Here's why a Crew Chief is a pilot's 'best friend' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

On a flight line shrouded in a constant haze and tortured by Thailand’s relentless sun, the sounds of jet engines and jungle birds fill the ears of Staff Sgt. Travis Davis, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief; a best friend to any 35th Fighter Squadron pilot who puts their trust in crew chiefs like Davis every time they fly.

While executing U.S. Indo-Pacific Command objectives and U.S. Pacific Air Forces priorities at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Davis and 114 other maintainers from the 8th Fighter Wing, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, are operating and will redeploy 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons loaded with full-scale-heavy-weight-munitions supporting exercise Cobra Gold 2019. Cobra Gold is a Thai-U.S. co-sponsored exercise that promotes regional partnerships to advance security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and is one of the longest-running international exercises.


Behind the Scenes: Air Force Crew Chief Prepping F-16 for Launch

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Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Staff Sgt. Travis Davis, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects an F-16 brake during exercise Cobra Gold 2019 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, Feb. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters)

Davis and other maintainers quickly adapted to operating in a hot and humid environment alongside their Royal Thai Air Force partners, and as the sun shines, they’re reminded of the winter conditions of home-station.

“I like my job, but there are people who don’t necessarily enjoy it due to extreme cold or hot weather conditions,” Davis said. “Especially when we are busy and breaks are hard to come by, but the mission comes first.”

Also read: 4 times enlisted crews stole planes from flight lines

Davis advises fellow crew chiefs in maintaining, servicing and inspecting the F-16s. His inspector role ensures 8th AMXS Airmen are equipped with the proper tools and skill sets to get the job done as safely and efficiently as possible, while keeping those who fly the jets reassured that they’re sitting in a well taken care of and lethal jet.

“As a crew chief, you need to keep your head on a swivel, and make sure to pay attention to what you’re doing,” Davis said. “You have someone else’s life in your hands, and mistakes can quickly escalate into a life or death situation. We can always replace parts here and there, but we can’t replace a person.”

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Staff Sgt. Travis Davis, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, gives the 35th Fighter Squadron’s “Push It Up!” sign during exercise Cobra Gold 2019 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, Feb. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters)

Consistency is very important, Davis said, and a mistake on a crew chief’s part creates the potential for loss, whether it’s a million aircraft or a precious life.

With no U.S. aircraft maintenance support, Davis and other 8th AMXS maintainers learned to operate in conditions that are similar to a bare base during Cobra Gold 19. Weapons, avionics, and other maintenance specialists assisted crew chiefs in launching aircraft by aiding as a “B man,” and egress technicians supplemented crash and recovery teams to build F-16 tires.

Regular maintenance, inspections, refueling, launch and recovery is a lot of work, said Davis, but combining hands-on efforts across the 8th MXG enabled smoother transitions throughout the exercise.

“Cross utilization of maintainers of different (Air Force specialty codes) and roles is a true embodiment of maintainers making the mission happen,” said Capt. Su Johnson, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. Without (the) Wolf Pack maintainers’ pride and aggressive attitude to succeed, exercise Cobra Gold would not have been successful.”

Davis has averaged about 50 work hours a week, overseeing maintenance operations and inspections so pilots are able to conduct training without delay or complications.

“I’m thankful for the many opportunities this career has given me the last 10 years,” Davis said. “It makes you really appreciate the job, even on the tougher days. During deployments and exercises such as Cobra Gold, you really get to see the bigger picture, and how your work contributes to and impacts the mission.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

These 10 memes perfectly show how we really feel about New Year’s resolutions

Although it isn’t a stretch to assume the entire world is glad to see the end of 2020, many of us will still find ourselves annoyed as we watch our friends and family share their resolutions for the new year. It isn’t because we are mean-spirited and don’t want them to succeed, either. There are just certain resolutions that make their way onto lists every January which cause the eye-rolling. In true WATM fashion, we felt that memes could more adequately demonstrate responses to many of these over-used resolutions.

  1. Exercise more
new years resolutions

Listen, we aren’t trying to be negative but exercising more is literally always a thing. For those who’s gyms aren’t closed it’s inevitable that you’ll see it fill in January and then slowly but surely go back to normal by March. Everyone makes this resolutions with great intentions but very few will actually follow through with it.

2. Diet

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Eating healthy is a admirable resolution. The problem is that people tend to go balls to the wall and cut out everything, setting themselves up for failure. Day one always goes well, as the meme suggests. It’s day three, four and five that are the problem. Sustaining crazy diets just isn’t feasible and truly isn’t healthy either. Word to the wise: eliminate the word diet from your resolution.

3. Stop procrastinating

new years resolutions

Procrastinators everywhere have this one on their list. There are studies that have suggested procrastination has tripled in the last 30 years. Rather than making a blanket goal to never procrastinate (a failure just waiting to happen) re-frame this resolution to be about organization. By creating the space and time for the things on your to-do lists, they become more obtainable. Create reasonable due dates, putting the reins of control in your hands.

4. Reduce stress

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Listen, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Reducing your stress is a noble goal but the reality is we are all going to continue to suffer from stress. It’s how you manage it that is the point. Re-frame this basically unobtainable resolution to be “implement self-care”. Life stressors are waiting for you in 2021, but if you have positive coping tools in your tool-belt to combat them, you’ll make it through.

5. Travel more

new years resolutions

Traveling more always makes it to the top of the list of resolutions, but this meme is more of the real reality we are facing in 2021. Sorry friend!

6. Eat more at home

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Day one of quarantine had everyone planting liberty gardens and making homemade bread. Day 90 had DoorDash and UberEats apps downloaded to your phone. PS: using a restaurant delivery service doesn’t really count for this goal. Just saying.

7. Learn something new

new years resolutions

This meme is on point! But for real, this is a resolution you can actually accomplish right now. Many of us have endless extra time to devote to learning a new skill, so stop procrastinating (also a resolution) and do it!

8. Reduce smart-phone time

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Literally. We’ve all seen the epic videos of people walking and smart-phoning, they don’t end well. Although this goal tends to be at on the list of most stated resolutions, follow-through is low. Instead, make it measurable and obtainable. Leave your phone in another room during mealtimes for one. Get to know the humans in your quarantine bubble with you instead. Ya know, your family?

