Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Everyone in the Marine Corps has a story. No one knows this better than does Sgt. Dana Beesley, who just earned the prestigious title of 2020 Photographer of the Year from the Military Visual Awards, an international competition showcasing the best of the best in military photography.

Beesley grew up in the small town of Lewiston, Idaho, the daughter of a local journalist. After watching All the President’s Men as a young child, she fell in love with investigative reporting. She fiddled with disposable cameras, took pictures on family camping trips, and pored with wonder over the hundreds of copies of National Geographic Magazine her mother had collected in the basement, looking at only the photos and captions.

After joining the Marine Corps as a combat photographer in 2015, Beesley got serious about photography.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
An instructor pushes his students to their limits as he corrects one student, who appears to be struggling, on the proper way to execute a rope climb during class physical training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Oct. 15, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“From there, the adventure began,” she told Coffee or Die Magazine, looking back on her decision to enlist after completing her freshman year at the University of Idaho.

Beesley is based at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, where she chronicles the struggles and successes of the thousands of recruits who undergo recruit training there annually.

“Even though we go through the same training every week, the people themselves are all different,” she said. “They all experience emotions differently. They all experience pain differently. They all experience passion and drive and motivation differently.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Recruits with Alpha Company participate in the Crucible on Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019. The Crucible is a 54-hour culminating event that requires recruits to work as a team and overcome challenges in order to earn the title United States Marine. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

From the recruit who may be conquering a fear of heights to plunge off a high dive for the first time, to the one who has spent the last of his energy during the crucible, Beesley wants to capture every moment.

Beesley’s portfolio was one of more than 2,000 submissions from US and NATO military members around the world, according to the Military Visual Awards.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Marine Sgt. Dana Beesley is a combat photographer at MCRD Parris Island, S.C. She has been named the 2020 Military Visual Awards Photographer of the Year. Photo courtesy of Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“One of the things that I think separates [Beesley] from a lot of people is there’s an emotional connection she has with a lot of her photos,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bobby Yarbrough said. “She gets that emotional connection with people, which makes them more comfortable in front of a camera, but also makes her imagery just stand out and pop.”

Yarbrough’s opinion carries a lot of weight. Like Beesley, he graduated from the Military Photojournalism Program at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, which is sometimes affectionately described as “the Top Gun” of military photojournalism. The Marines regularly shoot photos together on base, building a competitive camaraderie. Yarbrough was also the runner up in this year’s contest.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
A Marine Corps instructor of water survival (MCIWS) instructs recruits with Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, on proper breathing techniques before swim qualification training on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Sept. 29, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing Sgt. Beesley actually beat me out in the competition,” Yarbrough said. “Being a leader in the Marine Corps, nothing is more humbling than seeing the people below you succeed. And her portfolio was definitely better than mine.”

Beesley herself is incredibly humble, though, crediting her fellow Marines with her success. She leads a 16-person team that specializes in all areas of public communication and digital engagement at MCRD Parris Island.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Recruits with Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, complete the Obstacle Course during the Crucible on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 12, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“It’s because of the Marines underneath and above me that I’m here today,” she said. “I wish I could give this award to all the Marines at Parris Island. I don’t want to take it for myself.”

Beesley won’t run out of stories to tell on Parris Island anytime soon. In fact, there’s one very specific photo she’s trying to take.

“I’m still waiting for that moment where I capture that complete exhaustion on a drill instructor’s face behind a closed door,” she said.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Staff Sgt. Candace Luna, a drill instructor with Platoon 4032, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, inspects her platoon as they practice close-order drill movements in the squad bay June 26, 2019 on Parris Island, S.C. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

Drill instructors are notoriously stoic, and even if their facade slips for a moment, it goes right back up the second they see Beesley’s lens.

“The things that these drill instructors do day in and day out for the betterment of the Marine Corps is absolutely astonishing,” she said. “I wish I could show that in my camera.”

See more of Beesley’s winning portfolio here, as well as powerful photos in other categories, such as news, feature, portrait, and more.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The FBI is using Facebook ads to recruit Russian spies

The FBI is running Facebook ads to recruit Russian spies, Donie O’Sullivan and David Shortell at CNN reported on Oct. 2, 2019.

The ads started running on Sept. 11, 2019, according to Facebook’s public Ad Library. Though, a source familiar with the matter told CNN that the ads were running this summer.

The three ads contain images and illustrations overlaid with Russian text; they are accompanied by information about reporting knowledge to the FBI.

“We cannot comment except to note that Russia has a large number of intelligence officers based in Russian diplomatic facilities around the world. They are very active and pose a security risk to the U.S. and our allies,” read a statement provided to Business Insider by the FBI on behalf of Alan E. Kohler Jr., a special agent in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division.


