This Air Force 'hub' looks for threats from within - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

“If you make a mistake, it is better to acknowledge that one small mistake than let it snowball into something more significant.” This, according to Jason Barron, Air Force Insider Threat Hub deputy director for operations, is the key to safeguarding important information and resources.

As the Air Force’s defense against insider threats, identifying indicators of potential risk is the hub’s primary mission, but not all indicators they detect are symptoms of espionage or intentional wrongdoing. According to Barron, most indicators are unintended exposures, or the result of policy and training gaps.


“If someone is issued a speeding ticket, it does not necessarily mean they did something to indicate they are an insider threat; it all depends on the severity and quantity of unique indicators,” Barron said. “We may look for other indicators that, when put together, could mean something more substantial – even then, the team does not act individually against indicators discovered.”

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Air Force Insider Threat Hub deputy director for operations Jason Barron.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lori A. Bultman)

According to Barron, personnel in the insider threat hub identify, aggregate, analyze and refer potential risk indicators. The teams relay their findings to other agencies for review and possible action. Additionally, the hub has a lawyer on staff to ensure any referrals are in accordance with established policies and laws.

“We provide information we find to authorities within the Air Force. When we identify something on an individual within the Air Force who might be a risk, whether intentional or otherwise, we provide that information to a decision maker in higher authority who is in place to determine whether an action needs to result,” Barron said.

Hub personnel also receive threat information from other sources.

“We might have a point of contact in the field who relays risk concerns to us,” Barron said. “The team in the hub can look into a reported concern and determine whether there is enough to consider it a viable threat.”

Workplace violence is another insider threat concern for the team.

“If someone commits a security violation but is cleared of espionage, that does not mean there is not a policy issue we could address,” said J.T. Mendoza, Air Force Insider Threat Hub deputy director for strategy and integration. “While it is difficult to quantify the damage someone caused when documents or classified items are taken, an act of violence is often more damaging due to human life being involved.

When Barron and his team established the 25th Air Force Insider Threat Program in 2014, their goal was to stop technical related insider threats before they grew into major breaches for the Air Force intelligence community.

Within the program, a myriad of staff members from varying backgrounds sifted through data in an attempt to locate indicators of threats and vulnerabilities. In April 2017, Air Force officials had enough confidence in the program capabilities that it became the services interim hub until a permanent Air Force hub could be established.

“During the year we were the interim hub, we put a lot of processes into place. We built a solid foundation from internal analysis, data integration, increases in manpower and capabilities and the implementation of reporting procedures,” Barron said.

The Air Force made a decision in October 2018 to transition the organization from being the interim hub to the permanent insider threat epicenter, while the team continued to prepare for the transition and acquire more space and personnel. Significant support and coordination from local 25th Air Force and Air Staff leadership was required to achieve this milestone.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(Flickr photo by Blogtrepreneur)

“Preparations for the transition also included establishing the policies and documentation required to run a cooperative matrix organization,” Barron said. “We more than tripled the hub staff and added coordinating representatives within each major command.”

“One of the challenges we face is finding the right people and being able to train and develop them into what we believe is the right skill set,” he said. “There is no specialty code within the Air Force or department at large for what we do; we are creating most of our procedures as we go. We are where cyber was 10 to 15 years ago.”

Another challenge for hub personnel is figuring out how to share data between multiple agencies who might help connect indicators.

“Sharing information between organizations that have different authorities or conduct different missions is difficult,” Barron said. “The root of this mission is sharing risk information, just like commanders share information on the battlefield. It is a challenge across any mission set; how do I share the right information, at the right time, at the right level to make a decision?

“What we have done is partner within our matrix organization to put people from different agencies in the same place to allow ease and speed of sharing critical information,” he said. “Having that proximity to each other really helps speed up processes. If information is not documented and shared in an appropriate manner, you are going to have a hard time piecing dots together to look at information over time and mitigating threats.”

Since its inception, the Air Force Insider Threat Program has experienced many successes, ranging from notifying organizations of security shortfalls and identifying indicators of suicide, to de-conflicting individuals’ identities in reporting. Its next milestone will be reaching full operational capability status, expected in the next 12 months according to Barron.

The Air Force Insider Threat team encourages all Airmen, military, civilian and contractor, to contact their security office or appropriate chain of command to report potential insider threat incidents, including accidental or unintentional indicators; it could resolve potential incidents before they become legitimate threats.

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These submariners did a photoshoot with their nuke sub

There are some people lucky enough to swim with dolphins — and then there are even luckier people who get to swim next to a nuclear submarine in the open ocean.

That’s exactly what the crew of the USS Olympia recently did.

After partaking in the world’s largest naval warfare exercise called Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, where they helped sink the USS Racine with a Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile, the submariners aboard the Olympia got a chance to cool off in the ocean next to their sub.


The stunning photos were first noticed by The War Zone’s Tyler Rogoway.

