This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

The world’s largest aircraft, the Stratolaunch Launch Systems Stratolaunch, flew for the first time on Saturday, April 13, 2019. The massive aircraft took off from the Mojave Air & Space Port’s Civilian Aerospace Test Center in California at 06:58 Pacific Daylight Time and conducted an initial test flight that lasted 2.5 hours achieving a maximum altitude of 17,000 feet and a top speed of 189 MPH before landing.

The aircraft, designed to carry spacecraft to atmospheric launch, can carry a payload of up to 500,000 pounds or 250 tons according to Stratolaunch Launch Systems. The gigantic Stratolaunch has the largest wingspan in the world at 117.3 meters (384.8 feet), significantly larger than the previous record holder, the Antonov An-225 “Mriya” heavy lift cargo aircraft. The Stratolaunch is powered by six enormous Pratt & Whitney PW4000 jet engines formerly used on the Boeing 747 that only used four engines.


April 13, 2019’s flight was a remarkable moment in aviation history, attended by aircraft enthusiasts and media from around the world. Aviation photographers ringed the outer fences of the Mojave Air Space Port to shoot photos and video of the historic event. Within minutes of Stratolaunch’s takeoff the internet came alive with photos and video of the historic event.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

Stratolaunch makes a low pass over the Mojave Air Space Port on Saturday during its first flight. Note the unusual near-vertical flap confirmation for landing.

(Stratolaunch)

Weather conditions for Stratolaunch’s first flight were ideal, with early morning temperatures in the 40’s to 50’s, light winds, minimum visibility of 10 miles reported by aviation weather surfaces and temperatures rising to 62 degrees Fahrenheit by 1030 local time.

Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd, who watched the aircraft takeoff for the first time Saturday morning, told reporters, “What a fantastic first flight”. Floyd went on to remark, “Today’s flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems. We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today’s flight crew, our partners at Northup Grumman’s Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port.”

Stratolaunch First Flight

www.youtube.com

April 13, 2019’s first-ever test flight of Stratolaunch was flown by experimental test pilot Evan Thomas. Thomas is a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, F-16 pilot and former Vice Wing Commander of the 46th Test Wing and former Director of NATO Combined Air Operations Center 5. Evan Thomas has also been senior test pilot for Calspan Corporation and has been a test pilot at Scaled Composites for over a year. His specialties in test flight include aviation and test safety, aircraft stability and control testing and operational leadership of flight test teams.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

Stratolaunch Chief Test Pilot Evan Thomas, who flew the aircraft on its historic first flight.

(Stratolaunch)

Test Pilot Evan Thomas told reporters after the first flight that, “The flight itself was smooth, which is exactly what you want the first flight to be, and for the most part, the airplane flew as predicted, which is again exactly what we want.”

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

Stratolaunch touches down after a successful first test flight.

(Stratolaunch)

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

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How American GIs brought Spam to the world

No, we’re not talking about automated, unsolicited emails trying to sell you fat-burning pills or hair-loss recovery foam. The original Spam is a brand of precooked canned meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation. Today, there are 15 varieties of Spam sold in 41 countries and trademarked in over 100. It has transcended social classes and become an integral part of culinary cultures worldwide. So how did this canned luncheon meat product become a worldwide phenomenon? It’s due in large part to American GIs and WWII.

Introduced by Hormel in 1937, Spam aimed to increase the sale of pork shoulder, an unpopular cut of meat. Its name is the result of a contest won by Ken Daigneau, the brother of a Hormel executive. Hormel claims that the true meaning of the Spam name “is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Food executives,” however it is commonly accepted that it’s an abbreviation of spiced ham.


This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
A World War II-era can of Spam (Photo by Hormel Foods Corporation)

 

During WWII, delivering fresh meat to frontline troops was an extremely difficult task. Spam offered the military a canned solution that didn’t require refrigeration and possessed an extremely long shelf life. As Spam became an integral part of the GI diet, troops gave the meat a variety of nicknames like “ham that didn’t pass its physical,” “meatloaf without basic training,” and “Special Army Meat.” The grease from the luncheon meat was used to lubricate weapons and waterproof boots, and the empty cans could be filled with rocks and strung from wire perimeters as intruder alarms. By the end of the war, the military had purchased over 150 million pounds of Spam. For reference, a can of Spam today weighs 12 ounces.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
Sgt. Arnold Bourdreau eating canned corned beef in Italy in 1945 (National Archives photo)

 

Troops across all theaters of the war brought Spam with them as a convenient and preserved meat ration. As a result of the war and the following occupations, Spam was introduced to European and Asian countries where it was quickly assimilated into local diets.

In the UK, Spam’s popularity grew out of necessity as the result of rationing. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher remembered Spam as “a wartime delicacy”. The canned luncheon meat has been adopted into various British recipes like Spam Yorkshire Breakfast, Spamish Omelette, Spam Hash and Spam Fritters.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
Spam Fritters with chips and peas (Photo from SpamBrand.com.au)

 

Spam was also included as a part of Allied aid to the post-war Soviet Union. Strict food rations made meat even more scarce there than in Britain. “Without Spam we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army,” Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev declared in his memoir.

