World War II was one of America’s defining moments, and there are dozens of well-known photos that still resonate with viewers. But the same pictures get used every time the war is discussed, overshadowing the hundreds of other worthy images. Here are 36 of the best World War II photos that you’re probably not familiar with.
You can vote on your favorite photos, helping them climb the list.
The United States Navy saw some big leaps forward over the last year. A total of eight ships were commissioned in 2017, including the first of a new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, an expeditionary support base, and two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers. That’s an increase from the five commissioned in 2016.
These are the new ships:
8. USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10)
This Independence-class littoral combat ship was commissioned on June 10, 2017. Armed with a 57mm gun, the SeaRAM point-defense system, and some .50-caliber machine guns, this vessel primarily brings speed to the table, but still packs a punch.
7. USS John Finn (DDG 113)
Named after a sailor who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the first of the restarted Arleigh Burke-class destroyers was commissioned on July 15, 2017. The U.S. Navy decided to begin production on this class of vessel after the decision was made to stop the Zumwalt class at three hulls.
6. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
This nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the first in her class, entered service on July 22, 2017. This ship was supposed to replace USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in 2015, but was delayed. She is slated to make her first deployment in 2020.
5. USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115)
This destroyer, named for a posthumously awarded Navy Cross recipient from Operation Iraqi Freedom, entered the Navy on July 29, 2017. Funnily enough, the ship with the previous hull number, the future USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), won’t be commissioned until March of 2018.
4. USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3)
The USS Lewis B. Puller was commissioned on Aug. 17, 2017 at Khalifa bin Salman Port in Al Hidd, Bahrain, making it the first U.S. ship to be commissioned in foreign territory. The Lewis B. Puller was slated to be operated by Military Sealift Command, but lawyers ended up requiring the ship be commissioned. This is, essentially, a floating base for SEALs and mine-countermeasures units.
3. USS Washington (SSN 787)
This Virginia-class submarine was commissioned on Oct. 7, 2017 and she has a big legacy to live up to. The last USS Washington (BB 56), a North Carolina-class battleship, is famous for a point-blank slug-fest with HIJMS Kirishima. Only time will tell if SSN 787 will earn the same kind of prestige.
2. USS Portland (LPD 27)
This ship, the 11th San Antonio-class amphibious ship, was delivered to the Navy on Dec. 14, 2017. So technically, its actual commission will be in 2018. While the class was slated to stop, it may continue with the future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28), which is currently under construction.
1. USS Little Rock (LCS 9)
Commissioned on Dec. 16, 2017, this Freedom-class littoral combat ship will be the fifth vessel of its class to serve in the Navy. Plans call for another 12 Freedom-class vessels to join the Navy.
According to the Navy League, the Navy has ten ships slated for commissioning through the end of next year. Three ships are planned for 2019 so far. New carriers, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80), will enter service in 2020 and 2027, respectively.
It is the year 69 BC. A Roman man stands before the state of an ancient conqueror. The Roman weeps, realizing that at his age this conqueror was master of the known world, while the Roman has accomplished nothing. The Roman’s name is Julius Caesar, and the statue is of Alexander III of Macedon, whose conquests changed the course of European and Middle Eastern history. Here are seven things to know about Alexander the Great.
1. His father conquered ancient Greece
In the middle of the fourth century BC, Macedon was a small kingdom north of classical Greece. City-states like Athens and Sparta looked down on their northern neighbors as barbarians. But for a hundred years the Greek cities had worn each other down through war, and King Philip II of Macedon knew the time was right to strike. He reformed his army and, through a series of diplomatic and military victories, came to dominate ancient Greece. The last resistance was crushed at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, uniting all of Greece under the king of Macedon.
2. He was tutored by Aristotle
In 343 BC, Philip hired the Greek philosopher Aristotle (who was Macedonian, but taught in Athens) to tutor then-thirteen Alexander. The prince studied everything from politics to philosophy to natural science, but he fell in love with Homer’s Iliad, the epic poem about the demigod Achilles and his struggle with pride. Aristotle even wrote an abridged version of the text for Alexander, who carried it with him during his campaigns. Alexander would also send rare plants and animals found on his campaigns to Greece for Aristotle to study. By all accounts, Alexander had an education fit for a king.
