The 'Cajun Navy' are Louisiana's homegrown heroes - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Louisiana is no stranger to natural disasters. Long before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the levees in New Orleans, the area we know as Louisiana today has endured many, many catastrophes. Since 2000 alone, the state has been hit by 28 tropical storms and cyclones.

The people of Louisiana stopped sitting around to hope someone would come to rescue them from the rooftops some day. A group of private boat owners formed their own rescue flotilla to help in search and rescue efforts. They’re called the “Cajun Navy.”


Since 1965, these storms have caused more than $116 billion in damages to Louisiana, at the cost of countless lives. The earliest recorded deadly storms date back to 1856, where storms devastated the islands of Louisiana’s coast and reformed its landscapes forever.

Today, Louisiana is particularly vulnerable to storms and some places are more vulnerable to others. In New Orleans, for example, the city is protected from the water by a system of levees and pumps that remove rainwater that otherwise would not drain on its own. Low lying areas of the state are prone to flooding, which will only get worse as climate change exacerbates the issue by rising seas levels on the coast. Heavy rainstorms in the state have increased precipitation levels by 27 percent in the last 50 years, sending excess rainwater into the Mississippi River and the river delta.

You get the idea. Louisiana is prone to flooding. So when it happens, the Cajun Navy comes to the rescue.

Formed in the days following the devastation of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the Cajun Navy has reactivated following major storms and tropical depressions ever since. They rescued thousands of people in the aftermath of disasters like Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, the Hidalgo County flood, Hurricane Florence, Tropical Storm Gordon, and Hurricane Michael.

The Cajun Navy is an informal group of boat owners, whether they’re using oar-powered kayaks, flat-bottomed fishing boats or their dad’s bass boat, these private citizens form in the flooded areas to help whomever they can.

Their mission:

1. Rescue
Our first plan of action in any disaster is to complete our rescue missions and save lives. This means going out on the front lines while disaster is still striking and saving all the lives we can.

2. Relieve
Our second plan of action is to bring relief to those who have been affected by tragedy. That means making sure everyone has clean water, fresh clothing, hot meals, and everything they need to feel comfortable and safe.

3. Rebuild
Our third plan of action is to help people rebuild their lives after a disaster. From demolition, clean up, organizing and distribution of supplies, we want to make sure every family has a place to call home again.

Ben Theriot of Prairieville, Louisiana was assisted in 2018 by the Cajun Navy. The next year, he was out in his own boat with the Cajun Navy. They set up a mobile command post in a privately-owned RV and communicated via walkie-talkie-type app. They coordinated rescue calls to citizens trapped in and on their houses, moderating communications and prioritizing rescues.

All as Hurricane Harvey blew around them.

Any time high waters threaten the lives of the people of Louisiana and there are lines of cars driving to make their way out of the dangerous areas, you can be sure to see a line of trucks trailing boats trying to make their way in. All with Louisiana license plates.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force top enlisted leader encourages airmen to connect

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright just wanted to get airmen talking — to each other, friends, family — with the service’s one-day pause to break down unresolved feelings they may have buried deep inside.

Wright doesn’t expect commanders at each base to draft a plan of what they believe could prevent suicide, which has plagued the service’s ranks in recent months, with 78 airmen taking their own lives between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2019. But the top enlisted airman hopes the effort might help struggling airmen again feel a sense of purpose when they come into work, even if they carry baggage from their personal lives with them.


“While mental health is a part of it, I personally think a larger part of this solution is us just being good human beings,” he said during a recent interview. Military.com accompanied Wright and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on a trip to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, last week.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright speaks to Team Travis airmen.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David W. Carbajal)

The Air Force in August 2019 ordered a one-day “tactical pause” that had commanders and airmen address a rise in suicides across the force. As of Aug. 1, 2019, the service had exceeded the number of suicides in all of 2018 by nearly 20 people.

Wright said suicide has become the leading cause of death in the Air Force despite airmen serving overseas in combat.

“If some initiatives [at bases] came out of that, then I think that’s great. But it really wasn’t designed to develop prevention initiatives,” he said Oct. 9, 2019.

“All of the airmen that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, connecting with and talking to who’ve thought about committing suicide, none of them — not one — pointed to a program or a process or mental health [initiative]. … They all pointed to the thing that kept them going, and that was another person,” Wright said, but added some have been in therapy programs to keep talking to someone they’re comfortable with.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright listens to an Airman’s question.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David W. Carbajal)

Wright said he’s heard feedback from airmen who’ve felt the most hopeless during deployments, unable to connect with someone from their unit or loved ones back home.

On those occasions, help came from a friend or teammate — sometimes even a stranger — asking the simplest questions like, “How are you? Is there anything I can do?” Wright said.

“That’s all it was — meaningful connections,” the chief said.