East Asian countries also adopted Spam as a result of rationing and the scarcity of meat. In Hong Kong, the canned meat was incorporated into local dishes like macaroni with fried egg, ramen and chicken soup. Spam was ingrained so deeply in Okinawan culture that it is used in traditional onigiri (rice balls or triangles usually wrapped in seaweed) and is used in the traditional dish chanpurū. In Korea, Spam’s popularity rose out of the Korean War. As fish became scarce, Spam was used as a replacement in kimbap (rice and vegetable seaweed rolls). The cans of luncheon meat were also used by U.S. troops to trade for goods, services and even information around their bases. Today, Korea is second only by the United States in Spam production and consumption.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
Spam Classis Kimbap (Photo from Spam.com)

 

In Southeast Asia, Spam is most popular in the Philippines. Following WWII, Spam became a cultural symbol on the islands. It is most commonly eaten in Spamsilog, a twist on a traditional Filipino breakfast composed of rice (usually garlic fried rice), a sunny-side up egg, and a meat dish. Though Spam is commonly sliced and fried, it is also used in sandwiches, burgers and spaghetti. In the Philippines, Spam transcends social class and is extremely popular across all walks of life. There are at least 10 varieties of Spam sold in the Philippines that mimic the flavors of traditional meats. It’s estimated that 1.25 million kilos of Spam is sold annually in the Philippines. After Tropical Storm Ketsana in 2009, Hormel Foods donated over 30,000 pounds of Spam to the Philippine Red Cross.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
Spamsilog is a breakfast dish that’s acceptable at any time of day (Photo from ThePeachKitchen.com)

 

In the United States, Spam is especially popular in Hawaii whose residents have the highest per capita consumption in the country. Spam is used most heavily in Spam musubi where a slice is placed on top of rice and wrapped in a band of nori seaweed. The Hawaiian market also features exclusive Spam variants like Honey Spam, Spam with Bacon, and Hot and Spicy Spam. Spam is even served in local McDonald’s and Burger King chains. Every spring, Oahu hosts an annual Spam festival called Waikiki Spam Jam where local chefs and restaurants compete to make new spam-themed dishes which are then sold at the street fair.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
A selection of Spam variants at Waikiki Spam Jam (Photo by This Week Hawaii)

 

Although it is seen by some as a food of poverty or hard times due to its affordability and long shelf life, Spam’s popularity around the world is undeniable. Thanks in large part to the GIs that brought it with them, Spam was able to fill food gaps in countries ravaged by war and evolve into a dietary staple and cultural icon.

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Organization to honor 174 service women who paid the ultimate sacrifice

One hundred seventy-four miles may sound like a lot of ground to cover in one week, but to Lisa Hallett it’s minuscule compared to the 174 women who lost their lives in overseas combat since Sept. 11, 2001.

“I think women in service show an uncommon courage,” said Hallett, co-founder and executive director of wear blue: run to remember — a nonprofit dedicated to honoring the sacrifice of U.S. military members. “Their willingness to step into a man’s world, lead with conviction and have an impact on the success of our armed forces — I’m so in awe of that bravery.”

In conjunction with Women’s History Month and the 399,458 current-serving military women, Hallett and wear blue’s staff launched the inaugural Piestewa Challenge — a worldwide collective effort to pay tribute to the nation’s 174 fallen women. Kicking off Tuesday, March 23, the challenge invites groups of four to eight people to jointly run, walk, swim, kayak, bike or any other motion in completing 174 total team miles by March 30.

“Any movement counts!” Hallett said. “There is so much we can’t control in our lives, especially right now, but we can always do something intentional for ourselves, our communities and these women.”

The Piestewa Challenge is named after Army Spc. Lori Piestewa, the first Native American service member to be killed in combat on foreign soil and the first military woman to be killed in Iraq. March 23, the day the challenge launches, is the 18th anniversary of her passing in Nasiriyah. The symbolic starting line begins near Piestewa Peak in Arizona and ends 174 miles later — a location not far from Piestewa’s hometown of Tuba City on Navajo Nation.

Anyone — man, woman or child — can participate in any location. Hallett, herself a Gold Star wife after losing her husband John in Afghanistan in 2009, recommends joining the challenge not to check off another item on a to-do list, but as “a gift to ourselves and each other.”

“Here is a really simple way we can come together and connect as a military family,” she said. “When we remember the past, say these women’s names, we show the present how we will care for each other in the good and the bad in the future.”

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

The Piestewa Challenge is free and has already registered more than 1,500 athletes, although Hallett, an ultramarathon runner and Ironman participant, hopes for 5,000. Participants can join teams with names like “Hot Steppers” and “Wild Wicked Women” and log miles through Racery, a virtual race platform. Registration is available online.

The challenge is more than just lonely exercising. Athletes can begin the 174 miles with the “Piestewa Challenge National Circle of Remembrance” online Tuesday morning. The virtual ceremony will specifically honor Piestewa with a blessing from the Hopi people, her tribe, as well as reading aloud the 173 names of her fallen sisters. Additionally, wear blue will send emails throughout the week, each containing stories of soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors killed over the last two decades.

Many of the women’s family members are playing active roles in the challenge.

“It means so much that their loved one is not forgotten and that they do not remember alone,” Hallett said. “These women’s families have, in many ways, carried the weight of their service, and there is so much inspiration in witnessing each family’s courage and how they persevere.”

Hallett and her staff will be running on team “Run, Honor, Belong.” With each mile, she says, they will be thinking of each woman in the club of 174.

