War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret - Part I - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

An estimated 300,000 “war brides,” as they were known, left home to make the intrepid voyage to the United States after falling in love with American soldiers who were stationed abroad during World War II. There were so many that the United States passed a series of War Brides Acts in 1945 and 1946. This legislation provided them with an immigration pathway that didn’t previously exist under the Immigration Act of 1924, which imposed quotas on immigrants based on their nation of origin and strategically excluded or limited immigration from certain parts of the world, particularly Asia.

Equipped with little but a feeling and a sense of promise, war brides left everything that was familiar behind to forge a new identity in the United States. Many spoke little to no English upon their arrival in the country, and they were introduced to post-war American culture through specially designed curricula and communities. To this day, organizations for war brides in the United States provide networks for military spouses and their children, helping them keep their heritage alive and share their experiences of their adopted home.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II on September 2, 2020, We Are The Mighty is proud to collaborate with Babbel, the new way to learn a foreign language. Babbel conducted interviews with surviving war brides as much of the world endured lockdown. Many of these women are now in their 80s and 90s, and their oral histories celebrate the challenges and successes of adapting to a new culture and language, as well as reflect on the leap of faith they all took to travel across the world to an unknown country. Spoiler alert: there are few regrets.

War Brides is a 5 part series.

Alice Lawson — Belgium

I was born in Belgium, in Liège. I lived in a suburb, on a high plateau that overlooked the city. I had family that lived in the countryside, in the Flemish part of Belgium, so I knew Flemish. I also studied German because I was worried about the war coming, which started when I was about 16 years old.

I remember when I was a young girl and the Germans were coming into the city. They would crawl up the hillside with rifles in their arms, and the kids who were at the top of the hill would throw clumps of grass or rocks to try to dissuade the Germans from coming up the hill.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
Alice and her family. Photo courtesy of Alice Lawson.

One soldier came into my parents’ house because he was hungry. My father said, “Come in the back and you can eat something.” However, the German wouldn’t eat anything unless my dad ate the same thing with him.

My dad worked on the streetcar system where he was a conductor, and he got me to work there as well. I was one of the people in the back who moves the electrical lines to the next one over. I also worked in the garage getting things started, moving the trolleys onto the line. I was tough.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
Alice as a young lady. Photo courtesy of Alice Lawson.

I met my husband when the Americans came in. We went to the movies, my mother and I, and he was on the other side of the road. He looked at me and then came over and presented himself. That was it. Then we started dating.

He was an American soldier, so he spoke only English. We had things in common because I was a nurse working in the Belgian hospital and he was an American working in the American military hospital. So we had a connection in that regard, but I think the main connection had to do with the way that I looked and the way that John looked. He was good-looking, so I was willing to date him.

He wanted to get married right away. He had to go approach my father to ask him if he could marry me. And he was, of course, very reluctant, but I would not be dissuaded.

Once we decided to get married, he did a very unusual thing for an American soldier: he had my sister take all my measurements and sent them to his sister who lived in Maine, and he asked her to pick out a wedding dress for me and send it to Belgium. He also paid for the flowers and things like that so that we could have a beautiful wedding, which I think is pretty unusual.

At the time, I said to him, “I’m Catholic. If I do get married, I want to be married in a church.” So he said, “Well, I’m Catholic too.” I said, “Well, tell me a few things about the Catholic religion.” And he couldn’t tell me anything! He only knew how to do the sign of the cross like a Catholic — that’s all he knew. So he took a course in the Army to become a Catholic for me.

We went off for a two-week honeymoon in the countryside of Northern Belgium. But because the war was still going on in Japan, he was then transferred there. I was only a few months pregnant when he got sent off to Japan.

The war ended before he got there, so he was sent back to the United States and released. He had made arrangements for me to come to the United States. But when my dad found out I was moving to America, he passed out. It was tough on the family, but my husband had made a promise that we’d be coming back to visit. Of course, that didn’t quite happen as well as my mother had hoped. It was tough on my parents, which made it hard for me.

I went through the Ellis Island immigration area when I arrived, and I spent a night in New York before getting on a train. It took five days to get to Alabama. I didn’t recognize my husband when I arrived because he had gotten very sick and lost so much weight.

It was a different way of life for me because I grew up in the city, had season tickets to the opera and was an art student in college. Now I was in rural America facing an outhouse: there was no indoor plumbing, no indoor running water. We ended up moving into a chicken coop that my husband covered inside with paper so that nobody could see in.

I was also in a dry county, and I had a bottle of wine that I brought from Europe. I put it in the window to cool, and my husband saw it when he was coming home, and said, “You’re going to get us arrested! You’re not allowed to drink wine in this county!” So I said to him, “Why, are we in Russia?”

I had a couple of sisters-in-law who were very good to me. My mother-in-law as well. So they tried to accommodate me and teach me English, and my husband would give me homework every day to study the language. Of course we didn’t have TV or anything, but I would learn through the people who I met.

My English wasn’t good — there were a lot of hand signals at that time! It was difficult to learn, but I credit my ability to learn to the fact that I knew Flemish and German. There are a lot of French words that are English words. Between those three languages, I felt that I had a leg up on learning the English language.

Many times, people would call me an immigrant and say, “You’ve got an accent, go back to your country.” I remember those kinds of comments, but I could shake them off. They didn’t bother me. I was pretty surprised by the racial problems I confronted in Alabama. I couldn’t understand that kind of racism because I wasn’t used to that in Belgium.

I was once on the bus and there was no room at the front of the bus to sit. I had my son in my arms and my husband was also on the bus, the three of us. I went to the back of the bus to sit because there was an empty seat, and my husband was very upset with me, that I would do that and not stand at the front. Those kinds of encounters were part of daily life for me.

We lived in Alabama for about a year or so. But because I was so unhappy with the lack of city life, and there was no work down there for my husband, we went up to join my sister-in-law in Michigan and get a job at one of the factories.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
Alice and her husband. Photo courtesy of Alice Lawson.

My husband worked bartender jobs and we lived in terrible housing, but he ended up getting a job at General Motors. One day, I went off with some friends on a Sunday drive and I saw a sign that said “GI homes for $5.” So I gave the guy $5, went home and told my husband, “Oh, I bought a house today!”. He said, “You bought a house?! Alice, do you know what you’re saying?” I said, “Yeah, I bought a house.” So we took a bus over there and we went to see the guy with my husband’s discharge papers, and we got the approval for buying the house! This is the house we’re still in today, since 1950.

We lived right on the main line for a streetcar in Detroit, so we were 10 minutes away from downtown. My daughter was born two years after my son, and I would take my children into the city frequently. In Detroit, I felt more acclimated to living in America, once I got into the city routine. I’ve always been a city girl, that’s just how I roll!

I’ve been back to Belgium a few times since. I got married in 1945 and went back in 1950. Then in 1964, when my son graduated from high school, I took him back to meet his relatives in Belgium, because he was just a baby when he left there. The last time I was there was in the early 2000s.

I still manage to speak French — je parle toujours le français ! I have a small circle of friends, and we go to lunch and chitter chatter away speaking French. I had other friends who were from Belgium, but they have since passed. I still carry the Flemish language within me, but don’t have much of an opportunity to speak it to anyone around here.

I’ve noticed with other war brides that they were very eager to be accepted and to acclimate into society, so they don’t necessarily talk much in their native language. I just went along with everything that was happening here. I didn’t try to change anything. I just helped myself and learned English. People would always say, “Oh, you have an accent,” and I would reply, “Yeah, vous parlez français? Do you speak French? That’s why I’ve got an accent!”

For people who are considering moving abroad to marry someone, I would say, “Join the club!” If you love somebody, you want to do anything you can to be with them.

The War Brides series is brought to you by Babbel. Babbel has now launched a discount for those involved with the military and veterans, as well as their relatives, as a thank you for their service. It is available here: https://welcome.babbel.com/en/military-discount/

MIGHTY CULTURE

The best tactical gifts to buy dad this year

Enough messing around. Dad’s got the gag gifts and the cushy hunting gear. He doesn’t need another beautiful knife or the latest gizmo for convenience in the field. No, what Dad wants is to be ready for when shit hits the fan, dammit. Time to get tactical.

That means simple, effective gear that’s built to be tough and trustworthy in the field. Finding the gear you can trust your life with is the tricky part, friends. That’s why we went to our experts: The entire team here at SOFREP put our heads together to pick our favorite tactical gear. So whether it’s a solar panel that will never fail, a contingency knife that’s always ready to go, a tactical boot that’ll help you pound ground, or the ultimate loadout box for all the important stuff you’ve already got, here’s the gear we stand by. It certainly stands by us.


War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

1. Overland Solar Bugout Panel

When things go south, power is… well, power. Overland Solar makes the daddy of all solar chargers for a serious off-the-grid setup. It’s good for 130 watts of power in various conditions and produces seven amps an hour thanks to high solar cell efficiency. It charges in low angle light, and when it’s overcast, rainy, and even lightly snowing. Plug and play with your camper, or throw it on the roof of your micro-cabin for solid power basics.

