If you’re looking for tips on how to shirk military service, you’re about forty-some years too late. And if you’re looking to dodge a draft, you are also probably not our target audience.
For those unfamiliar with their civic duty, U.S. law says all male citizens of the United States and male immigrants (and bizarrely, illegal immigrants, too) have to register for the Selective Service System (SSS — aka “The Draft”) within 30 days of their 18th birthday. You are not joining the military but registering with the government to be available in a time where a draft would be necessary.
The U.S. first started drafting civilians during the Civil War. Back then, rich men had many other options open to them avoiding Civil War service. To dodge the Civil War draft, people could pay a less wealthy person to take their place in the draft, pay a crooked doctor to give them a bad health exam, or outright bribe draft officials.
The modern Selective Service system was established to raise an army to fight in Europe during World War I. It was used again from 1940-47 to raise troops to fight World War II, and then again to meet the needs for the Korean War. Between the end of WWII and the Korean War, men could just be drafted to serve, regardless of the demands of a national emergency.
After Vietnam, President Gerald Ford abolished the draft entirely in 1975 but President Carter established the draft system in place today as a response to the potential threat posed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
President Nixon established a draft lottery in 1969 but stopped drafting military-age males in 1973 when the U.S. military became an all-volunteer force, but not before an estimated half million people avoided conscription.
There were two kinds of methods to avoid being drafted when you number was called: illegal and legal. There were a few laws in place relevant to Selective Service meant to keep necessary men in their homes and with their families. Purposely pursuing a legal waiver or deferment for any reason is draft avoidance. Those who could not meet the criteria for legal would mitigate their responsibilities by illegal means, this is called draft evasion or more popularly known as “draft dodging.”
Those who received deferments (especially politicians and other people who like to closely associate themselves with the military) will fervently argue there is a distinct difference. Here are 11 ways people beat the draft in the 1970s.
1. Be a Conscientious Objector
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mennonites, the Amish, and Quakers are all considered Peace Churches who are opposed to any kind of military service. They were allowed to serve in other ways, however, but in a civilian capacity. Dishonest conscientious objection would be illegal. You can still be awesome as a CO, by the way. Clergymen and missionaries were also exempt from the draft, which is how Mitt Romney deferred while spending two years in France as a Mormon missionary.
2. Make up a health condition
The military is surprisingly strict about the medical conditions of those it enlists, even if they really need the manpower. Gastritis, ulcers, hepatitis and anemia are all common, treatable conditions the military will flat-out reject you for having. Diabetics are out, too.
If you don’t have one of these or you’re in perfect health, just make up a health problem! During the Vietnam draft, people would stay awake for days ahead of their medical screening, do a lot of illegal drugs, or otherwise make themselves appear generally unhealthy to avoid being draft. Ask Ted Nugent about doing meth and crapping his pants to avoid the draft.
3. Have children who need you
Men with children and families who depend on those men for their livelihood are in a lower draft priority than single men or childless husbands.
4. Be a homosexual
And if you’re not a homosexual, pretend to be! In the 1960s and 1970s, it was perfectly fine to both ask and tell. If men out to dodge the draft were afraid they wouldn’t be asked, they would wear women’s underwear to the medical exams.
5. Run away to Canada
Upwards of 40,000 draft dodgers fled to Canada between 1965 and 1975. Many stayed in Canada after the war’s end, and some even stayed after President Carter pardoned them all on his first day in office. Those who stayed became Canadian citizens.
6. Go to college
Student deferments were very common ways of beating the draft, though many students were really in school to be in school and not simply to avoid Vietnam. Notable examples of those receiving student deferments include Bill Clinton (1 deferment), Joe Biden (5 deferments), and Dick Cheney (5 deferments).
While a college deferment was very common, it is still a major point of contention for politicians seeking office today.
7. Have a high lottery number
366 plastic capsules, each with one date of the year, were dumped in a large glass container, then drawn, opened, and assigned sequentially rising numbers. The first capsule was September 14. So all men born on that date, from 1944 through 1950, received the first priority for call to duty.
The remaining capsules were drawn and assigned a number. A second lottery was also conducted for the 26 letters of the alphabet, to determine the order of priority (by last name) for each date. The highest draft number drawn was 195.
8. Hold an “essential” civilian job
These are also known as “reserved occupations” and are so necessary to a country’s war effort, drafting them is illegal. The jobs cannot be done by others and cannot be completely abandoned, but those men were required to continue working that job.
