Woman honors husband's WWII service, 40 years after his death - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

In 1937, a young Chicago woman named Aida Garaffa lived across the street from a young man named Gerald “Jerry” Bonsonto.

A trip to a local shop would join the two hearts together in love.

“My sister and I were walking to the corner of Throop Street. There was a grocery store where we bought ice cream. When we came out of the store we saw Jerry,” explained Aida Bonsonto who recalled that first meeting with her future husband.

“He asked me if I wanted to go to the movies with him. He wasn’t a big fellow. He was about five-feet four-inches but he was handsome,” she said.

But world events, specifically World War II, would interrupt their courtship.


“The war was going on. He was drafted,” explained the youthful 97-year-old. “He was inducted on Dec. 12, 1942. We were engaged and then he left for training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.”

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Aida Bonsonto with her husband Gerald “Jerry” Bonsonto pose for a photo, circa 1946.

Bonsonto trained as a medic and paratrooper and was assigned to the 307th medics of the 82nd Airborne Division.

“He landed in Africa first,” explained Bonsonto. “And he also served in Sicily, Italy, Ireland, England, France, Holland, and Germany. He was in the Battle of the Bulge.”

It was there where bullets fired by a German sniper found their mark hitting Pfc. Bonsonto. When she found out, she went to Holy Family Church in Chicago. The same church where the couple would be married later on June 8, 1946.

“When we found out he was wounded, I crawled from the door to the altar of Holy Family Church. I asked God to spare his life,” she said.

“They didn’t know if he was going to live,” she said. “He was badly wounded.”

But Jerry lived.

He was evacuated and sent to hospitals in England and Capri, Italy before he was discharged and sent home to the United States.

“He was never the same after that. He had a lot of pain,” she said.

Before he came home he sent the woman who would become his wife two boxes containing a parachute. Rationing was in effect, even after the war ended, and fabric was expensive. But a parachute made of silk and nylon provided Bonsonto with the material she needed for her wedding dress.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Aida Bonsonto wears a wedding dress, circa 1946, made from a parachute, that was sent home to her by Army medic Gerald “Jerry” Bonsonto who served with the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.

“I told the seamstress I wanted a sweetheart neckline with long sleeves,” said she said. “And the bridesmaids dresses were all made in Chiffon.”

“An Italian woman made the wedding dress and the bridesmaid gowns out of the parachute,” explained Bonsonto.

It turned out the wedding dress was not the only thing she owned that was made from a parachute.

“While he (Jerry) was in Normandy, he had a French lady make me a nightgown out of a parachute. It was all made by hand,” she said.

And the cost was not what one might expect.

“It cost him two packages of cigarettes. That’s all she asked for it”, said Bonsonto.

Bonsonto shared that she still keeps the nightgown.

“I only wore it when I got married,” said Bonsonto. “I kept it as a souvenir with the wedding dress. She also stitched my name on the nightgown. It’s very pretty.”

While she waited for Jerry to return home, life went on in her neighborhood in Chicago.

“We used to sit outside at night and have coffee and pastries. We slept near the fire hydrant when it was hot at night,” explained Bonsonto. “My brother put a loudspeaker on our parlor window and we would have a street dance.”

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

The family of Aida Bonsonto pauses for a photo with Brig. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, Commanding General, 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command and a wedding dress made from a World War II parachute that her husband sent home.

(Photo by Sgt. David Lietz)

But the party to end all parties was when World War II ended Sept. 2, 1945.

“It was remarkable how people celebrated. I think people celebrated at least three days on this block. People danced in the streets. It was like a festival,” she said.

When Jerry returned home he started working for his dad driving a truck and never talked about his wartime experiences, according to Bonsonto.

“He wore his combat boots every day working on the truck to remind him of what he went through,” said Bonsonto. “He wore them until he couldn’t wear them anymore when they fell apart.”

Her beloved Jerry passed away in 1980.

“Everybody liked him. He was funny. He minded his business, he worked and came home,” recalled Bonsonto.

Now Bonsonto has stated that she will loan the parachute wedding dress she wore on her wedding day to the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Her next concern was how to get the wedding dress to the museum.

On Memorial Day of 2019, Brig. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, South Carolina native and commanding general of the Chicago-based 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command, traveled to suburban Orland Park to meet with Bonsonto and her family and pick up the dress.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

A religious card taped into a scrapbook compiled by Aida Bonsonto showcases her husband’s military service during World War II.

“My mom has wanted to (loan) this parachute wedding dress for years,” explained her daughter-in-law, Caroline Bonsonto. “She has been contacting different museums for years. This is something she has been pursuing.”

“There’s lots of stories about these parachute wedding dresses but not a lot of actual dresses in museums,” explained John Aarsen, museum director for the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum. “We love them. It helps tell the stories about the families.”

The museum currently has one parachute wedding dress on display.

“By having this parachute wedding dress we can rotate them for display,” according to Aarsen who also serves as a U.S. Army Reserve brigadier general at the 451st Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Wichita, Kansas.

At the end of the evening, completed by a hearty meal and good fellowship, Bonsonto turned the dress over to Belanger.

Belanger is scheduled to bring it to the 82nd Airborne Division War Museum where a wedding dress made from a parachute will help tell future generations about the love story of a soldier named Jerry and his bride Aida.

