America's Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm - We Are The Mighty
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America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

For over 40 years, some variant of the Patton family of tanks served America. From the mountains of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, and through the deserts of the Middle East Patton tanks bested America’s enemies time and again.


In 1950, the first Patton tank, the M46, entered service. The M46 was originally based on the WWII M26 Pershing heavy tank. However, after extensive redesigns and improvements, it received its own designation and a new namesake — Gen. George S. Patton, a hero of WWII.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
A Marine checks his tank after taking Howitzer hits. (Dept. of Defense photo)

The M46 was armed with a 90mm main gun, a .50 caliber machine gun, and two .30 caliber machine guns, one mounted coaxially, the other forward-firing in the hull.

The arrival of the Patton into service was just in time as in June of that year North Korea, armed with formidable Russian T34 tanks, rolled across the 38th Parallel into South Korea. Fighting alongside WWII-era M4 Shermans and the M26 Pershings it was meant to replace, the M46 would see heavy combat in Korea.

Also read: This is what makes tankers so deadly

The first M46 tanks landed inside the Pusan Perimeter in August 1950 as part of the 6th Tank Battalion. They would prove critical in the defense. More M46s landed at Inchon with the 1st Marine Division’s 1st Tank Battalion.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
Pro tip: the paint doesn’t need to be realistic if your enemy is superstitious. (U.S. Army photo)

In an attempt at psychological warfare, the tankers of the 24th Infantry Division’s 6th Tank Battalion painted tiger faces on their tanks thinking it would demoralize their superstitious Chinese adversaries.

By mid-1951 the Patton tanks had replaced all M26 Pershings in service in Korea. However, the M46’s own shortcomings had already led to the development of a replacement — the M47 Patton.

Though the M47 was introduced in 1952, it would be too late for it to see combat in Korea. However, the M47 was important because even though it shared design features and components with the M46 Patton, it was considered America’s first all-new tank design since WWII.

The M47, though, was just an interim design while engineers completed work on its successor, the M48 Patton. The M47 would never see combat but the M48 would be a workhorse of American and allied armored units.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

Like its predecessors, the M48 also mounted a 90mm main gun; it was the last tank to do so, but had significant improvements in armor and performance.

The M48 was also introduced too late to see combat in Korea, but just over a decade later the Marines would take it to Vietnam. Soon, Army units were bringing their own Pattons to the fight.

Due to the nature of the conflict, the M48s did not often have the chance to go toe-to-toe with North Vietnamese armor. One of the few instances of tank combat came during the NVA assault on the Ben Het Camp where elements of the 1st Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment were stationed. The American Pattons easily defeated the NVA’s PT-76 tanks and BTR-50 APCs.

More often than not though, the M48s were relegated to infantry support — a role they excelled at. The Patton’s ruggedness allowed it to absorb a good amount of damage and its 90mm main gun was a welcome addition against dug-in enemies. A favorite of the troops was the Patton’s canister rounds, which acted like a giant shotgun through the jungle, cutting down man and tree alike.

A number of M48s were also converted to M67 “Zippo” tanks that mounted flamethrowers for dealing with stubborn Vietcong and NVA soldiers.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
An M67 throwing flames. No big deal. (U.S. Army photo)

The Patton was also one of the few vehicles that could withstand the landmines that were employed against American forces. As such, it was often used as a route clearance vehicle to “sniff out” the explosive devices.

While the M48 was slogging it out in Vietnam, the next in line of the Patton family of tanks was coming into service with the American military: the M60 Patton, the M48s eventual replacement.

The M60 was the final tank in the Patton family line and America’s first Main Battle Tank. It mounted a modern 105mm main gun, a .50 caliber machine gun for the commander, and a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun.

The M60 also was the basis for the M60 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge and the M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle, both of which were deployed to Vietnam alongside the M48s.

The M60 itself would not be deployed to Vietnam, but would be a mainstay of American armored formations, particularly in Europe.

