As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF - We Are The Mighty
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As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

The 18th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force carries a smile with confidence, which reflects his easy nature of engaging everyone wherever he goes. Who would have expected young dental technician Kaleth O. Wright in 1989 to one day become that man?


CMSAF18 Kaleth O. Wright – The Exit Interview

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When he started his career in 1993, as a medical professional, Wright wasn’t sure of himself at first. But, with the help of mentors, he worked his way up the ranks. In 2016, he was serving as the command chief of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. After only a few months in the position, he was surprised to learn of his selection for the highest enlisted position in the United States Air Force.

“To be honest, my initial reaction was I was going to be the token black guy on the slate,” Wright explained.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright swear in delayed entry members during the Washington Redskins versus Philadelphia Eagles game at the FedExField in Hyattsville, Md., Sept. 10, 2017. The game was dedicated to the men and women of the U.S. Air Force in celebration of the service’s 70th birthday. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // SENIOR AIRMAN RUSTY FRANK)

However, he quickly realized that wasn’t the case and instead chose to embrace the opportunity presented to him.

“I decided…I’m going to take the opportunity to get the job, and then do the best that I can,” he said. “I guess, as they say, the rest is history.”

During his tenure, Wright worked with three Secretaries of the Air Force. He first worked with Acting Secretary Lisa Disbrow, then Secretary Heather Wilson, concluding his career with Secretary Barbara Barrett. Wright appreciated their guidance and leadership in tackling the position’s responsibilities and handling top issues that affected Airmen.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, right, checks out a piece of 3D printed material with Staff Sgt. March Tiche, 60th Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals apprentice, during his tour Sept. 23, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. Wright arrived at Travis AFB for a three-day visit to meet with Airmen and get a firsthand look at how Team Travis contributes to rapid global mobility. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // LOUIS BRISCESE)

“I’ve had a fantastic relationship with all of them, they were all really great personalities and they all gave me the space to get after enlisted issues,” he said. “So I’ve really appreciated the guidance, feedback, and the listening ear from all three of the secretaries.”

One of the most important relationships during his time as CMSAF was the one with Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen David L. Goldfein. They developed a great relationship, Wright saw him as a big brother as they collaborated on many different projects and decisions.

“We’re able to provide each other feedback…,” said Wright. “We have a lot of fun together. It’s really been great… I got a mini-Ph.D. in leadership just being able to sit beside him.”

Mentorship and guidance to help improve the force didn’t just come from top leadership Wright met with Airmen from around the world to provide feedback on issues that affected them directly. As he traveled and met with other chiefs to discuss policies, Airmen were included in the conversations to advocate for the changes they wanted to see.

The 18th CMSAF led many improvements for the force. He enhanced leadership development by rolling back additional duties, evolving Enlisted Professional Military Education, removing weighted Airman Promotion System tests, and improving talent management and leadership development processes.

He also pushed for joint-custody assignments, changed bereavement to the service’s sick leave policy, and helped make job-specific fitness tests, as well as the diagnostic fitness assessments, which are currently in beta testing.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright greets one of his former Airmen, Tech. Sgt. Amanda Taylor, 726th Operations Group command support staff superintendent, during a base tour Oct. 19, 2018 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Wright and Taylor were stationed together at Osan Air Base, South Korea, between 2007 and 2008 where they used to play basketball together. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // AIRMAN 1ST CLASS ANDREW D. SARVER)

Initiatives he headed up also included increased dwell time for Airmen after giving birth and the Noncommissioned Officer Career Status Program, which includes indefinite enlistment based on high-year tenure and increased HYT for grades E-5 through E-9.

While addressing these issues, Wright built many relationships. The more he learned about Airmen accomplishing extraordinary things, the more he was determined to make the Air Force a better place for them.

“I think Airmen today are phenomenal,” Wright said. “I think they’re super talented in what we ask them to do. They’re creative, they’re innovative, they’re thoughtful, and they’re committed. I’ve just been amazed at what our Airmen have been able to accomplish, and what they do on a daily basis. And, to some extent, what they put up with on a daily basis.”

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright (right) coins Senior Airman Isaac Buck, 512th Rescue Squadron special mission aviator, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Sept. 27, 2019. Wright recognized Airmen belonging to Team Kirtland that performed above and beyond their own call of duty with his challenge coin. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // AIRMAN 1ST CLASS AUSTIN J. PRISBREY)

Wright explained that he wants Airmen to keep improving themselves and each other.

“I’m a dental tech who became Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, and I think all too often, we provide Airmen with formulas for success…without the benefit of allowing them to dream, and for them to decide, ‘hey, this is what I want to be,'” he said. “It might be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, or it might it be the President of the United States, but be dreamers – dream big.”

While trying to help those dreams come true, he acknowledges there are still challenges to be met.

“I do believe we have some areas we need to work on, and that’s racial inequality, as witnessed by what’s happening in our Air Force today, and I think we need to embrace technology and really invest in our IT infrastructure–some of the systems that we use are too old and too slow, and they slow our Airmen down,” he said.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright shakes hands with a 100th Security Forces Squadron Airman during a visit at RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 26, 2018. Both Wright and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein visited Team Mildenhall prior to heading back to the U.S. after a visit to U.S. Central Command during the holidays. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // STAFF SGT. CHRISTINE GROENING)

Wright put a spotlight on resilience as suicides across the service remain a concern. He prioritized ensuring programs and policies were in place and accessible, such as Task Force True North, which puts resources into squadrons to nurture mental health.

