The U.S. Coast Guard performed two daring rescues at sea over the past week. The first, on November 13, involved a stroke victim aboard a commercial fishing vessel. Then, just six days later, Coast Guard aircrews were tasked with the rescue of another fisherman who had fallen overboard. Footage of both rescues has been released.
On Friday, November 13, at approximately 6:00 p.m. EST, Coast Guard watchstanders received word that a fisherman had suffered an apparent stroke some 60 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was able to locate the vessel and rescue the fisherman by 7:30 that evening.
On Thursday, rescue crews out of Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod were once again tasked with saving an injured fisherman. This time, as a result of a man falling overboard.
At approximately 3:30 a.m. EST, a watchstander from Coast Guard District One received word of an emergency situation unfolding aboard a 72-foot fishing vessel called the Jennifer Anne. According to a Coast Guard statement, the 35-year-old fisherman had fallen overboard and had been recovered by other members of the crew. However, he had suffered a number of lacerations and was exhibiting signs of hypothermia.
The Coast Guard deployed an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft to locate the vessel, some 160 miles out to sea. By 6:51 a.m. EST, the vessel had been located, and rescue crews were able to safely hoist the injured fisherman from the deck of the Jennifer Anne. The injured man was stabilized and brought to Massachusetts General Hospital for further care.
This dramatic footage of the rescue highlights the incredible skill and bravery on display from the Coast Guard crew.
Last week, I read an article on this site called, “America, Where Are You Going?” in which the author (anonymous) bemoaned recent social and political activism of his or her fellow military spouses.
I read all the way to the second page, where one line jumped out above all the rest: “However, that mutual understanding and respect that our spouses should never be publicly political seem to have fallen to the side for a few…” (emphasis added).
Dear Anonymous, I could not disagree with this sentiment more. Here is my rebuttal.
For over twenty years, I’ve served my country by making sure that my spouse’s home and family are taken care of. I make lunches and brush hair and comfort babies when they haven’t seen their daddy in too long. I make sure that if he is called to deploy, he can leave our family knowing that we are taken care of and focus on the job in front of him. I love my country. My work isn’t a sacrifice so much as it is an act of patriotism and pride.
At the same time, it is out of a deep and abiding love for my country that I recognize her flaws and errors. It is also my duty to speak up and call for change.
In 1830 the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed, and my ancestors were robbed of their homeland in Mississippi. Choctaw Nation would start the trek west to Oklahoma where they would be confined to a reservation in a wholly new environment. My ancestors survived, though many others didn’t.
This story was told to me as a child. I could hear the pain in my grandmother’s voice as she retold the story her grandma told her. The early 1800s was one of many dark chapters in American history. But my Nation grew strong and built a future in Oklahoma.
Ever since then, I have been firmly grounded in the understanding that my country has deep flaws that we should all mourn. We also have the promise of freedom and the opportunity to grow that is lacking in so many places around the world. My American story goes back far beyond the first European settlers, then later was enriched by Italian and Welsh ancestors. I am rooted in this country in deep ways. This makes me both confident in the future that is possible and aware of the blemishes within.
Part of my duty as a patriot, as a military spouse, and as an American is to speak out against actions that harm our citizens and dishonor our history. Of course we can be publicly political! We’re stakeholders in this great American experiment, aren’t we? That means we get a say in how our country’s run. In fact, as military spouses who have lived in all different kinds of places, we have unique insights on how different systems work. Our perspective is tremendously valuable to the political process.
Those who suggest that spouses should never be political are likely the spouses who benefit most from the way things are now. I do not have that luxury. My Nation does not have that luxury. For us, our existence is political. If we do not speak up, we risk being erased entirely.
At the very end of the article, the author wrote: “The military is not just one entity, it is a family made up of individuals, all with different outlooks on life, political affiliations, religions, every race, and every culture imaginable.”
On this we can agree. Military spouses are no more of a monolith than any other demographic in America. I have military spouse friends who are Muslim, Jewish, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Gay, Transgender, socialists, and conservatives. All of us come into this military life with passions and beliefs, some that change and some that grow stronger. The shared experience of serving together bonds us across those differences with a strength that is rarely seen in civilian circles.
So of course: I no more speak for all military spouses than they speak for me. (I’ll add that in the original New York Times article I’m pretty sure this author referred to, that was made abundantly clear.) However, it does not mean that we do not speak at all. On the contrary, we cannot and must not remain quiet when we see injustices. We can and must stand up and say enough.
If you’re interested in political activism like me and what to know where to start, I recommend checking out the Secure Families Initiative. They host nonpartisan webinar trainings on how to be the best advocate you can be, whether that’s lobbying your elected officials or simply telling your story. It’s a super cool community of kickass military spouses!
My voice is important, my voice is unique, and my voice is mine. I am not speaking for my spouse or anyone else, but I am speaking for what I believe is best for my family, national security, and my country.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Military OneSource? Free counseling? Free tax-help? Employment assistance? Or maybe you’ve never even heard of Military OneSource before. Not sure of what you need or who to ask?
Military OneSource is a one-stop shop for just about anything a military family could need and is easily assessable by dialing 800-342-9647 or visiting www.militaryonesource.mil.
Here is a list of some common and some little-known reasons you should be utilizing Military OneSource.
