These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine - We Are The Mighty
Intel

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine

As Russian military supplies continue to enter Ukraine, it becomes harder by the day for Putin to deny that Moscow is providing arms to the separatists.


In fact Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the US Army’s top commander in Europe, says that Russian support for separatists has “doubled” since Ukraine and Russia reached a tentative ceasefire.

“When you look at the amount of Russian equipment that the proxies were using prior to the Minsk agreements, that amount has doubled beginning in December into the hundreds,” Hodges told reporters on his first visit to Ukraine.

Russian support for the separatists include artillery, surveillance drones, and armored vehicles that would otherwise be next to impossible for a rebel group to obtain.

“Those are not the types of things you would find in a militia. They clearly are coming from a modern military force coming from Russia,” Hodges said.

In November, the Armament Research Services has released their third report on the arms and munitions being used by both the Ukrainian government and the rebels in the ongoing conflict. Complete with photographic evidence, it is clear that Moscow has been covertly supplying an assortment of older Soviet weaponry along with recently introduced Russian equipment to the separatists.

Self-Loading Rifles

ak-47 russian separatists weapons AK-47 (Photo: Wikimedia)

Self-loading rifles are a popular weapon of the separatist forces.

Aside from a number of AK rifle varieties, the separatists also sport a host of recreation hunting and sport firearms. In one case, a separatist was documented using VSS rifles. These are Russian-made marksman rifles that are analogous to those used by Russian forces during the annexation of Crimea.

The self-loading rifles used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet AK-74
  • Soviet AKS-74U
  • Soviet AR-10 and AR-15 hunting rifles
  • Russian VSS designated marksman rifle

Light Machine Guns

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
RPK-74 (Photo: Wikimedia)

Light machine guns make up some of the most common weaponry of the separatists.

The light machine guns utilized by the separatists include weaponry used by the Ukrainian military, as well as Russian-produced guns that are not in service with Ukrainian forces. The PKP ‘Pecheneg’ light machine gun, for example, is not used by the Ukrainian forces and has been exported outside of Russia in only minimal quantities.

The light machine guns used by the separatists include:

  • Russian RPK-74
  • Russian PK and PK GPMGs
  • Russian PKP ‘Pecheneg’ 

Shotguns and Bolt-Action Rifles

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Saiga 12 Shotgun (Photo: Wikimedia)

The use of shotguns and bolt-action rifles have been documented as being used by separatists who are incapable of accessing better quality small arms.

Some older bolt-action sporting rifles have also been documented being used by the separatists. These rifles are in some cases antiques, dating to use with the Russian infantry from World War II or earlier.

The shotguns and bolt-action rifles used by the separatists include:

  • Russian semi-automatic Saiga 12 shotguns
  • Turkish semi-automatic Akkar Altay shotguns
  • Philippino Armscor Model 30 pump-action shotgun
  • Russian infantry Mosin M91 rifle

Handguns

handguns russian separatists weapons Makarov PM Handgun (Photo: Wikimedia)

Russian crafted handguns dominate as the principal choice for the separatists.

Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, the former leader of the Donbass People’s Militia and governor of Luhansk, has had photos carefully taken of him handling a Russian Stechkin APS. The APS was originally designed for Russian vehicle, artillery, and RPG crews.

The handguns used by the separatists include:

  • Russian Makarov PM
  • Russian Stechkin APS

Anti-Material Rifles

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
PTRS-41 Rifle (Photo: Wikimedia)

Anti-material rifles are light weapons that have been designed for use against military equipment rather than use against people.

The anti-material rifles being used by the separatists include outdated and obsolete Soviet World War II era anti-tank rifles (the PTRS-41) and the equally old PTRD. In at least one case, separatists were found to be using the Russian ASVK anti-material rifle. The ASVK has only been introduced into the Russian military within the past two years and none have been known to have been exported.

The anti-material rifles used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet PTRS-41
  • Soviet PTRD
  • Russian ASVK

Heavy Machine Guns

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
DShKM Machine Gun (Photo: Wikimedia)

The origins of the heavy machine guns used by the separatists in Ukraine is murky. Both the Ukrainian government and the separatists use similar weaponry, and it is possible that the rebels salvaged the weaponry from Ukrainian military vehicles.

In general, the heavy machine guns used by the separatists are fairly old. Most date

back to the Soviet Union, while the Maxim PM1910 may date back as early as the Russian Empire. The PM1910 was likely looted from a museum or a historical re-enactment community.

The heavy machine guns used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet DShKM
  • Soviet NSV and NSVT
  • Soviet Maxim PM1910

Underbarrel and Automatic Grenade Launchers

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
GP-25 Grenade Launcher (Photo: Wikimedia)

Like the heavy machine guns, both the Ukrainian government and the separatists have used the same variety of underbarrel and automatic grenade launchers.

In the case of eastern Ukraine, it is impossible to determine whether the grenade launchers were captured from Ukrainian soldiers or were provided to the separatists from Russia.

The grenade launchers used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet GP-25
  • Soviet AGS-17 AGLs

Portable Anti-Tank Systems

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
RPG-7 (Photo: Wikimedia)

The separatists have a wide variety of portable anti-tank systems. For the most part, the rebels seem to prefer the use of rocket propelled grenades of the legacy RPG-7 launcher. However, the rebels have also used more modern RPG-18 and RPG-22 systems.

Notably, separatists have also been documented using MRO-A disposable incendiary rocket launcher systems. These systems are not known to have ever been exported outside of Russia.

The portable anti-tank systems used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet RPG-7
  • Soviet RPG-22
  • Soviet RPG-26
  • Russian RPG-18
  • Russian RPO-A 
  • Russian MRO-A

Crew-Served Recoilless Guns and Mortars

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
SPG-9 Recoilless Gun (Photo: Wikimedia)

Used alongside the portable anti-tank systems are a mixture of Soviet-era recoilless guns and mortars. These weapons are generally dated. There is no direct evidence that these weapons have been provided by the Russians to the separatists, as both the Ukrainian government and the separatists make use of similar systems.

The crew-served recoilless guns and mortars used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet SPG-9 recoilless gun
  • Soviet 82 and 120 mm mortar tubes
  • Soviet 120 mm 2B16 Nona-K

Anti-Tank Guided Weapons

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
9K111 Firing (Photo: Wikimedia)

Anti-tank guided weapons (ATGWs) have been documented in large numbers in the hands of the separatists. The majority of these ATGWs are used by both the Ukrainian military and the separatists.