The CMSAF explained the service also needs “to do better with gender equality,” by improving diversity in recruitment, pilot accessions and leadership.

“I do think that in order for us to maintain our status as the greatest Air Force, we have to be tougher on ourselves than anybody else,” he said. “If we work on those areas, we’ll just become a better, more diverse, more capable Air Force.”

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright speaks to U.S. Air Force Airmen during an enlisted all-call at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 26, 2018. Wright visited numerous units to speak with Airmen about enlisted issues. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // AIRMAN 1ST CLASS D. BLAKE BROWNING)

Wright understands there’s still a lot more work that needs to be accomplished. But as he reflects on his time in uniform and as CMSAF, he credits his mentors, family and the Team 18 staff on the growth and success of his venture.

Chief Master Sgt. Manny Piñeiro, Air Force First Sergeant special duty manager, taught him how to be passionate about helping people and Wright credits Chief Master Sgt. Kristina Rogers, senior execute to the office of CMSAF, with, “keeping us all in check.” However, he acknowledges his character development grew from Master Sgt retired Joe Winbush, Wright’s first supervisor, who he considers “my mentor, my pops” from early in his career.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright answers a question during an all-call with the Airmen from the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, Aug. 16, 2017 at Fort George G. Meade, Md. During the CMSAF’s visit he conversed with the Airmen about topics concerning airmanship, professionalism and future enlisted Air Force initiatives. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // STAFF SGT. ALEXANDRE MONTES)

As his Air Force career concludes, Wright will forever be part of a legacy of leaders.

While the service prepares for Wright’s transition, he noted the new top enlisted leader, Chief JoAnne S. Bass, holds the same passion and focus on the Airmen as well as awareness of how decisions can affect their lives and careers.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright and Chief Master Sgt. Manny Piñeiro, Air Force first sergeant special duty manager, meet with 92nd and 141st Maintenance Group Airmen to discuss the streamlining of the periodic inspection process at Fairchild Air Force Base, March 22, 2019. The periodic inspection is the most in-depth inspection Fairchild maintainers conduct on the KC-135 Stratotanker. The two-week inspection is conducted every 24 months, 1,800 flight hours or 1,000 landings. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // STAFF SGT. MACKENZIE MENDEZ)

“This type of work is never finished and I’m excited about our next Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force,” he said. “She actually helped build some of these programs and processes. I think she’ll have her own priorities and things she’ll want to work on and I’m confident that she’ll continue to work on some of the things that we literally started together.”

He leaves one last bit of advice to his replacement, “do you.”

“I told her don’t ever be concerned or worry about changing something, eliminating something, offending me, or what have you,” he smiled, wanting her to stay true to her conviction and values. “I had three and a half, almost four years to impact the Air Force. Now it’s your turn.”

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, views a loadmaster training video with Chief Master Sgt. Manny Piñeiro, Air Force special duty manager for first sergeants, and Capt. Joseph Hunt, 314th Airlift Wing chief of group tactics, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 3, 2019. Wright visited multiple units across the installation including the 19th AW, 314th AW, and 189th AW to learn about Herk Nation’s singular focus on Combat Airlift. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // AIRMAN 1ST CLASS AARON IRVIN)

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.


Articles

4.20 things veterans should know about marijuana

Medical cannabis might not be legal in all 50 states yet, but mark my words: it is the future.

It’s less addictive and destructive than prescription meds, alcohol, or hard drugs. Meanwhile, more and more scientists and doctors are discovering and acknowledging its medicinal benefits.

Still, there’s a stigma around that delicate little flower. So, let’s talk about it, shall we?


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1. Federal laws still limit legal use of marijuana

Though several states have approved the use of marijuana for medical and/or recreation use, veterans should know that federal law classifies marijuana — including all derivative products — as a Schedule One controlled substance. This makes it illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

That being said, the VA is actually more progressive here than one might have expected. According to their website, veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use and they are encouraged to discuss marijuana use with their VA providers.

Maybe there’s hope in this cruel world…

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True story.

2. Medical cannabis can help treat PTSD, anxiety, and pain

And there are clinical studies in the works to prove it, specifically in the case of combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — but because cannabis remains a federally controlled substance, widely recognized research is hard to come by.

A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine gives a comprehensive look at the science of cannabis — and its benefits for the treatment of chronic pain.

Meanwhile, a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence explored the use of marijuana to relieve anxiety, and found that a low dose of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, a main active ingredient of cannabis) produces subjective stress-relieving effects, but that higher doses could actually increase negative mood. This means the user needs to find the right dose.

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Security cam footage of me in a dispensary.

3. There are more ways to imbibe than just smoking

You’ve heard of edibles (magic brownies… mmmm), but there are so many sophisticated ways to enjoy marijuana without smoking it. Infused food and beverages are just one way (one easy and delicious — but super potent way. Again, educate yourself about doses — more on that later).

I personally still categorize vape pens and vaporizers in the “smoking” category but, technically, they do not involve smoke inhalation. Vaporization methods raise the temperature of the product just enough to create a light vapor.

Topicals are some of my favorites for pain relief. Oils, lotions, or balms infused with cannabis (and quite often essential oils like lavender, mint, or citrus — they don’t teach you about these things in boot camp, but dammit, they should) to soothe aches in the body.

