Here's how the US Army's fitness standards have changed with the times - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
U.S. Army Leaders with 2nd Cavalry Regiment run in the front of a Regimental formation during a morale run March 28, 2013 at Rose Barracks, Germany. Troops with the Regiment ran three miles during morning physical fitness as a morale booster. | U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Joshua Edwards


There’s almost no way getting around it — if you’re serving in the US military, maintaining one’s physical fitness is a duty that you have to fulfill, unless you’d prefer to struggle to catch your breath.

In order to accommodate both the fluctuation of the average person’s physical traits and the demands of modern warfare, the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is constantly honing its physical fitness standards. Taking a look at this evolution of physical standards with Whitfield B. East’s, “A Historical Review and Analysis of Army Physical Readiness Training and Assessment” provides not only the insight to the demands of what was needed on the battlefield back then, but also answers the highly debated question of whether servicemembers back in the day could be considered fitter.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
West Point cadets in 1870 (where are their PT belts?) | Public Domain

Starting in the early 1800s, United States Military Academy (USMA) cadets neglected physical exercise and merely practiced military drills — even recreational activities were frowned upon. After realizing their mistakes, Congress and Army leaders sent officials to Europe to determine the best course for implementing a physical education program for their future officers.

Tasks within this new program included scaling a 15-foot wall without using tools, vaulting on a horse 15-hands high, leaping a ditch 10-feet wide, an 8-minute mile run, and a 3-mile march carrying a 20-pound knapsack in one hour. Also recommended in this new program was the ability to dive and remain underwater for 45-seconds.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
USMA Physical Education under Herman Kohler Combat Studies Institute Press via Public Domain

Shortly after the Civil War, the USMA appointed its first pedagogically-trained instructor, Herman Koehler, as its “Master of the Sword.” As the new head of West Point’s Department of Physical Education, Koehler focused on gymnastics as a key element for fitness and brought into existence the first Army-wide training manuals for physical training in 1887.

In 1906, the Army then implemented its first unit-wide physical training program. Tasks included a weekly 12-mile march for the infantry and 18-miles for horse-mounted artillery and cavalry units. Even the President at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, was obsessed about starting a physical regimen for the military — as a sickly kid during his childhood, he developed a philosophy of strenuous exercise.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
United States Defense Visual Information Center via Wikimedia Commons

World War I then brought new fitness requirements for the Army — the first manual to identify quantifiable physical objectives was developed. This Individual Efficiency Test measured combat physical readiness with the following requirements: running 100 yards in 14 seconds, a 12-foot broad running jump, an unassisted 8-foot wall climb, throwing a hand grenade for 30 yards into a 10′ diameter circle, and an obstacle course run.

Shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the US’ involvement in World War II, the US was seen as a complacent country that neglected physical activity due to the 20 years of peace and continued innovations to make life easier — over a third of the military’s inductees were considered to be in “miserable shape”, and half of them weren’t even able to swim well.

This proved to be a harrowing precursor to the landing of D-Day, when it was determined that a significant number of deaths were attributed to the fact that many servicemembers had drowned in waters that were 10-15 feet deep.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.Photo: Wiki Commons

To address these inadequacies, in 1944, the Physical Efficiency Test Battery was created. This battery of tests included pull-ups, 20 seconds of burpees, squat jumps, push-ups, a 100-yard pig-a-back run, sit-ups, and a 300-yard shuttle run. Normative scales were included during this examination to provide participants with the added incentive to score higher and to incite a “competitive spirit” amongst themselves.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Flickr / DVIDSHUB

Finally, in the 1980s, testing requirements shaped into what it currently resembles within the Army. The gender-integrated Army Physical Readiness Test (APRT) evaluated soldiers on their ability to do push-ups, sit-ups, and a 2-mile run in that order, with 10-20 minutes of rest time between each event.

After receiving initial data on the results, research teams concluded that about 5% of soldiers should be able to score the maximum points allotted for the test. During the beginning of this era, there were no scoring standards for soldiers over the age of 40, and those that were only authorized to be tested on the 2-mile run.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Marine Corps recruits perform ammunition can lifts during the Combat Fitness Test. | Public Domain

Since then, there has been much debate with the current scoring system in the Army’s physical fitness test — many scorn the “corporate fitness” model and it’s detraction from its more combat-oriented roots. It remains to be seen if the Army implements a more functional assessment to meet the demands of today, such as the Marine Corps’ Combat Fitness Test.

Whichever way the Army decides to keep rolling along, you can be sure that servicemembers will be profusely sweating.

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This daring Army aviator turned a scout plane into a tank-buster

Only in Patton’s Army could a mild-mannered history teacher from Moline, Illinois, join the service and become forever immortalized as “Bazooka Charlie.”


Charles Carpenter joined the Army as a pilot shortly after America’s entry into World War II. He became an aerial artillery observer with the 4th Armored Division of Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army. It was here Carpenter became a legend on both sides of the war.

By the time he arrived in Europe in 1944, then-Maj. Carpenter had a lot of flying time training for artillery observation and reconnaissance. However, his first great feat in Europe was not in the air, it was on the ground.

While scouting for advanced landing fields in a jeep near Avranches, France, Carpenter came across a unit pinned down by Germans holding a nearby town. He ran up to the lead tank, jumped on the .50 cal machine gun, fired off a burst at the Germans, and yelled, “Let’s Go!”