9. Get more sleep

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Americans are sleeping less. One in three adults aren’t getting enough sleep, according to the CDC. Since this study was done in 2016 and we don’t yet have 2020 numbers, it’s pretty safe to say that its the same or higher due to the stress or endless nighttime YouTube video scrolling.

10. Save money

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

We saved this goodie for last for a reason. It’s always on the list. This goal ends up being a failure for so many because it’s too big and broad. Be realistic! Reduce your latte ordering to twice a month, get rid of a few streaming services and only order food for delivery once a week. You’ll save $100 a month easily! There will still be plenty of shows and movies to watch while you are procrastinating to keep busy not being busy. Make your own fancy coffee and snackies (saving money and learning a new thing, two resolutions in one!).

As you dive into your 2021 New Year’s resolutions, just remember there’s someone just waiting to make a meme about it. Choose wisely.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why camouflaged troops wearing reflective belts became a thing

If there’s one accessory that’s become synonymous with the post-9/11 generation of troops, it has to be the nonsensical PT belt. It’s that bright, neon green, reflective band that you see wrapped around every troop when they go out for a jog.

Honestly, it seems like some big wig at the Pentagon must have thought it was funny in an ironic sort of way to make all troops who’re wearing camouflage fatigues put on a bright, shiny, eye-catching belt. Military doctrine isn’t made on a whim and, usually, there’s a lot more at play than meets the eye, but the actual reason behind wearing the belt is a perfect example of someone listening to the “Good Idea Fairy” instead of reason.


Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

In all fairness to the glow belt, it does help troops be seen at night. That doesn’t mean that’s the solution to vehicular manslaughter, however.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

Prior to the 90s, troops didn’t wear any sort of reflective clothing during morning PT. Instead, for safety, troops conducted PT on roads that were blocked off in the mornings to avoid any potential accidents with civilian drivers. Unfortunately, the scenario didn’t play out as installation commanders hoped and fatalities would happen occasionally.

The first step in preventing these unfortunate deaths was to create more reflective PT uniforms — without abandoning the military appearance, of course. A few designs were tested, but the luminescence would consistently lose its luster after a few runs through the laundry.

So, rather than holding the manufacturers accountable for making a sub-par product, the Army used reflective armbands, reflective vests, before, finally, adapting the the widespread PT belt. Initially, this was more of a Band-Aid solution to a large problem.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

It’s funny how everyone of ranks of E-7, O-2, and below unanimously hate the belts, but as soon as you make rank, you suddenly laud their effectiveness…

Then came a horrible incident on Lackland Air Force Base in 1996 in which several airmen were struck by a moving vehicle during a morning run. Rather than installing a traffic light or determining what, exactly, was to blame, the Air Force pulled the trigger and made the new reflective belts mandatory.

The rest of the branches soon followed suit because it gave the commanders an out when creating Risk Management Assessments. Rather than taking an analytical look at serious and tragic incidents, the commanders could cut themselves out of the accountability equation by making everyone wear reflective bets.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’
(Comic by AF Blues)

 

In short, the solution of “add a PT belt” was a lazy answer to a complicated question that resulted in horrible accidents. Vehicles hitting pedestrians in the motor pool was another problem addressed by adding a PT belt instead of figuring out why so many accidents were happeningafter all, do the belts even have any real effect in broad daylight?

This sort of irresponsible risk management solution has since become the biggest running joke in the military.

“Going into combat? Don’t forget your PT belt!” “Picking someone up from the local bars? Don’t forget your PT belt!” “Jumping out of a C-130 without a parachute? It’s fine so long as you wear your PT belt!”

MIGHTY HISTORY

The last shots of the American Civil War were fired in Russia

Historians don’t talk much about naval action during the Civil War, certainly not as much as they do about the ground combat. If it’s not about a riverboat, the Monitor and the Merrimack, or damning torpedoes, it just doesn’t get the same attention.


The CSS Shenandoah did a lot of things worth talking about.

Her flag was the last Confederate flag to be lowered and she was the ship that took the Civil War to the global stage, looting and burning Union merchant shipping from Africa to India to Russia and back.

She took 38 prizes and more than a thousand prisoners, some of them joining the Confederate ship.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’
You’d think a whaling fleet would have an armed escort.

Shenandoah was built by the British. A fast, steam-powered screw ship, the Brits transferred her to a Confederate skeleton crew under Capt. James Waddell off the coast of Africa. From there, Shenandoah terrorized American ships in sea lanes around the Cape of Good Hope, through the Pacific, and into the Bering Sea off Alaska.

At the time, however, Alaska belonged to the Russian Czar. And the Czar was friend to the United States. When Shenandoah began burning American whaling fleets in his territory, the Czar was not at all pleased.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’
The Shenandoah’s mission brought the US Civil War worldwide.

Even after the Civil War was over, Shenandoah continued her Pacific rampage. The skipper just didn’t believe Lee’s surrender ended the war, even when American whaling captains told him so.

Pretty soon, he was the only Confederate still fighting. So he moved to shell the defenseless city of San Francisco. It was on his way to California that he met a British ship who confirmed the news: The Confederacy was gone and the captain and crew of the Shenandoah were going to be tried and hanged.

With every Navy in the world looking for Shenandoah and a hefty bounty on his head, Capt. Waddell disguised the ship, stowed its weaponry, and made a mad dash for Great Britain – the long way around.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’
I wonder if mustache maintenance was a problem at sea.

Out of major shipping lanes, he faced terrible weather. He also never contacted any ships or stopped in any port, steaming the Shenandoah 27,000 miles to Liverpool, England, where he surrendered to the Royal Navy.

The USS Waddell, a guided missile destroyer, was named for the ship’s captain. Though not the first ship to be named for a Confederate, it was the first one to be named for an enemy captain who wreaked havoc on American shipping.

popular

5 easy clothing hacks every man needs to know

You may vaguely remember the days before having kids — when you invested time in making sure you looked good every Saturday night. When buying new shoes and working on your hairstyle was something you considered a necessity, not a luxury. Lucky for you, you are not the first to walk through the hectic world of being a father. And those who came before were kind enough to leave some smart strategies in their wake about how to look awesome with limited time. With the right tools at your disposal, you can fake like you spent an hour putting yourself together, even when it really took five minutes while changing a diaper.