“Russia has long been a counterintelligence threat to the U.S. and election interference is certainly an important concern, but it’s not the only one,” the statement reads. “The FBI uses a variety of means to gather information, including the use of sources. The FBI will use all legal means available to locate individuals with information that can help protect the United States from threats to our national security.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Once clicked, these ads direct to the website of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Counterintelligence Program.

“The mission of the counterintelligence program at the FBI’s Washington Field Office is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States through the detection, identification, and neutralization of hostile foreign intelligence activities,” the website reads.

“The FBI obtains the best intelligence to combat this threat through information provided by the public. If you have information that can help the FBI fulfill this mission, visit us in person,” the website continues, followed by Washington Field Office address. “The information you provide will be handled in a confidential manner, and our interactions with you will be professional and respectful of your security.”

The full message is repeated in Russian underneath.

CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer, who is also a former CIA agent, told CNN that these ads are “seeding the idea of volunteering for the FBI” in the minds of agents on US soil who are spying for Russia.

“The thing with Russian spies is 99 percent of them are walk-ins, and these people make the decision on their own completely,” Baer told CNN, referring to Russian spies who then decide to inform the US.

See the FBI’s three Facebook ads in Russian below:

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(FBI/Facebok)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

This FBI ad reads in Russian.

(FBI/Facebok)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(FBI/Facebok)

“For your future, for the future of your family.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 of the most spine-chilling military superstitions

Humans are superstitious. We tend to come up with all kinds of ways to justify certain things we don’t fully understand. That same quality definitely has a home in military service. While some of these may seem ridiculous at first glance, there’s usually some kind of explanation underneath.

The Navy is easily the most superstitious of the branches — since their origins are tied to a history of life at sea, both military-related and otherwise, where imaginations ran wild after spending many months adrift. But, as a whole, the military has a wide array of superstitions that, when you take a closer look, are actually pretty creepy.


Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

You don’t want one of these bad boys to drift right over a cliff.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Daniel Yarnall)

Don’t carry a white lighter… Ever.

This is a superstition held by a huge number of people, mostly because of the notorious “27 Club” — a club made up of famous musicians and artists (like Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and others) that died at the age of 27 while carrying, you guessed it, a white lighter.

In the military, however, this superstition was given legs by a bad experience with an Amphibious Assault Vehicle. Rumor has it, the vehicle lost its brakes and went off a 100-foot cliff while one Marine carried a white lighter and another had a damn horseshoe. That horseshoe might have been good luck, but the lighter’s bad mojo was enough to disrupt the balance.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

King Neptune doesn’t want to hear your sh*t.

(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Andrew Betting)

Neptune doesn’t like whistling

It’s a long-held belief in many cultures that whistling, especially at night, is an invitation to the spirits. There’s a home for this superstition in maritime tradition, too. Instead of spirits, however, the idea is that whistling will summon bad weather as it angers the King of the Sea.

So, if you find yourself on ship and you get the urge to whistle — don’t. Neptune seriously hates it.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

When you hear the enemy eating apricots.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Apricots

A Stars Stripes article from 1968 explains a story surrounding Marines at Cua Viet who continuously found themselves under attack by enemy artillery barrages. What they started to notice, however, was that these barrages would start almost immediately after a Marine ate a can of apricots from their C-Rations.

Coincidence? You be the judge.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Maybe the “grandma’s couch” pattern wasn’t the best camouflage idea.

(Reddit)

Skeleton Keys

This superstition comes from the U.S. Army. If you look closely, you’ll see a pretty distinct key-shaped blotch within modern camouflage patterns. In what may be coincidence, several soldier took bullets right in the keys. It could just be that — coincidence — or it could be a deeper, like a spiritual omen.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Just don’t do it. Please.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nello Miele.)

Saying the “R” word

You know the word. “Rain.”

Marines, soldiers, and anyone who has a job in the military that requires going outside believe that using the term will change the weather from anything to pouring rain. Infantry Marines will tell you that a bright and sunny day changes almost instantly when someone utters this word.

What’s worse is that it won’t stop until you head back to the barracks.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Coast Guard loosens its tattoo policy to bring in new recruits

For the second time in two years, the Coast Guard is relaxing its policy on tattoos in what officials say is an effort to widen the pool of eligible service recruits.

According to a new policy document released Oct. 3, 2019, Coast Guard recruits and current service members may now sport chest tattoos as long as they are not visible above the collar of the Coast Guard operational dress uniform’s crew-neck T-shirt.

