How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

On Feb. 28, 2015, Staff Sgt. Sebastiana Lopez stepped out of her apartment on an early Saturday morning in Charleston, South Carolina. The humidity was low, making a good day for a motorcycle ride. As she went back into her apartment to swap her car keys for motorcycle keys, she didn’t know it was the first step toward a life-changing moment.

Lopez’s four older siblings served in the US military in different branches. She looked up to them, eventually joining the US Air Force. She served for seven years as a crew chief on C-17s. Lopez’s parents immigrated to the US illegally, and she felt that she owed her country for the new opportunities afforded to her. Joining the military was her way of saying thank you.


As Lopez was coming around a corner of the road on her motorcycle, an armadillo was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her motorcycle and the armadillo collided causing her to crash into the curb, ejecting her from the bike and directly into a tree. She remembers bear hugging a tree and her leg kicking her in the face, breaking the motorcycle helmet visor. She fell to the ground and a plume of dust erupted. She never lost consciousness.

Lopez was dazed but immediately started thinking about how to survive. She tried to do blood sweeps, but her arms wouldn’t move. She saw that her leg was positioned at an unnatural angle and thought, “Well, that sucks. I probably need to put a tourniquet or something on that.” No matter how she looked at it, she wasn’t able to self-administer aid due to the extent of her injuries.

Her lung was punctured by a broken rib, she had several broken bones, an amputated (above the knee) right leg, lacerated liver, ruptured spleen, and many other internal and external injuries. Lopez was losing blood fast, and every breath felt like a million stab wounds, but she maintained a goal.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Sebastiana with her family after her accident. Photo courtesy of Sebastiana Lopez.

“So I kind of looked up at the sky, and I’m like, there’s nothing I can do about this except for — keep breathing,” Lopez said.

She focused on each breath, counting in her head while she held her breath to minimize the pain. Then panic crept into her mind: It was a Saturday morning, people were up partying the night before, and it’s unlikely anyone will be awake to find her. Lopez stayed calm but couldn’t help thinking that this might be the end.

“I was pretty happy with the life I had already lived — even though it was very short, 24 years old at the time,” Lopez said. She accomplished what she had always wanted to do, giving back to her country by joining the Air Force. As she settled into being okay with the fact that she was dying, a car drove past.

She said that the first thought that popped into her head was, “That’s a stupid-looking car.” Then she realized that the person driving that car might be her ticket out of there. Luckily, her motorcycle had come to a stop up the road. The bystander saw it and immediately threw his vehicle into reverse. He found Lopez lying next to the tree, and the fear on his face was evident. He panicked, and the first thing he asked her was, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Side by side (right photo showing initial recovery, left showing extensive recovery) comparison showing just how much Sebastiana has recovered since her crash. Photo courtesy of Sebastiana Lopez.

The ambulance arrived, and even though Lopez couldn’t see him, she recognized the voice of one of the responders. He was an Air Force reserve pilot she had flown with during an operation in Malaysia when they were designated as a backup C-17 for the president while he toured that area of the world. Hearing a familiar voice, especially someone she knew from the military, immediately put her mind at ease. I might make it through this, she thought.

Despite the massive amount of blood loss, Lopez can recall up until the point when the hospital staff wheeled her into the OR. Her heart stopped not long after her arrival at the hospital, but they managed to get her back. She woke up a month later surrounded by her family, and she felt like she might have been in purgatory. A priest was close by and had been waiting to give Lopez her last rites in coordination with her Catholic beliefs.

“They knew telling me the news that, hey, you don’t have a leg anymore, was going to just tear me apart,” Lopez said. “To be quite honest, it didn’t. At least initially because I was just happy to wake up. It didn’t really hit me until a few months later that life was going to get pretty shitty and pretty hard, especially when I lost my hand function in both hands.”

My story

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Shortly after waking up from the coma, Lopez sustained a stroke and lost her speech. Her family added a degree of frustration when they unknowingly talked slowly and loudly to her, thinking she had lost the ability to process information as well. This was one more blow, but it didn’t shake Lopez — it was just another speed bump.

“I was like, Motherfuckers, I understand what y’all are saying — I just can’t verbalize my answer or write it even,” she said, adding that she felt trapped, much like when she was lying on the ground after her crash.

Lopez loves sports, and the driving force to compete again kept her internal fire blazing. As she completed her speech therapy and regained the ability to speak, she started to feel better about herself. Her first steps with her prosthetic leg brought even more confidence.

Even while Lopez completed speech therapy and physical rehabilitation, another battle loomed under the surface. One of the first movements she had to do was rolling from side to side, and whenever she did, the incision from her abdominal surgery would start bleeding. The hospital staff was growing concerned and asked her if she wanted to stop.

“I was like, ‘Hell no, I need to start moving!'” she said.

She recovered to an extent while staying at the Medical University of South Carolina hospital. She described it as similar to a scene out of Kill Bill when Uma Thurman’s character wills herself out of paralysis by saying, “Wiggle your big toe.”

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Sebastiana competing in the Invictus Games. Photo courtesy of Sebastiana Lopez.

Lopez aggressively pursued her exercises while running a consistent temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. From rolling side to side to putting on her socks by herself, she was making progress. But then she started losing energy again and didn’t feel well. Her recovery was coming along, but she lost function in her right arm. She was scheduled to be transferred to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a higher level of physical rehabilitation.

Her new doctors ran tests and found out that Lopez was septic, which is a widespread, serious infection within the body that can have lethal consequences. She was transferred directly into the ICU.

Once recovered, Walter Reed brought on even harder rehabilitation training — and the results were even better. Lopez worked hard and rep after rep moved closer to her goal of competing again.

She spent hours every day sending signals to her hands and any other part of her body that wouldn’t readily move with her internal instructions. She eventually regained some command over the movement of her fingers.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Sebastiana Lopez Arellano powers a hand cycle during the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando. May 9, 2016. DoD News photo by EJ Hersom, courtesy of Sebastiana Lopez.

After her incident, the Air Force enrolled Lopez in what’s called the Casualty Care Program and the Recovery Care Program. She was assigned a Recovery Care Coordinator (RCC). Lopez transferred to outpatient physical rehab, and one day while she was working on different exercises, her RCC walked up to her. She asked Lopez what she thought about doing an adaptive sports camp.

“No, I’m not ready. I’m still rehabbing my hand — I want to be able to wipe my butt first before I go compete or learn a sport,” Lopez responded. Her RCC told her a white lie: “You’re still in the US Air Force, you kind of have to.”

