After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time - We Are The Mighty
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After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

The soldier nervously scanned the hotel lobby. Suddenly, his eyes lit up and a broad smile immediately filled his face.

“That’s my dad!” he said, and rushed to the hotel door. The soldier embraced his father, and it was clear he didn’t want to let go. Who could blame him?

This was June 24, 2019. He had waited 23 years for this moment.


After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist with the 358th Engineer Company from Chambersburg, Pa., nervously awaits the arrival of his father, Jorge, June 24, 2019, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

Leaving Guatemala

Spc. Brandon Paiz, remembered the day he learned he was going to leave his home.

“I was little, about nine and eight months,” Paiz reflected. “My mom said, ‘Hey we’re going to move to the United States with your stepdad, Roger.'”

Paiz, now a tall, muscular masonry/carpentry specialist with the 358th Engineer Company, talked about the apprehension he felt as a small child leaving his birthplace, Guatemala.

“It was a culture shock,” Paiz said. “The first thing I noticed about the United States is that is was really clean, the streets were really clean. It sounds weird, but they handed me a fruit — a banana — and I was like, holy cow, this thing is huge!”

Paiz said he was quick to adapt to his new home, starting with a new-found love of bacon. He also quickly learned to speak English from an unlikely source.

“Spongebob was my favorite cartoon when I was little,” Paiz said. “It was in Spanish, but when I came to the U.S., I kind of remembered the lines, what they were saying.”

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist from Chambersburg, Pa., with the 358th Engineer Company, sweats during construction work on a medical clinic June 21, 2019, in Tojocaz, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

He took three years of English as a Second Language classes and, with the help of Spongebob, didn’t need any more classes. Still, it was not easy for the boy.

“There were times I just wanted to go back and see my friends again,” he admitted. He had some scattered memories, such as living in a tall apartment building in Guatemala City, where he would go to the roof and play soccer alone for hours. He remembered buying chips from a lady named Dora, and huge celebrations each March in Guatemala City where people would carry massive statues of the saints down the streets.

“I would make rugs for the celebration,” Paiz said. He spoke quickly and with excitement when recalling his tight-knit community.

Paiz first lived in New Jersey, where he had to re-adapt to being part of a new community. He said while he was learning English, some of the neighborhood kids didn’t want to involve him in activities. However, just as he had used Spongebob to improve his English, Paiz used another tool to make new friends: kickball.

“I was really good at soccer, so when I started playing kickball, then the kids finally started talking to me,” he said with a laugh.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist from Chambersburg, Pa., with the 358th Engineer Company, listens to the morning safety briefing before starting construction work on a medical clinic June 21, 2019, in Tojocaz, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

He was curious about his father. He didn’t know too much about him other than his name was Jorge and that he had seen some occasional pictures of him on his aunt Lorna’s Facebook. He didn’t understand why he had not been there, but he forgave him.

“People make mistakes,” Paiz said. “His mistake was he wasn’t really around as much as he should have been. I’m going to continue to build our relationship, because I can tell he regrets it. I don’t want to give him a hard time with more of the guilt he feels already, I’m just excited to get to know him more.”

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist from Chambersburg, Pa., with the 358th Engineer Company, hands construction equipment from a connex to Spc. Pierre Mebe, a plumber, also with the 358th, before beginning construction work on a medical clinic June 21, 2019, in Tojocaz, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

Joining the Army Reserve

“I joined the military for opportunity and education, but above all, I wanted to give back to the country that opened up the doors for me,” Paiz said. “I wanted to do it for the longest time, but I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do it — whether I wanted to be a cop, but I wanted to do something to give back to the community, so I decided on the military.”

Paiz said he didn’t want to leave his mother, who had at this time divorced from Roger, so he decided on joining the Army Reserve. He didn’t realize it yet, but Paiz was about to join another tight-knit community.

He enlisted as a masonry/carpentry specialist and joined a rowdy group of construction soldiers from throughout Pennsylvania, the 358th Engineer Company, located in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

Joining the military proved beneficial in many ways. First, Paiz, who works as a sales representative for a cable company, was able to get the sense of service and giving back to his country as a soldier.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist from Chambersburg, Pa., with the 358th Engineer Company, plays with some dogs outside a medical clinic construction site June 21 in Tojocaz, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

Secondly, Paiz was re-united with a friend from high school, Spc. Pierre Mede, who just like him, had migrated from another country — Haiti — to the United States as a child. The two quickly went from friends, to inseparable best friends.

But most of all, although Paiz didn’t know it yet, the tiny unit from Pennsylvania was about to bring him back to Guatemala. The unit’s annual training mission was in support of Beyond the Horizon, an annual training partnership between U.S Army South, and one of the nations in their area of responsibility in Central and South America. As it so happened, this year’s rotation was in Guatemala, where the 358th Engineers would be building a medical clinic in the mountain village of Tojocaz.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist with the 358th Engineer Company from Chambersburg, Pa., embraces his father, Jorge, June 24, 2019, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

Homecoming

Paiz knew his unit was going to be traveling to Guatemala. He knew that he would be flying in to Guatemala City where he would meet his aunt Lorna, who he had not seen in several years, but had been very close to growing up. But Paiz was not prepared for what would happen next at Guatemala City Airport.