Check them out below.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(USS Olympia Facebook)

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(USS Olympia Facebook)

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(USS Olympia Facebook)

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(USS Olympia Facebook)

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(USS Olympia Facebook)

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(USS Olympia Facebook)

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(USS Olympia Facebook)

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These service members aren’t unicorns – they’re USCG

The oldest continuous seagoing military service isn’t the Navy; it’s the United States Coast Guard. Coast Guardsmen have been involved in every major conflict since their inception in 1790, including the current ongoing war. Despite all of this, they are still treated like the mythical unicorn.

Intelligence Specialist Daniel Duffin volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan in 2011, spending his pre-deployment training with members of the Army. His role once arriving in a FOB in Eastern Afghanistan was to collect vital intelligence for the troops on the ground. “We did a lot of counter IED and were looking for any sort of intelligence to support troops, preventing loss of life,” Duffin explained. He also worked tirelessly to develop target packages, helping ground troops plan their missions more effectively.

The Coast Guard had boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan beginning in 2003. In Bahrain and Kuwait, you can find hundreds of coasties and six patrol boats serving within the U.S. 5th Fleet, where they’ve been since the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Despite their obvious  presence, the unicorn-like mythology of the coastie is ever present. 

The whispers followed Duffin constantly throughout his time in Afghanistan. He describes one particular scene where he was getting food and debating getting a chocolate milk or an energy drink when soldiers began pointing and whispering. “They were like ‘I told you! There he is!’,” Duffin said with a laugh. He was used to it, he said. The awestruck staring had also accompanied him at most joint bases he was stationed at stateside as well. 

After returning from deployment, it wasn’t long before he was headed back to the Middle East – this time to support the mission against ISIS, which he also volunteered for. Now stationed in the DC area, Duffin continues to support intelligence efforts for the Coast Guard and joint forces. 

In 2013, Coast Guard Lieutenant Michael Brooks was a Petty Officer 3rd Class and Intelligence Specialist when he deployed to Afghanistan. When asked why he wanted to go, he was quick to answer. “I have always wanted the hardest jobs I think, even as an officer with TACLET [Tactical Law Enforcement Teams] stuff or deployments. I wanted to be a coastie that down the road I could say I was there, I went through it and I got to feel what it was like to make those bonds with others through grueling and sometimes terrible circumstances,” he explained. Brooks had volunteered to go to Afghanistan after a service member was killed and the team was short.  

While deployed, Brooks was working alongside the 10th Mountain Division at FOB Sharana, supporting their operations. His unit was responsible for target development and breaking down various networks of terrorist cells within their AOR. The comments about him being there were a daily occurrence but he appreciated the humor in it. “It’s always a privilege to represent the Coast Guard and I would go back overseas tomorrow if the opportunity was there,” he said. 

Although Brooks’ remained humble when discussing his deployment, the service he provided in Afghanistan was extraordinary. On May 12, 2013 the 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division was attacked when an Afghan National Army Soldier turned his weapons on US Forces. He responded without care for his safety, providing real-time combat medical care to those injured. Several members of his team were killed in action. Upon his return home, Brooks received the 2013 JINSA Grateful Nation Award and the Combat Action Ribbon. 

After Afghanistan, Brooks was accepted into Officer Candidate School and went on to be the Officer in Charge of a Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) in San Diego, California. You can find him on the east coast now, heading up search and rescue operations.

 

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within
Brooks and Duffin in 2019 atending a retirement ceremony in Hawaii

“As a service we are lucky to have the vast mission set that we do,” he explained. “Every day coasties are training and executing challenging operations and evolutions that determine lives being saved, the security of a port or critical infrastructure, proper compliance or safety of the maritime industry or just preparing for the next hurricane to hit our shores. Our service is unique, wherein every day we are given the opportunity to deal with conflict and overcome it.”

When Brooks was asked what he would want the military community and public to know about the Coast Guard, his message was simple: “Our service is capable, ready and actively playing a role in a vast array of mission sets spanning the globe.”

So, the next time you see their sharp looking dark blue uniform – that’s a United States Coast Guardsman. Not a unicorn. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Green Beret’s coffee company is brewing up something extraordinary

One Green Beret is changing the narrative for veteran-owned businesses. De Espresso Liber is more than just a coffee company, it’s commerce with purpose. 

When Alex enlisted in the United States Army, he did it to get into Special Forces and earn that coveted Green Beret. As a Combat Medic with 1st Group, he loved his job. But the continuous deployments and not being home eventually took their toll, leading Alex to look for other ways to support his family while also fulfilling meaningful purpose in his life.

Alex on active duty before founding de opresso liber

A few years before deciding to step back from active duty, a trip to the Philippines sparked an idea. Always a lover of coffee, buying some from a child while on that deployment made Alex wonder if he could begin roasting his own and make a profit doing it. So, he did it. “Having that kid walk up and blow Starbucks out of the water with his no name coffee was incredible … I started selling up and down the hallway at 1st Group and it just grew from there,” Alex said with a smile. 

