11 true stories of Christmas magic - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

11 true stories of Christmas magic

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve survived 2020. And if you’ve survived 2020, it means you’re well aware that life can get pretty dang dark. It’s all too tempting to become cynical and jaded, but at the end of the day, I’m a firm believer that light and love are still quietly present. Small miracles are found all around us. They’re found when kind strangers lend a hand. When a beloved pet makes it home safe. When a life is nearly lost, but decides it’s not quite finished. Too old to believe in miracles? Well, keep reading, because all of the heartwarming, unexplainable stories below are true. 

1. When Christmas arrives by balloon.

In 2011, Rosa Cardenas de Reyes’s husband had been unemployed for some time. The family couldn’t afford presents for Christmas, so Rosa fell back on an old tradition; sending notes to Santa by balloon! She helped her five year old daughter, Helen, write a letter, attached it to two helium balloons, and set it free. More than 500 miles later, the note was delivered to a ranch in Northern California. The owner of the ranch, Lane Sanderson, discovered the letter with his son, had the note translated, and got to work.

His wife and daughter shopped for clothes and a doll, wrapped them up, and sent them to the Reye’s family. Helen was thrilled, and Rosa was moved to tears. In an interview with the Auburn Reporter, she said, “I was very much surprised. It is like a miracle happened, a Christmas miracle.”

2. When lost dogs come home.

The idea of losing a dog is enough to still the heart of any pet owner. Ashley Power was unfortunate enough to experience the nightmare herself. Her beloved dog, Frankie, disappeared one day in Spruce Grove, Alberta. After five months of searching and posting flyers, she anticipated the worst had happened. Then, she got a phone call. It was the Langley Animal Protection Society. They had found Frankie in Abbotsford, BC, over 600 miles away! Power couldn’t afford to fly him home, so LAPS enlisted the aid of a truck driver who was thrilled to reunite the pup with his favorite human.

3. When a hatbox serves as an adoption agency.  

The year was 1931. It was Christmas Eve in Superior, Arizona and Ed and Julia Stewart were on their way home when their car sputtered to a stop in the middle of nowhere. As Ed tried to get the engine running again, Julia ambled around the desert highway. Then, she saw something that seemed out of place in the bleak landscape. It was a hatbox. She called her husband over, and when they looked in the box, they found a newborn baby girl.

Ed rushed to fix the car, and the couple rushed the baby to the police station. She was perfectly healthy, and 17 different couples volunteered to adopt her. Eventually, she was adopted by Faith Morrow. She lived a long and happy life, eventually tracing her roots and unraveling some of the mystery behind her Christmas Eve hatbox adventure. 

4. When Christmas lights keep hope alive. 

Laura Rice of West Michigan was unconscious and relying on life support when her favorite season came around: Christmas time. Doctors advised her family that the odds of her ever waking up were slim. Her husband, Michael, had faith. He put up the Christmas lights on their house and sat by her side, vowing not to take down the lights until she opened her eyes. A month went by, then two. It was after New Year’s when she woke up with no explanation, moved by her husband’s unwavering hope. She was expected to make a full recovery. That was four years ago, so hopefully the Rice family is putting up the lights again for Christmas 2020. This time, together.

5. When a heart decides to beat again.

Gemma Bothelo was just four years old when she got the flu. She had a low-grade fever on December 13th, but just a few days later her condition rapidly deteriorated. She was rushed to the hospital pale and losing circulation to her fingers and toes. Shortly after she arrived, she went into cardiac arrest.

The doctors performed CPR, advising her parents to prepare for the worst. After a nail-biting 45 minutes, Gemma’s heart began to beat again. Doctors admitted that the world of medicine can’t explain everything, but her parents consider her recovery a true Christmas miracle.

6. When walking shouldn’t be possible, but it is.

In 2008, 7-year-old Marko Dutschak developed a cyst on his back. While it was technically benign, the cyst obliterated the majority of his spinal cord, rendering him paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors gave him a slim chance of ever walking again, but Marko had other plans.  Just a week before Christmas, he hopped out of his wheelchair and walked out on the balcony of his hospital room for some fresh air. The neurosurgeon on his case, Hans Georg Eder, was blown away by the child’s recovery, saying, “In medical terms we don’t talk of miracles, but the boy’s recovery was not medically expected and is really a sensation. The cyst had completely surrounded the spinal cord, which was as thin as a thread inside it.”

7. When a family gets to spend the holidays at home.

Worrying about losing your home is just about the hardest thing a family can endure. After a series of tragedies, Daniel and Ebony Sampson were facing foreclosure just before Christmas. First, Ebony survived a car accident as a teen that killed both of her parents. She inherited the house, got married, and had two children, when her husband lost his job. Then, Ebony discovered she had a third child on the way. They needed $10,000 to bring their mortgage current, and had little hope of coming up with the funds in time to save their beloved home.

That’s when her friend, Jaki Grier, stepped in. She shared the Sampsons’s story on her blog along with a donation link. One by one, donations began rolling in. Just five days later, a total of $11,032 had been donated by total strangers. Some of the donors were struggling themselves, but they wanted to help anyway. The Sampson family home was saved.

8. When a car crash saves Christmas. 

Kim Kerswell was already stressed beyond belief. The single mom of two was rushing to grab last-minute gifts for her kids when she rear-ended a stranger named Sherene Borr. Most drivers are understandably livid when someone crashes into their car, but Sherene had her priorities straight as a stick. The women chatted as they exchanged insurance information, and Kim admitted that she was struggling to make ends meet. She could afford her insurance deductible or presents for her kids, not both. Sherene had been raised by a single mom herself and decided that kids missing out on Christmas was unacceptable. She dismissed the damage to her car and offered to buy presents for the Kerswell family. The two women became friends, and Kim vowed to one day pay it forward to another family in need.

9. When a massive pileup turns out pretty okay.

The holiday season is full of cheer, but it’s also full of accidents. The combination of traffic, winter weather, and partying often takes a lethal turn. On Christmas Day, 2012 in Oklahoma City at nearly 3 am, freezing rain turned the highway into a hazardous slip n’ slide. Cars and trucks spun out of control, quickly spiraling into an ugly 21-car pileup. Police and paramedics rushed to the scene, expecting to treat dozens of serious injuries. When they arrived, they were shocked. Not a single person was hurt. How is that even possible?!

