Meet the Air Force’s top couple - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

The Browns are self-proclaimed foodies who explore the DMV restaurant scene and steal time for walks together. It is during these no-tech-allowed strolls when the Air Force’s top couple catch up on their days and feed their relationship. Pun intended. 

And it takes work to maintain, Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. said of marriage and a military career. He and his wife, Sharene, met after he was already an airman but she was no stranger to the lifestyle. Her dad served in the military. 

Sharene Brown says the adventurous side of military life has long been a favorite aspect of being a dependent ID cardholder. It is likely the characteristic that kept her “all in” throughout the decades her husband has been building a career.

“First of all, I would describe military life as adventurous. I’m an adventurous person anyway; I like to travel; I like to see different things and what not. Since coming into the military as a spouse, I have found some of the same challenges a lot of our younger spouses have found,” Sharene Brown said.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
Sharene Brown takes a tour of Jakarta Intercultural School, Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018. The Browns visited the country ahead of the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-Indonesia relationship, seeking opportunities to enhance cooperation between the two nations. Photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux.

A 2019 survey found the rate of unemployment for military spouses to be 24%, according to Blue Star Families. It is reflective of the old adage that as much as things change, they stay the same. In fact, Sharene Brown said change is the one thing that remains constant throughout the decades for those married to service members. She can also relate to hardships in pursuing and maintaining professional aspirations. 

“There are things that I have experienced that I have grown from, but there are still some circumstances that are not much different. If I go back a few years to when I first came in, I was looking for a job and had a hard time finding one, moving from place to place. Then our family started to grow … our oldest son has some learning challenges, and so the plan was to go back to work after he got into school. It didn’t necessarily work out because of the challenges and I was determined at that point to just make sure he was going to be fine,” she said. “But what I found is when one door closes, another door usually opens.”

Read: Second lieutenant makes history in Air Force program

The connections she built over the years alleviated some of the common stressors she faced. Sharene Brown was not shy to dig in at duty stations, either. She relishes in the couple’s time overseas where they often chose to live off base to get a greater sense of the culture. Her favorite location was at Doha, Qatar, where she participated on a dragon boat team.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
Brown with her dragon boat team. Courtesy photo.

Gen. Brown also grew up as a military kid. His dad, who retired from the Army as a colonel, guided Gen. Brown through the process of applying for ROTC scholarships. Ultimately, he said, the Air Force stood out for its opportunities in engineering.

In 1984, Gen. Brown was commissioned as a distinguished graduate at Texas Tech University. He has served in a variety of positions at the squadron and wing levels, including an assignment to the U.S. Air Force Weapons School as an F-16 Fighting Falcon Instructor, according to his official biography. He said it was working with the people at that school that led to a snowball effect of positive career experiences, leading him to contemplate a long-term future with the Air Force. Then, a notable staff tour as Aide-de-Camp to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force opened his world even further.

“I got to see a bigger part of the Air Force. Exciting mission, a lot of responsibility, get to see the world, and get to meet a lot of good people,” he said.

In the summer of 2020, Gen. Brown became the first Black service chief in U.S. military history — an appointment that intersected with a period of heightened racial tension after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Gen. Brown says he is keenly aware of the significance of his role, but also emphasizes that he wants to be judged on the merits of his performance rather than the color of his skin. 

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
Sharene Brown presents the official Air Force Chief of Staff service cap to her husband during the CSAF transition ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in 2020. Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo.

“I would say there’s a before and an after: before George Floyd and after George Floyd. Before, I already knew it [my appointment] was historical in the like, and you know I’ve thought about it but I haven’t really. Partly because, a lot of the times in the jobs I’ve been in, I’ve been either the first of or the only one. It’s probably in some cases — I hate to say it this way — it’s a bigger deal for some others than it is maybe for me because I’ve lived this. … I am who I am and I just want to be good at what I do, and be recognized as a good officer. And then after that, be recognized as a good African American officer. Just like any other officer or leader, you just want to be recognized as a good leader. 

“I think after George Floyd, a bit more visibility and pressure was on the fact that I’m coming into this position. I think it adds a bit of extra weight because there’s some expectation that I’m going to be able to do things, but I’m just one person and I have almost 700,000 airmen that will have to buy into whatever good idea I come up with. And so, when we start looking at diversity and inclusion, it has to be things the whole Air Force can buy into and not just happen because I’m sitting in this chair as Chief of Staff of the Air Force,” he said.

In 2020, leaders ordered an independent review focusing specifically on assessing racial disparity in military discipline processes, personnel development, and career opportunities as they pertain to Black airmen and space professionals. The examination included a look at survey findings from more than 123,000 responses, formal interviews, and listening sessions. Results found that “varying degrees of disparity were identified in apprehensions, criminal investigations, military justice, administrative separations, placement into occupational career fields, certain promotion rates, officer and civilian professional military educational development and some leadership opportunities,” according to the report.

