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The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

woobie


During my years and years of deployments, training, and schools I learned to make due with very little and be very thankful for what little I had. I have eaten road kill unsure of what animal it was, dumpster dived, slept under tarps, taken whore baths in wells and rivers, stolen food from a VIP reception, and crapped in more holes than any man should have to in a hundred lifetimes.

When you are a soldier in the field, it’s the little things in life that bring happiness.

And when I say ‘the field,’ I don’t mean the Forward Operating Base where you have access to a hot shower, a computer, hot chow, and a PX. I mean the field, the boonies, Indian country, anything outside the wire where nothing separates you and the enemy but air and a faded, worn out, torn uniform that reeks of sweat, field nuts, and ass.

So what are some of these amenities that make us field soldiers so happy?

Here’s a list of seven things that brought me the most joy when forward deployed to whatever asscrackistan country I was in.

1. Socks

soldier drying his socks

Anyone who has ever been to combat will tell you there are two things you must take care of: your weapon and your feet. People with bad feet typically do not make it into the Infantry and certainly don’t make it into Special Operations. Your feet get you where you are going, literally. When the rest of your body looks and smells like a bag of smashed assholes, nothing can raise your spirits like putting on a clean pair of socks.

2. Woobie

 

army woobie poncho liner

The woobie or field blanket, also known as the poncho liner, is one of the Army’s greatest inventions. There is nothing more comforting when exhausted, soaking wet or freezing than crawling under the warmth of a woobie. I never paid much attention to the Linus character from Charlie Brown when I was growing up except to make fun of the guy for hauling around his favorite blanket. As soon as I went on my first field training exercise, I knew Linus was onto something (minus the thumb sucking). As a matter of fact, I found woobies so comfortable and comforting that I carried two in my ruck for years and even slept between the two for months after finishing Ranger school.

3. Baby wipes

baby wipes

These beautiful little inventions, originally meant for baby tushes, are the field soldier’s best friend. One of the most over-looked issues with being in the field is sanitation and hygiene. Nothing will knock out a soldier or an Army like disease. In many cases soldiers spend days, weeks or months in the field without showers. Baby wipes let you clean the cheese from between your toes, nut sweat, arm pits and then your hands before packing that glorious dip of snuff after a patrol.

4. Boots

army boots

Everyone remembers the first pair of Army boots. The kind you got in basic training. You know the ones that have been unchanged since World War 1. They were designed by some sadomasochist who gave them the comfort level of walking on plywood and ensured they did not break-in until near the end of training. Recently, the Army got a clue and started investing in good boots. I think it was because they were finally starting to see that forcing soldiers to wear 80 pounds of “lightweight” equipment was taking its toll on the force. I always deployed with four pairs of boots — yep, four. The first pair was what was issued to me and was the Army directed pair for wearing with BDU/ACU for ceremonies. The second was my favorite pair of extreme hot weather boots made by Merrell. I used them for light patrolling, going to the range and training. The third was a pair of Asolo’s for hot weather as well but for hiking and more sturdy for wearing full or assaulter’s kit. Finally, my most favorite was my winter boots made by Lowa. Putting them on was like putting on a pair of leather gloves. My feet would immediately break into a happy dance and thank me profusely.

5. Foot powder

gold bond foot powder

It is not just for feet anymore. The next critical comfort item was foot powder, but not just any foot powder, Gold Bond. That stuff is divinely inspired and could turn any wet, cold, sweaty and aching feet or crotch into a place of immense happiness and joy. Combined with a clean pair of socks, and comfortable boots, we can simply label it “me time.”

6. Snuff

snuff chewing tobacco

There are many things in life you must become accustomed to when you are in the Infantry. Being hungry and tired are two of them. As an Infantryman you need to be alert at all times. Not much in life can help you get over being hungry or tired like tobacco. Smoking can be seen and smelled by the enemy. Is tobacco bad for you, yes; but so is getting shot or blown up. Snuff has always been my solution. I always felt the best thing about eating the putrid tasting MRE was the dip afterward. Nothing in life tastes better after a firefight than a dip of Copenhagen . . . nothing . . . except maybe beer and bourbon.

7. Toilet paper

army toilet paper

No, I don’t mean those thin pieces of tissue someone put in the MRE’s as a joke. (Whatever bean counter that chose that cheap stuff to go in the rations should have his ass kicked.) I mean real, tickle-your-grommet-while-cleaning-all-the-shit-off-you, toilet paper – the stuff they advertise using cartoon bears on TV. There are essentially two kinds of toilet paper in this world, the good kind and the Army kind. The super cheap toilet paper the army buys is dubbed ‘John Wayne’ paper because it is tough as leather and won’t take any shit. (It can also be used as high grit sand paper.) If you’ve ever taken a shit in the field you know that things can literally be blowing up all around you, but if you have the right toilet paper when you need it all is truly right with the world.

Articles

8 brutally honest depictions of vets and troops in fiction

We sometimes overlook the accurate and fantastic portrayals of veterans and troops in fiction, instead criticizing Hollywood’s typical depiction of us as hyper-macho, high-speed ass-kicking machines or broken and fragile husks of human beings.


For a good portion of the armed services, this is far from the truth. This isn’t a grunt versus POG (Person Other than Grunt) thing. It’s a symptom of the civilian-military divide.

There seems to be a perpetual cycle of fiction blowing real military service out of proportion. Civilians who never interacted with service members often believe that fictional portrayal.

Let’s be honest. Veterans are combating the stigma, but it’s an uphill battle.

Hell, most of the stories we tell at bars aren’t helping.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
No judging. I will totally back up your claim as a Space Shuttle Door Gunner.

This one goes out to the creators, writers, directors, and actors that gave the world a veteran and stayed away from the stigma. Either intentionally or not, these characters either embody what it was truly like in the service or have exceptional moments that can overlook some of the more silly moments.

If you can think of any others left out, leave them in the comment section.

1. Sgt. Bill Dauterive – “King of the Hill”

Though the 022 MOS doesn’t exist anymore, Bill from “King of the Hill” was a U.S. Army Barber. There are several episodes dedicated to his military service. The 2007 episode “Bill, Bulk and the Body Buddies” even revolved around him trying to get in shape to pass his APFT.

How he manages to go on all the adventures in the show and not be considered AWOL is also a plot point.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Character by Mike Judge and Fox Studios)

2. Capt. Frank Castle, aka “The Punisher” – Marvel Comics

Not every superhero gets their powers from a science experiment, being an alien, or just being super rich.

Frank Castle, The Punisher, learned his skills in the Marine Corps. Sure. He’s an extreme representation of a veteran. But The Punisher earns his spot on this list because of Jon Bernthal’s monologue in Season 2 of “Daredevil.” His performance and his story about his return from a deployment hits close to home for many people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdMQk2fL_qA

(YouTube, Rastifan)

3. King Robert Baratheon – A Song of Fire and Ice, “Game of Thrones”

Let’s take away medieval fantasy elements of “Game of Thrones” and recognize that Robert Baratheon used to be a proud, respected, and feared soldier on the front lines.

Ever since putting his service behind him, he got fat, grew a glorious beard, spent his time drinking, hunting, and talking about his glory days. Sound like anyone you know from your old unit?

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Character by George RR Martin and HBO)

4. Pfc. Donny Novitski and his band — “Bandstand”

A Tony Award winning musical may seem an unlikely place to find a true to life depiction of a WWII veteran, but it’s the only Broadway musical with an official “Got Your 6” certification.

The musical is about a group of young vets returning home who form a band to try to reach stardom (the same half thought out plan we all had while we were downrange).

