For 241 glorious years, the Marine Corps has courageously fought in every clime and place where they could take a rifle. Known for being “the first to fight,” the Corps was born in a small brewery in the city of brotherly love called Tun Tavern on November 10th, 1775.
On that day, two battalions of American Marines were created and would be known as the fiercest fighting force the world has ever seen.
The Marine Corps birthday is a prized and celebrated tradition throughout the Corps, regardless of where it’s celebrated. Here’s a few facts about the Marine Corps birthday you may not know about.
1. First to be commissioned
Captain Samuel Nichols was commissioned as the first Marine officer by the Second Continental Congress on November 5th, 1775, but he wasn’t confirmed in writing until November 28th, 1775. Soon after, Nicholas took office setting up a recruiting station at Tun Tavern, the birthplace of the Corps.
There isn’t an official record of the first enlisted Marine, though. Imagine that.
2. Did somebody say cake?
During the cake cutting ceremony every Marine Corps birthday, the first three pieces are presented to the guest of honor, the oldest living Marine present, and the third is handed to the youngest Marine present — a perfect way to display brotherhood and connection. This tradition is also part of the Marine Corp birthday celebration on the battlefield if possible.
There’s even a formatted script to maintain uniformity.
A lesser know fact is the Marine Corps was disbanded in 1783 after the Revolutionary War and didn’t exist for 15 years. It would make its return on July 11th, 1798, and brand its self as the Corps we’ve come to know today.
5. You could take a celeb to the Ball
Let’s face it; it’s your best shot.
Service members have made it a trend and a mission to go on social media to ask their favorite celeb crushes to escort them to the once a year birthday bash. It works for some people.
Why not you? Here’s TMR to tell you a few steps how:
WATM wishes every Marine a happy and safe birthday. SEMPER FI MARINES!
WATM author Tim Kirkpatrick entered the Navy in 2007 as a Hospital Corpsman and deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines in the fall of 2010. Tim now has degrees in both Film Production and Screenwriting. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Christopher G. Baradat would have just as well had the Air Force mail him his medal.
It’s been more than four years since the Afghanistan battle in which the former Air Force staff sergeant was credited with saving the lives of more than 150 allies, both American and Afghan. And three years since Baradat, who served with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Fort Bragg, received the Silver Star for those heroics.
And to this day, the former airman believes he was only doing his job when he braved enemy fire to communicate with vital air support amid a frantic battle with insurgents in the Sono Valley, a treacherous area known as a sanctuary for insurgents in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
“I don’t feel that I was doing anything above and beyond and heroic,” Baradat said shortly before being honored yet again in a historic ceremony in Florida. “I was doing the job that I was supposed to do.”
On April 20, Baradat and retired Master Sgt. Keary Miller, a former pararescueman, were each presented with the Air Force Cross in a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, home of Air Force Special Operations Command.
It was the first time in history the Air Force had awarded two Air Force Cross medals — the highest honor for valor an airman can receive outside the Medal of Honor.
Baradat and Miller previously received Silver Stars for their respective heroics. But after a Department of Defense-wide review of valor awards from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they were among eight airmen who were selected to receive an upgraded medal.
The ceremony to honor them was hosted by the 24th Special Operations Wing and began with a flyover from the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds; included remarks from the highest-ranking Air Force officer, Gen. David L. Goldfein; and ended with memorial pushups for special operations airmen who have died in battle.
Baradat’s heroics are related to a battle in which he directed 13 500-pound bombs and more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition during three hours of intense fighting amid a mission to rescue allies trapped in a valley under Taliban control.
Miller, who served with the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, is credited with dashing through deep snow and heavy fire multiple times to care for critically wounded U.S. troops during a 17-hour battle against al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan on March 4, 2002.
Baradat, who left the Air Force last year and now lives in California, said he was not seeking medals during the fight on April 6, 2013.
“I was just concentrating on doing my job,” he said. “It was a very busy, hectic situation.”
According to accounts of the battle, Baradat put his life on the line even as members of the Special Forces team and Afghan commandos he was attached to shouted for him to take cover.
The former combat controller, who provided an important link between ground forces and overhead aircraft, stood in an open Afghan courtyard as bullets hit the ground around him and zeroed in on the roughly 100 enemy fighters bearing down on his teammates with sniper fire, machine gun fire, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Baradat orchestrated supporting fire from AC-130 and A-10 aircraft, synchronizing the attacks and coordinating flight paths overhead amid heavy enemy fire on the ground.
“It was very steep, rocky terrain,” he said. “There was some difficulty in identifying where stuff was happening.”
