Why writing members of Congress will definitely help troops - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Why writing members of Congress will definitely help troops

Troops are often told that there are a handful of people that they should always keep in their back pocket. The cooks, the medics, and the supply guys are the most obvious choices — but they shouldn’t count out support from the congressperson who serves their home of record.

That’s right, soldier. All of those people arguing in Washington are there to hear what you have to say. Holders of public office are obligated to answer letters sent by their constituents serving in the military. If you write them with a concern, best case scenario, they’ll come to the aid of the troops without having to navigate the necessary red tape.

Think of them as having the ultimate “open door” policy for the troops.


While there are many veterans serving in politics, most civilians — including politicians — can be intimidated by abject outrage. Be polite.

(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. April Campbell)

In the military, every problem should be addressed at the lowest possible level. Is your immediate superior abusing their power? The first step should be their superior. But if the problem is systemic in nature and you feel like you’ve got nowhere to turn, don’t worry, you’ve still got options.

One of the most effective ways of getting a situation resolved is by writing simple letter to your congressperson. It might feel like using a sledgehammer to do a flyswatter’s job, but it’ll get things done.

The best way to get the attention of your congressperson is through a short, to the point, and professionally worded letter that offers possible solutions. That last bit in important; simply writing, “this is bullsh*t” on a piece of paper and sending it out will land your concerns in the trash.

Aiding the troops is, thankfully, a nonpartisan issue. It may not feel like it at times, but they, for the most part, have the well-being of troops in mind.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt)

Congressmen can help with a wide variety of topics, ranging from pay or tax issues, immigration concerns, social security problems, terrible accommodations, or trouble with a toxic chain of command. In the past, this has lead to many great outcomes, such as troops receiving better tents while deployed or having an unjust court-martial investigated.

When the 2013 federal government shutdown was looming overhead, an unprecedented amount of troops and veterans wrote their respective members of Congress with concerns about their military pay being affected. Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado, a retired Major of the Marine Corps who spent his enlisted years in the Army, sponsored the aptly-named “Pay Our Military Act,” which ensured that Congress’ fighting over federal spending will never affect the pay of all members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Following the suicides of Private Danny Chen and Lance Corporal Harry Lew, the “Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act” was put into place by Congresswoman Judy Chu of California. Both men were the subjects of extreme, racially-motivated hazing and mistreatment by their units and were pushed into suicide. The situation was awful; but the concerns of service members and veterans reached lawmakers directly and had an impact.

If you can manage to bring them out to your installation, prepare for the impending dog and pony show.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

But if you write, know that it may not help immediately — a typical response takes around six weeks. Members of Congress receive hundreds of letters and emails every single day, but they’ll take special notice if you mention that you are serving (or have served) in the military.

Keep the letter polite — you don’t want any reason for their aides to avoid putting your letter on their desk. If you don’t feel like your voice is being heard, you can always write to one of your two senators, though their offices are considerably more busy.

Regardless of how you personally feel about their politics, they are still beheld to their constituents — troops included.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Sylvester Stallone just posted the coolest recap of the ‘Rambo’ series

The ‘Rambo’ series didn’t start off with John Rambo as a one-man Army, hell-bent on killing anyone who stood between him and his mission. But that’s what it turned out to be. And now few action movie images are more iconic than Rambo tightening up his trademark red headband.


You know the one.

The series began as a very poignant, yet action-packed treatise on the treatment of Vietnam veterans in the years following the end of their war. In First Blood, there’s only one onscreen kill, a guy who falls out of a helicopter for trying to kill Rambo. Rambo isn’t purposely involved in his death. If you want to know the whole point of the first Rambo movie, you can just watch John Rambo’s speech at the end of the movie.

By First Blood: Part II, the idea that John Rambo was just a simple guy with extraordinary training in extraordinary situations, was long gone. In the second Rambo movie, John Rambo is the perfect man to lead a mission back to Vietnam to rescue POWs still held there. Rambo is twice as ripped and definitely kills people in this movie. By Rambo III, he just lays waste to an entire army.

If you don’t remember any of that, Sylvester Stallone posted a helpful reminder to his Instagram account.

From G.I. Joe-level animation for First Blood, the VCR-level graphics in between the “trailers,” the backyard, action figure quality of the trailer for First Blood: Part II, to the 8-bit Nintendo-style graphics for the Rambo III trailer, everything about this rundown of John Rambo’s life is perfect. And perfectly chock-full of late 1980s to early 1990s nostalgia. Whoever came up with this idea – and it very well could have been Stallone himself – needs an award of some kind. A webby, a grammy, a Pulitzer. Something.

The fun doesn’t stop at the original three Rambo movies. The “trailer” for the fourth installment is a nod to a hilarious “Reading Rambo” meme. This comes in the form of a Rambo IV children’s book, narrated by Sly, describing the most epic and violent Rambo scene in the series’ history.

You know the one.

If you’re interested in watching the entire Rambo series recap, check it out on Stallone’s official Instagram feed. If you’re interested in recapping the entire series in its non-cartoon entirety, you can join me on my couch on Thursday as I attempt to contain my overwhelming excitement for the best action movie series since … ever.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time aliens landed in the Soviet Union for a walk in the park

The Russians have a strange history with the Unidentified Flying Objects. While 99 percent of the UFOs encountered by Russia and the Soviet Union over the years were probably American spy planes, they insist that one of them actually landed and its crew decided to step out and stretch their legs.

And then they shot a bunch of children.


In the late 1980s, The New York Times quoted Soviet police Lt. Sergei A. Matveyev, who swore he saw the spaceship, saying that lanky, three-legged creatures landed in a park in the Russian city of Voronezh on Sept. 27, 1989. Some 300 miles from Moscow, citizens of Voronezh reported a deep red ball, around 10 feet in diameter, landing in a park.