Grow it did. Alex called it De Espresso Liber, a twist on the motto of the Green Beret. He made the decision to focus on the company full time and switch to the Army National Guard so he could focus on his family. His company was more than just another coffee roasting business, though. Alex created a business model with a foundation in purpose and deep meaning for the military community as a whole. Among his many tasty coffees sit the ones that honor the fallen; the Gold Star Memorial blends. 

OSS coffee

Alex was approached by Gold Star Spouse Krista Simpson Anderson to create the first memorial blend for her fallen hero, Michael Simpson. It’s an idea that sparked so much more than he could have imagined. “That opened a whole different door to giving more meaning to it all…adding other people’s stories and memories to give back was really cool,” Alex explained. Since then, he has gone on to create multiple blends for Gold Star Families with a portion of the proceeds going to nonprofits of their choice. 

Another blend he is particularly proud of is the Global Surgical and Medical Support Group blend. Created with the nonprofit of the same name, 50 percent of the profits go right back into the organization to further their mission of bringing life-saving medical training to combat zones across the globe. Alex wanted to take his passion for serving others a step further, creating the Kwitaho Blend. 

The De Espresso Liber website describes the deep mission of this blend: “Following over 20 years of civil war, approximately 11 percent of Burundi’s population are orphans. Iwacu Kazoza provides shelter, education and hope for the future to over 500 students, many of whom are orphaned.” When you purchase this blend, 75 percent of the profits go directly to the school caring for these children in need and you will be supporting this country’s struggling economy. Commerce with purpose, in action. Kwitaho itself means “to care about.”

“More people are realizing the difference between the coffee and the meaning behind it,” Alex explained. The other thing worth noting is this is a small family business. Alex is doing it all, so when you make a purchase from his coffee company – you are quite literally feeding a military family. It’s something special to know while also falling in love with his innovative and delicious coffees. 

When asked what he would want readers to be left with, he was quick to answer: “America.” What Alex meant was, look inward. Purchase locally or from small businesses, especially right now. There are so many ways you can make a measurable impact in the lives of military families and veterans especially, simply by purchasing the things you need – like coffee. While Alex didn’t set out to change the landscape of coffee roasting after that fateful deployment, his innovative, green and meaningful coffees are sure to leave a lasting note of hope in every cup. 

To learn more about De Espresso Liber and check out it’s amazing blends and coffees, click here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Service members often encounter physical, psychological, and emotional adversity when protecting the freedoms this country was founded on. The injuries sustained both on and off duty require recovery in many forms – including physical competitions, religious programs, community outreach opportunities, behavioral health, and more. Some may only need a surfboard and a wave to ride.

Veterans, recovering service members and their loved ones attended the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 17-19, 2018. Operation Amped is a non-profit organization that promotes surf therapy to aid in the recovery of wounded, ill and injured veterans, and active-duty service members.


According to Joseph Gabunilas, Operation Amped co-founder, this program exists to provide a positive change in a participant’s future. Operation Amped accomplishes this by providing surf training once a year to wounded warriors, family members and veterans.

“It’s a good way to keep that negative stuff out of your mind while catching a wave,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. David Simons, participant at Operation Amped. “Surfing has given me a goal, something to work towards and keep my focus straight.”

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers, and their loved ones surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2018.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash)

The organization, which began in September 2006, had helped nearly 300 recovering service members, veterans, and their loved ones. Along with the support and attendance of family members and friends, that number has now reached the thousands, said Gabunilas, who served in the U.S. Army. Having both the recovering service members and their loved ones in attendance, can provide the therapy needed to overcome the trials and tribulations they may be experiencing.

“Ocean therapy is good for the mindset,” said Simons. “It’s good for those that have difficult issues they’re dealing with.”

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers, and their loved ones prepare to surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2018.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash)

Some of the adversity these warriors face include the loss of fellow service members in and out of combat, overcoming pain and physical injury. For three days each year, with the support of organizations such as this one, participants move closer to recovery one wave at a time.

Provisions come from volunteers and supporters who donate surfboards, wetsuits, food, tents, and tables. Most importantly, they donate their time.

“This is my way of giving back,” said Gabunilas. “I served 21 years and this is another way I can give back to the brave men and women fighting for our country.”

This annual event drives a passion for surfing for some and provides a recreational outlet for warriors and their family members to enjoy while physically and mentally challenging themselves in the water. The next clinic is scheduled for summer 2019.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

NASA is helping you make your mark on Mars

Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — stenciled on chips — to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet. The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.

The rover, a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms), will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.


“As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. “It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.”