“Obviously I recognized him, because I had seen him through photos,” Paiz said. “When I walked through the door … my heart just dropped. I knew this was the moment that I had been envisioning in my head for years — I just didn’t think it was going to be that day.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist with the 358th Engineer Company from Chambersburg, Pa., embraces his father, Jorge, June 24, 2019, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

“I hugged my aunt first, then my other aunt, and a family friend. Then it was his turn. I was really nervous when I finally met him.”

It was a moment he said had rehearsed in his mind countless times.

“I was really shocked, nervous, overwhelmed,” he said. “I had practiced what I was going to tell him for so many years, but it wouldn’t come out. I didn’t cry or anything, but I was glad that I finally closed that chapter in my life, and as it so happened, the military has done that for me.

“My heart was racing, and when I finally hugged him I was like, this is happening. This is real. Twenty-three years later I finally got to see my father.”

One of the soldiers snapped a photo of the brief, impromptu meeting. Paiz would carry it with him as he worked on the clinic with his friend Mede. It was a brief moment, but the two planned a second visit from Paiz in August.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist from Chambersburg, Pa., with the 358th Engineer Company, checks the level on a block during construction work on a medical clinic June 21, 2019, in Tojocaz, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

The clinic

Paiz’ story affected his new brothers in the 358th. It provided the extra bit of motivation the soldiers needed on their construction rotation. Three weeks is not a long time, but if you ask the soldiers, three weeks high in the mountains of Guatemala, sweating and grinding in the hot sun for more than 12 hours every day can be very long. To add to it all, the 358th fell into a situation where they were already several days behind on the project.

The soldiers would leave at 5 a.m. every morning, and come home dirty, sweaty, sore and tired after laying brick until sometimes well after 8 p.m. But though they acknowledged their fatigue, none complained. Because of Paiz, this mission meant something more to them.

His non-commissioned officer, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Pearce probably said it best: “We respect each other as people. Knowing the fact that one of the soldiers is originally from Guatemala, and that we’re here to help this community and this is his native country, I think everybody has pulled together to say ‘We want to do this.’ We are motivated to make this happen so we can say look what we did for this soldier’s native country.”

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist with the 358th Engineer Company from Chambersburg, Pa., embraces his father, Jorge, June 24, 2019, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

Goodbye, for now

After waiting 23 years, Paiz had met his father and could look forward to the trip in August. As it turned out, he would not have to wait that long.

A couple weeks later, when some of the military leadership learned of Paiz’ unique situation, they arranged for him to hop on a helicopter that was already going from the base the soldiers were staying at with their Guatemalan counterparts in Huehuetenango to Guatemala City.

The flight was picking up some high-ranking officials and flying them back, so Paiz would only have a few minutes to see Jorge. They met for coffee at the Intercontinental Hotel in Guatemala City. Once again, his aunts were there and his cousin too. When everyone sat together at the table, it was as if the family had been together all along. Laughter filled the air.

The talk was of pride. Paiz’ cousin, Celia told him, “I am so proud of you that you became an American soldier. I am proud that you and the other soldiers work with the people here on this mission.”

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Brandon Paiz, a carpentry/masonry specialist with the 358th Engineer Company from Chambersburg, Pa., poses for a photo with his cousin Celia taken by his aunt Lorna, June 24 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Matson)

There was more laughter, and then the room became quiet. Only Jorge spoke, and though he tried to remain composed, his son’s face brimmed with emotion. His father was apologizing.

“I’m very proud of you that you are an American soldier,” Jorge said. “I’m very proud that you are a good person and you make the right choices. You could have gone another path, but you chose the life of a soldier. That’s because you were raised well by your mother.”

He went on to say that although he had a family of his own, he still thought of his son even if it he felt as though he could not be there.

“That doesn’t mean that I don’t love you and I hope we can maintain strong communication moving forward. I’m grateful that life gave us an opportunity to reunite.” He went on to say that when he saw him now, even as a strapping 23-year-old man, he pictured an 8-year-old boy.

“My son. My blood. A good boy. A good son.”

Finally, Brandon Paiz had gotten what he really needed from his father.

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

Lists

7 nasty ways Kim Jong Un executes people

Kim Jong Un doesn’t take well to being dissed. Remember how North Korea threatened Sony over The Interview? Though, one has to like the fact that in that film, Kim became a firework to the tune of Katy Perry’s Firework.


So, here are some of the ways Kim knocks off those who dissed him. This dissing can take the form of trying to steal a propaganda poster (which lead to a fatal prison stay), possessing the Bible, or even having American or South Korean films in your possession. So, how might Kim do the deed?

