Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke about leadership to educators responsible for training the next generations of military leaders at the Association of Military Colleges on Feb. 25, 2019.

Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva used the experience of the Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945 as an example of leadership in action and a time when normal men rose to sublime levels of leadership.


Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The United States sent 70,000 Marines and sailors to assail the bastion in the Central Pacific. An unprecedented bombardment of the small island — some 74 days — had very little effect, because Japanese soldiers literally had dug into the island.

“Leadership is about inspiring people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do — to do things they don’t believe they can do,” Selva said to the educators. “I imagine not many Marines wanted to charge ahead, directly into the barrage of fire that was being delivered upon them on Iwo Jima. Leaders have to figure out what skills we have to help others, and to inspire others to do things they certainly do not want to do — to accept those challenges that they believe are insurmountable.”

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, completes an arrested landing training simulation at Training Air Wing 6 during a visit at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Feb. 1, 2019. Selva visited the training squadrons before speaking at a Joint Winging Ceremony for Air Force combat systems officers and naval flight officers.

(DOD photo by Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Historic battle

All the firepower from battleships, cruisers and destroyers off the island, from aircraft strafing positions and from artillery reached a limit, and it was Marine riflemen who had to shoulder the burden of taking on the entrenched Japanese.

American leaders believed the battle would be over in days. But the island wasn’t secure for a month, at a cost of 21,000 Japanese dead. Some 6,800 Marines and sailors died in the battle, and more than 20,000 were wounded.

A total of 27 Medals of Honor were awarded for gallantry during the battle for Iwo Jima — the largest single-number of awards for a single battle in U.S. history.

“We are not genetically predisposed for leadership,” Selva said. “We’re actually predisposed, my theory is, to be good followers. And it is exceptional followers who become leaders of character. And it’s a learned trait, not an innate skill.”

These leadership traits can be taught, the general said. “If there’s a chance to build good leaders, it’s because they have role models,” he said. “They have people who are willing to share their skills and teach their skills. Because teaching leadership is a little bit about baring your soul. It’s a little bit about admitting your weaknesses. It’s a little bit about helping other people discover theirs. And it’s certainly about motivating them to overcome them.”

MIGHTY FIT

5 ‘trap foods’ that are making you gain weight

Every day, countless Americans walk into their local grocery stores and purchase the foods they believe to be healthy based on the packaging and labels. In the fitness world, “trap foods” are those that might seem healthy, but aren’t very good for you in reality.

Many food distribution companies trap you into thinking that if you buy their colorful products, you’re getting the most nutrition possible, meeting your health goals. Keep an eye out for these foods that look healthy on the surface, but are packing lots of nutritional heft on the inside.


Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

Sushi

Who doesn’t enjoy a tasty sushi dinner, filled with delicious slices of epic-looking fish? I think we all do. Unfortunately, this type of cuisine can have a surprising number of calories — rolls range from 400 to 900 calories each. Since we tend to order a few rolls at a time, you’re looking at eating 1,000 or more calories in a single sitting.

On the flip side, sushi is a reliable food source if you’re trying to bulk up.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

Yogurt parfait

Looks freakin’ delicious, right? Well, unless you put a yogurt parfait together at home with fresh ingredients, you can’t guarantee that it’s not loaded with tons of corn syrup and sugar — which are the last things you want while dieting.
Instead of buying something prepackaged, you can make your own by purchasing unsweetened Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. That’s all it takes!

It’s so simple.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

(Photo by Nikodem Nijaki)

Guacamole

Although the addictive dip contains oodles of healthy and delicious avocados, store-bought varieties are often loaded with sodium. Additionally, this Hispanic treat is so good when garnished with a little lime and cilantro that we tend to overeat.

Traditionally, we eat the dip with high-calorie corn chips, flatbread, or tortillas, further adding to the calorie count.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

Various ‘fruit juices’

Don’t get fooled by the labels while walking down the fruit-juice aisle. The packaging on these products is particularly deceptive. They do their best to make the juice appear light and airy by showing off delicious, ripe fruits but, in reality, they’re loaded with processed sugars.

Pay particular attention to the labels that advertise “cocktail juice.” Those are loaded with sugar and will break your diet in a heartbeat.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

(Photo by Didriks)

Deli meats

When put on display, deli meats look like a beautiful buffet of perfectly rolled and stacked bite-sized snacks. From a glance, the meat looks fresh and healthy. In reality, however, it’s quite the opposite. Deli meats are often packaged and, in order to stay good for many lunches to come, they’re crammed with sodium to extend shelf life.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Marine Veteran is pioneering a new VA program to help veterans and their families

This post is sponsored by the UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellness Center (VFWC).

The UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellness Center is honored to continue to serve and support the military-connected community during COVID-19! For appointments call (310) 478-3711 x 42793 or email info@vfwc.ucla.edu

Every Marine knows the saying, “Pain is Weakness leaving the body.” It’s the motto that drill instructors use to encourage recruits to dig just a little deeper during boot camp and it’s often repeated when physical training takes a turn from hard to brutally hard. The military, especially the Marines, know that pain is the beginning of resilience, our ability to bounce back from difficult situations and complete the mission. But while some pain often prepares our servicemen and women for strength in war, we are often at a loss for what to do when our families or even children are challenged with pain and stress once we return. So when the VA wanted to start helping veteran families they smartly turned to one of the few and the proud.


Marine Veteran Tess Banko is no stranger to pain. By twenty three years old, she had survived homelessness, a massive back injury (for which she was medically discharged) and the suicide death of her husband, also a Marine. When her world seemed to be coming apart, Tess did the opposite of what most of us would do. Instead of allowing her pain to overwhelm her, she fought back. She dug into her pain both physically and mentally. Along the way, she volunteered to empower and assist others, went to college (she was crowned homecoming queen), and ultimately, found the tools inside to help her (and her family). Tess is the epitome of resilience and now she’s bounced back to take on a new mission.

Today, Tess is the executive director of the UCLA/VA Veterans Family Wellness Center, a one of a kind partnership between UCLA and the West Los Angeles VA system. Tess and her team are part of the first VA program specifically designed to help not only veterans, but their families. To support their work, the team is relying on cutting edge research from UCLA just a few blocks from the VA campus. UCLA, the university which revolutionized kidney transplants and invented the nicotine patch, is now offering veterans and their families a state of the art resiliency program. Families Over Coming Under Stress (FOCUS) is a resiliency training regimen for individuals, families with children and couples facing adversity or issues like traumatic stress.

