Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

We here at SOFREP recently made the acquaintance of Dave “Bio” Baranek. We were interested in doing a review of his upcoming book “Tomcat RIO.” Baranek agreed to send us his book for review, but as a bonus he recently also sent us a copy of his previous book “Topgun Days” for us to look over.

Baranek was an F-14 RIO (Radar Intercept Officer). He not only flew Tomcats in real-world missions but became an instructor at the Navy’s Topgun school. He also worked closely on the Tom Cruise film “Top Gun.” (An interesting footnote is the Navy has Topgun as one word while Hollywood had it as two.)


When Baranek’s book arrived in the mail, I was scanning the movie channels for an action film and Top Gun popped up. Was it fate? So, switching off the television, I sat in a chair, where’d I remain for the next several hours, because once you begin reading the book, it puts its hooks into you right away and you won’t be able to put it down. This move much irked my wife who was expecting yours truly to be helping put stuff away from our recent move.

One of the first chapters deals with Baranek ejecting from the Tomcat’s GRU-7A into the Indian Ocean. The ejection subjects pilots to forces of 20 Gs which makes them blackout for a few seconds. Baranek was heavily entangled in his parachute lines and silk but managed to free himself, and — in testimony to the speed and professionalism of the rescue choppers — spent only about three minutes in the Indian Ocean.

Baranek went through Topgun school in 1982. He was the only one from his class of 451 pilots, from the flight school of 1980, to be chosen. One of the things that was interesting is that Baranek stated that the Topgun instructors were not arrogant or swaggering but delivered their lectures with enthusiasm and a seemingly limitless amount of knowledge on the subject matter.

After his graduation, he returned to his squadron. He was then selected to return to Topgun, this time as an instructor. For Navy combat pilots, that is the pinnacle.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Nearly all fighter pilots have very cool nicknames or call-signs. Baranek chose “Bionic” because it sounded like Baranek. But being thin, the Navy pilots didn’t believe he looked very bionic so it was shortened to “Bio.”

Of course, he was an instructor at Topgun when the Hollywood people came around in 1985 to begin filming the movie which made the Tomcats and the school so famous with the public.

The F-5 fighters, which were the ones the instructors flew as aggressor aircraft for the school, were normally painted in camouflage patterns that Navy pilots might encounter on deployment somewhere in the world: They would either be of a green and brown camouflage, similar to the Soviet-style, or painted in a tan that would blend in with the desert environment in the Middle East.

But for the Tony Scott film, the producers had the F-5s painted flat black with a red star on the tail. The planes were called MiG-28s — a fictional aircraft that did not exist. The film director and cameramen got some incredible footage from the F-14s. The quality and dramatic effect of the shots even impressed the Tomcat pilots.

Baranek’s wife got to kiss Tom Cruise on the cheek and they met some of the other actors including Anthony Edwards (Goose), Michael Ironside (Jester), and Tom Skerrit. I remember my own wife being similarly star-struck meeting Mark Wahlberg and Flash Gordon on the set of Ted 2 in Boston. Seeing those pictures and remembering these moments reinforces how our families are a big part of what we do.

The Navy officially retired Tomcats from active service in 2006, but due to Tom Cruise’s film, they live on as one of those iconic aircraft in the public’s imagination. An interesting fact is that most of the naval aviators of today weren’t even born when Cruise, Anthony Edwards, and Val Kilmer rocked across the screen in 1986. And Cruise has just recently finished another Top Gun film.

Baranek completed a 20-year career in the Navy, starting with assignments to F-14 Tomcat squadrons and the elite Topgun training program, and a later assignment to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. 7th Fleet. He commanded an F-14 Tomcat fighter squadron, with nearly 300 people and 14 aircraft worth about 0 million. He completed his career with 2,499.7 F-14 Tomcat flight hours and 688 carrier landings. His logbook also records 461.8 flight hours in the F-5F Tiger II.

As Special Forces guys, we always joked about fighter pilots: “What’s the difference between God and a fighter pilot?” Answer: “God doesn’t think he’s a fighter pilot.” Pilots would also poke fun at us. One of the pilots I knew would always ask if we picked the gravel out of our knuckles. But the respect is always there.

A particularly gripping aspect of “Topgun Days” is the fantastic aerial photography that Baranek took. The book is peppered with some great pictures that put the reader right smack in either an F-14 or F-5.

Baranek’s “Topgun Days” is a page-turner and comes very highly recommended. Its 322 pages with awesome photography will zip by in the blink of an eye. “I feel the need…the need for speed.”

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 great military cadences you haven’t thought about in years

For hundreds of years, military cadences have been used as an iconic tool to keep service members upright during formation runs and marches.


Structurally designed to keep each man or woman properly covered and aligned, a cadence helps a formation of troops in PT land each step at the exact same time as everyone else, preventing a massive falling domino effect.

Related: 6 military cadences you will never forget

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Members of the 99th Security Forces Group perform cadence while running in the formation (Photo by Air Force Senior Airman Stephanie Rubi)

Military cadence is a preparatory song performed by the leader of the formation during the marches or organized runs.  Many parts of these running songs are so catchy, they will be forever embedded into our heavy left feet.

