.

16. Legendary Doors frontman Jim Morrison‘s dad was a Navy admiral, the youngest to attain flag rank at the time.

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4 of the craziest assassination attempts in U.S. history

Hollywood depicts the CIA as planning and executing insane assassination schemes of foreign leaders — everything from poisoning a doctor’s stethoscope in “Spy Game” to weaponizing human robots in the Bourne series.


But it turns out that those plotlines aren’t as crazy as you might think since the Agency has tried to poison toothpaste and SCUBA gear. Here are four of its crazier plots:

1. Fidel Castro’s SCUBA dive to hell

 

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Had no idea this guy was a big diver. (Photo: Alberto Korda, Public Domain)

Cuban President Fidel Castro survived countless plots on his life, including approximately 600 CIA plans. Two of the most outlandish involved Castro’s love of SCUBA diving. The first was for someone to pack a shell with explosives, paint it with bright colors, and then put it in Castro’s path like the world’s most festive IED.

A separate attempt called for an American working with Castro to loan him a wetsuit and breathing mask filled with flesh-eating fungus. The CIA made the suit, but it was never given to Castro. Reports differ on whether the wetsuit even made it out of the CIA lab.

2. Ambushing a couple during sex

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Rafael L. Trujillo, wearing the dark suit, stands with assembled dignitaries in 1951. He was killed during a sexual rendezvous. (Photo: El Caribe, Public Domain)

A group of rebels seeking to overthrow the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic got together with the CIA to request weapons to form a guerrilla group. The CIA was open to the idea, but the requests from the rebels made it clear that they were planning just an assassination, not a full overthrow.

When the CIA asked for the plan, the rebels mapped out how they would follow Trujillo to the house of his mistress and kill him there. The CIA sent few weapons — three revolvers and three carbines — but it’s not clear whether they were used in the 1961 assassination. Trujillo was killed on the road to his mistress, sparing her life.

3. Toxic toothpaste for a Congolese leader

The 6 most-secret units in military history
He’s hiding his pearly whites to keep the CIA from getting any ideas. (Photo: Netherland National Archives)

Western governments, including the U.S., were dissatisfied with the first elected president of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, and worried that he would institute communism there. The CIA began plotting to poison his toothpaste or food.

The poison was supposed to cause symptoms and leave forensic evidence similar to that of tropical diseases that already existed in Congo. Luckily for America, local power struggles resulted in Lumumba’s arrest. He was killed by a firing squad after attempting to escape.

4. Repeated kidnapping attempts

The 6 most-secret units in military history

CIA-backed rebels planning a military coup in Chile were frustrated by Chilean Gen. Rene Schneider, the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean army. The rebels decided to kidnap him and made a failed attempt on Oct. 19, 1970. Another group — possibly backed by the CIA, but a 1975 Senate investigation wasn’t sure — attempted to kidnap Schneider on Oct. 20. It failed.

And so the CIA went back to the first group on Oct. 22 with a gift of machine guns and ammunition. The general was kidnapped by a third group of rebels — this one definitely not affiliated with the CIA — the same day.

Schneider later died of wounds sustained during the kidnapping.

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21 Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photos That Capture The Essence Of War

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

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Frank Filan, Associated Press)

 

1944 – Lt. Col. Robert Moore, USA, returns to his family after fighting the Germans in North Africa

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Earle Bunker, The Omaha World-Herald)

 

1945 – The flag raising at Iwo Jima

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Joe Rosenthal, Associated Press)

 

1951 – Refugees fleeing across the Taedong River during the Chinese invasion of North Korea

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Max Desfor, Associated Press)

 

1965 – South Vietnamese casualties after a firefight with the Vietcong

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Horst Faas, Associated Press)

 

1966 – Vietnamese refugees fleeing an attack

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Kyoichi Sawada, United Press International)

 

1969 – Lt. Col. Nguyen Loan summarily executes a VC prisoner on the streets of Saigon

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Eddie Adams, Associated Press)