Military OneSource will connect eligible members and dependents with qualified counselors for free. No deductible, no co-pay, and no out of pocket expense. In fact, providers are prohibited from accepting payment because they are paid directly by Military OneSource.
So what exactly does “non-medical” mean? Non-medical counseling refers to one in which there is not a billable diagnosis and the member is not currently taking certain psychotropic medications.
Call Military OneSource for a quick screening to be referred. Local providers can then conduct a more comprehensive evaluation to make sure the member is a good fit for continued services. Many utilize this benefit for couple’s therapy, family therapy, grief, stress management and other relational problems. With up to 12 sessions, Military OneSource is a great option to get professional, confidential help without the fuss of dealing with insurance.
Spouse Education Career Opportunities program through Military OneSource provides numerous resources for military careers and transitions. Military Spouses who sign up for a MySECO account will get a free one-year LinkedIn Premium upgrade. LinkedIn Premium accounts provide spouses with additional features to aid in their job search. Spouses will have access to career coaches, resume builders, job searches, and scholarship finders.
Special needs or circumstances
Having a child or family member with special needs can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you don’t know what resources may be available. Many military families are aware of or even required to enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). Military OneSource can be used as another resource to learn about additional benefits. A special needs consultant can help sort through benefits such as special educational, social security, Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) through Tricare, and additional programs. If your family is considering adoption, Military OneSource adoption consultants can answer some questions you may have. They know the ins and outs of military adoptions and can help steer you on the right path.
We could all use a vacation every now and then, but going on a family trip shouldn’t break the bank. Through Military OneSource and American Forces Travel, you can access travel discounts for hotels, rental cars, flights, cruises, and concert tickets. American Forces Travel allows you to plan affordable vacations in one centralized location. Not quite ready to take the family on a big vacation? You can access Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) on your installation and explore off-base activities as well. Bowling, swimming, movies, museums, and national parks are a few local family-friendly activities.
How to throw a welcome home party
Military OneSource might not be able to give specific guidelines on how to throw a party, but they have all of the resources to prepare you for reunification with your loved one. Having trouble adjusting to your spouse coming home? Reach out to Military OneSource for couple’s counseling. Maybe you want to talk to a tax professional or financial expert on the best move for the extra money made during deployment. Need help talking to your little ones about deployments or bullying? Military OneSource provides free children’s books on military specific topics, pamphlets, and other branded swag. These items can be ordered in bulk by providers and command leadership and are completely free.
If the thought of going to a massive resource website is overwhelming, you can reach a Military OneSource representative 24/7 via phone or live chat for your specific needs. Once you have some downtime, go back and explore the website to see what other hidden gems you can find to add to your resource arsenal.
This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.
The fake Cold War-era GIs will no longer be crowding the guardhouse recreation in Berlin where the actual Checkpoint Charlie once stood. In the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, a group of actors stood dressed in faux-American uniforms to take photos with tourists for a voluntary donation – except it wasn’t voluntary. Now the German government stepped in to give them the boot.
The public order office in the central district of Mitte says the actors began to shake tourists down for money, harassing passersby and demanding fees for photos of them and the wooden Checkpoint Charlie guard hut. The soldiers demanded as much as €4 for anyone taking a photo and could pick up as much as €5,000 on a good day. But then the fake troops tried to shake down the wrong “tourist” – a Berlin cop. That’s not all.
One or more of the 10 in the acting troupe who work(ed) the checkpoint site for the past 17 years stand accused of verbally abusing and physically intimidating tourists who don’t volunteer any cash for taking photos. The troupe’s behavior found its way to the public order office, who quickly informed the actors a special permit has been required for the past 17 years, one they did not have. They were told to pack it up and go home.
The reverse side of the Checkpoint guard shack.
Checkpoint Charlie has long been a tourist destination since even before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was the only crossing point in a divided Berlin for Allied citizens who desired to visit East Germany and come back. Tourists who couldn’t cross the wall would sit in nearby Cafe Adler, whose view over the wall would accompany a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. The original Checkpoint Charlie guard shack is in the Allied Museum in Berlin, The metal one in the street is a recreation erected in the 1980s.
Critics of the move – namely, the actors involved – say the government of Mitte kicking the fake troops out is part of a plan to rebrand Berlin’s history, a process of “de-Disneyfication” of the tragic history of Cold War-era Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie is just one more tourist site where locals hawk cheap souvenirs and chunks of concrete claiming to be from the real Berlin Wall.
It’s official. U.S. troops in South Korea will have their curfew lifted. The United States Forces Korea put out the memo on June 16th, and it’s now in effect on a temporary basis to try this whole “treating troops like grown-ass adults” thing out. It’ll be up until around September 17th, when they will evaluate if the troops can handle not f*cking up the one good thing they’ve gotten in years.
Every U.S. troop in Korea has been briefed on this. One single f*ck up and it’s over for everyone. They’ll be on their best Sunday Morning behavior the entire time. This may have something to do with it not being a payday weekend and everyone’s NCO will be hounding them all weekend to not even consider doing dumb sh*t.
Who am I kidding? We know there’s still going to be that one asshole who screws it all up anyway and it’ll be gone before next weekend… Here are some memes for everyone not planning to be the biggest Blue Falcon in USFK.
There’s a running bit in the We Are The Mighty office that if all else fails we could always make porn.
