We reckon that way back when, these terms didn’t sound so funky. In fact, at one time or another, they were part of an everyday norm, where — strange as they sound today — these words were regular vernacular. Soldiers from long ago threw these terms around, fully understanding one another, despite how different they sound today.
Join us in this blast from the past where we evaluate once-common sayings and how they were used in typical daily settings. Military style, of course.
Take a look at these former phrases such as:
Today, this is a common term used to describe someone who is a little “off.” However, the term got a far more graphic start in the first World War I. Referring to a “basket case” meant someone who was so badly hurt that they had to literally be carried in a basket. It often referred to soldiers who had lost multiple limbs. Yikes.
Beat your gums
Someone who is “beating their gums” is talking a lot about a certain subject. Often used when others are ready for you to discuss something else.
A letter that a soldier would write to a girl back home. (LOL)
A blighty is an old namesake for Great Britain. It comes from sayings like “a blighty wound” or “a blighty one,” which meant an injury that was severe enough to be sent home. AKA back to England. Obviously, it’s a term that was used by British soldiers.
Washing the dishes. AKA dancing with the sudsy bubbles in the sink.
Cooties are a common term today, poking fun at germs (pre-COVID era), usually among kids. But cooties once referred to head lice that was passed in the trenches. Soldiers were in close quarters and often passed the parasite to one another. It comes from a “coot,” which is a bird known for carrying lice or other parasitic bugs.
Egg in your beer
This means “too much of a good thing.” We don’t get it, because we certainly don’t want an egg in our beer. But apparently, soldiers once did? Or at the very least, they came up with the saying to describe great things.
If you’re “in a flap,” it means that you’re worried or dealing with a great amount of stress. The term comes from flapping birds, which is an ongoing motion so as to say that one can’t be still. Therefore, fretting can put you in a flap.
An overwhelming amount of ribbons on one’s chest. We’re guessing this comes from the amount of color in one spot, but there’s no confirmation on that theory.
A strange term indeed, pogey-bait is candy or a sweet treat for soldiers to enjoy. It was used frequently among American and Canadian soldiers, though it’s unknown how the term originated. A trip to the pogey-bait store, anyone?
Roll up your flaps
AKA — it’s time to stop talking.
Spike and Spike-bozzled
This is a fun one, if we have anything to say about it. Spike refers to a gun or weapon that was no longer in use — in most cases because it was destroyed by enemy means or line of fire. Meanwhile, spike-boozled referred to non-weapons that were busted in the line of defense, for instance, boats or planes. After a direct hit, it’s likely that equipment was spike-bozzled indeed.
A letter from your significant other. Spread that sweetness around, they did.
T.S. and T.S. report
As in you’re dealing with a tough situation, so tough sh**. The T.S. form was facetiously recommended for soldiers who were having an especially rough time and were told to “fill out a T.S. report.” If you were told T.S., it was likely a recommendation to keep it quiet from then on.
A drunken soldier! The word comes from the walking path of a soldier who’s under the influence. No surprise that while intoxicated, they couldn’t walk a straight line.
These are some of the more colorful terms from military members of wars past. Including some phrases that are still used today, albeit with slightly different meanings. These conversational words are a great look at the past and how soldiers fared years ago.
Every little gift sent out through a care package — or just bought on Amazon — helps troops deployed. While troops are eternally grateful to the families, schools, and churches that send USPS flat-rate boxes stuffed with goodies, there’re some awesome, quality-of-life things that troops wish they could get, but logistically can’t.
These are some things we wish we had after being sent to the deserts of the Middle East.
5. Mama’s home cooked meals
Yes. Mothers can whip up a mean batch of cookies that can survive the weeks of shipping it takes to get to our fighting men and women. And yes, military cooks (usually) whip up some mean chow for the troops (if they have access to a dinning hall).
But it’s the other meals — the ones mama makes that cooks can’t mass-produce — that troops wish for.
4. Power outlets
It’s funny how the little things get taken for granted while deployed. Sure, troops could conceivably set up a nice lounge for themselves with all the useless junk they ordered off Amazon or stashed in their pre-deployment box, but the thing is, how are you going to power all your cool stuff?
Before you even think about it: No. Daisy chaining power strips and extension cords for more outlets won’t work. Too much power coming from one tiny cable will cause a fire — and fire is bad.
3. Personal space
Ever see a troop come home and just want to enjoy being alone for more than a bathroom break? Deployments are cramped. Living spaces are tight. Everywhere you go, you need your “battle buddies.”
It’s fine at first, but you quickly realize there’s only so much small talk you can make with the same 12 people for 12 months.
2. 4G internet access
Today’s society is spoiled. Now, you can get in contact with anyone in the world using just the tiny device in your pocket. Too bad there isn’t any cell phone reception in Trashcanistan.
If you want to talk to friends and family back home, you have to wait until you can go to the USO tent, wait until you can get an open spot at a computer, and then, if you’re lucky enough to get some time, you have to deal with internet on par with 1995 dial-up. And your time is limited, so you can send basically just a, “Hi, mom. I miss your food. Tell everyone I love them.”
1. Noise cancelling earphones or an actual bed…
War is loud. War never stops. Especially when you’re trying to sleep. Troops tell themselves that they’ve gotten used to sleeping with the generator running and pilots flying at all hours of the night, but it’s just a lie.
Plus the cots or bargain-bin mattresses that have been recycled time and time again since the start of the war aren’t any help.
