This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

It’s not everyday you hear about an American rising through the ranks of a foreign army, at least not in the last century. But it was surprisingly recently that one American did in an army in just that way. A U.S. citizen rolled over to Armenia during its Nagorno-Karabakh War with neighboring Azerbaijan. He entered the Armenian army having never fought with an actual army and rose through the ranks to command a force of 4,000 men.


California-born Monte Melkonian’s training regimen looks like the resume of a radical terrorist or Communist. But while he held some leftist views, his experience came fighting only for the lives of Armenians – and when the time came, Armenia itself. If you ask Armenians, who today live in a parliamentary republic, he’s a hero.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

In 1988, the breakaway Azerbaijani oblast (province) of Karabakh voted to join the vote to leave not just the crumbling Soviet Union, but also the new country of Azerbaijan. It declared the creation of a new state apart from the USSR while the autonomous oblast of Karabakh declared itself free of Azerbaijan, joining Armenia instead. After all, it did have a majority Armenian ethnic makeup. In 1992, things really hit the fan, and Armenia made decisive territorial gains. At the center of some of those gains was Monte Melkonian, an Armenian-American who had traveled to Armenia at the end of the USSR’s lifetime.

Armenians, after facing a genocide and forced exile from their homelands, are a proud and patriotic people, and Melkonian was no different. He believed that if Azerbaijan were allowed to force Nagorno-Karabakh back into Azerbaijan, then other parts of Armenia would be taken by the Azeri military forces. This was unacceptable to Melkonian, who joined the fighting in 1991. By early 1992, he was a regional commander and quickly began to turn the tides of the war in favor of Armenia.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

The California native might have had little experience running an army, but he knew how to fight. As a youth, he helped overthrow the Shah of Iran while a student in Tehran. After witnessing Iranian troops firing on student protesters, he moved north where he learned to fight with the Kurdish Peshmerga, still one of the most effective fighting forces in the Middle East to this day. He then traveled to Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War to protect the Armenian Quarter of the Middle Eastern city from right-wing militants.

While in Beirut, he decided to work toward the independence of Armenia and after years of imprisonments and living underground in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, he found himself in Armenia’s disputed territory, leading thousands of men. His training at the hands of the Peshmerga and Palestinians was paying off as he not only pushed the Azerbaijani forces out of Karabakh in less than a year, he captured the region between Nagorno-Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia, unifying the two on the map.

Just two months later, he was dead.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Monte Melkonyan’s tomb.

The Armenian hero was killed in a firefight after Azerbaijani troops got lost in the dark and stumbled into his camp. He was given full military honors at his funeral and is interred outside the Armenian capital of Yerevan, where he is still revered as a legend and brilliant military strategist. His ability against the enemy combined with his political views and personal charisma means Armenians and historians remember him as a sort of Armenian Che Guevara.

He is still revered in his adopted homeland, and the Armenian Military Academy, as well as a number of villages, streets, and schools were renamed in his honor. Armenia still controls the areas captured by his forces, even if the borders are still disputed.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This airman gave his life to rescue soldiers from a massive firefight

This article is sponsored by The Last Full Measure, now playing in theatres! Get your tickets here.

The Air Force Pararescue community lives according to the motto, “These Things We Do, That Others May Live.” There may be none who lived that motto more fully than Airman 1st Class William Pitsenbarger who was killed in action in March, 1966, after intentionally placing himself in harm’s way to rescue infantryman pinned down by snipers, mortars, and machine gun fire.

For his valor, he became the first enlisted airman to receive the Medal of Honor.


This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

A1C William Pitsenbarger

Pitsenbarger, or “Pits,” as he was known, first tried to join the military as a Green Beret when he was 17, but his parents prevailed upon him to wait until after high school. In 1962, he became a graduate and answered the call — this time, with the Air Force instead of the Army. As a pararescuemen, he would be responsible for grabbing downed airmen and others from contested and enemy-held areas around the world. Becoming a PJ was no easy feat, and it wasn’t a job for the timid.

After completing SCUBA training with the Navy, paratrooper training with the Army, and survival and medical training with the Air Force, he was ready to go to work. Before his deployment to Vietnam, he was called upon to help rescue two hunters stuck in the California wilderness. After rappelling down a sheer cliff face to reach them, he and another pararescueman encountered an angry bear. Pits charged the bear, yelling and screaming, chasing it off. It was immediately clear that he was cut out for this kind of work.

Pitsenbarger finally got orders overseas — to Okinawa, Japan. Wanting to go where his help was needed most, he requested to go to Vietnam instead, and his request was approved. Before shipping out, his parents later said that they were sure they would never see him alive again. Sadly, they were right.

In Vietnam, Pits proved himself an exceptionally capable medical and rescue professional. He helped treat lepers at a colony in Vietnam, escorted singer Mary Martin during a USO tour, and inserted into a burning minefield to rescue a South Vietnamese soldier who had lost a foot trying to stomp out a grass fire. For the minefield rescue, Pitsenbarger was awarded the Airman’s Medal.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

A1C Pitsenbarger receiving the Airman’s Medal in Vietnam.