Lopez later found out that wasn’t the case, but she felt that the RCC knew she needed a little push. The RCC signed up Lopez, unbeknownst to her, for a beginner’s adaptive sports camp through the Air Force Wounded Warrior program.

What her RCC said was a beginners camp was actually the tryouts for the Air Force’s Wounded Warrior Games team. Lopez found out once she arrived at the “camp,” but with her no-quit spirit, she persevered and made it onto the team.

WOD 1

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Within a year of her accident, Lopez competed in the Wounded Warrior Games and earned five gold medals for two-hand cycling races, shot put, discus, and sitting volleyball.

“The funny thing about the 2016 Warrior Games, I broke my arm the first day we got there,” she said, laughing. “So I competed the entire week with a broken arm.”

From that first Warrior Games to her most recent competition performance in the 2019 Team USA Parapan American Games, Lopez has achieved her goal of competing again — and then some. In addition to the medals from the 2016 Warrior Games, she went on to medal over 19 times in different events over the course of the next few years, and she even established a world record in discus.

Lopez has defied the physical disabilities that the armadillo caused that fateful Saturday morning in February 2015.

“I might still pursue [Team USA] in the future, between school and everything else — I’m kind of looking into starting a family soon, and I want to focus on that,” Lopez said. “I’m not saying that’s the end of the world for me. I probably will try to pursue it, but maybe 2024 for me.”

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


MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

6 tips to strengthen your marriage when you’re apart

Long-distance relationships get a pretty bad rap. You don’t get to see your partner for months on end. You have to trust them implicitly. Half the time, you live like you’re single. For many military families, long-distance marriage is a necessary evil. It takes a strong partnership to handle it, but with dedication and communication, it’s 100% possible.


Here’s what you need to work on to defeat the distance and make your marriage one for the books.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Up your verbal communication skills

According to current studies, a measly 7% of communication is verbal. In every conversation, we’re picking up the nuances of our partner’s mannerisms, from their tone of voice to their facial expressions and posture. Because of this, when distance keeps us from seeing our partner, many of our messages don’t get through. Work with your partner to be more descriptive and straightforward about emotional needs so that they understand how to fill them, even when they can’t see you. For example, if you’re venting about your irritating boss, let your partner know that you just want them to be on your side – not to offer solutions. Vice versa, if you’re looking for your partner’s guidance, ask for it! Skip the subtleties, because not even the fastest 5G can wire them through.

Include your partner as much as possible

Whether you’re managing a house, pets or kids, involve your partner even while they’re away. Plan phone calls on speaker to discuss important family matters, and keep your partner up to date on even small life changes. Let them know how the kids’ grades are, how the dog’s arthritis is, and what the mechanic said when you took the car in for a tune-up. That way, they’ll feel like they’re still an important part of life at home, and won’t be so surprised by changes when they return.

Be open about your social life

No matter how devoted you are to your partner, they can’t cater to all your social needs when they aren’t physically around. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s important that your significant other knows about the other people who come into your life. If you’ve started going to book club, met a new friend in your spin class, or took up competitive roller derby, let your partner know. This is especially true if you spend time with friends of the opposite sex. No matter how innocent your interactions with friends may be, your partner will feel more secure, knowing there are no secrets between you.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Learn to accept space and ask for connection

For one reason or another, military partners can be emotionally distant at times. In the grand scheme of things, it’s important to know if your husband or wife has experienced trauma, loss or is coping with PTS. But sometimes, they just need some space and time to process and adjust. Most of the time, it’s not about you at all! Give space, but plan time to reunite with a phone or video call in the near future. That way, they don’t feel pressured, and you don’t feel abandoned or insecure.

Find activities to share when you’re apart

Living apart doesn’t have to mean growing apart. Find experiences you can share even from miles away. Pick a book to read or a series to watch, so you have something in common to talk about. Video chat while each taking a walk. Share your fitness goals and pics of your progress. Brainstorm what home improvements you’d like to work on together. It’s not the same as being cuddled up on the couch, but it is a way to continue working and playing like a team.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Make time for each other when you can

When your partner is home, put each other first. You may still have work obligations, but do your best to maximize your time as a couple. No phones, no screens, just the two of you catching up and doing things you love to do together. Long-distance marriages are hard, but they don’t have to tear you apart. By showing your partner that they’re still your first priority, you can keep your relationship strong through just about anything.

Humor

7 reasons why active duty hate on reservists

The military is divided into two groups: The hardcore, active-duty troops and the weekend warriors we’ve come to know as reservists.


We’re all on the same team, but the rivalry between active duty and reservists can be just as intense as inter-branch rivalries. Working together can be freakin’ tough.

(238DarthNinja | YouTube)The struggle is real, people!

Related: 6 reasons why Marines hate on the Air Force

Check out these seven reasons why active duty hate on reservists

7. They expect the same respect when you run into one of them.

Not every command has a reservist unit attached, so running into one is rare. But when you do, it’s jarring. Since we wear the same uniform, they expect to be treated like any other trooper.

Except they only train drill work show up two days a month and want to be seen as if they’re the tip of the spear.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
Please, don’t let me deploy.

6. Your office always looks like sh*t on Monday mornings.

Reservist use your office space when they finally make it into work. It becomes theirs and there’s nothing you can do about it.

5. It feels like a stranger is living in your house one weekend per month.

They sit at your desk, use your computer, eat at your table, and you’ll never get to know them.

4. Most of them are out of shape.

That is all.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
Well, active duty does.

3. They’re their own storytellers.

Reservists always want you to know they were once on active duty… every single time they see you.

2. Weekend warriors always think they’re tactical.

They buy their own tact gear, but don’t know how to use it — or if they even need it.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
You sure are, pal.

Also Read: 4 things you immediately learn after treating a Taliban fighter

1. You’re not allowed to touch the “reservist stuff” in your own office space. WTF?

They leave their belongings for their next time they train drill work decide show up and you have to sit with it all month long.

Bonus: Some even try to give you notes on how they think you should run your unit.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
#thestruggleisreal

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is how an AK-47 works

The AK-47, as we know it, was created by Russian weapons designer Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov in 1947. Its name is derived from the word ‘automatic’ (A), the inventor’s last initial (K), and the year of its invention (47). The AK-47 was designed to be easy to operate, able to fire in any clime, durable, and mass produced quickly and cheaply. It was adopted into USSR military service in 1949 and quickly became a symbol of Soviet reach around the world.


It has a muzzle velocity of about 700 meters per second, can fire 600-rounds-per-minute at the cyclic rate, and hold a 30-round magazine of 7.62mm ammunition. The biggest issue with the weapon is accuracy, which is the result of large internal parts and powerful caliber rounds that reduce the max effective range to roughly 400m. Despite this weakness, the AK-47 has successfully infected many countries and facilitated the proliferation of communism and terror around the world.