Read More: 5 epic military movie mistakes

Take a listen and let yourself be transported back to the good ol’ days of the little yellow bird and the days of sitting in the back of your truck with Josephine.

1. “Down By The River”

2. “Pin My Medals Upon My Chest”
3. “C-130 Rolling Down The Strip”
4. “Hey, Hey Whiskey Jack”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwUeuB0MTGs
5. “How’d Ya Earn Your Living?”
Cadences tend to cross-breed through the different branches and change words to make them service-specific. We salute everyone for their originality.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

popular

The 5 most humiliating defeats in military history

hu·bris •ˈ(h)yo͞obrəs/ • noun

excessive pride or self-confidence.

synonyms: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority;

It was Prussian philosopher and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz in On War who said, “the culminating point of victory” is when an army has achieved its maximum possible gains relative to its political aims and the resources available. Everything that comes after that point is unnecessary and runs the risk of incurring a devastating, strategic loss.

It was Chinese philosopher and general Sun Tzu who said the first essential to victory is knowing when to fight and when not to fight. The second essential is knowing what to do when encountering an inferior force.

It was American philosopher and “Gambler” Kenny Rogers who said, “you got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

There have been a lot of amazing upsets in military history, but these losses were especially humiliating because they came at the hands of an ideological or geopolitical rival or just turned the bigger country’s military into a joke.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
For Sale: One Syrian T-62 tank. Like new. Barely used.

Arab Allies vs. Israel in the Yom Kippur War (1973)

Israel’s Arab neighbors, taking a page from Israel’s playbook, launched an all-out surprise attack on Israeli positions during the Jewish day of Atonement — the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Since it was also Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims, it was the most unlikely time to launch an attack.

Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and even freakin’ Cuba sent troops to fight the Israelis, effectively fielding three times as many soldiers and twice as many tanks and artillery pieces, all armed with the latest Soviet weapons. So, naturally, they crushed the IDF — right? Wrong.

Within a goddamn week, Israel’s artillery was shelling parts of Damascus. By the time the UN brokered a ceasefire (19 days later), the IDF was 99km from Cairo.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
The hate was so strong, Finns would prop up frozen Soviet soldiers in weird positions. You know, as a warning.
 

Soviet Union vs. Finland in The Winter War (1939)

Comrade Stalin was feeling pretty good about his chances of occupying Finland at the end of 1939. All the other dictators were invading smaller neighbors, so why not him? Well, the “why not” is the Finnish Army who really, really hated the Red Army. So, despite being outnumbered and facing down thousands of tanks with their paltry 32, the Finns went to work.

Most importantly, the Finns were ready to fight in waist-deep snow and freezing temperatures while the Russians, surprisingly, were not. Rather than use good equipment with superior tactics, Stalin threw thousands of troops at the Finns – who promptly killed as many as they could. When all was said and done, the Soviets took three times as many casualties as Finland and only “won” the war because they forced territorial concessions.

When World War II broke out, Finland immediately sided with Germany, invaded those concessions and inflicted another 305,000 deaths upon the Red Army.

India vs. Pakistan at the Battle of Longewala (1971)

In 1971, Pakistan also tried to take a page from the Israeli playbook, launching an all-out surprise attack on India. They moved 2,000 troops, a mobile infantry brigade, and 45 tanks to secure an Indian border post at Longewala. Unfortunately for the Pakistanis, there were 120 Indians at Longewala who would have none of it. They had one recoilless rifle and strike aircraft that couldn’t fly at night.

For hours, Pakistani artillery pummeled the Indians as tanks and infantry advanced. But the recoilless rifle was the perfect weapon against the T-59 tanks Pakistan was fielding – it turned the thin armor into Swiss cheese. They made easy targets, too, often getting stuck in the soft sand at the border post.

The advancing infantry got caught up in barbed wire and, thinking they’d walked into a minefield in the dark, flipped out. They waited two hours for minesweepers to clear the field of mines that didn’t exist. By that time, air support was on the way and the Pakistanis were lit up in full retreat.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Make fun of his hat at your own risk…
 

Han Xin vs. Zhao Armies at the Battle of Jingxing (205 BC)

What happens when you put 30,000 troops against a force of 200,000? It should be a total rout. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.

Sun Tzu’s fourth essential for victory is,

“He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.”

In this case, Han Xin prepared himself. The night before the battle, he sent 2,000 men, each carrying a red Han Xin battle flag, to the rear of the Zhao Army’s camp. Their orders were to occupy the camp as soon as the Zhao pressed their attack.

Xin also dug earthworks on the “wrong” side of a river, putting his back up against the natural feature. The position gave his men fortifications, but also left them no retreat. He marched his army out to meet the Zhao forces. When the fighting began, the Han forces feinted back to the earthworks. With no retreat, they fought like madmen.

Seeing that they weren’t going to take those fortifications right away, the Zhao called for a temporary fallback to regroup. When the Zhao Army saw the thousands of battle flags in their camp, they thought they were being flanked from the rear and promptly fell apart. The Han slaughtered 150,000 Zhao soldiers.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Also, the Parthians poured molten gold down his throat, which was re-enacted in Game of Thrones.