But Pitsenbarger’s most consequential moments came in 1966. On April 11, three companies of the Big Red One, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, were engaged in a risky sweep across two provinces in search of Viet Cong units. Charlie Company was on one end of the formation and realized too late that it had drifted from the others — and was exposed to sniper fire.

Company leadership realized they were in danger and set up a defensive perimeter, but they were already outnumbered and surrounded. The North Vietnamese triggered their attack, sending mortar and sniper fire ripping through the American formation. The other companies attempted to come to their aid, but mounting casualties quickly made it clear that Charlie Company needed a rescue.

The Air Force sent two rescue helicopters to begin getting the wounded out. The first flight was challenging but, for a jungle firefight in Vietnam, fairly uneventful. Both helicopters took the first flight of wounded to a nearby hospital and doubled back for more. Once back in the field, it became clear to Pits that the Army soldiers no longer had the manpower necessary to hold back the attacks, treat the wounded, and put them on litters for extraction. He volunteered to insert into the jungle and help out.

The pilot reluctantly agreed to the risky request, and Pits began sending men up to the two helicopters despite bursts of fierce mortar and machine gun fire. Pitsenbarger was responsible for getting nine wounded men out in three flights, refusing his own extraction each time, before ground fire nearly downed one of the helicopters and forced them to leave.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Poster art for ‘The Last Full Measure’ depicting Pitsenbarger’s rescue in Vietnam.

On the ground, Pits continuously exposed himself to enemy fire to recover rifles and ammunition from the dead to redistribute to the living. He was wounded at least twice before he reached his final position. He had given away his pistol to a soldier too wounded to use any other weapon, and so Pits used one of the recovered rifles to resist a North Vietnamese advance until he was hit again — this time fatally.

The Army fought on through the night, relying on danger close artillery and airstrikes to survive the night. When the Air Force was able to get rescue helicopters back in the next morning, an Army captain told the next pararescueman on the ground what had happened to Pits.

Charlie Company had 134 men when the battle started. 106 of them were wounded or killed in the fighting, but Pits had gotten an extra nine of them out and kept others alive overnight.

Five months later, on Sept. 22, 1966, the Air Force presented the Air Force Cross to Pitsenbarger’s parents. It was the first awarding of the Air Force Cross to an enlisted airman for service in Vietnam. After decades of campaigning from the men he saved from what seemed like certain demise, Pitsenbarger’s citation was finally upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Pitsenbarger is the first enlisted airman to receive such an award.

Now, Pits’ story is headed to the big screen. The Last Full Measure is scheduled to release on Jan. 24, 2020. Be sure to watch the trailer below and secure your tickets to honor this true American hero.

THE LAST FULL MEASURE Official Trailer (2020) Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan Movie HD

www.youtube.com

This article is sponsored by The Last Full Measure, now playing in theatres! Get your tickets here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

See these awesome photos of an F-35 over Lake Michigan

Crowds of spectators recently had a rare opportunity to see America’s advanced stealth fighter in action at the Chicago Air and Water Show, where the F-35 Heritage Flight Team put on an impressive show.

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth-generation stealth fighter developed by Lockheed Martin, is the most expensive weapons system ever built, but its superior capabilities supposedly make up for its soaring costs.


The supersonic, multi-mission fighter, according to the developer, features unmatched electronic warfare, air-to-surface, air-to-air, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and stealth capabilities designed to enhance the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The F-35 program has, however, faced many setbacks.

During the recent airshow in Chicago, Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook captured several stunning photos of Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team pilot and commander, performing aerial maneuvers in an F-35A. The pictures were posted online by the 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office.

Check them out below…

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team pilot and commander, performs a high speed pass in an F-35A Lightning II over Lake Michigan.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Vapor builds around the F-35 during a high-speed pass.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

F-35A at the Chicago Air and Water Show.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Capt. Olson pulls a tactical pitch in an F-35A.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Capt. Olson performs a high speed pass.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

An F-35A Lightning II and P-51 Mustang fly in formation.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

As an added bonus, the show featured an F-35 flying in formation alongside a P-51 Mustang. The performance showcased past and present American airpower.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 of the goofiest military myths and urban legends

We’ve heard them all a thousand times. Your roommate heard from a guy in another unit who swears up and down that when his cousin went through basic training, his roommate had been doing funny stuff with ether. Did his friend’s cousin really see the Etherbunny? It’s probably just one more military urban legend that just won’t die – along with these other myths that have been hanging around since Elvis was in the Army.


Be more skeptical, troops.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Fred Rogers, Slayer of Bodies. Supposedly.

Your favorite old TV star was in Vietnam.

What is it about Vietnam that makes us want our favorite TV personalities from yesteryear to not only have served there, but to also be the badass, stonefaced kind of killer that would make Colonel Kurtz proud? According to military myth, Fred Rogers, of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame was either a Navy SEAL in Vietnam or a Marine Scout Sniper. Jerry Mathers, who played the title role on Leave It To Beaver, allegedly fought and died there.

Neither of those things happened but someone, somewhere is splicing Forrest Gump Vietnam footage into the latest Tom Hanks film about Mr. Rogers.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Rich people aren’t allowed in the military.

