The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

The hand release push-up is the worst nightmare of those of you with a weak core. Yeah, sure, it’s an upper-body exercise, but even more so, especially with the way it’s graded, it’s a core exercise.

In this article, I’ll get into exactly what I mean by that as well as how this movement differs from the standard push-up, and finally, I’ll tell you exactly how to train for this exercise.


ACFT PREP: HACK THE HAND RELEASE PUSH-UPS

youtu.be

Are they harder than the Standard Push-Up?

As I covered in the above video, there’s a lot going on the HRP that cut out much of the nonsense that occurred during the standard push-up test. So yes, they’re harder. Not only physically but also for your coordination. Here’s why:

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Long sleeves can definitely help if you like to cheat at the top of the push-up.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Osvaldo Martinez)

NO MORE BOUNCE.

The stretch reflex response in the chest is a powerful force.

It’s that tightness that you feel at the bottom of a bench press or during a standard push-up (if you’re good at them). Think of it like loading a spring. It’s totally legit, and should be taken advantage of when doing chest exercises. It allows you to handle more weight and get more gains. It’s the same effect that we’re looking for in the bottom of a squat with the hamstrings.

In the HRP every rep starts from a dead stop, this means that you can’t load your chest with the stretch reflex response. This levels the playing field a bit for those of you who don’t know how to use the stretch reflex and sucks for anyone who is used to banging out 100+ “bouncing” reps.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

This movement is harder and takes longer than you’d think.

(U.S. Army Photo by Cpl. Tomarius Roberts)

MORE TRICEPS.

The HRP requires you to have your index finger just to the inside of your shoulder. This narrow position is equivalent to a close grip bench press. It’s much more triceps dominant than a standard press. It also almost entirely removes the risk of shoulder impingement.

That’s great news!

Check out my article The Complete Bench Press Checklist, for exactly what I’m talking about.

The TLDR of it is most people are slowly sawing a hole in their shoulder socket when they perform pressing movements. The narrow hand position helps relieve a lot of that stress.

That being said, this means you WILL BE WEAKER performing the hand release narrow stance push-up than you would with the standard variation.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

I know they’re Marines…it’s a cool pic.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary Beatty)

TIME IS YOUR ENEMY.

The 2-minute time limit wasn’t generally a problem for most people with the standard push-up. Most people blow their whole wad well before the time expired.

Sound familiar?

With the HRP time is a very large factor. You need to conduct one push-up every two seconds in order to fit all the reps in.

Maybe you can do 60 reps, but doing all 60 in 120 seconds is a whole other story. I would venture to guess that I need to be able to do 70 or 80 hand-release push-ups in order to be able to do 60 fast enough to be within the time limit.

Here’s more guidance on how to be as efficient as possible in this movement.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

I don’t think the mask would make push-ups harder so much as just generally uncomfortable. That’s the military in a nutshell…

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. ShaTyra Reed/ 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

OBVIOUS CORE CONTROL.

An argument I’d be willing to engage in is one that states that the HRP actually requires more core strength that the Leg Tucks….Oh yeah!

The standard push-up allowed for this sneaky thing to happen that was often left uncorrected. The hips were allowed to sag, the core could be weak, for multiple reps before it became so egregious that the grader would mention it.

Because the HRP starts every rep from a dead stop, any core weakness becomes immediately apparent and can be called out on the first rep that the body isn’t perfectly in alignment.

This means your core needs to be strong, or it will give out well before your pressing muscles run out of steam. Unlike the leg tucks, which I talked about here, where for 90% of soldiers, your grip or back strength will give out before your core.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Practice, practice, practice.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hull)

How to train for HRP

There are four things you need to focus on in order to be properly prepared for the HRP.

  1. Core Control- You need to plank, a lot. Practice the RKC plank 2-3 times a week. The RKC plank is where you contract every muscle of your body while holding the plank.
  2. Press from a dead stop- Train using paused reps and presses from the rack. You need to learn how to start every rep from a dead stop. Standard pressing movements that use the stretch reflex response of the chest are going to set you up for disappointment come test day.
  3. Practice high reps with long periods of time under tension- 120 seconds of work is about 4-5 times as long as a standard set of any exercise. You need to prepare your body for that task in muscular endurance. Practice slow sets with 45+ seconds of time under tension and/or sets of 15-20 reps on the bench press and 20-40 reps of push-ups to build your muscular endurance.
  4. Practice the full movement- It’s harder than it looks to get your hands back to the exact perfect pushing position for every rep. You need to practice it and build the mind-muscle connection so that you can focus on putting out come test day and not have to worry about hand placement.
The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

That’s it folks. If you want a plan to help train for the HRP, check this out. It trains all the aspects of pressing that I just covered. In order to prepare for the ACFT, you need more than just exercises. You need to be particular about how you’re training. That’s what this plan does, and all my plans for that matter.