I like to bring it up during dry brainstorming sessions. I was feeling particularly amused by inappropriate humor last week during a meeting and, much to my utter delight, Army vet and WATM writer extraordinaire Logan Nye was too. He started listing off military-related Valentine’s Day articles that we should would never (because we’re classy like that I guess…) publish, and I told him that it was just too selfish to keep his creative genius from the world.
It derailed the meeting, but it was worth it.
So, my patriotic friends, I give you our list of rejected Valentine’s Day articles. Share with your right hand special someone and enjoy.
Have you ever woken up to the same hellish nightmare of three-phase cycles repeatedly until you no longer know what day it is? Have you felt the uncontrollable urge to wield the greatest noncombative, yet lethal weapon known to mankind in every conversation? Does your forehead bear the markings of greatness from a wide-brimmed hat of woolen death?
There are signs. These are the signs you may just be or have been a drill sergeant.
Photo Gallery: Marine recruits survive first night on Parris Island
It’s 4 a.m. on a good day and long before the crack of dawn. You’re there, in the dark, ready to delicately wake the trainees from their slumber. Likely, with an airhorn. Fast forward to sundown, and you’re three energy drinks in, waiting to put 200 almost soldiers, Marines, sailors, Coast Guardsmen or airmen to bed. Up before the dawn, home under the moonlight. You’re basically a vampire.
Caffeine is your new blood type
The regulation states 6-8 hours per night, but cycle 2 has shown you humans can live (sort of) off much less. How do you function? Caffeine, copious and copious amounts of caffeine. Has anyone ever seen a drill instructor without a coffee or energy drink in hand? I think not. Pushing 18-20-hour days, seven days a week for two miserably long years requires such.
Your stare is so terrifying, it produces cries on demand
Perhaps nothing is as terrifying as a silent drill sergeant. Am I in trouble? Was that good? Is this horribly, horribly wrong? They have no idea, and that’s the entire point. What’s even worse? Dark glasses and silence. The memory will (hopefully) haunt their dreams.
Multiple personalities are part of the gig
It takes far less than sixty seconds to royally piss off a drill instructor. Fear then rage, then empathy and more fear are all emotions drills can flip between without pause. It’s the terrifyingly good performance you must put on daily to keep the illusion that you still actually care. The daily goal is keeping the entire company on their toes.
You speak in catchphrases
Yes-no, criss-cross pizza sauce, it’s not rocket surgery. Did you get that? You live the same three-phase cycle for two years, with hundreds of faces making almost the same mistakes as the last cycle. You’ve got to keep it interesting somehow. The more ridiculous you are, the better your impersonation will be when the trainees imitate you at the end of the cycle.
The knife hand is strong with you. Its power is the multi-tool you never knew you were missing. It commands attention, corrects stupidity, instills fear, shows direction, and slices the air with precision. Its powers are so great, you no longer need to speak to converse clearly with trainees as to what they better hurry up and do.
You produce legendary nicknames
You’re reading off the roster and have no idea or could honestly care less about how to pronounce the next name. Instead, you improvise, gifting the lucky trainee with whatever condiment, thought or mistake they’re likely to make. Mistakes are often the go-to for renaming trainees to more accurately reflect the personality they are growing into. No shower shoes? Flip-flop is your new name, enjoy it buttercup.
You are perpetually pissed
Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, the sheer stupidity you witness day in and day out, or the fact that your last unit just deployed without you. Or maybe it’s all of it. Either way, you’re salty. Without the salt, you’d be normal, and normal is not part of the personality description behind drill instructors. The hatred boiling inside keeps you warm at night.
Life on the trail is the hellish nightmare you love to hate. It’s an experience engrained in who you’ve become. Every service member remembers their drill sergeants, both with a fondness and fear that they’ll never forget.
Although some tattoo shops and spas offer laser tattoo-removal services, only dermatologists have medical training in this area, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). And so, you may run a greater risk of experiencing negative side effects if your tattoo remover does not have appropriate medical training, per the AAD.
How long does it take to fully remove a tattoo?
Removing a tattoo will almost always take more than one visit to the removal specialist — sometimes it could even take dozens of sessions.
To figure out how many visits you’d need to get a tattoo removed, you should first consult a professional so they can review your ink and medical history, said Dr. Amy Derick, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Derick Dermatology, a Chicago-based practice that specializes in tattoo removal.
“Number of treatments vary based on many factors including: age of tattoo, number of colors, size, etc. For picosecond-wavelength tattoo removal — which is considered a gold standard for tattoo removal — most treatments will require seven to 10 treatments six to eight weeks apart,” she told INSIDER.
“The [total] number of treatments [also] depends on your body’s ability to eliminate ink from the skin. This varies for everyone,” added Dr. Debra Jaliman is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York, whose practice offers tattoo removal as a specialty.
Per Jailman, generally, the more colors in your tattoo, the more treatments you will need. In addition, these sessions must be spaced out (typically a few weeks apart), so the process can take quite some time.
How much does it cost to get a tattoo removed?
Removing a tattoo can be costly depending on how many sessions you’ll end up needing. In general, a single removal session can cost around to 0, but the price may vary depending on your tattoo and your location.
To estimate how many treatments you may require for your specific tattoo and skin type, you may want to reference tools like the Kirby-Desai scale. Just keep in mind that the best and most accurate way to figure out how many sessions you’ll need is to consult a professional.
Does getting a tattoo removed hurt?