One of the more interesting developments of the M60 Patton was the M60A2. Derisively known as the “Starship” because of its overly complex technology, the M60A2 mounted the same 152mm gun/missile system as the M551 Sheridan. A redesigned turret and an abundance of new technology gave the A2 variation a distinct look. However, the design was an overall disappointment and it was quickly retired.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
An M60A2 tank driving off an amphibious landing craft. (U.S. Army photo)

Despite entering service some 30 years’ prior, the M60 Patton would not see significant combat until the end of its service history during the Persian Gulf War. Outfitting Marine tank battalions, the M60s performed admirably.

The Marines’ M60s spearheaded the assault to liberate Kuwait. In the fighting for Kuwait City, the M60 bested its original rival, the Soviet T62, time and again while sustaining only one tank lost to combat and no casualties. Marines manning Patton tanks destroyed over 100 Iraqi tanks and numerous other vehicles in the fighting.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
Marines from Company D, 2nd Tank Battalion, drive their M-60A1 main battle tank over a sand berm on Hill 231 while rehearsing their role as part of Task Force Breach Alpha during Operation Desert Storm. (Dept. of Defense photo)

Shortly after the Gulf War the M60 Patton was retired from combat service in favor of the new M1 Abrams. The last Pattons would return to Germany, the final resting place of their namesake, where they acted as OPFOR at the Combat Maneuver Training Center in Hohenfels before they too were retired in 2005.

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The Marine Corps is offering PhDs to officers in exchange for 6 more years of service

The US Marine Corps wants to add another title in front of some of its officers’ ranks: Doctor.


The service is establishing two pilot programs to offer qualified majors through lieutenant colonels with a doctorate-level education on the Corps’ dime, as long as they agree to stay in the service for an additional six years.

The program’s goal is to develop a “cohort of strategic thinkers and technical leaders capable of applying substantive knowledge, directing original research, and leveraging relationships with industry and elements of national security … to achieve the innovative thinking desired by the Marine Corps,” according to the announcement August 3.

“Uniformed doctorates provide the Marine Corps deployable, highly-skilled manpower in support of senior leader decision-making as well as helping generate national, defense, and service strategies in an increasingly complex world.”

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
An airman works on shaping a bridge as part of a doctorate program. USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin west.

The pilot will likely be competitive, since only four officers will ultimately be picked; two will be required to pursue a doctorate in strategic affairs, while two others will be required to attend a doctoral program with a technical focus.

Applicants will be required to already have a masters degree, or currently be pursuing one if they are applying for the technical doctorate.

The Corps wants officers to get technical degrees in operations research, modeling virtual environments and simulation (MOVES), information sciences, or computer science, the announcement says. Strategy degrees should be geared toward  national security, military history, public policy, political science, government, or some other related field.

Applications are being accepted until the end of August 2017.

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 nations that had no problems invading Russia in the winter

If there’s one generally accepted rule of warfare, it’s that you should never invade Russia during the winter. Hitler tried it and failed horribly, Napoleon tried before that and found equally terrible results, and the Swedes who fought in the Great Northern War would tell a similar story.


Supply lines running thin in the freezing cold and enveloping mud spells doom for anyone attacking into a Russian winter — or does it? For some reason, history tends to overlook the many times Russia has lost in the cold, despite their home-turf advantage.

1. The Japanese — Russo-Japanese War

Because the giant nation’s borders have changed throughout history, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly constitutes the “Russia” part of a “Russian winter.” Most historians would define it as invading west of the Steppes, but technically, the Japanese attacked Russia by taking Russian-controlled Korea and Manchuria.

Japan invaded and conquered the Korean peninsula in February 1904. Ironically, Tsar Nicholas II couldn’t get the supplies needed from the Western half of Russia due to intense winter weather — the same conditions that, supposedly, make Russia impregnable. As a result, the Japanese were able to fortify and held the territory until the end of WWII.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
If you want to conquer Russia, use their winters against them.

2. The Finns — Continuation War

As hard fought as the Winter War between Finland and the USSR was, the Finns managed to hold onto their independence by ceding 11% of their bordering lands to the Soviet Union. Later, Finland sought to regain these lands by making an enemy-of-my-enemy pact with Nazi Germany in 1941.