However, the separatists have also been documented using the 9K135 Kornet ATGW system. The Kornet is not in service with the Ukrainian military, although it is used by the Russians. Based on discarded components found on the battlefield, the missiles used for the Kornet were produced in Russia in 2007.

Russia has exported the Kornet to several other states around the world, and militants in Gaza, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have all been documented using the weapon system.

The ATGWs used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet 9K111
  • Soviet 9K114
  • Soviet 9K115
  • Russian 9K135

Man-Portable Air Defense Systems

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Strela Launcher (Photo: Wikimedia)

Separatist forces have a large array of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs) and anti-aircraft guns. By and large, the MANPADs that the separatists have been using are of the same make as what is within the Ukrainian arsenal. There have been reports of separatists seizing supplies of MANPADs from the Ukrainian military early in the conflict.

However, in one notable exception, Polish PPZR Grom MANPADs were captured from the separatists. One of the only countries that Poland ever exported the PPZR to was Georgia. In 2008, during Russia’s invasion of the country, Russia was known to have captured some of the Polish-supplied PPZRs. It is likely that those captured weapons are now being funneled to the separatists.

The MANPADs used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet 9K38
  • Soviet 9K32
  • Polish PPZR Grom

Anti-Aircraft Guns

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
ZU-23-2 Anti-Aircraft Gun (Photo: Wikimedia)

Aside from MANPADs, the separatists also have a varied arsenal of anti-aircraft guns. At times, these weapons have also been turned against Ukrainian military personnel and light vehicles.

The anti-aircraft guns that the separatists, and to a smaller extent the Ukrainian government, have been utilizing are heavy machine guns mounted in one, two, and four barrel configurations. The separatists likely captured the anti-aircraft weapons from the Ukrainian military.

The anti-aircraft systems used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet 14.5 x 114 mm ZPU 
  • Soviet ZU-23-2

Artillery

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
D-30 Howitzer (Photo: Wikimedia)

Artillery has become one of the primary methods of engagement between the Ukrainian government and separatist fighters. Indiscriminate shelling by both sides has led to widespread destruction throughout portions of eastern Ukraine, along with significant civilian casualties.

Both the Ukrainian government and the separatists use the same varieties of Soviet and Russian artillery in their engagements. As such, it is difficult to determine whether the rebels had received these arms directly from Russia or had looted them from the Ukrainian military.

The artillery systems used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet 122 mm D-30 howitzer
  • Soviet 100 mm BS-3 anti-tank gun
  • Soviet 100 mm MT-12 anti-tank gun
  • Soviet 152 mm 2A65 Msta-B
  • Soviet 76 mm ZiS-3 field gun

Main Battle Tanks

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
T-64 Tank (Photo: Wikimedia)

Both Ukrainian governmental forces and the separatists have placed high value on the use of main battle tanks. In many cases, the separatists are utilizing captured Ukrainian tanks, or tanks of the same model provided by the Russians.

However, the separatists have also used Russian tanks that are not known to have ever been exported outside of the country such as the T-72B and T-72BA. Notably, the separatists have also deployed the T-72B3, the latest T-72 model in the Russian service. The tank is not known to have been exported and it was just introduced into service in 2013 indicating Russian involvement in the crisis.

The main battle tanks used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet T-64A, B, BM, and BV models
  • Russian T-72 B
  • Russian T-72BA
  • Russian T-72B3

Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Armored Personnel Carriers

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
BMP-2 (Photo: Wikimedia)

Infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and armored personnel carriers (APCs) are the most documented type of armored fighting vehicle in use in Ukraine. Both IFVs and APCs are designed to function as armored troop carriers, with IFVs being differentiated as having an armament of 20 mm in calibre or larger for offensive capabilities.

Although the separatists and the Ukrainians use many of the same IFVs and APCs, separatists have been documented using Russian-variants of APCs in the Ukrainian arsenal that were designed in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Strikingly, separatists have also been documented driving the BTR-82AM IFV. This model was inducted into Russian service in 2013 and is not known to have ever been exported.

The IFV and APC systems used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet BMP-2
  • Soviet MT-LB
  • Russian BTR-82Am
  • Russian MT-LB 6MA, MT-LBVM, and MT-LBVMK

Self-Propelled Artillery

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
2S1 Gvozdika (Photo: Wikimedia)

Both the Ukrainians and the separatists have utilized the same variants of self-propelled artillery. Given the models and the Ukrainian numerical advantage in fielding these weapon types, the separatists likely looted or captured their self-propelled artillery.

The self-propelled artillery systems used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet 2S1 Gvozdika
  • Soviet 2S3 Akatsia
  • Soviet 2S5 Giatsint-S
  • Soviet 2S9 Nona-S

Self-Propelled Rocket Artillery

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
9k51 Grad Launcher (Photo: Wikimedia)

Much like self-propelled artillery, the Ukrainian government has used self-propelled rocket artillery significantly more than the separatists have. In almost every occasion that the separatists have used rocket artillery, the weapons systems used were identical to what is in the arsenal of the Ukrainian government.

Although the separatists have generally used the 9K51 Grad rocket system, which may or may not have been looted from Ukrainian forces, the rebels also have used a 9K51M Tornado-G. This is a modernized Grad system that was likely supplied by the Russians. However, documented proof of the separatist’s using this system is limited.

The self-propelled rocket artillery systems used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet 9K51 Grad
  • Russian 9K51 Tornado-G 

Self-Propelled Air Defense Systems

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
9K33 Osa (Photo: Wikimedia

In addition to MANPADs, the separatists have made frequent use of self-propelled air defense systems. These systems seek to negate the Ukrainian government’s complete aerial dominance. The systems have proved effective at downing Ukrainian aircraft and were also involved in the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

The rebels in general have used air defense systems that are present in the Ukrainian military. However, the separatists have also utilized Russian Pantsir-S1 and Buk missile systems that were not in the Ukrainian arsenal.

The self-propelled air defense systems used by the separatists include:

  • Soviet 9K33, 9K35, and 9K37 
  • Russian Pantsir-S1
  • Russian Buk missile system 

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Intel

Israeli comics make fun of ISIS with an epic rap battle

A masked ISIS fighter speaking perfect Hebrew threatened to “eradicate this disease [of Jews] from the world” last month, so a group of Israeli comedians have responded — with mockery.


“You ran to Syria because you couldn’t find work,” one comic says in a YouTube video response, which is shot much like a rap battle.

The comedians were responding to a video released by ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State, or Daesh), in which a fighter addresses the Jewish state speaking in what The Washington Post referred to as “impeccable Hebrew.”