It was not an optical illusion,” he told the Russian TASS News Agency. “It was certainly a body flying in the sky. I thought I must be really tired, but I rubbed my eyes and it didn’t go away.”

Admit that you were thinking about this meme.

A hatch opened and out stepped a three-eyed creature that stood nine feet tall and was dressed in silver overalls and bronze boots. It left the ship with a companion and a robot. After taking a triangle formation around the robot, the robot came to life. A boy began to scream in terror. That’s when the stuff hit the fan. With a look, the boy was paralyzed.

The aliens disappeared briefly and returned with “what looked like a gun” and shot the boy, who disappeared. He reappeared later, after the spacecraft had departed. Citizens of the town reported multiple sightings of the ship between Sept. 23 and Sept. 27, but when Soviet investigators came to the scene, their only abnormal finding was elevated levels of radioactive Cesium-23.

As for the children who witnessed the landing in the park, they were all separated. When asked to draw what they saw that day, they all drew “a banana-shaped object that left behind in the sky the sign of the letter X.” The boy who was abducted could remember nothing about the craft.

The local interior minister said that if the craft appeared again, they would dispatch the Red Army to investigate the event. If the aliens had returned in full force to invade the Soviet Union, they would have met the joint capability of the Soviets along with the United States, as President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed at the 1985 Lake Geneva Summit to join forces against any extraterrestrial invader.

Now read: That time the US and Russia agreed to be allies if aliens attacked Earth

MIGHTY CULTURE

How aerial delivery helps troops in combat

In combat, logistic resources are arguably the most important assets needed to sustain soldiers. “Beans and Bullets” is a common Army phrase utilized for decades that puts a special emphasis behind the importance of logisticians and their capabilities.

Since arriving into theater soldiers of the 824th Rigger detachment, North Carolina National Guard, and the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade have teamed up to tackle the demanding requirements of rigging equipment and air dropping resources to sustain the warfighter.


Aerial resupply operations is a valuable asset to U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. It is the most reliable means of distribution when ground transportation and alternate means have been exhausted. Aerial resupply enable warfighters in austere locations to accomplish their mission and other objectives.

“Aerial delivery is extremely vital and essential to mission success,” said Chief Warrant Officer Two Freddy Reza, an El Paso Texas native, and the senior airdrop systems technician with the 101st RSSB. “Soldiers in austere environments depend on us to get them food, water, and other resources they need to stay in the fight.”

Soldiers of the 824th Quartermaster Company and the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade load rigged pallets of supplies on to a C-130 aircraft. Soldiers conduct their final aerial inspection with Air Force loadmasters before delivery.

(Photo by 1st Lt. Verniccia Ford)

All airdrop missions require approval authority through an operation order. Once approved, parachute riggers from both units work diligently to get the classes of supplies bundled and rigged on pallets for aerial delivery in under hours 24 hours.

Since arriving to Afghanistan, this team has delivered more than 150,000 pounds of supplies varying from food, water, and construction material. Mission dependent, sometimes the rigger support team is responsible for filling the request of more than three dozen bundles, carefully packing the loads and cautiously inspecting the pallets before pushing them out for delivery.

Aerial delivery operations have substantially contributed to the success of enduring expeditionary advisory packages and aiding the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade while they train, advise, and assist Afghan counterparts.

“This deployment has helped developed me to expand my knowledge as a parachute rigger,” said Spc. Kiera Butler, a Panama City, Florida native and Parachute Rigger with the 824th Quartermaster Company. “This job has a profound impact on military personnel regardless of the branch. I take pride in knowing I’m helping them carry out their mission.”

Item preservation is important; depending on the classes of supply, some items are rigged and prepared in non-conventional locations. Regardless of the location the rigger support team does everything in their power to ensure recipients receive grade “A” quality.

“During the summer months it would sometimes be 107 degrees, with it being so hot we didn’t want the food to spoil so we rigged in the refrigerator. This allowed the supplies to stay cold until it was time to be delivered,” said Butler. “It was a fun experience and we want to do whatever we can to preserve the supplies for the Soldiers receiving it.”

Soldiers of the 824th Quartermaster Company and the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade rigged several bundles of food and water at the Bagram, Afghanistan rigger shed. The rigged supplies will be loaded on to an aircraft and delivered to the requesting unit.

(Photo by 1st Lt. Verniccia Ford)

The rigger support team continuously strives for efficiency. Through meticulous training, they have been able to execute emergency resupply missions utilizing Information Surveillance Reconnaissance feed. This capability allows the rigger support team to observe the loads being delivered, ensuring it lands in the correct location.

When they are not supplying warfighters with supplies, Reza and his team conduct rodeos to train, advise and assist members of the Afghan National Army logistical cell, and NATO counterparts on how to properly rig and inspect loads for aerial resupply.

“During training we express how important attention to detail is, being meticulous is the best way to ensure the load won’t be compromised when landing,” said Reza. “Overall it was a great opportunity to train and educate our Afghan National Army counterparts on aerial delivery operations.

This training will enable the Afghan National Army logistics cell to provide low cost low altitude — LCLA loads to their counterparts on the ground, utilizing C-208 aircrafts. This training is vital to the progress of the ANA logistics cell as they continue to grow and become more efficient.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways parenting changes when your child joins the Army

I held on to my son until it was time for him to go. My heart felt empty as he walked through the departure gates on his way to Army Basic Combat Training (BCT.)

Although I was happy for him as he left to live his lifelong dream of serving our great nation, I felt lost with an emptiness that filled my heart. Despite the tears that streamed down my face, I was proud to see my son started his journey with strength and determination.

It’s far from easy to watch as your child embarks on a journey aimed at transforming them from civilian to soldier; where you won’t hear from them and don’t know what they’re doing.