Hack #1: Make your white sneakers new again.

Nothing will make you look more beaten-down than a grungy pair of kicks. True, the distressed look is a thing right now if you’re really in the fashion-know. But that’s done in irony, not desperation. Instead, follow these five easy steps to cleaner shoes by tonight.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

  1. Mix one-part water, one-part baking soda, and one-part hydrogen peroxide in a jar.
  2. Take an old toothbrush, dip it into the liquid, then scrub your sneakers as you would your teeth: Firmly and thoroughly.
  3. Leave sneakers to dry.
  4. Knock off excess mixture that has dried on the shoe. Wipe shoes with a dry rag.
  5. Voila. Clean white sneakers.

Hack #2: De-wrinkle your pants in the dryer.

The dry cleaner is great, but costs money and when your pants aren’t dirty, just crumpled, it seems wasteful to send them off to be professionally pressed. Next time playing with your kids leaves your pants with a severe case of rumples, follow these steps to make them crisp again.

  1. Toss your wrinkled pants into the dryer.
  2. Grab some ice cubes from the freezer.
  3. Throw them in the dryer and turn it on for five minutes.
  4. The ice cubes create steam in the dryer.
  5. Remove and wear.

Hack #3: Use a grey-reducing shampoo.

Along with surprise that you’re going prematurely grey comes the uncertainty of how to proceed. Dye jobs like you get at the salon are expensive and time-consuming. Not to mention you have to keep scheduling follow-ups to maintain the look. Or, you could shower. Yes, that’s right, just shower. It goes like this:

  1. See grey hairs in the mirror.
  2. Grab a tube of Just for Men Control GX, which gradually reduces grey hair, and head into the shower.
  3. Shampoo your hair with Control GX (make sure to use the product as directed).
  4. Repeat until you like what you see.

Hack #4: Straighten your collar.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Certain aspects of men’s dress shirts are open for interpretation. Spread collar or point? Starch or just pressed? Buttons or cuff links? But there is one detail on which we can all agree: Collar stays are your shirt’s best friend. The arrow-straight inserts are designed to help your collar stand up properly, giving your shirt a crisp, tailored look. The problem? Due to their relatively small size and lightweight feel, they get lost every time you remove them to have your shirt cleaned. Next time, try this improvisation.

  1. Go to your desk drawer and grab a paper clip.
  2. Gently fold out both sides of the clip to create a flat, narrow S-shape.
  3. Insert paper clip into small holes of the backside of your collar.
  4. Revel in its perfection.

Hack #5: De-fuzz your sweater.

Nothing makes your favorite cashmere sweater look tired and dated like pilled yarn. A natural side effect of time, the fuzzy appearance recalls something your grandfather might wear. Here’s how to make old look new again.

  1. Grab your shaving razor.
  2. Place your sweater flat on a board or bed.
  3. Glide the razor lightly over the excess fluff, skimming it from the garment’s surface.
  4. Discard fluff.

Now that you look the part, it’s time to call the babysitter and take on Saturday night like you used to — but with a bit more class, confidence, and appreciation now you’re a dad.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

6 new UCMJ articles that went into effect this year

A host of changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice became effective Jan. 1, modernizing definitions for many offenses, adjusting maximum penalties, standardizing court-martial panels, creating new computer-crime laws, and much more.

The changes strike a balance between protecting the rights of the accused and empowering commanders to effect good order and discipline, said Col. Sara Root, chief of the Army’s Military Justice Legislation Training Team.

“We’re pretty excited,” Root said. “It’s a healthy growth of our military justice system.”

Root and three members of her team spent the last year traveling to 48 installations to train 6,000 legal personnel and law-enforcement agents about the changes. Her two-day classes included everyone from judges to law clerks, and privates to generals, she said, and even 600 from other military services.


Codifying Changes

Many of the changes came about after a review by the Military Justice Review Group, consisting of military and criminal justice experts whose report made recommendations to Congress.

“We’ve had a lot of changes to our system [over the years], but piecemeal.” Root said. She explained that the Review Group convened to take a thorough and holistic look at the system to standardize military law and update the Manual for Courts Martial.

Many of the MJRG’s changes were incorporated into the Military Justice Act of 2016, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, and then Executive Order 13825 signed by the president March 8. Additionally, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper signed a directive Dec. 20 that clarifies definitions for dozens of offenses taking effect this week.

“We’ve really needed that much time,” Root said, from 2017 to now, in order to train all members of the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Those attending her classes then needed time to train commanders and others on the installations, she added.

Adultery Changed

One of the changes replaces the offense of adultery with “extra-marital sexual conduct.” The new offense broadens the definition of sexual intercourse, which now includes same-sex affairs. The amendments also now provide legal separation as a defense.

In the past, service members could be charged with adultery even if they had been legally separated for years but were not divorced. Now legal separation from a court of competent jurisdiction can be used as an affirmative defense, Root said.

Also in the past, prosecutors had to prove traditional intercourse to obtain a conviction for adultery, Root said. Now oral sex and other types of sexual intercourse are included.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Recruits with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, prepare and practice for their initial drill evaluation on Peatross Parade Deck Sept. 14, 2018 on Parris Island, S.C.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley)

Protecting Junior Soldiers

UCMJ Article 93a provides stiffer penalties for recruiters, drill sergeants and others in “positions of special trust” convicted of abusing their authority over recruits or trainees.

The maximum sentence was increased from two years to five years of confinement for those in authority engaging in prohibited sexual activities with junior Soldiers. And it doesn’t matter if the sex is consensual or not, Root said, it’s still a crime.

Article 132 also protects victims and those reporting crimes from retaliation. An adverse personnel action — such as a bad NCO Evaluation Report, if determined to be solely for reprisal — can get the person in authority up to three years confinement without pay and a dishonorable discharge.

Computer Crimes

Article 123 provides stiff penalties for Soldiers who wrongfully access unauthorized information on government computers. Distributing classified information can earn a maximum sentence of 10 years confinement, but even wrongfully accessing it can get up to five years in jail. Unauthorized access of personally identifiable information, or PII, is also a crime. Intentionally damaging government computers or installing a virus can also bring five years in the clinker.