Overland Solar: 5

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

2. Browning Range Kit

Everything needed for a range kit, nothing more. Polycarbonate shooting glasses, soft foam earplugs, adjustable fit muffs. It’s the perfect replacement gear for the old, beat up shit you’ve had for years. The earmuffs and earplugs are good for 31 and 27 decibels, respectively. And anyway, the best gift you can receive this year is healthy eyeballs and eardrums in old age.

Cabela’s:

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

3. Bulldog Quick Vault

What’s the right level of protection for your bedside equalizer? This thing. It’s got just the right pairing of quick access and safety: open it using RFID access card or keycard or LED-backlit access code. Its Soft Stop door technology means you can open it silently, or set it to a decibel mode for family safety. Oh, and it’s heavy-duty 12-gauge steel.

Cabela’s; 0

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

4. Real Avid Armorer’s Master Wrench

Nobody in the movies ever needs to fix a jammed rifle or disassemble one for cleaning. This is not the way of the world, though. The Real Avid Armorer’s Master Wrench has everything you need for rifle housekeeping: torque wrench attachment point, armorer’s hammer, castle nut wrench, multiple hammerheads, muzzle brake wrench, and more. With it, as long as you have ammo, you’ll be fine.

Cabela’s:

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

5. Sig Sauer Red Dot Sight

Zese Germans make a sehr gut firearm. They also make a prime red dot sight for MSR platforms of all calibers. It’s waterproof, runs off one included battery for up to 20,000 hours, has 10 daytime brightness settings, and two for night vision use. At just a hair over a Benjamin, it might be the perfect tool for target acquisition at close and mid-range.

Cabela’s: 0

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

6. WK Contingency Knife

Curved handle, simple sheath, skeletonized, full-tapered tang, and a 3.5-inch blade: this knife is ready to go when it needs to be. It’s intended as an everyday carry, but you’d be forgiven for showing off its maple handle and black oxide no-glare finish 80CrV2 steel blade. Its beauty is terrible to behold, especially if the beholder is trying to fuck with you.

Tactical Distributor: 0

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

7. Rapid Dominance Carbon Fiber Knuckle Combat Gloves

What does a glove buy you? Try serious hand protection in a combat situation thanks to carbon fiber knuckles, a reinforced synthetic leather palm, and rubberized grip padding. Gloves so affordable rarely come with bonus features, but these ones do: their four-way spandex helps with a comfortable fit, and each glove has two-way touchscreen-friendly fingertips. They’ve got everything you need to throw hands without hesitation.

Sportsman’s Guide:

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

8. VISM Soft Body Armour Panel

Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene is a hell of a material. Ask a scientist if you want the nitty-gritty, but basically, it’s got the highest impact strength of any thermoplastic humans can currently manufacture. It can stop 9mm and .44 rounds up to 1,400 fps, which means you want it in your vest. And because it’s flexible and lightweight, you won’t mind it in your carry-on luggage, or wherever else you have to take it.

Sportsman’s Guide: 0

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

9. Smith & Wesson Tactical Range Bag

SW’s Recruit Tactical Range Bag is made out of ballistic fabric, with oversized zippers and rubber foot skids for protecting your gear. Its two internal pockets are big enough for your handguns, and the main compartment has all the room you need for ammo, ear protection, and the like. External pockets include seven magazine slots, plus tons more room for all the extra crap you’re lugging around.

Smith Wesson:

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

10. Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit

The best way to get serious about cleaning your gun properly is to get all the right gear. This one has everything you’ll ever need, and then some: 22 bronze bore brushes for every caliber of shotgun, rifle and pistol, cleaning patches, memory-flex cables, obstruction removal tools, precision cleaning tools, and quality solvent. It totals over 40 components and comes in a nylon case. If you don’t keep everything clean with it, well, that shit’s on you.

Cabela’s: 0

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

11. Viridian TacLoc Holster

Viridian makes a mean laser sight. Their Tacloc holsters pull triple duty: they secure your weapon; aid in a smooth, accurate, quick draw; and activate the integrated laser sight instantly when that draw happens. The company makes them for your Beretta, Glock, MP 45, Sig Sauer, and several other guns. And, thanks to rugged Kydex construction and a seven-year warranty, it’ll last.

Viridian:

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

12. Salomon Quest 4D Tactical Boot

The perfect tactical boot is well suited to any situation. That’s what makes the Salomon Quest 4D our go-to. It’s got the support and grip of a mountain boot, thanks to a serious outsole and supportive midsole. And its uppers are built for combat: anti-reflective, with anti-debris mesh, mudguard, and waterproofed materials like Goretex. Oh, and the Ranger Green looks damn sharp, too.

LA Police Gear: 0

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

13. Notch Brim Multicam Operator Cap

Finally, a fix for the annoying, simple problem: you can’t get your brim low enough when you’re wearing your eye protection. A simple notch in this cap fixes that problem. But it’s also just a quality cap: button-less at the top, so your hearing protection fits smoothly, 98 percent breathable, stretchy cotton, moisture-wicking headband, low profile fit, hook-and-loop for your patch of choice. It might be the last ballcap you ever buy.

McGuire Army Navy:

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

14. Hackett Equipment Tactical Plate Carrier

Minimalistic in all the ways you want, full protection where you need it. That’s the deal with this plate carrier, which is fully adjustable to fit all body types, holds a front and backplate, and is made of durable, rigid, weather-resistant 600D polyester with PVC coating. The straps are padded so you’ll stay cozy, princess.

Hackett Equipment:

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

15. Darn Tough Socks

When it comes to thinking tactically, it’s easy to forget your feet. Don’t. Darn Tough makes some of the best socks out there today. They’re built around performance merino wool with durable, breathable, comfortable design elements. They’re the perfect tool for staying light on your feet all day, no matter the terrain or operation.

Darn Tough: +

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

16. Kelty Tactical Redwing 50 Pack

Kelty’s been the name behind top U.S. forces tactical gear for decades. This one is issued to spec ops soldiers, and its features make it clear why. It’s got easy access through top and side loading panels, storage options for all your gear, and then some, and its aluminum suspension system is lightweight but durable. And 50 liters of storage is just right for most ops.

Kelty Tactical: 9

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

17. PMAG 30 Round Magazine

It’s the best AR-15 mag on the market. What else is there to say?

Palmetto State Armory:

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

18. Grey Man Tactical Vehicle Weapon Rack

This modular vehicle rifle rack and rigid MOLLE panel will mount to any vehicle to help you haul your gun plus MOLLE pouches and extra accessories. It’s made of injection-molded glass-reinforced nylon, perfect for holding plenty of weight. The panel can be installed in under a minute with no tools thanks to mounting straps.

Grey Man Tactical: 0+

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

19. YETI LoadOut GoBox 30

Our favorite cooler company already makes indestructible boxes to keep stuff cold — so the pivot to indestructible boxes for important gear is an easy one. This is our favorite gearcase around: it’s waterproof, dustproof, and stackable, and can be outfitted with dividers and caddies to organize and store your gear just the way you like.

YETI: 0

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

20. SOFREP Team Room Subscription

Stay up to date on the latest news, insider info, and the best tactical gear and equipment reviews. Annual subscribers to the Team Room get full access to all SOFREP stories, plus the TeamRoom’s award-winning military documentaries, SPEC OPS training footage and war stories, forums and community chats, podcasts, and exclusive interviews.

SOFREP:

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


MIGHTY CULTURE

What a battle between the Space Force and China would look like

Billions of bits of debris flying across space, lasers burning holes into the atmosphere, and space-faring robots steering satellites into fiery reentry… welcome to the Space Force vs. China.


War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Luckily, for now, it seems like everyone is sticking to the “No weapons of mass destruction in Space” rule.

(U.S. Army)

Any future war between the U.S. and China will likely become a space battle, and any space battle will focus on the destruction of each other’s warfighting satellites — the ones that provide intelligence, communications, and GPS. The U.S. has over 800 in orbit and China has over 200.

The first salvos will be the least destructive. The U.S. Space Force and the People’s Liberation Army would use weapons like lasers and jammers to temporarily blind or disable. If things escalates from there, it’ll be time to turn to true anti-satellite weapons.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

The Raven allows for relatively easy and precise steering in space.

(NASA)

The U.S. could turn to systems like the Raven, a NASA program that allows for automated link ups between satellites, to get American kill satellites into position above Chinese satellites, link up with them, and then steer them downwards, turning them into a meteor that will explode and burn up in the atmosphere.

But by the time a space war breaks out, China may have has its own system for sending orbiting objects into the atmosphere, like the proposed “space broom,” a satellite bearing a laser for burning up space debris and sending it back into the atmosphere. If it aims at a pressurized tank on an American satellite, it could create a tiny hole that would vent gasses and degrade the satellite’s orbit, dooming it.

For a more visceral destruction, China’s AoLong 1 satellite can grab enemy satellites with its arm and hurl them towards the ocean.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Like this, but then the robotic arm throws the satellite back towards earth, cups its hand to its ear, and acts like it can’t hear the crowd cheering for the first successful wrestling take down between robots in space. (Wrestling leagues, I look forward to pitching you a spec script.)