Let’s learn more about this prominent tool of destruction:

How an AK-47 Works

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Cycle of operations

The AK-47 is a fighter favorite around the world because its cycle of operations (the way it fires) is simple, made up of (relatively) large pieces that allow it to fire even when covered in sand or mud.

When the operator pulls the trigger, he/she releases the firing hammer, which strikes the firing pin. This action ignites the bullet primer which, in turn, ignites the gunpowder to fire the bullet. The gas that propels the bullet forward also pushes back on the bolt carrier assembly, ejecting the empty casing. This action also resets the hammer into firing position.

The bolt pulls a new round up from the magazine and inserts it into the barrel. The sear keeps the bolt hammer in place until the bolt carrier returns into position.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(AK-47 Operator’s Manual)

Manufacture

There are an estimated 75 to 100 million AK-47s worldwide and, in some countries, one can be purchased for under . Generally, the price ranges from between 0 to 0, but higher-end models can run over id=”listicle-2624527860″,000. Russia has large stockpiles of the weapon, but no longer manufactures it. There are, however, 20 countries that still do, including China. According to the AK-47’s Operators Manual, the weapon system’s country of origin can be identified by markings on the weapon itself.

In addition to the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, East Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, North Korea, Hungary, and Yugoslavia have manufactured the AK-47. The selector markings on the right side of the receiver provide a ready means of identifying the country of origin
AK-74: Fast Assembly & Disassembly In Russian School

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So simple a child could use it — and they do

In the U.S. Armed Forces, troops are trained to disassemble and reassemble their weapon systems to identify any catastrophic failures or jams. This is a good exercise when you find yourself with a little downtime, and it’s been known to strike up a friendly race between troops or platoons.

In Russia, children are trained to disassemble and reassemble weapons in a similar fashion. They may not have enough funding to feed or house their own people, but they will spare no expense at preparing for a Western invasion. Take your training seriously because the Russians definitely are:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the US military loves the Hellfire missile

When it was first designed, the AGM-114 Hellfire missile was intended to give the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter a way to kill the Soviet tanks of World War II, replacing a combination of the AH-1 Cobra and the BGM-71 TOW missile. But the Hellfire has proven to be far more versatile.


Don’t get us wrong, the Hellfire was indeed a very capable tank killer. As many as 4,000 missiles were fired during Operation Desert Storm and as many as 90% of those hit their targets, which ranged from tanks to bunkers to radar sites.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
The Hellfire was test-fired from a version of the M113 armored personnel carrier. (US Army photo)

After Desert Storm, the missile was improved. One of the biggest improvements was the addition of a new means of guidance: the Longbow radar system. The Longbow radar is able to automatically search, detect, locate, classify, and prioritize targets in the air, on land, and at sea.

The Hellfire has been added to numerous other helicopters, notably Navy MH-60R and MH-60S Seahawks. It also has been added to the Navy’s littoral combat ships, and it has been tested for launch from a variety of ground vehicles, from the M113 to the High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle. The missile is so versatile, in fact, that they’re used for coastal defense by Norway and Sweden, and they’re also used on the Combat Boat 90, a Swedish coastal boat.

But the missile’s true versatility emerged in the War on Terror.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
A Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, fires an AGM-114M Hellfire missile near San Clemente Island, Calif., during a live-fire combat training exercise. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez)

The United States and Israel have used the Hellfire to take out a number of high-ranking terrorists. This includes Hamas leader Ahmed Yasin, Anwar al-Awlaki, and ISIS propagandist, “Jihadi John.” The Hellfire has been exported to over two dozen countries and it will likely be in service for a long time to come, including as an option for the Stryker Mobile Short-range Air Defense vehicle.

Learn more about the highly-versatile Hellfire in the video below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlV4ey_AEOw
MIGHTY MOVIES

Everything you need to know to start watching M*A*S*H

This article was sponsored by WGN America. Be sure to tune in to the All-Day All-Night M*A*S*H Marathon, Saturday, December 8th, starting at 9am/8am central.

The millennials out there know what I’m talking about. As kids, nothing made you keenly aware that your TV-watching session had run well past your bedtime quite like those distinctive opening chords and telltale yellow letters that meant a rerun of your parents’ favorite show was coming on.

But now that we’re all grown up and don’t need a constant stream of slapstick comedy, cutesy characters, and teenage drama to sustain our attention, it’s time to revisit and start binge watching one of the greatest television shows ever made — and I promise your dad didn’t tell me to write this.

Before you dive in (you’ll thank me later), here’s what you need to know to start watching M*A*S*H.


How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Inside a real MASH operating room during the Korean War, from a real-world Korean War doctor, Dr. Robert L. Emanuele of Chicago.

(Photo by Dr. Robert L. Emanuele)

A MASH was a real thing

In the Korean War, a MASH unit was a frontline medical unit, a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Wounded troops would be treated by a medic or corpsman, then taken to an aid station if necessary. Once there, if they needed more care, they would be evacuated, sometimes by the newly-developed helicopter, to a MASH for surgery. These units were as close as ten miles to the front.

What later became a movie and a legendary TV show, M*A*S*H got its start as a book, written by Richard Hornberger under the pen name Richard Hooker. Hornberger was a real-life surgeon in a MASH unit and the book documented a few things the author says were based on real events — though he never says which ones.

While the setting of the series is important, it’s all the characters that really drive the show. Here’s who you’ll meet:

Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce.

Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce

Hawkeye is a talented surgeon and pacifist from Maine who was drafted at the outset of the Korean War. He won’t use a weapon but he’ll let himself be sent to the front line if it means it’ll save a life. Like almost everyone in the 4077th, he enjoys a drink after work, even going as far as constructing a still in his tent, nicknamed “the Swamp.” His nickname comes from the book, The Last of the Mohicans.

Wayne Rogers plays Trapper John.

Capt. “Trapper” John McIntyre

Trapper is Hawkeye’s best friend on the camp for the first three seasons of the show (actor Wayne Rogers left the series after season three) before being replaced by Capt. BJ Hunnicutt. Trapper, a former football player at Dartmouth, was drafted from a hospital in Boston and was sent home from Korea before the end of the first year. He shares a tent with Hawkeye and Maj. Frank Burns, and spends his spare time drinking and chasing nurses.

Loretta Swit as Maj. Houlihan.

Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan

Major Houlihan is the chief nurse at the 4077th, a career member of the Army Nurse Corps, and a military brat – her father was an artillery officer. She’s a by-the-book kind of officer and the most capable nurse in the OR, but she’s carrying on an illegal relationship with Maj. Frank Burns.

With Frank, she is constantly battling the practical jokes from Hawkeye and Trapper and doesn’t respect the leadership style of the 4077th’s commander, Lt. Col. Henry Blake, who she is constantly trying to undermine.

Larry Linville as Major Burns.

Maj. Frank Burns

In the U.S., Frank Burns is an Army reservist with his own successful practice who married into a wealthy family in Indiana. In Korea, Major Burns is carrying on an illicit affair with Major Houlihan and, with her, trying to undermine the authority of Lt. Col. Blake. Despite his higher rank, Burns isn’t respected as a doctor, having flunked out of medical school twice. His actions in and out of the operating room reflect his ineptitude in medicine and in life.

McLean Stevenson as Lt. Col. Blake.

Lt. Col. Henry Blake

Henry Blake is an Army reservist and the commanding officer of the 4077th who was sent to Korea after asking a general if he took cream and sugar with a coffee enema. Blake is also a skilled surgeon but a chronic alcoholic. He’s a friend to Hawkeye and Trapper and puts medical needs ahead of Army formalities. He knows he’s not the best choice to be a commander of anything, but asserts his authority when needed.

Blake was sent home in the third season of the show and replaced by Col. Sherman Potter for the rest of the series. But the producers famously wrote a final scene into the third season finale that only Alan Alda knew about as they were filming the episode. It wasn’t until they finished shooting the regular script that the actors were told, and they filmed the final scene where Radar announces that Henry Blake’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan.

Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly 

Gary Burghoff was the only actor to play his character in both the 1970 M*A*S*H film and the CBS television show. He’s the company’s enlisted clerk, and one of the only two enlisted recurring characters, the other being Cpl. Max Klinger. His nickname comes from the fact that he acts on orders before they’re given and can predict things before they happen.

Cpl. Maxwell Klinger

Corporal Klinger was only supposed to be an extra in one episode, but viewers loved Jamie Farr’s character so much he was brought back in the regular cast for the rest of the show. Klinger was drafted from Toledo, Ohio, and is constantly looking for ways to get kicked out of the Army, most famously trying to be considered crazy and get a section eight discharge for wearing women’s clothes.

Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt 

Captain Hunnicutt was a young doctor fresh out of residency when he was drafted and replaced Trapper John at the beginning of the show’s fourth season. Where most of the other doctors are loose with their morals when it comes to women and war, Capt. Hunnicutt is true to his wife and the Hippocratic Oath.

He still enjoys having drinks with his colleagues, though.

Col. Sherman Potter

Colonel Sherman Potter is also a fourth season replacement, coming in for the dearly departed Lt. Col. Blake. Unlike Blake, Potter is a career U.S. Army surgeon who pays closer adherence to Army regulations – though hardly as strict as Maj. Houlihan and Maj. Burns would like. He fought in World War I as an enlisted cavalry troop at age 15 who was captured by the Germans. He later earned a commission after going to medical school in the years between World Wars. He was also in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

It’s not known how old Col. Potter is during the Korean War.

Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III 

Major Winchester is a classically-trained physician and surgeon from an aristocratic family who isn’t accustomed to the “meatball surgery” performed at a MASH unit. He enters the show in season six as a replacement for Frank Burns who went crazy after Maj. Houlihan got married to someone else and was promoted out of the Korean War for it.

Winchester gets stuck at the 4077th after winning so much money betting against his commanding officer in Tokyo that his CO exiles him to the Korean War. He’s a much smarter, more conniving foil to Hawkeye and BJ’s antics.

Father Mulcahy 

Father Mulcahy is an Irish-Catholic chaplain at the 4077th and is surprisingly non-judgemental about the extramarital affairs of the unit’s doctors and nurses. Even though most of the staff is not religious (and Klinger is an avowed atheist), everyone treats the Chaplain with respect – even more because he tends to win all the base betting contests and poker games.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Things like not saluting superior officers.

So, how do Army officers get away with all this stuff?

As you can imagine, talented surgeons were hard to find in the Army. Of course some existed, but in a war like the Korean War, the numbers of military surgeons working on the front lines were augmented by conscription – in other words, they were drafted. The doctors of a MASH unit were doctors first, then Army officers if time allowed.

Writers, actors, and producers of the TV show M*A*S*H actually spoke with and interviewed many MASH doctors at length to get ideas for the show, so at least some of the antics you see on the show were grounded in reality. Again, they never specify which ones.

Now that you’ve read this primer, the only thing left to do is dive into the show and experience it for yourself. And believe me, there’s a reason why the show captured the attention of an entire generation of TV fans.

Be sure to tune in to the All-Day All-Night M*A*S*H Marathon, Saturday, December 8th, starting at 9am/8am central.

Articles

8 more awesome nicknames that enemies gave the U.S. military

We’ve previously listed some awesome nicknames bestowed on the U.S. military by enemy forces, names like “The Bloody Bucket” that was bestowed on the 28th Infantry Regiment and their vicious tactics.


Here are 8 more unit nicknames from terrified enemies all proudly worn by U.S. military formations:

1. Walking Dead

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

The nickname “the Walking Dead,” was originally used by Ho Chi Minh to describe all Marines in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam, but the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, suffered and fought through more in that valley than nearly any other, losing 747 Marines and suffering thousands wounded in the war. Their normal unit strength was only 800.

While some have tried to change the unit’s name to “Walking Death,” Marines kept going back to “Walking Dead.”

2. Roosevelt’s SS

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
The 30th Infantry Division near La Gleize, Belgium. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The 30th Infantry Division was pitted against Germany’s elite 1st SS Division over and over. First at St. Lo and then Mortain in France and finally in the Battle of the Bulge. The 30th defeated the 1st SS every time, leading to the German high command dubbing them “Roosevelt’s SS Troops.”

3. Rakkasans

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

A group of soldiers in occupied Japan were trying to talk to locals when the translator had to figure out how to describe paratroopers to the locals. He went with Rakkasans which meant, “falling down umbrella men.” The locals found the construction clumsy but funny and they made it a permanent nickname.

4. The Red Devils or Red Bulls

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
A Red Bulls soldier in Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Kristina L. Gupton)

Originally known as “The Sandstorm Division,” the 34th Infantry Division’s iconic steer skull patch led to German soldiers in Italy referring to it as the “Red Devils” or “Red Bulls.” The 34th adopted “Red Bulls” as their official nickname.