“This is an opportunity for the nation to turn the words, ‘Thank you for your service’ into tangible, meaningful action,” she said. “We’re going to carry with intention their legacies in our steps.”

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Packers’ Aaron Rodgers donates his golf tournament winnings to Wounded Warriors

As all you golf fans know, this weekend was the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It is one of golf’s more fun events (outside of the Happy Gilmore-like atmosphere at Waste Management Open).

The Pro-Am is a televised event that pairs world-class golfers with various celebrities who showcase their golf skills, ham it up for the crowds, or unintentionally give us the best laughs.


The Pro-Am, a highly sought after ticket, is a charity event. Golfers and celebrities use their talents (or try to attempt to) to raise money for various causes.

Cue Green Bay Packer All-Pro (and safe driver) Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers, a Super Bowl Champion and two time MVP, is known for his amazing throws, calm demeanor in the pocket, and endorsement commercials.

But he is also a strong supporter of the military, especially veterans.

At the Pro-Am, Rodgers participated in a Hole-in-One challenge where various celebrities tried to get a hole-in-one or as close to the pin as possible.

Rodgers finished second behind country star Jake Owen but ahead of the likes of Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Larry Fitzgerald. His performance earned him ,000, and Rodgers picked the Wounded Warrior Project as the charity for his donation.

Here you can see him in action—his qualifying shot.

Aaron’s support for the military extends beyond this single act.

Last year, he wrote an article for the Players Tribune in which he explained his devotion to our country’s service members and what they mean to him. He also does amazing things like this event with Gold Star children.

Rodgers’ military ties start with his family. His grandfather was a WWII pilot that was a POW. Rodgers recounts his college days playing for Cal and visiting a military hospital in San Diego in the lead up to the Holiday Bowl.

“I obviously admired them for their courage and sacrifice. But what really struck me was that despite their injuries, some of them couldn’t wait to get back to active duty. They were pleading with their doctors to help them so they could rejoin their units and continue fighting.”

Rodgers talks about his interactions with wounded vets, the effect their fighting spirit has on him, and how important it is to care for them.

To me, when it comes to taking care of our veterans and helping them not just assimilate back into society, but to actually thrive, I don’t think there’s any limit to what we can and should do.

Keep up the good work A-A-Ron!

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The insane way the first cosmonaut got back to Earth

The very first man to go to space was a Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, who rose to the top of his class thanks to his stunning memory, quick reactions, and poise during emergencies. That poise would come in handy since his spacecraft couldn’t survive re-entry, used compromised design components, and ultimately took the astronaut through an 8g spin cycle on his way back to Earth.


Vostok 1

The first manned space mission was launched with Vostok 1, and Yuri Gagarin at the helm. Gagarin had trained for years to be the first human to leave the atmosphere and had gotten the mission because his peers in cosmonaut training had voted that he was the best choice.

But it was a dangerous honor. After all, only animals had entered space before, and the U.S. and Soviet Union had less than stellar records of getting mammals back alive.

And the plan for getting Gagarin back wasn’t one to inspire confidence. First, while Gagarin had been selected partially based on his reflexes, he was locked out of the controls. And it wasn’t certain the spacecraft could slow itself down during re-entry. Instead, it relied on Gagarin ejecting at almost 4.5 miles above the Earth, right after he dealt with all the tumult of hitting the atmosphere.

As a bonus, there was a chance that the controls would simply fail in space, so Gagarin flew with 10 days worth of food in case he had to wait until his orbit decayed naturally.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space and first man to orbit this beautiful blue orb. (NASA archives)

 

The actual launch on April 12, 1961, went well. The rocket made it into space, the launch vehicle broke away, and Gagarin rode through one orbit of the Earth. So far, so good. But then, the service module failed to separate from the spacecraft.

When the two-module spacecraft hit the atmosphere, the modules tumbled around each other and began to burn up.

“I was in a cloud of fire rushing toward Earth,” he later said.

After about 10 minutes, the cable burned up and Gagarin’s spacecraft re-oriented itself slowly. Freshly drained from a trip around the Earth and an 8g flaming tumble through the atmosphere, Gagarin had to pull himself together and get to work quickly or else he could die on impact like some animals in prior tests.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
Yuri Gagarin’s space capsule sits in a museum. (SiefkinDR, CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

Because, again, the capsule had little protection for the cosmonaut, and he couldn’t be certain he would survive the capsule’s impact with the Earth. So he had to activate his ejection seat almost 4.5 miles up. Gagarin and his capsule traveled separately from there. Gagarin landed near a farm and walked up, in full orange spacesuit and helmet, to the farmers for help.

He was quickly named a Hero of the Soviet Union and put on a high shelf where he couldn’t be broken. He was able to lobby for a potential return to space though, but a tragic training accident ended his life while he was still preparing for the mission.

On March 27, 1968, he was piloting a MiG-15, entered a steep dive, and crashed into a forest. An investigation in 2010 concluded that a vent was left partially open. This vent was supposed to be closed as the plane entered high-altitude flight so the pilots would have enough air in the cockpit. The investigator supposed that Gagarin and his co-pilot entered a steep dive to get back to a safe altitude to close the vent, but passed out and could never pull out of it.

(As a fun side note, Gagarin asked the bus to stop for him to piss while he was on the way to Vostok 1. Cosmonauts today remember him by taking a leak on their way to the launchpad.)