The real war between ISIS and Israel, the militant claimed, “hasn’t started yet, and what has happened to you in the past is child’s play in comparison with what will happen to you in the near future, God willing.”

In the response video titled “Escalation 2015 – Battle Daesh (ISIS), five Israeli comics dress in the uniforms of the Israeli Defense Forces and poke fun at the amateur way he holds his AK-47, and that he is threatening the powerful Israeli army “with a knife you stole from your mother’s kitchen.”

Israel National News writes:

“You ran to Syria because you couldn’t find work,” one raps. “You want to be Abu Ali? Don’t speak behind our backs, tell it to the faces of five border police,” he continues, referring to the impressive record of border police officers in dispatching terrorists.

“Don’t come with your jihad – a year ago you served me hummus!” he adds.

You can watch the video below (it’s all in Hebrew):

 

Intel

Every way not to use social media in the military summed up in recent video

Social media is a beautiful tool, especially to the military community. It allows troops to keep in contact with friends and family while also giving them a platform to share what’s on their mind. However, when used inappropriately, it can have disastrous effects. Recently, a U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. from the 99th Force Support Squadron made headlines for an expletive-filled and racially charged video she posted to a private Facebook forum. When it was reposted onto a public page, it went viral, getting over 3 million views at the time of writing.


The 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Chief, Maj. Christina Sukach, responded that it is “inappropriate and unacceptable behavior in today’s society and especially for anyone in uniform. Leadership is aware and is taking appropriate action.” Administrative action is being taken against her. It seems to fit the old military adage, “play stupid games and win stupid prizes.”

Related: This is how the Army teaches you to ‘see green’ -not brown, black, or white

Author’s Note: While the discussions prompted by this video cannot be overlooked, We Are The Mighty will not give a platform to something entirely unbecoming of not only the NCO Corps or the U.S. Air Force, but the entire U.S. Armed Forces. It will not be reproduced here.

Not only is the content of the video disturbing, the 91-second video also manages to go against many of the Department of Defense’s Web and Internet-based Capabilities Policies. Here are a few of the more egregious violations.

Appearance of governmental sanction

Posting comments or videos while in uniform, on a military installation, or during military hours to social media could be misconstrued as an official statement from the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s for this same reason that troops are not allowed to attend many public events in uniform, regardless of rank.

This is why many officials were quick to disavow the video. Despite clearly going against military values, any inaction from up top can still be misconstrued as acknowledgment.

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Even military parades need to go through red-tape. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Berry)

Conduct unbecoming of an NCO

Non-commissioned officers are supposed to lead by example. If a situation arises, the NCO will do everything in their power to correct the issue and move forward.

The video was sparked after the Technical Sergeant wasn’t addressed as “ma’am” by subordinates. A real leader would never complain on social media. Be an NCO — clearly communicate your requirements and make sure your troops address you properly.

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Everything taught at the NCO Academy was undone in 1 minute and 31 seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany Lundberg)

Willingly damaging the reputation of the U.S. Armed Forces

Many of the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, especially Article 134, cover “offenses [involving] disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces.”

When you upload a rant video — even to a private forum like this video originally was — you can never expect that it will stay private. At this moment, if you type “Air Force” into Google, you will see every news outlet talking about this video.

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
This is the image the world should have of the U.S. Air Force — not one of hate. (Image via Air Force)

Lists

The 6 greatest military heroes you’ve never heard of

There are countless military heroes we’ve all read about, but what about the heroes who were never recognized? These six are at the top of the list.

 1. The Polish Resistance Agent who got himself sent to Auschwitz — on purpose

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Witold Pilecki Photo: Wiki Commons


Nazi concentration camps were one of the most hideous and disturbing tragedies to arise out of the second world war, but few countries were aware of their existence before the Allied liberation in 1945. Fewer still had any idea what atrocities were taking place within their gates — which is exactly why Witold Pilecki, a Polish resistance agent, decided to see the inside for himself. How’d he do it? By getting himself arrested and sent to the worst death camp of them all: Auschwitz.

He gathered intelligence inside Auschwitz and sent it to the underground Polish army for two years, enduring brutal conditions and near-starvation to detail Nazi execution and interrogation methods. When the Allies continued to put off any aid (some even accused him of exaggerating his reports, according to NPR) he broke out of the camp and escaped. Pilecki continued to gather intelligence throughout the war, and didn’t let up afterwards either, though now it was against a different government — the Soviet regime in Poland.

Sadly, Pilecki was later captured by the communists, arrested for espionage in 1948, and issued not one, but three death sentences. The communists also wiped his name from the public record after his execution, and no accounts of Pilecki’s bravery were known until after the fall of the Berlin wall.

2. The Middle Eastern soldiers of France’s Free Army

On the whole, France gets a pretty bad rap when it comes to military valor. Some of the jokes actually ring true — when France fell to the Nazi regime during World War II, Gen. Charles De Gaulle struggled to gather soldiers who were ready and willing to drive out the Fuhrer’s army … not exactly the kind of bravery you write home about. Which is exactly why a frustrated De Gaulle set his sights outside of France to raise an army, recruiting instead from French colonies in Africa. Arabic, African and Tahitian volunteers rallied to the French cause, and the French Free Army was born.

Amazingly, this rag-tag militia, many of whom had never stepped on French soil before, kicked ass in the war against Hitler, wining several battles. So why haven’t you heard of them? Sadly, the Allies weren’t too thrilled with these guys, and when The Free French Army geared up to liberate Paris, the Allies actually refused to fight with them — unwilling to go into battle with dark-skinned foreigners.

As much as this sucks, it was typical for the time — U.S. military units were still segregated between blacks and whites in the 1940s. The Allies then essentially told De Gaulle if he wanted their help, he needed to white-wash his army, which he did — by calling a bunch of Spaniards to fight and sending the original French Free Army back to Africa. The colonists who fought for their Mother country never received any military recognition, and France would later cut off their military pensions, effectively removing them from its history.

3.  The Real-Life Rambo who beat the U.S. military at its own job

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Richard Marcinko in uniform Photo: Wiki Commons


Sylvester Stallone graced us with one of the most iconic military characters ever when he played man-of-few-words and probable-sociopath John Rambo in  “Rambo: First Blood,” and then again in “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” “Rambo III.” Well, you get the drill. Stallone may have jumped the shark with the franchise, but the story of this real-life Rambo will never get old.