The full report can be found at https://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/ig/IRDR.pdf

Gen. Brown said small steps have been made, but his priority is to do “the deeper dive” that would include determining the root cause of the problem so recommendations can then be made of how to move forward. One example he cites is getting underrepresented demographics into aviation career fields. 

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
The Browns conduct an interview with Military Families Magazine at the Pentagon. Photo by Wayne Clark.

“Do some of the tools we have, are they biased in some way? Not purposely but for whatever reason, we may have missed opportunities and that all comes down to exposure. We only aspire to be what we’ve been exposed to, so looking at how we can lay that out earlier for underrepresented groups, whether it’s race, gender, ethnic background,” he said.

At the same time, leaders are grappling with the ongoing pandemic that has placed restrictions on the normal way of doing business. Gen. Brown says an integral part of checking the morale and mental health of the force starts with building relationships. 

“The key part is knowing your people, and you can’t know they’re having a bad day if you don’t know them — because you can’t tell the difference between a good day and a bad day. And some of that has to happen before you get into a crisis. I found just a few minutes goes a long way. It’s building relationships with the people you work with; you got a professional relationship but you also got to have a little bit of a personal relationship — know about them, their family, some of the ups and downs they have, and talk to them about what they do in the evenings, what they do on the weekends. By building relationships, when they do have a problem, they may be more inclined to talk to you, to seek help,” he said.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
Gen. Brown at his office in the Pentagon. Photo by Wayne Clark.

The line of communication between airman and leader is also important, especially for those junior enlisted members and officers who have certain aspirations in the Air Force. Gen. Brown tells airmen to “take your chances.”

“Always ask for what you want. The worst the Air Force can do is tell you no, but they can’t tell you yes unless you ask,” he said. “I just tell airmen to explore what it is you want to be able to do, and then share that with your leadership so they have an opportunity to help you get to where you want to go. Or, to help you understand you may not be qualified for where you want to go — but you have to have the conversation. If you keep it to yourself, you may miss an opportunity or talk yourself out of it.”

Gen. Brown is adamant that his vision for a successful tour will be the same in years to come as it is today: he wants to make a difference.

“Flying was not the reason why I came into the Air Force or even why I stuck around. I mean, I like to fly, but it’s not the end-all be-all for me. It’s making a difference and that’s the key part; if I can do something that will change the Air Force for the better, make it better for our airmen and families. I would consider myself a failure if I didn’t make a difference in some form or fashion,” he added.

Follow twitter.com/GenCQBrownJr for updates on the 22nd Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.

You can find this story and more in our February issue of Military Families Magazine. Download it here

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 reasons why you should never trust the barracks lawyer

So, you messed up. That sucks. It’s time to absorb whatever punishment your command team is about to drop on you like an adult and carry on with your career. “But wait,” you hear from the corner of the smoke pit, “according to the regulations, you can’t get in trouble for that thing you did!”

We’ve all seen this happen. That one troop — the one who thinks they know how to help you — is what we call a “barracks lawyer.” They’re not actual legal representation and they don’t have any formal training. More often than not, this troop catches wind of some “loophole” via the Private News Network or Lance Corporal Underground and they take this newfound fact as gospel.

For whatever reason, people routinely make the mistake of believing these idiots and the nonsense that spews from their mouths. Here’s just a brief look at why you shouldn’t take their advice:


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Think about it for more than half a second. If everyone knew all the stupid loopholes, there wouldn’t be a court martial system.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kathleen Polanco)

They think they found a loophole… They didn’t.

The actual rules and regulations have been finely tuned over the course of two hundred years. It’s very unlikely that some random troop just happened to be the only one to figure out some loophole. And, realistically, that’s not how the rules work. There’s a little thing known as “commander’s discretion” that supersedes all.

If the commander says it, it will be so. It doesn’t matter how a given rule is worded.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

What they’re suggesting isn’t real. Want to know what is? Troops breaking big rocks into smaller rocks in military prison.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jessica Collins)

What they’re suggesting is often insubordination.

Advice that these pseudo-lawyers offer often involves a line that often starts with, “you don’t have to follow that, because…” Here’s the thing: Unless a superior is asking you to do something that’s profoundly unsafe or illegal, you have to do it. That’s not just your immediate supervisor — that’s all superiors.

The advice that they’re offering is a textbook definition of insubordination. Disregarding an order comes with a whole slew of other legal problems down the time.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

If they’re on in the first sergeant’s office after every major three-day weekend, they’re probably full of sh*t.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)

They’re usually not the best troops in the formation

If they do know what they’re talking about, it’s for good reason. They probably got in trouble once, talked their way out of that trouble, and got let off the hook because the command stopped caring to argue.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

It’s not like there’s an entire MOS field dedicated to solving such issues… oh… wait…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton)

They don’t know what the f*ck they’re talking about

There are 134 articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice out there and countless other rules and regulations that pop up from time to time. There’s no way in Hell that some private in the barracks has spent the time required to study each and every one of them and how they interact with each other.