3. He fought to claim his father’s throne
Alexander’s mother Olympias, Philip’s fourth wife, was not Macedonian, but Alexander was still Philip’s heir. The prince even fought with Philip at the Battle of Chaeronea and proved himself a capable warrior. That same year, however, Philip married a Macedonian noblewoman named Cleopatra Eurydice, whose pure Macedonian offspring could challenge Alexander’s succession. When Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, Olympias had Cleopatra Eurydice and her daughter by Philip burned alive; Alexander was furious, but he also assassinated several of his relatives to prevent them from stealing his throne. There was a rebellion from several city-states, but Alexander suppressed it, proving himself the Macedonian king of Greece.
4. He conquered the Persian Empire
Alexander spent two years pacifying the Balkans and stabilizing his rule before turning eastward. In 334 he and his army crossed the Hellespont, the straits connecting Europe and Asia Minor (modern Turkey). He then conquered, in just four years, the Persian Empire which had controlled all the land between the Levant coast and the Iranian Plateau for centuries. Alexander chased the Persian king Darius III – one of the most powerful men in the world – through the empire until Darius was captured and executed by one of his own nobles. Throughout his conquests Alexander established many cities, all of them named Alexandria.
5. He pushed his troops to their limit
Alexander reached as far as the land the Greeks called India (modern Pakistan). In 327 BC Alexander left the Middle East for his Indian campaign, where he continued carving through kingdoms and founding cities named after himself – Alexander’s bread and butter. After defeating the Indian king Porus, Alexander’s Macedonian army mutinied and refused to march any further. The disappointed king was forced to turn back.
6. He died under mysterious circumstances
Alexander started marching his troops back to Persia. After dealing with unscrupulous governors and another rebellion from his troops, he arrived at the imperial capital of Susa, where he would spend the rest of his short life. The king contracted a fever in the city and died soon after. For thousands of years scholars have debated the cause of his death, from natural causes to poisonings. Alexander’s proclivity towards alcohol, many say, exacerbated whatever made him ill in the first place. In 323 BC, a mere thirteen years after his coronation, Alexander the Great was dead.
7. He changed the course of Western civilization
Alexander’s conquests established an empire from the Balkan Peninsula to the Indus River. Greek became the language of the upper class from Macedon to Persia, creating a new path for social advancement. After his death, Alexander’s empire was divided up between his generals, whose successor-states came to be known as the Hellenistic (or “Greek-ish”) kingdoms. In the coming centuries, those states would be swallowed up by the Romans and the Arabs, who were inspired by the greatness of Greek culture. It was Alexander whose conquests created the Greek-speaking world that would provide the foundation for the civilizations to come.
The military is full of interesting lingo. The Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army all have their own unique phrases. Some of these are so good, the civilian world just can’t resist picking them up when it hears them. Here are 17 phrases that jumped from the military ranks to the civilian sphere.
1. “Balls to the walls” (also, “Going balls out”)
Meaning: To go as fast as one possibly can.
From military aviation where pilots would need to get their aircraft flying as fast as possible. Their control levers had balls on the end. Pushing the accelerator all the way out (“balls out”), would put the ball of the lever against the firewall in the cockpit (“balls to the wall”). When a pilot really needed to zoom away, they’d also push the control stick all the way forward, sending it into a dive. Obviously, this would put the ball of the control stick all the way out from the pilot and against the firewall.
2. “Bite the bullet”
Meaning: To endure pain or discomfort without crying out
Fighters on both sides of the American Civil War used the term “bite the bullet,” but it appears they may have stolen it from the British. British Army Capt. Francis Grose published the book, “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” in 1811 and used “chew the bullet” to explain how proud soldiers stayed silent while being whipped.
3. “Boots on the ground”
Meaning: Ground troops engaged in an operation
Credited to Army Gen. Volney Warner, “boots on the ground” is used to mean troops in a combat area or potential combat area. After the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the term saw wide use and has ceased to refer exclusively to military operations. It can now be used to refer to any persons sent out to walk the ground in an area. It’s been employed in reference to police officers as well as political canvassers.
4. “Bought the farm”
Meaning: To die
Thought to date back to 1950s jet pilots, the phrase quickly spread to civilian circles. There is no clear agreement on exactly how the phrase came about. It could be from war widows being able to pay off the family farm with life insurance payments, or farmers paying off their farms with the damage payout they’d receive when a pilot crashed on their land, or the pilots who wanted to buy a farm after they retired being said to “buy the farm early” when they died.
5. “Caught a lot of flak”
Meaning: To be criticized, especially harshly
Flak is actually an acronym for German air defense cannons. The Germans called the guns Fliegerabwehrkanonen. Flieger means flyer, abwehr means defense, and kanonen means cannon. Airmen in World War II would have to fly through dangerous clouds of shrapnel created by flak. The phrase progressed in meaning until it became equated with abusive criticism.
