The 4 most amazing escapes in military history - We Are The Mighty
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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 4 most amazing escapes in military history


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 4 most amazing escapes in military history

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 4 most amazing escapes in military history

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

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

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 4 most amazing escapes in military history

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 4 most amazing escapes in military history

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 4 most amazing escapes in military history

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

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

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

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Revolutionary War history gets complicated in Season Two of ‘Turn’

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
(Photo: AMC)


Author and historian Alex Rose knows that choosing the American Revolution as subject matter comes with a level of risk in that most people’s knowledge of that period of history begins and ends with what they were taught at a very young age.

“We generally think of George Washington as chopping down a cherry tree and not lying about it and being above it all,” Rose said.  “But the truth is he was a complicated man.  And he did lose a lot of battles.”

AMC adapted Rose’s book Washington’s Spies to create the series “Turn,” now in its second season. The network asked Rose to act as a historical consultant, and he was more than happy to come aboard to help the show’s writers get the details correct.

“We’re very conscious that we’re dealing with the touchstones of American history,” Rose said. “But the problem with touchstones is they can become petrified and set in stone.”

Season One of “Turn” introduced viewers to Abe, a simple man who wants any threat of war to go away so he can enjoy a simple life as a cabbage farmer. But the late 18th Century was anything but a simple time in America.

“People had to make choices,” Rose said. “And if you got caught on the wrong side you could be hanged.”

Further Rose pointed out that most American’s “default position” was that of loyalist and not rebel. “Over time loyalists have been portrayed as cowards,” he said. “There’s a lot more to it than that. We think that politics are complicated these days, but they were more so back then.”

The arc of the shows across the first season followed Abe’s transition from average American, son of a Tory loyalist, to the leader of the nation’s first spy ring.

“Season One was the genesis of the spy ring,” Rose said.  “People were learning the ropes.  In Season Two the ring is coming together, which brings its own challenges.”

In Season Two Abe is totally set on being a spy. “He’s going to do whatever it takes, even if it causes collateral damage,” Rose said.

Season Two also features an infamous figure: Benedict Arnold, commonly thought of as America’s greatest traitor.

“He enters the show in his prime,” Rose explained. “He was one of the great war heroes, the best generals they had.  We have to see him in that light.  He didn’t start off as a bad guy.”

Rose said that overall the goal of “Turn” – along with entertaining – is to show that the period of the American Revolution was a “magnificent time” and not just what he calls a “goodie versus baddie narrative.”

“Remember, they don’t know what we know,” Rose added. “They don’t know who wins in the end.”

For more about Season Two of “Turn” go to the official show site here.

Articles

Sesame Street launches a new series on difficult topics for military kids

This month, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that owns “Sesame Street,” released a new line of educational resources geared toward topics of race. This comes alongside their ongoing platform that is geared toward military families and the unique challenges that they face. Additional programs have been developed around topics of the pandemic and how to talk with kids about COVID-19. 

Together with sponsor USAA, the brand compiled a series of content including videos, original songs, downloads that kids can read and/or color and a long list of apps. All of these are free for parents to download and use to more appropriately talk with their kids about tough subjects. There are also add-ons covering specific military topics to give parents and caregivers tips on how to have difficult conversations with kids. 

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

The organization has been providing military-based content for kids nearly for 15 years through their nonprofit branch. However, new material has been added focusing on racial literacy, self-care and coping strategies for kids dealing with racism. It’s their hope to provide kids the knowledge they need to understand big issues, as well as the developmental abilities on how to deal with the feelings that come with them, they said. 

“Military and veteran families practice service in everything they do, and they live their lives with purpose – values that help them confront injustices like racism,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of US Social Impact, Sesame Workshop, said. “In a military kid’s world, it’s common to see people of all races and backgrounds living, working, and playing together. Military parents and caregivers can help their children become good citizens of the world by using that unique opportunity to talk openly about racism and celebrate who they are inside and out.”

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

Topics covered on the website include:

  • Injuries and care-giving
  • Military homecomings
  • Military to civilian life
  • Relocation
  • Deployments
  • Grief
  • And more

Race-related topics include: 

  • How to talk about race
  • Being proud of one’s features
  • Family histories
  • Self-love and worth
  • Dealing with feelings and expression
  • And more

Sesame Street also offers learning resources on topics that affect civilian families, such as divorce and incarceration, through their program, Little Children, Big Challenges family support services.

Professional development resources are available for teachers, social workers and others who work with children on both topics. Check out the videos, or sign up for ongoing courses, such as webinars and events. 

Families can watch the videos, listen and sing along to songs and engage in other ways, such as downloading the free Sesame Street apps (including those associated with the above topics), download PDFs with activities, or play online games. Versions are available in English and Spanish. 