 

1972 – Marine on top of a war-torn hill after battle with NVA

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: David Hume, United Press International)

 

1973 – Vietnamese children fleeing after napalm attack on Vietcong-held village

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Nick Ut, Associated Press)

 

1974 – Lt. Col Robert Stirm, USAF, returns to his family after 5 years as a POW in North Vietnam

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Sal Veder, Associated Press)

 

1977 – Vietnam veteran and wounded warrior Eddie Robinson at Chattanooga Veterans Day parade

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Robin Hood, The Chattanooga News Free Press)

 

1978 – American mercenary, member of “Grey’s Scouts,” holds gun to the head of a Rhodesian prisoner

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: J. Ross Baughman, Associated Press)

 

1980 – Iranian Republican Guardsmen executing Kurdish rebels

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo, UPI)

 

1995 – American Marine trying to keep Haitian rioters at bay during unrest

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Carol Guzy, The Washington Post)

 

2002 – B-52 contrails during bombing mission over Afghanistan

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: The New York Times)

 

2004 – Soldiers jumping into ditch in Iraq

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo – Cheryl Diaz Meyer and David Leeson, Dallas Morning News)

 

2004 – Soldiers taking Iraqi prisoner

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Cheryl Diaz Meyer and David Leeson, Dallas Morning News)

 

2004 – Iraqi schoolboy proclaims his freedom

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Cheryl Diaz Meyer and David Leeson, Dallas Morning News)

 

2005 – Marine taking an Iraqi insurgent prisoner in Fallujah

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Associated Press)

 

2005 – Marines huddle over wounded comrade during fighting in Anbar Province

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Associated Press)

 

2006 – Katherine Cathey spends the night next to the casket of her fallen husband, 2nd Lt. James Cathey, USMC

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: Todd Heisler, Rocky Mountain News)

 

These images and many other iconic shots can be found in Moments, The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographs, A Visual Chronicle of Our Time (Hal Buell, Tess Press).

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5 times ‘outdated’ weapons saved the day

Soldiers and commanders are usually stuck with whatever equipment the procurement officers and civilian leaders are willing to buy for them, sometimes forcing troops to go into combat with outdated and inferior equipment.


But sometimes, those “outdated” weapons are actually just perfect for the fight. Here are five times that a supposedly obsolete weapon system saved the lives of its users:

1. Bayonets in Afghanistan and Iraq

The 6 most-secret units in military history
A British soldier with fixed bayonet. (Photo: U.K. Ministry of Defence)

Bayonets, most often associated with fighting in the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, actually played a key role in battles during the modern Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

The most famous probably came in 2004 when 20 British troops were trying to push insurgents from a series of trenches. The fire from the U.K. vehicles was doing little and ammunition was running low, so the commander ordered his men to dismount and fix bayonets.

The British killed approximately 20 of the enemy with their bayonets at a cost of three men injured. Overall, the enemy lost 28 men in the fight.

2. Mortars in World War I

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Mortars are still a thing, as are hand grenades. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Timothy Jackson).

It may sound insane today since mortars are still common weapons, but naysayers in the first years of World War I thought that the mortar was relatively unimportant and was no longer necessary. It was already hundreds of years old and had seen reduced deployments in western militaries in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

But Germany had seen mortars and grenades used in the Russo-Japanese War and stockpiled them before the war as a way to break French defenses. The Allies had to play catch up, developing their own mortars as the war continued. A British design, the Stokes trench mortar, was highly portable and lethal and gave rise to the modern mortar system.

3. OV-10 Bronco

The 6 most-secret units in military history
An OV-10G+ operated by SEAL Team 6. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The OV-10 Bronco is an observation and ground attack plane that first flew in 1965 and served in the U.S. military from Vietnam through Desert Storm before accepting a quiet retirement in 1995. Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, touts its historical performance in counter-insurgency, forward air control, and armed reconnaissance missions.