With Tess at the helm, she’s not only pioneering a new way of thinking for the VA, she’s also helping others find their path through trauma. Tess sat down with We Are The Mighty to discuss her work, passion and journey into resilience.

WATM: First things first, thank you for everything you do for military families. How do you describe yourself and your work here at VFWC?

Tess: Well it’s really easy to give a title. I’m the executive director of the UCLA/VA. Veteran Family Wellness Center. But really, I’m a social worker and public administrator.

WATM: And a Marine? What made you join the Corps?

Tess: I think it was really a lot of wanting to be part of something that made a difference. When I was younger I used to go to the [El Toro] airshow with my grandfather and that’s the first time I ever laid eyes on a Marine standing there in the uniform. You know guiding people, I mean it was airshow duty. I didn’t know at the time probably how much fun that wasn’t, but they were motivating and just really interacting with the public, and there were are all these exciting machines and demonstrations. So, it really made an impact on me as a little girl. The wider world was calling.

WATM: Did your family have a history of military service?

Tess: I didn’t find out until many years later that my own grandfather was actually in the Army. He never told those stories to the family because I think he was embarrassed. He said that a lot of his friends were being sent off to war but he served two years in a non-combat role, got out and went into aerospace engineering and he was one of the first Mexican-American designers of bomb and missile systems at White Sands, NM. I personally saw the military as one of the only places that you could go as far as your own two feet would take you basically or your hard work that you put into it. That’s one of the reasons why I was excited to join.

WATM: Wow.

Tess: And I like a good challenge. The Marine Corps seemed like a good fit. So I joined [as] an engineer.

WATM: Did you find the challenge you were looking for? Especially as a female Marine in the engineers.

Tess: When I joined it was very idealistic. I wanted to be just one of the guys and I saw myself in that way. I never saw myself in terms of being a woman, only a Marine and that actually caused a lot of problems and disappointment at the time as we have only just begun to move more fully into gender integration among the services. And it was really challenging for me because as I said I never saw myself as anything other than a Marine. I always just wanted to do my job.

WATM: What made you transition out of the Marine Corps?

Tess: I got hurt.

WATM: You got hurt?

Tess: Yes. We were training and I noticed that there was something wrong with my back because my leg had stopped functioning. I was in my early 20’s and the command atmosphere gave this impression that you had to white knuckle it through anything. I was told, ‘There’s no problem, there’s no problem. You just need to keep going.’ It turned out that I had a herniated disc in my back and it was it was crushing the nerve to the point where it began to permanently kill the nerves. I was standing there on the rifle range and I just fell over on my side because my leg finally gave up. They called an ambulance and rushed me into emergency surgery in Japan.

WATM: Did you feel like you had the resiliency skills that prepared you for that experience?

Tess: My life growing up was challenging. My parents were very young when they had children. I was the only person in my immediate family to successfully graduate from high school. My parents had dropped out at 17, which kind of spells disaster for a young couple with four children. And so it was really a life of learning to adapt, moving from place to place, experiencing homelessness as a child, living between motels and being chased by bill collectors. You know all that bad stuff for [a child] but even from a young age I adopted a viewpoint of life that was more curious than anything. It was less ‘Oh my God, why is this happening to me?’ and more ‘huh this interesting.’ It was just a minor shift of perspective. I developed that curiosity and a different way of looking at problems and I think that’s a key part of resilience.

WATM: Did you know what resilience was growing up?

Tess: I did not. I think it was something that I saw modeled by example. My grandmother was a very kind and giving woman, she taught me so much. She always went out of her way to help people in the community even when she seemed in the midst of a lot of uncertainty in life. So, paying that forward, even on active duty I was volunteering in the local community teaching English to Okinawan children. I’ve always been so curious about other people and their lives. It’s a great education.

WATM: And then you lost your husband (also a Marine). How do you process all of that?

Tess: It was a surreal experience having the casualty assistance team knock on the door. I can remember I opened it a crack. It didn’t make sense in my mind what was happening so I opened the door a crack and a Marine stuck his foot to keep me from shutting it. Then I saw the Colonel. And then it finally hit me that it was real. My husband wasn’t coming home. When you’re actively experiencing shock, pain or trauma it’s less thinking about resilience and more survival mode kicking in. It was one second, one minute at a time. The days blurred together. I mean being emotionally injured is much like being physically injured, it can take a long time to wrap your head around. There’s no linear pathway. Also, processing trauma is not just about moving through pain but about overcoming fear. There’s the fear that you as a person or things in your life will never be the same. Sometimes you don’t know what other people are going to think. Usually some of the fear ties back to being afraid that people are going to judge you if you feel broken. And I think that really was hard for me to overcome, but it was necessary. I think that being gentle with yourself is a skill.

WATM: You not only survived but thrived? You went back to college and grad school and now you literally work with Neuroscientists.

Tess: The science behind the brain fascinates me because people that are in pain sometimes seem to think, ‘I’m damaged forever and I’m never gonna be able to do or be anything. There is no coming back from this.’ I understand where you’re at if it’s crossed your mind, I’ve been there too, but there’s so much possibility. We can’t change what happened but our brain is essentially plastic and able to rewire. The body and mind actively try to repair themselves, and we can support our own process through building resilience. There are a lot of tools for that belt, resilience isn’t just a buzzword.

WATM: Is that thesis behind your team’s work at the VFWC?

Tess: Exactly. The center is a place of hope and healing. We teach tangible skills, identifiable tools, for veterans and their families to be able to overcome challenges and build better relationships. The FOCUS model that’s our cornerstone is pretty incredible.

WATM: Is there anybody else out there that’s focusing on families like this?

Tess: Not in this way. From a wellness-based resilience perspective this is the first center of its kind, especially paired with the VA which traditionally only sees individual veterans. They took a huge step to open their doors to couples and families too. When you think about it, though, our families, friends and communities are on the front lines supporting after military service.

WATM: So this is a groundbreaking VA partnership all based in science?

Tess: Yep. That’s why UCLA is such an amazing partner because the VFWC is just blocks away from world class researchers. The Center falls under the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and the Nathanson Family Resilience Center which focus on resilience for all families, not just veterans. The research behind our programs is about understanding what drives human behavior and growth. Based on that, VFWC programming is tailored to veterans and their families with really firm research and evidence backing it up.