If they have, by some miracle of time management, spent the effort required to learn all of this, then why the hell have they been squandering their profound talents in your unit rather than going over to JAG? Which leads us perfectly into…

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

If you live with a lower enlisted troop who’s in JAG, they’re still a barracks lawyer if their head is firmly up their own ass about how they can help you. Catch them on the clock.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

There are actual military lawyers who will advocate for you.

They exist and aren’t that uncommon. They’re often found at the brigade-level or installation-level. It’s their job to take on your case and see how the military judicial system could work for you. Unlike your buddy in the barracks, these lawyers have spent years in military (and often civilian) legal training.

Don’t waste your time placating the barracks lawyer. Actual military lawyers in JAG will take care of you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why ‘battlefield awareness’ is essential in jungle combat

British soldiers from the Grenadier Guard shared a video on Twitter showing the excruciating consequences to not having adequate battlefield awareness during training.

In the video, a gaggle of soldiers equipped with SA80 rifles are seen carrying a troop on a litter during a simulated mock casualty evacuation, when one of the soldiers inadvertently walks into a sharp broken branch protruding from the ground.

A groan can be heard as onlookers, including the soldiers providing security, look toward the soldier, who falls backward.


“Maintaining your 360-degree battlefield awareness is essential in the jungle,” the Guard said in the tweet. “You never know what it has in store for you next.”

A British Army spokesperson told Business Insider the soldier in the video was “absolutely fine.”

“Just dented pride,” the spokesperson said. “But he won’t be standing at attention for a while.”

The Grenadier Guards‘ roots dates to 1656, and it’s one of the oldest regiments in the British army.

Soldiers from the Guard have participated in all of the country’s major wars, including current fighting in Afghanistan. In addition to conventional war-fighting capabilities, the Guard says it uses unconventional equipment, such as quad bikes, to mobilize quickly.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Teen flies plane before driving car and sets sights on military career

It could be said that high school senior and military kid Nilah Williamson has her head in the clouds — literally. While many teens were pursuing their driver’s licenses, this Arlington, Virginia teen has been so singularly focused on flying that she ended up flying a plane before ever driving a car. 

The 17-year-old has not yet taken a driver’s classes or test. 

“I have different priorities than other teenagers,” she said.

Williamson says the love of aviation was sparked when she attended a leadership program in the sixth grade. Through Leadership LINKS, a program that exposes young girls to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, she was able to take a practice flight in a simulator. One flight and she was hooked. 

“It’s the age when you can’t decide if you’re going to be a vet or a doctor,” she said. 

“It changed my life and I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Since that time, Williamson continued to thrive in her pursuit of STEM activities. Last year, she took a year-long aviation class at a local career center. 

“The aviation portion of the class is everything I hoped for,” she said. “The physics, the engineering — it ended up being exactly what I wanted.”

After studying throughout the spring and summer, Williamson passed her written pilot exam in September. 

“I’m really proud that I did this one thing during COVID,” she said. 

Nilah Williamson Military Families Magazine
High school senior Nilah Williamson with her mentor Retired Adm. Arthur Johnson, a former Naval aviator.

Retired Adm. Arthur Johnson, a former Naval aviator, became Williamson’s mentor after the two found themselves routinely crossing paths at different STEM and aviation events in the Washington, D.C. area. Over the years, he watched Williamson achieve her goals. 

“This child is committed. She’s not talking a good game. She’s walking that talk,” he said. 

“That’s what really motivates me about Nilah. She is not afraid of hard work. She’s driven and I have no doubt in my mind that she’s going to get it done. I’ve got years of experience watching her achieve goals that she set for herself,” Johnson said. 

Johnson’s company, Destiny Aviation Services, introduces aviation and aeronautics to elementary through high school students via classroom education, simulator training, flight instruction and aviation operations. The company focuses on showcasing aviation career opportunities to populations who may not have had access to airplanes. “The goal is to introduce kids to the thrill of aviation,” he said.  

The introduction of technology, including flight simulators, has disrupted the previous model of aviation training, making careers attainable more than ever before. Johnson says that sim training is a great way to show kids that aviation can be a possibility for them.  

“A young person can decide early and spend time preparing themselves for that endeavor. . . by the time they get a little old enough to get a license, they can actually be quite skilled,” he said. 

Read: Military kids lauded for accomplishments in academics and volunteer work

This is the case for Williamson, who currently serves as a high school ambassador for Destiny

“Seeing things in action allows people to embrace and pursue. She’s inspiring a lot of kids,” Johnson said. 

Both Johnson and Williamson see mentorship and the values of the military as important aspects of their connection. 

“Kind of like Nilah, I was a military brat growing up and I had a lot of people who touched my life in significant ways and so that’s the opportunity I have today by helping people identify what it is they want to do and track a course to get there,” he said. 

Williamson’s ultimate goal is to become a Naval aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Nilah Williamson Military Families Magazine
High school senior Nilah Williamson’s ultimate goal is to become a Naval aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps. Photography courtesy of RLJ Photography.