9. Get married
In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson changed the draft law to allow married males to be drafted, if they didn’t have children. Before August 26, 1965, however, getting hitched was a Get Out of Vietnam Free card. Johnson quietly changed the rules to keep up with the demands of the war. Hundreds of couples on the West Coast ended up in shotgun marriages to avoid serving.
10. Forge military ID or reserve papers
Some men in Northern states formed groups which made fraudulent National Guard or Reserve papers, identifying men who bore them as having already enlisted. For upwards of $5000, men could acquire these papers and take them to the local draft board to be relieved of their obligation.
11. Enlist anytime
Even during Vietnam, men received credit for serving. If you completed a military service obligation, you couldn’t be forced to re-enter the military. If you called up to be drafted, you could avoid it by enlisting and choosing your service.
If you couldn’t remember any of these tips, you could just learn the words to Phil Ochs’ “Draft Dodger Rag”
Failing to register for the draft could mean ineligibility to hold a government job, the inability to apply for student loans through the Department of Education, and a condition of citizenship for immigrants who arrived before their 26th birthday. It is also punishable by a 250,000 fine and up to five years imprisonment, among other consequences.
So it’s a good idea to register. The U.S. is unlikely to have a war which requires national conscription anytime soon and there hasn’t been a real draft since the last days of the Vietnam War.
As was the case in the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army has widely used “air assault” tactics — the warfighting technique of using helicopters to get troops into and out of combat objectives in a hurry — in the war in Afghanistan. We rounded up photos from our own personal collection and military sources to show what it’s like for soldiers to be part of one of these intense missions.
Air assault missions start with rehearsals. Here, soldiers practice getting down the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook in a hurry.
The choreography of the assault is reviewed using a ‘sand table’ — a scale mock-up of the objective that allows soldiers to understand how the mission will unfold.
Get ready to mount up! (Here a CH-47 lands at the FOB to pick up Afghan National Army troops and their U.S. Army trainers for an air assault.)
After a successful ingress, the Chinook launches in a hurry, leaving the troops behind to get to work.
First order of business is to establish a perimeter and make sure there’s no incoming fire.
Once the Chinooks are clear and the landing zone is stabilized, the soldiers make their way toward the village — ever wary of the presence of the enemy.
Contact made with the tribal elders, the best way to assess the immediate threat. In this case the company commander learns that the small band of Taliban fled at the first indication of the assault.
The platoon leader tours the village with the tribal elders who’ve assured him there is no immediate threat now that the few local Taliban have fled. The U.S. Army first lieutenant knows exactly how much to trust them.
Meanwhile, other soldiers patrol the perimeter of the village making sure the Taliban who fled don’t circle back with a few more of their comrades.
On the opposite side of the village, soldiers pull security.
At the center of the village, the platoon leader tries to convince the tribal elder that his people should support the coalition in forcing the Taliban out once and for all.
Local kids gather to hear what the American soldiers have to say. (Cool Batman backpack.)
A village donkey isn’t sure what to make of all the action.
Making friends with the next generation of Afghan citizens is an important part of the mission.
On the edge of the village a handler and his dog sweep for improvised explosive devices.
Beef jerky time! Just outside of the center of the village one of the brave and talented Afghan interpreters kicks back for a bit.
Village architecture looks centuries old and a little bit creepy.
No girls allowed! The company commander gathers the village males for a ‘shura,’ a no-notice gathering to discuss the coalition plan for security and the creation of infrastructure like schools and cell phone towers.
Every captured weapon counts. The enemy may have fled, but the air assault did net a small score: some radios and a handful of RPGs.
After one more sweep it’s time for soldiers to think about getting out of Dodge (or Ateh Khanek in Paktika Province).
And the soldiers load onto the Chinook for the flight back to the FOB. Dinner will taste good tonight, and maybe after that there’ll be time for a Skype session with the wife. (Just another day in the ‘Stan.)
The study has five criteria: Whether elections are free and fair (“electoral process and pluralism”), whether governments have checks and balances (“functioning of government”), whether citizens are included in politics (“political participation”), the level of support for the government (“political culture”), and whether people have freedom of expression (“civil liberties”).