WATM: Classic, intel drives operations model. But you have specific model for your programs as well. What is FOCUS?

Tess: FOCUS is Families Overcoming Under Stress. It’s a holistic model that was co-created between UCLA and Harvard University and currently in use on over 30 active duty military bases around the world. Our center represents the first wider translation of FOCUS from active duty into the veterans community, which are distinctly different populations. It’s a departure from traditional therapy models.

WATM: What can veterans and their families expect when they come to the center?

Tess: When somebody comes into the center in general we start with a consultation that helps us to really guide veterans and family members to the resources that they might be needing. It’s starting where the individual is. We have individual, couples, early childhood, military sexual trauma, and combat veteran adaptations, plus group sessions and special workshops and events. We keep our doors open for veterans and family members regardless of discharge, benefits or when they got out. The building we’re housed in also offers veterans with VA benefits massage, reiki, mindfulness and yoga. There’s even a drum circle and Taichi.

WATM: And children?

Tess: Especially children. Research that was done as far back as the Holocaust indicates that trauma can be passed down from generation to generation. In cases of post-traumatic stress, suicide and even repeated deployments, the effects of secondary trauma is a very real thing. A lot of the times we see families with children who don’t know how to talk to them about certain issues or there’s not a huge understanding of the developmental piece of what’s behind behaviors. Kids aren’t just mini-adults, the human brain is still developing until the age of 25! So, we support both the parents and children to find a closeness and ability to communicate more as they move through the journey.

WATM: That sounds pretty awesome especially for the VA. How would you describe starting the center?

Tess: It’s been a lot of pioneering. Improvising. Being resilient. There are so many people who care in the VA system and a whole lot of need. Offering another avenue for assistance is important to the team here.

WATM: What is your vision for the center and the future of resilience in the VA?

Tess: I would love to see the VA expand the VFWC’s holistic wellness model to include centers in every facility, especially coupled with a research institution. Veterans and their families would really benefit. Both our families, and wider communities for that matter, are really impactful in our individual wellness. One of the great things about the VFWC is our ability to seek additional community resources. It’s a long table and there is no one size fits all for wellness, reintegration, and healing.

WATM: So now you you’ve gone through your own experience gone through two years here. What does resilience mean to you?

Tess: I think the Marine Corps says it really, well you adapt and you overcome. Sometimes it seems like pull-through comes from out of nowhere because we’re born with it, but sometimes life can bring those levels low. Resilience is that wellspring that allows for course correction and being able to bounce back. Resilience to me also means working on saying, “hey something’s wrong here” and being open to assistance. First step for me personally of breaking the cycle was my own acknowledgment of what I was facing. For instance, I couldn’t talk to my family being sexually assaulted on active duty and I now know that’s common to those who have experienced trauma. I simply didn’t have the vocabulary, I had to organize the words in my own mind. We really need each other to get through hard times, so it’s crucial to develop.

WATM: What does 2019 look like for you and VFWC?

Tess: We’re working on piloting a new transition program, TEAM, for those at any point after active service based on the core FOCUS model paired with the ideas of identity ,mission, meaning and purpose. These are four essential elements of transition. Your perception changes along the transition to civilian life just like my perception changed of myself when I got out of the Marine Corps. It really was a rediscovery of who I was, where I was. I had to find a new mission. For me that happened to be serving people, but it could be different for others. It can be challenging to figure these things our while also providing for yourself or a family. We want to offer veterans and their families the resilience tools before they even need them.

WATM: Do you have any advice specifically to the families

Tess: There is no one size fits all to happiness, health and healing. If one thing doesn’t work, move forward. No matter what you face, keep reaching out and moving forward. Families, you are vital to service. You’re heard and seen. You matter.

Marine Veteran Tess Banko is the executive director of the UCLA/VA Veterans Family Wellness Center (VFWC). To learn more about the center’s work or begin your own resilience training please contact familycenter@nfrc.ucla.edu or Phone 310-478-3711, ext 42793.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Marines want you to design their unmanned cargo system

In 2028, another major hurricane has struck Puerto Rico, causing utter devastation across the island. Buildings have collapsed, roads are damaged, and there have been reports of small scale flooding near the coast.

The Marines have been deployed as first responders to the island along with a fleet of GUNG HO (Ground-based Unmanned Go-between for Humanitarian Operations) robots have been to provide additional resources.


The ask

In this Challenge we are asking for you to visually design a concept for an Unmanned Cargo System that we are calling the Ground-based Unmanned Go-between for Humanitarian Operations or GUNG HO.

It should be a relatively small, cargo transport bot, that can be deployed easily, and is used for a variety of tasks across the Corps from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) scenarios to assisting with on-base logistics and beyond.

For this challenge the GUNG HO will be utilized to….

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

The users

When developing your GUNG HO concept keep in mind that there are two very different users.

Operators: These are the users operating the device. They will almost exclusively be Marines who will load and secure cargo, and establish the destinations and mode of operations. In HADR situations, there is no single rank or job title that provides relief. The operators could be anyone who is available to help, and they may not have training on the system.

Receivers: These are the people who are receiving the cargo. Some of them will be Marines, but they will often be civilians.

In a disaster relief scenario the receivers may have just lost their home or family members, they might speak a different language and come from a different culture. The GUNG HO should make its intent absolutely clear, but should also come across as comforting and disarming for those in a traumatic situation.

Design principles

The following design principles have been created to help you as a designer get inspiration, provide some guidance and understand where the USMC is trying to go with this project.

  1. Understandable: Intuitive for users at every level of interaction from newly recruited marines, to civilian children and the elderly.
  2. Comforting: Those interacting with the GUNG HO might be in a traumatic situation, not speak english, or be unfamiliar with the technology. The cargo recipient should feel safe, comfortable, and compelled to interact with the GUNG HO.
  3. Unbreakable: The GUNG HO must be rugged and ready for anything just like a marine. It will be operated in a variety of terrain, air dropped into inaccessible locations, and fording water next to marines on foot.
  4. Simple: Easy to fix, easy to operate, and easy to upgrade.
  5. Original: With a broad variety of operators, recipients, and mostly importantly cargo, there is no standard form factor that the GUNG HO needs to take. Explore those boundaries!