Finnish forces pushed through to Leningrad so “successfully” that it made Hitler confident he could do the same. Except, in this case, “success” meant that cannibalism wasn’t too widespread.  Though trying, the Finns were able to hold onto territory until 1944, when Finland sided with their archenemy, Russia, to fight off Nazi Germany.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

3. The Swedes — Ingrian War

Swedish invasions combined with ongoing Polish aggression (detailed below) in the early 17th century kicked off what has since been known in Russian history as “the Time of Trouble.” Sweden sought to capture the Russian throne, and they started by launching an offensive on Novgorod, which resulted in the successful installation of a Swedish monarch.

To find eventual peace, treaties were formed and broken and reformed and rebroken and finally reformed in favor of Sweden. Either way, the Swedish Kingdom pushed the Russians back to Kola and, in the process, kicked off what the Swedes call their “Age of Greatness.” Eventually, the Russians and Swedes formed an uneasy alliance because both of them were more focused on another common enemy: Poland.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

4. The Poles — Livonian War

Not to be outdone by the Swedes, Poland also got involved with conflict in the Russians around the turn of the 17th century. Swedish and Polish armies invaded Russia from different fronts and would eventually fight each other. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth get most of the credit for invading Russia because they seized and held territory in the name of Roman Catholicism.

The Polish king, Stefan Bathory, lead a widely-successful, five-year campaign against Ivan IV (or, as history knows him, Ivan the Terrible). It would take years for Russian forces to reunify under the Romanov dynasty and defend the Kremlin.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

5. The Central Powers — WWI

During WWI, the Germans managed to push the Eastern front all the way to Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and caused enough instability to forever change Russian history. Germany pressured Russia into the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918, which made Russia give up control of Poland and the Baltic States after fighting through the long winter of 1917-1918, effectively putting an end to fighting on the Eastern Front.

This was also what would sway public support for the Communist Red Army. In a way, the Czardom of Russia was completely destroyed because they lost a war fought in a Russian winter.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

6. The Mongols — The Golden Horde conquests

And, of course, the grandsons of Ghengis Khan very successfully curb-stomped the Kievan Rus’ at the height of the Mongol Empire. They cleared out Ryazan and Suzdal in December 1237 and eventually pushed their way into Kiev by December 1240. They were without supply lines (they were nomads — they didn’t rely on them) and were very much on Russian soil as winter set in. Their primary means of battle, the cavalry, were very susceptible to the rigors of winter, but still dominated.

Nearly every harsh element of harsh winters should have crippled the Mongol forces. Instead, the Mongols only stopped because they had little interest in holding territory.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
They took over castles with arrows and spears. What’s your excuse? (Courtesy Painting)

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Where Are They Now? An update on the “Taliban 5” exchanged for Bowe Bergdahl

The Taliban Five are not the reigning champions of Afghanistan’s Got Talent. They are five long-term prisoners held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a controversial move, the Obama administration released the five in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a deal struck by the Emir of Qatar in 2014. Bergdahl had been held by the Taliban for five years.


The Taliban Five were among those the Administration deemed too hot to transfer to prison on the U.S. mainland, but not hot enough to remain in Gitmo. This is our rundown on where they came from, and an update on where they are these days.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

Mohammed Fazl: Deputy Defense Minister in Afghanistan under the Taliban and senior military commander in the North during the American invasion. He was outside of Mazar-e Sharif when the prisoners of war held there revolted against their Northern Alliance captors. The Obama administration’s review of his case in 2010 says he may have been responsible for CIA agent Mike Spann’s death at Mazar-e Sharif. Spann was the first American killed in Afghanistan. Fazl is also responsible for killing ethnic minorities in the country and is connected to the killing of Iranian diplomats.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

Norullah Nori: Nori was with Mohammed Fazl at a fortress near Mazar-e Sharif in Northern Afghanistan and may have been involved in Spann’s death. He is also responsible for massacring Shia Afghans, something he admitted to while at Gitmo.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
Abdul Haq Wasiq: Wasiq was the head of Taliban intelligence and is responsible for torturing and murdering Afghan civilians. He is connected to al-Qaeda.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

Khirullah Khairkhwa: Khairkhwa was the governor of Herat province under Taliban rule and was in close contact with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. It is believed he helped found the Taliban in 1994. He met with officials from Iran and was a friend of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

Mohammed Nabi Omari: A Taliban official who helped smuggle weapons into Afghanistan after the American invasion, Omari is connected to both the Taliban and the Pakistan-based terror group the Haqqani Network. While in captivity, Omari was deemed a risk to his captors.