Richard Marcinko, nicknamed “Demo Dick,” was a teletype operator who dreamed of transferring to UDT, or Underwater Demolitions Team — a unit that would eventually evolve into the Navy SEALs. When he kept getting rejected, Marcinko decided he would find an alternative way into the unit — by clocking some guy in the face. Just as he’d planned, Marcinko got sent to the UDT as punishment.

During his time with the UDT and later with the SEALs in Vietnam, Marcinko became so notorious amongst the Viet Cong that there was actually a 50,000 piaster reward for whoever was brave enough to bring back his head. Yikes.

Marcinko survived Vietnam but continued his testosterone-fueled lifestyle, searching out conflict in Cambodia before being asked by the U.S. military to carry out a program called Red Cell. The mission? Infiltrating American bases all around the world to find their weak spots. Not surprisingly, Demo Dick took his job a little too seriously, and ended up mock-kidnapping a lot of officers and even their families to see if they would crack under interrogation.

Marcinko also founded SEAL Team 6 in response to the U.S. military’s failed attempt to extract Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis. He was the leader of the anti-terror detail, and would largely shape the elite force into what it is today.

The U.S. military still hadn’t let go of his Red Cell shenanigans, however, and later sent Marcinko to jail for conspiracy. But Demo Dick didn’t go down without a fight, and ended up writing best-selling book “Rogue Warrior” during the year he was behind bars, detailing his escapades while in uniform and humiliating the the military. What a guy.

4. The Oskar Schindler of Japan

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Chuine Sugihara Photo: Wiki Commons


These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
A transit visa that Sugihara issued Photo: Wiki Commons


As the Nazi regime began tightening its chokehold on Europe, Japanese Consul-General Chiune Sugihara and his wife Yukiko watched with increasing concern as Lithuanian Jews were persecuted, driven out of their businesses, and forced away to “labor camps.” Finally, Sugihara decided enough was enough, and set out to bring the Jews of Europe onto Japanese soil and out of Hitler’s reach. The Japanese government, however, didn’t approve of the idea, and shut down Chiune’s request to issue visas for the fleeing Jews. In response — and in true Liam Neeson fashion — Sugihara essentially told them to shove it, and began to write the visas by hand.

He and his wife ended up writing what some estimate to be around 6,000 visas for Lithuanian Jews, an incredible feat that’s even more unbelievable when you compare it to Oskar Schindler’s record of 1,200 saved through his work program. The last foreign officials to remain in Kuanas, Lithuania, save for a Dutch consul, Sugihara and his wife worked round the clock, issuing close to 300 visas a day and distributing them to the refugees who gathered outside of the Japanese consulate gates.

When Sugihara was finally ordered to leave, he continued to write visas and throw them from the train as he departed, and left his official visa stamp with one of the refugees so they could continue his work in his absence. It is estimated that he saved nearly all of the people who received visas, and after arriving in Japan, the Jewish refugees called themselves the Sugihara Survivors in honor of his bravery.

So why hasn’t his story been broadcasted like Schindler’s? Unfortunately, Japan was still operating under the samurai code of honor during this time, and to defy a superior was considered unforgivable. So rather than award their comrade for his contributions to the war, he was removed from his government position and forced to live in dishonor until his death in 1986.

5. The British Lt. Col. who fought with a sword, longbow and bagpipes

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Jack Churchill Photo: Wiki Commons


Lt. Col. John Malcom Thorpe Fleming Churchill, or “Mad Jack” as he would later be known, may have been the most badass person to walk the earth. He joined the British military in 1926 at age 20, only to leave shortly after to pursue professional bagpiping and compete in the World Archery Championship in 1939 — because why not. But when WWII rolled around, Churchill was more than ready to jump back into the fray, and racked up a war record so unbelievable we’re shocked the guy doesn’t have his own movie yet.

Churchill stormed the beaches of Normandy carrying a Scottish sword, wore his bagpipes in battle and made many of his kills with a longbow he wore on his back. During a night raid on the Nazi lines, Churchill led his men to capture 136 enemy soldiers — and he himself captured 40 plus Germans at sword point. During a different battle on the Nazi-controlled island of Brac, “Mad Jack” fought until he was the last of his men standing. Then, when he ran out of ammo, he stood his ground, playing his bagpipes on top of a hill until a grenade knocked him out and he was captured by the Germans.

Churchill would later escape his POW camp and meet up with American troops, only to find out — to his profound disappointment — that two atomic bombs had been dropped, and the war was essentially over. According to Vice, Churchill reportedly complained, “If it hadn’t been for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going for another ten years!”

7.  The Scottish soldier who went full “Braveheart” on Nazi soldiers

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Tommy Macpherson Photo: Wiki Commons


“Mad Jack” may have donned Scottish bagpipes to fight in WWII, but Sir Tommy Macpherson had the balls to go full “Braveheart” on the battlefield, sporting a kilt while he raised hell with the Scottish commandos. Nicknamed “The Kilted Killer,” Macpherson’s flashy battle attire and relentless tenacity earned him a 30,000 Franc bounty on his head for whichever German could kill him first.

Amazingly, Macpherson made it through the entire war despite the Germans’ determination to take him out — even orchestrating the surrender of 23,000 German troops at the Das Reich Headquarters by bluffing that the Royal Air Force would unleash hell if they didn’t cooperate. In reality, Machpherson was alone and the RAF had no idea he was there, but he still managed to convince German Gen. Botho Henning Elster to give up his men and vehicles.

Macpherson walked away from World War II as the The UK’s most decorated living soldier in history, earning the Military Cross for his escape from a Nazi prison camp in Poland, a papal knighthood and two bars for his valiant — and unusual — service.

NOW: 7 crazy facts you didn’t know about the D-Day invasion

Articles

4 things that made the F-16 years ahead of its time

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine
Three U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 30 aircraft from the 80th Fighter Squadron fly in formation over South Korea during a training mission on Jan. 9, 2008. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Quinton T. Burris, U.S. Air Force)


The F-16 Fighting Falcon was originally designed to be a daytime air superiority fighter, but over the decades of its service life it has evolved into a all-weather multi-role attack platform.  The first F-16 rolled off the manufacturing line in 1976, and ultimately over 4,500 aircraft followed it.

The Fighting Falcon (a.k.a. the “Viper” in aggressor squadron circles) remains technologically advanced and lethal throughout its full range of mission areas, which is remarkable considering the legendary Col. John Boyd and his “fighter mafia” first conceived of the airplane in the late ’60s.