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Members of the public who want to send their name to Mars on NASA’s next rover mission to the Red Planet (Mars 2020) can get a souvenir boarding pass and their names etched on microchips to be affixed to the rover.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The opportunity to send your name to Mars comes with a souvenir boarding pass and “frequent flyer” points. This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA’s journey from the Moon to Mars. Miles (or kilometers) are awarded for each “flight,” with corresponding digital mission patches available for download. More than 2 million names flew on NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, giving each “flyer” about 300 million frequent flyer miles (nearly 500 million frequent flyer kilometers).

From now until Sept. 30, 2019, you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars here.

The Microdevices Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, will use an electron beam to stencil the submitted names onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair (75 nanometers). At that size, more than a million names can be written on a single dime-size chip. The chip (or chips) will ride on the rover under a glass cover.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

True color image of Mars taken by the OSIRIS instrument on the ESA Rosetta spacecraft during its February 2007 flyby of the planet.

NASA will use Mars 2020 and other missions to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. As another step toward that goal, NASA is returning American astronauts to the Moon in 2024. Government, industry and international partners will join NASA in a global effort to build and test the systems needed for human missions to Mars and beyond.

The Mars 2020 Project at JPL manages rover development for SMD. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management. Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

For more information on Mars 2020, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/mars2020

For more about NASA’s Moon to Mars plans, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The differences between flying for the Marine Corps and the Air Force

For anyone who’s been in the military, it goes without saying that being in the Air Force and being in the Marine Corps are two very different ways of life. This extends from enlisted troops all the way to the pilots flying in the skies above any active battlespace.


And it goes well beyond physical fitness standards.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

A fact which totally earns a thumbs up from the USAF.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

In the Air Force, once a pilot is finished training, he or she is a full-fledged pilot, who still might train in other areas outside of their chosen aircraft, be it helicopters, fighters, bombers, etc. The investment the Air Force puts into training its officers to fly means those pilots are going to be flying as much as the USAF can safely force them to. As company-grade officers, they’re pretty much going to live in the wild blue yonder. As they advance in rank and skill, however, they will slowly be moved to more administrative and management positions, staff jobs, or even instructors. If they want, they might even get a chance to chew some dirt as an air liaison officer.

The life of a Marine Corps officer is much, much different.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Which goes beyond just the uniform, which is admittedly much cooler.

Anyone reading this site probably knows the saying “every Marine is a rifleman.” That goes for Marine Corps officers, too. But USMC pilots must also graduate from the Marine Corps Basic Officers Course so they can learn to command platoons of Marine Corps riflemen – and that’s before they ever become naval aviators.

It’s important to know that Marine pilots are trained as all Marine Corps officers are trained and that they’re also trained as all naval aviators are trained. They take the same training as infantry officers and as naval aviators. As if that wasn’t enough work, the Marine Corps doesn’t wait for officers of Marines to grow in rank before assigning them extra duties around the unit or a duty outside of flying altogether. This means the Marine directing close air support on the ground with you one day might be providing that top cover for you another day.

All that and they have to land on aircraft carriers too. Probably in the dark.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s the group of veterans making the best NFL teams better

Every professional athlete will tell you there’s a science behind elite performance. Every coach will tell you there’s one for team dynamics as well. And, every military leader will say their best performing units are men and women who understand the importance of not just bettering themselves, but constantly working toward improving the group as a whole.


One Green Beret has cracked the code on understanding the battlefield and translating it to the professional playing field.

Jason Van Camp is the founder of Mission Six Zero, a leadership development company focused on taking teams and corporate clients to the next level. “We have some of the best military leaders you’ve ever seen,” said VanCamp. From Medal of Honor recipients Flo Groberg and Leroy Petry, Green Beret turned Seattle Seahawk Nate Boyer, to plenty of Marines, Delta Force, Rangers and Navy SEALs, their team is stacked with experience.

But that’s not where it ends. Van Camp has put research behind performance mechanisms with an equally impressive team of scientists to qualify their data and translate it into something teams can implement. One of the key factors to their success? “Deliberate discomfort,” said Van Camp. “Once you deliberately and voluntarily choose the harder path, good things will happen for you and for your team. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

The reviews of the program speak for itself. “I thought I knew where I stood in the football world,” said Marcel Reese, former NFL player. “But after my experience with Mission Six Zero, along with my team, I learned more than I could have ever imagined… mostly about myself as a teammate, leader and a man in general. I would strongly encourage all teams to work with these guys.”

Van Camp shared a story about one of the teams he worked with. A player asked him if the workshop was really going to make him a better player. He responded, “It’s not about making you a better player, it’s making the guy to your left and to your right a better player.” Van Camp took his lessons and parlayed them into a book with the title reflecting their greatest theory: “Deliberate Discomfort.”

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Van Camp and 11 other decorated veterans take you through their experiences – intense, traumatic battles they fought and won, sharing the lessons learned from those incredible challenges. Jason and his cadre of scientists further break down those experiences, translating them into digestible and relatable action items, showing the average person how they can apply them to their own lives and businesses.