In 2014, the five were transferred to Qatar in exchange for Bergdahl and are being monitored by the Qatari and U.S. security services, according to the Omani Tribune. The Obama Administration demanded strict monitoring as part of the deal because the first time the U.S. released a Taliban POW, Abdul Qayyum Zakir (released by the Bush administration in 2007), he returned to Afghanistan to continue fighting Coalition forces, eventually becoming the overall Taliban military commander.

He has not yet received his reward of a U.S. military drone strike.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
Yet.

The five are also currently fighting a travel ban with the government of Qatar, who are under pressure from the United States to help keep the five men from posing a threat to Americans or American interests.

According to CNN, the men will remain in Qatar under house arrest, until long-term solutions can be made. Where they want to go is unclear, as neither Pakistan or Afghanistan will take them. Some believe Fazl would likely attempt to join ISIS if he leaves Qatar, while two others want to rejoin the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Taliban negotiators and other representatives of the Afghanistan-based insurgent group are based in Qatar, where their every need is met in wealth and splendor. Until the world figures out what to do with the five, they will remain in Doha’s lap of luxury, with other Taliban diplomats.

NOW: 17 Laws every Taliban militant needs to follow

OR: 4 of the most famous deserters in U.S. military history

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‘The Wall’ takes the classic sniper duel to a whole new level

It’s the classic battle between masters of the martial arts.


Snipers embody the best of stealth, reconnaissance and camouflage and are at the top of their game when it come to dispatching targets with precision from a great distance.

“One shot, one kill” is no joke.

And when it comes to the best way to combat an enemy sniper, there’s no better weapon than a good guy sniper.

But what happens when the bad guy turns the tables and the good guy becomes the hunted? That’s exactly what happens in the new film from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions titled “The Wall.”

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and WWE superstar John Cena, “The Wall” depicts a sneak attack on a U.S. sniper team in Iraq by a diabolical enemy sharpshooter called “Juba,” played by Laith Nakli. The movie explores the psychological jiujitsu from each side as they try to outmaneuver one another in a battle where moving an inch in the wrong direction could mean certain death.

The enemy sniper from “The Wall” is loosely based on the infamous insurgent sharpshooter with the Juba nom de guerre in Iraq. The real Juba was reportedly killed by ISIS in 2013.

“The Wall” will be released in theaters May 12.

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5 TV characters from the 90s who should’ve joined the military

One of the habits we develop as veterans is to watch military-themed movies and TV shows and point out everything that is wrong with them, from jacked-up uniforms to what appears to be “STOLEN VALOR!”


But something I have caught myself doing is watching shows that have absolutely nothing to do with the military and point out characters I believe would benefit from heading down to the local recruiting office.

Here are five television characters from the 90s who probably should’ve served in the military.

1. Cody Lambert  from “Step by Step” 

Cody Lambert

This guy, it’s the Code man! Of course we all loved him. He was the adorable nephew who lived in a van behind his Uncle’s house. You have to respect his Uncle Frank for allowing his grown nephew to stay there while he was working on a new marriage with 3 new step kids who really didn’t appreciate him.

But Cody, of all people, needs to realize he’s intruding and the lifestyle he’s leading is not a good influence on the six kids in the house. What are you trying to teach them Cody? That it’s perfectly acceptable to live in a van and that somebody will bail you out when you’re older? No, Cody, that’s not what you teach them!