The new policy also allows a wider range of finger tattoos. One finger tattoo per hand is now authorized, although the location of the tattoo is still restricted. It must appear between the first and second knuckle. And ring tattoos, which were the only kind of finger tattoo previously authorized, will be counted as a hand’s finger tattoo, according to the new guidance. Thumb tattoos are still off-limits.


Finally, in a change from previous guidance, hand tattoos are also allowed. While palm tattoos remain out of bounds, Coasties and recruits can sport a tattoo on the back of the hand as long as it is no more than one inch in any dimension. One finger and one hand tattoo are allowed on each hand, according to the new policy.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

The Coast Guard released a graphic to explain its new tattoo regulations.

“I am pleased to see the Coast Guard’s new tattoo policy reinforces a professional appearance to the public while adopting some of the very same tattoo standards that are now acceptable among the public,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden said in a statement. “The new tattoo policy will expand our recruiting candidate pool and provide those already serving in the Coast Guard with a few new options.”

The Coast Guard last updated its tattoo policy in 2017 with rule tweaks that offered a little more leniency. Chest tattoos were allowed to creep up to one inch above the V-neck undershirt, where previously they had to remain hidden; ring tattoos were authorized.

Unlike some other services, the Coast Guard has not restricted tattoo size of percentage of body coverage on tattooable areas, but the 2017 policy stated that brands could be no larger than four by four inches and could not be located on the head, face or neck.

The most recent policies serve to relax strict regulations handed down in 2005 to address overabundant body ink.

“The 1940s, party-hard sailor is not the image we’re going for,” Chief Petty Officer Keith Alholm, a spokesman in the Coast Guard’s Seattle-based 13th District, told the Kitsap Sun at the time.

The 2005 rules — the first update to the Coast Guard’s tattoo policy in three decades — limited Coasties to tattooing no more than 25% of an exposed limb, among other restrictions.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Photo by Andrew Leu)

The other military services have all issued updates in recent years to address concerns in the active force and current trends in the recruitable population.

In 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned that services’ tattoo policies could be preventing otherwise eligible young people from serving. As the percentage of prospective recruits who can meet fitness, education and background standards shrinks, the service branches have even greater incentive to remove secondary barriers to service.

The Army loosened its tattoo policy in 2015, saying society’s view of body ink was changing; the Navy thrilled sailors with a significantly more lenient set of rules in 2016. The Marine Corps also released a relaxed 2016 tattoo update, and the Air Force did a 2017 about-face, allowing airmen to sport coveted sleeves.

Military officials have said they’re working to find the line between professionalism and practicality when it comes to tattoos.

“This is not an episode of [History Channel show] Vikings, where we’re tattooing our face. We’re not a biker gang, we’re not a rock and roll band. We’re not [Maroon 5 lead singer] Adam Levine,” then-Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Military.com in 2017. “You can get 70 percent of your body covered with ink and still be a Marine. Is that enough?”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of November 29th

Black Friday is upon us once again. You know what this means, right? Time to break out that old Army Riot Control Training to help you navigate the malls.

What’s that? You think I’m being hyperbolic? If you remove all mentions of weaponry, it’s still fairly consistent. Avoid major hubs of civil unrest at all costs. Ensure your unit never breaks eye contact with each other. Don’t engage if taunted by locals as it’ll escalate the situation further. Utilize “Hearts and Minds” with non-participants caught in the chaos, in this case retail clerks, in an effort to more easily achieve your stated goal. You know, basic stuff that most troops should know.


And there’s even a bit in FM 3-19.15 about using video recordings to prove that you were in the right if a situation escalates. All I’m saying is remember to hold your phone horizontally if someone tries to pick a fight over that Baby Yoda doll, which is what we all truly want for Christmas this year.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Freedom Hard)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via On The Minute Memes)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Not CID)

True Story: 

I had a guy in my company get into some dumb sh*t Off-post and was arrested on a Sunday night. Didn’t inform anyone in the unit until early Monday morning until right before PT. First Sergeant, who was typically very hands-on with PT, had to zonk all of us to go handle that dude along with his platoon sergeant.

Come to find out in the smoke pit later, he knew he was in deep sh*t no matter what happened. So he waited until the last second to also try to use his time in lock-up to get out of PT. It worked. It worked so well we all got PT off.

He was normally a complete ate-up piece of hot garbage and no one could stand his ass, but for one glorious moment… He was a true hero.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Private News Network)

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what makes Marine scout snipers so deadly

Marine scout snipers are some lethal dudes. Capable of sending lead downrange with great accuracy, they’re also great for getting eyes on the battlefield for persistent reconnaissance. Here’s what makes them so deadly:


1. Yes, the Marines are masters of stealth, trained to stalk and hunt enemy troops or, more commonly, set up firing points to strike targets of opportunity and protect friendly forces.