Baradat said his Special Tactics training prepared him for the battle. But at the same time, he credited the soldiers from the Fort Bragg-based 3rd Special Forces Group whom he fought alongside.
“I was just one piece of the puzzle,” he said. “I’m proud of how my team worked together that day and that I was able to do my job the way that I was trained to.”
Baradat and Miller are the eighth and ninth airmen to receive the Air Force Cross since Sept. 11, 2001.
All nine airmen have been part of the Special Tactics community. And five have come from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, which is the most decorated Air Force squadron in modern history.
On April 20, Baradat said he wished his old unit well.
“I hope that those guys are doing great,” he said. “I hope they all stay safe as they continue to do the work and continue the legacy of Air Force Special Tactics.”
Baradat spent roughly eight years in the Air Force, deploying three times to Afghanistan and once as part of a crisis response force in the Middle East.
In April 2013 he was part of a quick reaction force called to rescue 66 Afghan allies pinned down by fighters in the Sono Valley.
According to an account of the battle, Baradat and eight Special Forces soldiers went ahead of their convoy of armed vehicles, which were slowed by narrow and restrictive terrain.
About half a mile from the allies they were sent to rescue, the troops came under attack and sprinted the length of several football fields to reach safety in a small mud compound.
There, Baradat began to communicate with overhead aircraft to try to repel the attack.
Then, as they moved closer to their trapped allies and the intensity of the enemy fire increased, Baradat left his concealed position to better coordinate a counterattack.
Ignoring the warnings of his teammates, and with the help of six A-10s and two AC-130s, he cleared the way for members of the team to reach their allies and leave the valley, continuing to direct a counterattack as the convoy left.
Baradat is credited with destroying 50 enemies and 13 enemy fighting positions.
Speaking on April 20, Goldfein said Baradat and Miller represent “the finest traits America can ask of its warriors.”
“When lives are on the line, you move carefully and deliberately into harm’s way with the protection of others on the mind,” he said. “You do what others cannot or will not do. And you do it because it must be done. And because there is no one better.”
Necessity is the mother of invention. If a certain need exists and the thing that satisfies such a need does not, then some endeavoring soul is bound to create it. Richard Davis embodied this mentality when he took some Kevlar and fashioned it into a lightweight vest — and his revolutionary design changed war fighting forever. With just a few slight modifications, Davis’ design became the body armor that police officers and troops wear into combat today.
You might be wondering why Davis, a pizza guy from Detroit, would need such a thing. Well, what would you do if you were tired of getting shot at while delivering pies?
You had comfort and maneuverability or mild protection from small arms and fragmentation. Your choice.
(U.S. Air Force photo)
Body armor, in one form or another, has been around for as long as war itself. But when gunpowder and firearms took the place of swords and arrows on the battlefield, standard metal plates no longer did the trick — incoming rounds from muskets would pierce most metals. But as firearms shrank from the cannons of old to the rifles we know today, metal-plate armor made a comeback.
During World War II, Col. Malcolm C. Grow of the British Army created the flak vest out of nylon and manganese steel plates. It weighed 22lbs, only worked where the plates were, and wasn’t comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, but it was reasonably effective. This style was used until the Vietnam War.
I mean, if it works… Right?
(Photo by Michel Curi)
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Richard Davis opened a pizzeria off 7 Mile in Detroit. One night, a delivery took him through a back alley and he was held up at gunpoint. Weeks later, another order came in for the same address (it was even the same order of two pepperoni and ham pizzas). This time, however, he came prepared with a .22 revolver hidden under the pies.
The same robbers tried the same stunt, but he was ready. A gunfight broke out. Davis took one round to the back of the leg and another grazed his temple. He managed to get four shots off at his attackers, leaving two of his three attackers wounded. In the weeks he spent recovering, his pizzeria was burnt to the ground.
He had nothing but to his name.
Meanwhile, over at DuPont Co. Labs, they had just made a breakthrough in tire technology. They were using a new, lightweight, super-strong synthetic fabric called Kevlar. It was flexible and five-times stronger than steel.
Davis got his hands on some of this new material and fashioned some of it together into a body armor vest using ballistic nylon. He called it the “Second Chance” vest and created it with the intentions of putting it in police hands.
He worked on the vests throughout the day and tried to sell his life-saving wares to police at night — with little success. He needed a bigger ploy to get their attention. His method? He gathered up the police to watch a demonstration. He was going to shoot himself in the chest — despite the fact that his vest had never been tested on a person.
The vest worked like a charm. Davis shot himself and while it hurt like hell — because, you know, the vests can’t stop inertia — that didn’t matter. His pitch was so effective it later became standard among all police in the nation. Variations on his original body armor design are used by troops to this day.