The resources are available at SesameStreetinCommunities.org and sesamestreetformilitaryfamilies.org/

Articles

The difference between Trump’s old airplane and Air Force One

President Trump knows how to travel in style when he flies around the world. A home theater system, 24 karat gold plated bathroom fixtures, VIP lounge — just to name a few customize fittings that make up “Trump Force One” built in the 1990s.


Powered by two Rolls-Royce RB211 jet engines, Trump’s Boeing 757 is considered the “mini-me” version of his newly earned class of jetliner — Air Force One.

Air Force One — the Air Force callsign created in 1953 to designate the President’s plane — is a Boeing 747 that measures 231 feet long, seats 100 passengers, and races in at a max speed of 700 miles per hour. It comes fully equipped with enough fuel to fly 7,800 miles.

It also houses an onboard aerial refueling tube. Perfect for those extended trips to Russia.

AF-1 comes standard with amenities like a full medical clinic, a full gym and over 80 lines of communication, so he’ll always acquire that perfect internet signal wherever he is.

That’s compared to his Boeing 757 at 155 feet long, seating 43 passengers and with a top speed of 660 miles per hour which he purchased back in 2010 for close 100 hundred million smackeroos. Considerably smaller— Trump’s 757 does come in as the fancier choice but doesn’t come close to having the defensive capabilities like a full circuit of radar jamming software like AF-1 does.

Unlike any previous president, Trump independently owns his own aerial fleet, including the Boeing 757-200 airliner, a Cessna Citation X and two Sikorsky S-76Bs. Now that Donald Trump is President, he’ll have to keep his amazing fleet in the hanger, and we think that’s just awful.

MSNBC, YouTube

Which plane could you see yourself flying in? Comment below.

Related: Mattis orders separate reviews of F-35, Air Force One programs

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This milspouse went through the 9 circles of hell to get her family’s stuff out of storage

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
(Artist’s rendition)


The end of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move does not always mean that you’re having your household goods delivered immediately.  Thankfully, the military offers some free storage with each move.  But what happens when your free government storage ends?

Last summer, my family PCS’d from Europe to the US.  We decided to renovate our house before moving in, and so we moved in with my mother “temporarily.”  In August.

Our household goods arrived in September, and so our 90 days of temporary storage began.  When the 90 days was up, my husband requested, and was granted, an extension for another 90 days.  Which ended a bit ago.  And we’re still at my mother’s house.

After evaluating all the options, my husband decided that our best choice was to keep our household goods in their current storage location, but start paying for the storage ourselves.   In this type of situation, the military still retains responsibility for the final delivery fees, which makes this option attractive.

After approximately 4,276 emails back and forth between the company who has our storage shipment, the personal property people, the transportation management people, and the legal services office, we were told that in order to “move” (not move) our items from government storage to personal storage, we would have to have the shipment inspected.  The price for the inspection is based upon weight; ours is somewhere in the $900 range.

We asked a lot of questions about who is responsible for the items at which point in the process, and got a lot of conflicting answers and a lot of “well, the rules keep changing” type of answers.

Then, we had to decide what type of insurance we wanted on the items in storage:  the free basic coverage or additional coverage for an additional cost.  There was a lot of back and forth about whether which insurance choice required inspection, but it seemed we were paying for an inspection anyway, so I never did get all the details about that issue.

Which brings us to today, when many questions were answered and even more questions were developed.

We were told to show up at the warehouse at 9 am to inspect our shipment.  When we arrived, we were taken to a corner of the warehouse with 11 of our 15 crates staged.  We repeatedly asked “how does this liability thing work?” and “At what point the process do we file a claim for damages that occurred prior to today?” but didn’t get a lot of answers.  We also didn’t get any instructions.

Our very nice crew started uncrating our items.  Anything that was in a box or a wrapped tub, we noted any damages to the carton, and all furniture was unwrapped and inspected.  The moving company rep was making notes and we were making notes and discussing which damage was new and how much was old moving damage or just normal wear and tear of life.  I took some pictures of damage that was notable, and I thought things were going pretty well.  Items were being re-crated as we went, and the process was smooth and organized.

After lunch, someone in the company decided that the process wasn’t moving fast enough, so they simultaneously added an extra crew member and instructed them to “just get everything unpacked.”  I should have put my foot down right then, but I couldn’t possibly have anticipated the chaos that ensued.  Instead of taking things out, inspecting what needed to be inspected, and then putting things back, it became a mad rush to empty the remaining 8 crates onto the warehouse floor.  I did occasionally ask, “Um, how is this going to work?” and was repeatedly reassured that they had a plan.

Once every crate was unpacked, the team decided to do a thorough search through the approximately 250 items, looking for 5 missing items.   This is when I realized that my discomfort was not irrational – this was madness!  The day was ending, we had 8 crates of stuff scattered across about 1000 square feet, with random things stacked this way and that, and about 10 items of furniture unwrapped but not yet inspected and additional items still wrapped.  I’m not sure if it was the tone or the actual words, but the crew finally got the message that we were not happy.  They pulled in additional crew members and everyone started frantically organizing and inspecting and (still!) looking for the missing items.