Romans vs. Parthians at the Battle of Carrhae (53 BC)

A wealthy, young Roman politician named Crassus allied himself with two of the biggest Roman military leaders — perhaps two of the biggest of all time: Julius Caesar, who needs no introduction, and Pompey the Great, who really earned that title. Not content with being just a political ally, Crassus wanted to make a name for himself militarily as well.

He did. But not how he expected he would.

Crassus, then Governor of Syria (conquered by Pompey), led an army of 43,000 legionnaires against the Parthian Empire, running them with no food or rest in order to surprise a mounted force of Parthians in the middle of Mesopotamia. He ran into 10,000 horse archers and some 1,000 heavily armored horsemen, called cataphracts. To defend his army, he formed them into a hollow square, the best defense against mounted units at the time.

Well, after a few hours of raining arrows on the Romans, the Parthians broke and ran, but it was a feint. As a part of the Roman Army broke off to pursue them, the Parthians (again) shot them with arrows. When the Romans were far enough away from the main force, the cataphracts slaughtered them.

When night fell, Crassus retreated to the nearby town of Carrhae. Parthians killed all the stragglers then cut off Crassus’ head during the next day’s “peace negotiation.”

This loss is particularly humiliating due to the fact that we still reference this battle to this day, with terms like “crass stupidity” and “parting shot.”

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

People quarantined at a US military base are petitioning the CDC after a woman who tested positive for the coronavirus was accidentally released from hospital isolation

Wuhan, China, evacuees being held at a military base in California drafted a petition demanding improvements to the CDC’s quarantine protocol after a person infected with the coronavirus COVID-19 was accidentally released from hospital isolation.


Passengers aboard a State Department-mandated evacuation flight from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have been quarantined at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar.

One passenger, who tested positive for the coronavirus, was accidentally released from isolation at UC San Diego Medical Center back to the air base on Monday. The woman was discharged prematurely after her results were mislabeled, per the CDC’s methodology to protect patients’ identities, local news station KNSD reported.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the woman and three others were discharged and on the way back to the base when it was discovered that three of four tests had not been processed yet.

“We decided, OK, we’re going to put these people in isolation in their rooms and instruct them not to leave, not to mingle with the general population there at Miramar base, and we’re going to wait for the results of those tests,” CDC official Dr. Christopher Braden told The Union-Tribune. “Well, of course, as luck would have it, it was one of those tests that came back positive.”

The woman’s symptoms were described as mild and she was not exposed to members of the public. The woman was not symptomatic before she went to the hospital for testing, so it’s unclear what impact if any it will have on the others in quarantine at the base. The three people she was transported with, however, will likely have to extend their quarantine time, The Union-Tribune reported.

Still those on the base are concerned about their overall safety. The petition from those in quarantine was written “in light of the first confirmed case at Miramar coupled with the current precautions taken at the center,” and the listed improvements were “critical measures toward mitigating the potential risk of spreading the virus at the Miramar Center.”

The five suggestions in the petition are as follows:

  • “Everyone in the facility be tested.
  • “Preventing the gathering of large numbers of people into small, enclosed environments; suggesting meals be delivered to the door and town hall meetings through conference calls.
  • “Periodic delivery of personal protective gear to each room, including masks and sanitizing alcohol for in-room disinfection.
  • “Provision of hand sanitizer at the front desk and in the playground.
  • “Disinfection of public areas two to three times a day, including playground, laundry room, door knobs, etc.”

“We really felt the need for these basic things to be addressed,” Jacob Wilson, who is being held at the airbase, told KNSD, “and we hope that the petition would at least be able to address these basic concerns.”

Wilson described what it was like under quarantine at the air base, saying the CDC recommended the residents stand six feet away from each other, but they are placed shoulder-to-shoulder for daily temperature checks, which he said “flies in the face of the protections and precautions.”

“We’re trying our best to disinfect things with the hand soap that we’ve been given, even though we don’t have disinfectant,” he told The Daily Beast. “We’re frustrated and worried.”

The 232 Wuhan evacuees arrived at MCAS Miramar on two flights — one on February 5 and the other on February 6. All passengers were subject to 14-day quarantines starting the day they left China.

Thus far there have been 14 cases reported in the US.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 gift ideas for your commander for the holidays

They’re not our moms or our dads, but they are just as tired of our tomfoolery. Commanders put up with our clowning while taking the brunt of responsibility from Leadership for the squadron and let’s remember: all sh*t rolls downhill. Thanks to the Commander, probably a little less rolled down to us. This holiday season, let’s show our Commanders our appreciation for driving them to the brink of insanity on a weekly, if not hourly, basis.

Ibuprofen: for the headaches.

Antacid: for the heartburn.

Ice Cream GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ear Plugs: for when they have to sit through yet another meeting about the length of your sideburns. You could also swipe some of these guys from the front desk on your way out to the flightline.

Scotch: single malt is best, though more economical alternatives will also do the trick in case SNACKO funds are running low. Pay your SNACKO bills people. Commander deserves the good stuff.

