While the United States was celebrating its 100th birthday on July 4, 1976, four Israeli C-130 cargo planes landed at Entebbe Airport in Uganda, cargo bay doors already open. A black Mercedes and a parade of Land Rovers screamed out of two of the planes, headed for the old passenger terminal. Armored personnel carriers exited the other three.
There were 106 mostly Israeli hostages being held by pro-Palestinian hijackers and supported by the Ugandan army under dictator Idi Amin being held here. The hostages were coming home.
If anyone’s coming to rescue you, you want it to be the IDF.
The raid on Entebbe airport was one of the most daring hostage rescues of all time. The Israelis flew in some seven planes under the radars of many hostile countries, landing at an enemy airport, pretending to be the caravan of a brutal dictator, and risking an all-out war to save Israeli citizens, losing only three and only one of the Israel Defence Forces commandos. The Israelis even destroyed 11 Ugandan fighter aircraft on the ground in retaliation. In three years, Amin would be deposed.
Airplane hijackings dropped dramatically after this incident and a number of Western countries vowed never to negotiate with terrorists, especially the United States. The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists as a matter of policy.
This resulted in a number of American hostages dying at the hands of ISIS.
In the years following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, more than 1,200 Westerners from some 32 or more countries have been captured by terrorists and held hostage by militant groups and pirates, demanding ransom or some other concession. Americans made up 20 percent of those hostages taken since 2001 and half of those were killed by their captors. The reason for this is the policy of not giving concessions to terrorists or anyone else who might take citizens hostage.
The United States believes giving in to terrorist or other militants’ demands for ransom or some other concession would just make Americans a more tempting target for those who would take hostages, allowing terrorists to perpetually self-finance through hostage-taking. As it is, Americans are twice as likely to die in captivity by their captors while countries who pay ransoms – Germany, Spain, France, Austria, and Switzerland – are more likely to have hostages released.
But citizens of those countries are not taken hostage in disproportionate numbers because taking hostages is risky and not as profitable as other ventures for terrorist groups, such a narcotics, black market oil and arms sales, and human trafficking. Civilians more likely to be kidnapped are those who are already in unstable areas. Three-quarters of Westerners taken by al-Qaeda and ISIS were freed. Only two of those were Americans.
Since a new hostage policy was announced in 2015, where the U.S. coordinates agencies to secure the release of hostages, six have been released, and none died in captivity. The only hitch is that none were held by foreign jihadist groups.
It should be noted that the Carter Administration held negotiations with Iran for the hostages taken at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Not one of the hostages were killed, and they were released on the last day of the Carter Presidency – all without firing a shot.
Here’s a short list of items on Roland Emmerich’s bookshelf: a bronze Chewbacca bust; props from Godzilla and Stargate; and copies of Frank Hebert’s Dune, Lewis Alsamari’s Out of Iraq, and Seth Grahame-Smith’s The Big Book of Porn.
I was invited to his sophisticated (and exceptionally nerdy) office space to talk about the director’s latest film, Midway, which chronicles the Pacific Theater during World War II beginning with the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor through the Battle of Midway — the pivotal turning point for Allied forces.
What followed was a conversation with a man who knows more about WW2 naval and aerial warfare than most and used his passion to create a film that honors the heroes in the Pacific.
Midway begins with the Japanese attacks against Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, continues to the Doolittle Raid against the Japanese mainland in April 1942, the Battle of Coral Sea the next month, and finally the decisive Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942.
Emmerich became fascinated with the (insane) dive bombing tactics conducted by Allied pilots in the Pacific Theater and knew how important it was to convey the challenges the pilots faced. After studying WW2 footage, he knew he had to get those attacks right on film.
“It could not look like visual effects. That was the biggest challenge — but of course it couldn’t be practical,” Emmerich shared, the implication obvious: it isn’t exactly easy to blow up a bunch of WW2 battleships or aircraft carriers. His standards were high: any shots that didn’t work for him were cut.
A group photo of the American dive bomber pilots of VB-6 from Enterprise, three of whom fatally damaged Akagi. Best is sitting in the center of the front row. The other two who attacked Akagi with Best were Edwin J. Kroeger (standing, eighth from the left) and Frederick T. Weber (standing, sixth from the right).
In his Director’s Commentary, Emmerich points out moments where he had to walk the fine line between accuracy and entertainment. Richard “Dick” Best was the dive bomber pilot who was able to sink the Akagi aircraft carrier against terrible odds and at great danger to himself.