Keep your eyes open for the NEW MIGHTY FIT PLAN! It’ll be here in the new year. No more PDF, the new plan is in an app that you can download to any device and take with you anywhere. Sign up here to be one of the first to hear about it!

Don’t forget to join the MIGHTY FIT PLAN FB group to keep this conversation going!

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Click the image to book a session!

MIGHTY CULTURE

Chuck Yeager is an air combat ace, daredevil pilot, and hilarious on Twitter

He shoots down all these Germans, THEN became the fastest human being alive? And he’s this witty, rugged mountain guy? No way, re-write this.” If Chuck Yeager’s life story were a fictional screenplay, it might be rejected as too unbelievable. Just to put his accomplishments in perspective: he was the first human to travel faster than the speed of sound, and that arguably isn’t even the coolest thing he accomplished.


Born the son of a gas driller in West Virginia, Yeager enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces during WWII intending to become a mechanic. Turning wrenches presumably didn’t offer enough mortal danger, so he earned his wings as a fighter pilot. On his eighth combat mission, Yeager was forced to bail out over occupied France when his P-51 fighter was hit by German fire. He was injured and alone in enemy territory, so naturally, this was very bad news…for the Germans.

Yeager, thoroughly pissed off by anything that didn’t involve tormenting the Third Reich from the skies- linked up with the French Resistance and taught them bomb-making skills. He also saved the life of another downed U.S. pilot by amputating the man’s leg with a penknife and carrying him over the mountains to neutral Spain.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

(U.S. Air Force photo)

Upon returning to England, Yeager headed back to the States to take it easy for the rest of the war. Just kidding: General Eisenhower approved his request to return to combat duty, and Yeager promptly shot down five enemy planes in a single day, earning the rare “ace-in-a-day” status.

He also downed one of the Germans’ infamous Me-262 jet fighters by ambushing the much faster jet when it slowed down for landing, later reflecting “not very sportsmanlike, but what the hell?”

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Yeager’s P-51D fighter in Europe.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

The war might have been over, but Chuck Yeager’s appetite for death-defying aerial feats remained unquenched. He remained on active duty and became a test pilot for the first generation of jet aircraft.

Piloting the experimental X-1 jet in 1947, Yeager became the first human being to travel faster than the speed of sound despite having broken several ribs horseback riding a few days before. He quipped over the radio mid-flight to a colleague, “I’m still wearing my ears and nothing else fell off either.”

Oh, Chuck.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Chuck Yeager next to his experimental jet aircraft.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

Yeager’s legendary skill as a pilot was apparently surpassed only by the ice water in his veins that enabled him to repeatedly survive disaster. While setting yet another airspeed record in 1953, his jet began spinning out of control. Despite his head smashing against the canopy, Yeager regained control of the jet and landed safely, because of course he did. By this point, even physics itself had learned not to mess with Chuck Yeager. Yeager went on to multiple command billets within the Air Force.

Despite commanding the Air Force’s astronaut training program, Yeager himself was ineligible for NASA because he lacked any formal education beyond high school (admittedly though, if anyone on earth could be justifiably declared “too cool for school,” it was Chuck Yeager). He also logged 127 combat missions in Vietnam as a bomber pilot because if there’re flying and danger involved, then no way is Chuck Yeager missing out. Yeager retired from the Air Force in 1975 as a brigadier general.

He continued to work as a test pilot after retirement and broke the sound barrier again during his final Air Force flight in 1997. Yeager was portrayed by Sam Shepard in the 1983 film “The Right Stuff” in which he made a cameo as a bartender.

Oh yeah, and then he broke the sound barrier again at age 89 as a passenger in an F-15. Chuck Yeager has broken the sound barrier so many times that one might wonder if it personally wronged him at some point.

Yeager’s legacy lives on in an unexpected way, too. Think about the last time you heard an airline pilot on the intercom. You know that familiar relaxed, deliberate cadence that every pilot seems to speak with? That “pilot voice” began during the early era of jet aircraft when Yeager’s contemporaries began imitating his distinctive West Virginia drawl on the radio.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

(Photo by Olivier Blaise)

This is the point in the story at which one might expect to hear that General Yeager passed away in such-and-such year.

Wrong.

As of the time of this writing in 2019, Yeager is alive. He is very active on social media where his insights and trademark sense of humor (seriously, he’s hysterical) continue to entertain and inform fans across the world.

Check him out on Twitter at: @GenChuckYeager

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Iraq War veteran’s new novel, Empire City, answers the question, ‘What if we conquered Vietnam?’

We’ve all played the “What If” game. In the military, this can lead to some rather interesting questions: What would happen if I was in charge of this op? What if I put my hands in my pockets? What if 1st Sergeant was nicer?