Requirements

Dimensions and Capacity:

  • Footprint: 48″ x 40″ x 44″H (122 cm x 102 cm x 112 cm) – Shipped on a standard warehouse pallet
  • Cargo Capacity: 500lb (227 kg) or roughly half of a standard Palletized Container (PALCON).

Cargo

Cargo Examples & Specs

  • Water in Container: 8.01 ft^3 of (226.8 L) – 500 lbs equivalent.
  • Case of .5L Water Bottles: 10.2″ x 15.1″ x 8.3″ – 28.1 pounds
  • MRE Case: 15.5″ x 9″ x 11″ – 22.7lbs
  • Medical Supply Kit: Not Standardized

Additional Requirements

  • Operational speed: low speed, up to 25 miles per hour (40 KPH)
  • Range: 35 miles (56 KM)
  • Autonomous with manual control abilities. (Must be free-operating, no tethers)
  • Must be able to traverse the same area as Marines on foot, including– climbing a 60% vertical slope, operating on a minimum 40% side slope across varying terrain.
  • Must be able to cross a depth of water of 24 inches.
Slopes



Go check out the requirements for additional information.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

C-17 crew manages stunning evacuation in tough weather

As if by fate, a weather delay in Germany allowed a group of reservists to embark on a challenging 22-and-a-half-hour mission to help save a fellow service member.

When severe weather delayed a C-17 aircrew from the 315th Airlift Wing heading home to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina was delayed in Germany Nov. 3, 2018, the crew was asked to take on an emergency mission transporting a burn patient to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.


“When our mission was delayed, everyone was a little frustrated because they had to get back to their civilian jobs,” said Capt. Dennis Conner, the mission’s aircraft commander from the 701st Airlift Squadron. “Then I get a call asking if we would stay out and take a medical evacuation mission because there was a Soldier who was pretty badly burned. There was not one hesitation, the entire crew stepped up. They put their civilian lives on hold to do this; they missed work and school to get him home.”

The soldier was transported from Hungary to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, by an Air Force aeromedical evacuation team and was destined for the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research Burn Center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

C-17 Globemaster IIIs from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., return home after supporting a large formation exercise May 25, 2017.

According to the Daily News Hungary, “an American soldier was electrocuted at the Ferencváros railway station when he climbed up to a cargo train transporting combat vehicles.” The article states there was an electrical line carrying 25,000 volts above the train’s cargo, potentially causing the incident. The Hungarian National Health Service also gave details of the incident, “40 percent of the man’s body suffered second and third degree burns. What is more, he seemed to have broken his femur,” said Pál Győrfy, spokesperson for the organization.

“It was an unbelievable effort. No other country in the world would go to the extent we did to help one of our warfighters,” said Capt. Bryan Chianella, one of the 701 AS pilots on the mission. “We do what we can to take care of our own.”

During the flight, the C-17 was scheduled to do an aerial refueling so it could continue to San Antonio without stopping, said Conner.

“It was chaos,” he said. “Ten minutes before our AR, the tanker lost one of their engines and had to turn around. We did a lot of planning for this mission… We had several backup plans in place. We could only land in Boston or (Joint Base Andrews, Maryland) because if our jet broke down, he needed to be close to a burn center. Since we had strong headwinds, we didn’t have enough gas to get us to Andrews; we had to try to make it to Boston.”


“It was pretty stressful,” said Chianella. “They only had enough pain meds for our original flight time plus two hours and we landed in Boston with our emergency fuel.”

With the quick stop in Boston for fuel, the crew took off for San Antonio and landed at Lackland AFB, Texas then returned to home to Charleston with no further incidents.

“This was one of those missions where you make a difference helping a brother in arms,” said Master Sgt. Glenn Walker, the flying crew chief on the mission from the 315th Maintenance Squadron. “We all came together as a team and worked like a flawless Swiss watch,” he said.

Both Conner and Chianella also credited the crew’s teamwork in making the mission a success.

“I was very proud of the entire crew. I didn’t do anything special, the crew just did what they do and made this mission happen,” explained Connor.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Sergeant Major tells Marines to ‘see something, say something’

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Ronald L. Green, shared his second video message to Marines as part of the Own It! campaign. In the video, he calls for Marines to “look around you and see who might be struggling and ask them, how can I help?” Own It! is a Marine Corps awareness campaign designed to provide tips to Marines on how to start tough conversations with fellow Marines.


“We all need to support each other in protecting what we’ve earned. So, if you see something, do something, and help our Marine Corps family be safe and ready for the next fight,” said Sgt. Maj. Green.

Marines and their families can join the conversation by texting OWNIT to 555-888.

By texting OWNIT, participants will receive links to resources that will guide them on how to have a tough conversation with a Marine Corps family member about difficult situations like suicide, consent, rejection, bullying, substance abuse, as well as family issues including relationship red flags, divorce, child abuse, or the unexpected death of a loved one. These tip sheets are available at www.usmc-mccs.org/ownit.

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A UFC superstar choked out a US troop in a USO show

UFC superstar Paige VanZant appears to have choked out a US soldier on May 2, 2018 — but it was all in good fun.

VanZant, 24, was showing a crowd of soldiers at a USO event how to perform a rear naked chokehold before the soldier passed out and went limp, a new video from TMZ shows.


When VanZant let go, the soldier collapsed and was caught and dragged backwards by Max Holloway, another UFC fighter, as the crowd erupted in cheers.

Although dazed, the soldier then stood up and smiled. Hopefully he didn’t lose too many brain cells.

It’s unclear where the video was shot, but VanZant and Holloway were visiting bases in Spain, Afghanistan, Iraq, and South Korea this week as part of a USO tour. Watch the video below:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iranian women are arrested for dancing in videos on Instagram

New details have emerged about several Iranian women recently arrested in Iran for posting videos of themselves dancing on social media – arrests that have sparked an international social media backlash.

A person familiar with the situation told VOA Persian that authorities arrested Instagram star Maedeh Hojabri and two other young women who posted popular dancing videos.


Hojabri, a 19-year-old from Tehran, had built a large following on Instagram, posting clips of herself dancing at home to popular Western and Iranian music. Some reports said her account had attracted 600,000 followers before being suspended. In recent days, fans have used other Instagram accounts bearing Hojabri’s name to share her video clips. But she has not posted any clips herself since her arrest.