5. Devils Brigade

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
First Special Service Force commandos prepare for a nighttime patrol near Anzio in 1944. The soldiers blackened their faces to reduce their visibility in the dark. (Photo: Canadian Lt. C.E. Nye)

One of the greatest fighting forces of World War II was the First Special Service Force, an American-Canadian joint commando unit. According to legend, a German diary was found at Anzio that referred to the legendary men as “The black devils.” The name was applied to the unit as both “The Devils Brigade” and “The Devil’s Brigade.”

6. Iron Men of Metz

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
Americans escort two captured German prisoners from the Metz garrison in 1944. (Photo: Public Domain)

The city of Metz in the northeast of France had repelled invaders without a single defeat since 451 A.D. when America decided to crack its teeth on it in 1944. The 95th Infantry Division’s success against the Germans got the nickname “The Bravest of the Brave.” The division preferred a nickname from the Germans, “The Iron Men of Metz.”

7. Roosevelt’s Butchers

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
Tanks from the 4th Armored Divisions and American infantry move through Alsace-Lorraine in World War II. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

The German command referred to the 4th Armored Division as elite, but their propagandists called them “Roosevelt’s Highest Paid Butchers.” The “Highest Paid” part was dropped and the 4th used “Roosevelt’s Butchers.”

8. The Little Seahorse

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete
Sherman tanks of the British Army fire from prepared positions on the Anzio beachhead. The 36th Engineer Regiment was specially trained in amphibious assaults like the Anzio landings. (Photo: British Army Sgt. Radford)

The 36th Engineer Regiment was tasked with conducting and supporting amphibious assaults in World War II and hit the beaches at Morocco, Sicily, Naples, Anzio, and Southern France. Their specialty was symbolized by a seahorse on their patch and, after the regiment held 7 miles of frontline at Anzio, the Germans nicknamed them “The Little Seahorse Division.”

“Division” was dropped since the unit was a regiment and later a brigade but has never grown to a full division.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A US civilian tried to get revenge in Afghanistan with a sword

Gary Brooks Faulkner, a construction worker from Colorado, was detained by police with a pistol and a sword. Except for the sword, this would not be unusual in Colorado. But he wasn’t in Colorado. He was in Pakistan, and he was there to avenge the 9/11 terrorist attacks by taking a sword to the world’s most wanted man.


When the U.S. Army adopted the motto “Army of One,” a lot of soldiers laughed. But one American civilian seemed to have taken it to heart. He wasn’t ashamed of his self-imposed mission. He was proud of it. Even when he was arrested in the Chitral District of Pakistan while trying to cross into Afghanistan, he didn’t hide it.

“He told the investigating officer he was going to Afghanistan to get Osama. At first we thought he was mentally deranged,” said Muhammad Jaffar Khan, the Chitral police chief. But the gun-toting, sword-wielding Californian was totally serious. He even brought along night vision goggles. The American was even under armed guard while staying in Pakistan under the guise of being an everyday tourist. One night, he slipped away from his guard and made a run for the border.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Faulkner was arrested in Pakistan back in 2010 and had no idea – like the rest of the world – that Osama bin Laden wasn’t even in Afghanistan at the time. Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was just a ten-hour drive from the Kalash Valley, where Faulkner was staying. There wasn’t even a border to cross or policemen to arrest him or take away his samurai sword.

But the American had no idea where he was going. He told police he brought the Bible along with him and that God would guide him to where Osama bin Laden was hiding, and allow him America’s vengeance. Or at least allow him to capture the world’s most wanted terrorist. But of course, we all know how OBL’s story ends.

Faulkner’s ends with a Nic Cage movie.

Gary Brooks Faulkner, however, was turned over to the U.S. State Department in Pakistan and repatriated home to Colorado, where he was a guest on various talk shows, including The View and The Late Show with David Letterman, before going back to a regular life of managing his brother’s apartment complex. Then one day, a tenant who was being evicted tried to break into his apartment with three of her friends. She tried to intimidate a man who hunted Osama bin Laden with a sword.

He fired a shot at his assailants, but that shot brought the police, who confiscated his weapons and discovered he was a convicted felon. That shot eventually landed Faulkner in jail.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

The US Navy is going to arm all of its destroyers with hypersonic missiles, a top Trump official says

The US Navy is going to eventually arm all of its destroyers with hypersonic missiles that are still being developed, White House national security advisor Robert O’Brien said Wednesday, according to Defense News.

“The Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) program will provide hypersonic missile capability to hold targets at risk from longer ranges,” O’Brien said at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.


“This capability,” he continued, “will be deployed first on our newer Virginia-class submarines and the Zumwalt-class destroyers. Eventually, all three flights of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers will field this capability.”

Hypersonic missiles — high-speed weapons able to evade traditional missile-defense systems — are a key area of competition between the three great powers. Earlier this month, Russia test-fired its Tsirkon hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile from the frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov.

Given the ongoing hypersonic missile arms race, it is easy to see why the US Navy might want hypersonic missiles for its destroyers, something the Navy has previously discussed, but there are challenges.

The CPS missile is a combination of the developmental Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) and a two-stage booster, according to the Navy’s fiscal year 2021 budget overview.

Newer Zumwalt-class destroyers have larger vertical launch system (VLS) cells that could accommodate a large diameter missile with a hypersonic warhead in a boost-glide vehicle configuration, but older Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have much smaller VLS cells that would need to be modified or replaced altogether.

“I think it’s a terrible idea to try to outfit these destroyers with hypersonic missiles,” Bryan Clark, a retired Navy officer and defense expert at the Hudson Institute told Insider. Retrofitting dozens of Navy Arleigh Burkes to carry new hypersonic missiles would be expensive, he said.

What the Russian military appears to be doing is developing a new hypersonic missile to fit existing warships. The US military would be going about this in reverse, refitting existing ships to suit a new missile, a weapon that could be quickly replaced by a smaller, cheaper alternative down the road given the rapid pace of technological development.

“If the Navy makes this massive investment in retrofitting only to find in five years that these smaller weapons are now emerging, that money will be largely wasted,” Clark said, adding that the plan “doesn’t make sense.”

In addition to the steep costs of retrofitting dozens of destroyers and arming them with expensive missiles, of which the Navy may only be able to afford limited numbers, other challenges include taking warships offline and tying up shipyards for extended periods of time, potentially hindering other repair work.

Changes risk making the 500-ship plan ‘unaffordable’

Defense News reported that O’Brien also pushed the Trump administration’s vision for a 500-ship Navy, a vision that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper unveiled earlier this month to counter China’s growing naval force.