Article 121a updates offenses involving the fraudulent use of credit cards, debit cards or other access devices to acquire anything of value. The penalty for such crimes has been increased to a max of 15 years confinement if the theft is over id=”listicle-2632036233″,000.

If the theft is under id=”listicle-2632036233″,000 the maximum penalty was increased from five to 10 years confinement, and this crime also includes exceeding one’s authorization to use the access device, for example, misusing a Government Travel Card.

Cyberstalking is also now included as a stalking offense under Article 130 of the UCMJ.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Support for military sexual assault victims and the number of reported offenses have increased in recent years, resulting in more investigations and courts-martial involving sexual assault charges.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse)

Courts-Martial

A “bench trial” by a judge alone can now determine guilt or innocence for many offenses. Almost any charge can be referred to such a forum, except for rape and sexual assault, which requires referral to a general court-martial. However, if the offense has a sentence of more than two years, the accused has a right to object to such charges being referred to a bench trial and could request a special or general court-martial.

If found guilty at a bench trial, Root said a Soldier cannot be given a punitive discharge and the max sentence would be limited to no more than six months forfeiture of pay and no more than six months confinement. The judge can still adjudge a reduction in rank.

“It’s a great tool that we’re really excited to see how commanders use it out in the formations,” Root said.

More than half of the cases in the Army actually are settled by plea agreements in lieu of a contested trial, Root said. Commanders have always had the authority to limit the max sentence with a plea agreement, but she said now they can agree to a minimum sentence as well. This might result in a range for the judge to sentence within, for example, no less than one year confinement, but no more than five years confinement.

If a case goes to a non-capital general court-martial, the panel has now been standardized to eight members. In the past the size of the panel could vary from five to an unlimited number, but often around 10-12 members. Now each general court-martial must begin with eight panel members, she said, but could continue if one panel member must leave due to an emergency during trial.

Special courts-martial will now be set at four panel members. A court-martial convening authority can also authorize alternate members to be on a special or a general court-martial, she said.

Capital offenses such as murder require a 12-member panel.

For a non-capital court-martial, three-fourths of the panel members must agree with the prosecution to convict the accused, she said. For instance, if only five members of an eight-member panel vote guilty, then the accused is acquitted. A conviction for a capital offense still requires a unanimous verdict.

Expanded Authority

Congress expanded judges’ authorities to issue investigative subpoenas earlier in the process, for example, to obtain a surveillance video from a store. One of the most significant changes is that now military judges can issue warrants and orders to service providers to obtain electronic communications such as email correspondence.

In the past, trial counsel had to wait until preferring charges to issue investigative subpoenas. Now, with the approval of the general court-martial convening authority, trial counsel can issue subpoenas earlier to help determine whether charges are necessary. For electronic communications, the government previously had to rely on federal counterparts to assist with obtaining electronic communications.

“Being able to have these tools available earlier in the process is going to be helpful for overall justice,” Root said.

The changes also call for more robust Article 32 hearings to help the commander determine if an accused should go to trial, she said. For instance, a preliminary hearing officer must now issue a more detailed report immediately after an Article 32 hearing’s conclusion. In addition, both the accused and the victim now have the right to submit anything they deem relevant to the preliminary hearing officer within 24 hours after the hearing specifically for the court-martial convening authority to consider.

Aimed at speeding up the post-trial process, immediately following a court-martial, audio can now be provided to the accused, the victim, and the convening authority in lieu of a verbatim transcript which will be typed and provided later, but prior to appeal.

A number of other procedural changes are aimed at making the military justice system even more efficient, Root said.

More changes

More changes to punitive offenses also take effect this week. For instance, the definition of burglary has changed to include breaking and entering any building or structure of another, anytime, with the intent to commit any offense under the UCMJ. In the past, burglary was limited to breaking and entering the dwelling house of another in the nighttime.

The penalty for wearing unauthorized medals of valor has increased from 6 months to a max of one-year confinement along with forfeiture of pay and a bad-conduct discharge. This includes wearing an unauthorized Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, or valor device. The maximum penalty for wearing any other unauthorized medal is still only six months.

Regarding misconduct that occurred prior to Jan. 1, the changes to the punitive articles are not retroactive, Root said. However, some of the procedural changes will apply to cases that were not referred to trial before Jan. 1.

All members of the JAG Corps are trained in the changes and ready to go, Root said.

“We’re pretty proud that our commanders are really at the center of this,” she said, “and it just gives them some more tools for good order and discipline.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Clint Eastwood’s 8 most awesome veteran characters

Few actors play a salty old veteran better than Clint Eastwood. Eastwood was drafted into the Army during the Korean War, but never quite made it over to the Korean Peninsula. He was a swimming instructor at Fort Ord and survived a plane crash where he had to swim to safety. Four years later, the onetime soldier was one the silver screen, in 1955’s Never Say Goodbye. Ever since, the veteran’s life has been a critical aspect of many of his onscreen characters, of which there have been many.


Mitchell Gant, “Firefox”

Clint Eastwood plays Gant, a Vietnam veteran and pilot who’s assigned to sneak into the Soviet Union and steal the most advanced fighter aircraft ever built. Part action-adventure, part spy thriller, Firefox may not wow you today, but the character of Mitchell Gant is a fun one. He is a former USAF prisoner of war who was held captive in Vietnam, but now, because he speaks Russian (his mother was Russian), he gets to embark on a top-secret spy mission to infiltrate the USSR.

Frank Corvin, “Space Cowboys”

Space Cowboys doesn’t just have Clint Eastwood, it has a digitally young version of Eastwood as Frank Corvin shows his disappointment with the Air Force for abandoning his crew’s mission to go into space. After 40 years and the crew much aged, Eastwood’s Corvin, along with Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, and Donald Sutherland, get their chance to show off the right stuff. There aren’t many movies about the USAF test pilots’ glory days, and Space Cowboys is a great example.