Here are four design features that were years ahead of their time when they first hit the fleet and remain so today:

1. Fly-by-wire flight controls and side-stick controller

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine

Unlike every airplane built before it, the F-16 was designed to be aerodynamically unstable until it reaches supersonic airspeeds. As a result there is no mechanical linkage between the stick and the moving parts of the airplane. A computer interface is required to interpret pilot inputs and move the flight controls accordingly, technology known as “fly-by-wire.” Because the F-16 is designed for high-G loading, the stick is mounted on the side of the cockpit instead of in the center to make it easier on the pilot’s right arm.  It barely moves; full throw is only one-eighth of an inch.

2. Bubble canopy

These Are The Weapons That Russia Is Pouring Into Eastern Ukraine

The pilot sits up very high relative to the canopy rail in the F-16, giving him superior visibility in all quadrants, including at six o’clock. The bubble canopy is designed to enhance this feature, and new pilots talk about feeling like they’re going to fall out of the airplane at first. Unlike other fighters there is no canopy bow forward of the pilot, so the forward view is completely unobstructed. The net result is a fighter that gives pilots an advantage in the dogfighting arena where “lost sight means lost fight.”

3. Reclined ejection seat

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Because the F-16 is designed to pull 9 Gs or more (compared to 6.5 for most other American fighters) the ejection seat is tilted 30 degrees back (compared to around 12 degrees other ejection seat aircraft) for superior G tolerance by the pilot. Pilots sit almost like their riding a reclining bicycle, with knees up high, which makes for a very comfortable ride while killing MiGs and other bad guys.

4. Multi-function displays

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The F-16 was one of the first military aircraft with a “glass” cockpit instead of the legacy “steam gauges,” which allows a pilot to tailor his displays for a particular mission as well as personal preference. MFDs also allow software upgrades with very little trouble, which has helped to keep the Fighting Falcon relevant and in the fight for decades.

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The F-16 isn’t just used by the Air Force. The Navy uses F-16Ns as aggressor aircraft at Top Gun.

Now: 6 superheroes who were also Air Force officers

Intel

Hollywood may shoot a movie on the fight for Fallujah — written by an Army vet

Universal pictures has the option for former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia’s memoir of the Second Battle of Fallujah, “House to House.” They’ve selected their writer to adapt the book into a screenplay and it’s another Army infantry veteran, Max Adams.


From his book description:

Staff Sergeant David Bellavia captures the brutal action and raw intensity of leading his Third Platoon, Alpha Company, into a lethally choreographed kill zone: the booby-trapped, explosive-laden houses of Fallujah’s militant insurgents. Bringing to searing life the terrifying intimacy of hand-to-hand infantry combat, this stunning war memoir features an indelibly drawn cast of characters, not all of whom would make it out of the city alive, as well as chilling accounts of Bellavia’s singular courage: Entering one house alone, he used every weapon at his disposal in the fight of his life against America’s most implacable enemy.

Bellavia was nominated for the Medal of Honor for his part in clearing a building of insurgents after he and his men were ambushed. He ultimately received the Silver Star. Adams served with the Rangers during 11 years of service from 1995-2006. He recently produced two movies, “Bus 657” starring Robert De Niro and “Precious Cargo” starring Bruce Willis.

See the full story at Deadline 

NOW: 4 amazing military stories that should totally be movies

Articles

The US military took these incredible photos this week

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:


ARMY:

Soldiers, assigned to KFOR Multinational Battle Group-East’s Task Force Hurricane, made up of Soldiers from The National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve, hiked to the peak of Mount Ljuboten in southern Kosovo, Aug. 23, 2015.

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Photo by 1st Lt. Krista Yaglowski/US Army

Soldiers, assigned to U.S. Army Africa, work with French Armée de Terre service members to offload a Puma helicopter from a United States Air Force C-17 in support of Operation Barkhane at Camp Kossei in N’Djamena, Chad, Aug. 23, 2015.

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Photo by Morgan Salingue/US Army

NAVY:

ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 1, 2015) The Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) participates in a night underway replenishment (UNREP) with Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).

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Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Huey D. Younger Jr./USN

ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 1, 2015) Sailors aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) conduct a night replenishment-at-sea (RAS) with the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8).

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Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Liam Kennedy/USN

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Aug. 31, 2015) U.S. Marines assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion observe the approach of amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) during well deck operations aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25).

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Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Vladimir Ramos/USN

AIR FORCE:

An F-15C Eagle flies over East Anglia, England, Aug. 27, 2015, during a flyover event at Royal Air Force Lakenheath. The F-15C, assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, circulated until it flew in unison with the U.K. Avro Vulcan XH558 to mark the first and last time these aircraft will fly together.

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Photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride/USAF

Staff Sgt. Saber Barrera, with 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron firetruck and refueling maintenance, works with a co-worker to replace an engine starter in Southwest Asia, Aug. 27, 2015.

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Photo by Racheal E. Watson/USAF

Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Stott, the 90th Medical Group superintendent, splashes through muddy water Aug. 29, 2015, during the second annual mud run at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The run attracted more than 100 Airmen and their families.

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Photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle/USAF

MARINE CORPS:

An M1A1 Abrams main battle tank, from 2nd Tank Battalion, hides in the brush during a defensive maneuver on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 26, 2015.

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Photo by Cpl. Ryan Young/USMC

Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, practice loading and unloading rounds during sustainment training on Aug. 21, 2015. The CAAT, composed of heavy machine gunners and anti-tank missilemen, is used to combat hardened targets as well as provide security.

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Photo by Sgt. Paris Capers/USMC

A Marine assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, climbs a rope as part of the Dark Horse Ajax Challenge aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 20, 2015. The eight-mile course tested the Marines’ and Sailors’ endurance and leadership skills with trials spread across the San Mateo area.

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Photo by Cpl. Will Perkins/USMC

COAST GUARD:

Leading the way in maritime drug interdiction, the USCG Cutter Adelie interdicted an estimated 2,900 pounds of marijuana Saturday. This is the second interdiction of illegal drugs by Washington-based patrol boats within the last week.

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Photo by USCG

The 47ft motor lifeboats were conducting approaches to one another for training.

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Photo by USCG

NOW: More awesome military photos

OR: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Articles

17 Photos That Show Why Troops Absolutely Love The .50 Caliber Machine Gun

The M2 .50 caliber machine gun has been in production longer than any other, and it’s easy to see why troops love it.


Since the 1930s, “Ma Deuce” has been serving troops on the ground, in vehicles, and in aircraft, and with its effectiveness and reliability, it doesn’t look like this weapon is going out of style any time soon. Originally developed during World War I by John Browning, the weapon is now in the hands of U.S. troops and a number of NATO allies.