Spoofer Email Address: to deflect orders from higher ups to requisition volunteers for Wing-wide mandatory fun. Can’t reply to an email you never get.

GIF by Identity - Find & Share on GIPHY

GPS Tile: to track that one guy in your squadron who can’t make it back in time before curfew. Which was created because of him in the first place after a night in Songan… or Iwakuni…or Sigonella…or Phuket…or Dubai…or Yuma… or….

Backpack leash: for TDYs. You know who you are.

Backpack GIF by Saturday Night Live - Find & Share on GIPHY

A Giant A** Umbrella: We all have our commanders to thank for the protection they provide from the ongoing storm of sh*t that rains down from the Good Idea Fairies known as Leadership.

A Giant A** Butterfly Net: Alternatively, to keep the hare-brained shenanigan butterflies from fluttering around the squadron up to Leadership.

Flowers: for their spouses. No doubt the hours they’ve spent worrying about us have taken their attention away from their family. Their real kids probably did not drink a bottle of Fireball and then get handcuffed on the curb for peeing in the bushes near a Saddle Ranch, and yet the Commander has to answer that call at 2am. We’re sorry. And it wasn’t our fault. It was only a security guard anyway, not the real police.

A Laser Pointer – because herding cats is hard and they deserve to have their fun.

Lonesome GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
MIGHTY CULTURE

These are all the assets that would become the new Space Force

Ever since the announcement of the Space Force left us with so few details about what the service would look like, how it would be comprised, and even what its mission would be, we’ve been left to wonder about all those little details. Military personnel are wondering how to transfer to the new service, veterans want to know what the culture might look like, and civilians want to know what a new branch of service even means for the military.

All this, of course, adds up to one thing:


Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Memes.

Okay, all that adds up to two things: Memes and speculation. And the more someone knows about the military, the more they’re able to speculate about literally anything related to what could one day be a Space Force asset. Luckily for us, someone took a moment to break it all down.

Avid space enthusiast and filmmaker TJ Cooney runs a YouTube show called, “I Need More Space.” There, he fills his hunger for exploring and explaining space concepts while presenting them in an easy-to-understand show. Cooney is a prolific, accomplished video producer whose work includes incredible documentary shorts for AARP, many of them featured on We Are The Mighty.

Read More: This documentary captures the Battle of Ia Drang with stunning 4K footage

With all his work on veterans and the military combined with a true enthusiasm for all things space-related, TJ Cooney broke down everything in the existing space structure that could soon be folded into the new Space Force, in a new video called “The Space Force: Is it Crazy or Actually Genius?”

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Signing the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

(United Nations)

President Trump believes Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the air, land, and sea. The video opens with criticism of the Space Force idea, just to show the immediate knee-jerk reaction to the creation of the service — but stick around, the devil is in the details.

The video answers a number of by-now familiar questions raised about the Space Force from all sides. Isn’t NASA the space force? What about the Air Force Space Command? What weapons can we have? What treaties cover the militarization of Space?

It details how the U.S. military evolved from a group of daring aviators supporting ground combat in World War I to the importance of air power in World War II and how the Department of Defense evolved to fully cover the latest theater of war, the air, in 1947.

The Air Force Space Command regulates the two United States space ports and satellite launches, and how the Air Force manages the nation’s nuclear weapons. Aside from the Air Force, there are a number of civilian entities, Army and Navy assets, as well as national intelligence and defense agencies that may benefit from integrating into the new Space Force.

The Space Force would “put all these assets under one roof and create a culture and centralized vision for space defense.” For incoming military personnel, it would create new uniforms, new boot camps, and distinct customs and traditions within the branch, just like the ones the Air Force evolved from the Army nearly 70 years ago.

The Trump Administration hopes that the new service would boost the development and testing of new defense technologies from current ones, especially anti-satellite missiles and cyber-warfare capabilities. While the United States currently enjoys space dominance, keeping up with other countries’ space developments is a hard job, and somehow the U.S. has to maintain that leadership while abiding by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

Lists

4 ways nicknames in the military are nothing like in pop culture

Movies would have you believe that every unit has a guy nicknamed “Hawkeye” or “Snake” or some other generic, tough name. As fun as films and video games make those monikers seem, it just doesn’t work that way in real life.

In actuality, nicknames fall into one of four categories: Either the troop is a freakin’ legend, it’s the unit’s name plus a number or letter, it’s just a shortened version of their last name, or it’s an insult in disguise.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://assets.rbl.ms/17941332/980x.jpg image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”Unless you’re a BAMF, don’t expect an awesome one.” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//assets.rbl.ms/17941332/980x.jpg%22%7D” alt=”saint mattis of quantico” expand=1 photo_credit=”(OAF Nation)”] (OAF Nation)


Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Even with all of The Punisher swag that Chris Kyle wore, he never insisted that anyone call him “The Punisher” — even if he was one of the few people on Earth worthy of that title.

The legends

Let’s kick this list off with the freakin’ legends. Take Secretary of Defense James “Warrior Monk” Mattis for example. He’s a highly revered military mind within the U.S. Armed Forces and his nickname reflects that.