“They” used to always say that a winning lottery ticket was also a one-way ticket to civilian life. And people who were millionaires weren’t allowed in the service at all. While it may seem likely that a high-net worth individual would be less likely to need his or her military career and be less prone to discipline, the opposite has often proven to be true — just look at Jimmy Stewart, Pat Tillman, and other wealthy individuals who preferred to serve. And while winning the lottery doesn’t mean you have to leave the military, winning millions will give the branches pause and you could leave if you want to. Every branch has provisions for separations when parting ways is in the military’s best interest – the way it happened to Seaman John Burdette in 2014.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

“Just making sure you reported for duty.”

Only sons are exempt from the draft.

Sorry, Private Ryan, but if World War III breaks out, there’s still a good chance you’re getting called up for the invasion of China. This is an old rumor that is based in some sort of fact. The truth is that sole surviving sons are exempt from the military draft. This is because of a couple of Private Ryan-like moments. The Sullivan Brothers, five real brothers, were killed when the USS Juneau was sunk by a Japanese torpedo in World War II. The story of Fritz Niland, whose three brothers were killed within days of each other, is the basis for Saving Private Ryan.

So if you’re the only child, I’d still register for Selective Service. If you have a few brothers, you should all hope to register.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

“But aim for their backpacks.”

The .50-cal is illegal – but here’s how to get around it.

The story goes that the Geneva Convention outlaws the use of a .50-caliber machine gun in combat, so American infantrymen are trained for “off-label uses.” The legend says that you just can’t use the weapon against people but equipment is still fair game, so the Corps/Army teaches grunts to say they were firing at belt buckles or vehicles or anything else that might be near. Another variation of this legend is that the .50-cal round can still kill people if it flies close to their bodies, so that’s the goal. Neither are true.

What weapons are actually banned by international agreements are chemical weapons, certain incendiary weapons, and cluster munitions, to name a few. The United States keeps stockpiles of all of these. Even if the M2 were illegal, do you think the U.S. would give it up, let alone train troops to use it wrong?

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

According to lore, one of these airmen is supposed to eat the bullet hidden in this flagpole.

The base flagpole is carrying some specific stuff.

According to lore, the ball at the top of the base flagpole – known as a “truck” – has very specific items in it, with very specific instructions. It is said the truck either contains a razor, a match, and a bullet or those three items plus a grain of rice and a penny. These are all to be used in case the base is overrun by the enemy.

So there are a few things wrong with this premise. The first is that a U.S. base built in the 1950s-1980s is going to be overrun. The second is that all that fits inside a truck. The third is that any American troops fighting for control of their base are going to stop, fight their way back to the flag, and go through these instructions:

After taking down the flag, troops first have to get the truck from the tops of the pole. Then, the razor will be used to strip the flag, the match will be used to give the flag a flag’s retirement, and the bullet is said to be used for either an accelerant for burning the flag or for the troop to use on him or her self. Bonus: the rice is for strength and the penny is supposed to blind the enemy. Does this sound stupid? Because it is. This sounds like gung-ho BS that someone with a fifth-grader’s imagination came up with.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Not for oral use. Seriously.

Medics used to kick your mouth shut if you were killed in combat.

Old-timey dogtags (like the ones from World War II, pictured above) had notches on them, which of course led troops to speculate about the purpose of the notch on the tags. Like most things that came to mind for those old troops, the situation got real dark, real fast. The legend says if a soldier was killed in combat, the medic was supposed to use that notch to align the tag using the teeth in the deceased’s mouth, then kick the dead man’s mouth shut with Charlie Brown-level effort so the tag would be embedded and the dead would be identified.

That idea would have led to a lot more head trauma on World War II KIA, wouldn’t it? One would have to imagine a better way to maintain identifiers than defiling a corpse. The notch’s real purpose was much more mundane. They were used to keep the dog tag aligned on the embossing machine used to imprint the tags.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran says it is negotiating 25-year bilateral deal with China

Iran has been negotiating a 25-year accord with China “with confidence and conviction,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told parliament on July 5, saying its terms will be announced once the deal is struck.

Zarif insisted there was nothing secret about the prospective deal, which he said was raised publicly in January 2016 when President Xi Jinping visited Tehran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also has publicly supported a strategic bilateral partnership with China.


China is Iran’s top trading partner and a key market for Iranian crude oil exports, which have been severely curtailed by U.S. sanctions.

Zarif made the comments in his first address to parliament since a new session began in late May after elections that were dominated by hard-liners.

During the session, Zarif was heckled by lawmakers largely over his key role in negotiating a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which the U.S. unilaterally abandoned in 2018 before reimposing sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal saying it was not decisive enough in ensuring Iran would never be able to develop a nuclear weapon.

Trump wants Tehran to negotiate a new accord that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear program and restrict Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments under the accord since the United States withdrew.

The 2015 deal provided the Islamic republic relief from international sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear program, but Iranian hard-liners staunchly opposed the multilateral agreement, arguing the United States could never be trusted.