The book is “gripping. Authentic. Engaging… prodigiously researched, carefully argued and gracefully written,” said Frank Abagnale, Jr., world-renowned authority on forgery (and also the author of Catch Me If You Can). It’s a heart-pounding read that will keep you turning the pages and wanting to immediately apply the lessons to your own life.

In addition to writing books, running a company and being just a badass in general, Van Camp also has a soft spot in his heart for the veteran community. He founded Warrior Rising, a nonprofit that empowers U.S. military veterans and their immediate family members by providing them opportunities to create sustainable businesses, perpetuate the hiring of fellow American veterans, and earn their future.

From the battlefield to the football field to the boardroom, with such an elite mission, it’s easy to see why Mission Six Zero is such an elite organization.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of April 13

It appears that the military’s very own meme branch is getting its own series on Netflix on May 29. Space Force is set to star Steve Carell and will be helmed by Carell and showrunner of the American version of The Office, Greg Daniels.

In all fairness, they seem to be grasping the concept of the Space Force being a smaller entity within the DoD to protect satellites and how monotonous it will get after awhile fairly spot on. So basically, it’s The Office. In space… Office Space? Wait, no. That name’s taken…

This is awesome news for anyone else sick of hearing about Tiger King. I’ve never seen that show but through meme-mitosis, I can assume it’s about what happens in the surrounding areas of a military base. I may be desperate for entertainment, but I’m not desperate enough to see what the people at the Wal-Mart outside of Fort Sill would do with a tiger. And hopefully Space Force delivers on that.

Anyways, here are your memes for the week:

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(Meme via Army as F*ck)

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(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

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(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

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(Meme via Call for Fire)

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(Meme via Not CID)

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(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

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(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

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(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

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(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

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(meme via Valhalla Wear)

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(Meme via VET Tv)

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(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

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(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 questions with Darryl Ponicsan: Navy vet and author extraordinaire

From small town Pennsylvania to teaching at the U.S. Navy, then to social work and back to teaching, Darryl Ponicsan has lived an inspiring and interesting life. After his second stint of teaching, he struck gold with his first novel “The Last Detail.” From there the sky was the limit where he is most known for his novels that have been adapted to screenplays which include “The Last Detail,” “Cinderella Liberty” and “Last Flag Flying.” Screenplays include “Taps,” “Vision Quest,” Nuts,” The Boost,” “School Ties” and “Random Hearts.” He also wrote the voice-over for “Blade Runner.” We sat down with him to hear about his life and his service to our country.


1. Tell me about your family and your life growing up?

My parents ran a mom ‘n pop auto parts store in Shenandoah, Pa., a coal mining town that was booming then. Now you can buy a three-story house there for the price of a used Chevy. I worked in the store as a kid and hated almost every minute of it. The town itself, however, was rich soil for drama and comedy. I’m surprised I’m the only writer ever to come out of the place. At the age of nine we moved into the first and only home my parents ever bought, six miles over the hill in Ringtown, a farming community. I had a happy childhood there, graduating from the local high school, now gone, in a class of 22 students. I think I ranked #18.

2. What is the most distinct memory of your mother and your father?

My father and I used to take our own trash to the dump once a week and dump it into a deep pit. One day there were two bums there. I was around 13. One held the end of a rope, and at the other end was his partner with a big bag, scavenging for anything of value. The one on top asked if they could go through our garbage before we dumped it. My father said sure, and we stepped aside. I said something belittling about what they were doing. My father told me, “It’s an honest living.” A great lesson in life. Years later, I was going through a nasty divorce. My mother told me it took years to build my character, don’t let this take it apart. Those two moments are linked in my memory, because in truth I did not have a close relationship with either of them.

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Darryl during his days as a teacher.

3. What challenges did you face at school and in the community?

As I said, I was in a class of 22. There were no cliques. In Shenandoah I was a latchkey kid at a very early age, unheard of today, but the neighbors looked after us as we played in the streets. Likewise in Ringtown where my parents knew all my teachers on a first name basis. I got into a little trouble fighting, which seemed to be our favorite pastime, but we fought with fists only and afterwards were usually ok with each other.

4. What values were stressed at home?

My parents were laissez-faire. They seldom knew where I might be. Frugality, toughness—both emotionally and physically—a work ethic, and honesty were values instilled in us, more by example than preaching.

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Darryl at his first duty station

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Camp Perry in Ohio and with his friends after bootcamp (top right).

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Darryl at Guantanamo Bay Cuba in 1964 (far left).

5. What influenced your career choices post college and why did you join the Navy?

Honestly, I never thought of a career, not even when it seemed I was living one. I became a teacher by default, and when I was offered tenure, I resigned to join the Navy, at age 24, because I wanted to be a writer, not a teacher. In those days everyone was expected to serve a hitch. My brother went to the Air Force at age 18. I chose the Navy because no one had yet written a Navy novel from an enlisted man’s point of view, at least not that I knew about. I’d studied creative writing at Muhlenberg, Cornell, and CalState LA, but my true education as a writer started as a child in a coal town and matured during my time in the Navy.