Below are the world’s most authoritarian regimes:
21. United Arab Emirates — 2.69/10
Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00
Functioning of government: 3.57
Political participation: 2.22
Political culture: 5.00
Civil liberties: 2.65
20. Azerbaijan — 2.65
Electoral process and pluralism: 0.50
Functioning of government: 2.14
Political participation: 3.33
Political culture: 3.75
Civil liberties: 3.53
19. Afghanistan — 2.55
Electoral process and pluralism: 2.50
Functioning of government: 1.14
Political participation: 2.78
Political culture: 2.50
Civil liberties: 3.82
18. Iran — 2.45
Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00
Functioning of government: 3.21
Political participation: 4.44
Political culture: 3.13
Civil liberties: 1.47
17. Eritrea — 2.37
Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00
Functioning of government: 2.14
Political participation: 1.67
Political culture: 6.88
Civil liberties: 1.18
16. Laos — 2.37
Electoral process and pluralism: 0.83
Functioning of government: 2.86
Political participation: 1.67
Political culture: 5.00
Civil liberties: 1.47
15. Burundi — 2.33
Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00
Functioning of government: 0.43
Political participation: 3.89
Political culture: 5.00
Civil liberties: 2.35
14. Libya — 2.32
Electoral process and pluralism: 1.00
Functioning of government: 0.36
Political participation: 1.67
Political culture: 5.63
Civil liberties: 2.94
13. Sudan — 2.15
Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00
Functioning of government: 1.79
Political participation: 2.78
Political culture: 5.00
Civil liberties: 1.18
12. Yemen — 2.07
Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00
Functioning of government: 0.00
Political participation: 4.44
Political culture: 5.00
Civil liberties: 0.88
11. Guinea-Bissau — 1.98
An abandoned tank from the 1998–1999 civil war in the capital Bissau (Image Wikipedia)
Some acronyms are okay. SitRep is a quicker way saying Situation Report. PBKAC is a polite way for S6 to say that there isn’t an issue, there’s a Problem Between Keyboard And Chair. And FNG is so universally known and accepted by everyone except the F*cking New Guys themselves.
Some are actually cool. Usually they’re mnemonics that make something seem more impressive. Downed Aircraft Recovery Teams are cool and saying, “I have to go on a DART mission” sounds cooler somehow. Telling people “I can’t tell you that. It would violate OpSec” is a million times more thrilling than saying, “I sat by the radios in the COC for nine hours at a time.”
Some are dumb because hearing them out loud just sounds dumb or the people saying them always have a dumb look on their face when they say them.
This isn’t an all encompassing list. Let us know in the comment section your more hated acronyms, and in the meantime, enjoy:
1. COC: Combat Operations Center
There’s a good reason troops say each letter in this one. Still brings a little joy to my heart when I read a sign saying “Only E6 and above in the COC.”
2. FARP: Forward Arming and Refueling Point
On paper, this sounds like an intense place. A small aviation unit holding their own to ensure that helicopter pilots can keep kicking ass in the battlefield is awesome. Too bad whenever you say the name out loud it sounds like, well, you know.
3. CAC: Common Access Card
Two reasons this made the list:
First off, it sounds like you’re from Boston whenever you have to “flash your CAC at the gate guard.”
The other is because of the amount of people who say “CAC Card.” It’s as redundant as ATM machine and PIN number.
4. BOHICA: Bend over, Here it comes again!
Context is everything. If you say it under your breath to your bro when you find out you have duty on a holiday or you have to layout another connex (shipping container). It’s fine. Saying to your subordinates, it’s creepy, but fine. Randomly throwing it into conversation, like it does nine times out of ten, just makes no sense.
5. IYAAYAS: If You Ain’t Ammo, You Ain’t Shit
How do you know if someone was Air Force weapons load crew? Don’t worry. They’ll tell you.
To be fair; it’s still a pretty cool MOS and the fourth coolest in the Air Force — behind JTACs, Pararescue, and, you know, the pilots everyone associates the Air Force with…
This just makes no sense. It sounds like someone came up with 5 P’s, said “I think I can add another. Let’s add prior!” Then someone else said “Hey battle. Want to know what would look better on your NCOER? 7 P’s,” and then struggled, gave up, and added “piss” into it.
7. Roger, WILCO: Received, will comply
What works while talking over a radio makes you look like a tool in a face-to-face conversation. “Roger, Sir/Ma’am/Sergeant” is good enough. No need to be high speed.
8. Any variation of “Hey, do you know what [Whatever branch of service] stands for?”
‘U’ Sure Are F*cked, Uncle Sam Ain’t Released Me Yet, Never Again Volunteer Yourself, and ‘U’ Signed the Mother f*cking Contract.
It’s the same joke, told by someone who just heard it, telling it to someone who heard it a million times before. It was probably funny the first time but not any more.
The military is one of those work environments where it’s generally best to blend in. Sure, you want to stand out during promotion boards or advancement exams, but the rest of the time it’s best for troops to keep their heads down.
Unfortunately, some people are cursed with traits that make that impossible. Here are 7 things that are guaranteed to draw extra attention.