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 reasons why soldiers hate on the Navy

The military community is huge on rivalry and houses some of the most inventive d*ck-measuring contests ever imagined. Each branch is currently and forever waging a friendly war with one another that shows no signs of stopping — not that we’d want it to. And Navy homies, you’re up. 


We hate on each other for various reasons, but at the end of the day — we’re still on the same side. Do not get it twisted. If we didn’t mock our brothers and sisters, how would they know that we love them? Think of it more like healthy competition than bad blood.

We Are The Mighty is made up of members from all branches of service. This time around, it’s a soldier ribbing his fellow sailor counterparts. Upset? Wait until your retort comes around. Argue in the comment section and maybe you’ll bring up good snap-backs.

Related: 6 reasons why Marines hate on the Air Force

With the upcoming Army-Navy football game, now’s the time to break out the salt on those squids.

1. You guys are heroes during fleet week. We just show up drunk at Hooters.

Everyone wants to roll out the red carpets when you guys get drunk, but when we do, there’s a company-wide recall because the FNG got a DUI off-post.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
And the only ‘free’ stuff we get is a ride to the police station. (Photos by Spc. Adam Parent and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda Chavez)

2. In-country deployments versus at-sea deployments.

I mean, we get it: 7th Fleet is supposedly terrible. Want to know what else sucks? Damn near everything about Iraq and Afghanistan. Just know that your ships have mess decks instead of CONEXes filled with expired MREs.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
Yeah! You show that water who’s boss! (Photos by Sgt. Kandi Huggins and Staff Sgt. Dengrier M. Baez)

3. If you’re not a fake Marine Seabee or Corpsman, we don’t know who the hell you are.

We’re constantly working with airmen because they’re our taxis. We constantly work with Marines because they’re cool. I mean, technically there’s got to be at least a few soldiers who run into a sailor while on active duty, but that’s rare.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
There’s another rivalry between Medics and Corpsmen, but that’s not my beef. They’re all cool in my book. (Photos by Maj. W. Chris Clyne and Lance Cpl. Patrick Osino)

4. Seabees get better toys while on actual in-country deployments.

On the subject of Seabees, if you don’t know, Seabees are kind of like construction workers. They get actual supplies and use actual tools to build actual buildings. Want to know what we get? Sandbags. And we get to use them like floppy Lego blocks.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
We might get plywood, but if we do, it’s always used by that guy who says he knows how to build. He doesn’t. (Photos by Spc. Leith Edgar and Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Gordon)

5. We see them only as glorified sea-taxi drivers for their cooler sibling (Marines).

We use the Air Force when we’re trying to Uber the hell out of Afghanistan — and they do the same for the Marines and the fake Marines. Shy of launching a few missiles (which every branch does — there’s nothing special about your Tomahawks), your entire purpose is to deliver Marines as if terrorists ordered them on Amazon Prime.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
Besides, we like our air taxis better. (Photos by Spc. Cheyenne Shouse and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan R Clay)

6. How the hell did we lose the “drinking and cussing like a sailor” sayings to a bunch of beach-volleyball players that dress like anime schoolgirls?

Have a conversation with an soldier and they’ll use a expletives like a f*cking comma. Catch them out of uniform and they’ll have a bottle of something in their hands. Those sayings should be ours! But no, they go to you guys even though…

Lightning round: …your crackerjacks are silly. Your blueberries are pointless. We won’t ever let you live down Top Gun. The “100 sailors” joke will never stop being funny. Nearly your entire branch is made up of POGs. You literally call you lower enlisted “seamen.” You ruined Godsmack. And d*mm*t are we still jealous that your SEALs popped OBL instead of our Green Berets.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly
But you know what? We’ve got nothing but love for you sailors. You did give the world the Sky Dick, after all. (Photos by Staff Sgt. Cashmere Jefferson and Jay Pugh)

*Bonus* We’re still upset about those 14 years of Army / Navy games.

Go Army. Beat Navy. Let’s kick their asses for 13 more years and see how they like it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Former Army Ranger saves man’s life on commercial jet

Before his flight left from Charlotte, Norvel Turner Jr. heard a fellow passenger yell for help.

After running to catch the flight heading to Columbia, South Carolina, a 59-year-old man had collapsed in the aisle a few rows behind Turner.

Not sure what had happened, Turner, a former Army Ranger instructor, watched as another passenger rushed over and started to do chest compressions.

Turner’s military training then kicked in. He went over and noticed the man, Mark Thurston, was not moving and his skin had turned purple and mouth was frozen shut.


Turner, currently the safety director at Army Central Command, grabbed a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation device from a nearby first aid kit and pried open Thurston’s mouth.

“I was able to get his mouth open, get the tube in there and then blow into his chest while the other guy did compressions,” Turner said in a recent interview.

Safety first

Long before he found himself on this flight, Turner had spent over 30 years in the Army.

He retired in 2004 after serving as an 82nd Airborne Division command sergeant major in Afghanistan. He now travels throughout the Middle East to help reduce risks across ARCENT’s area of operations.

On June 27, 2019, he was flying home from a work trip in Florida where he attended safety meetings at the U.S. Central Command headquarters.

Safety has been paramount throughout Turner’s life.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

Norvel Turner Jr., left, safety director for Army Central Command, poses for a photograph with Mark Thurston, the man he helped save June 27, 2019, while on a commercial jet awaiting to depart from Charlotte.