Here’s why:

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The M2 .50 cal has served troops well in Iraq and Afghanistan as a fearsome automatic weapon usually mounted to vehicles.

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But it was just as deadly in Normandy in 1944 …

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… As it is overlooking remote bases in Afghanistan today.

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With a belt-fed .50 BMG round, it packs serious punch that can effectively hit targets out to 1,800 meters.

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The weapon can fire a variety of ammunition types, such as standard ball, blanks, armor-piercing (AP), armor-piercing incendiary (API), armor-piercing incendiary tracer (APIT) …

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… And the crowd favorite: Saboted Light Armor Penetrator (SLAP), which can bust through steel.

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Troops can find the .50 cal everywhere from the perimeter of the forward operating base …

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… to the rails of U.S. Navy ships.

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Of course, two is better than one.

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Before they can fire it, soldiers usually learn how to disassemble, assemble, and adjust headspace and timing — tweaks made to the gun that allow it to fire safely. (The U.S. Army upgraded a number of their .50 cals to the M2A1, which doesn’t require headspace & timing adjustments).

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Once it’s ready to go, soldiers place the rounds on the feed tray, make sure the cover is closed, and pull the bolt to the rear to load the weapon.

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Then it’s ready to rock and roll. The .50 can fire in single shot or fully automatic mode.

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At the rear, soldiers grab the “spade” handle and fire it using a butterfly trigger. They need to be careful however: There’s no safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge (Some variants have been fielded which feature a positive safety selector).

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While it’s most often mounted to vehicles in a rotating turret …

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… Ma Deuce can also be found on the side of helicopters.

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And with the use of a tripod, it can also be fired very effectively from the ground.

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Correction: This post was updated with new information to reflect the fielding of the M2A1 variant and other versions, which feature safety selectors, and don’t require the need for adjustments to headspace and timing.

Articles

4 military fails so awful they’re actually hilarious

1. That one time the Australian Army fought a bunch of emus … and lost

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Pretty intimidating, no? Photo: Flickr


Australia’s known for being a pretty badass country — a worthy reputation when your nation is populated by a bunch of outlaws on one of the world’s harshest continents. What Australia doesn’t want you to know, however, is that in between all that crocodile-wrangling and kangaroo-eating, it got its butt kicked once by a bunch of flightless birds.

The year was 1932. Australian farmers were struggling to save their wheat crops from a fierce, egg-laying pack of scavengers that had migrated into the area. And we’re not talking a pesky flock of chickens, either. This was a battalion of 20,000 emus.

Being Australian, the farmers figured they could probably take out these birds themselves. That plan quickly failed, since there were simply too many birds to handle, though one does wonder how they attempted to solve the problem in the first place (maybe some vegemite traps?).

Regardless, the crops were failing and it was decided reinforcements were necessary. Enter the Royal Australian Artillery. Major G.P.W. Meredith led two regiments of machine-gun wielding Australian soldiers against the bird infestation, figuring the issue would be taken care of in a few days.

He was wrong.

The emus proved wilier than expected. They dodged bullets with shocking finesse, weaving in and out of troops and scattering into the brush before they could be herded together. Many of the birds that were hit still got away — whether because of their dense feathers or sheer force of will, they would not not bend to the Aussie military.

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These guys don’t mess around. Photo: unrealfacts.com

Meredith decided to up the ante, organizing a surprise ambush near a dam where 1,000 emus were gathered unawares. This failed as well. Ego bruised, Meredith decided that the only way to destroy an army of demon emus is to do it yourself. In what no doubt would have made a soul-stirring slow-motion montage, Meredith climbed in the back of a truck and manned its machine gun, firing at the birds as he sped beside them.

The emus outran the truck, leading it through terrain so uneven and wild that the vehicle ended up crashing through a fence in its pursuit. As the emus disappeared into the sunset, the AA had no choice but to accept defeat.

According to Scientific American, Dr. Murray Johnson’s entries in Journal of Australian Studies reflect Australia’s humorous response to the skirmish:

“On 8 November, it was reported that Major Meredith’s party had used 2,500 rounds of ammunition – twenty-five per cent of the allotted total – to destroy 200 emus,” says Johnson. “When one New South Wales state Labor politician inquired whether ‘a medal was to be struck for those taking part in this war’, his federal counterpart in Western Australia, responded that they should rightly go to the emus who ‘have won every round so far’.”

In the end, less than 1,000 of the 20,000 emus were killed, and the farmers were left to weep over their wheat and gather an army of wallabies to fight back. Totally kidding — the government decided to cut out the middleman and give the farmers the ammunition they needed to finally fry the birds, taking the lives of 57,034 emus and restoring peace once and for all.

2. The time Japan deployed a new battleship and flooded Nagasaki

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There’s no flooding, just go about your business… Photo: Getty Images

The saying “bigger is better” is traditionally an American mantra, but the Japanese Navy tried it on for size in 1940, and the results were pretty hilarious.

Not yet at war with the United States, Japan still wanted to assert military dominance. The plan? Build the biggest battleship it had ever commissioned, and call it the Musashi.

Now, Japan understood that an incredibly large battleship would not be impressive unless it was also outfitted with incredibly large weapons. To remedy this, the Japanese Navy decked out the Musashi with the best of the best. Amongst the weapons on board were cannons that could fire 18-inch shells over 26 miles and 9×450 mm guns — stats that were impressive for any military at the time.

What Japan did not take into account, apparently, was how much this thing would weigh. When the Japanese Navy joyously deployed the ship into the sea, the mammoth watercraft displaced so much water (63,000 tons) it caused a four foot high tidal wave, flooding the riverbank homes of Nagasaki and totally killing the mood.

The Musashi‘s wake capsized nearly all of the ships in the surrounding harbor, and did some serious damage to the shops and houses closest to the water’s edge. Frightened citizens rushed into the streets as water poured through their doors, completely bewildered by the source of the flooding.

They were quickly urged back inside their water-sogged homes by the Imperial Navy, which was too embarrassed to tell the people of Nagasaki what had actually gone down. It makes you wonder what they did blame it on…

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Photo: Flickr

3. A pilot ejects from his plane and watches it fly itself

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Sometimes in life, things go incredibly wrong. And other times, they just go incredibly weird. 1st Lt. Gary Foust was preparing for the first scenario during a test flight in 1970, when his fighter jet began an uncontrollable flat spin. After struggling to regain control of the F-106 interceptor jet for a few moments, he did the smart thing and pressed the eject button 8,000 feet above the ground.