*Bonus* Auto sandbag filler
Why lift with your lower enlisted when you could use one of these bad boys? Check roger. Filling sandbags is just something troops do while deployed — sometimes as a punishment.
The military has built generations of outstanding citizens who have been leaders, entrepreneurs, and hard-working members of their communities. But we can also thank the military for the rise of some interesting pop culture phenomenon, from stand-up comedy to Dr. Seuss.
We found nine examples with some surprising roots in military service, detailed here. Have any more? Let us know in the comments.
Joseph Heller served as a B-24 crewman in World War II, and his experiences with dealing with unreasonable officers and the overall futility of war became the basis for the legendary novel Catch-22.
In many ways the novel was ahead of its time. The movie Catch-22 was released over ten years after the book was originally published, when the American public was more ready for irreverent portrayals of military life due to the attitudes that surrounded the Vietnam War.
Stand Up Comedy for the Masses
George Carlin was an Air Force radar tech stationed a Barksdale Air Force Base in 1954 when he started working as a DJ at a local radio station on the side. What made him popular on the airwaves made him a problem to his chain of command, and his wise-ass attitude got him court-martialed three times and earned him the official label of “unproductive airman.”
Carlin later said that as far as his military service went, he was most proud of barely avoiding getting a dishonorable discharge.
Kurt Vonnegut was a private in the U.S. Army when he was taken prisoner by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. “Bayonets aren’t much good against tanks,” he later said. He was taken to Dresden and made the leader of his group of prisoners because he spoke some German.
He was there when Dresden was firebombed by allied bombers and said that the aftermath of the attack on the defenseless city was “utter destruction” and “carnage unfathomable.” The experience was the inspiration for his famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, and is a central theme in at least six of his other books.
Harvey Milk served as a diver during the Korean War, remaining a closeted homosexual primarily due to the attitudes of the shipmates who surrounded him.
When he left the Navy as a lieutenant (junior grade) he was tired of hiding his true self, and he started down a path that eventually took him to the Castro District in San Francisco where he led the first national gay rights movement.
The Beat Generation
Jack Kerouac joined the U.S. Merchant Marines in 1942, and in 1943 joined the U.S. Navy, but he served only eight days of active duty. The medical examiner reported Kerouac’s military adjustment was poor, quoting Kerouac: “I just can’t stand it; I like to be by myself.”
Two days later he was honorably discharged on psychiatric grounds. Kerouac’s military failure eventually led him to San Francisco where he joined Alan Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs and other writers to become the spiritual leaders of “The Beat Generation,” the first creative influencers to widely suggest that dropping out of normal American society was a viable option. Kerouac is best known for his book On the Road. (Source: The Smoking Gun)
While the facts surrounding his war record are disputed, it’s true that L. Ron Hubbard was a U.S. Navy officer during World War II. In spite of his claims to being wounded in battle, the Navy has no official records to document it.
According to U.S. Navy records, the majority of Hubbard’s experience is marked by poor performance, poor evaluations, no record of any combat experience, and Hubbard over-inflating his medical conditions to avoid any theater of war. Critics say Hubbard sensationalized his military record in order to aid in launching Scientology. (Source: The New Yorker)
The Rock Guitar God
Jimi Hendrix had a run-in with the law over stolen cars that led to a choice: he could either spend two years in prison or join the Army. He enlisted on May 31, 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. But he wasn’t a model soldier.
His CO at the time said, “His mind apparently cannot function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar.” Hendrix was discharged early as his problems were judged to not be treatable by “hospitalization or counseling.” An alleged ankle injury during a parachute jump showed Hendrix the door with an honorable discharge. The benefit of dental care while on active duty came in handy later in his musical career when he made playing with his teeth one of his trademarks. (Source: Military.com)
As World War II erupted, Theodor Seuss Geisel was a political cartoonist for a left-leaning New York newspaper and highly critical of isolationists like Charles Lindberg.
He joined the war effort officially in 1943, and was made the commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces, where he wrote films that included Your Job in Germany, a 1945 propaganda film about peace in Europe after World War II; Our Job in Japan, and the Private Snafu series of adult army training films. His war experience motivated him to create a more gentle world: the Dr. Seuss series of books.
Humphrey Bogart’s Trademark Lisp
The legendary star of movies like “Casablanca” and “The Maltese Falcon,” Humphrey Bogart served in the U.S. Navy during World War I.
He was injured while on assignment to take a naval prisoner to Portsmouth Naval Prison in Kittery, Maine. While changing trains in Boston, the handcuffed prisoner asked Bogart for a cigarette and while Bogart looked for a match, the prisoner raised his hands, smashed Bogart across the mouth with his cuffs, cutting Bogart’s lip, and fled. The injury affected Bogart’s speech, giving him his trademark lisp that wows movie buffs to this day. (Source: Wikipedia)
Most units in the military have a motto that they use to stand out. Some of them are even pretty cool. But the most badass unit mottos are forged in the crucible of combat.
Here are seven units that live by the immortal words uttered in battle:
1. “Keep up the fire!” – 9th Infantry Regiment
The 9th Infantry Regiment has a long history, but its service in China is particularly noteworthy. Not only did the 9th pick up its regimental nickname, Manchu, from its time there — but also the unit’s motto.
He was immediately targeted by Chinese snipers and mortally wounded himself. His dying words to his men were “Keep up the fire!”
The unit successfully stormed the city and captured it from the Boxers.