“I thought it was quite an honor to be a part of taking a piece of history and making it public,” said Belanger. “Making history in such a way that it means so much to a family. It was an honor they trusted me to take a historic family heirloom and then display it for all to see. It is really incredible.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 times your troops let you down outside of combat

Ask anyone who plays a team sport and they’ll tell you it’s impossible to win every game. Even professional athletes don’t perform as well as you’d hope each time they step foot on the field. It’s the same with enlisted troops. In a perfect world, every single troop would show up, try their best, and complete tasks with a ten-star rating. Unfortunately, such a world doesn’t exist.


Instead, the real world is filled with flawed human beings who, no matter how much training they receive, are bound to f*ck up from time to time.

It happens.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

We’re betting he can’t see very well.

When troops look like a ‘soup sandwich’ in uniform

Having a spec of dirt on your tie or a slightly lopsided ribbon rack is one thing, but forgetting how to wear a uniform altogether is another story.

When you get a call at 0300 informing you that one of your troops got a DUI

We’ve heard stories of some leadership informing local authorities to not call them until right before formation if one of their troops is in trouble. True story.

When they ask a dumb question during a Q&A with the battalion commander

Every unit has “that guy.” You know, the one who doesn’t have a working brain or, worse, a working filter? For some reason, they always ask the dumbest questions. We’ve got scientists working around the clock to figure out why.

When troops fall out of PT

On the flip side, this one makes everyone else look great — except leadership.

When the short-timer shows up wearing the wrong uniform

It happens. And while seeing a trooper show up wearing the wrong uniform is a little funny, it also shows everybody that there might be a communication breakdown somewhere.

When they fall out of a hike

A troop falling out is embarrassing for the entire unit, especially when its done in a public setting, like a company hike.

When they cut unnecessary corners

The military prides itself on producing solid work and getting the job done right. So, when a troop gets lazy and decides to cut corners, the final product probably won’t be worth sh*t. Don’t get us wrong, we all enjoy shortcuts, but there’s a time and a place for that.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

(Photo by Sgt. Brian Calhoun)

When they break something very expensive

​This should be pretty obvious because their seniors are going to have to explain why a troop even had the expensive equipment at their disposal in the first place.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This country music star is excited to be playing for the military

Country music superstar Chris Young has released two platinum albums, been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and has nine number 1 hits. He’s on his Raised On Country Tour right now, and he took some time to talk about what it’s like to visit with Navy working dogs, to see so many vets and service members on his tour after his sister’s time in the Marines, and to have a tour sponsor in USAA that can help him get in touch with more military audiences.


Young picked the cities for the tour for the standard reasons, but he’s gotten to enjoy some little perks and experiences at military stops. Like when, two weeks ago, he got to hang out with dog handlers at Naval Base San Diego.

“There are so many markets where we’re going to go that are pretty large military markets as far as bases,” he said, “and, you know, we’re able to do the things like we did in San Diego on the naval base the other day.”

“We knew there were going to be a bunch of partnership opportunities like that [with USAA] and I just have a big love and respect for the military,” he said. “So anytime you get a tour sponsor where you know, everything already lines up on its own, it’s a pretty incredible thing.”

He isn’t new to the military experience, though. Young’s sister was a West Coast Marine who worked on helicopters. And she married another Marine. Seeing his sibling’s sacrifices deepened his respect for the military.

“I remember that I would see, first-hand, about the amount of time that people are going out. She and I have always been really, really, really close and so when you go months at a time, sometimes, without being able to see somebody because their travel versus what you’re doing to travel and anything else I think you understand it in a different way I guess.”

It’s his sister’s and his brother-in-law’s military service that he thinks of when he’s performing “The Dashboard,” a song about two brothers when one is sent to war and leaves his truck behind. For anyone who hasn’t heard it, we won’t give away the ending, but it’s not the ending made typical by “Riding with Private Malone.”

Young didn’t write “The Dashboard,” but he connected with it when he heard it.

Chris Young – Raised on Country (Official Video)

www.youtube.com

“That song, buddy of mine Monty Criswell wrote it, and I just thought it was so different from the way I had heard other songs written even along the same line, topically, just the way he handled that song and made it something really, really special and anytime that I’ve played I always use the chance to reference my sister because obviously, she’s a Marine so I get a chance to nod to her and my brother-in-law when I sing that song and I always make sure to say something about them.”

For Young, who has gotten a kick out of playing for troops since he was at bases like Fort Bliss before his first record contract, it’s nice to get back in front of them. But as his fame has grown and technology has advanced, he’s found better ways of recognizing vets and service members in huge venues.

A partner company makes these “armbands where we’ve been able to ask people prior to the show, we go, ‘Hey have you or has anyone in your family served?’ And then we can actually light up their armbands for a song and kind of call them out say thank you that way … which is pretty cool.”

For Young, that made USAA agreeing to come as tour sponsor perfect. He already loved the military and liked to take time during shows to raise them up, so having a sponsor whose customer base is almost exclusively military families let everything sync up.

“I’m already totally all in on and any chance that I get to say thank you in multiple different ways to military, that’s something that’s been important to me my entire career. [Partnering with USAA] is just going to be awesome. It’s just going to work so I think it’s one of things that just happened.”

And that partnership has already helped Chris Young take part in multiple events. He played a small concert for military and family members at the NFL Draft back in April and then got to visit the working dogs at San Diego this August. (If you watch the NFL Draft video, you might recognize WATM’s own Augie Dannehl who helped host.)

If you’re interested in seeing when Chris is coming to your town, check out his tour calendar here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Motivated by their lives: Honoring the fallen this Memorial Day

Memorial Day brings visions of outdoor family barbeques, filled beaches and the unofficial kickoff to summertime. But it’s so much more than that. It’s the one day a year we set aside to honor those who willingly died to defend our freedoms in service to this nation.

