First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

New soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma were the first to graduate Army Basic Combat Training this month wearing the service’s new Army Greens — modeled after an iconic World War II uniform.

After completing the 10-week BCT course, about 200 soldiers from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery, which falls under the 434th Field Artillery Brigade, stood at attention at the Nov. 16 graduation ceremony dressed in the new Army Green Service Uniform, officials said in a release.

The significance of the iconic uniform — a throwback to the “Greatest Generation’s” Pinks and Greens — was not lost on fledgling soldiers like Pvt. Rebeca Beaird, who recalled what she thought when she was first issued the new uniform.

“A lot of us were thinking: ‘Oh, Captain America, like yeah! We get to be there,'” Beaird said in the release, possibly referring to the popular 2011 movie “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which showed actor Chris Evans dressed in his Pinks and Greens uniform during WWII.

“Soldiers who wear this uniform are going to be honored to wear them. Veterans who wore them will be happy to see us bring it back.”

Beaird, 19, is scheduled to attend advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to become a behavioral health technician.

The ceremony’s guest speaker, Lt. Col. Jason Carter, Fires Center and Fort Sill Commanding General’s Planning Group director, further highlighted the historical significance of the uniform.

“The Army’s greatest generation wore the iconic greens uniform when America was in the throes of World War II,” Carter said, referring to Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and George Marshall.

“Now you, as our next great generation, are among one of the first in our United States Army to wear one of the most admired and recognizable uniforms in our history as it is being reinstituted to honor our heritage.”

The Fort Sill graduates were among the first recruits to receive the AGSU in October. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Fort Benning, Georgia; and Fort Jackson, South Carolina are the next bases in line for trainees to begin receiving the AGSU, according to Army officials.

Army recruiters and drill sergeants were the first to begin receiving the new uniform, because the two groups are considered the face of the Army, officials have said.

Staff Sgt. Hayon Ju, a drill sergeant with 1-79th, said she “loved the practicality” of the new uniform.

“They’re a lot easier for females to set up our ribbons and badges,” Ju said.

During its development, the Army formed a special, all-female panel to speak for the needs of female soldiers. One of the recommendations was to have pants as the default option instead of the traditional skirt that was issued in the past.

Army senior leaders approved the new uniform for everyday wear in late 2018 as a replacement for the blue Army Service Uniform (ASU) after deciding that it is often too formal for everyday business use.

Soldiers who own a set of the ASU can continue to wear it for formal occasions.

Col. Daniel Blackmon, 434th Field Artillery Brigade commander, said the AGSU is special for him because his father and grandfather served in the Army and wore similar uniforms.

Blackmon said he has heard a lot of positive comments when wearing his AGSU — “one, the history, and two, just the way it looks.”

Sgt. 1st Class Antrell Bender, a senior drill sergeant at 1-79, said the new soldiers don’t have anything to compare the AGSU to since this is their first dress uniform.

For Bender, the AGSU is his third dress uniform of his career. “I’ve been in since we had the green dress uniform, then we switched over to the ASUs,” he said.

Soldiers are not required to own the AGSU until Oct. 1, 2027, an extended phase-in period intended to give enlisted soldiers more time to save up their annual clothing allowance to buy the new uniform.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, however, is moving ahead with plans to supply the new uniform through a wave-based rollout approach. The majority of AAFES locations within the U.S. are expected to have the new uniform by December. Stores in Alaska, Europe, Japan and South Korea, along with National Guard and Reserve military clothing locations, should have a supply of uniforms by February 2021.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Navy says it has top-secret information about UFOs

The Navy has said it has top-secret information about unidentified flying objects that could cause “exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States” if released.

A Navy representative responded to a Freedom of Information Act request sent by a researcher named Christian Lambright by saying the Navy had “discovered certain briefing slides that are classified TOP SECRET,” Vice reported last week.

But the representative from the Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence said “the Original Classification Authority has determined that the release of these materials would cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States.”


The person also said the Navy had at least one related video classified as “SECRET.”

Vice said it independently verified the response to Lambright’s request with the Navy.

Lambright’s request for information was related to a series of videos showing Navy pilots baffled by mysterious, fast objects in the sky.

The Navy previously confirmed it was treating these objects as UFOs.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

An image from a 2004 video filmed near San Diego showing a UFO.

(CNN/Department of Defense)

The term UFO, along with others like “unidentified aerial phenomena” and “unidentified flying object,” does not necessarily mean the object is thought to be extraterrestrial. Many such sightings ultimately end up having logical and earthly explanations — often involving military technology.

A spokeswoman for the Pentagon had also previously told The Black Vault, a civilian-run archive of government documents, that the videos “were never officially released to the general public by the DOD and should still be withheld.”

The Department of Defense videos show pilots confused by what they are seeing. In one video, a pilot said: “What the f— is that thing?”

The Pentagon spokeswoman Susan Gough said this week that an investigation into “sightings is ongoing.”