2. “I’ll try, sir” – 5th Infantry Regiment
Battle of Lundy’s Lane, July 25, 1814. (New York State Military Museum)
During the War of 1812, the 21st Infantry Regiment engaged the British at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane.
After the Americans were decimated by British artillery on the high ground, Lt. Col. James Miller, the regimental commander, was given the near suicidal task of launching an assault to capture the guns. He simply responded, “I’ll try, sir.”
The 21st advanced on the British position and fired a volley that swept the artillerymen from their guns. They then charged with bayonets, driving off the remaining British troops and capturing the guns.
3. “These are my credentials” – 8th Infantry Division
After landing in Normandy in July 1944, the 8th Infantry Division was part of the arduous task of liberating the port city of Brest. After weeks of hard fighting, the Germans finally capitulated on Sept. 19.
When Brig. Gen. Charles Canham, deputy commander of the division, arrived to accept the surrender of the German commander, Gen. Ramcke, the senior German officer demanded to see the American’s credentials. Canham, simply pointed to his battle-hardened soldiers and replied, “These are my credentials.”
4. “Rangers lead the way!” – 75th Ranger Regiment
The Rangers of WWII spearheaded many Allied invasions, particularly on D-Day at Normandy. The Rangers of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions found themselves pinned down on Omaha beach along with the rest of the assault force.
Trying to inspire the shell-shocked men of the 29th Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. Norman Cota, the assistant division commander, came across the men of the 5th Ranger Battalion. When they identified themselves as Rangers Cota then gave one of the most famous orders in the history of the U.S. Army: “Well, goddammit then, Rangers, lead the way!”
Their efforts effected the first break through on Omaha and what would later become their motto — Rangers lead the way.
5. “I’ll face you!” – 142nd Infantry Regiment
The 142nd first saw action as part of the 36th Infantry Division in World War I. After facing heavy fighting near the village of St. Etienne, the regiment faced off against the Germans at the Aisne River. The regiment sent a patrol across the river to reconnoiter behind enemy lines.
As they attempted to return to friendly lines, they came under heavy fire from the Germans. A young lieutenant, inspiring his men, turned towards the Germans and shouted, “I’ll face you!” and refused to turn his back.
6. “Nothing in Hell must stop the Timberwolves” – 104th Infantry Division
The 104th Infantry Division was a unique formation.
Having trained specifically as a nightfighting unit, the division then received a unique commander — Mej. Gen. Terry de la Mesa Allen. A combat commander who had previously commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Africa and Sicily, he had an unorthodox command style combined with a hard-charging attitude.
When Allen took command, he gave the division its new motto, “Nothing in hell must stop the Timberwolves,” and he meant it.
The 104th fought under numerous Allied commands and was always held in the highest regard, often being cited as the finest assault division. Through courage, grit, and determination the Timberwolves defeated the Germans and lived up to their motto.
7. “Let ’em have it!” – 59th Infantry Regiment
The 59th Infantry Regiment shipped to France during World War I as part of the 7th Brigade. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the 59th took part in the fighting around Chateau-de-Diable.
During the engagement, a squad approached from the Chateau. Initially the men held their fire, afraid of gunning down friendly forces, until a sergeant with the regiment realized the mistake and yelled out, “They come from the wrong direction, let ’em have it!”
It was later discovered that the squad was German soldiers in American uniforms and the sergeant’s words became the unit motto.
Shortly after Orville and Wilbur stopped making bicycles and started hanging out around Kitty Hawk, Hollywood took to making movies about those who venture into the wild blue yonder.
Here are the best Air Force characters they’ve created over the years. Remember: half of these guys are real people. That’s what makes being in the military so great – the chance to do something someone might make a movie about one day.
1. Captain Virgil “The Cooler King” Hilts — “The Great Escape”
The Great Escape is one of the best heist-style films of all time. It’s also one of the best military films of all time, based on the true story of a group of Allied POWs put together in a Nazi “escape-proof” camp because of their ability to escape from POW camps.
Captain Hilts of the Army Air Corps constantly frustrates guards with escape attempts, landing him in solitary confinement, or the “cooler.” Hilts is easily #1 on this list, not only because he’s depicted on screen by Steve “The King of Cool” McQueen, but also because the real guy this character is based on David M. Jones.
Jones was an Air Corps pilot who started World War II as a Doolittle Raider (the character can also be seen in “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo”), and flew sorties over North Africa before being captured and held by the Germans for nearly three years. Jones survived the war and went on to a 37-year career in the Air Force.
2 . Lt. Col. James Rhodes aka War Machine — “Iron Man”
James Rupert “Rhodey” Rhodes is not based on a real character, though having the War Machine around IRL would make life a lot easier for much of the Air Force (and the lawless areas of Pakistan too… probably).
Rhodes is the stable, dependable version of Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (In the Marvel Comic, Rhodey is a Marine). Colonel Rhodes is also Stark’s best friend and the DoD liaison to Stark Industries, which means he gets to pal around on private jets and hang with the Avengers while taking down terrorists and robot drones (that aren’t American).
3. Lt. Colonel Iceal Hambleton — “BAT 21”
BAT 21 is a the dramatized story of the rescue of Lt Col. Hambleton (whose call sign was BAT 21 Bravo), the largest, longest and most complex search and rescue operation of the Vietnam War. He was the navigator on a USAF EB-66 aircraft and an expert in signals intelligence whose aircraft was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Hambleton was the only survivor, but his parachute took him well behind the North Vietnamese lines.