Walt Kowalski, “Gran Torino”

Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a Korean War veteran who is very content with the way things are, even as the rest of his world is crumbling around him. Kowalski is very much prejudiced against Koreans, long after the war ended. This fact is only highlighted when a Korean family moves in next door, and the youngest son attempts to steal his well-kept 1972 Gran Torino. Gran Torino features at least one of Eastwood’s most badass lines: “Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have f**ked with? That’s me.”

Awesome.

Josey Wales, “The Outlaw Josey Wales”

Josey Wales is a farmer turned Confederate bushwhacker who ends the Civil War on the run from Union soldiers, but Josey Wales wasn’t fighting for the Confederacy, not really. He was fighting to avenge the murder of his family by pro-Union militias. With a bounty on his head, Wales is joined by a group of extraordinary adventurers who help Josey Wales on his quest to stay alive, stay free, and escape to Mexico. He gets revenge against the man responsible for his family’s death, but his escape is a lot less of a shootout than expected.

Way before that, though, Josey Wales wipes out a whole unit with a Gatling gun.

Pvt. Kelly, “Kelly’s Heroes”

In the closing days of World War II, Private Kelly – once a Lieutenant Kelly, who ended up court-martialed for a failed infantry attack – gets wind of million in gold bars hiding just behind enemy lines. While his unit is halted near the town of Nancy, Kelly enlists some of his men to go AWOL and make a dash for the gold. They fight their way to the gold against overwhelming odds. When they can’t fight anymore, they offer the Germans a cut of the action.

Luther Whitney, “Absolute Power”

Luther Whitney is a Korean War veteran who left the military and became one of the world’s best and most formidable cat burglars. While robbing the home of a wealthy industrialist, he witnesses the President of the United States attempt to sexually assault the rich man’s wife. She fights him off until she’s killed by the Secret Service, who attempt to cover up the episode. After being framed for the killing, Luther decides to use his skills, along with evidence he took from the crime scene to re-frame the President.

With Ed Harris, Gene Hackman, Scott Glenn, and Dennis Haysbert, there’s so much testosterone in this movie, it might as well be a war film.

Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Highway, “Heartbreak Ridge”

When Gunny Highway stands up to his Major and says “with all due respect, sir, you’re beginning to bore the hell out of me” while smoking a cigar, it was the one time I wanted to join the Marine Corps.

Harry Callahan,  “Dirty Harry”

All badass characters who came before and after are all trying to live up to one character: “Dirty” Harry Callahan. A hard-boiled cop who operates using his own set of rules, Harry Callahan remains cool under fire but gets heated when the bad guys win. Not much is known about Dirty Harry, and you pretty much have to watch the whole series to get a picture of the character. We don’t even find out he was a Marine until the second Dirty Harry movie, Magnum Force, when we learn Harry didn’t finish his 20 years. In the final film, The Dead Pool, Harry drinks from a Marine Corps mug.

He had to learn to stay frosty somewhere.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US expects to withdraw more troops from Afghanistan

The U.S. military is expected to trim troop levels in Afghanistan by more than 1,000 soldiers, a U.S. general told Reuters on Feb.15, 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump told Congress in February 2019 he intended to reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan as negotiators make progress in talks with Taliban insurgents.

However, U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, the head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, said the decision to reduce some of the 14,000 American forces in Afghanistan was not linked to those negotiations.


Instead, he said it was part of an efficiency drive by the new commander, Army General Scott Miller, who took over in September 2018, to make better use of U.S. resources.

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United States President Donald Trump.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“This is something that he started as he got into the position here and was looking at how we [can] be as efficient and as effective as we can be on the ground,” Votel told Reuters during a trip to Oman.

Asked whether Miller would likely cut more than 1,000 troops from Afghanistan under the efficiency drive, Votel said: “He probably will.”

The U.S.-Taliban talks are aimed at finding a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s 17-year war.

The United States has been attempting to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with officials in Kabul.

The Afghan government has been absent from the U.S.-Taliban talks, prompting anger and frustration in Kabul.

The Taliban considers the Kabul government a Western puppet and has so far refused to directly negotiate with it.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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These are the 7 finest pieces of flair on US military uniforms

In the 1999 film Office Space, one of the most quotable scenes is when Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), is confronted by her boss Stan, portrayed by the film’s writer/director Mike Judge, about her lack of “flair” on her work uniform.


Pieces of flair are quirky buttons and other accessories with funny, light-hearted phrases or pictures on the uniforms of characters working in a fictional TGI Friday’s rip-off.

When it comes to “flair,” the U.S. military has some cool looking badges. Unlike the cheesy buttons from the movie, military badges are earned through intense training and personal dedication.

While we acknowledge tabs such as Special Forces and Ranger (among others) awards are pretty awesome, the focus of this list is with pin-on badges that aren’t only difficult to earn but require a certain level of expertise.

They are also aesthetically pleasing from all branches of the Armed Forces – that is to say, they just look cool.

7. Space Operations Badge

This badge looks straight out of the Star Trek movies with its slick and futuristic design. It’s certainly a badge that will make you look twice when you see military personnel wearing it.

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Members of the U.S. Air Force and Army who complete specialized training and performed space and missile operations over a period of time are eligible to wear it.

6. Military Freefall Parachutist Badge

First awarded in 1994, service members must complete a four-week freefall course in order to earn the coveted badge — commonly known as HALO Wings (High-Altitude Low-Opening).

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The badge design features a dagger, arched tab, parachute, and wings. The knife represents infiltration techniques, and the parachute is a seven-celled MT1-X, which is the first parachute adopted for military freefall operations. Members of the Army and Air Force are qualified for the badge.

5. Guard, Tomb of the Unknowns Identification Badge

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One of the highest honors in the U.S. military is to serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The badge features a wreath representing mourning and three figures representing Peace, Valor, and Victory on the east face of the Tomb.

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(U.S. Army photo)

In order to be selected as a Tomb Guard and wear this badge, U.S. Army Soldiers must volunteer and be accepted into training. The position is so hihgly regarded that less than 700 badges have been awarded since it was established in 1958.

4. Master Diver insignia (U.S. Maritime Services)

The Master diver badge is a shared by the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. A master diver is an individual who typically has the most experience in all aspects of diving and underwater salvage.