How about you be a better influence? Cody should have signed up for the military and shown them that there are other options in life than what he has been living. I mean, come on, how many “Codys” did we have in the barracks? He would have fit in just fine. Then maybe after his time in the service was done, ol’ Code man could have used that sweet, sweet VA loan to buy himself a little two-bedroom ranch with a little white picket fence.

I’m happy the show stopped when it did because after the influence he was putting on the Lambert family, I would hate to see how those kids turned out. This mainly applies to J.T., of course.

2. Dylan McKay from “Beverly Hills 90210” 

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

Time to trim up those side burns and turn those sexy locks into a high and tight, Dylan McKay. This guy’s life was a mess to start with but I think he had all the tools to make a decent soldier. Dylan was the loner out of those seven featured students from West Beverly High. No I don’t mean loner when he got to school, but in life.

His parents divorced and left McKay by himself to live. After receiving that nice inheritance, Dylan took off to Beverly Hills and lived by himself WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL! Dylan was winning the war on life. He showed all the Army values before he even graduated high school, but then he became arrogant in life.

This guy, when he should have joined the service, decided to hit the bottle and lose his girlfriend. He then turned into a Blue Falcon and started sleeping with all of his friend’s girlfriends. Not a good move, Dylan, not a good move! I have a feeling that if he would have joined, Brenda would respect his decision and turn into a great military wife and would have ran Bingo games at the local NCO Club.

3. Jazz  from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” 

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

This guy, more than anything, needed guidance. If you ask me, Jazz was that neighbor that Will just kept around to feel better about himself. Pretty selfish move, Will. In a few episodes, Jazz showed off some serious basketball skills which might have led him to a community college for two years of college hoops but probably not much after that.

Here’s what should have happened: Uncle Phil needed to stop being a bully. As we all know, Uncle Phil felt big and bad throwing poor Jazz out of the house all the time. This isn’t an Olympic sport, Uncle Phil, this is a HUMAN BEING!

Uncle Phil should have taken Jazz to a military career office and perhaps put those basketball skills to use for a military academy. He would have gotten to shine while gaining a military work ethic. He would have then become the man that Hilary needed. I’m putting this one on you, Uncle Phil. Oh yeah, and don’t think we weren’t dumb enough to notice that you switched out wives in the middle of the show. I guess that’s a privilege of being a judge. Shame on you, Your Honor.

4. Six Dorothy Lemeure from “Blossom” 

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
Blossom and Six (right)

She arguably had a much harder life than everyone else on this list. Six once said that she got her name from the amount of beers that her dad fed her mom to get her pregnant. But that’s not even the worst thing: During the show, Six battled alcoholism, dated a much older man, and even had a pregnancy scare. Sounds like she’s already lived the life of an Army private.

Six had an undying passion for Blossom’s brother, Joey. WOAH! Here’s the thing though, Six. You’re putting your family and friends through stress because of these poor decisions. If you were as passionate about bettering yourself as you are about Joey, you would do just fine in the service and realize that it would be a great decision for you.

5. A.C. Slater from “Saved By The Bell” 

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

So many of you are probably saying it should be Zach Morris and not A.C. Slater. But let me remind you, Zach scored a 1502 on his SAT test (the highest of all of the gang) and he had something special with Kelly. If Zach would have went to boot camp he wouldn’t have been able to keep his head in the game with that beautiful woman back home.

Slater, on the other hand, already lived the experience. He was an Army brat so he was familiar with the lifestyle. He also showed signs of weakness when he decided to attend Cal U. and not attend Iowa (a national powerhouse in wrestling) on a wrestling scholarship. He was a proven leader in a group environment but still needed a little more discipline. The biggest fear, for me, with Slater being in the service is his pride in being a “male chauvinist pig.” He better not call any female service member “mama.”

That stuff won’t fly, A.C.

NOW: The top 5 military-themed songs that aren’t written by Toby Keith

 

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Coming to a highway near you: Finnish F-18s

Things you should expect to see on the highway include people texting and driving, dead animals, and Finnish F-18s landing and taking off.


