How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

When Jesse Iwuji started racing cars, he never imagined his passion would blossom into a professional career. His passion for fast cars and racing started at the U.S. Naval Academy when he was playing football, running track, studying engineering/mathematics/sciences and learning how to lead sailors on surface ships.

Upon graduating from the Naval Academy in 2010 and becoming a commissioned officer in the Navy, Iwuji became a Surface Warfare Officer, but his love for driving never left. 

He bought a Corvette Z06 to drive daily and speed around tracks in Southern California, and between 2013 and 2015 spent time learning how to drive on track. In 2015 he was introduced to a NASCAR Late Model and a NASCAR K&N Pro Series team and then spent the last few years of his active duty service becoming a racecar driver. What Iwuji didn’t know was that his need for speed would run him up the NASCAR ladder and eventually earn him an opportunity to race in the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, with TrueCar as his primary sponsor.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams
Jesse Iwuji at the Nascar XFinity Race Nov 7th 2020 (Photo: Danny Hansen – HMedia)

After seven years of service, Iwuji joined the Naval Reserve to focus on driving. Now, he’s teaming up with TrueCar, the most efficient and transparent way to buy a new or used car from a trusted dealer, as the company’s military brand ambassador. 

“As someone who has served this country the last 10 years in the military, I’m excited to work with a brand like TrueCar that understands the unique needs and lifestyle demands of the military community,” Iwuji says. “I am proud to raise awareness of this fantastic program that can save active duty service members, veterans and their families a lot of time, stress, and money.”

Everyone who has served in the military knows that buying a car is one of the most common trappings among young troops and their families. While that new Mustang might be tempting, it’s important to make sure you don’t find yourself suckered into a bad deal. Thankfully, TrueCar recently launched TrueCar Military, a dedicated vehicle purchase program that provides exclusive military incentives and benefits, on top of TrueCar’s existing benefits, to those who have served our country’s armed forces and their families. As part of this program, veterans, active duty service members and their families can enjoy special military incentives, upfront pricing, a dedicated customer hotline and much more. 

TrueCar is no stranger to the military community — they’ve been supporting the community for years and through the DrivenToDrive program, where they provide brand new vehicles to deserving veterans. Now, they’ve taken their support a step further by sponsoring Jesse Iwuji, empowering him to live out his dream on the racetrack.

Inspired by the indomitable spirit of its program ambassador, SFC (Ret.) Cory Rembsburg, the DrivenToDrive program was launched by TrueCar in partnership with AutoNation and Disabled American Veterans (DAV). The program is back again this year — and with Jesse Iwuji involved, it’s better than ever. To celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, TrueCar awarded yet another vehicle to another amazing veteran. To see the surprise moment and Jesse present the vehicle to the 2020 DriventoDrive Recipient, check out the video or visit www.truecar.com/driventodrive/

To see Jesse in action and for more information about TrueCar Military benefits tailored to military members and their families, check out the video below.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out these ISIS propaganda video bloopers

A new video of ISIS recruits trying to pledge their allegiance to the caliphate shows a recruit fluffing his lines and being interrupted by screeching bird calls.

A video of a recruits in Yemen, unearthed by Dr Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow at Oxford University’s Pembroke College, shows a bearded youth coming struggling to get through his vows.

The footage was recorded in 2017, when ISIS still held territory in Iraq and Syria, and was attracting recruits from further afield.

Kendall told Business Insider the clip was released this week by Hidaya Media, a broadcaster associated with al-Qaeda’s operations around the Red Sea.


ISIS and al-Qaeda are rival jihadist organizations and have been known to insult and belittle each other.

Although ISIS has been deprived of its former territory in Syria and Iraq, the organization continues. Both ISIS and al-Qaeda are currently fighting over territory in Yemen.

In the video the insurgent, identified by The Independent as Abu Muhammad al-Adeni, trips over his lines, prompting a fellow recruit to say: “Stay calm, keep cool”.

On two occasions his speech is cut short by loud, intrusive bird calls. The man has a Janbiya knife tucked into his belt.

The footage may have been found by al-Qaeda operatives when they took over an ISIS camp in northwestern al-Bayda, Yemen, earlier this summer, Kendall told Business Insider.

Footage from a different part of the shoot later made it into an actual ISIS propaganda video, released in September 2017. It shows a series of young recruits gathering together, celebrating, affirming their vows to the caliphate, and eating.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force top enlisted leader encourages airmen to connect

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright just wanted to get airmen talking — to each other, friends, family — with the service’s one-day pause to break down unresolved feelings they may have buried deep inside.