Too-tall or too-short, both will make someone stand out. In formation, everyone is right next to each other and outliers are super obvious. At ceremonies, many units are reorganized according to height so the unit has a more uniform appearance.
2. Being a know-it-all
This person wants to stand out, but they shouldn’t. Answering a direct question is no big deal, and offering an informed opinion every once in a while is great. But people who answer every question in a class don’t get the “team” idea behind the military. And the rest of the team hates them for it.
3. Coming from another country
The U.S. military is predictably full of Americans, but some foreign people do join.
A few English or South African troops may be able to skate by under the radar, but most foreigners get found out immediately. As if it wasn’t hard enough to adjust to military culture, this recruit has to adjust to American culture at the same time. Every time they mess something up, some squad-jokester-wannabe will make a comment about how it’s because they didn’t grow up in America.
4. Being from Texas
It’s like being foreign. Everyone has their favorite Texas jokes, Texas nicknames, and Texas memes. Once someone is outed as being a Texan, they will get saddled with all the Lone Star military stereotypes.
5. Having an accent
Yeah, soldiers who talk funny are going to get noticed. It’s funniest when they have to speak in front of the unit. They’re up there talking about how their squad helped them get promoted or earn an award and the formation just stands there smiling like they understand any of the words being said.
6. Possessing no rhythm
In the civilian world, bad rhythm just makes it harder to meet people at clubs and square dances. But rhythm is key to military life. Units march in rhythm, troops exercise in rhythm, and new tasks are taught “by the numbers” where students practice things like landing in a parachute in a set rhythm.
A service member with no rhythm sticks out and gets ridiculed. In basic training, it’s even worse since it draws the eyes of the dreaded training cadre.
7. Carrying a funny or famous last name
As a civilian, someone’s last name isn’t all that visible. It’s in email signatures, and that’s about it. But in the military, a person’s last name is their primary name. It’s on their shirts, it’s beneath any pictures of them, and it’s on most of their hats. Some people don’t know their buddy’s first name until they friend each other on Facebook.
So, when someone’s last name is “Nye,” everyone knows. And that person can’t walk into a room without someone singing the Bill Nye theme song.
A regular deployment for our troops down here on Earth gets pretty boring while you’re off-mission. It becomes challenging to find new ways to fill your downtime. Maybe you’ll swing by the MWR and play some video games. Maybe you’ll watch a movie or two — that is until you’ve watched everything on the deployment hard drive twice.
Realistically speaking, the life of a astronaut in space is probably similar. Even the whole zero-G’s thing and watching the Big Blue Marble has got to get boring after a while…
Thankfully, through the power of social media, astronauts can record themselves and upload their shenanigans to the internet for the world (and beyond) to see. No judgment here; whatever takes the edge off while being stuck in the same, tight confinements for nine months at a time…
The great musicians here on Earth have written countless tunes about space and astronauts. These songs are then copied and repeated ad nauseam by that one guy at the party who thinks he can play.
But when David Bowie’s Space Oddity is played by someone who’s actually in space… It doesn’t matter if he’s not on the level of the late, great Ziggy Stardust — it’s awesome on its own level.
Play with toys
There was a challenge a few years back for gifted children to design toys usable in space. The constraints were simple: It had to be fun and not involve plenty of lose pieces that could float around and potentially cause a Homer-Simpson-level disaster.
Since astronauts are generally pretty stand-up people, we can assume they actually accepted the toys and used them instead of letting the kids’ efforts go to waste.
Exercising in zero gravity
As awesome as it is to live in weightlessness for an extended period of time, it can wreak havoc on your body. Your bones will deteriorate and your muscle mass will shrink.
To make sure that their bodies aren’t completely crushed by an inevitable return to normal gravity, astronauts need to exercise a minimum of two hours per day. That’s when things get interesting since they can’t just hop on a normal treadmill or grab some free weights.
Fun experiments (for science, of course)
Although space tourism has expanded in recent years, for the most part, astronauts who were sent up by their respective countries are there to do science. They’ll plan objectives for years, like maintaining the Hubble Telescope in case of emergency or documenting the effects of micro-gravity on an extremely fast spacecraft.
But, sometimes, astronauts get bored writing the same equations and the same formulas only to yield nearly identical outcomes. Sometimes, they just want to see how many zero-G backflips they can do before throwing up. I mean, who could resist a few childish experiments if you spent all those years dreaming of going to space?
For the most part, you have to be pretty nerdy to make it far in NASA’s space program. And there’s nothing nerds love more than some nerdy pop culture.