Meaning: Everything about the current situation sucks
All three words are acronyms. FUBAR stands for “F*cked up beyond all recognition,” SNAFU is “Situation normal, all f*cked up,” and TARFU is “Things are really f*cked up.” FUBAR and SNAFU have made it into the civilian lexicon, though the F-word in each is often changed to “fouled” to keep from offending listeners. The Army actually used SNAFU for the name of a cartoon character in World War II propaganda and instructional videos. Pvt. Snafu and his brothers Tarfu and Fubar were voiced by Mel Blanc of Bugs Bunny and Porky the Pig fame.
Usage: Yelled when jumping off of something
“Geronimo” is yelled by jumpers leaping from a great height, but it has military origins. Paratroopers with the original test platoon at Fort Benning, Georgia yelled the name of the famous Native American chief on their first mass jump. The exclamation became part of airborne culture and the battalion adopted it as their motto.
8. “Got your six”
Meaning: Watching your back
Military members commonly describe direction using the hours of a clock. Whichever direction the vehicle, unit, or individual is moving is the 12 o’clock position, so the six o’clock position is to the rear. “Got your six” and the related “watch your six” come from service members telling each other that their rear is covered or that they need to watch out for an enemy attacking from behind.
9. “In the trenches”
Meaning: Stuck in a drawn out, tough fight.
Troops defending a position will dig trenches to use as cover during an enemy attack, reducing the chance they’ll be injured by shrapnel or enemy rounds. In World War I, most of the war occurred along a series of trenches that would flip ownership as one army attacked another. So, someone engaged in fierce fighting, even metaphorical fighting, is “in the trenches.”
10. “No man’s land”
Meaning: Dangerous ground or a topic that it is dangerous to discuss
“No man’s land” was widely used by soldiers to describe the area between opposing armies in their trenches in World War I. It was then morphed to describe any area that it was dangerous to stray into or even topics of conversation that could anger another speaker. However, this is one case where civilians borrowed a military phrase that the military had stolen from civilians. “No man’s land” was popularized in the trenches of the Great War, but it dates back to the 14th century England when it was used on maps to denote a burial ground.
11. “Nuclear option”
Meaning: A choice to destroy everything rather than give in on a debate or contest
Used most publicly while discussing fillibusters in the Senate, the nuclear option has its roots in — what else — nuclear warfare. In the Cold War, military leaders would give the commander-in-chief options for the deployment and use of nuclear weapons from nuclear artillery to thermonuclear bombs. In the era of brinksmanship, use of nuclear weapons by the Soviets or the U.S. would likely have ended in widespread destruction across both nations.
12. “On the double”
Meaning: Quickly, as fast as possible
Anyone who has run in a military formation will recognize the background of “on the double.” “Quick time” is the standard marching pace for troops, and “double time” is twice that pace, meaning the service member is running. Doing something “on the double” is moving at twice the normal speed while completing the task.
13. “On the frontlines”
Meaning: In the thick of a fight, argument, or movement
Like nuclear option, this one is pretty apparent. The front line of a military force is made up of the military units closest to a potential or current fight. Troops on the frontline spend most days defending against or attacking enemy forces. People who are “on the frontlines” of other struggles like political movements or court trials are fighting against the other side every day. This is similar in usage and origin to “in the trenches” above.
14. “Roger that”
This one is pretty common knowledge, though not all civilians may know why the military says, “Roger that,” rather than “yes.” Under the old NATO phonetic alphabet, the letter R was pronounced, “Roger” on the radio. Radio operators would say, “Roger,” to mean that a message had been properly received. The meaning evolved until “roger” meant “yes.” Today, the NATO phonetic alphabet says, “Romeo,” in place of R, but “roger” is still used to mean a message was received.
15. “Screw the pooch”
Meaning: To bungle something badly
“Screw the pooch” was originally an even racier phrase, f*ck the dog. It meant to loaf around or procrastinate. However, by 1962 it was also being used to mean that a person had bungled something. Now, it is more commonly used with the latter definition.
The Germans in WWII were at the forefront of industrialized warfare. They produced the first jet-powered bomber, developed the first tilt-rotor plane, and discovered fission. In most cases, Allied scientists and planners struggled to, through long hours of research and experimentation, close the technological gaps exposed by German advances. When possible though, they just stole everything they could find and called it a day.