“It makes a big difference if you walk into a work center where you feel like, ‘Hey, I’m a valued member of his team, and my supervisor, my teammates, they care about the things that I’m going through’ versus, ‘Hey nobody cares,'” Wright said. “This is about making airmen feel valued.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Celebrate Air Force veteran Chuck Norris’ 80th birthday with these 20 unbeatable facts

Today is the mighty Chuck Norris’ 80th birthday! In honor of this landmark (uh, how is this not a national holiday?) day, we wanted to go back to the good old days of the internet. Before arguing over the color of a dress or if Jordan or Lebron is better (don’t start), we bonded over Chuck Norris facts. Those statements that if attributed to another person would be unbelievable but totally plausible when it referred to the great Norris.


So, we wanted to share our top Chuck Norris facts! Make sure to share any of your favorites too.

media.defense.gov

Before we do, we also want to shout out Chuck for his amazing life. He was born Carlos Norris in Oklahoma and his family eventually settled in California. After high school, he joined the Air Force and ended up being stationed in South Korea where he picked up both martial arts and the nickname Chuck.

Coming home, he opened his first martial arts studio and started participating in tournaments. After winning multiple karate world championships, he opened more studios and became a trainer for the stars. He taught Steve McQueen, Priscilla Presley, the Osmonds and Bob Barker (that’s how he beat up Happy Gilmore so easily).

Norris then parlayed his connections into an acting career. He fought Bruce Lee in the Roman Colosseum, killed terrorists with rockets from his motorcycle (looking more badass than actual Delta Force badasses) and wore a cowboy hat better than anyone else on TV.

He also gave us the Total Gym and Chuck Norris jeans.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

And with that, our favorite Chuck Norris facts!

1. Chuck Norris threw a grenade and killed 50 people, then it exploded.
2. Chuck Norris’ leg was once bit by a cobra. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.
3. Chuck Norris doesn’t try to survive a zombie apocalypse. The zombies do.
4. Chuck Norris can kill your imaginary friends.
5. Chuck can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.


6. Chuck Norris once went to Mars. That’s why there are no signs of life.
7. Chuck Norris knows Victoria’s secret.
8. Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch. He decides what time it is.
9. Chuck Norris created giraffes when he uppercutted a horse.
10. Chuck Norris doesn’t cheat death. He wins fair and square.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

11. Chuck Norris puts the “laughter” in “manslaughter.”
12. Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.
13. Chuck Norris has a diary. It’s called the Guinness Book of World Records.
14. Chuck Norris found the last digit of pi.
15. Chuck Norris can hit you so hard your blood will bleed.

16. Chuck Norris doesn’t worry about high gas prices. His vehicles run on fear.
17. Chuck Norris can delete the Recycling Bin.
18. Chuck Norris can strangle you with a cordless phone.
19. Chuck Norris can squeeze orange juice out of a lemon.
20. Jack was nimble, Jack was quick, but Jack still couldn’t dodge Chuck Norris’ roundhouse kick.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This boot camp helps veterans grow tech start-ups

Basic Training — often called boot camp — introduces new service members to military life and customs. Boot camp “accelerates” a citizen’s transformation to a soldier, sailor, airman or marine.

A Colorado-based company, Techstars Accelerator, created Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) to help service members transition out of the military. More importantly, PBC helps transitioning service members and entrepreneurial veterans turn their business ideas into tech start-ups.

The 15th installment of Patriot Boot Camp was held in Lehi, Utah on Aug. 23-25, 2019. Veterans, active duty service members, and military spouses with business ideas or existing businesses gathered for three days to learn from industry leaders. The event was hosted MX Data, and sponsored by MetLife Foundation, USAA, and Jared Polis Foundation.


The PBC connected the event’s attendees to a community of over fifty mentors — many of whom traveled from across the nation to make entrepreneurship tangible. A testament to the dedication and belief in this program was that the mentors all volunteered their time, at their own expense, to provide one-on-one mentoring.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Patriot Boot Camp founder Taylor McLemore address the veteran entrepreneurs.

More than 850 veterans have gone through the program, and they have hired over 1,600 employees and raised 0 million in venture capital while generating millions in revenue.

By the numbers

  • Jobs created: 1,600+
  • Hours of mentorship: 2,500+
  • Alumni entrepreneurs: 850+
  • Entrepreneurs attending PBC Utah: Coming from 23 states, one from Austria
  • Capital raised by alumni: 0 million
  • Diversity: 50% service-connected, disabled Veteran-owned business
  • Female founders: 23%

According to an article in TechCrunch, PBC graduates show “…that startups aren’t the sort of crazy risk that they first appear. Indeed, after what many of these men and women have just been through, it may not be all that daunting of a next mission after all.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways military families can celebrate the Fourth of July

While the Fourth of July may look a little different this year, you can still celebrate the holiday in style with virtual concerts, televised fireworks, a museum tour or a virtual run. Look up, and you may even catch a military flyover.