As your child goes on this journey, you go on a journey too.


You may not have planned for this or even wanted it, and yet here you are, transitioning to becoming the parent of a soldier.

Parenting changes in unexpected ways when your child joins the army. Instead of feeling stranded in a place of sadness, let your child’s hard work, dedication, and patriotism, inspire you to be your best. Here are some ways that parenting changes when your child joins the army.

Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart/Released

1. You’re no longer in control.

Parenting never stops, but when your child joins the army a new set of challenges emerges. After spending 18+ years preparing them for life and protecting them, a parental shift happens.

One day they’re home with you, the next day they’re thousands of miles away with little communication.

The casual calls, endless chore reminders, and days spent together are sweet memories of another season of life.

Take a step back and realize how your role is different now. Instead of taking the wheel for them, your role may be to just be there for them, to support their decision to join the Army or to help keep them moving forward.

You may not hear from your Soldier as often as you like but that’s part of your new normal.

Instead of resisting it, lean into it. It can be truly wonderful if you let it. Just think: you raised a child with the passion, courage, and grit to do one of the most important jobs in our nation. Make sure your child knows that you have confidence in them as a soldier and defender of freedom.

Transition takes great effort and doesn’t happen overnight. Know how you are changing as a parent. Put your feelings to paper where you can look back in a few months or a year and see how far you’ve come on this incredible military parenting journey.

Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

2. You learn resilience.

Awful thoughts will undoubtedly run rampant through your mind. At some point, your Soldier will transition from BCT to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) or may deploy somewhere in the world.

I wasn’t as excited as my son when he deployed; he thought of it all as a big adventure while I cringed at the thought of him flying high in his helicopter over the Afghanistan Mountains.

Holding on to his enthusiasm through my range of emotions, and looking at this as an adventure was my first step to building resilience.

Embracing change and learning to adapt as a parent of a Soldier is one way to build resilience and manage your emotions. Resilience gives you the ability to cope with stressful situations (there will be some) and carry on with your life. You can’t change the fact that your child is now a Soldier, one of the few who chose to defend our country. Nor can you change where they go next. But you can learn resilience, become more confident in your ability to deal with tough emotions, and find joy in your journey.

Photo courtesy of 2nd Cavalry Regiment

3. You find new ways to enjoy the holidays.

Christmas brings with it sweet memories, family gatherings, and lots of food. It’s always a happy occasion, except for that first year my son joined the Army. He would be celebrating at his first duty station in Germany, while we all missed him terribly at home.

In subsequent years, we found new ways to celebrate. We’ve had Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas tree, gifts, and holiday decorations in the middle of November or birthdays celebrated a month before or after the event.

Don’t forget technology, which creates new ways to enjoy your Soldier. You can engage with your loved one, whether it’s a text message, phone call, or video and open up communications in a positive way.

Is it the day that is more important or the gathering of loved ones to celebrate events? Learning to enjoy celebrations on days other than the event is a unique way to celebrate. After all, any time you can gather with your Soldier is time for celebration!

4. Oh, the places you’ll go.

That first 9 weeks of basic training seemed like forever. With over 2,000 miles between us, how would I ever see my son? As the years passed, the miles expanded as his duty stations took him to Germany, South Korea, and far-flung states.

Let the adventure begin! With passport in hand, I visited my Soldier son in every country and state he lived in. We traveled through Europe and had a grand time experiencing new places and cultures.

Keep an open mind about the places you can visit and explore with your Soldier. The best part is your child can be your tour guide as you trek off together with enthusiasm and curiosity, creating new grown-up memories.

Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart

5. You see your child in a different light.

When my son left for basic training, I clung to our past relationship where I was the mom and protector. Clearly that wasn’t going to work.

As time progressed, it dawned on me one day that my son is a Soldier. He spoke to me about his passion for defending our freedoms and how much it meant to him. As I slowly began to understand him as a grown man and Soldier, I began to see, appreciate, and respect this side of him.

You may not realize it but your Army Soldier is a skilled and highly-trained warrior, ready to defend our nation on a moment’s notice. That’s a lot to take in but it’s true.

No matter how much you want your child to be five years old again, they’re not. They left their childhood behind and went out into the world armed with all the loving ingredients you instilled in them. When you look at them as grown-up, you give way for a new relationship to blossom—one that includes the sweet memories of yesteryear and new adventures of today.

New Beginnings

Throughout a successful 15-year Army career, my son’s story isn’t finished and neither is mine. Every “see ya later” hug at an airport is another building block towards mental toughness and staying ready for the changes ahead (and there will be many.)

When your child joins the Army, your parent-child relationship adapts and grows as both your lives change over the years. I wouldn’t change a thing about being the mom of my Soldier son. From the people I’ve met, to the things I’ve learned, and the places I’ve been, this army mom life has been amazing.

You control your journey or your journey controls you. Enjoy the adventure!

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 Star Wars blasters made from real-life guns

Despite the creation of the United States Space Force, we’re still a long way off from building blasters like ones in the Star Wars universe and defeating our enemies with intense bolts of plasma energy. That’s right, they’re not lasers. In the Star Wars universe, ranged weapons are primarily powered by an energy-rich gas that is converted to a glowing particle beam. A far cry from jacketed lead ammunition propelled by gunpowder, or slugthrowers as they’re known in Star Wars, many of the blasters used in a galaxy far, far away are actually built from real-life firearms that are more familiar to us.

With a very tight budget of $11 million, or just under $50 million today adjusted for inflation, George Lucas and his film crew elected to modify real-life surplus weapons rather than create futuristic weapons from scratch. Weaponry and prop supplier Bapty & Co was contracted to provide Star Wars with modified surplus firearms to serve as space-age blasters. However, because of the aforementioned budget, many of the props could only be rented for the film. As a result, modifications were light and we can easily recognize the base weapons today.