 

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Corporal Brighten Bell, a student undergoing the 2nd Marine Division Combat Skills Center’s Pre-Scout Sniper Course, acquires a target during a stalking exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 22, 2016. The exercise required students to traverse approximately 1,000 meters of high grass and fire on a target, all without being detected. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released)

2. To achieve this, they become masters of reading the terrain, ballistics, and tactics. These skills have to be combined to ensure that they can predict a target’s actions and engage it accurately.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
A U.S. Marine assigned to Scout Sniper Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment, writes down data for long range target engagements, part of Lava Viper 17.1, at Range 10 aboard the Pohakuloa Training Area, on the big Island of Hawaii, Oct. 17, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ricky S. Gomez)

3. Of course, they don’t have to rely on only their own weapons systems. The snipers can report enemy activity and request other fires such as artillery or aircraft to engage targets, keeping the sniper’s position secret.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
A Marine in the Scout Sniper Platoon with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment calls in coordinates for a position report during a patrol for SSP training aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 29, 2015.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Krista James/Released)

4. Spotters usually handle the duties of conducting calls for artillery or close air support, and they also help the sniper find and engage targets by scanning the battlefield and relaying environmental information like wind speed and range.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jacob B. Yoder, a student with the Marine Scout Sniper School, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, spots targets while conducting a known-distance course of fire at Hathcock Range, Stone Bay, Feb. 8, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by SOI-East Combat Camera, Cpl. Andrew Kuppers/Released)

5. Like any good Marine, the scout snipers can arrive on the battlefield in a number of ways, from riding in on the waves in AAVs to fast roping out of Ospreys.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Weapons Company, Scout Sniper Platoon, fast rope from an MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 30. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lillian Stephens/Released)

6. Rucking in can give them a much stealthier insertion.  The spotter will assist carrying the ammo for the sniper.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Students with the Marine Scout Sniper School, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, move to their next firing positions while conducting a known-distance course of fire at Hathcock Range, Stone Bay, Feb. 8, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by SOI-East Combat Camera, Cpl. Andrew Kuppers/Released)

 

7. Scout snipers can engage the enemy with a variety of long-range rifles.

 

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Students with the Marine Scout Sniper School, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, conduct a known-distance course of fire at Hathcock Range, Stone Bay, Feb. 8, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by SOI-East Combat Camera, Cpl. Andrew Kuppers/Released)

8. The M40 is one of their most commonly-deployed weapons.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jake Ruiz, an instructor at the Scout Sniper School, Weapons Training Battalion, fires an M40A5 bolt action sniper rifle during an unknown distance marksmanship training exercise at Range 7, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Oct. 2, 2014. The Marines trained with weapons systems organic to a scout sniper platoon, to include; the M40A5 bolt action sniper rifle, the M107 Special Assault Scope rifle, and M110 Semi-automatic Sniper System. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Turner/Released)

9. And of course, the Barrett M82 .50-cal. sniper rifle is so powerful you could kill a building.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

10. To properly employ all this lethality, scout snipers stay super fit.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
A Marine candidate with the Scout Sniper Screening Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, conducts a 500-meter swim as part of the Scout Sniper Physical Assessment Test at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 19, 2015. The 500-meter swim was the first of several physically demanding events that tested endurance, strength and speed. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)

11. Look at these guys. Carrying rucksacks. Drinking from Camel Baks.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Marine candidates with the Scout Sniper Screening Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, conduct a 12-mile ruck run as part of the Scout Sniper Physical Assessment Test at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 19, 2015. The run required 50 pounds of equipment and had a time limit of three hours. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released)

12. Scout snipers are always there for you. Or maybe right behind you. Or possibly 1,000 meters front of you. They’re so stealthy, you can’t actually be sure. But they can kill you from practically anywhere.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
A Marine student undergoing the 2nd Marine Division Combat Skills Center’s Pre-Scout Sniper Course prepares to move during a stalking exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 22, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released)

MIGHTY CULTURE

This airborne sergeant re-enacts World War I

U.S. Army Sgt. Dustin McGraw is stationed with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the culmination of a life-long dream of being a paratrooper like the heroes of World War II movies that he watched as a child. But as he made his way up, he discovered a love of World War I that has led to him re-enacting battles in France.


His re-enactment group spends a lot of time at a park in Tennessee a few hours from Fort Campbell, allowing McGraw to indulge his passion while maintaining his active duty career. (That park is named for famed Doughboy and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Alvin C. York, making it a pretty appropriate place to host re-enactments.)