USO holiday concert

The USO will host a first ever Fourth of July concert on its Facebook, YouTube and Twitch channels at 12 a.m. EST and 12 p.m. EST to accommodate times zones around the world. The concert, the first of a three-part summer series airing through Labor Day, will be headlined by country music legend Clint Black. The concert will include a special nod to American surf music by the iconic Mike Love and The Beach Boys and will feature special guests John Stamos, comedian Iliza Shlesinger, actor/musician Craig Robinson, and “America’s Got Talent” world champion Shin Lim.

A Capitol Fourth

The 40th annual broadcast of A Capitol Fourth will air on PBS Saturday, July 4 from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST, as well as on American Forces Network for troops around the world. The program can be heard on NPR member stations nationwide, and it will be streaming on Facebook, YouTube and PBS. This year’s concert, co-hosted by John Stamos and Vanessa Williams, features pre-taped performances without a live audience.

Museum tour

The National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio will be open July 4 to share the stories of our nation’s veterans. In a press release, Lt. General Michael Ferriter, president and CEO of the museum, said that the facility is excited to welcome guests during the holiday weekend to share the stories of veterans from the Revolutionary War to today.

“This year is an opportunity to create a new tradition of celebration and remembrance,” Ferriter stated.

Museum goers will find the exhibit “So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope,” which explores Hope’s major tours and travels during World War II. The exhibit features nearly 50 artifacts and an original documentary. Highlights include rare and unpublished photographs of Hope; wartime correspondence between Hope and servicemembers; WWII-era relics engraved to Hope; videos of his traveling, wartime troupe; and Hollywood Victory Caravan programs and scrapbooks. Details can be found here.

Ruck, walk or run for independence

Get out and move your feet with the USO’s “Four on the 4th – Ruck, Walk Run for Independence.” The virtual fun run, presented by Delta Air Lines, includes USO music playlists, a Facebook live rise and shine warm-up featuring Robert Killian, the National Anthem sung by the USO Show Troupe and a virtual celebration.

“With so many of us stir crazy during the pandemic, this is a great, all-inclusive, safe event for families to get out and celebrate the holiday,” said Bob Kurkjian, president USO West. “Families can, run, walk or even ruck the event.”

Registration is , with proceeds going to the USO. Participants will receive a USO branded t-shirt, downloadable bib, face mask and medal. Ahead of the event, tune into The Annual Bob Hope USO Radiothon event on Thursday, July 2, 2020 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. PST, an event that brings together our nation’s troops, the funniest comedic talent, and Bob Hope USO’s dedicated community partners.

2020 Salute to America

This year, 1,700 service members will provide aerial, musical and ceremonial support to the 2020 Salute to America event, held in Washington, D.C. This year’s celebration will honor cities of the American Revolution and military aircraft will fly over Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore. From there, they will join other DOD and heritage aircraft to fly over the nation’s capital. The exact timing has not yet been announced but more details can be found here.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

New soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma were the first to graduate Army Basic Combat Training this month wearing the service’s new Army Greens — modeled after an iconic World War II uniform.

After completing the 10-week BCT course, about 200 soldiers from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery, which falls under the 434th Field Artillery Brigade, stood at attention at the Nov. 16 graduation ceremony dressed in the new Army Green Service Uniform, officials said in a release.

The significance of the iconic uniform — a throwback to the “Greatest Generation’s” Pinks and Greens — was not lost on fledgling soldiers like Pvt. Rebeca Beaird, who recalled what she thought when she was first issued the new uniform.

“A lot of us were thinking: ‘Oh, Captain America, like yeah! We get to be there,'” Beaird said in the release, possibly referring to the popular 2011 movie “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which showed actor Chris Evans dressed in his Pinks and Greens uniform during WWII.

“Soldiers who wear this uniform are going to be honored to wear them. Veterans who wore them will be happy to see us bring it back.”

Beaird, 19, is scheduled to attend advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to become a behavioral health technician.

The ceremony’s guest speaker, Lt. Col. Jason Carter, Fires Center and Fort Sill Commanding General’s Planning Group director, further highlighted the historical significance of the uniform.

“The Army’s greatest generation wore the iconic greens uniform when America was in the throes of World War II,” Carter said, referring to Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and George Marshall.

“Now you, as our next great generation, are among one of the first in our United States Army to wear one of the most admired and recognizable uniforms in our history as it is being reinstituted to honor our heritage.”

The Fort Sill graduates were among the first recruits to receive the AGSU in October. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Fort Benning, Georgia; and Fort Jackson, South Carolina are the next bases in line for trainees to begin receiving the AGSU, according to Army officials.

Army recruiters and drill sergeants were the first to begin receiving the new uniform, because the two groups are considered the face of the Army, officials have said.

Staff Sgt. Hayon Ju, a drill sergeant with 1-79th, said she “loved the practicality” of the new uniform.

“They’re a lot easier for females to set up our ribbons and badges,” Ju said.

During its development, the Army formed a special, all-female panel to speak for the needs of female soldiers. One of the recommendations was to have pants as the default option instead of the traditional skirt that was issued in the past.