“I have four generations of military service in my family,” she said. “I just am inspired by the people in my family who also were in the military.”

“For me, the values of the Marine Corps are the values of success,” she said. 

In the meantime, Williamson is finishing up her senior year and applying to college. While her extracurricular activities, including MCJROTC, varsity track and cross-country and National Honors Society keep her busy, aviation remains her focus. She’s working towards gaining the 40 hours of flight time required for completing her pilot’s license and hopes to have it completed before graduation. 

Williamson said that she’s grateful for this time during COVID and for the lessons she’s learned from Johnson while working towards her pilot’s license. “It’s perfect that I get to go through this journey will him,” she concluded. 

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Divers wore 1940s gear to inter Pearl Harbor survivor on USS Arizona

Pearl Harbor survivor Lauren Bruner was laid to rest aboard the sunken remains of the USS Arizona with the help of two Army divers in diving gear from the period.

Army 7th Dive Detachment Divers SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez wore lead boots and a drysuit — weighing a total of 220 pounds — and the last two Mark 5 vintage hard hats certified for operational use on the dive.

Bruner, who died on Sept. 10, 2019, at 98 years old, was interred on the wreck of the Arizona on December 7, the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.


Meet the Air Force’s top couple

(Library of Congress)

After Bruner’s death, only three Arizona crew members are still alive today.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Bruner survived the attack on the Arizona by going hand over hand across a rope stretched 70 feet above the harbor. Forty-four other survivors have had their remains interred on the ship, alongside their more than 900 shipmates who went down with the ship during the attack.

Bruner will be the last survivor to be interred on the wreckage, the Star-Advertiser reports; he was the second-to-last man to escape the flaming ship, according to CNN.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

Attendees salute Bruner’s ashes.

(Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Holly L. Herline/US Navy)

SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez wore vintage diving suits to place Bruner’s ashes in the well of barbette number four.

Bruner suffered burns on 80% of his body, but went back into service after he healed. He served aboard the USS Coghlan in eight other battles against Japan’s forces, CNN reports.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

US Army 7th Dive Detachment Divers SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez interred the remains of Pearl Harbor Survivor Lauren Bruner amongst the remains of his fellow crewman on board the sunken USS Arizona.

(Screengrab/Sgt. Laura Martin/US Army/DVIDS)

The diving suits are similar to what salvage divers would have worn on salvage missions into Pearl Harbor.

The Mark 5 helmet and dive suit was used from 1916 until the 1980s, according to the US Naval Undersea Museum.

“In retrospect, it’s very historical and super-cool, but it’s kind of uncomfortable,” Melendez told the Star-Advertiser. “It’s super heavy and it’s kind of amazing to think that it took so long to kind of upgrade it.”

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

US Army 7th Dive Detachment Divers SSG Fred Bible and SPC Julio Melendez interred the remains of Pearl Harbor Survivor Lauren Bruner aboard the USS Arizona.

(Screengrab/Sgt. Laura Martin/US Army/DVIDS)

Underwater, Melendez and Bible walked about 200 feet along the wreckage of the Arizona before they brought Bruner’s remains to their final resting place.

While the Navy has performed this kind of ceremony before for other Pearl Harbor survivors, the divers have always worn modern diving kits.

“I think it was a really fitting tribute and I think it’s an interesting way to kind of close out the last of the interments — to have it done not only with the ceremony that we normally do, but to have historic hardhats like it would have been during the salvage in World War II,” Brett Seymour, the deputy chief of the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center, told the Star-Advertiser.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple

(Screengrab/Sgt. Laura Martin/US Army/ DVIDS)

“We’ve never done an interment with hardhats for sure,” Seymour told the Star-Advertiser.

“It was historical. I was left speechless, honestly,” Melendez told the Star-Advertiser. “It was a very in-the-moment experience. Just kind of taking it all in and realizing what we were doing and the history that’s being made and remembering Lauren Bruner and everything that he had done.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Everyone in the Marine Corps has a story. No one knows this better than does Sgt. Dana Beesley, who just earned the prestigious title of 2020 Photographer of the Year from the Military Visual Awards, an international competition showcasing the best of the best in military photography.

Beesley grew up in the small town of Lewiston, Idaho, the daughter of a local journalist. After watching All the President’s Men as a young child, she fell in love with investigative reporting. She fiddled with disposable cameras, took pictures on family camping trips, and pored with wonder over the hundreds of copies of National Geographic Magazine her mother had collected in the basement, looking at only the photos and captions.

After joining the Marine Corps as a combat photographer in 2015, Beesley got serious about photography.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
An instructor pushes his students to their limits as he corrects one student, who appears to be struggling, on the proper way to execute a rope climb during class physical training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Oct. 15, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“From there, the adventure began,” she told Coffee or Die Magazine, looking back on her decision to enlist after completing her freshman year at the University of Idaho.

Beesley is based at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, where she chronicles the struggles and successes of the thousands of recruits who undergo recruit training there annually.