And there is more crossover between the passion and the job than one might initially assume. While re-enactors, obviously, do not face the dangers and many of the hardships endured by soldiers in combat, they do work hard to portray their chosen period accurately. That means that they have to get uniforms, tactics, weapons, and other details right.

And it’s hard to steep yourself that deeply in military history without learning an appreciation for the discipline and perseverance that it takes to succeed in combat. As McGraw points out in the video, maintaining your cool in wool uniforms and metal helmets in the broiling sun isn’t always easy. And, practicing World War I tactics can still help reinforce an understanding of modern warfare. After all, machine guns and rifles haven’t changed all that much.

But that leads to another benefit for McGraw and other soldiers who choose to re-enact past periods of military history: They learn a deep appreciation of modern systems, from weapons to logistics to medicine to gear.

Where modern troops have GPS, Kevlar, lightweight automatic weapons, aid bags, and helicopters, World War I Doughboys had to make do with maps, cotton, rifles of wood and steel, field bandages, and horses. So, while it’s easy to complain when your helicopters are late to the LZ, most people would be more appreciative of the challenges if they spent their weekends trying to simulate logistics with horses.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marines & sailors go the extra mile in charity ruck march

The day before Thanksgiving is a time many people spend with family and friends. This year, Marines and Sailors of 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division decided to spend their time giving back to the local community.

Approximately 200 Marines and Sailors with 2nd Recon and their families participated in a charity ruck march Nov. 27, 2019. The Battalion loaded up their packs with non-perishable food donations and hiked approximately six miles from the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Main Gate to the United Way CHEW! House in Jacksonville, North Carolina.


“Without the support of the community we wouldn’t be able to support this program. In Jacksonville, Marines are the biggest part of our community and for them to be able to give back to the community is huge.” Shelly Kiewge, the community impact director for United Way

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” said Sgt. Maj. Joseph Mendez, the 2nd Recon Sergeant Major. “As Marines, we are guaranteed the basic things like housing and food. It’s important that we realize that not everyone in our local community has that opportunity.”

The event was organized by 2nd Recon to build unit camaraderie through physical training, and donate much needed food items to the Onslow County United Way’s Children Healthy Eating on Weekends program.

“It’s always important to help out the local community,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph DeBlaay the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of 2nd Recon training command. “For us, it lets the community know we’re here and easy to approach when needed.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. David Ford the assistant training chief with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division reads off the total donations after a charity ruck march.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Solak)

The CHEW! Program was created to provide bags packed with healthy food for children in need over the weekend who wouldn’t be fed otherwise. The program helps over 700 school-aged children.

The Marines donated over 3,800 pounds of food to the CHEW! program.

“I want my Marines to understand the importance of this. Not that it’s just a battalion mandated event,” said Staff Sgt. DeBlaay. “I want them to see the importance of why we’re doing this to help out the community and help out those in need.”

This is the second year the battalion has organized this event and plans to continue the tradition in years to come.

“When you join the Marine Corps you do it as a means to help people who traditionally can’t help themselves,” said Lt. Col. Geoff Hoey, battalion commander of 2nd Recon. “Whether it’s people in a different country or helping people here at home who don’t have enough money to put food on the table. It’s inherent to what Marines do — we help people in need.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How ‘upskilling’ with Microsoft can kickstart your new civilian life

‘Upskilling’ is the new corporate buzzword taking employers by storm. Never heard of it? Don’t be shocked; be prepared for a whole new mindset. 

Upskilling is when a corporation takes already-talented individuals and teaches them an entirely new skill set. It gives the company a new expert in a critical role and it gives an employee an entirely new career trajectory. 

While the word may be new, it’s something Microsoft has been doing with active duty military personnel for years.

Employers need skilled workers. But technology changes fast and the pace of that advancement changes the ways we live and work faster than we may realize. For job seekers, this can be an intimidating prospect. For veterans leaving the military and entering the civilian workforce for the first time, it can be overwhelming. 

Finding a career in tech as newly-separated veterans can be especially daunting if their military career wasn’t in a technical field. Those looking to go to college or technical training may not know what to study or be fearful of missing an emerging trend. 

Wouldn’t it be great if America’s leading tech companies just offered training in the most necessary fields and then offered career prospects for those trainees? That’s what “upskilling” is all about. And the company leading the way is one of the world’s most valuable: Microsoft.

Microsoft isn’t just recognizing veterans’ service to a higher calling, the company recognizes their near-limitless potential. Microsoft knows what the military community has known all along: separating veterans leave the military with highly desirable skills that uniquely position them for a career in tech. 