1. Airborne Operations
The first airborne operations in combat were all executed by Germans during invasions of European countries. Normandy, Denmark, France, and the Netherlands all fell quickly while small units of German paratroopers seized key infrastructure or destroyed enemy defenses ahead of the main army. In the Battle of Crete, British intelligence operatives were able to determine the exact locations that German paratroopers would land and inflicted heavy losses. Adolf Hitler banned future large-scale airborne operations, but Britain and America were impressed by the ability of the airborne to complete their mission despite the losses. The Allies drastically stepped up their training and organizing of airborne units. The paratroopers they trained contributed decisively to the successful invasions of Sicily and Normandy.
Synchropter is a specific class of helicopter, one that uses intermeshing blades that turn in opposite directions. An unmanned version is being evaluated for medical evacuation missions by the Marine Corps. The HH-43 was a Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force synchropter used from the 1950s-1970s as a rescue and firefighting helicopter. Designs for both helicopters borrow heavily from a Fleittner Fl 282 recovered during Operation Lusty. Allied aviators didn’t just benefit from recovering the helicopter though. They also got the designer, Anton Flettner through Operation Paperclip.
3. Jet-powered aircraft
The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first jet airplane used in combat and it was very effective against Allied bomber formations. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union seized Me 262s as they captured German territory and reverse engineered the German planes. While neither country would finish building jet aircraft during the war, when American F-86 Sabres later faced off against Soviet MiG-15s in MiG Alley over Korea, it was a fight between Me 262 descendants. Similarly, the U.S. captured the Arado Ar 234 jet-powered bomber. Technology from the Arado would go on to be found in the U.S. Army Air Force’s B-45s and B-47s.
4. Cruise missiles
In June 1944, V-1 flying bombs started raining down on London. The V-1, “the buzz bomb”, was inaccurate but took a psychological toll on the British. The U.S. wanted its own version in preparation for the invasion of mainland Japan, and so recovered pieces of crashed and detonated V-1s. By September, it had successfully tested the JB-2 Loon, a virtual copy of the V-1. The JB-2 was never fired in combat since nuclear weapons were dropped first and Japan surrendered. Technology from the V-1 would later appear in the MGM-1 Matador, though the Matador would use a turbojet instead of the pulse jet that gave the V-1 its signature buzzing sound.
Rocket science was one of the key areas of interest during Operation Paperclip. Famously, the scientists who pioneered the U.S. and Soviet space programs were taken from Germany in the final months and years immediately after the war. At first, both the U.S. and Soviets constructed their own V-2 bombs before kicking off the space race in earnest. The stolen V-2s and their creators paved the way for U.S. rocket programs from the Redstone rockets to the Saturn and Apollo missions. The Saturn rocket, used in the Apollo program, is the only rocket that has carried a man outside of low earth orbit.
In 2014, archivists from the U.S. Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) uncovered a rare trove of photos while moving furniture around during an office renovation. The photos were a donation in their backlog, glass prints of 150 images of the Navy during the Spanish-American War and Philippine War that followed.
The photos were taken by Douglas White, a special correspondent of the San Francisco Examiner during the conflict. His photos were uncovered at the beginning of a restoration project of the NHHC facility at Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard.
“Once it was realized what they had uncovered, there was tremendous excitement amongst the staff, especially the historians,” Lisa Crunk, the head of the NHHC’s photo archives told Navy.mil. “The images are an amazing find, though they were never really lost – they were simply waiting to be re-discovered.”
Captain Dennis Geary of the California Heavy Artillery rides his horse through Cavite in the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)
The USS Boston, ca 1898. The Boston was in the Battle of Manila.
So far, we’ve covered what the Army, Navy, and Air Force would probably like to find under their Christmas trees this year, but what about the Marines? Well, we think they’re looking forward to a few good gifts this year, too. These aren’t exactly Toys for Tots, if you know what we mean.
7. Super Hornets to go with Lightnings
The Marines’ Hornet fleet is so old that they needed to be bailed out by the boneyard earlier this year. While the first squadron of Marine F-35B Lightning is deploying, there’s another way to modernize Marine Corps aviation: Give ’em the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, too. This would let the legacy F/A-18 Hornets coast into a well-deserved retirement.
6. More amphibious ships
We put the A-10 on the Army’s wishlist, even though it’s an Air Force asset. Along those same lines, we think more amphibious ships would make a great present for the Marine Corps, even though they’re Navy equipment. Marines are meant for amphibious warfare, but they can’t do that if the sealift isn’t there.