Or … he thought it was the smart thing. Once his chute deployed and buoyed him up in the air, Foust looked down towards the ground, expecting his plane to light up like the Fourth of July upon impact. What he saw instead was his plane cruising along, as if the spin had never happened and it was being piloted by a very casual, aircraft-savvy ghost.

One of Foust’s wingmen, Maj. Jim Lowe reportedly shouted over the radio “Gary, you better get back in it!” But Gary could not get back in. All he could do was watch with wonder as his plane flew itself in a straight line before landing gently in a snow-covered wheat field.

When police arrived on the scene, the F-106’s engine was still running. Wary of whatever had possessed this thing, the Air Force suggest the cops wait until the plane ran out of fuel, rather than attempt shutting it off. It took a while.

When the plane finally breathed its last it was collected and repaired by the Air Force, and eventually returned to active service. Freaky.

Check out the video below to hear Foust recount the events of that day:

4. Helicopter pilots nosedive into Lake Tahoe for a Facebook pic

Back in 2010, two presumably experienced and level-headed pilots from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 (HSM-41) were flying MH-6OR helicopters over Lake Tahoe. Everything appeared to be normal, when suddenly one of the aircrafts took a dip in the water, like a pelican trying to nab a fish.

Civilian witnesses caught the whole thing on video, and everyone wondered what the heck was going on. Had the engine failed? Were they trying to practice a mock search and rescue mission? The women in the video below seem to think its some sort of elaborate training exercise:

The answer is no. The pilots had the $33 million chopper surface-hover incredibly low over the water to try and get a cool profile picture for their squad’s Facebook page. And no, we’re not kidding.

The pilots allegedly took their hands off the controls to snap photos of one another flying the choppers. Then one helicopter began to plummet through the air, quickly losing altitude and skimming the water. The pilot was able to regain control and bring the chopper back up out of the water, but the stunt cost a cool half-a-million dollars worth in damages to the electronic flying antenna and other expensive equipment.

When they returned to base, the unnamed pair immediately lost flight status — shocker. Let it be a lesson to us all to not do it for the Vine, or the Facebook profile picture.

NOW: 4 amazing military stories that should totally be movies

OR: The 6 scariest military vehicles of WWI and WWII

Articles

9 times when troops said what they really felt

Your average civilian may look at the military and think it’s like the movies, with highly-motivated soldiers doing their job without complaint, saluting smartly, and marching around a lot.


But of course, that’s not really the case. Just like with any other job, military members have good days and bad days, and often air those grievances with each other. Sometimes, they let it slip in public, and tell everyone how they really feel.

Here are 9 of those times.

1. When a soldier tells you how he really feels about his post, through Wikipedia edits.

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via Reddit

2. This soldier on Yelp doesn’t really like the “Great Place” of Fort Hood, either.

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3. A Marine writing a review on Amazon challenges your manhood if you don’t want to wear ultra-short “silkie” shorts.

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via Amazon

4. The British Marine who makes a hilarious video poking fun at his officers.

5. When a sailor on Glassdoor compares Navy life to drinking sour milk.

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6. This anonymous service member using Whisper to confess his or her love for marijuana.

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7. The Marine who tells you over Yelp that Marine Corps Base 29 Palms will definitely steal your soul.

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8. The British soldiers in World War I who printed a mock newspaper filled with gallows humor satirizing life in the trenches.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

9. When real-life Armed Force Radio DJ Adrian Cronauer (portrayed by Robin Williams in “Good Morning Vietnam”) gives the troop version of a weather report in Vietnam.

Articles

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army

Everyone knows there are risks to joining the Army, but there are the dangers that everyone knows about thanks to movies, and then there are the dangers that soldiers learn about during their time in service.


Most movies make it look like the only way to die is in combat. But movies like “Jarhead” and “Starship Troopers” remind everyone that there are a lot of under appreciated ways to die in the military, like being killed by your own artillery or friendly fire from a machine gunner.

Here are five relatively unknown ways to get your ticket punched in the Army

1. It’s not “Danger close” until it has a 0.1 percent chance of incapacitating you

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(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

“Danger close” is one of those military terms that pops up in movies from time to time. It’s usually used correctly with artillery observers yelling it on the radio when they need bombs or artillery.

What the movie doesn’t tell you is that the term “danger close” refers to fire missions where the rounds have a 0.1 percent chance of incapacitating or killing friendly troops. That may not sound like much, but the risk estimate distance, or RED, for calculating  danger close is on a per round basis. Which means you’re rolling those 1 in 1,000 dice every time a round is fired.

Danger close fires are still often a good idea since they’re only used when a U.S. position is about to be overwhelmed, but they’re super dangerous. If the artillery line is asked to fire a total of 150 rounds in a danger close situation, then they have an 8.6 percent chance of hitting an American even if they do everything perfectly.

Any mistake increases the risk.

2. Human chemical detectors

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(Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Brian Kimball)

In the unlikely event of a chemical or biological attack, all members of the military don protective masks and suits and chemical soldiers track how the enemy agents break down until it’s safe. But someone has to be the first to take off their mask.

This moment sucks especially hard for the junior-most member of the unit since they’re usually the one who has to take their mask off first. So, good luck with that, new enlistees.

3. Every weapon malfunctions and malfunctions can kill you

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(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. John Portela)

The Army works hard to purchase and deploy effective and dependable weapons, but every weapon has a chance to fail even when it’s properly maintained. While soldiers usually act in training like helicopters only fall when shot at and weapons always fire until they overheat, that simply isn’t the case.

Take this artillery crew in Afghanistan that got a horrible surprise when their howitzer’s recoil mechanism gave out during a fire mission, leaving them to manually lower and raise the gun between shots. And that’s not even getting into the malfunctions that can kill soldiers outright, like when the breach or tube on a weapon gives out and it suddenly explodes when fired.

4. Everyone with a radio is a target

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(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Provost)

American soldiers are trained to target enemy combatants with radios in an attempt to shutdown the adversary’s command and control networks. Unfortunately, the enemy has figured this out too and uses the same tactics.

What that means for every platoon leader and sergeant, every radio telephone operator, and every artillery observer is that their antenna is a huge target painted on their backs.

5. Even in training, the weakest link can get you killed

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(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Steven L. Phillips)

But the scariest thing about being in the Army is when you realize that you’re life depends on everyone around you, and some of those guys are pretty stupid. In combat, these guys can get you killed by not being good at their jobs, but there are risks in training as well.

Artillery crews can miscalculate and hit friendly troops, helicopter pilots can crash, troops who have negligent discharges can send rounds anywhere. Obviously, sexier training is more dangerous. Shoot houses with live ammo and artillery ranges are more dangerous than practicing to escape a rolled over vehicle.