The source identified the other two women as Elnaz Ghasemi and Shadab, whose last name was not known. Videos of both women have attracted tens of thousands of views on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=oq4m8cfPeXI

www.youtube.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX4NKxlptTc

www.youtube.com

The source said all three women were released on bail after three days, but also were required to appear on Iranian state TV as part of a public shaming. One of them, Ghasemi, has since left Iran, while Hojabri has been barred from doing so and Shadab’s whereabouts are unknown.

Aired early July 2018, a state TV program named “Wrong Path” showed images of several young woman whom it said had violated the moral norms of the Islamist-run state.

One of the women, whose face was obscured, answered an interviewer’s questions about why she posted dancing videos on social media. The woman, whom fans identified as Hojabri, said she made the videos for those fans, not intending to encourage them to do to the same.

Rights activists said Hojabri’s appearance in the program represented a forced confession of wrongdoing – a tactic that they say Iran often uses to stifle dissent.

There have been no reports in Iranian state media of the arrest of Hojabri and the other two women or the charges against them.

But the U.S.-based Center for Human Rights in Iran said the head of Tehran’s cyberpolice, Touraj Kazemi, made an announcement coinciding with the broadcast of “Wrong Path” that people who post “indecent” material online would be pursued for crimes against national security.

Since Hojabri’s arrest became apparent from her state TV appearance, Iranian women and men inside and outside the country have led a social media backlash, expressing support for the teenager by sharing videos of themselves dancing and using the hashtag #dancing_isnt_a_crime in Farsi.

Rights group Amnesty International joined the backlash on July 9, 2018, tweeting a video of its female campaigners doing a solidarity dance on a London street.

Iran’s Islamist laws only forbid women from dancing in public and in front of men who are not close relatives.

But the growing popularity of social media videos of Iranian woman dancing at home has prompted authorities in Iran to crack down on that phenomenon as well. In recent months, Iranian authorities have vowed to take action against Instagram celebrities they deem to have posted vulgar or obscene videos.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Persian Service.

This article originally appeared on The Voice of America News. Follow @VOANews on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Ghost Boats’ full of dead North Korean fishermen may be China’s fault

So many North Koreans have disappeared from fishing villages along the Hermit Kingdom’s east coast that the villages dotting the coastline are becoming known as “widow’s villages.”

Where do their husbands go?


They end up dead on boats adrift in the Sea of Japan. Their ships and bodies wash ashore on Japan or are picked up by the Japanese Coast Guard. Last year alone, 50 or more North Koreans were found on Japanese beaches.

For years, the phenomenon of these fishing boats full of dead men was a mystery. But now a few anonymous complaints to the United Nations may explain the “Ghost Boats” phenomenon. China has been poaching fish in North Korean waters, according to an investigation by the Irish Times.

In March 2020, two countries reported that 800 Chinese fishing vessels violated the sanctions placed on North Korean fishing waters. The sanctions were intended to prevent the North from selling the rights to fish in those waters. The area is a heavily-contested and poorly watched region of the ocean as it is but Chinese fleets compound the issue by switching off their location transponders.

Two countries provided the UN with satellite imagery that prove China is operating fishing fleets in the areas. External watchdogs estimate the Chinese have depleted the waters of stocks by up to 70 percent for some species.

The flotilla of Chinese fishing boats has also allegedly forced smaller, less well-equipped North Korean fishermen to pursue waters further from their villages, further from shore and further than their victualing can reasonably accommodate the crews of those ships. Once too far from shore, the North Korean peasants’ boats are susceptible to engine failures and storms – but don’t have the supplies to survive being adrift for very long periods.

Once the engines fail, the boats are likely caught up in the Tsushima current that runs up the west coast of the Japanese home islands. These flat-bottomed boats, filled only with fishing supplies and a few jugs of water, are usually found with tattered North Korean flags, and heavily decomposed bodies, if any remains are found at all.

The fishermen chase squid populations and end up with dead engines in the middle of the ocean, where they will probably spend the rest of their days, dying of thirst or exposure.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine veteran’s cigar bar lounge inspired by Afghanistan deployment

The Smoke Pit recently opened in Old Town Greenwood, Indiana, and invites its guests to come in, relax and revel in some downtime. Especially in the crazy chaos of our current conditions, what more could anyone ask for? There’s a faint smell of spicy tobacco that lingers in the air, and the atmosphere is warm and inviting. Exposed brick walls, original ceiling joists and a general hum in The Smoke Pit make it feel like you’re stepping back into time when you enter the 70-year old downtown building.

And that’s precisely what Marine veteran owner Reid Storvick wants to convey. After serving four years of active duty and four years of reserve duty, Storvick knew that one thing he wanted and needed in his civilian life was a sense of camaraderie – the kind that came from sitting around with a group of his fellow Marines. So he set out to recreate that experience as best he could. 

In the corner of this cavernously welcoming spot is a sleek back humidor that offers dozens of varieties of cigars – everything from locally rolled boutique cigars to some of the world’s most exclusive and luxe brands.

Enjoy good conversation and a good cigar, and feel like you have some downtime away from whatever’s troubling you. That’s the goal of The Smoke Pit. Storvick has tried to create a welcoming environment where no one feels like a stranger, and everyone can feel comfortable enough to stay as long as they like. He hopes that the experience will be like nothing else they’ve ever experienced. 

For Storvick and his fellow Marines, nothing sounded better on deployment than heading back from the desert than lighting up a cigar and processing the day. In his years abroad, Storvick learned to appreciate cigar culture in a way that surprised him. The ritual of it and the sharing of the experience between him and his fellow Marines led the veteran to want to replicate that experience back home. 

Storvick deployed to Afghanistan, Guatemala, and to Honduras, and after returning home from each deployment, he continued to develop his appreciation for cigars, getting deeper and deeper into the hobby. One day, half-joking, he told his wife that he wanted to open a cigar lounge. A few weeks later, his wife presented Storvick with a typed detailed business plan, showing him that not only was it possible, but it might just be pretty darn successful, too. 

In an interview with Marine Times, Storvick said it was that moment when he realized it was time to get himself in gear. 

Soon, plans started coming together. Storvick and his wife Jessica talked about what they would offer their customers, how they’d set up the lounge, and everything they might need to make the dream into a reality. They knew right off that they wanted to set up shop in Greenwood.

Greenwood holds special significance for Storvick and his family, with both his grandfather and his father being pillars in the community. Once they got the location figured out, Storvick had to decide what kinds of products they would offer. 