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The unique feature of this badge are the seahorses. The symbolism of the seashores goes back to the Greek god Poseidon who used them to pull his chariot. The double tridents represent the diver’s ability to master the ocean.

3. Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge

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A big perk of getting a high score during the Marine Corps Weapons Qualification test is that you get to wear the Expert Rifle Marksmanship badge. Having this “flair” on your uniform just makes the Marine dress blue uniform that much better.

2. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge is a universal badge awarded across all five branches of the U.S. military. Like many badges, there are three levels: Basic, Senior, and Master.

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The meaning of the badge is also very descriptive. The wreath represents the achievements of EOD personnel. It also serves as a symbol to those EOD members who gave their lives while conducting EOD duties. The unexploded bomb serves as the main weapon of an EOD attack. The lightning bolts signify the power of a bomb and the bravery of EOD personnel. Lastly, the shield embodies the EOD mission: to prevent detonation and protect personnel and property.

1. SEAL Trident

The U.S. Navy SEAL Trident is probably one of the most recognized badges in the U.S. military, worn by the elite U.S. Navy SEALs. When you see this piece of flair, it deserves the ultimate respect.

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What piece of flair did you earn that lets you “express yourself” or represents your military service?

Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter @alexlicea82

MIGHTY MOVIES

Behind the scenes of ‘The Outpost’ and other films, this Army vet helps bring authenticity

Jariko Denman loved two things as a kid: the military and movies.

Every day after school, he’d watch films like Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, or Uncommon Valor.


“I wanted to be in the military, and I was fascinated by war, and that was really the only way I could kind of get a glimpse at it was through movies,” Denman said.

Even then, he could tell when certain things were fake, or not as they would’ve happened in real life.

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Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.

“It’s always something that I’ve really kind of been drawn to is making those things better.”

Now, he gets to do it for a living as a tech advisor in Los Angeles, consulting for military films on everything from the screenplay to costumes and props.

“Anytime there’s a firefight or any big gun scenes, I’m working with the stunt department to choreograph those fight scenes to not only get a great shot that’s entertaining and looks good but also authentic — that guys are doing things they’d normally be doing and making it as authentic as possible,” he said.

Denman’s passion stems from a family history of military service; both of his grandfathers served in the Navy during World War II and his father and brother retired from the Army. He joined the Army straight out of high school and spent 20 years in the service, including a dozen or so in the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis, where he deployed 15 times (and met Black Rifle Coffee Company co-founder Mat Best).

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.

He ended his career in 2017 as an ROTC instructor at St. John’s University in Queens, New York City, and was thinking about traveling or going to school after retirement. That’s when a friend who knew someone in the film industry asked Denman if he’d be interested in advising on a National Geographic miniseries, The Long Road Home.

“It was something that I thought would just be a cool experience less than would be an opportunity for a future career,” Denman said. But a few months later, he got his second gig. Then another.

So far, he’s worked on a TV series, five recruiting commercials for the Army, and four movies, including The Outpost, which came out earlier this year and is based on the true story of the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.

Denman said he’s usually hired during a movie’s preproduction stage to help department heads know the type of uniforms and guns that would have been used at the time a movie is set.

The Outpost producer Paul Merryman said Denman gave him a full education on plate carriers and the type of equipment each soldier would have carried at the time that distinguished him from another.

“It was much more complex than any one of us thought,” Merryman said. “He was crucial because if something was wrong, we were going to get called out for it. Our director knew that early on. Jariko was always like, ‘They’re going to call bullshit on that. This is inaccurate. If you do it this way, you’re going to get laughed at.'”

“Jariko is very unfiltered in the best of ways,” he continued. “That made the collaboration work that much better because we can get straight down to it: What’s wrong? How do we fix it? How do we do this right?”

He said he once saw Denman yell at the director when one of the actors improvised a line and referred to someone as “Sarge.”

“He cares about how his brothers are portrayed, and he will fight tooth and nail to do something properly and make something look good to prevent someone or a group of someones from being embarrassed because he cares about reputation and integrity, and he cares about the craft,” Merryman said.

Denman sees it as a personal responsibility — not just a professional one.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’

Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.

“Your average civilian doesn’t know any military members or veterans. They’re gleaning all their opinions about who a veteran or who a soldier or a Marine is through pop culture, and that’s through movies and TV now. So, it’s up to us as veterans in this industry to really try to make all these things as […] authentic as possible,” he said.

Denman’s dream is to produce and direct military movies himself, and he’s been using the slower pace of the last few months to work on a few projects.

He’s also currently working on a movie with a famous actor, whose name he can’t reveal just yet. And some days, he still has to pinch himself.

“I was like, Holy shit, I never thought I would be doing this — waking up to go and hang out with this dude all day every day and tell him war stories and wrestle and go shooting, you know,” he said.

“I do enjoy telling people what I do. It’s a cool fucking job. I’m very, very blessed to have it.”

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

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These 13 Chesty Puller quotes show why Marines will love and respect him forever

Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, is a Marine Corps icon who’s known for his quotable quotes nearly as much as his battlefield accomplishments.


Here are 17 of the lines that show why Puller is beloved to this day:

1.

 

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Original photo: US Marine Corps

2. “Don’t forget that you’re First Marines! Not all the Communists in hell can overrun you!”

3. “You don’t hurt ’em if you don’t hit ’em.”

4.

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Original photo: US Marine Corps

5. “Hit hard, hit fast, hit often.”

6. “Where the Hell do you put the bayonet?”

(He said this while at a flamethrower demonstration. Apparently, Puller wanted to be ready to stab the men he set on fire.)

7.

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Original photo: US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant M. Shutak

8. “Great. Now we can shoot at those bastards from every direction.”

9.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’
Original photo: US Marine Corps

10.

Here’s why a Crew Chief is a pilot’s ‘best friend’
Original photo: US Marine Corps

(Puller said the gem above after being asked to comment on the 22 Chinese divisions surrounding his First Marine division. The First Marines successfully broke through Chinese lines and advanced south, destroying seven of the Chinese divisions in the process.)

11. “There are not enough chinamen in the world to stop a fully armed Marine regiment from going where ever they want to go.”

12. “We make generals today on the basis of their ability to write a damned letter. Those kinds of men can’t get us ready for war.”