Here are some of the ways he’s offed those who angered him in the past:

7. Dogs

Everyone’s starving in North Korea. That includes man’s best friend. Kim Jong Un, though, is reportedly more than willing to feed dogs. Guess he’s trying to spin himself as an animal lover with this method.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
(Jeremy Bender/ Business Insider)

6. Anti-Aircraft Guns

This is probably the most notorious method. Kim is known to have used this method on one high-ranking official by the name of Ri Jong Jin who fell asleep during a meeting where the North Korean dictator was giving a speech. He and another official who suggested policy changes were blown to smithereens at Kim’s orders.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
ZU-23-2 Anti-Aircraft Gun (Photo: Wikimedia)

5. VX

Kim Jong Un used this deadly nerve agent earlier this year to kill his half-brother, who was seen as a threat. This hit took place in Kuala Lampur, showing that North Korea’s dictator can find a way to kill people he wants dead – even when they flee the hellhole that is North Korea. What’s really awful is how persistent VX is.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
(YouTube screen grab from John Mason)

4. Machine Guns

Kim Jong Un has also used regular ol’ machine guns on enemies. One reported instance was on an ex-girlfriend, although she later turned up alive. He did use this method to knock off the engineers and architects who designed and built a 23-story building that collapsed and killed 500 people, though.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

3. Burned with Flamethrowers

Flamethrowers are considered some of the scariest weapons when wielded in war. Kim Jong Un turned them into a very nasty method of execution for an official who was running a protection racket.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
This Marine sprays his deadly flamethrower at in enemy building. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

2. Blown up with a Mortar

When Kim Jong Un wants you to mourn, you’d better mourn. One high-ranking official in the North Korean military was busted “drinking and carousing” after Kim Jong Il died in 2011. He got the death penalty, which was carried out by making him stand still while a mortar was fired, obliterating him.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Fenton loads a round into an 81 mm Mortar during a deployment for training exercise at Fort. Pickett, Va., Dec. 11, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Shannon Kroening)

1. Poison

When Kim Jong Un executed his uncle, his aunt was understandably upset. Kim. Though, wasn’t very consoling to his bereaved aunt, and had her poisoned in May 2014.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire

Yeah, Kim Jong Un can be real nasty when he wants you to go. So, either don’t cross the Pyongyang Psycho, or if you do…make it really worth it.

Articles

The 7 enlisted jobs with awesome entry-level salaries

Serving in the military can be very rewarding personally and professionally, but a lot of potential recruits want to know which jobs make the most cash. The military pay tables are here, but in the meantime, here are seven of the most lucrative military jobs for new enlistees:


1. Army Military Working Dog Handler

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Photo by Pierre Courtejoie

Military working dog handlers train and work with dogs that specialize in finding explosives, drugs, or other potential threats to military personnel or law and order. They train for 18 weeks after the Army’s 10-week basic combat training.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits.

2. Air Force Histopathology Specialist

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. David Miller

Histopathology specialists in the U.S. Air Force prepare diseased tissue samples for microscopic examination, aiding doctors in the diagnosis of dangerous diseases.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

3. Marine Corps Engineer

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. John McCall

Engineering Marines build and repair buildings, roads, and power supplies and assist the infantry by breaching enemy obstacles. There are different schools for different engineering specialties including Basic Combat Engineer Course, the Engineer Equipment Operator Course, and the Basic Metal Workers Course.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

4. Navy Mass Communications Specialist

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Kamaile Chan

Mass Communications Specialists tell the Navy story through photography, writing, illustration, and graphic design. They educate the public and document the Navy’s achievements.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

5. Army Paralegal Specialist

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Photo: US Army Sgt. Darryl L. Montgomery

Paralegal Specialists assist lawyers and unit command teams by advising on criminal law, international law, civil/administrative law, contract law, and fiscal law. The are experts in legal terminology, the preparation of legal documents, and the judicial process.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

6. Air Force Firefighter

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Kathrine McDowell

Firefighters in the Air Force have to combat everything from building fires to burning jets to forest fires. They operate primarily on Air Force bases but may also be stationed at other branches installations or be called on to assist civilian fire departments.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

7. Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle Crewman

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Photo: US Navy Geoffrey Patrick

Light armored vehicles support the Marine Corps mission by carrying communications equipment, Marines, and mobile electronic warfare platforms. The heart of the LAV mission is the LAV crewman, who drives, maintains, and operates these awesome vehicles.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

Military Life

6 things you need to know about being stationed at K-Bay

Being an infantry Marine stationed in Hawai’i is a blessing and a curse. If you get stationed out there, civilians will sarcastically tell you how hard your life is and fellow service members will glare at you with jealousy, but they don’t know the truth — not unless they read Terminal Lance, that is.

When you get orders to Hawai’i, you’ll probably feel excited right off the bat. If you grew up in the mainland United States and you’ve never visited, you’ve likely heard of it as a beautiful, tropical vacation spot. Once you get there, you’ll start to realize that, in some ways, it’s far from an island paradise.

So, to get you prepared, here are a few things you should know about being stationed out there:


After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Luckily, you’ll get compensated for the cost of living.