The left-side magazine, large breastplate, and restricted arm movement in their armor forced Stormtrooper actors to hold their E-11s left-handed (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

1. BlasTech E-11 blaster rifle

The standard issue weapon of Imperial stormtroopers, the E-11 was a light, handy, and lethal blaster. The debate about Stormtrooper accuracy aside, the blaster was very effective on the battlefield and even featured three power settings: lethal, stun, and sting. It also came equipped with a telescopic sight and a folding three-position stock, a carryover from the real-life weapon it is based on.

British soldiers of 2 PARA armed with Sterlings (Ministry of Defence)

The Sterling L2A3 submachine gun is a British firearm designed at the end of WWII to replace the famed Sten submachine gun. Firing the 9x19mm Parabellum round, the Sterling was a favorite of special forces units for its excellent reliability and good accuracy. The Star Wars conversions used a cut-down version of the Sterling’s stick magazine as their power cell.

2. BlasTech A280 blaster rifle

The favored small arm of the Rebel Alliance, the BlasTech A280 was highly effective at piercing armor and provided more power than other standard infantry blasters at long range. Two variants of the A280 existed. The A280C was the preferred weapon of Rebel commandos. The A280-CFE (Covert Field Edition) was a modular weapon system that could be converted from its core heavy pistol to an assault rifle or sniper rifle.

The standard A280 is an amalgamation of an AR-15 receiver with a cut-down magazine and the front of a German StG 44, again with a cut-down magazine. Original StG 44s are extremely rare and expensive, so the ones cut apart to make the A280 were rubber props previously used by Bapty Co. The A280C is based largely on the StG 44; the only notable changes being the alteration of the stock, removal of the magazine, and the addition of a scope and handguard. The A280-CFE is more akin to the base A280, featuring an AR-15 as its core heavy pistol. The assault rifle and sniper rifle conversions feature the addition of the StG 44 front end.

Did Han shoot first? (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

3. BlasTech DL-44 heavy blaster pistol

Considered one of the most powerful blaster pistols in the galaxy, the DL-44 delivers massive close-range damage at the expense of overheating quickly under sustained fire. A carbine variation with an extended barrel and an attachable stock also exists. This version was used by Tobias Beckett on Mimban before he deconstructed it and gave it Han Solo. Solo further modified the weapon to make his iconic sidearm. After all, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.”

The Waffen-SS soldier on the right shoulders an M712, an automatic variant of the C96 (Bundesarchiv)

The DL-44 is modified from the Mauser C96 pistol, easily identifiable by its rectangular internal magazine and broomhandle grip. Originally produced in Germany beginning in 1896, unlicensed copies were also produced in Spain and China throughout the first half of the 20th century. With the popularity of Han Solo’s DL-44, Star Wars enthusiasts have been known to purchase and modify increasingly rare original C96s to make replicas, much to the dismay of gun collectors.

Though small in stature, the Defender could still put down an Imperial trooper (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

4. DDC Defender sporting blaster pistol

On the other end of the spectrum, the Defender blaster pistol was a low-powered weapon meant for civilian defense and small-game hunting. It was also popular amongst the nobility of the Star Wars universe who used it in honor duels. The weapon was the sidearm of choice for Princess Leia Organa who wielded it against Imperial Stormtroopers during the boarding of the Tantive IV and the attack on the Endor shield generator bunker.

The Defender is based on the Margolin or MCM practice shooting pistol. The Soviet-made .22lr pistol is used primarily for competitive target shooting in the 25m Standard Pistol class. The weapon was chosen for its diminutive size to keep the prop gun from looking bulky and unwieldy in Carrie Fisher’s hands during filming.

Death troopers used vocal scramblers that could only be understood by other death troopers (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

5. BlasTech DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle

The DLT-19 was used heavily by Imperial forces as well as bounty hunters and even some Rebel heavy troopers. Although it was not a crew-served weapon, its high rate of fire meant that it could be used to suppress and cut down enemies at long range. The DLT-19D variant, which featured a scope and an under barrel glow rod (flashlight), was used by the elite Imperial death troopers. The DLT-19x targeting blaster was another variant. It featured a scope with greater magnification than the D variant and released all of its power in one shot, making it an extremely accurate and deadly long-range precision weapon.

Very little was changed on the MG 34 to make it into the DLT-19. Introduced in 1934, the German machine gun could be belt-fed or utilize a drum magazine; neither of which were used on the DLT-19. The MG 34 was designed under the new concept of a universal machine gun and is generally considered to be the world’s first general-purpose machine gun. It was the mainstay of German support weapons until it was replaced by the MG 42 in 1942. Even then, because the MG 34’s barrel could be changed out more easily inside of a vehicle than the MG 42, it remained the primary armored vehicle defensive weapon throughout the entirety of the war.

You can never have too much suppressive fire (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

6. BlasTech T-21 light repeating blaster

If you couldn’t tell, the nationalization of BlasTech industries meant that it was the premier military-grade arms manufacturer in the galaxy. The T-21 was a rarer sight than their more common E-11 or A280 blasters though. It was issued to more elite units like stormtroopers, magma troopers, and shadow troopers. However, its high rate of fire and long-range accuracy were limited by its power capacity of just 30 shots. To remedy this limitation, the T-21 could be hooked up to a power generator to provide sustained fire. The T-21B variant added an optic to increase its lethality at long range.

Australian soldiers drill with Lewis guns in France (Public Domain)

The Lewis light machine gun was designed in America, but built in Britain and fielded by the British Empire during WWI. It featured a distinctive barrel cooling shroud and a top-mounted pan magazine. Like the magazine of the MG 34, the Lewis gun’s magazine was omitted for its use in the Star Wars universe. It was often used as an aircraft machine gun and served to the end of the Korean War.