Army senior leaders approved the new uniform for everyday wear in late 2018 as a replacement for the blue Army Service Uniform (ASU) after deciding that it is often too formal for everyday business use.

Soldiers who own a set of the ASU can continue to wear it for formal occasions.

Col. Daniel Blackmon, 434th Field Artillery Brigade commander, said the AGSU is special for him because his father and grandfather served in the Army and wore similar uniforms.

Blackmon said he has heard a lot of positive comments when wearing his AGSU — “one, the history, and two, just the way it looks.”

Sgt. 1st Class Antrell Bender, a senior drill sergeant at 1-79, said the new soldiers don’t have anything to compare the AGSU to since this is their first dress uniform.

For Bender, the AGSU is his third dress uniform of his career. “I’ve been in since we had the green dress uniform, then we switched over to the ASUs,” he said.

Soldiers are not required to own the AGSU until Oct. 1, 2027, an extended phase-in period intended to give enlisted soldiers more time to save up their annual clothing allowance to buy the new uniform.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, however, is moving ahead with plans to supply the new uniform through a wave-based rollout approach. The majority of AAFES locations within the U.S. are expected to have the new uniform by December. Stores in Alaska, Europe, Japan and South Korea, along with National Guard and Reserve military clothing locations, should have a supply of uniforms by February 2021.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Motivated by their lives: Honoring the fallen this Memorial Day

Memorial Day brings visions of outdoor family barbeques, filled beaches and the unofficial kickoff to summertime. But it’s so much more than that. It’s the one day a year we set aside to honor those who willingly died to defend our freedoms in service to this nation.

Families of the fallen don’t expect America to approach this day with sadness, however. They truly welcome the celebration of all things red, white and blue. But they hope that while the country enjoys the day, those enjoying the festivities remember the why behind it. It’s because of their loved one’s sacrifice that we can celebrate it at all.
The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Krista Simpson Anderson knows all about the loss and also joy that comes with Memorial Day. Her husband, Staff Sergeant Michael Simpson, was a Green Beret. He was so proud to serve and be a part of the 1st Special Forces Group where he was lovingly nicknamed “The Unquiet Professional.” On April 27, 2013, on his 20th day of deployment in Afghanistan, nearly a decade to the day from his enlistment in the Army, Simpson sustained critical injuries from an improvised explosive device. He fought to stay alive, saying, “Wife, kids, I love,” while being evacuated to the hospital.

His medical team did everything they could to keep him alive; bringing him back each time he coded. Simpson underwent multiple surgeries as they battled to treat his severe injuries. He was medevaced to Germany four days after the blast and his wife and family arrived on May 1, 2013 and he was declared deceased not long after they arrived. He then gave all his viable organs, serving others until his heart stopped beating.

He was only 30 years old.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

On the original day set aside as Memorial Day, May 30, 2013, Mike’s family said their final goodbye at Arlington National Cemetery. It was in that moment that Krista and a close friend decided to create a nonprofit organization to give back to all of those who had supported the family through their loss.

They called it The Unquiet Professional.

Since its inception, The Unquiet Professional has evolved from a fundraiser to an organization that provides resources and education to those actively serving, veterans, surviving families and Gold Star families. They also do a memorial run, every Memorial Day. The purpose is to spend that mile remembering the lives of the fallen. This year they are honoring Simpson as always but also SFC James Grissom, SSG Timothy McGill, SFC Liam Nevins and Sgt. Joshua Strickland, all who lost their lives within months of each other in 2013 defending their country.

But they were more than just soldiers.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Simpson was a deeply faithful man with an amazing sense of humor who loved his family. Grissom’s family shared that he had such a kind spirit and was always finding ways to help others. McGill’s sister Megan shared that he never told her he was a Green Beret because he was so humble and such a “gentle giant.” Nevins was known for his dimples, blue eyes and his love of pranks. Strickland was remembered by his family for living life passionately and always laughing.

It is the hope of all families of the fallen that the world will remember them this Memorial Day.

“Memorial Day is my favorite holiday of the year. We honor Mike every day, but everyone honors him on Memorial Day. How could you not love that? I want people to celebrate, have barbecues and make fancy cocktails. Celebrate your freedom; that’s what he died for,” shared Anderson.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

You can join in on TUP’s virtual memorial run here. Share pictures on social media during your memorial mile and use the hashtags #MotivatedByTheirLives and #TupMile. For those able to participate in a longer run, Project 33 Memorial Foundation is also hosting a virtual 10k to honor MSG Nicholas Sheperty who was killed during military freefall operations on April 17, 2019. All proceeds raised from their run will go to a memorial stone in his honor.

This Memorial Day, run for the fallen. Enjoy the day to live as they would want us to, but don’t forget to pause and remember.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes


MIGHTY CULTURE

Army couple spreads joy through music

As the holidays are upon us, finding happiness in the midst of a pandemic has been challenging. One Army couple is using music to heal, connect and bring joy to veterans and military families around the world. 

