The arguments have raged in the back bars of officers clubs for years about which fighter is the greatest. (And many times a pilot’s vote is for the airplane he or she happens to be flying at that time.) But in terms of staying power and mission agility, no other military airplane can match the track record of the venerable F-4 Phantom.
Here are 7 photos that prove the point:
The Phantom was the first American military jet made with air-to-air missiles as the primary offensive weapon, and over the course of the airplane’s long history that capability was used to good effect by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and a host of foreign countries including Israel, Iran, and Turkey. USAF F-4 crews alone scored over 107 kills during the Vietnam War.
The F-4’s bombing capability made it a workhorse during the Vietnam War. The Phantom’s power and number of weapons stations allowed it to carry a wide variety of ordnance, which allowed it to be tailored to a specific mission in ways that were impossible for other airplanes.
3. SAM suppression
The “Wild Weasel” variant of the F-4 had the mission of flying into surface-to-air missile envelopes in order to coax SAM operators to come to life. Once they did, the Wild Weasels would take the SAM sites out with Shrike missiles or conventional bombs, but in the process aircrews often found themselves dodging missiles shot at them from the ground.
The photo version of the Phantom had cameras in the nose cone and took advantage of the jet’s speed and agility to get important imagery to military decision-makers in a hurry.
5. Test and evaluation
Phantoms were used by NASA and a variety of military TE squadrons for data points around supersonic flight and other mission areas. At one time the F-4 held 15 world records for flight performance. Here, VX-4’s “Vandy One” with arguably the coolest paint job in military history chases an SR-71 over the Mohave Desert.
6. Flight demonstration
The F-4 was used in the late ’60s and early ’70s by both the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds. The rear cockpit was generally unoccupied for demonstration flights. The Phantom show was a crowd-pleaser — fast and loud. The airplane was ultimately too expensive and too much to maintain on the road, so the Blues switched to A-4s and the Thunderbirds went to T-38s.
7. Target drone
Look, ma, no pilot! At the end of their lives, a number of Phantoms were turned into drones for missile exercises and advanced testing.
Bonus . . . Mothballed asset
Phantom phans, take heart: There are hundreds of F-4s lined up in the Arizona desert outside of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base ready to come back into service if the need arises.
7 Days in Entebbe (now in theaters) tells the story of Operation Thunderbolt, the daring 1976 rescue of 94 Israeli passengers and 12 crew members from an Air France grounded in Uganda after a hijacking by German PLO sympathizers. Inspired by the movie, we’ve got a list of the ten greatest operation names in military history.
The Entebbe raid was an enormous story back in 1976, so big that it wasn’t totally overshadowed by the fact that the raid took place on the American Bicentennial on July 4, 1976. The popular fascination with the successful raid inspired two better-than-average, all-star TV movies that fall: Victory at Entebbe (starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Dreyfuss, Kirk Douglas, Helen Hayes, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Hopkins, and Linda Blair) and Raid on Entebbe (starring Charles Bronson, Peter Finch, Jack Warden, James Woods, Sylvia Sidney, and Martin Balsam. Plus Irvin Kershner of The Empire Strikes Back directed).
It’s forty years later, so it’s probably time to revisit one of the greatest military successes of the 20th century. Directed José Padhila (Narcos and the excellent Robocop reboot) and written by Gregory Burke (’71), the new movie tries to explore the motivations of the Palestinians and gives them more sympathy than the German terrorists but ultimately comes down firmly on the side of the Israelis and their rescue mission.
Thunderbolt was one of the greats, both in name and execution. Here are ten military operations with indelibly memorable names.
1. Operation Overlord
The Allied invasion of France on D-Day may have been the best-kept secret in military history right up until landing on June 6, 1944. The outcome of the war in Europe was essentially settled that day, even though fighting with Germany carried on into 1945.
Overlord sounds like the Bringer of Doom from a medieval fantasy epic or sci-fi video game. Ultimate success must have seemed inevitable from the moment someone came up with the name.
2. Operation Rolling Thunder
Rolling Thunder was the 1967-68 bombing campaign of North Vietnam that American generals were sure would break the will of the enemy and lead to victory in the war. It did massive damage but, as history later revealed, the United States underestimated the commitment of the Vietnamese people to unified self-government and overestimated their commitment to Communism.
That doesn’t make Rolling Thunder any less of a fantastic name. It perfectly evokes the waves of destruction wrought by the bombing campaign. Plus, it later inspired the name of a powerful Vietnam vet B-movie starring William Devane and that movie, in turn, inspired the name of Quentin Tarantino’s movie production company.