With the amount of classified information in Hambleton’s head, capture by the communists would have been extremely detrimental to U.S. security. Hambleton (played by Gene Hackman, who is awesome in every movie) makes radio contact with Birddog and makes his way South to be picked up.
To communicate his intended path, Hambleton, in true Air Force fashion, uses a code comprised of various golf courses he knows. The actual rescue of Hambleton took 11 days, six American troops’ lives, a lot more ARVN lives, and another plane being shot down.
In real life Hambleton was rescued by Navy SEAL Thomas R. Norris (who was awarded the Medal of Honor for the rescue) and a South Vietnamese Navy Petty Officer.
4. Capt. John Yossarian — “Catch-22”
Alan Arkin headlines the legendary cast of Catch-22 as Yossarian, a US Army Air Forces B-25 Bombardier, stationed in the Mediterranean during WWII. He’s committed to flying the dangerous missions as quickly as possible so he can go home, but his squadron commander keeps raising the required number of missions.
Yossarian can’t even claim a mental breakdown to go home because famously, Airmen “would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he’d have to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t, he was sane and had to.”
5. Airman Second Class Adrian Cronauer — “Good Morning, Vietnam”
Another real Airman, A2C Cronauer is an Armed Forces Radio Service DJ stationed in Vietnam whose DJ style is less than appreciated by his superiors but beloved by the men in the field.
When Cronauer is suspended for his style and his determination to read the news, the command is flooded with letters demanding his reinstatement. Few things in life are more satisfying than someone thumbing their nose at a stodgy old command.
Cronauer’s real-life show was called “Dawn Buster” and its opening was immortalized forever by Robin Williams’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM.
6. Hannibal Lee — “The Tuskegee Airmen”
Some points have to be added when the whole world is against you, even your own government. Lee was loosely based on Robert W. Williams, an actual Tuskegee Airman who helped co-author the screenplay.
In the film (and IRL), the famous group of African American pilots struggling to join the US war effort as capable fighter pilots finally get their chance when Hannibal Lee (Fishburne) and his wingman get the chance to protect B-17s over Italy and sink a destroyer for good measure.
7. Robert “Dutch” Holland — “Strategic Air Command”
Jimmy Stewart plays Holland, a St. Louis Cardinals baseball player who is on inactive reserve in the Air Force who gets recalled to active duty for 21 months, which would be unbelievable for anyone else but Jimmy Stewart. Stewart, whose family military tradition dated back to the Civil War, enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a private, was an officer pilot within a year, and so enjoyed bombing Germans in his spare time he would eventually retire from the Air Force Reserve after 27 years. Holland’s life is on constant hold as he is on alert status to deter the Soviets from starting WWIII. He forces a landing of a damaged aircraft in Greenland after his crew bailed out then flies new jets to Japan with a broken arm from that landing, an injury which ends both his military career and his baseball career, and he seems mildly okay with it.
Holland’s life is on constant hold as he is on alert status to deter the Soviets from starting WWIII. He forces a landing of a damaged aircraft in Greenland after his crew bailed out then flies new jets to Japan with a broken arm from that landing, an injury which ends both his military career and his baseball career, and he seems mildly okay with it.
8. Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper — “Dr. Strangelove”
A commie-obsessed Air Force General, he starts World War III after describing a Communist plot to pollute the bodily fluids of Americans. He launches an all-out attack on the USSR and refuses to give the codes that will belay the launch orders.
While the Kubrick’s masterpiece obviously isn’t based on a real war, the crazed General is based on Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who once threatened to bomb the Soviet Union back into the Stone Age.
9. Colonel Jack O’Neil — “Stargate”
Who better to lead a team through an alien-created wormhole navigated by hieroglyphs uncovered in Giza than a career Air Force Special Operations officer? No one, obviously, as Colonel Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell, with a severe flat top) takes a day off of contemplating suicide to lead one last mission to destroy the Stargate and ends up saving humanity by beaming a nuclear weapon onto an alien ship.
It’s not (just) science fiction. It’s what we do every day.
10. American Astronaut George Taylor — “Planet of the Apes (1968)”
George Taylor’s background doesn’t specifically mention his Air Force affiliation, but does mention he was a West Point grad in 1941 and flew missions in World War II and Korea, and his then becoming an astronaut is clearly indicative of a U.S. Army Air Corps to Air Force transition.
So the Air Force gets Charlton Heston (also Marky Mark Wahlberg‘s Capt. Leo Davidson from the 2001 remake, clearly identified his tribe as United States Air Force). Taylor earns a spot on this list because of Charlton Heston’s iconic performance.
Edit 5/28 2:07 pm:
Twitterati and US Air Force Pararescue Jumper @PJMatt reminded me about the 1983 epic The Right Stuff and Sam Shepard’s badass take on the legendary USAF test pilot Chuck Yeager.
@PaulSzoldra@blakestilwell So The Right Stuff never happened? You could put Chuck Yeager, correctly, at 1 (Sam Neil) and 2 (drunk in bar)
The author hangs his head in shame as both a film student and Air Force veteran. Few scenes in cinema rival the scene where Yeager is walking away from a smoldering heap, badly burned, holding his parachute because anyone who’s ever met Yeager in real life knows that’s the kind of badass sh*t he did every day of his career.
Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis is known for his aggressive tactics and his even more aggressive quotes.
While he embraced counter-insurgency tactics with the rest of the military, his quotes put a decidedly lethal spin on “low-intensity combat.” Check out these 15 great Mattis quotes — but be warned… they’ll make you want to charge into hordes of America’s enemies with nothing but a Ka-Bar:
11. “There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.” (Told to troops at Al Asad, Iraq)
12. “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”
13. “There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great.”