Lists

9 American heroes who received France’s Legion of Honor

French President Francois Hollande presented Airman First Class (A1C) Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and two others with the French Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration France can give (it is also not limited to military members). Foreign nationals are eligible to receive the medal for “serving France or the ideals it upholds.”


In 2015, Stone and Skarlatos served France by preventing a Moroccan national from going on a shooting spree with an AK-47 by physically subduing the perpetrator on a Paris-bound train.

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The Légion was established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 as a way to honor those who served post-Revolutionary France without granting them titles of nobility, which France just abolished. Bonaparte always wore the medal himself.

The Légion is not just an award; it is membership in an elite group of people who have served France in outstanding ways, with five levels of honor: Stone, Skarlatos, their friend Anthony Sadler, and British businessman Chris Norman were awarded at the level of Knight for their heroics. Beyond that, there are the levels of Officer, Commander, Grand Officer, and Grand Cross, the highest that can be awarded (The President of France serves as Grand Master).

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U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane

Stone and Skarlatos aren’t the first U.S. servicemembers to be awarded the honor. in 2004, the French government opened it to all Allied World War II veterans with proof of service in France. A number of members of the U.S. military have received the honor for various reasons. Here are nine prominent veterans who are also part of the prestigious Légion.

Sgt. Alvin York

One of history’s most famous conscientious objectors, Sgt. York (as he came to be publicly known) was a drinker and a fighter who became a born-again Christian before the outbreak of World War I. Even though his faith demanded pacifism, he enlisted for the draft as required by U.S. law. He applied for conscientious objector status, even appealing after his first request was denied. He would come to accept his fate, believing God had a plan for him to fight and win in France. One night, he and three other NCOs led thirteen privates to infiltrate the German lines on a nighttime raid and take out the machine guns. Somewhere along the way, one machine gun opened up on York and his compatriots, killing or wounding nine of the sixteen men. York didn’t even have time to take cover. He stood his ground and picked off the whole crew.

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Henry Louis Larsen

One of the U.S. Marine Corps’ finest, Larsen first served as an officer in WWI, where he participated in every major Marine Corps operation in France including Belleau Wood, which earned him a silver Citation Star on his WWI Victory Medal. In all he would earn the Navy Cross and three Silver Stars, all without ever being wounded. With the Légion d’Honneur, France also awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur

This may seem obvious to some, but MacArthur is primarily well-known (these days) for his service in the Pacific during World War II, his masterminding the Korean War, and his public firing at the hands of President Truman. MacArthur’s career started while Teddy Roosevelt was in office. When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, MacArthur was a Major and would be posted in France. By war’s end, the Old Soldier was Brig. Gen. MacArthur, and his service in the 1918 Champagne-Marne Offensive earned him four Silver Stars, two Croix de Guerre, a Distinguished Service Cross, and the Légion d’Honneur.

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Lt. Col. Mayhew Foster

Foster, then 33 and a Captain in the 36th Infantry Division, flew a Stinson L-5 Sentinel carrying more than 300 pounds of Hermann Göring’s fat ass back to Nuremberg to be tried for war crimes.

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Just you and me, Hermann.

Not once during the 55-minute flight with the former Nazi Luftwaffe commander did Foster worry about Göring trying to escape from the two-seater transport. Foster received the Légion d’Honneur in 2009 and died at age 99 two years later. Göring famously committed suicide by cyanide capsule before his scheduled execution. Foster also earned a Silver Star for his efforts fighting in France.

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Photo by Mayhew Foster

Senator Daniel Inouye

Before Inouye’s political career (which is extensive in itself — the Hawaii Democrat served in the House of Representatives before the Senate and served as President pro tempore of the Senate), he enlisted in the all-Nisei (a Japanese word used to describe second generation children of Japanese descent) 442d Regimental Combat Team (RCT).

Most of the 442d RCT came from families in Japanese internment camps on the West Coast of the United States, but would still enter the  war by 1944, earning 9,000 Purple Hearts, 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, and 21 Medals of Honor. Inouye was one of the Medal of Honor recipients (and a Purple Heart, losing his arm in a fight at the Gothic Line). Inouye and 442d were awarded the Légion d’Honneur for their brutal fight against fortified German units at Bruyères in the Vosges Mountains.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

This should come as a surprise to no one. As Supreme Allied Commander in World War II oversaw the planning and logistics for Operation Overlord, and his decision to invade Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944 would lead to the complete liberation of France in less than a year.

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Audie Murphy

The soldier the Navy and Marine Corps didn’t want became the most decorated soldier of WWII, and Murphy counts the Légion d’Honneur as one of his many decorations. He participated in the amphibious invasion of Southern France, landing at Ramateulle, where the Germans killed his best friends after faking a surrender. Murphy responded by wounding three, killing eight, and capturing eleven of them. There is oh-so-much more to Murphy’s actions in France after this (he even portrayed himself in the film To Hell and Back, about his life and service).

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In addition to the Légion and the Medal of Honor, in France, Murphy’s action earned the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, Croix de Guerre with Palm, two Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, American Campaign Medal, the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead device and campaign stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, the French Liberation Medal, two Presidential Unit Citations, and the French Fourragère in Colors of the Croix de guerre. Murphy also earned the Medal of Honor by single-handedly holding off an entire German infantry company with a rifle in January 1945 then leading a counteroffensive while wounded and out of ammunition.

George S. Patton

Gen. George S. Patton served in France in at least two wars (if you ask him, it was three — a believer in reincarnation, Patton famously believed to be one of Napoleon’s officers who died in his service). Patton’s time in France began in world War I as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), teaching early tank tactics. His time in World War II is what earned him his notoriety. After turning the North African campaign in favor of the Allies and his instrumental role in the allied invasion of Sicily, he was installed as the commander of the U.S. Third Army. After D-Day, Patton’s Third Army helped break the Normandy beachhead and then stopped the famous “Bulge,” relieving the 101st Airborne at Bastogne and then pressing on into Germany at an astonishing rate.

Colin Powell

A more contemporary awardee, General Powell’s illustrious military and public service career spans decades, from service in the Vietnam War to National Security Adviser under President Ronald Reagan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) under President George H.W. Bush, to U.S. Secretary of State for President George W. Bush’s first term. As CJCS, he was a critical adviser to President Bush (41) and Gen. “Stormin'” Norman Schwarzkopf, whose command of coalition forces against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait in 1990 included French Army and Air Forces.

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