In his most recent novel Empire City, Iraq War veteran and author, Matt Gallagher, answers a question that has circulated in the barracks and across many a dinner table, “What if the U.S. won the Vietnam War full WWII unconditional surrender style?” Gallagher’s novel, set half a century in the future from a North Vietnam surrender and occupation, explores an American society transformed by the Vietnam experience into an empire that would rival Rome or the colonial British. However, buried deep inside the world of Empire City, Gallagher also answers a very poignant and pressing question, “What is the real cost of victory?”


Empire City follows the journey of Sebastian Rios, a mid-level bureaucrat, who owes his career and his life to the group of veterans that came to his rescue overseas. Known as the “Volunteers,” these special operators toe the line between national treasures and Soldiers of Fortune who when not deployed to the frontlines of conflicts across the Mediterranean are living the high life in Hollywood and the clubs of Empire City – and, SPOILER ALERT – they aren’t even Navy SEALS but they do have super powers. Along with Mia, a former helicopter pilot turned Wall Street banker, Sebastian finds himself caught in a constitutional debate after a terrorist attack on the city, could, or better, should the U.S. deploy their best soldiers onto home territory?

Like the story of Caesar and his legions crossing the Rubicon, Empire City recounts the multiple layers of tradition turned upside down when a series of battle-hardened veterans decide to act. Among the key players are a former general turned presidential candidate as well as an army of foreign legionnaires who earned their citizenship by fighting America’s wars past and present. If you’d like to know one possible answer to the questions, “What if the hippie movement had failed?” Or, “What if corporate American bought and sold stakes in military units like NASCAR sponsorships?” And, “What if American patriots became their own sheepdogs?” then you’ll enjoy Empire City.

Military veterans, especially combat veterans like Gallagher, who translated his experiences into his previous books, Youngblood and Kaboom, have been known to write some of the most fascinating alternative historical novels of our time. For example, Robert Heinlein, a WWII veteran of the Pacific, went on to write the classic Starship Troopers, a must read for both military and science fiction enthusiasts. I think it’s safe to say that Empire City is the newest addition to our must-read list and Gallagher has just joined a special unit of writers that include Heinlein, Orwell and Turtledove.

Empire City is now available on Amazon or where Simon Schuster novels are sold.

Articles

9 Military terms that will make you sound crazy around civilians

The military has its own language of insider phrases and slang terms, and if you use these unique phrases when you are out, civilians around you are probably not going to know what you are talking about.


It can be challenging to transition from the military to civilian life, but you should probably leave these phrases behind when you leave the military. Otherwise, you’re going to get some crazy looks and eye rolls.

1. “Drug Deal” — You can acquire a new piece of gear from a buddy at supply through a “drug deal,” but if you get an awesome new red Swingline stapler like this, Milton may look at you funny.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

2. “Make a hole!” — When people are in your way, it’s no longer acceptable to yell out “make a hole,” “gangway!” or “look out.” Just try “excuse me” from now on.

3. “High speed, low drag” — This term sums up a really great piece of equipment that you use while in uniform, but civilians are going to be like:

4. “No impact, No idea” — You may not have any clue how to answer a question, but no one outside of the military is going to have any clue what you mean with this phrase.

5. “Nut to butt” — Let’s just not use this one, mmkay?

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

6. “Pop smoke” — Now that you are no longer a ninja, you gotta drop this one.

7. “Roger that” — This one is sort of on the fence, and you may be able to say it and not confuse people. But then again, you’re probably not talking on a radio anymore.

8. “Oohrah/Hooah/Hooyah” — Just don’t.

9. “Kill” — Troops can use “kill” for its literal meaning or just as a way of saying “got it,” or “hello.” But if you say this in civilian life, they are only going to hear the literal version and you are going to scare the crap out of people.

(h/t Task Purpose, Business Insider, and Military.com)

Humor

4 types of recruiters you’ll meet at the mall

Recruiters are well-practiced in convincing young adults that military service is the best option to propel them into a happy, successful future. We’ve all seen the recruiting posters that show off a mighty lookin’ Marine or a tough soldier and we’ve all seen the highly polished ads on TV, but nothing beats the personal touch of a skilled recruiter.

Some recruiters will travel miles to find young prospects and get them interested in military service. However, there’s one place where you’ll find almost always youngsters in nearly any town — the freakin’ mall.

Shopping malls are the ultimate grounds for recruiters to swoop in and scoop up their next contract. Every recruiter is different, but we’re willing to bet that if you enlisted at a mall, you ran into one of these four archetypes:


The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

That’s right, you better stand at modified parade rest.