Astronauts watch everything from Gravity (which I assume they critique like soldiers did The Hurt Locker) to The Simpsons to even Star Wars.
The Great War – World War I – raged through Europe and the Middle East 100 years ago. These are some of the most unbelievable photos of troops and tech from the “War to End All Wars.”
Losing incredible photos to history could happen for any reason. Perhaps there were so many, these were rejected by publications, locked away in a box for us to find a century later. Or maybe they were just the personal keepsakes of those who fought the war. Whatever the reason, we can marvel at what wartime life was like, both in and out of the trenches.
Soldiers on all sides are more than just cannon fodder. These photos show people’s hearts, souls, and personal beliefs. They show the innovation on the battlefield – the gruesome killing power of the world’s first industrialized war. They also show the efforts made to improve technology that could save lives by ending the war.
Most of all, it shows that we who fight wars are still human, no matter which side of the line we maintain.
1. This listening device.
Before the advent of radar, aircraft had to be located by hearing the direction from which the aircraft approached. The horns amplified sound and the tech would wear headphones to try to pinpoint the location of the incoming enemy.
2. Holy rolling.
German infantryman Kurt Geiler was carrying his bible when a four centimeter piece of shrapnel embedded itself in the book, likely making a lifelong Christian out out of Geiler.
3. Lady Liberty takes 18,000 soldiers.
This depiction of the Statue of Liberty was made to drive war bonds and is made up of 18,000 troops – 12,000 just for the torch, which is a half mile away.
4. Realities of war.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affected troops even 100 years ago. Called “shell shock” at the time, up to 65,000 troops were treated for it, while thousands of others were charged with cowardice for it. Blasts from shells would leave lesions on the brain, resulting in symptoms similar to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) experienced by post-9/11 veterans.
5. This Austro-Hungarian war face.
This war face would make Gunnery Sergeant Hartman proud. It looks like William Fichtner’s great-grandfather.
6. These Italian troops mummified by the cold.
The next time you complain about being in formation in the winter, remember it could always be worse. These Italians froze in the Alps, fighting Austrians.
7. This gay couple flaunting DADT before it was controversial.
Proof that DADT was garbage in the first place.
8. This pigeon is ready for your close up.
Both sides used animals for reconnaissance and communication. Pigeons were especially useful for their homing ability and attitude.
9. This woman looks ready to take the whole German Army.
There’s so much so-called “great man history,” that we often forget about women’s contributions. Women worked in many industrial areas during the Great War. Look at this photo and realize most of you couldn’t chop wood all day on your best day.
10. This incredibly brave little girl.
Where are this girl’s parents? This is 1916, and child rearing was slightly tougher back then, but that’s still unexploded ordnance. (Europeans still find unexploded bombs from both world wars.)
11. This is the “Ideal Soldier.”
This propaganda photo depicts what the French public thought the ideal French soldier looked like.
12. These Vietnamese troops who did not fit #11’s profile.
A total of 92,411 Vietnamese men from what was then called French Indochina were in the service of France and were distributed around Europe, of which around 30,000 died.
Jodie is a piece of military folklore that everyone loves to hate. He’s the guy or girl who takes advantage of military deployments by going after the spouses at home. Here are five of the reasons that troops absolutely hate Jodie.
1. Jodie is a player.
Jodie is most famous for stealing away the spouses, girlfriends, and boyfriends of service members. While troops are fighting the good fight against America’s enemies, this smooth criminal is keeping their beds very, very warm.
2. He could be anyone.
It would be great to believe there is only one, but the truth is that Jodie is everyone with low enough morals to swoop in while the troops are deployed or in training. Guys in every bar, girls on the street, even friends and family of service members can hear the Jodie call and start acting terribly.
3. He’s doing way more than just hooking up with lonely spouses.
While Jodie may be most famous for slipping into vacant beds, that’s not all he’s doing. He takes Cadillacs, girlfriends, sisters, food, and pretty much anything else not nailed down at home.
He’d probably take the homes as well if he could figure out how to do it.
4. Jodie has been pulling this sh-t for generations.
Jodie was called out in World War II cadences, so he’s been slipping through military base windows for at least that long. He’s still going strong today and will likely be a problem for every recruit who ever joins.
5. He comes back, deployment after deployment.
Unlike those who fought in World War II, modern service members rotate in and out of deployment zones. But, they don’t get home enough to keep Jodie at bay. He may run away when troops get home, but he slips back in every time they leave for another rotation.