Because of the way the body absorbs marijuana, skin care products provide the therapeutic benefits without any of the euphoria.

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The munchies are real, my friend.

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4.20 There are potential side effects — so use with caution

Look, marijuana contains chemicals called cannabinoids that affect the central nervous system. Scientists are still exploring its impact over short- and long-term use. Tread lightly.

WebMD lists some of the possible side effects (as well as a more comprehensive list of “other marijuana names” than I would have expected, which I found very amusing: Anashca, Banji, Bhang, Blunt, Bud, Cannabis, Cannabis sativa, Charas, Dope, Esrar, Gaga, Ganga, Grass, Haschisch, Hash, Hashish, Herbe, Huo Ma Ren, Joint, Kif, Mariguana, Marihuana, Mary Jane, Pot, Sawi, Sinsemilla, Weed).

As with any substance, marijuana should be explored carefully and with proper research. There are so many strains and so many ways to imbibe and so many ways for the body to absorb the chemicals, which is why it’s recommended that you start slowly and consult your physician.

The first time I tried an edible, I thought I was supposed to eat the whole thing. Next thing I knew, I was time traveling and I was convinced there was a rabbit in the closet that wanted to bite my ankle. I spent the night perched on my dresser like a cartoon character that just saw a mouse. My mom thought it was hilarious, but I wasn’t thrilled about the experience.

I now know that the edible I ate contained 100mg of THC — today, I take about 2mg at a time to treat anxiety. So, yeah, you could say I had too much.

The bottom line is to educate yourself and enjoy safely.

Legally, if possible.

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Articles

This Marine single-handedly cleared a rooftop after his squad was pinned down In Fallujah

During the second battle of Fallujah, then-Marine Pfc. Christopher Adlesperger singlehandedly cleared part of a house filled with insurgents in a heroic action that was recommended for the nation’s highest military award.


Upon entering an insurgent-infested house in Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004, Adlesperger pushed forward despite the death of his point man and the wounding of two others. Adlesperger, wounded in the face by grenade fragments, then single-handedly cleared a stairway and a rooftop, throwing grenades and shooting at insurgents while under blistering fire.

Related video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGFW98YxB2k

“Adlesperger was killing insurgents so they couldn’t make it up the roof,” said platoon corpsman Alonso Rogero, in his written statement of events. “The insurgents tried to run up the ladder well, but PFC Adlesperger kept shooting them and throwing grenades on top of them.”

From Defense.gov:

Finally, an assault vehicle broke through a wall on the main floor. Adlesperger rejoined his platoon and demanded to take point for the final attack on the entrenched machine gun. He entered the courtyard first, and eliminated the final enemy at close range. By the end of the battle, Adlesperger was credited with having killed at least 11 insurgents.

He died a month after his heroics in that Fallujah house, but Adlesperger was posthumously promoted to lance corporal and recommended for the Medal of Honor. The award recommendation from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines originated with 1st Lt. Dong Yi and moved up the chain of command, with concurrence from Adlesperger’s battalion commander, regimental commander, and division commander.

Two years later, when his recommendation reached the MEF Commander, Lt. Gen. John Sattler, it was downgraded to the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award. His award recommendation did not include any comments or reasons as to why.

He was awarded the Navy Cross on April 13, 2007.

NOW: This Powerful Film Tells How Marines Fought ‘One Day Of Hell’ In Fallujah

MIGHTY TRENDING

Apache pilots want to kill you from 15 miles away

Apache helicopters can currently knock out enemy tanks, light bunkers, and personnel from over 7.5 miles away. But the Army is looking at a future world where a new generation of attack and scout helicopters might be engaging Chinese ships and Russian air defenses on islands in the Pacific or mountains across Eurasia. And so they want to increase their range, and a new missile would double it.


Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team

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The Army’s Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team, an organization named by an old Xerox machine that gained sentience, is testing the Spike-NLOS on an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter.

Right now, the Apache’s longest-range munition is its Hellfire Anti-Tank Guided Missile. This time-tested bad boy can deliver a shaped-charge warhead against a target 7.5 miles away.

But the Russian S-400 can kill targets about 25 miles away. So imagine that first strike of Desert Storm where Apaches conducted a deep raid against Iraqi air defenses. Now imagine them needing to secretly cross 17 miles of desert under enemy radar coverage before they could launch their missiles.

Every foot you can whittle off that vulnerable distance would save pilots’ lives in combat. And those AFVLCFT fellas might have whittled off 7.5 miles (that’s 39,600 feet, for anyone still whittling away).

The AFLCIO’s choice of the Spike-NLOS provides more than just greater range, though. It has a fiber-optic cable that spools out behind it as it flies, allowing the pilot to give new commands while the missile is in the air. Pilots can even fire the missile into a target area before spotting an enemy. As the missile is flying, the pilot can then designate who it should kill. And it has a tandem warhead allowing it to defeat most reactive armor.

The Spike-NLOS is already in production for Israeli forces, so American forces could see it whenever Congress ponies up the cash. Provided, you know, that the AARDVARK recommends it.

MIGHTY HISTORY

D-Day by the numbers: Here’s what it took to pull off the largest amphibious invasion in history

The Allied invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, was the largest amphibious invasion in history. The scale of the assault was unlike anything the world had seen before or will most likely ever see again.