10. When a stranded driver channels Elsa’s ice powers.

Donna Molna really shouldn’t be here. On her way to the store one Christmas near her home in snowy Canada, she was trapped in a blizzard and lost her way. Her car ended up stuck in a field, and she was stranded there with no warm clothing or supplies. Three days later, she was found lying in a snowdrift, buried under 23 inches of snow. By all measures, she should have died from exposure, yet she didn’t. She was hypothermic and had a bit of frostbite, but she was very much alive. That’s about the equivalent of jumping out of a plane without a parachute and walking away with a scraped knee.

11. When a mother and child die, and then return home safe and sound.

In December, 2009, Colorado local Tracy Hermanstorfer was excitedly expecting a baby boy. But on Christmas Eve when she finally went into labor, everything went wrong. Tracy became unresponsive and stopped breathing. Assuming they had lost her, doctors focused on saving the baby. Tragically, after delivering him via C-section, the newborn was limp and lifeless. Doctors considered it a stillbirth and handed the baby to Tracy’s husband, Mike.

He held the child in his arms, thinking he had just lost his wife and baby in the same hour, when the unexplainable happened. The baby began to breathe. Seconds later, after four minutes without taking a breath, Tracy did too. The doctors couldn’t explain how the pair recovered from the brink of death, but recover they did. Tracy and Mike drove home safe and sound with their healthy baby boy, Coltyn.

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How troops learn to sleep anywhere, any how, any way

Sleep is, apparently, one of those things that medical professionals tend to claim is vital to not dying. While in the military, you’ll get so little sleep that your body grows accustomed to functioning at a high level with just four hours of non-continuous sleep.

For one reason or another, putting aside large chunks of time for that vital sleep just doesn’t happen. So, troops quickly learn how to rack out at the drop of a dime while smothered in their gear. Or they find a nice, cozy spot underneath a HUMVEE in the glaring Afghan sun with only their rifle and pebbles to keep them comfy.

It’s really an impressive skill — and it’s usually among the first truly mastered by even the most average of recruits.


11 true stories of Christmas magic
That’s not to say that calories are a good thing either. It’s a level of complication that can’t be footnoted into an article about sleep deprivation, though. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth)

 

The biggest contributing factor to this mastery over snoozing is that troops are constantly on the move. The human body is only meant to exert so much effort and that limit is pushed daily by all troops. Normally, the body needs to both sleep regularly to rebuild damaged muscles and eat healthy foods to replenish what’s lost.

Troops supplement this by maintaining a higher-than-average caloric intake. It’s assumed that an average active male in their twenties should take in about 3000 calories to function normally. The average deployed troop takes in three MREs per day, which totals 3,750 calories.

Contrary to popular belief, eating calories is actually a good thing if you’re moving about as much as troops do. This intake means that the body has more to work with when it finally has time to recharge.

Troops exhaust themselves by being constantly in motion. When an opportunity to knock out arises, even if it’s just for a few minutes, it will be seized.

11 true stories of Christmas magic
And you really don’t want to try that while on guard duty. That’s still punishable under the UCMJ.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Charles M. Willingham)
 

The next contributing factor is that troops are generally sleep deprived and have their sleep cycles interrupted constantly. Starting in basic training, a drill sergeant could wake everyone up at 0100 for sh*ts and giggles, have a special someone pull fire guard at 0300, and wake up for the rest of the day at 0500.

The body does most of its recharging during cycles of REM sleep, the first of which starts after roughly 45 minutes of sleep and again in another 45 minutes. The rigors of training, however, rarely permit troops to achieve multiple cycles of REM, so the body tries to recharge as much as possible during those first 45 minutes. As this pattern of interrupted sleep becomes the norm, the body adapts and requires less time to get into REM cycles.

In essence, this pattern resembles polyphasic sleeping — which is a terrible thing to try without adding in a solid, 6-8 hour chunk of rest into the mix.

11 true stories of Christmas magic
Even if it’s in broad daylight on a pile of sharp rocks. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar)

 

The body actually can’t handle this type of sleep deprivation but, by sheer power of will (and a metric f*ck-load of caffeine), troops can shut off their body’s warning signs.

Troops’ bodies can endure this for a few days, typical of a combat mission while deployed, but a dearth of sleep can’t last for weeks. There will have to be a time when that troop hits their rack to get a full night’s rest.

And when they do, it’s some of the best sleep they’ve ever gotten.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Veteran uses artistic expression to cope with PTSD

Thirteen years after a medical discharge from the Air Force, photographer Omar Columbus received an assignment that was the stuff of dreams: to shoot for a hip fashion and culture magazine filled with models and feature-length stories.

It was a long road for Columbus to travel, to use photography and writing to cope with PTSD, to suddenly shooting fashion in New York City. But it wasn’t always this way.

Columbus grew up in Washington, North Carolina, raised by a single mom. Feeling that he did not have much opportunity, he enlisted into the Air Force, serving from 1994 to 2006. In that time, Columbus served in South Korea, Colorado Springs, and to Saudi Arabia in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


After exiting service, Columbus moved to New York City, where he found art and community in veterans’ writing groups around the city. He found his voice through writing poetry and performing with Warrior Writers, Craft of War Writing, and Voices from War.

11 true stories of Christmas magic

Veteran Omar Columbus and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Marion Creasap.

“My PTSD is related to specific things I experienced on deployment, as well as a general feeling of guilt,” says Columbus. Writing poetry gave him a sense of confidence, a way to express traumas of his military experience through art. The chance to perform in front of civilians is powerful. “Words like desert, combat, and bomb become part of artistic expression rather than just association with personal guilt and doubt or shame.”

Columbus also recognized that photography gave him a way to manage his anxiety in public. Through the imaginary barrier created with his camera lens, he chooses if he wants to interact with his subjects or just photograph the streets from a distance. Featured in a group gallery show at the legendary Salmagundi Club in Manhattan, Columbus recently sold a photo collage called “New Yawk State of Mind.”

Columbus found help at the VA NY Harbor, with his psychiatric nurse practitioner, mentor and counselor, Marion Creasap, who has been a steadying and stabilizing influence. “She’s been a rock for me to hold on to when I was down and wanted to give up.”

11 true stories of Christmas magic

“Eye on Brooklyn” collage by Omar Columbus.

Recently, celebrity fashion photographer and TV personality, Mike Ruiz, called Columbus and made him an extraordinary offer. He wanted Columbus to photograph a project. “The photoshoot was over-the-top and such an exhilarating experience,” Columbus recalled.

Now, Columbus is giving back, to help others as he has been helped. Later this year, he will be sending disposable cameras to service members deployed to Afghanistan, to capture the good times with their friends. He raised id=”listicle-2639096820″,000 to purchase boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and sent them to military personnel serving on the front lines to remind them of home.