13. “Son, when the Marine Corps wants you to have a wife, you will be issued one.”

(This was Puller’s response to a young Marine who was asking permission to be married.)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia threatens ‘horrible conflict’ if Georgia joins NATO

Ten years after Russia and Georgia went to war, the West on August 7 condemned Moscow’s continued military presence in the Caucasus country’s territory and reiterated support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Earlier, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a stern warning to NATO that Georgia’s joining the Western military alliance could lead to a “horrible” new conflict.

Medvedev said in an interview with the Kommersant FM radio station on August 6 that NATO’s plans to eventually offer membership to Georgia are “absolutely irresponsible” and a “threat to peace.”


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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

(TASS)

Late on August 7, 2008, Georgian troops rolled into the Russia-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia in an attempt to reclaim the territory from what Tbilisi said was growing Russian militarization.

The conflict erupted into a five-day war in which Russian forces drove deep into Georgia before pulling back in the wake of a European Union-brokered peace agreement.

The conflict, which Tbilisi and Moscow accuse one another of starting, left hundreds dead and drove thousands from their homes.

After the war, Russia left thousands of troops in South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, and recognized both as independent countries.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the conflict, Georgia and the United States on August 7 condemned Russia’s continued “occupation” of Georgian territory.

“This is a war against Georgia, an aggression, an occupation, and a blatant violation of international law,” Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said during a meeting attended by the foreign ministers of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and a Ukrainian deputy prime minister.

“The aggressor’s appetite has only increased after the invasion,” he added.

The “aggression” against Georgia did not start in August 2008, but much earlier, in 1991-1992, the Georgian president also said, when “Russia detached two regions from the Georgian central authorities by means of hybrid war.”

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Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili

​’Georgia’s Sovereign Choice’

In a joint statement, the Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Ukrainian ministers called on the international community to continue to demand that Russia “fully and without any further delay implements its international commitments and starts honoring international law and the right of sovereign neighboring states to choose their own destiny.”

They also expressed “strong support for Georgia’s sovereign choice to pursue the ultimate goal of membership in the EU and NATO.”

Last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, reiterated support for Georgia’s membership at a meeting in Brussels, but did not mention when that could happen.

Before the Russia-Georgia war, Russian officials had made clear that they vehemently opposed Georgia’s efforts to achieve NATO membership.

“Ten years of occupation is ten years too long,” the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi said in a statement.

“We will continue to work together with the Government and the people of Georgia and with our friends and allies to ensure the world’s continued support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” it also said, adding, “Georgia, we are with you.”

The European Union praised the truce deal putting an end to the fighting and called the continuing Russian military presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a “violation of international law” and the agreement.

“The European Union reiterates its firm support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders,” a statement said.In an interview with Current Time TV on August 6, Mikheil Saakashvili, who was Georgia’s president at the time of the 2008 conflict, said that Russia’s motive in the war was to attack “Georgian statehood.”

Saakashvili said that Moscow was concerned because reforms had made the South Caucasus country a “role model” for others in the region.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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10 time-honored military traditions that civilians find weird

Some military traditions make sense to nearly everyone — little things that show mutual respect, like leaders serving food to their subordinates on holidays or NCOs electing to eat after their guys. Other traditions are odd at first blush, like messing with the new guy or passing through an archway after graduating a class or achieving a higher rank, but civilians can generally understand where they come from.

But then there are the ones that require a lot of explaining to your civilian family members. Every time, these story begins with a, “well, you see. It kinda goes back to…” and more often than not, the explanation just makes them tilt their head in confusion.

At one point, the following traditions may have meant something to one person or a group, but today, the original meaning is buried beneath decades of military bearing and tradition. We mostly just do them because, well, if it ain’t broke — and no one’s getting UCMJ’d for it — why bother stopping?


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Ever since Hostess kinda went under, the tradition changed to use red helmets instead — which is definitely cleaner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrine M Brisbin)

10. Paratroopers and cherry pies

When you finish going through Army Airborne School, your head will be spinning, filled with all of the information you’ll need to not shatter every bone in your body when you make a landing. You’ll have to master the art of hooking up your static line and perform countless parachute landing falls before you’re even able to get the chance to actually jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

Finally, the moment of truth arrives — you finally get to jump with your unit in the 82nd. Your superiors will recommend that you fill your cargo pockets with Hostess Cherry Pies first. They’ll often say it’s for some reason like, “in case you get hungry when you land” or whatever. Who are you to argue?

When your big moment finally comes and you take in the sights while falling gracefully, you’ll hopefully have your PLFs burnt into the back of your mind as second nature. Everything will happen so fast that you’ll forget those cherry pies in your pants. When you land, you’ll squish all those pies and leave a nice red stain on your uniform.

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There are great call signs out there, you just need to be lucky enough to snag one. (Fox News)

9. Actual callsigns

In pop culture, callsigns are the coolest things ever. You’ll often see some badass names, like Iceman, Maverick, or Snake used in TV and movies. They’re always just made up because they sound cool and the storytellers don’t really know how the military works.

In reality, callsigns are usually unit designations followed by a number to signify who they are in said unit. So, for example, the commander of the Alpha company “Black Sheep” would be known as “Black Sheep 6,” and the first sergeant of the same unit is “Black Sheep 7.”

If you’re looking for unique callsigns, those are in the aviation world, and they’re typically less cool and more nonsensical. For example, if you eat a Pop-Tart one time in front of another pilot, your callsign is now forever “Pop-Tart.” Good going, Pop-Tart. That’s your callsign until the end of time.

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You (and everyone else in the unit) will have to drink whatever you put in. Or do what most people do and hide in the bathroom until this bit is over. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Peek)

8. The grog bowl

At civilian parties, if there’s a punch bowl, it’ll be centrally placed and it may or may not have some kind of alcohol in it. Whenever the military throws a unit ball, that punch bowl will most certainly have alcohol in it… plus a whole slew of other random things that would make anyone throw up.

Most of the leadership of the unit gets a chance to add one ingredient to the grog bowl (which is a toilet bowl) and offer some kind of nonsense to explain why their chosen ingredient has some kind of significance to the unit.