When retired Army Sergeant 1st Class Jose Pomales enlisted at 17 years old in 1997, it wasn’t to become a member of the Army Field Band. Although he was an accomplished piano player growing up in Puerto Rico, he became a combat medic. He would serve as one during and after the attacks on the World Trade Center, deploying multiple times. In 2005, to the surprise of many, Jose made the decision to leave his MOS and return to his first passion: music.

“When you join after high school, you are just a kid. You sort of grow up in the Army. I had to grow up fast,” Jose explained. “Changing into music, everyone looked at me like ‘Why are you doing that?’ I saw a pianist playing with the [Army Field Band] and that was it.” Once Jose realized that he could apply to be part of the music program, he dove in – ready to make a difference in another way. He was able to deploy with the Army Field Band all over the world, bringing music to troops and boosting morale.  

For Army Staff Sergeant Megan Pomales, music was always for her. A “choir kid” growing up and avid piano player, she knew she wanted to continue with it. But she also felt a calling to serve, joining the Army Reserves after graduating college in 2008. “I was working for Universal Music Group in New York for a record label… But when I saw the road it would really take for me to dedicate my life to music in the record label industry, it just wasn’t for me,” Megan said. 

Megan also took a leap of faith, diving into active duty with the Army by serving in their music program. In 2011, she found herself at Fort Bragg in the Army Ground Forces Band as a vocalist and keyboard player. Later on, she made her way to Fort Eustis in Virginia where she met Jose. “I walked in and saw him and was like, ‘What is happening…’ – I avoided him like the plague,” she said with a laugh. 

It wasn’t long before the two soldiers became good friends and began dating, eventually marrying. Although they both have a very different background before joining the Army, their passion and belief in the power of music connected them right away. “I know I am very privileged with my position in the Army because I know Jose sees things from a very different world view with his combat medic experience,” Megan said. 

Jose retired from the Army in 2018 and Megan began singing the lead with the Six String Soldiers in 2019. Although the Army Field band is known for doing traveling shows and their well-received holiday shows, COVID-19 has greatly changed the way they deliver music. This year, they wanted to go the extra mile to bring holiday cheer. Megan received a message from a fellow soldier and producer sharing that he wanted her to sing ‘Christmas 1914’ for the 2020 Holiday Show. “He sent it to me as a YouTube video and I listened to it and was completely undone,” Megan shared. 

Written by Catherine Rushton in 2004, the song is an emotional and haunting walk down the experiences of ground troops fighting during World War I. In 1914 the Pope suggested a truce for Christmas. Taking the suggestion to heart, the Germans and allied troops entered into an unofficial cease fire. Tales were told of Christmas carols being sung and words of goodwill echoing through the night. The lyrics of the song tell a story of the beauty of Christmas and the reality of war that followed the celebration: For three days we played football, three nights we drank and sang, ‘til it came time to say farewell. Then we went to ground; each side fired three rounds. And just like that we all were back in hell. 

German and British troops playing soccer during pause in World War I

Never again would a war fully pause, but the memory of it lives on.

Not only did Megan take on the historic lyrics for the Sound The Bells show, but the Army also granted approval to record a music video to accompany the powerful song. Set in a church built before World War I, it was a fitting setting. Megan admits it was an emotional song to sing and there were definitely times it was difficult for her not to show it. It is her hope that the spirit of the song will hit home and remind people of possibilities, especially as the world continues to battle the pandemic. 

Jose and Megan share a deep love of purpose and giving that they are able to bring to fellow soldiers, veterans and military families through music. Knowing that they can create a connection, smile or bring peace as they serve their country is the reward of a lifetime. 

Happy Holidays! We Are The Mighty has proudly produced a holiday musical with the US Army Field Band, titled Sound the Bells. This excellent family entertainment will air multiple times on FOX BUSINESS and FOX NATION from 12/23 to 12/26.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Are you born a warrior? Is it learned? A Delta Force Perspective

It is my staunch belief that warriors are born and not created. In the case of either you can trace back through your past to your first ever action that made you realize — though not likely back then at the time — that you were destined to take the warrior’s or the leader’s path through life.


I came up through Army infantry at 19 years old gravely afraid of heights, a condition that kept me from becoming a paratrooper, the gateway training to the elite forces. After two years in the infantry, I was ready to jump even without a parachute if that was what it took to get me out of that horror show.

I made it into the Green Berets only to be met with great disappointment, as in those years between wars I felt we were more of an in-case-of-war-break-glass unit with peacetime ambition and an equally disappointing budget. The thought of going to war with my Green Beret A-Team scared me to the extent that I ran arms-flailing to the Delta Force, where I immediately faded into anonymity by a sea of raw talent and sheer badassery. I was home.

But even after arriving at the unit, which requires one of the toughest selections on the planet, I came to realize that the essence of my warrior spirit had been with me all along. I can finally go back to the very early days of my own basic army training and identify an event that has stayed with me for so many years. Finally, I think I understand what it meant and why the simple memory has remained close to my heart for so many decades.