“We had problems depicting the dive bombing. We tried to shoot it practically but we struggled because the pilot wasn’t diving steep enough. I asked if he could go steeper and he said if he dove any steeper then he could die,” which Emmerich acknowledged was a fair point. “And then you realize…oh my god, these [World War II pilots] were daredevils! Nobody flies like those guys anymore.”
I am so honored to share with you all that Midway is now on Digital. Be sure to grab yourself a copy today!pic.twitter.com/ysCvON4ZEK
“We didn’t want to just show the Japanese as the bad guys. The men fighting the war weren’t responsible for the decision to start the war,” Emmerich said. His uncle was a German pilot in the European Theater, so he knows all too well the wounds carried over on both sides of World War II. It was important that he depict the humanity and honor of the men who lost their lives in the conflict.
I couldn’t tear myself away from his audio commentary that comes with the Blu-Ray package: his World War II knowledge, his artistic choices, and his respect for the military community were so clear.
Though known for his doomsday themes (think 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and even Independence Day), Emmerich considers himself an optimist. His films, though huge in scope and destruction, concentrate on people — the heroes who endure, the lone voices that cry out against ignorance, the people who fight to protect each other.
4K UHD / BLU-RAY/ DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
“Getting It Right: The Making ofMidway” Featurette
“The Men of Midway” Featurette
“Roland Emmerich: Manon a Mission” Featurette
“Turning Point: The Legacy ofMidway” Featurette
“Joe Rochefort: Breaking the Japanese Code” Featurette
“We Met at Midway: Two Survivors Remember” Featurette
Midway is available now on Digital and on 4K Ultra HD , Blu-ray, and DVD from Lionsgate.
As the US ramps up its response to the spread of COVID-19, the Health and Human Services Department was hit with a cyberattack, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
The cyberattack reportedly aimed to slow down HHS computer systems Sunday night, but was unsuccessful in doing so. The attack attempted to flood HHS servers with millions of requests over the course of several hours.
An HHS spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Business Insider that it is investigating a “significant increase in activity” on its cyber infrastructure Sunday night, adding that its systems have remained fully operational.
“HHS has an IT infrastructure with risk-based security controls continuously monitored in order to detect and address cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities,” HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley told Business Insider. “Early on while preparing and responding to COVID-19, HHS put extra protections in place. We are coordinating with federal law enforcement and remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the integrity of our IT infrastructure.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said during a White House press briefing Monday afternoon that HHS did not yet know the source of the cyber attack.
“The source of this enhanced activity remains under investigation so I wouldn’t want to speculate on the source of it,” Azar said. “But there was no data breach and no degradation of our function to be able to serve our core mission.”
Following the attempted intrusion, federal officials reportedly became aware that false information was being circulated. The false-information campaigns were related to the hack, but no data was reportedly stolen from HHS systems.
The National Security Council tweeted Sunday night that there were false rumors circulating about a national quarantine, calling the rumors “FAKE.”
The problem the Japanese had in Burma during World War II wasn’t just dense jungle and rough terrain. It wasn’t even just that they were fighting the British Empire’s best – the Gurkhas.
No, their main problem is that they were fighting in the Gurkhas’ backyard. They were in Bhanbhagta Gurung’s backyard.
In February 1945, the 2nd Gurkha Rifles was part of a greater offensive in Burma, one that sought to retake Mandalay. The elite Nepalese warriors were to fight the enemy in diversion tactics, drawing attention away from their Army’s main objective. The Gurkhas held two positions — known as Snowdon and Snowdon East. One night, the Japanese stormed Snowdon East in full force, killing many of its defenders and pushing the rest out.
By the next day, it was heavily fortified.
The Gurkhas were ordered to take it back, no matter how many men it cost them.
As they approached, the Nepalese warriors started taking intense fire from snipers, mortars, grenades, and machine guns. They were sitting ducks, and there was nothing they could do about it. Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung stood up in the melee – fully exposed – and calmly just shot the sniper with his service rifle.
The 2nd Rifles began to advance again but were stopped 20 yards short of Snowdon East by murderous fire. Some of his fellow riflemen were killed before the attack could even begin. That’s when Gurung sprinted into action. This time, he literally sprinted.