Wright doesn’t expect commanders at each base to draft a plan of what they believe could prevent suicide, which has plagued the service’s ranks in recent months, with 78 airmen taking their own lives between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2019. But the top enlisted airman hopes the effort might help struggling airmen again feel a sense of purpose when they come into work, even if they carry baggage from their personal lives with them.


“While mental health is a part of it, I personally think a larger part of this solution is us just being good human beings,” he said during a recent interview. Military.com accompanied Wright and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on a trip to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, last week.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright speaks to Team Travis airmen.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David W. Carbajal)

The Air Force in August 2019 ordered a one-day “tactical pause” that had commanders and airmen address a rise in suicides across the force. As of Aug. 1, 2019, the service had exceeded the number of suicides in all of 2018 by nearly 20 people.

Wright said suicide has become the leading cause of death in the Air Force despite airmen serving overseas in combat.

“If some initiatives [at bases] came out of that, then I think that’s great. But it really wasn’t designed to develop prevention initiatives,” he said Oct. 9, 2019.

“All of the airmen that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, connecting with and talking to who’ve thought about committing suicide, none of them — not one — pointed to a program or a process or mental health [initiative]. … They all pointed to the thing that kept them going, and that was another person,” Wright said, but added some have been in therapy programs to keep talking to someone they’re comfortable with.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright listens to an Airman’s question.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David W. Carbajal)

Wright said he’s heard feedback from airmen who’ve felt the most hopeless during deployments, unable to connect with someone from their unit or loved ones back home.

On those occasions, help came from a friend or teammate — sometimes even a stranger — asking the simplest questions like, “How are you? Is there anything I can do?” Wright said.

“That’s all it was — meaningful connections,” the chief said.

“It makes a big difference if you walk into a work center where you feel like, ‘Hey, I’m a valued member of his team, and my supervisor, my teammates, they care about the things that I’m going through’ versus, ‘Hey nobody cares,'” Wright said. “This is about making airmen feel valued.”

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association provides community service and camaraderie

Topeka, Kansas is home to PAFRA where they host the World Championship Rodeo. The organization has eight circuits across North America and Europe. This non-profit organization sees participants travel from all over the world, to compete in events to include: Bareback Bronc Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Ladies Breakaway Roping, Tie-Down Roping, Chute Dogging, Steer Wrestling, Ladies Barrel Racing, Cowboy Mounted Shooting and Bull Riding. There is also team heeling and heading roping events.


The rodeo has participants from active duty, veterans, retirees and dependents representing every branch of service. PAFRA hosts one World Championship Rodeo every year in October, and because of the unique nature of hosting a rodeo involving active-duty participants (who deploy, PCS, etc.) PAFRA doesn’t require a point system to qualify for the World Championship, only that participants be a member in good standing. This year the World Championship Rodeo will be Oct. 15-17, 2020 at the Landon Arena Stormont Vail Events Center in Topeka.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

PAFRA is managed and produced in full by an all-volunteer force of members and community supporters. Their participation has been vital to the success and professionalism of the rodeo events. Because of all the volunteers that are essential to the rodeo’s operations, the organization has prioritized community service in their own right. “We are ultimately there to rodeo, but we also want to expand that servant leadership, that giving back to the communities that are hosting us,” said Steve Milton, PR and Marketing Director for the Rodeo. That community involvement ranges from hosting a kids’ rodeo to visiting veterans at the Topeka VA Medical Center, to even making a special appearance at the Stormont Vail Hospital Pediatric Unit. “We were able to bring horses out to the hospital, let the kids come pet the horses and interact with the rodeo clowns and cowboys; that was really special for us as an organization,” Milton added.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

PAFRA looks to continue to build upon their participation, support and partnership, and bids for the PAFRA 2020 20th Annual World Championship Rodeo are now open. If you are interested in learning more, partnering, volunteering or competing you can visit www.rodeopafra.com.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the changes to height and weight testing are long overdue

The United States Military must keep its troops in the best possible shape to fight and win America’s wars. This is made evident by the rigorous physical training schedule that many troops adhere to every single morning. Not a day goes by where an entire formation of infantrymen isn’t collectively breaking a sweat before most civilians wake up.

But the military can’t have absolute control over the lives and overall physical health of every single troop in formation. Uncle Sam can’t spend time preparing and serving your each and every meal, and he certainly can’t make sure you’re not cheating on each and every push-up. For the most part, however, things tend to work out. Sure, troops will enjoy a bit of pizza, beer, and junk food, but since they’re constantly working their asses off, a little indulgence isn’t going to hurt overall combat readiness.