Search as I have for hints of warrior potential during my coming of military status in basic training, I’m put finally in mind of a trivial incident that remains to impress me still today. I have thought of it often in attempts to make sense of it. Since it is mine, I shall own the interpretation.

It was during my own Infantry Basic Training in Sand Hill Georgia, where my platoon and I were waiting in the pine woods for a couple of hours between training events. At times like those, there was nothing to do but notice and complain about how hot it was, and it was plenty hot.

We boys huddled under the shade of an awning in our steel helmets. In that year I learned that shade was indeed only a state of mind, and had little physical impact on the Georgia swelter; where a boundary blocked the direct sun’s rays, the humidity served to usher the heat around obstacles, presenting it to who would cower. “We” huddle and bitched and complained and moaned, making it all the worse. I quickly grew annoyed with the negative attitude of the group to the extent that I, but for slight, sniped at them verbally.

The “group” — my group: the hayseed from under the Bible Belt who spoke maybe just a little too fondly of his female cousin, the guy who came in for college; he already had one semester and constantly wanted everyone to know that by saying things like: “Yeah, but that doesn’t detract from or minimize the context of what I’m saying,” the fellow who was given the choice by a judge of either the Army or jail, the black man whose dad and grandad were both in the Army before him, the white dude who felt a patriotic debt to the country but really had no clue what that meant, the Chicano who wanted something different out of life… anything other than what he was living at the time.

And then there was — OMG! — that Asian fellow who during a group debate on race and equality announced to the group: “If there is a man here who can sh*t with his pants on, let him stand now and show it!” As God as my witness, he did say that. I resigned to the notion that he was trying for something along the lines of “We all put on our trousers one leg at a time.”

I suffered too from the heat, but the urge to bellow seemed so futile, only adding to the misery. Knowing no better, I decided to remove myself from the crowd, so I stood and stepped some fifty feet away in direct view of the blazing sun. There I squatted in the muddy sand and hung my head and thought:

“The heat is bad, but it’s better than being in the shade with the pity patrol. Bad means there is a worse; there is even a worse than this… somewhere. This too is bearable. All things, no matter the intensity, are always bearable. Here, I’m setting an example for all my platoon — see me here, guys? It’s not so bad!”

Indeed remarks wafted over:

“What the hell’s the idiot doing?”

“He can’t last out there like that.”

“Someone needs to go get him; he’s delirious, he is.”

“Yeah, holy crap, man!”

You see, now no longer were they absconded in their own misery; they were submersed in mine. I had taken their suffering away, even if for this brief bout of minutes. “I complained because I had no shoes, and then I saw a man who had no feet.” Bad begets worse, and even worse is tolerable.

I think by wanting to be alone I had only drawn attention to myself… but it was done, and now I would give them a show. This is how we deal with the pain. This is how we stand up and take it… how we shake it off and defy it! This is how a much grander force within us makes a thing like the Georgia swelter such an insignificant trifle — “pour it on, Blythe! Fire your weapon!”

From the nose of my drooped head, beads of sweat were queued up and falling in serial. I decided that I would count off 100 of them before I went back to the shade. When 100 beads had fallen, I decided that I would let yet another 100 fall before I relented… then another 100, followed by another then another concatenation of 100.

After 500 had fallen, I stood and removed my helmet. I shook my face wildly, like a dog shakes off pool water upon exit. I wiped my face with my sleeves as I trudged back to the shade and the group. I remarked as I squatted back down:

“Yep… it’s a real scorcher out there today, brothers.”

And there was nothing but silence and a man who reached out his canteen my way, which I graciously declined.

Sometimes we imagine the Earth was gifted with us, to just be us, our mystical, magical, wonderful selves. Other times we might wonder if the planet might get along just swimmingly without us. Ask ten people if they “march to the beat of a different drum,” and you will get ten affirmative answers every time. Now watch when the different drumsticks start their cadence how many stand, step out, and march… and keep marching until 500 beads of their sweat have rolled from their nose and hit the ground.

As I have searched and debated over the years to answer the question are warriors born or made, I often think back to the quote from Heraclitus nearly 2,000 years ago,

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” (Heraclitus c. 535 – c. 475 BCE)

MIGHTY CULTURE

To DITY or not to DITY?

With each set of PCS orders, I wonder whether we should consider a Personally Procured Move (PPM), which is the official name of what most of us call a DITY, or Do It Yourself move. It’s tempting — you hear stories of military families making tons of money, and it seems like there is less chance of damaged goods. If you’re considering a DITY move this PCS season, here are six questions you need to ask yourself:

How much reimbursement will you get?

For most people, the main reason to consider doing a DITY move is to make a little money. Before you get started, be sure you understand exactly what you will and will not receive, whether you do a DITY, a full government move, or something in between.

All service members who are executing PCS orders are entitled to a wide range of travel entitlements, including:

  • temporary lodging,
  • monetary allowance in lieu of transportation (technically called MALT, but often just called mileage),
  • per diem for travel days,
  • dislocation allowance.