(NASA)

By this point, it would be expected that military forces would start to clash on the lands and sea — that is, if the war didn’t start there in the first place.

Once significant numbers of troops are in harm’s way, which would be immediately with both navies sailing carriers holding thousands of sailors in the Pacific, the forces would be willing to turn to even move destructive measures to gain an advantage.

This would mean the use of missiles designed for destroying ballistic missiles. Most weapons capable of engaging a ballistic missile in the middle of its flight are also capable of engaging a satellite in low earth orbit, where most military and civilian satellites operate. Some are even capable of engaging targets in higher, faster orbits.

In general, hitting an object in low earth orbit means firing a guided missile at an object approximately 250 miles above the earth that’s traveling at over 17,000 miles per hour. It’s a bit of a tricky shot, but China and the U.S. have shown they’re capable. The Space Force would likely inherit some of the land-based missiles and lasers capable of making this shot, but they would also ask for a huge assist from the Navy.

See, China and the U.S. both have land-based missiles that can make the shot, but any anti-satellite missile launch faces a fuel problem. Missiles can only hit satellites that fly within a certain range of the launch point since the missiles have to make it into space with enough fuel to maneuver and reach the target. So, a Space Force would likely be stacked to engage targets that fly over missile shields on the West Coast, but would be weak elsewhere.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

These things can reach space and kill things there. For realsies.

(Missile Defense Agency photo by Leah Garton)

But the Navy’s Standard Missile-3, a common armament on the Navy’s Aegis destroyers, has a demonstrated capability of killing satellites after a software change.

In a shooting war with China in space, expect the missiles to get their software upgraded immediately.

A tit-for-tat escalation into missiles exploding in space creates an immediate crisis for all astronauts up there. See, nearly all manned space missions have taken place in low earth orbit, an area that would become even more saturated with space debris in this situation. The International Space Station, for example, is in LEO.

Think thousands if not millions of bullets, all flying at speeds sufficient to punch right through the International Space Station or the planned Chinese large, modular space station. Expect both countries to immediately try to evacuate their troops. For the ISS crew, this means they need to make it the Soyuz capsules and immediately start the launch sequence, a process expected to take three minutes.

But the really bad thing about this type of war is that it can’t end. See, those bits of space debris go in all directions. The ones flying at escape velocity will fly away and travel, potentially forever, through the universe. The ones that explode towards the earth will likely burn up quickly.

But the ones flying at the right velocity, quite possibly thousands or millions of pieces of metal per missile vs. satellite engagement, will simply fly through low earth orbit at thousands of miles per hour, shredding everything they come in contact with and creating more debris.

Think of those really scary scenes in Gravity.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Eventually, this is nearly guaranteed to take out the bulk of the satellites in orbit, from communications to weather to mapping.

In a stroke, we’d get rid of a significant portion of our internet architecture, our weather data, and other systems, like GPS, that we just expect to work, potentially setting us back decades.

So, even if the combatants decide to stop shooting at each other, it’s too late to save space for that generation. For decades, the job of the Space Force, NASA, and all of our allies will be cleaning up from the war, whether the whole thing lasted minutes or years.

So, let’s just make a movie about it, watch that, and try to avoid actually fighting each other in space.

Come on, Space Force. You guys can work out deterrence strategies, right?

/**/
MIGHTY CULTURE

The 10 stupidest (yet true!) things civilians have said to the military community…in memes

People say dumb things all the time, it’s a fact of life. But there are certain gems that we’ve all heard civilians say in reference to military life that we just can’t make up. Many of those questionable comments will elect a chuckle or two while others cause dramatic eye rolls and lip biting (and not the sexy kind). WATM decided to capture some of the most memorable (and stupidest) comments. Buckle up!

  1. Civilian: “Do you know my friend? He’s in Bravo company.”
War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Sure, because there’s only around a half a million soldiers in the Army. I’ll text him right now.

2. Civilian: “Have you ever waterboarded anybody?”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Why is this question a real thing? And did you actually think they’d be honest with you either way? Yeah, Karen. Every Tuesday we round up some people and have our own little “ice bucket challenge” on base. Bye.

3. Civilian finds out member is deploying: “I hope you don’t die over there.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

This is said wayyyyyy more than it ever should be – which is never. What else can the service member say to this one except “thanks” or “me too”?

4. Civilian: “I could never join the military, I couldn’t take people telling me what to do all the time.”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

This one plays on repeat like the baby shark song you can’t get out of your head. Listen Todd, unless you are a dictator, there’s always someone telling you what to do. The police, your boss and little pesky things like laws. It’s a part of life, the military is just a little louder.

5. Civilian to military spouse: “Well, you know what you signed up for.”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

No, we didn’t. When we marry our service member, we do it because we love them and want to spend our lives with them. We aren’t given a list of things that can go wrong (thank you Murphy) or a book on how to do actually military life. Hell, our spouses don’t even know how our own insurance works! We get it done.

6. Civilian: “Got any of those meals y’all eat in war?”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Yeah, Carol. I keep them in my trunk for snack time. No! Nobody carries around MRE’s or keeps them to eat on the regular; troops don’t even want to eat that crap when they are in the field training or overseas “in war” and have to.

7. Civilian: “I’m so tired, I only got 6 hours of sleep last night.”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Listening to civilians talk about how tired they are after sleeping in their soft beds is beyond annoying. All over the globe there are American service members working continuously to keep you safe, shut up.

8. Civilian: “Do you guys get any free time?”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Define the word “free”. When deployed or on mission, that would be a negative Nancy. Stateside service members are also still working and have very little time to hang out around the water cooler either. It is what it is. ‘Merica.

9. Civilian: “If I didn’t get injured I would have become Special Forces.”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Listen Frank, I am sure you reeeeally wanted to be Special Forces. It’s an admirable goal, seriously. Buttttt, we don’t believe you.

10. And finally…. our best one yet. Civilian: “2020 is the worst year of my life.”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

We get it, 2020 sucks the big one. But as the civilians around us complain about “restrictions” and that the government is “controlling” their lives, we are rolling our eyes so hard it hurts. Shut. Up. No, we don’t wish ill on anyone, but this complaint is definitely sure to get a service member or milspouse riled up. Those in the military community have been experiencing setbacks, missed holidays and loneliness for some time now. When this pandemic is behind us, it is our hope that when you continue on with your regularly scheduled programming, you’ll be more grateful for what you do have.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Monty Python’s Black Knight was based on a real fighter

Once in a lifetime, there comes a motion picture which changes the whole history of motion pictures. A picture so stunning in its effect, so vast in its impact, that it profoundly affects the lives of all who see it. One such film is, yes, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And while I lifted that copy (which was originally intended to be tongue-in-cheek) straight from the trailer, the film’s legacy has proven the trailer correct.


Even those who don’t think they’ve heard some of the most memorable lines from the movie likely have, whether they smell of elderberries or they’ve heard of the knights who say “ni.” Perhaps the most memorable scene, however, is the one where Arthur is forced to fight the Black Knight guarding a small footbridge, one who refuses to accept defeat.

The story that exposes all of the historical narratives and false legends about the chivalry and bravery of Medieval knights through vicious mockery turned history on its head even further in the encounter with the Black Knight. On the Wired podcast “Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy” Monty Python member John Cleese spoke about the inspiration for the Black Knight scene in a memory of his time at school, where he was taught by a two-time World War veteran.

“There was a lovely guy named ‘Jumper’ Gee who died at the age of 101, and who managed to fight in both World Wars—I never came across anyone else who did that. He was a good teacher of English and I liked him enormously, and he would go off on these wonderful excursions where they were nothing to do with the subject he was teaching, and he told this story about a wrestling match that had taken place in ancient Rome. … There was a particularly tough contest in progress, and one of the wrestlers, his arm broke—the difficulty of the embrace was so great that his arm broke under the pressure—and he submitted because of the appalling pain he was in. And the referee sort of disentangled them and said to the other guy, ‘You won,’ and the other guy was rather unresponsive, and the referee realized the other guy was dead. And this was an example to ‘Jumper’ Gee of the fact that if you didn’t give up you couldn’t lose, and I always thought this was a very dodgy conclusion…”
War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Pictured: The Eleans crowned and proclaimed victor the corpse of Arrhachion.

The story “Jumper” was trying to relate is that of Arrachion of Phigalia, an athlete in ancient Greece who was skilled at the pankration event. Pankration was an event similar to today’s Ultimate Fighting Championship, where the winner must force his opponent to submit, through some kind of brute force. Arrachion was fighting for the championship. One ancient historian described the hold that not only killed Arrachion but caused his opponent to submit to the then-deceased Arrachion’s own hold.

It seems Arrachion’s opponent choked the life from the great wrestler as Arrachion wrapped part of his body around his opponent’s foot. Arrachion yanked the man’s ankle from his leg as the undefeated wrestler died in his opponent’s chokehold, and his opponent was forced to tap out from the pain. Arrachion, now dead, remained undefeated.