To make sure that nobody slips through the cracks, the Department of Defense established and enforces height and weight standards. They’ve used the standard “tape test” for measuring these standards, but they’re finally eyeing its replacement — and that change can’t come fast enough .

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

Remedial PT is just like morning PT except the NCO leading it either broke weight themselves or is some salty NCO that’s been forced into leading it.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marnie Jacobowitz)

Generally speaking, the tape test is a fine gauge of someone’s maximum allowable weight in relation to the troop’s height. If they weigh more than their height allows, senior NCOs have to bring out a tape to measure their waist size relative to their neck size. The idea here is that if you’re heavier because of muscle (and not just fat), then your neck muscles will reflect that, and you’ll be on with your day.

If the troop does weigh more than their height allows and their belly is disproportionately large for their neck size, then the hammer comes down. This means instantly flagging them for positive actions, like schools, awards, or leave, and they’re sent to do remedial PT after the duty day has ended.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

Even the height test can be screwy if the person grading it decides to “wing it” or the weight is “adjusted for clothes.”

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jourdain Yardan)

Now, it’s that not the tape test is inherently a bad way to gauge the health of the troops. In some cases, it’s a perfectly fine measurement. Unfortunately, this test is the end all, be all for determining if someone is fat. It’s a highly flawed system (and everyone knows it’s flawed) that is taken as gospel.

For instance, many troops can attest to seeing soldiers who have scored 300s on their PT test “bust” tape and then get sent for remedial PT — why? Because they’re under 5’10” and didn’t focus on their traps at the gym. On the other side of that token, troops could point fingers at troops built like Shrek, but they’re tall enough that their weight doesn’t even become a factor.

Additionally, when it comes to administering the tape test, there’s just too much room for error. The heights and weights recorded may be empirical measurements, but taking those measurements isn’t a hard science. For example, whoever’s recording those measurements might turn a blind eye as their buddy sucks in their gut. Now, the guy who pulled in their belly gets a passing grade while the bodybuilder who spent too little time working on their traps won’t be able to take leave and may possibly get chaptered out of the military.

Thankfully, there are better solutions out there. Body mass index scales are getting more and more accurate and less expensive. Water displacement tests can now be found on most installations.

But, honestly, one of the most useful tools here is common sense. If you can look at a troop and their PT scores and see that they’re well beyond most other troops, don’t ruin their career with an antiquated test.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of February 15th

Ah, another Valentine’s Day has come and gone. By law of averages, at least a few people somewhere in the military spent a nice evening with the person they genuinely love. The rest of us are in the field, deployed, or stationed god-knows-how-far away from our beloved.

Sure, sure. Many of those in the military marry extremely young and the spouse is often quick to put eighty-seven bumper stickers on the minivan saying they have the hardest job in the military… But on Valentine’s Day, we can let them pretend being bored, worried, and lonesome during a deployment is more difficult than serving as a nuclear submarine’s engine mechanic. After all, military spouses do put up with a lot of our sh*t, so one day with an inflated ego is fine.

Anyways. Knowing the average memer is probably stuck in the barracks and taking Hooter’s up on their order of free buffalo wings for single people, here’re some memes to take your mind off the crippling loneliness. Enjoy!


How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Private News Network)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

​(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Comic via The Claw of Knowledge)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Broken and Unreadable)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via On the Minute Memes)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

(Meme via Door Kickers Inc.)

MIGHTY CULTURE

An inside look at the Air Force’s only cryogenics plant

Kadena Air Base, Japan (AFNS) — Providing the base and various other units on the island with cryogenic products – whether it be in a liquid or gaseous form – is the plant’s priority.

“We produce the liquid oxygen and the liquid nitrogen here for our organizations across the island to make sure they get the product they need to make the mission happen,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Pannell, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant noncommissioned office in charge of cryogenic productions.

The production plant provides services for a range of reasons, whether it be for pilots or patients, the plant handles it all and can also be the difference in life or death in some instances.


“We manufacture liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen for various organizations to use…Breathable oxygen at high altitudes for aircraft, liquid nitrogen to fill tires for the aircraft so they don’t explode if they hit the ground too hard and the hospital has various uses for oxygen and nitrogen as you could imagine…It’s important,” said Senior Airman Christopher Tallan, 18th LRS cryogenic production operator.