When you do a DITY move or a partial DITY move, you’ll also get an allowance for moving your belongings, based upon the distance and weight moved. From that allowance, you pay all the expenses of the move: packing materials, hired help, the actual transportation of your goods, and unpacking. Any excess reimbursement beyond your actual expenses is taxable income.

Contact your personal property office to be sure you understand your entitlements and the reimbursement requirements for your branch, including when you need to have your vehicle weighed (empty/full/both? start/finish/both?).

Can you manage an upfront cost?

All branches have a process for getting an advance of a portion of your anticipated move reimbursement, but it doesn’t always work out as expected. If you decide to do a DITY move, you should plan to pay for all expenses out-of-pocket and expect that it may take months to be reimbursed.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Is moving yourself realistic?

Doing a DITY move is work, especially if you have a lot of stuff or heavy things like a piano or old-school entertainment center. Do you realistically have the time, mental energy and physical strength to pack up everything you own, load it safely onto a truck — or into a moving container — and unload it all on the other end?

Do you have a lot of professional gear?

One major limitation of a full DITY move is there is no way to separate out professional gear weight. Service members and their spouses are permitted to deduct the weight of certain specified work-related items from the overall weight of goods. Separating professional gear is a big help if you are close to your weight allowance.

Will you be able to keep track of the paperwork?

DITY moves require extra paperwork and receipts, particularly when you go to file your income tax return. You’ll need weight receipts to get reimbursed by the military — requirements may vary by branch. Then, because DITY reimbursements are taxable income, you’ll need all your expense receipts to deduct from your income.

TIP: Experienced DITY movers recommend a designated folder or envelope for receipts, but also taking a photograph of every single receipt when you get it. Upload the picture to the cloud to ensure you’ll always have access to a copy.

Have you considered a partial DITY?

One of the easiest ways to get the benefits of a DITY move without the work is to do a partial DITY, which separates your move into two parts. The government movers take care of the things you don’t want to move, and you get reimbursed for the portion you do move. A partial DITY is a good solution if you aren’t sure you want to do a full DITY, or if you have certain items you want to move yourself.

DITY moves are a good option for different situations, but they are a lot of work and they may or may not make money. Understanding the reimbursements and the process will help you decide if it is the right option for you.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

3 ways to maintain OPSEC while deployed

The United States has numerous enemies abroad who are itching to steal state secrets or decipher troop movements. We live in an age where your phone, computer, or a friendly software update can betray you within seconds — without you knowing it. While the average serviceman may not be the target of a Russian honeypot, we are susceptible to human error.

Using these 3 tips, service members and their families can reduce the risk of OPSEC (Operational Security) violations. The consequences of violating OPSEC can range from being non-rec’d (not recommended for promotion) to court-martial under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

This list is by no means a way to inspire fear, but rather to orient you in the technical use of geotags, metadata, and VPNs.


It should go without saying, but here’s a quick reminder of the basics: don’t post troop movement information, don’t upload pictures inside operationally sensitive areas, and don’t post when, exactly, your husband is coming home.

Outside of those basics, keep these in mind:

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Ah, yes. My apologies.

Turn off Geotags

Most people don’t mind using geotags to let their social network know where they are. Plus, how are you going to brag to all of your friends if you don’t tag yourself at the Eiffel Tower? As a service member, you already know you can’t ‘check-in’ on Facebook or ‘pin’ the cool things you’re doing — but your apps do not. Sometimes, apps on iOS and Android products will automatically. This is how you can turn it off:

iOS:

  • Navigate to ‘Settings’
  • Click on ‘Privacy’
  • Click on ‘Location Services’
  • Tap ‘Camera’
  • Under “Allow Location Access” choose ‘Never.’

Android:

  • Open the Camera app on your Android smartphone or tablet
  • Tap on three horizontal lines to open the menu
  • Now, tap on the gear icon
  • There, you’ll see the camera settings
  • Tap on GPS tag (This option may have a slightly different title, depending on the device) and turn it off.

Yes. Cross platform is the Rosetta Stone of gaming.

Zero Punctuation

Remove metadata

You may have photos you’ve sent as an attachment or uploaded onto social media already.

Metadata is data is information about and contained within files on your computer. It can be used by hackers to reverse engineer a way into your PC because they may reveal the file paths in your directory. If what I said sounded like a foreign language, that’s ok — you don’t have to understand it all, but you should know how to protect yourself. You can remove (most) metadata by following these steps.

PC/Windows:

  • Right-click the image file.
  • Select “Properties” from the right-click menu.
  • Click the “Details” tab at the top of the “Properties” dialog box.
  • Open the folder containing your image files.
  • Select all the files you want to delete EXIF metadata from.
  • Right-click anywhere within the selected fields and choose “Properties.”
  • Click the “Details” tab.
  • At the bottom of the “Details” tab, you’ll see a link titled “Remove Properties and Personal Information.” Click this link.
  • Windows will ask whether you want to make a copy of the photo with this information removed, or if you want to remove the information from the original. Choose the option you prefer and click “OK.”