He got a statue for his efforts, the stupid bastard.

popular

A ‘Lone Sailor’ statue is now in place at Normandy

It’s a sight seen all over the United States; a bronze casting of a sailor waiting by the ocean, next to a single duffel bag. His hands are in his pockets, his eyes are out to sea. The statue is a replica of the original Lone Sailor created for the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. He stands watch over the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the Pacific Ocean from Long Beach, Calif. in the West, the USS Wisconsin in the North, Charleston in the southeast, and West Haven Connecticut in the northeastern United States, and many more.

Now, for the first time, he has the watch outside the U.S., looking out to the English Channel over what was once called Utah Beach.


War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
Long Beach, Calif. Lone Sailor memorial.

 

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, U.S. Navy Frogmen – combat demolition units, forerunners to the modern-day Navy SEALs – landed on the shores of Hitler’s vaunted Fortress Europe. It was the first mission of Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious landing in history, and the most daring operation of World War II. Their mission was to destroy mines and clear obstacles and barriers, to clear the way for the D-Day landings.

They came ashore in the dark from the cold waters of the channel, outnumbered and outgunned to work through the night to give the U.S. 1st Army division the fighting chance they needed to capture those beaches. Their hard work and sacrifice is being honored with the first “Lone Sailor” outside the United States.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
The original Lone Sailor at Washington, D.C.’s Navy Memorial. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

The Lone Sailor Memorial is a way to honor such deserving sacrifices. Since its 1987 debut at the Washington Navy Memorial, the statue has been replicated 15 times throughout various areas of significance in the U.S., including the Great Lakes Naval Training Center – where all Navy recruits pass to begin their career.

“This statue will serve as a reminder of the historic day the United States and Allies arrived from the sea to free the world from tyranny and repression, forging a lasting relationship with the people of Saint- Marie-Du-Mont, the first city to be liberated in France during WWII,” said Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, at the statue’s dedication ceremony on June 6, 2019, 75 years after the landings took place.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
Retired Rear Adm. Frank Thorp IV holds a miniature version of the “Lone Sailor” statue during a United States Navy Memorial and Frogmen Association of Utah Beach dedication ceremony in Normandy, France, June 6, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Jonathan Nelson)

 

This latest iteration of the statue will stand on the plaza at the Utah Beach Museum, where the United States’ invasion first appeared the morning of June 6, 1944, looking out to sea as a sign of respect to all the sea service personnel who passed through here on D-Day as well as those who served in the decades after through today.

“The Frogmen swam ashore to the beaches of Normandy to make them safer for the follow-on wave of Allied forces,” said Foggo. “The Lone Sailor statue is a reminder to honor and remember their bravery and to act as a link from the past to the present as we continue to protect the same values they fought to protect.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 things to do at the start of your deployment

There’s nothing troops anticipate more than the chance to finally get to do what they’ve spent their entire career training for: deploying to a combat zone. Maybe you’re the gungho grunt who just can’t wait to embrace the suck. Maybe you’re the frightened POG who’s terrified of indirect fire sirens. Maybe you’re the salty NCO who’s ready to mark your fifth trip to the sandbox, realizing that each deployment feels more and more like a TDY trip than the last. 

Nowhere is this wide array of emotions more on display than in the transient tents that house troops as they move between the States and the deployment. Regardless of how you’re feeling about the deployment, you’ll have to mark a few things off the checklist before you arrive.


War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
You’ll also wish you’d marked your duffel bag extremely well…(U.S. Army)

 

Keep your gear ready to go at a moment’s notice

Number one rule about traveling in the military: Expect to be somewhere for weeks until, suddenly, you’re not. Your flight will be bumped back after you’ve been waiting for a few hours. You will have to endure more sleepless nights in that disgusting tent that no one ever cleans.

When your number finally comes, not even your chain of command will have a heads up. They’ll be just as lost as you are when they’re told their troops are on the manifest in thirty minutes.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
The USO building may not have much, but it’s better than nothing.
(U.S. Air Force)

 

Tell loved ones you have to go radio silent for a few weeks before deployment

Well, since you’ve got nothing important to do while your flight gets delayed for the sixth time (which, judging by your conversations with other deployed vets, is not out of the ordinary), you might as well call your family and tell them you love them.

The one thing you should probably let them know is that you won’t be able to speak to them until everything is set up at your final destination. This could happen immediately or it could take weeks. They should prepare for either case. On the bright side, this is also about the time that your commander should allow you to give out your future mailing address so loved ones can send care packages while you’re deployed.

Spoiler alert: Your address is always going to just be your name, your unit up to brigade level, APO, AE, and whatever zip code for the base.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
This one shack has seen the face of every troop who’s gone into theatre.
(Photo by Shane Songbird)

 

Get that last bit of fast food before you go without for a while

As odd as this one sounds, you’re going to want to hit up that rip-off McDonald’s in Ali Al Salem Air Base. It’s going to taste like absolute garbage. Compared to a stateside Big Mac, it’s going to be stale, under-cooked, and a bit sour for some reason. But, funnily enough, that same burger is going to taste like Heaven when you come back from deployment 12 months later.

Think of it as a soft introduction to the type of food you’re going to have to eat for your entire employment. We hope you like spongy, mermite eggs.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
It’s really fun to f*ck with the new guys, so don’t believe everything they say — except the parts about the camel spiders. Those things are hellspawns that deserve to be purged from this plane of existence.
(U.S. Marine Corps)

 

Talk with the guys leaving where you’re going

The nice thing about transient barracks is that everyone, both coming and going, is bunked in the same tent. Some may have been in the serious sh*t while others were at a bigger, more comfortable air field. Since you both have absolutely nothing better to do, might as well pick their brains.

Take everything they say with a grain of salt — your deployment experience may differ. Even if you’re going to the exact same FOB, a lot could have happened between then and now, for better or worse. Still, it’s always nice to try and get a heads up.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
For some f*cking reason… The one thing that everyone will always get are these cheapo lawn chairs.
(U.S. Army photo)

 

Realize you forgot necessities and buy them off of outbound troops

It doesn’t matter if it’s you’re deployed for the first time or the fourth, you’re probably going to kick your own ass when you realize that you forgot something ​seemingly insignificant,like a power adapter.

Don’t sweat it. Everyone who’s in the tents and is headed back home is trying to pawn off all of their crap because they just don’t need it anymore after deployment. In fact, you could probably get it for free if you do a little sweet-talking.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I
Get your sleep in while you can!
(U.S. Army)

 

Enjoy the last bit of nothingness you’ll experience for the rest of your deployment

This isn’t even a POG vs grunt thing. Everyone is going to be working their ass off while they’re deployed — there’s no getting out of that. Regardless of what your MOS is, don’t expect weekends or a 0900-1700 schedule. Those days are over.

So, screw it. Since you’re just sitting on the tarmac, waiting to leave: Relax. Take a load off. Enjoy the fact that the only thing you need to do while in transit for deployment is just being at the right place at the right time.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Mat Best Has Something to Say…

My first impression is that Mat Best is the kind of guy you want to party with. Or at the very least take a shot with. Whether it’s bikini snaps, whiskey or coffee, you can tell within seconds of meeting Mat that he is all about living life to the fullest. For real.


The former Ranger turned contractor is the internet icon behind Article 15 clothing, Leadslingers Whiskey, and most recently Black Rifle Coffee Company. But that’s just the beginning of Mat’s second act. He’s walking into the WATM office as the author of his newly released memoir, Thank You For My Service, and he has something powerful to say to us all…(spoiler alert).

For the first time, Mat’s taken down some walls and opened himself up in his book in a way that even his business partners have never seen. He’s honest. He’s vulnerable, and even better he’s embraced the awkward. Especially when it comes to the most cliche statement in the history of veterans, “Thank you for your service.” A statement that has been awkward and fallen flat to so many veterans is now Mat’s source of strength.

As we mic up for the interview, I am just beginning to realize that my initial impressions don’t even scratch the surface of Mat’s world. This is man and warrior who has garnered billions of views across the internet with his hilarious videos, yet, his humour is the tool that has lifted him from tragedy. This is a very different Mat than we have seen on Youtube or Instagram and for damn sure I am going to listen to what he has to say.

WATM: Can you give us a brief intro about you?

Mat Best: My name is Mat Best. I am an internet influencer. I hate that, just kidding. My name is Mat Best, and I’m the co-founder of Black Rifle Coffee.

WATM: Are you a Navy Seal?

Mat Best: I am not a Navy Seal, although I am taking tips from their hairstylists.

WATM: So if you’re not a Navy Seal, why’d you write a book?

Mat Best: I thought we have to get the message out about the amazing individuals of the 75th Ranger Regiment, which is where I came from and grew up. So that’s the story I wanted to tell.

WATM: I love it. All right, Good.

Mat Best:You were happy with that one. He was like, “I gotta hit the Navy Seal jokes.”

WATM: I didn’t even write that joke but yes, it makes me happy. Ok, let’s go back to when you’re in the Army. What kind of soldier would you say you were?