“The biggest reward was the photos they sent back holding up the boxes of cookies and the joy on their faces,” said Columbus. “I want to do more of that.”

The taste of acknowledgment has helped Columbus feel optimistic. “I want to be a healer and advocate for veterans through art. Hear my story, hear my words.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

25 days of holiday memes

At last, it’s the holidays and whether you’re already exhausted, excited, or both, heaven knows we all need a good laugh. After all, a laugh a day keeps the hectic holiday stress (at least some of it) away; think advent calendar for jokes. Here are the 25 days of holiday memes. 

  1. Huh. What could it be?
11 true stories of Christmas magic

It’s definitely a dog.

  1. Calm down, Darth.
11 true stories of Christmas magic

Some people take their decorations a little too seriously.  

  1. Michael emerges from his cave.
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Ah, the majestic creature awakens just in time.

  1. Christmas purge
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It’s not safe out there. There’s merriment afoot.

  1. Baby, it’s Covid outside
11 true stories of Christmas magic

Very good reasoning you two; Tis’ the Covid season, as well.

  1. Can I get you anything?
11 true stories of Christmas magic

Classic Griswald Hospitality

  1. When your relatives argue on Christmas
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Sorry, bro. I didn’t pick ’em.

  1. Christmas tips
11 true stories of Christmas magic

It’s like coal, but better.

  1. Look at what the dog did!
11 true stories of Christmas magic

Wait a sec. We don’t have a dog…

  1. A Very Snoop Dog Christmas
11 true stories of Christmas magic

The version your kids haven’t read.

  1. Christmas decorating level: Advanced
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Santa would be pleased.

  1. Grinch Parenting 101
11 true stories of Christmas magic

Santa? Yes, hi. No need to bring presents this year. I would like some silence instead.

  1. How to establish dominance
11 true stories of Christmas magic

You’ll never forget me if you find tiny sparkles all over your house for the next year.

14.  Admitting your defeat

11 true stories of Christmas magic

That’s enough LEDs and electricity usage to cover half the block.

15. Add a dinosaur

11 true stories of Christmas magic

No, no, I didn’t screw up the gingerbread house. The kids needed to learn about paleontology.

16. When one goes out, they all go out

11 true stories of Christmas magic

Their commitment is annoying, but on point.

17. One snowflake falls

11 true stories of Christmas magic

A timeless Christmas classic.

18. He sees you when you’re sleeping

11 true stories of Christmas magic

And by the looks of it, that’s not all he sees.

19. What happened to all the cookies?

11 true stories of Christmas magic

Fine, it was him. But can you blame him?

20. Every mom on Christmas morning.

11 true stories of Christmas magic

Pretend to be shocked. Moms deserve a win this year.

21. Front of the tree vs. back of the tree

11 true stories of Christmas magic

Only the wall is going to see it anyway.

22. P.O.P.D

11 true stories of Christmas magic

Guilty. Distribute the ornaments *evenly*, or suffer the consequences.

23. Ye Shall Return Home

11 true stories of Christmas magic

Ah yes..ye old turn off, wait 30 seconds and turn back on again. 

24. Cookie Bae 

11 true stories of Christmas magic

I am the sprinkle master

25. Christmas now vs. then

11 true stories of Christmas magic

Socks would be amazing, quite frankly. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 Things that always happen at the annual unit holiday party

It’s that time of year where military installations host their annual holiday parties. Even if they’re taking place via Zoom this year, military members can celebrate with those at work, usually with their family in tow.

While most holiday parties take place over fancy balls, bbq joints, or decorated event centers for the masses, this year is likely to become a little more quaint. Either with small parties or by joining virtually from the comfort of your own home. 

The annual holiday party is a time for everyone to connect. Sure, you work with the same soldiers every day, but at a holiday party, you can let loose. You can celebrate, you can relax, and you can focus on a good time with work acquaintances. It’s an excuse to get together off the clock, and on someone else’s dime. 

But no matter how many of these parties you attend, there’s bound to be these main iconic events. Take a look below and reminisce about the crazy fun times you’ve had at holiday parties of the past. 

  1. Santa makes an appearance 

What’s a holiday party without Santa for the kids? (Maybe Santa is there for the adults too?) Inevitably, someone will yell an inappropriate comment about Santa’s libations, the location of his reindeer, or his lack of milk and cookies. (Santa can be difficult to pull off with a soldier physique.) 

Where there’s Santa, there’s a loud adult making some type of observation. 

party
  1. Someone’s boss drank way too much.

Sure they’re the boss at work but at the party? They’re the boss of the bottle. And honestly, who’s surprised here? Whether they threw caution to the wind and showed up crazy, or hid in the background, pouring whiskey in their Coke can, drinking was on the agenda. But that’s all part of the fun — isn’t that the whole point of a work party?! 

This is the military after all, no one’s surprised by a rough night! Let’s just all hope it didn’t lead to too rough of a morning. 

  1. You meet someone new

As a military spouse, maybe there’s a name that you’ve heard thousands of times but never were able to put a face with it. The holiday party is your chance to engage. Or, as a soldier, perhaps there’s a company legend whom you’ve never come into close contact with … yet. That paperwork ninja at battalion, or the crazy dude that everyone phones home about — you can meet them all in person (or via Zoom) at the holiday party. 

Tag in, you’re in for a treat! 

  1. You see something you didn’t want to see

No party is complete without its uncomfortable moments. Welcome to your company/battalion/brigade event; it’s no different. At every get-together, you’ll overhear a piece of gossip you never wanted to hear, you’ll witness a child being next-level ornery, you’ll see someone shoot whiskey from their nose or shove in mac and cheese off the floor. Whatever it is, you didn’t want to view with your own eyes but it happened all the same. 

No party — at least no party worth attending — goes on without a hitch. Embrace these events and be glad once you’re on the other side. After all, you’re making memories! 

  1. There’s a series of toasts

Get your drink hand ready, because you’re about to toast to him, her, the other guy, the girl down the hall, and more. Something about military folks getting together calls for announcements to be made and people to thank. 

Unless you’re called upon to present, just sit back, raise your glass and sip to those you know and love … and to everyone else in attendance. 

Company holiday parties are a great chance to get together outside of work. But that doesn’t mean its own character-filled events won’t take place. Instead, remain prepared and ready for anything — and if nothing else, enjoy the amazing people watching that’s about to begin. 

What’s your favorite holiday memory from a military get-together?