More than anything, he wanted a wide variety of choices from small boutique lines to more nationally recognized brands. Customers come into The Smoke Pit, select a cigar, and then enjoy it in one of the plush seating areas throughout the space. 

Special filters have been installed to make sure the building never gets too smokey, too. 

The next step in the evolution of The Smoke Pit is to add alcohol choices to the menu. Storvick has applied for a liquor license, which will help heighten the experience of sitting down to a quality cigar. Ultimately, Storvick’s goal is to help recreate the connections, friendships, and feeling of community he experienced during his deployments. He says when someone new walks into The Smoke Pit, they’re immediately a new friend.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Delta Force Marine earned the Navy Cross in Benghazi

Minutes after Tate Jolly arrived at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, a mortar hit the compound where an ambassador and another American had been killed and dozens more were trapped.

The Marine gunnery sergeant was one of only two U.S. troops with a small task force that rushed to respond to what quickly became clear was a coordinated attack on the U.S. State Department facility.

It was a remarkable mission. The closest military backup was hours away, which later led to fierce debate about how U.S. troops should be postured to protect Americans and diplomatic posts overseas.


“There was no one even remotely close to being able to go and get them in North Africa,” a source familiar with the operation planning said. “The nearest airplanes were hours away and the nearest ground troops a day away or further.”

The source spoke under the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the Sept. 11, 2012, incident, which remains a topic of controversy in Washington seven years later.

The scene was chaotic when the team arrived, and they quickly tried to restore order. There were nearly 30 panicked people who needed to be evacuated quickly, but the compound was under fire from multiple sides.

“Unfortunately, it was not a whole lot of offense; it was a whole lot of just holding guys off as long as they could to try and get out,” the person familiar with the mission said.

Jolly, who declined a request for an interview, would ultimately be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism there. The soldier with him, Master Sgt. David Halbruner, received the Army‘s Distinguished Service Cross. The valor awards are exceeded only by the Medal of Honor.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

Navy Cross.


Little has been known about the Jolly’s actions in Benghazi. There was no public ceremony when he received his valor award and, until recently, his name has not been publicly tied to the mission in media reports.

His hometown paper in North Carolina, the Wilkes Journal-Patriot, recently reported that the 36-year-old who’d graduated from high school about 90 miles north of Charlotte was the Marine who’d gone above and beyond to save other Americans. Jolly recently retired as a master sergeant.

According to testimony, public documents and the person familiar with his actions, Jolly was calm in the face of deadly chaos. He and Halbruner are credited with saving numerous lives that day.

With a rifle strapped to his back amid an onslaught of mortars and machine-gun fire, Jolly tended to the wounded, at one point throwing a man onto his back and shuffling him down a ladder amid a barrage of enemy fire. He helped some get back into the fight and provided vital care to others with life-threatening injuries.

Here’s how then-Gunnery Sgt. Jolly helped get other Americans to safety during a situation that caused a years-long political firestorm thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C.

A Delta Force Marine

Jolly, an infantry assault Marine, was assigned to a Delta Force detachment in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack. It’s rare, though not unheard of, for Marines to join the elite Army special-operations teams.

The Marine had deployed to Iraq twice before joining the secretive counterterrorism force, spending about five years carrying out clandestine missions before the Benghazi attack and another five after, according to information about his career obtained by Military.com.

He racked up more than a dozen total deployments with Delta Force.

The Navy Cross Jolly received for his actions in Benghazi was his fourth valor award. He has two Bronze Stars with combat “V” devices — one of which he earned for undisclosed reasons during his time with Delta Force, and a second from a 2004-2005 deployment to Ramadi, Iraq.

Jolly also earned a Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device and a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during that deployment.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

Purple Heart.

(Senior Airman Dennis Sloan)

According to his award citations, Jolly repeatedly braved enemy fire in Ramadi to help take out an enemy sniper who had ambushed a government center. He received the Navy Commendation Medal for risking his life to destroy roadside bombs when an explosive ordnance disposal team couldn’t reach his unit.

On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Jolly was about 600 miles away from Benghazi in Tripoli — roughly the same distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C. Since Jolly and Halbruner were some of the only troops in-country, the operation was coordinated not by U.S. Africa Command, but the CIA.

Team Tripoli, made up of Jolly, Halbruner and five others, arrived in Benghazi at about 1:30 a.m. That was about four hours after the attack began, and two since Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens had last been seen alive.

The team was led by Glen Doherty, a Global Response Staff (GRS) security officer and former Navy SEAL, who was later killed. He was Team Tripoli’s medic.

The plan, according to the person familiar with the mission, was to leave the airport and head to the hospital, where they believed Stevens was being treated. When they found out Stevens had died, the first ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979, the team headed to the consulate to bolster the diplomatic security personnel and GRS, a group of private military contractors who were fending off the attackers.

“It could’ve gone really, really bad,” said the source familiar with the mission. “It could’ve become 30 American hostages in North Africa. There were seven shooters going in to protect people who don’t shoot for a living.”

By the time they arrived, Sean Smith, a State Department foreign service officer, had also died. It was still dark, just after 5 a.m., according to a congressional timeline of the attack. Within minutes, the first mortar hit.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

Sean Smith.

The attacks continued, with one witness estimating there were as many as 100 insurgents spotted surrounding their location in 20- or 30-man groups. It was a skilled enemy, one of the troops there later told members of Congress.

“It’s not easy … to shoot inside the city and get something on the target within two shots — that’s difficult,” the witness testified. “I would say they were definitely a trained mortar team or had been trained to do something similar to that.

“I was kind of surprised,” the service member added. “… It was unusual.”

They were there a matter of hours, but at times witnesses said the team feared they wouldn’t make it out alive. It began to “rain down on us,” one of them told lawmakers.

”I really believe that this attack was planned,” the witness said. “The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries.”

In total, six 81-millimeter mortars assaulted the annex within a minute and 13 seconds, a congressional report on the attack states. Doherty and Tyrone Woods, another former SEAL with the GRS, didn’t survive.

Dave Ubben, a State Department security agent, and Mark “Oz” Geist, another GRS member, were badly hurt. The men were defending the compound from the rooftop, determined to make it look like they had a lot more firepower than they actually did.

“There was a lot of shooting, a lot of indirect fire and explosions,” the source with knowledge of the response said. “It was just guys being really aggressive and doing a good job at making it seem like their element was bigger than it was, like they were less hurt than they were.”