Although technically not the leader of the unit, the men followed his commands and assaulted the town, capturing it in minutes. Unfortunately, Carpenter ordered the tank he was riding to fire at what he thought was an enemy tank. The shot took the bulldozer plow off a fellow American tank.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Carpenter next to his L-4. (Library of Congress photo)

He was arrested after the incident and threatened with a firing squad before his commanding general came to his rescue. He was told to expect a court-martial — until word of his exploits reached Gen. Patton. Patton personally stopped the court-martial proceedings and instead awarded Carpenter a Silver Star for his bravery, saying Carpenter was “the kind of fighting man I want in my army.”

After the incident, Carpenter kept to the skies, but he certainly wasn’t out of the fight. Though discouraged by his plane’s lack of armament and offensive capability, he heard rumors of other scout pilots attaching weapons to their planes. He conceived an idea that would truly make him famous in the European Theater.

With the help of an ordinance tech and a crew chief, Carpenter attached two M1 bazookas to the struts of his L-4 Grasshopper (the military version of a Piper Cub), which he then promptly dubbed “Rosie the Rocketer.” Each bazooka was controlled electronically from switches in the cockpit and could be fired individually or at the same time.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

It wasn’t long before Carpenter scored his first kill, taking out a German armored car. He wasn’t satisfied with just blasting light vehicles, so he added four more bazookas. He also managed to acquire the improved M9 bazooka, which was capable of firing M6A3 High Explosive Anti-Tank rounds.

Carpenter’s methods for destroying German armor earned him another nickname, the “Mad Major.” His technique was to perform a shallow dive at enemy tanks and then blast them from 100 meters before pulling up and out of range of enemy small arms fire.

Although the technique was effective, it was downright crazy. Many of Carpenter’s fellow pilots who heard his exploits decided they would give it a try as well “but found that driving their frail aircraft into a hail of German small arms fire was extremely unhealthy,” the Lawrence Journal-World reported, “and returned to their observation duties.”

“Bazooka Charlie” soon racked up more kills – including two of the feared German Tiger tanks. In one instance, Carpenter destroyed a German column, then landed in a field to check out the still-burning remnants of his work. While on the ground, he captured six Germans with a discarded rifle he happened to pick up.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
A German Tiger tank in Sicily, 1943. (U.S. Army photo)

In another instance, he spotted infantry forces under attack by German armor. He dove into the fray and fired all his rockets. He then returned to his airfield to reload then returned to the battle. Carpenter made three trips to the battlefield. He helped break up the attack, destroying two German tanks in the process.

“Some people around here think I’m nuts,” Carpenter once said, “but I just believe that if we’re going to fight a war, we have to go on with it 60-minutes an hour and 24-hours a day.”

And get on with it he did. By war’s end, Carpenter was credited with destroying six enemy tanks, making him a tank ace, though his total count and contributions are likely much higher.

It wasn’t just the Americans who took notice of Bazooka Charlie’s exploits. Carpenter himself once said “Word must be getting around among those Krauts to watch out for Cubs with bazookas on them. Every time I show up now, they shoot with everything they have. They never used to bother Cubs. Bazookas must be bothering them a bit.”

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Crew chiefs attach a bazooka to Carpenter’s L-4. (U.S. Army photo)

Despite flying an unprotected aircraft right into the enemy to score his kills, Carpenter was never wounded. For his exploits during the war, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster to go with his Silver Star.

After the war, “Bazooka Charlie” once again became Mr. Carpenter and went back to teaching high school history in Illinois before losing a battle with cancer in 1966.

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Marine Reservist protects family from attacker

Gabriel R. McInnis, a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, thought he was on a routine drive to serve on a funeral honors detail Dec. 27.


While passing through a residential area in Tempe, Arizona, he heard a woman scream.

“I was approaching a light, when I heard some screaming and yelling,” said McInnis, an engineer equipment mechanic with Bulk Fuel Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group.

As he turned to figure out what the commotion was, he said, he saw a wide-open doorway and a large man physically assaulting Tia Simpkins and her family in her home.

Rapid Response

“I knew I had to act,” McInnis said. “I threw my car into park and ran over to try to stop it.”

He tackled the attacker despite being outclassed in height and weight. Soon the pair was on the ground exchanging blows. Although McInnis took a lot of punches, he prevented the attacker from getting to the family.

“Finally, I catch a lucky break,” McInnis said.

The attacker threw a punch, missed, and fell to the ground. McInnis used the opportunity to perform an arm-bar takedown, a martial arts move, to subdue his opponent. After restraining the attacker, he dialed 911 and the police responded within minutes.

By putting his own welfare on the line, McInnis was able to prevent the assault against Simpkins and her family.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Marine Corps Sgt. Gabriel R. McInnis, engineer equipment mechanic with Bulk Fuel Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, poses for a photo after receiving a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 7, 2017. McInnis received the medal for his actions in preventing an assault of a family in Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 27, 2016. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ian Leones

A ‘True Hero’

“I know he is a true hero, because there is no way he could have had time to consider his own safety,” Simpkins said.

McInnis credits the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program with providing him the training to react.

“I’m an MCMAP instructor, and I spend a lot of my personal time training my Marines,” McInnis said. “The Marine Corps teaches right from wrong, and a bigger guy attacking a smaller woman is definitely wrong. I saw that and knew I needed to put an end to what was happening.”

The Marine leadership in his unit also recognized McInnis’s heroics and awarded him the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his actions.