Joseph Gradisher, the Navy’s spokesman for the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, told The Black Vault last year: “The Navy has not publicly released characterizations or descriptions, nor released any hypothesis or conclusions, in regard to the objects contained in the referenced videos.”

According to The Black Vault, Gradisher said the Department of Defense videos were filmed in 2004 and 2015. The New York Times also reported that one of the videos was from 2004.

You can watch the 2004 video here, as shared by To the Stars Academy, a UFO research group cofounded by Tom deLonge from the rock group Blink-182:

FLIR1: Official UAP Footage from the USG for Public Release

www.youtube.com

One of the videos was shared by The New York Times in December 2017, with one commander who saw the object on a training mission telling The Times “it accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

Another pilot told the outlet: “These things would be out there all day.”

Pilots told The Times that the objects could accelerate, stop, and turn in ways that went beyond known aerospace technology. Many of the pilots who spoke with The Times were part of a Navy flight squadron known as the “Red Rippers,” and they reported the sightings to the Pentagon and Congress.

“Navy pilots reported to their superiors that the objects had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds,” the Times report said.

Scientists also told The Times they were skeptical that these videos showed anything extraterrestrial.

Gough, the Pentagon spokeswoman, would not comment to Vice on whether the 2004 source video that the Navy possessed had any more information than the one that has been circulating online, but she said that it was the same length and that the Pentagon did not plan on releasing it.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

An image from the 2015 video.

(NYT)

John Greenewald, the curator of The Black Vault, told Vice in September that he was surprised the Navy had classified the objects as unidentified.

“I very much expected that when the US military addressed the videos, they would coincide with language we see on official documents that have now been released, and they would label them as ‘drones’ or ‘balloons,'” he said.

“However, they did not. They went on the record stating the ‘phenomena’ depicted in those videos, is ‘unidentified.’ That really made me surprised, intrigued, excited, and motivated to push harder for the truth.”

US President Donald Trump said in June that he had been briefed on the fact that Navy pilots were reporting increased sightings of UFOs.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 reasons you should become a Marine

The Marine Corps is one of the most feared war-fighting organizations in history. Military hopefuls in high school or college that are considering joining the Corps are always on the lookout for any information that may help them along their journey. Here are my two cents on why you should become a Marine.

1. The Marine Corps has the best combat arms training in the military

The Marine Corps is essentially an invasion force that can deploy to any region around the world and within 24 hours have a boot on someone’s neck. Every branch thinks they’re the tip of the spear, but Marines are usually the first ones to lock horns with a determined enemy. Marines will use every asset; airstrikes, drones, artillery, tanks, close air support, naval gunfire, and anything their commanding officer can get a hold of to smash the enemy with overwhelming force.

Marines do not know the meaning of the word moderation.

2. Marines are smarter than they look

A popular joke around the military community is that Marines chew on crayons because they’re dumb — especially when it comes to the infantry and combat Military Occupational Specialties. My platoon commander was a graduate from Yale, the majority of my platoon have degrees post service in STEM fields. The economy is in the toilet and I don’t know a single one of my Marine veteran buddies without a job. Hell, one of them is an engineer for NASA and he was in our infantry battalion.

Life is hard if you are stupid. Who’s the crayon-eating moron now?

3. We have the best-looking dress uniform

The Marine Corps Dress Blues Alphas are hands down the sharpest uniform out of all the dress uniforms in the military. As you rank up there are upgrades to your uniform that are linked to our heritage like the blood stripe or the Eagle, Globe and Anchor on the belt. Marines are known for their attention to detail such as why Cuba appears on only the enlisted EGA and not an officer’s. Marines love Marine trivia; it’s not annoying, it’s motivation!

4. Our branch was born in a bar

Specifically, Tun Tavern because that is where you would find the toughest, saltiest people willing to fight in a war. Most of our traditions involve alcohol: The Marine Corps Ball, Mess Night, every Saturday – drinking and fighting are what Marines are best at.

5. You will be in peak physical shape

Physical fitness is a pillar of who we are as Marines. We have strict height and weight standards, PT every day, and your physical ability is a major contributor to your next promotion. If you love hitting the gym, get paid for it.

6. You’ll see the world, probably

Marines operate in every clime and place. America also has embassies all over the world that are guarded by Marines. It is an MOS called MSG (Marine Corps Security Guard) and you can be stationed anywhere in the world. Sure, in other Military Occupational Specialties may have to deploy to a war zone but with MSG, you could end up somewhere nice like Germany or Japan. There are some non-deployable MOS so make sure you ask about that before you sign that contract.

7. Marines are the best storytellers

Marines experience so much that they can offer sage advice, a cautionary tale, or entertain with a story that is a borderline confession about their escapades with woman of a shaky moral compass. We don’t often get down time but when we do it’s hurry up and wait. Sometimes there is nothing to do but bullsh*t until the trucks get here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These hot rod racers are made from military drop tanks

Military drop tanks are attached under fighters and bombers, giving them extra fuel to extend their range, but easily falling away if the plane gets in a fight and needs to prioritize agility and weight over range. The drop tanks are light, aerodynamic, empty shells when not filled with fuel, and that actually makes them a great starting point for hot rods.