By that summer, the Allies had managed to slow the forward march of the powerful German war machine. The invasion was an opportunity to begin driving the Nazis back.

The invasion is unquestionably one of the greatest undertakings in military history. By the numbers, here’s what it took to pull this off.


• Around 7 million tons of supplies, including 450,000 tons of ammunition, were brought into Britain from the US in preparation for the invasion.

• War planners laying out the spearhead into continental Europe created around 17 million maps to support the operation.

• Training for D-Day was brutal and, in some cases, deadly. During a live-fire rehearsal exercise in late April 1944, German fast attack craft ambushed Allied forces, killing 749 American troops.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

American troops landing on beach in England during Exercise Tiger, a rehearsal for the invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

(United States Library of Congress)

• D-Day began just after midnight with Allied air operations. 11,590 Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties during the invasion, delivering airborne troops to drop points and bombing enemy positions.

• 15,500 American and 7,900 British airborne troops jumped into France behind enemy lines before Allied forces stormed the beaches.

• 6,939 naval vessels, including 1,213 naval combat ships, 4,126 landing ships, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels, manned by 195,700 sailors took part in the beach assault.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Allied landing craft underway to the beaches of Normandy.

(Universal History Archive)

• 132,715 Allied troops, among which were 57,500 Americans and 75,215 British and Canadian forces, landed at five beaches in Normandy.

• 23,250 US troops fought their way ashore at Utah Beach as 34,250 additional American forces stormed Omaha Beach. 53,815 British troops battled their way onto Gold and Sword beaches while 21,400 Canadian troops took Juno Beach.

• The US casualties for D-Day were 2,499 dead, 3,184 wounded, 1,928 missing, and 26 captured. British forces suffered about 2,700 casualties while the Canadian troops had 946.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

• Total casualties for both sides in the Battle of Normandy (June 6 – 25, 1944) were approximately 425,000.

• By the end of June 11 (D+5), 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies had been unloaded in France. By the end of the war, those figures would increase to 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tons of additional supplies.

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

Featured

From Annapolis to Miami: Navy midshipman drafted by the Dolphins

Last night, the Miami Dolphins drafted one of the most dynamic players to ever take the field for the United States Naval Academy. If you have seen Malcolm Perry play, it should be no surprise that he is being given a chance to play in the NFL.


From Annapolis to Miami! Malcolm Perry selected by the @MiamiDolphins. #NavyFB | #BuiltDifferentpic.twitter.com/pkrOIOUwD2

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From Annapolis to Miami! Malcolm Perry selected by the Miami Dolphins!

The Navy quarterback is being drafted as a wide receiver as Dolphin scouts were deeply impressed with Perry’s athleticism which was on full display at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Perry was only the second midshipman to be ever invited to the Combine and showed off his versatility as both a passer and receiver. Listed at 5’9″ and weighing 186 pounds, Perry ran a 4.63 in the 40-yard dash.

As Navy football fans probably know, Perry switched back and forth from quarterback and slot back while at the Naval Academy. The Dolphins hope that he will be able to develop into a route runner and be used in the slot. His senior year, he set numerous Naval Academy records as he led Navy’s triple option offense to an 11-2 record and another win over Army. Perry rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns while also throwing for seven.

Malcolm Perry 2019 Navy Highlights

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Malcolm Perry 2019 Navy Highlights

For those of you wondering about his service commitment, the rules are different than what they used to be. Defense Secretary Donald Esper announced in November 2019 that service academy cadets and midshipmen could either defer their military service or pay pack the cost of tuition if they were drafted in a professional sports draft.

Perry comes from a military family. Both his parents served in the 101st Airborne division and are Gulf War veterans. Perry grew up an Army brat and always thought about enlisting but never gave thought to going to a service academy, especially the one in Annapolis.

“Growing up, I thought being in the military was the coolest thing,” he said. “I just always figured I would enlist, though I didn’t know much about the academies themselves.” But Perry’s athleticism in high school bought him the attention of both the Navy and Air Force Academies and he ended up going Navy.

ESPN had cameras in Perry’s house (as with most notable draft prospects) because of the virtual nature of the 2020 NFL Draft due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is awesome they did because, we can see Perry and his family’s reaction to him being taken. Those Army parents look really nice in Navy gear, don’t they?

Here it is! Congrats #malcolmperry and family – and @MiamiDolphins!!pic.twitter.com/QzKRYssuUp

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MIGHTY HISTORY

When McCain refused an early release as prisoner of war

Sen. John McCain, a giant of American politics who died on Aug. 25, 2018, at 81, was perhaps most profoundly shaped by his military service and more than five years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

And McCain’s survival through years of nearly fatal torture and hardship in the Hanoi prison known as the “Hanoi Hilton” was made more impressive by his refusal to be repatriated before the release of all the American POWs captured before him.


President Donald Trump, whom McCain criticized extensively, has repeatedly disparaged McCain’s military service, suggesting at a rally in July 2015 that the senator didn’t deserve the title of war hero.

“He was a war hero because he was captured,” said Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate. “I like people who weren’t captured.”

But McCain’s military service and suffering have made him as something of an anomaly in American political history, and a hero in the eyes of many.

McCain was offered an early release — but he refused it

A graduate of the US Naval Academy, McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the Navy, where he served as a bomber pilot in the Vietnam War.