“He is one of the Marines I really look up to,” said Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Logan M. Tucker, an automotive maintenance mechanic with Company C who trained under McInnis for MCMAP. “He is always improving himself and the Marines around him. What he did embodies Marine Corps ethos. If someone needs help, it’s our duty to take care of people.”

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Marine Corps Sgt. Gabriel R. McInnis, center, engineer equipment mechanic with Bulk Fuel Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, receives a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 7, 2017. McInnis received the medal for his actions in preventing an assault of a family in Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 27, 2016. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ian Leones

Helping Others

This is not the first time McInnis has used his Marine Corps training to help others. A few years ago during a flight to Hawaii, McInnis used the knowledge he gained from the Combat Lifesaver Course to help a diabetic woman who had passed out during the flight. “I joined to help people, and I’ve had a few opportunities to do it,” McInnis said.

“He acted with the honor, courage and commitment that we always hear about our Marines having,” Simpkins said. “He risked his own life and welfare in order to protect people that he barely even knew.”

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This admiral is a great barometer for what the Chinese might do next

Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong is a leader in the Chinese Navy, a professor at Beijing’s National Defense University, Chief Weapons Specialist and Strategist, and what some call “the Head of the Strategic Fool You Agency.”


Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

The last is a nickname he earned because Chinese Netizens came to realize quotes from Adm. Zhang would suddenly mean the opposite of his intent. He said the Chinese would use fishermen on wooden boats to take out the new Zumwalt-Class destroyers, as the Chinese commissioned their first aircraft carrier, when he also said the Chinese defense against U.S. submarines would be “ropes of seaweed” a threat the U.S. did not foresee. He also publicly claimed the Chinese were not developing a fifth-generation stealth jet right before the Chinese test piloted its J-20 fighter in May 2011.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
The J-20 Fighter (CCTV)

Admiral Zhang once criticized U.S. media for overestimating the threat of Chinese power. He said China could not keep pace with the U.S.if it wanted to, which it doesn’t. He acknowledges the need to increase the strength of Chinese military, but only because of “provocation” from the United States.

“American media like to make claims about how fast China’s military will surpass the United States,” Zhang told Want China Times. “What I have to say is that China is not going to catch up with the United States even if it stopped all military projects.

The admiral publicly stated China should do everything in its power to protect Iran from U.S.-Israeli aggression, “even if it means a third world war.” In response to the U.S. deploying a laser weapon on the USS Ponce, he said he believes the smog covering Chinese cities are the best defense from laser weapons.

“Under conditions where there is no smog, a laser weapon can fire [at a range of] 10km (6 miles),” he said, adding, “When there’s smog, it’s only 1km. What’s the point of making this kind of weapon?”

Zhang “retired” from the PLAN in 2015 and is now the most well-known and most senior military commentator on China’s state television.

NOW: This is China’s version of SEAL Team Six

OR: Here’s how China’s aircraft carrier stacks up to other world powers’

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This elite Nepalese warrior fought 40 train robbers all by himself

If a bad guy wants to mess with someone, they should probably make sure that someone is not a Gurkha.


Gurkha are a legendary class of Nepalese warriors whose lineage dates back to the Middle Ages. Gurkhas fought first against the British during the colonial era, and the Brits were so impressed by their ability in combat, they decided to enlist them in their military efforts.

They’ve been with the British since the days of the British East India company, through to World War II, and even through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their distinctive knife, the Khukuri, is symbolic of their heroism, bravery, and skill in combat.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Gurkhas in Afghanistan

A true testament to their ability is praise for their prowess from friend and foe alike. Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, once stated “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.” Prince Charles once said, “In the world there is only one secure place, that’s when you are between Gurkhas.” Osama bin Laden once claimed he would “eat Americans alive” if he had Gurkhas on his side. Adolf Hitler said of them, “If I had Gurkhas, no armies in the world would defeat me.”

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Gurkhas in the process of defeating Hitler in 1943.

On Sep. 2, 2010, when Bishnu Prasad Shrestha was returning home after a voluntary retirement from the Indian Army, the train incident happened. At around midnight on the Maurya Express train from Ranchi to Gorakhpur, 40 armed bandits boarded the train and started looting the passengers. He allowed himself to be robbed by the gun- and knife-toting train robbers. When they soon began to mess with an 18-year-old girl in front of her parents, who were watching helplessly, he couldn’t sit down any longer. Shrestha lost it.

He took out his Khukuri and fought the entire group of 40 robbers single-handedly, killing three of them and injuring eight others. The rest fled. After the incident, he explained:

“They started snatching jewelry, cell phones, cash, laptops and other belongings from the passengers. They had carried out their robbery with swords, blades and pistols. The pistols may have been fake as they didn’t fire. The girl cried for help, saying ´You are a soldier, please save a sister.’ I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister. 

During the fight, he took a serious knife wound on his left hand and the girl took a small cut on her neck. He was able to recover what the bandits stole, 200 cell phones, 40 laptops, a significant amount of jewelry, and nearly $10,000 in cash.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Shrestha in the hospital after the train fight.

When the intended rape victim’s family offered him a large cash reward, he refused it, saying:

“Fighting the enemy in battle is my duty as a soldier. Taking on the thugs on the train was my duty as a human being.”

Bishnu Prasad Shrestha held himself to the traditions of his Gurkha regiment and training. Today, Gurkhas fight with British, American, Indian, Nepalese, and Malaysian forces all over the world. After their service ends, they usually return to Nepal to become subsistence farmers. In 2009, the United Kingdom granted pensions at settlement rights to any Gurkha who served the UK for at least four years.