Well, the OV-10 Bronco flew out of history and into the fight against ISIS when CENTCOM deployed two of them in anti-insurgency reconnaissance and ground attack missions. The planes performed 132 sorties in 2015 with a whopping 99 percent completion rate, including 120 combat missions.

4. Pretty much anywhere the A-10 has ever fought

The 6 most-secret units in military history
The A-10 shows off its non-BRRRRRT related talents. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Bob Sommer)

The A-10 Warthog (or the Thunderbolt, if you’re into that) has been “outdated” since 1973 when the Yom Kippur War saw low and slow close air support platforms like the A-4 Skyhawk slaughtered while fast and high-flying planes like the F-4 Phantom largely survived.

But the A-10, a low and slow platform, made its operational debut in 1976, three years after the Yom Kippur War supposedly closed the books on them. Despite that, the A-10 has fought and survived in a number of contested environments, most notably Iraq where it has twice been a key part of American forces breaking the back of armored and anti-aircraft ground forces.

In Afghanistan alone, A-10 pilots saved a Special Forces team from five ground assaults against them; conducted forward air control and numerous attack missions to ensure the success of an 8-hour, no notice mission to capture a senior enemy officer; and prevented an accidental fratricide event before annihilating Taliban forces at Jugroom Fort.

5. The Night Witches and their plywood biplanes

The 6 most-secret units in military history
The Po-2 bomber was woefully outdated in World War II, but the women of the 588th made it work. (Photo: Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 Douzeff)

The women of Soviet Russia’s 588th Night Bomber Regiment, the Night Witches, flew in plywood and canvas biplanes through the best defenses that Nazi Germany had to offer, conducting multiple bombing missions per night to break up attacks against Soviet ground forces.

Their planes, the Polikarpov U-2 biplane, were underpowered and outgunned compared to the Luftwaffe’s modern air force. But the Night Witches used the biplanes to fly over German defenses nearly silently and drop bombs — they could only carry two at a time per plane — on Nazi positions.

They conducted 30,000 missions during World War II and dropped 23,000 tons of bombs.

Lists

The most famous battles fought by Gen. George Patton

A list of all important battles fought by George S. Patton. This battles list includes any George S. Patton battles, conflicts, campaigns, wars, skirmishes or military engagements of any kind. This list displays the battles George S. Patton fought in alphabetically, but the battles/military engagements contain information such as where the battle was fought and who else was involved. List items include Battle of the Bulge, Allied invasion of Sicily and many additional items as well.


If you are looking to answer the questions, “Which battles did George S. Patton fight in?” and “Which battles was George S. Patton involved in?” then this list has got you covered.

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Here is every weapon the US Army issues its soldiers

It goes without saying that the US Army is continuously testing and adding new weapons to its arsenal.

For example, the Army recently began to replace the M9 and M11 pistols with the M17 and M18, but has only delivered them to soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Therefore, the pistols are not yet standard issue.


While the Army continues to stay ahead of the game, it undoubtedly has a multitude of weapons for its soldiers.

And we compiled a list of all these standard issue weapons operable by individual soldiers below, meaning that we didn’t include, for example, the Javelin anti-tank missile system because it takes more than one person to operate, nor did we include nonstandard issue weapons.

Check them out:

M1911 pistol

M1911 pistol

The M1911 is a .45 caliber sidearm that the Army has used since World War I, and has even begun phasing out.

M9 pistol

M9 pistol

The Army started replacing the M1911 with the 9mm M9 in the mid-1980s.

M11 pistol

M11 pistol

The M11 is another 9mm pistol that replaced the M1911, and is itself being replaced by the M17 and M18 pistols.

M500 shotgun

M500 shotgun

The M500 is a 12-gauge shotgun that usually comes with a five-round capacity tube. The Army began issuing shotguns to soldiers during World War I to help clear trenches, and has been issuing the M500 since the 1980s.

M590 shotgun

M590 shotgun

The 12-gauge M590 is very similar to the M500 — both of which are made by Mossberg — except for little specifications, such as triggers, barrel length and so forth.