How much the removal process hurts oftentimes depends on your individual pain tolerance — just like when you first got the tattoo you’re having removed.
“Getting a tattoo is generally more painful than removing the tattoo. Uncomfortable — and there is a certain level of pain — but it’s bearable. It feels like a small rubber band is snapping on your skin,” Jailman told INSIDER.
That said, some areas may be more painful to have ink removed from than others. “On certain bony areas, like the wrists, ribs, and ankles, tattoo removal is more painful than on other areas of the body,” Derick added.
Fortunately, there are some ways the process can be made to be even less uncomfortable, said Jailman. “The area is numbed with a topical numbing cream and a small chilling machine that blows cold air on the skin helps to keep pain at bay,” she added.
Are there any risks that come with getting a tattoo removed?
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with tattoo removal.
“Individuals who have light-sensitive seizures, vitiligo, history of poor healing, or an active rash or injury to the area may not be an ideal candidate for laser,” Derick told INSIDER. She said these individuals may be prone to experiencing more tattoo-removal-related side effects.
She also said that all individuals (especially those with darker skin tones) are at risk of experiencing hypopigmentation after laser tattoo removal. “This is when the patient’s normal skin pigment is removed by the laser process, resulting in white-looking scarring that is permanent. This is also known as a ghosting effect,” Derick explained.
Jailman also pointed out that those who have sensitive skin and who are prone to allergic reactions may experience some issues when they have their ink removed. “You could have an allergic reaction as the laser breaks down the pigments in the tattoo,” she added.
Some may also be at risk of experiencing more prominent scarring. “If you are prone to keloids (a type of raised scar), having a tattoo removed could be a problem. The scars from the area treated may definitely develop into a keloid,” Jailman also told INSIDER.
Can all tattoos be removed?
Most of the time a tattoo can be removed — but with certain inks, it may not be possible to entirely remove your design.
“A true black-ink tattoo is by far the easiest to treat. In some cases, red ink can resolve easily as well,” Dr. Will Kirby, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer for aesthetic-dermatology group LaserAway. previously told INSIDER.
But, he said that colors like maroon, aqua, and teal can be resistant to laser removal. He also noted that some shades like yellow, orange, and brown may not be removed by laser treatment at all.
Do you have to do any special sort of aftercare for a tattoo that’s in the process of being removed?
Derick told INSIDER that, just like with your initial tattoo, when you undergo removal you’re creating an open wound that requires careful treatment to ensure you heal properly and avoid getting an infection.
“After a session, the technician bandages the area just like the patient will be expected to do at home for generally about one week or until the area is healed,” said Derick. “The patient changes this bandage every 24 hours after washing the area with a mild soap. Keeping the area bandaged keeps the tattoo out of the sun and allows for effective healing of the treated skin.”
Those removing a tattoo can also expect to experience a bit of bruising, blistering, and scabbing, said Jailman. She said you should avoid picking scabs, cover blistering skin, and use ointment as recommended by your doctor.
Some special creams and ointments claim to help fade a tattoo by bleaching or peeling away layers of your skin to remove the ink, per Today. But there’s a reason these creams sound too good to be true — they are.
At this time, the FDA hasn’t “approved or cleared any do-it-yourself tattoo removal ointments and creams that you can buy online.” Furthermore, the FDA warns that these creams can cause adverse side effects including scarring, rashes, and burning.
Can you really use salt to remove a tattoo?
You may have heard some people talking about using salt and water solutions to scrub away tattoos in a dated method called salabrasion — but this is potentially a very dangerous strategy, according to the AAD.
The Army’s Green Berets need mountain warfare training — and what better place to do it than on the so-called roof of the world?
About the size of the US state of Georgia, Nepal is wedged between India and China along the length of the Himalayan mountain range. The mountain kingdom is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including 29,029-foot Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. For two 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Berets, this was the perfect turf on which to hone their mountain warfare prowess.
In September and October, the pair of Special Forces soldiers spent six weeks with the Nepali Army High Altitude and Mountain Warfare School (HAMWS), training on all sorts of hard-charging mountain warfare skills, including ascending and descending techniques, survival and rescue techniques, the use of special equipment, and cliff assault tactics.
And for the pièce de résistance, the Green Berets put their new skills and equipment to the test scaling Thorang Peak, a 20,200-foot mountain. At that altitude, there’s roughly half as much air pressure — and half as much oxygen — as at sea level.
“Marrying a deep expertise in mountain warfare tactics and mountaineering techniques with breathtaking terrain, the program succeeded in not only sharpening our capabilities but in forging strong bonds between new friends,” a detachment commander from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) said, according to a Department of Defense release.
Nepal has more than 13,000 peaks higher than 6,000 meters, or about 19,700 feet. (Alaska’s Denali, the highest mountain in North America, is 20,310 feet high.) For the past 30 years, the Nepali Army’s HAMWS has hosted some 16 foreign students from 23 participating countries. This year, four total students from the US, Pakistan, and Bangladesh participated.
US Special Operations forces have trained in Nepal for years — including parachute jumps in the shadow of Mount Everest in the country’s Khumbu region.
On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated much of Nepal’s Himalayan landscape, killing about 9,000 people. Ancient monuments in the capital city of Kathmandu were turned to rubble. A massive avalanche at Mount Everest base camp killed 24 people, National Geographicreported.