14. “You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.”
15. “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.” (Said during a panel discussion in San Diego, via CNN)
3. The Marine Corps emblem — the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor — is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. You could be wearing one now if you would’ve joined.
4. They have the toughest boot camp in the military. So just graduating says a lot about an individual.
5. Some of the most successful actors served in the Marine Corps. Drew Carey, Gene Hackman, and WATM’s good friend Rob Riggle just to name a few.
6. You could have been a part of some major military moments in history. Marines have fought in every American conflict since they were created in 1775.
7. Since all Marines are considered riflemen, you’ll learn to eat concertina wire, piss napalm, and put a round through a flea’s ass at 200 meters.
8. Anyone can claim the title of a sailor if you have been on a boat. Anyone call themselves a soldier if they listen to a lot of rap music. Lastly, anyone can call themselves an airman if you’ve flown once or twice. But the title of a Marine is never just handed out — it’s earned.
9. When there’s a significant conflict poppin’ off anywhere around the world, America sends in the Marines first. It’s best fighting force when you need to settle things down.
America is big place! Someone tell the people who make MREs to scour the best regions of the United States for our regional flavors! We could get some better food while learning a little bit about the different regional cuisines of our own country.
1. A better Buffalo Chicken.
What is more ‘Merica than adding butter to hot sauce and then pouring it over chicken wings? The answer is “not much.” But the MRE wizards decided to make it a “pulled” version of the dish, which ended up looking like an electric orange glop.
They gave us whole pieces of meat when it came to the Western Burger and the Frankfurters. Why they decided not to use actual wings (or even boneless wings) is beyond comprehension. And don’t get us started on the lack of Bleu Cheese.
2. Baltimore Crab Cakes.
I know asking for crab from the military is asking a lot. But I’d rather have it processed into MREs than eat what I tasted as it was steamed into a rubbery oblivion at the DFAC on Camp Victory.
Besides the delicious crab cake, a little packet of Old Bay seasoning could totally replace the hot sauce packet as the go-to flavor enhancer.
3. Southern-Style Biscuits and Gravy.
This one isn’t such a great idea for being on-the-go, but if you have time to sit and eat, this would be a great idea. We all know the Elf snack bread can also be used for hammering nails so why not have the MRE people create a buttermilk snack bread that is designed to be moistened up in the field. With gravy.
The end product will look nothing like the photo above, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Civilian rations already made this – and relatively well. Besides, it will show that the MRE people put some thought into texture and mouthfeel.
4. South Dakota’s Chislic.
Chislic is simple. It’s grilled or fried chunks of meat – usually game or lamb, but can also be beef – topped with seasoned salt or garlic salt. It’s eaten via toothpick and served with saltines. It’s like shish kebab.
So it would be one MRE our Middle Eastern allies could eat with us. We all know MRE makers are fans of crackers and chunked meat. This one sells itself.
5. Hawaiian Spam Musubi.
Bear with me here. Spam gets a bad rap but this Hawaiian snack is pretty great. In Hawaii, Spam is even getting a gourmet makeover. Musubi is fried or grilled Spam on a bed of rice and held together with nori seaweed.
The best part about Spam Musubi is that it tastes great hot or cold and is designed to be eaten on the run.
6. Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits.
The coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina, especially Charleston, are culinary heaven. Grits are a boiled ground hominy, a corn product. How it’s made isn’t important, but how it’s prepared definitely is. My first breakfast with locals in Charleston had them each prep their grits in a different way. Some add cheese, some add grape jelly, and the chefs add shrimp, tomatoes, sausage, peppers, bacon, spices…
7. West Virginia’s Pepperoni Rolls.
Just like it sounds, the Pepperoni Roll is a bready roll baked with pepperoni in the middle. The idea is to heat the bread and let the pepperoni oils soak into it as the entire thing gets softer. It can also be eaten cold, which is a boon to troops on the move.
For those of you asking if we should really be taking nutrition tips from Appalachia, my response to you is that if we really cared that much about it in the field, we wouldn’t be eating MREs.
8. New Mexico’s Green Chile Stew.
If you’ve eaten MREs for long enough, you’ve come to realize they all taste the same after a while. Why not make one that was prepared the way it was intended, with a sh*tton of green chiles in it?
It can also be a vegetarian option, but the best part about having Green Chile Stew in an MRE is that it can be poured over every other MRE, instantly making even the worst meal edible. Chicken chunks and veggie crumbles aren’t just for lining the reject box anymore!
9. Upstate NY’s Utica Greens.
There are always a lot of complaints that MREs don’t have a lot of vegetable matter in them. Here’s our chance to appease those people while teaching the rest of America that New York State is large and there’s a lot to see between NYC and Buffalo.
Utica Greens are any kind of leafy green sautéed in chicken broth and mixed with bread crumbs, cheese, prosciutto, and hot peppers (and sometimes other things). Serve the bread crumbs in a separate packet, MRE wizards. Ideally, this is downed with a Utica Club Beer.
10. Alaskan Akutuq
Sometimes known as “Eskimo Ice Cream,” Akutuq is an Inuit dish of hard fat whipped with berries or meat. Originally meant to be a dessert, the dish has been modified dozens of times over and now includes savory variations.
The use of hard fats and lean meats (usually game meat) means a high-protein, high fat MRE meal perfect for troops who want that kind of diet and don’t mind where they get it.