(Photo by Andrea Stone)

The one who expects you to have some military bearing

Some recruiters are laid back, but others take a more aggressive approach and instruct potential recruits on the proper way to speak as an active service member.

You might think that being stern and strict would turn the younger crowd away, but, to our surprise, that rigid military bearing is exactly what some want.

He’s good at his

The one who is good with parents

Joining the military is a big decision. The fact is that many youngsters aren’t accustomed to making such important choices.

A smart recruiter knows that nothing is more reassuring than a parent’s good word. So, you’ll likely find a recruiter whose best work is done schmoozing with mom and dad.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

If you join today, you might get to drive a government car, just like me.

The parking lot patroller

Mall recruiters aren’t just on the hunt for window shoppers. Nope! They’re out searching for you before you even step foot inside the shopping center. They pretend like they’ve met you before to strike up a conversation. It’s all a tactic to get you into their office.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Sure you could join the Air Force, but you won’t look as cool in their uniform.

The reverse psychologist

Recruiters are up against monthly quotas. In order to make their numbers, they need to use every tool in their kit. This means finding a way to beat out the other branches in the event that two are scoping the same potential recruit. Some recruiters will use reverse psychology on you, making sly like, “you probably couldn’t handle the Marines anyway.”

Some will see right through it, but others feel compelled to prove people wrong.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy to start flying Union Jack in honor of their greatest naval victory

The Navy on Feb. 21 released a NAVADMIN 039/19 directing the display of the union jack instead of the first Navy jack aboard Navy ships and craft.

U.S. Navy ships and craft will return to flying the union jack effective June 4, 2019. The date for reintroduction of the union jack commemorates the greatest naval battle in history: the Battle of Midway, which began June 4, 1942.

“Make no mistake: we have entered a new era of competition. We must recommit to the core attributes that made us successful at Midway: integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “For more than 240 years, the union jack, flying proudly from jackstaffs aboard U.S. Navy warships, has symbolized these strengths.”


MIGHTY CULTURE

A leukemia survivor just became a Marine and it’s amazing

Deciding to be a Marine means you have to accept the challenges that you’ll have to face along the way. Earning that Eagle, Globe, and Anchor is no easy task. To become a Marine, you have to be willing to stare every challenge straight in the eye and say, “I got this.” That’s what it means to be a Marine. That is the very quality at the core of every person who becomes one. This is no exception for Michael Campofiori, one of the Corps’ newest Marines — and a survivor of leukemia.

According to the American Cancer Society, patients with childhood leukemia very rarely survive after five years. This disease is a monster of a challenge for anyone to overcome, and it’s a tragedy for any child to have to experience. That didn’t stop Michael Campofiori from wanting to become a Marine, despite being diagnosed at age 11.

This would be his first challenge on a path of many:


The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Michael Campofiori poses for a photo with Sgt. William Todd, a recruiter with Recruiting Substation Myrtle Beach, and Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Falk, the Staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge of Recruiting Substation Myrtle Beach, after swearing in to the Marine Corps on Aug. 16, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lcpl Jack Rigsby)

Recruitment

Joining the military is difficult when leukemia is a part of your medical history. There’s a special waiver for it, but Campofiori had trouble finding recruiters willing to take on the paperwork and help him realize his dream of becoming a Marine. The journey took him, a native of New Jersey, all the way to South Carolina.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Poolees with RSS Myrtle Beach posing with the recruiters.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lcpl Jack Rigsby)

The recruiters at Recruiting Substation Myrtle Beach were willing to do the work necessary to get Campofiori in. They felt he had what it took — and they were absolutely right. Not only did his waiver go through, but Campofiori dominated as a Poolee, earning nearly a perfect score on the Initial Strength Test, the prerequisite fitness test for eligibility to join.

Of the maximum 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches, and 9:00 minute run-time, this badass got 29 pull-ups, 121 crunches, and a 9:18 run-time for the mile and a half. He wasn’t even a Marine before he was going above and beyond.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Michael Campofiori, a recruit with Platoon 2020, Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, participates in the Day Movement Course as part of Basic Warrior Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, Feb. 6, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jack A. E. Rigsby)

Recruit Training

Campofiori was sent to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina on Dec. 10, 2018. Of course, the challenge isn’t over there — boot camp is its own obstacle to overcome. It’s difficult in its own right. But, Campofiori was already slaying dragons.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Welcome to the Corps.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jack A. E. Rigsby)

On February 23, 2019, Michael Campofiori completed the Crucible and received his Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, completing the transformation into a United States Marine. From battling leukemia to earning the title, Campofiori overcame every challenge that he ever had to face. Campofiori embodies the very spirit of being a Marine.

You can watch the video of him receiving his EGA here.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Tuskegee Airman posthumously honored decades after declared MIA

As Black History Month draws to a close, so does the mystery of U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, a Tuskegee Airman declared missing in action after his plane crashed in Europe in December 1944.