Everything is expensive

Mentally prepare yourself now for paying insane prices for things like milk or gasoline. If you’re a smoker, you might as well kick the habit now because you’ll be paying for every pack at the exchange on base. If you ever plan on leaving to explore the island, you’ll pay much more than that.

The facilities suck

Marine Corps Base Hawai’i is small and its size can likely be attributed to the fact that it was originally built to be a Marine Corps Air Station. Only after the fact was it then turned into a full-fledged base equipped to house with infantry battalions and artillery batteries. As you might imagine, there aren’t many options for shopping or entertainment on base.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

You’ll become well acquainted with those humid jungles, don’t worry.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson)

It’s always humid

Hawai’i is an island nation covered with a lush rain forest and surrounded by ocean. Not only is the heat intense, but the humidity is thick, making matters much worse. Not a day will go by where you won’t sweat — unless you spend the whole day in an air-conditioned building.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

At least the sun will be gone for a bit of time.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isabelo Tabanguil)

It’s always raining

Remember how it’s always humid? It’s because it constantly rains. If you’re infantry, you already know that rain is somehow magically, meteorologically attracted to where you are in the world so, don’t expect that to change at all in Hawai’i.

The locals hate you

A good amount of them, anyway. If they’re not a tattoo artist or business owner, they’ll probably have a disdain for you being a part of the United States military. Don’t take it personally and just ignore it because there’s no point in getting yourself into trouble when, at the end of the day, you’re not there by choice, anyway.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

It won’t take long before you start to feel the claustrophobia.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Luke Kuennen)

You’re stuck on an island

Your ass belongs to the Corps, so you best believe you can’t leave that island chain without permission. You can’t really even leave O’ahu unless you do some paperwork, so get used to those islands feeling like a prison.

Enjoy!

Military Life

7 things grunts think about on watch in fighting holes

If nothing else has made you question your choice to join the infantry before, digging a fighting hole definitely will. It’s always miserable, it’s extremely time consuming, and there’s always a giant rock waiting for you once you’re halfway down. But, once you get that hole dug, it’s smooth sailing. Now, all you have to do is deal with the sleep deprivation and crummy weather.


Defensive postures allow your unit time to “rest” and recover after launching an offensive. Basically, you take some ground from the enemy and then hold it until your unit is ready to continue pushing the enemy back. If you’re not in an urban environment, you’ll have to dig two-person fighting holes in order to hold your ground. The enemy is likely going to return (with reinforcements) to try and retake some real estate — your unit will be entrenched, waiting for them.

Keep in mind that you’ll be in that position for at least 24 hours, so you’ll have lots of time to think about your life from every angle. Here are some of the things that’ll race through your mind during that time:

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Meanwhile, in the Air Force…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cassie Whitman)

What you should have joined instead

This is at the top of the list because digging a fighting hole and then sitting in it, deprived of sleep, will make you seriously question why you joined the infantry. You might even think about how much nicer you would’ve had it in the Air Force — or literally anything else that wouldn’t land you in that damned fighting hole.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

If digging the hole wasn’t enough, this will definitely bring you back to list item #1.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaac Ibarra)

Current weather conditions

You’re likely to spend the majority of your time in the middle of the night, which means you’ll likely experience the coldest temperatures that environment has to offer. Joy!

If you don’t it gets cold in the desert or the jungle, you’ll become acquainted real quick. Since God basically hates the infantry, chances are it’s going to rain or, if you’re on a mountain, there will be a blizzard.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Just bring it on post with you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dwight Henderson)

Where your warming layers are

If you’re somewhere cold and rainy, you’ll be struggling to remember where you put your warmest layers are and if you can get to it without giving up your security for too long in the process. Chances are, your pack will be too far away and you’re sh*t out of luck.

After this realization, you’ll spend the rest of your watch experiencing every stage of grief.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

They’ll look so peaceful when you get there, too.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Nathaniel Cray)

When, exactly, is too soon to wake up relief

You’ll convince yourself you need to wake your buddy up 20 to 45 minutes before you actually need to because they “need time to get ready.” In reality, you just want to share the misery.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

You’ll imagine this moment over and over…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Bernadette Wildes)

Going home

Since you’ll want to keep your mind off the weather, you’ll spend some time speculating on the fun your friends are having while you suffer. This will lead to thinking about what and who you want to do when you go home next.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Anything is better than what you’re eating out there.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Kowshon Ye)

What you want to eat

If you didn’t bring snacks, you’ll be hungry on watch. This will lead you to thinking about all the food in the world. You’ll make deals with yourself, promising to eat it all once you get back to civilization.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

You’ll figure it out, no problem.

How to get away with smoking

This doesn’t apply to everyone, of course, but it applies to a lot of us. Even if you don’t smoke when you first join, after you dig a fighting hole, you might start considering it. Those that already smoke will be thinking up ways to get away with it. After all, you run a huge risk of compromising your position.

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. reaffirms commitment to South China Sea after clash

The White House responded publicly on Oct. 4, 2018, to a heated confrontation between the Chinese navy and a US destroyer in the South China Sea.