5. More operations and maintenance funding
According to the Heritage Foundation, only 41 percent of Marine aviation assets are capable of flying if needed. This is clearly not a satisfactory situation, and it places both aviators and Marines on the ground at risk.
4. Resume the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program
The Marines are trying to replace the ancient AAV-7 with the Amphibious Combat Vehicle and the Marine Personnel Carrier. Problem is, the ACV doesn’t quite live up to the “Amphibious” part, per the Heritage Foundation’s Assessment of U.S. military strength. Why not scrap those programs and bring back the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle? The EFV was a superb design that was inexplicably cancelled — a replacement the AAV-7 and the LAV-25 would look good under the tree.
3. A few good aggressors
The Marines currently use the F-5 Tiger for aggressor training. That’s not a bad plane, but when Marine pilots could be facing Su-27/30/33/35 Flankers, a Tiger may not be enough plane to do the job. The Navy once had F-16s as aggressors — perhaps the Marines can get some late-model Falcons to supplement or replace the Tigers.
2. A lot more Ospreys, Lightnings, Cobras, King Stallions, and, well, everything…
The MV-22 Osprey, once targeted for cancellation by former Vice President Dick Cheney, is now in high demand. The problem is that procurement’s not keeping up with said demand. The same can be said for a lot of other airframes in the Marine Corps inventory.
1. Put the SAW back in the fire team
The Marines have been replacing the M249 SAW with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. We’re not saying that the M27 is a bad rifle, but the SAW just brings more ammo capacity to the fight. So, why not put the SAW back in the fire team, but keep the IAR as well to replace the rifleman without the M203. Win-win, right?
What do you think the Marine Corps needs to see under its tree for a Merry Christmas? Let us know in the comments.
Being clean shaven every day in the military is an absolute must — unless you’re a special forces operator and are allowed to grow out a manly beard. Every morning, men (and some women) wake up during with a 5 o’clock shadow that is required to disappear before morning muster.
But the day you signed your DD-214 and no longer fall under the rules and regulations of shaving, it’s time to grow out that impressive separation beard — just because you can.
Not every beard is right for the individual. With several types of styles to choose from, it’s necessary to grow one that fits your specific personality. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you pick one out that fits your unique look.
Not to be mistaken for the “Homeless Man,” this style says “I work my ass for a living, but it’s usually somewhere outside in the cold.” It’s popular for keeping your face warm and catching food crumbs.
2. The Chuck Norris
One of our favorites, this traditional style relays to the world that not only can you be rugged, but you take enough time to trim up. This typically looks good enough to step into the boardroom for a presentation, then head right out to the gun range.
Chuck Norris doesn’t shave — he orders his beard to stop growing.
3. The “I’m not too worried about it”
This unique look informs the world you’re just chilling, you’re in no hurry, and whatever happens, happens.
Named after the talent actor-comedian Zack Galifianakis, this ensures your fellow man that you’re a hard worker, but you know how to crack a good joke and don’t take life too seriously.
5. The Fuzz
Not everyone can grow a full separation beard — some of us grow them in thin-to-thick patches.
This doesn’t inform the world you have low testosterone (the male’s dominant hormone) because it isn’t a facial hair growth factor — dihydrotestosterone is the chemical that promotes thick beard growth and unfortunately is linked to hair loss. Bummer!
We still respect your commitment.
6. The Shaggy
A fashionable look for those who received their separation paperwork and ran straight to the bar, leaving their razor or clipper behind in the barracks.
The many celebrities who were in the military are those who signed up to make the ultimate sacrifice for their countries. Through the years, many famous people have served in the military. While some were drafted, others enlisted voluntarily, and some even joined up multiple times. Many actors from the golden era of Hollywood served during World War II. The Vietnam War was also a popular era for actors who were in the military.
Many famous military veterans went on to have illustrious careers in the entertainment industry. The Good, the Bad and the Uglyactor Clint Eastwood served in the US Army during the Korean War and almost died when he was involved in a plane crash. The plane landed in the ocean near Fort Ord, CA, and Eastwood was able to swim to safety. Some 40 years later, he won his first Oscar for directing Unforgiven. Other prolific actors who have served in the military include Paul Newman, Morgan Freeman, and Chuck Norris.
Some surprising celebs also served in the military, including musicians and rocks stars. Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia joined the US Army, but left the military 9 months later to study at the Art Institute of San Francisco. Other surprising military men include Tool front man Maynard James Keenan, comedian Drew Carey, and rapper Ice-T.