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James Caan and Marsha Mason in “Cinderella Liberty.” From IMDB.com.

6. What lessons did you take away from your service and what are some of your favorite moments from the Navy?

The Navy is the only branch that draws its cops from the rank and file on a temporary basis, as a work detail. This is both a good and bad idea for exactly the same reason: the Shore Patrol does not put aside his humanity when he puts on the arm band. (Navy brigs, however, are run by Marines.)

I spent most of my enlistment at sea, and I have many memories of the sea itself. I remember seeing my first flying fish. I remember the Atlantic as still as a pond and so wild that I had to lie on a table and hook my elbows and heels over the edges. My very first night at sea I was intensely seasick, throwing up over port and starboard while standing my first mid watch. And of course, there were the liberty ports. We would rotate nine months in the Mediterranean, a month or so in Norfolk, and then four or five months in the Caribbean, my ship was the first American warship to tie up at St. Mark’s Square in maybe ever. We would walk off the ladder right onto St. Mark’s Sq. We were in Venice for a week. I was on the USS MONROVIA (APA-31), the flagship for Comphibron 8, an amphibious squadron. Occasionally we would move to the USS OKINAWA, a helicopter carrier, which was a luxury compared to the Monrovia. I also spent about two months in transit on the USS INTREPID, which is now a museum in Manhattan.

An indelible memory, resulting in my novel and movie “Cinderella Liberty,” was a week-long stay at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va. I went there for a surgery. It turned out I didn’t need the surgery, but it took a week to process me out of the hospital. I had liberty every night until 2400.

Another weird one: my first TDY after boot camp, before getting a ship, was at an Army depot in Ohio. Long story. I was there for a whole summer.

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Faculty picture for the school yearbook.

7. What did you enjoy most about being an English teacher and a social worker?

Both had annoying bureaucracies which hampered some good work, and the pay in both is shamefully low, but the rewards of seeing children progress or in helping people in true need cannot be measured. A lot of my former students are now Facebook friends. They’re all retired and I’m still working.

8. What inspired you to write “The Last Detail,” “Cinderella Liberty” and the “Last Flag Flying,”?

“The Last Detail” was an incredible stroke of luck. It was handed to me almost whole while I was in transit aboard the USS INTREPID after leaving the hospital. I was working with a crusty old P.O.1 in a tiny office. The Career Guidance Office. We played chess all day and swapped sea stories. He told me about having to escort a young sailor from Corpus Christi to the brig in Portsmouth, NH. The kid was unjustly sentenced to a long sentence for a small offense. I knew immediately I had struck gold. It took five or six years to evolve from a short story to a novel.

“Cinderella Liberty” was based on my Naval Hospital experience. That one took about four months to write.

“Last Flag Flying” was the result of endless prodding by a friend to revisit the characters in “The Last Detail” and essentially duplicate their train trip. I resisted for obvious reasons, but I was so obsessed with Bush pushing us into an endless and unnecessary war I felt it might be the best way to get it all off my chest.

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Otis Wilson, Randy Quaid, Jack Nicholson and Don McGovern in “The Last Detail.” From IMDB.com

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Steve Carrell, Laurence Fishburne, Darryl, Bryan Cranston and Rick Linklater on “Last Flag Flying.”

9. What was it like working with Jack Nicholson, Hal Ashby, Robert Towne, Harrison Ford, Martin Ritt, Barbara Streisand, Richard Dreyfus, Harold Becker, James Woods, Mark Rydell, Sydney Pollack, Sherry Lansing and Stanley Jaffe, Richard Linklater, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carrell?

I never worked with any of the principals involved in “The Last Detail.” I worked alone on Towne’s first draft for two weeks, the first time I ever saw a screenplay. Of the others, I worked most intensely with Barbra, Harold Becker, Mark Rydell, and Rick Linklater.

Mark Rydell did “Cinderella Liberty.” I worked closely with him on the script, my first, which took over twice as long as it took to write the novel. A WGA strike forced us to call it done. Mark was a charming, clever director, but I think I absorbed some bad stuff from him. He was an operator and I know at times I emulated him. A mistake. I’m not an operator, and I should have known that from the beginning. Not that his heart wasn’t in the right place.

I did several scripts with Harold Becker, who I liked personally, but I never fully trusted him. I saw him throw others under the bus and I’m pretty sure he did likewise with me.

Sherry Lansing was often derided as a cheerleader, but she was the best of cheerleaders, always encouraging, out in front. She was great to work with on “School Ties.” She was one of the first women to break out big in the business. I like her a lot. I worked with her and Jaffe on “Taps” and “School Ties,” which Jaffe left to head up Paramount. Stanley and I had a love-hate relationship. While at Paramount he hired me to do a major rewrite for a green-lit picture with a major star. I knew he had bragged about getting me cheap for “Taps,” so he made up for it with this job. It was outlandish. I can’t mention the project because at the last moment the star decided he couldn’t work with the director, and the whole thing crashed and burned.