From a troop’s first day in the military to their last, they’ll pick up various leadership traits that will (hopefully) propel them into a positive, productive future. Although most of us won’t ever know what it’s like to lead a whole platoon or battalion, we’re often thrown into temporary leadership roles as we take boots under our wings, showing them how sh*t gets done while fostering a level of respect.
Leadership can be taught during training, but it’s not truly understood until you’re in the field. The following skills are the cornerstones of leadership.
We’ve all experienced first-hand how infuriating it is when someone constantly feels the need to put in their two cents — just because they can. Many young leaders, eager to meaningfully contribute, will feel compelled to change something to their liking, even if it won’t help better complete the mission at hand.
It’s an important to know when you should back away.
Show one, do one, teach one
It’s up to the military’s leaders to impart their knowledge onto junior troops. As essential part of the military is training troops to win battles. When a troop doesn’t know how to pass a certain test, it’s up to their leader to teach them.
The winning strategy here is, “show one, do one, teach one.” The leader will first show a troop how to do something, that troop will then do it for themselves, and then, finally, that troop will go teach another how to complete the task.
They say that teaching is the best way to learn — this method benefits both a leader and his troops.
All too often, we see orders get passed down by people who wouldn’t dare complete the task themselves. These so-called leaders tell you, “good luck,” and then show up in the end to take all the credit.
Don’t do this. Instead, lead from the front. Help with the dangerous missions you helped plan.
Know your team’s strength and weakness
When you walk onto the battlefield, either literally or metaphorically, it’s important to know what each individual in the team is best at in the event something pops off. We’ve encountered leaders who don’t know elbows from as*holes when it comes to their squad.
We’d all like to be appreciated for our hard work, but victories are rarely due to a single act. Recognize that the military is a team environment. Each member plays an important role in achieving victory. Taking all the credit for a group’s hard work only makes you look dumb.
Go to an Army career counselor or recruiter and he has all sorts of cool jobs you can sign up for. Soldiers network satellites, engage in hacking wars, and shoot awesome weapons at targets and enemies.
It’s like your childhood video games, fireworks, and backyard games all got awesome upgrades and now you can get paid for it.
But some of the Army’s best jobs are actually in the past, like those that allowed people to get intimately acquainted with tactical nuclear weapons or fire awesome Gatling guns. So here are six of those badass jobs Pvt. Skippy can’t do in the Army anymore:
1. Nuclear weapons basic maintenance specialist
Yeah, the Army used to have a nuclear weapons program and it employed a group of men with a whole three weeks of training to disassemble and repair those weapons.
For obvious reasons, tank-delivery motorcycle riders were re-classed after the Army figured out how to use tanks to recover one another. (If it’s not obvious, it because repair personnel protected by literal tons of armor are safer than those riding motorcycles and protected by only their uniforms).
Full disclosure, there are a few different signal intelligence jobs that could have been included in this list. Most of them have been folded into other specialties or been quietly terminated as their own job because the march of technology has made them unnecessary. After all, how much Morse intelligence is there to collect anymore?
The reason that Morse interceptor was selected for the list is that it’s the only one of these lost signal intelligence jobs that was once held by Johnny Cash. Cash did the job in the Air Force, not the Army, but still.
6. Chapparal/Vulcan Crewmember
The Chapparal and Vulcan were M113 armored vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft weapons. The Vulcan packed a six-barrel Gatling gun that could be deployed separately from the M113 when necessary, while the Chapparal carried AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. While the Chapparal role was largely replaced with the Army Avenger program, no direct descendant of the Vulcan exists.
While the Vulcan was largely outdated for anti-aircraft operations, the Army gave up a great ground weapon when it lost the Gatling gun. Vulcan crew members could fire 20mm rounds at up to 6,600 rounds per minute, targeting low-flying aircraft or enemy infantry and vehicles.
While watching “Courage Under Fire” it was surprising how much they got right. Everyone was wearing branch insignia except for the general officer, just like it’s supposed to be. Most radio calls were about right, and helicopters and tanks worked about the way they should.
Still, Hollywood never gets it all right. We found 57 errors that we’ve listed below.
1. (3:30) Someone fires an illumination flare over a bunch of tankers as they’re preparing for a night fight. Better hope the enemy that is only a few kilometers away hasn’t crept closer in the darkness. Also, most of the soldiers look up at the light, something they’re trained not to do since it ruins their night vision. The light is bright enough to damage vision for minutes afterwards.
2. (5:20) Lt. Boylar has the call sign of “Cougar 6.” That call sign would typically mean he was the commander of an element. As a lieutenant, Boylar would most likely be the executive officer or a platoon leader. An executive officer wouldn’t use the number 6 and a platoon leader would have another number mixed in, “Cougar 2-6” or “2 Cougar 6.”