The lead character, Donny, spends most of the story showing his bandmates and the world their sacrifice and talents.

Veterans who’ve seen the show praise it. At the end of every show, they thank the troops around the world and dedicate each performance to a different veteran.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Characters by Richard Oberacker)

5. Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – “M*A*S*H”

The Capt. Hawkeye character is beloved by many for its accuracy. He was drafted right after his medical residency to deploy to the Korean War. Everything about his character was a fresh change to the ordinary war hero cliche.

He resented the Army for drafting him. Each loss of life affected him as the series progressed. He used humor to help cope with the daily stress of combat.

In the 1978 episode “Commander Pierce,” Hawkeye is temporarily in charge of the 4077th. For one episode, he drastically made the very real change to become the leader that his soldiers needed before reverting back to fit the semi-episodic formula.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Character by Richard Hooker and CBS)

6. Capt. Kathryn Janeway – “Star Trek: Voyager”

While on the topic of the burdens of leadership, the character that best exemplifies this is the commander of the USS Voyager. Many of the ongoing struggles in the series revolve around how Capt. Kathryn Janeway deals with the safety of the crew, the dream of returning home, and hiding her internal doubt.

Oh, and she always drinks coffee, and she always drinks it black.

via GIPHY

 7. Master Sgt. Abraham Simpson – “The Simpsons”

The senile grandpa of the Simpson family is often the butt of many jokes. His long term memory is hazy and his short term memory isn’t any better.

But then there’s the 1996 “Flying Hellfish” episode. Art and story-wise, this episode is vastly different from most, and is regarded as one of the best in the series.

Grandpa Abe and Bart go on an adventure to reclaim the treasure Abe found back in World War II. Back in the day, Grandpa was a very competent and tactful leader.

When his unit, which also included series antagonist Mr. Burns, discover a fortune in stolen Nazi paintings, they place a life bet on who keeps them.

While Mr. Burns is willing to kill for the prize, Abe still holds onto his honor and loyalty to his unit after all those years. At the end, when the paintings are confiscated by police, Abe tells his grandson why he went after the paintings. “It was to show you that I wasn’t always a pathetic old kook,” he said.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Character by Matt Groening and Fox Studios)

8. Sgt. Donald Duck – Disney

The sailor suit he always wears isn’t just for show or stolen valor, Donald Duck legitimately was in the Navy and Army Air Force (hence why, in 1984, he was officially given the rank of sergeant and discharge by the real world Army on his 50th anniversary).

Hear me out on this.

In World War I, Walt Disney attempted to join the U.S. Army but was rejected for being too young. He then forged documents to join the Red Cross.

In France, the cartoons he sketched grabbed the attention of Stars and Stripes, later becoming the icon we all know today. In WWII, his love of country and understanding of how propaganda worked lead Disney to use Donald Duck to help the troops.

The “Buck Sergeant Duck” was used in counter-propoganda cartoons and recruitment shorts, even winning an Oscar for “Der Feuhrer’s Face.”

His time in both the Army and Navy is well depicted in many forms — from cartoons to comics. In “DuckTales,” Donald leaves his nephews because he’s being shipped out, which starts the series. The cartoon “Donald Gets Drafted” shows Donald learning (in an exaggerated manner) that recruiters sometimes tell fibs to get bodies in the door.

Even his short temper, aggression, loud voice, cynical attitude, and unprovoked tantrums aren’t a concept lost on veterans.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Character by Walt Disney and Disney)

Articles

8 post-9/11 heroes who should have received the Medal Of Honor — but didn’t

In the wars since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been sixteen Medals of Honor conferred, but ask any military member and they’ll likely bring up some other heroes who deserved the nation’s highest award but didn’t receive it.


Whether it be the chaos of battle, lack of witnesses, or that they were not recommended for the Medal of Honor although they almost certainly should have been, some troops never got the recognition they really deserved.

As articles in The Washington Post and Army Times have pointed out, the standards for military awards are rather inconsistent. The muddled process of which actions earn the nation’s highest award has resulted in a generation of “forgotten heroes” in the War on Terror, as I wrote previously at Business Insider.

Here are seven of those heroes who arguably should have received the Medal of Honor.

1. Marine Pfc. Christopher Adlesberger cleared part of an insurgent-filled house in Fallujah all by himself.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Christopher Adlesperger

During the second battle of Fallujah, then-Marine Pfc. Christopher Adlesperger singlehandedly cleared part of a house filled with insurgents in a heroic action that was recommended for the nation’s highest military award.

Upon entering an insurgent-infested house in Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004, Adlesperger pushed forward despite the death of his point man and the wounding of two others. Adlesperger, wounded in the face by grenade fragments, then single-handedly cleared a stairway and a rooftop, throwing grenades and shooting at insurgents while under blistering fire.

“Adlesperger was killing insurgents so they couldn’t make it up the roof,” said platoon corpsman Alonso Rogero, in his written statement of events. “The insurgents tried to run up the ladder well, but Pfc. Adlesperger kept shooting them and throwing grenades on top of them.”

From Defense.gov:

Finally, an assault vehicle broke through a wall on the main floor. Adlesperger rejoined his platoon and demanded to take point for the final attack on the entrenched machine gun. He entered the courtyard first, and eliminated the final enemy at close range. By the end of the battle, Adlesperger was credited with having killed at least 11 insurgents.

He died a month after his heroics in that Fallujah house, but Adlesperger was posthumously promoted to lance corporal and recommended for the Medal of Honor. The award recommendation from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines originated with 1st Lt. Dong Yi and moved up the chain of command, with concurrence from Adlesperger’s battalion commander, regimental commander, and division commander.

Two years later, when his recommendation reached the MEF Commander, Lt. Gen. John Sattler, it was downgraded to the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award. His award recommendation did not include any comments or reasons as to why. He was awarded the Navy Cross on April 13, 2007.

2. Army Master Sgt. Thomas Ballard led a 12-man team of soldiers against an overwhelming enemy force. Three hours later, more than 265 insurgents would be dead.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Photo: Army.mil

After receiving a call for support from Iraqi Army soldiers being attacked by insurgents on Jan. 28, 2007, a small team of soldiers with Master Sgt. Thomas Ballard — believing the enemy strength was only around 15 to 20 militants — went out to help them.

As they neared the beleaguered Iraqis, an AH-64 Apache helicopter providing air cover crashed. “When I saw the Apache go down, it immediately changed everything,” Ballard, the non-commissioned officer in charge of Military Transition Team 0810, told Army Public Affairs. “Everything was focused on that crash site; nothing else mattered. That’s where we had to go and that’s what we did.”

Once they got to the crash site, the soldiers quickly realized the insurgent force was much larger than 20. The vehicle of Ballard’s commander started getting slammed by machine-gun and RPG fire and a major firefight broke out.

“We began engaging, and continued engaging. There were 265 bodies reported at the end, but I can tell you, there was more than that,” Ballard told Army Public Affairs. “Everything we shot was targets and collectively, we burned up about 11,000 rounds of machine gun ammo, M4 ammo, M203 grenade launcher ammo and 10 air strikes.”

The team of 12 soldiers had apparently fought nearly 1,000 insurgents, according to Ballard. The entire team received the Army Commendation Medal and two others received the Bronze Star. Ballard was awarded the Silver Star.

3. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez kept calling in crucial air strikes on enemy positions, even after he was shot in the chest and believed he would die in minutes.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Photo: US Air Force

As the lone combat controller assigned to an Army Special Forces team, Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez brought critical skills of directing accurate air strikes on enemy positions in past battles. On Oct. 5, 2009 while on a mission to find a high-value target in Afghanistan, those skills would be put to the test again — this time while he was seriously wounded.