MIGHTY CULTURE

6 tips to grow the most beastly vet beard possible

It’s a rite of passage for veterans. The morning of the day they’re set to receive their DD-214 is one of the last times for a long time that many vets will pick up a razor. Some still shave to maintain a professional appearance when they enter the civilian workforce, but the most important thing is that it’s their choice to give their face a trim.

Those veterans who do decide to sport their well-earned lumberjack style may run into a few speed bumps along the way. The vet beard isn’t for everyone — but those who can rock it look like glorious vikings ready to storm the bar and take every keg of beer with them.


If you’re struggling to keep up with these majestic-as-f*ck vets, here’s a few pointers:

Growing a beard is actually pretty easy. You just have to wait.

(Cpl. Brandon Burns, USMC)

Patience is a virtue.

A great beard takes time. Throughout the growing process, there’ll be many great moments, like the point where your mustache gives you an 80s action-hero look. But then it’ll grow longer to the point where you’re getting a mouthful of mustache whenever you take a bite of food — not to mention the constant itchiness. But you’ll have to endure if you want that vet beard.

Many of the these downsides can be addressed with proper care. As long as you treat your beard right, you can minimize the downsides and simply enjoy envious looks from your peers.

If Luke Skywalker can keep his hair and beard on point despite being on some deserted planet for years, you can take a few seconds out of your day to put some shampoo in yours.

(Lucasfilms)

Your beard is still hair. Use conditioner and brush it.

It’s surprising how few people actually care for their beard as it’s growing out. You shampoo and condition the hair on top of your head in the shower, why skip the hair on your chin?

You can also brush it to keep it in proper form after you’re done in the shower. This also helps get out all the accidental bits of food that occasionally get trapped in there. Using conditioner and regularly brushing will help the scratchiness of your beard and help it from basically becoming Velcro on everything.

If you know what you’re buying, it’s fine. Just don’t expect much other than a slightly more luscious beard that smells nice.

(Photo by Marc Tasman)

Beard oil isn’t some magical, instant-beard formula

Oils are (usually) exactly what is being advertised. They’ll help if you think of it more like a leave-in conditioner that will make your beard smell nice, but many people who buy beard oils are under the impression that it’s more like a type of Rogaine for your face — it’s just not going to immediately give you something like in that episode of Dexter’s Laboratory.

Oils marketed to promote “beard growth” will actually make your beard grow in healthier and prevent breakage, so your beard will appear thicker and longer, but it still won’t happen over night.

Kind of like how Mat Best does it. Still professional, yet bearded.

(MBest11x)

Trim it down to maintain a professional appearance

If you’re down with looking like a bum, by all means; you can do whatever you want with your facial hair in the civilian world. That’s your choice now. Still, if you’re looking to make strides in the professional world, first-impressions are important — arguably more important than an extensive resume.

Even if your beard puts a Civil War general to shame, tidy it up with a pair of scissors to keep an organized appearance. You can also shave off the under-chin and the scraggly bits on your cheek to make your beard growth look intentional.

I’m going to go out on a limb as say that the dudes from ZZ Top don’t care about touring in the northern states during the winter.

(Photo by Ralph Arvesen)

If you can endure the summer heat, you’ll do well in the winter

Summers suck with long beards, but things start getting better after Labor Day. If you live an active lifestyle, no one will fault you for cutting it down in the summers to keep the sweat out. But don’t chop it all off if you want a head start when things cool down and you’ll probably look like a thirteen year old when you do.

Soldier through it and, when the winter chills start hitting your chin come December, you’ll be happy you took the extra few months to grow your own face protection.

Or shave it however you want, like what Tim Kennedy does every now and then. Welcome to the civilian world, where you have options again!

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill)

There’s no shame in shaving what you can’t grow

The ability to grow beards is entirely hereditary. If your dad could grow a bear, you’re probably good. But the person you should probably look toward for a better indication of your potential beardliness is if your maternal grandfather. That’s just how it works; genetics are funny.

It’s all a roll of the dice. If your face is better suited for a goatee, rock it. If your granddad could be confused with Gandalf, go all out. If you can’t grow a beard, embrace it. That’s just you.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Ernest Hemingway was almost impossible to kill

If there ever was a candidate for history’s real “Most Interesting Man In the World,” the frontrunner for the title would have to be famed writer, boxer, veteran, and adventurer Ernest Hemingway. He drove an ambulance in World War I, covered the Spanish Civil War, hunted Nazi submarines in the Pacific, gave relationship advice to F. Scott Fitzgerald, and even drank with Castro after the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

That brief paragraph barely scratches the surface of the man’s epic life. But truthfully, Hemingway should have died many, many times during his epic journey. In the end, he was the only one who could have ever ended such a life. The Grim Reaper was probably afraid to come around.


As the man himself once said, “Death is like an old whore in a bar. I’ll buy her a drink but I won’t go upstairs with her.”

Hemingway on crutches in World War I.

He was hit by a mortar in World War I

While driving an ambulance on the Italian Front of the Great War, Hemingway was hit by an Austrian shell while handing out chocolate. The blast knocked him out cold and buried him in the ground nearby. He was peppered from head to toe by shrapnel while two Italian soldiers next to him were killed almost instantly.

Just not all at once.

He carried more diseases than an old sponge.

Throughout his life, Hemingway was struck down hard by things like anthrax, malaria, pneumonia, dysentery, skin cancer, hepatitis, anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, and mental illness. Even so, he hunted big game in Africa while suffering from malaria, and even boxed the locals.

Hemingway sparring with locals in Africa.

He got into a lot of fights.

The original Big Papa was a fan of fisticuffs. He took any and every opportunity to accept challenges to his boxing prowess, fighting the aforementioned African locals, Caribbean friends, and even contemporary authors who besmirched his good name. If anyone challenged his manhood, they could count on a physical challenge of their own.