“China wants nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies,” Vice President Mike Pence said at the Hudson Institute. “They will fail.”


He explained that China prioritizes the erosion of American military power.

“China’s aggression was on display this week,” he said, referring to a dangerous encounter between the People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer Lanzhou and the US destroyer USS Decatur in the hotly-contested South China Sea Sept. 30, 2018. “A Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid collision.”

“Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand,” Pence explained. “We will not be intimidated; we will not stand down.”

Highlighting the Trump administration’s focus on renewed great power competition with China and Russia, the vice president insisted that the US will employ “decisive action to respond to China.”

China has accused the US of endangering regional peace and stability.

“The U.S. side has sent warships into waters near China’s islands and reefs in South China Sea time and again, which has posed a grave threat to China’s sovereignty and security, severely damaged the relations between the two militaries, and significantly undermined regional peace and stability,” the Ministry of Defense said in response to the latest clash.

“The Chinese military resolutely opposes such actions,” the ministry added.

The latest incident in the South China Sea comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, and the situation could soon worsen, as the US military is reportedly considering a proposal for a major show of force as a warning to the Chinese, which perceive American actions moves to contain Chinese power.

While the vice president stressed the threats posed by China to American interests, he emphasized that the US desires a productive relationship with Beijing. “But be assured, we will not relent until our relationship with China is grounded in fairness, reciprocity, and respect for our sovereignty,” he said.

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

popular

The America-themed Disney park that almost was

Under the leadership of CEO Michael Eisner and president Frank Wells, the Walt Disney Company declared the 1990s to be the “Disney Decade”. While Disney feature films went through a renaissance period with modern classics like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King, the company’s theme park division sought to do the same. With the successful opening of the third Walt Disney World park, MGM Studios, in 1989, Disney looked to expand its presence further north near the nation’s capitol.

Disney’s America was conceptualized in the late 1980s after a trip by Eisner and other Disney executives to Colonial Williamsburg. The idea of a park that celebrated America’s rich culture and history was in keeping with Walt Disney’s own vision for the company. The plans for the new park followed a similar formula as EPCOT Center in Disney World. Through “edutainment,” guests would learn about periods of American history while being actively engaged and having fun. The park was projected to sit on 125-185 acres of land about five miles west of the Manassas National Battlefield Park and was segmented into nine distinctly themed lands.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
The park was an ambitious project to capture as much history as possible (Disney)

Guests would enter under an 1840s train trestle into Crossroads, USA. This Antebellum village was meant to serve as the park’s hub. It also hosted the main station for the park’s steam trains that would carry guests around the park like the famous Disneyland Railroad. From there, guests could travel further back in time to Presidents’ Square. Based on the late 18th century, the land celebrated the birth of democracy and commemorated those who fought to preserve it during America’s first few decades. It would have also featured The Hall of Presidents attraction from Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Taking guests even further back in time was Native America. Set between 1600 and 1810, this land was a recreation of a Native American village based on tribes that were known in that part of the country. Attractions would have included experiences, exhibits, and arts and crafts based on Native American culture as well as a whitewater raft ride based on Lewis and Clark’s expedition.

Moving forward in time from Crossroads, USA were the lands called Enterprise and We The People. Both set from 1870-1930, the lands focused on America’s evolution at the turn of the century. Enterprise was a mock factory town that featured a roller coaster ride called Industrial Revolution. The coaster would whisk guests through a 19th century landscape of heavy industry, furnaces, and vats of molten steel. We The People was a replica of the famous Ellis Island building. Celebrating the immigrants that entered America through the real Ellis Island, the land featured the music and food that these people brought with them to bring authenticity to the park.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
A concept drawing of Civil War Fort (Disney)

The park’s lands would have been built around a man-made lake called Freedom Bay. On the opposite side of the lake from We The People sat Civil War Fort. Here, guests would have been transported back in time with Civil War re-enactments and be able to experience a reconstruction of a Union fort. Freedom Bay would have also featured the “thrilling nighttime spectacular” of a naval battle between the Civil War ironclads Merrimack and Monitor.

The last three lands were all set betweem 1930-1945. Family Farm was a recreation of an authentic American farm where guests would have experienced different types of industries related to food production. State Fair was based on the Midwest and featured a live baseball show and carnival rides including a 60-foot Ferris wheel and a classic wooden roller coaster. The last land would have been the main attraction of Disney’s America.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
A concept drawing of Victory Field (Disney)

Called Victory Field, the land would have transported guests back to WWII to experience the fight for worldwide freedom. Resembling a WWII airfield, Victory Field’s attractions were mostly housed in aircraft hangars. Using virtual reality, guests would be able to drive tanks, crew bombers, and parachute from troop transports. The airfield would have also featured static displays of WWII vehicles including the famed B-17 Flying Fortress and M4 Sherman. The park also aimed to have the world’s first dueling roller coaster called Dogfighter. Utilizing two tracks, a German and American fighter plane-themed train would launch at the same time. Their tracks would feature inversions, rolls, and corkscrews, as well as several near misses.