Red Dawn was the mission to capture Saddam Hussein after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. American forces finally tracked him down in a spider hole in December and, unlike Osama bin Laden, he hadn’t spent his last days of freedom living in relative luxury.
What lands Red Dawn on this list is the fact that it’s named after the 1984 film that’s one of the greatest pro-America movies ever made. Faced with a Soviet invasion, a group of regular teenagers forms at guerrilla force that takes on the oppressors and fights to regain American freedom. Most of them already knew how to hunt and they even taught the girls how to shoot at the Soviets.
4. Operation Vittles
World War III might have started in 1948 after the Soviet Union blockaded access to the western sectors of Berlin. Faced with starving citizens, President Truman authorized the airlift of live-saving food supplies for nearly a year before the Soviets relented and allowed normal access.
Most military bureaucrats would’ve come up with a boring name like “Operation Food Basket” or “Operation Dinner Table.” A Brit might have come up with “Operation Victuals.” We all know it was a red-blooded American who had the sense to call it “Vittles.”
5. Operation Urgent Fury
Was it totally necessary in 1983 for U.S. forces to invade a tiny (population: 91,000) Caribbean nation that was flirting with Communism? Were they a falling domino that would set off a flood of pro-Soviet regimes in the American sphere of influence? It was over in a week with 19 U.S. killed and 116 wounded.
The name, on the other hand, was one of the best. “Operation Urgent Fury” sounds like the title of a movie that would pair Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme as grizzled special ops leaders who join forces to put down the Sandinistas once and for all.
6. Operation Desert Storm
Back in 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and President George H.W. Bush sent American troops to the Middle East in hopes that Saddam would back down. He didn’t and American forces launched a 6-week war to retake Kuwait and cripple Iraq. It was fast and won widespread homefront support, partially because of the excellent live 24-hour television coverage from the fledgling news network, CNN.
A Desert Storm is created by wind and sand. It’s sudden, ruthless, and incredibly disorienting. Not to take away from the men and women who have fought the War on Terror, but “Operation Iraqi Freedom” doesn’t have the same unforgettable fury as a Desert Storm.
Palestinian terrorists from Black September and the PLO attacked the athletes’ village at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games, taking the Israeli team hostage and eventually massacring 11 athletes and coaches. The horrific result of the standoff could have been at least partially behind the risky decision to attempt the risky Entebbe operation four years later.
Over the next 16 years, Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency conducted a covert operation to retaliate against the terrorists responsible for the massacre and several of their most important supporters. Since it was covert, the exact number of retaliation killings is unclear. Steven Spielberg dramatized the operation in his underrated 2005 film, Munich.
Does the name really need any explanation? Israeli Jews worship an Old Testament God, one who’s known for his spells of anger and vengeance. The Mossad brought down the wrath on what Israelis justified as a mission from God. Black September didn’t have a chance.
8. Operation Barbarossa
In June 1941, German military leaders were looking forward to crushing Stalin as they invaded the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa. They would take the western lands of the USSR and put the people and natural resources to work expanding the Nazi war machine. Short version: Hitler underestimated this foe and the invasion was a huge misstep that led directly to Germany’s defeat in World War II.
How did a German military operation get an Italian name? Barbarossa is Italian for “Red Beard.” Frederick I was a king of Germany who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1155. A great military leader and charismatic ruler, Frederick died in Asia Minor while leading the Third Crusade. Which, come to think of it, foreshadows the practical end of Germany’s attempt to rule Europe after their defeat at Stalingrad.
9. Operation Magic Carpet
A 1949-1950 secret airlift brought almost 50,000 Yeminite Jews from Aden to the new state of Israel. Like most things connected to the nation of Israel, the mission attracted controversy, most notably from Israeli officials who focused on the number of Jews left behind by British and American rescuers.
Still, Operation Magic Carpet is the best possible name for an operation aimed at flying refugees to safety across the Arabian deserts.
2017 was the year of Operation Dynamo at the movies, with both Dunkirk and Darkest Hour winning multiple Oscars. Dynamo was the hastily-conceived plan to evacuate British troops from French beaches after the German invasion of France in May 1940. Over 338,000 troops were rescued, a miracle that allowed Great Britain to regroup and eventually win the war in concert with its Allies.
The movie Darkest Hour suggests that the name was given to the operation in haste after Churchill demanded that the rescue begin and telling his commanding officer that it needed a name. The officer glances up and sees a physical dynamo with a metal badge that says “Dynamo” and the movie cuts to the next scene without further comment. Sometimes, the best names are the ones you don’t think too hard about.