As is the case with most nicknames, they’re typically invented and popularized by others — not by the legends themselves. These nicknames are even more intimidating when they’re created by the enemy. Chris “the Legend” Kyle, for example, was known as “Al-Shaitan Ramad,” which translates into “the Devil of Ramadi.”

The reason why both Kyle and Mattis have such badass nicknames is because they earned them.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Why, yes. They do call me “Romeo” for a reason…

(Photo by Cpl. Charles Santamaria)

Call signs

People often confuse nicknames with call signs, so let’s hash the difference right now. Call signs are official unit designations given to members of the chain of command. Sometimes, a call sign will become more familiar than your own name.

If you’re, let’s say, the company commander of the alpha company “Spartans,” you’ll get the designation of “Spartan 6.” The XO gets “Spartan 5,” Senior Enlisted gets “Spartan 7,” and so on. Drivers, gunners, and radio operators can swap out the number designation for D, G, and R, respectively.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

“Hey, Ski!” “…which one?”

(Photo by Sgt. Lauren Harrah)

Butchered last name

The next nickname variation is especially terrible if your last name is anything outside of the standard, common English name. Unless you’re a “Smith” or a “Brown” or a “Johnson,” no one is going to try to pronounce what’s on your name tape — no matter how phonetically simple it may seem.

A whole nine letters broken into three syllables — you know, something simple like Milzarski (pronounced Mil-zar-ski) is too complicated. So, most will just shorten it to “Ski.” Good luck if there’s more than one Polish troop in the squad. Not that I’m ranting or anything…

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

If it’s dumb and it sounds like an insult, don’t take it personally. It’s meant with brotherly love.

(U.S. Army)

Remember when you screwed up?

The most common way to get yourself a nickname of your very own is to f*ck up. Don’t worry if it’s not a record-shattering mistake — people will constantly remind you of what you did. It’s not pleasant and it’s usually a way to rib one another, but you don’t want to be known as “Fumbles” by everyone.

Don’t worry if you get one of these dumb names. It’ll pass as soon as you PCS or ETS.

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 reasons why grunts should read books

So, you joined the grunts. From this day forward, everyone will make fun of you because some of your friends eat crayons and the others eat rocks. You, however, have never tasted the sweet nectar of Tide Pods and you’re out to break the mold. You’re on a mission to change the common perception that grunts’ brains are about as meaningful as Certificates of Appreciation.

So, how can you do it? How can a grunt convince another person that they’re actually intelligent and informed on the philosophies of the war-fighting profession? Easy: Read books.

We know, we know — you’d rather be getting drunk, but what are you going to do when you’re sitting in a burning-hot, metal tube for ITX? Or when you’re stuck on ship? We’re not tell you to take a book to the armory line with you, but you know damn-well there’s plenty of downtime to fill. These are the major reasons you should be reading, grunt.


Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Being good at your job is imperative.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

1. To get better at your job

Reading a good book, especially one from the Commandant’s Reading List, can help you learn new concepts and ideas that are relevant to your job in one way or another. Even if it’s not The Art of War, reading military-themed novels can help put you in the right mindset to perform at a higher level.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

You can learn quite a bit from the mistakes of the past.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

2. To learn from history

Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. So, why not read up on past failures and get a sense of things you can do differently?

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

He probably read a new book every week.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo Cpl. Zachary Dyer)

3. To learn leadership skills

All the greatest military leaders read books. If you think that our Lord and savior, General Mattis (blessed be his name), spent his whole career playing Battlefield and drinking Natty Lights, you’re sadly mistaken. No doubt he read plenty of books.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

If you sound like Adam Sandler in Waterboy, your life will be difficult.

(U.S. Army)

4. To get better at articulating thoughts

When you eventually find yourself in a position where you have to write a five paragraph order (you know, a battle plan), being able to communicate your thoughts clearly in writing is of utmost importance. Reading the greats will help expand your threshold of written expression.

Plus, if you decide to push far and beyond the first four years, you don’t want to become that Staff NCO who can’t make it through the first paragraph of a promotion warrant or award certificate.

Humor

5 Army instructions that are broken down way too stupidly

Sometimes you just got to break it down, “Barney-style,” for some soldiers. You know, instruct them in such an easy-to-follow manner that even a kid watching Barney could understand.


As much as we’d all like to pretend that no one in our unit got into the Army through an ASVAB waiver, the fact remains: There’re friggin’ idiots everywhere who need to be told exactly what to do. There are so many simple instructions in the Army, designed so that even our crayon-eating Marine brothers could easily follow them.

Related: 6 reasons soldiers hate on the Marines

These are our favorite, dumbed-down directions.

5. Claymore Mine

Need to set up a Claymore anti-personnel mine, but you’re not quite sure which direction it’s supposed to be pointed? Just remember: front toward enemy.

Mess that up and everyone who’s left in your unit will f*cking hate you.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
At least it lets the as***le Prius driver behind you know to stop tailgating. (Image via Reddit)

4. Army Combatives

If you’ve never had the opportunity to glance through the old-school Army Combatives Manual, you’re missing out.