Despite having the support of the Virginia governor and Commission on Population Growth and Density, and projecting to bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue to the area, Disney’s America was met with stark opposition. Civil War historian James McPherson opposed the park’s location near the Manassas National Battlefield Park saying that it “would desecrate the ground over which men fought and died.” Other opponents objected to the potential commercialization and down-playing of serious historical events like war and slavery. Issue was also taken with the park’s name and implied ownership of the country’s history by the company.

Disney responded by revamping the park’s concept to a more education-based one and renaming it to Disney’s American Celebration. However, with such heavy opposition and financial stress from the company’s struggling Euro Disney park, Disney’s America was abandoned in September 1994. Still, the park’s concept art and the idea of experiencing Disney-quality WWII simulators are enough to make any WWII history enthusiast wonder what might have been.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
(Disney)
MIGHTY TRENDING

Pompeo says U.S. will ‘do everything’ to stop Nord Stream 2 Project

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told lawmakers that the United States intends to impose sanctions on firms that continue to help Russia build a natural-gas pipeline to Europe as he sought to dispel concerns about Washington’s commitment to halt the controversial project.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that that pipeline doesn’t threaten Europe,” Pompeo told a senate hearing on July 30, adding: “We want Europe to have real, secure, stable, safe energy resources that cannot be turned off in the event Russia wants to.”


Pompeo told the panel that the United States has already been in touch with some companies working on Nord Stream 2 about the risks they face if they don’t halt their activities.

The State Department and Treasury Department “have made very clear in our conversations with those who have equipment there the expressed threat that is posed to them for continuing to work on completion of the pipeline,” he said.

The United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would run under the Baltic Sea and double Russia’s direct natural gas exports to Germany while bypassing Ukraine.

Washington claims the pipeline would increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas while also hurting Ukraine, which stands to lose billions of dollars in gas-transit fees.

‘Frustrations’ With Germany

Work on the nearly billion project, which is more than 90 percent complete, was halted in December after the United States passed a law that imposed sanctions on vessels laying the pipeline, forcing Swiss-based AllSeas to pull out.

Russian vessels are now seeking to finish the project, but they require help from international companies such as insurers and ports, which Pompeo has now threatened to sanction.

Pompeo earlier in the month announced that he was removing guidelines from a 2017 Congressional bill that exempted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from sanctions amid signs that Russia was taking steps to complete the project.

During the July 30 hearing, Senator Ted Cruz (Republican-Texas) said he had discussed Nord Stream 2 in “considerable depth” with President Donald Trump a day earlier during their trip to Western Texas, a major energy producing region.

Texas potentially benefits from the continued delay of Nord Stream 2 as it opens the possibility of more U.S. liquefied-natural-gas exports to Europe. Russia has accused the United States of using energy sanctions as a “weapon” to open up new markets for its oil and gas industry.

Cruz said Trump expressed “frustrations” with the leadership of Germany, which continues to support the Nord Stream 2 project.

U.S.-German relations have suffered under Trump, who recently announced he would be pulling about 12,500 troops from the country.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marines return to their old stomping grounds

Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot Parris Island is a sacred place that shapes everyday citizens into United States Marines. The journey from recruit in training to United States Marine is unforgettable and some even describe it as the best worst time of their life. Once a Marine leaves the island, most may never return.

U.S. Marines with 2nd Transportation Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, were given the opportunity to visit MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina during a professional military education trip on June 14, 2019.


The day started off with the Marines visiting the famous yellow footprints, the place where the training begins. They then made their way to the receiving bay where all recruits are allotted one phone call home to let their families know they arrived safely, followed by a tour of a recruit living quarters.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

U.S. Marines with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, pose for a group photo with Brig. Gen. James Gylnn, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and Sgt. Major William Carter, sergeant major of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

“Going back to MCRD Parris Island was an overwhelming feeling,” said Pfc. Johnny Francis, who graduated from Parris Island on Nov. 23, 2019, now a motor vehicle operator with 2nd TSB. “It is the place that broke me, made me want to give up, but also gave me the courage to keep going and in turn allowed me to become a United States Marine.”

Marines pride themselves on being the best, and it all starts at recruit training. The Marine Corps has the longest entry level training of any of the four branches.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

U.S. Marines with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, walk down the road at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019.

Recruits endure 13 weeks of rigorous physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. Under 24/7 watch and care of the Marine Corps Drill Instructor, recruits are completely stripped of their civilian habits and relearn everything the Marine Corps way.

“Getting to see recruit training as a Marine made me understand why we are held to such a high standard,” said Lance Cpl. Charlene Yabut, who graduated from Parris Island on Nov. 29, 2018, now a landing support specialist with 2nd TSB. “Those recruits don’t know it yet but they will remember everything that was drilled into their head. Being a Marine takes everything you have to offer every day and without the foundation that is laid here, we wouldn’t be the U.S. Marines.”

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Nicholas Underwood with Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, gives Marines from 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group a tour of Company K’s recruit living quarters at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

2nd TSB ended their trip on the island with witnessing 570 new Marines from P and M Company march and graduate on the Pete Ross Parade Deck.