Why Warplane Fuel Tanks Make Great Hot Rods

www.youtube.com

And the hot rod community noticed these tanks during the Cold War, with some innovative spirits snapping them up to create tiny, fast cars. Now, these “lakesters” are quick racers that humans will cram themselves into to race across salt flats and other courses.

Many of these racers are made from World War II tanks like those used on the P-38 Lightning, the plane the F-35 Lightning II is named for. The P-38’s drop tanks were made of steel, like many of them in World War II, and its 300-gallon capacity was just big enough to allow for a motor and driver.

Getting ahold of a steel drop tank to convert was easy for a few decades after World War II, but enthusiasts now have to look harder for longer to find one of the few remaining, unconverted drop tanks.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

A P-38 Lightning with its drop tanks during World War II.

(Public domain)

And they aren’t likely to get much help from the military. Modern militaries have often opted for more exotic materials for new drop tanks, reducing their weight and, therefore, the fuel usage of the plane. A lighter drop tank costs less fuel, and so provides more range, but the composite materials aren’t always great for racers.

It will only get worse, too. Drop tanks have a massive drawback for modern planes: They increase the plane’s radar signature while reducing the number of weapons it can carry. So the military and the aviation industry are shifting away from drop tanks, opting instead for “conformal fuel tanks.”

These are auxiliary tanks made to fit like a new, larger skin on an existing plane. They’re a little harder to install, and they can’t be jettisoned in flight, but they extend range with less drag and a much lower radar penalty. And they can be packed tighter to the body of the jet, allowing the plane to keep more of its agility than it would have with heavy tanks hanging from its wings.

Sorry, racers. Keep looking for the World War II-classics.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The WWII Memorial and the role of Gold Star families

Since its opening in 2004, the World War II memorial had consistently been one of the top sites visited by those exploring the National Mall. More than 4.6 million people visited the site in 2018. It was designed by Friedrich St. Florian, the former chief of the Rhode Island School of Design. 

The WWII memorial is full of metaphors and helps illustrate the relationship between the home front and the battlefront. It showcases not just the sacrifices of service members but also Americans at home and illustrates the defining years of the 20th century. The memorial consists of 56 pillars and a pair of triumphal arches, all of which surround a square and fountain. It sits on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

It opened on April 29, 2004, and was formally dedicated on May 29, 2004, by President George W. Bush. 

Each of the 56 granite pillars on the memorial grounds is 17 feet tall. The pillars are arranged in a semicircle around the plaza with two 43-foot arches on either side. Each pillar is inscribed with the name of one of the then 48 states of America, along with the District of Columbia, the Alaska Territory, the Territory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands. There are two wreaths on each pillar. The wheat wreath represents agriculture, and the oak wreath represents industry. Together, these wreaths symbolize that states and territories gave their citizens to serve and also their resources, fruits of their labor, and hard work. 

The northern arc is inscribed “Atlantic,” and the southern arc is inscribed “Pacific,” meant to indicate WWII’s two theaters.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform
(National Parks Service)

The memorial includes two inconspicuously located “Kilroy was here” engravings to acknowledge the symbol’s significance to American soldiers who served during WWII. Kilroy was here is a symbol that became popular during WWII and represented military presence and protection wherever the symbol was inscribed.

When entering the memorial from the east, a visitor can walk along either the right wall or left wall, both of which picture scenes from the war. In base relief, the scenes progress as the country ramps up to go to war. On the right wall, the scenes show soon to be military service personnel getting physical exams, taking their oaths, and being issued gear. On the left wall, the scenes are more typical of the European theater, and some take place in England and show preparations for air and water assaults. The last scene is a handshake between the American and Russian armies, symbolic of the meeting of the western and eastern fronts. 

The place of honor at the WWII memorial is the Freedom Wall. This field of gold stars symbolizes the number of American dead from WWII. The state pillars are arranged from the Freedom Wall outward. The first state listed is Delaware, the first to ratify the US Constitution. To the left is Pennsylvania. The states go back and forth in this manner in a staged sort of military march to represent when each state entered the union. 

There are 4,048 gold stars on the Freedom Wall. Each one represents 100 American military deaths. More than 400,000 Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, sailors and military personnel lost their lives or remain missing in action. Of the 16 million men and women in military service during that time, that means that one person out of every 40 died. 

The Gold Star has long been a symbol associated with the American military family. The tradition started in WWI when American families began displaying blue stars stitched on flags to show that they had family members fighting in the war. The Gold Star indicates that the service member was killed in action and is a hallmark symbol of American military family sacrifice. 