Sydney Pollock was a good friend and a guide to me in the industry. He helped me through the political and filmmaking process in Hollywood. Sydney said that I was not “part of all this,” meaning the ethos and byzantine angles of Hollywood, and he took on the role of guide. I never did learn the ins and outs of the business, and whenever I pretended to I came off as a jerk.

My best experience, which turned out to be my least successful movie, was with Rick Linklater. All indications are that the movie will be rediscovered as time moves on. That happened with “Vision Quest,” a failed picture that keeps finding new audiences that are deeply moved by it. Rick never speaks above a whisper. He seems always on an even keel. Whatever he does comes from the heart.

Barbra was a singular experience. She’s taken a bad rap in the past. Even though I didn’t even like her, until I met her. I was so nervous about our first meeting. At the time, Sidney Pollack told me I would love her, and I did, even though I have a hard time being around perfectionists, who I believe get in their own way. Alvin Sargent, a good friend, worked with me as a collaborator on “Nuts.” Mark Rydell was originally the director. At one point she asked Rydell to step aside and let her work alone with the two of us. He wasn’t happy about it, but Barbra gets what she wants. We practically lived at her house in Beverly Hills for a week. It was agony, it was a joy. Rydell was replaced by Martin Ritt, one of the great old lefty directors.

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Tom Cruise, Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn in Taps. From IMDB.com

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Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott on “Blade Runner.” From IMDB.com

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Richard Dreyfus and Barbra Streisand in “Nuts.” From IMDB.com

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Linda Fiorentino and Matthew Modine in “Vision Quest.” From IMDB.com

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Ben Affleck, Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon and Zeljko Ivanek in “School Ties.” From IMDB.com

10. What are you most proud of, your life and career?

Whatever I may be proud of came with a good deal of luck. I’m proud and lucky that my children are not addicts, and I’m proud I never wrote anything I’m ashamed of.

I’m also proud and lucky to have received an Image Award from the NAACP as Screenwriter of the Year. (1973) I may be the only Caucasian to receive that.

Several years ago, I was living in Sonoma and found I could not work because of the raucous noise of leaf blowers. I went to the city council and took my allotted three minutes to urge them to ban blowers. I went to every meeting over the next year, taking my three minutes. I did my homework and concluded that blowers were the most destructive handheld tool ever invented. I bombarded them with data they could not ignore. They finally voted to ban them, but the mayor caved to commercial pressure and changed his vote. He lost the next election because of that. The issue finally went to a ballot measure and the ban was passed by 16 votes.

I did the same thing in Palm Springs, but this time it was a slam dunk. I’m proud to have had a role in banning leaf blowers in two different cities.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Darryl worked a season with the George Matthews Great London 3-Ring Circus and wrote a book about it, “The Ringmaster.” He became Randy the Clown.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Darryl with Stephen Colbert at an event for “Last Flag Flying.”

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Darryl’s NAACP Image Award for Screenwriter of the Year for 1973.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Veterans receive a 10% discount on the lowest available rail fare on most Amtrak trains.

Use the Fare Finder at the beginning of your search on www.amtrak.com and select ‘Military Veteran’ for each passenger as appropriate to receive the discount.


Military personnel save 10% and get ahead of the ticket line

With valid active-duty United States Armed Forces identification cards, active-duty U.S. military members, their spouses and their dependents are eligible to receive a 10% discount on the lowest available rail fare on most trains, including for travel on the Auto Train.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

An Amtrak train at Penn Station, NYC.

Just use the Fare Finder at the beginning of your search on www.amtrak.com and select ‘Military’ for each passenger as appropriate to receive the discount.

Additionally, Amtrak supports and thanks troops by welcoming uniformed military personnel to the head of the ticket line.

  • The veteran/military discount is not valid with Saver Fares or weekday Acela trains.
  • The veteran/military discount does not apply to non-Acela Business class, First class or sleeping accommodation. Veterans can upgrade upon payment of the full accommodation charges.
  • The veteran/military discount is not valid for travel on certain Amtrak Thruway connecting services or the Canadian portion of services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada.
  • The veteran/military discount may not be combined with other discount offers; refer to the terms and conditions for each offer.
  • Additional restrictions may apply.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch these celebs take to the range with Special Forces for charity

On December 9 and 10, 2020, seven celebrities took to the legendary Range 37 at Fort Bragg, NC. Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson East, her husband and retired NFL player Andrew East, UFC heavyweight champion and former 101st Airborne Sgt. Randy Couture, MMA fighter Dan Henderson, former Bachelorette finalist Shawn Booth, and country music stars Chuck Wicks and Lee Brice teamed up with the Green Berets to raise money for the Special Forces Charitable Trust.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within
Chuck Wicks takes aim with his Green Beret coaches (Special Forces Charitable Trust)

The inaugural Special Forces Charitable Trust Tactical Challenge saw each celeb team up with two Green Berets to run the gauntlet and ring some steel. Using a variety of decked-out Special Forces weapons from handguns to precision rifles, the celebs conducted a familiarization day on Wednesday before the competition itself on Thursday. “This is a one-of-a-kind, truly unique opportunity for teams from the U.S. Army Special Forces and the National Celebrity communities to unite and compete in precision marksman skills, tactical movement, and physical endurance,” the trust announced.