“Even though we go through the same training every week, the people themselves are all different,” she said. “They all experience emotions differently. They all experience pain differently. They all experience passion and drive and motivation differently.”

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
Recruits with Alpha Company participate in the Crucible on Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019. The Crucible is a 54-hour culminating event that requires recruits to work as a team and overcome challenges in order to earn the title United States Marine. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

From the recruit who may be conquering a fear of heights to plunge off a high dive for the first time, to the one who has spent the last of his energy during the crucible, Beesley wants to capture every moment.

Beesley’s portfolio was one of more than 2,000 submissions from US and NATO military members around the world, according to the Military Visual Awards.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
Marine Sgt. Dana Beesley is a combat photographer at MCRD Parris Island, S.C. She has been named the 2020 Military Visual Awards Photographer of the Year. Photo courtesy of Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“One of the things that I think separates [Beesley] from a lot of people is there’s an emotional connection she has with a lot of her photos,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bobby Yarbrough said. “She gets that emotional connection with people, which makes them more comfortable in front of a camera, but also makes her imagery just stand out and pop.”

Yarbrough’s opinion carries a lot of weight. Like Beesley, he graduated from the Military Photojournalism Program at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, which is sometimes affectionately described as “the Top Gun” of military photojournalism. The Marines regularly shoot photos together on base, building a competitive camaraderie. Yarbrough was also the runner up in this year’s contest.

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A Marine Corps instructor of water survival (MCIWS) instructs recruits with Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, on proper breathing techniques before swim qualification training on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Sept. 29, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing Sgt. Beesley actually beat me out in the competition,” Yarbrough said. “Being a leader in the Marine Corps, nothing is more humbling than seeing the people below you succeed. And her portfolio was definitely better than mine.”

Beesley herself is incredibly humble, though, crediting her fellow Marines with her success. She leads a 16-person team that specializes in all areas of public communication and digital engagement at MCRD Parris Island.

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Recruits with Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, complete the Obstacle Course during the Crucible on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 12, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“It’s because of the Marines underneath and above me that I’m here today,” she said. “I wish I could give this award to all the Marines at Parris Island. I don’t want to take it for myself.”

Beesley won’t run out of stories to tell on Parris Island anytime soon. In fact, there’s one very specific photo she’s trying to take.

“I’m still waiting for that moment where I capture that complete exhaustion on a drill instructor’s face behind a closed door,” she said.

Meet the Air Force’s top couple
Staff Sgt. Candace Luna, a drill instructor with Platoon 4032, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, inspects her platoon as they practice close-order drill movements in the squad bay June 26, 2019 on Parris Island, S.C. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

Drill instructors are notoriously stoic, and even if their facade slips for a moment, it goes right back up the second they see Beesley’s lens.

“The things that these drill instructors do day in and day out for the betterment of the Marine Corps is absolutely astonishing,” she said. “I wish I could show that in my camera.”

See more of Beesley’s winning portfolio here, as well as powerful photos in other categories, such as news, feature, portrait, and more.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Lee Greenwood and the USAF Band singing ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ will give you chills

Other than the National Anthem, there really isn’t another song out there that evokes the pride of country like Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” So when the iconic singer teamed up with the United States Air Force band to perform it during COVID-19, it’s no surprise the rendition is truly breathtaking.


Home Free – God Bless the U.S.A. (featuring Lee Greenwood and The United States Air Force Band)

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Home Free – God Bless the U.S.A. (featuring Lee Greenwood and The United States Air Force Band)

It’s not the first time Greenwood has teamed with the Armed Forces to perform the song. In 2015, he partnered with the U.S. Army Chorus for an impromptu acapella version at the NHL Winter Classic.

Army Chorus and Lee Greenwood sing a capella God Bless the USA impromptu at the Winter Classic

www.youtube.com

Army Chorus and Lee Greenwood sing a capella God Bless the USA impromptu at the Winter Classic

While Greenwood never served, he has long supported the troops and military community. In a 2000 interview with Military.com, Greenwood was asked why he thought the song has such a powerful message for the military. He responded:

“I knew we had a song that touched the heart of the public. I knew that it was a song that gave proper salute to the military and its job. I knew that it honored those that had died, and I knew it made people stand up. I actually wrote those words: “I’d proudly stand up and defend her still today,” [meaning] even though pride had been gone in the past, it’s back and we should stand up at any time and defend this free country. So those who are away from home, it has much more impact on. I am a world traveler as well, and have been with the USO for 15 of the world USO tours with my celebrity cast. It does mean much more. You’re in another country where you’re subject to attack, and you long for the protection of the United States and all the things you find familiar about it.”

Here’s to you, Mr. Greenwood. Thanks for continuing to serve all of us.

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 reasons why the ‘Florida Man’ is definitely a drunk Marine

We’ve all seen “Florida Man” show up in ridiculous headlines. You know the ones: “Florida man calls 911 over missing beer so many times he gets arrested.” Or how about, “Florida man claims wife was kidnapped by holograms.” The list goes on. In fact, headlines coming out of Florida are so often outrageous that “Florida Man” has become something of a pop culture myth, known for getting into trouble in the most ridiculous ways — ways that only someone in an altered state of mind to conjure up.