After the 2015 earthquake, the deployed Army Green Berets ditched their training and went into real-world search and rescue mode. Among other efforts, they performed a helicopter rescue mission in the Himalayas, saving 30 stranded trekkers, including an American named Corey Ascolani.
US military personnel traveled to Nepal in 2017 for a humanitarian aid mission called Pacific Angel 17-4.
The US has another, more clandestine military connection to Nepal, dating back to the Cold War when the CIA supported Tibetan guerrillas based in Nepal’s Mustang region. Known as the Chushi Gangdruk, the CIA-backed irregular Tibetan force conducted cross-border raids against Chinese forces inside Tibet — a lingering point of contention between Beijing and Washington.
On Feb. 28, 2015, Staff Sgt. Sebastiana Lopez stepped out of her apartment on an early Saturday morning in Charleston, South Carolina. The humidity was low, making a good day for a motorcycle ride. As she went back into her apartment to swap her car keys for motorcycle keys, she didn’t know it was the first step toward a life-changing moment.
Lopez’s four older siblings served in the US military in different branches. She looked up to them, eventually joining the US Air Force. She served for seven years as a crew chief on C-17s. Lopez’s parents immigrated to the US illegally, and she felt that she owed her country for the new opportunities afforded to her. Joining the military was her way of saying thank you.
As Lopez was coming around a corner of the road on her motorcycle, an armadillo was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her motorcycle and the armadillo collided causing her to crash into the curb, ejecting her from the bike and directly into a tree. She remembers bear hugging a tree and her leg kicking her in the face, breaking the motorcycle helmet visor. She fell to the ground and a plume of dust erupted. She never lost consciousness.
Lopez was dazed but immediately started thinking about how to survive. She tried to do blood sweeps, but her arms wouldn’t move. She saw that her leg was positioned at an unnatural angle and thought, “Well, that sucks. I probably need to put a tourniquet or something on that.” No matter how she looked at it, she wasn’t able to self-administer aid due to the extent of her injuries.
Her lung was punctured by a broken rib, she had several broken bones, an amputated (above the knee) right leg, lacerated liver, ruptured spleen, and many other internal and external injuries. Lopez was losing blood fast, and every breath felt like a million stab wounds, but she maintained a goal.
Sebastiana with her family after her accident. Photo courtesy of Sebastiana Lopez.
“So I kind of looked up at the sky, and I’m like, there’s nothing I can do about this except for — keep breathing,” Lopez said.
She focused on each breath, counting in her head while she held her breath to minimize the pain. Then panic crept into her mind: It was a Saturday morning, people were up partying the night before, and it’s unlikely anyone will be awake to find her. Lopez stayed calm but couldn’t help thinking that this might be the end.
“I was pretty happy with the life I had already lived — even though it was very short, 24 years old at the time,” Lopez said. She accomplished what she had always wanted to do, giving back to her country by joining the Air Force. As she settled into being okay with the fact that she was dying, a car drove past.
She said that the first thought that popped into her head was, “That’s a stupid-looking car.” Then she realized that the person driving that car might be her ticket out of there. Luckily, her motorcycle had come to a stop up the road. The bystander saw it and immediately threw his vehicle into reverse. He found Lopez lying next to the tree, and the fear on his face was evident. He panicked, and the first thing he asked her was, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
Side by side (right photo showing initial recovery, left showing extensive recovery) comparison showing just how much Sebastiana has recovered since her crash. Photo courtesy of Sebastiana Lopez.
The ambulance arrived, and even though Lopez couldn’t see him, she recognized the voice of one of the responders. He was an Air Force reserve pilot she had flown with during an operation in Malaysia when they were designated as a backup C-17 for the president while he toured that area of the world. Hearing a familiar voice, especially someone she knew from the military, immediately put her mind at ease. I might make it through this, she thought.
Despite the massive amount of blood loss, Lopez can recall up until the point when the hospital staff wheeled her into the OR. Her heart stopped not long after her arrival at the hospital, but they managed to get her back. She woke up a month later surrounded by her family, and she felt like she might have been in purgatory. A priest was close by and had been waiting to give Lopez her last rites in coordination with her Catholic beliefs.
“They knew telling me the news that, hey, you don’t have a leg anymore, was going to just tear me apart,” Lopez said. “To be quite honest, it didn’t. At least initially because I was just happy to wake up. It didn’t really hit me until a few months later that life was going to get pretty shitty and pretty hard, especially when I lost my hand function in both hands.”
Shortly after waking up from the coma, Lopez sustained a stroke and lost her speech. Her family added a degree of frustration when they unknowingly talked slowly and loudly to her, thinking she had lost the ability to process information as well. This was one more blow, but it didn’t shake Lopez — it was just another speed bump.
“I was like, Motherfuckers, I understand what y’all are saying — I just can’t verbalize my answer or write it even,” she said, adding that she felt trapped, much like when she was lying on the ground after her crash.
Lopez loves sports, and the driving force to compete again kept her internal fire blazing. As she completed her speech therapy and regained the ability to speak, she started to feel better about herself. Her first steps with her prosthetic leg brought even more confidence.
Even while Lopez completed speech therapy and physical rehabilitation, another battle loomed under the surface. One of the first movements she had to do was rolling from side to side, and whenever she did, the incision from her abdominal surgery would start bleeding. The hospital staff was growing concerned and asked her if she wanted to stop.