The plan, known as “Battle Force 2045,” calls for a mixture of manned and unmanned vessels and is based on recommendations from the Hudson Institute, which presented what Clark said was an affordable path to a 500-ship Navy.

A major difference between the Pentagon’s plan and the Hudson Institute study is that the Pentagon wants to build a larger submarine force, which could drive up sustainment costs, making the vision impossible to realize from a cost perspective. Each Virginia-class attack submarine with a larger missile launcher is estimated to cost .2 billion.

Retrofitting destroyers to carry hypersonic missiles would pull away funding as well. “This missile launcher thing, the additional submarines, all the additional ornaments that the Navy is looking at hanging on this fleet are going to make it unaffordable,” Clark said.

He argued that the Navy should focus on arming Virginia-class submarines with hypersonic missiles and let the destroyers be. “You don’t have to rebuild the ship to do it,” Clark explained. “That makes more sense. The Navy should be pursuing that for its boost-glide weapons.”

“That would be sufficient to provide maritime launch capability to complement what the Air Force and the Army are doing,” he said. Both the Army and the Air Force have been pursuing hypersonic weapons for existing launch platforms, such as the AGM-183 ARRW for the B-52 Stratofortress bomber.

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Watch this EOD guy dismantle an IED with a pickaxe and pliers

We’re spending a lot of time on the internet these days watching plenty of useless information — cat videos, TikToks, Tiger King all the Netflix in the land. Finally, here’s something useful, with a heart-stopping, compelling element: an EOD badass dismantling IEDs with only a pickaxe and pliers and no protective equipment. DISCLAIMER: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. OR ANYWHERE.


Forget everything you thought you knew about dismantling IEDs. As this Peshmerga EOD guy clearly shows, all you need is a pickaxe and a pair of pliers.pic.twitter.com/hZOoP9m291

twitter.com

Researcher Hugo Kaaman posted a clip of a “Peshmerga EOD guy” dismantling IEDs with only a pickaxe and a pair of pliers (Did we mention? Do not try this!). After a little more digging, another Twitter user cited that the subject was Major Jamal Bawari who is/was a part of a Peshmerga EOD unit.

BBC Four, Storyville did a documentary on ‘Crazy Fakhir’, a Kurdish colonel in the Iraqi army and legendary bomb disposal expert, who was in the same unit as Jamal, titled “Hurt Locker Hero” in 2018.

The description of the documentary on BBC Four is: The heart-stopping story of ‘Crazy Fakhir’, a Kurdish colonel in the Iraqi army and legendary bomb disposal expert who single-handedly disarmed thousands of landmines across the country with just a pocket knife and a pair of wire clippers.

Between the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the chaos and destruction wreaked by IS ten years later, Fahkir’s unwavering bravery saved thousands of lives throughout Iraq. ‘Hurt Locker Hero’ tells Fakhir’s story through the raw and visceral amateur footage captured by his soldiers on a camcorder intended for filming family occasions. Instead, it records Fakhir endlessly snipping wires, searching family homes and digging out roadside IEDs, insisting it’s too dangerous to wait hours for the highly trained American bomb disposal teams to arrive.

Whilst their father and husband becomes a hero, Fahkir’s wife and eight children struggle to make ends meet and worry endlessly about his safety. Fakhir will be remembered as the man who risked his life to save others -‘If I fail, only I die, but if I succeed, I can save hundreds of people.’.

This is definitely better than cat videos.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The top 10 most popular cars among service members

America has a car culture. Our country is connected by highways and interstates. For a teenager, a driver’s license and a set of wheels is a passport to freedom on the open road. For service members, packing up the car and driving cross country is just a standard PCS move. As such, the cars we buy need to be dependable, practical and a bit of efficiency never hurts either. USAA put together a list of the top 10 vehicles purchased by service members for 2019. The list is based on internal data from active duty and former military members who purchased a car through the USAA car buying service, obtained an auto loan through USAA, or added a vehicle to their USAA insurance policy between January 1 and August 31, 2019. Note that the list does not cover vehicle specifics like model year or trim level.


How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Subaru)

Subaru Outback

Derived from the Subaru Legacy, the Outback is a safe, practical, and reliable mode of transportation which makes it an easy pick for the discerning servicemember. Originally classified as a station wagon, the Outback was reclassified as a crossover in the 2015 model year. It has received the Top Safety Pick Award from the IIHs and a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. With its large cargo space, the Outback is PCS-friendly and its torquay boxer engine mated to an all-wheel drive drivetrain means that you’ll be able to get around just fine when your assignment manager tricks you into moving to the frozen landscape of Fort Drum.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Toyota)

Toyota Corolla

In 2016, the Toyota Corolla overtook the Volkswagen Beetle as the best-selling automobile in the world when it reached 44 million units sold. The name has been used across a range of vehicles over the years, but we know it best in the US as a reliable and affordable front-wheel drive compact car. While it’s not going to win any awards for styling or performance (although Toyota’s marketing would like you to think otherwise), no one can deny the Corolla’s legendary reliability. Even if you buy a used model with your enlistment bonus, a Corolla can last you through to retirement and onwards.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Toyota)

Toyota RAV4

Originally based on the underpinnings of the Corolla, the RAV4 was one of the first compact crossover SUVs in the US market. While not a serious off-roader by any means, its reliable 4-cylinder engine provides enough power to move you around town while hauling more of your stuff than you could fit in the aforementioned Corolla. Today, the RAV4 offers a hybrid trim and comes equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen, Entune 3.0, Apple Carplay, and Amazon Alexa as standard; plenty of bang for your government salary buck.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Honda)

Honda Accord

Yes, there’s been a million-mile Chevy. Of course there’s a million-mile model of the aforementioned Corolla. There’s even a million-mile Porsche out there. But, the Accord can claim two million-mile examples (one from 1990 and another from 2000). Its status as one of the world’s most reliable vehicles has led to the Accord’s inclusion on the Car and Driver 10Best list a record 30 times. In recent years, the rising popularity of crossover SUVs has led to a decline in 4-door sedan sales. Honda responded by refreshing the Accord for the 2018 model year and boy did it work. Beyond its sleek, almost European styling, the latest Accord offers a surprising amount of cargo space for a mid-size sedan and a suite of safety features which earned it an IIHS Top Safety Pick and 2018’s North American Car of the Year. For the service member that wants an affordable, practical, and sporty car, the Accord can be had with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine derived from the same block as the famous Honda Civic Type-R. The Accord is also one of the few vehicles you can buy today with the option of a manual transmission. Just keep your head on a swivel for MPs.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Toyota)