(Candy Thurston)

In the military, he attended several CPR and combat lifesaver courses like many other soldiers do. He was also a Ranger instructor, responsible for his students who sometimes got hurt or passed out from the grueling tasks.

“If someone goes down, you got to be able to administer basic lifesaving skills,” he said.

Turner recalled that while he and other soldiers were in Rhode Island for paratrooper training in 1980 they came across a car that had just crashed into a tree on a nearby road.

They stopped, got out and saw two teenagers pinned inside the vehicle.

Turner attended to the driver, a girl whose chest was pressed up against the steering wheel. After he pulled her out, he performed CPR on her until emergency crews arrived.

About a month later on Thanksgiving Day, Turner received a heartfelt letter in the mail.

“I received a letter from the mother thanking me for saving her daughter’s life,” he said, “and as a result of that she was able to spend Thanksgiving with her daughter.”

Flight to Columbia

After a short time performing CPR, Turner began to feel a faint pulse from Thurston.

“Every once in a while we would get a pulse, but then it would go out,” he said.

Turner continued giving lifesaving breaths to Thurston as the other passenger did the chest compressions. He also tilted Thurston’s head back to open up his airway.

About 15 minutes later, emergency medical technicians arrived and used a defibrillator to electrically shock Thurston to life. His pulse grew steady, he took breathes on his own and he was rushed to the hospital.

The diagnosis: a massive heart attack.

That hit close to home for Turner. In 2012, Turner’s wife convinced him to get a thorough physical. Once the stress test and other data came back, the doctor told him he had three blocked arteries.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

(Photo by Suhyeon Choi)

At first, Turner said he couldn’t believe it since he was an avid runner and ate healthy. He later discovered his collateral blood vessels near his arteries had grown to compensate the blood flow.

“So I had no problems,” he said, “but in order to fix it they had to go in and do a triple bypass on me.”

Thurston, now back from the hospital, called Turner and invited him to his home near Columbia on Tuesday so he could thank him in person.

“He wanted to give me a hug and sit down and talk to me,” said Turner, who considers himself a quiet professional who sought no gratitude for what he did. “At first, it was very emotional that one would do that.”

A little more than a month after his heart attack, Thurston said he is now walking, driving and expected to make a full recovery.

If it wasn’t for the quick action of Turner and the others on the plane, Thurston said it would have been a different story.

“I was told later on by the doctors that had they not started CPR when they did, that would have been it. I would not have survived,” Thurston said. “They seriously saved my life.”

Turner said he just reacted instinctively, using what he had learned as a soldier.

“All those skills and training that I had just kicked in automatically,” he said. “That was amazing to me. I never really thought about it until it was over. We were able to save this gentleman’s life and there were no previous rehearsals or anything.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this soldier became the first enlisted female Army ranger

As Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley made her way through mountainous terrain in the midst of a scorching Georgia summer in 2018, she admittedly struggled, carrying more than 50 pounds of gear during a patrol exercise.

Tired and physically drained, her body had withstood nearly a month of training in the Army’s most challenging training school. She had already suffered a fracture in her back in an earlier phase and suffered other physical ailments.

But then she looked to her left and right and saw her fellow Ranger School teammates, many of whom she outranked.

“I know that I have to keep going,” said Kelley, the first enlisted female graduate of the Army Ranger School at Fort Benning. “Because if I quit, or if I show any signs of weakness, they’re going to quit.”


In the middle of 21 grueling training days in northeast Georgia, Kelley knew if she could weather the mountain phase of the Army’s Ranger School, she and her teammates would reach a new pinnacle, a critical rite of passage for Ranger students. The electronic warfare specialist spent 21 days in the mountains which includes four days of mountaineering, five days of survival techniques training and a nine-day field training exercise. She had already been recycled in the school’s first phase and didn’t want to relive that experience.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

Staff Sgt. Amanda F. Kelley marches in formation during her Ranger School graduation at Fort Benning, Ga., Aug. 31, 2018.

(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

“It’s not about you at that moment,” Kelley said. “It’s about the people around you. You don’t realize in that moment how many people look up to you until you complete it. Everybody has those trying periods because those mountains are really rough.”

Her graduation from Ranger School paved the way for her current assignment as an electronic warfare specialist with the Third Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Since 2016, more than 1,200 female soldiers have entered combat career fields, including field artillery, armor and infantry.

Kelley said the Ranger training pushed her to meet the same standards as her male counterparts. She finished the 16-mile ruck march in under three hours.

“You literally go through the same thing,” Kelley said. “It’s not any different … You do the same thing that they do. That’s the greatest thing about Ranger School: there’s one set standard, across the board.”

Taking the easy road has never been how Kelley has lived her life. As a teenager she competed as a centerfielder on boy’s baseball teams. She also was on her high school’s track team. Growing up in the small rural community of Easley, South Carolina, she had few mentors as a teen.

“I just wanted to be somebody,” Kelley said. “And I also want to be someone that others can look up to. I didn’t have that growing up. We don’t all come from a silver spoon background; some of us have to fight for things.”

She joined the Army on a whim in 2011, considering joining the service only six months prior to enlisting. She admired the Army’s rigid discipline and high standards.

“Better opportunities,” was one reason Kelley said she joined the Army. “I wanted to get out of where I was.”