MIGHTY CULTURE

An Air Force veteran who taught himself to code explains how he started a nonprofit that has educated other vets on how to get jobs in tech

When Air Force veteran Jerome Hardaway left the military in 2009 after five years, he planned to transition to a civilian job after his service. However, he found that the recession’s lingering impact on the economy meant that jobs were still scarce.

“It was very painful coming back to America,” Hardaway, who’s based in Nashville, told Business Insider.

People would say, “Thank you for your service,” but not hire him, he explained. As he continued looking for jobs, he saw a commercial about a course for teaching people how to code.

While he didn’t take the class — “There were really great resources I didn’t have money for,” Hardaway said — it inspired him to get a book on databases. From there, he taught himself SQL and eventually landed a job as a database analyst for the Department of Homeland Security in 2010.

Eventually, he started teaching himself other programming skills, too, including Ruby on Rails and JavaScript, as well as learning about open source software by reading project documentation and source code and contributing as a general member, finding the JavaScript community to be especially welcoming. He even had the opportunity in 2014 to train in web development at General Assembly.

“I’m an African American male in the south trying to get into a dominant white male industry,” Hardaway said. “Before people look at my veteran status, I have that to overcome.”

In 2014, while Hardaway was working as a digital marketing assistant for a nonprofit, he connected with a family who lost their son in a police shooting and built them a website where he told the young vet’s story. Through this website, the family was able to raise $10,000, and the moving encounter spurred Hardaway to launch a new project:

Hardaway’s nonprofit, Vets Who Code, focuses on teaching veterans the programming skills they need for software engineering jobs and it’s completely free for veterans to participate. So far, the organization has helped over 250 veterans in 37 states learn how to be developers. 

Right now, Vets Who Code teaches languages like JavaScript, cloud technologies like Amazon Web Services, user experience design, GitHub, frameworks like React, and more, as well as less tangible skills, like what it takes to succeed in an engineering job.

11 true stories of Christmas magic
Jerome Hardaway, founder of Vets Who Code and Air Force veteran

The nonprofit aims to reduce job anxiety for veterans and take advantage of their skills 

While more than 250,000 military service members transition into the workforce each year according to Navy Federal, one of the greatest anxieties for veterans is being able to find a stable job that honors the skills and experiences they’ve gained from the military.

“The military trains you to be good at what the military needs you to be, not in regards to preparing you for the civilian sector,” Hardaway said.

While in the Air Force, Hardaway served in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea and had duties in security, checking airplanes, and law enforcement. However, it wasn’t easy to convey to how those skills could be useful in the larger job market.

While the military has programs that help veterans transition to going back to civilian life, Hardaway says they’re not as effective as they should be, partly because they’re run by people who have never fully transitioned to that life themselves. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for veterans to “fall into these cracks,” he said. 

Because of his own experience, though, Hardaway knows that many of the skills he learned can be directly applicable to software jobs.

“It has made me more of a go-getter, take initiative, and learn on my own, and of course, more discipline,” Hardaway said. “It’s helped me focus on the things that matter: learning how to write code, focusing on the things needed to be employed, teaching the veterans the same skills in my transition.”

For example, Hardaway says the military taught him to drill and adapt to new things faster – all of which helped him when he was learning to write code. In addition, veterans are used to teamwork and over-communicating as they did in the military, and these skills come into play when they work together on a software project.

That’s why Vets Who Code puts an emphasis on coordinating group projects for its students:

“That’s the true secret, making you a good worker, not just a good programmer,” Hardaway said.

Ultimately, Hardaway said that his goal is to empower as many veterans as possible to get good jobs in tech, like he did:

“I’m hoping my sisters and brothers [in the military] don’t have to deal with the hardships I had to deal with.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s how a fight in space would go down

President Donald Trump is ordering the Pentagon to create the first new US military service branch in seven decades to establish “American dominance in space,” and while experts quickly knocked the idea as premature — there’s no doubt that space is a warfighting domain.

As it stands, Russia and China both have tested missiles that could bring the US to its knees by crippling its satellites.

Satellites power GPS, which powers most civilian navigation and US military equipment. Satellites also time stamp transactions at US stock exchanges. Commercial satellites also relay internet, telephone, and radio communciations. The US, without its space assets, could suffer societal collapse at the hands of its rivals before a single terrestrial battle is fought.


For this reason, experts assess that space absolutely has become a warfighting domain, and one that may soon see lasers on space ships duking it out in a war above the clouds.

How a space war would go down

11 true stories of Christmas magic
U.S. Navy ships have already knocked satellites out of the sky.
(U.S. Navy photo)

“If there was a war between a US and a China, for example, each side would likely try to take away the commanding heights of space from each other,” Peter W. Singer, a strategist at non-partisan think tank New America and the author of “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War,” told Business Insider.

But instead of starships chasing each other in dogfights and “Star Wars” like duels in zero gravity, Singer said that most of a space fight would actually take place on plain old earth, though lasers are on the table.

The US and its adversaries would fire missiles at their adversary’s satellites powering navigation and trade, possibly from traditional land launchers or from ships at sea. The US has plans to streamline the launching of satellites, and hopes any future space attacks can be thwarted by quick, cheap launches of constellations of small satellites.

Singer pointed out that the US has observed Russian “killer or kamikaze satellites” maneuvering out in space in ways that suggest they could attack or block US satellites.

“They also might be using directed energy of some kind to either blind or damage a satellite. That directed energy might be laser, ground based or space based,” said Singer.

The real fighting is still on earth

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United State Cyber Command
(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

But much of the fighting wouldn’t be as flashy as space-fired lasers knocking out killer satellites, instead, it would likely take place in a “cross between space and cyber” warfare, according to Singer.

US and rival cyber warriors would start “trying to go after the communication links between space and earth on the ground. They might be trying to jam or take control of the satellites,” he said.

But therein lies the problem.

Many in Congress have spoken out about the proposed Space Force, calling it premature. The Air Force, in its measured language, seems to hate the idea. Singer called it “absurd” and a “joke.” Retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, also a a former Navy pilot, combat veteran, and four-time space-flyer called it a “dumb idea.”

Basically, all the jobs the space force would do are already being done by the Air Force, and Navy, so making a costly new service this early into the space age could prove foolish.

“Yea space is a clear part of national security,” said Singer, “but it’s hard to imagine a better waste of time energy and budget.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 people who shouldn’t join the military

Military careers are awesome. Seriously, there are so many reasons why it’s a good choice to join the military. As a military publication, WATM obviously has a lot to say on that, but we want to explore the reality of military life from all angles. Military life has many benefits, but it’s not perfect. Up to 40% of new recruits fizzle out shortly after enlisting because they didn’t fully realize what military life is like. While you won’t know for sure until you begin boot camp, the following are a few signs that a military career may not be right for you. 