Families of the fallen don’t expect America to approach this day with sadness, however. They truly welcome the celebration of all things red, white and blue. But they hope that while the country enjoys the day, those enjoying the festivities remember the why behind it. It’s because of their loved one’s sacrifice that we can celebrate it at all.
Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Krista Simpson Anderson knows all about the loss and also joy that comes with Memorial Day. Her husband, Staff Sergeant Michael Simpson, was a Green Beret. He was so proud to serve and be a part of the 1st Special Forces Group where he was lovingly nicknamed “The Unquiet Professional.” On April 27, 2013, on his 20th day of deployment in Afghanistan, nearly a decade to the day from his enlistment in the Army, Simpson sustained critical injuries from an improvised explosive device. He fought to stay alive, saying, “Wife, kids, I love,” while being evacuated to the hospital.

His medical team did everything they could to keep him alive; bringing him back each time he coded. Simpson underwent multiple surgeries as they battled to treat his severe injuries. He was medevaced to Germany four days after the blast and his wife and family arrived on May 1, 2013 and he was declared deceased not long after they arrived. He then gave all his viable organs, serving others until his heart stopped beating.

He was only 30 years old.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

On the original day set aside as Memorial Day, May 30, 2013, Mike’s family said their final goodbye at Arlington National Cemetery. It was in that moment that Krista and a close friend decided to create a nonprofit organization to give back to all of those who had supported the family through their loss.

They called it The Unquiet Professional.

Since its inception, The Unquiet Professional has evolved from a fundraiser to an organization that provides resources and education to those actively serving, veterans, surviving families and Gold Star families. They also do a memorial run, every Memorial Day. The purpose is to spend that mile remembering the lives of the fallen. This year they are honoring Simpson as always but also SFC James Grissom, SSG Timothy McGill, SFC Liam Nevins and Sgt. Joshua Strickland, all who lost their lives within months of each other in 2013 defending their country.

But they were more than just soldiers.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Simpson was a deeply faithful man with an amazing sense of humor who loved his family. Grissom’s family shared that he had such a kind spirit and was always finding ways to help others. McGill’s sister Megan shared that he never told her he was a Green Beret because he was so humble and such a “gentle giant.” Nevins was known for his dimples, blue eyes and his love of pranks. Strickland was remembered by his family for living life passionately and always laughing.

It is the hope of all families of the fallen that the world will remember them this Memorial Day.

“Memorial Day is my favorite holiday of the year. We honor Mike every day, but everyone honors him on Memorial Day. How could you not love that? I want people to celebrate, have barbecues and make fancy cocktails. Celebrate your freedom; that’s what he died for,” shared Anderson.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

You can join in on TUP’s virtual memorial run here. Share pictures on social media during your memorial mile and use the hashtags #MotivatedByTheirLives and #TupMile. For those able to participate in a longer run, Project 33 Memorial Foundation is also hosting a virtual 10k to honor MSG Nicholas Sheperty who was killed during military freefall operations on April 17, 2019. All proceeds raised from their run will go to a memorial stone in his honor.

This Memorial Day, run for the fallen. Enjoy the day to live as they would want us to, but don’t forget to pause and remember.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death


MIGHTY CULTURE

4 reasons why the ‘Florida Man’ is definitely a drunk Marine

We’ve all seen “Florida Man” show up in ridiculous headlines. You know the ones: “Florida man calls 911 over missing beer so many times he gets arrested.” Or how about, “Florida man claims wife was kidnapped by holograms.” The list goes on. In fact, headlines coming out of Florida are so often outrageous that “Florida Man” has become something of a pop culture myth, known for getting into trouble in the most ridiculous ways — ways that only someone in an altered state of mind to conjure up.

Alcohol is undeniably a big part of military culture. Troops are constantly pushing the boundaries of what defines alcoholic behavior. The most prolific offender among the branches is, without a doubt, the Marine Corps. Drunk Marines are notorious for getting into trouble and, by now, it’s practically expected because it happens so often.

At the end of the day, the “Florida Man” has a lot in common with a drunk Marine. Here’s why:


Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Then the Army has to come clean up the mess.

(U.S. Army)

1. The antics are surprisingly similar

For some reason, “Florida Man” is always noted for his intoxication — and even if it doesn’t make the headline, you can safely assume his state of mind. Drinking, getting rowdy, and stripping in public are some of Florida Man’s favorite pastimes — just like Marines! In fact, if you were to take some of his greatest works and replace “Florida Man” with “drunk Marine,” nobody would bat an eye at it.

No, really. Try it with us:

“Naked Florida Man drinks 2 liters of vodka, burns down house baking cookies on George Foreman Grill”

And make these changes:

Naked, drunk Marine drinks 2 liters of vodka, burns down barracks baking cookies on George Foreman Grill

Seamless, right? That’s why we’re not allowed to have toasters in our rooms.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Seriously? Over chicken?

(U.S. Marine Corps)

2. They both exhibit aggressive tendencies

Drunk Marines are, quite possibly, the most irritable people on the planet. Making simple requests or doing anything that might accidentally upset one will likely result in violence.

Tell me, which of these is the real headline?

Florida Man swings anchor at beachgoers because they ruined his chicken

Drunk Marine swings anchor at beachgoers because they ruined his chicken

Can’t tell? Us neither. This is what happens when you don’t have a battle buddy.