Acting alone, he rushed four foxholes, dodging gunfire at point-blank range. When he came to the first, he just dropped in two grenades as he rushed to the next enemy position. When he got to the second foxhole, he jumped in and bayoneted its Japanese defenders. He did the same rushing move on the next two foxholes.
This entire time, he was dodging bullets from a Japanese light machine gun in a bunker. The gun was still spitting bullets, holding up the advance of two platoons of Gurkha fighters. Gurung, despite realizing he was out of ammunition and frag grenades, rushed the bunker, and slipped in two smoke grenades.
When two partially-blinded defenders came out of the bunker, Gurung killed them with his kukri knife, the entered the bunker and gave the machine gunner the same fate.
A position that took dozens of Japanese infantry to storm and reinforce had fallen to one fleet-footed Gurkha and his kukri knife in a matter of minutes, saving the men of his platoon and another from storming the heavily-fortified position.
King George VI presented Bhanbhagta Gurung with the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace in October 1945. According to the Telegraph, Gurung left the service to take care of his widowed mother and wife in Nepal. His three sons also served in the 2nd Gurkha Rifles.
When America threw its weight behind the Allies in World War I, optimistic politicians and the writers of the day predicted that, soon, tens of thousands of top-tier planes would pour from American factories to the front lines, blackening the skies over the “Huns.” In reality, American aviation was too-far behind the combatants to catch up, and so American pilots took to the air with French castoffs that gave them diarrhea and nausea, obscured their vision, and would lose its wings during combat.
A pilot in his Nieuport 28 fighter aircraft.
(San Diego Air and Space Museum)
World War I plane designs relied on a small selection of engines, and most of them were lubricated with castor oil. As the war wore on and the oil was in short supply, Germany did turn to substitutes. But most engines, especially the rotary designs that gave a better power-to-weight ratio crucial for flight, actually burnt castor oil that escaped in the exhaust.
America’s top ace of the war, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, was famous around the aerodrome for often running around the corners of buildings after he landed so he could vomit from a combination of airsickness and castor oil exposure. He eventually got control of his stomach and could fly confidently, but it was a significant distraction for a long time.
But the bigger problem for early American pilots was that the U.S. had to buy French planes, and France kept their best models for their own pilots. So America got planes like the Nieuport 28. The manufacturers had little time to test designs before they had to press them into production and service, and the 28 had one of the worst flaws imaginable.
In rigorous aerial flight, if U.S. pilots took a common but aggressive aerial maneuver, their top wings could break away.
American pilot Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker with his Nieuport 28 in World War I.
Yup. They would lose their literal, physical wings.
It was a biplane design, meaning that it had two sets of wings, one above the other. That upper set of wings was attached with a thin spar. It would break if subjected to significant strain.
And World War I pilots attempting to escape a fight gone bad would often trade altitude for speed and distance. They did this by diving a short distance and then pulling up hard. The plane would gain speed during the fall, and the aviator could hopefully get away before the pursuer could get a bead and fire.
But the weak upper wings of the Nieuport 28 couldn’t always take the sudden force of the pull up after the dive, and so an upper wing would snap during the pull up. So the pilot, already in a dire situation, would suddenly have less lift and it would be unequal across the wings, sending the pilot into a spinning fall.
The Spad XIII didn’t have the drawbacks of the Nieuport 28, but it also had a worse power-to-weight ratio and maneuverability.
(San Diego Air and Space Museum)
Despite these handicaps, American aviators proved themselves faster learners and braver than their allies had expected, leading to a grudging respect from the other pilots.
And, eventually, America would get access to the Spad XIII, an aircraft about as quick as the Nieuport 28 but without the weak wings. But, by that point, not everyone wanted to give up the Nieuport. That was partially because the Nieuport had great handling at high speed as long as the pilot knew how to nurse the engine and not exceed the tolerances for the wings.
The Spad XIII was a little more reliable and stable in normal flight, but some American pilots felt like they couldn’t maneuver as tightly in the new planes, and they actually fought to keep the Nieuport 28s.
Our veterans have done a lot for the country over the years. They keep us safe from terror organizations and dictators who would use weapons of mass destruction for selfish politics. They took down Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. They’ve led singalongs of somewhat inappropriate songs. Wait… what?