The team was ambushed, and after a fellow soldier’s weapon had jammed, Gutierrez began firing at enemy fighters until he was struck in the upper chest. The enemy bullet just missed his heart, collapsed his lung and he began to cough up blood, according to Fox News.

“I thought about [my job], what I would do before I bled out,” Gutierrez later told Fox News. “That I would change the world in those three minutes, I’d do everything I could to get my guys out safely before I died.”

Ignoring his injuries and refusing to take off his body armor, Gutierrez remained calm and stayed on the radio to call in gun runs. Enemy fighters were lined up on a wall just 30 feet from him at one point in the battle, but the staff sergeant called in three A-10 strikes at “danger close” range to take them out.

As Robert Johnson wrote at Business Insider:

The A-10 pilot talking to him on the ground said he had no idea Gutierrez was wounded, that his voice was calm the whole time, and only realized the man was injured when his team moved to the medical landing zone.

“He said he would be off of the mic for a few to handle his gunshot wounds,” Air Force Capt. Ethan Sabin said. “Until that point he was calm, cool and collected.”

After losing nearly half his blood, Gutierrez was medically evacuated from the battlefield after four hours of fighting. He received the Air Force Cross for his heroism in 2011.

4. Marine Cpl. Brady Gustafson kept directing heavy fire on insurgents despite an RPG partially amputating his leg.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Lance Cpl. Brady Gustafson, a machine gunner with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, stands in from of the battalion at perfect parade rest, despite the amputation of his right leg below the knee. Gustafson received the Navy Cross and a meritorious promotion to corporal during a ceremony March 27 at Lance Cpl. Torrey Grey Field. Photo: Pfc. Michael T. Gams/USMC

On July 21, 2008 while manning the turret atop an MRAP in Afghanistan, Lance Cpl. Brady Gustafson continued to engage enemy fighters despite a devastating wound to his right leg.

Ambushed from multiple directions with rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns, Gustafson’s vehicle took a hit from an RPG that partially severed his leg and knocked his driver unconscious, according to The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe.

“I looked down, and a lot of my right leg wasn’t there,” he told Time Magazine. “I could see muscle and bone, and I was bleeding pretty hard.” Still, he remained calm and unleashed hell from his machine-gun.

The North-Shore Journal has more:

Despite his injuries, Gustafson remained vigilant on his M240B machine gun, locating and accurately firing on several insurgent positions, some as close as 20 meters from the vehicle.

He remained in the turret, reloading twice and firing over 600 rounds, while Lance Cpl. Cody Comstock, an Anderson, Ind. native, applied a tourniquet to his leg.

Gustafson was recommended for the Silver Star and ended up receiving the Navy Cross in 2009. But his battalion commander, Col. Richard Hall, later told The Marine Times that he regretted not putting him up for the nation’s highest award.

“When you consider that his leg is taken off, his driver is unconscious and he’s shouting to his driver to get him out of the kill zone. Meanwhile, he’s maintaining the presence of mind to keep returning fire on the enemy and to try to suppress them overwhelming that four-vehicle convoy, or patrol,” Hall told the paper. “The vehicle behind them was stuck, and Gustafson reloads no less than two times and wakes up his driver, tells him to push the burning vehicle behind them out of the kill zone, all while bleeding out and refusing medical aid for his severed leg.”

5. Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe pulled six soldiers from a burning Bradley fighting vehicle even though he was drenched in fuel.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Following a devastating improvised explosive device strike under his Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Daliaya, Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005, Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe managed to escape from the burning vehicle, out of his spot in the gunner’s hatch.

Then he went back in under enemy fire to save his fellow soldiers three times, all while he was drenched in fuel.

From The Los Angeles Times:

Cashe rescued six badly burned soldiers while under enemy small-arms fire. His own uniform caught fire, engulfing him in flames. Even with second- and-third degree burns over three-fourths of his body, Cashe continue to pull soldiers out of a vehicle set ablaze when a roadside bomb ruptured a fuel tank.

“I told him, ‘Don’t go over there playing a hero. You learn how to duck and come home,”‘ his sister, Kasinal Cashe White told the Orlando Sentinel. “He said, ‘I’m doing the job I was trained to do. I have to take care of my boys.”‘

Cashe held on until Nov. 8, when he succumbed to his wounds at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. According to his sister Kasinal, who spoke with the Los Angeles Times, his first words when he was able to speak at the hospital were “how are my boys?”

The full extent of Cashe’s heroism became muddled in the chaos of war, and the soldiers he rescued were unable to provide details since they were hospitalized with severe wounds, The Times reported. He was recommended for, and posthumously received the Silver Star for his incredible bravery.

But many have advocated for Cashe to receive the nation’s highest award, including his former battalion commander.

“You don’t often find truly selfless sacrifice where someone put his soldiers’ welfare before his own,” Brig. Gen. Gary Brito told The Los Angeles Times. “Sgt. Cashe was horribly wounded and continued to fight to save his men.”

6. After being ambushed, 1st Lt. Brian Chontosh ordered his driver towards an enemy trench-line. Then he cleared much of it himself using his own weapons — and the enemy’s.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

As a platoon leader in the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 25, 2003, then-1st Lt. Brian Chontosh was ambushed and couldn’t escape the kill zone. So he ordered his driver to move right into the Iraqi trench-line as the turret gunner laid down fire with the .50 cal.

Corey Adwar writes at Task Purpose:

It was the first major firefight of the war for the anti-armor platoon Chontosh led, belonging to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Moments after the ambush began, Iraqi troops had already hit two vehicles with machine-gun, rocket-propelled grenade, and mortar fire, killing one soldier and severely wounding another.

Once his Humvee reached the enemy position, “Tosh” (as he calls himself) got out of the vehicle and jumped into the trench, mowing down enemy soldiers with his rifle until he ran out of ammo.

“I shot my pistol dry twice,” then grabbed an AK off a dead Iraqi, shot every bullet in it, picked up another AK and emptied it, too. “It’s just crazy,” he recalled to Phil Zabriskie for his book “The Kill Switch.”

When it was all over, Chontosh had cleared 200 meters of the enemy trench, killed more than 20 enemy soldiers, and wounded several others. He had used up all of his rifle and pistol ammo, along with two enemy AK-47s, and an RPG.

He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions, but he didn’t want to take all the credit, and instead commended the Marines with him that day for saving his life.

“They saved my life, multiple times that day, during the ambush,” Chontosh told Stars and Stripes. “That’s all them. If it wasn’t for them, I would be the lieutenant who would be reported as … a case of what not to do.”

7. Despite heavy enemy fire, Cpl. Jeremiah Workman ran into a house multiple times to save Marines who were trapped inside.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Retired Gen. James Mattis is presented the Freedom Award by Marine veteran Jeremiah Workman at the No Greater Sacrifice 2014 Freedom Award Family Day, Washington D.C., September 13, 2014. The Freedom Award is awarded to a service member who gives in selfless service to their nation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Karnath/Released)

On Dec. 23, 2004, Cpl. Jeremiah Workman was leading one squad of Marines while his friend Sgt. Jarrett Kraft had another. Searching houses in Fallujah, Kraft took the left side of the street while Workman took the right.

On the third house they entered that day, Kraft’s squad came under heavy fire on the second floor. Workman immediately rallied his squad to rescue his fellow Marines.