“Here We Mark the Price of Freedom,” is inscribed below the Freedom Wall, a sentiment that’s echoed in the other war memorials located at the National Mall.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 items every barracks room should have

The phrase, “proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance” can be applied to all areas of your life. Preparation is often the difference between being comfortable and being miserable, especially if you’re on active duty in the barracks. Living on base has its challenges, but if you take a few extra steps, you can insure your leave is approved on time, all uniforms are ready for any inspection, and you’re sitting pretty while everyone who lives off base is frantically fighting traffic.


First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

1. Clothing steamer

Local dry cleaners are likely a little out of reach and aren’t open when you need them to be. This makes a clothing steamer an essential in every barracks room. Grab a portable steamer from your nearest Walmart to ensure your uniforms are wrinkle-free at all times — plus, you’ll save some money by doing it yourself.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

2. Printer with scanner

Bureaucracy sucks — especially when it ends up with the company office telling you to update something that the S1 should have already done, and now it’s affecting your leave approval. Here’s a rule to live by: When handling important paperwork, scan it, e-mail it, and print a physical back-up.

Print out proof of updates, classes, courses, MCI, and anything else that you have been tasked to do digitally. The machine isn’t going to stop turning for you; when you need physical proof that something’s been done, don’t rely on the company office to have a printer in working order.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

3. Rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries are good for your wallet and the environment. They’re an investment that pays off almost immediately because you’re going to use them in everything from console controllers to that wireless mouse for your laptop. You won’t have to go to the store at 0300 because you ignored the low-battery light for a week.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

4. Cleaning supplies

Your future self will thank you for having a fully-stocked cabinet of cleaning supplies when the time comes to clean up that crime scene of a mess after a night of partying.

Plus, the most common form of corporal punishment is forced cleaning. Whole units have been known to attack the nearest PX at the same time when getting set straight — if you’ve got everything you need already, you’ll be finished by the time your neighbors hit the checkout line.

5. Extra food

There will be days when going for a run with the LT results in missing mess hall hours. Most mess halls have a rule that states a troop cannot be served if they are filthy or in a PT uniform.

By keeping a reserve of breakfast staples in your barracks room, you can still enjoy a satisfying meal even when the Big Green Weenie is hungry for seconds. Cereal and microwavable foods are a way better alternative to that forgotten MRE that’s been sitting at the bottom of your pack since the last field op.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

6. A Nerf gun

BB and air soft guns are banned on most military installations, but don’t worry, there’s a loophole: the Nerf gun. They’re essentially harmless, ricochets don’t damage government property, and they’re a must for those times when the leadership has gone home. Glide into best bro’s room with a sweet combat stance and hook him up with your mastery of marksmanship. Exercise that trigger discipline and economy of rounds as you enthusiastically shout politically incorrect phrases at your best friend.

Technically, it’s training and you’re a motivated troop keeping your team from becoming complacent.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the Air Force’s policy on nose art is actually pointless

It was once a staple of aviation: During WWII, pilots and crews would decorate the nose of their beloved aircraft with a piece of art. At first, these drawings were used as means of identifying one another. Later, they became a way to remember what’s waiting back home — usually gorgeous women posed in ways that’d make grandma blush.

The practice wasn’t given official approval, but it wasn’t banned outright, either — for a while, anyway. Then, the Air Force finally put their foot down. We understand that there’s a need for nose art to look “professional” in modern times, but the extensive approval process defeats the purpose of the tradition and has effectively killed one of the coolest parts of Air Force history.


First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

A distinctive marking might just defeat the purpose of flying a top secret aircraft…

(U.S. Air Force)

New nose art still appears on aircraft, but the instances are less frequent and varied. The 23rd Fighter Group’s A-10s, for example, will still have their iconic “shark teeth” — at least until the A-10 retires in 2022 — and many larger aircraft, such as the KC-135 and AC-130, still carry gorgeous and patriotic designs, but these are often relegated to being “Air Show darlings” instead of serving their intended purposes overseas.

The soft ban on nose art isn’t without some validity. We understand that you can’t slap a drawing of a nude lady on the side of a multi-million dollar aircraft and expect the general population to be happy with it — and it’s probably not a good idea to put a layer of paint on the high-tech, radar-resistant panels that cover the stealthier aircraft in America’s hangers.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

It’s a combat multiplier, or whatever buzzword that gets officers going these days…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot)

Today’s airmen who feel the need to give their baby some style don’t often use any kind of permanent paint. Instead, crews will usually use colored chalk to draw on their designs. That way, they can simply wash it off whenever needed (like when an ornery officer wants to rain on the parade).

There’s some practical reasoning behind dolling up an aircraft with chalk — and it’s more than just honoring a WWII tradition. It makes it much easier to identify which matte gray aircraft belongs to which crew when you’re looking at a massive lineup. Instead of cross-referencing tail numbers, you can simply look for the one with a dragon or a grim reaper or a poor attempt at a tiger.