During this frenzy, it somehow became clear what was happening with regard to the inventorying.  The crew wasn’t helping us inspect for damage to make a claim; they were inventorying the condition of items to cover their own liability.  Any information being used for our claim needed to be coming from our notes.  This makes perfect sense, in retrospect, but it would have been significantly more helpful to have known that BEFORE we started, not 7 1/2 hours into unpacking and repacking.

At 5 p.m., some guy who we’d not yet seen (despite having talked to at least 10 people) showed up and announced that the warehouse was closing for the evening and we’d have to come back tomorrow.  Whoa, Nellie!  Number one, we’re not available tomorrow.  Number two, this is the sort of information that should have been shared at any point prior to now.  Number three, the reason we’re in this situation is because someone in your company decided that the previous system wasn’t working and messed with it.  I’m pretty irritated that has somehow become my problem.

After a few heated words, it became clear that we really didn’t have any choice but to return.  Neither my husband or I can cancel our activities for tomorrow, so it was decided that the company would do their inspection, repack as much as possible, and leave out the items that we needed to inspect when I return on Friday.

On the way out, we checked with our office contact and asked a few more questions.  It was at this point in time that we were told that we should have been making all those damage notes on the claim form.  I asked where we got those and was informed that we should have been given them at the beginning of the day.  She tracked down our forms and handed them over for us to transcribe all our notes before returning on Friday.  It seems that our 70 days to claim damage starts with today’s inspection.  Nice to know.

It feels like there is a lot more to say about this “process,” and I suspect I’ll be updating this as things evolve, but I want to get it all out to you while it is fresh in my head.

If you find yourself in a situation where your government storage ends before your storage needs end, be sure to explore all the other options.  Hopefully, this will provide some insight into the option of keeping your items with the same company that is already storing them.  It is by no means a complete or definitive guide, but our experiences that may help you do it better than we are.

Lists

20 amazing tattoos inspired by Navy life

There was a time when the only Westerners who sported tattoos were sailors.


Tattoos in Western culture can be traced back to Captain James Cook’s visit with the Maori people in the 1700s. His crew decided to get them as souvenirs, and the Western tattoo culture started from there, according to Steve Gilbert in his book Tattoo History.

Traditional sailor tattoos symbolized experiences such as travel, achievements, rank, status, significant life events, superstitions, and more. These are a few examples of the meaning behind traditional sailor tattoos:

  • Anchor: associated with the Boatswain’s Mate rate or Chief rank, but also symbolizes safety and stability
  • Dragon: associated with service in Asia
  • Nautical Star: symbolizes the North star and guide for a safe return home
  • Lighthouse: symbolizes safe passage to home port
  • Old sailor or captain: symbolizes life experiences
  • Rudder: symbolizes control of a destiny

Sailor tattoos fell out of style for several decades but made a comeback thanks to pop culture. Today, sailor tattoos are more popular than ever — and not just with sailors. Celebs, musicians, sorority girls, homemakers, techies — everybody’s getting inked.

Here are some of the coolest Navy-inspired designs recently sighted around the web:

1. Old sailor

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Roman Abrego @romantattos/Instagram

2. Captain Jack Sparrow

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Roman Abrego @romantattoos/instagram

3. Portrait of a sailor

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

Photo: küstenmädel/Pinterest

4. Ship on the horizon

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Katelyn King/Pinterest

5. Golden chain captain

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Eric Roest/Pinterest

6. Popeye The Sailor Man

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Mary Martin/Pinterest

7. Vintage photo of Captain Elvy

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: William Black/Pinterest

8. Ship’s wheel

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Brittany Cozzens/Pinterest

9. Crown and anchor

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Kaley Mckeithen

10. Dangers of the sea

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Daniel Fonseca/Pinterest

11. Sailor’s grave

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Korenn Pendleton

12. Set sail 

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Emily Hartung

13. Octopus grappling a diver helmet

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Worldtattoogallery/Pinterest

14. Deep sea diver

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Kyle Scarry/Pinterest

15. There’s a million more miles to roam tattoo

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Sma Barn/Pinterest

16. Octopus coming out of the skin

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Brittnie Cudo/Pinterest

17. Set sail in traditional American style

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Bryan Fahey/Pinterest

18. Sailor kissing nurse

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Sean Dustman/Pinterest

19. Poseidon

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Jared Scott/Pinterest

20. Sailor smoking his pipe

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Photo: Pietro Sedda/Tumblr

 

NOW: The US military took these incredible photos in just a week

OR: 11 reactions to seeing your relief show up after a long watch

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10 reasons all troops should have a pet

Friends and family will always miss us while we’re deployed, but no one will miss us more than our pets.