Hard-liners in the Iranian parliament also said on July 5 they were seeking to summon Zarif and President Hassan Rohani to respond to accusations of “betraying the people.” Several deputies called Rohani a liar as they heckled him continuously.

Lawmaker Mohammed-Taghi Nagh-Ali said during the session that Rohani and Zarif have betrayed the people and “must therefore be held responsible,” according to the semiofficial ILNA news agency.

Rohani’s policies have led to the country’s current economic crisis, and his arguments are “no longer acceptable,” Nagh-Ali said.

Some 200 members of parliament have tabled a motion to question Rohani.

Since winning their seats in February, hard-liners in Iran have been putting greater pressure on Rohani, accusing him of making too many concessions to Western nations and getting little in return.

Rohani argues that U.S. sanctions and the global coronavirus pandemic are behind the economic crisis.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 best bottles of Scotch whisky to grab before new tariffs hit

Fall and winter are single malt whisky seasons. But, thanks to new Trump administration tariffs, the already pricey Scotch is about to become even more expensive: On Oct. 18, 2019, the cost of a bottle will increase by 25 percent.

Why is your favorite brown spirit taking the brunt of the tariffs? It’s all thanks to a decades-long spat with the European Union over the way member nations had subsidized the airplane manufacturer Airbus. Recently the World Trade Organization deemed European nations ran afoul of international rules, and gave the green light to the US to add $7.5 billion in additional tariffs on a variety of European goods, including Italian cheese, French wine, Spanish ham, and Scotch whisky.

The U.S. is the single largest market for Scotch whisky, importing north of $450 million a year worth of the spirit. That amounts to roughly a third of all the booze the small country produces. Of course, as we know, tariffs are paid by consumers, not by the countries or industries targeted. That means you, my whisky drinking friend. After the 18th, for every four bottles you buy, you could have had five.


This means only one thing: it’s time to head to your local shop stock up on a few bottles before prices jump through the roof — especially if you enjoy drinking and handing out bottles during the holiday season. Here are the 10 bottles of single malt scotch we’d pickup before the tariffs take effect.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

1. Glenmorangie Signet

Glenmorangie Signet is one of our go-to special occasion whiskies. This deep amber whisky is beautifully complex thanks in part to the roasted chocolate barley used in the distilling process. After a lengthy time maturing in virgin American oak, the result is flawless and like all great whisky there is something new to discover in every bottle.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

2. Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask

After aging for 14 years in traditional oak casks, the Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask is finished with a short stint in ex-rum barrels. The result is a delicious Speyside single malt with subtle notes of tropical fruit and nuts — a great whisky for sipping or whipping up some stellar cocktails.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

3. Ardbeg Uigeadail

Easily one of our favorite Islay singe malts, Ardbeg Uigeadail is a smokey treat. Sweet and spicy, notes of honey, cookies and pepper punch through the peaty smoke. A supple dose of chocolate joins the smoke for a finish that can linger into the wee small hours.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

4. Aberlour A’bunadh

It’s a good idea to keep a bottle of Aberlour’s A’bunadh on the bar at all times, not just for your own sake, but for any Scotch drinkers that might show up. If they are ‘in the know’ it lets them know that you know and if they aren’t, you get to drop some knowledge and introduce them to something incredible. Thick and rich, it’s a Scotch with tons of dried fruit, chocolate and sugary notes that make it a delightful yet slightly dangerous single malt (each release clocks in at around 120 proof). In fact, one pour of this cask strength gem is the equivalent of a glass-and-a-half of a typical 80 proof dram.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

5. Lagavulin 16

Not only is it Nick Offerman’s go-to fireside whisky, but Lagavulin 16 is one of ours as well. Islay whisky can be a bit intense for the novice Scotch drinker. But once you develop an appreciation for the hallmark peaty smoke, you’ll savor every drop. Lagavulin 16 is an Islay classic with loads of subtle flavors to discover and a salty sweetness that balances out the intense smoke.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

6. GlenDronach 18

Once you’ve had a dram of GlenDronach 18, you may find yourself totally enamored with this highland whisky. Every glass evokes the warmth of a great, well-worn club chair. It’s soft and rich, with notes full of wood, leather, tobacco, and a finish that keeps you cozy well into the night.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

7. Oban 14

Oban 14 is a bottle we like to have on hand at all times. It’s a richly flavored Highland whisky with a touch of salt from the sea and hint of peaty smoke. It’s hard to thrill every Scotch drinker you might entertain, but Oban is a standard nearly everyone can appreciate.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

8. Glenfarclas 25

At under 0 (for now) a 25-year-old bottle this Glenfarclas is a value proposition. Family-owned since 1865, Glenfarclas ages the whisky in Oloroso sherry casks chosen from a single Spanish bodega. It is a delicious, a classic sherried whisky, with flavors of fruit cake, spice, and a hint touch of cocoa.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

9. Bruichladdich Black Arts

Since price of the bottle of Bruichladdich Black Arts at our local shop is about jump nearly . It might be time to pull the trigger. It’s a 26-year-old Islay single malt, but unlike the traditional varieties, it’s un-peated. Sure, the bottle looks like a prop from Rosemary’s Baby, but the contents are extraordinary. It’s a staggeringly complex dram, with notes of mission figs and chocolate that give way to coconut and tobacco.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