“I was scared,” Workman told The Washington Post. “I really was … when you get caught in a situation like that, it’s a real man check. For two seconds, you have to look in that invisible mirror that’s not there and look at yourself and question yourself as a man. And say, ‘Okay, I’m a corporal in the Marine Corps and I have guys that are looking up to me for leadership. What am I going to do?’ … So I grabbed everybody in the house and we come running.”

The Marine Times has more:

Dreading the worst, Workman organized his squad to enter the building. A corporal at the time, he and his Marines faced a maelstrom of small-arms fire and grenades. Three times, he sprinted up a stairwell under fire to fight the insurgents and help the pinned down Marines, who eventually escaped through the roof. At times, the Marines were close enough to see the insurgents’ faces amid the smoke and flashes of gunfire.

Two Marines — Cpl. Raleigh Smith and Lance Cpl. James Phillips, both 21 — were mortally wounded in the house, while several others were hurt but survived. Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenburg, 21, was killed nearby, cut down by enemy sniper fire as he and his fire team raced to the house to help. Workman sustained multiple shrapnel wounds from grenade explosions, but escaped without being seriously hurt.

Workman and his fellow squad leader Kraft were awarded the Navy Cross for their actions that day. Workman’s citation credited him with the “elimination of 24 insurgents.”

“I accepted this medal for three guys who didn’t make it back,” Workman told The Post. “So it’s really theirs.”

8. Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal took 43 pieces of shrapnel while shielding another Marine from a grenade blast.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

On Nov. 13, 2004 while serving in Fallujah as the company first sergeant for Weapons Co., 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, Brad Kasal joined up with a squad entering a house to rescue Marines inside.

Soon after he found a wounded Marine inside, Kasal and another Marine were both severely wounded in the legs by enemy fire. Then the insurgents threw grenades at them. The bleeding first sergeant rolled on top of the wounded Marine with him and absorbed the shrapnel.

Kasal took 43 pieces of shrapnel and was shot seven times inside the “House of Hell.” He lost roughly 60 percent of his blood, according to an article in VFW Magazine.

“When First Sergeant Kasal was offered medical attention and extraction, he refused until the other Marines were given medical attention. Although severely wounded himself, he shouted encouragement to his fellow Marines as they continued to clear the structure,” reads his citation. He was awarded the Navy Cross.

As Kasal was carried out of the house by two of his Marines — covered in blood and still clutching his pistol — Lucian Reed captured the scene, in what was perhaps one of the most iconic photographs to come out of the Battle of Fallujah.

NOW: Meet the 16 heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan who did receive the Medal of Honor

 

Lists

7 mind-numbing phrases leaders use to seem smarter

Nothing hurts the ears of everyone in the platoon like hearing the same phrase used in countless situations. At points, it seems like entire conversations are geared toward that specific phrase just to make whomever is speaking feel like the smartest person in the room.


Officers, senior enlisted, and even the occasional high-speed specialist who’s trying to prove themselves are guilty of using these phrases to feel smarter than the rest.

Related: 11 things First Sergeants say that make troops lose their minds

7. “I’m basically infantry, so…”

No. No you’re not. Unless you’re infantry, you’re not infantry. Even the famous Marine saying, “Every Marine is a rifleman” has its limits.

You can be a grunt commo guy or whatever and do grunt sh*t, regardless of MOS. You can even have an Infantryman MOS but be POG as f*ck. Use the right terminology if you’re trying to seem more badass.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Real infantry don’t constantly say they’re infantry. They just hang their blue cord off their rear view mirror to remind everyone. (Photo by John Rives, Wikimedia Commons)

6. “Back in my day…”

It’s understandable when this phrase comes from the old, salty Sergeant First Class who probably remembers serving with Baron Von Steuben, or even if you’re talking with an older vet at some bar.

What really makes people scratch their head is when this line is spoken by the guy who enlisted just a year before them.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

5. “Make sure to have your battle buddy!”

Sounds likes great advice in a safety brief, but you’re basically just saying, “don’t do something dumb alone.” Whether or not the command team agrees, soldiers are full-grown adults. The young private may not act like it sometimes, but on paper, they’re adults.

Not only is the phrase “battle buddy” way too childish and silly, but it’s a pain in the ass not being able to leave post without having to call up your “Battle Buddy” to go to Wal-Mart.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Besides, we don’t need to be reminded to do dumb sh*t with our bros. We’ll do it anyways. (U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)

4. “However, comma,”

Spoken language is fun. You can up the emphasis wherever you want in a sentence and change the intent entirely.

One of the many benefits is that you don’t need to sound out punctuation marks. Commas are a soft pause in the train of thought. You can just as easily just say, ‘however’ and then wait to get everyone’s attention.

And you just fake a laugh when they say it to be funny. via GIPHY

3. “To piggy back off what ___ said…”

Let’s be honest. How many times in the history of safety briefs has this phrase ever added new information or completely contradicted what was just said?

Just saying it brings a sense of dread across the faces of the already eager-to-leave soldiers.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
I don’t even know what the range safety brief is about and I can assume they’re given the same speech by the third person. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Eaddy)

2. “This is the easiest job you’ll ever have!”

Don’t get me wrong: Right time, right place, and right uniform is all you need to get a paycheck — but easier than everything else in the civilian world? Are you sure about that? You can misspell names at Starbucks and make a living. You can work a manufacturing gig where you press the same button 500 times a day and make a living. You can even get a job as a beer taster and make a living.

This saying is one part condescending and another part retention conspiracy.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Get paid for what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. (Image via SAYS.com)

1. “It would behoove you…”

Used as an intransitive verb, Dictionary.com describes behoove as “to be worthwhile to, as for personal profit or advantage. Every time it’s spouted out, it comes out of the mouth of someone who is swirling a figurative glass of scotch.

So by saying, “it would behoove you to be at formation on time” or whatever, the speaker is being facetious and the throwaway joke get tired quickly, just like every other joke repeated ad nauseam.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Basically. (Image via Reddit)

Lists

5 of the most badass American naval quotes ever

The strength of a nation is directly tied to its naval power and command of the seas. It was for this reason that an island nation like Great Britain was able to create such a vast empire and dominate so much of the world. Today, America follows this naval principle by maintaining freedom of maneuver and overwhelming superiority on the open sea. Since the nation’s birth, the U.S. Navy has fought in epic battles that have changed the course of history. From these events come some of the most badass Naval quotes that we can enjoy today.

1. “I have not yet begun to fight”

This naval quote comes from none other than John Paul Jones. John Paul Jones was America’s first naval hero of the Revolutionary War and is considered the father of the American Navy. In 1779, Jones commanded the 42-gun Bonhomme Richard and led a squadron of five ships attacking British vessels around Ireland, Scotland, and northern England. On September 23, he encountered a large merchant convoy escorted by two British ships of the line. Bonhomme Richard engaged with HMS Serapis and her 50 guns.

Realizing he was outgunned and outmaneuvered with the wind dying, Jones made an effort to lock the ships together. With Serapis in a position of advantage, the British hailed the Americans and asked if they wished to surrender. “I have not yet begun to fight,” was Jones’ reply. Consider this the 18th century naval version of Captain America getting back up during a fight and saying that he could do this all day. Jones’ fighting spirit, and that of his crew, won the day. Though the Bonhomme Richard was lost in the fighting, Serapis was captured by Jones who was knighted by King Louis XVI of France for his valor.