Well, that last one may be only true in the Finland. While it’s a myth that the Interstate Highway System in America requires one straight mile for every five miles of road, many military aircraft are perfectly capable of landing and taking off from civilian highways. Finland practices this capability to ensure they can disperse their fighters if necessary during a conflict.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
(GIF: YouTube/Александр Ермаков)

And as you can see in the above GIF from a similar exercise, the fighters don’t need anywhere near a mile of road. The minimum takeoff distance for an F-18C on a flat surface is 1,700 feet, about 0.33 miles. The Finnish F-18 taking off in the video is using a downhill slope, letting it gather speed a little more quickly and get off the road.

The whole video from the Finnish Defence Forces is fun, but skip to 0:18 if you only want to watch the jets.

(h/t: War History Online)

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Iraq Army veteran continues the fight, this time for his Vietnam veteran brothers and sisters

Over 58,000 Americans gave their lives in service during the Vietnam War and over 150,000 were wounded. When troops returned home, it wasn’t to fanfare. Instead, they were labeled baby killers and spit on. It’s a stain on history one modern veteran refuses to let go. 

Steve Downey was a combat medic in the Army who deployed to Iraq at the height of the conflict. When he looks back at how Vietnam veterans were treated and his own time in service, it leaves him both disgusted at the world and proud of how the troops handled it. “They were spit at and ridiculed. But what do soldiers do? They don’t lay down, they say here’s my new fight, let’s go,” he said. 

When Vietnam War troops returned home, there were almost none of the promised GI benefits of today. The government had left them behind. Following the war and through the decades of tireless efforts of surviving Vietnam War veterans, Congress was forced to make changes to honor those veterans and the ones who would come after. 

It wouldn’t be until the first Gulf War when American attitudes would shift. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 would increase patriotism and appreciation for troops tenfold. 

“We veterans who came after Vietnam Veterans owe them a debt of gratitude for our increased quality of life, care and veteran benefits,” Downey explained. “Every iconic image of war or the military is either modern day troops or World War II veterans. Vietnam and Korean War veterans are being skipped and it seems like we don’t care. It’s insulting when you really get into it.”

Downey came back from his Iraq deployment and began working at Walter Reed in the organ transplant department. After separating from the Army, he’d also leave medicine and discover a passion for technology which led him to opening his own business. In 2020, he’d join the marketing part of the team at Berry Law, headquartered in Nebraska. 

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
John Stevens Berry Sr., the founder of Berry Law firm, receiving his Bronze Star (Wikimedia Commons)

Founded in 1965 by Vietnam War Veteran and Bronze Star recipient John Stevens Berry Sr., The military law division serves veterans in all 50 states and is tirelessly dedicated to the military community. In 2020, the team began to talk about ways to honor Vietnam Veterans. Operation Triumphus, an initiative under Berry Law Firm, was established, with Downey at the helm of the project. 

“The idea here is to allow Vietnam Veterans the opportunity to preserve their stories, their legacy and then we can provide their triumphant return home they deserve. It’s a deserved celebration led by every veteran that came after them,” Downey explained.

The website for the initiative states “Our objectives are to provide an interactive museum which helps share the stories of Vietnam Veterans; to help connect our lost brothers and sisters in arms; and to inspire ongoing gratitude for a generation of Veterans who were spat upon and ridiculed when they came home. We cannot replace the feelings of betrayal and loss that some Veterans felt on their return, but we can correct the course of sentiment to make sure that future generations understand and honor their legacy. The Vietnam generation said ‘Never Again!’ and fought hard to get better treatment for Veterans. Their actions helped future service members and Veterans get better treatment, and we feel it is our duty to repay them for their sacrifices and vigilance.”

After building the site from scratch, he’s got his eyes on engaging the military community next. “One of the biggest target audiences for me right now is not just the Vietnam veterans but their spouses and families,” Downey said. 

With the experiences most Vietnam War veterans faced, many are hard pressed to share their stories openly. He’s hoping by engaging with spouses and other family members about this project, it’ll be a healing experience for the veterans. It’s long overdue for these heroes and their families. 

