No right to quit - Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

FORT GORDON, Ga. – Fort Gordon honored Black History Month with a command program Monday in Darling Hall. The program was hosted by Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and broadcasted live on Facebook to help maximize attendance.

The theme for this year’s observance is “Honor, Remember, Inspire.”

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Phillip Brashear, 80th Training Command, shows a photo of his father with Cuba Gooding Jr. The actor played his father in the movie Men of Honor, which was released in 2000 – six years before Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear passed away. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs )

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Phillip Brashear of the 80th Training Command, a U.S. Army Reserve unit based in Richmond, Virginia, served as the program’s guest speaker. Brashear is the third-born son of the late Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, who is the subject of the well-renowned film “Men of Honor,” and whose role is played by actor Cuba Gooding Jr.

Phillip said he likes to share his father’s story in hopes of inspiring others to overcome all adversity.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Phillip Brashear, 80th Training Command, shows photos of his father enduring going through a series of movements required by the Navy to prove that his father was fit to return to active-duty following an injury that cost him his left leg. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs )

Born in 1931 to a family of sharecroppers in Kentucky, Phillip said that his father faced many obstacles during his lifetime. But Carl refused to let them get in the way of setting out to accomplish what he believed God had intended for him.

With barely an eighth grade level education, Carl enlisted in the Navy in 1948 at age 17.

“Race, poverty, and illiteracy were three things that my father had to face before he finally joined the Navy to try to do better in his life … three things still affect every country today,” Phillip said.

But his obstacles were far from over. Even among the ranks, racism was rampant. Being a Black man during that time meant career paths in the military were very limited. But Carl set his sights on becoming a diver and succeeded in 1954, making him the first African American Navy diver.

About 12 years into his career, Phillip’s father was involved in a military operation off the coast of Spain where he was sent in to assist with bomb recovery. During the operation, Carl suffered an injury that later required his lower left leg be amputated. The injured diver could have decided that was the end of his military career, but he refused. Instead, he endured months of pain and rehabilitation, determined to prove to the Navy he could still perform his duties.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy
Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear is seen in this photo climbing a wall ladder with weights strapped to his back while wearing dress shoes and his prosthetic leg. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs )

“At any point, my father could’ve said, ‘This is too much for one man to bear,’ but my father wasn’t built like that, and he wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Phillip said. “My father said, ‘You know what? What’s for me is for me, and what God told me I could accomplish, I can accomplish despite.’”

The following year, in 1967, Carl returned, making him the first amputee to return to active-duty after the loss of a leg.

“If the Navy saw any fault in his abilities, the Navy was going to retire him,” he said. “He struggled and he endured, and he stayed in shape so that he could do what he had to do.”

“He knew in his heart that he didn’t want to quit, and he knew he had faith and God on his side; he overcame,” Phillip said of his father. “We don’t have the right to quit. No matter how hard we think we’ve got it, there’s always somebody who’s got it worse. Always.”

Phillip showed photographs to the audience of his father during physical rehabilitation. The images illustrated some of the obstacles he faced including donning a 300-pound dive suit in harsh conditions, and climbing a metal staircase with weights over his head while wearing dress shoes. Had he slipped and fallen, Phillip believes the Navy would have discharged his father.

In doing so, Phillip said that his father proved “nobody can take your goals away from you.” It was one countless life lessons he carries with him and shares with others.

Carl continued his service as a re-certified Navy diver until 1979, when he retired. Although the senior Brashear received an honorable discharge, Phillip said that his father admitted to having an alcohol addiction and sought help prior to his discharge – yet another hurdle he was able to overcome.

“Obstacle in the way? Deal with it. Move it, knock it down, go around it, obliterate it,” Phillip said. “It’s not a sin to get knocked down. It’s a sin to stay down.”

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy
Col. Carlene A. S Blanding, Eisenhower Army Medical Center commander, gives closing remarks during Monday’s African American/Black History Month command program. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs )

The elder Brashear passed away in 2006, but his legacy lives on in the stories his family shares and in multiple physical forms throughout Kentucky, such as the Carl Brashear Memorial Bridge in Tonieville, Kentucky and a marble statue in the Kentucky State Capitol Rotunda.

Reflecting on what Phillip shared, Col. Carlene A. S Blanding, EAMC commander, said it occurred to her that people “have no reason to not succeed.”

“It’s about action, and I think CW5 Brashear has laid the path of his father’s story for all of us,” Blanding said. “We have great opportunities, and it is our responsibility to make sure we capitalize on those opportunities.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

US soldier in Afghanistan aims to be first-generation American

Spc. Mohamed Sullaiman joined the U.S. Army from Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 2015. He cites that he was, “inspired as an old man,” but Sullaiman chose to serve not just for himself, he also knew it could give his family a better life.

“I am here working for my family,” said Sullaiman, who deployed to Afghanistan with the Rock Battalion in early spring 2018 to fight for the country he now calls his own.

Three years ago, Sullaiman graduated from basic training with more than just a rank, he earned the right to become a U.S. citizen. Since then, he has excelled as a soldier and a leader.


“Spc. Sullaiman is a fit, inspired, disciplined train and truly inspirational soldier,” said 1st Lt. Gerald Prater, Sullaiman’s platoon leader, “He is an outstanding contributor to the organization.”

A large part of his motivation to be a standout soldier is the hope to one day bring his whole family to the United States. While Sullaiman has served on active duty for the last three years, his wife and two children still live in Freetown. His wife is raising their two children since Sullaiman joined the Army in 2015.

Sullaiman hopes the opportunities available to Americans will open new doors for his wife and children — opportunities to escape poverty and tribal rivalry and exchange them for security and freedom.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Spc. Mohamed Sullaiman, an infantryman, from 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division returns from conducting combat operations in Kabul Province, Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army courtesy photo by 1st. Stryker Brigade Combat Team)

Having been away from his family for three years, most recently in Afghanistan, Sullaiman understands the importance of constant communication, “I try hard to talk to them every night so they know that everything is okay. That I’m alright.” He also contacts the State Department regularly to keep in step with the process for his family’s permanent resident visa.

Sullaiman has kept his spirits high despite the separation, “I have a special prayer every night at midnight for an hour to ask help from Allah to guide me in the right way. He’s helping me not lose faith. It’s just a matter of time. I’m still going to keep praying until it finally happens.”

A devout Muslim, Sullaiman fasted during Ramadan despite patrolling daily in the July heat. “It wasn’t really easy. There were a lot of challenges but I overcame them.”

His determination is evident whether he’s serving overseas or in the United States. While it’s easy to save money for his family while deployed, Sullaiman, who turned 36 in June 2018, lives in the barracks and stays within his paycheck so he can send money to his family every month. He doesn’t own a car and visits his family once a year, “Depending on how much money I save,” he says.

Sullaiman exudes optimism, and plans on taking three weeks off after deployment to visit his family. His goal, with full support from his leadership, is to return with his family after his much deserved leave. When asked about what it will be like when his family joins him in the United States, “I’ll be one of the happiest men. I will say thanks to Allah for everything.”

Sullaiman continues to work alongside his chain of command to bring his family to the United States.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

That time when Green Berets who avenged 9/11 on horseback recreated this legendary WWII jump

Before D-Day, on June 5, 1944, some 90 teams of two to four men parachuted into Nazi-occupied France. They were members of the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessors of both the CIA and the modern-day Army Special Forces. These OSS teams were called “Jedburgh” teams and were highly skilled in European languages, parachuting, amphibious operations, skiing, mountain climbing, radio operations, Morse code, small arms, navigation, hand-to-hand combat, explosives, and espionage. They would need all of it.

The OSS teams’ job was to link up with resistance fighters in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to coordinate Allied airdrops, conduct sabotage operations, and roll out the red carpet for the Allied advance into Germany. D-Day was to be the “Jeds'” trial by fire.


No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

The Jedburghs preparing to jump before D-Day.

Fast forward to 75 years later: Europe is no longer a fortress and the OSS has since evolved into both the CIA and the US Army’s Special Forces. To honor that tradition, a team of Army Special Forces veterans, including SOF legend and 2017 Bull Simons Award Winner CSM Rick Lamb, are planning to recreate the Jedburghs’ famous nighttime jumps into Europe in June 2019 and those veterans just happen to be members of the ODA that rode into Afghanistan on horseback in the days following the 9/11 attacks — they are Team American Freedom.

If the name “American Freedom” sounds familiar, it’s because they’re also the founders of American Freedom Distillery, a Florida-based premium spirits brand, makers of Horse Soldier Bourbon and Rekker Rum. And it’s not only the Special Forces veterans jumping from the lead aircraft on June 5th, they’re in good company. Joining them in the jump will be retired Army Ranger Bill Dunham, who lost a leg in Panama in 1989, the Gold Star mother of another Army Ranger and some of her late son’s fellow Rangers, and a 97-year-old World War II veteran.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

The American Freedom Distillery Team

“This group will represent every major known and unknown conflict for the past 30 years – every group who inserted early and fought with little recognition,” says American Freedom co-founder and Special Forces vet Scott Neill. “This is the last big World War II anniversary (other than VJ Day) that World War II vets and these generation will share. The very special part is that we will also share this with our families. Our wives who took care of the home front and our kids who watched daddy go away again and again. It’s a way to show our family why we did it.”

For the entire summer of 2019, France and England will be celebrating the D-Day landings and the start of the liberation of Europe. The D-Day airdrop is just the beginning, other events will include parades, military encampments, and showcases featuring World War II uniforms.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Good work if you can get it.

The team is set to stage out of Cherbourg, France and tour some of the areas where the most intense fighting occurred. On June 5th, they will jump out of a C-47 Skytrain, just like their forebears did 75 years ago, and hit the dropzone at around 11a.m. They won’t be coming empty-handed. They will also be dropping a barrel of their Horse Soldier Bourbon to support the festivities on the ground as 200 more jumpers hit the drop zone throughout the day.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

(Image courtesy of Scott Neil, American Freedom Distillery)

If you want to support Team American Freedom as they remember the brave men who landed behind enemy lines a full day before the Allied invasion of Europe, you can help by contributing to their GoFundMe page. You will be enabling generations of special operators, CIA veterans, and Gold Star Families, many of who have lead insertions into modern day areas of operations attend this historic event.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy
MIGHTY CULTURE

Pilot brings his father’s remains home after Vietnam War

A pilot with Southwest Airlines flew a particularly meaningful flight on Aug. 8, 2019, when he returned his father’s remains home from Vietnam.

Southwest Capt. Bryan Knight was five years old in 1967 when he last saw his father, Col. Roy Knight. He and his family made a trip to Dallas Love Field Airport from their home in North Texas to see his father off as he left for the Vietnam War. The elder Knight, an A-1E fighter pilot with the US Air Force, was shot down a few months later.

There was a search-and-rescue attempt, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, but Knight could not be found, and the search was called off because of intense hostile fire at the time. He was declared missing and officially presumed dead in 1974.


Earlier this year, human remains were discovered near the crash site. In June 2019, those remains were confirmed to be Knight’s.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

(Southwest Airlines)

When the younger Knight learned that his father’s remains had been found, he began the process of repatriating them. They were flown to Honolulu, where they were transferred to a Southwest flight heading to Oakland, California.

From there, Knight successfully coordinated his schedule with the airline to make sure that he could be the one to fly his father home. He was assigned as the pilot in charge of flight WN 1220, from Oakland to Love Field in Dallas.

An honor guard from the Air Force met the plane at Love Field along with Southwest crew members, who took a moment to pay their respects. The plane was also met with a water-cannon salute by the airport’s fire department after it landed.

“Our Southwest Airlines family is honored to support his long-hoped homecoming and join in tribute to Col. Knight,” the airline said in a statement, “as well as every other military hero who has paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

19 perks of having a deployed husband

Shaw Air Force Base is known by those stationed there as Separates Husbands And Wives. Between the Red Flags at Nellis, the endless human centipede of exercises, and a deployment, my husband Mike was gone over half of our days during that assignment. It was there I learned what it meant to be alone even while in a marriage, but I dealt with it by finding pockets of positivity. Deployments are tough, but if you look, you can find some gold nuggets in that steaming pile of anxiety poo.

Here are some perks to having a deployed husband:


No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

(media.giphy.com)

1. Twice the closet space.

He doesn’t need to know that his pitted out Yuengling shirts are getting boxed up with collegiate football hats of schools he didn’t attend in order to make room for my legion of maxi dresses. The flannels, however, can stay.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

(Photo by Sarah Pastrana)

2. Suddenly, the toilet paper roll lasts longer.

Turns out if your partner spends as much time on the toilet as a small construction crew fed on chicken fried steaks and protein shakes, the t.p. budget shrinks when he leaves. That newfound cash can be spent on regular pedicures, or a reasonably priced used Lexus.

3. You can take up the whole bed.

I call my favorite position, Drunken Starfish.

4. Retail therapy is fine!

His income is tax-free, and now I need a new credit card because the strip on my old one is wearing out.

Photo by USFS Region 5

5. Less frequent leg shaving.

That is, until your nephew feels your shin and asks, “Why does Aunt Rachel’s leg feel like a pine tree?” Twerp.

6. No bras in the house.

The bra hits the floor before the alarm goes off. I could set a world record for how fast I can unclasp my underwire and pull it out through the bottom of my shirt.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

7. I can sleep better through the night without a 200 lb. land manatee flopping around next to me.

Not to mention the pillowcases are significantly less sweaty.

8. No sound of velcro in the morning.

SSSZZZCCCHHHTTT!!!

9. Cereal for breakfast. Cereal for lunch. Cereal for dinner. 

Honorable mention goes to chips and salsa.

10. Let me introduce you to “The D Card.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was worried every day for his safety, and wished time would speed up for him to come home, but the ultimate reward for enduring a deployment is getting to play the “D Card.” Fewer phrases pack a punch harder than these four words: My husband is deployed.

11. Priority vacation days at work.

When everybody is trying to take off for the holidays at the same time – wham! – I play the D Card and skip to the front of the line. No way am I missing Mom’s orange fluff at Christmas to decorate a tree by myself.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

12. People put you on a pedestal just for being present and fully dressed.

Trust me, it doesn’t always happen.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

13. Sometimes patriotic strangers pay for your drink.

One man tried to pick up my tab without me seeing. Little did he know I drink enough scotch to ration a ship full of sailors across the Americas, so he kindly paid for half. God bless you, citizen.

14. It shuts down unwanted attention from men.

I remember being asked, “How come your man’s not out with you tonight?” (First off– ew.) When I dropped the D Card, it abruptly came to a halt. There’s no comeback. Then I did the Hammer Dance to the tune of “U Can’t Touch This” and got myself some jalapeño poppers.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

15. You get a hall pass for mood swings.

WHICH I DON’T F*CKING HAVE!

16. You can zone out at work hassle free.

All I have to do is pull up an article about F-16s, maximize the screen and then stare out into space. My boss thinks I’m anguished about my deployed husband, when really I’m thinking about Downton Abbey, or why white queso tastes better than yellow queso. But truthfully most times I’m anguished about my deployed husband.

17. Nice people send you nice cards.

One of the best things, truly, is finding out how big your friends’ hearts are. People send you cards and care packages, and a few more ambitious friends fly out to visit. I was touched to find out I had a group of friends who started a secret thread to coordinate when they could visit me so it was spread out over the deployment.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

And so…

Is it indecent to use his time in combat to make my pain a little less difficult? I don’t think so. Deployments are dark times. It’s something those of us have earned through tears and sleepless nights when something goes bump outside the bedroom window. I remember driving over to my friend’s house one night because her neighbor wouldn’t stop being a creep, knowing her husband was away. We stayed up on her back patio with shotguns across our laps until we ended up making margaritas and playing Yahtzee until 3 in the morning.

If you’re the one left behind, it can feel like half of your puzzle is missing its pieces. For me, a gold-medal overthinker, I questioned who I was as my own person and why I couldn’t seem to handle life, which made me feel even worse about myself. I refused to feel helpless, but there it was. We had built a life for two, and I was forced to fly it solo. So no, I do not feel bad about playing the D Card.

But the biggest high of having a deployed husband is when you lock eyes across the hangar at 2 a.m. after seven months. Your heart pounds as you watch that tan flight suit cut through the crowd of hundreds, and you finally get your kiss, bristly though it may be.

Damn deployment ‘stache.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force B-52s teamed up with the Army for live-fire bombing exercise

US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber aircrews participated in live-fire training operations with the US Army over the Pohakuloa Training Area, located on the big island of Hawaii Nov. 15 and 18, 2019.

During the two separate days, two B-52 bombers coordinated with members of the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron and US Army Pacific 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team joint terminal attack controllers, also known as JTACs, to deliver a mixed payload of unguided, precision-guided and laser-guided weapons.

“This is a unique experience for the Army to integrate with Air Force bombers because controlling bombers is quite different than controlling helicopters or even fighter aircraft,” said US Air Force Capt. Mike Brogan, Pacific Air Forces bomber liaison officer.


To maintain readiness, crews often use simulation tools, so the opportunity for live-fire is a significant event for aircrews and those on the ground. “This is incredibly valuable to them because it demonstrates that what they are doing and saying is actually being seen and accomplished,” Brogan said.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

A B-52 Stratofortress takes off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, Nov. 14, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zachary Heal)

This event allowed the JTACs to conduct daytime missions as well as night training, giving them the opportunity to utilize equipment they wouldn’t normally work with during the day.

“Being able to practice close air support with B-52 bombers dropping over 15,000 pounds of high explosives while running alongside our Army brethren in a company movement with attack aviation to the left and active artillery to the right, provided numerous lessons to myself and my [team] that will help us to neutralize the enemy and keep our aligned [forces] safe when we deploy,” said Capt. Austin Hairfield, 25th ASOS flight commander.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Staff Sgt. Ryan Dillman, 25th Air Support Operations Squadron Tactical Air Control Party, plots friendly positions before passing targeting and terminal guidance to an AH-64 Apache during an exercise in Hawaii, November 2019

(US Army photo)

Additionally, during the Fire Support Coordination Exercise on the ground, they were able to perform Pacific Air Forces’ first off-board laser spot track between the US Army’s RQ-7 Shadow Unmanned Aerial System and the B-52’s targeting pod.

“Without the effective and efficient laser lock … the JTAC would have had to spend crucial seconds to locate the reinforcements himself and talk the aircraft onto the target before providing terminal guidance,” Hairfield said.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

An AH-64 Apache provides armed overwatch for Alpha Company during an exercise in Hawaii, November 2019.

(US Army photo)

The bombers, assigned to the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron out of Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, are currently deployed to Guam as part of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence operations.

The 19.5-hour flight from Guam to Hawaii and back required air refueling supported from KC-135 Stratotankers. Upon completion of the training mission the bombers returned to Guam completing a 7,000-nautical mile round-trip mission.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Dillman coordinates a Medical Evacuation for a notional casualty while Observer Controllers/Trainers stand by during an exercise on Pohakuloa Training Area, November 2019.

(US Army photo)

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

A UH-60 Black Hawk flares before landing with armed escort from an AH-64 Apache during a Fire Support Coordination Exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area, November 2019.

(US Army photo)

Missions like these provide significant opportunities to strengthen joint capabilities in the region, enhance combined readiness, increase air domain awareness and help ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The US has been conducting continuous bomber presence operations in the theater as part of a routine, forward deployed, global strike capability to support regional security since March 2004.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

What happened aboard the Carl Vinson during Bin Laden’s burial at sea

The dreaded announcement came through the 1MC: River City. If being deployed in the middle of the ocean isn’t bad enough, try being deployed in the middle of the ocean with no comms.

The unfamiliar sound of a V-22 Osprey overpowered the sound of normal flight operations. The updates kept rolling through; starting from the flight deck down to the hangar bays, everything is secured. The rumors start to flow through the grapevine. You can hear the whispers and feel the electricity in the air. Nobody has any information, but everyone knows.

We got him.


No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

A plane captain directs and oversees the landing and take-off of a V22 Osprey.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Katie Earley)

It was the only email that was fired off before comms were shut down. The surveillance screen of the flight deck runs 24/7 on all screens throughout the airwing, but today they were all blacked out. The only channel working was CNN. The feeling was odd. We didn’t know anything that was happening except for what we were watching live on TV. We were there, yet we knew nothing. Every sailor was glued to a screen, reading the ticker and waiting for the headlines.

The rumors were confirmed: We got Osama bin Laden and his body is on our ship. The entire ship erupted like Times Square at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Sailors man a mounted .50 caliber on the looking out.

Images taken from WikiCommons.

I ran down to the aft part of the ship and poked my head out of a hatch leading to the flight deck. There were two MAs standing guard that immediately turned me around and told me to get inside. Before I reversed course, I got a glimpse of two men dragging a body out of the helicopter.

The worst part about securing the hangar bay was that the chow hall was on the level beneath it — and the only access to it was through it. Starving, we sat around snacking on Snickers from a Costco pack my mom had mailed to me. When the next rotation shift came on and asked us what was happening, we jokingly told the new shift to line up down by the hangar bay because they were letting us hit bin Laden’s body with wiffle ball bats. I also told them to tell the MAs that they were there for the wiffle ball party and that Petty Officer Kim had sent them.

We weren’t hitting him with bats, but the next shift must have really asked about the wiffle party because a few minutes later, I was called into the ready room and getting chewed out by the chief’s mess about never taking anything seriously and being a bad example to the younger guys. My division chief was an inch away from my face, screaming. I could practically taste his lunch. I guess chow was only secured for E6 and below.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Sailors fire a .50-caliber machine gun during a pre-action calibration fire exercise aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67)

(US Navy)

We were told, “officially,” that the body was prepared in accordance to the Muslim religion: wrapped in a white garb, buried on his right side, and oriented northeast to face Mecca. Off-record, we were told that they verified his DNA and they tossed him over the side.

Officially, no country would accept responsibility of the body, so it was laid to rest at sea. Unofficially, I think we didn’t want his burial site to become a martyr’s shrine.

Either way, the mighty back-to-back World War champions found the world’s foremost hide seek expert. If you can’t beat him, kill him.

* Editor’s Note: This article was updated to clarify that the sailors weren’t actually hitting Bin Laden’s body with bats. Petty Officer Kim jokingly said the line to the next shift.*

MIGHTY CULTURE

The US Navy is learning about Arctic operations from the Canadians

The US Navy’s Arctic muscles have atrophied over the years, so the service is working to relearn how to operate in this increasingly competitive space.

One way the Navy is doing that is by working with US allies and partners with the necessary knowledge and skills, picking their brains on how best to operate in this unforgiving environment.

Lt. Samuel Brinson, a US Navy surface warfare officer who took part in an exchange program aboard the Canadian frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec as it conducted Arctic operations, recently talked to Insider about his experiences.


Although he declined to say exactly where he went, Brinson said that he “didn’t know anyone who had been as far north” as he traveled on his Arctic mission.

The US Navy’s 2nd Fleet was reactivated last summer to defend US interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic waterways, as great power rivals like Russia and even China are becoming increasingly active in these spaces.

But there’s a learning curve.

“2nd Fleet is a newly-established fleet, and we just haven’t been operating in the Arctic as a navy much recently,” Brinson told Insider.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

HMCS Ville de Quebec.

“We need to get up there. We need to practice operating. We need to practice operating with our allies. We need to get up there and experience it for ourselves as much as possible.”

That’s exactly what he did. He went on a one-month fact-finding mission in the Arctic.

Brinson, who had previously deployed to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations (Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf), was approached by 2nd Fleet for this opportunity, which involved reporting on how the Canadian navy carries out its activities in the Arctic effectively.

“The most striking difference [between the Arctic and other deployment locations] is how remote it is,” he explained to Insider. “There are just not many towns. You go forever without seeing other ships. You go forever without seeing other establishments. The distance is a lot further between the places we were operating than it looks on a map.”

From an operations perspective, that makes logistics a bit more difficult. “The biggest challenge for going into the Arctic is logistics,” Brinson said.

“You have to have a plan where you are going and really think about where you are going to get fuel, where you are going to get food, and if you need to send people or get people from the ship, how and where you are going to do that. Everything is pretty far apart.”

“You don’t have a lot of refueling points, resupply stations,” he added. “When you get up into the Arctic, there is not really anything there, and if someone had to come get you, like if they had to send tugs to come get us, it was going to take days, like lots of days.”

The emptiness of the Arctic isn’t just a problem from a resupply standpoint. It also creates navigational problems.

“Because it’s less developed up there, it’s also been less charted,” Brinson told Insider. “We spent a lot of time switching between electronic charts, paper charts, you know, Canadian charts, Norwegian charts, etc. to navigate around where we were going. You have to use whichever chart was most complete and most up to date.”

“There’s a lot of headway that could be made on that in the future,” he added. “The more we operate up there, the more we know that, but before we send ships in to some of these places, we probably need to just survey it first.”

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Views of a U.S.-Canada joint mission to map the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean in 2011.

(Public domain)

There’s also frigid temperatures and ice to worry about.

Brinson, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was in the Arctic in August, a warmer period when the daytime highs were in the low 30s. “It was cold to me, but [the Canadians] all thought I was being silly,” he said.

In the spring, fall, or winter, the temperatures are much lower, and there is a risk of getting iced in while at port. “Right now, you pretty much only want to be up there June, July, August, and then as it starts getting into September, it starts getting too cold,” Brinson told Insider.

Even though the temperatures were higher when Brinson was there, ice was still a bit of problem. “There is enough around that you need to be extra careful, especially if it’s nighttime or foggy. There were icebergs that were bigger than the ship,” he said.

“If you were to hit something like that, it’s a huge problem,” Brinson added, recalling that he saw a polar bear roaming about on one of the icebergs with plenty of room to move around.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Polar bear and two cubs.

(NOAA)

From the Canadians, Brinson learned how to deal with cold temperatures and ice, how to keep your water supply from freezing, which side to pass an iceberg on if there are pieces coming off it, and how to sail through an ice flow, among other things.

“Working with partners like Canada is key because they’ve never stopped operating up there,” he said. “They know things like that.”

Brinson told Insider that the US Navy has fallen behind and lost a step when it comes to Arctic operations. “What we need to do is just get back to doing it,” he said. “We need to start getting the level of knowledge back.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How one community delivered for veterans

Despite the record heat on July 19 and 20, 2019, in Davenport, Iowa, more than 600 veterans and their family members attended the Quad Cities Veterans Experience Action Center (VEAC) at St. Ambrose University. The event was held to bring together community service providers, veteran service organizations, and other government partners to provide services, resources and information directly to veterans and those currently serving.

Planning for Quad Cities Veterans Experience Action Center began in May 2018 in collaboration with the Veterans Experience Office, the National Cemetery Administration, VBA regional offices, Iowa City VA Health Care System, the local Vet Center, two Community Veteran Engagement Boards, the Rock Island Arsenal, UnityPoint Health Trinity, the United Way, St. Ambrose University and many more; all came together to ensure veterans have the resources, services, and information needed to get to “yes.”


Community partners took on this challenging event knowing it would have a significant and lasting impact on the lives of veterans in their community, which made the many months of planning worth it.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

A Veteran and his spouse learning more about many different resources available.

“I have desire to help the ones that served our Nation in uniform and knew there was a need in the Quad Cities area to bring together community partners and VA under one building to provide information and resources to Veterans,” said Daniel Joiner, Director of Community Engagement at UnityPoint Health Trinity and Quad Cities VEAC organizer.

During the two-day event, the Des Moines, IA, and Chicago, IL, Veterans Benefit Administration regional offices were on-site to assist veterans wanting to file a disability compensation claim, check on a claim decision, check on the status of an existing claim, obtain representation from a Veteran Service Organization, receive counseling services through the mobile Vet Center and learn about many other community resources.

After reading about the Quad Cities VEAC’s success on day one, Paige, a U.S. Army veteran, flew from Baltimore, MD, for the VEAC’s second day.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

U.S. Army Veteran Paige waiting to meet with representatives from Veterans Benefits Administration.

“After reading the excellent reviews, I knew this event would be best opportunity for me to receive some answers. I was told by the representative from the regional office I would have a decision within a week,” said Paige.

Another veteran from Orlando, FL, heard about the VEAC in April 2019 and booked his flight and hotel room to attend. Army veteran, Vincent, had been struggling for years to get the help he needed. “This event was just what is needed for veterans. Today, I was able to get all of my issues resolved. I can now go back home and sleep peacefully,” he said.

Paige and Vincent were not the only two veterans that were from out of state. Veterans from Alaska, Texas and one Marine Corps veteran from Belgium and her mother, an Army veteran, attended to take advantage of the resources that were available.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

U.S. Army Veteran Vincent discussing how important it was for him to attend the Quad Cities VEAC.

The Iowa City VA Health Care System provided information, enrollment and eligibility representatives so veterans could enroll in VA health care. “Often times, many veterans are unsure if they are eligible for VA health care benefits, that’s why we are here today to assist veterans in registering for benefits they earned. During the two day event, we were able to enroll 46 veterans to receive VA health care benefits,” said the Iowa City VA Health Care System’s Director, Judith Johnson-Mekota.

Carmen Gamble, an Army veteran that retired at the rank of Command Sergeant Major and works for VA’s Veterans Experience Office explained, “Over the two-day event, more than 30 community partners and dozens of VA staff came together here in the Quad Cities to serve our Nation’s Heroes to help them receive what they need. We plan to engage other communities in other states to look at how a Veterans Experience Action Centers could benefit their veteran population.”

Several more Veterans Experience Action Centers including San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sep. 4-6, 2019; and Cary, North Carolina, Sep. 18-21, 2019, are being planned.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How the US Air Force maintains operational success

Airmen at aircraft maintenance squadrons around the service have begun innovating with new scheduling, accelerated hands-on training courses, and virtual reality simulators to get new maintainers proficient quickly; keeping more aircraft ready to fly and improving operational readiness.

We begin a continuing series of video vignettes at Travis Air Force Base, California, highlighting airmen who are successfully closing the aircraft maintainer experience gap.


Growing his replacement

Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Flynn, a 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant aircraft maintenance unit supervisor at Travis Air Force Base, California, is responsible for the approximately 300 personnel keeping 18 C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft mission-ready.

It is one of the Air Mobility Command missions that never sleep.

“Our mission never stops,” Flynn said. “We are 24/7 and 365 days a year. The demand for rapid air mobility is constant and is never going to stop.”

While the operations tempo has been fierce over the past decades of combat operations around the globe, Flynn, a 19-year veteran of the aircraft maintainer career field, plans to reenlist and shape the maintainer force of the future.

“My job is to create my replacement… There is an influx of new airmen that is putting a stress on the (noncommissioned officer) tier. They have gone from supervising two airmen to three, four or five. So, that means I am here at 0600 every day, catching the young staff and tech sergeants coming off night shift and those going on day shift and checking in with them; making sure I am approachable,” Flynn said.

He utilizes the ups and downs of his own career maintaining B-1 Lancers and C-17 Globemaster IIIs and teaching electronic warfare navigation systems to relate to and support his NCOs and junior airmen.

“With this abundance of new airmen, it’s very important to explain to them that this is not a ‘One Mistake Air Force,'” Flynn said. “It is not only my job to set standards and expectations, but to talk to them about their mistakes, help them correct it and build them back up. I try to pass on everything I have learned, mistakes and successes, through those daily encounters.”

“There was a point in my career where an NCO stuck his neck on the line for me. He said, ‘airman Flynn is an asset to the Air Force and we should retain him.’ I haven’t looked back since. Immediately following that I got my assignment at McGuire (AFB) and taught two different career fields across multiple mission data sets for C-17s and C-5s. I definitely believe failing forward is a positive thing and that NCO sticking his neck out for me has made me want to do it for others.”

Waypoints for success

“I really want to get my degree and go the officer route. If given the choice, I definitely would become an aircraft maintenance officer. I would come right back here,” said Airman 1st Class Raeqwon Brown, a 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-5M electrical and environmental specialist.

That’s a big dream for an airman that has only been on the Travis Air Force Base, California, flightline for a few months and is still working on completing the core 5-level tasks to become a journeyman maintainer.

Yet, Brown’s supervisor, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Dantuma, is committed to turning that dream into an achievable goal.

“My immediate goal is to get him trained up to be a highly proficient maintainer, but the ultimate goal is to keep motivated airmen like him in the Air Force,” Dantuma said.

“That is the good part of all the new maintainers coming in from tech school; I get to train new maintainers the way I know they need to be to benefit to the mission. … If he is willing to put in hard hours and focus every day on learning the aircraft and procedures, then I will help him map out the steps he needs to take to become an officer.”

It is just the kind of support that has Brown feeling as if he has found a home.

“It is a great reassurance to know that a noncommissioned officer would even consider showing you the waypoints to getting a degree and becoming an officer. … Even in the short amount of time I have been in the maintenance realm, I feel this is what I would want to do for the rest of my career,” Brown said.

A1C makes good

Airman 1st Class Caitlin Good is a KC-10 Extender crew chief assigned to the 660th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California.

According to her command, since her arrival to the unit in July 2018, Good has excelled.

She’s excelled so much that, with the assistance of supervisors, other noncommissioned officers and experienced airmen, she was 100% complete with her 66 core 5-level upgrade tasks in three months.

“From day one, it was support from the supervisors on my team and the other airmen that have been here for a long time. We’re the same rank, but they have a lot more knowledge and experience. They were all a big help to me,” Good said.

“The NCOs made sure that I was there and I was seeing it, doing it hands-on and doing it frequently. Just a lot of repetition, making sure that I did something over and over again to make sure I got it.”

As a result, Good was granted a unique waiver from attending the four-month long Maintenance Qualification Training Program, which all newly-assigned crew chiefs normally go through.

In addition to her already stellar performance, she was selected to join the ranks of flying crew chiefs, which most airmen do not accomplish until two or three years into their first KC-10 assignment.

She continues to excel by helping close the aircraft maintainer experience gap; spreading her knowledge and experience to waves of new airmen filling out the career field.

“There is a lot more pressure because you are a 5-level now. You’re expected to be in a leadership role,” Good said. “We just got a fresh new group come in from our first phase of training at the Field Training Detachment.

“When we catch a jet, I’ll tell them and show what we do and some tips that I’ve learned to make the job quicker and more efficient. Basically, just passing on what I’ve learned to the new group that’s coming in, and there are three more groups coming in after them. But, I get more repetitions as I train them and try to be an example for them, trying to be kind, be patient, just like everyone has been with me.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

What happens when two carriers kick in your door at once

American aircraft carriers are kings of the ocean. They come loaded with dozens of lethal warplanes, ready to take off from “4.5 acres of sovereign soil” and send missiles into enemy jets while dropping bombs on enemy troops and infrastructure.

U.S. carriers often operate independently of one another, typically sailing within their own strike groups even when operating against the same targets. But the Navy does have another option: combining the carrier strike groups into a single entity with 9 acres of sovereign soil bearing down on hostile forces.

Here’s what that looks like:


No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, from the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron 115, launches from the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan during dual-carrier operations in 2017.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate)

Carrier air wings have 60 or more aircraft, and, when two carriers show up, they bring both of their wings for a combined total of between 100 and 150 aircraft. For Carrier Air Wings 1 and 7, the air wings assigned to the USS Harry S. Truman and the USS Abraham Lincoln, which took part in an exercise in August, this includes nine squadrons of F/A-18 Super Hornets. These fighters can kill most anything on the ground or in the sky, though they aren’t stealthy like the coming F-35C Thunder II.

Each squadron has 10-12 of the Super Hornets, equipped with 20mm cannons, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AIM-7 Sparrows, AIM-120 AMRAAMs, Harpoons, HARM, SLAMs, Maverick missiles, Joint Stand-Off Weapons, Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and Paveway Laser-Guided bombs.

If you got lost in that extended list of deadly weapons, just know that the Super Hornets can carry a large variety of missiles and bombs with warheads or payloads ranging from a couple pounds of high explosives to a few thousands pounds (one of those bombs even made our list of weapons that could bring down a Star Wars AT-AT Walker).

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

A combined formation with planes from six squadrons and two carriers flies past the USS Ronald Reagan during a dual-carrier operation in 2016.

(U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jacob Lerner)

So, if two carriers with nine squadrons of Super Hornets, each with 10-12 aircraft show up, the enemy is facing about 100 highly armed aircraft—but those aircraft and pilots are highly vulnerable to enemy air defenses since they lack real stealth capability.

So, how is the Navy going to kick in your door? By crippling your air defenses and shooting down your fighters, of course.

Those HARM missiles mentioned above? Those are high-speed, anti-radiation missiles. When the Super Hornet finds an enemy air defense site, they can fire the missile towards the enemy radar, and the missile actually follows the radar back to the source, eliminating the enemy radar dish.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

An E-2C Hawkeye from the “Liberty Bells” of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115 transits the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan. The Nimitz-class Aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan conducted dual aircraft carrier strike group operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Riggs)

That knocks out the “eyes” of the enemy, but it’s not like enemy fighter pilots are gonna sit around drinking tea and discussing how rude the Americans are for destroying their radar dishes — they’re gonna go try to kill ’em.

And that’s why the Navy doesn’t send only fighters up during a big fight. They’re accompanied by E-2D Hawkeyes, airborne early warning aircraft that are basically flying radar dishes, feeding target and threat information to all the fighters it’s linked to.

This gives a huge advantage to the American fighters it supports in the form of a greater view of the battlefield, allowing the airborne commander to better direct the fighters’ efforts. It helps guarantee that the American jets are always at the decisive engagement, tipping the scales in their own favor. With two carriers and two air wings, this will be especially important as literally hundreds of fighters could be fighting at once.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

The Nimitz-class Aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conduct dual aircraft carrier strike group operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke)

Door, meet kick.

So, if the Navy is called upon to break into enemy airspace, and they successfully do it with the dual-carrier setup they practiced this summer, what happens next? With the enemy air defenses weakened, any number of follow-on operations are easier.

For instance, a Marine Expeditionary Force can much more easily take the beaches when friendly Harriers and Super Hornets are the only jets in the sky. Friendly jets and helicopters can take out beach defenses and ferry troops from ship to shore with minimal to no losses.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Chief Naval Aircrewman Joel James, assigned to the “Dragon Slayers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 11, observes from an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter as ships assigned to the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group transit the sea in formation while conducting dual-carrier sustainment operations.

(U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Thomas Gooley)

Marines under fire can call for help and, with two carriers in the area and minimal air defenses left, be basically guaranteed to receive it.

Meanwhile, if American pilots or aircrews had been shot down during the doorkick, MH-60 helicopters can swoop in to recover them quickly because it would have two carriers worth of jets to protect them.

If the enemy tries to use submarines to sink the carriers, there are two sea combat squadrons and two maritime strike squadrons as well as multiple American attack submarines available to hunt down the undersea threat. Anti-ship ballistic missiles face additional Aegis destroyers to get to the U.S. assets.

So, yeah, a dual-carrier strike group brings a lot of firepower and capability, so why doesn’t the Navy do it more often, in exercises and in combat?

Well, it’s crazy overkill for a lot of operations. The Navy only has 11 carriers, and some of those are in drydock or other service at any time. So, giving up over 20 percent of the deployed carrier fleet for a single operation would only happen in the case of a large, decisive operation. The Navy likely sent the Lincoln and Truman to practice, just in case.

If there were a war with China or Russia, there would be a good reason to combine two carrier strike groups. With hundreds of enemy jets likely to take to the air against the U.S., the Super Hornets would need at least a few squadrons in the air to have a chance. That would take multiple carriers to maintain, and it’s more easier to defend one pair of carriers than two separate ones.

At the end of the day, for freedom of navigation missions, humanitarian relief, and reassuring allies, one carrier easily gets the job done. But, if there is a two-carrier, three-carrier, or even larger fight, the Navy is prepared.

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘I met a hero:’ Air Force Doctor who treated Alwyn Cashe says he’s never forgotten him

Maj. Mark Rasnake was exhausted. The 32-year-old Air Force infectious disease specialist had worked through the night treating some of the worst trauma he’d seen in his life — seven soldiers who’d been brought in after sustaining catastrophic burns when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle hit an improvised explosive device near Daliaya, Iraq, and erupted in flames. But back at his bunk at Balad Air Force Base, north of Baghdad, he couldn’t sleep.

He opened his laptop and began to type a letter home. “I met a hero last night,” he wrote. “I did not realize it at the time … This is a place where the word “hero” is tossed around day in and day out, so much so that you sometimes lose sight of its true meaning. His story reminded me of it.”


As a medical professional, Rasnake never identified his patient, even in a letter only intended for family members. As it happened, though, his words would travel further than he imagined. His local newspaper in Eastern Tennessee took it as a submission and reprinted it; and eventually, Air Force officials reached out to the paper so the service could publish it too.

Rasnake’s letter survives on the Air Force’s official website as the first public account of the bravery of Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who sacrificed his life running again and again into the fiery vehicle, ignoring his own burning uniform. It has been 15 years to the day since Cashe hauled his teammates out of the Bradley on Oct. 17, 2005; but Rasnake, now the residency program director for the University of Tennessee’s Division of Infectious Diseases, says he’s never stopped thinking about him.

“I kind of think about the guy all the time,” Rasnake told Military.com in an interview earlier this month. “I’ve got a helmet bag that I use to carry stuff to and from work, and I put a 3rd Infantry Division patch on that thing, just to always have the visual thing to remember what he did. That’s just always been important to me, to at least carry that memory.”

Cashe, the most severely burned of the soldiers, was ultimately evacuated to Germany for intensive treatment, and then to Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he would succumb to his injuries Nov. 8, at age 35. As the anniversary of his death approaches, those who loved him are newly hopeful: in August, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he’d support a push to award Cashe the Medal of Honor. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a bill waiving a five-year time limitation for awarding the medal; a similar measure is expected to pass soon in the Senate.

Rasnake said he didn’t learn Cashe’s story until a few hours after he and more than a dozen other military medical professionals had finished treating the soldiers and loaded them on an air evacuation flight bound for Germany. He can’t remember who shared the account of what happened in the aftermath of the Bradley explosion. But as word spread among his colleagues and across the base, it provoked a common feeling of awe.

“The discussions we had is, you know, if his actions don’t deserve the Medal of Honor, we had trouble imagining anything that did that would,” Rasnake said.

Cashe was initially nominated for a lesser award, the Silver Star, by his battalion commander, Gary Brito, now a major general. Brito, by his own account, pushed for an upgrade to the Medal of Honor as soon as he learned of the severity of Cashe’s injuries. But as the years passed, no medal upgrade came.

At issue, according to various reports, was difficulty ascertaining accurate witness statements of what took place. While initial accounts led the Army to determine Cashe’s heroism did not take place in active combat, current descriptions — championed by lawmakers — say he dodged enemy fire while hauling body after body out of the vehicle: six soldiers plus an interpreter, who died on the scene. Cashe refused medevac until the others were taken away, according to his Silver Star citation.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Mark Rasnake (right) along with doctors Col. Ty Putnam and Maj. James Pollock, Oct 17, 2005. (Photo courtesy of Mark Rasnake)

What Rasnake saw is in none of those accounts, but speaks to the pain and trauma Cashe’s body endured because of his choice not to leave his brothers-in-arms behind.

“The surgeons worked for hours on his wounds and we worked for hours in the intensive care unit to stabilize him for transport. In the end, damage to his lungs made him too sick to be safely transported by plane to our hospital in Germany and then on to a burn center in San Antonio,” Rasnake wrote in his later-published letter home. ” … Our air evac team loaded him into the plane for the six-hour flight to Germany. They had to deliver every breath to him during that flight by squeezing a small bag by hand.”

Rasnake still has clear memories of that night, although the conditions and treatment of specific soldiers is a blur. Off-duty medical staff were called back up before the casualties arrived. A field intensive care unit was heated to treat those suffering from the hypothermia sometimes brought on by severe burns. Doctors had to intubate to keep the badly burned soldiers’ blood oxygenated, and some required surgical incisions to allow burn-traumatized limbs to swell.

Six of the men needed ICU treatment; ultimately, three would succumb to their injuries.

Rasnake had arrived in Iraq earlier that fall, and it wasn’t common for doctors at Balad to keep track of the wounded troops they’d treated once they moved on for additional care. But this case was different.

“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “For the next two weeks … Some of them didn’t make it, including Sgt. Cashe ultimately, and he was the last one to expire of the ones that ultimately died. And it was just heart-wrenching for us to hear what was happening back home … he had the entire [Air Force] 33nd Medical Group following daily what was happening.”

As Rasnake sat typing that first night in his sleeping quarters, not knowing the fate of Cashe or the other men he’d treated, he thought of a hero from his hometown of Greeneville, Tenn.: Marine Sgt. Elbert Kinser, who threw himself on a Japanese grenade in 1945, saving his men and earning the Medal of Honor. A bridge in the city of Tusculum, Tenn., bears his name.

“How many of his friends are still alive to remember the story? How many grew old and had grandchildren because of his sacrifice?” Rasnake wrote. “Did they thank him every day of their lives? The next time I cross that bridge I will stop for just a few minutes of my life to read about a man that gave all of his.”

Now 47, and 13 years out of the Air Force, Rasnake said he never lost hope that Cashe would receive the Medal of Honor that he never doubted the soldier deserved.

“The fact that he’s up for the MOH, reliving this and kind of seeing some closure for him and his family is just amazing,” Rasnake said. “I’m so glad; it’s probably the first piece of good news I’ve gotten in 2020.”

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


MIGHTY CULTURE

How iconic actor James Dean will star in the latest Vietnam War movie

If silver screen legend James Dean hadn’t died in a 1955 car accident, he would be 88 years old, much too old to portray a Vietnam War-era soldier in the upcoming film Finding Jack. But he did die in that car crash, and he’s not actually being resurrected to star in the new movie – but his image and likeness are.


No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

Set against the background of the Vietnam War, Finding Jack is about Fletcher Carson, a volunteer troop in the U.S. Army who lost his family and his will to live back home. He joins, hoping to lose his life in combat. Instead, he gains a Labrador Retriever who helps nurse him back to physical and emotional health. When it comes time for the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the dogs are declared surplus equipment and are destined to be left behind. Carson, like many troops, wasn’t willing to part with his new battle buddy.

The story is based on the real events surrounding the withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam. The Nixon Administration really implemented this policy as a cost-saving measure. Thousands of military working dogs who helped American forces in the Vietnam War really were left behind at war’s end, their fate (like many Americans, POWs, and MIAs) would forever be unknown.

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

An estimated 10,000 dogs were left behind in Vietnam.

The legendary actor, who originally died at age 24, has been cast in the film adaptation of the book. The production company producing the film got the permission of his family before casting the star of Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden. Dean will star as a secondary character named Rogan in the film.

“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean,” Anton Ernst, one of the directors, told The Hollywood Reporter.

While Finding Jack will be a live-action film, James Dean will be reproduced through the use of computers, using actual footage and photos. His voice will be dubbed by another actor. So far, Dean is the only known cast member of the film.