2. “We have met the enemy and they are ours…”

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Perry on Lake Erie with his motivational battle ensign (Percy Moran/Library of Congress)

Ever heard of Captain James Lawrence? You can thank him for this quote. During the War of 1812, Captain James Lawrence commanded USS Chesapeake against HMS Shannon in single combat. Chesapeake was quickly disabled by gunfire and Lawrence was mortally wounded. He issued his dying order, “Don’t give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks,” before he was carried below decks. Sadly, the crew was overwhelmed by a British boarding partly shortly thereafter and the ship was surrendered. After his valiant command and death, Lawrence’s words were taken up by his friend and fellow naval officer Captain Oliver Hazard Perry. Perry ordered a large blue battle ensign stitched in white with the phrase “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” and flew it in the Battle of Lake Erie. During the battle, Perry’s flagship, USS Lawrence, was also named for his fallen comrade. At the onset of the battle, Perry fortuitously stated, “If a victory is to be gained, I will gain it.”

A badass quote on its own, Perry was a man on a bloodthirsty mission of revenge against the British. When the battle was won, Perry had the British come aboard his ship to surrender so that they could see the sweat and blood of his men. But, the cherry on top of Perry’s revenge sundae was the battle report that he sent to future president General William Henry Harrison. “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.” For all the fighting and passion that went into the battle, Perry was famously brief with his summary; casual like an action hero not looking back at an explosion.

3. “Damn the torpedoes…full speed ahead”

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Farragut doesn’t care about your torpedoes (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

This hardcore quote comes from Admiral David Farragut, a Southern Unionist from Tennessee who opposed secession and the Confederacy at the outbreak of the Civil War. Though he was a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, Farragut’s loyalty was still questioned because of his Southern roots. However, he was given command of the Union’s Gulf Blockading Squadron and captured the city and port of New Orleans in 1862. For this achievement, he was loyalty was solidified and he was promoted to Rear Admiral, becoming one of the the Navy’s first four active flag officers. On August 5, 1864, Farragut was given the task of taking Mobile, Alabama, the Confederacy’s last major port in the gulf. Though the bay was protected by torpedoes, as tethered naval mines were known then,

Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When USS Tecumseh struck a mine and sank, other ships halted their charge and turned away from the bay. When Farragut saw this, he called over to one of his ships, “What’s the trouble?” USS Brooklyn replied, “Torpedoes!” “Damn the torpedoes!” Farragut proclaimed and issued orders to continue the charge. “Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed.” With the “Leroy Jenkins” type charge, the fleet burst through the defenses and into the bay where they destroyed the Confederate batteries and captured Mobile May. Today, Farragut’s quote is most often paraphrased to, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

4. “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley”

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The age of the Spanish is over. The time of America has come. (Naval Historical Center)

Some quotes are famous because they are linked to important historical events: “Et tu, Brute” with the death of Caesar which led to the end of the Roman Republic or “Molon labe” with the last stand of the 300 Spartans which gave rise to a united Greece against the Persian Empire. In modern history, it can be argued that Commodore George Dewey ushered in the age of American supremacy at the Battle of Manila Bay. Just after midnight on May 1, 1898, Dewey commanded the U.S. Asiatic Squadron through the Boca Brande Channel off the coast of the Philippine Island of Luzon. America was at war with Spain and Dewey was poised to strike a major blow to the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. Dewey’s flagship, USS Olympia, was to fire the first rounds of the American attack. As dawn broke, Olympia‘s commander, Captain Charles Gridley, waited for his orders as Spanish shore batteries fired harmlessly at the out-ranged squadron. At 5:40 AM, Dewey gave his now-famous order, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” The Spanish fleet was obliterated in the bay and the capital city of Manila was surrendered. This action signaled to the world that the centuries-old Spanish Empire had come to an end and that America had arrived as a major naval and world power.

5. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
The words became an early-war battle cry (National WWII Museum)

Military chaplains play a major role in maintaining the morale and welfare of a unit. Regardless of religion, chaplains can motivate troops to push through hardship and win through to victory. Moreover, chaplains are prohibited from actively participating in combat. So, on December 7, 1941, Lt. JG, CHC Howell M. Forgy did everything he could to keep his fellow sailors in the fight. Like the other ships that were still fightable, New Orleans and her crew filled the skies above Pearl Harbor with anti-aircraft fire against the Japanese surprise attack. New Orleans didn’t have any electrical power during the attack, so ammunition had to be carried up from the magazines below decks. After some time, the sailors began to exhaust from the strenuous work. Lt. Edwin Woodhead was in charge of an ammunition line that fed the guns.

“I heard a voice behind me saying, ‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,'” Woodhead recalled. “I turned and saw Chaplain Forgy walking toward me, along the line of men. He was patting them on the back and making that remark to cheer and keep them going. I know it helped me a lot, too.” With enemy bullets and bombs falling from the sky, here comes the chaplain telling you to praise God and keep the ammo moving. Forgy’s words of encouragement helped keep New Orleans in the fight and were later used in a patriotic war song. “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” was published in 1942 as a response to Pearl Harbor. The 1943 recording by Kay Kyser’s orchestra reached number 1. Gamers may recognize the tune from such titles as BioShock 2, Mafia II, and Fallout 76.

Lists

5 things you didn’t know about Air Force One

For decades, the president has flown in style on a variety of different planes and under various call signs. Air Force One is one of the most famous aircrafts to ever take to the skies as it’s the to-go plane for U.S. presidents.


The plane is so popular, it was featured in the 1997 action film, Air Force One, starring Harrison Ford as he battles terrorists trying to take over his flying fortress.

You better listen! (Image via GIPHY) 

Here’s what you might not know about this famous flyer.

Related: 5 countries that tried to shoot down the SR-71 Blackbird (and failed)

5. Air Force One isn’t an actual plane

The term was coined as a call sign for the President’s two nearly-identical planes. The planes are perfect twins except for their tail fin numbers. The two modern AF1 edition aircraft are labeled with different numbers: 28000 and 29000.

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(Screenshot from World War Wings YouTube)

4. The original Air Force One 

In the mid-1940s, planes were deemed reliable for transportation, seeing as they were successfully flying some intricate missions in World War II. The Army repurposed a C-54 Skymaster for the president’s use and dubbed the aircraft, The Sacred Cow.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
The Sacred Cow (Photo from U.S. Air Force)

3. Air Force One almost collided with a commercial flight

In 1953, President Eisenhower flew under the call sign Air Force 8610. A control tower got it confused with Eastern Airlines flight 8610 as they entered each other’s airspace. After that near accident, the call sign Air Force One was permanently used.

2. The government hired a real designer

Since Air Force One wasn’t considered a “looker,” designer Raymond Loewy came into the picture and took the plane’s aesthetic to a new level. Loewy designed the logos for IBM, Exxon, Shell, Lucky Strike, the Coast Guard, and the U.S. Postal Service.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
The very-talented Raymond Loewy.

Also Read: Why Bangor, Maine is the most patriotic town in America

1. The cost to operate the plane per hour

According to the Freedom of Information Act, the cost of operating Air Force One for an hour is around $206,337 smackaroos, compared to the average airline flyer’s $25,000.

Check out World War Wings‘ video below to get the full scoop on this historic plane.

 

(World War Wings | YouTube)
Articles

The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

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:


AIR FORCE

Soldiers from the 193rd Infantry Brigade join Airmen from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron to execute a parachute jump as a part of exercise Emerald Warrior at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M.

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Photo: Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi

A U.S. Air Force combat controller jumps out of an MC-130J Combat Shadow II during Emerald Warrior 2015 at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/USAF

NAVY

USS Freedom (LCS 1) pulls alongside USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in preparation for a replenishment at sea training exercise.