10. Talisker 25

The Isle of Skye is one of those places on the globe that feels not of this earth. Much like the island on which it was made, Talisker 25 has that same other-worldly quality. After 25 years in American and European oak barrels, the heavily peated whisky’s smoke has been tamed by wood. The result is mature, flavorful mouthful of near perfect whisky, with smoke playing off citrus and salt while a whiff of heather magically whisks you off to Skye with every sip.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How the Germans are reusing these invincible Nazi towers

During World War II, Hitler personally ordered the construction of massive, steel-plated towers that bristled with anti-aircraft guns, tearing planes from the sky like King Kong on angel dust. For modern Germans, these nearly indestructible towers provide a unique problem: They don’t want to waste well-engineered buildings and materials, but they’re not super into maintaining relics of Nazi triumph.

So the Germans have found interesting ways to re-purpose the old fortresses.


This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

​A German flak tower under construction in 1942 as part of Germany’s defenses against Allied bombing raids. Some of the expensive towers have been re-purposed in the decades since the end of the war.

(German Military Archives)

The strategy of constructing the towers was questionable to begin with. It required massive amounts of concrete and steel for the walls that, in some cases, are over two feet thick. Construction in Berlin was completed in six months and additional towers were built in Vienna and Hamburg before Germany was defeated. Construction took so much material that rail shipments had to be rearranged around them, slowing the flow of needed materiel and troops to battlefields and factories.

Just the Zoo Tower in Berlin required 78,000 tons of gravel, 35,000 tons of cement, and 9,200 tons of steel. The towers were built in pairs. For each primary tower devoted to anti-aircraft operations there was a second tower that had some anti-aircraft weapons, but also sported communications and other support equipment.

But the towers, once completed, were nearly impregnable. They relied on no single support pillar, and nearly every structural support was so strong that they were almost impossible to destroy from outside. When Germany was conquered, Soviet forces who took Berlin had to lay siege out of range and negotiate a surrender of the towers.

But there was one major shortfall to the towers. They were designed to stop air raids on Berlin, and it was dangerous to attack the city within range of the towers. So, planes simply flew outside of their range or approached them en mass, fielding so many planes that the Germans simply couldn’t get all of them at once.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

German soldiers man a flak gun on a tower in World War II. The massive towers were a significant obstruction to air raids on three German cities, but were part of a questionable military strategy.

(German Military Archives)

Plus, Germany lacked proximity fuses during the war, meaning their flak weapons were less effective than those used by the Allies — at least, when the Allies were willing to use the fuses and risk their capture.

After the towers finally surrendered, engineers worked to destroy them, but quickly found that massive amounts of explosives were needed and, even then, many would still stand. The Zoo Tower, mentioned above, survived two attempts at destruction. The first attempt used 25 tons of explosives and the building shrugged it off.

The third attempt, powered by 35 tons of dynamite, finally did the job.

Outside of Berlin, some of the towers survived destruction attempts while a few were simply left in place. Instead of destroying them, locals decided to re-purpose them over the years.

At first, Germans simply stripped the towers of valuable materials and left the steel-reinforced buildings in place. But, over the years, the brilliant German engineers found ways to make use of buildings with excellent thermal insulation and structural integrity.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

A storehouse for art in Vienna, Germany.

(Photo by Bwag)

In Vienna, one of the six towers is now an aquarium maintained by the Aqua Terra Zoo. Visitors can see over 10,000 fish and other aquatic organisms in the tower. On the outside of the tower, visitors can use the climbing wall that has been added.

Another Vienna tower has been turned into an antenna for cellular phones, and one is used to store art in controlled conditions.

In Hamburg, two towers have been re-purposed. One holds nightclubs and businesses and the other provides energy storage for part of the city.

Solar collectors cover the tower and work with butane and wood burners to heat large water tanks inside the tower. The thick concrete walls provide insulation and the water is pumped to nearby buildings, heating them during the cold months. The tower is also used to generate electricity for 1,000 homes.

While most of the towers in Berlin were destroyed to one degree or another, in one case, the rubble was simply covered over with dirt, forming two hills in a public park for visitors to sit on.

Check out the YouTube video below from Real Engineering to learn more.

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TACTICAL

In Vietnam-Era throwback, new Air Force rescue helo is the ‘Jolly Green II’

It’s official: the U.S. Air Force will call its new HH-60W combat rescue helicopter the “Jolly Green II.”

Standing alongside combat-search-and-rescue pilots from past and current conflicts, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett made the announcement during the opening of the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Thursday.


“Reviving the Jolly Green name honors our combat search and rescue crews past and present,” Barrett said on social media following her speech. “In the hands of our airmen, the HH-60W ensures the rescue community can perform their duties better than ever,” she said.

The longstanding motto of the rescue community is, “These things we do that others may live.” The name Jolly Green — which the CSAR community has adopted as its trademark alongside green feet stamps on the aircraft — dates back to the Vietnam War era when American pilots flew the HH-3E.