Graduation day marks the end of recruit training; it is the culminating and most awaited day by all new Marines.

“We wanted to bring the Marines from our unit here to allow them to reflect and remind them that we all stepped foot on those yellow footprints for a reason; we all wanted to become Marines,” said Capt. Brian Hassett, Alpha Company Commander, 2nd TSB, CLR 2, 2nd MLG. “We have earned the title, but it doesn’t end there. We have to keep working hard, stay dedicated and be prepared for when America calls.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why troops wearing unearned awards is still stolen valor

Troops and veterans have little sympathy for the clowns that put on a military uniform around Veterans Day just to try and get 10 percent off their restaurant bill. For lack of a more polite word, the military community offers nothing but unbridled rage to those unworthy of wearing uniform who degrade it in the public eye.

But there is another form of so-called “stolen valor” that rarely gets brought up within the military community — and that’s in-service stolen valor. The Army simply refers to it as being a “PX Ranger,” named after the fool who goes to the PX, buys a Ranger tab, and slaps it on without even stepping foot on the course, let alone completing it.

In addition to going against many official regulations, the troops who do this are damaging the good order and discipline of the military far more than the phonies who make laughable attempts to shave a few bucks off their lunch.


After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

You should know which awards you have. After all, you were likely there to receive them.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russell Martin)

Now, to be clear, there’s a huge difference between in-service stolen valor and the obligatory embellishments that come with military storytelling. It’s one thing to tell a group of younger Joes that, “no sh*t, there you were…” and it’s another to wear an unearned award to back up your claim. For starters, everyone knows to take service stories with a grain of salt. Amplifying a few details to get the point across is harmless; wearing accolades you’ve not earned, on the other hand, is strictly forbidden by Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Depending on the severity of the infraction, the accused could face a maximum punishment of forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a bad conduct discharge, and up to six months in confinement. According to the rules, there’s no distinction made between the guy who adds an extra oak leaf cluster to an Army Commendation Medal and the scumbag who tells everyone their Silver Star is “still being figured out by their last unit.”

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

There’s just some things you can’t just “yeah, well, you see. What had happened was” your way through. Being a ranger is one of them.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

This harms the military in several ways, the most prominent being that it takes away from the hard work and dedication of those who spent blood, sweat, and tears to get recognized. Regardless of the decoration, there’s weight behind it. If you see an NCO wearing a Ranger tab, you can assume that they’ve got a solid understanding of what it takes to be a bad*ss. They will become the go-to expert on all things relating to operational and tactical planning. If that understanding is built on a lie, then the entire unit suffers.

Because it is punishable under the UMCJ and it’s assumed that wearing a decoration means you’re worthy of it, there shouldn’t have to be the background checks that have inevitably cropped up because of these Blue Falcons. Sure, the old lady at the register still doesn’t ask for a Ranger School graduation certificate when someone buys the tab, but these phonies have helped foster an unwarranted level of scrutiny among the troops. Any real Ranger can easily provide proof, yes, but it’s a shame we need to spend time validating what we’ve already earned because of a few bad apples.

There isn’t anything wrong with being the average Joe in the formation. The moment you raised your right hand and completed your branch’s initial entry training, you’ve earned the respect of all the brothers and sisters who’ve come before you.

Embrace who you are. If you want to be better, go out and be better. Talk to your training room about getting into that school you want. Do extraordinary things in your unit to get that prestigious award. Request a change in MOS if you feel like you’re being held back by your position in the unit. Whatever you do, don’t just pin yourself with something unless you’ve earned it — or else you’re no better than the prick screaming for a military discount after buying a uniform online.

MIGHTY TRENDING

New insight to ISIS found in a fighter’s captured diary

A notebook written in English that may have belonged to an ISIS fighter was reportedly found in a jail in Raqqa, according to the National, which exclusively obtained the notebook from an unnamed source.

The notebook reportedly details the inner workings of the militant group, including their future plans, military shortcomings, and issues foreign fighters faced within the group.


According to pictures of the purported notebook provided by the National, the pages appear to be written in English by one author who used American spelling of words and numbers. A second author wrote in French, and Arabic was used in some of the text as well.

The author details ISIS’s core strategies for maintaining control in the region.

On one page, the author describes how to prevent defectors from leaving ISIS territory: “We should push civilians who want to flee to our centers of gravity in Mosul and Raqqa.” The author added: “The enemy might try to break our control over an area and allow civilians to escape.”

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Hidden camera footage of what life was like under ISIS control in Raqqa.

The notebook describes a solution, written in large letters “THE BIG SOLUTION” which explains that ISIS should not use “conventional military power against a much stronger foe,” and suggests the group focus on “insurgency” until their “political situation allows for a more conventional approach.”

Another page compares several types of guns and their cost in dollars using hand drawn pictures.

The author also discusses expanding efforts to other countries, including Saudi Arabia. A page reportedly questions: “How to make Saudi like Syria? Can we get people to hate Their [sic] rulers?”