Many civilians have a twisted understanding of how the military operates. Honestly, it might be best not to correct them. Their minds would be collectively blown if they knew the magnitude of downtime and dumb things that happen to our nation’s fighting men and women. But one commonly portrayed character: the drill sergeant.
Another misconception is that NCOs are constantly barking orders in our faces. In reality, this is pretty uncommon outside of training, but not impossible to find. The truth is, the threat of a knifehand gets old if it’s constantly shoved in your face. When the quiet drill sergeant unsheathes theirs, however, things get actually terrifying. This applies in Basic Training and continues through the rest of your military career.
“Everywhere I go. There’s a Drill Sergeant there. Everywhere I goooo. There’s a Drill Sergeant there.”
(Photo by Spc. Madelyn Hancock)
You’ll never see it coming…
Loud NCOs can be heard from a mile away. You’ll hear them chew out a private for having their hands in their pockets immediately before you face the same wrath.
The quiet ones? Oh no. They’ll hide in the shadows and catch you in the middle of doing something stupid before they make their presence known.
That, or flutter-kicks. From personal experience, flutter-kicks will drain your emotions after roughly twenty minutes.
(Photo by Sgt. Debralee P. Crankshaw)
They will crush your body and spirit
You can only do so many push ups before it’s just a bit of light exercise. Iron Mikes to the woodline and back won’t hurt after you build up your thigh strength. Even ass-chewings get dull once you learn to daydream through it. These are all go-to responses for the loud drill sergeants. The quiet ones, on the other hand, get a bit more creative.
Want to know how to break someone’s spirit while also helping them on their upcoming PT test? Have them do planks while reading off the regulation, verbatim, that they just broke — complete with page turns. If they stumble, make them start from the top.
You only get to threaten to “suck out someone’s soul” before you have to put up or shut up. Use it wisely.
(Photo by Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)
Their threats are more sincere
The loud drill sergeant also tends to stick to the same basic threats. Sure, they may say they’re going to smoke you so hard that you’re going to bleed out your ass, but they can only say that exact threat maybe twice before it becomes silly.
The quiet NCO? Oh, hell no. That guy might be serious when he says he’s going to suck out your soul…
Speaking of things becoming silly, have you ever sat back and contemplated the exact nature of most of the threats loud drill sergeants employ? It’s impossible to not burst out laughing sometimes while on the receiving end of an ass-chewing in which every other word is a lazily-placed expletive.
The NCO that understands that expletives are punctuation marks will be much more successful in instilling fear among the ranks.
The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing in Tucson fly over an eastern Arizona training range. The 162nd Wing conducts international F-16 pilot training and manages a fleet of more than 70 F-16 C/D and Mid-Life Update Fighting Falcons
Combat controllers from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron fast-rope from a CV-22 Osprey during Emerald Warrior near Hurlburt Field, Fla.
C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 317th Airlift Group, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, help U.S. Army and British paratroopers perform a static line jump at Holland Drop Zone in preparation for Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Marcus Jones, from Anderson, S.C., directs a helicopter during flight operations aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58).
A shooter launches an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Thunderbolts of Marine Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
A crew chief watches another CH-47F Chinook helicopter from 1st Battalion, 52d Aviation Regiment fly along the crevasses of Kahiltna Glacier April 27, 2015, on the way to the 7,000-foot high base camp on Mount McKinley.
Soldiers, rappel from a Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, during the air assault course at Fort Bliss, Texas, April 21, 2015. The training is one of the final tests for students enrolled in course.
Senior Airman Nicholas Oswald, a loadmaster, 374th Operations Support Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, sits with Philippine air force aircrew members during a night flight.
Marines and U.S. Navy Sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and amphibious assault ship USS Wasp man the rails of the Wasp as it travels up the Mississippi River for Navy Week 2015 April 23, 2015. Marines and Sailors of the MEU, from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., participated in Navy Week New Orleans April 23-29.
Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Alabama.
As many Americans prepare for bed, Coast Guard men and women stand the watch.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
Air Force Emergency Medical Technicians hop over a barrier during the ‘Commando Challenge’ for the 27th Special Operations Medical Group’s EMT Rodeo Aug. 9, 2017, at Melrose Air Force Range, New Mexico. Twenty-one teams from Air Force bases around the world visited MAFR and Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, to participate in the EMT Rodeo, giving the technicians a wide assortment of scenarios to test their knowledge and training in the medical field.
Two combat controllers with the 321st Special Tactics Squadron observe an A-10 Thunderbolt II landing on Jägala-Käravete Highway, Aug. 10, in Jägala, Estonia. A small force of eight Special Tactics combat controllers from the 321st STS surveyed the two-lane highway, deconflicted airspace and exercised command and control on the ground and in the air to land A-10s from Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron on the highway.