That’s right! Recently, a video went viral on Facebook showing Vince Speranza, a World War II paratrooper, leading others along in singing the paratrooper classic, Blood on the Risers, a parody of immortal Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Blood on the Risers is probably most famous from its rendition in the award-winning HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers. This morbidly funny tune is a cautionary tale about what happens when one fails to follow proper exit procedures during an airborne jump. The grim lyrics follow a young, rookie paratrooper who, after his chute fails to deploy, plummets to his death. The extended version, however, goes on to reveal that the singer has a son who would later join the 101st Airborne Division, serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, and be killed in action.
In some ways, it’s very much like the Navy’s Friday Funnies — a way to use humor to get important safety information through to the troops. This is especially important for something so routine as hooking into a static line.
Watch the video below and feel free to join in on the singalong! Don’t worry, the Screaming Eagles have a pretty dark sense of humor — it’s all in good fun.
The United States has warned Iran not to proceed with “provocative” plans to launch three space vehicles, claiming they are “virtually identical” to nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and would violate a UN resolution.
“The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime’s destructive policies place international stability and security at risk,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Jan. 3, 2019.
“We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation,” he said, without specifying what steps the United States would take should Iran pursue the launch.
Pompeo said a launch of the three rockets, called Space Launch Vehicles (SLV), would violate UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of 2015.
The resolutions called on Tehran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
The resolutions were tied to the 2015 nuclear accord signed by Iran with six world powers — the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China, and Russia. It provided Tehran with some relief from financial sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
(Photo by Mark Taylor)
U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2018 pulled out of the deal negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and began reimposing sanctions, a move that has hit the Iranian economy and its currency hard.
Trump said Tehran was violating the spirit of the accord by continuing to develop nuclear weapons and by supporting terrorist activity in the region — charges Iran has denied.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Jan. 3, 2019, also denied Pompeo’s newest allegations, saying the space launches and similar missile tests are vital for defense and not nuclear in nature.
He added that the United States itself was in breach of the nuclear accord and was “in no position to lecture anyone on it.”
In November 2018, Brigadier General Ghasem Taghizadeh, Iran’s deputy defense minister, said Tehran would launch three satellites into space “in the coming months.”
“These satellites have been built with native know-how and will be positioned in different altitudes,” he said.
News agencies in Iran have reported the satellites are for use in telecommunications and suggested a launch was imminent.
U.S. officials have consistently condemned Iranian missile tests and launches.
Pompeo on Dec. 1, 2018, assailed what he described as Iran’s testing of a medium-range ballistic missile “capable of carrying multiple warheads.”
Few details of the test were released by Tehran or Washington, but an Iranian spokesman reiterated that “Iran’s missile program is defensive in nature.”
On July 27, 2018, Iran launched its most advanced satellite-carrying rocket to date, the Simorgh, angering the United States and its allies.
U.S. officials said that type of technology is inherently designed to carry a nuclear payload, and the Pentagon said the technology can be used to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, in a letter to the Security Council at the time, said the launch “represents a threatening and provocative step by Iran.”
“Of all the conflicts going on, none is an active war between countries.” This is the heart of the argument Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell makes for war being, well, over.
Yes, there are civil wars, and yes, there are local conflicts — or even international conflicts (for example, the United States continues to fight terrorist organizations throughout the world), but their impact is much smaller than a war between nations.
“When two nations engage in war, they can mobilize much bigger forces, have access to all of the state’s resources and logistics, and almost all of the population,” narrates the host of Is War Over? — A Paradox Explained. This video from 2014 (see below) still holds up and explores the notion that humans are in fact learning from the past — and maybe even phasing out war.
The world is still recovering from the Cold War and colonialism, but even so, there are many positive trends that are being observed. According to the video, victory for one side of a civil war was very common until 1989, but today, negotiated endings have increased.
There are also fewer attacks between nation states, which the video attributes to the following four reasons:
Just think of what box office numbers would look like without China…
War is not an effective means of achieving economic goals. Think about the mutual interests of, say, the United States and China — even though our political ideologies differ, we rely heavily on each other for financial progress.
The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 Member States.
(UN Photo by Joao Araujo Pinto)
3. “War is so 20th century”
There are international entities that govern laws of war now. The Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention are two primary examples, as well as the United Nations.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed territory within Azerbaijan, which remains susceptible to border skirmish and military attacks, despite peace talks and efforts to uphold a ceasefire.
4. Borders are mostly fixed now
“After World War II, territorial wars generally stopped when most countries pledged to accept international borders.” There are still conflicts and border disputes, but the aforementioned international entities will often intervene, securing resolutions much more peacefully than before.