“I was like, ‘Hell no, I need to start moving!'” she said.
She recovered to an extent while staying at the Medical University of South Carolina hospital. She described it as similar to a scene out of Kill Bill when Uma Thurman’s character wills herself out of paralysis by saying, “Wiggle your big toe.”
Sebastiana competing in the Invictus Games. Photo courtesy of Sebastiana Lopez.
Lopez aggressively pursued her exercises while running a consistent temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. From rolling side to side to putting on her socks by herself, she was making progress. But then she started losing energy again and didn’t feel well. Her recovery was coming along, but she lost function in her right arm. She was scheduled to be transferred to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a higher level of physical rehabilitation.
Her new doctors ran tests and found out that Lopez was septic, which is a widespread, serious infection within the body that can have lethal consequences. She was transferred directly into the ICU.
Once recovered, Walter Reed brought on even harder rehabilitation training — and the results were even better. Lopez worked hard and rep after rep moved closer to her goal of competing again.
She spent hours every day sending signals to her hands and any other part of her body that wouldn’t readily move with her internal instructions. She eventually regained some command over the movement of her fingers.
Sebastiana Lopez Arellano powers a hand cycle during the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando. May 9, 2016. DoD News photo by EJ Hersom, courtesy of Sebastiana Lopez.
After her incident, the Air Force enrolled Lopez in what’s called the Casualty Care Program and the Recovery Care Program. She was assigned a Recovery Care Coordinator (RCC). Lopez transferred to outpatient physical rehab, and one day while she was working on different exercises, her RCC walked up to her. She asked Lopez what she thought about doing an adaptive sports camp.
“No, I’m not ready. I’m still rehabbing my hand — I want to be able to wipe my butt first before I go compete or learn a sport,” Lopez responded. Her RCC told her a white lie: “You’re still in the US Air Force, you kind of have to.”
Lopez later found out that wasn’t the case, but she felt that the RCC knew she needed a little push. The RCC signed up Lopez, unbeknownst to her, for a beginner’s adaptive sports camp through the Air Force Wounded Warrior program.
What her RCC said was a beginners camp was actually the tryouts for the Air Force’s Wounded Warrior Games team. Lopez found out once she arrived at the “camp,” but with her no-quit spirit, she persevered and made it onto the team.
Within a year of her accident, Lopez competed in the Wounded Warrior Games and earned five gold medals for two-hand cycling races, shot put, discus, and sitting volleyball.
“The funny thing about the 2016 Warrior Games, I broke my arm the first day we got there,” she said, laughing. “So I competed the entire week with a broken arm.”
From that first Warrior Games to her most recent competition performance in the 2019 Team USA Parapan American Games, Lopez has achieved her goal of competing again — and then some. In addition to the medals from the 2016 Warrior Games, she went on to medal over 19 times in different events over the course of the next few years, and she even established a world record in discus.
Lopez has defied the physical disabilities that the armadillo caused that fateful Saturday morning in February 2015.
“I might still pursue [Team USA] in the future, between school and everything else — I’m kind of looking into starting a family soon, and I want to focus on that,” Lopez said. “I’m not saying that’s the end of the world for me. I probably will try to pursue it, but maybe 2024 for me.”
Area 51 is highly classified, mysterious Air Force base in Nevada. It’s been at the center of numerous conspiracy theories pertaining to aliens and UFOs.
Over 1 million people have responded to a Facebook event to “storm” the site. The event is supposed to take place on Sep. 20, 2019, with the end goal of getting the group to “see them aliens.”
The event is likely a joke, but it’s also led to memes. From spy planes to tourist attractions, here’s how the military base became associated with the theories.
Area 51 is an active Air Force base in Nevada.
Very little is known about the highly classified, remote base, making it the perfect object of fascination and conspiracy.
The extraterrestrial highway cuts through the desert near Area 51 but not into it. It is a tourist attraction.
It’s unclear why the base is even called Area 51.
According to the CIA, Area 51 is its map designation. But it begs the question — are there other “areas?”
As National Geographic notes, there are many other names for the base. One of those names, is Groom Lake, a reference to the dry lake near the base, while another is the sarcastic moniker Paradise Ranch. Its official site name is Watertown, but it’s sometimes referred to as Dreamland, after the Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name.
The base is not open to the public, but there are plenty of nearby tourist attractions that capitalize on its history.
The active base has high security 24 hours a day. This means if a person — or, say, 1 million — wanted to storm the base in an attempt to see aliens, it would be incredibly dangerous.
But, as Travel Nevada notes, there are several attractions around the state that have glommed on to the alien-theme, playing up the secrecy of the base, including the Extraterrestrial Highway. Stops along the highway include Hiko, Nevada, where you can visit the Alien Research Center and purchase ET Fresh Jerky, and Rachel, Nevada, which is considered the “UFO Capital of the World.”
Area 51, from up above.
Until 2018, you couldn’t view satellite images of Area 51. Now you can.
The base is located relatively far off from any public roads. According to a 2017 Business Insider video, some Area 51 employees have to fly to work on personal planes out of the Las Vegas airport.
A 1966 Central Intelligence Agency diagram of Area 51, found in an untitled, declassified paper.
The government won’t say what exactly goes on at the site.