Kelley wanted to reach even higher. The 30-year-old wanted to one day become sergeant major of the Army and let her supervisors know that it wasn’t some pipe dream. After an Iraq deployment with the 1st Armored Division, Kelley’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mike Vandy, told her that attending Ranger School would help chart her path to success.

This aircraft just made history as the largest aircraft to fly

A family member places the Army Ranger tab on Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley’s uniform.

(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

“When I went to Ranger School, I didn’t go so I could be the first (enlisted female),” Kelley said. “I went so that I could be sergeant major of the Army. And I want to be competitive with my peers.”

After Kelley decided to apply for Ranger School, she spent five months physically preparing herself and studying while deployed. Her roommate in Iraq, former Staff Sgt. Mychal Loria, said Kelley would work 12-hour shifts, workout twice a day and still found time for study. At the same time, she helped mentor other soldiers.

“She just exemplified the perfect NCO; always there for her soldiers,” Loria said.

Kelley praised former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey for helping create more opportunities for women in combat career fields. Since the first two female graduates — Capt. Kristen Griest and then-1st Lt. Shaye Haver — completed Ranger training in 2015, more than 30 female soldiers have earned their Ranger tab. Sgt. 1st Class Janina Simmons became the first African American woman to graduate from the course earlier this year.

Kelley said has begun preparation for a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location. The South Carolina native said she looks forward to using many of the skills she learned during her time training to be an Army Ranger.

The eight-year Army vet said the Third Special Forces group has fostered a welcome environment for unit members, offering a wealth of training opportunities to help advance her career, including electronics and intelligence courses.

Kelley offered some advice for soldiers who may be considering Ranger School or other certifications to advance their careers.

“Soldiers need to understand that sometimes things you had planned change,” she said. “So just be open-minded to new things and don’t be scared to go after things that seem impossible. Because nothing’s impossible if somebody’s done it before you.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

5 of the best Call of Duty games from the past decade

Call of Duty has become a staple of military gamers. Both casual and hardcore gamers can enjoy picking up a controller and going a few rounds with their buddies in the barracks while waiting for their command to tell them it’s time to clean weapons at the armory or reorganize that connex container. While it’s a great pastime, there are plenty of titles to choose from, and not all of them are as good as the others.

Since the first release in 2003, Call of Duty has been the title of around 15 video games with the most recent being Black Ops 4, and there is another one on the way later this year. While a lot of people enjoy the multiplayer in the game, the franchise has also done a great job with storytelling in several of its installments.

It’s tough to choose from the 15 title roster, so we’re going to look at titles from the past decade that gave us a great story to play:


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That last mission is one of the best.

(Activision)

World at War

Okay, okay, this one was released in November of 2008 so not technically from the last decade, but it’s January 2019 so deal with it. This game needs to be on this list. The reason for this is that World at War featured some more mature thematic elements, showing World War II as a tragic and horrific event and showing that there’s a lot of moral gray areas.

The game also gave you control of a Russian character to see their side of the war, as well as giving birth to the Black Ops series.

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You fight off a Russian invasion of the United States.

(Activision)

Modern Warfare 2

While the first Modern Warfare installment was great, its sequel built on the strengths of its predecessor and made an even better game. This game’s story felt more like a military-action thriller, giving you a mystery to uncover, while still bringing realistic, war-related thematic elements and even serving up some controversy as a side dish.

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Sgt. Woods is one of the best characters in the entire series.

(Activision)

Black Ops

The first game in the series to start in Vietnam, going into the Cold War, this game seriously delivered on some awesome story. This game also featured some of the best three-dimensional characters in the franchise and gave us a taste of Vietnam, something we want more of.

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This series is a lot of fun.

(Activision)

Black Ops II

The third installment of the series and definitely worth mentioning, Black Ops II was the first in the line-up of futuristic warfare games. Building off the story of the previous installments of the Black Ops series, this story gave you some insight into the ripple effect of one’s actions, showing how the previous two story-lines bled into the future.

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This also led to the creation of the best fictional unit for stolen valor.

(Activision)

Ghosts

Not loved by many but there are some of us who loved the story and the concept. This game really focuses on what brotherhood means as it follows two literal brothers as they fight to stop an organization known as the “Federation of the Americas” and their father’s former teammate.

MIGHTY HISTORY

3 questions of unconventional warfare according to a top officer

Unconventional warfare is necessarily a messy business. It entails finding the enemies of our enemies and convincing them to fight our mutual foes, even if we’re not necessarily friends. It reduces America’s risk in blood, but it also means our national security rests on the shoulders of foreign fighters. In the confusing situations this creates, one top officer in the Afghanistan invasion had three simple questions to cut through the chaos.


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U.S. special operators pose with Hamid Karzai during the invasion of Afghanistan. Karzai would go on to be president of Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army)

During the invasion, then-Lt. Col. Mark Rosengard was in command of Task Force Dagger, and he had to greatly expand the unconventional warfare program in the country. So he couldn’t spend days or weeks of time and reams of paper figuring out whether he would trust one potential guerrilla leader or another.

So, according to reporter Sean Naylor in his book Not a Good Day to Die, Rosengard just asked three questions.

First, “Do we have a common goal today, recognizing tomorrow may be different?” Basically, do the militiamen or guerillas want the same outcome as the American forces? Including, do they want to see the same people die?