11. Cincinnati Chili
Cincy’s chili features finely-ground meat in a thin sauce that includes ingredients like cocoa powder and cinnamon. Three-way, four-way, and five-way variants add onions, kidney beans, or both. It’s served over spaghetti and then covered with so much cheese, it looks like a plate of cheese.
Cincinnati Chili has its detractors (aka everyone outside of the Ohio-Kentucky area) but people in Chicago pour tomato soup in a bread bowl and call it pizza and Californians think In-n-Out is the pinnacle of burgers. E pluribus unum.
I haven’t been to every place in America. What regional foods would make a good MRE? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestion, a recipe, and maybe even the best restaurant to find it.
Sparsely populated, disconnected from the contiguous states, subjected to a harsh Arctic climate, and almost unimaginably vast, the mere mention of Alaska conjures images of forbidding wilderness. But it’s in these conditions that the U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska must operate.
Dedicated to patrolling Alaska’s territorial waters, coming to the aid of damaged vessels, breaking through the routinely sea ice blocked ports, and carrying out scientific studies, the Coast Guard has its work cut out.
The Coast Guard in Alaska operates in some of the most isolated parts of the U.S. Here, a Coast Guard vessel gets underway in their winter Bering Sea patrol.
In this photo a Coast Guard vessel docks at Little Diomede Island in the middle of the Bering Strait. The island has a population of 135.
The Alaskan wilderness offers thousands of square miles of unspoiled natural beauty. Here, a Coast Guard ship makes port call at Kodiak.
Before taking part in operations, Coast Guard service members must receive substantial training, such as how to rescue people from icy waters.
Crew members of Coast Guard ships conduct 100-yard survival swims in 39-degree waters.
Here, a boatswain’s mate conducts surface-rescue training in Hogg Bay, in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.
Beyond rescue training, Coast Guardsmen must train on crew-served weapons in the event they’re needed. Here, units conduct night-fire exercises with a M-240B machine gun.
The Coast Guard must be ready for any scenario in Alaska’s unforgiving conditions. Here, a crew trains at recovering oil in ice-strewn water to prepare for possible oil spills.
Here, members of the Coast Guard Fire and Rescue team battle a simulated fire, to prepare for an actual aircraft-fire emergency.
Crew members routinely prepare for fires aboard vessels.
The Coast Guard constantly practices for helicopter evacuation missions at sea.
And the training is put to good use. Here, a Coast Guard MH-60 Jay hawk helicopter rescues two crew members of a fishing boat after it ran aground.
The Coast Guard is responsible for breaking the ice in northern ports for tankers. Here, a Coast Guard cutter breaks the ice near the city of Nome so that a Russian tanker could offload almost 1.3 million gallons of petroleum products to the city.
Cutting through the ice is a multiteam process. Here, a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter ascends from Nome after providing ice reconnaissance during the escort of the Russian tanker.
Members of an ice-rescue team survey an ice sheet before allowing crew and passengers of a vessel to disembark.
The Coast Guard constantly looks out to improve its capabilities. Here, Arktos Developments displays their amphibious Arctic craft, with heavy tank-style treads that can move through snow.
Keeping equipment in working order is difficult in Alaska, and a life-and-death issue for the Coast Guard. Here, a distress team leader clears ice and snow from solar panels that power a microwave link site for communications in western Alaska.
Another key job of the Coast Guard is to maintain navigation service aids throughout the waters around Alaska. Here, an electronics technician is lowered to a fixed aid on an island in Cold Bay.
Here, Coat Guard crew members service a shore aid near Dutch Harbor.
The Coast Guard plays the vital role of fisheries enforcement, making sure vessels don’t exceed their legal fishing limit and keeping the ecosystem intact.
The Coast Guard helps to conduct scientific experiments over the Arctic. In this photo, crew members deploy probes that measure sea temperature, salinity, and density to gain a better understanding of the Arctic during the summer season.
When you first enlist and are given loads of new gear, it’s a pretty great feeling — until you realize that you’ll have to return most of it eventually. Not all of it, but most. Obviously, you keep your well-worn and dirty uniforms and plenty of small, inconsequential things, like IR beacons.
Although each Central Issuing Facility of each branch at each duty station as their own standard operating procedures, in general, they all follow a guideline of “if it’s touched a troop’s skin or it’s basically worthless, then the troop keeps it.” But if you stop and think about it, what doesn’t get dirty and worn just from regular use?
With that in mind, here’s a rundown of things that would be better off left in a troop’s hands as they head into the civilian world — or to their next duty station.
I mean, you guys really want it THAT bad…
(Photo by Spc. Kristina Truluck)
Sleeping bag sets
Here’s a fact: The only way to get comfortable in one of these sleeping systems is to strip butt-naked so your body heat is evenly distributed. Still want it back?
These things get nasty after they’ve soaked in so much body odor and sweat that it’s like CIF asking for your field socks back.
No one wants to put their mouth on the Camelback that some nervous private was chewing on…
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)
Camelback, canteens, and water systems
As you can imagine, these directly touch your mouth. If you’re required to return it, that means others returned it before you. Now, we’re sure it’s been cleaned time and time again, but we still can’t help but wonder about what kind of nasty germs have lived on it.
“Those would look so great as civilian attire!” said no veteran ever.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
It seems like every branch swaps out their service uniform faster than you can blink. Generally speaking, the military wants their old uniforms back before you can get a new set.