On Oct. 26, 1967, when McCain was a US Navy lieutenant commander, his Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down over Hanoi. Shattering his leg and both arms during his ejection from the fighter plane, McCain was captured by the North Vietnamese and spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Lieutenant McCain (front right) with his squadron and T-2 Buckeye trainer, 1965.

(US Navy photo)

Less than a year into McCain’s imprisonment, his father was named commander of US forces in the Pacific, and the North Vietnamese saw an opportunity for leverage by offering the younger McCain’s release — what would have been both a propaganda victory and a way to demoralize other American POWs.

But McCain refused, sticking to the POW code of conduct that says troops must accept release in the order in which they are captured.

“I knew that every prisoner the Vietnamese tried to break, those who had arrived before me and those who would come after me, would be taunted with the story of how an admiral’s son had gone home early, a lucky beneficiary of America’s class-conscious society,” McCain later recalled.

The North Vietnamese reacted with fury and escalated McCain’s torture.

‘Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.’

McCain soon reached what he would later describe as his lowest point in Vietnam, and after surviving intense beatings and two suicide attempts, he signed a “confession” to war crimes written by his captors.

“I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine,” McCain wrote in a first-person account published in US News World Report in May 1973.

For the next two weeks, McCain was allowed to recover from his debilitating injuries — a period he later described as the worst in his life.

“I was ashamed,” he wrote in his 1999 memoir, “Faith of My Fathers.” “I shook, as if my disgrace were a fever.”

For the next several years, the high-profile POW was subjected to prolonged brutal treatment and spent two years in solitary confinement in a windowless 10-by-10-foot cell.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

President Richard Nixon Greets Former Vietnam Prisoner of War John McCain, Jr. at a Pre-POW Dinner Reception,1973.

McCain’s courage bolstered his political bona fides

In March 1973, two months after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, McCain and his fellow prisoners were released in the order in which they were captured. An emaciated 36-year-old with a head of white hair, McCain returned home to continue his service in the Navy.

McCain retired from the Navy in 1981, moved to Arizona, and began his political career in the Republican Party, serving two terms in the House of Representatives. In 1986, he won a landslide election to the Senate, where he served for 30 years, during which time he launched two unsuccessful presidential bids.

McCain’s courage during his brutal captivity bolstered his political bona fides. As David Foster Wallace wrote in a profile of McCain in 2000, when he was a presidential candidate, the former Navy captain commanded the kind of moral authority and authentic patriotism that eludes the average politician.

“Try to imagine that moment between getting offered early release and turning it down,” Wallace wrote of McCain’s decision to remain in Vietnamese captivity. “Try to imagine it was you. Imagine how loudly your most basic, primal self-interest would have cried out to you in that moment, and all the ways you could rationalize accepting the offer. Can you hear it? If so, would you have refused to go?”

McCain, a military hawk, forever remained a staunch supporter of the Vietnam War, during which 58,000 Americans and nearly 3 million Vietnamese were killed. But he worked closely with John Kerry, a Democrat and fellow Vietnam veteran who advocated against the war, to normalize relations between the US and Vietnam in the 1990s, bringing the devastating conflict to a close.

Amanda Macias contributed to this report.

Featured image: Lieutenant Commander McCain being interviewed after his return from Vietnam, April 1973.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

One Marine is on a mission to bring pup home from Afghanistan

It’s going to take at least $7,400 for one Marine to return home with the little puppy he rescued from razor-sharp concertina wire in his remote Afghanistan forward operating base about a year ago.

Sox has not left “Captain Dave’s” side since he helped her. She’s even followed him on missions, according to the organization Guardians of Rescue. Dave’s full name has been withheld at his request for safety reasons for his family back home, the organization said.

But once Dave’s deployment ends early next year, Sox will be left alone to fend for herself and faces an uncertain future. The one-year-old dog has already been whipped by a local during a recent patrol when she wandered too far from the unit, the Marine said, according to the organization.


“The bond I have with Sox is something I didn’t expect, but I just can’t leave her behind,” he said in a news release from Guardians of Rescue. “If I don’t bring her home with me, I am afraid I’ll always regret it and wonder about what happened to her.”

So, he turned to the organization to help him bring Sox home with him. Staff with the nonprofit say they have helped many service members since 2010 with the expensive and complicated process of bringing their rescue dogs home from deployment. Guardians of Rescue also helps troops provide for the future of contract working dogs, which rotate to different handlers and do not belong to a specific military unit.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Sox the puppy was rescued from concertina wire last year in a forward operating base in Afghanistan.

(Guardians of Rescue)

The goal is to raise ,400 by Christmas. As of mid-Tuesday, almost id=”listicle-2641655011″,700 has been raised since the online fundraiser began a couple days before.

This would pay for Sox’s vaccinations, 30-day quarantine, transportation to the U.S. and shelter until Capt. Dave returns to the U.S.

“I wish it was easy, I really do,” said Robert Misseri, founder of Guardians of Rescue, in a statement. “Years ago, when there was way more freedom over there and way more troops, it was a little easier, but now that has changed since the wind down.”

That’s why it’s valuable to have the Nowzad shelter in Kabul helping, Misseri said. Otherwise, his nonprofit has to coordinate all the travel and care with individuals on the ground.

“Let’s give Sox and Dave a very special holiday this year,” Misseri said. “If anyone wants to give a Christmas gift to an overseas service member, this is the perfect gift. This is the way to give back.”