Dickson’s remains were identified in November 2018 using the latest DNA tests, making him the first to be identified out of more than two-dozen Tuskegee Airmen declared MIA during World War II.


Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command, recognized Dickson’s service Feb. 24, 2019, during a ceremony at the Fountain Baptist Church here.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Marla L. Andrews (center), daughter of U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, receives her father’s medals from Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris)

“I stand before you deeply honored and humbled to represent the United States Army, as well as all African-American service members across all military services and those who have long served before me, to commemorate and acknowledge the honorable service rendered by Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson in service to a grateful nation,” Young said.

“Capt. Lawrence Dickson shaped my future, which affords me the distinct honor of being one of a few African-American female general officers serving in the United States Army,” she added.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Marla L. Andrews (left), daughter of U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, delivers remarks during a Feb. 24, 2019 ceremony held at Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, N.J., to recognize her father’s military service.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris)

During the ceremony, Young presented Dickson’s Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal, American Campaign Medal, Europe-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Honorable Service Lapel Button to Marla L. Andrews, Dickson’s daughter.

“I feel happy that we’re able to do this this morning here with you, because the things that are most important to us are better shared,” said Andrews, who as two years old when her father died.

“These medals represent a part of our history, along with the Tuskegee Airmen’s perseverance and determination, coupled with the courage and legacy of Capt. Lawrence Dickson,” Young said. “The country called, and Capt. Dickson answered.”

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command, delivers remarks during a Feb. 24, 2019 ceremony held at Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, N.J., to recognize U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson’s military service.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris)

In December 1944, Dickson was a pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, in the European Theater, according to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency news release. On Dec. 23, 1944, Dickson departed Ramitelli Air Base, Italy, on an aerial reconnaissance mission toward Praha, Czechoslovakia.

During his return, Dickson’s P-51D aircraft suffered engine failure and was seen to crash along the borders of Italy and Austria. Dickson’s remains were not recovered and he was subsequently declared missing in action.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Marla L. Andrews (right), daughter of U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, receives her father’s medals from Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris)

Seventy-three years later, an excavation of a crash site was conducted and recovered remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. To identify Dickson’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used DNA analysis as well as anthropological analysis, and circumstantial and material evidence.

“The men and women who have given their lives in service to this nation are indisputably heroes,” Young said.

Dickson is scheduled to be buried March 22, 2019, in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 scenic battlefields every hiker should visit

To hike on a battlefield is to hike through history. The artillery pieces used for bombardments are silent now, either used as decoration or removed entirely. In many places, in fact, the signs of the bygone conflict are hard to see.

Hiking is a physical activity, but it can also be a relaxing and contemplative walk through beautiful scenery. A battlefield hike is that, too, but it’s also a somber reminder that people died on these fields, in these ditches and trenches.

If you’re looking for a way to experience history that’s a little off the beaten path (no pun intended), here are some of the most scenic battlefield hikes out there.


The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

The bronze likeness of an Irish wolfhound, representing loyalty, lies atop the monument honoring the New York regiments of the “Irish Brigade” at Gettysburg.

(Photo courtesy of the National Parks Service)

1. Gettysburg

In July 1863, Union and Confederate armies clashed at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Over the course of three days, the Rebels tried to seize command of the high ground just outside of town. Robert E. Lee’s Southern army failed spectacularly and retreated to Virginia.

When you visit Gettysburg today, the hills remain, but instead of lines of infantry and artillery, there is simply a cemetery. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery was dedicated by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1863 — at which time he gave his famous address — to commemorate the battle and honor the dead.

Roads and trails guide visitors around the battlefield from Little Round Top — the site of the 20th Maine’s legendary stand — to the High Water Mark, where fighting climaxed during Pickett’s Charge.

Try to time your visit with some living history reenactments for maximum effect — it’s worth the effort.

Gettysburg National Battlefield is a somber place, especially with the cemetery at center stage. The hiking there is picturesque and calm in the quiet Pennsylvania countryside, a sharp contrast to those three brutal days in 1863.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Cochise Stronghold.

2. Cochise Stronghold

Tucked away in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, the Cochise Stronghold is a foreboding outcrop once manned by Chiricahua Apache fighters in their long struggle against the United States.

Throughout the 1860s and into the 1870s, the Chiricahua Chief Cochise and his band of approximately 1,000 lived in these high redoubts, well out of reach of the U.S. Cavalry. Cochise was never defeated, though he was captured and escaped multiple times. He died of natural causes in 1874.