M26 modular shotgun accessory

M26 modular shotgun accessory

The M26 is “basically a secondary weapon slung underneath an M4 to allow the operator to switch between 5.56 and 12-gauge rounds quickly without taking his eyes off the target or his hands off of his rifle,” according to the US Army.

M14 enhanced battle rifle

M14 enhanced battle rifle

The M14, which shoots a 7.62mm round, has been heavily criticized, and the Army is currently phasing it out. Read more about that here.

M4 carbine

M4 carbine

The M4 shoots 5.56mm rounds and is a shortened version of the M16A2.

M16A2 rifle

M16A2 rifle

The M16A2 shoots the same round and has a similar muzzle velocity as the M4. One of the main differences, though, is that it has a longer barrel length.

M16 rifle with M203 grenade launcher

M16 rifle with M203 grenade launcher

The M203 shoots 40mm grenades and can be fitted under the M4 and M16, but the Army is currently phasing it out for the M320.

M249 squad automatic weapon

M249 squad automatic weapon

The SAW shoots a 5.56mm round like the M4 and M16, but it’s heavier and has a greater muzzle velocity and firing range.

M240B medium machine gun.

M240B medium machine gun.

The M240B is a belt-fed machine gun that shoots 7.62mm rounds, but is even heavier and has a greater max range than the SAW.

There are multiple versions of the M240, and two more of those versions are Army standard issue.

M240L medium machine gun

M240L medium machine gun

The M240L is a much lighter version of the M240B, weighing 22.3 pounds, versus the 240B’s 27.1 pounds.

M240H medium machine gun

M240H medium machine gun

The M240H is an upgraded version of the M240D, which can be mounted on vehicles and aircraft.

M110 semi-automatic sniper system

M110 semi-automatic sniper system

The M110 shoots a 7.62x51mm round with an effective firing range of more than 2,600 feet. But the Army is currently phasing it out for the Heckler & Koch G28.

M2010 enhanced sniper rifle

M2010 enhanced sniper rifle

The M2010 shoots a .30 caliber, or 7.62x67mm round with an even greater effective firing range than the M110 at nearly 4,000 feet.

M107 long-range sniper rifle

M107 long-range sniper rifle

The M107 shoots an incredibly large 12.7x99mm round with an equally incredibly large effective firing range of more than 6,500 feet.

M2 machine gun

M2 machine gun

The M2 shoots .50 caliber rounds with an effective firing range of more than 22,000 feet. It’s also very heavy, weighing 84 pounds.

M320 grenade launcher (stand-alone)

M320 grenade launcher (stand-alone)

The M320 is the Army’s new 40mm grenade launcher, which can be fitted under a rifle or used as a stand-alone launcher. The M203 could too, but rarely was.

The M320 reportedly is more accurate and has niftier features, like side-loading mechanisms and better grips.

MK19 grenade machine gun

MK19 grenade machine gun

The MK19 is a 40mm automatic grenade launcher that can mount on tripods and armored vehicles. It has an effective firing range of more than 7,000 feet, compared to the M320‘s 1,100 feet.

M3 Carl Gustaf (MAAWS)

M3 Carl Gustaf (MAAWS)

The M3 Carl Gustaf is an 84mm recoilless rifle system that can shoot a variety of high-explosive rounds at a variety of targets, including armored vehicles.

And this graphic, updated in February 2018, and which the Army gave to Business Insider, shows all the current and future standard issue weapons.

And this graphic, updated in February 2018, and which the Army gave to Business Insider, shows all the current and future standard issue weapons.

All images featured in this article are courtesy of the Department of Defense.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Lists

10 ways animals have been used as weapons of mass destruction

Here are ten insane example of adapting cute creatures into weapons in both life and death situations. In most of these situations, the animals’ lives were not taken into consideration as people attempted new war strategies. The animals were used to carry out bombings and other dangerous tasks that put their lives at risk.