Do you think that serving in the military gave these famous people the discipline they needed to succeed in their careers? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Cooks in the military try their hardest. If you befriend them, they’ll always find a way to slide a few extra slices of bacon your way. But no matter how close you get with the cook in your unit, you’re always going to swing by the gut truck when they arrive.
For those not in the know, gut trucks (or “roach coaches”) are like a civilian food truck except that their menu doesn’t need to be elaborate to attract customers. The bar for quality is set at “better than a scoop of powdered eggs.”
And it’s nothing personal — hell, even the cooks will skip their own food to grab a breakfast burrito from the gut truck. Why?
Doesn’t matter what time it is; they got you.
(Photo by Maj. Wayne Clyne)
They can be ordered on speed dial
If you want to grab chow from the dining facility, you have to go to them. If you’re in the field and the cooks joined you for the morning, you still have to go to their stand.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the battalion area, the motor pool, or the back 40 in a field exercise — the gut truck is just a quick call away.
There might be healthy options. No one knows for sure because no one ever orders it.
(Photo by Ens. Jacob Kotlarski)
They have all the POG bait
Coffee isn’t known for its quality in the military. Yeah, it’ll get you up in the morning, but that’s about it. If you want an energy drink or some junk food, you’ll need to bring it with you.
Don’t worry. That retired Sgt. Maj. who realized how much money is blown on junk food every day has you covered. The truck is always fully stocked.
Everyone from the lowliest private to the commanding general is treated to the same fatty, delicious burger.
(Photo by Spc. James Wilton)
They’re faster — even if the lines are longer
Food trucks work on civilian time. To them, more customers means more money. Now, don’t get this twisted — we know military cooks are giving it their all.
Food trucks simply don’t allow high-ranking officers and NCOs to play rock, paper, chevrons and cut the line to ask for an extremely complicated custom order that backs the line up. (If you or someone you know does this, know that troops talk sh*t behind their or your back.)
Gut truck drivers know that throwing out that much bacon is fraud, waste, abuse… and just not cool.
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Navratil)
The food is always plentiful, hot, and ready
Gut trucks over stock with food before heading out and they have a good idea of how many troops they’ll be feeding. If they don’t have the breakfast burrito you wanted, they’ll have tons of whatever else you’re thinking of.
Conversely, cooks will ration every last piece of bacon like it’s the end of the world only to throw tubs of it away at the end of the meal.
Who ever read that comment card at the end of the DFAC and implemented it is a real American hero.
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Navratil)
Even cooks caught on to how awesome gut trucks are
See the cover photo at the top of this article? That’s actually not a civilian-owned gut truck. That’s actually a military food truck from the 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade as part of a test to judge troop reception. And so far, it’s working!
The cooks caught on to what works best for troops in the field and, unlike civilian trucks, these accept the meal-card given to the soldiers in the barracks. It serves all the stuff that troops want — with a little less tasty, tasty junk.
Before my first deployment, I heard all kinds of horror stories about lettuce sandwiches, green powdered eggs, and sludge-like coffee. When I wasn’t MREating, I found myself at the DFAC, Air Force parlance for the mess tent, chow hall, or cafeteria. Although I did find green eggs (no ham) in a few remote field kitchens, the modern overseas stations had some fairly impressive meal options and, except for the atrocity that was the pasta carbonara (featuring bologna and spaghetti sauce – looking at you Camp Victory), life at mealtime was pretty good. It still is if Okinawa’s TRC means anything to you. For better or for worse, the mess is the main source of food you if were/are lucky enough to not have to live on rations.
This has not always been the case. U.S. troops of days past didn’t always fare well at mealtime. Sometimes, the only benefit from having a mess tent seemed to be that the meal was hot, and in some cases, it wasn’t even that. Here are a few of the more famous meals produced by military-grade cooks. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough.
As if anyone needed more examples of just how difficult life for a soldier in the Continental Army was, consider the main staple of troops who wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge: Firecake – a tasteless mixture of flour and water, cooked on a rock near a fire. On a good day, the makeshift bread was slightly flavored by ash from the fire or by vinegar, if one of the troops managed to secure some.
The texture and form of the bread depended on just how much of each substance the troop had. It would either be flattened on a rock or cooked in globs in the ashes, the result being a thick, dense mass of baked “goods.”
Salt or Vinegar (if available)
Mix flour and water together until the mixture is a smooth paste, but isn’t too sticky. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either drop onto a greased cookie sheet or spread out like a tortilla. Bake until brown. Found the world’s first modern democracy. Spread freedom.