Mat Best: I would say that I was the team room jokester, but then took my job very serious, and I would like to think of myself as an absolute professional while I’m doing my job.

WATM: Is there anything you’ve learned, especially being in the Ranger Regiment, that’s helped you in business and now writing a book?

Mat Best: Absolutely. I think being in the military, specifically the Ranger Regiment, you consistently solve complex problems. It’s you and your buddies on the ground and you’re presented with all these crazy situations, and you can’t ask for help. It’s up to you and the team to execute and follow through with the mission plan. And I think that is so attributable to business, because no one tells you what to do, what the right answer is. You’re just in a gunfight, and you got to fix it. And sometimes it’s ugly. And so, all those lessons learned in the military directly apply to business. And that’s why at Black Rifle, we try to hire so many veterans, because they come from such a diverse background, that they have so many applicable skills that a lot of civilians don’t have.

WATM: What do you think makes Black Rifle Coffee Company special compared to other companies?

Mat Best: Mainly, I would say what makes Black Rifle Coffee so special is our mission statement and our values. We’re very transparent with what we put out there, and we always say, “Vote with your dollar.” And I think it’s refreshing in American culture to know who you’re supporting when you purchase a good, and not only a good, but a very high quality good. So that’s what we take pride in. When you buy Black Rifle Coffee, you know what our mission statement is, and you know what we’re going to do.

WATM: Was there anything specifically from your time in uniform that transformed you into who you are today?

Mat Best: I’ve had a few tragedies with friends while deployed, and honestly, it just really gave me this profound perspective on life. That it’s insanely short, you never know when it’s going to end, and that only supported my goal to make people laugh, humor through horror. We have one shot at this life, there’s no dress rehearsal, let’s just live it to its fullest. And it’s okay to enjoy life. Have fun, laugh. We don’t know how long we’re going to be here. And so those experiences really helped develop me to who I am today, to not really sweat the small stuff. Let’s focus on the big stuff, health, well-being, and all that.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

WATM: Did you ever get an article 15?

Mat Best: No. That’s why I laugh. People will say, “You started a company called Article 15 Clothing.” I’ve got a good conduct medal, man.

WATM: What did that transition look like for you?

Mat Best: Yeah, mainly when I got off active duty, I moved here to Los Angeles, and I had absolutely no clue what I was going to do. I went through a pretty deep and heavy transition and learned a lot about myself, what I wanted to do. Kind of regaining that sense of purpose and what I wanted to devote my life to, which subsequently made me be a contractor, because I really missed the team mentality and the brotherhood. For a while, I thought I really missed war, but what I really missed was the camaraderie and the brotherhood that was enveloped in that experience. And so, once I became a contractor, that made it very clear in my mind that this is what I want to do. I want to live in this community, and I want to provide value in this community.

WATM: How did you decide to go down this route of entrepreneurship, especially on video content and being an influencer?

Mat Best: I needed an outlet creatively. So I just started making YouTube videos to make five people laugh, and five turned to a thousand, a thousand turned to 100,000 and it kind of snowballed effect. And what I realized is that there was such a want and need for that style of content that hadn’t been done before. And it’s pretty cool to see a lot of other influencers in the military making people laugh, doing callback jokes to basic training, just creating that military experience so we can not relive it, but have those fond memories of service post-service.

WATM: What do you think about the term ‘influencer?’

Mat Best: I think ‘influencer’ applies to certain people. I think influence means you have influence, you’re not just famous for posting a likable photo. And I think people are finding that out on Instagram, where they have followers, and they have certain engagement metrics, but they’re not able to influence a message or a culture or something like that. It’s a tricky term. Overused.

WATM: What do you feel when somebody says, “Hey Mat, thank you for your service?”

Mat Best: It’s a challenging question when people say, “Thank you for your service,” I think there is a sense of empathy and appreciation in the statement, but I think civilian culture has been so conditioned just to say that. Everybody wants to support veterans until it’s time to support veterans. I think a basic statement of, “Thank you for your service,” isn’t enough. Let’s go work on treatment of individuals that have moral grief and transition issues. Let’s actually impact people rather than just say that. And again, that’s my personal opinion. There are a lot of people out there that really appreciate that statement, but that’s why I named my book. “Thank You for My Service,” because I really, really appreciated being part of the community I was in special operations and doing the job. I mean, taxpayers let me go jump out of planes and fast rope out of helicopters. How cool is that?

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

WATM: So let’s get into the book, ‘Thank You For My Service.’ Why should we ‘thank YOU for your service?’

Mat Best: We shouldn’t thank me for my service. I want to thank you for your service and my service. No, I thought it was a funny play. Some people read it immediately and go, “Whoa, that’s super douchey.” And they go, “Oh, I get it. What he’s trying to say there.” So it was a play on that whole societal thing of people don’t know if they should thank veterans for their service. And most importantly, what an amazing experience for me to grow up. I would never even be close to the man I am today if I didn’t serve in such an amazing unit, like 75th ranger regiment. So I’m just proud of it, and I want to share that experience that I’m not a victim. It made me a better individual, even with all the stuff I saw. So I want to be a good steward of that community, and hopefully influence people to serve their country, serve their communities, and know that’s a powerful thing.

WATM: So is writing a book. Congrats man, that is a huge step and powerful.

Mat Best: Thank you. And it’s not in crayon. My book’s not in crayon, guys. This is a big moment.

WATM: Obviously, you put a lot of time into doing this.

Mat Best: I don’t think I ever really set out to write a book. It was never a part of that. I had not journal entries, but I guess you could say that I documented some of the worst times in my life, because I didn’t ever want to forget how crappy it felt. And so whenever I’m feeling down, I can look back at transitioning out of the military. I can look back at losing friends and being like, “This is why I’m here. This is what’s going to motivate me. Get off your suck. Wake up, let’s go f*cking work.” And so it really just transcribed into me talking to people, having influence, and people said, “I want to know Mat’s whole story.” And really for me, the only way to tell my entire story is to put it on paper. I mean you can do videos, you can chat about it, but a lot of people just see the extension of my personality through the entertainment and the skits that I do, which I fully enjoy. But that’s a singular perspective on my personality. So, kind of wanted to put it all in there, make people laugh, write something that no one else has ever seen in their life before, because it’s a completely different book than an average military book, that’s for sure.

WATM: In the book, you talk about how you’ve used humor as a way to get through some very tough points in your life. Are there specific instances in the book that [were] very powerful for you?

Mat Best: Yeah, I think that’s a loaded question, but it’s a good one. I think there’s certain aspects and stories in the book that you’ll see where humor, I applied humor in a very dark situation, where people were just trying to kill us, and now we’re cleaning up the aftermath, and you can tell people are a little shook up and rattled. So I just used humor to kind of offset that, get their head in the game, realize we’re here for a mission. This is really messed up. Because when do you expect ever to, as an individual, to just see people blowing up and body parts flying and shooting people? No one sets you up for that experience until it happens. You’ve got to combat it with humor a little bit. Still being a professional, obviously, but easing the moment, I would say.

WATM: Was there ever a moment you looked at the book and said, “I can’t believe I’m writing this right now?”

Mat Best: There were multiple times in the book, absolutely, where it was very challenging for me to relive a few things and I got kind of caught up and almost definitely pretty much cried a few times where I’m like, “I’ll set that down.” And there was definitely other times in the book where I had to go get a shot of whiskey or a glass of wine because I’m like, “I don’t want to be that open about this, you know? And I’m like, “But that’s how I make a good book. I have to be honest and transparent and show my struggles and my successes, because that’s what’s going to influence people to live their own quality of life.” If I just write this top level crap book that’s like, “Look at me, I served the country, I’m awesome. I do business,” what value does that bring?

WATM: We don’t want to give it all away. But do you think there’s something that maybe the audience doesn’t know that they’re going to find in this book?

Mat Best: For sure. Yeah. I put a lot in this book that no one’s ever known. To quote Evan Hafer, my business partner at Black Rifle Coffee, he said, “I didn’t want to read your book. I didn’t want to read it.” And I’m like, “Well, thanks for being honest, man.” He’s like, “Well, I’ve known you for six-plus years. I know your stories.” And then when he finally read it, he went, “Dude, I couldn’t put it down. It was so interesting, and I got to a see side of my friend I didn’t even know.”

WATM: Would you say you’re fully transitioned out? Do you feel like you’re a civilian at this point, or is there always going to be a part of you that’s related to the military?

Mat Best: At least now in the workings of Black Rifle, I’ll always be part of the military for sure. To say that I don’t go look back at old photos or old experiences and miss it and for some reason still wish I was deployed fighting a war when I have a beautiful wife and a successful business, it’s still in there. So it’s always there, and I’ll always be a part of the community for sure, because I just want to see it be successful.

WATM: You offer a lot, especially to veterans out there, but not always just the veterans. Is there any advice or things that you would love your followers or people that read the book to know that you really live by?