3. (5:26) Lt. Col. Serling allows a subordinate element to pull off from the planned route because they have “No joy over here.” He doesn’t ask why the tanks can’t move as planned or which alternate route Cougar element will use. He just tells them to meet up at Phase Line Hammer.
4. (5:31) Cool tank fight, but that guy with the flare at the beginning was doubly stupid if the Iraqi tanks were that close to the Americans. Enemy scouts could have been trying to get a glimpse of the tanks, and the illumination would’ve lit up the whole formation for them. The scouts would have seen the tankers getting ready and known the attack was coming.
5. (6:40) Serling is in an important discussion with the general, but leaves it to shoot at infantry his crew chief could easily kill instead.
6. (7:00) Surrendering Iraqis are allowed to move forward with their weapons.
7. (7:15) Iraqis apparently buried their mines with the entire upper quarter of the ordnance above ground. Aren’t mines supposed to be a secret?
8. (8:54) There’s a possible friendly fire incident, and suddenly every single tank in the battle quits firing. Pretty unrealistic, especially since it is later revealed that quite a few Iraqi tanks were still alive at this point.
9. (10:00) A medevac pilot lands, looks at Lt. Col. Serling significantly, and then leaves. The dialogue suggests that they’re picking up Boylar’s body, but no one is shown going to or from the helicopter.
10. (10:40) The investigating officer of a battalion commander suspected of killing his own tank crew would almost certainly outrank the officer he is investigating. The Army would choose a former battalion commander for this job, not a major.
11. (11:45) Serling isn’t wearing a unit patch. Even if he was removed from command, which would be a messed up decision from the general if an investigation was ongoing, he would still be in a unit.
12. (12:45) This captain is pretty casual with speaking to a superior officer. No one calls a superior officer by their rank.
13. (13:00) They have inquiries from press about a very sensitive incident and no one mentions the public affairs office that exists to deal with the press.
14. (15:10) Serling is assigned to be an investigating officer for an award, and only seconds later is in a room listening to testimony. He didn’t get a file, didn’t get background, and didn’t even get a chance to grab a notepad.
15. (15:15) Almost no one in the briefing is wearing a distinctive unit insignia (DUI) or regimental unit insignia (RUI). Soldiers are assigned DUIs when they graduate job school and can be given RUIs while they serve. They are always required to wear one in the dress uniform.
16. (16:05) The lieutenant is wearing his helmet with the chinstrap undone. The Army calls this John Wayne helmet and loses it when soldiers do it in training, let alone in a combat situation. The other guys at the crash site have their body armor open, even though they know they could take contact at any moment.
17. (16:07) The soldiers testify that they were flying in a Blackhawk, but this is a Huey wreck.
18. (16:35) The medevac bird shouldn’t be flying into enemy held territory on its own. If Walden did pilot into the area without an attack helicopter escort, it would prove she was brave and call later testimony against her into question.
20. (18:30) Everyone says “nothing else sounds like an M-16” But M16s aren’t all that distinct, especially when you’re in a helicopter booking it away from a fight.
21. (19:00) Why is there even such a push to give the Medal of Honor so fast? Medal of Honor investigations and deliberations take years. The White House aide keeps talking about how good the photo opportunity will help the president. Does he have an election coming up? An election that will rely on people being happy about a Medal of Honor?
22. (20:05) Serling imagines Cougar 6 going up in flames. American tank rounds generally kill the crews within milliseconds and Serling would know this.
23. (26:12) Monfriez yells, “We’re taking fire!” There are rounds ricocheting through the helicopter. Everyone knows they’re getting shot at. The information they could use is direction, distance, and description of the enemy, which is why you’re supposed to yell that.
24. (27:25) Even big Molotov cocktails with flares will not kill a tank, especially not in seconds.
25. (27:35) All of the crew should be tied off to the helicopter. They shouldn’t be sliding nearly out of the bird.
26. (33:45) Monfriez is from XVIII Airborne Corps, but the rest are from the 44th Medical Command. Monfries later says he was tasked out from another unit, but as a staff sergeant he wouldn’t have been tasked that way. He would’ve been busy working with his squad or platoon during the invasion, not hanging out near the helicopters looking for a side job as a door gunner.
27. (35:45) Seriously, why was no one wearing a helmet? Even keeping the standard crew helmet on would be preferable to not wearing one.