A Soldier with 23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat team, 7th Infantry Division reaches for her drink tube during an operational test of the Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS) and Tactical Communication and Protective System Lite (TCAPS-L) hearing protection on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, August 8, 2017. Soldiers put the IHPS and TCAPS-L to the test while conducting training and gave feedback to data collectors about how the new equipment performed.
Soldiers from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, provide the 15-gun salute during the Honors Ceremony, Aug. 8, 2017, held for the outgoing I Corps Deputy Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Mark Stammer, in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. During the ceremony Stammer received the Legion of Merit and his wife, Donna, was awarded The Outstanding Civilian Service Medal.
U.S. Navy Sailors direct an aircraft aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Aug. 9, 2017, in the Arabian Gulf. Nimitz is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. While in this region, the ship and strike group are conducting maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, preserve freedom of navigation, and maintain the free flow of commerce.
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) fires its 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise as a part of exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The U.S. and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats.
U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Eric M. Smith, left, commanding general of 1st Marine Division, and Maj. Rich Mackenzie, infantry officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, hike to Alligator Creek, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Aug. 9, 2017. The tour was used to teach the Marines about Alligator Creek and the Battle of Guadalcanal, which took place from Aug. 7, 1942 to Feb. 9, 1943.
Sgt. Kyle H. Csizmar, a squad leader with India Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, takes point during close-quarters battle training aboard the USS Ashland (LSD 48) while underway in the Pacific Ocean, August 7, 2017. Marines with India Company, the mechanized raid company for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, train regularly to enhance their understanding and capabilities for battle at close quarters. The 31st MEU partners with the Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 11 to form the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. The 31st MEU and PHIBRON 11 combine to provide a cohesive blue-green team capable of accomplishing a variety of missions across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, “America’s Tall Ship,” arrives in New York City, August 11, 2017. The summer 2017 deployment spans five months and 14 ports, including multiple ports along the Eastern Seaboard, Canada, and Bermuda
Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Staph, an aviation survival technician at Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, is hoisted from a Station Boston 45-foot rescue boat to an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, during a training exercise, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, in Boston Harbor. Shortly after the training completed, the aircrew was diverted to hoist an injured fisherman off the coast of Gloucester.
Sorority houses and military barracks couldn’t be more different… at least that’s what most people think. In less than six weeks, you can go from living in a beautiful Victorian home, adorned with Greek letters, on a corner of a college campus to settling into James Hall at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May.
The two seem vastly dissimilar, but you will find there are quite a few similarities, no matter how much anyone wants to deny it. Here are just a few things you’ll find familiar when joining the military right after college.
1. You share everything
Barracks or sorority house, someone is always trying to borrow something from you — your printer, your tools, your computer, your DVDs… Just no one in the military has asked me to borrow my Lilly Pulitzer scarf.
2. They both have their own unique culture
Each Greek organization and each military branch has official colors, symbols, and values, like the EGA of the Marine Corps, the grey and gold of the Navy, and the “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do” core values of the Air Force.
You can go from green to blue, from a teddy bear and dagger to a shield and anchors, and from “Honorable, Beautiful, Highest” to “Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty,” and still find the simple things that tie organizations together to be remarkably similar.
3. Getting masted is a lot like a military standards board meeting
You sit awkwardly in a group of people who are upset by what you did and you have to try to talk your way out of getting kicked out of the organization.
Alcohol and bad decisions were usually involved. You’ll take a punishment, fine, but you just don’t want to be banned forever.
4. Recruitment is a grueling process
Once you’re accepted into a sorority, there is usually a long process of staying up late and deciding on who does and doesn’t join your chapter. In the military, everyone dreads recruiting. Recruiters are seen as people that you have to deal with, not that you want to deal with.
If they want you, they’re there to get you into the branch any way they can. If they don’t want you, good luck trying because you aren’t getting in.
5. You join a large family
It is truly a sisterhood or brotherhood. The ties that bind sorority sisters are the same as those that bind a Coastie to her brothers-in-arms. You know you will never stand alone, on a battlefield or during hard times in life.
6. Sibling rivalry is everywhere
Just like blood relatives, you fight like cats and dogs, make fun of each other, and give one another a hard time, but no outsider can hurt your siblings. Whether it’s a bar fight, simple teasing, or anything in between, no one gets to be mean to your sisters or brothers except you.