For modern hikers or horseback riders, the terrain here is as rough and forbidding as it was to the U.S. Cavalrymen who tried to pursue the Chiricahua Apache into the mountains. Thin trails offer routes up into the stronghold itself, where a visitor can gain an understanding of just how the Apache hid and survived

The main “Cochise Indian Trail” is a difficult 5-mile loop, but there are easier hiking trails as well. Just make sure to pack plenty of water and keep your eyes open for snakes. For rock climbers, the Cochise area is actually an impressive and challenging climbing destination, too.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Preserved battlefield of Fort of Douaumont.

3. Fort Douaumont

In late winter of 1916, Imperial German forces tried to seize the strategic French city of Verdun. Only four days into the massive assault, the Germans took Fort Douaumont, an obsolete but still important fort in the defense of the city.

For the next eight months, fighting raged in the vicinity of this fort. French forces finally recaptured Douaumont in October 1916. Modern visitors can tour what’s left of the fort. Heavy artillery pounded the place into oblivion, and now concrete bastions lie torn apart, as if smashed by angry giants.

Visit antique gun turrets meant for tremendous 155mm howitzers to lighter 75mm guns. Feel the claustrophobia of the soldiers who fought and died in the tight tunnels. Imagine the deafening roar of small arms and artillery when fired in such close quarters.

There are also places to pay your respects to the memorials of the dead, including the German Necropolis, or City of the Dead, where around 600 men lie interred.

Modern Americans often make unfair jokes about French military prowess, but at Verdun and Douaumont, French soldiers died in swathes to repel a major German offensive — and the French won. So if you’re in Alsace, visit Fort Douaumont and maybe even the less successful Maginot Line as well.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Courtesy of the Fort Ticonderoga Facebook page.

4. Fort Ticonderoga

Tucked away in upstate New York, Fort Ticonderoga sits amidst some of the best scenery in the American East. Seized in a surprise attack by Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys in 1775, the artillery taken from Ticonderoga served a pivotal role in George Washington’s 1776 Siege of Boston.

The well-preserved fort offers excellent views of Lake Champlain, and a trail network spans the area. There’s also plenty of living history if reenacting is your cup of tea. Fort Ticonderoga is even available for wedding receptions!

The scenery of Upstate New York is some of the most beautiful in the country, and hikers can enjoy everything from Colonial-style gardens to the rugged Adirondack Mountains.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

A Peace Memorial sits atop Engineer Hill at Attu Island, Alaska. The memorial is in honor of all those who sacrificed their lives in the islands and seas of the North Pacific during World War II.

(Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

5. Attu Island

In June 1942, Japanese forces struck north at Alaska. Specifically, the Japanese tried to neutralize the Aleutian Islands, and to do so, they seized the westernmost island, Attu. The Second World War raged from Egyptian deserts to Soviet steppes, from the skies over Britain to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, but on Attu, the war reached a new extreme.

Today, Attu is still a remote island, and unexploded ordnance remains a threat. Such are the scars of war. There are no trees on the island, so expect desolate, windblown tundra. The Native Alaskan village of Attu was never resettled after the war, and the island today is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

If you think mere access to this area is difficult, try the hiking. There are no trails on the island, and there has been no permanent population since the Japanese deported them and the U.S. refused to bring the natives back. Hikers can travel wherever they please, though checking with the U.S. Coast Guard first about exactly where those unexploded shells are can literally save your limbs — or your life.

The story of Attu is a tragedy, both for the natives who were stripped of their homes and for the soldiers who fought and died for distant empires on a small island in the Bering Sea. When taken in proportion with the number of troops engaged, the 1943 Battle of Attu was the second deadliest of the Pacific War, surpassed only by Iwo Jima.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

A bronze artilleryman stands watch over the guns of Hampton’s Battery F, Pennsylvania Light Artillery in the famous Peach Orchard at Gettysburg.

(Photo courtesy of National Park System)

Battlefield Hikes

Hiking a battlefield can bring history from the realm of dusty textbooks to real life. Seeing the location firsthand elevates the reality of an event in a way that pictures cannot.

From rural France to remote areas of Alaska, war has ravaged almost every corner of our world. Few people or nations have been spared. We preserve and visit old battlefields so that we remember why those people fought, and how we can try to avoid those fights in the future.

The combination of a beautiful backdrop and a brutal past only reinforces the horror of battle — and the historical memory that goes along with it.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the difference between a ‘magazine’ and a ‘clip’

Pop Quiz: Identify the clip/s in the image above.


If you pointed to the bullet-holder-thingy on the left, congratulations! You know your weapons. Or you’re gifted at taking stupid tests. Either way, you’ve got a bright future here in America.

While people often confuse the terms, clips and magazines serve different purposes. The simple way to think of it is this: the magazine feeds the weapon whereas the clip feeds the magazine.