While other bases have to purchase their liquid oxygen and nitrogen from external providers, Kadena Air Base is able to support the mission directly as well as save money.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

A beaker of liquid oxygen sits filled July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith)

“I don’t like to solely rely on other people because I know if we do it ourselves, it’s going to be done the right way and I think this is really valuable for the Air Force because we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to save money,” Pannell said. “We should really strive to be innovative and this is something I push down to my Airmen – to be innovative and think of new ways to do things.”

With innovation comes plenty of learning opportunities – and growing pains.

“It’s been challenging at times because everyone is learning a new plant,” Pannell explained. “We have to learn the ins and outs; everyone here is growing.”

Providing these services can prove to be rather complex. From separation of atmospheric air to expansion and cooling, the job is chemically impossible to do without machines.

The machine – production plant – typically runs one week at a time for 24 hours a day and enables the production of about 50 gallons an hour.

While the machine is doing its job, the rest of the team is ensuring it works properly.

“We have to do hourly checks to make sure nothing is malfunctioning,” Tallan said. “We’re responsible for knowing what’s supposed to be going on. With such a big plant and so many pipes, we have to make sure that nothing is in a pipe that shouldn’t be in it, and make sure things are at the right temperature in the pipes they’re supposed to be in.”

With such a unique and vital mission role, working at the only operational cryogenic production plant in the Air Force seems to be a great source of pride and inspiration for those in the career field.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

Senior Airmen Michael Hall and Christopher Tallan, both 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron cryogenic production operators, prepare to fill a cart with liquid oxygen July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith)


“I love my job; I love coming to work. I work in a cryogenic facility – it’s insane,” Tallan laughed. “I always thought about the cryo guys and how badly I wanted to go for one day and see…It’s different when every single day you’re holding a sample of liquid oxygen and you can feel it boil inside the beaker…I love it.

Along with the job being cool – literally and figuratively – it also demonstrates the importance of smart investment and innovation with promises of bettering the success of the Air Force mission as a whole.

“I take it as a personal challenge to myself and my team to do our best and actually show higher leadership that this is a legitimate plant and it could benefit not just Pacific Air Force, but other areas – especially overseas,” Pannell said.

Featured image: Senior Airman Michael Hall, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron cryogenic production operator, fill a cart with liquid oxygen July 27, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

This post was sponsored by Kensington Books. The author’s comments below on the novels are his own.

Most people are never more than an arm-length from civilization. They live in their apartments, suburban homes, or occasionally they live a short drive out of a town. But there are still places out there that are remote and removed enough to truly be considered the frontier. There is civilization of a sort there filled with rougher men and women for whom the questions of past – When will I eat next? Is that figure on the horizon friend or foe? Will I make it through the winter? – are real questions.

It turns out such a setting is also a great setup for a murder mystery.


How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

Stone Cross is a new release and second in the Arliss Cutter series by Marc Cameron. Marc is a former United States Marshal and popular author of multiple series including three novels in the New York Times bestselling Jack Ryan series. Marc is also a resident of Alaska, something which adds verisimilitude to this new entry.

In this new atmospheric thriller, Cutter and his partner get assigned to protect a US Judge traveling to adjudicate a case in a remote Yupik village in western Alaska. Someone in the village has sent a letter threatening the life of the Judge and Cutter has to navigate the suspicions and resentment of the local indigenous people to protect the Judge from harm. Of course, complications ensue and it appears the safety of the Judge is only a secondary story.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

The primary conflict of the novel revolves around the murder of a local handyman and the disappearance of a young husband and wife from the lodge the three of them were caretaking. Cameron’s characters have their endurance tested in bringing the case to its resolution.

Stone Cross does an outstanding job of establishing a dark and foreboding place where human beings feel like visitors to something older and more primeval. Everything feels more dangerous in this novel and even the characters begin to take on the stark and sharp-edged characteristics of the setting. It is a case where the simplicity and bleakness reduces each character to primal archetypes where survival is earned rather than given.

Ultimately this book works as a stand-alone but there are strong hints of continued Alaskan adventures ahead for Arliss Cutter. Based on this strength of this novel, one would do well to go back and pick up the first novel Open Carry and be ready for inevitable future entries in this series.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These 4th of July memes are real firecrackers

Nothing says America like a great sense of humor. Here are our favorite memes for you to view and distribute far and wide across the internet. Be safe and happy 4th of July!


How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

1. Freedom rings

Hahaha, you can use this ALL day today. You’re welcome! And yes, we know it should be “there.” We don’t make the memes folks, we just share them.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

2. Will Smith

If you don’t watch Independence Day this weekend, is it even 4th of July?