To watch the Smithsonian’s interview with Richard Davis, check out the video below.
When it comes to curb appeal, few airplanes in history can match the look of the SR-71 “Blackbird.” And nothing in the Air Force’s inventory — past or present — can beat its signature performance characteristics. Here are 11 photos that show why the Blackbird remains the standard of aviation cool:
The SR-71 “Blackbird” was a high-speed, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft developed by Lockheed’s legendary “Skunk Works” team in the 1960s.
The Blackbird was capable of speeds exceeding Mach 3.0. The fuselage was designed to expand at high speeds, which caused the airplane to leak fuel on the ground because the panels fit very loosely when jet was parked.
The Blackbird’s service ceiling (max altitude) was 85,000 feet, which forced crews to wear pressure suits and astronaut-type helmets.
SR-71s were manned by two aviators: a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Officer who monitored surveillance systems from the rear cockpit.
Only 32 Blackbirds were manufactured, and they were in service from 1964-1998. Despite over 4,000 combat sorties, none of the planes were lost due to enemy fire. However, 12 of them were destroyed in mishaps.
Claustrophobic types need not apply. The narrow space between canopy rails didn’t give crews much room to move around. The outer windscreen of the cockpit was made of quartz and was fused ultrasonically to the titanium frame. The temperature of the exterior of the windscreen reached 600 °F during a mission.
Nothing ‘glass’ about this cockpit. The SR-71 presented the pilot with a dizzying array of steam gauges and switches. And visibility out the front wasn’t the greatest.
Although not technically a stealth aircraft, the SR-71 was hard for enemy SAM systems to spot because it was designed with a low radar cross section in mind.
Because of its high approach speed the Blackbird used a drag chute to slow down on the runway after touchdown.
Aerial refueling capability allowed the SR-71 to perform long-range, high endurance missions.
The Blackbird still holds the record for fastest air-breathing manned aircraft (a record it broke in 1976). Although the SR-71 is no longer in service, the legend lives on.
Imagine attempting to make your way across the United States with the entirety of America and the Internet on the lookout for you. Now imagine there are a million dollars at stake: a half-million for the Chase Teams after you and almost a half-million for you if you can evade capture. These are the stakes for “The Runner,” an original series available on go90 and AOL.com and perhaps the most innovate audience-participation reality competition ever devised.
“This new show is the most participatory, the most fun, and most exciting to watch,” says Vice News’ Kaj Larsen, a former Navy SEAL and one of the hosts of “The Runner.” “I think the really amazing part is that the audience has buy-in, all puns intended, in a fundamentally different way.”
The rules of the game seem complex, but in practice, they’re really very simple. One chosen Runner will attempt to cross the U.S. in thirty days, trying to go unnoticed through predetermined checkpoints by any means necessary. Meanwhile, five two-person teams of “chasers” will receive clues on mobile devices in an effort to track the Runner before the next checkpoint can be reached.
Kaj Larsen is just one of the hosts. He checks in on the progress of the Runner and the Chase Teams’ locations. His co-host, Mat “MatPat” Patrick, a YouTube star and self-proclaimed “Information Addict,” will ensure everyone understands how “The Runner” is played and what is currently happening in the game.
“I’m really the boots on the ground guy,” says Larsen. “My role is to help the audience understand exactly what’s happening with the game of cat and mouse going on between the chasers and the runner. I’ll be watching the Chase Teams working towards their challenges. I’m the tactical, kinetic element.”
“The Runner” uses a proprietary technology that allows the Chase Teams to geotag The Runner within five feet. This is how they “capture” the Runner. Their reward starts at $15,000 and goes up every second of every day of game play, up to a half million dollars. The more the Runner evades the Chase Teams, the more money he gets. The chase teams are given a new challenge every day, a challenge both cerebral and physical which will give them clue to the Runner’s movements.
“We cast a really wide net in trying to find people who had interesting, diverse skill sets that could be applicable to hunting the Runner,” says Larsen. “For example, two guys known as Brother Nature, they’re a group of surfer kids from Hawaii with a large social following.”
That social media following actually matters in this game because their built-in audience will help them crowdsource the answers to these clues. “The Runner” is a more than a game for just the Runner and the Chase Teams. It’s a live game for everyone on the internet. Viewers on social networks will have the opportunity to help interpret the clues for the Chase Teams and get their own cash prize. $15,000 is awarded to viewers every day with a $20,000 bonus to the most socially active viewer.
“The stakes are really high,” Larsen says. “But it’s a really fun game and Verizon is the perfect platform, given how exciting it is to play on mobile. The more people who play, the more exciting it is and the more money can be won.”