Mat Best: Yeah, I would say as far as the transition piece, it’d be proper planning prevents piss poor performance. You have to have a mission plan going into anything. It’s just like when you’re going to the grocery store, and you have kids, all right, I need the car seat. You’re planning, you’re in that planning phase. And I think what I didn’t do when I got out, I didn’t plan for anything. I’m like, “I’ll figure it out,” in my absolute stubborn ways. And that set me up for a nosedive. And so going forward, I’ve always tried to plan, plan for the worst, expect the best, kind of thing. I know I’m just saying catchphrases, but they actually are applicable if you follow them. I mean, anybody can read a Pinterest quote, right? But if you live it, that’s a different story.

Learn more about Mat and his journey in his new book, Thank You For My Service.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Old Ironsides and Operation Torch: The Army’s 1st Armored Division

They’re the oldest and the most recognized armored division in the Army. The first division to see combat in Germany during WWII and the first mash-up of reconnaissance and cavalry units in all of Army history. Here’s everything you thought you knew but didn’t about America’s Tank Division.


Kentucky Wonders, Fire and Brimstone or Old Ironsides?

After the division was organized in 1940, commanding general Maj. Gen. Bruce Magruder was the division’s first commander. His friend, Gen. George Patton, had just named the 2nd Armored Division “Hell on Wheels,” and Magruder didn’t want to be left behind. So, he held a contest to find an appropriate nickname for the new division.

Over two hundred names were submitted, including “Kentucky Wonders” and “Fire and Brimstone.” Gen. Magruder hated all the names submitted and decided to take the weekend to find the best one. It just so happened he’d recently purchased a painting of the USS Constitution, whose nickname was, wait for it, Old Ironsides. It’s said that Magruder was impressed by the correlation between the Navy’s unwavering spirit during the war and his new division’s. It was then that he landed on the nickname Old Ironsides, and the name’s been the same ever since.

The first enemy contact was in North Africa, and it was rough.

Contrary to what many think, the Old Ironsides didn’t engage with the Germans as their first combat experience. Instead, they traveled to North Africa and participated in Operation Torch, part of the Allied Invasion.

Operation Torch was intended to draw Axis forces away from the Eastern Front and relieve pressure on the Soviet Union. It was a compromise between the US and British planners. The mission was planned as a pincer movement with the Old Ironsides landing on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. The primary objective for the Old Ironsides was to work toward securing bridgeheads for opening a second front to the rear of German and Italian forces. Allied soldiers experienced unexpected resistance from Vichy-French units, but the Old Ironsides helped suppress all resistance and were heading toward Tunisia within three days.

The invasion of Africa helped win the war

The invasion of North Africa accomplished a great deal for the Allies since American and British forces finally had the offensive against the Germans and Italians. For the first time, US and UK directives were able to dictate the tempo of events. Forced to fight on both the western and eastern fronts, the German-Italian forces had the additional burden of having to plan and prepare for attacks in North Africa.

However, the harsh conditions of North Africa were quick teachers for the new Old Ironsides soldiers. In February 1943, the Old Ironsides met a better trained German armored force at Kasserine Pass, and the division sustained heavy losses in both service members and equipment.

The division was forced to withdraw, but the Old Ironsides used their retreat time to review the battle and prepare for the next one. After three more months of hard fighting, the Allies claimed victory in North Africa.

The Old Ironsides were recognized publicly for their efforts and then moved to Naples to support Allied forces there.

The Infamous Winter Line Attack

As part of the 5th Army, the 1st Armored Division took part in the attack on the Winter Line in November 1943. Old Ironsides flanked Axis forces in the landings at Anzio and then participated in the liberation of Rome in June. The unit continued to serve in the Italian Campaign until German forces surrendered in May 1945. One month later, Old Ironsides was moved to Germany as part of the US occupation forces stationed there.

WWII to present 

In the drawdown after WWII, the 1st Armored Division was deactivated in 1946 but was then reactivated in 1951 at Fort Hood, where it was the first Army unit to field the new M48 Patton tank. Currently, the unit home is Fort Bliss, Texas, but it previously was housed at Baumholder, Germany. With the relocation, the unit went from roughly 9,000 soldiers to more than 34,000.

In 2019, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team turned its smaller vehicles in for Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how much US troops are paid according to their rank

How much are US troops paid?

The answer to that question depends on their rank, time in service, location of duty station, family members, and job specialty — just to name a few.

Other benefits, like government healthcare and tax-free portions of their pay, help service members stretch their earnings a bit farther than civilian counterparts.


To give you an idea, we broke down their monthly salary, or base pay, for each rank. We estimated their pay rate based on how many years they’ve typically served by the time they reach that rank — many service members spend more time in each rank than we’ve calculated, while some troops spend less time and promote more quickly.

We also didn’t include factors like housing allowance because they vary widely, but these are often a large portion of their compensation. We also didn’t include warrant officers, whose years of service can vary widely.

Each military branch sets rules for promotions and implements an “up or out” policy, which dictates how long a service member can stay in the military without promoting.

The full military pay chart can be found here.

Here is the typical annual base pay for each rank.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

A drill instructor shows Marine recruits proper techniques during martial arts training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. While they are in boot camp, service members are paid minimally — but their paychecks will increase incrementally as they gain experience.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christian Garcia)

E-1: ,172

E-1 is the lowest enlisted rank in the US military: Airman Basic (Air Force), Private (Army/Marine Corps), Seaman Recruit (Navy). Service members usually hold this rank through basic training, and automatically promote to the next rank after six months of service.

Rounded to the nearest dollar, base pay (salary) starts at id=”listicle-2629413157″,554 per month at this rank. After four months of service, pay will increase to id=”listicle-2629413157″,681 per month.

The military can demote troops to this rank as punishment.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

These sailors’ uniforms indicate a seaman apprentice, petty officer 3rd class, and seaman.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio Perez)

E-2: ,608

Service members automatically promote to the E-2 paygrade — Airman (Air Force), Private (Army), Private 1st Class (Marine Corps), Seaman Apprentice (Navy) — after 6 months of service.

Their pay increases to id=”listicle-2629413157″,884 per month.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

A Marine Lance Cpl. strums his guitar on the USS Kearsarge during a deployment.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia)

E-3: ,772

Promotion to the E-3 occurs automatically after 12 months of service. Airman 1st Class (Air Force), Private 1st Class (Army), Lance Corporal (Marine Corps), Seaman (Navy).

Basic pay is id=”listicle-2629413157″,981 at this rank, adding up to a 7 monthly increase in pay after one year on the job.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Senior Airmen conduct a flag folding presentation during a retirement ceremony in 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

E-4: ,684

Although time in service requirements vary between each branch, service members who promote to E-4 typically have at least two years of service. Senior Airman (Air Force), Specialist/Corporal (Army), Corporal (Marine Corps), Petty Officer 3rd Class (Navy)

If an E-3 doesn’t advance in paygrade after two years, their pay will still increase to ,195 rounded to the nearest dollar.

For those who do make E-4 with two years, pay will increase to ,307 per month. Some service members will promote to the next rank after just one year at this paygrade — those who remain at the E-4 level will see a pay raise to ,432 per month after spending three years in service.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

E-5: ,136

Promotions are no longer automatic, but troops can advance to E-5 with as little as three years in service. Those ranks are Staff Sergeant (Air Force), Sergeant (Army/Marine Corps), Petty Officer 2nd Class (Navy).

For these troops, their new paychecks will come out to ,678 per month.

Service members will commonly spend at least three years at this paygrade. While they do not advance in rank during that time, their pay will still increase along with their time in service.

Four years after enlistment, an E-5 will make ,804 per month. After six years of service, their pay will increase again — even if they do not promote — to ,001 per month.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

First class petty officers from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower participate in a community relations project. The logo on their t-shirts is an alteration of the Navy’s E-6 insignia, which shows an eagle perched on top of three inverted chevrons and the sailor’s job specialty badge.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Patrick Grieco)

E-6: ,048

It is unusual for a service member to achieve the rank of E-6 — Technical Sgt. (Air Force), Staff Sgt. (Army/Marine Corps), Petty Officer 1st Class (Navy) — with fewer than six years of service.

An “E-6 with six” takes home ,254 per month.

After another two years in the service, that will increase to ,543 in monthly salary, equating to approximately ,500 per year.

Achieving the next higher paygrade, E-7, before serving for 10 years is not unheard of but not guaranteed. If an E-6 doesn’t advance by then, they will still receive a pay raise, taking home ,656 a month.

Their next pay raise occurs 12 years after their enlistment date, at which point their monthly pay will amount to ,875.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

The late Marine and actor R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket.

(YouTube)

E-7: ,340

Achieving the coveted rank of E-7 — Master Sergeant (Air Force), Sgt. 1st Class (Army), Gunnery Sgt. (Marine Corps), Chief Petty Officer (Navy) — with fewer than 10 years of service is not common, but it can be done.

Those who achieve this milestone will be paid ,945 a month, increased to ,072 per month after reaching their 10-year enlistment anniversary.

Some service members retire at this paygrade — if they do, their pay will increase every two years until they become eligible to retire. When they reach 20 years, their pay will amount to ,798 per month — or ,576 yearly.