A magazine is what you’re used to seeing in films or loading into your weapon or snuggling with at night.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups
Don’t google “gun jokes” — it’s depressing af. (Image of 9mm magazine via wiki user Scoo)

The magazine stores ammunition and feeds it to the weapon. It commonly holds rounds under spring pressure for fast loading into the chamber. The name comes from the French word for storehouse or storage place, but some guy in this forum says the word goes back to the time of Christ, and dammit, I believe him.

(I don’t. I’m not saying Mike is a liar, I’m just saying I need to see some proof.)

Also read: 9 ISIS weapon fails that you have to see to believe

Now, anyone who has loaded cartridges into a magazine can testify that it can be a bitch labor intensive. A clip, therefore, holds cartridges together for easy loading into the magazine.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups
An M1 Garand en-bloc clip (left) compared to an SKS stripper clip (right).

If you want to dive a little deeper into it, this gent is all about them gunzzz:

He’s actually pretty forgiving about mixing up the lingo, but not me. I don’t want you guys to run around looking like a bunch of idiots, so…you’re welcome.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject. A cartridge goes into a gun (and contains the case, the projectile, the propellant, etc) and a bullet shoots out of it.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

MIGHTY CULTURE

Dog Chow is helping rescue dogs find homes with American veterans

When Michael Oulavong came home from the Marine Corps, he wasn’t able to make the same transition as some of his peers. Initially, he found success training as an EMT and firefighter, but ran into troubles when old Marine Corps injuries derailed his plans.

He sank further into his mental funk and started experiencing more symptoms of his PTSD. He needed a change and he needed a friend. That’s when he met Zoe.


The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Marine veteran Michael Oulavong deployed.

“My plan literally just fell apart and, being a Marine, I need to prepare for everything,” he said. “I have everything planned out… …I didn’t plan for this injury and for this doctor to be like, ‘You shouldn’t be a firefighter.’ That’s when I was like, ‘Well, crap. I’m in this black hole right now. I’m just stuck. I don’t know what to do.’ …I was in a rut. I was dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts. I was lonely.”

Oulavong knew that he needed a change, and he heard about Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation’s program to pair rescue dogs with veterans and teach the veteran to train the animal to be a service dog. It meant that Oulavong could get a service dog to help with his symptoms nearly for free.


facebook.com

And that’s a huge deal. Service dogs can change the trajectory of a veteran’s life, but costs can also top ,000 for a single animal.

Oulavong signed up and was surprised by how quickly he was paired with Zoe, a mixed-breed dog that clearly has a lot of German Shepherd blood.

“… the day that I first met her, it was, to be honest, it was just kind of like meeting a stranger,” he said “It was just like, ‘Hey, there’s a dog. Shoot, I guess this is my dog.’ It was kind of overwhelming when I initially met her because it was like, ‘Okay, now I have another living thing to take care of.'”
The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Michael Oulavong and service dog, Zoe, at the pet store.

Zoe and Oulavong met just two weeks after he signed up for the program, but he quickly became worried about the financial obligations of owning a dog. Even though he had received Zoe for free, he knew that taking care of animals can get expensive. That’s when Purina Dog Chow, which partners with the Animal Rescue Fondation to help cover some of the costs of the program and of the individual animals, stepped in.

“I was like, ‘I can’t afford this type of thing, but thank you,'” he said. “Thanks to Merritt [Rollins, ARF Veterans program manager] and to ARF and Purina, everything, they calmed those nerves down pretty quickly. You get free food for the rest of your dog’s life. They take me to Pet Food Express, and the program paid for everything the dog needed, from their poop bags to its crate to her food to everything else.”

And so Zoe and Oulavong started training. Luckily for him, Zoe stood out during training for her calm and for ability to learn quickly.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Michael Oulavong and Zoe on the day of their graduation from Basic Manners I.

“It was easy to train her,” Oulavong said. “It took work. I spent every day doing it, but compared to the other dogs in the program — not trying to talk bad about them — Zoe really made them look, seriously, she made them look like kids, but she was the adult.”

Some of the training is basic obedience work, but dogs and veterans who stick with the program will graduate to full-on service dog status, with the dogs properly trained to identify and interrupt panic attacks and other episodes in their nascent stages.

“When I do have those instances of having a panic attack or feeling very anxious and everything, I have certain tells in my body,” Oulavong explained. “So, that’s what the program has been training us to do. Say it was shaking my leg, or punching my fist, or grinding my teeth, or what not, she’ll sense that and she’ll come up and dig her head under me, or lick me, or kiss me.”