3. Playing with dangerous, live animals

Both Marines and Florida Man have a penchant for messing with whatever wildlife happens to share their environment. Add a little bit of alcohol to the situation, and you might end up with this:

Florida Man enters convenience store carrying live gator, chases customers

That could easily be this:

Drunk Marine enters PX carrying live gator, chases customers

I feel like I’ve seen both of these before…

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Why do drunk people always want to fight cops?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jesus Sepulveda Torres)

4. Trying to fight cops

To be fair, drunk Marines will fight anyone when given the chance. But, of course, any challenge of authority will result in direct confrontation. That’s how you get headline swaps like this:

“Florida Man trashes McDonald’s, challenges cops to fight him at jail”

“Drunk Marine trashes chow hall, challenges PMO to fight him”

After evaluating the evidence, we can conclude with near certainty that Florida Man is indeed a US Marine.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is when to fly the flag at half-staff

It’s probably common knowledge that when Old Glory is flying at half-staff (or half-mast), it indicates a period of mourning, but unless it’s Memorial Day or a president has just died, people might not know why the flag is at half-staff. Who gets to declare a period of mourning? How long does the period last?

Fear not, dear patriot. I will answer all these questions and more.

On March 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered a presidential proclamation codifying the display of the flag of the United States at half-staff. Here are the basics you need to know:


Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

The American flag is flown at half-staff above the White House Sunday, Dec. 1, 2018, in memory of 41st President George H. W. Bush.

(Official White House Photo by Keegan Barber)

Death of the President: 30 Days

The flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions for the period indicated upon the death of the President or a former President for thirty days from the day of death.

The flag shall also be flown at half-staff for such period at all United States embassies, legations, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Death of the VP, Chief Justice, retired Chief Justice, or Speaker of the House: 10 days

But for an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former Vice President, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, or the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the flag will fly at half-staff from the day of death until interment.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Honoring the seven astronauts who lost their lives aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003, the American flag was flown at half-staff over the White House Monday, Feb. 3. President George W. Bush has directed the government to fly the flag at half-staff through Wednesday, Feb. 5.

(White House photo by Paul Morse)

Other deaths “as appropriate”

For example, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia on the day of death and on the following day upon the death of a United States Senator, Representative, Territorial Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and it shall also be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the State, Congressional District, Territory, or Commonwealth of such Senator, Representative, Delegate, or Commissioner, respectively, from the day of death until interment.

In the event of the death of other officials, former officials, or foreign dignitaries, the flag of the United States shall be displayed at half-staff in accordance with such orders or instructions as may be issued by or at the direction of the President, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Visitors on the USS Arizona Memorial as the flag flies at half-staff.

On Memorial Day and other notable dates

According to the VA, on Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of our nation’s fallen heroes.

There are other notable dates throughout the year that are honored with the half-staff display, such as September 11th (Patriot Day), December 7th in honor of the attacks at Pearl Harbor, or October 7th in honor of fallen firefighters.

The president is also authorized to order the flag to half-staff in response to tragedies, such as mass shootings or the Challenger tragedy.

Anyone who wishes to can receive notifications for when to fly their flag at half-staff, including nation-wide or state-wide alerts.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

“Good-Faith Misunderstandings”

There have been times when officials have been confused about their authority with regards to “ordering” the American flag to half-staff. The National Flag Foundation gives the example of the late Attorney General Janet Reno ordering the flag to half-staff on all U.S. Department of Justice buildings after the deaths of several DEA agents. Though it was a well-intentioned gesture, legally Attorney General Reno did not have the authority to give such an order.

“NFF points out these ‘good-faith misunderstandings’ not to criticize or embarrass anyone, but rather to head off a growing trivialization of this memorial salute, and to preserve the dignity and significance of flying the U.S. flag at half-staff. To any readers who may think that NFF is insensitive for raising these breaches of etiquette, please be assured that our motives are pure. We grieve these human loses deeply; however, we believe proper respect for our flag must be maintained – no matter the circumstances. We owe that respect to our living, our dead, and our flag.”

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

“When Salvador Dalí died, it took months to get all the flagpoles sufficiently melted.”

(Image by xkcd)

Etiquette

One final note: proper etiquette dictates that the flag must not just be raised to half-staff. “The flag should be briskly run up to the top of the staff before being lowered slowly to the half-staff position.”

Forever in peace may she wave.

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 gift ideas for your commander for the holidays

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

Ibuprofen: for the headaches.

Antacid: for the heartburn.

Ice Cream GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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

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

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

Think About It Reaction GIF by Identity - Find & Share on GIPHY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lonesome GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
MIGHTY CULTURE

Don’t bleed around your unit cartoonist; Bill’s trick back

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is a now a master photographer, cartoonist and storyteller.

Master Sergeant Bill — and that was his real last name — had a trick back, so he claimed. It seemed to flare up just as we were on the cusp of an unpleasant mission. My gosh, it didn’t seem to trouble him much at all during “good deal” trips, no Sir. Whether or not it was a valid ailment, that we shall never know, but the timing of the affliction sure seemed suspect over the years.

Well sure, I understood as well as the next man, that with all of the non-stop training we did to satisfy our charter to deploy in just a few hours, to deploy to the four corners of the planet and be ready to sustain combat for several days… a brother just needed a break now and then to harness and hold a semblance of sanity — “to each his own,” I often rationalized.


Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

“Woo, yeah brother… I can feel my back getting ready to go out again. Yes sirree I can feel it coming on.”

“$hit Bill, your back goes out more than a hooker on East Central… I don’t suppose your back is just feeling the freezing cold early on, is it?”

“What freezing cold?”

“Yeah, the freezing cold of our trip to Fairbanks Alaska for Arctic weather training.”