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

3. Call the doc

What do doctors know? Just kidding. We love you.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

4. ‘Merica!

That’s right, bro. Wear those jean shorts with pride!

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

5. They’re coming

At least it will be a nice break from politics on social media.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

6. Videos

It’s so true. And yet, we’re all guilty.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

7. BREXIT

We started it!

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

8. What else is there?

Add in a hot dog eating contest and you’re all set.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

9. War

Make sure you try to spell U.S.A. with them.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

10. Pick up line

You can use this at today’s bbq, too.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

11. Michael Scott

Obviously if it’s declared it’s true.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

12. Doggies

Poor things. Extra cuddles for you!

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

13. Brace yourself

(Insert your own inappropriate rocket between legs joke here).

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

14. You got this

Happy 4th of July! Here’s to ‘MERICA!

MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet the 100-year-old veteran who is having the best week ever

Charles McGee is having quite a week. McGee, who was part of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, was one of four 100-year-old veterans to participate in the Super Bowl LIV coin flip on Sunday in Miami. He was also honored Tuesday night at the State of the Union address with a promotion to Brigadier General. And you thought you were having a good week.


McGee, who looked rather spry at the game, walked the ceremonial coin to referee Bill Vinovich for the official toss. As if that wasn’t enough excitement, McGee flew to Washington, D.C. to attend the State of the Union address as an official guest of President Trump alongside his 13-year-old great-grandson who wants to join the Space Force.

Iain Lanphier from Scottsdale, Arizona is the great-grandson of Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee. Iain hopes to write the next chapter in his family’s remarkable story by attending the Air Force Academy and eventually going to space. #SOTUpic.twitter.com/GA6W2whvrV

twitter.com

Lauded tonight as a Tuskegee Airman, 100 year old retired Brigadier General Charles McGee was promoted to that rank today by President Trump and invited to be his guest in House Gallery tonight for the #SOTUpic.twitter.com/uiIIEtOdRD

twitter.com

President Trump honored McGee by naming him Brigadier General for his impeccable service. The promotion was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and passed by both the House and the Senate. Just three days after McGee turned 100 (which he celebrated by flying in a jet), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in a press release, “Col. Charles McGee’s service to our country is remarkable and fully merits this distinguished honor. I was proud to fight for the inclusion of this promotion to commemorate his work and his sacrifice … I could not think of a more fitting recognition from a truly grateful nation.”

Lauded tonight as a Tuskegee Airman, 100 year old retired Brigadier General Charles McGee was promoted to that rank today by President Trump and invited to be his guest in House Gallery tonight for the #SOTUpic.twitter.com/uiIIEtOdRD

twitter.com

McGee is one of the most celebrated aviators in history, having completed 136 combat missions in World War II, 100 combat missions in the Korean War and 173 combat missions in the Vietnam War. That’s 409 total combat missions if you’re not doing the math. Watch McGee’s Super Bowl appearance here:

www.youtube.com

Congratulations, Sir!

MIGHTY CULTURE

Chief of Army Reserve seeks to create rewarding experience for soldiers

The head of the Army Reserve is crashing virtual battle assemblies to get face time with soldiers.

Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels assumed her new role in the summer of 2020, making history as the first woman to lead the Army Reserve. She also stepped in as chief at a time when the pandemic was in full force, ultimately changing how soldiers recruit and train — but not how they lead. In fact, Daniels says the situation has presented opportunities to improve connectedness between soldier and leader.

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams
Daniels is the first woman to lead the Army Reserve. Photo by Staff Sgt. Edgar Valdez.

“One of the really great things is, it has enabled us through some of the software to have outreach at all different times visually — that we didn’t necessarily have before — because you could do it from your own personal device. … I think we’ve become more personable, overall.” she said.  

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

But at the same time, Daniels adds that she is “looking to get back to as much of in-person activities as we can do, while protecting the force, while being smart about how we do it.”  

Daniels’ career spans more than 36 years, including active and reserve military service that started when she decided to apply for ROTC scholarships in high school. Her father, a Vietnam veteran, spent decades in the Army but she said he was always “just dad” to her, not the “Army guy.”

She switched components to the Army Reserve after being accepted to a fully-funded, graduate-level program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Daniels completed a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science. She describes the operational pace of leaving active duty as being “a little bit different.” 