The military places a cap on how long each service member can spend in each rank. Commonly referred to as “up or out,” this means that if a service member doesn’t advance to the next rank, they will not be able to reenlist. While these vary between branches, in the Navy that cap occurs at 24 years for chief petty officers.

A chief with 24 years of service makes ,069 per month.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

A US Navy senior chief petty officer’s cover, with the emblem of an anchor and its chain, USN, and a silver star.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class James Foehl)

E-8: ,884

Service members may promote to E-8 — Senior Master Sgt. or 1st Sgt. (Air Force), 1st Sgt. or Master Sgt. (Army), Master Sgt. or 1st Sgt. (Marine Corps), Senior Chief Petty Officer (Navy) —with as little as 12 years of service.

At that point, they will receive ,657 per month.

Troops who retire as an E-8 after 20 years of service will take home a monthly salary of ,374 — or ,488 per year.

If they stay in past that point, they will receive raises every two years.

An E-8 with 28 years in the service makes ,076 monthly.

The Army’s up-or-out policy prevents more than 29 years of service for each 1st Sgt. or Sgt. Maj.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

The Chief Master Sergeant insignia is seen on jackets prepared for an induction ceremony. Less than 1% of US Air Force enlisted personnel are promoted to the rank.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Randy Burlingame)

E-9: ,960

E-9s have anywhere from 15 to 30 years of experience, although few selected for specific positions may exceed 30 years of service. Their titles are Chief Master Sgt. (Air Force), Sgt. Maj. (Army), Master Gunnery Sgt. or Sgt. Maj. (Marine Corps), Master Chief Petty Officer (Navy).

Service members who achieve this rank with 15 years of experience will be paid ,580 per month.

They’ll receive their next pay raise when they reach 16 years, and take home ,758 monthly.

After 20 years, they will take home ,227 — that’s ,724 yearly when they reach retirement eligibility.

Some branches allow E-9s to stay in the military up to 32 years, at which point they will make ,475 — or ,700 per year.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Newly commissioned Navy and Marine Corps officers celebrate during their 2018 graduation from the US Naval Academy.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Chief Elliott Fabrizio)

O-1: ,256

Compared to enlisted service members with the same amount of experience, military officers make considerably more money.

A freshly commissioned O-1 — 2nd Lt. (Army/Marine Corps/Air Force), Ensign (Navy) — earns ,188 per month in base pay alone.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

A US Marine 1st Lt. takes the oath of office during his promotion ceremony.

(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jered Stone)

O-2: ,208

Officers are automatically promoted to O-2 after two years of service. This is a highly anticipated promotion, as it marks one of the largest individual pay raises officers will see during their careers. Those ranks are 1st Lt. (Air Force/Army/Marine Corps), Lt. j.g. (Navy).

An O-2 earns ,184 per month, which comes out to ,208 a year.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

A US Army captain waits for a simulated attack during training in Wiesbaden, Germany.

(US Army photo by Paul Hughes)

O-3: ,052

Officers will receive a pay raise after reaching three years in service.

Using the Army’s average promotion schedule, officers will achieve the next rank automatically after four years in the service.

New captains and lieutenants, with four years of service, make ,671 per month. At this rank, officers will receive pay raises every two years.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

A Navy lieutenant commander talks with pilots from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 from the USS Ponce while the ship is deployed to the Arabian Gulf in 2014.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Peter Blair)

O-4: ,832

By the time they reach the rank of O-4, military officers will have spent an average of 10 years in the service. Maj. (Air Force/Army/Marine Corps), Lt. Cmdr. (Navy)

A major or lieutenant commander with a decade of experience takes home ,236 per month, or just under ,832 a year. Officer pay continues to increase with every two years of additional service.

O-4 pay is capped at ,074 a month, so if an officer wants to take home a six-figure salary — additional pay, bonuses and allowances aside — they’ll have to promote to O-5.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Lt. Col. Goldie, the only US Air Force therapy dog, wears a purple ribbon in support of domestic violence awareness month in October 2017.

(US Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

O-5: 5,012

Officers typically spend at least 17 years in the military before promoting to O-5.

They’ll take home ,751 per month until their 18-year commissioning anniversary, at which point they’ll earn ,998 per month. Those ranks are Lt. Col. (Air Force/Army/Marine Corps), Cmdr. (Navy).

After 18 years in the military, officers receive annual compensation of nearly 8,000 a year.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, a Marine Corps legend, circa 1950.

(US Marine Corps Archives)

O-6: 0,092

“Full bird” colonels and Navy captains, with an average 22 years of service, are compensated ,841 per month.

Officers who do not promote to become a general or admiral must retire after 30 years of service. At this point, they will be making ,668 a month, or roughly 0,000 per year.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

An Air Force pararescueman unfurls the brigadier general flag for US Air Force Brig. Gen. Claude Tudor, commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

O-7: 5,820

Promotion to brigadier general and rear admiral depends on a wide range of variables, including job availability.

Each of these ranks carries its own mandatory requirement; similar to the enlisted “up or out” policies, officers must promote to the next higher rank or retire.

Officers who have spent less than five years at the lowest flag rank must retire after 30 years of service. Their last pay raise increased their monthly salary to ,985.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Two Rear Admirals and a Captain salute during the national anthem.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Eric Dietrich)

O-8: 4,572

Generals and admirals with two stars — Maj. Gen. (Air Force/Army/Marine Corps), Rear Adm. (Navy) — must retire after their 35th year in the military.

At this point, they will be earning ,381 per month, or 4,572 a year.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

US Army Lt. Gen. Martin lays a wreath for President Abraham Lincoln’s 210th birthday. It takes the corporal in the image roughly half a year to earn the same amount Martin takes home every month.

(US Army photo by Spc. Dana Clarke)

O-9: 9,600

Military officer pay is regulated and limited by US Code.

Both three- and four-star admirals and generals who stay in the service long enough will receive the maximum compensation allowed by the code. These ranks are vice admiral for the Navy and lieutenant general for the other branches.

Excluding additional pays, cost of living adjustments, and allowances, these officers make up to ,800 every month.

That’s about 9,600 a year.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Retired Gen. James Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, shares a story with Marines during a visit to a base in Hawaii.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Reece Lodder)

O-10: 9,600

Regardless of continued time in service, once a military officer achieves the four-star rank of general or admiral, they will no longer receive pay raises and are capped at ,800 per month.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

US service members across all branches conduct state funeral services for former President George H. W. Bush.

(US Army photo by Spc. James Harvey/)

Extra pays and allowances help take their salaries a bit further.

Base pay can seem stingy, especially at the lower ranks where enlisted receive around ,000 per year.

But troops receive a number of benefits and may qualify for extra allowances.

TRICARE Prime, the military’s primary healthcare package, is free for active duty troops — saving them the ,896 average annual premium for single payers.

When eligible to live off base, service members receive a basic allowance for housing (BAH), which increases at each paygrade; the exact amount is set based on location and whether the individual has any children. Service members also receive allowances to help cover the cost of food and in expensive duty locations receive a cost of living allowance (COLA). Enlisted personnel also receive a stipend to help them pay for their uniforms.

Any portion of a service member’s salary that is labeled as an “allowance” is not taxed by the government, so service members may only have to pay taxes for roughly two-thirds of their salary.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The truth about the Pentagon’s ‘shrimp fight club’

With a $716 billion budget and the mission to be the best at everything, the Pentagon finds some pretty creative ways of going about it. No, they didn’t have an actual underground boxing club among the military’s highest-ranking chiefs at the Pentagon (that we know of), but they did have some experiments that could have proven fruitful in giving America’s enemies a black eye.

The only problem is that Congress found out about it. That’s why the first rule is not to talk about it.


War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

The Mantis Shrimp, club cocked (more on that later).

In 2015, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake decided he was going to take on wasteful spending, releasing a Wastebookthat detailed what he believed was government spending run amok.

Quoting the movie Fight Club, Flake says, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have,” in the Wastebook, which is titled The Farce Awakens. Flake is referring to a 6,800 research grant given to Duke University researchers, who allegedly used it to pit 68 Panamanian mantis shrimp against each other to see who would win and why.

“To see so much money so outlandishly wasted, it’s clear that Washington’s ballyhooing over budget austerity is a farce,” Flake said. “Hopefully, this report gives Congress – which only ever seems to agree when it comes to spending money – something to Chewie on before the taxpayers strike back.”

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

This is the cover of the wastebook, no joke.

But the study wasn’t really useless, as it turns out. In fact, there’s an entire field of science called biomimetics dedicated to the idea of solving human problems with abilities and designs from animals found in nature. Duke University was doing research in just that vein. So far, they’ve been able to harness the mantis shrimp’s weapons and armor for human needs. It turns out the mantis shrimp (neither mantis nor shrimp) is one of the ocean’s premier brawlers.

The study didn’t really spend 0,000 on a fight club of shrimp. The grant covered the entire span of research on the mantis shrimp. What they discovered is a roving tank on the ocean floor. Its two main appendages act as underwater clubs to knock its prey out in a single punch – and that punch is what had the researchers so fascinated.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Did you see that? I doubt it. Read on!