The Special Forces Charitable Trust is a 501(c)(3) charity that supports Green Berets, past and present, and their families. They organize family readiness retreats, award scholarships for Special Forces children and spouses, fund memorials and monuments, and provide financial support to the families of fallen soldiers.

The SFCT Tactical Challenge Competition will air on the Outdoor Channel in 2021. The air date is to be determined. Donations are made by joining a watch team on the SFCT website. Donations can be made in support of a particular celebrity team and will be used in direct support of the Special Forces community and food banks located in the Special Forces Group Headquarters local area. The donations are also 100% tax-deductible.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within
Shawn Johnson East takes her skill and discipline to Range 37 (Shawn Johnson East)

Although the challenge has yet to air, some of the celebrities that took part have given us a glimpse of the action to come on their respective social media platforms. “The past two days have been the most humbling and eye opening days ever,” Johnson East posted on Instagram. “Being able to work along side and be taught by the best there is has truly been an honor.” Johnson East started her charitable work with the Special Forces community 12 years ago by helping with Special Forces retreats.

Wicks, who currently leads in donations raised, had a similar experience working with the Army’s elite operators. “After spending 2 days with the #GreenBerets I’m completely humbled and very proud to be an American,” Wicks posted on Instagram. “Watching the best of the best do their thing and then getting the opportunity to learn from them was an experience of a lifetime.”

Be sure to follow the Special Forces Charitable Trust and watch out for the air date announcement of the Tactical Challenge competition. Donations can be made directly on their website.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within
(Special Forces Charitable Trust)
MIGHTY CULTURE

Are US troops overpaid?

A new study on the military’s pay and compensation system asks a surprising question: Are troops getting paid too much?

Service members have typically earned about 70% of the salaries for civilians with similar skill sets, when factoring in their housing and allowances to offset food costs. That’s the level of compensation researchers found the military would need to offer to recruit and retain the right quality and quantity of personnel, according to a new report from RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank.

But troops’ compensation has jumped beyond that 70th percentile mark for both officers and enlisted troops, according to RAND. Over the course of the 2000s, military pay relative to civilian pay “increased substantially,” the report’s author wrote.


Now that enlisted troops are earning closer to 90% of what their civilian counterparts make, and officers about 83%, she says it’s “raising the question of whether military pay is set too high relative to civilian pay.”

The report, which Military Times first wrote about, looks at how the military’s pay system could be improved to support recruitment, retention and performance. Beth Asch, a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, doesn’t make a determination about whether troops are overpaid, but rather recommends the levels be assessed.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Leland White)

“Given that military pay is above the 70th percentile benchmark and has been for some time, the important question is whether this benchmark is still relevant or whether military pay is set too high relative to civilian pay,” Asch wrote.

In addition to their pay, troops also live on base at no cost or receive a non-taxable housing allowance if they reside off post. That amount is determined by pay grade, geographic location and family size. Active-duty troops may also draw stipends to offset food costs.

Troops are also eligible for military-provided health care, but those benefits aren’t factored into the military compensation totals referenced in this study. There are other benefits and advantages, too, that may draw people to the military that are not factored into the calculation, including skills training, guaranteed employment on multi-year contracts and free post-secondary education through the post-9/11 GI Bill, among others.

Of course, military service also comes with unique challenges and risks — including deployments, mandatory moves and far less employment flexibility than the civilian world offers.

As military pay improved, so did the quality of troops, Asch said — that is, in all the services but the Army.

“The reason why the Army did not increase recruit aptitude as military pay rose relative to civilian pay is an open question,” she wrote.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller)

One possibility, Asch wrote, was that the introduction of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill cut out the Army’s ability to provide education benefit “kickers” to recruits entering selected occupations. Since all recruits got access to post-9/11 education benefits, the Army might have struggled to attract some high-quality prospects, she said.

Aside from recruiting, Asch discusses how military pay affects retention and performance. Rather than simply relying on step increases when troops pick up new rank, Asch says a more flexible system could incentivize hard work.

“The primary source of flexibility and efficiency in the military compensation system turns out to be only a small fraction of cash compensation,” RAND’s key findings state. “Special and incentive pays are not as efficient as they could be in providing incentives for retention and performance.”

The think tank recommends improving how incentive and special pays are handled to “increase flexibility and efficiency.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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