“On the reserve side, you have to manage your business, whatever you’re doing for work, or if you’re going to school as a full-time student, like I did for many years; plus, whatever you’re doing for family members and having a life … on the active-duty side, you have perhaps longer days but you probably don’t have a second job as well. So how you balance those things becomes an interesting challenge. I think on the reserve side, we get really good at time management,” Daniels said. 

How TrueCar helped get Navy Reservist Jesse Iwuji into the NASCAR race of his dreams

And leaving active duty was not the only cultural change she experienced, she says. A deployment to Kosovo ended up being one of the most impactful billets of her career and tested everything she had been taught up until that point.

“I went over to Kosovo on an all-expense paid trip in the summer of ’99 and I went from intel, where you don’t tell anyone anything, to civil affairs, where you tell everyone everything. And that was sort of a whiplash between the culture I had been in and the culture that I was working in. … So that was a very different change in how I had been operating,” she said.

Now that she has been in her position for some months, Daniels is playing the long game in terms of priorities for what she plans to accomplish. Retention remains at the top of the list, which she says starts with getting soldiers “around the bend.”

“I have a four-year term and I am very much about what I’m calling getting around the bend. The Army Reserve has a unique structure because of the amount of generating force that we have. Instead of being your typical pyramid, we have this sort of diamond shape where I don’t have as many positions at the junior ranks, and then we turn the corner at captain and at sergeant, and go on up to a normal pyramid.

“My challenge is I’m not getting people around the bend, so trying to fill in that specialist to sergeant, and then sergeant to staff sergeant; and then on the officer side, getting those lieutenants to become captains and then go on to be majors — to fill that pipeline up because right now I’ve got my mid-grades are under strength and that’s going to take four years to really push around those bends as much as possible to start filling the pipeline.”  

It isn’t a feat she can finish in four years, she added, but she can make headway in improving the experience of being a junior-level leader. Among the steps she plans to take include: 

1) Look at policies and administrative processes that make jobs at the junior level harder than they need to be;

2) Remove bureaucracy, including having signature authority lower so documents don’t take so long and actions can happen sooner.

The Army Reserve has experienced many changes since Daniels first wore a uniform some three decades ago, which includes the moment she took her oath last July. In addition to technological changes, the mission also shifted from being a strategic reserve to an operational reserve “where we’re called in on a regular basis to help out with various different missions,” she says.

“[It] is a very different mindset from where we were 30-plus years ago,” Daniels said.

For those considering the military as a long-term career, she recommends two focuses.  

“One is, for whatever position you’re doing, do your best at that job. Work hard, learn as much as you can about it, grow yourself and enjoy it, make the most of that opportunity, whatever it is,” she said. “The other advice that I give is to look two positions ahead. So, not your next job but the one after that. Talk to leadership and mentors as to what that set of opportunities can be … and if you find something that is a little further out that could be of great interest, you may need to take a course or learn a little bit about something to be ready for that position that is two out.”

Daniels credits two mentors with pushing her to think outside the horizons she had initially set for herself. The first was an Army boss who gave her the confidence to apply for graduate school; the other was then-Brig. Gen. Rick Sherlock who put the War College on her radar. It is among the reasons she encourages current leaders to look for strengths in people rather than focus on their weaknesses — a sentiment she echoed in her initial message to the force in 2020. 

“My charge to our team is this: treat one another with dignity and respect at all times. Foster a mindset of teamwork, continuous learning, and growth so our Soldiers desire to continue to serve and lead. This culture of teamwork and growth is essential to shaping our future,” the letter stated in part.   

Read the full letter online at www.usar.army.mil.  

Fast facts about Lt. Gen. Daniels

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Daniels conducted physical fitness with FORSCOM leadership at the FORSCOM/USARC headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Javier Orona.

Go-to destress activity: (pre pandemic) whitewater boating in a kayak; (currently) trail running

A top book recommendation for professional development: “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

New Year’s resolution: Three years ago, Daniels adopted a functional fitness routine and has maintained that goal. Now, she said, she is less concerned about her ACFT performance because of that commitment.

This article originally appeared on Reserve + National Guard Magazine. Follow @ReserveGuardMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army colonel will launch into space on moon landing’s 50th anniversary

Fifty years after Neil Armstrong said, “One small leap for man, one giant leap for mankind,” during the historic Apollo 11 moon landing, one American soldier will take the next “giant leap” into space.

Col. Andrew Morgan, astronaut and Army emergency physician, is counting down to his launch for a nine-month mission aboard the International Space Station, July 20, 2019 — the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Morgan, a Special Forces battalion surgeon with more than 20 years of military service, is the first Army Medical Corps officer to be selected as an astronaut.