28. (36:00) Monfriez keeps firing his SAW the wrong way. It should be fired from a tri/bipod if possible, resting on the ground when not possible. He also should be firing controlled bursts, not sweeping the ridge. It makes the shooter more accurate and saves ammunition which will become important if you have to hold out without reinforcements or resupply.
29. (36:55) Ilario says that the night was pitch dark, but desert nights are famous for how bright the stars are.
30. (37:20) America had overwhelming air superiority in this war. But, apparently it left crashed helicopter crews on their own for hours and hours.
31. (38:00) Three members of the crew are hit in the firefight, but the medic doesn’t move to any of them.
32. (39:45) Helmets have specific sizes, and Ilario is wearing the helmet of another guy. It’s unlikely to fit him properly. On the other hand, at least he’s wearing one. He and Monfries are the only ones who think a crash site under fire is a good place to wear a helmet.
33. (41:30) It’s more likely the Army would’ve sent Apaches to try to rescue the survivors of the two helicopter crashes, though it’s not impossible Cobras would arrive instead.
34. (41:52) Capt. Walden, with no clear damage to her legs and her abdomen good enough to keep flipping to different firing positions, says she won’t leave the crash site until someone returns with a stretcher.
35. (41:40) Capt. Walden’s pistol kicks up dirt like it’s a .50-cal.
36. (42:00) Why is Monfriez not wearing armor and has his uniform top unbuttoned? Everyone in this scene should be wearing armor.
37. (42:05) Ilario uses the world’s lightest touch to assess Capt. Walden’s pulse.
38. (42:50) Why does everyone keep pulling their helmets off?
39. (44:20) Unit runs by in background in full winter physical training uniforms, even though it’s warm enough for families to swim in the outdoor base pool.
40. (51:00) Serling tells the general that the investigation isn’t a rubber stamp situation. No Medal of Honor investigation is ever a rubber stamp situation.
41. (51:25) Hershberg doesn’t care that testimony doesn’t line up, even though his ass will be on the line if he’s involved and doesn’t follow up.
42. (54:00) Everyone keeps discussing the death of Boylar, but not the rest of his crew, because screw the enlisted.
43. (55:21) None of the infantry drill sergeants are wearing their blue discs for the campaign hat. One instructor isn’t even wearing his drill sergeant hat.
44. (55:30) Recruit calls a drill sergeant “sir” and isn’t corrected.
45. (55:35) Monfriez sees a recruit run away from an obstacle, leaving a soldier trapped inside. Monfries yells at the soldier that he should never leave another soldier behind, then promptly allows the recruit to run off while the other guy is still trapped in the wire.
46. (57:51) Monfriez says he wouldn’t know what time the M16 ran out of ammo because he was on the SAW. He’s an infantryman and the senior noncommissioned officer and so should know that he needs to track the amount of ammunition for each weapons system.
47. (1:01:45) Monfriez keep complaining about not being able to hear movement with everyone speaking, but he isn’t even bothering to look out for enemies approaching.
48. (1:04:00) The crew leaves the M16 behind when they depart.
49. (1:05:50) This scene supposedly happens at a base with basic training on it, but every unit patch on the walls is from XVIII Airborne which is headquartered at Fort Bragg and has no basic training.
50. (1:11:00) Capt. Walden wears medical insignia, but she would’ve fallen under aviation branch as a pilot.
51. (1:13:00) Hershberg tells Serling that he could give a direct order to Serling to turn in the report. The first time Hershberg told Serling to turn in the report, that was a direct order. It doesn’t matter if he says, “This is a direct order.”
52. (1:21:00) Staff Sgt. Monfriez is wearing a patrol cap even though he’s a drill sergeant at this point.
53. (1:28:25) Monfriez says he doesn’t need Walden’s permission to run from the crash site, but he does. Since Walden is in command, anyone who leaves without her permission is committing desertion in the face of the enemy. Since Monfriez follows up the threat by committing mutiny, seems like he’s not too worried about it.
54. (1:33:50) Walden has Ilario leave her behind to cover their escape, but the Army trains its soldiers on how to drag someone so the injured person can provide cover fire.
55. (1:39:30) Recording of the Al-Bathra incident has interior tank comms as well as information from the battalion net and the signals coming in from the general. In the real world, these would have been on separate channels.
56. (1:46:45) Everyone is sitting at the Medal of Honor presentation. Awards are presented with all military in attendance at the position of attention.
57. (1:47:30) The Air Force conducts a missing man flyover for an Army pilot. First, Walden was in the Army which does a missing man roll call at memorial ceremonies, not a missing man flyover. Second, this isn’t a memorial ceremony so there wouldn’t be a missing man process at all.
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.