The show is the result of a decade and a half of collaboration and development between Executive Producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. It really is groundbreaking – From the core concept to the technology used to track the competitors to the inclusion of the nationwide audience, what we can expect is something truly unique.
“The truth is when Matt and Ben conceived it, the idea was so innovative that the technology didn’t really exist to make it work,” says Larsen. “That’s changed over the last decade. The ability to crowd-source, to use social media to unlock the clues, and to play the gamification side of the game, that’s all here and ready for prime time.”
The Runner launches July 1st, 2016 on go90 and AOL.com. Don’t expect to just be voting every week for an idol or waiting for the show to return from a commercial break to find the outcomes of a segment. “The Runner” features real-time video and three episodes daily, including a recap of the previous day, live updates, current standings, and performance analyses.
“It’s exciting and different,” Larsen says. “We’re getting into new, super-competitive territory. I love competition in any form, but for me, it’s an easy day. I can’t wait to watch these teams compete.”
The Navy’s newest destroyer, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), broke down while transiting the Panama Canal and is now pierside at the former Rodman Naval Station awaiting repairs. The destroyer suffered what USNI News reports as “minor cosmetic damage” as a result of the engineering failure.
According to the USNI News report, the destroyer’s engineering casualty was caused by water induction in bearing for the ship’s Advanced Induction Motors, which are driven by the ship’s gas turbines, and which generate the electric power to turn the two shafts on the vessel. The Advanced Induction Motors also provide electrical power for the ship’s systems.
The water induction caused both shafts to stop, and the Zumwalt had to receive assistance from tugboats to complete its transit of the canal. The vessel had mechanical problems in September, prior to its commissioning on Oct. 15 of this year. In both the September incident and this one, the apparent cause seems to be leaks in the ship’s lube oil coolers. The destroyer also took a hit when the Long-Range Land Attack Projectile for its Advanced Gun Systems was cancelled due to rising costs.
The Zumwalt is not the only vessel to have had engineering problems. Since late 2015, at least five Littoral Combat Ships have also had engineering issues, and the Navy’s new aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), has had trouble with its flight systems, including the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), the weapons elevators and the ship’s radar systems, including the AN/SPY-3 radar.
USS Zumwalt is slated to remain in Panama for ten days while the repairs are affected. It will then head to San Diego, where it will spend most of next year spinning up its weapon systems. In addition to the Advanced Gun Systems, the destroyer also has two Mk 44 30mm Bushmaster chain guns, and twenty four-cell Mk 57 vertical-launch systems (VLS). The ship can also carry two MH-60 helicopters.
Two sister ships to USS Zumwalt, USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), are under construction. The class was originally planned to consist of 32 ships.
“The job of the Ravens was to, literally, look for trouble. And they often found it . . .”
—Orr Kelly, FROM A DARK SKY, The Story of U.S. Air Force Special Operations
Two wars were being waged in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and early 1970s. One was the “public war” in Vietnam. Highly publicized and highly controlled from Washington, it had all the media trappings associated with major military operations. The other was a “secret war” in Laos. Waged under the tightest of security, little oversight and with minimal assets compared to the conflict in Vietnam, its objective was to interdict and destroy the flow of men, equipment and supplies along the Ho Chi Minh trail from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. Responsibility for conducting day-to-day air operations, in what one pilot called a “high risk, no-bullshit war,” was assigned to volunteers operating under the call sign Ravens, a small group of unconventional and incredibly fearless air combat controllers thinly disguised as civilian operatives.
The reason the campaign in Laos had to waged in secret was the terms of the Geneva Accords signed between the United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) on July 23, 1962, that guaranteed the neutrality of the Kingdom of Laos, a land-locked nation abutting Vietnam’s western border. One of the provisions in the Accords was the requirement that all foreign military forces had to leave Laos. Though the United States complied North Vietnam ignored it. Laotian Prime Minister Price Souvanna Phoumo’s request for American military aid against North Vietnam’s violation presented President John F. Kennedy’s administration with a quandary: how to comply with the prince’s request without violating the accords. Another concern was that official American military involvement might inspire a tit-for-tat response by China and the Soviet Union that risked escalating hostilities, touching off World War III.
But Laos’ strategic location, along with the fear that doing nothing would cause the country to go communist, caused President Kennedy to direct the Air Force to formulate a plan to assist Laos. Working in partnership with the CIA, the result was a covert operation placed under the command of America’s ambassador to Laos, William Sullivan, and later his successor G. McMurtrie Godley, who closely controlled all American activities there. Air Force Attaché Colonel Gus Sonnenburg and his successors directed air operations. The covert air program began modestly with the deployment in 1963 of four combat control team sergeants, call sign Butterfly.