“Oh, yeah… well I guess that is coming up, isn’t it…”

“Oh, well yeah… I guess it is, Bill.”

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

(Arctic warfare training always promised deep snow and freezing temperatures)

There were a few brothers that had a perceived penchant for backing out of what we called “bad deal trips,” in favor of pursuing only the “good deal trips.” They were just slick like that. Again it was just a perception, but perception is the better part of reality in most cases.

Three of the guys earned the following monikers:

Samuel: Good deal Sam, bad deal — scram!

William: Good deal Will, bad deal — chill!

Martin: Good deal Marty, bad deal — departy!

Ah, but Sergeant Bill… now he just carried his maneuvers a smidge farther than the rest, and he didn’t deserve any finesse in his moniker:

Bill: Good deal Bill, bad deal — fake a back injury!

When I look back on some of our more gruesome training missions I am aware, ever so aware, that I do not recollect his presence there. There was the Arctic training in Alaska where we endured temperature plummets as low as -45 degree Fahrenheit while we made death marches on skis and snowshoes all night long.

No Sergeant Bill — threw his dang back out.

There was the trip to British Guyana 100 miles south of the infamous Jones Town where some 950 followers of Jim Jones’ “religion” committed suicide by poisonous Kool-aid in honor of their leader. Triple canopy jungles, All night movements again on foot and by tactical assault boats through snaking inland riverways in the sweltering heat.

No Sergeant Bill — threw his dad-blamed back out.

Hey but the desert mobility training trip where we planned extreme long range patrols… Bill was there! Oh, but his back got to acting up, and he stayed in the rear at the communications relay station — bless his lame heart. If that were not enough, then there was this thing that happened:

Long range tactical patrols meant movement all night long. Before the sun comes up, we stopped and set up camouflage nets. We then performed work priorities, set out guards, and tried to sleep in the frying pan desert as best we could.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

(An Austrian Pinzgauer, the vehicle of choice for desert mobility movements)

We played the tactical game to the hilt because we knew there were Russian helicopters flying the desert looking for our Rally Over Day (ROD) locations at this particular state-side training venue. To be spotted was a compromise and we would have to pack up and run from them in daylight— a losing situation.

To the lonely sound of the buzzing of deer flies, punctuated by the omnipresent smacking noise of the swatting of deer flies, was the low rumble of men in fitful sleep. Very suddenly came the booming of the heavy rotor blades of a Russian Hind-D attack helicopter looming at some 75 feet of altitude… with spineless Bill leaning out of a cargo window pointing wildly to us on the ground.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

(The very intimidating Russian attack helicopter Hind-D)

“I’m going to kill him pretty soon… I’m going to kill spineless Bill. I’m going to chop him up into pieces then burn each of the pieces to ashes. I’m going to collect up those ashes and tamp them down into the barrel of a 12-pound Napoleon cannon, and fire his ashes out of over a field full of cow sh!t; when the cows come to eat the grass I’m going to kill them too and then burn the grass… and I’m going to do it all on a piping-hot Summer’s day,” projected the oath a particularly agitated brother.

The moral of the story here could possibly be: whether your back injury is real or faked, and perception being the greater part of reality, your shenanigans will not write you a day pass from… THE UNIT CARTOONIST!

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

(12-pound Napoleon cannon)

MIGHTY CULTURE

How a lack of sleep could be affecting the weight problem in the military

The most recent Health Related Behaviors Survey for the Department of Defense, conducted by the RAND Corporation, has been released recently — and, spoiler alert: it’s not looking so good.

While the study covers a wide array of health problems, the biggest standout — the one that ruffled everyone’s feathers — was that, across every branch, over sixty percent of troops are overweight or obese. The Army took top “honors” with a whopping 69.4 percent while the Marines achieved a slightly slimmer 60.9 percent.

But this isn’t the most alarming statistic.


Troops are also getting less sleep than before. There’s no denying the connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. Troops are still PTing their asses off early in the morning along with eating relatively well, which makes it pretty easy to identify the real root of the problem.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

It’s not hard to point out why troop’s get little sleep nor why their sleep is so awful.

(U.S. Army photo)

As noted by the Military Times, nearly sixty percent of all troops have reportedly gotten far less sleep than needed. Another research study conducted by the Journal of Sleep Research concludes that both insomnia and sleep apnoea are on the rise among service members. This surely contributes to the nine-percent of all troops that have reported daily or near-daily use of sleep medication.

Contrary to popular belief, sleeping more is not a symptom of laziness, a laziness that many point to as the cause of weight issues. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A lack of sleep throws a person’s hormones that regulate hunger, ghrelin and leptin, out of order. Getting just four hours of sleep will impact your body’s ability to accurately determine its food intake needs.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Your best bet is to eat three solid meals a day to curb hunger.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Riley Johnson)

Of course, eating too much junk food is going to increase weight gain. But did you know that the opposite — eating one meal a day (which is usually junk food or a late-night binge meal) — is often just as bad. Fat buildup is the body’s way of conserving energy. If you’re starving your body throughout the day and, right before going to bed, loading up on pizza and beer, your body will instinctively hold that junk food because that’s all you’re giving it.

While has been proven that intermittent fasting (intentional or not) does not have adverse effects on metabolism, it’s still very unhealthy — especially when combined with the metabolism drop that comes with a lack of sleep.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

It’ll be a hell of a work out, I’m sure. But don’t expect it or the training to cut fat off the formation.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kelsey Miller)

Which scenario is more likely within the military? That a slight change in PT schedule was so widespread and disastrous that well over half of troops are now more fat — or that an increasingly competitive and stressful environment is causing troops to skip meals and sleep to accomplish arbitrary missions in a garrison environment?