1. You don’t meet all the requirements to join the military.

Every branch of the military has a slightly different set of requirements. Before you bother trying to enlist, run through the list to make sure you’re qualified. If you have a history of drug use or alcohol dependency, you don’t make the cut. If you have a criminal record, elligibility depends on the nature of your history. Any medical conditions that require frequent treatment or could potentially interfere with your ability to fulfill your duties will also disqualify you. Even debt can make it harder to enlist! 

2. You make impulsive decisions.

If you have a history of jumping from job to job, tread carefully. This isn’t a job you can quit. If you change your mind after you’ve enlisted, it’s too late. Joining the military can, without a doubt, instill a deep sense of responsibility, accountability and commitment. Still, it’s not a decision to make on a whim. 

3. You want an independent lifestyle. 

When you join the military, you’re handing over the reigns. The freedoms you’re fighting for are now for someone else, because the military will decide how much you sleep, where you live, how you dress, how long your hair is … you get the picture. Individuality and freedom go out the window for the entire duration of your military career. Before joining the military, make sure those are sacrifices you’re willing to make. 

4. You have dependents and no contingency plan. 

Single parents in the military are uncommon. If you’re the primary caregiver of children, parents, or other close relatives, you’ll need a rock solid plan detailing who will take over their care while you’re on deployment. Even then, you’re not guaranteed a waiver. Each branch has different regulations as to how many dependents, spouses included, are allowed with and without a waiver. Long story short, if you shoulder a lot of responsibility at home, a military career may not be an option. 

5. You don’t do well under pressure. 

drill sergeant yelling during training

If you have a hard time coping with stress, run. This isn’t a judgment of character at all. If you know that high-pressure situations can trigger significant symptoms of anxiety or depression, military life will be a challenge. Ask yourself if joining the military and dealing with training, deployment, possible combat would be a healthy, sustainable choice. If the answer is no, that’s okay. There are other ways to serve your country, like volunteering and fundraising, that are much less stressful. 

6. You’re not willing to give up your recreational vices. 

Admittedly, some states have now legalized recreational marajuana usage. In the military, that’s still a big no no. Any drug usage is grounds for instant expulsion and possible jail time. THC stays in your system for weeks, so you can’t partake on days off, either. Drinking in moderation is acceptable, but DUIs or any signs of irresponsible drinking habits have big consequences. 

7. You expect total equality. 

women joinint the military

More military positions are open to women today than ever before. That said, the military can, and does, still discriminate based on gender. When we say discriminate, we mean differentiate. There is a biological difference in size and structure between men and women. I’d like to think I’m pretty strong, but I’m also 5’1 and 115lbs. Let’s get real; if a job requires sheer, brute force, I’m probably not the best pick for the job. For that very reason, some of the most physically demanding positions are still not open to women. If that’s an issue for you, don’t join.

8. You have a huge ego. 

If you’ve always been a big fish in a small pond, prepare for a rude awakening. Starting out, you’ll be at the lowest possible rank. Those of higher rank will tell you what to do, and you cannot say no- even if they’re a punk kid who’s five years younger than you. It doesn’t matter who you know, or how much you bench. You’re going to have to pay your dues and prove your worth like everyone else. 

9. You can’t deal with violence. 

Do we need to say more? No matter what branch of the military you join, violence is a possibility. Even mechanics, veterinarians, and doctors can be sent to combat zones. People in those and other non-combative positions have lost their lives on the job. If you serve in the Armed Forces, you don’t get to opt out of risky situations. You need to prepare yourself for that reality, both physically and mentally.  

10. You expect your family dynamic to stay completely the same when you join the military.

man in uniform holding wife's hand

When you’re gone for months at a time, your family learns to exist without you. The dynamic evolves. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but signing up for the military, your family life as you know it WILL change. Being apart can strain relationships, but it can also make you appreciate the time you have together in a whole new way. 

If you can deal with these “disclaimers”, serving your country can be life-altering…In a good way!

Enlisting is a monumental decision, but it’s one that comes with free healthcare, housing support, opportunities to travel, 30 days of paid vacation each year, college tuition coverage, and a community for life. If you’re not up for it, that’s okay! If you are, you’re in for a crazy ride.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These are the most freedom packed fireworks for the 4th of July

Fireworks have been an American tradition since 1777 when they first lit up the skies of Philadelphia. It is an important time of reflection of everything American with the joy of pyrotechnics. The 4th of July is a time when Ol’ Glory is on everything from beer cans to bikinis, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Patriots buy around 247,550,000 pounds of Freedom every year for this special holiday.

As long as you don’t live in Delaware and Massachusetts, the only two U.S. states that ban the sale and use of any and all consumer fireworks, you’ll be fine. Remember to check if your county has any restrictions on specific types as well.


 

First course – sparklers

A night of fireworks should be served like a five-course meal. Sparklers, the appetizer of fireworks, are safe with adult supervision and are great to get everyone in the mood to see some color. If you’re able to find the neon kind, pick those up because they’ll show up the best on phone cameras. Sparklers are great for kids or those scared of the boom-boom variety.

The advantage to these is that they’re cheap relative to the exploding kind and a few packs will entertain for a while. A sleeve will cost around .50 with 5 pieces and a box with 40 pieces should be around .

 

Second course – firecrackers

Firecrackers are a staple of every fourth of July BBQ, but there are so many brands and sizes that it’s easy to get overwhelmed deciding which kind to buy. The following video is a power test of some brands that can be purchased at fireworks tents. As always, exercise caution when using these and don’t do what this guy is doing at home.

Third course – cones

Snowcones are my personal favorite because they’re great to get people excited for the main course while getting a good amount of fire for your money. Snowcones cost $3.50, give or take, depending on taxes and availability. Some wholesalers are already sold out of these so if you see them definitely buy at least one.

 

The main course – box fireworks

Alright, time to set the little stuff aside and put some serious rounds down range. Get yourself a fireworks box, and I’m not talking about the variety pack from Walmart. I’m talking about the kind you buy from the fireworks tent from some guy named Bubba, and you’re unsure if this was smuggled into the country somehow. They run around 0 and are worth every penny. Blackcat is the most trusted brand in this category if you want to invest in quality. You’re going to want to outgun every neighbor as you all duke it out like the founding fathers wanted.

Seriously, John Adams wanted you to blow up as many fireworks as you can.