The video lays out the road to everlasting peace — or at least the marker for it. Check it out below:
When heroes come home, sometimes they need a hero of their own. In canine form, that is. Service dogs are invaluable to veterans and civilians alike. These loving, four-legged friends provide emotional support, understanding and protection, and they deserve much more credit than we give them. That said, getting a service dog is about building a partnership. Veterans coping with PTS need a dog that matches their personality and needs, so choose your service dog carefully. Ideally, a service dog to support someone with PTS should be:
Calm under pressure
Driven to learn
And emotionally intelligent
All service dogs are trained, but psychiatric dog breeds are particularly good at assisting those with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. These 8 breeds are some of the best options out there. Take your pick!
1. Standard Poodle
Stop laughing! We’re not kidding. The standard poodle really is an excellent choice for those with PTS. Poodles are one of the top therapy breeds. Highly intelligent and diligent, poodles can learn complex skills, and they possess an innately strong sense of emotional intelligence. They are wonderful at comforting owners and love hugs- and who wouldn’t want to hug a fluffy poodle? Poodles are also a great choice for households with allergy-sufferers because they shed very little and are considered hypoallergenic.
The lab is easy-going and extremely versatile. Combined, their intelligence and loyalty allow them to learn how to handle the ups and downs of PTS. A lab’s well-balanced personality allows them to keep a level head and, in turn, be a steadfast partner for their owners. They always try to see the best in themselves and find a way to please their owner. Dating back to the days when they were trained as game dogs, they live for approval. Their determination to please is perfect for someone who needs a dog they can rely on.
3. Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers are a classic choice. They’re loyal, playful and have a naturally sunny disposition. Their tail will be wagging while they comfort you with a nudge and a hug. The Golden Retriever is also adept at reading quick shifts in their owner’s emotions, responding to subtle changes at the drop of a hat. Retrievers are the perfect choice for veterans with kids in the house since they’re very patient and more tolerant of rough handling than most breeds.
4. Border Collie
If it’s one thing a Border Collie has plenty of, it’s intuition. Border Collies have a long history of leading and retrieving. Because of this, they’re highly tuned in to their handler’s signals, forming a deep emotional bond with their owners. In fact, when Border Collies don’t have a job to do, they tend to get a little antsy. They’re most comfortable when they’re serving others, so Border Collies are well-suited to providing physical comfort during traumatic episodes. Not only will Collies comfort you, but they’ll motivate you to get up and be active each day. It’s hard to say no to a collie that wants to go for a walk!
5. Pit Bull
Pit Bulls are one of the most misunderstood breeds on the planet. Despite their vicious reputation, Pit bBulls are dedicated to their owner’s needs and show compassion in stressful moments. With proper training, Pit Bulls can be obedient, help manage their owner’s condition and hold a powerful emotional presence to deliver much-needed comfort. Pit Bulls are low maintenance in terms of grooming, which is a plus for vets with physical limitations. The only downside? Pit Bulls have been stereotyped as being aggressive, so some airlines may not accept them as support dogs.
Pomeranians might be a surprising choice for a PTS specialty breed, but this pint-sized doggy has more to offer than meets the eye. Personality-wise, these tiny creatures are filled with energy and love. Their intelligence and high energy levels allow them to partake in intensive training and learn quickly in comparison to other breeds. Pomeranians are compact, travel-friendly and family-friendly, which is great for owners who are short on space or don’t have time for long walks. The only thing to watch out for is the grooming requirements for these puffballs- much like their long, luscious fur, the brushing and bathing duties are pretty intense.
7. German Shepherd
There’s a reason German Shepherds are one of the most common military working dog breeds, and they’re an absolutely perfect choice for PTS. The German Shepherd is fully equipped to spring back quickly from stressful situations with their owners. With the right training, they can learn to detect episodes and panic attacks before they even happen and diffuse the situation. Their signature move is pawing at the owner to alert them of triggers and divert their attention from a potential flare-up. German Shepherds are also some of the most loyal, obedient and dependable dogs you can own. They’re very gentle and sweet toward their favorite humans, but they’re also highly protective. If you’d like a service dog that can double as a guard dog, a well-trained German Shepherd is probably your best bet.