Along with his crewmates, Morgan is scheduled to arrive at the ISS six hours after blasting off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where he will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 60, 61, and 62.

“It is a tremendous honor to launch on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission,” Morgan said during an interview Monday from Star City, Russia. “The entire crew of Expedition 60 has been entrusted with being the torch bearers of the next generation of space exploration.”

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With St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square providing the backdrop, Expedition 60 crewmember Col. Andrew Morgan, NASA astronaut and Army emergency physician, poses June 28, 2019, as part of traditional pre-launch activities.

(Photo courtesy of Beth Weissinger)

He added there is no better way to commemorate the achievements of Apollo 11 than with a mission to space with an international crew.

It will be Morgan’s first space mission. His crew members include Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano, an Italian astronaut from the European Space Agency.

Morgan and his crewmates will facilitate research on various projects, including mining minerals in the Solar System, looking into methods for engineering plants to grow better on Earth, and examining cells from Parkinson’s patients in zero gravity to better understand neurodegenerative diseases, according to a NASA press statement.

Morgan joined NASA as a member of the 2013 astronaut class, and was assigned his specific flight 18 months ago.

However, according to Morgan, he is a soldier first.

During the space mission, Morgan plans to pull from his military experience, where he is certified as a military flight surgeon and special operations diving medical officer.

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Army Astronaut Col. Drew Morgan, NASA Detachment, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, receives the oath of office during an underwater promotion ceremony in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

(NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory photo)

“I am a sum of my experiences,” Morgan said. “The Army has been a critical part of my experiences since the very beginning.”

Where he is today is because of the Army, he added.

In 1996, while a cadet at West Point, Morgan, along with his team, earned the national collegiate title for competitive skydiving. His military career also includes time with the Army’s “Golden Knights” demonstration parachuting team.

Skydiving is a “core part” of who I am, Morgan said. He added the “calculated risk taking” and entrusting his life with team members parachuting laid the foundation he needed to become an astronaut.

Shortly after parachuting, he became the battalion surgeon for the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), also known as the “Desert Eagles.”

After three years serving on flight status, combat dive, and airborne status with the Desert Eagles, he was selected for a strategic operations assignment in the Washington, D.C., area, according to his NASA biography.

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Col. Andrew Morgan.

(NASA)

“I’m a soldier, a physician, and an astronaut,” Morgan said. “I made the decision to be a soldier when I was 18, and I am very, very proud of that.”

There are a lot of similarities between military deployments and being an astronaut, he said, including time apart from his family.

Morgan’s family are no strangers to deployments. The astronaut has deployed multiple times with the Special Forces in direct combat support operations to Afghanistan, Africa, and Iraq.

Married for nearly 20 years and a father of four, Morgan said his family is ready for the upcoming mission.

They understand the makeup of the mission, he said, and “we are all in this together.”

“I want to make everybody proud,” Morgan added. “I want to accomplish my mission with a team that’s highly effective. If I can accomplish all of that and come home safely to my family, then mission accomplished.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why we all need to understand the Medal of Honor

There’s an extraordinary brotherhood that exists among us but few will ever actually meet these honored members. Like our sacred flag, woven together by humility, valor and extreme courage, this is a community of men who never sought recognition — rather earned it — through their own strength, service and sacrifice. These incredible heroes are the recipients of the Medal of Honor.

In the military community, these men are treated with an indescribable reverence; a gratitude that runs deep because of the understanding of the gravity of the citation. Most of these men shouldn’t be alive and many who have earned the Medal never lived to see it. But in the civilian community, the awards often blend together, confusing hearts with crosses, silver with purple.


Now, a major motion picture is closing that information gap, educating the public on the Medal of Honor while pulling at your heartstrings. The Last Full Measure, in theaters nationwide on January 24, has an all star cast that tells the incredible, true story of William H. Pitsenbarger. Pitsenbarger was a U.S. Air Force Pararescueman credited with saving over 60 men after an ambush on the Army’s 1st Infantry Division during a battle in Vietnam. The story couples his heroic actions with the relentless efforts, spanning three decades, made by the men he saved to ensure he was posthumously honored.

Following the Washington, D.C. premiere screening of The Last Full Measure, We Are The Mighty had the opportunity to sit with Medal of Honor recipient First Lieutenant Brian M. Thacker and Medal of Honor Foundation Vice President of External Affairs Dan Smith, to get their take on the movie.

WATM: Tell me your thoughts on the movie.