It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. – John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams

 

Dessert – custom builds

Usually, after four courses, people are full but there is always room for dessert. In the case of fireworks, this means your custom builds, the kind that you needed to get permission from the federal government to fire off. The kind of explosions that make ISIS say “F*ck that was loud.” In all seriousness, though, don’t make custom builds unless you have the proper license and training. 5 seconds of ‘wow’ is not worth your life.

Obligatory advisory:

Consumer fireworks in the United States are limited to 500 grams of composition and firecrackers may have up to 50 milligrams of flash powder. Reloadable shells are limited to 1.75″ in diameter, and shells in pre-fused tubes are limited to 2″. Any fireworks that exceed these limits are not considered consumer fireworks and need an ATF license. – The Consumer Product Safety Commission

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Marine Corps is moving all of its raiders to the East Coast

Nearly 15 years after the Marine Corps created its own special operations command, the service is now consolidating the command by moving all its operators to North Carolina.


About 900 Marines, sailors and civilians with the California-based 1st Marine Raider Battalion and its support unit will relocate to Camp Lejeune by the end of 2022. The move, which was announced on Wednesday, will help Marine Corps Special Operations Command become more efficient, officials said in a statement.

The consolidation “will allow MARSOC to gain back almost 2,000 man-days per year,” according to the statement. Those days are otherwise spent on permanent change of station moves and temporary assignment duty requirements.

The move will also allow MARSOC to reform as it shifts its efforts and funding toward preparation for fighting a great-power competition, as laid out in the National Defense Strategy and commandant’s planning guidance, Maj. Gen. Daniel Yoo, MARSOC’s commander, said on Wednesday.

“MARSOC has been pursuing numerous lines of effort to increase performance, efficiencies, and capabilities … to build a more lethal force and reform the department for greater performance and affordability,” he said in a statement. “One line of effort is the consolidation of all Marine Special Operations Forces to the East Coast.”

Marine Corps Times reported on Wednesday that Marine officials estimate the move will save the command million over a five-year period.

Officials said having all its Raiders on one coast will also improve readiness and deployment-to-dwell time.

“MARSOC will be better positioned to [provide] greater stability and increased quality of life to Marine Raiders and their families,” the statement says.

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Members of 1st Marine Raider Battalion and 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion have been based at Camp Pendleton since MARSOC was activated in 2006. Moving the units’ personnel and equipment to Camp Lejeune will occur in three phases.

The phases will be timed to minimize disruptions to Marines and their families, MARSOC officials said in the statement announcing the plan. Personnel and families will begin the cross-country moves during the traditional PCS cycle beginning in the summer of 2021.

Those moves are timed to allow families to complete PCS orders between academic school years.

The command is working with community plans and school liaison officers on the East Coast to determine the effects the relocations will have on school districts and the local community in and around Camp Lejeune. Base leaders will work with schools in the area “to anticipate and plan for increases in student population and to ensure that all students will be accommodated effetely and receive a quality education,” officials said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Shrinking ice coverage in the Arctic has drawn the attention of NATO, Russia, and other countries to the high north, where the promise of more accessible waterways means potential military and commercial competition.

Since Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea and incursion in Ukraine, however, NATO members have been concerned about Moscow’s actions closer to home, and developments in recent weeks indicate the alliance is focusing on securing waterways around Europe, in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas and the eastern Atlantic — all areas that could be contested in a conflict with Russia.

Below, you can see what NATO is being warned about, and what the alliance is and isn’t doing to address it.


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A Russian Ilyushin Il-22 Bizon and a Su-27 Flanker, flying along the Baltic coast, May 14, 2019.

(UK Ministry of Defense)

The Baltic Sea, bordered by six NATO member countries and with Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, at its eastern end, has always been a busy area.

Encounters between NATO forces and Russian forces at sea in the Baltic and in the skies over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, where NATO members carry out air patrols, have been on the rise since 2014. (The air policing mission has actually been going on since 2004.)

That encounters include an incident this summer in which a Russian Su-27 fighter escorting Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s plane turned into a NATO jet, forcing it away.

These tensions have come with military buildup as well.

Starting in 2016, NATO deployed some 4,500 troops in battle groups to the Baltics and Poland. Since the end of 2017, Sweden, which like Finland is not part of NATO, has sent new military forces to Gotland Island, which it had withdrawn from in 2005.

In Kaliningrad, an exclave that is home to Russia’s Baltic Fleet, Moscow has deployed new weaponry, including nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, and upgraded facilities, including what appear to be active nuclear-weapon storage bunkers.

Summer 2019, Russia also set up a helicopter base on Gogland, a small island between Finland and Estonia. Estonian officials played down the military significance, but the base is still seen as a Russian move to assert its power in the region and keep its neighbors guessing.

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The guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge participates in a photo exercise during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) in the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2018.

(US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold)

NATO countries along the Baltic have sought a more robust presence, and Germany has taken the lead.

Among NATO members, Germany, which has been criticized for the paucity of its defense spending and the quality of its armed forces, has taken the lead and tried to bring NATO and the EU closer together on Baltic security.

Vice Adm. Rainer Brinkmann, deputy chief of the German navy, said in September 2019 that Russia was the “one main challenge” in the Baltic and that Western partners “must take appropriate measures to cope” and “to prevent the Baltic Sea from being a ‘mare clausum,'” or “closed sea.”

Like its neighbors, Russia has legitimate reasons to be in the Baltic, but the number of actors there, each with their own national and commercial interests, make it a delicate situation, according to Christopher Skaluba, director or the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

“I think [the Russians] know that aggressive actions in the Baltic are likely to get the attention, in a way they probably didn’t want, of the NATO nations and Sweden and Finland.”

“The Baltic is pretty small place. There’s a lot of players. That piece of it gets really ugly really quick,” Skaluba told Business Insider in October 2019. “I think for lots of reasons, there are more incentives to avoid [conflict] than there are to … catalyze it.”

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An F-35B fighter jet aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, Oct. 13, 2019.

(LPhot Kyle Heller/UK Ministry of Defence)

A new battle of the Atlantic.

Russia’s navy is increasingly active in the North Atlantic, and though the level of that activity and the size of Russia’s navy don’t appear to reach that of the Cold War, it has set NATO on edge.

Growing tension between NATO members and Russia in the Atlantic has been called “the fourth battle of the Atlantic,” following World War I and II and the Cold War.

The UK in particular has struggled to keep up, calling on NATO allies to help track Russian subs thought to be lurking in and around British waters.