It’s unclear what the base is used for these days. The secrecy has led to a great deal of public speculation and, in turn, conspiracy theories — especially those relating to aliens and space.
The U-2 can fly higher than 60,000 feet.
We do know that it was used for military training during World War II.
The remote location was later used by the US government to test high-flying U-2 planes during the 1950s.
The base was used to build prototypes and run test flights for the vessels, which could reach higher altitudes than standard crafts of the time, as declassified documents would later reveal.
After the U-2 was implemented, the Air Force continued to use the base to test other aircraft, like the OXCART and F-117 Nighthawk.
But, at the time, the American public had no idea.
The US government didn’t confirm that Area 51 was an Air Force base until 2013.
After the National Security Archive at George Washington University filed a Freedom of Information Act in 2005 about the U-2 spy plane program, the CIA was forced to declassify documents related to Area 51 in 2013.
The area is also linked to conspiracy theories — mostly pertaining to aliens, space, and UFOs.
Although the supernatural theories have been debunked, the base is still associated with aliens and UFOs. Some of the excitement around the area have to do with the aircraft flying in, out, and around the base.
As a 2017 Business Insider video notes, there was an increase of supposed UFO sightings in the area in the 1950s — around the same time the U-2 planes were being tested. The secrecy of the program prohibited Air Force officials from publicly refuting the UFO claims at the time.
Jeffrey T. Richelson, the man who filed the FOIA that confirmed the existence of the base, explained this theory.
“There certainly was — as you would expect — no discussion of little green men here,” Richelson told The New York Times in 2013. “This is a history of the U-2. The only overlap is the discussion of the U-2 flights and UFO sightings, the fact that you had these high-flying aircraft in the air being the cause of some of the sightings.”
And then there are the rumors started in the 1980s by a man named Robert Lazar, who claimed to have worked near the base.
In an interview with reporter George Knapp from the time, he described working on propulsion systems for “nine flying saucers of extraterrestrial origin,” according to archival footage reviewed by Vice.
Lazar is also the subject of a documentary called “Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers,” which was released in December 2018. In the documentary, he goes into further details about his claims about what he alleges happened while he worked at Area 51 and what life has been like for him since.
Lazar’s claims may have cemented the base’s association with aliens and inspired others to come forward with stories and theories of their own.
In the music video for the “Old Town Road” remix, Young Thug, Billy Rae Cyrus, Lil Nas X, and Mason Ramsey storm Area 51.
It’s likely a joke. The event comes from a Facebook group called “Shitposting cause im in shambles.” It’s even spawned its own meme cycle, complete with an “Old Town Road” music video, because why not?
But not everyone is so amused.
Namely, the Air Force.
“[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces,” Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews told the Washington Post. “The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.
Editor’s note: This article discusses veteran suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, suicidal ideation or are in crisis, please ask for and get the help you deserve. The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support for veterans in crisis and their families and friends. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or text 838255.
Andrew “Andy” Marckesano was a Green Beret and Silver Star Recipient. He was also a father, husband and deeply complex man struggling to come to grips with his service and life.
His wife of several months, Erin Marckesano, didn’t want to date him initially. An active duty soldier herself, she said the reputation of Special Operations Forces made her nervous. “He convinced me to let him take me out on a date and that was it. Andy was it,” she said with a smile. After nine months of dating they were married.
Erin shared that people who saw Andy on the street were probably terrified of him. Big, burly and tattooed, he could make people nervous pretty easily. “Once you had a conversation with him though, you’d realize he was a big teddy bear. He was so concerned about everyone else. He was loyal to a fault, to the point where he didn’t pay attention to himself,” Erin explained.
Andy loved his family and friends. He had an infectious personality and was always messing with his guys. Despite his big personality and loving nature, Erin noticed that his big blue eyes were sad. It’s something she told him on their first date. “People saw this change in him over the last couple of years,” she said.
In 2009, Andy was a part of the 82nd Airborne and 75th Ranger Regiment when he was deployed to Afghanistan in the Arghandab Valley to replace a unit that had sustained heavy losses. At the time, it was the most dangerous region of the war. Friends of Andy’s reported that it was a deployment he never truly got over.
Andy deployed to Afghanistan again in 2013 and after returning home, attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection at Fort Bragg. He was chosen to attend the coveted “Q” course and graduated as a Green Beret in 2015. A Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Andy deployed again to Afghanistan in 2017.
In 2020, Andy got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take an impressive job at the Pentagon; it was something he couldn’t turn down. But the job came at a cost. Andy’s ex-wife would get primary custody of his three children in a different state and it was the first time a deployment wasn’t responsible for keeping them apart.
“Going to a new job, leaving his family and kids. It was during COVID and you could see the stress,” Erin said. But, “You could ask his friends and family, he was the happiest they’d ever seen him. There was no downward shift or spiral. That’s the hardest part for all of us,” Erin shared. But there was a change.
Three days after arriving in DC, Andy took his life.
Later, Erin went through Andy’s things and read his personal writings. The struggle of a man trying to reconcile his faith with the things he did in the war appeared to weigh heavily on Andy. “You see this internal conflict. He was trying to fit all of this into a puzzle and it doesn’t go neatly. He was very smart and very complex,” Erin said. “It’s okay to not be okay. No one has this puzzle put together. I think that’s what he was struggling with, all of these complexities. I know he felt loved… I just don’t know that it’s enough.”