“Never sit at a table when you can stand at the bar.”

“I drink to make other people more interesting.”

Hemingway enjoyed a good cocktail or three. An entire book has been published with just the cocktails Hemingway enjoyed the most. His favorite was a double frozen blended daiquiri from his favorite bar in Havana, the Floridita. On one occasion, he and a friend drank 17 of the double-strength concoctions. Eventually, he had to stop drinking to mitigate liver damage. No kidding.

Hemingway giving pointers on growing a vet beard. Probably.

The Nazis couldn’t kill him.

Hemingway was writing in Madrid when Spain was devastated by Fascist bombers and was in London when the Luftwaffe bombed that city. He was covering the D-Day landings of World War II, coming onto the beaches with the seventh wave and then moving inland through hedgerow country, moving with the Army through the Battle of the Bulge – all while suffering from pneumonia. All this after hunting Nazi submarines off of Cuba.

He even formed French Resistance members into a militia and helped capture Paris.

God couldn’t kill him.

While on vacation in Africa, Hemingway and company were nearly killed in a plane crash. On their way to Uganda to receive medical care, their plane exploded upon takeoff. The resulting concussion caused him to leak cerebral fluid, and he suffered from two cracked discs, a kidney and liver rupture, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken skull. He still went on a planned fishing trip… where a brushfire burned his legs, front torso, lips, left hand, and right forearm.

He responded by getting up and winning a Nobel Prize.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This one-man army was Britain’s classiest World War II veteran

It says a lot about a Britisher to even be considered for the title of “classiest,” but Maj. Robert Cain should definitely be in the running. He took on six Nazi tanks by himself while holding off the rest of the coming German onslaught. In the end, he was forced to retreat, but only because he ran out of ammunition. Before he did, however, he stopped killing Nazis long enough to take a shave. Only after he was properly clean-shaven did he make his retreat.

That’s class.


Classier than most of you are, anyway.

Cain was an officer of the British 1st Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden, the World War II Allied invasion of the Netherlands. British and Polish forces were to be dropped near Arnhem to advance on the city over three days. Cain was to lead his men in the first lift over Nazi-occupied territory, but the disastrous operation was flawed from the start, especially for Cain. Because of a technical snafu, he had to wait until the second day. It would prove fortuitous for everyone in his periphery.

When Cain landed, he and his men were sent forward into the city, where they unexpectedly encountered heavy enemy armor. The only thing they had to fight back against these defenses were small anti-tank weapons and mortars. The anti-tanks were not enough to penetrate the armor, and they were soon forced to fall back.

The small PIAT anti-tank weapon used by the British at Arnhem.

Many British troops were forced to surrender. Others who managed to fall back did so in complete disarray, low on ammunition and unable to take out the approaching armor. Cain and the rest of the British were eventually forced to retreat to nearby Oosterbeek, where they formed a perimeter and tried to protect the howitzers that would be catastrophically destroyed if they fell back further. Cain was in command of forward units, who were digging in a populated area, trying to hold the armor back.

After one of his men was killed by a tracked, armored vehicle with a mounted heavy gun, Cain picked up the anti-tank weapon and poured round after to round into the tank until it was disabled. His PIAT anti-tank weapon eventually exploded from overuse, incapacitating Cain for a half hour. When his vision returned, he went back to work with whatever he could use. When he ran out of anti-tank weapons, he used a two-inch mortar.

Major Robert Cain was fighting these. By himself.

Cain fought off Tiger tanks, flamethrower tanks, self-propelled guns, and even Nazi infantry in an effort to maintain his position in the village of Oosterbeek. He personally was responsible for destroying six armored vehicles, four of which were Tiger tanks. The Germans were forced to fall back this time, but the British were in no condition to pursue them. They made an orderly retreat across the river but, before they did, Maj. Cain took a moment to shave his face (he had been fighting for a full week by then) for a proper appearance. When he returned to the British Army that day, his commanding general commented on it.

“There’s one officer, at least, who’s shaved,” said Gen. Philip Hicks. To which Cain replied, “I was well brought up, sir.”

The respect of his fellow officers wasn’t the only thing he won that day. Cain was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry.

MIGHTY CULTURE

From Kenya to the Chaplain Corps

Army Maj. Patrick Kihiu’s journey to becoming a chaplain and American soldier began in the slums of Kenya.

Born and raised in East Africa, Kihiu developed a deep religious conviction during high school. He cultivated his faith attending his local church in Nairobi and taking leadership roles in outreach programs, including in one of the world’s largest slums — the Kibera Slums.


His pastors recognized his potential, and understanding the value of international exposure, recommended he attend theological institutions in the U.S.

Diversity was not completely new to Kihiu though.

“I enjoyed being part of a culturally-varied community in Nairobi,” Kihiu explained. “My school mates came from the 42 tribes represented in Kenya. … After seeking God’s wisdom and guidance, the Lord opened the door of opportunity to begin theological training in the USA in September 1992 at age 22.”

After immigrating, Kihiu received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Exposed to additional diversity during his studies, Kihiu says he gained an even more profound love and respect for others.

“We were constantly reminded we were all made in the Image of God and that we should treat everyone with the utmost respect irrespective of human differences,” he said.

It was also at school he met his wife, Rebecca — a fellow immigrant from Kenya. Ever since, they have led mission trips back to her home village in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and orphan crisis.

Then, starting his seminary practicum, he took a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

“It was there I had the opportunity to serve military veterans, providing for their spiritual needs. I heard stories of service and sacrifice on behalf of our nation,” Kihiu said.