You’re skipping out on learning lovely, advanced techniques, like how to uppercut someone, how to palm-strike someone in the chin, and, of course…

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
…the swift kick to the nuts: the great equalizer. (Image via Army)

3. MRE

The much-joked-about, flameless heater in the MRE seems simple enough. Put in water, fold the ends, and lean against a “rock or something.”

It actually was meant as a joke when the designer said, “I don’t know. Let’s make it a rock or something.”

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Instructions unclear; got troops stuck in 15-year war. (Image by WATM)

2. AT-4

Pretend you’ve never touched a rocket launcher before. How would you hold it?

Thankfully, the instructions include a tiny drawing and the words, “fire like this.”

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
How else would you be able to fire it? (Image via IMFDB)

1. Army Combat Boots

It’s so simple. It’s written in black and white. Our boots are not authorized for flight or combat use.

Come on, guys. What kind of idiot would void the warranty like that? Oh…

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Apparently, this is just so they don’t need to replace our boots. Thanks, Army. (Image via Reddit)

MIGHTY GAMING

11 best video game gifts for any kind of gamer

Whether he spends his weekends streaming on Twitch or if he’s lucky enough to squeeze in a few hours a week, every gaming dad needs the best gear to unlock his next achievement. From the resurgence of retro consoles to the latest in high-resolution headphones, here are 11 gifts that can help any dad level up his game.


Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(Nintendo)

1. NES Wireless Controllers for Switch

It’s the perfect hybrid of old-school aesthetics and modern tech. This wireless two-pack brings back the vintage NES controllers as an alternative for the Nintendo Switch. This isn’t some nostalgia cash grab, it’s specifically for the classic NES games you can play on the Switch via the Nintendo eShop. Plus, there are just two updates — the controllers come with two new shoulder buttons.

Get it here for

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(ScufGaming, LLC)

2. SCUF PS4 Controller

Created by eSports innovative tech company Scuf Gaming, this controller reimagines Sony’s DualShock 4 by borrowing the style of the Xbox One controller and ups the customization factor. With additional buttons (paddles, actually) placed under the gamepad, you can create custom button settings allowing you to keep your thumbs on the sticks during any game.

Get it here for 0

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(Nintendo)

3. Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit

Nintendo Labo not only gets kids more involved with gaming titles, but it also invokes a DIY spirit before the console is turned on. Their newest kit, the Labo Vehicle, gives you everything you need to craft a cardboard steering wheel and pedal for racers, a joystick for planes, and a submarine wheel for underwater adventure.

Get it here for

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(Sony Entertainment, Inc.)

4. PlayStation Classic

Following in the footsteps of the absurdly successful and adorably cute retro consoles by Nintendo, Sony is dipping its toes in the nostalgia pool with their PlayStation One Classic. Roughy 45% smaller than the 1994 original, the Classic comes with two wired controllers, an internal memory card, and 20 preloaded titles including Metal Gear Solid, Ridge Racer 4, Twisted Metal and Rayman.

Get it here for 0

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(SteelSeries)

5. Arctis Pro + GameDAC Steelseries Headset

The world’s first certified high-res gaming headphones may just be the best set of cans for gaming. The headphones can take PS4 or PC audio and deliver lossless, crystal clear sound. Not to mention, they’re equipped for online chat with a built-in retractable mic, comfy leather ear cushions, and the Arctis signature ski goggle suspension strap over the steel headband for a perfect fit. Choose a reliable wired controller, or go wireless.

Get it here for 0

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(Sony Entertainment, Inc.)

6. PlayStation 4 Pro Red Dead Redemption 2 Bundle

Fans of Red Dead Redemption have waited eight long years to traverse the wild west once again. Red Dead Redemption 2 is already being called an all-time great, and Sony is celebrating the critically acclaimed sequel with a PS4 Pro bundle. The PS4 Pro itself may have no RDR2 inspired decorations or skins, but with the game in full 4K glory, no one will ever look at the console.

Get it here for 0

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(Oculus VR)

7. Oculus Go

Delivering the best VR visuals with no PC or wired connection needed, and at half the price of the Oculus Rift, Go is the sleekest VR headset to date. The elastic straps on the Go make for the most pleasant fitting VR headset available, and with thousands of compatible apps for the Go, you’ll appreciate the comfort after a few hours.

Get it here for 0

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(Harper Paperbacks)

8. Blood Sweat & Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

It can take hundreds of people countless hours over a number of years to create one single game. All of that work often goes unnoticed, until now. Jason Schreier, an editor at Kotaku, takes readers through first-hand tales of video game development from the biggest AAA games to the smallest indies, giving credit to the unsung heroes behind your favorite games including Destiny, Dragon Age, and games that made it to consoles.

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Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(fangamer)

9. Super Mario Pipe Mug

This ceramic mug can help you level up with 14 ounces of the drink of your choice. It’s dishwasher and microwave safe. But these are the homes of piranha plants, so consider yourself warned.

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Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(Microsoft)

10. Xbox One Fortnite Bundle

It’s the biggest video game of 2018, and Microsoft is piggybacking off of the popular title with an Xbox One S bundle. The 1TB edition comes with a full download of the first person shooter and a DLC complete with different skins, 2,000 in-game money (V-Bucks) and a free month to Xbox Live. It’s worth nothing, Fortnite has cross-platform play, so you can take on friends who are playing on other gaming systems.