The folks back home can write letters, make care packages, and even hop on a video call if they miss their troops, but pets, on the other hand, just have to wait for moments like these:

10. Try not to cry when they’re crying with joy as you step through that door.

(AReynolds007 | YouTube)

9. Doesn’t matter how big they are, they’re always our little puppies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G80oSZ–QU

(Homecoming Heroes | YouTube)

8. Doesn’t matter how old they are, they’re always our little puppies.

(Itschmidt02 | YouTube)

7. Dressing up in your Dress uniform doesn’t matter, but it won’t hurt.

(Poke My Heart | YouTube)

6. Even if you have more than one puppy, the only thing on their mind is who gets to play with you first.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IygISI9VkUQ

(Homecoming Heroes | YouTube)

5. A devil dog needs their own devil dog.

(Kimm Piluk | YouTube)

4. Even without holding a sign, they’ll give the best welcome home at the airport.

(Brent C. | YouTube)

3. It’s not just dogs. Cats even get in on the action.

(Wildlimeyogi | YouTube)

2. Cats may act all tough, but they’re just as big of softies as a puppy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37neD2rgwfs

(Candance Grubbs | YouTube)

1. And they’ll always let you know how much they missed you!

(PajamaDrama | YouTube)

*Bonus* Well, not all of the time…

Yes. We’re tracking that this one is openly a parody video using actors who aren’t in the military. It’s still funny, though, because, well, they’re still cats.

(YouTube, Kate Sidley)

 

Two of the greatest things ever are pets and returning veterans. No matter what your personal outlook on life is, nothing pulls at heartstrings like when the two meet. If you have any photos or videos of returning home to your pet, or even if you want to show off your furry best friend, please share them in comment section!

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6 ways the US could beef up its short-range air defense

According to DefenseNews.com, the Army is desperate to re-build its short-range air-defense capabilities. One big reason is the fact that Russia has become much more aggressive, making the need to deal with planes like the Su-25 Frogfoot close air support plane a distinct possibility.


So, here are some ideas on how America’s military can get some more surface-to-air punch.

Right now, the main system used by the Army for short-range air defense is the FIM-92 Stinger – used on the Avenger air-defense system and by grunts who carry it by hand.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
The Air Defense Anti-Tank System (ADATS) is a dual-purpose short range surface-to-air and anti-tank missile system based on the M113A2 vehicle. The ADATS missile is a laser-guided supersonic missile with a range of 10 kilometres, with an electro-optical sensor with TV and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR). The carrying vehicle also has a conventional two-dimensional radar with an effective range of over 25 kilometres. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

1. The MIM-146 ADATS

This system was looked at by the Army in the 1980s, but at the end of the Cold War it got cancelled. Designation-Systems.net notes that Canada did buy 34 systems.

With a speed of Mach 3, and a range of six miles, ADATS has more reach than the Stinger. Canada deployed it on a M113 chassis – the U.S. Army has lots of those – and also tested a new version on the LAV III, their version of the Stryker, according to the Rheinmetall Defense web site.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
AMRAAMs mounted on a Humvee. Versions of this have been called HUMRAAM, CLAWS, or SLAMRAAM. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

2. NASAM and 3. HUMRAAM/CLAWS/SLAMRAAM

The AIM-120 AMRAAM has been a bedrock of American air-to-air capability for the last 25 years. However, Designation-Systems.net notes that Norway lead the way in developing a version used as a surface-to-air weapon.

The Marines tried out a Humvee-mounted version many called HUMRAAM, but was known as CLAWS, for Complimentary Low-Altitude Weapon System. Army-Technology.com reported that the United States Army was looking at a system, of its own called SLAMRAAM. It would seem to be a quick way to get systems in service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4PXou0aGiE

4. C-RAM

While originally purchased to defense bases in Iraq and Afghanistan against mortars and rockets, C-RAM is based on the Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, or “CIWS,” that was intended to kill missiles like the Russian AS-4 Kitchen. Aircraft and helicopters might not be a problem for the system to track, either.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) conducts a live-fire exercise with the ship’s RIM 116 Rolling Airframe Missile weapon system. Bataan is underway conducting composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Petty Officer Nicholas Frank Cottone)

5. RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile

Also a Navy point-defense missile system, the RIM-116 is another option for short-range air defense. According to a Navy fact sheet, it weighs about seven tons, has a 7.9-pound warhead, and is supersonic. Designation-Systems.net notes that it has a range of five nautical miles and infra-red guidance. This would be an excellent complement to the SLAMRAAM or CLAWS.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
A MIM-115 Roland fired from Launch Complex 32. (DOD photo)

6. MIM-115 Roland

This is a missile that was widely used by adversaries and allies alike, including France and Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Designation-Systems.net reported that the U.S. tried it out in the 1980s, but never really deployed it. Army-Technology.com adds that the latest version, the VT1, has what amounts to a range of just under seven miles and a speed of almost 2,800 mph. This is probably the most “off-the-shelf” system to purchase — and it would help our allies by lowering the per-unit cost.