As they say, all is fair…

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7 nasty ways Kim Jong Un executes people

Kim Jong Un doesn’t take well to being dissed. Remember how North Korea threatened Sony over The Interview? Though, one has to like the fact that in that film, Kim became a firework to the tune of Katy Perry’s Firework.


So, here are some of the ways Kim knocks off those who dissed him. This dissing can take the form of trying to steal a propaganda poster (which lead to a fatal prison stay), possessing the Bible, or even having American or South Korean films in your possession. So, how might Kim do the deed?

Here are some of the ways he’s offed those who angered him in the past:

7. Dogs

Everyone’s starving in North Korea. That includes man’s best friend. Kim Jong Un, though, is reportedly more than willing to feed dogs. Guess he’s trying to spin himself as an animal lover with this method.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Jeremy Bender/ Business Insider)

6. Anti-Aircraft Guns

This is probably the most notorious method. Kim is known to have used this method on one high-ranking official by the name of Ri Jong Jin who fell asleep during a meeting where the North Korean dictator was giving a speech. He and another official who suggested policy changes were blown to smithereens at Kim’s orders.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
ZU-23-2 Anti-Aircraft Gun (Photo: Wikimedia)

5. VX

Kim Jong Un used this deadly nerve agent earlier this year to kill his half-brother, who was seen as a threat. This hit took place in Kuala Lampur, showing that North Korea’s dictator can find a way to kill people he wants dead – even when they flee the hellhole that is North Korea. What’s really awful is how persistent VX is.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(YouTube screen grab from John Mason)

4. Machine Guns

Kim Jong Un has also used regular ol’ machine guns on enemies. One reported instance was on an ex-girlfriend, although she later turned up alive. He did use this method to knock off the engineers and architects who designed and built a 23-story building that collapsed and killed 500 people, though.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

3. Burned with Flamethrowers

Flamethrowers are considered some of the scariest weapons when wielded in war. Kim Jong Un turned them into a very nasty method of execution for an official who was running a protection racket.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
This Marine sprays his deadly flamethrower at in enemy building. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

2. Blown up with a Mortar

When Kim Jong Un wants you to mourn, you’d better mourn. One high-ranking official in the North Korean military was busted “drinking and carousing” after Kim Jong Il died in 2011. He got the death penalty, which was carried out by making him stand still while a mortar was fired, obliterating him.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Fenton loads a round into an 81 mm Mortar during a deployment for training exercise at Fort. Pickett, Va., Dec. 11, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Shannon Kroening)

1. Poison

When Kim Jong Un executed his uncle, his aunt was understandably upset. Kim. Though, wasn’t very consoling to his bereaved aunt, and had her poisoned in May 2014.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

Yeah, Kim Jong Un can be real nasty when he wants you to go. So, either don’t cross the Pyongyang Psycho, or if you do…make it really worth it.

Articles

These Are The Best Pictures From The Military This Week

Military photographers in all the branches of the armed forces are constantly taking awesome shots of training, combat, and stateside events. We looked among the military’s official channels, Flickr, Facebook, and elsewhere and picked our favorites over the past week. Here’s what we found:


AIR FORCE

A B-52H Stratofortress flies during Cope North 15, Feb. 17, 2015, off the coast of Guam. During the exercise, the U.S., Japan and Australia air forces worked on developing combat capabilities enhancing air superiority, electronic warfare, air interdiction, tactical airlift and aerial refueling. The B-52H is assigned to the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson/USAF

Exercise Cope North 15 participants and aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Philippine Air Force take a group photo Feb. 13, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson/USAF

NAVY

SASEBO, Japan (Feb. 26, 2015) Lt. j.g. Weston Floyd, ballistic missile defense officer, Cmdr. Chad Graham, executive officer, and Chief Operations Specialist Chris Ford prepare to participate in a fleet synthetic training joint exercise aboard the Arleigh-burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist First Class Joshua Hammond/USN