Toyota Camry

Compared to the Camry, the Accord is a sales disaster. In 2007, the Camry outsold the Accord by a margin of 392,231 units. In fact, the Camry has been the best-selling car (not vehicle; don’t worry truck fans, we’ll get there) in America from 1997 to 2019 with the exception of 2001 when it was edged out by the Accord with a margin of just over 24,000 units. Like the smaller Corolla, the Camry is famed for its reliability. Suffering from a loss of market share to crossover SUVs like the Accord, the Camry received a refresh in 2017, though the styling cues are not as much of a departure as the Accord’s. However, Toyota did introduce a TRD trim and a two-tone paint scheme for drivers who want to stand out a bit more. Yes, it’s a bit vanilla, but a Camry will ferry you between duty stations no problem and get great gas mileage doing it.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Toyota)

Toyota Tacoma

Yes, it’s another Japanese car, but at least this one’s a truck. Originally classified as a compact pickup, the Tacoma has dominated the midsize pickup market in the US…partly because it didn’t have much competition until Chevy and Ford revived their Colorado and Ranger pickups respectively. But that’s not to say that the Tacoma hasn’t earned its reputation. After all, its lineage can be traced back to the unkillable Toyota Hilux pickup. In 2005, the Tacoma was named Motor Trend‘s Truck of the Year. Overall, the Tacoma is a versatile pick for a service member’s vehicle. It’s capable enough to get you through a posting at Minot AFB or JBER, yet economical enough that filling the tank won’t break the bank if you get sent to somewhere to somewhere with a higher cost of living like San Diego or Hawaii.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Dodge)

Dodge Ram

The Ram marks the end of the Japanese brands on this list. And yes, the Ram Trucks brand has split off from the Dodge brand under Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Whatever you call it, the Ram pickup is a common sight on military bases, often seen in a matte black trim. Ram trucks have been named Motor Trend‘s Truck of the Year a total of seven times, including 2019 and 2020. Ram trucks also offer plenty of torque if you decide to haul a boat or RV between duty stations.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Chevrolet)

Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevy Silverado is arguably the most popular truck in country music, both in lyrics (as Chevy or Silverado) and in music videos. Even if you’re not a fan of country, the Silverado is an extremely popular and capable truck, consistently ranking as one of the best-selling vehicles in the United States. It’s worth noting that the USAA list does differentiate between the Silverado and its upscale GMC counterpart, the Sierra. The Silverado delivers a very capable package of power and performance for your towing needs. It also serves as an excellent candidate for a lift kit so you can cruise around base in style while blasting Florida Georgia Line from your speakers.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Wrangler)

Jeep Wrangler

These things are everywhere. Seriously, I don’t think there’s a single military base in the United States that doesn’t have a Jeep Wrangler driving around it. I’ve even seen one in Japan. Servicemembers love their Jeeps and the Jeep community (see Jeep wave). Some might argue that the military’s love affair with the Jeep is only natural given the use of the Willys MB Jeep in WWII. However, without going into it, the Wrangler is a descendent of the famed military vehicle in name only. Regardless of this, the Jeep Wrangler has evolved into a cultural icon in its own right. Whether you want two doors, four doors, soft-top, hard-top, doors on, or doors off, Jeep Wranglers offer plenty of versatility and options to their drivers. You can even get a pickup in the form of the Jeep Gladiator. Servicemembers enjoy customizing their Jeeps with militaristic star roundels, reversed American flags, and even the occasional jerry can. Just don’t expect award-winning mpg from one of these.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

(Ford)

Ford F-150

I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone. After all, the Ford F-Series has been the best-selling pickup truck in America since 1977 and the best-selling vehicle since 1981. If you lined up every F-Series truck variant sold bumper to bumper, they would circle the globe almost four times. In 2017, an F-Series truck was sold every 35 seconds. Ford has achieved such incredible sales figures by providing consumers with the best all-round truck. Fuel efficiency is good enough to drive it daily without bleeding yourmeg wallet dry. That said, the F-150 is still capable enough to haul around the family and your favorite weekend toys. Perhaps its greatest advantage is simply its brand image. Ketchup is Heinz. Tissues are Kleenex. Trucks are Fords. I know this will garner some hate from the Silverado and Ram fans out there, so I’d like to remind readers that this is simply an analysis of the numbers. I’m also not a truck owner, so I’ve got no skin in the game.

So there you have it. Those are the top 10 servicemember vehicles in 2019. It’s worth noting that the USAA list can also be filtered by branch. For example the Toyota Highlander didn’t make the overall military list, but it did take the #8 spots for the Air Force and Coast Guard. Similarly, the Chevy Equinox was ranked #10 amongst Army personnel and the F-250 ranked #10 for the Marine Corps. Only the Navy list featured all 10 vehicles from the overall military list, with the only difference being that the Dodge Ram and Chevy Silverado switch spots between #3 and #4. Regardless of what you drive, just make sure it can get you through your next PCS without incident. And if you’re in the market for your first vehicle after joining the military, try to avoid used car lots just off base, loan sharks are not your friends, and a high interest rate is not a good thing.

MIGHTY TRENDING

SF soldier arrested as part of potentially massive drug ring

Early August 2018, a decorated US Army Special Force soldier was arrested and charged in relation to an attempt to smuggle 90 pounds of cocaine from Colombia to Florida, but he may just be one player in a multimillion-dollar operation.

Army Master Sgt. Daniel Gould was arrested in Florida on Aug. 13, 2018, in connection with an attempt to bring 90 pounds of cocaine into the US on a military aircraft, defense officials told NBC News early August 2018. That haul would be worth several million dollars on US streets.


Gould was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group based at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. The group’s area of responsibility is Latin America south of Mexico and the waters surrounding Central and South America. The unit is heavily involved in counter-drug operations in the region.

Gould is a veteran of Afghanistan, where he earned a Silver Star, the Army’s third-highest award, for fending off an ambush in late 2008.

His arrest came after US Drug Enforcement Administration agents found more than 90 pounds of cocaine in two backpacks aboard a military airplane that was bound for Florida. A military official told NBC News that a service member found the drugs and alerted authorities while the plane was still in Colombia.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

A US sniper team assigned to the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group competes in an unknown-distance event in Colombia during the Fuerzas Comando competition, July 26, 2014.

(US Army photo by Master Sgt. Alejandro Licea)

Gould had been on vacation in the city of Cali in southwest Colombia the week prior to his arrest. He was already back in the US when the drugs were discovered. Officials told NBC News that someone else put the two backpacks on the plane in Colombia but could not say whether that person was complicit in the smuggling attempt.