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Interview with SSG Kenneth Lepore, Ohio Army National Guard Recruiter

SSG Ken Lepore joined the Army National Guard post-high school to help pay for college and because he loves his country. Through his service in the Army National Guard, he has grown immensely as a professional and as a person. He credits his time on deployment and serving the U.S. in making him a more mature, educated and driven citizen. He now serves as a recruiter for the Army National Guard in Central Ohio and interacts with high schoolers looking for a challenge and the opportunity to serve. Lepore discusses his life experiences, insights and tips on joining the Army National Guard.

1. How long have you been in the Army and what have your experiences been?

I have been in about 15 years overall with about a 3.5-year break in service. My three tours were as a tank crewman and cavalry scout to Kosovo in 2004-2005, then Iraq 2006-2007, and again to Iraq in 2009-2010. I also deployed to support the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina 2005.

2. When did you become an Army Recruiter?

I became a recruiter in 2015. Before that, I worked as a teacher, in college admissions and now work as an adjunct professor of history at Marion Technical College.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
SSG Lepore after enlisting a recruit in the Ohio ANG. Photo courtesy of Ken Lepore.

3. What are some of the obstacles that come up during the recruitment process?

The most notable obstacles for recruits to overcome are COVID, of course, their ASVAB score, physical things, legal issues and negative perceptions.

Overall, the answer to this really does depend on the areas where one recruits as well as knowing one’s recruiting area. But remember, it is always about being physically, intellectually and morally qualified. So, there is always the potential that the ASVAB can become an obstacle. For example, I rarely had issues with kids who could not pass the ASVAB, but I recruited out of suburban and exurban schools that have pretty highly ranked education programs. 

Again, that does not mean that everyone I met and worked with passed the ASVAB, but it does mean that, based on how ASVAB scoring works, the vast majority of kids I worked with could read and do the math on at least an 11th-grade level. Again, a passing score is a 31 or above, and this is not a percentage, but a percentile.

The physical things are a different kind of obstacle, but even though we ask some questions with that APPLE-MDT process to try to discover any potential medical or physical issues early in the recruiting process, it is typically when conducting a thorough medical questionnaire that any physical/medical issues will become known. This does not necessarily mean that someone will be disqualified – we are recruiters, not doctors, so it is not our place to tell someone if they are disqualified, although we may have a pretty good idea.

But, it identifies the need for more documentation, typically medical docs, which are submitted to MEPS. For example, if someone tells me they had surgery on an ACL, I know that we are going to need documents, so we know they will be okay at training and doing their jobs without that ACL becoming an issue. Then, based on the questionnaire and any accompanying documentation, the doctors at MEPS can make a preliminary determination on if someone is physically qualified or not – if they say no, then we request a waiver.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
SSG Lepore (third from right) with his company of recruiters. Photo courtesy of Ken Lepore.

So, let’s say that nothing is wrong or that there was something like the applicant had braces and the accompanying documents from the dentist show when the braces will be off, and we get preliminary approval, this means we can schedule them for a face-to-face physical at MEPS. This is not like a physical fitness test, but it is more like a sports physical at high school or college – makes sure everything bends the right way, height/weight standards, checks vision/hearing, urinalysis, etc. This is the point where the doctors at MEPS will officially stamp that paperwork as physically qualified, but if anything requires more documentation or is a disqualifier, they will let you know. If that happens, we either try to get the necessary documentation or request a waiver, if possible. There are some things, for example, that we cannot plan for or necessarily know beforehand too, like say astigmatism or a high cylinder in the eye or heart arrhythmia, but that is exactly why it is that two-part process. 

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
SSG Lepore on deployment to Iraq. Photo courtesy of Ken Lepore.

Other obstacles are legal obstacles, and this does not just mean having felonies, but even having an unresolved parking ticket – those need to be paid. Again, this was not something I had much of an issue in my former recruiting area, but for others, like with the ASVAB, it can be a real problem, whether drug charges, or a DUI, theft, violent crimes, etc. We have regulations that will let us know what is okay and if a moral waiver and suitability review needs to be initiated.

But this is where that bit of common sense comes into play as well, because members of the military are expected to hold themselves to a high standard and because we need that trust with the public as well. Essentially, I was not afraid to tell someone to get out of my office because of their legal background. My old office partner was doing a sex offender check in the online registry (we do it for everyone), and the guy he was working with came up – process over, dude, we’re done here. 

Another time, he and I were at the Franklin County Courthouse, getting court documents on someone as part of a background check, and a lawyer or a social worker came running up to us telling us that her client was perfect for the military and how the military could help him (it is illegal for recruiters to get involved to get charges dropped in order to allow someone to enlist); anyway, my old office partner calmly asked her if her client was someone she would want armed to the teeth, which made her pause. She replied that he was not. Bad choices will derail enlistment – this is not and cannot be the last resort, but rather a first choice.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
SSG Lepore in Iraq on deployment. Photo courtesy of Ken Lepore.