As this position ended, Kihiu’s supervisor, a retired chaplain, recommended he consider Army chaplaincy. Humbled, Kihiu contemplated this calling while engaged in his next internship, a CPE residency at the University of Louisville Hospital. Here, he served as an on-call chaplain in the Emergency Department (ER).

Army Chaplain (Maj.) Patrick Kihiu with his family arriving home from a deployment July 2012 (Military Families Magazine)

“On duty, I was constantly exposed to patients with major trauma, including multiple gunshot wounds and serious accidents. I was there when doctors delivered tragic news, staying with families after the medical teams left, and then following up with the doctors and ER team to make sure they were OK too. Though this was an incredibly challenging ministry, I felt called providing compassionate care to all my patients, family members, and medical staff,” he said.

Here, Kihiu also served military families referred from Fort Knox, explaining how their conversations revolved around the respect they had for Army chaplains.

“I began exploring this ministry more even though I was clueless [about the] military culture. These brave soldiers and precious family members became my initial window in understanding the men and women whom I would eventually be called to serve,” he said.

Consequently, upon ending his residency and with encouragement from Rebecca, Kihiu enrolled in the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, November 2009— the same year he became a U.S. citizen.

Kihiu has since served in operational and training commands, including a Warrior Transition Battalion, and deploying to Iraq. While in the1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, then battalion commander, Col. Steve Dawson, said of Kihiu, “No combat patrol ever went outside the wire without him personally blessing them before their departure, whether 2:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m.”

Now at Watters Family Life Training Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Kihiu encourages military families to get to know their chaplains.

“Chaplains have answered the sacred calling to ‘serve those who serve.’ We provide the best care possible in a confidential setting. [And though] endorsed by different religious agencies, our call to duty is to faithfully serve our diverse military community on behalf of our beloved nation.”

In maintaining his own resiliency, Kihiu adds, “I have learned the benefits of ‘self-awareness.’ By this I mean accepting my own strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas in our lives we can improve. Therefore, we should be accountable to others, like trusted friends, mentors, supervisors, clergy, therapists, or supervisors—who can constantly check on us and provide honest feedback. I treasure these vital relationships in my own life, and I could not be where I am without them.”

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY FIT

5 steps to back squat perfection

For military professionals, lower body strength is a must. For many humans, loss of lower body strength is the cause of the fall in old age that starts the domino effect of poor health ending in death…#Grim.

If you are human, a military professional, both, or soon to be both, having a strong squat will only make your life easier and longer. This is why we squat.


Leg strength is a prerequisite for the job. We hike everywhere.

The purpose of the low-bar back squat is to recruit the most amount of muscle possible in a lift. On average most people need general overall lower body training. The low bar position on the back gets the most muscles involved and is, therefore, a staple exercise in many complete training programs.

Back Squat Step 1

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1. Take your grip and bar position on your back

First, grip the bar wider than shoulder-width apart.

The narrower your grip, the “tighter” your upper back will be.

Many professional lifters take a grip just outside of their shoulders, yet others grab the bar all the way at the very edge of the bar by the weight plate.

Lower your head under the bar and find the bar position on your back.

The bar should be resting on the natural shelf that develops just above your rear delts. (the muscle on the back of your shoulders)

Keep the bar off of your neck, that is a high bar squat.

You should be applying equal pressure with your hands and your back while trying to “bend the bar over your back.”

By “lifting” your chest (while still keeping your nipples pointed at the floor) and pressing your hands forward, you will achieve this position.

Back Squat Step 2

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2. Squat the bar up in the rack and step back

The correct way to unrack the bar is to lift straight up, as you do in the very final portion of a repetition.

  • Your feet should not be staggered.
  • Your back should not be in flexion.
  • You should not be bent at the hips and performing a good morning to get it out of the rack.

Once you have moved the bar vertically and are standing in the rack, move the barbell horizontal by taking 2-3 deliberate steps backwards.

The bar should never move diagonally in the back squat. It moves vertically or horizontally. That’s it.

Back Squat Step 3

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3. Take your stance

Your feet position is unique to you. Generally, heels are below or just wider than hip width, and toes are pointed out at about a 45-degree angle.

Start with this positioning and adjust based on the depth and comfort.

Everyone’s hips are different and therefore have a different ideal stance.

No one is incapable of squatting to depth, however. The trick is to find the foot and hip setup that works for you. Seriously.

Back Squat Step 4

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4. Breathe and squat vertically

Take a deep inhale and brace your abs. The combined muscular flexion from your core and air pressure from your lungs filling will keep your spine stable and strong for the entirety of the movement.

Depth in the squat is when the top of your thigh just below your hips goes below the top of your knee.

In the squat, we are using the stretch reflex of the hamstrings to help “spring” us up from the bottom of the movement, known as the hole. That stretch reflex response is completely negated if you go to a depth where your hamstrings become passive in the movement. They should always be engaged and never lax.

A common mistake for people that take pride in their squat depth is that they get stuck in the hole because they are trying to re-engage their disengaged hamstrings. Under a heavy load, your hamstring cannot contract again without serious risk of pulling or tearing.

Waste no time in the hole. Hit your depth and explode back up.

You should never have enough time in the hole to smile for the camera… This makes me cringe.

(Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash)

Your knees should be tracking over your toes for this entire movement. Don’t let them cave in. Think “twist the ground apart with your feet and knees.” This will engage all of your glutes and prevent the dreaded valgus knee collapse that is all too common.

The bar should be centered over the middle of your foot, just like the deadlift, for this entire movement.

Think about your tailbone moving straight up as if it’s being pulled by a rope from the ceiling directly above it. This is where all of you power comes from.