Check the WATM podcast to hear the author and other veterans discuss how the Gurkhas became feared warriors.

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Russia pimps out its new Su-35S Flanker in latest video

Russia is busy trying to drum up sales for its newest high-tech weapons, and one of those is the Su-35S Flanker – a heavily upgraded version of the Su-27, also called the Flanker.


According to the London Daily Mail, Russia has released a brief video of the Su-35 being taken for a test flight.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Su-35’s biggest change is the use of thrust-vectoring engines. This only enhances the maneuverability inherent in the Su-27 design. The Su-27 is famous for being able to do the Pugachev Cobra, a maneuver that allows it to fly tail-first for a period of time.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
The Pugachev Cobra illustrated. (Graphic from Wikimedia Commons)

The Daily Mail noted that the Su-35S has a top speed of Mach 2.25, the ability to fire a variety of missiles and drop up to 17,000 pounds of bombs from 12 hardpoints, and is equipped with a 30mm cannon for close-in dogfighting. Some Su-35s were sent to Syria by the Russian government, which backs that country’s dictator, Bashir al-Assad.

Russia also did a video of its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The video, though, omitted relevant details, like the carrier’s poor operating condition. There were also at least two splash landings  during the Kuznetsov’s deployment off Syria.

The video is below: Watch, and enjoy!

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These Are The Best Pictures From The Military This Week

Military photographers in all the branches of the armed forces are constantly taking awesome shots of training, combat, and stateside events. We looked among the military’s official channels, Flickr, Facebook, and elsewhere and picked our favorites over the past week. Here’s what we found:


AIR FORCE

A B-52H Stratofortress flies during Cope North 15, Feb. 17, 2015, off the coast of Guam. During the exercise, the U.S., Japan and Australia air forces worked on developing combat capabilities enhancing air superiority, electronic warfare, air interdiction, tactical airlift and aerial refueling. The B-52H is assigned to the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson/USAF

Exercise Cope North 15 participants and aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Philippine Air Force take a group photo Feb. 13, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson/USAF

NAVY

SASEBO, Japan (Feb. 26, 2015) Lt. j.g. Weston Floyd, ballistic missile defense officer, Cmdr. Chad Graham, executive officer, and Chief Operations Specialist Chris Ford prepare to participate in a fleet synthetic training joint exercise aboard the Arleigh-burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist First Class Joshua Hammond/USN

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 26, 2015) Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III, commander of Task Force (CTF) 51, addresses Sailors and Marines during an all-hands call on the flight deck of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason M. Graham/USN

ARMY

Soldiers train with multinational soldiers at the International Special Training Center Advanced Medical First Responder Course (ISTC), conducted by the ISTC Medical Branch, in Pfullendorf, Germany, Feb. 17-19, 2015.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Visual Information Specialist, Jason Johnston/US Army

Soldiers participate in the chin up portion of the Ranger Physical Fitness Assessment (RPFA) on Fort Benning, Ga., Feb. 7, 2015, as part of the Ranger Training Assessment Course. In order to pass the RPFA, Soldiers must successfully do 49 push ups, 59 sit ups, a 2.5-mile run within 20 minutes, and six chin ups.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Sgt. Sara Wakai/US Army

MARINE CORPS

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares to take off aboard the USS Essex (LHD 2) during Amphibious Squadron/Marine Expeditionary Unit Integration Training (PMINT) off the coast of San Diego, Feb. 24, 2015.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/USMC

Marines extinguish a fuel fire at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma during live-burn training Feb. 21, 2015. The Marines worked together to contain and extinguish the fire.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Lance Cpl. Janessa K. Pon/USMC

COAST GUARD

Petty Officer 2nd Class Bill Glenn and Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Korte, members of the military dive team aboard Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, are hoisted out of icy water after completing an underwater inspection of the ship while moored at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Jan. 23, 2015.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener/USCG

The crew sees alit of amazing wildlife in Antarctica. We’re going to show you some of our favorite shots today. A seal lay on the ice in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star while the ship is hove-to in the Ross Sea near Antarctica, Jan. 30, 2015.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos Rodriguez/USCG

NOW: The 12 Funniest Military Memes This Week  

AND: 13 Signs You’re An Infantryman

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VP welcomes Honor Flight vets to the White House

Veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars gathered at the White House May 8, honored for their selfless service and the freedoms that endure to this day because of their brave actions.


The veterans at the White House ceremony were part of an Honor Flight from northern Colorado. Honor Flights are conducted at no cost to the veterans and enable them to see the national memorials of the wars in which they fought.

The men and women who have served and fought for freedom are the nation’s most cherished citizens, and are owed a debt of gratitude that will never be fully repaid, Vice President Mike Pence said.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Pence and his wife Karen Pence, and the secretary of Veterans Affairs, David J. Shulkin, hosted the approximately 200 guests today at the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

“Today it is my great honor, on behalf of the first family, here on National Military Appreciation Month, to welcome so many heroes to this special place,” he said.

The veterans are “patriots of the highest order” who stepped forward and served with courage to “protect our nation and the values that we hold dear,” Pence said.

The vice president said it is especially humbling to welcome the veterans since he had not served in the military himself.

Pence noted the event comes on the 72nd anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

“It’s an honor and privilege more than I can say to be here with so many who fought in the greatest conflict of the 20th century, and who won freedom in World War II,” he said.

Debt of Honor and Gratitude

The Honor Flight trips to Washington are deeply meaningful, Pence explained.