Get it here for 0

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

(Kontrol Freek)

11. Kontrol Freek Thumbsticks

According to the science from Kontrol Freek, the company feels every gamer would see an improvement in performance if every thumbstick on current controllers were just taller. Freek says their sticks ups your accuracy and takes the tension off your thumbs. And with a slew of different styles, colors, and game themes, you can find the thumbstick that’s just right for you.

Get it here for

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

What happened to the German mercenaries who fought against the American Revolution

Everyone knows about the famous crossing of the Delaware, where General Washington surprised the Hessians in the darkness of late Christmas Day. But who were the infamous Hessians that Washington and his men killed and wounded by the score? And what happened to the ones who didn’t get killed by the Continental Army? As it turns out, Hessian mercenaries liked freedom as much as any other colonial immigrant, because many just stuck around.


Which was fine after the war, but during the war they were very unwelcome – because looting people’s homes is a real turn off.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Not the first time Americans would have to put Germans in their place. And not the last.

The Hessians were not technically mercenaries but contract armies fighting for Britain from the German states of Hesse- Cassel and Hesse-Hanau. Though German troops contracted under British control came from other principalities, they were referred to as “Hessians” as a whole by the colonists. Britain used Hessian troops to control large populations, especially in Ireland and the American Colonies. The use of these troops was one of the reasons the Americans would declare their independence from the crown. Though more than capable fighters, the British used them as guards and garrison troops, which is how they found themselves when Washington surprised them that Christmas night.

When Hessians were captured, especially after the Battle of Trenton, they would be paraded through the streets. The colonists’ anger toward their mother country using “foreign mercenaries” to subdue them was infuriating and increased military enlistments for the Continental Army. They would then be used as a source of labor while they were prisoners of war, often working on farms. The Continental Congress also offered each Hessian who would defect to the American cause 50 acres of land for their effort.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

What Hessians see when they aren’t defecting.

Many German troops ended up in Lancaster, Penn. working alongside the Pennsylvania Dutch, who, by nature, treated the Germans very well. In all, German POWs had such a great experience in American farms and fields that they would sometimes join the Continental Army. Some 30,000 men came from German states to fight against the American Revolution. While more than 7,500 of them died in the fighting, the rest did not and when it came time to go home, many didn’t want to go.

So they stayed.

Only an estimated 17,300 of the original 30,000 Hessian soldiers opted to return to their principalities in the German states. The rest decided to make their way in the new United States or head to Canada to try out a new life up there. Life in the armies of German princes was not always so good and the troops were not always well-paid for their efforts. Starting a new life in a country where their future was their own to make was a natural step for many of the well-trained, hardworking Germans.

They could finally celebrate Christmas without worrying about Americans surprising them in their sleep.

popular

11 of the most ‘moto’ military reenlistment photos

From under the sea to thousands of feet above the earth, here are 11 photos of Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors reenlisting in style:


This Marine, Lt. Col. Brian Ehrlich (left) reenlisting Sgt. Aron D. Jarvi (right) under the sea at Maeda Point, Okinawa, Japan:

 

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
(Photo: Lance Cpl. Robert J. Maurer/USMC)

Also Read: The 9 Most Badass Unit Mottos In The Marine Corps 

These soldiers from the 7th Sustainment Brigade, Airborne Corps, reenlisting at the South Pole. (Seriously, how often does anyone get to go to the South Pole?)

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

This badass re-enlistment photo of Staff Sgt. Andrew Petrulis, which is fitting because he’s an Air Force EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) craftsman:

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: DVIDS

These soldiers prove their efficiency by taking a few minutes to reenlist while in transit aboard an Air Force C-17:

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: US Army

The soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division reenlisting in front of the Swords of Qādisīyah in Baghdad, Iraq:

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: Staff Sgt. James Selesnick/ US Army

These sailors taking their oath at Ground Zero, ten years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center:

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Eric S. Garst/ US Navy

This 23-year-old Marine, Cpl. Gareth Hawkins, who demanded to reenlist while being medically evacuated after suffering serious injuries caused by an improvised explosive:

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: USMC

Here’s an excerpt from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit about Hawkins’ reenlistment:

The Battalion Executive Officer, Maj. Kevin Gonzalez, along with the Career Retention Specialist Staff Sgt. Chandrash Malapaka, and several others crammed into the tiny room for the ceremony.

“We’re going to do the short version of this,” said the Executive Officer.

Raising his right hand, Hawkins took the oath of enlistment by 1st Lt. Warren A. Frank, his platoon commander. With no time for the usual formalities of backslaps and handshakes, Hawkins was immediately carried out via litter and evacuated.