Donations to Sox and Dave can be made here.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian secret agents were reportedly stationed in villages in the French Alps

US and European intelligence agencies discovered Russian military intelligence members to be working from the French Alps, according to an NBC News report published Thursday. News of the operation was first reported by French newspaper Le Monde.

Up to 15 members of the GRU, the Kremlin’s military intelligence agency, had lived in the French Alps, where they established their base for European covert operations, according to the reports. Some of the alleged officers’ names were previously published by Bellingcat, an independent investigative group.


Two of the Russian agents, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Roshirov, were accused of poisoning defected Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the UK in 2018. The two Russian agents reportedly used aliases and a military-grade nerve agent to poison the Skripals. Both of them recovered after being hospitalized.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov during an interview, Sept. 12, 2018.

(RT News)

The Russian government denied involvement and said it did “not understand why that was done and what signal the British side is sending.”

“We heard or saw two names, but these names mean nothing to me personally,” Russian diplomat Yuri Ushakov told reporters at the time, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

The French Alps’s roughly 620-mile-long chain of mountains is the longest in Europe. It includes a number of hiking trails, natural parks, and skiing destinations.

The GRU has been accused of orchestrating cyber operations against the West. In 2018, it was accused of a global hacking campaign against anti-doping agencies, a nuclear power company, and a chemical-weapons watchdog, according to Reuters.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Intelligence Department Igor Kostyukov.

In addition to cyber operations, the GRU also reportedly has a special operations unit composed of Russian military service members. The agency also recruits sleeper agents “reserved for the most sensitive or deniable tasks across the spectrum of GRU operations,” according to a Western report acquired by Reuters.

Several of the agency’s leaders have been sanctioned by Western countries, including the US, UK, and the Netherlands.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Britain’s Ministry of Defence plays for time (and money) in a dangerous world

In December 2018, just before policymakers and pundits escaped their besieged bunkers for Christmas, the UK government published the long-awaited final report on its Modernising Defence Programme. This programme was meant to update the military commitments made in the last full-blown Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2015.

How far it has succeeded in that task is debatable, however. The report’s brevity and lack of detail left many lamenting a missed opportunity.

Revising 2015’s review became necessary thanks to a marked change in circumstances. Partly, those changes are strategic. Relations with Russia have deteriorated even further since 2015, Islamic State (IS) is much diminished, and new military technologies and tactics are advancing.


Mainly, however, those changes are economic. The lower growth trajectory induced by Brexit has reduced the resources available to the Ministry of Defence (MOD). (The UK Defence Budget is set at 2% of GDP, which means that if GDP is smaller than it might have been, so too is the budget available to the military.)

The pound’s depreciation since the Brexit vote in 2016 has also raised the real costs of buying defence equipment from abroad, such as the US-sourced F-35 combat jet. A broader rise in inflation has further added to cost pressures on a 2015 review that was already seen as financially optimistic.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

F-35B Lightning II.

Taken together, these pressures have stretched the disconnect between intended military expenditures and available resources beyond the point that could reasonably be ignored. A political consequence of this has been the MOD —currently led by Gavin Williamson MP, a Defence Secretary unusually willing to provoke budgetary confrontations within Whitehall —demanding more government money to ensure that neither current nor planned military capabilities receive further cuts.

The Treasury, for its part, recognizes that Britain’s security environment has deteriorated to a worse condition than at any point since the Cold War. Yet it is still attempting to avoid major new spending commitments until the full fiscal shock of Brexit becomes clear. It has also long been skeptical of the MOD’s budgetary requests, viewing the department as a perennial financial black hole.

Political turmoil, strategic change

With a full cross-government spending review now scheduled for post-Brexit 2019, this Modernising Defence Programme report represents multiple levels of compromise. It has provided the government with a “good news” item, in the form of modest amounts of new funding to important areas such as high-technology research and “net assessment” of threats.

It also recognizes growing pressures in defence, such as the need to increase the usability of existing equipment if Britain is to pose a credible conventional deterrent against Russia (for example, by ensuring adequate numbers and varieties of munitions for ships and aircraft).

But the report has also dodged some of the hardest choices. For if more money is not eventually forthcoming from the Treasury to pay for equipment — and the people and infrastructure who turn such equipment from mere “stuff” into effective fighting capability — how will it be paid for or what will need to be cut?

These “micro” politics are all occurring against a backdrop of “macro” change in Britain’s strategic environment. The post-Cold War era of unrivaled American (and therefore Western) power is arguably coming to an end, with the rise of China and partial resurgence of Russia.

All of Britain’s closest alliances are simultaneously in flux. With the major European powers, this is due to Brexit. With the US, it is thanks to a combination of President Trump’s mercurial temperament and a longer standing requirement to pivot towards containment of China.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

United States President Donald Trump.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

Yet even as Washington wants to focus on Beijing, European states face a hostile power in their own region, in the form of a Russia that sees good reasons to weaken and ideally break NATO.

Besides the Russia situation, political demands for UK military commitments in other regions also still remain — in the Middle East, Mediterranean, South Atlantic, and increasingly in East Asia too. This difficulty of juggling pressing regional defence needs with a desire for expansive global involvement reflects two competing sets of long-standing pressures in British strategy: the aspiration to play an influential role in the world versus the need to safeguard national security.