“All the people that make these honor flights possible know that this is just about paying a debt of honor and a debt of gratitude that our nation will never be able to fully repay to all of you,” Pence said. “But we hope this experience fills your hearts with the absolute assurance that we’ll never forget what you’ve done for us.”

Because of the service and sacrifice of those in the room, freedom endures to this day, the vice president said. They fought on the front lines of freedom.

“You are among the rest of us, but make no mistake about it, you are the best of us,” he said. “On behalf of your commander in chief, I’m here to say thanks and to salute your service.”

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First female Tomcat pilot turns trials into successes

 


Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

The F-14A Tomcat was a hard airplane to land aboard an aircraft carrier. Engine response was slow. A wingtip-to-wingtip distance of nearly 70 feet meant there wasn’t much room to deviate away from the centerline of the landing area on the flight deck. Any lateral stick input caused the airplane to yaw in the opposite direction, which forced the pilot to simultaneously feed in rudder to counter. The velocity vector on the heads-up display wasn’t accurate enough to be used as a flight path marker. The tail hook-to-eye distance was more than any other airplane in the wing, which made any vertical corrections very precarious in the endgame.

And for her crime of doing well in flight school, then-Ensign Carey Lohrenz was selected to fly Tomcats, the first female naval aviator to get orders to that community. And by accepting those orders, Lohrenz embarked on a pioneer’s journey, one that had more ups and downs than anyone could have predicted, and one that would have crushed the spirit of the average American woman.

But Carey Lohrenz isn’t an average American woman.

Lohrenz developed a love of sports while growing up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. While she claims she wasn’t a tomboy, she played little league hockey on boy’s teams until high school. (“I quit when they started taking a little too long to get off of me after a check,” she jokes.) After that she took advantage of her six-foot-tall stature and joined the volleyball and basketball teams.

At the same time another love was growing inside of her: aviation. Her father was an airline pilot who’d flown C-130s in the Marine Corps, and her mother was a flight attendant. Both she and her older brother were determined to fly, and they often discussed the best routes to make a career out of flying.

But Lohrenz didn’t discuss her dream with anyone else. “I didn’t want their doubts about what females could do at that time to taint my dream,” she said.

So as soon as she had her Psychology degree from the University of Wisconsin in hand, she followed her brother’s lead and applied for the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School. Months later she reported to Pensacola, Florida for flight training.

Her brother was just over a year ahead of her in the training pipeline, and in spite of the fact he selected the transport community (and ultimately wound up flying E-6s) she wanted to fly tactical jets. And because her performance was at the top of her class, she got what she wanted.

But her selection for jet training came with some inherent tension. The combat exclusion law that prevented females from being assigned to carrier-based squadrons was still very much in place in the early 1990s. The only jets that females were piloting were shore-based EA-6s that flew missile profiles against surface ships for training.

“I got a lot of ‘why are you here?’ questions from instructors and fellow flight students,” Lohrenz said.

But she was undeterred and pressed on with an eye on what she hoped might happen. “If combat billets opened up I wanted to be in a position so that nobody could say I got a slot simply because I was a girl but because I was qualified,” she said.

But in spite of her hope and planning, it wasn’t looking good as she neared the end of her flight training.

“I got a call six weeks before I was supposed to get my wings that the combat exclusion clause hadn’t been lifted and there was no place for me to go,” Lohrenz said.  “I could get out of the Navy or go to a non-flying job.”

She hung up the phone and went back to her scheduled flight brief and fought the instinct to cry.

The next day she went to her commanding officer and asked him to find “a third way.”

“I wasn’t taking no for an answer,” she said.  And because she’d done well her CO went to bat for her.

But he didn’t have to try too hard because about that same time the combat exclusion law went away. Lohrenz pinned on her Naval Aviator’s Wings of Gold and got orders to VF-124, the F-14 training squadron at NAS (now MCAS) Miramar in southern California, the first female to go right from winging to Tomcats. (The other females were transferred from the EA-6 community.)

But the challenges for Lohrenz didn’t end there.

“I got to Miramar as the trifecta of bad things were happening,” she said.

There was the fallout from the Tailhook scandal that resulted in careers ending for several high-ranking and popular fighter crews. There was a Navy-wide reduction in force happening that was forcing people out of the service against their will. And there was disappointment in the Tomcat community about the fact that the F-14 wasn’t getting upgraded.

One of the instructors posted two articles on the main bulletin board in the ready room: One about how the upgraded F-14 was being cancelled, and one that highlighted that the cost to retrograde ships for females was $200 million.

“There was a lot of animosity that had nothing to do with me but merely my presence,” Lohrenz said. “It wasn’t an easy environment.  It took an unwavering belief that I had the ability to do the job.”

She had the first hiccup in her flight training toward the end of the VF-124 syllabus, failing to qualify the first time she tried landing the Tomcat on the carrier. But she wasn’t alone. About 75 percent of her class failed the first time, primarily due to the weather conditions that resulted in rough seas that made an already difficult task of landing a beast of an airplane on the ship for the first time even harder.

Lohrenz focused on her additional training and qualified without any issues the second time through.

She joined her first fleet squadron – VF-213 “Blacklions” – at the most rigorous phase of pre-deployment training, one of two female pilots in the squadron.

The other female pilot was Lt. Kara Hultgreen. Hultgreen was senior to Lohrenz and had come to the Blacklions by way of the EA-6 community.

“Because she had a lot of flight hours people assumed she was experienced,” Lohrenz said.