This also brings a sense of “ownership” to the aircraft. Yes, it ultimately belongs to Uncle Sam and whomever has it on their hand receipt, but when you’ve got some personal attachment, you’ll put in that little bit of extra effort to keep everything in tip-top shape.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

Or, if you really want to reign it in, make it match the unit’s history — but let ’em have some fun.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman David Owsianka)

If a crew wants to add some permanent nose art, they’ll have to coordinate a request for artistic modifications through their major command and navigate all the bureaucratic red tape that comes along with it. It’s not impossible, but getting anything approved that isn’t a direct nod to unit history or extreme patriotism is difficult.

So, instead of slogging through all that nonsense, some airmen just go for it and decorate their aircraft. What happens to these renegades? Usually nothing more than a slap on the wrist and an order to remove the offending art. Which brings us to the ultimate question:

Why even have a rule against nose art? If the design is in good (and professional) taste and it’s done by a competent artist, why not allow airmen to mark their birds with something that will inspire their unit?

H/T to my friends at Military Veterans of Disqus for the inspiration for this piece. You guys rock!

MIGHTY CULTURE

This modern amphibious assault ship is carrying WWII planes

The amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) is an integral part of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force as a forward operating platform. Essex is capable of carrying up to 1,771 Marines as well as the landing craft to get them ashore.

Her aircraft suite includes AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft, F-35B Lightning II stealth strike-fighters, AH-1W/Z Super Cobra/Viper attack helicopters, MV-22B Osprey assault support tiltrotors, CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters, UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters, and SH-60F/HH-60H anti-submarine warfare helicopters.


However, rather than her usual wing of modern jets and helicopters, USS Essex is currently carrying 14 WWII-era trainer, bomber and fighter aircraft.
First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

USS Essex usually carries Marine aircraft like these Ospreys (US Navy)

The 844-foot-long ship is on her way to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to participate in RIMPAC 2020, the world’s largest international maritime exercise. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Pentagon made the decision to cancel RIMPAC’s air exercises.

In January, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called for a number of WWII-era aircraft to assemble in Hawaii to participate in a commemoration of the end of the war in the Pacific. Known as V-J Day for “Victory over Japan”, the event is most commonly celebrated on August 15. On August 15, 1945, (which was August 14 in America due to the time change), Emperor Hirohito announced his decree to accept the Potsdam Declaration and surrender over the radio.

Since the Marines had to leave their aircraft behind, USS Essex had plenty of room for the WWII-era aircraft since the vintage planes were unable to make the flight to Hawaii. The planes will include five AT-6/SNJ advanced trainers, two PBY Catalina flying boats, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, an FM-2 Wildcat fighter, an F8F Bearcat fighter, a Stearman Model 75 biplane, a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber and a T-28 Trojan.
First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

The FM-2 Wildcat is lowered to the hangar deck (Commemorative Air Force)

The planes will conduct flyovers over Hawaii from August 29, the day U.S. troops began the occupation of Japan, to September 2, the day that the formal Japanese surrender was made aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Before embarking on the trip to Hawaii, the pilots, maintainers and ground crews accompanying the planes were required to spend two weeks in quarantine at Naval Base San Diego to prevent anyone with COVID-19 from boarding the ship.

The 14 planes headed to Hawaii aboard the USS Essex will return to San Diego with the ship following the conclusion of the V-J Day Commemoration and RIMPAC.


MIGHTY CULTURE

The 369th Support Brigade is now officially the Harlem Hellfighters

The Harlem Hellfighters spent more time in combat during WWI than any other American unit. Comprised primarily of African-American soldiers, the 369th Infantry Regiment spent 191 days in frontline trenches and suffered 1,500 casualties, the most losses of any American regiment. The soldiers of the regiment were given their nickname by their German enemies for their ferocity and tenacity in battle. However, it took the Army over 100 years to recognize the unit’s official designation as the Harlem Hellfighters.

On September 21, 2020, the Army Center of Military History recognized the 369th Infantry Regiment and its descendant, the 369th Sustainment Brigade, as the Harlem Hellfighters. The 369th’s nickname is now observed as a historical and traditional name like the 42nd Infantry Division’s “Rainbow Division” or 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s “Brave Rifles” nicknames. The special designation program is operated by the Force Structure and Unit History Branch of the Army Center of Military History. The effort to officially recognize the 369th’s nickname began in 2019.

New York State Military Museum Director Courtney Burns was working on a 369th display at the Harlem Armory when he went looking for an official certificate in the Army’s records recognizing the unit’s nickname. To his surprise, there wasn’t one. Shocked by this oversight, Burns reached out and notified the unit’s commander, Col. Seth Morgulas. “That is crazy,” Morgulas recalled. “How does it not have it?”

Despite the lack of official recognition, the Harlem Hellfighters nickname is well-known and commonly used. The Triple-A video game Battlefield 1 depicts the 369th and even featured a downloadable content release titled the “Hellfighter Pack”. Moreover, the street that runs by the unit Armory was renamed from Harlem River Drive to Harlem Hellfighters Drive by the New York State Department of Public Transportation. “That was such a glaring error,” Burns said of the nickname’s lack of recognition by the Army.