Now the investigation has reportedly turned to finding out what Gould was doing in Colombia during that vacation, whether others were involved in the smuggling attempt, and if this plot was undertaken by a larger network that has previously been linked to US military personnel.

According to an Aug. 26, 2018 report by Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, DEA investigators in Colombia are focusing on establishing who may have helped Gould acquire and transport the cocaine and whether military personnel involved in getting the drugs onto a plane knew what was going on.

Gould reportedly planned to leave Colombia on a commercial flight on Aug. 12, 2018, connecting through Miami before arriving at Fort Walton Beach, which is just a few minutes’ drive from Eglin Air Force Base.

However, according to El Tiempo, he changed his plans abruptly, switching his final destination to Pensacola, about an hour’s drive from his original destination — which may indicate he was aware the drugs had been discovered.

Investigators in Colombia are also trying to establish whether Gould had any connection to a trafficking network uncovered after the Oct. 2011 arrest of Lemar Burton, a US sailor caught with 11 pounds of cocaine in his luggage as he boarded a flight from Colombia to Europe.

Burton, assigned to Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily at the time, was in Colombia on personal leave, the US Embassy in Bogota said after his arrest. His arrest prompted an investigation that uncovered an international smuggling ring operating out of airports in Cali and Bogota, moving drugs to Europe.

The ring relied on couriers, mainly foreigners, to carry drugs in parcels like suitcases with false bottoms. In the months after Burton’s arrest, arrests were made in the US and Colombia. Several other US citizens were involved.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

A Blackhawk helicopter supports the US Army’s 7th Special Forces Group and Naval Special Warfare members during an exercise at in El Salvador, Dec. 2, 2016.

(US Army photo by Master Sgt. Kerri Spero)

The drugs Burton and Gould were attempting to transport were sourced to Buenaventura and Tumaco, two main drug-producing regions on Colombia’s Pacific coast that are part of the area in which Gould’s unit was supporting anti-drug operations, according to El Tiempo.

A source with knowledge of the case told El Tiempo that Colombian authorities had not been given information about the investigation and that the military aircraft in question did not leave from a Colombian base. A military source told the paper that it was not clear which US plane in Colombia was involved.

A DEA spokesman said the agency does not comment on ongoing investigations. A spokeswoman for the US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida said the office had no public information to offer about the case.

A spokesman for US Army Special Operations Command, which oversees the 7th Special Operations Group, said a service member was being investigated and that the DEA was leading the probe but declined to comment further. The command has said it was cooperating with law-enforcement on the case.

The investigation is ongoing and the nature of Gould’s involvement remains uncertain, but US military personnel getting involved in drug smuggling, particularly in Colombia, is not unheard of.

“It’s not unusual for servicemen to take advantage of the drug trade to make a lot of money,” said Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for DEA.

They “have access to these foreign countries. They have contacts, and a lot of times they actually smuggle the drugs on military aircraft,” Vigil added, pointing to cases he was involved in during the 1970s in which US service members smuggled heroin from Southeast Asia to the US, often carrying it in their personal luggage.

Authorities are trying to determine the timeline, the source of supply, and other people who may have been involved, Vigil said, adding that Gould may have gotten involved through his official duties or may have been connected with criminal groups, like remnants of the Cali or Valle de Cauca cartels, through personal contacts.

The smuggling attempt uncovered this month seemed “very sloppy,” suggesting those involved were “just getting into the business,” Vigil said.

“Anybody with a great knowledge [of trafficking] would’ve used a different transportation method or covered their tracks a little better.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

These 4 brothers were heroes of the American Revolution

There were thousands of families that sent sons, fathers, brothers, and—when the families allowed it—daughters and sisters. But one family with five sons sent four of them to war as officers in the Revolution, and they fought at some of America’s crucial battles, eventually earning special honors from Gen. George Washington at Yorktown.


How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

Col. Richard Butler, the eldest brother, later served as a general and died fighting Native Americans after the Revolutionary War.

(John Trumbull)

The Butler Family was born to Thomas Butler and his wife Eleanor. Thomas was a gunsmith and a patron of the church as well as an immigrant to America. He moved with his family from County Wicklow, Ireland, to the American Colonies in 1748 and settled in Pennsylvania. The older brothers, William and Richard, emigrated with their parents while Thomas Jr., Percival, and Edward were born in the colonies.

Obviously, this was a fateful time to set up life in the colonies. And, soon enough, the four elder brothers were serving in the Continental Army. Richard was recommended for commission as a major in 1776, and he received it. He was quickly promoted to lieutenant colonel and sent to Morgan’s Riflemen, The 11th Virginia Regiment. He received credit for the constant state of readiness in that unit.

More positions and commands followed. He survived Simcoe’s Rangers’ raids near Williamsburg and then was a part of the American victory at Saratoga. He then led troops in the assault on the British positions at Yorktown and, when British Gen. Charles Cornwallis was forced to surrender, Washington selected Richard to plant the first American flag on the former British fortifications. Baron von Steuben ultimately took the honor for himself, though.

How a US Air Force veteran went from life-altering disability to Gold Medal adaptive athlete

The Battle of Monmouth, where three of the Butler brothers fought.

(Emanuel Leutze)

Richard’s younger brother William was commissioned as a captain in 1776 and promoted to major during October of that year. He fought in Canada and, after promotion to lieutenant colonel, at Monmouth. He then fought defensive actions against Native American tribes and took part in the successful Sullivan-Clinton Expedition to break the Iroquois Confederacy and its British allies in 1779.

The third brother, Thomas, was commissioned as a first lieutenant in early 1776 and promoted to captain later that year. His bravery at the Battle of Brandywine allowed him to rally retreating Colonials and stop a British thrust, earning him accolades from Washington. Later, he fought at Monmouth and was cited for defending a draw against severe attack, allowing his older brother Richard to escape as the British forces were tied up.

(Fun fact about Thomas: He was court-martialed in 1803 for multiple charges but defeated all of them except for “wearing his hair.” Basically, he wore a Federalist wig and refused to take it off for the Army.)

The youngest brother to fight in the war was Percival, who was commissioned as a first lieutenant in 1777 at the age of 18. He fought at Monmouth with two of his brothers after a winter at Valley Forge.

All of this led to the Butlers being specially praised by senior leaders. Washington gave a toast during a victory banquet, “To the Butlers and their five sons!” And Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, said, “When I wanted a thing done well, I had a Butler do it.”

Thomas, the men’s father, fought in the Revolutionary War as well and the youngest brother, Edward, fought for the U.S. and died in combat in 1791.