Two months into Lohrenz’ tour tragedy struck.  Hultgreen’s Tomcat had an engine stall in the landing pattern behind the carrier, and she lost control and crashed. While the backseater managed to initiate ejection in time to save his own life, Hultgreen was killed.

The mishap became a lightning rod of emotions and political agendas. Experienced pilots believed Hultgreen had mishandled a basic inflight emergency and that her death was her own fault. Others resented the level of effort that was put into recovering the Tomcat from the bottom of the ocean.

“Nobody addressed the details of the situation and it caused a lot of people to feel less valuable and hurt morale,” Lohrenz said. “And there was a bit of a leadership vacuum that could have nipped the whole thing in the bud.”

Lohrenz was now the sole female carrier-based fighter pilot.

“If I thought the spotlight was bad before it was now nuclear fusion level,” she said.

She was caught in a lose-lose matrix of sorts. “If I was stoic people thought I didn’t care,” she explained. “And if I showed emotion people thought I was a bitch.”

The atmosphere on the carrier was increasingly uncomfortable, even insulting, as the deployment wore on. Female crew were made to take pregnancy tests after every in-port period. The admiral in charge stated in a very public forum that the reason he supported women aboard ships was “because they made the carrier smell better.”

She tried to simply do her job, to fly the airplane and perform as a normal first-tour junior officer should, but that ultimately wasn’t enough to overcome the forces around her.

“To be cryptic about it, the rug was yanked out from under me by a cadre of people who didn’t want women in the military . . . period,” Lohrenz said.

She saw a shift in her commanding officer’s attitude. Her previous landing grade performance that had characterized her as a normal first tour pilot dealing with an airplane that was just plain hard to control now had her listed as “unsafe and unpredictable.”

“I was set up,” she said.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Carey Lohrenz giving one of her keynote addresses.

Lohrenz was given an evaluation board that pulled her out of the Tomcat community and assigned her to fly small propeller-driven transports from a shore base. She left the Navy shortly after that.

But in spite of the challenges and the emotional turmoil, Lohrenz has used the experience as a pivot point.  “I went from Mach 2 to mom to entrepreneur,” she said.

During the course of being a homemaker, which included being a wife to a FEDEX pilot and raising four kids, she found herself increasingly being sought after for business advice, especially that pertaining to organizational change.

Lohrenz connected the dots and – after a short and semi-chaotic stint with a consulting firm run by military aviation alums – she launched Carey Lohrenz Enterprises. She is now in high demand as a consultant and keynote speaker.

Her efforts are anchored by her book Fearless Leadership that outlines her approaches to both business and life. The book is organized around the three fundamentals of “real fearlessness” — courage, tenacity, and integrity — and offers Lohrenz’ take on how to stay resilient through hard times.

And Lohrenz’ life would suggest that staying resilient is something about which she knows a thing or two.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How one former Green Beret is changing everything about NFL recruiting

Making it through selection to serve in one of America’s elite special operations units marks an unusual milestone in a service member’s career. Making the cut serves as the culmination of a lifetime of preparation and hard work, while simultaneously ushering in a new era full of brutal challenges, higher stakes, and even longer days ahead. Becoming a Green Beret is a lot like earning a spot on a professional football team: when everyone is elite, it takes something special to stand out.

Former Green Beret and current Director of Player Development for the Indianapolis Colts Brian Decker knows that, and he’s managed to quantify that something special into a model that improved candidate selection rates by thirty percent in his last Special Forces unit. Now, he’s brought that same model to the NFL.


Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

Brian Decker

(Courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts)

“What Brian did was change the paradigm,” said Col. Glenn Thomas, Decker’s former boss at Fort Bragg. “People get accustomed to looking at things the same way and applying the same solutions to the same problems. Brian challenged our assumptions. He took things that had generally been intangibles and turned them into tangibles.”

Football is, in many ways, analogous for war, with a combination of strategy and brute force playing out in a melee of individual skirmishes with the singular goal of advancing deep into enemy territory. The stakes in a football game are lower than in war, of course, but in the minds and hearts of those playing, themes like sacrifice and commitment are just prevalent between the hash marks as they are on the battlefield.

The thing is, despite the hard metrics both NFL teams and military units have been measuring for decades (using tests to assess things like speed and strength), many would contend that once a person has proven their physical ability to perform at that level, the real elements that dictate success or failure tend to be less tangible. A timed run can’t measure a soldier’s ability to dig deep in a firefight, nor can a series of drills determine if a rookie could handle the incredible pressure of playing at the professional level.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

Decker believes there are some things that set elite operators apart in all fields, whether we’re talking combat operations or professional football.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Steven Lewis)

“One of the things about professional sports, rock climbing, parachuting, jumping from 123,000 feet in space to Earth, they’re all really hard things to do,” Decker explains.

“I think if you remove the sport, specific skills and domain from it, you find that (elite performers) are a lot alike. I think the demands placed upon greatness look a lot alike, regardless of field.”

Roughly half of all first-round draft picks in the NFL wash out of the league, and with so much money riding on these decisions, NFL teams have spent years trying to devise ways to predict a player’s success before they sign the contract. From Decker’s perspective, however, they simply haven’t been measuring the right things.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

Teams are taking big financial risks with their draft picks. The entire franchise could be effected by these decisions for years to come.