And since the projected Army Combat Readiness Test, the new PT test for the Army, seems like it will be focusing more on physical strength over cardiovascular endurance, expect them to keep the top spot for the foreseeable future.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What happens when door breaching goes explosively wrong

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is a now a master photographer, cartoonist and storyteller.

Five… four… three… two… one — BANG!

Bang?

We slung mutual glances from our lineup outside the door we were trying to explosively breach. Door charges weren’t supposed to go bang; they were supposed to go “BOOM!


“GO, GO, GO!” came the call as we rushed to the still-closed breach point. Moses Bentley was the man who built and fired the charge. He crashed through the still-closed door like Thing from the Fantastic Four. We piled in behind him and quickly cleared and dominated the interior of our target building.

A post-assault inspection of the door charge revealed that the explosive had gone “low-order;” that is, only a small portion of the charge and detonated, leaving the remainder still stuck to the door. “Don’t touch it…” Moses cautioned to us, “…it’s likely still sensitized from the initiator. Let’s leave it alone for about 30 minutes before I recover it.”

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Moses (running) and the author training in Hereford, England, with the British 22 Special Air Service Regiment (22 SAS).

The setting was a condemned and abandoned residential neighborhood in New Orleans, “The Big Easy,” Louisiana. Our operations bros had found this hood and prepped it for a couple of days of absolutely realistic assault training with live breaches. We cut doors, blew through walls, blasted through chainlink fences… even through a shingle roof, which was more just something fun to do rather than a legit thing of tactical value, as breaching a shingle gable roof puts you in… an attic — doh!

Back at our breaching table, Moses (Mos) took the flexible sheet explosive he had collected from the door and packed it into a lumped pile. He added a little “P” for “plenty” and voila, the “Bentley Blaster,” as he entitled it, was born: “I’ll slap this Bentley Blaster between the doorknob and the deadbolt and punch all that sh*t through the jamb; right in, right out, nobody gets hurt!” Mos bragged.

“Right in, right out, nobody gets hurt,” was the meta-assault plan composed largely of anti-matter and existed in a parallel universe. The plan applied to all actions on every assault objective after the real-world assault plan was formulated. We recited it to together just before we went in on every objective.

It was a B-Team thing. Our A-Team began their assaults with the Team Leader turning to his men announcing in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, “I am the cleanah!” to which his men replied in kind and in unison, “And we are the cleaning crew!” Just a thing.

The Ryder rental truck with our assault teams crept through an alleyway, coming to a halt behind a cluster of houses. Inside, B-Team waited as the cleaner and the cleaning crew lowered themselves to the ground and padded their way to their target house. Team Leader Daddy-Mac turned to us and began: “Ok, what’s the plan?” to which we chanted, “Right in, right out, nobody gets hurt,” and we moved to our objective.

The team stacked just behind the corner from the front door. Mos and I emerged and moved to the breach point. Mos worked on the door where I covered him with my assault rifle in case anyone opened the door.

Mos fired the five second delay fuse to the initiator, turned 90 degrees to his left, and moved off quickly with me following. It struck me odd that he had turned his back to the charge. The SOP we followed dictated that we always backed away from our breach points.

Mos pushed into the stack with me next to him and, still with my AR trained on the corner we had turned. Our Troop Commander stood 20 feet away in an administrative observation posture. He had seen, at the very last second, something none of us realized, something which horrified him.

When Mos did his 90-degree turn, his pistol holster had caught and stripped the powerful Bentley Blaster door charge off of the door and it hung there on his person where he crouched in the stack.

To be continued in part II…

Just kidding! In a very split second, the Commander knew that if he had called out a warning to Mos, that Mos would most assuredly have tried to strip it off… and he surely would have lost his hand. Mos would certainly fare better to endure it where it was — whatever “fare better” meant in this case, anyway.

BOOM” not “bang” went the charge this time. I found myself suddenly facing the opposite direction, spitting something warm and salty out of my mouth. Turning about, I saw that Mos had been violently cartwheeled with his head angered into the ground. His body was in the most impossible position; his legs were in the air against the wall… you couldn’t have manually placed him in that configurations no matter how hard you tried, and he was out cold.

Daddy-Mac was the first to respond calling Mos’ name, pulling him down from his morbid stance. I turned to our officer and hollered from him to pull the med kit from the pouch on my back. He pulled it then stood there, frozen, with the med kit in his hands and a horrified look on his face. Disgusted, I grabbed the med kit from him and turned to the scene.

Markey-Marcos was the newest man out our team. He looked at me with a nervous grin and shook his head, over and over, exclaiming: “Whew… whew… whew!” I was annoyed again and slapped him on the back, “Snap out of it bro; that’s the way it’s going to get in this business — get used to it!” I chided in some pretentious, hardened-vet sort of way.

Markey-Marcos turned his back to pick up his AR, which had been blown out of his hands by the Bentley Blaster. He was the rear man in the stack, so he had his back to Mos to provide security to our rear. I saw immediately that both legs of his assault trousers were completely shredded and Marcos was bleeding from dozens of tiny puncture wounds.

Shocked, I immediately put my arm around his shoulders and, with a much more humane tone, I told him, “Here, take it easy Marcos… let’s have a seat; it will be alright.” Our troop medic was already on the scene, cutting clothing and bandaging trauma and burns to Mos, mostly to his legs.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Doc (left) and an Operations Cell NCO work on Moses right were he “blew up”; the wall behind them is blackened by the explosion.