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 26, 2015) Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III, commander of Task Force (CTF) 51, addresses Sailors and Marines during an all-hands call on the flight deck of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason M. Graham/USN

ARMY

Soldiers train with multinational soldiers at the International Special Training Center Advanced Medical First Responder Course (ISTC), conducted by the ISTC Medical Branch, in Pfullendorf, Germany, Feb. 17-19, 2015.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Visual Information Specialist, Jason Johnston/US Army

Soldiers participate in the chin up portion of the Ranger Physical Fitness Assessment (RPFA) on Fort Benning, Ga., Feb. 7, 2015, as part of the Ranger Training Assessment Course. In order to pass the RPFA, Soldiers must successfully do 49 push ups, 59 sit ups, a 2.5-mile run within 20 minutes, and six chin ups.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Sgt. Sara Wakai/US Army

MARINE CORPS

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares to take off aboard the USS Essex (LHD 2) during Amphibious Squadron/Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration Training (PMINT) off the coast of San Diego, Feb. 24, 2015.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/USMC

Marines extinguish a fuel fire at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma during live-burn training Feb. 21, 2015. The Marines worked together to contain and extinguish the fire.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Lance Cpl. Janessa K. Pon/USMC

COAST GUARD

Petty Officer 2nd Class Bill Glenn and Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Korte, members of the military dive team aboard Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, are hoisted out of icy water after completing an underwater inspection of the ship while moored at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Jan. 23, 2015.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener/USCG

The crew sees alit of amazing wildlife in Antarctica. We’re going to show you some of our favorite shots today. A seal lay on the ice in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star while the ship is hove-to in the Ross Sea near Antarctica, Jan. 30, 2015.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos Rodriguez/USCG

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These 14 photos vividly show how the military rescues downed aircrew

The U.S. military is an expeditionary force capable of deploying anywhere in the world, and as a consequence of that, aircrews flying into harm’s way might get shot down or crash in hostile lands.  That’s when the work starts for combat search and rescue teams.


1. When the military needs to recover downed aircrews, it conducts a “personnel recovery” mission.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado)

2. Different branches have different names and preferred methods for these missions, but all of them include a lot of planning and attention to detail.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mya M. Crosby)

3. Once a plan is created, a group of specialized warriors prepares to jump, fly, or drive into combat. In this photo, an Air Force pararescue team gets ready to parachute into a simulated mission.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman)

4. If the service doesn’t know the exact location of a downed aircrew, they dispatch people to go search for them. The preferred method is to fly over the area and use sensors to search the ground.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)

5. Sometimes, aircraft are limited by weather, enemy activity, or other factors. This can lead to troops having to search through a dangerous area on foot.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado)

6. Personnel can get to the search area in a variety of ways, including parachuting in.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman)

7. Helicopters are the most popular method of insertion of recovery personnel.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy)

8. In recent years the V-22 Osprey has been increasingly employed.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
The V-22 is a tilt-rotor aircraft that can fly quickly and for long ranges with its engines pointed forward but can rotate its blades up to allow it to hover and land vertically like a helicopter. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Shellie Hall)

9. Once the rescue crews are nearby, isolated personnel are encouraged to signal them using pre-assigned methods. Here, a simulated casualty swings a chemlight to signal to other Marines landing in a cloud of dust.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Trever Statz)

10. On the ground, the recovery team is responsible for securing the area and watching out for enemy activity.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Trever Statz)

11. Medical assets assigned to the team will evaluate any casualties and conduct emergency care for members of the downed aircrew.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Trever Statz)

12. Then, everyone gets back on the birds to get out of dodge before any enemies show up.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)

13. For service members isolated in areas where helicopters can’t land, the rescue crews can bring in winches or other equipment to get everyone out anyway.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)

14. Once everyone is on board, the birds head back to base. The formerly isolated personnel will then be offered medical care and either return to their unit or be sent back to the U.S. for additional treatment.

The 6 most-secret units in military history
(Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy)