From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

Army Maj. Patrick Kihiu’s journey to becoming a chaplain and American soldier began in the slums of Kenya.

Born and raised in East Africa, Kihiu developed a deep religious conviction during high school. He cultivated his faith attending his local church in Nairobi and taking leadership roles in outreach programs, including in one of the world’s largest slums — the Kibera Slums.


His pastors recognized his potential, and understanding the value of international exposure, recommended he attend theological institutions in the U.S.

Diversity was not completely new to Kihiu though.

“I enjoyed being part of a culturally-varied community in Nairobi,” Kihiu explained. “My school mates came from the 42 tribes represented in Kenya. … After seeking God’s wisdom and guidance, the Lord opened the door of opportunity to begin theological training in the USA in September 1992 at age 22.”

After immigrating, Kihiu received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Exposed to additional diversity during his studies, Kihiu says he gained an even more profound love and respect for others.

“We were constantly reminded we were all made in the Image of God and that we should treat everyone with the utmost respect irrespective of human differences,” he said.

It was also at school he met his wife, Rebecca — a fellow immigrant from Kenya. Ever since, they have led mission trips back to her home village in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and orphan crisis.

Then, starting his seminary practicum, he took a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

“It was there I had the opportunity to serve military veterans, providing for their spiritual needs. I heard stories of service and sacrifice on behalf of our nation,” Kihiu said.

As this position ended, Kihiu’s supervisor, a retired chaplain, recommended he consider Army chaplaincy. Humbled, Kihiu contemplated this calling while engaged in his next internship, a CPE residency at the University of Louisville Hospital. Here, he served as an on-call chaplain in the Emergency Department (ER).

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

Army Chaplain (Maj.) Patrick Kihiu with his family arriving home from a deployment July 2012 (Military Families Magazine)

“On duty, I was constantly exposed to patients with major trauma, including multiple gunshot wounds and serious accidents. I was there when doctors delivered tragic news, staying with families after the medical teams left, and then following up with the doctors and ER team to make sure they were OK too. Though this was an incredibly challenging ministry, I felt called providing compassionate care to all my patients, family members, and medical staff,” he said.

Here, Kihiu also served military families referred from Fort Knox, explaining how their conversations revolved around the respect they had for Army chaplains.

“I began exploring this ministry more even though I was clueless [about the] military culture. These brave soldiers and precious family members became my initial window in understanding the men and women whom I would eventually be called to serve,” he said.

Consequently, upon ending his residency and with encouragement from Rebecca, Kihiu enrolled in the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, November 2009— the same year he became a U.S. citizen.

Kihiu has since served in operational and training commands, including a Warrior Transition Battalion, and deploying to Iraq. While in the1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, then battalion commander, Col. Steve Dawson, said of Kihiu, “No combat patrol ever went outside the wire without him personally blessing them before their departure, whether 2:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m.”

Now at Watters Family Life Training Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Kihiu encourages military families to get to know their chaplains.

“Chaplains have answered the sacred calling to ‘serve those who serve.’ We provide the best care possible in a confidential setting. [And though] endorsed by different religious agencies, our call to duty is to faithfully serve our diverse military community on behalf of our beloved nation.”

In maintaining his own resiliency, Kihiu adds, “I have learned the benefits of ‘self-awareness.’ By this I mean accepting my own strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas in our lives we can improve. Therefore, we should be accountable to others, like trusted friends, mentors, supervisors, clergy, therapists, or supervisors—who can constantly check on us and provide honest feedback. I treasure these vital relationships in my own life, and I could not be where I am without them.”

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


MIGHTY CULTURE

Green Beret leads crisis innovation for Team Rubicon

September is disaster preparedness month, which the military is highly trained to respond to. When Team Rubicon needed someone to lead Crisis Innovation, they chose a Green Beret – naturally.

Lee Harvey is a retired Green Beret but he led a very interesting career before donning that coveted headwear. “I joined the military as a young lad and did four years. Then I went to college and played college football. I went to the NFL, left the NFL and went to NASA where I was an engineer. Then I woke up one day and said ‘I want to be a Green Beret’,” he said with a laugh.


Growing up Harvey actually wanted to be a fighter pilot, but discovered he was terrified of heights. He figured flying a plane with that fear wasn’t a good match, but had it in his head to take on what he deemed the toughest job in the military. “One of the reasons I joined the Green Berets is because I was afraid of heights. I’ve made over 300 jumps out of airplanes, but I am still afraid of heights and still hate flying…I don’t believe in letting fear hold me captive,” Harvey explained.
From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Lee Harvey)

After retiring from the Army, Harvey was working as a Nuclear Engineer at the Air Force nuclear weapons center. Co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon, Jake Wood, was looking for someone with a special forces background to fill the leadership role in Crisis Innovation and was referred to Harvey.

When Harvey received the job description, he was intrigued. “I said, ‘You want me to travel around the world and problems?’ That’s what I’ve done, I’ve been in 50 or 60 different countries as a Green Beret. It’s right in my wheelhouse and I get to help people,” he explained. “It’s that selfless service that I really enjoy. They aren’t about themselves, they are about serving communities and humans, relieving human suffering.”

Team Rubicon got its start in 2010 when two Marines, Wood and William McNulty decided to head to Haiti after they saw that relief from the recent earthquake was slow and dismal. They found that by utilizing the leadership and medical abilities they gained in the military – they could make a difference. Since its inception, they’ve gone on to respond to disasters all over the world.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Lee Harvey)

“Being in the Green Berets, preparedness is near and dear to our heart. It’s what we do – we plan and prepare. The preparedness month started in 2004 by FEMA, it was designed to get homeowners and individuals prepared,” Harvey explained. He referenced a study that came out indicating only around 70 percent of people in the U.S. actually have survival supplies in their home and less than 50 percent have a preparedness plan.

It’s something Team Rubicon wants to change.

One quick way to start in evaluating preparedness Harvey encouraged is to review insurance policies. When a hurricane was coming his way, he examined his own policies. Harvey was shocked when he found out his hurricane insurance didn’t include wind damage – which was a separate policy. “Read the fine print,” he said.

Go bags. Words that are music to the ears of the military but especially Green Berets. Harvey recommends one for each person on each side of the house. “What happens if a tree falls on the front of your house and you can’t get to it? Then you can’t get out. I make two… one for the front and one for the back, well, actually three because I always have one in my car too,” he said with a laugh.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Lee Harvey)

Harvey stressed that although there are lists out on the internet for go bags, each person will have different needs. He shared that his bags include epi pens for his son, who has allergies. While the reference lists are a good start, time needs to be invested in your go bag. “Each go bag should be tailored to fit your needs. Take a day and thoroughly plan it out. Once you do that, you already know it’s there. When you need it is when you don’t have it,” he explained.

Another tip from Harvey was to check your go bags quarterly and when you pack your radio, don’t put the batteries in it until it’s going to be used. This is because even though it is turned off, it will continue to utilize the battery making it ineffective when you need it the most.

“Our coach used to say ‘you are only as good as your last play’. So, if your last play is that you forgot to pack a go bag and a hurricane is coming…There’s no tomorrow, you don’t get a chance to do tomorrow over so make a plan,” he said. Harvey also stressed that people need to listen to their local authorities and not try to ride out a disaster just because they have a go bag.

Leading Crisis Innovation for Team Rubicon has been an incredible experience, Harvey shared. He’s grateful to be a part of something he equates with “selfless service” once again. He also hopes that those reading this article will be inspired to prepare for themselves and their family. Oh – and pack multiple Green Beret approved go bags, of course.

To learn more about Team Rubicon and their mission, click here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 cars that cost the least to maintain

Automobile maintenance might not be the most exciting part of car ownership, but it’s one of the most important things to consider before buying a new car.

Any car owner knows the price you pay at the dealership is hardly the last money you’ll spend on your vehicle. Maintenance and repairs on the average new car costs $1,186 per year, or nearly $12,000 a decade, according the latest data from AAA.

Factor in additional costs like insurance, fuel, and taxes, and you’re looking at spending an average of $8,849 annually.

That’s why it’s smart to look for cars with minimal maintenance requirements — they can save you thousands of dollars over the years. And spending the money on routine maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations will usually save you cash over time by preventing the need for larger repairs.

With that in mind, we compiled a list of the cars that require the least maintenance and repairs over the first five years of ownership.

Here are the eight cars that cost the least to maintain.


From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Toyota)

1. Toyota Corolla — 0 annual maintenance cost

The trusty Toyota Corolla is the most affordable vehicle on the road in terms of annual maintenance costs, multiple experts said. A Corolla will cost its owner about 0 in annual maintenance costs, though the rate will rise over time. Edmunds’ True Cost to Own calculator predicts an expenditure of just on maintenance in the first year, but up to id=”listicle-2634477572″,354 by the fifth.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Toyota)

2. Toyota Prius — 3 annual maintenance cost

A Prius has relatively low maintenance needs — save for potential battery replacement if you have the car long enough — and thus low maintenance costs. Add to that this pioneering hybrid’s average of50-plus miles per gallon of gas, and its overall cost of ownership and operation goes down further still.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Honda)

3. Honda Accord — 2 annual maintenance cost

The Honda Accord is one of the most reliable cars on the road in general, infrequently experiencing issues requiring a trip to the shop. And when an Accord does need servicing, spare parts are readily available due to the popular car’s ubiquity that costs are kept down on repairs in that way, too.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Kia)

4. Kia Soul — 9 annual maintenance cost

The Kia Soul has superb reliability ratings, with most new models not needing any unscheduled maintenance for several years, according to Edmunds. And when the Soul does need repairs, only about 10% of the work was what a mechanic would call major, i.e. expensive.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Honda)

5. Honda CR-V — 5 annual maintenance cost

According to Edmunds, drivers should expect to pay an average of 5 a year in yearly maintenance costs over the first five years they own a CR-V. This comes in several hundred dollars lower than the predicted expenses associated with similar sized SUVs, like the Ford Escape.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Ford)

6. Ford Mustang — 9 annual maintenance cost

A late model Ford Mustang is about the most inexpensive sports car your can buy in terms of average annual maintenance costs. Unlike the gorgeous but notoriously fickle Mustangs of the 1960s, recent models are reliable and durable, requiring little unscheduled maintenance in their first few years on the road.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Toyota Tundra)

7. Toyota Tundra — id=”listicle-2634477572″,012 annual maintenance cost

Kelley Blue Book called the Toyota Tundra “best in class” in terms of reliability. And according to Edmunds, the truck beat out all other full-sized pickups in terms of five-year total maintenance costs. Its ,000 starting price is also competitive for a truck of its size and capabilities.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Infiniti)

8. Infiniti Q70 — id=”listicle-2634477572″,412 annual maintenance cost

The Infiniti Q70 is one of the most affordable luxury cars on the road in terms of annual repairs and service costs. This is largely true thanks to the vehicle’s reliability, but also because the car shares many parts with Nissan vehicles, as Nissan is the brand’s parent company. When repairs are needed, parts are usually relatively cheap.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why does America Need a Delta Force?

The Delta Force, like so many other organizations, is the answer to a problem. If you can consider that our country’s civic police force is the answer to a very general problem — the domestic physical safety of the population — then you could view the Delta Force as an answer to some very specific and complex problems.

Domestic protection in our country comes in the form of our police departments, our National Guard forces, Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, and others. Our Armed Forces — Army, Navy, Air Force, etc. — protect our nation and its interests abroad, a feat that can only be accomplished by relatively powerful nations like our own.

There came a time when our country realized we did not boast an adequate capability to cope with one of the developing scourges of international terrorism of the time; that is, an aviation hijack situation. To clarify, there are basically two ways to respond to a hijacked airliner — wait it out and negotiate with the terrorist(s) hoping you can win the semblance of a decent outcome, or you can seize the initiative and carry the fight to the terrorist. Being Americans, we prefer the latter of the choices.

Imagine a large jet airliner with hundreds of people on board. Next time you are traveling by air look around and try to imagine the complexity of breaking into and storming aboard and airliner filled with people and blaze through the aircraft trying to only shoot the terrorist(s) — somehow.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
Men of Delta’s A Squadron in Panama during Operations Acid Gambit, including Dr. Dale Comstock on the left.)

To accomplish the arguably monumental task we need a breed of person with hard-to-find balance of specific traits. Perhaps those traits should include a person who is in good physical form. Not some guy who follows a yoga workout on YouTube, or the guy who goes to the gym to discuss working out for an hour then hits the showers. Not the guy who joined a weekend jogging club or owns several bicycle riding costumes but never actually rides a lot. 

Maybe we need huge guys who can bench press Volkswagens. Sounds legit, aw… but big guys typically can’t run fast and long and can’t climb to well or fit though holes that are almost too small for them. Ok then perhaps we want those guys that run olympic marathons and can actually compete with the Kenyans. Sounds good, but those guys don’t boast much upper body strength or look like they can carry other than tiny nylon shorts, a tank top T-shirt, and $2,000.00 running shoes that weight as much as a handful of raisins.  

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
Men of Delta’s C-Squadron in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 during Operations Gothic Serpent)

So far we have have an Arnold Schwarzenegger who can out-run Kung Bushmen in the Kalahari desert. We’re almost done… what else do we need. We need someone who will routinely perform actions that he believes he might die performing. And if we give that person a pistol and a photo of a person who he is to find and kill in a public setting, he can’t pause at the moment of pulling that trigger and think: “Aw man, he doesn’t look like such a bad guy up close.”

So our guy has to be able to kill without hesitation, but can’t be free-lancing with that skill on weekends away from the job. Our candidate has to be a highly moral person with extraordinary self-discipline who will FOLLOW ORDERS. Following orders isn’t cool; nobody wants to do it because everyone is too cool. 

As for self discipline and following orders, I think I demonstrated those concepts accidentally when I was five years old. My mother decided she was going to teach me the dangers of fire from a technique she read in “Readers Digest.” She handed me a book of matches and told me to light one and hold it. 

With her smug face she waited for the flame to burn close enough to my fingers that I would certainly drop it and learn my valuable lesson. To her horror I held the match until the flame burned all the way down and snuffed itself out on my severely blistered fingers. I cried out but stayed firm. My terrified mother:

(both palms on her forehead) “Why didn’t you drop that match???”

(geo) “Because you told me to hold it.” 

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
(Delta men in Bosnia and Herzegovina [former Yugoslavia] in 1996)

The debate here is whether or not I was too stupid to drop the match or was I so disciplined as to follow instructions. I can assure you that while I was indeed pretty stupid at five years old, I understood as well as the Frankenstein monster that FIRE BURN…FIRE HOT!! So we have our man now: speed, endurance, strength, morals, discipline, bravery. My God… we have a Boy Scout! —just kidding.So to find these men the Delta Force puts the candidates through a month of intense physical stress in the mountains of West Virginia. Most of them don’t make it. Then they are subject to rigorous psychological evaluations. Finally the candidates go through five months of amazing specialized training that is specific to the missions of the Delta Force. If a candidate makes it to one of the assault squadrons he maintains a probational status for six months while operating with his assault team.During those six months he says very little and generally offers opinions and ideas only when solicited by the seasoned operators on his assault team. Men in Delta engage with a myriad of special operations skills. Close Quarters Combat is a skill that Delta specialize in to the highest degree in the U.S. Armed Forces. Responding to a terrorist hijacking of an airliner is an operation absolutely exclusive to the Delta Force in America. We practiced the scenario several times a year in very realistic environments.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
Delta Force in Iraq in 2005 attacking the sons of Saddam Hussein)

The airliners we used were in-service aircraft typically between flights. Delta purchased the flights to include the flight crew. Passengers were role players gathered and recruited by our operations and logistic crews. They were high school students, families of first responders — policemen, firemen, and the like. So we had a real airliner with all the typical passengers you would see on any flight. Then Delta men specially selected to perform the role of the terrorist work out their scenario play and assimilate in with the passengers.

The assault could begin in another state with the assault force being flown in to the airport where the “hijacked” aircraft was located. In one scenario we descended from the passenger compartment down into the luggage hold. We threw ropes outside and slid down the ropes as our aircraft taxied behind the hijacked aircraft. Scattered behind the target we assembled and began our clandestine approach to the target. Our men aboard the target were watching for us, and if we were to do something sloppy or wrong we would be compromised. 

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
(Delta Forces George Andrew Fernandez, KIA in Iraq in 2005)

The Delta Force was implemented to solve a problem. Today they solve problems still, any problem on Earth that arises that is too complicated or daring for any other facet of our armed forces. Delta is phenomenally resourced and generously funded. It is because I understood what it means to be richly funded that I recognize the monumental value of our United States Marines, a force that is asked to perform incredible tasks with an absolute insult of a budget. 

I often think of the Delta Force as the one unit that National Command Authority holds with no pretense toward capability and expectations, therefore resourcing it thusly and removing all semblance of bullshit. There is almost no Army there, yet many of the best men who have ever traversed the Army have been there. 

By Almighty God and with honor,

Geo sends

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These service members aren’t unicorns – they’re USCG

The oldest continuous seagoing military service isn’t the Navy; it’s the United States Coast Guard. Coast Guardsmen have been involved in every major conflict since their inception in 1790, including the current ongoing war. Despite all of this, they are still treated like the mythical unicorn.

Intelligence Specialist Daniel Duffin volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan in 2011, spending his pre-deployment training with members of the Army. His role once arriving in a FOB in Eastern Afghanistan was to collect vital intelligence for the troops on the ground. “We did a lot of counter IED and were looking for any sort of intelligence to support troops, preventing loss of life,” Duffin explained. He also worked tirelessly to develop target packages, helping ground troops plan their missions more effectively.

The Coast Guard had boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan beginning in 2003. In Bahrain and Kuwait, you can find hundreds of coasties and six patrol boats serving within the U.S. 5th Fleet, where they’ve been since the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Despite their obvious  presence, the unicorn-like mythology of the coastie is ever present. 

The whispers followed Duffin constantly throughout his time in Afghanistan. He describes one particular scene where he was getting food and debating getting a chocolate milk or an energy drink when soldiers began pointing and whispering. “They were like ‘I told you! There he is!’,” Duffin said with a laugh. He was used to it, he said. The awestruck staring had also accompanied him at most joint bases he was stationed at stateside as well. 

After returning from deployment, it wasn’t long before he was headed back to the Middle East – this time to support the mission against ISIS, which he also volunteered for. Now stationed in the DC area, Duffin continues to support intelligence efforts for the Coast Guard and joint forces. 

In 2013, Coast Guard Lieutenant Michael Brooks was a Petty Officer 3rd Class and Intelligence Specialist when he deployed to Afghanistan. When asked why he wanted to go, he was quick to answer. “I have always wanted the hardest jobs I think, even as an officer with TACLET [Tactical Law Enforcement Teams] stuff or deployments. I wanted to be a coastie that down the road I could say I was there, I went through it and I got to feel what it was like to make those bonds with others through grueling and sometimes terrible circumstances,” he explained. Brooks had volunteered to go to Afghanistan after a service member was killed and the team was short.  

While deployed, Brooks was working alongside the 10th Mountain Division at FOB Sharana, supporting their operations. His unit was responsible for target development and breaking down various networks of terrorist cells within their AOR. The comments about him being there were a daily occurrence but he appreciated the humor in it. “It’s always a privilege to represent the Coast Guard and I would go back overseas tomorrow if the opportunity was there,” he said. 

Although Brooks’ remained humble when discussing his deployment, the service he provided in Afghanistan was extraordinary. On May 12, 2013 the 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division was attacked when an Afghan National Army Soldier turned his weapons on US Forces. He responded without care for his safety, providing real-time combat medical care to those injured. Several members of his team were killed in action. Upon his return home, Brooks received the 2013 JINSA Grateful Nation Award and the Combat Action Ribbon. 

After Afghanistan, Brooks was accepted into Officer Candidate School and went on to be the Officer in Charge of a Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) in San Diego, California. You can find him on the east coast now, heading up search and rescue operations.

 

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
Brooks and Duffin in 2019 atending a retirement ceremony in Hawaii

“As a service we are lucky to have the vast mission set that we do,” he explained. “Every day coasties are training and executing challenging operations and evolutions that determine lives being saved, the security of a port or critical infrastructure, proper compliance or safety of the maritime industry or just preparing for the next hurricane to hit our shores. Our service is unique, wherein every day we are given the opportunity to deal with conflict and overcome it.”

When Brooks was asked what he would want the military community and public to know about the Coast Guard, his message was simple: “Our service is capable, ready and actively playing a role in a vast array of mission sets spanning the globe.”

So, the next time you see their sharp looking dark blue uniform – that’s a United States Coast Guardsman. Not a unicorn. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of September 28th

It looks like the list for the Army’s senior enlisted promotions got pushed out — which is fantastic news for everyone who got picked up. Congratulations! You worked hard and it’s paying off.

To the rest of you, my condolences. But let me be clear here: I’m not pitying the NCOs — oh no, they’ll get their time to shine (or get RCPed for staying in at the same rank, whichever comes first). My heart aches for the soldiers beneath the NCOs that didn’t make the list. Get ready for a world of hurt because your platoon sergeant is about to take their frustrations out on you.

Let these memes help soothe the pain.


From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Lock Load)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Call for Fire)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Shammers United)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via PNN)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via WWII Pattonposting)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

(Meme by Ranger Up)

popular

5 ways being a military child shaped how I travel now

Where did you grow up? This is a complicated question for children from a military family. My answer: everywhere and nowhere.

Because of this unique childhood I’ve always felt at home in the world and understood why I love to travel. Later in life, it dawned on me it also influenced how I travel.


As the daughter of a Marine, and the wife of a soldier, I’ve been exposed to a lifestyle that carries with it a certain mindset and way of moving through the world. I’ve adopted a few of these valuable tools for myself and found they inspired a sense of confidence and self-reliance. Whether I’m miles away in a foreign country or just down the road, they are always there as a reference.

In addition to a sense of humor and infinite patience, these 5 lessons have served me well on my travels.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

media.fshoq.com

“Check Your Six”

Situational awareness. I can’t talk enough about this one. It’s first on the list because it’s so important, especially in this age of attention-detracting smartphones. In a crowd or on your own, it’s a simple concept worth practicing. Keep your eyes and ears open, pay attention to your surroundings, and trust your instincts if something feels amiss.

Find the courage

As someone who often travels solo, I get asked about fear all the time. It’s healthy to be afraid but more often than not, we imagine scenarios and dangers that will likely never happen. It helps to break the situation down into manageable pieces. Try to pinpoint exactly where the issue lies and look for ways to solve that particular problem. As the saying goes, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

Stay In Touch

Situation Reports (aka sit-reps) are a vital means of communication in the military. By checking in occasionally to say what you’re doing or where you are, you’re ensuring an extra level of personal safety. Hiking alone in the desert can be exhilarating but a quick message to let someone know your general direction is always a good idea.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
Image by PDPhotos from Pixabay

Be Prepared

Spontaneity is exciting, but preparation and organization leaves you with even more room to sit back and relax stress-free. At the simplest level, it could mean arriving at the airport with ample time or packing a complete carry-on for an unexpected delay. On the serious end of the scale (i.e. having emergency supplies or extra fuel in a remote area) it could be the difference between life and death.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

Don’t Forget The Bennies

The scope of recreation-related benefits available to service members and their families has changed and grown tremendously. Taking advantage of these free or discounted perks can make for interesting and cost-effective travel. A simple web search will produce an exhaustive list but here are a few ways to enjoy military-friendly travel: USO airport lounges, Space-A flights, RV rentals from Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) or an Armed Forces Vacation Club membership.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How a change in warfare set men’s style for almost 100 years

It’s a common lament among male troops and veterans these days — you don’t need to be clean-shaven to seal a gas mask. That might be true today, but in the trenches of World War I, it was not the case. The Doughboys and Tommies in WWI Europe absolutely needed to be clean-shaven to seal their masks.

World War I and chemical warfare changed the way men groomed themselves for combat. And, when the troops came home, the American public kinda liked the change, cementing the nation’s universal preference for (a lack of) facial hair.


Just twenty years prior, beards were a common sight in the Spanish-American War. Troops and their officers thought nothing of a well-grown face of whiskers. And because safety razors weren’t as common as they are today, it was a good thing that sporting beards was still in vogue.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

That’s the kind of facial hair that remembers the USS Maine.

But by 1901, there was finally an option to make it safer to shave the faces fighting to make the world safe for democracy. Before this, men had to use a straight razor or go to a barber. This was both dangerous and expensive, especially in the middle of a war.

When the Germans started using poison gas on World War I battlefields, the Army started issuing gas masks — and these new safety razors. Suddenly, shaving was a requirement as well as a lifesaving tactic. In order for these early gas masks to fit properly, the men needed to be clean-shaven.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

You can tell he’s in regs because he’s alive.

When WWI-era soldiers returned to the United States, they appeared in newsreels and newspapers as well as their hometowns. They were all shaven to within stringent Army regulations — and America liked the new look. Facial hair would fall out of favor until the 1960s and, even then, it was mostly American counterculture that re-embraced the beard.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

Goddamn hippies.

It all makes sense when you think about it. Generations of children grew up watching the fighting men of World War I and World War II become the qrsenal of Democracy over the course of some 30 years. Who wouldn’t want to emulate their heroes?

But it wasn’t heroism alone that inspired America’s smooth faces. The 20th Century was when advertising and big American corporations came of age. In the days before the “clutter” of ads Americans are inundated with every second of every day, advertising was remarkably effective. Even today, when an ad campaign hits a nerve in society, it changes the way people think and act.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

But you’re too smart for that, right?

MIGHTY CULTURE

13 signs you grew up as a military brat

Military culture is something you definitely have to be a part of to understand. Bob from accounting trying to relate to the strictness of your Drill Sergeant dad’s rules and regulations from a civilian perspective boils your red-hot American blood faster than anything else.

Sure, growing up a military brat separates you from the rest of the world, but also gains you entrance into the greatest 1% club out there. Here are the signs you might have grown up a military brat.


1. You have no idea how to answer, “Where are you from?”

Well, that depends. Do you mean where I lived the longest? Where I was born? Where I spent my best years? To be perfectly honest, you have no idea, so you just throw a random state (or country) out there and hope it makes you sound as cool as you look.

2. You’ve visited more countries than most adults 

In most cases, a 16 year old reminiscing of skiing the Alps on holiday or discussing the economic impact of buying American grocery staples abroad would sound like a big fat lie. But not for you, you cultured darling. You spent your three-day weekends on a multi-country European tour instead of grabbing burgers and a movie.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jesse Smith. (DVIDS)

3. You have to explain why you were born in another country but aren’t from there

No, I wasn’t born in America. No, I’m not a foreign citizen. No, I do not have a family heritage from that country either; I was just born there. Yes, it’s very annoying to explain this to people dozens of times.

4. You know your Social Security Number

You don’t need to call mom to ask her your personal information, you’ve got that on lock along with your service member parent’s as well.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Rick Hurtado / Released. (DVIDS)

5. You can’t stand civilians freaking out over moving…down the street

You’re crying over the sentimental loss of moving two blocks down in the same neighborhood while keeping the same circle of friends, same zip code and same schools? Please, do explain to me how sympathetic I should be toward you (eye roll).

6. You know the metric system

Amid a long list of random knowledge nuggets that you possess, growing internationally meant exposure to a system the entire world works within…except America.

7. Being late is a crime you’ll never commit

If you’re early you’re on time and if you’re on time, the Captain will likely treat it as if you just committed a crime against time itself. Ten minutes early is precisely on time in your book.

8. Bowling is your party trick

A weird yet common pastime in military culture…bowling. Nearly every duty station had a bowling alley and you’ve likely spent an unhealthy amount of time practicing your spins.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps
Photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Sherba, 8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. (DVIDS)

9. You’ve ridden on an airplane next to a Humvee in the cargo hold

Space-A flights are something else. There are no peanuts, no TVs in the headrests and zero chance you’ll snag a window seat.

10. You were “hella” cool with your ID card

Don’t even try to deny it. You thought you were crazy important toting around that ID card as a kid.

11. Getting up early is the standard operating procedure

Sleeping until 0700 hours sounds like a vacation after growing up a military child. Your entire neighborhood believed exercise was best before the sun rose each day.

12. Your parents take respect to a whole new level

Preparing your less than lazy friends for a stay at your house may have required an entire operation in itself.

13. When you were raised among Rangers, nothing scares you

“Your parents scare me,” might be a phrase you’ve heard a time or 20. But whether you were raised by Seals, Rangers or Green Berets, 200 pounds of American fighting muscle looks like your favorite uncle, not a death sentence.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Is Kim Jong Un dead? TV senior executive in China says YES.

After weeks of speculation about North Korea’s leader Kim Jung Un’s health, Reuters reported a medical team was dispatched to North Korea to care for Kim. And yesterday, a senior executive of a Beijing-backed satellite tv station in China said Kim is dead.


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(KCNA)

The only thing we really ever know about North Korea is that we can’t ever be sure about what’s happening there, but rumors about Kim’s grave health and possible passing have been circulating for weeks.

When Kim failed to make an appearance on April 15 for the country’s most important holiday which honors the founder of the country (Kim’s late grandfather Kim II Sung), suspicion started building that Kim was sick. April 25 is another major holiday – the 88th anniversary of their armed forces, the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. As night falls in North Korea, the leader again failed to appear, bringing more people to believe that there may be some truth to the rumors that Kim is dead.

As of this writing, the White House and senior officials in the United States government remain tight-lipped about his health and are giving no credence to the rumors.

“While the US continues to monitor reports surrounding the health of the North Korean Supreme Leader, at this time, there is no confirmation from official channels that Kim Jong-un is deceased,” a senior Pentagon official not authorized to speak on the record told Newsweek yesterday. “North Korean military readiness remains within historical norms and there is no further evidence to suggest a significant change in defensive posturing or national level leadership changes.”

Earlier in the week, President Trump sent Kim Jong Un his well wishes. “I’ve had a very good relationship with him. I wouldn’t — I can only say this, I wish him well, because if he is in the kind of condition that the reports say, that’s a very serious condition, as you know,” Trump said on Tuesday during a White House press briefing. “But I wish him well.”

But on Thursday, when asked about Kim Jong Un’s condition, the president said, “I think the report was incorrect, let me just put it that way. I hear the report was an incorrect report. I hope it was an incorrect report,” he added, without providing further details.

Although the US remains somewhat quiet about Kim’s health, a Hong Kong Satellite TV executive told her 15 million followers on Weibo that she had a source saying Kim was dead. While we’re not sure if she named her source, her uncle is a Chinese foreign minister.

Photos of Kim appearing to lie in state have also been circulating social media, but they look suspiciously a lot like Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il’s final resting photos. We’re guessing photoshop is far more likely than a leaked photograph.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

What happens if Kim dies? Likely, another Kim would take over. The possibility of his sister, Kim Yo Jong, being named leader is “more than 90%,” said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, as reported by the Associated Press. He noted she has “royal blood,” and “North Korea is like a dynasty.” Kim’s sister has accompanied him on various high-profile meetings in recent years, prompting many to speculate she’s next in line.

Is Kim Jong Un dead? We’re not sure. But as soon as we know more, we’ll tell you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 pictures of huge cats sitting on the world’s most powerful weapons

Cats are apt to perch wherever they please — on your keyboard, atop the refrigerator, or squished into a box. But a cat on top of a submarine is unexpected, to say the least.

Military Giant Cats (@ GiantCat9 on Twitter) is a bizarre Twitter account that’s exactly what it sounds like — photos of giant cats on top of, playing with, or stalking various militaries or weapons systems.

The account’s creator, a person who identified himself as Thomas, told Insider, “I started this weird account because I love the absurdity of [the] internet, I love the cats, I worked several years in the defense industry.”


“A lot of people send me [cat] pics in the DM,” Thomas told Insider via Twitter direct message. He then Photoshops the cats onto airplanes, submarines, battlefields, and tanks, much to the delight of the account’s 29,000 followers.

Take a look at these felines on fighter jets in the next slides.

(Military Giant Cats)

(Military Giant Cats)

(Military Giant Cats)

(Military Giant Cats)

(Military Giant Cats)

(Military Giant Cats)

(Military Giant Cats)

7. And an NH90 making a very special delivery.

Thomas told Insider he was “surprised by the buzz” around the account, but noted that cats are “easy clickbait.”

(Military Giant Cats)

8. The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard even got in on the fun.

Or is that Purr-l Harbor?

(Military Giant Cats)

(Military Giant Cats)

10. This is a literal Tomcat F-14B.

Cat puns aside, Thomas told Insider, “I have nothing to sell, no political message, my Photoshop skills are quite modest, I just want to have fun and share a good time with the Twitter community.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Zippos and American warfighters go hand-in-hand.

If you watch a movie and see troops lighting up a cigarette, you’ll probably notice that Zippo in their hand. Search-and-destroy missions in the Vietnam War were often referred to as “Zippo missions.” There’s simply no denying the fact that American troops have long had an intimate relationship with Zippos.

Here’s why:


Troops are always searching for reliable gear as, oftentimes, the stuff we’re issued is absolute trash. That’s where Zippos come in. They’re reliable and compact, two criteria that “military-grade” items tend not to satisfy. But it’s not just that they work well — they’ve had a long history with troops.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

Zippos during WWII were primarily used to light cigarettes. Vietnam, however, was another story.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

The American Zippo Manufacturing Company was founded in the 1930s, but when World War II started, the company ceased all production for consumer markets altogether and instead manufactured lighters exclusively for troops being sent to war. Millions of them were carried by troops and, no matter what, they knew they could rely on their trusty, metal lighter to spark their cigarette during a long day of ass-kicking.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

Some units who performed these Zippo missions were referred to as “Zippo Squads.”

(U.S. Army)

Zippos took on a different function during the Vietnam War. Aside from reliably lighting cigarettes, they were used to light flamethrower tanks when the built-in, electrical igniter didn’t work. They were also used as mirrors to shave, to heat up popcorn, and the list goes on.

In fact, Zippos became synonymous with Vietnam War operations as troops would raze villages with lighters on seek-and-destroy missions. But Zippos weren’t just for burning things down — they actually became a kind of cultural timepiece.

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

Some of the best pieces of military history.

(Photo by Joe Haupt)

In Vietnam, troops began engraving designs onto the sides of the hardy, metal lighters as a way to pass the time. By looking at those engravings, we’ve been able to glean some insight into the mindset of troops from the era. It might have been just an idle habit at the time, but such historical artifacts are invaluable for future generations.

The practice of engraving Zippos is one that carries over to modern-day service members. It may not be as popular as it once was, but troops all over still use the iconic lighter to spark up cigarettes or even burn frayed paracord.

Regardless, one thing is for sure — Zippos remain one of the most iconic pieces of unofficial military gear.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Fake news and doom and gloom? Not at Sandboxx

We have all been there as boots. You just graduated boot camp. You are motivated, fit, look good in that uniform and are king/queen of the world. Everyone back home is looking at you like you are the bee’s knees, and you are ready for the next phase of your military career.


Next thing you know, you are being handed a broom and sweeping the rain off a parade deck or trying to finally locate those damn Humvee keys. You want to get more information on what your journey is like, but there is no recruiter to ask, the Lance Corporal Underground is giving you all types of scuttlebutt, and your NCO is more about giving you a hard time instead of telling you what is next.

Your spouse, parents and family are going through a similar journey. They just watched you complete training. You are now an elite warrior in their eyes (even if you will be doing admin work the next four years). They spoil you on your leave and stuff your face with all the food you can eat.

As they watch you leave for school and then your permanent duty station, they do what spouses and parents do. They worry, fret and turn to any news to learn about what your journey will be like. Yeah, you tell them that you are filing papers or doing maintenance on a 7-ton, but they turn on the news or log into Facebook and are convinced you are being sent to Iran or North Korea soon or are in dire danger at all times because that’s all they see in the media.

Well, thanks to Sandboxx, that will soon change. The company that gave us the app that changed the way you get letters at boot camp is working on building a new resource for everyone from salt dogs who are nearing their 20 to boots that blouse their jeans and military families.

But first, what is Sandboxx? If you went to boot camp recently, you probably remember them.

The Sandboxx app is one that a lot of people have used and part of one of the coolest morale boosters in the history of boot camp.

Sandboxx got its start when Marine veterans Sam Meek and Gen. Ray Smith teamed up with follow co-founder Padmanabhan Ramaswamy to offer a better way to keep in touch with your family when you were at recruit training.

The idea was simple. When you showed up at bootcamp, you filled out a card with your loved one’s information. A group of military spouses would then enter that information in a database, and your mom, dad, spouse, grandparents or girl back home would get your address so they can write to you.

They could then login to the Sandboxx app or on the website and then start sending letters right away. The letters are printed out, put into envelopes and sorted by platoon. Most letters are delivered the next day.

So now, instead of languishing on Parris Island wondering if your girl ran off with Jody for three weeks before you got a huge stack of letters at once, you can get letters daily and keep up to date with family and loved ones. Loved ones can also upload pictures (no, they can’t send alcohol or smokes).

www.youtube.com

You might pull the whole, ‘boot camp is getting soft now’ routine, but the military doesn’t care. Sandboxx letters were shown to dramatically improve morale and cut down on recruits quitting or dropping out of training. This was especially true among female recruits.

Sandboxx also helps family travel to graduations with an amazing travel vertical on their page. As soon as you know Johnny or Suzy will be walking across that parade deck, you can use their user-friendly travel page and get yourself to South Carolina to see them!

There is also a second app called iCorps. This is an easy to use, one-stop shop, resource for all things Marines. You can use PFT calculators, learn how your ribbons should be set up and get your Marine Corps history all in one spot without having to surf through Google and a myriad of MARADMINS.

What is next for Sandboxx?

We Are the Mighty talked to Alex Hollings, who will be heading up this effort by Sandboxx to educate and alleviate fears of military members and their families. Alex himself is a former Marine who served from 2006 to 2012. After getting out and going to school, Alex and his wife endured a big loss in their family. That spurred him to live for the moment and follow his dreams as a writer. After moving to Georgia and working for SOFREP and Popular Mechanics, Alex caught the eye of Sandboxx. He is now their editor and dedicated to providing educating and entertaining news to young service members and their families. When asked about Sandboxx News, he said, “We want to be the website for junior service members that are looking to advance in their career or just understand how what they’re doing plays a role in America’s broader defense apparatus. We want to be the place you can learn, and where you can send your mom or your boyfriend to help them understand what you’re doing and why it’s so important.”

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

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Look, we all know nowadays the news we read is all doom and gloom and meant to scare us. We need to be frightened of viruses, cruise ships, Iranians, viruses on cruise ships, and Iranians sneaking viruses on cruise ships. Sandboxx is moving around that.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FDJrmOTJx6GxSD6N5dPAN0eUqjtgJJsrJ-JU0Euf1llDJoP0lWY72ur63lov55GNWYL9JQB1SqaxYZkQwLLiXP58PCpkIGWBk_Ey3H4w7CUq11PD-_aVBWHr1T6tANMwVbkU_nstGgKoDGSMDVw&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=345&h=c71df5d0eda59eb533855f7ad0e5d097412216c1e81d11dfdb58425bffbdb7c4&size=980x&c=3846266193 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FDJrmOTJx6GxSD6N5dPAN0eUqjtgJJsrJ-JU0Euf1llDJoP0lWY72ur63lov55GNWYL9JQB1SqaxYZkQwLLiXP58PCpkIGWBk_Ey3H4w7CUq11PD-_aVBWHr1T6tANMwVbkU_nstGgKoDGSMDVw%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D345%26h%3Dc71df5d0eda59eb533855f7ad0e5d097412216c1e81d11dfdb58425bffbdb7c4%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3846266193%22%7D” expand=1]

(Nicole Utt, Shane McCarthy, and Alex Hollings of Sandboxx News)

In this time of fake news, doom and gloom, and scare tactics, it is great that a company is taking the time to alleviate the fears a spouse and parents might have and guide young service members on their new adventure/career.

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