Alcohol is undeniably a big part of military culture. Troops are constantly pushing the boundaries of what defines alcoholic behavior. The most prolific offender among the branches is, without a doubt, the Marine Corps. Drunk Marines are notorious for getting into trouble and, by now, it’s practically expected because it happens so often.

At the end of the day, the “Florida Man” has a lot in common with a drunk Marine. Here’s why:


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Then the Army has to come clean up the mess.

(U.S. Army)

1. The antics are surprisingly similar

For some reason, “Florida Man” is always noted for his intoxication — and even if it doesn’t make the headline, you can safely assume his state of mind. Drinking, getting rowdy, and stripping in public are some of Florida Man’s favorite pastimes — just like Marines! In fact, if you were to take some of his greatest works and replace “Florida Man” with “drunk Marine,” nobody would bat an eye at it.

No, really. Try it with us:

“Naked Florida Man drinks 2 liters of vodka, burns down house baking cookies on George Foreman Grill”

And make these changes:

Naked, drunk Marine drinks 2 liters of vodka, burns down barracks baking cookies on George Foreman Grill

Seamless, right? That’s why we’re not allowed to have toasters in our rooms.

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Seriously? Over chicken?

(U.S. Marine Corps)

2. They both exhibit aggressive tendencies

Drunk Marines are, quite possibly, the most irritable people on the planet. Making simple requests or doing anything that might accidentally upset one will likely result in violence.

Tell me, which of these is the real headline?

Florida Man swings anchor at beachgoers because they ruined his chicken

Drunk Marine swings anchor at beachgoers because they ruined his chicken

Can’t tell? Us neither. This is what happens when you don’t have a battle buddy.

3. Playing with dangerous, live animals

Both Marines and Florida Man have a penchant for messing with whatever wildlife happens to share their environment. Add a little bit of alcohol to the situation, and you might end up with this:

Florida Man enters convenience store carrying live gator, chases customers

That could easily be this:

Drunk Marine enters PX carrying live gator, chases customers

I feel like I’ve seen both of these before…

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Why do drunk people always want to fight cops?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jesus Sepulveda Torres)

4. Trying to fight cops

To be fair, drunk Marines will fight anyone when given the chance. But, of course, any challenge of authority will result in direct confrontation. That’s how you get headline swaps like this:

“Florida Man trashes McDonald’s, challenges cops to fight him at jail”

“Drunk Marine trashes chow hall, challenges PMO to fight him”

After evaluating the evidence, we can conclude with near certainty that Florida Man is indeed a US Marine.

MIGHTY CULTURE

3 tips for remembering what you’ve read

If you like to read and are in the military, chances are that you aren’t reading for the hell of it, but reading to learn. Reading history, military leadership and self-improvement books are a great way to work toward developing skills to help improve your chances of success as a leader.

While the intent is admirable, there is a more practical problem with this approach. According to the forgetting curve, we forget most of what we read in the days or weeks after we encounter the material. Research has found that we generally remember as little as 10 to 20% of what we read.

I read a lot and I’m continually looking for ways to help me retain the important ideas, passages and quotes I come across. And I’m not alone.


Since humans first started writing practical advice for leaders, people have tried to figure ways to remember these lessons and incorporate them into their daily lives. The Stoic philosopher Seneca even commented on this over 2000 years ago:

“We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application—not far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech—and learn them so well that words become works.”

So how do we learn the words so well that we turn them into works? The key is to counter the forgetting curve and increase our ability to recall the information we gain from reading. Thankfully, memory research has some answers for us.

Here are 3 tips for remembering what you’re reading:

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Use your hands.

One of the ways in which we can better remember what we read is to get our hands involved in the process. In other words, using a highlighter to mark important passages or a pen to write marginalia (notes in the margins) helps us with retention.

In their book, The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with Your Brain, educators Terry Doyle and Todd Zakrajsek argue that by adding the sense of touch to learning, we create multi-sensory pathways in the brain. Studies have shown that a multi-sensory approach to learning greatly increases the probability of recall.

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Build an external hard drive.

From Marcus Aurelius to George Patton and Leonardo da Vinci to Bill Gates, these leaders and inventors kept personal notebooks or notecards where they captured quotes, maxims, ideas or anything else they found of interest. As we look back now into their private writings, we find evidence of the intellectual growth that made them successful. For instance, Patton copied down insights at West Point that would eventually become his fighting style decades later.

Typically when I finish a book, I return to it and transfer my margin notes, highlighted passages or additional reading (footnotes and endnotes are great for this) into my notebook. This extra step takes about thirty minutes, but it is worth it.

I continually look back through my notebook, gaining more familiarity with the subject. This “external hard drive’ is a great place to review ideas when I need them, and I don’t have to worry about it crashing!

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Talk about it!