Mos and Daddy-Mac argued:

Daddy-Mac: “Damn bro, you were out cold!

Mos: “No I wasn’t; I was awake the whole time.

Homes, I’m telling you I saw you and you were completely knocked out!

Bullsh*t, I was never knocked out; I was conscious for the whole thing.”

Daddy-Mac turned to our medic, disgusted but relieved, “Doc, he appears to be fine; back to his usual contrary pissy self.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Marky-Marcos was patched up and returned to us with no training time lost. Mos was hurt pretty bad but refused to be sent back home to Fort Bragg. He insisted on staying in our hotel promising he would be back the next day. That didn’t happen. Mos didn’t walk for several days. When he finally could, he only came to hang out for training with no participation.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Moses debriefs with senior representatives from the Master Breecher’s office before being driven back to the hotel to take it easy. To the right is the door where the Bentley Blaster charge had been stripped off and attached to Mos’ pistol holster.

Back at Bragg, Mos continued to heal, a process that took several weeks. He routinely reported to the clinic to have yards of Curlex bandage pulled from cavities in his legs and have fresh Curlex packed back in, and extraordinarily painful process, one that the rest of us wouldn’t have missed for the world.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Back at Ft. Bragg Moses Bentley stand behind his assault uniform as it was pulled off of him on the scene. Speculation revealed that his pistol and holster likely spared him from losing his left leg.

I’m put squarely in mind of the words of one of our training cadre from a trauma management class during our training phase:

“Pay attention to this, guys… if you stay in Delta for any period of time, you will be putting this training to good use.”
Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Healing back at Ft. Bragg.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Scars from the blast as they remained.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How pilot training has changed over the years

Pilot training is constantly changing to ensure students have an environment where they not only learn to fly, but to adapt and quickly out-think their enemies.

With senior leadership making innovation a priority, the Air Force has changed how airmen are trained and how they become proficient at their jobs. This in turn has changed the way the Air Force develops pilots and what pilot training currently looks like.

For instance, pilot training currently consists of three phases starting with the academic and simulator phase. After the academic phase, student pilots are sent to train in the T-6A Texan II, the primary training aircraft.

Once the students complete the second phase, they are selected for either the airlift/tanker track in the T-1A Jayhawk, or the fighter/bomber track in the T-38C Talon.


“When I went through pilot training in the late 1960s, we started off flying the Cessna T-41 Mescalero for six weeks, the T-37 Tweet for five months and finished training in the T-38 Talon for a total of 52 weeks of training,” said Jim Faulkner, Vance Air Force Base, a graduate of pilot training, class of 1968.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

U.S. Air Force Cessna T-41 Mescalero.

Although students in the 1960s and students today reach the same goal, there have been adjustments made over the course of time to focus pilots on mastering the specific style of aircraft they will fly once training has finished.

In addition to changes in the training aircraft, there have been technological advancements to improve the way students operate an aircraft.

“We had simulators, but the concepts that they covered were limited and did not give us any visual aids to look at while training,” said Jim Mayhall, pilot training graduate, class of 1967.

In the same way that older generations used simulators to gather a feel of the aircraft and location of instruments, current students use simulators to familiarize themselves with flying maneuvers and concepts before they reach the cockpit. The changes in technology have the potential to give students more realistic training for what they will experience in the cockpit.

“Being able to gain exposure to 360-degree videos of the local area, patterns and virtual-reality videos saves money and time,” said 1st Lt. Jason Mavrogeorge, 8th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

2nd Lt. Kenneth Gill, a student pilot assigned to the 71st Student Squadron, and Capt. Peter Shufeldt, an instructor pilot assigned to the 33rd Flying Training Squadron, start up the T-6 Texan II before take-off, May 2, 2019, at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The T-6 Texan II is the first aircraft the student pilots learn to fly before moving on to other aircraft.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Zoe T. Perkins)

“Students should have seen the arrivals, departures and instrument approaches before their first flight,” Mavrogeorge said. “Giving the students more flying experience gives them confidence and allows me to enhance their flying skills as an instructor.”

Similar to the technological changes made within pilot training, there have been changes in monitoring the safety of pilots while flying.

The safety standards did not require pilots to wear a G-suit in the T-37 Tweet. When the T-37 was replaced with the more maneuverable T-6A Texan II, pilots were required to wear a G-suit during flight to prevent the possibility of losing consciousness.

All the great changes and advancements in pilot training are possible thanks to those who laid the groundwork and figured out what to avoid.

“The only thing that remains constant in the Air Force pilot training program is that we will continue to produce great Air Force aviators and future leaders,” Mayhall said.

Vance trains more than 350 pilots a year, totaling over 34,000 since pilot training began in 1941.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

See a decommissioned ship get beat down by Army, Navy

A YouTuber has come out as a former member of the Army Testing and Evaluation Campaign and revealed that, as he departed the command, he was allowed to film all the events surrounding his last mission including the U.S. Army and Navy and the Japanese Self-Defense Force slamming a ship with missiles, rockets, torpedoes, and grenades.


The Future of War, and How It Affects YOU (Torpedo/Missiles vs Ship) – Smarter Every Day 211

www.youtube.com

The YouTube channel SmarterEveryDay is ran by Destin Sandlin, and he’s best known for videos about things like how tattoo guns work, how Houdini died, and how an AK-47 works underwater. If that sounds like a broad portfolio, the stated mission is to “explore the world using science. That’s pretty much all there is to it.”