Veterans come with the technical skills of their military career, which can provide valuable problem-solving abilities. They also come with the soft skills employers in this industry so desperately need. These are skills like self-actualization, leadership, being a part of a team and – of course – the value of a good day’s work. Some of us even come with security clearances.

That’s why Microsoft started Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA). 

MSSA is a training academy for high-demand careers in cloud development and server and cloud administration. The course lasts 16 or 18 weeks and graduates are guaranteed an interview for a full-time job at Microsoft or one of its hiring partners. The program is open to honorably discharged veterans and active duty service members with authorization from their units or commands. 

The program is the result of Microsoft’s ambitious 2015 goal of establishing 14 MSSA programs throughout the country and eventually having the ability to graduate 1,000 veterans every year. In January 2020, it met that goal, graduating its 100th cohort. 

MSSA is overseen by the Microsoft Military Affairs team, whose chief concern is helping veterans realize the full potential their military service offers them as well as any potential employer. Best of all, the team is made up of military veterans who know just how daunting a task leaving the military can be. 

Numbers don’t lie. To date, MSSA has a graduation rate of 94 percent and more than 600 companies have hired MSSA graduates. It’s a program that really works for the veteran community. 

Transitioning out of the military is a challenging time. Deciding what and where to study or finding that first post-military career is central to a successful transition. For vets who want a career in tech, Microsoft Software and Systems Academy is the place to hit the ground running. Their Tech Transition Toolkit offers some great tips on how you can get a head-start toward a fulfilling, rewarding career in tech.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How aerial delivery helps troops in combat

In combat, logistic resources are arguably the most important assets needed to sustain soldiers. “Beans and Bullets” is a common Army phrase utilized for decades that puts a special emphasis behind the importance of logisticians and their capabilities.

Since arriving into theater soldiers of the 824th Rigger detachment, North Carolina National Guard, and the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade have teamed up to tackle the demanding requirements of rigging equipment and air dropping resources to sustain the warfighter.


Aerial resupply operations is a valuable asset to U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. It is the most reliable means of distribution when ground transportation and alternate means have been exhausted. Aerial resupply enable warfighters in austere locations to accomplish their mission and other objectives.

“Aerial delivery is extremely vital and essential to mission success,” said Chief Warrant Officer Two Freddy Reza, an El Paso Texas native, and the senior airdrop systems technician with the 101st RSSB. “Soldiers in austere environments depend on us to get them food, water, and other resources they need to stay in the fight.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Soldiers of the 824th Quartermaster Company and the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade load rigged pallets of supplies on to a C-130 aircraft. Soldiers conduct their final aerial inspection with Air Force loadmasters before delivery.

(Photo by 1st Lt. Verniccia Ford)

All airdrop missions require approval authority through an operation order. Once approved, parachute riggers from both units work diligently to get the classes of supplies bundled and rigged on pallets for aerial delivery in under hours 24 hours.

Since arriving to Afghanistan, this team has delivered more than 150,000 pounds of supplies varying from food, water, and construction material. Mission dependent, sometimes the rigger support team is responsible for filling the request of more than three dozen bundles, carefully packing the loads and cautiously inspecting the pallets before pushing them out for delivery.

Aerial delivery operations have substantially contributed to the success of enduring expeditionary advisory packages and aiding the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade while they train, advise, and assist Afghan counterparts.

“This deployment has helped developed me to expand my knowledge as a parachute rigger,” said Spc. Kiera Butler, a Panama City, Florida native and Parachute Rigger with the 824th Quartermaster Company. “This job has a profound impact on military personnel regardless of the branch. I take pride in knowing I’m helping them carry out their mission.”

Item preservation is important; depending on the classes of supply, some items are rigged and prepared in non-conventional locations. Regardless of the location the rigger support team does everything in their power to ensure recipients receive grade “A” quality.

“During the summer months it would sometimes be 107 degrees, with it being so hot we didn’t want the food to spoil so we rigged in the refrigerator. This allowed the supplies to stay cold until it was time to be delivered,” said Butler. “It was a fun experience and we want to do whatever we can to preserve the supplies for the Soldiers receiving it.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Soldiers of the 824th Quartermaster Company and the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade rigged several bundles of food and water at the Bagram, Afghanistan rigger shed. The rigged supplies will be loaded on to an aircraft and delivered to the requesting unit.

(Photo by 1st Lt. Verniccia Ford)

The rigger support team continuously strives for efficiency. Through meticulous training, they have been able to execute emergency resupply missions utilizing Information Surveillance Reconnaissance feed. This capability allows the rigger support team to observe the loads being delivered, ensuring it lands in the correct location.