While pilots today will stamp the sides of the helicopter with green feet to commemorate their own missions, the origin of the green feet is a nod to the HH-3E helicopter, also known as the Jolly Green Giant, which left fat imprints when landing in Vietnam’s rice patties and grass fields, according to the service.

Unlike the new HH-60W, which will officially be known as “Jolly Green II,” the HH-3E helicopter, used mainly for recovering downed pilots, only carried the moniker as a nickname.

youtu.be

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein on Thursday stressed the service’s need for HH-60W, especially given his own experience. As a lieutenant colonel, Goldfein was shot down in his F-16CJ fighter jet over Serbia in 1999 during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, and subsequently rescued by CSAR units.

“The Jolly Green gives us extended range and better capability,” Goldfein said on Twitter following the announcement. “I was grateful for a ride out of enemy territory when I needed it and I can tell you first-hand that this aircraft will save lives.”

In July, the service began its first tests of the Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky-made HH-60W — based on the UH-60M Black Hawk — which is meant to replace its current HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet. Its missions also include “civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space flight support and CSAR command and control,” the service said.

Current 1980s-era HH-60G models are capable of flying low, and have a retractable in-flight refueling probe and internal auxiliary fuel tanks that allow for better range and loiter time during rescue missions.

The HH-60W doubles the internal fuel capacity without using the auxiliary fuel tanks, and also increases the flight hours. The aircraft also has improved avionics, navigation, communications and an enhanced software network, plus better defensive measures and armored plating, according to the company.

Through its fiscal 2019 and 2020 budgets, Congress gave the Air Force the authority to procure 22 of the Jolly Green II. The first two units to be fielded with the aircraft will be the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and the 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, officials said.

The service plans to purchase up to 113 of the rotary-wing aircraft.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Marine kept a 50-year promise to his Vietnam War buddy

At age 83, Marine Corps veteran William Cox stands and walks with the help of a cane. But for one day in November, 2017, he stood for hours without it, wearing his old uniform. It was the last act of a promise he made in 1968 to his best buddy in Vietnam. That buddy, James Hollingsworth, was laid to rest that day.


Cox is a Vietnam War veteran and retired Master Sergeant. It was New Year’s Eve and he and retired First Sergeant Hollingsworth were fortified down in a bunker in the Marble Mountains, just south of Da Nang. From above them, the Viet Cong were raining explosives down on their position. Rockets, mortars, whatever the VC could find. As fiery death pelted their position, they made a promise to each other.

“Charlie was really putting on a fireworks show for us,” Cox told the Greenville News. “If we survived this attack, or survived Vietnam, we would contact each other every year on New Years.”

And they kept the pact they made in that bunker every year for 50 years. Cox, who lives in Piedmont, S.C., visited Hollingsworth at his Anderson County home just under 20 miles away. But it was another promise Cox made to Hollingsworth that was finally fulfilled one day in late November, 2017 — the retired Master Sergeant stood guard at his longtime friend’s funeral as he was laid to rest.

He then delivered his eulogy.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

That was also a promise kept, but not one made in Vietnam. When Cox found out his buddy was terminally ill, he made a visit. That’s when Hollingsworth made the morbid request of his longtime friend. The two had known each other long before spending that explosive New Year’s Eve together in 1968. Their bond as Marines kept their friendship for the rest of their lives.

Hollingsworth, a helicopter mechanic, and Cox, an ordnance chief, served in a helicopter squadron together. At the end of each mission, Cox would deliver Hollingsworth a line he delivered one last time at the end of his best friend’s eulogy.

“Hollie, you keep ’em flying, and I’ll keep ’em firing.”
MIGHTY CULTURE

US spending on ‘war on terror’ blows past $6 trillion

Federal spending on post-9/11 military action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world stands at $6.5 trillion through fiscal year 2020, according to a new study from the Cost of War project at Brown University.

And its cost to American taxpayers will keep climbing for decades to come.

The staggering amount reflects spending across the federal government and not just the Department of Defense, the study noted. Much of it has been paid for deficit spending as taxes were not raise to cover the cost.

The study said military action taken after the 9/11 attacks has now expanded to more than 80 countries, making it “a truly global war on terror.”


Its human costs have been profound as well. Over 801,000 people died as a direct result of the fighting — 335,000 of them being civilians, according to the report.

The report said the US government should expect to spend at least id=”listicle-2641427189″ trillion in benefit payments and disability claims for veterans in the next several decades. Last year, there were 4.1 million post 9/11 war veterans, making up around 16% of all veterans served by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

U.S. Army soldiers perform security measures during a security halt on a route reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan, April 4, 2007.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael L. Casteel)

“Even if the United States withdraws completely from the major war zones by the end of FY2020 and halts its other Global War on Terror operations, in the Philippines and Africa for example, the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11 wars will continue to rise as the U.S. pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest on borrowing to pay for the wars,” study author Neta Crawford wrote.

Back in March 2019, the Department of Defense estimated that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have cost each US taxpayer around ,623 to date.

Open-ended military operations overseas have stretched on for so long that starting on Sept. 11 2018, an 18-year-old person could enlist in the military and fight in the wars that the 9/11 attacks ushered in.