Ubben — who’d testified before a federal court in 2017 that he took shrapnel to his head, nearly lost his leg, and had a grapefruit-sized piece of his arm taken off — was losing blood fast. Geist also had a serious arm injury that needed immediate attention.

Jolly and Halbruner were determined to save them. Amid the fight, they were tying tourniquets to the men’s bodies.

Ubben is alive because Jolly helped move him from the rooftop to a building where diplomatic personnel were hunkered down. Gregory Hicks, who became the acting chief of mission after Stevens died, later described how the gunny did it during a congressional hearing.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens.

“One guy … full of combat gear climbed up [to the roof], strapped David Ubben, who is a large man, to his back and carried him down the ladder, saved him,” Hicks said.

Jolly and Halbruner also went back out to the rooftop to recover the bodies of the fallen.

“They didn’t know whether any more mortars were going to come in. The accuracy was terribly precise,” Hicks said. “… They climbed up on the roof, and they carried Glen’s body and Tyrone’s body down.”

It was for Jolly’s “valorous actions, dedication to duty and willingness to place himself in harm’s way” to save numerous unarmed Americans’ lives that he earned the Navy Cross, according to his citation.

Bracing for the worst

That attack was traumatic for many of the civilians trapped inside one of the buildings, according to the person with knowledge of the operation. They’d lost their ambassador and another colleague, and they had no experience being caught in a life-and-death combat situation.

Once Jolly and Halbruner brought the injured men in from off the rooftop, the diplomatic staff helped treat their wounds, according to the source familiar with the situation. It gave them a mission as the onslaught continued outside.

As the sun came up, the remaining team members worried that terrorists would overtake the facility. First believed to be the work of the Benghazi-based Ansar al-Sharia group, the attack was coordinated by several networks in the region, including al-Qaida affiliates.

Throughout the night, the Americans had the advantage of night vision, the person familiar with the mission said. In the daylight, it could quickly become an even playing field.

Surprisingly though, it got quieter. They gathered inside one of the buildings and formed an evacuation plan to move the diplomatic staff to the airport and eventually out of Benghazi.

“[They had to talk about] things like, ‘What happens if they came under attack on the way out? Do you know where to go if you are separated from the group or are being shot at?'” according to the person familiar with the plans.

They prepared for the worst: that as the convoy left the compound, they’d be ambushed, everyone would panic, and the terrorists would take hostages. But they made it to the airport without issue and, by 7:31 a.m., the first plane with survivors took off for Tripoli.

“Who would’ve thought seven people could go into Benghazi and get more than 25 people out? Especially without traditional military support?” the person familiar with the mission said. “… But you can do a lot if you’re determined and have no other choice.”

The Defense Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later faced a host of criticism over their response to the attack. Critics called it too slow — a congressional investigation finding that despite President Barack Obama and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta clearly ordering the military to deploy response forces, none were sent until almost eight hours after the attacks began.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

President Obama and Secretary Clinton honor the Benghazi attack victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base on Sept. 14, 2012.

(State Department photo)

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey was asked to explain why he hadn’t dispatched F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets from Italy. He told lawmakers it would’ve been “the wrong tool for the job.”

The Marine Corps, the nation’s go-to crisis-response force, has been particularly responsive in the aftermath of the attack. Since there aren’t enough amphibious ships to stage Marines everywhere they’d like to be at sea, they’ve set up land-based crisis-response forces built to respond to emergencies quickly. Those units include up to 2,200 personnel, along with aircraft and logistics capabilities.

Those units are now based in Europe, the Middle East and Central America. Those assigned to Africa and the Middle East have fielded several State Department requests to evacuate embassy personnel or shore up security when intelligence has indicated a high risk for attack.

The Marine Corps and State Department have also bolstered the number of embassy guards placed at diplomatic posts around the world, standing up dozens of new detachments that previously did not have military personnel.

It was a tragedy to see a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed in Benghazi but, sadly, it sometimes takes an awful situation to get the attention of those in charge of policy, the person familiar with the response said.

“It was a bad situation, but a lot of priorities changed after this tragedy that would otherwise never have gotten fixed.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

How the 6 armies in a North Korean war would be like ‘Game of Thrones’ houses

While on a Christmas tour in the Middle East, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, spoke to the troops and brought up the potential of a future fight in North Korea. He told the troops, “It would be Game of Thrones-like, and a lot of people would get hurt. I might be wrong, but it’s a very complicated issue.” He’s not entirely wrong.


While his words were in reference to the bloodshed and brutality of war, the build up to conflict isn’t too much of a stretch. The fighting in Game of Thrones is brutal and many of the foot soldiers are up against insurmountable odds — much like a full-scale war between several nations. Many of the events in Game of Thrones happen because of a war that took place before the series began — much like the real world after the Korean War.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima
Grunts on deployment, am I right?

It also doesn’t hurt that both military life and the show have a lot of fighting, sex (including prostitution, unfortunately), and alcohol in them.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t caught up to the season finale of season seven, we recommend viewing one of our other great articles. If you have been keeping up with the series or just don’t care about spoilers, please enjoy a nerdy tongue-firmly-in-cheek response proving the Commandant of the USMC is more correct than he lead on.

6. North Korea is basically House Lannister

If you think about it, Kim Jong-un and King Joffery Baratheon have countless similarities. They’re both spoiled, rich, psychopathic brats who paint an image of godliness, who are very privileged thanks to the work of their predecessors, and yet they both demand unwavering respect without doing anything to earn it themselves.

As much as we laugh at the young dictators, they have plenty of power and control. One reason the Lannisters and North Korea weren’t eliminated right away was because of how they retaliate. The Starks won every battle in the War of Five Kings, but were slaughtered at the Red Wedding. The Tyrell line was straight up murdered in a holy place — along with thousands of innocent civilians. Hell, even the Lannister song Rains of Castermere is about how they’ll obliterate anyone in retaliation (damn, it’s a great song, tho…).

In real life, Seoul could suffer the same ruthless fate. Even if without the threat of nuclear warfare, just the conventional artillery on the border laying siege on the South Korean capital could put the death toll in the millions.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima
They both also throw large feasts while their people starve.

5. South Korea is basically House Targaryen

South Korean history is rich and beautiful, dating back to when the Korean Empire stood tall  much like House Targaryen. They were both overthrown and crushed to near nothingness, but quickly rose to be key powers in their conflicts.