This damage control sailor who loves his job so much that he re-upped in full gear while being deployed to the Red Sea aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95):

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Meshel/ US Navy

These soldiers taking their oath at CenturyLink Field before a Seahawks football game against the Baltimore Ravens:

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: US Army

This Belgian Malinois, Sgt. 1st Class Freida, who reenlisted with her human partner:

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: DVIDS

And this PAO serving with the U.S. Navy’s “Leap Frogs” who jumped out of a perfectly good airplane to take her reenlistment oath thousands of feet above Earth:

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory
Photo: James Woods/ US Navy

NOW: These Are The US Army’s Top Five Photos Of 2014

AND: 39 Awesome Photos Of Life In The US Marine Corps Infantry

MIGHTY TRENDING

The crazy way US, NATO forces saved an Italian car-wreck victim

An Italian woman was in a severe car collision in Niger and staff at the local hospital realized they couldn’t treat the woman properly with the equipment they had on hand. What followed was an 18-hour odyssey that relied on medical staff from six countries and U.S. Special Operations Command Forward, a pop-up blood bank, and a doctor translating medical jargon between four languages.


It all started when an Italian woman and her male passenger were driving near Nigerien Air Base 101 in Niamey, capital of Niger. The ensuing wreck injured them both. Nigerien ambulance services moved them to the local hospital where doctors made the call that the woman needed to go to a more advanced facility.

The hospital said the woman had a liver bleed, a life-threatening condition that requires surgery. The case was referred to Italian military doctors nearby who asked the American surgeons of SOCFWD — North And West Africa for help. The ground surgical team quickly discovered that the liver bleed wasn’t the only problem.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Three doctors, U.S. Air Force Capts. Melanie Gates, left, Nick McKenzie, and Richard Thorsted, all with Special Operations Command Forward — Northwest Africa ground surgical team, gather for a photo at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey, Niger, on June 21, 2018. The doctors were all involved in an emergency surgery which successfully saved the life of an injured Italian woman.

(U.S. Air Force)

“Upon reviewing the CT scans, there was also evidence of free air in the abdomen, concerning for a small bowel injury,” U.S. Air Force Capt. Melanie Gates, GST emergency medical physician, told an Air Force journalist. “When the patient arrived, her skin was white and she was in serious pain with minimal responsiveness. Her vitals were much worse than previously reported.”

“First thoughts upon seeing patient … she wasn’t doing well,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Richard Thorsted, GST anesthesiologist. “She arrived to us in critical condition with a high fever.”

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Italian military members, left (sand-colored uniforms), Special Operations Command Forward Northwest Africa ground surgical team members, middle (in civilian clothes), and members from the 768th EABS, right (in multi camo-patterned uniforms) gather for a photo at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey, Niger, on June 4, 2018. A multinational team of medical practitioners on the base saved the life of an Italian civilian injured outside by patching together a team of doctors and other medical personnel from six nations and multiple military branches.

(U.S. Air Force)

The doctors initiated two important actions as they prepared to conduct the surgery; coordination for an airlift to take the patient to Senegal once the surgery was finished, and the collection of A-positive blood to keep the patient going during surgery and airlift.

Both requests would require more work and luck than expected.

First, the major stakeholders needed to ensure the aeromedical evacuation took place included French personnel who controlled a lot of the coordination in the area, Senegalese personnel who would receive the patient into their care, Germans who would conduct the evacuation if civilian personnel could not, Americans who were performing the first surgery, and Nigerians who had originally secured the patient and whose country was hosting her first surgery.

Luckily, Italian military doctor Valantina Di Nitto spoke at least three languages and was able to pass critical patient information and medical plans of action between all the stakeholders. She created a road map for medical care, from the surgery in Niger to Senegal and, eventually, to Italy.

At the same time, base personnel needed to immediately procure five units of A-positive blood. Unfortunately, the medical personnel who knew how to draw the blood weren’t yet familiar with the equipment available on the base.

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, cheating death and Hollywood Glory

Lt. Col. Justin Tingey, 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron flight doctor, and Master Sgt. Melissa Cessna, 768th EABS independent duty medical technician, pose for a photo at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey, Niger, on June 21, 2018. The team recently set up a walking blood bank to enable life-saving surgery to an Italian woman who nearly died in a car accident outside the base. The patient is now in good condition and recovering in Italy.

(U.S. Air Force)

In a weird coincidence, U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Bryan Killings did know how to use the equipment, and he was passing through the base en route to another destination. He got a text message from his bosses while at dinner.

“My leadership told me they had a patient coming through and they needed me to assist them,” Killings said. “They said they needed A-positive blood.”

Killings rushed to the walking blood bank and trained Army and Air Force personnel on how to use the equipment, then assisted in the collection of blood from five donors.

In the operating theater, a team of Air Force doctors took the blood and got to work. The three doctors, Air Force Capts. Melanie Gates, Nick McKenzie, and Richard Thorsted, were all recent graduates of medical school.

Luckily, after completing their residency programs, all three had undergone special military training before heading to Africa that included clinical scenarios in austere conditions.

“Our training kicked in. We all knew our roles and worked well together,” Gates told Tech Sgt. Nick Wilson. “I believe our training was crucial for our development as a team and ability to handle situations like this.”

In the end, the amalgamation of civilian and military medical personnel pulled it off, and the patient is recovering Naples, Italy. She is currently in good condition.

(H/t to Tech Sgt. Nick Wilson who wrote a three-part series on this story for the Air Force. To learn more, you can read his full articles here, here, and here.)

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