A CIA U-10D Helio Courier aircraft sits on a covert mountaintop landing strip (LS) “Lima site” in Laos. The planes were owned by a CIA front company, Air America. Photo: Wikipedia
To get around the Geneva Accords restrictions, the Air Force Butterfly NCOs (and all subsequent volunteers) were scrubbed of their military identity and given a new civilian cover for the duration of their deployment in Laos, a process colorfully referred to as “sheep dipping.” Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat of the spotter aircraft, Butterflies would issue targeting instructions to Thai, Laotian, and later Hmong pilots trained through Project Water Pump. Originally created to teach indigenous and Thai pilots how to conduct Search and Rescue missions from forward bases along the Laotian border with Vietnam, Water Pump was soon expanded to train pilots for combat roles.
The Butterfly program came to an abrupt end in April 1966 when General William Momyer, the 7th Air Force commander, learned that the Butterflies were NCOs, and not jet fighter pilots, per doctrine. The following month, on May 5, 1966, Air Force lieutenants Jim F. Lemon and Truman (“T.R.”) Young, upon returning to Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base after directing air strikes at the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Vietnam, were presented with an offer they couldn’t refuse by their commanding officer: volunteer for a secret program, and a variety of minor disciplinary breaches including “rat-racing” (unauthorized acrobatics in O-1 Bird Dogs) and furniture broken during an excessive outburst of enthusiasm at a recent party would not appear in their personnel files. The lieutenants volunteered and the Raven program was launched.
The Ravens were part of a new air campaign in Laos begun in 1967 under the code name Palace Dog/Project 404. FACs for the program included pilots trained by Colonel Henry “Heinie” Aderholt following his tour of duty as commander of the 56th Air Commando Wing at Nakhon Phanom. After that deployment he was assigned deputy chief of staff for operations at the Special Air Warfare Center (now Air Force Special Operations Force) at Eglin Air Force Base.
After completion of their training and upon arriving for duty in Vietnam the FACs were informed that after six months they could volunteer for special duty through the Steve Canyon Program. After being successfully vetted and screened, the volunteers were sent to the American embassy at the Laotian capital of Vientiane where they were sheep dipped and assigned.
Mavericks, with an aggressiveness and courage bordering on the foolhardy, and stamina to endure flying twelve or more hours a day under some of the most harrowing combat and weather conditions, the Ravens and their Hmong counterparts the Nokateng (Swooping Bird) fought the war from bases at Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Savannakhet, and Long Chieng, flying O-1 Bird Dogs, O-2 Skymasters, modified for combat AT-28 Trojans, Porter Pilatus and other aircraft.
To say that the flights were dangerous is an understatement. Of the 191 who served as Ravens, thirty-one paid for their dedication with their lives.
Major Mike Cavanaugh was a Raven in 1969. He recalled that the intensity of action over Laos caused them to become extraordinarily adept at spotting signs of enemy presence. “One time,” he recalled, “I saw bushes which came to a ninety- degree angle. The clever devil that I am, I know that bushes don’t grow in ninety- degree angles. That’s all I had to go on; I hit it with a set of fighters. I uncovered pallet after pallet of 122 mm rockets. . . . [W]e had secondary explosions for two solid days.”
One Raven’s routine was to do a dawn patrol scouting flight before breakfast,looking for such signs of enemy activity as smoke from cook fires that might indicate an enemy bivouac, or trails where the early morning dew had been brushed away by troop traffic. Upon returning for breakfast, he’d have a checklist of locations to investigate later that morning.
On one flight another Raven, Captain Karl L. Polifka, spotted a suspicious mound in the Plaine des Jarres (Plain of Jars), so named for the thousands of megalithic stone jars scattered throughout it. After alerting the base of his finding, he was informed that Intelligence indicated it was the entrance to a cave storing 500 barrels of fuel. Polifka called in a fighter-bomber who dropped a guided bomb on the mound. The resulting explosion created a fireball 1,000 feet across and was so hot that a passing rain cloud was sucked into its vortex.
While the Ravens participated because they were volunteers, their Hmong counterparts fought because it was their country. Polifka said that the Hmong pilots’ dedication was “unsurpassed by any combat pilot anywhere. . . . They seemed to have no fear, although I do think they had a vision of early mortality.” Raven Darrel Cavanaugh said, “In close, they were damned accurate. They liked to get down there and mix it up with the bad guys.”