The post-Korean War economy of South Korea was devastated and their military might was worse, just like how the Targaryens would eventually dwindle to just Daenerys Targaryen. With the simple push from a friend (Daenerys’ gift of the dragon eggs and South Korea’s support from the U.S), they are now each among the most intimidating militaries in the world.

The Republic of Korea Armed Forces is one of the most technologically advanced modern militaries, which will be the cornerstone of the next battle, should it come to that.

Just like a Dragon.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima
That, and they both definitely have air superiority over their enemies.

4. Japan Self-Defense Force is basically the Freefolk from Beyond the Wall

Once a primary enemy of many others on this list, they’re refocused on turning foes into allies to face the real threats.

Now their small populations are the most threatened, making them willing to do whatever it takes to survive.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima
They are now hand in hand with the Starks/Americans, but we’ll get to that in a second.

3. China is basically House Greyjoy

Each have the most intimidating naval forces in their given worlds, even if they’re not the largest. While the Lannisters (North Korea) could talk a big game and maybe hold their own currently, their strong arm is still House Greyjoy (China.)

The Chinese government also “does not sow” when it comes to taking islands in the South China Sea. On the bright side, the rebels (Theon and Yara Greyjoy AKA Taiwan) who left the main land/house are devoted allies to the Targaryens.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima
They both also somehow get impressively badass ships out of nowhere.

2. The United States of America is basically House Stark

Which leaves the honorable and — hardest fighting — armies, the Starks and the Americans. Each of the four remaining Starks make up the four branches of the Department of Defense.

The toughest fighter is definitely Jon Snow, our Marine. They even have experience fighting in the last war in the frozen north at (Battle of Chosin Reservoir for Marines and Beyond the Wall for Jon Snow). The special operations of the Special Forces and over all battle skill matches Arya Stark. The invaluable support and “eyes in the sky” that both the Air Force and Bran Stark have will be what makes this war. This leaves Sansa Stark for the Navy, because neither are really fighters — they’re more tactical support.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima
And are both their militaries lead by someone who the internet thinks is possibly a deity? Yep!

1. Putin is basically a White Walker

The sleeper threat. Though they emerge as the real enemies of the balance in their respective worlds, everyone turns a blind eye to them while they destroy, conquer, and expand their reach. Neither seem interested in having allies, just minions.

It also doesn’t hurt their cause when everyone focuses on them; the Lannisters (North Korea) and Greyjoys (China) benefit. They’re also the primary enemy of the Freefolk (Japan) and, eventually, the Starks (Americans.)

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima
Putin would probably ride a dragon into battle shirtless or something equally douchey though…

Articles

This War of 1812 veteran saw the Battle of Gettysburg from his porch – then joined it

These days it’s hard to think of a veteran who could have served from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. It’s happened, of course.


But imagine a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War fighting in the Civil War. That’s a span of more than 60 years — much longer than the 24 years that separated the beginning of WWII and the Vietnam War. Then again, during the 20th century, pivotal battles weren’t literally in our front yard.

An average 69-year-old might be happy to ride out his golden years from a rocking chair.

But not John Burns.

He fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War and even tried to work as a supply driver for the Union Army but was sent back to his home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He wasn’t too happy to be excluded from the war.

See, Burns already lived twice as long as the average American of the time and was ready to do more for his country. But Gettysburg was much further north than the Confederates could ever attack – or so he thought.

Burns was considered “eccentric” by the rest of the town. That’s what happens when you’re fighting wars for longer than most people at the time spent in school.

When Confederate Gen. Jubal Early captured the town, Burns was the constable and was jailed for trying to interfere with Confederate military operations. When the Confederates were pushed out of Gettysburg by the Union, Burns began arresting Confederate stragglers for treason.

His contributions to the Union didn’t end there.

On the morning of July 1, 1863, Burns watched as the Battle of Gettysburg began to unfold near his home. Like a true American hero, he picked up his rifle – a flintlock musket, which required the use of a powder horn – and calmly walked over to the battle to see how he could help.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

He “borrowed” a more modern musket (now a long-standing Army tradition) from a wounded Union soldier, picked up some cartridges, then walked over to the commander of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry and asked to join the regiment.

This time, he wasn’t turned away; but the 150th Pennsylvania commanders did send Burns to Herbst Woods, away from where the officers believed the main area of fighting would be.

They were wrong.

Herbst Woods was the site of the first Confederate offensive of the battle. Burns, sharpshooting for the Iron Brigade, helped repel this offensive as part of a surprise counterattack.

John Burns was mocked by other troops for showing up to fight with his antiquated weapon and “swallowtail coat with brass buttons, yellow vest, and tall hat.” But when the bullets started to fly, he calmly took cover behind a tree and started to shoot back with his modern rifle.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

He also fought alongside the 7th Wisconsin Infantry and then moved to support the 24th Michigan. He was wounded in the arm, legs, and chest and was left on the field when the Union forces had to fall back.

He ditched his rifle and buried his ammo and then passed out from blood loss. He tried to convince the Rebels he was an old man looking to find help for his wife, but accounts of how well that story worked vary. Anyone fighting in an army outside of a uniform could be executed, but the ruse must have worked on some level–he survived his wounds and lived for another 9 years.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the Civil War. The Confederates would spend the rest of the war – two years – on the defensive.

As the poem “John Burns of Gettysburg,” written after the war by Francis Bret Harte, goes:

“So raged the battle. You know the rest. How the rebels, beaten and backward pressed, Broke at the final charge and ran. At which John Burns — a practical man — Shouldered his rifle, unbent his brows, And then went back to his bees and cows.”

Burns became a national hero after the battle. When President Lincoln stopped in the Pennsylvania town to deliver the Gettysburg Address, he asked to speak with Burns and met the veteran at his home.

He was photographed – a big deal at the time – and a poem was written about his life. A statue of Burns was erected at Gettysburg National Military Park in 1903, where it stands today.

Leadership lessons from Iwo Jima

The base reads “My thanks are specially due to a citizen of Gettysburg named John Burns who although over seventy years of age shouldered his musket and offered his services to Colonel Wister One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Colonel Wister advised him to fight in the woods as there was more shelter there but he preferred to join our line of skirmishers in the open fields when the troops retired he fought with the Iron Brigade. He was wounded in three places. – Gettysburg report of Maj.-Gen. Doubleday.”

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