(Swimfinfan on Flickr)

So Decker set out to quantify the unquantifiable–to find a way to use numerical measurements for seemingly intangible elements of a player’s personality like their drive or desire to succeed, their responses to stress, and their emotional intelligence. If all other things are equal, Decker’s approach states, it’s those qualifiers that will indicate the likelihood of a player’s (or Special Forces candidate’s) success.

The hard part is assigning hard numbers to such things in a uniform way, and while Decker won’t reveal the exact metrics he uses for his assessments, the success his program has been enjoying in the Colts’ locker room seems to speak for itself.

“Every team in the league is doing a lot of work in terms of psychological evaluations, and has been doing it forever and ever,” says Joe Banner, the former Browns CEO who gave Decker his first job in the league in 2014.

“But his approach, and the types of questions he asks, and his ability to synthesize information and get to the right conclusions, that part of it is absolutely groundbreaking. There is nobody in the league doing what he’s doing as effectively.”

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

Last season the Colts went 10-6, marking a turnaround for the franchise.

(Indianapolis Colts)

Once Decker has met with a prospective player and made his assessments, he always follows the math up with five specific questions meant to steer his line of thinking:

Does this player have a favorable development profile?

Does he have a profile that supports handling pressure and adversity?

Does he have a good learning and support system?

Is he a character risk, and if so, how do we understand that risk and help this player?

Is he a good fit?

But it takes a lot more than assigning some figures and asking lofty questions. Prior to this season’s draft, Decker interviewed and assessed over 160 players. Next year, he plans to top 300.

“This is a commitment industry,” Decker, who served in the military for 22 years, explains. “That’s another thing I like about football. You can’t just be here for the T-shirt. You gotta give a pound of flesh to do this.”

Articles

This is why some Marines wear the ‘French Fourragere,’ and some don’t

You may have noticed a select few Marines and sailors walking around in their uniforms with a green rope wrapped around their left arm — it’s not just for decoration.


That green rope is called a “French Fourragere,” and it was awarded to the members of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments for their heroic actions during the Battle of Belleau Wood from the French government in WWI.

This rite of passage extends to Marines who serve in those respected units today to commemorate their brothers in that historic battle.

The Fourragere is authorized on all service uniforms, and dress coats or jackets where medals or ribbons are prescribed.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

During the bloody summer months of 1918, the Marines and the Germans fiercely fought one another just northwest of the Paris-to-Metz road. For weeks, German Gen. Erich Ludendorff had his troops attack U.S. forces with artillery, machine guns, and deadly gas.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

Although the Marines sustained thousands of casualties during the skirmish, the infantrymen charged their opposition through the wooded area with fixed bayonets.

It’s reported the French urged the Marines to turn back, but the grunts proceeded onward frequently engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.

By June 26, 1918, the war-hardened Marines confirmed that they secured the woods from German forces and took many prisoners.

And the French Fourragere reminds Leathernecks in this storied units of their World War I bravery.

Articles

33 technical errors in the movie ‘Three Kings’

“Three Kings” looks at what would happen if Army reservists and a retiring special forces officer decided to steal millions of dollars in gold under the nose of their headquarters.


Before we get started, we didn’t count each individual case of “accountability” issues in this movie because it simply comes up too often to list each individual problem. But, the movie centers on the idea that a staff officer, two mid-career noncommissioned officers, and a private could disappear into the desert for hours with a Humvee, M60, and some M16s and pistols, and return hours later with no one noticing.

No actual soldier would have thought this plan would work. Sergeants are being yelled at, asked a question, or assigned a task every five minutes. No way they could disappear for hours and no one would notice.

Plot impossibility aside, there were 33 technical errors that made us grind our teeth.

1. (1:10) Sgt. 1st Class Barlow asks whether or not the unit is shooting at Iraqis. As a sergeant first class with a small element, he is probably the senior-most enlisted soldier in this scene. He should be the one who knows the rules of engagement. Also, what patrols really go outside the wire without briefing the RoE? The Army Reserve sometimes does dumb stuff but damn.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

2. (1:35) Barlow wants to ascertain whether a person has a weapon. First of all, the guy was literally waving it through the air multiple times, silhouetting it to where Barlow should be able to tell the exact kind of Kalashnikov it is. Secondly, instead of just looking he flips his iron sites to the pinhole site (which it should’ve been on in the first place). This would actually make it harder to see if the enemy had a weapon.

3. (4:50) A major wouldn’t call his superior “colonel.”

4. (5:08) Major Gates is wearing his skill badges incorrectly. Army Regulation 670-1 says that when four skill badges are worn on the Desert BDU, the first three are worn above the U.S. Army tape and the fourth is worn on the pocket flap. Gates has two above the tape and two on the pocket flap. The colonel’s badges are, surprisingly, in the right spots though the spacing looks a little iffy.

5. (5:30) That colonel must be very busy if he’s going to let an ass-chewing wait until morning.

6. (7:09) Holding your weapon close to a prisoner is begging to have it stolen and used against you, but the private does it with nearly every prisoner.

7. (9:42) The colonel puts on his hat to get in a helicopter. This is the opposite of what you’re supposed to do. Also, does he really not need armor to fly outside the wire? He better hope that cease fire is super secure.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

8. (12:40) Night vision in Desert Storm didn’t blur peripheral vision, it blocked it. Also, during the day, the image would be blown out and the light could ruin the device.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

9. (12:50) Soldiers don’t salute indoors and rarely salute while deployed.

10. (17:30) No one notices the soldiers shooting rounds at footballs? And no one noticed them leaving base without armor or helmets?