Next, “Do you have a secure backyard?” Simply, do the local forces have somewhere safe-ish to train? If the forces have to constantly quit training in order to fight off attacks, then they won’t be able to actually train. But if there’s any sort of safe compound in which to get to work, then it’s time to ask the third question.

“Are you willing to kill people?”

Yeah, that’s not a very complicated one.

Taken together, these three questions would let Rosengard know whether he could get to work with a new commander. Of course, there were additional concerns that he had to keep track of.

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Afghan forces in a discussion with a senior weapons sergeant of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.

(U.S. Army)

For instance, on the first question, you would need to keep track of whether the militias might really turn on you tomorrow. It’s a bad idea to spend too much time training foreign fighters who only have a few days or weeks of loyalty to America left.

But, overall, these three questions match up with American choices in other wars.

Gen. John “BlackJack” Pershing made alliances with Moro tribesmen in the Philippines and hired them as law enforcement officers even though he knew their long-term goals would be different. And President Franklin D. Roosevelt allied America with Russia to destroy Germany, adding the Soviet Union to the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 despite it being clear that the U.S. and Soviet Union would eventually be at loggerheads.

Rosengard’s gambles in Afghanistan largely worked out for the invasion, and U.S. special operators and unconventional forces took large sections of the country in the Winter of 2001, a period in which they had planned to take just a small foothold in the north. The operators and their guerrilla allies also were able to bring Hamid Karzai back to the country to take power, helping cement American control of the country.

But, of course, the issues with Afghan forces in the invasion were quickly felt. Pashtun tribesmen were extremely helpful in taking the country from the Taliban, but their half-hearted attacks at Tora Bora are thought to have been a major contributor to Osama Bin Laden’s escape from that mountain stronghold into Pakistan where he would successfully hide until his death in 2011.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Former director of CIA and NSA hospitalized after stroke

Michael Hayden, who previously served as CIA director and National Security Agency director, was hospitalized after suffering a stroke at his home late November 2018.

Hayden, 73, is “receiving expert medical care,” and his family has requested privacy, according to a Nov. 23, 2018 statement from the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security at George Mason University.

“The General and his family greatly appreciate the warm wishes and prayers of his friends, colleagues, and supporters,” the Hayden Center said.


Hayden achieved the rank of a four-star general in the US Air Force and went on to lead the NSA from 1999 to 2005 for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; he led the CIA from 2006 to 2009.

National security experts offered their messages of support.

“Michael Hayden is one of this country’s noblest patriots, dedicating his life to America’s national security,” former CIA director John Brennan said on Twitter. “A man of tremendous integrity, intellect, decency, he has been a role model for countless intelligence professionals over several decades. Speedy recovery, Mike.”

“On behalf of the men women of CIA, I want to wish Gen. Hayden a speedy recovery,” CIA director Gina Haspel said in a statement. “Mike’s long career of public service commitment to national security continue to be an inspiration to all intelligence officers. Our thoughts are with Mike, Jeanine, their family.”

Hayden, who regularly appears on CNN as a national security analyst, has become an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump’s administration. In August 2018, Trump was reportedly weighing the possibility of revoking Hayden’s security clearance in addition to other former White House and Justice Department senior officials who publicly criticized his policies.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 honorable ways veterans pay respect to the fallen

Veterans visit their fallen brothers and sisters at cemeteries all around the globe every day. Most people pay their respects by leaving some flowers to decorate the area while others leave a personal touch. Some of the tokens left at gravesites have rich history and deep meaning.


Check out these five ways we’ve paid homage to our fallen.

1. Connection through coins

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Susan Roberts)

We’re not talking about command coins, even though leaving one is still respectful. We’re talking about quarters, dimes, and nickels. Each coin has a special meaning attached to them that dates back to WWII.

  • A penny on a headstone is a message to the fallen’s family that someone visited the grave to pay their respects.
  • A nickel indicates the grave was visited by another veteran who trained in boot camp with the deceased.
  • A dime means the veterans served together in some way.
  • A quarter tells the family that someone visited the site who was near the hero when he or she died.

2. Placing stones on the headstones

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(Wikimedia Commons)

If you haven’t seen Schindler’s List, then you need to stream it tonight after you buy a box of tissues (trust me, you’re going to need them). At the very end of the film, you’ll see a powerful moment where “Schindler’s Jews” and the actors who played them in the film place stones on his gravesite.

Many Jewish military veterans continue this tradition of placing stones on the graves to help keep the dead from haunting the living.

 

3. Sticking lit cigarettes into the ground

Go to any base, and you’ll see service members “smoking and joking” at designated areas called “smoke pits.” It’s a time where we socialize while puffing on a cigarette or enjoying a lip full of dip.

If the fallen was known for his or her tobacco use, lighting a cigarette for them to smoke is a standard practice.

4. Leaving a small bottle or two of liquor

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Wikimedia Commons

The majority of service members drink — it’s just what we do when we bond with our military brothers and sisters. So that tradition carries on well after we get out. When we visit one of our fallen comrades at the cemetery, we commonly bring their favorite alcoholic beverage with us and leave it behind.

If we feel like it, we’ll even take a shot with them.

 

Also Read: 7 times when heroic veterans saved the day

5. Reliving old memories

There’s nothing better for veterans than to get together with their military family while visiting a deceased grave site and relive the good times through story. Having a few beers and reminding the group all the funny experiences you had with the fallen can be incredibly therapeutic and bring the group closer together.