“In 2010, a Royal Navy ship was called on just once to respond to Russian navy ships approaching UK territorial waters. Last year we had to respond 33 times,” the UK’s then-defense minister, Gavin Williamson, said in May 2018.

The Royal Navy has built new aircraft carriers, equipping them with Britain’s first F-35s, and acquired US-made maritime patrol aircraft after scrapping its Nimrod patrol aircraft in 2010.

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Royal Navy frigate HMS St Albans is currently the Nations on call warship for escorting foreign warships.

The UK and its allies in Europe want to keep “a critical choke point” between them open.

While any conflict in the Atlantic today is likely to look much different than previous battles, it’s likely to involve the English Channel and waters around it, especially the North Sea — at least that’s the concern of the five European countries who effectively revived the Cold War-era “Channel Committee” November 2019.

The pact signed on Nov. 7, 2019, by senior navy leaders from Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands pledges to “harmonize” naval purchasing plans, potentially to include common procurement, according to Defense News.

But the countries also want to increase personnel exchanges and joint training and eventually recognize the professional qualifications of service members across the group.

“The Channel area is the front door to Central Europe and an important gate to the Baltic Sea,” the text of the pact says. “It is the critical choke point for the maritime traffic between the United Kingdom and continental Europe.”

The committee is also another military tether between mainland Europe and the UK, whose future relations with the rest of the continent remain in doubt amid the turmoil of Brexit.

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The Mediterranean has also become a venue for what the US and others see as an emerging great-power competition.

NATO members in southern Europe have been focused on immigration from the Middle East and North Africa and the threat of terrorism emanating from those regions.

But Russian naval forces are a constant presence in the Mediterranean, traveling to and from Moscow’s bases in the Black Sea and and its base in Tartus, Syria, which is Russia’s only such facility outside the territory of the former Soviet Union.

With the ongoing civil war in Syria, the eastern Mediterranean has also become a venue for military operations, with Russian subs demonstrating their new ability to strike targets on land with missiles.

The Russian presence around the Mediterranean and Black seas, Iran’s presence in Syria, and antagonistic intra-alliance relations with Turkey all present security challenges for NATO, according to a recent Atlantic Council report.

“As the south becomes more congested and contested, and great-power competition intensifies, NATO defense, deterrence, and containment mission in the south is increasingly urgent and more complex,” the report states.

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US Navy destroyer USS Carney fires it MK 45 5-inch lightweight gun at night while on patrol in the Mediterranean Sea, Sept. 11, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones)

The lack of a strategy in the Mediterranean could have more serious consequences for the alliance as a whole, according to one deputy secretary general.

NATO has made a lot progress improving its defense and deterrence against Russia since 2014, “but it was more talk than action when it came to addressing problems in the south,” Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council and coauthor of the report, said during its presentation October 2019.

“This theme figured prominently in my farewell address to the North Atlantic Council three years ago, and unfortunately the situation hasn’t changed all that much since then,” added Vershbow, who was deputy secretary general of NATO and US ambassador to Russia.

According to the report, “many of the conventional defense and deterrence challenges associated with NATO’s east are now reemerging in the south,” including enhanced Russian anti-access/area-denial capabilities, provocative actions in the Black Sea, and hybrid activity on the ground.

Though NATO has taken steps to remedy its shortcomings in the Mediterranean — such as setting up a “hub of the south” at Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy — establishing a maritime-focused enhanced southern presence there could be a way to counter Russia and sharing the burden of doing so among members, Vershbow said.

“Russia is back with a vengeance in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Black Sea,” which adds a geopolitical dimension to NATO’s need to project stability and bolster defense and deterrence, Vershbow added.

“The lack of an effective southern strategy could put alliance solidarity at risk if the publics in the southern NATO countries see the alliance as failing to address what they consider to be their priority concerns,” Vershbow said. “It could undermine their willingness to share the burdens of collective defense against Russia, and everybody loses in that scenario.”

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

Articles

This is why West Point graduates have big shoes to fill

The United States Military Academy (also known as West Point, the Point, the Academy or the Long Gray Line) was founded in March 1802 by Thomas Jefferson. The university, located in West Point, New York, is one of the top educational institutions in the United States. Being selected to study at West Point is very difficult, with only 10 percent of applicants admitted each year.

The high standard of education offered has resulted in a number of very successful alumni. Although it is an institution that produced many brilliant military careers, the achievements of its graduates are not limited to the battlefield. Military, business, politics, sciences or downright groundbreaking achievements, over the years, the West point alumni have brought honor to the Academy in many fields. Some of them have even shaped the future of the United States and played an important role on the international stage. Whatever their field, the West Point graduates carry the motto of their school with them: Duty, Honor, Country.

11 true stories of Christmas magic
Wikimedia Commons

Benjamin L.E. Bonneville

Class of 1815. Fearless explorer who ventured into the uncharted American West, mapping the Yellowstone, Green, Salmon, and Snake rivers, as well as the Great Salt Lake. The Bonneville Salt Flats, now used to establish speed records on land, is named after him.

Jefferson Davis

Class of 1828. Successful politician, member of Congress, Senator from Mississippi, Secretary of War from 1853 to 1857. He went on to become the President of the Confederate States of America.

Robert E. Lee

Class of 1829. General in Chief of the Confederate forces during the Civil War, he became the president of the Washington & Lee University after the war.

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This painting depicts Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant on the field during the Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, May 5-7, 1864. (U.S. Army)

Ulysses S. Grant

Class of 1843. General in Chief of the Armies of the United States of America during the Civil War, he went on to become the President of the United States from 1869 to 1877.

John J. Pershing

Class of 1886. Nicknamed “Black Jack,” he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Forces during WWI and became General of the Armies in 1919. His tactics were often criticized for their high cost of lives, but he achieved several important military victories.

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U.S. Army

Douglas MacArthur

Class of 1903. Supreme Commander of the Pacific from 1941 to 1945, Supreme Commander of the UN Forces in Korea from 1950 to 1951. He received a Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Bataan.

George S. Patton, Jr

Class of 1909. Member of the U.S. Olympic team of 1912 (Pentathlon), he became a commander of the forces in the European Theater during WWII. Known for his bold tactics, he butted heads with his superiors a few times, but he achieved some great victories against the Nazis.

11 true stories of Christmas magic
U.S. Army

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Class of 1915. Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe from 1943 to the victory in 1945, reaching the 5-star general rank and organizing Operation Overlord. He went on to become President of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

Robert F. McDermott

Class of 1943. A fighter pilot during WWII, he achieved the rank of brigadier general before having a successful business career, where he became Chairman of USAA.