The 369th Infantry Regiment started out as the 15th Infantry Regiment headquartered in Harlem. It was a segregated African-American unit in the New York National Guard. When America entered WWI in 1917, scores of African-American men traveled to New York City to enlist in the 15th Infantry Regiment and the unit shipped out as part of the American Expeditionary Force.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform
Soldiers of the 369th on a troop ship (National Archives)

Initially, the 15th was relegated to unloading supplies from transport ships. However, in March 1918, the 15th was reorganized as the 369th Infantry and loaned out to the French Army for frontline service. It was during this time that the unit earned its famous nickname, among others.

The soldiers of the 369th called themselves the “Black Rattlers” for their unit crest which depicts a coiled rattlesnake. The French soldiers that they served with called them “Hommes de Bronze” or “Men of Bronze”. But, it was the Germans who called the men of the 369th “Hollenkampfer”…”Hellfighters.” “They are devils,” said a Prussian officer who was captured during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. “They smile while they kill and they won’t be taken alive.”

Due to their courage in battle, the Hellfighters constantly outpaced the French units on their flanks. During one offensive, the closest French units were seven miles behind them. The Hellfighters were also the first allied unit to reach the Rhine River at the war’s end. The French recognized the Hellfighters’ bravery with 11 unit citations and a unit Croix de Guerre. 170 Hellfighters were individually recognized with the Croix de Guerre as well.

After the armistice, the Hellfighters joined the allied armies as they paraded through formerly German-occupied territory. “That day, the sun was shining, and we were marching. And the band was playing,” recalled Hellfighter Melville Miller. “Everybody’s head high, and we were all proud to be Americans, proud to be black, and proud to be in the 15th New York Infantry.” The Hellfighters also received a welcome home parade down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, an honor they were denied when they departed for Europe because of their race.

Though the 369th Infantry was officially disbanded after WWII, the unit was re-formed as the 369th Sustainment Brigade of the 53rd Troop Command under the New York Army National Guard. With the Army’s official recognition of the Harlem Hellfighters designation, the 369th now carries on the nickname earned by brave soldiers that came before them.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform
Harlem Hellfighters proudly wear their Croix de Guerre medals (National Archives)
MIGHTY CULTURE

Traveling with kids while your spouse is deployed

The holidays can feel awfully lonely when you’re hundreds of miles from your hometown, and your spouse is deployed. Traveling solo with kids is overwhelming, sure, but a holiday season with no adult interaction is even more depressing. Here’s what you need to know to travel while solo parenting, whether on the road or in the skies.


Don’t forget the gifts

If you’re planning to visit relatives over Christmas, take advantage of online shopping, and have your children’s gifts and gifts for others shipped directly to your destination—no one wants to schlep a Barbie Dream House through DFW. But, speaking of that Dream House, don’t forget that you’re going to have to take all of this stuff back home with you! Don’t buy anything big for your kids and remind your relatives not to give big gifts, either.

Pro Tip: Cram a large duffle bag into one of your suitcases so you can use it to pack and check gifts for your flight home.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

Packing

Traveling alone with kids means your days of throwing some clothes into a bag and heading out are long gone. This is going to require thought and planning. Start packing at least a week in advance. Chances are good that the stuff you all wear all the time, is also the stuff you’ll want to bring, so put your empty suitcases next to the washer and dryer and toss the clothes in as you fold them. Only bring enough diapers, wipes, and formula for two or three days. You can buy more at your destination.

Whether flying or driving, it’s a good idea to use your biggest suitcase and try to consolidate multiple bags into one. Unless you’ve got a teenager to help carry bags, you’re going to be handling them all yourself, and one big bag is easier to manage than three small ones.

Pro Tip: If you’re driving a long distance, it’s a good idea to pack an overnight bag with stuff for each of you. Put that small bag into the car last so it’s easily accessible. If you have to stop for the night along your route, you’re not going to want to drag all your big suitcases into the room.

Just pack PJs, comfy traveling clothes, toiletries, diapers and wipes, and whatever woobies or special stuffies you all can’t sleep without, and a few snacks for the room. A snack bag will absolutely save you when the late-night hunger hits, and your hotel doesn’t even have a vending machine. You might want to throw in some herbal tea bags (or a single serving wine box) for yourself.

Driving

No two kids are exactly the same, and you know yours better than anyone. Some can’t handle more than an hour of uninterrupted driving, others can go 15 hours so long as their bellies are full of chicken nuggets. Don’t fool yourself that a child who hates driving will miraculously be great for a 17-hour slog, or that you’ll be able to drive all that distance without getting tired. If you need to stop for the night, do so. A motel room is much cheaper than a wreck.

Be sure to plan your route ahead of time. GPS navigation is great and all, and by all means use it, but it’s no substitute for actually knowing where you’re going. The roads will likely be crowded, you may encounter closures, accidents, and detours, and we’ve all had navigation lead us astray. RoadTrippers.com is a great resource for planning.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

(live.staticflickr.com)

Other Helpful Apps:

Waze is a navigation app that alerts you to upcoming traffic and offers alternate route suggestions.