When they are not supplying warfighters with supplies, Reza and his team conduct rodeos to train, advise and assist members of the Afghan National Army logistical cell, and NATO counterparts on how to properly rig and inspect loads for aerial resupply.

“During training we express how important attention to detail is, being meticulous is the best way to ensure the load won’t be compromised when landing,” said Reza. “Overall it was a great opportunity to train and educate our Afghan National Army counterparts on aerial delivery operations.

This training will enable the Afghan National Army logistics cell to provide low cost low altitude — LCLA loads to their counterparts on the ground, utilizing C-208 aircrafts. This training is vital to the progress of the ANA logistics cell as they continue to grow and become more efficient.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why the BCGs aren’t really all that bad

The old saying, “women love a man in uniform” comes with a long list of exceptions. For example, the expression does not apply to service members wearing a pair of S9 GI glasses — more commonly known as “birth control glasses,” or BCGs. Even the updated 5A GI glasses are only just a slight improvement in style over their infamous predecessor.

The distaste held by many troops wearing them isn’t without merit. You’re asking big, badass troops to don a pair of prescription glasses that immediately makes them look like the biggest dorks on the face of the planet. But if you can get over the fact that you’re often going to be mistaken for the commo guy, you’ll see there’s a very valid reason why the military has issued them out for all these years.

And it’s related to one of their other nicknames: up-armored glasses.


Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

This soldier’s look has been appropriated by hipster douchebags who raise hell if their organic kale smoothie wasn’t free-range.

(Tennessee State Library and Archives)

The very first version of GI glasses were issued out back in WWII. The P3 lenses they used were originally meant to be inserts for gas masks — but your average, visually impaired troop needed to see clearly, so the military started issuing out their own version of prescription glasses.

After the war, they switched the frames from a nickel alloy to cellulose acetate. Recipients could choose between gray and black frames. The glasses weren’t too out of the ordinary style-wise and they served a dual purpose of acting as thicker-than-average eye protection while improving a troop’s sight.

For the time, the glasses were aligned with fashion trends and, frankly, style wasn’t much of a concern — they were free, they worked, and they were definitely within military regulations. It was just a bonus that they didn’t look too bad, either.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

They can do anything but help you talk to the ladies.

(Photo by Sam Giltner)

Then, the late 70s rolled around and the military went all in on the S9 GI glasses. The frames were bulky and only available in “librarian brown” cellulose acetate. Around this time, soft corrective contact lenses became more prevalent, but military regulation forbid contacts, so if you had a visual impairment, you were forced to look like a dork.

The restriction on contacts isn’t without merit. As anyone who’s ever worn contacts can tell you, they’re a pain in the ass to maintain everyday and almost impossible to keep up with in a military environment. A single speck of dirt can potentially irritate your eye and take you out of the fight. The S9s on the other hand, were intended to withstand the austere environments troops deploy to and the lenses and frame are durable.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

All of the jokes we throw at each other for looking dorky as hell will soon be a thing of the past. Now we’ll need some other trait to poke fun at…

(Photo by Melissa K. Buckley, Ft. Leonard Wood)

The military has adapted to societal trends over the years to keep troops seeing properly and protecting their eyes. Wearing BCGs is a regulation that’s really only enforced during recruit training or Officer Candidate School. After the bespectacled troop gets to their first unit, they can swap them out for a pair of civilian, prescription glasses — so long as they don’t have any brand logos on the sides.

The modern version of the GI Glasses — the Model 5A — were released in 2012 to replace the awkward S9s. They offer the same protection, are still free, and they come in a variety of style options from which the troop can choose.

MIGHTY CULTURE

A brief history of US Army snipers

Throughout history, snipers have had two basic roles: deliver long range precision direct fire and collect battlefield information. Their heritage can be traced to the Revolutionary War.

Many of America’s soldiers fighting for their independence in the late 1700s were militia, marksmen by necessity, farmers, and settlers who hunted to feed their family. At the time, their weapons were still relatively primitive, little more than basic hunting rifles, but these hunters were skilled and, according to the American Shooting Journal, while fighting the British, long-range kills were common. Without any formal guidance, these volunteers were doing exactly the same mission as snipers do today.


Snipers continued to play an integral part in battlefield operations during World War I, when trench warfare provided good hiding places for sharpshooters, World War II’s lengthy field deployments, and the Vietnam War, when sniper fire eliminated more than 1,200 enemy combatants.

Since 1945, we have recognized the sniper as an increasingly important part of modern infantry warfare. Sniper rifles and their optics have evolved into costly but effective high-tech weaponry. Although technology, as far as snipers are concerned, can never replace experience and skill.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Annual International Sniper Competition, October 2018.