Finally, when we discuss what we read, we increase the chances we won’t forget it. By talking about it, we force our brains to recall the information. Research has shown that in recalling information, we strengthen the memory.

If I am reading a book I enjoy, I will bring it up in conversation with friends and family members. As we discuss an aspect of the book, I typically find that we will come up with even more applications for the quote or idea put forth by the author.

So, next time you pick up a book, don’t just read it cover to cover and put it away. Grab your highlighter and a pen. Mark passages and make notes in the margins. Find a small notebook where you can capture insights, quotes and tidbits worth remembering. And talk about your books with family and friends, always looking for ways to recall the information. If you do these things, you will be able to follow the advice of Seneca, and know the words so well that you turn them into works.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Vietnam era Medal of Honor recipient loses his battle to COVID-19

On April 17, 2020 this country lost one of its greatest defenders to COVID-19. Although fighting bravely for weeks to overcome the virus, it took his life. But how he died is nothing compared to how he lived. Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins was truly a hero.

Adkins was drafted into the United States Army at 22 years old in 1956. After completing his initial training, he was sent to Germany as a typist for a tour and then made his way back to the states to the 2nd infantry division at Fort Benning in Georgia. Adkins attended Airborne School and then volunteered for Special Forces in 1961. He became a Green Beret.

During the ceremony which authorized the use of the Green Beret for the Army Special Forces, Adkins was a part of the Honor Guard. President Kennedy once said in a memo to the Army that, “the Green Beret is again becoming a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom.” Adkins was all of that and more.

After officially becoming a Green Beret, he deployed overseas to serve in the Vietnam War. He would go on to deploy there three times. It was during his second deployment that he would distinguish himself in an extraordinary way, earning the nation’s highest honor.

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While serving as an Intelligence Sergeant in the Republic of Vietnam, his camp was attacked. The after action report showcases how he and his fellow soldiers sustained 38 hours of unrelenting, close-combat fighting. Even after receiving wounds of his own during the attack, he fought off the enemy. He exposed then continually exposed himself in order to carry his wounded comrades to safety.

He also refused to leave any man behind.

Adkins had a wounded soldier on his back when they all made it to the evacuation site and discovered that the last helicopter had left. Despite the bleakness of their chances, he gathered the remaining survivors and brought them safely into the jungle where they evaded the enemy for two days until they were rescued.

After his time in Vietnam, he went on to serve the Army and this grateful nation until 1978. Adkins went on to earn two master’s degrees and established Adkins Accounting Services in Auburn, Alabama, where he was the CEO for 22 years.

In 2014, President Barack Obama presented Adkins with the Medal of Honor. His citation states that he “exbibits extraordinary heroism and selflessness”. Adkins was also entered into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. In 2017 he established the Bennie Adkins Foundation which awards scholarships to Special Forces soldiers.

On March 26th, 2020 at 86 years old, he was hospitalized for respiratory failure and labeled critically ill according to his foundation’s Facebook post. Weeks after that post, he lost his battle with COVID-19. He leaves behind five children and his wife Mary, whom he has been married to for 59 years.

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Today and always, remember him and honor his selfless service to this nation.To learn more about Sergeant Major Adkins service, click here

MIGHTY CULTURE

Elon Musk amuses the internet with tweet about flags

Chad and Romania are situated on separate continents and share few historical or geographical links. They don’t even have an embassy in each other’s country.

The two countries rarely come up in the same sentence. That is, unless you’re discussing their flags.

Aside from slight variations in color shading, the two countries’ flags appear identical — an observation Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to have just discovered and shared with Twitter.


According to the online Encyclopedia Britannica, Romania initially displayed a flag with horizontal stripes of blue, yellow, and red before settling on its current vertical design in 1861.

Chad decided on its own flag design after it achieved independence from France in 1959.

The country initially considered a green, yellow, and red design but quickly discovered Mali had already taken the same pattern. It then swapped the green for the blue — inadvertently creating a flag that was almost identical to Romania’s.

Chad’s flag is not the only one to resemble other flags — here are some other examples

The flag of Mali, the country Chad tried to avoid copying, is similar to Senegal’s — a single green star in the middle appears to separate the two flags. Guinea’s also replicates Mali’s design but is reversed.

Both Indonesia and Monaco fly two horizontal stripes: red over white. Poland similarly flies white over red.

Ireland and Ivory Coast share the same design, but it is flipped on the flagpole.

All of these similarities may have stemmed from coincidence, but other flags have a specific reason for slight variations to a theme.

Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia all sport the same-colored horizontal stripes, but that’s because they used to be part of the same country of Gran Colombia, which dissolved in 1822, according to Britannica.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why the military gives male recruits a buzz cut

In 1994, a judge ruled the first woman ever admitted to The Citadel, a Charleston, S.C.-based military academy, should not be exempt from getting the same “induction cut” given to all male recruits. For decades, U.S. military recruits have had their locks shorn in the first weeks of training, given what is otherwise known as “The Army’s Finest.”