The estimate drew attention from one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates: Sen. Bernie Sanders, who quipped on Twitter about its colossal price tag on Nov. 21, 2019. The Vermont senator had previously slammed “costly blunders” made in US foreign policy over the years.

Moderate rivals had criticized Sanders for the sweeping costs of his progressive agenda, which include implementing a universal healthcare system, forgiving all student debt, and tackling climate change through the Green New Deal.

Several Democratic candidates, including Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (an Afghanistan war veteran) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have vowed to wind down US military operations overseas. Others like former vice president Joe Biden say some nations would continue requiring American military support.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US debunks India’s claim of shooting down F-16

India proudly claimed that one of its Russian-designed MiG-21 fighters shot down one of Pakistan’s US-made F-16s before being downed by a Pakistani missile in a dogfight in February 2019, but a US inventory of Pakistan’s fighters found nothing missing, Foreign Policy reported on April 4, 2019, citing two senior US defense officials.

Tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals hit levels not seen in decades in February 2019 after militants based in Pakistan killed 40 Indian paramilitary police in a suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir.


In response, India conducted airstrikes on what it said was a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, which is said to have retaliated by sending fighter jets into Indian airspace, forcing India to scramble its own fighters and igniting an aerial battle.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

An Indian MiG-21 Bison.

Pakistan shot down and captured Indian Wing Cmdr. Abhinandan Varthaman, who the Indian air force said had scored a critical hit on a Pakistani F-16 before his MiG-21 Bison was taken out by an enemy missile.

The air raid already appeared to be an embarrassing failure. India claimed that it killed about 300 terrorists with a surprise strike that saw 2,000-pound bombs devastate the training center, but satellite imagery indicated India’s aim was off.

“It does appear there was a strike in the vicinity of the camp, but it looks like it largely missed,” Omar Lamrani, a military analyst at the geopolitical consulting firm Stratfor, told Business Insider in March 2019.

Now it looks as though India’s assertions that it shot down a Pakistani F-16 are also incorrect.

A senior US official told Foreign Policy’s Lara Seligman that Pakistan invited the US to inspect its F-16 inventory after the fight with India.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

A Pakistan Air Force crew chief performs a post flight inspection on an F-16 Falcon.

The process took several weeks, but when it was completed, “all aircraft were present and accounted for,” the official said. Foreign Policy cited another senior US defense official as saying those findings were confirmed by the US.

“As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians,” Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, told Foreign Policy.

Pakistan has consistently argued that India’s claims about the battle are inaccurate. On April 5, 2019, Pakistan demanded that India come forward with the truth about what happened in February 2019.

“This is what Pakistan has been saying all along, the truth,” said Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, a Pakistani military representative, according to Al Jazeera, adding that “it’s time for India to come up” with the truth.

India’s air force has rejected the conclusions in the Foreign Policy article. Dinakar Peri, a defense correspondent for The Hindu, said it had argued that Indian forces confirmed sighting ejections in two places, separated by 8 to 10 kilometers, on that day. It said, according to Peri, that one was its MiG-21 Bison and the other was a Pakistani F-16, indicated by electronic signatures.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘America’s Tall Ship’ makes first visit to Norway since 1963

It’s not necessarily the ship that comes to mind when you think about America flexing its muscles abroad to project seapower and dominance.

But when the U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle, known as “America’s Tall Ship,” came into port here [Oslo, Norway] May 5, 2019, for the first time since 1963, the locals were eager to see it. More than 1,300 people visited the ship May 5, 2019; the vessel sees 90,000 tourists each year, officials said.

The ship trains hundreds of cadets each summer on the basics of navigation and seamanship — something the service believes can still make a tough and ready Coastie despite the emergence of a near-peer power competition.


It’s not always about learning on the newest technology. The Coast Guard thinks some things are just meant to be done old school.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

As the sun sets, a crew member acts as lookout aboard Barque Eagle in the North Atlantic, April 2, 2014.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

“They don’t come here to learn how to sail, although that is a bonus,” said Chief Petty Officer Kevin Johnson, the training cutter’s command chief, master-at-arms and food service officer for the last three years.

“We’re teaching you how to work as a team,” he said during an hour-long tour of the ship. “And it’s tradition.”

Two groups of 150 cadets each will soon embark on the service’s 12-week summer program. The first group is comprised of third-class cadets, the second of first-class cadets.

The cutter will likely hit its max capacity of 234 crew with each group; 50 enlisted and eight officers man the ship year round. Roughly 40 percent of the trainees are women, Johnson said.

The ship, which has only basic radars for navigation, will also host a number of international cadets during the training program. Members “from as far as Micronesia” have come to learn team building and leadership on the Eagle, designated WIX-327, he said.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Coast Guard Academy cadets learn how to furl sail on the Eagle‘s bowsprit under the tutelage of a petty officer while sailing among the British Virgin Islands in 2013.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Life onboard the ship is meant to give cadets the “life as an enlisted person” experience, demanding strength and discipline, he said. They’ll climb to the top of the mainmast, which towers above the deck at 147 feet. Most cadets know that “someone still has to put the flag up” and furl the sail by hand.