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Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez/USN

Air department Sailors stretch out the emergency crash barricade on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during a general quarters drill.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class E. T. Miller/USN

ARMY

Security Forces Squadron members of the 106th Rescue Wing conduct night-firing training at the Suffolk County Police Range in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., May 7, 2015. During this training, the airmen learned small-group tactics, how to use their night-vision gear, and trained with visible and infrared designators.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy/US Army

Army combat divers, assigned to The National Guard‘s 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), maneuver their Zodiac inflatable boat through the surf at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Adam Fischman/US Army

MARINE CORPS

KIN BLUE, Okinawa, Japan – Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force scout swimmers emerge out of the ocean and run to the beach during the Japanese Observer Exchange Program.

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Photo: Cpl. Ryan C. Mains/USMC

A Marine surveys land from a UH-1Y Huey as part of a reconnaissance mission in Nepal, May 4, 2015. Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Installations Pacific provided the UH-1Y Huey to support the Nepalese government in relief efforts.

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Photo: Lance Cpl. Mandaline Hatch/USMC

Marines assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division brace themselves against rotor wash from a CH-53E Super Stallion during Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 2-15 at Del Valle Park, The Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.

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Photo: Lance Cpl. Jodson B. Graves/USMC

COAST GUARD

A beautiful start to another weekend of Service to Nation for Coast Guard crews!

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Photo: USCG

U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes crews partner withRoyal Canadian Mounted Police to ensure safety and security on the Great Lakes through the ‘Shiprider’ program.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Photo: USCG

NOW: More military photos

OR: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Articles

10 memes that pretty much describe life as a military spouse

Military spouses are just as resilient (and sometimes just as crazy) as their uniformed husbands and wives. They are the backbone of our military families, and while you’ll never hear (or read) me saying that the job of being a military spouse is the toughest job in the [insert branch here] (because I’ve both worn the uniform AND been up at 3:00 AM ironing HIS), you will hear (or read) me acknowledge that- without the support of our spouses- our service member’s jobs would be hella harder than they already are.


That’s why former President Ronald Reagan declared the Friday before Mother’s Day as Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 23rd, 1984. Every year since, it is typical for the President of the United States to issue a similar declaration.

Here at We Are the Mighty, we decided to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day the best way we knew how: by laughing at our life.

After-all, its like my crusty old Marine of a dad used to tell me “If you don’t laugh at yourself, Kate, I will. And I’m sure there’s others happy to join in.”

So in no particular order (because I can shine boots and clean a rifle, and you could cut yourself on the 45 degree angled crease of the nurse’s fold on my bed, but heck if I’m not the most disorganized wife on the block), here’s a bunch of memes that pretty much exactly describe life as a military spouse:

1. This one time, we got orders…

…And then we got different orders. And then, they came and packed the house up and took all of our sh*t and sent it to California, and THEN I said “hey remember that you just got promoted? Could that impact your orders?”

It could.

It did.

And the Marine Corps forgot to tell us.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
There is a plan, and it’s a good one. Or two. Or three. Source

2. Wedding vows are horribly unrealistic…

…And comedienne Mollie Gross might’ve said it best when she relayed how her husband convinced her to marry him. “Babe, you can have as many babies as you want, ’cause it’s free!”

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
To have and to hold, in richer and in poorer, in deployments and in field ops and in career changes and in… source

3. Civilians TOTALLY understand…

I mean, obviously they get it. I have this friend, we’ll call her Not-Amy-From-College to protect her identity. Not-Amy-From-College used to tell me ALL. THE. TIME. how she totally understood what I was going through when my husband was in Sangin with 3/5 because one time, when they’d been married for about 7 months, her husband had to take the train up from D.C. to NYC and he didn’t even come back until the next day. The. Horror.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Yes, your husband going out of town for work for an entire day is EXACTLY like my husband deploying… could you hold this bag for a moment so I can knife hand you? K, thanks. source

4. What do you mean I’m only allowed to have an MLM job or run a daycare in my house?

*BIG DISCLAIMER: there isn’t anything wrong with running your own multi-level-marketing (MLM) business or running a daycare in your home.*

The military spouse community boasts a pretty healthy number of lawyers (check out MSJDN), behavioral and mental health professionals (check out MSBHC), entrepreneurs (check out the MilSpoProject), teachers, politicians, business consultants, authors, actors — basically if it’s a grown up job, military spouses either have it or have had it.

We have professional hopes and dreams just like every other adult who doesn’t live off of Daddy’s money (here’s looking at you, Not-Amy-From-College-Who’s-Identity-We’re-Quasi-Protecting).

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
The audacity! A grown adult actually having plans of his or her own for his or her own career… wha? source

5. Drama… drama everywhere…

I’m only partially joking with this one. We’ve lived in some excellent housing communities where, seriously, our neighbors were the bees knees. And then? We’ve lived in communities that made Degrassi look like a family TV show that came on between “Boy Meets World” and “Step-By-Step.”

I think most military spouses can appreciate this one if they’ve lived at multiple installations.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Military housing is GREAT. Except when you have to go outside. Source

6. Finally found my daughter’s kindergarten graduation cap that accidentally got packed a month before graduation…

And it was only eight years after her kindergarten graduation.

Other things we thought were lost in a decade and a half of PCSing:

  • A Dell computer
  • An elephant tusk carved out of fish bone that looks suspiciously like an adult toy that caused my husband a rather embarrassing stop and search in a Japanese airport but that I am still laughing about 13 years later
  • A Japanese vase
  • My DD214 and military medical records
  • Wedding band (I’m still holding out hope that that one is in a box and really didn’t get vacuumed up like my daughter insisted)
  • A metal canister of Maxwell House coffee

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
You know those military spouses that get everything unpacked and put away within a week of moving into their new house. We hate them. source

7. No one cares what you think, Judy Judgy McJudgy-Pants

This one is so true it needs two memes to make sure the point is made. People are judgy and rude.

When people judge military members, they get labeled as unpatriotic and it’s done. When they judge military spouses, they get laughs, some cheers from a select few military members who lack integrity and good character, and maybe a few frowns from everyone else.

But military spouses are used to it. And that’s just a sh*tty deal all around.

To be honest, we’re just people who are married. Being military spouses doesn’t make us any more or any less likely to be a) a mess, b) unfaithful, c) fat, d) Wonder Woman or e) all of the above

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Everyone is a critic. source

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
There’s a pretty good chance one of these is totally accurate. source

8. Dear Deployment: you suck…

Deployments make warriors out of princesses, men out of boys, and they separate the strong from the weak.

But even the strongest feel exceptionally weak sometimes, and we hate that.

This is, of course, when we put our big kid pants and our gangter rap on, and we handle it.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Deployments are stupid, and yes we do hate them. But we’re proud of our service member for them. source

9. Operational Security pisses us off…

But it must be done.

That doesn’t mean we want to deal with the OPSEC police. You know the ones: Becky just posted “Missing my soldier today on his 21st birthday!” And Bernice, who’s husband is a fearsome E4, busts into the convo with “OPSEC ladies! You don’t want the enemy knowing when his birthday is if he gets captured!”

Hey Bernice, if he’s captured, he gives his name, rank, service number and date of birth. Go haze yourself.

But seriously, we do take OPSEC and PERSEC (personal security) seriously.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Don’t you dare accidentally have a number in your status during a deployment. The OPSEC police will be all over you. source

10. Someone must have a death wish

So… you decided to go to the commissary on pay day. That is either the bravest or stupidest thing you’ve ever done.