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

11. (27:18) Major remembers that he saw soldiers guarding a well. Why didn’t he put two and two together while he was still in the village?

12. (28:30) What the hell is with the dune buggy? The Army doesn’t have those. And there is no way the security in the country is so good that a commander would let a soldier leave the base alone with two civilians. A single Humvee would have been unlikely to be released as well, even with a Special Forces officer “commanding” the movement.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

13. (40:13) Multiple weapons can be heard charging, but the soldiers are only switching off their safeties.

14. (43:50) They see a tank and Pfc. Vig pulls a light anti-tank weapon. These guys are civil affairs reservists. It’s guaranteed that guy does not know how to use that weapon. It’s pretty shocking that he even has it.

15. (45:55) The reservist knew exactly where his LAW was, but not the mask that should have been strapped to his leg.

16. (46:05) Vig survives a massive mine blast at only a few meters. Nope.

17. (48:30) CS gas is not uncomfortable in heavy clouds, it is debilitating. Even tough soldiers tear up, cough heavily, and struggle for breath.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

18. (49:20) “Where’s Troy?” would not be answered with, “We have to get out of here.” A missing soldier is a huge deal and this is their best chance to fix it.

19. (51:07) The rebels are not taking a tank. They’re taking an armored personnel carrier. You are a damn soldier and should know better.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

20. (57:14) “Get the maps, check their radio transmissions. Maybe we’ll get their positions.” So, the colonel thinks he’ll find his rogue special forces major by checking the radio traffic. That makes sense. He lied about where he was, who he was taking to, and what he was doing, but he definitely called and gave his real position on the radio.

21. (1:08:55) A special forces officer is leading a massive foot movement of rebels and lets them silhouette themselves on top of a ridge.

22. (1:15:15) The colonel is personally leading the search for missing soldiers. A subordinate officer should really be in charge and reporting up to him.

23. (1:22:50) Vig was once again way too close to an explosion to live.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

24. (1:21:55) This helicopter manages to fire on the rebels three times and not hit anything until the third pass. Then, all of a sudden he kills a few people with almost every run, culminating in flying sideways while gunning a guy down. Are they badass pilots or incompetent? Pick one.

25. (1:26:15) What are the triggering mechanisms on these footballs? The first went off when it was shot, which C4 is not designed to do. The second went off on a timer. The third one went off when it impacted a helicopter. A timer makes sense but the other two need some explanation.

26. (1:30:40) When you shoot a guy to make sure he’s dead, you should really put at least one in his skull. Then he won’t shoot your buddy through the lung in exactly 59 seconds.

27. (1:32:55) Where was Maj. Gates hiding every item needed to perform a needle chest decompression?

28. (1:33:50) No, a needle chest decompression will not treat a shot up lung so well that you can just release the tension with the valve every few minutes. It makes it to where you can leave the valve open and barely breath as you are immediately moved to a hospital.

29. (1:37:45) If the colonel is special forces, it’s pretty weird that he’s commanding a unit in conventional forces.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

30. (1:39:30) Put up your troop strap, morons. I know you’re a bunch of thieves, but you still need to be safe.

31. (1:40:30) There is never a good reason to leave your most casualty-producing weapon unmanned.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

32. (1:41:00) Maj. Gates says only American soldiers carry guns. That’s probably offensive to the French special forces soldier who is saving his ass.

33. Epilogue: Everyone who wasn’t killed has a happy ending with new jobs and a peaceful existence after they are honorably discharged. No. A soldier was killed and a humvee and M60 are missing along with a few M16s and M9s. No. You all went to jail.

NOW: 15 Unforgettable photos from Operation Desert Storm

OR: 4 Amazing military stories that should totally be movies

Articles

This is why the future of motocross is female

Pop quiz, hot shot:

What do gun enthusiasm, maritime rescues, and high-velocity dirt biking have in common?

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Time’s up.


Those divergent interests all come together in Navy Vet and motocross racer, Jacqueline Carrizosa.

The former Navy gunner’s mate and rescue swimmer is, in post-military life, a rider on the rise in the Western U.S. amateur motocross circuit. And the time it took her to try to teach Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis to stick one basic jump is, believe us, no reflection on her abilities.

Check out a side-by-side comparison, Ryan v. Jacqueline, leaping the same stretch of track.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times
Ryan (top), floating like a tank. Jacqueline (bottom), flying Navy Air. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Yeah. She’s awesome.

As a teenager, Carrizosa had trouble staying on the straight and narrow after her family moved from California to Las Vegas, but she thrived in the Navy, excelling at physically demanding and traditionally male-dominated disciplines.

When things got rocky again after she left active duty, the same approach helped her. She found structure and purpose in highly skilled action sports, specifically motocross. Her advice?

“Establish something that makes you money, you know what I mean? But also keep your soul alive. You gotta follow your heart. I would say 85% heart, 15% brain.”

Jacqueline Carrizosa. WISE.

But it all proved a little too much for Curtis. The motocross badassery, the beauty, the sheer volume of withering sass. A day at the track with Carrizosa hit him right in the feels (understandable).

And so, completely biffing the ratio, he went 100% heart, 0% brains.

Here’s how the US Army’s fitness standards have changed with the times

You don’t have to imagine how that went over. All you gotta do is watch as Curtis gets his motocross mojo crossed, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

This Green Beret will make you a mental commando

The Marine Rapper will make you shake your Citizen Rump

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

This is what happens when a Navy SEAL becomes an actor

This is what happens when a SEAL helps you with your lady problems