“They still climb the rigging,” Johnson said, adding that the small boats need to be lowered by hand.

He said two cadets have gone overboard during his tenure: one while touching up the hull en route to Ireland and another who lost balance on the rigging and fell into the water.

“They’re both OK,” said Johnson, a 19-year veteran of the service.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Helm station on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle.

The cadets will take their meals in five shifts, retire to the berthing quarters to sleep, and leave the ship to explore cities when “there isn’t work that needs to be done,” he said.

The 295-foot vessel is rooted in training. Built in 1936, it was formerly known as the Horst Wessel and operated by Germany for its cadet training program during World War II before it was captured by the British in 1945. It was then traded to the U.S. a year later.

During a four-year service life extension program, completed last year, more than 1,500 square feet of original German hull plate was removed and replaced, Johnson said. The ship was home-ported in Baltimore, Maryland, while the upgrades were being finished.

The Eagle requires “constant maintenance,” and the cadets and crew know it, he said. During its 19-day trip across the Atlantic en route to Portsmouth in the United Kingdom last week, two sails split during bad weather. One split more than once.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

The New York Fire Department vessel, Firefighter, honors the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle as it rests anchored at the Statue of Liberty, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011.

“I think they even got the sewing machines out” to fix them, Johnson said. There are layers of baggywrinkle — old, fringe-like rope — meant to protect the sails from chafing.

The ship has been largely Atlantic-based, sailing to the Caribbean and various European locations. The Eagle has visited Australia, but otherwise hasn’t made its way to other parts of the Pacific Rim. “Not yet, anyway,” Johnson said.

The Eagle, which can hit 17 knots max speed under sail, heads next to Kiel, Germany, to pick up the first summer class of cadets. It will then sail to Copenhagen, Denmark; Antwerp, Belgium; the Netherlands; the Azores; and finally back to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, which will be its homeport after this summer.

The German-turned-American trainer will also participate in events marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy on June 6, 2019

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

4 battles brought to you by booze

Alcohol is, like, super awesome. All the cool kids are drinking (unless you’re underage, then none of the cool kids are drinking it, you delinquent), it can lower peoples’ inhibitions, and it’s actually super easy to make and distribute.

So, it’s probably no surprise that the military likes alcohol or that many warriors throughout time have loved the sauce. Here are four times that drinking (or even the rumor of drinking, in one case) helped lead to a battle:


This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

The Schloss Itter Castle was the site of one of history’s strangest battles, in which American and German troops teamed up to protect political prisoners from other German troops.

(Steve J. Morgan, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Waffen SS soldiers got drunk to attack a Nazi-American super team defending POWs

It’s been dubbed World War II’s “strangest battle,” that time German and American soldiers teamed up to defend political prisoners from an attacking SS battalion at Castle Itter. If you haven’t heard about it, this article from Paul Szoldra is worth a read.

What he doesn’t mention is that the Waffen SS soldiers attacking the castle in an attempt to kill the political prisoners had to stockpile some courage first, and they decided to steal the castle’s booze, drink it up, and finally kill the prisoners. Unfortunately for them, they took too long, giving the American and Wehrmacht defenders time to team up and occupy the castle. The attack failed, the prisoners survived, and 100 SS members were captured.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Washington inspecting the captured colors after the Battle of Trenton.

(Library of Congress)

Rumored Hessian partying paved the way for Washington’s post-Christmas victory

Gen. George Washington’s Christmas Day victory over the Hessians is an example of tactical surprise and mobility. It was a daring raid against a superior force that resulted in a strategic coup for the Colonialists, finally convincing France to formally enter the war on the side of independence.

And it never would’ve happened if Washington’s staff officers hadn’t known that Hessians liked to get drunk on Christmas and that they would (hopefully) still be buzzed or hungover the following morning. Surprisingly though, none of the Hessians captured were found to be drunk after the battle. Alcohol gave Washington’s men the courage to get the job done, but it turns out the chance for victory was inside them all along.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Viking ships attack and besiege Paris in 845.

Nearly all Viking raids were preceded by drunken debates

When Vikings needed to make major decisions, like about whether to launch new raids or engage in a new war, they did it in a stereotypically Norse way: By getting drunk and debating the decision with no emotional walls between them. Then, they sobered up to finish the debate.

But, once they decided to do battle, they were much more likely to be sober. The Vikings were professional warriors who left the village for the sole purpose of raiding, and they took their work seriously. So, the decision to do battle was aided by alcohol, but the actual fighting succeeded thanks to discipline.

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

Celts fought the British at the Battle of Culloden, probably mostly sober. But the Celts, historically, liked to imbibe before a fight.

The Celts would get plastered before battles on beer or imported Roman wines

Celts loved their alcohol, and anyone with the money went for jar after jar of red wine from Italy. For warriors heading into battle the next day, the drinking was a way to mentally prepare, to bond, and to get one last night of partying on the books in case you didn’t make it through.

Of course, most Celtic warriors weren’t financial elites, so they were much more likely to be berserking their way through battle drunk on beer and mead than on imported wines.

Want more cases of alcohol playing a role in war? Check out 7 times drunks decided the course of battle.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information