A combination of strained alliances and ever-expanding political demands explains the MOD’s determination to secure funds to rebuild UK military capability. After 20 years of preoccupation with counter-terrorism and humanitarian intervention, the current Defence Equipment Programme is now more focused on the heavier “state-on-state” capabilities required to deter a hostile major power in the North Atlantic region (warships, combat aircraft, mechanized ground forces, and so forth). And all of this must take place while still having enough left over to do a bit of all the other things that are asked of the armed forces.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), HMS Sutherland (F81), and HMS Iron Duke (F234).

(UK Ministry of Defence photo)

Without the budget to fulfill recent ambitions, the MOD will not be confident that it can meet Britain’s defence needs. So rather than accept cuts today, this latest report plays for time. The hope is that the tougher security environment of tomorrow will ultimately persuade the Treasury to release more resources for defence, especially once Brexit has been and gone.

To that extent, December 2018’s report achieved its aims. A bit more funding for advanced technology research and net assessment is no bad thing. A recognition that Britain needs more robust stockpiles of fuel, spares, munitions, and expertise was long overdue. And the MOD has managed to delay its day of reckoning with the Treasury until after the initial fiscal shock of Brexit.

A delay is not a victory, however. There is no sign yet of the substantial uplift in funding or the cuts to planned capabilities necessary to place the armed forces on a sound budgetary footing. That hard day of financial reckoning could therefore still be to come.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

A video shows the inside of a US military camp overtaken by Russian mercenaries working with Syrian forces, shortly after American troops abandoned it.

US forces left the Manbij camp in northern Syria early Oct. 15, 2019, following an Oct. 6, 2019, directive from President Donald Trump to leave a coalition with the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the terrorist group ISIS. A spokesman for the US operation confirmed the departure on Oct. 15, 2019.


The US’s decision to pull out gave Turkish forces the green light to invade Syria on Oct. 9, 2019, and drive out the SDF, which contains Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Kurds terrorists and has long vowed to destroy them. Over the weekend, the SDF allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to fight the Turkish offensive.

Here’s a video of the abandoned camp:

The man in the video was identified by the Times of London reporter Tom Parfitt as Oleg Blokhin, a Russian war correspondent known to be following the Wagner Group, a Russian private military organization that supports Syrian military operations, in northeastern Syria.

US troops formerly based at the camp willingly left it to Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, an SDF official near Manbij told Business Insider’s Mitch Prothero.

The broader Manbij area is under the control of Assad’s troops, who await an assault from Turkish troops from the north.

The video was first posted on Twitter by a defense blogger known as MrRevinsky. The SDF official confirmed its accuracy to Business Insider.

A second video posted by MrRevinsky appeared to show Blokhin raising and lowering a mechanical checkpoint barrier at the camp.

Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria, and Turkey’s subsequent incursion, has unleashed chaos in the region and displaced thousands of Kurds. Dozens of “high value” ISIS prisoners have escaped from detention, something that experts say could help the terrorist organization regroup.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US just unleashed the most dangerous ‘hunter-killer’ on earth

The US Navy commissioned the USS South Dakota on Feb. 2, 2019, and, in doing so, ushered in a new era of millennial undersea war fighters and the most technologically advanced submarine hunter-killer on Earth.

“I think we can honestly call South Dakota ‘America’s first millennial submarine’ from construction to operation,” Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut said at the South Dakota’s commissioning.

While millennials across the board make up the majority of the US’s combat service members in any service, the South Dakota was built by the shipbuilder General Dynamics Electric Boat, whose workforce is more than half millennial, The Day reported.


“The rise of the millennial generation emerging to lead Electric Boat’s important work for the country, I believe, is a powerful rebuttal of cynics and naysayers that say that American manufacturing and technological excellence are a thing of the past,” Courtney said.

In the slides below, meet the young sailors and new submarine that makes the South Dakota the most modern and fearsome submarine in the world today.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

The color guard parade the ensign during a commissioning ceremony for the Virginia-class attack submarine USS South Dakota on Feb. 2, 2019.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Hoskins)

The South Dakota is a fast-attack boat.

The South Dakota is a fast-attack submarine, which trades the world-ending nuclear might of a ballistic-missiles submarine, or “boomer,” for Tomahawk cruise missiles, mines, and torpedoes.

Boomer submarines hide in oceans around the world on the longshot chance the US may call upon them to conduct nuclear warfare. These submarines are not to be seen and avoid combat.

But fast-attack subs such as the South Dakota meet naval combat head-on.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Samuel Souvannason

One weapon makes the South Dakota a force to be reckoned with up to 1,500 miles inland: the Tomahawk. The South Dakota can hold dozens of these land-attack missiles.

Fast-attack submarines like the South Dakota serve as a door-kicker, as one did in 2011 when the US opened its campaign against Libya with a salvo of cruise missiles from the USS Michigan. These submarines also must hunt and sink enemy ships and submarines in times of combat, and the South Dakota is unmatched in that department.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

(Photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl Wood)

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Members of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two prepare to launch one of the team’s SEAL delivery vehicles from the back of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Philadelphia during a training exercise.

(US Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Andrew McKaskle)

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

The US Navy Virginia-class attack submarine USS South Dakota.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Russian Typhoon-class submarine.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

(US Navy photo)

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Type 039 submarine.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Capt. Ronald Withrow, outgoing commanding officer of the South Dakota, right, returns a salute from his relief, Missouri native Cmdr. Craig Litty, left.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Steven Hoskins)

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

(US Navy photo)

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

(US Navy photo)

Submarine combat is a very dangerous and tricky game. Any sonar or radar ping can reveal a sub’s location, so the ships need to sit and listen quietly to safely line up a kill.