It’s with that thought in mind that the Green Beret Foundation established The MSG Andrew Marckesano Suicide Prevention Fund. Executive Director Brent Cooper shared that Andy’s suicide in particular appeared to hit the Special Forces community especially hard. He was someone that outwardly had it all squared away, but now, we know, he didn’t.
“The matter of military and veteran suicide is a deeply nuanced, sensitive and constantly evolving issue,” Cooper explained. “At the Green Beret Foundation, our objective is to ensure that every Green Beret and Green Beret family member suffering from mental health challenges has access to all necessary avenues of treatment and care.”
Statistics show that many troops returning home from combat turn to alcohol as a means and method of coping, rather than addressing the root of their stressors. It’s something that Erin saw firsthand. “If he would have just paused for a millisecond, it never would have happened. If he could have for one second taken a deep breath, it wouldn’t have happened. If he could, I imagine him after, thinking, ‘What did I just do?’” she shared through tears.
One of the hardest things for Erin is seeing the continuous emails and messages from other soldiers still coming to Andy’s phone, even after his death. “They are saying things like, ‘I understand and I know why you did it, I get it.’ But no one knows their pain, they are telling Andy … That’s why I think it’s so important, what the Green Beret Foundation is doing. Andy wasn’t the only one. He was just the only one that day,” Erin explained.
For Cooper, this mission is personal. “Our goal is to leave no Green Beret or Green Beret family member behind, affording them the necessary care to enjoy meaningful and fulfilling lives free from the shadow of suicide,” he said. “We approach this matter from a holistic perspective, considering mental health care and suicide prevention to include treatments and therapies which may address other underlying concerns, such as substance abuse, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain and additional issues which may contribute to suicidal ideation.”
Andy’s life is one of courage, deep sacrifice and love. Although his suicide doesn’t define his entire story, it’s a page that has created a wave of devastating impact. He leaves behind a wife, three young children, a close-knit family and an entire Special Forces community, all deeply hurting from his absence.
Despite his larger than life personality, supportive and loving family – Andy lost an internal battle. Through the MSG Andrew Marckesano Suicide Prevention Fund, Erin hopes Andy’s legacy and story give other Green Berets and their families a reason to pause and breathe. Then, keep fighting.
To learn more about the Green Beret Foundation and their commitment in Andy’s honor, click here.
Over years of watching war films, hearing grandpa’s stories, poring over documentaries, and hanging on the every word of your local veteran bullsh**ters, you built up an expectation of military service that couldn’t possibly be met.
So, by the end your enlistment comes to a close, it’s safe to say that the time spent in uniform did not go as expected. Honorable service? Yes. High standards of professionalism? Absolutely. Reaching a physical apex never before thought reasonable or possible? Check marks the box. But was it anything like the Space Marines in Aliens? Not even close. Did you single-handedly hold off an entire battalion of enemy soldiers? Probably not.
So, now you want out — but be careful what you wish for, because if you thought life on the inside wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, then you’re in for a real surprise once you get out.
These are the seven stages of separation that all veterans go through after getting that DD-214. It’s the response to the physical, mental, and emotional letdown endured when civilian life doesn’t match our high expectations. It’s the process of realizing that maybe — just maybe — leaving the finest fighting force this planet has ever known wasn’t the best idea. At least not yet.
They are as follows:
“You mean I can just… go? Just like that?!”
Terminal leave is approved, you’ve had your final physicals, so it’s time to pack up your sh*t and run! Armed with a DD-214 and a dream, you flee from the nurturing embrace of your second parental institution to pursue all the things you shoulda, woulda, coulda done if it weren’t for that pesky contract.
Growth patterns, colors, and thickness may vary.
(“You Were Never Really Here” / Amazon Studios)
When one is held to a military standard for so long, it is only natural to act out. Separation is furry-faced freedom at its finest. This is a time of discovery for any former service member. Personally, I never knew I could grow a blood-red war beard that doesn’t quite flourish in specific spots. Now, after having experienced this second stage of separation, I know much more about myself, which is what it’s really all about.
(“Captain America” / Marvel)
Delusions of grandeur
Time makes the heart grow fonder — and it also makes you exaggerate the impact you had during your time in. Yes, your service is appreciated and you were definitely an essential cog in the machine, but don’t worry, the military will do fine in your absence. Most of the branches have been around for well over two-hundred years.
That’ll do, warrior. Let the next generation take it from here.
Add some cargo pants/shorts, flip flops, way more tattoos and BOOM!
We know, we know. Everything sucks. Civilians are all lazy and have no concept of discipline. Hollywood movies won’t stop messing up uniforms and military terms and Brad Pitt’s combat tactics are all wrong!
And don’t get us started on these crazy posts on Facebook. It’s up to you to correct the world and set things right.
We call this one, “gettin’ back into it.”
There’s no way around this one: you’ll gain weight. You might lose it later, but you’ll sure as hell gain it first. You will no longer be forced to PT, but you will swallow the same trash calories you did when you were a teenage warrior. The results may upset you.
Have some fun, my brothers and sisters. Life’s too short for your best years to be behind you. Sure, the military was an amazing experience and you earned your memories through by sharing suffering with some of the best friends you could ever have, but now is your time to make an impact on your own terms. Cultivate a strong sense of humor, try not to sweat the small stuff, and remember, it’s all small stuff.