Jury is still out.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Commissary on payday? Newbie. source

 

Articles

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

1. The Green Beret founder of SERE training used a math problem to trick the Viet Cong.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field


In the grand scheme of things, the Vietnam War tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to great stories of war — maybe it’s too recent or painful an event to be remembered with the nostalgia associated with WWII.

Regardless, the story of James Nicholas “Nick” Rowe is one that deserves a spot in the limelight, and might be one you haven’t heard before. Not only was Rowe a Green Beret during Vietnam, he would also create the Army SERE course, a grueling training course detailing methods of “survival, evasion, resistance, and escape” when captured by the enemy. One of the training’s more notorious tasks is learning how to drink snake blood to keep up your calorie intake, so it’s safe to say Rowe was a pretty hardcore guy.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

But even the best of the best can get caught by surprise. While on a mission supporting South Vietnamese irregulars against the Viet Cong, Rowe and his fellow Green Berets walked into an ambush. The men fought valiantly, but after exchanging fire they were overpowered and taken as prisoners. When they reached the POW camp they were separated and locked in cages, entering a living hell that they would endure for the next five years.

It only got worse for Rowe. The Viet Cong knew he was the leader of his unit, and suspected he had information. They were right. Rowe served as the captured unit’s intelligence officer, and possessed exactly the kind of information the Viet Cong desperately needed. As a result, Rowe had to endure near-constant torture, on top of the already deplorable conditions of the prison. At one point Rowe confessed his “true” position, claiming he was just an engineer, but the VC weren’t going to let him off easy.

They cut the torture to give Rowe engineering problems to solve. Amazingly, despite the fact that he was starving, living in a cage and was not an engineer, he completed it correctly. His torturers were satisfied, and Rowe thought he could rest easy thanks to West Point’s mandatory engineering courses.

He was wrong. Around the same time, a group of American peace activists were on a mission to visit American officers in Vietnamese prisoner of war camps. The goal of the excursion was a little fuzzy, but they essentially wanted to prove that the North Vietnamese’s prison methods were above board. Rowe’s name was on their list of officers to visit, along with the fact that he was a Special Forces intelligence officer.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

When the Viet Cong discovered the lie, they forced Rowe to stand naked in a swamp for days on end, leaving him ravaged by mosquitos and dizzy with lack of food or water. They were fed up with this phony engineer and his multiple escape attempts, and decided enough was enough. They gave Rowe an execution date, eager to rid themselves of his antics.

When the day finally came, Rowe was led far away from the camp, when suddenly a group of American helicopters thundered overhead, rustling the jungle trees and giving Rowe the split second of time he needed to break free, fend off his captors and sprint after the helicopters. Amazingly, one of the choppers noticed Rowe waving like a maniac in a clearing, and was able to rescue him from his scheduled death.

2. The British soldier who escaped The Gestapo’s “unescapable” castle

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Escaping a prisoner of war camp is no easy feat, and many who have made it to freedom recount plotting their escape plans for months, even years, to execute it right on the first try. This, apparently, was not Airey Neave’s style. Instead of biding his time, the British soldier escaped his WWII POW camps whenever he could, undeterred by failed attempts.

Finally, when he and his friend were caught in Poland after escaping German POW camp Stalag XX-A, he was collected by the Gestapo, who sent him to Oflag IV-C, AKA the castle of Colditz, AKA the last stop for all troublemaking POWs.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

It may look like a summer home fit for the Von Trapp family, but don’t be fooled, this place was no joke. If you’re doubtful you can read up on some accounts of the “escape proof” castle here.

The castle’s prisoners weren’t as confident in its “inescapable” qualities, and instead just came up with ridiculously complex plans of escape.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Failed attempts included the construction of a small wooden glider, a network of underground tunnels, and prisoners sewing themselves into mattresses to be smuggled out with the laundry. Tempting as these flashy failures were, Neave decided to take a more theatrical approach to his escape.

After he secretly acquired pieces of a Polish army uniform, he painted the shirt and cap green to resemble a German officer’s ensemble. Then he put on his new duds and strolled out of the prison like a Nazi on his way to Sunday dinner with his girl. What he didn’t anticipate, however, was how reflective the paint would be; once outside, he lit up like a Christmas tree under the guard’s searchlight passed over him. It didn’t end well.

But Neave still thought the idea was pretty awesome, and pulled the stunt a second time a few months later, with an updated “uniform” of cardboard, cloth, and more Nazi-green. He also had a partner in crime this time, another prisoner named Anthony Luteyn, who was also sporting a mock German getup.

During an all-inmate stage production that the prison sponsored and put on, Neave and Lutyen quietly slipped off stage, crawled underneath the floorboards that held the dancing inmates and right above the guard’s headquarters.

From there the pair dropped into the room from the ceiling and acted natural, strolling about and exchanging pleasantries in German as if they were simply visiting officers. Once they had ensured no one was suspicious, they calmly made their exit. Once outside of the prison, they threw away the homemade German uniforms and pretended to be two Dutch workers on their way to Ulm from Leipzeg, with (fake) papers to prove it. Unfortunately, the phony documents ended up getting the two stopped by German police, but they bought the disguises and sent them to the foreign aid office, believing they were just confused immigrants.

Despite this and other close calls, Neave and Lutven continued their journey — all on foot — until they made it to Switzerland and were finally free. Neaves would later work to ensure there were quality escape lines for other POWS in Europe, and would also serve on the Nuremberg Trials.

3. The three-prong tunnel system that led 3 POWs to safety

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

While the above escapists have steered clear of the old tunnel-digging prison cliche, it’s still an effective method. In fact, U.S. airmen Roger Bushell took the wartime tradition a step further by constructing a system of three tunnels in a German Air Force POW camp at the height of WWII. The tunnels, nicknamed “Tom”, “Dick”, and “Harry,” were each 30 feet deep. This way, Bushell hoped, they wouldn’t be detected by the camp’s perimeter microphones. Each tunnel was also only about two feet wide, though there were larger sections that contained an air pump and a space full of digging supplies. Pieces of wood were used to ensure the stability of the tunnel walls.

Electric lighting was also installed and attached to the prison’s electric grid, allowing the diggers to work and travel by lamplight 10 yards under the ground’s surface. The operation even advanced far enough to incorporate a rail car system into their tunnel network, which was used to carry tons and tons of building materials back and forth during the 5-month construction period.

Just as the “Harry” tunnel was completed in 1944, the American officers who had toiled over the escape route were moved to a new camp. The rest of the prisoners attempted an escape about a week later on March 24, but they had unfortunately miscalculated where their tunnels would end. Initially believing the secret tunnel would dump them inside a forest, they emerged to realize that they were short of the tree line and completely exposed. Still, over 70 men crawled through the dark, dank tunnels to the other side, rushing to the trees once they surfaced. Tragically, on March 25th, a German guard spotted the 77th man crawling out of the tunnel, leading to the capture of 73 of the men, and later the execution of 50 of them. Only three would survive and make it to freedom, but the escape had gone down as one of the most elaborate in history.

4. Bill Goldfinch and Jack Best’s plan to fly the Colditz coop

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You didn’t really think we were going to just breeze by that wooden glider story, did you? There have been plenty of wacky escape methods, but none as bold or sophisticated as literally building yourself a two-man wooden plane to peace out in.

At least, this was the plan. Jack Best and Bill Goldfinch were similar to Neave in their can-do, slightly certifiable approach to escape. The men were pilots, and decided that the best way to bust out of the German castle was to do what they do best: fly. Or, more accurately in this case, glide. The Colditz castle was built atop a large cliff, perfect for launching a secret and probably highly unstable aircraft off of.