2. Creamed Chipped Beef
World War I – World War II – Korea – Vietnam
Creamed Chipped Beef, aka Chipped Beef on Toast, aka S**t on a Shingle – No mess kitchen creation will ever top this notorious meal as the number one reason for the field mess’ infamous reputation. First appearing in the 1910 Manual for Army Cooks, it actually seemed as though some accounting for taste and appearance was considered. The veterans of all 20th century American wars I spoke to seem conflicted about the “SOS” being a good thing or a bad thing – but it was likely a relief from powdered eggs and C-rations cooked over C-4 explosives.
15 pounds chipped beef
1 1/2 pound of fat, butter preferred
1¼ lbs flour
2 12-oz cans of evaporated milk
1 bunch parsley
¼ oz pepper
6 quarts beef stock
Brown the flour in the melted fat.
Dissolve the milk in the beef stock, and then add that to the pot.
Stir this together slowly to prevent lumping, and then add the beef.
Cook for a few minutes, add the parsley, and serve over toast.
By World War II, the need for appearances had disappeared entirely and the Navy was far worse off for it. The 1945 official US Navy recipe calls for:
1 3/4 gallon of dried chipped beef
5 gallons of milk
1 quart of fat (animal unimportant)
2 1/2 quarts of flour
1 3/4 tablespoon of pepper
100 slices of toasted bread
If you’re not having fifty or so 90-year-old World War II veterans over for dinner later (though we all probably should be every night), you can break it down like this:
3 c dried, chipped beef
(this will be found in the lunchmeat section, next to bologna, where it belongs)
7 1/2 c milk
1/3 c fat
(animal still unimportant, but I recommend bacon. I always recommend bacon)
1 c flour
1/2 tsp pepper
(or just pepper to taste, rationing is over. We won the war, after all)
First, chop the beef. Then melt the fat and mix with flour until it forms a smooth paste, almost like a roux. Bring the milk to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add the fat flour, and stir until it thickens, then add the chopped beef and pepper and stir well. Simmer for ten minutes and serve over your shingles (toast). Be sure to start eating once it’s on the toast. The only thing that gets mushy as fast as toasted white bread is your will to eat it.
3. Chicory Coffee
This is actually the outlier. Chicory coffee did not win a war, but coffee comes in all forms and anyone who’s ever served knows U.S. troops will drink any coffee-resembling substance. It’s as irreplaceable as JP-8 or 550 cord. Anyone would question how could any Army fight and win without Joes drinking joe. And they’d be right to.
During the Civil War, the Confederate Army actually did without coffee due to the Union blockade of the Southern states. They attempted many substitutes for the beverage. I’m not saying it was the sole factor to their loss, but I’m not not saying that either. The legacy of the blockade lives on in the American South, most notably in New Orleans.
Dark roast coffee
Roasted chicory root
Grind equal parts coffee and chicory and brew in your preferred coffee maker.
Add heated milk (almond tastes best, though is probably not as authentic).
In the trenches of World War I-era France, hunger often gave way to good taste. There just wasn’t much around to live up to the French standards of cuisine. But as the old military adage says: “If its stupid and it works, then it’s not stupid.” Thus, Slumguillion, the most versatile of recipes, was born.
No one ever wrote the recipe down but the doughboys knew what they were in for when the “Slum” was on the fire. In the states, it would come to be called a Hobo Chili, an improvised stew made with what you had where you were. It was hot and filling, which would be good enough on a cold day in the trenches. #FirstWorldWarProblems
2 lbs. meat
4 sliced onions
2 large cans of tomatoes
1/3 c of flour
½ c water
salt and pepper (or any available seasoning) to taste
Cut meat into one-inch cubes in a large casserole of stew pot.
Add onions and salt. Add tomatoes and more salt. Add other seasonings.
Cover and bake low and long – 250-275 for a few hours.
Make a roux with flour and water.
When the meat is finished, add the roux to thicken the stew.
Stir well and serve over mashed potatoes.
5. Artillery Pie
This recipe seems like a prank for the new cooks in a military unit. Suet is the fat from a piece of beef, and they’re adding it to sugar sweetened apples. Suet was, however, a delicacy at the time of the Civil War and could be found in many recipes, including desserts like Artillery Pie. If Civil War re-enactors are faithful to the field kitchen, Artillery Pie might explain why some re-enactors need some PT.
2 lbs of bread
¼ lb of suet
1 dozen apples
¼ lb sugar
Melt suet in a frying pan, cut bread into slices ¼ in thick.