The author continues: “Mecca and Medina are a priority for the [caliphate] to actually influence world Muslims. But to get there we need to destabilize Al-Saud. Direct action against Al-Saud from Iraq will likely fail militarily and attract US ground troops so the best way to do this is internally, with the support for Yemen and Iraq.”

The writings also appear to show that ISIS fighters kept up with international news, and often monitored global political cycles.

The author offers suggestions on how to pull “the USA to another major war to exhaust its economy.” The writer also extensively followed the US presidential elections, and said key decisions would depend on US political action.

“The US decisions are very important, and they depend on the Presidential elections.”

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“However, if democrats lose, a Republican administration would be more likely to bring US boots on the ground, and cooperation with Iran will likely stop,” the author reportedly wrote.

The journal also reportedly layed out a strategy for confronting the US on the battlefield: “Fighting the USA might be more dangerous militarily, but it will grant IS respect in muslim [sic] eyes.”

The notebook also reveals the innermost thoughts of what appears to have been a foreign ISIS fighter. At the bottom of a page detailing “important” military issues “to study,” the author asks himself: “Who am I? What should I do? Why am I here? How did I reach this place?”

According to the report, the author bemoans several limitations within the group, including lack of training time to militant fighters and notes there were “problems created by different languages.”

Associate Professor at the Naval War College Monterey, Dr. Craig Whiteside, told the National that there were notable similarities between the strategies laid out in the book and the strategies taught in western military training.

“The author has studied topics we study in a war college, such as the differences between policy and strategy.”

“If this is a foreign fighter, not studying their own country for military facilities but instead learning about Iraq and Syria, the goal is to encourage them to stay,” he added.

Figures from October 2017 show more than 40,000 fighters from more than 110 countries flocked to Syria and Iraq after its establishment in 2014. Reports indicate that roughly 129 US nationals joined the caliphate. Of those foreign fighters, at least 5,600 citizens or residents from 33 countries who have returned home.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The ‘Waffle House Index’ tells FEMA how to worry about storms

No one endures a national state of emergency like the Waffle House. For those who don’t live near the 2,000-plus locations spread out across 25 states, a Waffle House is a restaurant that harnesses the enduring image of the all-night truck stop greasy spoon. The most outstanding thing about the food at a Waffle House is that it’s always available 24-7, rain or hurricane.

But when your local Waffle House is suddenly not open, you know it’s time to head for the hills.


Waffle Houses have a loyal following in the areas where they operate, and it’s not just truckers and the late night, post-drinking crowd. A good slice of Americans would tell you that Waffle House produces the kind of food they love.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
And heroes. Waffle House produces goddamn heroes.

The restaurant chain is so reliable during disasters that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, actually closely monitors the activities of local Waffle House restaurants to prepare for potential economic damage and make risk-management decisions. They call it the “Waffle House Index,” and it’s not just a measure of the danger of a storm, it’s a barometer for economic recovery.

The Waffle House Index has three levels of severity. Green means a Waffle House is open and serving a full menu, yellow means the menu is limited to just a few options, and red indicates the Waffle House was forced to close, its crew has skipped town, and you probably should, too.

The reason is that Waffle House operates a huge number of stores in the American South and Southeast. Their properties and supply chain are always vulnerable to extreme weather conditions faced on the U.S. coasts. In the event of an emergency, the chain is able to quickly inform employees and move supplies to secure warehouses. Once the crisis has passed, the Waffle House is usually the first business open in the aftermath.

It’s not only in the public’s (and FEMA’s) best interest to monitor dangerous storms. For Waffle House, who maintains a storm watch center, it keeps the company’s product and supply chain intact and ready to re-open for business. Food, after all, is not a product that stands the test of time. The company has generators, supplies, and staff ready to go as soon as the all clear is given.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, it wasn’t just fry cooks and waitresses that flocked back to North Carolina after the storm. Waffle House sent in construction teams and IT personnel, all lead by the company’s CEO. The supply staging strategy used by Waffle House is the same method used by the U.S. Military and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in case of a national crisis or theater-level operation.

After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

Waffle House Restaurant torn apart by Hurricane Katrina on the Biloxi, Mississippi, coast.

(Library of Congress)

While the Waffle House Index is a decent risk indicator, it’s not always 100-percent perfect. Waffle Houses closed in the wakes of Hurricanes Katrina, Matthew, and Harvey. The Waffle House in Joplin, Mo. remained open during the devastating tornado that hit the town in 2011. The Waffle House survived, but much of the rest of the town did not.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

These are the 62 best COVID-19 memes on the internet

There’s nothing like government-imposed isolation to bring out the best and the worst in people. It’s time to take a break from the empty shelves, homeschooling, terrifying headlines (and harrowing reality) and the truly unprecedented times we’re currently living in and lighten the load with our favorite memes of COVID-19.

In seriousness, we know these are scary times. We hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

And always wash your hands.


After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time

1. The milkshake


After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
After 23 years, soldier meets his father for the first time
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