Goldfinch and Best began building the glider’s skeleton in the attic above the prison chapel, figuring the height would give it enough time to glide across the Mulde river, which was situated about 200 feet below the building. To keep the Germans from walking in on the construction, the pair built a false wall out of old pieces of wood, the same stuff they constructed the glider out of. The plane was mostly made up out of bed slats and floor boards, but the men used whatever material they could get their hands on that they thought the Germans wouldn’t miss. Control wires were going to be created from electrical wiring that was found in quieter sections of the castle.

Though the operation was deemed moot before it could ever be carried out (the Allies released the prisoners before it could be flown), we felt this almost-escape deserved some recognition because by many accounts, it would have worked. In 2000, a replica of the Colditz glider was constructed for a documentary entitled “Escape from Colditz”, and was actually flown successfully at RAF Odiham. It gets even cooler, though. Best and Goldfinch were able to watch the whole thing go down, and witness their “escape” firsthand.

NOW: 4 military disguises that were just crazy enough to actually work

Lists

7 things that need to be in your veteran starter kit

You just got your DD-214! Congrats, you made out alive. You’re officially a veteran.


Now that you’re not under any specific grooming standards or have to wear the same thing every day — how will your fellow veterans know who you are?

You’re in luck. We created a checklist of everything you’ll need to start your new life as a post-service veteran.

Write this down:

1. Oakley sunglasses

Any sunglasses will do, but since this line of eyewear looks freaking tactical — you’ll continue to wear them just to prove you know how to operate.

 

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Oakley, when you want people to know you used to be tactical AF — without telling them. (Source: Defense Review)

2. A “heroes bracelet” designed for veterans

What better way to remember your fallen brothers than this black or silver engraved piece of gear. They’re durable, inexpensive, and meaningful. Be ready to drop kick any civilian that tries to make fun of you for wearing a bracelet.

 

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

3. An assault pack

You know that awesome camouflage pack you didn’t get to keep when you did your final check out?

Well, guess what? You can buy it online or from the base PX (bring that new green ID) and use it to carry all your school books when you start using your G.I. Bill.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Rip Its not included.

 

4. A veteran separation beard

Guess what? You don’t have to shave every day if you don’t want to — not anymore. So toss away that single blade razor until you f*ckin’ feel like using it. You’re a free man now.

5. A shirt from a veteran owned business

Now that you’re a veteran, it’s time to dress the part. Wearing a kick ass design from Grunt Style, Ranger Up, or Article 15 Clothing will ensure that everyone knows you’re in the club.

 

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
www.gruntstyle.com

6. A ball cap with the American flag on it

Nothing says “I love America” like a tan ball cap with a curled brim.

The curled brim doubles as a great place to rest those Oakley sunglasses when the sun goes down and you don’t feel like holding them in your hands or clipping them to your shirt.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Source: Rally point)

7. You still buy 550 cord — because it’s freakin’ great!

You never heard of this outstanding cord before serving — but now that you know about it, you can’t stop tying everything with it.

Just when you think the whole world has let you down, 550 cord won’t.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Articles

11 hiding spots for an E-4 to sham

Yeah. Sure. Not every E-4 has an engine room to hide out in, but there are plenty of other places to skate.


Now, there’s a fine line between when you just need a moment to yourself and when you’re screwing over your comrades — don’t be the guy who crosses this line.

If you need to hide, do it in a place where you’re only just a call away. That way you can keep shamming and your buddies can still cover for you.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
You can’t win wars without ’em. (Image courtesy of Under the Radar)

This list is purely for entertainment purposes. If you get caught and blame it on an article you read — that’s on you.

1. In plain sight

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

If you look like you’re squared away, people will assume you are…and will be none the wiser if you conveniently aren’t around when there’s a call for parade practice volunteers.

2. Sick Call

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Some say it’s “malingering.” Others say it’s “documenting it for the VA down the road.”

3.  Dental

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

As long as you actually show up, your leader shouldn’t see an issue with you getting your teeth taken care of.

4. Smoke Pit

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

How many times have we all heard the phrase “if you smoke, take five to ten. If you don’t, I need you to…”

There’s a lot of new faces around the smoke pit whenever they hear that.

5. Alterations

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Hey. You never know when the next Dress Uniform inspection is. Why not take the time to get it ready?

6. Post/Base Exchange (PX/BX)

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

You’d be amazed at how lenient everyone becomes when you say the phrase “Anyone want anything from the shopette?”

#7. Inside a vehicle

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Motor Pool Mondays. Someone has to check to see if the air conditioner is working or not.

8. Latrine

via GIPHYIf you got to go, you got to go. Just turn the sound off your phone before you play games.

 9. Charge of Quarters (CQ)

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Always try to get duty on a Thursday or the day before a four day starts. Who doesn’t want an extended weekend?

10. Barracks

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Be sure to use buzz words like “spotless” and “maintained” before sneaking off to play that new game you picked up earlier at the PX/BX.

11. Behind your rank

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

It’s called a “Sham Shield” for a reason. Push that duty onto someone else while you wait for close of business formation.

*Bonus* At Fort Couch

If none of these places work for you and you just have to sham, PCS to Fort Couch. No one will get on you to do anything. You really will be on your “own f-cking program.”

via GIPHY
Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Memes, memes, memes! Glorious memes! Well, funny memes. Not sure they’re glorious, but they’re worth laughing at.


1. If you’re not sure there’s PT, your first-line leader failed you.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
But if there is PT and you don’t show up, it will still be your first-line destroying you.

2. Army logic (via Team Non-Rec).

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Duh, that’s why they wear reflective belts that can only be seen by friendly forces. Wait. They can only be seen by friendly forces, right?

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

3. Projecting American force across the gazebo(via Sh*t My LPO Says).

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Keeping the quad safe for barbecues.

4. Good job, airman. Good damn job.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

5. The struggle is real.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

6. Crew chief is mad about cleaning all the glass (via Military Memes and Humor).

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
He should be careful sticking his hand out like that. Devil Dogs bite.

7. Chaos 6 was knife-handing before he saw his first knife (via Marine Corps Memes).

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
He considered his movement from the womb to the hospital room to be his first amphibious landing.

8. If you wanted to look impressive in PTs, you should’ve joined the Marine Corps (via Coast Guard Memes).

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
If you wanted to look sexy on a moped, you were out of luck in the first place.

9. Yeah. Your last unit did everything differently (via Coast Guard Memes).

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Luckily, we don’t care about your last unit

10. See? The Air Force does get dirty.

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
They only got dirty because they thought it was a mud spa, but they did get dirty.

11. Yeah, yeah, yeah. “Army strong. Har. Har.”

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Really though. It is kind of embarrassing. They could at least make him wear a girdle or something.

 12. The Navy defends their bases with whirling metal blades of death (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
They’re defending the base against tall grass, but they’re still defending it.

13. Thought you’d make it out without one more NJP? (via Marine Corps Memes)

The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field
Too bad.

NOW: The 8 most iconic Marine Corps recruiting slogans

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

Lists

The most ridiculous weapons ever designed

From homemade tanks to nuclear landmines kept warm by chickens, war brings out the engineers in people. When a weapons system works, it’s made by the thousands, and sometimes used for decades. But when it doesn’t, it’s quickly added to the dustbin of bad ideas. Many of these ridiculous, odd, and exceptionally weird weapons were developed by militaries all over the world, but either proved impractical or were canceled before production.


The Most Ridiculous (Real) Weapons Used Throughout History

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