Gas Buddy helps you find the cheapest gas nearby.

iExit tells you how far the next Interstate exit is and what amenities you’ll find there, like the always-important bathrooms, gas, and food.

Flush Toilet Finder uses your location to show you nearby toilets on a map, which is absolutely essential information when you’re traveling with preschoolers. Bonus: it works offline and can integrate with Google Maps to provide directions.

And if you’re not in a big rush and want to break up your drive with some Americana oddities, the Roadside America app will tell you about all sorts of weird stops along your way, like Foamhenge.

The Priceline app is also great for road trips because it lets you bid on rooms that are nearby, meaning you don’t have to know in advance where you’ll be when you want to pull off and sleep.

ProTip: Wait until after 3 p.m. to start bidding. By afternoon check-in time, many hotels are willing to accept a lower bid than they would have taken earlier in the day.

Parenting Pro Tip: Try to book a hotel with an indoor pool and free breakfast. A day strapped into a car seat will leave any kid antsy, with oodles of energy to burn. An evening splash in the pool will mean that your children actually fall asleep when you turn the lights out. Complimentary breakfast means you can get back on the road without stopping to eat, saving time and money.

And another one: If your children are too small to help with bags at the hotel, grab a luggage cart. You can easily set an infant carrier on the cart, and toddlers and preschoolers can climb on and catch a ride. They’ll love it! Most importantly, you’ll be able to manage all your bags and people in one trip.

Flying

It should go without saying, but arrive early, at least 30 minutes earlier than what you think being early means. Flying is stressful. Flying with children is even more stressful. Flying solo with children when you’re running late is agony.

Pro Tip: If at all possible, book a morning flight, especially if you have to make a connection. Why? Because if your flight gets cancelled or delayed, you’re more likely to get on another flight if you start early in the day. You do not want to be stuck overnight in an airport with children.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

If your kids are too big for a stroller but too small to turn loose, look into buying a fun ride-on suitcase, like this one. All of a sudden, the tedium of the airport will look more like a playground, at least to your child. Speaking of playgrounds, here’s a list of some of the family-friendly amenities available in U.S. airports.

Don’t forget about the lounges and the USO. If you have the American Express Platinum Card (And you should, the annual fee is waived for active duty, plus you get all these perks) you and your children can access the Delta Sky Club Lounges and the Centurion Lounges … and all the free food, drinks, and WiFi in them. Some even have a family room.

But even if you don’t have the AMEX, your military family status allows you to use the USO lounges, which means you get access to free snacks, comfy chairs, and the nicest people in America. Many of the volunteers are grandparent-aged and love to play with kids. Stop in, grab a snack (the USO in Charlotte, NC’s airport often has free Cinnabon), kick back in a recliner and let other people soak up the adorableness that you stopped noticing somewhere over Des Moines, when your toddler kicked the seat in front of her for the 18th time.

Speaking of, while you’re on the plane, just accept that your normal nutrition and screen time rules are on hold. Bring your own junk food and whatever device your child likes to play— with headphones, please!— and then let them play and eat as much as they want. Bring old fashioned coloring and activity books, too. Kids love having your undivided attention, and a game of Hangman or Tic-Tac-Toe on a seatback tray will burn up some time. You will be exhausted by the end of the flight. It’s just going to happen. Accept it and expect it.

You don’t have to spend the holidays marinating in loneliness and exhaustion. With a little planning, a lot of patience, some managed expectations, and a few apps, you can travel with children to celebrate the season, without losing your sanity.

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army spouse, a mother of three, a professional writer and an obsessive traveler. Once, during a deployment, she took all three kids on a 6-week-long roadtrip from Florida to Maine— and back!—stopping to see every long lost military friend and roadside attraction along the way.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch R. Lee Ermey laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery

The United States Marine Corps gave its final goodbye to one of its most famous and most revered alums, actor and Vietnam veteran R. Lee Ermey, on Jan. 18, 2018 as his remains were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The revered Gunny died on Apr. 15, 2018 at age 74 from complications during pneumonia treatment.

His body was cremated after death, and his ashes were buried with full military honors.


First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

Ermey as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket.”

There was more to R. Lee Ermey’s life than just the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film that made his career while defining the image of the Marine Corps Drill Instructor. He was the living embodiment of a Marine who never gives up, being forced into the military, working a bar and brothel after leaving the service, and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him.

Read On: 5 little-known facts about R. Lee Ermey, the military’s favorite Gunny

The man we know as “Gunny” was medically discharged in 1972, and didn’t even make the rank of Gunnery Sgt. until after his military career. That’s how important his image is to the Corps. Even though his Hollywood career began to flag as he aged, he was always a vocal supporter of the military and the troops who comprise it.