8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This majestic breed little breed is typically seen as a standard lap dog, but it has immense potential for those with PTS. In fact, one of the Spaniel’s most valuable characteristics is its ability to form an intense bond with its owner. That’s why spaniels are often called “velcro dogs!” Unlike many other small dog breeds, Spaniels are quiet and collected. They handle high-pressure situations well in comparison. They need proper training like any service dog, but they can become wonderful emotional support pets with the right education.
The 18,000 Marines and sailors who landed on the island of Betio in the Tarawa atoll in the Pacific Ocean early on Nov. 20, 1943, waded into what one combat correspondent called “the toughest battle in Marine Corps history.”
After 76 hours of fighting, the battle for Betio was over on November 23. More than 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and nearly 2,300 wounded. Four Marines received the Medal of Honor for their actions — three posthumously.
Of roughly 4,800 Japanese troops defending the island, about 97% were killed. All but 17 of the 146 prisoners captured were Korean laborers.
“Betio would be more habitable if the Marines could leave for a few days and send a million buzzards in,” Robert Sherrod, a correspondent for Time, wrote after the fighting.
The victory at Tarawa “knocked down the front door to the Japanese defenses in the Central Pacific,” Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander in chief of the Pacific fleet, said afterward.
Four Marines carry a wounded Marine along the cluttered beach to a dressing station for treatment after fighting on Tarawa eased.
(US Marine Corps Photo)
Hundreds were left unidentified and unaccounted for
Because of environmental conditions, remains were quickly buried in trenches or individual graves on Betio, which is about a half-square-mile in size and, at the time of the battle, only about 10 feet above sea level at its highest point.
Navy construction sailors also removed some grave markers as they hurriedly built runways and other infrastructure to help push farther across the Pacific toward Japan.
The US Army Graves Registration Service came after the war to exhume remains and return them to the US, but its teams could not find more than 500 servicemen, and in 1949, the Army Quartermaster General’s Office declared those remains “unrecoverable,” telling families that those troops were buried at sea or in Hawaii as “unknowns.”
Over the past 16 years, however, Betio, now part of Kiribati, has yielded some of the largest recoveries of remains of US service members.
That work has been led by History Flight, a Virginia-based nonprofit and Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency partner that’s dedicated to finding and recovering missing US service members.
“History Flight was started in 2003, and we’ve been researching the case history of Tarawa since 2003, but we started working out there 2008,” Katherine Rasdorf, a researcher at History Flight, told Business Insider on Thursday. “We had to do all the research and analysis first before we went out there.”
The first individual was found in 2012. That was followed by a lost cemetery in 2015 and two more large burial sites in 2017 and 2019, Rasdorf said.
In 2015, History Flight found 35 sets of remains at one site, including those of US Marine 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr., who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.
In July 2017, the organization turned over 24 sets of remains to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency for identification.
Osteologists with History Flight excavate a grave site from the battle of Tarawa at Republic of Kiribati, July 15, 2019.
Those are the largest recoveries of missing US service personnel since the Korean War.
Using remote sensing, cartography, aerial photography, and archaeology, History Flight has recovered the remains of 309 service members from Tarawa, where the organization maintains an office and a year-round presence, Mark Noah, president of History Flight, told a House Committee on Oversight and Reform in a hearing on November 19.
Seventy-nine of those discoveries were made during the 2019 fiscal year, Noah said, adding that History Flight’s recoveries are 20% of the DoD’s annual identifications.
Archaeologists with History Flight excavate a grave site from the battle of Tarawa, in the Republic of Kiribati, July 15, 2019.
(US Marine Corps photo Sgt. Melanye Martinez)
“Many of them were underneath buildings, underneath roads, and houses,” Noah told lawmakers of remains on Betio, noting that they are often discarded, covered up, and accidentally disinterred — the first two Marines his organization recovered on Tarawa in April 2010 were displayed on a battlefield tour guide’s front porch.
Today, 429 servicemen killed at Betio remain unaccounted for, Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz, deputy director of the DPAA, said when at least 22 servicemen returned to the US in July.
Hero’s welcome for those returned home
Those discoveries have allowed the sailors and Marines who died at Tarawa to finally return home.
Joseph Livermore, a 21-year-old Marine private when he was killed by a Japanese bayonet on November 22, 1943, was given a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Bakersfield, California, where his remains were buried on November 15.
A thousand people lined the streets for Livermore’s return, Noah said.
Service members with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency fold flags on transfer cases on a C-17 Globemaster, in Tarawa, Kiribati, Sept. 27, 2019.