You can expect classic grog bowl ingredients, like hot sauce, because of the deserts the unit deploys to, ground coffee, because of the long hours the troops works, a cup of salt, because of the sweat that troops give to the cause, and a dirty sock because… reasons?

7. Blood wings and blood stripes

When civilians get promoted or graduate some school, the accomplishment is usually met with a party or a card that’s signed by everyone in the office. That sounds pleasant. Troops, on the other hand, almost always lose a bit of blood over it.

Blood wings and blood stripes are, essentially, the same thing. You get the wings from a school and the stripes from a promotion. Then, everyone takes turn punching it in. It’s technically considered hazing, but the troop receiving the blood wings/stripes usually agrees to it. There (typically) isn’t any malice or hate involved in the ceremony and troops usually walk away with a bit more pride in whoever bled for their new badge/rank.

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“A Mickey Mouse Challenge Coin? Really?” (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

6. Challenge coin “duels”

There’s nothing really odd about challenge coins in general. It’s basically the same thing as collecting trading cards as a kid, but instead of aiming for a holographic Charizard, you’re aiming for the coolest-looking coin with the most badass backstory.

Usually, officers will keep the coolest coins on their desk in their office to casually gloat about and enlisted troops keep them in some drawer at home, but sh*t gets real when troops take their coins to the bars. The ensuing game basically goes like this:

Troops unsheathe their coolest coin. If you don’t have your coin on you, you buy the drinks. If everyone has a coin, whoever has the “least valuable coin” buys the drinks. Since the “value” is determined by backstory and design — both of which are subjective — this game almost always ends in a shouting match over who has to pick up the tab.

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Every airman thinks they can grow a mustache like Col. Robin Olds. The only reason his mustache is so majestic is because he literally gave zero f*cks about the rules. Rules all airmen have to follow. (U.S. Air Force)

5. ‘Stache contests

In case you haven’t nailed down the common thread between all of these traditions, the military is engaged in a perpetual pissing contest. Troops are in constant contest to see who can do literally anything better than the next guy; to see who is the most macho of the troops. It should come as no surprise that one of the most macho things out there, facial hair, gets quantified into some sort of challenge.

The problem with this is that the military doesn’t allow most versions of facial hair — that is, with the exception of a very thin mustache. A word of warning: The first two weeks of a mustache-off makes every contestant look pathetic.

Mustache contests usually begin at the start of the deployment (presumably, when troops’ wives have less of a say in the matter) and, after a certain point, someone is declared a winner. Yet, the Air Force has unanimously decided to make March their official contest month. Whichever airman grows the best mustache by the end of March wins a high five or whatever.

4. The West Point pillow battle royale

At some point during the first years of the most intense academy for the U.S. Army’s future officers, students are offered a unique way of handling the stresses of simultaneously earning a college education while enduring four years of constant military training. These future warriors, trained in all things warfare with the intention of becoming the Army’s next generation of great leaders, settle things the exact same way as children at slumber parties — with a pillow fight.

As goofy as this sounds, things got serious. Yes. “got” — very much in the past tense, as this tradition was unceremoniously banned in 2015 in response to numerous injuries. Most cadets donned full kevlars and vests and beat the hell out of each other with pillows. More than thirty plebes that year were sent to the hospital for serious injuries, despite the strict no-hard-objects-in-the-pillows rule.

Thankfully, they had PT belts on or this could have gotten even more out of hand.

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Don’t think you can just bring a spare cap that won’t be blown up. The troops will find it and make sure it’s also blown to smithereens. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord)

3. Blasting up the lieutenant’s patrol cap

In the technical terms, a “blasting cap” is a small, sensitive primary explosive device used to detonate a larger, more powerful and less-sensitive secondary explosive. Soldiers in the artillery world take this term literally whenever they welcome a new platoon leader.

When the platoon first goes out for a live-fire exercise with a brand new lieutenant, they’ll take the officer’s patrol cap (either willingly or otherwise) and tape it to the end of the barrel or backplate of a rocket pod. Then, the first round goes off; it’ll take the cap with it. The officer is then expected to retrieve the nearly-burnt-to-a-crisp cap so they can remain in uniform after the ceremony is done.

No one really knows when or where this began, but every artillery officer since then has had to buy a new cap the following day.

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The real question is, if they’re both military, do neither of them get spanked — or both? (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

2. The sword butt tap at weddings

Most of the traditions on this list are kept within the realm of the military and don’t often affect civilians directly — with the major exception of military weddings. They are one of the most beautiful ways to introduce a new civilian spouse into our world. The troop’s comrades will attend wearing full dress uniforms, each carrying a sword to signify the protection they’ll offer the new spouse, as he or she is now kin.

The new comrades will serve as either groomsmen or bridesmaids and post guard outside of the chapel, or wherever the ceremony is held, and form a beautiful archway with their swords under which the married couple will walk.

Then, whoever is at the very end of the archway on the civilian spouse’s side will give a loving spank with their sword. Not a hard one, mind you, just a nice gentle way of letting them know that they’re now a part of the grander military family.

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Every weird little detail of the “Crossing the Line” ceremony has been replicated as far back as anyone can remember. It can’t be THAT weird if your sailor granddad was also doing it, right? (U.S. Navy)

1. The Court of Neptune

Whenever a Navy vessel crosses a certain point on the globe, all sailors who’ve never done so get to be initiated into an unofficial fraternity of sailors who’ve been there before. The most famous example of these ceremonies is the moment a vessel crosses the Equator at any point in the world.

Officially, it’s called the “Crossing the Line” ceremony, but sailors know it as “the Court of Neptune.” The uninitiated (known as “slimy polliwogs”) must bow before King Neptune (as portrayed by the ship’s captain) and entertain his queen, Davy Jones, the Royal Baby, and his dignitaries (portrayed by other high ranking members of the crew) with a talent show.

Regardless of how the young sailors perform, they’re found guilty of being polliwogs and must answer for their crimes. They’re “punished” by eating an extremely spicy or disgusting breakfast and are forced kiss the Royal Baby’s greasy belly. Only then can they have their slimy polliwoginess washed in seawater to finally become trusty shellbacks.

Follow any of that? Neither did any of us other slimy polliwogs…

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