His internment at Arlington was delayed due to the backlog of funeral services there. The backlog for eligible veterans to be buried there is so great that even a veteran of Ermey’s stature – a Vietnam War-era Marine who served in aviation and training – must wait several months before the services can be performed.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons why veterans make great artists

It might be easy to assume that military veterans get out and do something similar to what they did in the military, but that’s not always true. In fact, if you do a little research, you’ll find that plenty of us get out and become artists. We’re not just talking about painting and drawing; we’re talking about music and film as well. Either way, veterans can make some damn good art.


Service members may not always be seen as the artistic types, especially not those who served in the infantry, but the truth is that we go through the military and acquire all sorts of knowledge and experience that give us the tools we need to draw d*cks everywhere make great art.

Could it be that we all have stories to tell? Perhaps, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

The things that made our life tough are great for telling stories.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Life experience

We spend lots of time going places and collecting all sorts of experiences that one might not otherwise gain from sitting around their hometown. We get to experience life from a new perspective, and it helps us go from dumb, crayon-eating 18-year-olds to dumb, crayon-eating 22-year-olds with life experience.

This gives us a lot to say and the courage and wisdom to say it.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

Even this photo is a great example.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jesse Stence)

Attention to detail

In the military, if you don’t notice even the smallest details, people can get hurt. That same quality contributes to making great art — attention to even the smallest of brush strokes.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

We know how to stand almost completely still for hours.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Damon Mclean)

Discipline

We can sit down and force ourselves to focus on anything and continuously find ways to get better at it.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

Standing in lines for hours is a great way to build this quality.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Walter D. Marino II)

Patience

Veterans know that good things come with patience. Creating art is no exception to this rule. You simply can’t rush great work. Those that do end up with something like Justice League, and we all know how that turned out (terrible — it was terrible).

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

Learning to never quit is your first lesson in the military.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Emmanuel Necoechea)

Persistence 

We don’t give up. We refuse to quit. Ask any artist and they’ll tell you that they’ve dealt with a good amount of rejection.

We’ve been trained to keep attacking an objective until we succeed.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Brutus Bone Broth needs your help to protect America’s retired K9 Heroes

It wasn’t too long ago that military working dogs were simply euthanized or abandoned in their deployed country when their services were no longer needed. 

That all changed in November 2000, and our K9 heroes now return home with their handlers. Thousands of dogs have since left the service and joined the civilian world, just like any other veteran. 

Brutus Bone Broth is one company who not only supports the dogs’ transitions to civilian life, but supports their good health while supporting organizations that do even more for them.

And you can help! 

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

One of the charities supported by Brutus Bone Broth is Project K9 Hero, working to help Congress pass the K9 Hero Act, which would allocate federal funds directly to organizations like K9 Hero to provide the veterinary care they need to live happy lives, despite the wounds of war.  

Thousands of highly-trained service animals spend a good decade or more doing what they do best: defending our troops, foiling terrorists and catching drug runners. When they get out after an average of 10-12 years, they are first offered to their handlers, to law enforcement offices and then to loving families (in that order).

Nowadays, they are only euthanized if they have a terminal illness or if a home can’t be found. 

Luckily, most military working dogs do find nice homes to retire to, along with loving families to take care of them. Most spend the rest of their lives like any other dogs: surrounded by love and good food, sleeping in the occasional sunbeam. 

But like many human veterans, dogs can have problems stemming from their service to our country. These can range from physical issues, such as wounds sustained in combat or through traumatic brain injuries due to explosions and other hazards. Our K9 warriors can also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders due to circumstances that occurred during their combat duties.

In most cases, military dog handlers are able to take on their working dog in their retirement years, helping to mitigate the circumstances and symptoms surrounding physical and mental wounds they suffer. Other times, families take on these burdens to give dogs a good home, which can quickly get expensive for military personnel and civilian families.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

Brutus Bone Broth isn’t just a delicious, nutrient-packed food topper your dog will love, it’s a brand that takes care of dogs it hasn’t even met. Brutus Bone Broth is a nutritional powerhouse for dogs. This bone broth isn’t just a delicious way to show dogs how much they’re loved, its recipe is easily digestible, hypo-allergenic, non-GMO, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, low fat, low sodium, and contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Brutus Bone Broth provides 8 distinct health benefits in one formula  that can’t be found in any other one place. 

Beyond giving dogs the nutrition they need every day, Brutus Bone Broth goes further for its furry customers than any other brand in the country. Every purchase of Brutus Bone Broth goes toward helping animals in need. Brutus Bone Broth is a current or prior supporter of more than 25 different animal charities across the United States.

First soldiers graduate Basic Training in WWII throwback uniform

To see what you can do to help pass the K9 Hero Act or how to contact your Senator or Congressman, visit the K9 Hero Act on the Project  K9 Hero Website.

RIght now you can help Brutus Bone Broth and K-9 Heroes while saving money on every purchase. Get 10% off purchases of Brutus Bone Broth at Target.com by using the discount code WATM10.

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