Dip bread pieces into melted fat and place in oven to dry.
Peel and boil apples then mash them into the sugar.
Line a baking dish with fatty bread and cover with apple mixture.
Cover with alternating layers of bread and fruit until it’s all used up, then bake for 20 minutes. Any kind of fruit is actually okay, it’s not like you’re making this for your health.
So check out five things enlisted troops love, but officers freakin’ hate — according to our resident military officers.
5. Practical jokes
We all love to play some grab ass to liven up a dull situation, and some jokes do go too far — f*ck it. Once the principal officer shows up, consider the fun is over. Most officers aren’t fans of practical jokes especially if they’re the butt of that joke — but enlisted folks love it!
(Note: I’m told this doesn’t apply to pilots…)
It’s common for service members to grow mustaches — especially on deployment. The military has strict grooming standards for all facial hair and officers keep a close eye out on them. We wouldn’t want a single hair follicle to fell out of line — we’d probably end up losing the war.
(Note: The exception appears to be “Movember”)
3. Dipping tobacco while standing duty
Sometimes we need a nicotine fix and aren’t allowed to walk outside for a smoke. So we tend to dip tobacco and leave the spit bottles laying around. We’ll give this one to the officers since spit cups aren’t sexy.
When you’re just starting out in a leadership position and trying to lead from the front — no officer wants to get beaten in a sprint contest by someone who just graduated high school 6-months ago.
It’s probably why enlisted troops always have to run at the officer’s pace.
Lt. Col. David Bardorf and Sgt. Maj. Michael Rowan lead their battalion on a run during the annual battalion’s physical training session to support the Combined Federal Campaign. (U.S. Marine Corps photo: Lance Cpl. Nik S. Phongsisattanak)
1. Buying expensive vehicles right out the gate
Some branches are supposed to clear significant purchases with their command before executing on the sale. This system helps the enlisted troop from blowing his or her already low paycheck on a car with 30% APR — that’s bad.
Troops love buying brand new trucks — until they have to actually pay for it. (Source: Ford)
“This is my rifle; this is my gun. One is for pleasure; the other for fun . . .” As anyone who’s been there knows, a warfighter develops a pretty intimate relationship with his (or her) weapon while in theater. From the Revolutionary War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these 7 rifles were the ones American troops depended on when the bullets started flying:
1. The Long Rifle
The American Long Rifle took longer to reload than a British musket, but it’s superior accuracy (due to a smaller and harder round) and longer range allowed the patriots to disburse themselves and take out the tightly-grouped Red Coats one-by-one while remaining beyond the enemy’s reach.
2. The Spencer Repeating Rifle
The Spencer gave the Union Army a significant tactical advantage during the Civil War with a firing rate of 20 rounds per minute compared to 2 to 3 rounds per minute of the Confederate’s muzzle loaders. Ironically the Department of War balked at having troops use the Spencer initially because they thought they’d waste too much ammo, but Christopher Spencer himself demo’d the rifle to President Lincoln and he subsequently ordered its introduction.
3. The Winchester
“The gun that won the west.” “Winchester” is a general term for a series of rifles, the most successful of which was the 1873 model, which was not used by the U.S. military. The 1895 model was, however, championed by none other than Theodore Roosevelt who was first introduced to the weapon during a big game hunting expedition.
4. The Springfield
The 1903 model of the Springfield rifle was derived from the version that contributed to the disaster at Little Big Horn because of it’s tendency to jam. The 1903 was a more reliable rifle and found its place with U.S. Army troops in the trenches of France during World War 1.
5. The M1
Patton called it “the greatest battle implement ever devised,” the M1 Garand was the U.S. military’s first standard issue semi-automatic rifle. The M1’s semiautomatic operation gave American forces a significant advantage in firepower and shot-to-shot recovery time over individual enemy infantrymen during both World War 2 and the Korean War.
6. The M16
Despite growing pains, mostly associated with jamming, early in it’s service life, the M16 eventually became a trusted rifle across all of the branches of service from the Vietnam War through Desert Storm until the present day. Total worldwide production of M16s has been approximately 8 million, making it the most-produced firearm of its 5.56 mm caliber.
7. The M4
The weapon of choice for most special operators since 9-11. The M4’s design was based on shortening the barrel length without compromising long-range accuracy, faster firing action, capability of setting a three-shot pattern, and basic versatility for additional equipment (flash suppressors, silencer, grenade launchers, etc.). All factors were geared for close combat and what the Pentagon describes as “fluid tactical situations.” (h/t diffen.com)