So this is where the public perception can become a benefit or an obstacle to recruiting. I am someone who very much hates being lumped in as one of McNamara’s boys, and I do get annoyed with the aforementioned perspective that military service is for poor people and stupid people with no prospects in life. This obviously is not true at all – again, I have a graduate degree, and I chose to join twice, one of those times after I had my college paid for. But where this can become an obstacle is, for example, when some parents carry that military service is beneath their child, which I have experienced a couple of times, typically in some of the more affluent areas I recruited in. 

I had a kid I was working with whose parents bought him a brand new Mercedes to stop talking to me. I said, “I don’t fault you, dude, that’s a $60,000 car, I don’t think you learned a positive life lesson, but I don’t fault you at all.” Another time, I was taking a young lady just to take her ASVAB, and only do that – nothing else. She just wanted to take it as a career exploration tool, and I told her I will be glad to help. 

It was her grandparents who came on the attack, crying when they saw me in uniform, letting me know I was a monster, and they knew people who went to Vietnam and begging their granddaughter not to do this. Again, she was not going to enlist (ever), and I knew that – that’s why her guidance counselor contacted me out of all the recruiters. But I did take great offense to their behavior, and I tactfully reminded them that, among other things, I was/am better educated than both of them. Nonetheless, there does seem to quite often be an uncle or a family member or someone who had a bad experience with a recruiter or with the military, and that becomes a difficult obstacle — overcoming perceptions — particularly entrenched ones.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
SSG Lepore with a group of his recruits for the Ohio Army National Guard. Photo courtesy of Ken Lepore.

4. Are there any ways to combat these things, and if so, how?

So, combating the aforementioned obstacles really comes down to the obstacle itself. Something like a recruit being over height and weight standards is actually one of the easier things because I can supply them with a workout plan and make some dietary recommendations, but it is on them to follow it and make it happen. This is actually nice because it shows early on in the process how much someone wants to be in. I had a young man who lost 180 pounds to join, and that said everything I needed to know about his dedication, character, motivation, etc., and I knew that he’d do fine at training and in his unit. 

Some of the other medical stuff does become more of a challenge, though, particularly because you don’t want someone to be a liability to themselves or others. But, as mentioned earlier, we can always try to request a waiver – it will get either approved or denied, but at the end of the process, you’ll know why. I worked with a young lady who had a penicillin allergy – we got all the medical documents, submitted them with the questionnaire to MEPS, and she was marked preliminarily as not qualified. So, we submitted a request for a waiver, which did get approved; then she took her physical, passed, and joined. The process took about a week and a half long, but that’s okay, as it shows that even with an allergy to a medicine, we took the right steps and she was taken care of.

Combating the legal obstacles is a little more cut-and-dry because in AR 601-210 and the National Guard’s accompanying documents, the Accessions Options Criteria and the Annex A as well as other regulatory guidance that comes out, it lets us know what we can work with, as far as having a legal background and what we cannot. However, I found that I never really had many problems with interested individuals having legal backgrounds beyond anything more than traffic violations, an occasional single DUI or drug charge – and yes, you can have a whole bunch of traffic tickets and still be able to enlist as an 88M Motor Transport Operator (truck driver), although I tended to steer bad drivers away from that MOS (no pun intended). But, I knew that pretty much anything beyond that, I probably was not going to work with that person anyway because I knew I would not want someone with multiple assaults, theft or domestic violence charges in my squad, so I wouldn’t bother. I cannot speak for other recruiters or other branches of the military, but as a student of history and of languages, I tend to pay attention to the patterns.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
SSG Lepore after enlisting one of his recruits. Photo courtesy of Ken Lepore.

It is combating that obstacle of public perceptions that is the most difficult, but I found that I dealt with it two-fold – as a member of the military, and as a recruiter. This is one reason why we, as recruiters, need to be judicious about who we enlist and also not deceive or lie to people we work with. So, this essentially comes down to trust, as it ties into public perception. For starters, one of the best compliments I have ever received in my life was from an undergraduate philosophy professor at Ohio U, who told me that I dispelled every pre-conceived notion he had about people in the military. But because of my relative size (I’m 5’6” and 145 lbs), I do not exactly come off as that hard-charging, flag-waving recruiter, which is good, because that has never been my style. 

Instead, I tried to make myself an example, to my soldiers, to my students and now to my recruits. When working with parents and teachers and guidance counselors, it is a similar thing. One soldier’s dad told me in an initial interview (he was prior service) that I was completely unlike any recruiter he had ever met. Several of my teacher and guidance counselor friends at my old schools have echoed similar things. They and my old boss told me that I recruit different kinds of people/soldiers than what they anticipate – actually, a lot of my old recruits have contacted me too and told me that they never could have seen themselves in the military or never even considered it until they met someone just like them – bookish, athletic-ish and trying to figure out how to pay for college. 