Pvt. Channing Whitaker, an 18-year-old from Iowa killed in a Japanese banzai attack on the second day of the battle, was buried with full military honors in Des Moines on November 22. His remains returned to the US in July.
In History Flight’s experience, more than 50% of those recovered had living brothers, sisters, and children at their funerals, Noah told lawmakers this week.
“The recovery of America’s missing servicemen is a vital endeavor for their families and for our country. What we are accomplishing in recovering the missing is putting a little bit of America back into America,” Noah said.
An island nation ‘facing annihilation’
While hundreds of servicemen likely remain on Betio, environmental conditions there may soon make finding them even harder.
Kiribati, one of the most isolated countries in the world, is also one of many Pacific Island nations likely to be unlivable in a few decades due to the effects of climate change.
More than half of Kiribati’s nearly 120,000 residents live on South Tarawa, just east of Betio. Rising sea levels are a particular threat to densely populated country. Exceptionally high tides and sea-water incursions threaten the fresh water under the atolls.
Many of the graves located by History Flight are below the water table, meaning workers had to pump water from the sites each day to excavate.
“When it’s rainy season, it’s very difficult to do archeology, because the locations fill with water and we have to come up with drainage solutions that are not impacting the highly populated areas and … reroute [the water] to places where it’s not infringing on their clean drinking water,” Rasdorf said.
On the whole, History Flight’s day-to-day work has not been greatly affected by changing environmental conditions, Rasdorf said, but others in Kiribati have called for drastic action in response to the threat of climate change.
Anote Tong, Kiribati’s president from 2003 to 2016, bought nearly 8 square miles of land to potentially relocate to in Fiji, about 1,200 miles away from Kiribati, for nearly million in 2014.
His purchase was decried by some as a boondoggle and alarmist, and his successor took office in 2016 planning to shift priorities and making no plans for people to leave. But Tong continues to sound the alarm.
If there’s one ship that is iconic of the United States Navy’s dominance of the ocean, it is the Nimitz-class supercarrier. These vessels, the first of which entered service in 1975, are yuge (to use the parlance of the present commander-in-chief). They’re also quite fast and have plenty of endurance, thanks to the use of nuclear reactors.
Their primary weapon isn’t a gun or a missile — it’s up to 90 aircraft. When the Nimitz first set sail, the F-14 Tomcat was the top-of-the-line fighter. Today, a mix of F/A-18C Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets are carried on board, and many Nimitz-class ships will operate F-35 Lightnings in the years to come.
The Nimitz-class carriers just missed the Vietnam War. Its participation in the failed 1980 hostage rescue mission in Iran was the class’s baptism by fire. The Nimitz also starred in the 1980 action-adventure film, The Final Countdown, in which it was sent back in time to just before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
USS Nimitz (CVN 68), the first of ten ships of its class,
In 1981, the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) took part in freedom of navigation exercises in the Gulf of Sidra. During these exercises, Libya got a little bold and sent two Su-22 Fitters out to sea to pick a fight with two Tomcats and lost. Throughout the Cold War, Nimitz-class ships helped hold the line against all potential threats.
A F/A-18 Hornet is launched from the carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75).
In 1990, the Eisenhower was one of two carriers that responded to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. While the Eisenhower did not launch combat missions, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) did. The Nimitz-class remained in production even as the post-Cold War saw America’s carrier force shrink from 15 to 11. The Eisenhower was also used to help move an Army brigade for a potential invasion of Haiti in 1994.
Not only does the United States have more aircraft carriers than any other country, they have the most powerful, dwarfing vessels like HMS Illustrious.
Since then, Nimitz-class carriers have taken part in operations over Iraq, the Balkans, and as part of the Global War on Terror. The United States built ten of these ships. These seafaring behemoths displace over 100,000 tons, have a top speed of over 30 knots, and have a crew and air wing that totals over 5,800 personnel.
Learn more about one of these massive vessels that serve as both a crucial component and symbol of American naval power in the video below.
The US Naval Institute completed a poll of its readers to determine the best warships of all time. The Naval Institute urged readers to consider vessels from ancient times to now, and with more than 2,600 votes and almost 900 written responses, they’ve developed a diverse list spanning hundreds of years.
In some cases, readers wrote in recommending whole classes of ships, like aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines, but the list below will only reflect the five specific ships that made the grade.