This statement featured on the organization’s website truly drives home the mission of Downey’s passion project for the firm: “We are Veterans of wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. We are sons paying tribute to fathers. We are a grateful nation determined to provide an eternal Triumphal Procession these Vietnam Veterans deserve.”

To learn more about Operation Triumphus or to share your Vietnam War story or your loved one’s, click here.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Donner Party really should have taken the Army’s advice

At some point while growing up, every kid is issued a stern warning from their parents to not touch the hot stove when it’s on. Most kids take that advice at face value and never risk it. But then there are the other kids; the ones who repeatedly try to poke at the red hot coils. Eventually, there comes a time where the curious kids get burnt. This is basically what happened to the ill-fated and infamous Donner Party in 1847. History often paints the pioneers as unfortunate travelers, but it also often glosses over the fact that they were issued repeated warnings by the United States Army, who told them to stay away.

Spoiler alert: They didn’t stay away and it didn’t end well for thirty-nine of them — and if they were petty enough, the Army could’ve issued the survivors a “so, what did we learn?


America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

This information in important to the rest of the story.

(“Battle of Churubusco,” John Cameron, lithograph, 1846)

Manifest Destiny was in full force during the 1840s and countless pioneers moved out west in search of greener pastures. When Mexico saw the influx of new settlers coming into and setting up shop in disputed territory, their army attacked American troops in March, 1846, along the Rio Grande River, beginning the Mexican-American War.

The Army knew full well that the coming battles could stretch across the West and into places where settlers were building new lives. So, they issued a warning to pioneers, advising them to either wait for the war before venturing into the southwest or to proceed with extreme caution. After all, the soldiers had a war to fight; they couldn’t dote on individual settlers.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

Just take a wild guess who they listened to: the grizzled Ranger or the sketchy salesman?

(“Advice on the Prairie,” William Ranney, painting, 1857)

That warning didn’t stop George Donner and James Reed from saddling up the wagons to make their way along the Oregon Trail and find new homes in California. The path was well-traveled and would take them through Wyoming, Idaho, and, eventually, down the California Trail near Ft. Hall, Idaho. This was the prescribed route made by the Army for all travelers. The route was generally pleasant, had several Army posts along the way, was seldom ambushed by Natives, and took about four to six months to traverse.

But they caught wind of a faster route that saved time by cutting through Utah. This information came from a writer/salesman, Lansford Hastings, who’d never actually been on his so-called Hastings Cutoff. This new route cut about 300 miles from the trip. Accounting for an average speed of about 12 miles per day, that would theoretically save them about a month of travel. It was important to make it to California before the winter, because as the Army told them, the winter would be deadly.

On their travels, the party randomly met James Clyman, an old Army Ranger turned mountain man. He strongly advised against this alternate route. Clyman had traveled all across the United States and her territories — he even wrote about Hugh Glass (you know, the guy from The Revenant) because he was there with him. There wasn’t a human being alive more suited to give counsel about these lands. He was very serious about them turning around and taking the established route.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

Let this be a lesson for you. If a bunch of people with years of experience tell you something… maybe listen.

(“Encampment,” Daniel A. Jenks, watercolors, 1858)

You know this story doesn’t have a happy ending, so you know which advice they followed. The shortcut, turns out, was absolutely horrible and added months to their journey. Instead of making it to the Pacific Ocean by early September, they found themselves in Truckee Meadows (near present-day Reno, Nevada) by late October.

One of the party’s scouts, William Bryant, had taken the regular route ahead and made it safely to the Army’s Fort Sutter. He heard about their new route and the soldiers sent a dire warning. The warning implored them stay in Reno for the winter and to not even think about crossing the Sierra Nevada in this weather.

Truckee Meadows was beautiful. It had bountiful food, sturdy trees, flowing water in the winter. In a word, it was perfect! They could have as easily made their new lives there. They could’ve been happy. But wintering in Reno would have made too much sense, so they decided to try and push through the terrible wintry mountains — in spite of all of the warnings.