Just to toss salt on the already pointless wound, they’ll raise hell if the old uniform you’re turning in isn’t perfectly clean.. you know, for the next troop who definitely won’t be wearing it.
Even if you don’t spray paint it, it’ll still get worn the hell out.
(Photo by Spc. Brianna Saville)
Duffel bags with your name stenciled on
Duffel bags are cheap. They’re just a bit of canvas made into a bag. Everyone in the military has the exact same O.D. green bag, so units ask troops to spray paint their name, last 4, and unit onto the bottom.
Here’s the problem: that paint isn’t coming off any time soon. Good luck trying to find another “Milzarski” in that that exact same unit after I leave.
What’s worse is when the CIF clerk gets hostile with you and questions you why parts are missing. Because, you know, we needed to save a life?
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ciara Wymbs)
Instead of asking troops to turn in a partly-used first-aid kit, why not let them keep it and stash it in their vehicle in case of emergencies? Sure, it puts the military out a whole (according to Amazon), but wouldn’t it be nice to have a bunch of medical supplies out there in the hands of people trained to use them?
It’s really not uncommon for troops to just buy a cheapo woobie off-post at some surplus store…
(Photo by Spc. Kristina Truluck)
The poncho liner
There’s one item that every troop holds dear above the rest — their poncho liner, affectionately called a “woobie.”
Troops sleep with it, it’s fairly cheap, the camo pattern is quickly outdated, and they’re perfect for emergency situations. Long after troops get out, if they managed to sneak one past supply, they’ll cuddle up with it on the couch and fondly recall their service.
Even though the five-star general rank essentially died in 1981 with Omar Bradley, the idea of a five-star general rising above all others to command so much of the American and allied militaries is remarkably heroic.
The five-star general officer was born in WWII because American generals and admirals were often placed above allied officers of a higher rank. Someone elevated to that position could never retire and was considered an active-duty officer for the rest of their life.
That’s a lot of trust. The list of the 9 officers we deemed worthy of the honor rightly reads like a “who’s who” of U.S. military history.
1. Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy
Leahy was the first officer to make the rank. He was the senior officer in the U.S. Navy and the senior-most officer in the U.S. military. He retired in 1939 but was recalled to active duty as the Chief of Staff to President Roosevelt and then Truman until 1949. During the latter years of his career, he reported only to the President.
2. General of the Army George Marshall
George Marshall was a major planner of the U.S. Army’s training for World War I and one of Gen. John J. Pershing’s aides-de-camp. He would need those planning skills when World War II broke out, as he oversaw the expansion of the U.S. Armed Forces and the coordination of U.S. efforts in the European Theater. After the war it was Marshall who helped rebuild Western Europe with an economic plan that came to be named after the man himself.
3. Fleet Admiral Ernest King
King was the Commander in Chief of U.S. Naval Forces (the U.S. now only uses the term “Commander-In-Chief” to refer to the President) and the Chief of Naval Operations. Though he never commanded a ship or fleet during a war, as the Navy representative of the Joint Chiefs, he helped plan and coordinate Naval Operations during WWII.
4. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur
MacArthur graduated from West Point in 1903, fought in the occupation of Veracruz, World War I, and resisted the Japanese invasion of the Philippines for six months during WWII. MacArthur, despite having to retreat to Australia, oversaw the defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific and accepted their surrender less than four years later.
He would also orchestrate the occupation and rehabilitation of Japan, and the American counterattack during the early months of the Korean War.
5. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz
Nimitz was the Navy’s leading authority on submarine warfare at the outbreak of World War II. He would rise to be Commander-in-Chief of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and eventually take control of all U.S. forces in the Pacific Theater. He served the Navy on Active Duty in an unofficial capacity until his death in 1966.
6. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Hitler! Macho Man Dwight Eisenhower coming for youuuuuu OHHHHH YEAHHHHHHH.”
Ike never saw combat as a soldier, but his planning skills were essential as Supreme Allied Commander of all allied expeditionary forces in Europe during World War II. He planned and executed the invasion of North Africa in 1943, and of course the D-Day invasion of France in 1944. After the war, Eisenhower was the first Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and was elected President in 1952.
7. General of the Army and Air Force Henry H. Arnold
“Hap” Arnold is the only officer ever to hold two five-star ranks in multiple branches and is the only person to ever to be General of the Air Force.
Before WWII, Arnold was the Chief of the Air Corps and became commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces when war broke out. He was one of the first military pilots ever, being trained by the freaking Wright Brothers themselves.
If Billy Mitchell is the Father of the Air Force, Hap Arnold helped raise it — he took a small organization and turned it into the world’s largest and most powerful air force during the WWII years.
8. Fleet Admiral William Halsey, Jr.
“Bull” Halsey started World War II harassing Japanese fleet movements in the Pacific in his flagship, the Enterprise. He was later made commander of all U.S. forces in the South Pacific and commander of the Navy’s third fleet. Halsey earned his status after the war ended but took the Navy on a goodwill cruise of friendly countries
9. General of the Army Omar Bradley
As mentioned, Omar Bradley was the last surviving five-star general, dying in 1981. He fought alongside the U.S. Army’s greatest all under the command of Dwight Eisenhower. He excelled during the D-Day landings and subsequent European campaigns. He eventually commanded 1.3 million fighting men as they invaded fortress Europe — the largest assembly of U.S. troops under a single commander.
* General of the Armies of the United States John J. Pershing
Pershing was promoted to this rank and title in 1919, though no official rank insignia existed at the time. It was made by Congress to recognize his role in the American entry into World War I in Europe.