The best pilot among the Hmong, and his admirers argued the best combat pilot in Laos regardless of nationality, was Ly Leu (also spelled Lee Lue). A schoolteacher and son-in-law to the charismatic Hmong leader General Vang Po, Captain Ly Leu was the first Hmong to volunteer for Project Water Pump. After completing T-28 training and earning his wings at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, he returned to Laos to wage war against the communists. His motto was “Fly ’til you die”
The Ravens who worked and fought with him loved him. One Raven who observed Ly Leu in action recalled that in strafing runs it was not unusual for him to fly twenty feet above the ground and that his idea of strafing “was to stick a .50 caliber gun in the enemy’s ear and pull the trigger.” From dawn to dusk, Ly Leu flew non-stop, as many as ten missions a day. After returning from a mission, to reduce downtime he’d assist in loading ordnance for the next mission before flying off again. When he landed at dusk he was so tired he had to be lifted out of the cockpit. Ly Leu averaged 120 missions a month and racked up more than 5,000 sorties during his career. On July 12, 1969, the newly promoted Major Ly Leu flew his final mission. Attacking Pathet Lao forces in Moung Soui, northwest of the Plaines des Jarres, he was shot down and killed by enemy anti-aircraft fire. Posthumously promoted by General Vang Po to lieutenant colonel, in gratitude the Americans posthumously awarded Ly Leu the Silver Star.
Though Ravens operated throughout Laos, their major base was at Long Chieng (or Long Tieng). Located southwest of the Plaine des Jarres in Xiangkhouang Province in the north central highlands of Laos, Long Chieng (officially code-named by the Americans Lima Site 30, but usually referred to as Lima Site 20 Alternate, or just “Alternate”) was located in a mountainous valley at an elevation of 3,100 feet. The Hmong are mountain dwellers and General Vang Pao made Long Chieng his headquarters, eventually gathering 30,000 troops into his guerilla army.
At its peak of operations, Long Chieng had a population of more than 40,000, and its airfield conducted about 400 flights a day, making it one of the busiest in the world. Long Chieng gained a reputation of being “the most secret place in the world” because despite its size (it was the second largest city in Laos after the capital, Vientiane, and had the world’s largest Hmong population), it never appeared on any map.
Compared to the air war over Vietnam, the forces available in Laos were negligible—the number of Ravens in Laos at any one time was always small, and General Vang Pao’s air arm often numbered less than a dozen serviceable aircraft. That was a major reason why Hmong pilots flew the high number of missions they did. Even so, they were not alone in the skies. Raven FACs, who also flew a grueling schedule, became expert in calling in Air Force assets when needed, whether it was to aid Hmong ground troops in danger of being overrun or taking out a target of opportunity.
In some cases, the enemy ironically helped the Ravens in their interdiction missions. Polifka recalled that enemy troops had been taught that an AK-47 was capable of shooting down an F-4 Phantom, something that was possible if it was flying a low-flying strafing mission. Cruising at 12,000 feet or more was another matter. But Polifka said the enemy troops didn’t take that difference of distance into account.
He recalled there would be times that he’d be on a Raven mission, flying between 2,500 and 3,000 feet and he’d look down and suddenly see a ridge line light up with muzzle flashes. “[Enemy troops] wouldn’t really be shooting at [me]; they would be shooting at a bunch of F-4s flying somewhere.” With the enemy soldiers having revealed themselves, Ravens would then call in an air strike. He said, “We know of one case where there were three survivors of a five-hundred-man battalion that straggled into a regimental command post.”
By 1969 Raven guided air operations had become so deadly and successful that Vang Pao was able to switch from guerrilla to conventional war and launch an offensive that wrested control of the Plaine des Jarres from the Pathet Lao. Though because of what happened in Vietnam ultimate victory in Laos was not achieved, the record of the Ravens’ accomplishment demonstrated that when the time came, a handful of highly skilled, dedicated, resourceful, and courageous men could accomplish a mission others regarded as impossible.
One of the habits we develop as veterans is to watch military-themed movies and TV shows and point out everything that is wrong with them, from jacked-up uniforms to what appears to be “STOLEN VALOR!”
But something I have caught myself doing is watching shows that have absolutely nothing to do with the military and point out characters I believe would benefit from heading down to the local recruiting office.
Here are five television characters from the 90s who probably should’ve served in the military.
1. Cody Lambert from “Step by Step”
This guy, it’s the Code man! Of course we all loved him. He was the adorable nephew who lived in a van behind his Uncle’s house. You have to respect his Uncle Frank for allowing his grown nephew to stay there while he was working on a new marriage with 3 new step kids who really didn’t appreciate him.
But Cody, of all people, needs to realize he’s intruding and the lifestyle he’s leading is not a good influence on the six kids in the house. What are you trying to teach them Cody? That it’s perfectly acceptable to live in a van and that somebody will bail you out when you’re older? No, Cody, that’s not what you teach them!