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace)

Infantrymen U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Micah Fulmer and Spc. Tristan Ivkov, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry (Mountain), Colorado Army National Guard, showed off their sniper skills, taking second place at the 2018 International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia, in October 2018.

The International Sniper Competition is also open to law enforcement agencies, and the 2018 competition featured some of the best snipers from around the globe, including the U.S. military, international militaries, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The best teams face a gauntlet of rigorous physical, mental and endurance events that test the range of sniper skills, including long range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance, and reporting abilities as well as stealth and concealment.

It is a combat-focused competition that tests a sniper team’s ability to communicate and make decisions while stressed and fatigued, to challenge comfort zones of precision marksmanship capability and training methodology, and to share information and lessons learned regarding sniper operations, tactics, techniques, and equipment.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Army Staff Sgt. Mathew Fox waits to engage a target in the live-fire stalk event during the 2012 International Sniper Competition at the U.S. Army Sniper School on Fort Benning.

(U.S. Army photo)

Ivkov suffered a knee injury prior to the National Guard match. Despite the injury, his team took first place, securing their spot in the international competition. However, concerned about how the injury may impact the team’s ability at the next level, he felt as if they shouldn’t have even been there.

“We went in with quite the train up,” Ivkov said. “Coming in with a second place medal was even a little higher than we figured on.”

The team attended an eight-week training course just before the competition took place.

In order to keep things fair, “We used schoolhouse-issued weapons so everyone was running the same gear,” Ivkov said. “The competition lasted 96 hours…we probably slept 10.”

Their targets ranged from “M9 (Pistol) targets at 5 feet to .50 caliber at a little over a mile away,” Fulmer said. “The actual shooting is just a fraction of the knowledge and discipline you have to have to be a sniper.”

The team must gauge atmospheric and wind conditions, factors that can change a bullet’s course. At some of the longer ranges, even Earth’s rotation must be taken into account. They must also move undetected through varied terrain to get into the right shooting position.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Sgt. Nicholas Irving, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, takes aim during the “Defensive Shoot” event at Wagner Range on Fort Benning, Ga., during the Ninth annual U.S. Army International Sniper Competition.

(U.S. Army photo)

Hitting the target also takes “a little bit of luck,” Fulmer said.

Fulmer served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining the Colorado National Guard. Working as mentor and spotter for Ivkov, he earned the honor of top spotter at the international competition.

U.S. Army Staff Sgts. Brandon Kelley and Jonathan Roque, a team from the 75th Ranger Regiment, took first place, for the second consecutive year. Swedish Armed Forces Lance Cpls. Erik Azcarate and David Jacobsson, from the 17th Wing Air Force Rangers, finished third.

The key for any sniper is to remain “calm, cool and collected,” Fulmer said. “We’re not going to let up now; this is just the beginning.”

With ever-changing combat environments and the necessity to stay ahead of the adversary, the U.S. Army, as recently as November 2018, awarded contracts for the fielding of the M107 .50-caliber, long-range sniper rifle. These rifles will assist soldiers such as Ivkov and Fulmer continue to take the fight to the enemy.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This year marks the centennial of the American Legion

The American Legion was founded on March 15, 1919, with a charter by Congress to focus on service to veterans, service members, and communities. Today, with over 13,000 posts worldwide, membership stands at over 2 million — with a growing number of post-9/11 veterans joining.

All across the country, posts are pouring shots celebrating the centennial with pride.


To Strengthen a Nation: Prelude

youtu.be

Related video:

In honor of the celebration, American Legion National Headquarters released the first two episodes of a new documentary that captures the history and influence of the American Legion.

Many people think of the legion as an old-school boys club, but posts like Hollywood Post 43 are shifting the dynamic with the recruitment of younger generations of veterans. It’s more than a club or a bar — it’s a home. It’s family.

Also read: How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion

“Veterans. Defense. Youth. Americanism. Communities.” The American Legion works every day to uphold its values. Just recently during the 2019 government shutdown, the Legion stepped up to help Coast Guard service members and their families with limited assistance.

Legion programs assist with youth sports and education, community projects and events, and support to non-profit organizations. Not only that, but posts often become a community of their own, providing companionship, service opportunities, and support for veterans after their service.

And not for nothing, but you can’t beat the bar tab if you’re a Legionnaire…

Congratulations to the American Legion – and thank you for one hundred years of support, community, and laughs.

Click here to find a celebration near you — and for all the service members out there who haven’t joined yet, I highly recommend checking out your local post.

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