What are some unique ways you’ve paid you’re respects? Comment below.

MIGHTY FIT

Are your combat boots jacking up your feet?

What do you think of the combat boots currently worn by the Service? I think they’re pretty BA. Great for kicking in doors, and stomping throats.

Turns out that may be the wrong way to look at our boots though…

When you compare the number of Spartan push-kicks and axe-stomps the average service member conducts during their career to the number of standard steps they take to get from the barracks to work it’s astounding.

It’s like one forcible entry for every 1 billion steps…..


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Axe stomp, push kick, round kick… you know the drill

A Marine with Korps Marinir, 2nd Marines, 6th Brigade, Tentara National Indonesia, performs a kick during martial arts training with U.S. Marines with Landing Force Company May 27

I was astonished by these numbers as well. I remember having a lot more boots pressing into my jugular while on active duty than that. Numbers don’t lie though.

The above being true, shouldn’t our boots be designed to promote the best foot function while walking, hiking, and running?

According to one paper making its rounds through the Marine Corps, modern footwear is locking our feet into a poor position that is causing structural issues in humans of all ages from the feet all the way up the kinetic chain.

What exactly is the issue with our current boots, and footwear in general, then? How can they be fixed to prevent 20-year-old veterans from feeling like someone who fell out of the disability tree and hit every branch with their feet on the way down?

Apparently, there are four parts of standard shoes and boots that make us suck at using our feet.

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The anatomy of a boot.

1. Toe Spring

It’s that bent up portion at the front of your boot.

Toe spring stretches out the various muscles of the sole of the foot and shortens the extensor muscles running along the top robbing toes of range of motion.

Over time, toe spring makes you weaker at being able to articulate your toes. Which means you’ll be getting weaker in your feet even when you are training hard.

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This ad did not age well…

j.gifs.com

2. Supportive Insole

You remember those commercials… Are you gellin’? (Did I just date myself?)

Supportive insoles disable the intrinsic muscles of the foot and create a dependence on support. They are the footwear equivalent of taking supplements when the rest of your eating habits are weak and unsupported by a solid foundation.

Support is great for short term bursts of concentrated effort. Like a lifting belt, it’s great if you wear it for a one-rep max deadlift. But if you use it every rep of every session, you will become reliant and weak in the muscles of your core.

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Marines with Company E, Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Toe prison… See what I did there?

3. Toe Box

It’s where your toes hang out. It’s way more restrictive than it should be. You want your toes to be able to spread out and grab the ground. Currently, it should be called a toe prison.

Constricting toe boxes basically make the middle of your foot stronger than it should be and the flanks of your feet AKA your big and little toes much weaker than they should be. This often manifests as painful and disgusting bunions, which are not typically an authorized reason to report to medical.

tenor.com

4. Elevated Heel

This is probably the most egregious offender of foot deformities in the long run.

First off the heel makes us balance on the balls of our toes. This breaks the equal line of thrust of the arch from the heel and the ball and drives it all to the ball creating a collapse. This causes us to lose strength in the arch of our foot, which is supposed to naturally absorb shock when we walk or run.

Imagine what would happen to an arch bridge if you took away one of the supports on either end. The bridge would turn into the newest architectural addition to Atlantis when it crumbles and sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

That’s why insoles have become a “must buy” at boot camp and the other indoc courses. They give artificial arch support when the feet fail to provide the natural support that they should.

Second, the walking pattern is changed from a natural walking pattern to a “heel strike.” We aren’t supposed to walk heel first, try it in your bare feet, you’ll immediately realize it’s quite painful. The heel and cushioning of the boot take away that immediate pain response that you get when you walk barefoot, that leads to ever more forceful heel strikes that send a shock all the way up the body to the spine. Just another example of modern conveniences making us more comfortable but ultimately worse off.

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The barefoot rickshaw driver circa 1951

From the Ronald H. Welsh Collection (COLL/5677) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

Your feet are in a prison

So it turns out that just about every aspect of current footwear is flat-out wrong for the human foot.

The interesting thing is that this isn’t a new revelation.

Dr. Schulman of the U.S. Army had very similar observations back in 1949, during WWII. This guy was a high achiever, he’s in the middle of the largest war to ever consume planet Earth, and he decided to conduct a study on the human foot…wild.

Dr. Schulman compared those who wore restrictive footwear to those who didn’t in the native populations of China and India.

His most stark observation is that barefoot rickshaw drivers had none of the same foot deformities as those that wear shoes all day.

Rickshaw drivers spend all day running on concrete, or hard-packed roads, everyday for decades, and Dr. Schulman observed that their feet were strong and healthy.

Compare that to your feet crammed into those freshly brushed feet prisons you currently have on.

His conclusion? “…restrictive footgear, particularly ill-fitting footgear, cause most of the ailments of the human foot.”

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Silent Drill Platoon performs during Cherry Blossom Festival

On their way to Dermo for new boots…

The movement for a new boot

There’s now a movement developing in the Marine Corps to change the culture of the service to promote health and longevity in the feet of today’s Marines rather than slowly break them down.

Are you in support of this movement? Do you think that a closer look at foot health and boot structure would make our services stronger and more capable? Would they do more or less to make the Force more resilient than the upcoming Plank addition to the PFT?

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