And as I said, this was not really on my radar until my senior year of high school, so I get it. For me, it felt like I had the chance to show people that there should be zero stigmas from being an enlisted person in any branch of the military (but especially the Army National Guard) because before I turned 28, I had completed nine years in the Guard, three overseas tours, a graduate degree, no student loan debt, a myriad of languages and had a lived a fairly full life before I had attended my 10-year high school reunion. The little things that we can do to get rid of McNamara’s stigma and tip the hat to the importance of disciplined initiative drilled into my head at training. Besides, after you graduate from basic training and job training, you really do feel like you can accomplish anything – all obstacles become surmountable. 

Full YouTube interview here on The Samurai Pulse:

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4 reasons the Navy needs more ships

The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that the Navy has stated in its latest Force Structure Assessment that it needs a larger force – setting an ideal goal of 355 ships, an increase from the 308 requested in the 2014 update. Currently, the Navy has 273 ships that are deployable.


The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Two carriers in the South China Sea. | US Navy photo

Why does the Navy need all those ships? Here’s a list:

China is modernizing and getting aggressive

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
China’s Houbei-class (Type 022) fast-attack craft. | Congressional Research Service

The theft of a U.S. Navy unmanned underwater vehicle is just the latest in a series of incidents where China has been crossing the line. There have been buzzing incidents in the South China Sea that have gotten very close to Navy electronic surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft. They also have built unsinkable aircraft carriers on some islands in the maritime hot spot. USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) carried out a stealth freedom of navigation exercise earlier this year without incident, but with the buzzing incidents, the next one could get rough.

With the South China Sea becoming a potential free-for-all, the Navy may want more ships.

Russia is modernizing and getting aggressive

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Concept photo of Russian Projekt 20386 littoral combat ship. (Photo from Thai Military and Region blog)

Maybe it’s the way they snatched Crimea, or their actions in Syria and the Ukraine, but it is obvious that Russia is also acting up in a manner that doesn’t bode well for American allies in Europe.

Aside from the Kuznetsov follies — notably the splash landings — the Russians are modernizing their fleet. They seem to have come up with a littoral combat ship design that outguns the Navy’s.

Iran may need a smackdown

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

Iran has threatened Navy aircraft, harassed U.S. Navy vessels, and is developing a knockoff of the S-300. It is also a major sponsor of terrorism, is still pursuing nuclear weapons, and is buying weapons from Russia.

While ISIS is one threat, Iran is lurking as well.

The Littoral Combat Ship needs work

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

Let’s face it, if we were looking for a new Coast Guard cutter, the littoral combat ship would have been fine. But the Navy needs smaller combatants because there will be a need to handle some of the dirty jobs, like mine warfare.

But with engine problems, the littoral combat ship is having trouble getting its sea legs, if you will. The Navy may well need to look at buying some other ships to buy time to figure out how to fix the technical problems, maybe accessorize it a little, and to figure out what to do with these ships.

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Here’s how Iran could actually make good on the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
A member of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards chants slogans after attacking a naval vessel during a military drill in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran, February 25, 2015. (Photo: Hamed Jafarnejad/AFP/Fars News)


Iran’s talking tough again, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz in the event of an attack. This is not the first time such threats have been made. Furthermore, when Iran mined USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) during Operation Earnest Will, the United States delivered quite the beat-down to the mullahs’ military forces in Operation Praying Mantis. But it raises the question of whether Iran could carry out its threats. Iran’s threat cannot be treated as idle, given that they did try to shut down the Strait of Hormuz during the Iran-Iraq War.

Currently, the Iranian Navy has at least five frigates, three Kilo-class submarines, fifty-four guided-missile patrol boats, and at least sixteen mini-submarines. It is a force that could be beaten by the United States Navy – much as was done in 1988 – but that task may be tougher now than it was back then. To understand why just take a look at the map.

At less than sixty miles wide for most of its length, Iran can not only count on its naval forces to attack tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, but also truck-mounted and fixed-position anti-ship missile batteries on the coast, primarily consisting of the C-802 and C-201 missiles. Iran’s control of Qeshm and Larak Islands adds further reach to shore-based missiles as well. These bases could also be protected with surface-to-air missiles like the SA-10 “Grumble” that Iran has been trying to buy from Russia for years.

With missiles flying in at 685 miles per hour, even an Aegis vessel will have some problems protecting a supertanker from being hit by an anti-ship missile. The good news is that supertankers are very big, and as a result, they are very tough. Even an 1100-pound warhead from a C-201 won’t sink a supertanker. But it will create one hell of a mess. The hit will cause a fire, and it will send oil spilling out. In the “Tanker War” that took place during the Iran-Iraq War, over 500 commercial vessels were hit.