5. USS Nautilus
Congress authorized the construction of the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine in 1951, and in 1954 first lady Mamie Eisenhower christened it.
The Nautilus changed the game when it came to naval warfare, and it ushered in an entirely new era for submarines. This nearly silent sub could hide among the ocean floor undetected, while offering up substantial contributions to surface warfare with cruise, or even nuclear, missiles.
The nuclear sub would go on to form one-third of the US’s nuclear triad.
4. HMS Dreadnought
The HMS Dreadnought ushered in a new era of “all big-gun ships.” Unlike battleships before it, the Dreadnought only had 12-inch cannons aided by electronic range-finding equipment. For defensive, the ship was completely encased in steel.
The Dreadnought presented a suite of technologies so cutting edge that it is often said that it rendered all battleships before it obsolete.
Though the Dreadnought did not have a distinguished service record, it did become the only surface battleship to sink a submarine. It is remembered largely for shifting the paradigm of naval warfare, as opposed to its victories in battle.
3. USS Enterprise
Unlike the Dreadnought, the historians remember the USS Enterprise for its outstanding record in combat.
As the sixth aircraft carrier to join the US Navy in 1936, the Enterprise was one of the first craft to respond after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it survived major battles in Midway, Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf, and the “Doolittle Raid” on Tokyo during World War II.
Korean Turtle Ships served with the Korean navy for centuries, first coming into play in the Seven Years’ War (1592-1598) between Korea and Japan.
The idea behind the Turtle Ship was to provide an impenetrable floating fortress optimized for boarding enemy craft. The side of the ship is dotted with holes from which the crew can fire cannons and other artillery, while the top of the ship is covered in iron spikes, making it especially dangerous for enemy sailors to board the vessel.
With up to 80 rowers pulling along the heavy craft, the Turtle Ships were brutal but effective.
1. USS Constitution
The USS Constitution, or “Old Ironsides,” as it is affectionately known, first hit the seas as one of the first six frigates in the newly formed US Navy of 1797.
The Constitution had both 30 24-pound cannons and also speed. Not only was it technologically sound for its time, but it was also simply unparalleled and undefeated in battle.
Famously, in 1812, the Constitution fought against the HMS Guerriere, whose guns could not pierce the heavily armored sides of the Constitution.
Warning: Contains spoilers from the series finale of Game of Thrones
In the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen unleashed her weapon of mass destruction dragon on the army of her enemy — as well as thousands of civilians in King’s Landing. She deliberately and extensively burned thousands of innocent women, children, and elderly civilians alive.
In the series finale, she justified her actions by saying that Cersei Lannister had intended to use those innocent lives as a shield. Instead, Daenerys Stormborn turned that shield to ash.
And then…all was well in the realm?
A few people closest to Daenerys decided not that she must be held accountable for her actions, but that she must actually be put down for them — so Jon Snow murdered her. We could spend a lot of time discussing the merits to bringing a war criminal to trial, but let’s just accept that Jon felt the only way he could truly end Dany’s war was to literally stab her in the heart after telling her he’d be loyal and kissing her and how could you do that to Khaleesi Jon she needed a therapist.
And then…it really was done.
Everyone left standing was so weary of bloodshed that they calmly gathered together, laid down their arms, and invented a new form of government.
Which, honestly, is the only way men actually end their wars (maybe not the new government part — although…sometimes that works too — and actually while we’re here can we re-examine Plato’s philosopher king theory it could be cool maybe?).
“Democracy is nothing more than mob rule.”
In war, we butcher the enemy until someone can’t take it anymore. It is unimaginable to comprehend the casualties from conflicts like the World Wars (in World War I alone, the estimate is around 40 million civilian and military personnel injured or killed — 40 million). In World War II, the estimate is double.
Millions and millions (and millions) of people were dying horrific deaths and yet the fighting continued.
The United States dropped an atomic bomb on a city of innocents and yet the fighting continued.
It wasn’t until the U.S. dropped a second bomb that Japan finally surrendered.
Eventually, men do lose their taste for war, which is the only way it can truly end. Unfortunately, humanity’s collective threshold for egregious harm, torture, and suffering is so high that it takes something like two atomic bombs — or a metaphorical dragon — to put an end to it all.
Which could explain why, after 17+ years, the United States is still fiddle f***ing around in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a mercy that no one is going nuclear in those AORs, but unfortunately, our own wheel keeps turning, delivering death by a thousand cuts.