  • DON’T think about moving your butt forward. Think vertical- forward motion will push you forward and off-balance. Move directly against gravity.
  • DON’T think about straightening your knees- this will push you off-balance as well.
  • DON’T think about your feet. If they are balanced in 3 points, you should pay them no more mind. Those three points are heel, big toe, and little toe- like a balanced triangle.
Back Squat Step 5

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5. Finish with your glutes and exhale

Finish the rep by squeezing your glutes and extending the hips into what feels like a posterior pelvic tilt

This will make you stand up straight and completely finish the reps.

Inhale and repeat.

When to train

Scheduling at least 72 hours between squat sessions, in the beginning, is important to ensure adequate recovery so that you can get the most weight on the bar and make the most gains. Over time, depending on your goals and recovery, you can safely squat three or even four times a week at sub-maximal intensities.

popular

Watch how the Marine Corps disposes of unwanted ammo

War is highly unpredictable. To this end, troops across all platforms must decide on the number of supplies they’ll need to conduct the missions that are passed down to them.


In the event that a troop discovers that their munitions are, in fact, unserviceable due to damage or rust, they must be disposed of in a controlled environment.

Luckily for Marines, they get to put their explosive training to good use as they get rid of the ordnance that is no longer serviceable.

Related: Watch the TOW anti-tank missile in action in Vietnam

First, the Marines make a request to blow up unwanted, unusable ammo. If the request is denied, the ammo is sent out for further testing and investigation. Otherwise, Marines relocate the munitions to the proper area with the help of Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians.

Once the EOD techs arrive at the detonation site, the munitions are carefully laid out in tight groupings to ensure that a single controlled explosion is all that is needed.

Marines as they properly lay out the unwanted munitions.

After the damaged goods are set in place, a well-calculated amount of plastic explosive is then embedded into the area and rigged with blasting caps and strung together with detonation cord.

After the layout is complete, the EOD crew creates plenty of space between them and the detonation site and, after a brief countdown, the ammo is completely destroyed.

The sole purpose of this act is to ensure that no amount of dangerous munitions ever fall into the hands of the enemy.

Also Read: Recruit training at Parris Island vs San Diego, according to Marines

Check out the Marines‘ video below to watch them set up and completely destroy the ammunition that the military no longer wants.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

China considers nuclear reactors in disputed waters

China has stopped major land-reclamation in the South China Sea but is continuing to work on facilities it has already built there, according to the US Defense Department’s annual report on Chinese military activity, which noted that China could soon add nuclear power plants to the mix.

After adding 3,200 acres of land to seven reefs and islands it occupies, China hasn’t done substantial artificial-island creation since late 2015, but at three of those outposts, the Pentagon report said, “Construction of aviation facilities, port facilities, fixed-weapons positions, barracks, administration buildings, and communication facilities at each of the three outposts was underway throughout 2017.”


“The outposts may be capable of supporting military operation in the Spratly Islands and throughout the region, but no permanent large-scale air or naval presence has been observed,” according to the report.

Other countries have disputed China’s claims in the South China Sea — through which an estimated one-third of global shipping travels — and an international tribunal has rejected China’s claims to islands there.

Aerial view of Woody and Rocky Islands in the South China Sea.

While China has said those projects are meant to improve the lives of personnel at those outposts, the work may be part of an effort to assert de facto control of the area and to maintain a more flexible military presence in order to boost its operational and deterrence abilities, the Pentagon report said.

“China’s plans to power these islands may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute,” the report added. “In 2017, China indicated development plans may be underway to power islands and reefs in the typhoon-prone South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations.”

State-owned China National Nuclear Power said in late 2017 that it had set up a joint venture with several energy and ship-building firms to boost the country’s nuclear-power capabilities as a part of Beijing’s aim to “become a strong maritime power.”

That announcement came about a year after the state-run China Security Journal said Beijing could construct up to 20 floating nuclear power plants to “speed up the commercial development” in the South China Sea.

Floating nuclear power plants could bolster China’s nuclear-energy capacity and support overseas activities by providing electricity and desalinated water to isolated outposts.

“China sees securing the ability to develop marine nuclear tech as a manifestation of its maritime power status,” Collin Koh, a military expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technology University, told The South China Morning Post in 2017. “It will enhance Beijing’s staying power and assert its claims, as military garrisons and civilian personnel living on those remote outposts would be able to sustain themselves better [and therefore stay longer].”

A Chinese Coast Guard ship patrols the South China Sea about 130 miles off the coast of Vietnam.

(Screenshot / Reuters TV)

‘Nuclear Titanic’

Experts have said that the technology for floating plants, which provide about one-quarter of the energy produced by onshore plants, is not yet mature but that major powers are pursuing their development because of the mobility they provide.

Russia has already deployed its own floating nuclear reactor. In May 2018, the Akademik Lomonsov, the first nuclear power plant of its kind, arrived at the port of Murmansk on the Barents Sea ahead of a voyage to Russia’s far east, where it is to provide power for an isolated town on the Bering Strait.

While Russia has decades of experience operating nuclear-powered icebreakers, activists have criticized the plan. Greenpeace has dubbed the plant the “nuclear Titanic” and a “floating Chernobyl.”

“There are serious challenges unique to regulating the operational safety of floating nuclear power plants due to the novelty of the technology, the difficult operating conditions, and the inherent safety limitations of these plants,” like a higher chance of incidents due to collisions or capsizing, Viet Phuong Nguyen, a nuclear researcher at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, wrote for The Diplomat in early 2018

In light of civil-liability issues related to potential accidents with these plants and safety risks stemming from piracy or terrorism, “the best case scenario” for the region would be China reconsidering the plan or delaying the deployment, he wrote.

But China’s plan to test the plants at sea before 2020 makes that scenario unlikely, he said, so Southeast Asian countries “should soon seek at least a communication channel with China on how to exchange information on the safety of the fleet and the regulation of its operation, while not compromising the territorial claims of each country over the islands in the South China Sea.”

Featured image: the floating Russian nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov.

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