How about you be a better influence? Cody should have signed up for the military and shown them that there are other options in life than what he has been living. I mean, come on, how many “Codys” did we have in the barracks? He would have fit in just fine. Then maybe after his time in the service was done, ol’ Code man could have used that sweet, sweet VA loan to buy himself a little two-bedroom ranch with a little white picket fence.
I’m happy the show stopped when it did because after the influence he was putting on the Lambert family, I would hate to see how those kids turned out. This mainly applies to J.T., of course.
2. Dylan McKay from “Beverly Hills 90210”
Time to trim up those side burns and turn those sexy locks into a high and tight, Dylan McKay. This guy’s life was a mess to start with but I think he had all the tools to make a decent soldier. Dylan was the loner out of those seven featured students from West Beverly High. No I don’t mean loner when he got to school, but in life.
His parents divorced and left McKay by himself to live. After receiving that nice inheritance, Dylan took off to Beverly Hills and lived by himself WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL! Dylan was winning the war on life. He showed all the Army values before he even graduated high school, but then he became arrogant in life.
This guy, when he should have joined the service, decided to hit the bottle and lose his girlfriend. He then turned into a Blue Falcon and started sleeping with all of his friend’s girlfriends. Not a good move, Dylan, not a good move! I have a feeling that if he would have joined, Brenda would respect his decision and turn into a great military wife and would have ran Bingo games at the local NCO Club.
3. Jazz from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
This guy, more than anything, needed guidance. If you ask me, Jazz was that neighbor that Will just kept around to feel better about himself. Pretty selfish move, Will. In a few episodes, Jazz showed off some serious basketball skills which might have led him to a community college for two years of college hoops but probably not much after that.
Here’s what should have happened: Uncle Phil needed to stop being a bully. As we all know, Uncle Phil felt big and bad throwing poor Jazz out of the house all the time. This isn’t an Olympic sport, Uncle Phil, this is a HUMAN BEING!
Uncle Phil should have taken Jazz to a military career office and perhaps put those basketball skills to use for a military academy. He would have gotten to shine while gaining a military work ethic. He would have then become the man that Hilary needed. I’m putting this one on you, Uncle Phil. Oh yeah, and don’t think we weren’t dumb enough to notice that you switched out wives in the middle of the show. I guess that’s a privilege of being a judge. Shame on you, Your Honor.
4. Six Dorothy Lemeure from “Blossom”
She arguably had a much harder life than everyone else on this list. Six once said that she got her name from the amount of beers that her dad fed her mom to get her pregnant. But that’s not even the worst thing: During the show, Six battled alcoholism, dated a much older man, and even had a pregnancy scare. Sounds like she’s already lived the life of an Army private.
Six had an undying passion for Blossom’s brother, Joey. WOAH! Here’s the thing though, Six. You’re putting your family and friends through stress because of these poor decisions. If you were as passionate about bettering yourself as you are about Joey, you would do just fine in the service and realize that it would be a great decision for you.
5. A.C. Slater from “Saved By The Bell”
So many of you are probably saying it should be Zach Morris and not A.C. Slater. But let me remind you, Zach scored a 1502 on his SAT test (the highest of all of the gang) and he had something special with Kelly. If Zach would have went to boot camp he wouldn’t have been able to keep his head in the game with that beautiful woman back home.
Slater, on the other hand, already lived the experience. He was an Army brat so he was familiar with the lifestyle. He also showed signs of weakness when he decided to attend Cal U. and not attend Iowa (a national powerhouse in wrestling) on a wrestling scholarship. He was a proven leader in a group environment but still needed a little more discipline. The biggest fear, for me, with Slater being in the service is his pride in being a “male chauvinist pig.” He better not call any female service member “mama.”
To address the potential Russian threat, the Army will start rotating Armored Brigade Combat Teams to Europe, starting next year.
According to a report by the Army Times, the first unit to handle a rotation will come from the 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. The European rotation will join Armored Brigade Combat Team rotations in South Korea and Kuwait.
The Army also announced that a brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart in Georgia, will be converted from an Infantry Brigade Combat Team to an Armored Brigade Combat Team.
An Armored Brigade Combat Team with the 1st Armored Division will also be moved from training duties to the active rotation. The deployments to Europe, South Korea, and Kuwait are for nine months.
At present, there are only nine Armored Brigade Combat Teams in the Active Army, with five more in the National Guard. The conversion of the 3rd Infantry Division’s brigade will make it ten active Armored Brigade Combat Teams.
The only U.S. Army unit permanently deployed to Europe is the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker unit. Earlier this year, the Army received the first M1296 Dragoon, a Stryker modified with the Mk 46 Bushmaster II 30mm chain gun.