* Admiral of the Navy George Dewey
Dewey received the title “Admiral of the Navy” by act of Congress in 1903. Admiral Dewey’s service during the Spanish-American War made him a national hero and celebrity.
* General of the Armies of the United States George Washington
President Gerald Ford promoted Washington to this rank and title — essentially a six-star general — in 1976 to always ensure Washington would be the senior-most officer of any group.
Co-founder Nick Fertig is a Navy veteran which means he’ll settle for nothing but excellence. Full Tilt has incorporated that philosophy into their craft brews. Check them out in Baltimore, Maryland.
Frog Level Brewing Company
By The Mighty
Frog Level has set the bar high for breweries in North Carolina. They specialize in English Ales including their signature brew: Catcher in the Rye. Gulp.
Warfighter Brewing Company
By The Mighty
Warfighter Brewing Co.’s ultimate goal is to combat veteran unemployment. They only employ veterans and are in the process of distributing their stockpile of beers!
By The Mighty
Cavalry Brewing is known for a wide selection of brews including, most notably, their Hatch Plug Ale. They offer a free tour and tasting as well so check them out if you’re ever in Oxford, Connecticut.
Veteran Beer Co.
By The Mighty
Veteran Beer Co. is 100 percent owned and operated by veterans. Their signature brew is called the Veteran, a medium body Amber lager. They currently operate in the Mid-West area but are due to expand.
Nestled between high mountains on the Afghan side of the border with Pakistan, the Korengal Valley has been one of the hardest fought over patches of ground in the War on Terror. 54 Americans have been killed and four Medals of Honor were earned in the valley — or it’s immediate vicinity — while the case for a fifth is under review. One was that of the first living recipient of the award since Vietnam: Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.
Today, the American military rarely moves into the valley, but handpicked Afghan commandos, some trained by the CIA, fight constantly with militants there. The Afghan government maintains offices at the Pech River Valley, the entryway to Korengal. Their police execute raids and patrols in a continuing attempt to shut down or limit the shadow government operating there.
When the American military was there, they faced the same challenges the Afghan forces do today. Some of these dangers are common across Afghanistan, while some only existed in Korengal Valley and the other branches of the Pech River Valley.
The terrain is a nightmare.
Steep mountains, loose shale, thick forests, and open patches of land made the area a nightmare for an occupying force. Combat outposts were built in relatively open areas so that defenders could see approaching militants. However, this meant patrols returning to the base had to cross the open ground, sometimes under heavy small arms fire from nearby wooded areas and houses. The thick trees in the area allowed fighters to attack U.S. forces from cover and concealment.
The attackers would then hide their weapons in the forests and return to the civilian population. The steep hillsides allowed snipers to climb above outposts and fire into the bases as soldiers slept. Loose rock on the steep land led to injuries from trips and falls.
Building new bases — and keeping them resupplied — presented constant challenges.
Tied to the problem of the terrain, engineering in the valley has historically been difficult. To build the infamous Restrepo outpost, soldiers slipped up the hilltop in the night and frantically dug ditches in the dark. Working until dawn, they were barely able to create shallow trenches to lay in before sunlight exposed them to enemy fire. They created the outpost over the following weeks and months, chipping away at the rock and throwing the fragments into bags or Hesco barriers to create walls and fighting positions. Everything in the valley had to be made this way as the hills were too steep to move heavy equipment and there was little dirt or sand to put in the bags and barriers.
Supply was similarly constricted as many vehicles couldn’t make it into the hills. Trucks would move through washed out roads to deliver supplies to positions near the bottom of the valley. Getting food, water, and gear to the tops of the hills required either helicopter lifts or infantry carrying it up on their backs.
Its proximity to Pakistan gives the Taliban a cross-border sanctuary.
The Korengal Valley is located on the border with Pakistan in steep mountains and thick forests where it has served as a major conduit for smugglers for decades, especially during Soviet occupation. The Pakistan side of the border is in the tribal region which has historically served as a recruiting and training ground for terrorists. The valley itself is so inaccessible that the Afghan government temporarily gave up on trying to control it, even before the people began a strong resistance.
The civilian population is largely confrontational toward outsiders.
The Americans in the valley found that the Korengalis were even less hospitable to U.S. and NATO forces than those in most of the war torn country. Most of them follow a sect of Islam known for its particularly conservative and hardline attitudes. They also all speak a dialect that not even their neighbors in the Pech River Valley — which Korengal Valley intersects — can understand. In addition, the Korengalis have a history of lumber smuggling and bad blood with other tribes. Meetings between U.S. and Afghan military leaders and tribal elders were generally tense if not confrontational.
The U.S. faced multiple insurgent groups, along with criminal elements.
Most NATO units faced opposition from multiple factions in their regions, but the Korengal Valley was a high priority for both the Jamaat al Dawa al Quran, or JDQ, and Al Qaeda. JDQ is suspected of having connections to Pakistani intelligence and both groups are certainly well-funded. In addition, local insurgencies cropped up under former timber barons who lost family members and money when the Americans moved in.
The Taliban often used human shields in battle.
Though civilians were used as shields in much of Afghanistan, it was constant in Korengal Valley. Women and children were nearly guaranteed to show up on the roof of any house that came under attack from US forces. Vehicles filled with civilians tested checkpoints, forcing soldiers to choose between firing at potentially unarmed civilians or leaving themselves open to a potential suicide vehicle attack. This drastically limited the ability of U.S. forces to engage the enemy.