While the Citadel’s first female cadet would not end up buzzed like her male classmates, male recruits and cadets have been going through the rite of passage since George Washington established the Continental Army. Even then, he required men serving in the American ranks wear short hair or braided up. He could also wear his hair powdered, which he would do with flour and animal fat. If he did, it would be tied in a pigtail.

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There are actually worse cuts out there, you know.

The cleanliness desired by General Washington endured through the early years of the United States. Shaving was enforced up until the Civil War, when men were allowed to sport neat, trim mustaches and beards. By then, it was apparent that the hair regs of yesteryear were gone.

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Now that’s just absurd.

The shearing of young men began in earnest during the heavy recruitment of troops in World War II. The Army’s official reason was “field sanitation” – meaning it wanted to control the spread of hair and body lice. it had the double effect of standardizing new U.S. troops, creating a singular look to remind the men that they were in the Army now – and that the Army had standards. Like most everything else in a military training environment, the haircut was a boon to individual and unit discipline.

Ever since, the services have tried at various times to recognize the evolution of popular hairstyles for American troops while trying to maintain discipline and grooming standards among them. Women, while not forced to partake in the introductory military hairstyle, have maintained clean, often short hairstyles. Their hairstyles are always expected to be just as well-kept and disciplined as their male counterparts. They still get a visit to the basic training Supercuts – the result is just not as drastic.

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He’s ready.

It doesn’t matter if they’re coming into the military as an officer or as enlisted, if they’re Guard or Reserve, if they’re going to a service academy or ROTC, all soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines get a solid shearing to christen their new way of life.

MIGHTY CULTURE

New Netflix documentary pulls back the curtain on military life

When the cheers of the viral military homecomings have dissipated and the videos stop playing, real life begins. Netflix’s new documentary, Father Soldier Son, pulls back the curtain and brings the viewer into the reality of the military family and the devastating cost of a 20-year war.

The public perception of a military service member leans toward words like heroic and exceptional. But they are human beings with real struggles as they live with the aftereffects of their commitment to this country. Father Soldier Son reveals that to the public. To create the documentary, two journalists from The New York Times spent 10 years (yes, 10 years) following American soldier Brian Eisch and his family.


What initially began as a film to document a battalion’s year-long deployment in 2010 during a troop surge evolved into an unexpected new project for directors Leslye Davis and Catrin Einhorn.

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“We really wanted to tell the stories of American soldiers and Brian was just one of many [in that deployment]. But his kids were just so captivating and they spoke with such honesty, openness and emotion about what they were going through. They really stuck with us,” Einhorn explained.

The documentary begins with Eisch’s sons, Issac and Joey. They share their feelings about their dad being deployed overseas and their deep fears for his safety. This is another unique perspective of this film; the public is given a glimpse of how deployment impacts military children.

The viewer then witnesses the joyful reunion for the boys when their dad comes home for a break in his deployment. It’s not unlike the homecomings that go viral on social media. But then, the directors bring you in deeper with the emotional, compelling moments when the boys have to say goodbye; something not many members of the public ever witness.

When Eisch returned to combat in Afghanistan, he was shot.

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Viewers are then brought on Eisch’s journey of being a wounded warrior. “We were able to show the before and what the boys were going through while he was away and the anxiety and fear that they have. Then we showed what happened after,” Einhorn explained. She continued, “There’s this sort of iconic idea of a hero, but what does that really mean? What is the sacrifice? Brian had a truck drive into a field and then jumped out of it to try and rescue this wounded ally of his. That is a very heroic thing by all accounts and he received an award for that. But what did that mean for him and his life afterward?”

Every time the directors thought the film was done, things kept happening in Eisch’s life that brought them back. “We got to take this personal and deep dive into this family to show how it [war] impacted them over time,” Davis said.

Three years after his combat injury, the constant pain forced Eisch to undergo a leg amputation.

The events that unfold after following that are a reality for many service members experiencing physical or invisible wounds of war. This film will bring viewers on a journey filled with hope, but also devastating loss and pain. “As journalists we really wanted to make it a window into a military family…These quiet consequences and how they can ripple through a family and reshape things. That’s what we witnessed with this family and felt hadn’t been explored,” said Einhorn.

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Directors Catrin Einhorn (left) and Leslye Davis (right).

Both directors were asked how the family reacted to the documentary once it was revealed.

“We got to watch it with the family…He [Eisch] thinks it’s true. He thinks the story accurately depicts his life. The first time the family watched it – it was very retraumatizing. They were in grief watching it, and shock. But it seems that it has their seal of approval,” Davis shared. Einhorn added, “He said it was both joyful and devastating for them to watch it. He turned to us at the end and said, ‘It’s true, I am struggling.'”

“We look forward to what people take away from the film,” Davis said.

The documentary is available at midnight on July 17 to Netflix subscribers. The directors shared that the New York Times will be releasing a follow up a few days after the release to give viewers an update on the family.

When watching the film, it will take viewers into the unadulterated reality for military families. Father Soldier Son is a stark reminder of the far reaching ripple effects of war.

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