Iran’s other traditional weapon for closing the Strait of Hormuz would be mines. The shallow depth of the Strait of Hormuz (less than 300 feet deep) makes it a prime ground for moored contact mines and bottom mines. The most insidious thing about a minefield is, to paraphrase Tom Clancy, the fact that all you really need to create one is a press release. In fact, in the last thirty years, mines damaged three of the five United States warships damaged by hostile action – and the 2000 attack on USS Cole (DDG 67) was done with a makeshift mine.

What makes Iran even more capable, though, is its submarine arm. The three Kilo-class submarines are bad enough. Capable of holding 18 533mm torpedoes, they could sink a supertanker in the Strait of Hormuz, but they also are constrained by the shallow depths of the Strait of Hormuz.

Less constrained are the 16 Ghadir-class mini-subs. These subs can carry the same acoustic homing torpedoes as a Kilo-class sub, there would be a lot of them out in the Strait of Hormuz. In essence, these are mobile minefields, and a lot more dangerous than their size would lead you to believe. A North Korean sub similar to Iran’s Ghadir-class minisubs sank the South Korean corvette Cheonan, killing 46 officers and men.

In short, Iran has a lot more options to close down the Strait of Hormuz if they want to. Re-opening that important chokepoint (through which over a third of the world’s oil production transits) is likely to be a very dangerous undertaking.

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That time the entire Dutch naval fleet was captured by French dudes on horses

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history


In the winter of 1795, a French cavalry regiment captured 14 Dutch ships and 850 guns without a fight. How’d they do it? They simply trotted across the ice. Universally regarded as one of the strangest victories in the history of warfare, the Battle of Texel is the only documented occurrence of a “naval” skirmish between warships and cavalry.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Capture of the Dutch fleet by the French hussars, Léon Morel-Fatio | Public Domain

Why were the French at war with the Dutch?

By 1792, Revolutionary France was looking to pick a fight with Europe’s monarchist powers. On 20 April, the Legislative Assembly declared war against the King of Bohemia and Hungary (meaning the Hapsburg Empire). Their plan worked. They ignited a twenty-three year conflict between France and the rest of the continent. In January 1795, the French Revolutionary Army invaded the Dutch Republic. They were met with little resistance.

What went down during the battle?

The winter of 1794-5 was particularly brutal. Stationed near the village of den Helder, the Dutch fleet was immobilized when the Zuiderzee bay froze overnight. It didn’t take long for the French commander to take stock of the situation—all the calvary had to do was gallop across the ice. The Dutch admiral was left with the embarrassing task of surrendering his ships to a handful of soldiers on horseback. A.G.M. Macdonell describes the French advance in his book Napoleon and his Marshals:

The ragged men carried the Three Colours and sang the terrible song of Marseilles from Fleurus to the Rhine, and captured the fortresses of Flanders and the fortresses of Holland and Brabant…and entered Antwerp and Rotterdam and the Hague, and thundered on their horses across the ice to capture with naked swords the battlefleet of Holland.”

What happened afterwards?

The United Provinces of the Netherlands became the Batavian Republic. The French puppet state lasted until 1806, when it was replaced by the Kingdom of Holland after Napoleon decided to put his brother Louis on the throne.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Hallo-memes! Wait … that’s not right. Meh, whatever.


1. Remember, terrorists “trick or treat” too (via Military Memes).

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Get special candy for them.

2. Pretty sure DA PAM 670-1 Chapter 5 Section 7 addresses this.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

SEE ALSO: From 1860-1916 the uniform regulations for the British Army required ever soldier to have a mustache

3. How the invasion of Iraq really went down:

(via Pop Smoke)

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

4. When you join the Navy to see the sights:

(via Sh-t My LPO Says)

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
At least you’re in California. You could be stuck with those same sights in Afghanistan.

5. Your trip to find yourself in Vienna does not impress your elders (via Air Force Nation).

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
If you were finding Nazis there, maybe. You’d have to fight them too.

6. How the military branches decide who’s the most awesome/fabulous (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Coast Guard has it made.

7. Just two combat veterans letting off a little steam in a war zone (via Ranger Up).

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Bet the A-10 kept flying combat missions until at least the second trimester.

8. The standard is Army STRONG …

(via Marine Corps Memes)

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
… we’re not worried about much else.

9. He forgot how to Marine (via Terminal Lance).

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Hey, staff officers have to practice throwing grenades too. Just don’t give him a real one.

10. Stolen valor airman can’t be bothered to learn your Air Force culture (via Air Force Nation).

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history

11. This is true (via Military Memes).

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Iraq and Afghanistan would look a little different if soldiers and Marines had access to nukes.

12. First sergeant just wants you to be ready to fight in any environment.

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Side note: If you ran at the actual pace he was trying to set, you would be warm during the run.

13. Real warriors like to stay cool (via Marine Corps Memes).

The 4 most amazing escapes in military history
Don’t like the view? Get out of the mortar pit.

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