An Armored Brigade Combat Team has three battalions, each with two companies of M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and two companied of mechanized infantry that each have 14 M2A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
The brigade also has a reconnaissance squadron with three troops of 12 M3A3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles each.
The Army had to withdraw its Armored Brigade Combat Teams from Europe five years ago due to budget cuts caused by sequestration. A 2015 Army Times report outlined that the cuts reduced the number of brigade combat teams from 45 in 2012 to 30.
On November 19th, Harrier Jets from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge to carry out airstrikes against ISIS targets, according to a US Navy press release.
The Kearsarge was assisting the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, whose area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of the Middle East and includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean, on November 1.
“We will continue to work with our coalition partners to drive ISIL out of Iraq and Syria,” said commanding officer Col. Brian T. Koch, of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, whose aviation combat unit is aboard the Kearsarge, according to the Navy press release.
Watch clips of the fully loaded Harrier jets taking off from the Kearsarge below:
Of the over 15,000 US P-51 Mustangs built, less than 200 are still flyable – about one percent of the production run. Of 12,571 F4U Corsairs built, roughly 50 are airworthy. Of 3,970 B-29 Superfortresses built, only two are flying today.
Much of this is due to the ravages of time or accidents. The planes get older, the metal gets fatigued, or a pilot makes a mistake, or something unexpected happens, and there is a crash.
Finding the spare parts to repair the planes also becomes harder – and more expensive – as time passes. A 2016 Air Force release noted that it took 17 years to get the B-29 bomber nicknamed “Doc” flyable. Kansas.com reported that over 350,000 volunteer hours were spent restoring that B-29.
Many of the planes built in World War II were either scrapped or sold off – practically given away – when the United States demobilized after that conflict.
As David Campbell said in “The Longest Day” while sitting at the bar, “The thing that’s always worried me about being one of the few is the way we keep on getting fewer.” Below, you can see the crash of the Spitfire at the French air show – and one of the few flyable World War II planes proves how true that statement is beyond the veterans.
This article contains spoilers for Season one of Homecoming. You have been warned.
The second season of Homecoming is live on Amazon Prime Video. A psychological thriller based on the podcast of the same name, Homecoming unravels a conspiracy around an organization that ostensibly exists to help military veterans transition to civilian life but in reality was designed to make warriors forget their trauma so they’d be willing to reenlist.
In the first season, Julia Roberts played a character named Heidi Bergman, a therapist working for the Homecoming Transitional Support Center. The season followed two timelines: one in 2018, where Heidi worked with veterans at homecoming; the other in 2022, where Heidi couldn’t remember the details of her previous job and worked to unravel the mystery of what really happened there.
Season two begins with another mystery, as lead actress Janelle Monáe wakes up adrift in a rowboat with no memory of how she got there or who she is. Here’s the trailer:
HOMECOMING | Trailer – New Mystery on Prime Video May 22, 2020
“I knew something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t explain it to anyone. It was like the people around me were keeping a secret,” her character shares. As images of the red fruit from season one — which was responsible for the characters’ memory loss — flood the trailer, Monáe uncovers an image of herself in uniform.
“What was I doing? Why was I there?” Monáe asks Hong Chau’s Audrey Temple, who appeared as an assistant in season one until she forced her boss to confess to Homecoming’s dark purpose.
“It’s complicated,” replied Chau.
What makes conspiracy stories – especially military conspiracy stories — so compelling is that they are uncomfortably conceivable. Service members are expected to color inside the lines and follow orders without question. The conflicts they fight in, the targets they neutralize, the people they kill are all ordered by someone above them they hope they can trust.
A 74-year-old researcher at a Russian rocket and spacecraft design facility has reportedly been charged with treason for allegedly giving classified information to a NATO country.
The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on July 23, 2018, that Viktor Kudryavtsev of the Central Research Institute for Machine Building is accused of passing classified data on hypersonic technology to a representative of an unspecified alliance member.
Citing unnamed sources, Kommersant reported that Kudryavtsev is being held at the Lefortovo jail in Moscow and has pleaded not guilty.
Central Research Institute of Machine Building checkpoint.
A spokesman for Russian space agency Roscosmos, Vladimir Ustimenko, said on July 22, 2018, that Kudryavtsev had been arrested but did not give any details.
A member of the Public Monitoring Commission NGO, Yevgeny Yenikeyev, said on July 22, 2018, that Kudryavtsev was placed in pretrial detention on high treason charge.
The case is one of several in recent years in which Russian citizens have been accused of treason or disseminating classified or sensitive information.
Featured image: Exterior view of Lefortovo Prison in Moscow.