Fidel V. Ramos

Class of 1950. An international cadet, he became an officer in the Phillipino Army, then served in the Philippino government, before becoming President of the Republic of the Philippines from 1992 to 1998.

11 true stories of Christmas magic
NASA

Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin

Class of 1951. Astronaut from 1963 to 1972, he became the second man to ever walk on the Moon in July 1969.

Edward White II

Class of 1952. Astronaut from 1962 to 1967, he became the first American to do a spacewalk. He died tragically in 1967, during the Apollo spacecraft fire.

James V. Kimsey

Class of 1962. Served two tours in Vietnam as a Ranger. He co-founded and headed AOL as Chairman until 1995 and created the Kimsey Foundation upon retirement.

Marshall Larsen

Class of 1970. He became COO of the Goodrich Aerospace Corporation, CEO and chairman of Ithaco Space Systems, Inc, and chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association.

11 true stories of Christmas magic
Wikimedia Commons

Robert Alan McDonald

Class of 1975. Politician and businessman, he became the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs in the United States and went on to become CEO of Proctor & Gamble.

Alex Gorsky

Class of 1982. After graduation, he became an Army Ranger, where he reached the rank of Captain. He successfully transitioned into a business career, where he became CEO of Johnson & Johnson.


Feature image: U.S. Army photo

MIGHTY CULTURE

WWII vet finally receives Silver Star for heroism at Battle of the Bulge

Staff Sgt. Edmund “Eddie” Sternot of the 101st Airborne Division was finally honored posthumously Nov. 10, 2019, with a Silver Star for his gallantry during the Battle of the Bulge on Jan. 4, 1945 in the Ardennes Forrest.

Sternot’s unit set up a perimeter defense around Bastogne and was prepared to defend against the many German counterattacks.

On that heroic day in January, Sternot’s unit was hit by a series of strong attacks by the German army leaving his unit isolated and alone. Sternot bravely led his machine gun section from several different positions to beat back the German attacks leaving 60 enemy dead in front of his machine gun station.


Sternot earned a Silver Star for his heroism, but on Jan. 13, 1945 he courageously exposed himself to enemy fire to throw a hand grenade and was killed in action by a German tank round before he could ever receive the award.

11 true stories of Christmas magic

A picture of Staff Sgt. Edmund Sternot’s grave site on display at the award presentation ceremony.

(Photo by Maj. Vonnie Wright)

Today the soldiers from Sternot’s unit, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team “Bastogne”, 101st Airborne Division received their prime opportunity to present Sternot’s last living relative his Silver Star at a Silver Star awards ceremony at the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation.

Lt. Col. Trevor Voelkel, commander of 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, had the honor of presenting the Silver Star today alongside retired Maj. Gen. Edward Dorman III, an alumni of the regiment himself, and was humbled to be present at such a historical moment.

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U.S. Army Lt. Col. Trevor Voelkel, commander of 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division greets U.S. Army veteran, Arthur Petterson. Petterson served in 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division and jumped into Normandy during WWII. 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division presented a Silver Star that Staff Sgt. Edmund Sternot earned for valor prior to being killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII to his last surviving family member Delores Sternot Nov. 10, 2019

(Photo by Maj. Vonnie Wright)

“While serving in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, we received word of this story and without hesitation began planning,” said Voelkel. “I looked at the plaque of Silver Star recipients in our headquarters and saw Staff Sgt. Sternot’s name on it. I’m honored to be here and be a part of this ceremony.”

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1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division plaque of WWII Silver Star Recipients.

(Photo by Maj. Vonnie Wright)

The Silver Star was presented to 80-year-old Delores Sternot, Staff Sgt. Sternot’s first cousin, of Goleta, California.

Delores, full of emotion, continued to wonder why such a ceremony was happening as she often referred to their family as ordinary folk.

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U.S. Army retired Maj. Gen. Edward Dorman III, left, shakes the hand of Delores Sternot after she receives Staff Sgt. Edmund Sternot’s awards for valor at the Silver Star awards presentation ceremony.

(Photo by Maj. Vonnie Wright)

Dorman gladly answered that question during his address to the audience of the ceremony.

“I commanded Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment many years ago so it is very humbling to be here,” said Dorman. “Delores has stated that her family are ordinary folk but that’s what makes them great. Ordinary folks do extraordinary things for the nation in times of peril.”

Delores also received Staff Sgt. Sternot’s Bronze Star and Purple Heart formally during this ceremony in front of veterans, family and friends within the community of Santa Barbara on behalf of the 101st Airborne Division.

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U.S. Army Lt. Col. Trevor Voelkel, right, commander of 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, addresses the audience at the Silver Star award presentation for Staff Sgt. Edmund Sternot.

(Photo by Maj. Vonnie Wright)

Maj. Gen. Brian Winski, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, felt that it was essential to give Sternot the proper honors that he deserves as a soldier within the division’s legacy and history.

“Staff Sgt. Eddie Sternot is part of the Greatest Generation and the 101st Airborne Division’s incredible history,” said Winski. “I’m extremely proud that we are able to render proper honors to him and to his family with the presentation of a Silver Star that Staff Sgt. Sternot earned during the Battle of the Bulge.”

After nearly 75 years Sternot and his family received a ceremony fit for a hero. It has been a long time coming and with many emotions Delores was overwhelmed by the love and care shown by all the service members present.

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A picture of a young Staff Sgt. Edmund Sternot on display at the award presentation ceremony.

(Photo by Maj. Vonnie Wright)

Retired Army Lt. Col. Bill Linn worked over 20 years to bring closure to the Sternot family and has become a family friend in the process.

“This was about principle,” said Linn. “I have always fought for principles. It doesn’t matter if 75 years went by or what his rank was. He deserved this ceremony. This is a win for the Army. This is a win for the 101st Airborne Division.”

Col. Derek Thomson, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team “Bastogne”, is especially proud that his soldiers from Sternot’s very own unit were able to honor him today.

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1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division plaque of WWII Silver Star Recipients, Staff Sgt. Edmund Sternot’s awards and program on display at the award presentation ceremony.

(Photo by Maj. Vonnie Wright)

“Staff Sgt. Sternot represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division and the 327th Regiment,” said Thomson. “It was the sergeant on the ground who made all the difference in the Battle of the Bulge, and Edmund will always serve as an example of what real combat leadership looks like. His memory lives in today’s Screaming Eagles, and it is with great pride that the 101st presents the Silver Star to the family 75 years after he earned this extraordinary honor.”

During this Veterans Day weekend there was no better way to honor those that served and continue to serve than with honoring this American hero.

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

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