He hasn’t talked about his Army connection on the channel much in the past, so most viewers were probably surprised when they saw the new video titled The Future of War, and How It Affects YOU. Destin revealed at the start of the video that he’s a member of ATEC and that U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Gen. Robert B. Brown wanted to talk with him after the sinking exercise to discuss “Multi-Domain Operations.”

If you just want to see the former USS Racine get hit by explosives, the video above is linked to start just a little before the fireworks. Harpoon anti-ship missiles give way to rockets, a Naval Strike Missile, an Apache strike, and finally a Mk-48 torpedo.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

After that, Destin has a short talk with a member of the Army’s Asymmetric Working Group about how engagements like the sinking reflect these multi-domain operations, fighting that starts in at least one domain, like the sea, but quickly comes to incorporate assets from the other domains: land, air, space, and cyber.

In the case of the ship sinking, missile launchers on the land engaged the ship on the sea by firing their weapons through the air. And the Japanese Self-Defense Force linked into U.S. sensors and systems through links in the cyber domain. In actual combat, the former USS Racine would’ve been tracked from satellites in space.

Brown, true to the promises at the beginning of the video, has his own extended conversation with Destin about how the U.S. needs to prepare for multi-domain operations to shoot, move, and communicate into the future.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what your wardrobe on mandatory fun days says about you

For better or worse, you’re going to find out basically everything about your brothers- and sisters-in-arms. The longer you serve with them — the more field ops, the more deployments, and the more random BS — the more you’re going to learn all the tiny, little details about your fellow troops.

But if you want a crash course on the personal life of any other troop, look no further than how they dress whenever they’re given the option to show up in civvies instead of the uniform. Sometimes it’s at the recall formation at 0200 on Saturday morning and everyone’s just rolled out of bed. But when it’s a “mandatory fun” day with the unit, troops tend to get a bit… uh… creative with their wardrobe selection.

Here’s what your choice of mando-fun outfit says about you.


Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Look at them. Being all successful and sh*t.

(U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Aux. Barry Novakoff.)

Average civilian clothes 

Nothing really stands out about this troop. They’re probably the type to stay in, honorably discharge, get into a nice school under the GI Bill, and become a productive member of society. There’s nothing really bad you could say about them but, man, these guys are boring as hell.

They may fit in with world when they’re on leave, but in the unit, they’re the odd one out — because they’re not what society considers odd like the rest of us.

There’s a 50% chance that all of these guys’ military stories are about other (more interesting) people.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

They’re probably 98% more likely to also being too lazy to even change from the work day before…

(U.S. Army photo)

Basically the uniform, but with blue jeans and without the top

If this troop has been in any longer than one pay period beyond basic training and still dresses like they’re barely satisfying the minimum requirement to be “out of uniform,” then they’re lazy as f*ck. The longer this troop has been in, the less of an excuse they have — they get a clothing allowance that specifically includes extra cash for civilian clothes.

It’s literally the one time the military gives you money and says, “go buy yourself something nice” and this troop wasted it on booze, video games, or strippers.

These bums have a 98% chance of asking you to spot them until payday, saying they can “totally” get you back (but never will).

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

If they do wear a kilt in formation, they have a 100% chance of asking you, “do you know the difference between a kilt and a skirt?” before mooning you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by SSgt. Marc R. Ayalin)

Over-the-top, ridiculous clothing

This troop has been eagerly awaiting the moment they’re told they can wear civilian clothes. This dude is the platoon’s joker while in uniform, so don’t expect that to change when they’re given the freedom to wear whatever.

You can never really predict what they’re going to show up in. Maybe they’ll wear a Halloween costume in April. Maybe they’ll show up in a fully-traditional kilt. Maybe they’ll just wear that mankini thing from Borat.

These bros also have a 69% chance of repeating a joke if you don’t laugh at it, insisting that you must have missed it the first time two times.

Overtly moto clothes

It’s not entirely uncommon for troops to start up clothing lines when they leave the service. Hell, we even got into the veteran-humor t-shirt game to help pay the bills. Warning: shameless self-promotion here.

But there’s just something odd about troops who wear overly-Hooah, I’m-a-Spartan-sheepdog-who-became-the-Grim-Reaper-for-your-freedoms shirt when everyone in the unit knows you’re a POG who just got to the unit. We’re not knocking the shirt (because that’s something we should probably start selling sooner or later…) but, you’re not fooling anyone.

These boots are 1% likely to actually be a grunt.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

This was your first sergeant ten years ago… and ten days ago…

Same style you had before you enlisted

That moment you enlist is probably the last time you really give a damn about clothing styles. So, your closet is (probably) still full of clothes that you might get around to wearing some day. We get it. But it gets kinda sad the longer you’ve been in the military.

Dressing like a background actor in Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8r Boi” music video may have been cool back in the day, but when you see a salty, old first sergeant try to rock that look it’s… just depressing.

These dudes have a 75% chance of reaching 10 years, saying, “what’s another 10 anyways?” to themselves, and immediately regretting that decision.

Woman honors husband’s WWII service, 40 years after his death

Civilian clothes don’t have a standard, but if they did…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. John Ross)

Business casual with a “high and tight”

When the commander puts out the memo saying troops can wear whatever they want as long as they’re in formation, these guys kind of break down. Freedom of choice is a foreign concept to them.

What they chose to wear is, essentially, another kind of uniform: a muted-color polo tucked into a pair of ironed khakis, a brown belt, and loafers — and maybe a branch hat that they picked up at the PX because they’d have an anxiety attack if the open wind touched their bare head.

This guy has a 99.99% chance of also trying enforce some sort of clothing standard when there isn’t even a need for it.