7. There are people you like — and people you don’t
You’re going to have to live with people you didn’t pick, and it can be amazing or awful. Life with 26 other women is not the most fun you can have, but you’ll do it all over again by joining the military after college. Though military roommates may not understand your past sorority life, they are exactly the same: They will tell you how your hair and makeup looks and if your uniform looks good.
8. It gives you a unique identity
The motto of sorority women everywhere is, “it’s not four years, it’s for life.” The Marines have, “once a Marine, always a Marine.” The other branches never give up their identity as veterans. Even though it wasn’t an easy transition, I left college and my sisters and gained a whole new family.
My sisters were still at my boot camp graduation and my Coast Guard family has been there the whole ride. To quote a letter I once received from another Coastie,
While all of our veterans should be beloved and respected, many have stuck in the public consciousness. Some became famous veterans because of their incredible accomplishments in war, and others because of their accomplishments in entertainment or business after their service. While some of the names on this list of famous US veterans are decorated heroes, and others were malcontents who couldn’t stay out of military prison (looking at you, George Carlin), all are veterans that are now loved and respected by the public.
Veterans like bomber pilot and movie star Jimmy Stewart, are obviously iconic. Others, like former Marine Corps driver turned icon Bea Arthur, might be people you had no idea served in the military. Their accomplishments in uniform run the gamut, from the heroism of Audie Murphy to personally having a bounty put on them by Hitler (Clark Gable) to undistinguished stints that ended quickly. A few fought in World War II and became highly anti-authoritarian. There are even some baseball players who gave up years of their careers to put themselves in harms way in combat in both World Wars.
Vote up the American veterans you respect and revere the most, and vote down the ones who don’t deserve the admiration they get from the public. From US Army veterans to World War 2 veterans, any famous and beloved veteran of the US armed forcesdeserves a spot on this list!
Vote up the famous veterans that you love and respect the most.
The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
Soldiers from the 193rd Infantry Brigade join Airmen from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron to execute a parachute jump as a part of exercise Emerald Warrior at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M.
A U.S. Air Force combat controller jumps out of an MC-130J Combat Shadow II during Emerald Warrior 2015 at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
USS Freedom (LCS 1) pulls alongside USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in preparation for a replenishment at sea training exercise.
Air department Sailors stretch out the emergency crash barricade on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during a general quarters drill.
Security Forces Squadron members of the 106th Rescue Wing conduct night-firing training at the Suffolk County Police Range in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., May 7, 2015. During this training, the airmen learned small-group tactics, how to use their night-vision gear, and trained with visible and infrared designators.
Army combat divers, assigned to The National Guard‘s 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), maneuver their Zodiac inflatable boat through the surf at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
KIN BLUE, Okinawa, Japan – Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force scout swimmers emerge out of the ocean and run to the beach during the Japanese Observer Exchange Program.
A Marine surveys land from a UH-1Y Huey as part of a reconnaissance mission in Nepal, May 4, 2015. Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Installations Pacific provided the UH-1Y Huey to support the Nepalese government in relief efforts.
Marines assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division brace themselves against rotor wash from a CH-53E Super Stallion during Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 2-15 at Del Valle Park, The Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.
A beautiful start to another weekend of Service to Nation for Coast Guard crews!
The downfall of JJ is an awesome win for the U.S. and U.K. militaries, but it’s just the latest in a list of “high-value targets” that have been brought down. Here are 13 of America and her allies’ greatest hits against terrorism.
1. Osama Bin Laden
You don’t need an intro to this a–hole. He was killed by SEAL Team 6 in a daring raid into Pakistan on May 2, 2011.
2. Saddam Hussein
Like Osama Bin Laden, you really shouldn’t need an intro for this guy. Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces on Dec. 13, 2003 in Tikrit, Iraq where he was hiding in a tiny hole. He was executed Dec. 20, 2006 by hanging after being found guilty of crimes against humanity.
Atiyah Abd al-Rahman became al-Qaeda’s top operational planner and number 2 leader overall after Bin Laden was killed. His tenure near the peak was short-lived and he was killed in a drone strike Aug. 22, 2011.
The number 3 in al Qaeda at the time of his death, Abu Layth al-Libi got his start in another terror network before becoming a field commander and spokesman for al Qaeda. He was killed in a drone strike Jan. 29, 2008.
11. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, suspected to be the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was captured Mar. 1, 2003 by the C.I.A after an informer known as “Asset X” texted his handler, “I M W KSM.” Mohammed is still in custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
12. Mustafa Abu al-Yazid
The head of finance for al Qaeda and possibly the director of operations when he was killed, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid was killed by a missile strike in May 2010.