With Zoe around, Oulavong has someone protecting him from descending into a dark spiral, and someone to take care of, giving him a purpose that he compares to his time as a Marine. Between those two factors, he’s been able to better transition into the civilian world, getting a job at a Japanese restaurant as a bartender and server.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups

Michael Oulavong and Zoe

“…everyday I PT with Zoe every morning,” Oulavong explained. “We go for about anywhere between a mile and three mile walk, depending on how I feel that morning. She helps me keep active. I go for a walk with her every day. I just spend time with her. Five times a day, I do at least five to ten minutes simple, basic training with her, just to keep her refreshed.”

Right now, Purina is holding a fundraiser it calls the “Service Dog Salute.” As part of the fundraiser, for every bag of specially marked Dog Chow sold, including bags that feature Michael and Zoe, Purina will donate the Animal Rescue Foundation, giving up to 0,000. They’ll be giving up to another 0,000 based on how many people share the Buzzfeed video above.

Articles

5 nuggets of wisdom in ‘Black Hawk Down’ you may have missed

In 1993, US forces consisting of Army Rangers and Delta Force commandos stormed into Mogadishu, Somalia, to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and key members of his militia.


During the raid, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, 18 Americans were killed, and 73 were wounded.

Director Ridley Scott brought the heroic story to the big screen in 2001’s “Black Hawk Down” which portrays aspects of the power of human will and brotherly bonds between the soldiers in the fight.

Peel back the layers of the film and check out a few nuggets of wisdom you may have missed in the story.

Related: Here’s how Hollywood turns actors into military operators

1. Never underestimate the enemy

US forces tend to believe because a nation is poor, they don’t have any fight in them. Remember that the enemies we typically fight have home field advantage.

2. Don’t f*ck with Delta Force

Enough said — and probably the coolest line in the movie.

3. Understanding what you can’t control

It’s a common misconception that the ground troops know why they’re sent to a fight.

The truth is — there’s always a mission behind the mission. But that doesn’t matter, because it boils down in the end to surviving and taking care of your men. That’s real leadership.

4. Life doesn’t always make sense

After watching one of the hardest scenes in the film, a Ranger’s death, Sgt. Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnett) questions himself and over-analyzes his own leadership. Honestly, no matter how much you train, you can’t predict sh*t.

Also Read: 5 military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true

5. Why we do it

It’s nice to be told “thank you for your service” by civilians every now and again, but truthfully we don’t like it. Hoot (played by Eric Bana) clears it up in one line — why grunts do what they do.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This soldier’s story inspired the war scenes in ‘Forrest Gump’

Before joining the Army, Sammy Davis worked at the restaurant inside his hometown bowling alley. As he was working, he watched a clip of Roger Donlon receiving the Medal of Honor for his bravery. That brief moment inspired him and, after he graduated from high school, Davis enlisted in the U.S. Army.


Davis was the son of a proud artilleryman and, like many teenagers, wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. After completing his artillery training, David requested to serve in Vietnam and was soon shipped out. Once there, he served as part of a field artillery crew that provided close support to the men serving in the infantry.

On Nov. 18, 1967, Davis’ unit was airlifted to Cai Lay, Vietnam, where an Army major informed them that they were 100-percent certain the enemy was to attack that day.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups
Cai Lay, Vietnam.
(Medal Of Honor Book YouTube)

So, the men armed their 155mm Howitzer and fired their weapon in conjunction with the allied forces already on the ground. Just before dark, the enemy broke contact, causing the artillery crew to ease up on their massive weapon’s trigger. Later on, Davis heard the sound of mortars sliding down the tubes nearby. The only problem was that no Americans on deck had a mortar system to prep.

The battle was about to begin anew.

The ACFT: Hand Release Pushups
A 155 mm Howitzer similar to what Davis had in Vietnam.

The enemy’s mortars rained down on top of the allied troops. Then, out of nowhere, they just quit. An eerie feeling blanketed the area. Something was bound to happen, but no one knew when the full attack would commence.

Then, suddenly, a barrage of whistles rang out. The attack was on and allied forces were ready. Wave after wave of bombardment destroyed the area as American troops courageously fought off their opposition. During the chaos, David was knocked unconscious by heavy artillery fire, suffering severe blast wounds from the lower torso to his mid-back (including his buttocks).

Davis awoke to the realization that he was about to be overrun. So, he picked up his rifle and got back into the fight. Davis then reloaded his Howitzer and fired that sucker.

The flame lit up the sky.

Then, Davis heard someone shout, “don’t shoot, I’m a GI” from a nearby river. Davis spotted found one of his brothers-in-arms across the river and realized he needed help. Despite his own wounds and inability to swim, Davis used an air mattress and paddled to the other side of the river and discovered a foxhole with three more wounded men inside.

David managed to carry the three severely wounded men to safety — at one time. On Nov. 19, 1968, Davis received the Medal of Honor and his citation inspired source materials for the 1994 film, Forrest Gump.

Check out Medal of Honor Book‘s video below to listen to the courageous story from the legend himself.