Mac users:

There no way to do it and the sky is falling.

Just kidding.

For mac users, the process is a little more complicated and requires either the use of a third-party program or the command prompt. This link here will point you in the right the direction.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Don’t send nudes.

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network masks your IP address from the rest of the world by rerouting your internet packets through a series of servers. It makes the ISP (Internet Service Provider) not able to see what you’re doing and the rest of the world thinks you’re in a different country. Your internet speed will be reduced but your security will increase. It’s like a digital condom for your computer.

Using a paid VPN is highly recommended over using a free VPN because the public VPNs store your data and can be easily compromised, which defeats the purpose. A paid VPN will not store logs of what you are doing or who you are — there’s nothing to compromise if it doesn’t exist. I personally use PIA (Private Internet Access) and it’s the only VPN I can personally vouch for. A quick google search can help you judge which service and pricing option is right for you.

VPNs should not be used on government computers, or you risk violating other OPSEC protocols that you’re not aware of. If in doubt, ask someone from the Comm shop for clarity.

You’re welcome. From a “crayon-eating,” 0311 grunt.

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 tips for cooking with kids

Cooking with kids can be a fun and rewarding experience. It allows them to learn and grow, and to feel like they are a part of the family meal. But it can also be messy and frustrating. In fact, it usually involves all of the above.

But with some key planning and a lot of patience, you can work to have meaningful experiences through cooking with your kids. Follow these simple tips for a better way to prep meals as a family. Remember, cooking offers up some great life skills they can call upon later in life, whether working as a military cook or getting crafty with MREs to make a better meal in the field.


Make it a lesson

Any homeschooling parent will tell you cooking is where it’s at for math, science and more. Don’t miss an opportunity to help your kids learn as you’re whipping up something delicious. You don’t have to do anything elaborate, just mentioning cooking temps or measuring sizes can do wonders for sparking questions.

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Let them do the dirty work

Sure, as a parent who can easily do tasks like cracking eggs or flipping pancakes, it’s easier to just do it yourself. But allowing kids to do them (so long as it’s age appropriate) lets them learn. Plus, just imagine their little faces glowing with pride!

Let them choose the cuisine

No kid wants to make some fancy meal that they aren’t interested in eating. On the other hand, they’ll be over the moon to make pretzel dogs, pizza, cookies or any other kid-friendly fare. Let them choose the menu for an added dose of fun.

If ingredients are short on hand, lay forth some kid-friendly options and let them choose. You might even remind them that on a deployment or when the D-Fac is out of key items, making due is part of military life!

The ‘Cajun Navy’ are Louisiana’s homegrown heroes

Have them clean up

Boring, right?! But cleaning is part of the cooking process. Teach them now that after cooking, you have to clean up to your standard of cleanliness. You may not normally clean like you’re getting an impromptu home inspection, but when there’s help, it’s a great time to start the practice.

Do you cook with your kids? What are your favorite dishes to make together?

MIGHTY CULTURE

After 75 years, D-Day veteran is reunited with his long-lost French love

An American D-Day veteran was reunited with his French love, 75 years after they first parted, USA Today reports.

K.T. Robbins kept a photo of the girl he met in the village of Briey in 1944. Jeannine Pierson, then Ganaye, was 18 when she met the Army veteran, who was 24 at the time.

“I think she loved me,” Robbins, now in his late nineties, told television station France 2 during an interview. Travelling to France for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Robbins said he hoped to track down Pierson’s family, the BBC reports. “For sure, I won’t ever get to see her. She’s probably gone now.”


Robbins left Pierson when he was transferred east. “I told her, ‘Maybe I’ll come back and take you some time,'” he said. “But it didn’t happen.” After the war, Robbins returned to the US, got married, and started a family. Pierson, too, married, and had five children.

After Robbins showed the photo of the young Pierson to France 2 journalists, they tracked her down — she was still alive, now 92, and living just 40 miles from the village where they had originally met.

75 years later, D-Day veteran meets long-lost French love

www.youtube.com

Robbins reunited with his wartime love at Sainte Famille, her retirement home in the town of Montigny-les-Metz.

“I’ve always thought of him, thinking maybe he’ll come,” Pierson said. And, 75 years later, he did.

“I’ve always loved you. I’ve always loved you. You never got out of my heart,” Robbins told Pierson upon their reunion.

The two sat together and told reporters about the time they spend together so many years ago.

“When he left in the truck I cried, of course, I was very sad,” Pierson told reporters. “I wish, after the war, he hadn’t returned to America.” She also started to learn English after World War II, in hopes Robbins would return.

“I was wondering, ‘Where is he? Will he come back?’ I always wondered,” Pierson said.

“You know, when you get married, after that you can’t do it anymore,” Robbins said about returning to find Peirson earlier. Robbins’ wife, Lillian, died in 2015.

While the two had to part again — Robbins left for Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion — they promised to meet again soon.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.