The South Dakota can detect ships and subs with an off-board array of sensors that it can communicate with in near real time. This represents a breakthrough in undersea warfare.

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Paul Durocher, a pre-commissioned unit South Dakota submariner.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jared Bunn)

But submarines are only as good as their crews. The South Dakota will live or die based on its crew’s ability to stick together and problem solve.

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

Articles

Here are 10 things everyone experiences in jump school

The U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia is where U.S. military members of all branches go to become military parachutists. The school is three weeks of intense physical drills, training on towers, and of course, “jumping out of a perfectly good airplane” five times to earn the coveted silver parachute badge (also known as “jump wings”).


Here are 10 things Airborne students will encounter when going through Jump School:

1. Black Hats

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF
Airborne Instructors in 1977

An Airborne instructor’s nametag may read “Jones” but students will address him or her as “Sergeant Airborne.” New Airborne trainees are received by the school’s instructors known as “Black Hats,” because of their headgear, a simple black baseball cap with their rank and wings display on the cap.

The instructors are mostly Army personnel, but the Marine Corps Air Force, and Navy also provide instructors since the school is open to all eligible DOD service members. Black Hats are skilled parachutists who are responsible for training Airborne students, and they do with ‘tough love. They will make their students repeat physical drills and exercises over and over until they get it right.

No matter how exhausting, they won’t stop until a student gets it right. They are doing it for the trainees own well-being.

2. The Airborne Shuffle

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Army 2nd Lt. Nelson Lalli runs with an Airborne School classmate to report in after his first jump.

Not to be confused with the popular dance the ‘Cupid shuffle’ or the Chicago Bears Super Bowl shuffle, the Airborne shuffle is not a dance nor is it fun. This shuffle refers to the pace or speed of a formation run during Airborne school. It is typically about a 9-minute mile.

The shuffle is meant to build stamina, not speed. At Airborne School, trainees run everywhere especially in combat boots or with their equipment. The Airborne shuffle is also commonly known for the short choppy steps students take on the aircraft before the jump out, just like the cadence “Stand up, Hook up, Shuffle to the door.”

3. Wearing Helmets all day

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At Jump School, aspiring paratroopers will wear their helmet everywhere they go. Students will run and train with it on every day. The chin strip and helmet pads will reek so bad after the first week of training that a squirt of Febreze is simply not enough to contain the smell of sweat and bacteria.

4. Falling all day

Airborne students will spend a lot of time hitting the ground during Jump School. Learning how to properly fall during a parachute landing is a core fundamental taught at the Basic Airborne Course. This is especially true when doing parachute landing fall (PLF) drills. Trainees will jump off platforms of different heights into large pits over and over until they get it right. Airborne students can expect to do hundreds of PLFs before they leave the school.

Along with PLFs, trainees will jump from tall towers like the 34-foot tower to learn proper aircraft exiting techniques and the iconic 250-foot tower, although not all Airborne class get to do the tower.

Just remember to “keep your feet and knees together!”

5. The smell of Bengay in the morning

As he approaches retirement, Wright examines his tenure as CMSAF
Week one, ground week, focuses on the proper landing fall techniques, emphasizing the importance of keeping feet and knees together during a landing to prevent injuries. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kuande Hall)

Before long, the smell of Bengay, the over-the-counter analgesic cream used to relieve muscle and joint pain, will fill the barracks each morning to help students with their joint and muscle pain.

6. Swing Landing Trainer

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A student practices proper landing techniques on the Swing Landing Trainer.

The Swing Landing Trainer is not fun. Students are strapped into a harness to step off a platform and swing back and forth. The discomfort experienced on this device when swinging, especially for male students, is terrible. Students will continue to swing on the harness until they are released by the Black Hats. Trainees must perform several proper PLFs to pass this stage of training.

Most hit the ground like a stack of potatoes.

7. “Hurry up and wait” goes to a whole new level

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Airborne Students wait to board an aircraft.

Finally, it’s jump week… but the wait isn’t over. Students will wake up early, run to the chute shed, rig up, and just wait and wait for many hours. Students are not allowed to sleep or talk as they wait. It’s the ultimate example of “hurry up and wait.”

8. A mix of emotions

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Time to jump! There’s certainly level of excitement and fear at this point, as jumpers hook up to the static line and prepare to jump. Some people question their judgement at this point, as butterflies flutter in their stomachs and thoughts of “why the hell am I doing this” circle in their head. For others, this is the best moment of their life!

9. Jumping Out

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Paratroopers with 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division (Advise and Assist Brigade), exit a C-130 aircraft Feb. 12, 2010, at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq, as part of the largest airborne training exercise conducted by U.S. forces in Iraq since the beginning of the war. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

Probably the two most common reactions: “This is awesome” or “Holy Shit!”

10. Pinning of the Wings

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After completing five parachute jumps, Lt. Col. Kay Wakatake has her wings pinned on by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Richardson at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Photo by Captain Greg Peterson)

The pinning of parachute wings is the crowning achievement of three weeks of training. The badge is pinned (or slammed) on the graduate’s chest. This rite of passage solidifies an individual as a member of the Airborne family. The best part of all of this: You’re no longer a leg!