Thacker: This fills in so many blanks. I knew the Pitsenbarger story and then all of a sudden it kind of happened. In the story, it becomes very clear. The question you have is what was the Air Force guy doing with a leg unit in the first place? And then you think about it and yeah, it’s exactly how it works: the guys closest respond to the call. They were doing joint operations back then and they didn’t even know it. The movie is no frills, a straight story of not just Pitsenbarger, but the whole unit that kept the dream of the award moving forward. It’s a story that needs to be told. There’s a story like that behind every Medal of Honor ever presented.

If you were over there, you know there are many other stories that deserve to be recognized. For a long time, Pitsenbarger was one of them.

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WATM: I understand why this story is so important for the Medal of Honor brotherhood and to the veteran population. Why do you think it’s critical for civilians to see as well?

Thacker: First of all, they need to learn what the Medal means. It’s not a me award. Pitsenbarger is the medic with the award, but it really goes to all of the men in that company that were put in an untenable situation. The stories that came out of what happens as a result are equally as important. It’s not over when the shooting stops. The camaraderie and the close bond of serving together is what gets us through.

WATM: There’s a great line in the movie about how the medal means so much more than a battle; it’s the story behind it that connects us all. What story does your medal tell?

Thacker: The other half of the story behind mine is that of a Recon Sergeant that got an assignment he didn’t want but came out with a DSC. My guess is that his citation, like mine, was written at the highest level. But our unit was a Joe six pack, a bunch of people from all over the country that didn’t realize how untenable our situation was really going to be until the first shot was fired. Then it was, ‘Oh Lord, just let us hang on. We just need to get through this day.’ It all comes down to everyone just trying to help each other get through the day. Certainly you don’t do it by yourself.

WATM to Smith: What does having a MOH recipient in the audience tonight mean to you?

Smith: It’s beyond special. Young airman Pitsenbarger’s story is inspiring and remarkable. What we try to do and what our mission is, is to raise resources to let recipients tell their stories and to bring that and the legacy of the Medal to the communities. The most senior leaders in our military and our government talk about the less than one percent who serve and this growing civilian and military divide.

For these gentlemen to be able to tell their stories, not just to the military but to the community will close this gap. I’m hopeful that everyday people will see this movie, hear these heroic stories and change the ambivalence that often comes without knowing the impact of the award. So many men came home from Vietnam and weren’t able to tell their stories. I’m hopeful this will reach not just veterans of that generation but the younger generations as well.

WATM: What do you think this film teaches the next generation?

Thacker: We did everything we could to bury Vietnam. The young people that were born after the war grew up in the dark, unless you were living with a Vietnam veteran and you were living it right with your dad. It’s very symbolic. We see the same thing with young people who volunteered after 9/11; this mentality that I need to be a part of this. It’s 50 years later but it’s the same ethic that bubbles up.

You can take that notion of service far beyond the military. It’s in the fire departments, police departments and even the teaching community; this sense of service above self. You see bits and pieces of that in this movie and I hope it’s one the kids will watch because it’s living history.

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WATM: Was there any particular scene in this movie that really resonated with you?

Thacker: When Pitsenbarger realized he had to go down to help them to teach them how to use the litter. Being in that position does something to your pucker factor. People who have been there, you can ask them: ‘Do you remember what it felt like?’ They’ll tell you they were very afraid. Knowing you are in over your head and wondering who you turn to for help, that happens all the time. There will be a lot of people who understand that feeling of all of a sudden being in charge.

WATM: As a MOH recipient, I imagine you’re invited to events like this all of the time. Is there a particular event you have been a part of that has had a profound impact on your life?

Thacker: Being able to attend an Inauguration and to witness the peaceful transfer of power was an incredible experience. I don’t think people understand how truly special and uniquely American that is.

WATM: Is there anything else you want people to know about either you or the Medal of Honor Foundation?

Thacker: We still have something to say. I remember when the Baby Boom generation wasn’t going to amount to much. Now we’re saying the same thing about Millenials, and I promise you, we’ll be as wrong about them as our parents were about us. That willingness to stand up and take the risk is fairly common.

Smith: These men have incredible stories to tell. My hope is that through films like The Last Full Measure we’ll be able to connect communities with this heroism.

The Last Full Measure will be in theaters January 24. These stories deserve to be told and the valor of The Medal of Honor should live on through all of us. Perpetuating the legacy should be our collective Last Full Measure.

You can buy tickets to see the film and support this story and legacy on The Last Full Measure’s website.

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