The mantis shrimp punch goes from an underwater standing start to 50mph in the blink of an eye. It generates 1,500 newtons of force, the equivalent of a 340-pound rock hitting you in the face. If a human could manage 1/10th of that force with its arms, we’d be chucking baseballs into low Earth orbit. To top it all off, those clubs pop out with the velocity of a .22-caliber bullet (one that isn’t underwater) and the sudden change in water pressure causes the water around them to boil at several thousand degrees Kelvin. If the punch doesn’t kill the prey, the punch’s shockwave still can.

But wait, there’s more.

The researchers also wanted to know how mantis shrimp defend against this kind of attack – how their natural armor protects them from other mantis shrimp super weapons. This punch goes right through the shells worn by crabs and clams as well as the natural protections of some species of fish (and aquarium glass, FYI. In case you’re thinking you want one). The clubs themselves are also intensely durable, maintaining their performance throughout the mantis shrimp’s lifespan.

Its primary weapon is a complex system of three main regions, all lightweight and durable, tougher than many engineered ceramics. Civilian applications could improve the performance of cars and airplanes while military applications include body armor and armor for vehicles and potentially aircraft.

“That’s the holy grail for materials engineers,” said University of California professor and researcher David Kisailus, who is pioneering such studies these days.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here are the internet’s best takes on raiding Area 51

The internet has been aflutter with memes about a million-person strong raiding party headed for the U.S. government’s top secret military installation commonly referred to as Area 51 for weeks now. Sure, the whole thing started as a joke, and some portions of the media lack the cultural fluency to appreciate that… but the internet hasn’t, and if there’s one thing the internet is good for, it’s running with a joke that confuses and befuddles the older generation.


It seems like a sure thing that some poor fools that clicked “attend” on the Facebook page devoted to the Area 51 raid will actually make their way out to the extremely remote Rachel, Nevada (the closest town to Area 51) in September. It’s just about certain that the media will be present as well, eager to capture shots of the turnout (or lack thereof). Whether or not anybody actually tries to make a break for the remote airstrip is yet to be seen, but it’s a safe bet that no one that does will actually make it anywhere near the isolated structures. Instead, they’ll likely find themselves in jail.

The reality of this fad, then, may be a bit of a bummer — but we’re still months away from the gloomy truth killing off lonesome teenager’s dreams of alien girlfriends just waiting to be liberated from Uncle Sam’s clutches. So let’s just appreciate the memes in the meantime.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

The timestamp checks out.

I’ll be honest, this one wouldn’t have been a contender if it weren’t for the generic “College Student” account name associated with this meme. This whole Area 51 Raid fad started somewhere in the internet’s nether regions (most of us call it Reddit), and this meme perfectly represents the demographic that brought this concept to the forefront of America’s attention.

Put simply, this meme perfectly represents the entire subject… a bunch of college students that would much rather plan a hypothetical raid on a secret military installation than study for whatever their next exam is. Maybe this is telling about us writers too… a bunch of internet journalists that would rather write about college students planning a raid on Area 51 than focus on ongoing conflicts in the… eh, never mind.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Just don’t cheat and look at my screen.

This one may just be a generational thing, but I can’t be the only guy that remembers playing Halo on the original Xbox in both the dorms as a college student and in barracks as a junior Marine. The Halo franchise is legendary for a number of reasons, including how much fun it used to be to stay up all night murdering your friends with weird weapons like the Needler shown here.

All I’m saying is… if I went through all the trouble to invade Area 51, I’d hope to get a plasma cannon or two out of the deal.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Didn’t we all, man.

No meme more accurately conveys the ironic humor of the entire Area 51 story than this one, starring Twitter comedian Rob Delaney in his super-ordinary looking Deadpool 2 garb. An unassuming and ordinary dude that chuckled under his breath as he came across a Facebook post about raiding Area 51 is really what this whole thing is all about… until the media came along and tried its best to turn this whole thing into a real news story.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Brrrrrrrrrrrt

This one is my absolute favorite, because, despite my allegiance to the internet’s tomfoolery (it is, after all, how I make a living), I’m still every bit the salty old platoon sergeant I once was, deep beneath my softening midsection. As I’ve seen this meme fad develop into a news story, and that story mobilize people into thinking an actual raid is possible, part of me sort of wants to see a mob of entitled young adults storming across the dry sands of Groom Lake.

Why? Not because they’d accomplish anything, but because half of them would go down from dehydration a half mile into the march and the rest would succumb to fear after an organized force of security officers began threatening them with non-lethal weapons.

Watching a few hundred millennials get a spanking in the desert? That’s worth the memes any day.

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 things no one wants to remember about ruck marches

Ah, the beloved ruck march. First, you get to center 35 or more pounds of gear on your back and feel the straps dig into your shoulders. Then you start walking until it becomes challenging… then it stops being fun… and then it finally becomes a great reason to never sign a contract with anyone ever again.

Here are seven miseries that are easy to forget about “advanced hiking.”


War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

Every step, those blisters get a little larger — until they pop, tear, get filled with salt from sweat, and potentially get infected.

(Photo by U.S. Combined Division Chin-U Pak)

The feeling of a blister slowly growing across your feet

The most well-known consequence of a ruck march is those vicious blisters that are sometimes shared in photos on social media. While the pain of dealing with them is well-known, there’s an acute feeling of dread you experience during the ruck march. You can feel the skin separating and the fluid-filled bulge growing larger and larger as you march until — a sudden relief followed by a wet feeling lets you know it popped.

Guaranteed, the burning and stinging will grow worse within another mile of marching.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

You think it hurts now? Just wait till you try to get out of bed like, ever again.

(Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Caitlin Conner)

The way your legs don’t quite work for two days afterwards

No matter how much water you drink and how much you stretch before and after the ruck march, your legs are going to be wobbly and uncertain for days. It’s like running a marathon. You’re going to end up in pain no matter how well you trained for it.

Just embrace it. Plan to spend a couple of days on the couch — ordering out for food — immediately following the march. Unless you have duty, then just be sad.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

There’s always a faster ruck runner.

(Photo by U.S. Army Gertrud Zach)

The knowledge that, no matter how hard you push yourself, that freak in 2nd platoon is going to beat you by 30 minutes or more

You trained, you prepared, you sucked down those stupid packets of goo, and you set a personal record of 2:37 for a twelve-miler. Congrats. You came in over an hour before the cutoff, likely made your platoon proud, and lost to Capt. Jason Burnes by only an hour. If you don’t want to compare yourself to the Air Assault School record holder, then just look to your sister platoon where some corporal is kicking himself for not breaking the two-hour mark.

Oh well. You outscored him on marksmanship. Or the ASVAB. Probably. Maybe…

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

This dude looks like he’s been waiting all morning to yell at someone for being three ounces under.

(Photo by U.S. Air Force Misuzu Allen)

The fear of over or under-packing your ruck

For a lot of military schools and unit events, the ruck weigh-in takes place after the march, meaning that you can conduct the entire march in record time and then have your finish invalidated because your scale at home said the ruck was 35.2 pounds but it was actually 34.6 pounds, making you a cheater.

This leads to every marcher standing over their scale the night before a march, agonizing over whether to pack 5 more pounds than required — guaranteeing that they’ll pass weigh-in — or pack as close to the cutoff as possible and roll the dice. Fingers crossed.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

See how he’s sweating but there’s ice on his weapon? Not fun.

(Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Vincent Abril)

Everything is soaked in sweat, even if it’s freezing outside

It’s hours of laborious walking with, generally, a full uniform on. There’s no way to finish a ruck march without being drenched in sweat.

Even when it’s freezing outside, the slow build-up of body heat guarantees a coating of sweat. Bonus: That sweat will eventually dry and leave a layer of salt on the skin, making the crotch chafing and blisters that much worse.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

“Yeah, I’ll pace you, dude. But like, on a bicycle — it’s too hot for this.”

(Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lerone Simmons)

There’s no “good weather” for a ruck march

As we hinted above, cold weather will reduce sweat buildup, but it won’t get rid of it. And dressing for a cold-weather march means balancing the need to get through the first two miles without frostbite and the need to not die of heat exhaustion on mile 13 (pro-tip: wear as little snivel gear as you can survive the first three miles in). The best a marcher can hope for is little precipitation combined with fall-like temperatures and humidity.

Even in ideal conditions, you’ll still be hot as hell by the end of it, though. If you start in hot weather, just drink water and imagine you’re in Miami, the rainforest, or the center of the sun. Any of those would be cooler than how you’ll feel at the finish.

War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

“You did it! Grab some water and an orange. Your next ruck march is tomorrow.”

(Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker)

You’ve got another one coming up, probably sooner than you think

Of course, the worst part of doing a ruck march is knowing that you’ll have another one coming up, especially for people competing for school slots. Earned a coveted slot for air assault by setting a battalion record on the 12-mile? Congrats!

Remember, you’ll be verifying your performance the week before you ship to school. And you have to ruck in school. And the battalion is working on a ruck march to celebrate all the new graduates for the day after they return from school.

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