Now, it’s hard to say if they actually had to resort to cannibalism or not — some survivors suggested they did, others said they didn’t, and historical evidence is inconclusive — but it was still the definition of a sh*tshow. It took the Army months to find them (since they were kind of busy with the aforementioned war) but at least forty-eight people made it out.

Thirty-nine did not.

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This is how British pilots made beer runs for troops in Normandy

To keep the many men and machines in fighting shape during the World War II invasion of France, logistics technicians sure had their work cut out for them. Bomb, bullets, planes and tanks were top priorities, so there was little room for luxury items that’d keep the troops in good spirits while fighting Nazis.


And when a British brewery donated gallons of beer for troops on the front, there was no way to get it to the men by conventional means.

Enter Britain’s Royal Air Force.

In the early days after the Normandy invasion of June 1944, British and American troops noticed an acute shortage of adult beverages — namely beer. Many British soldiers complained about watery cider being the only drink available in recently liberated French towns. Luckily for them, the Royal Air Force was on the tap (pun intended) to solve the problem.

With no room for cargo on their small fighter planes, RAF pilots arrived at a novel solution – using drop tanks to transport suds instead of fuel.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

The drop tanks of a Spitfire each carried 45 gallons of gas, meaning a plane could transport 90 gallons of extra liquid. When carrying fuel, the tanks were used and then discarded.

For the purposes of ferrying beer, ground crews set about steam cleaning the tanks for their special deliveries. These flights became known as “flying pubs” by the troops they served. A few British breweries, such as Heneger and Constable, donated free beer for the RAF to take to the front. Other units had to pool their funds and buy the beer.

As the desire for refreshment increased in Normandy, the RAF began employing the Hawker Typhoon which could carry even more than the Spitfire. Unfortunately, the Typhoon was often mistaken by inexperienced American pilots as the German Focke-Wulf 190.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

According to one British captain, the beer deliveries were attacked twice in one day by U.S. P-47 Thunderbolts. The Typhoon had to jettison its tanks into the English Channel to take evasive action, costing the troops on the ground dearly.

The drop tanks also had a serious disadvantage. While they could carry large amounts of beer, the initial runs still tasted of fuel. Even after the tanks had been used several times and lost their fuel taste, they still imparted a metallic flavor to the beer.

To counter this problem, ground crews developed Modification XXX, a change made to the wing pylons of Spitfire Mk. IXs that allowed them to carry actual kegs of beer.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

These kegs, often called ‘beer bombs,’ were standard wooden kegs with a specially-designed nose cone and attachments for transport under the wing of the Spitfire. Though they carried less beer, it arrived tasting like it just came out of the tap at the pub, chilled by the altitude of the flight over the channel.

To ensure their compatriots remained satisfied, pilots would often return to England for rudimentary maintenance issues or other administrative needs in order to grab another round. As the need for beer increased, all replacement Spitfires and Typhoons being shipped to airfields in France carried ‘beer bombs’ in their bomb racks to the joy of the thirsty crews manning the airfields.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm

When the Americans learned of what the British were doing they joined in, even bringing over ice cream for the GIs as well.

As the practice gained popularity, Britain’s Custom and Excise Ministry caught wind and tried to shut it down. Thankfully by that time, there were more organized official shipments of beer making it to the troops. However, the enterprising pilots kept up their flights with semi-official permission from higher-ups, they just kept it a better secret.

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Today in military history: Congress passes Espionage Act

On June 15, 1917, the United States Congress passed the Espionage Act.

Two months after entering World War I, the United States feared saboteurs and infiltrators could severely damage the American war effort. Congress sought to prevent anyone from interfering with military operation, supply, or recruitment – in any way.

The Espionage Act outlawed the sharing of information that might disrupt American intervention in the Great War. This included promoting the success of any of America’s Central Power enemies – Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. 

Violation of the Espionage Act was punishable by 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine (about $200,000 today). 

A controversial amendment known as the Sedition Act was added in 1918, which forbade the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the United States government. The Sedition Act was repealed in 1921, but the rest of the Espionage Act remains largely intact to this day. The constitutionality of the law and its relationship to free speech have been contested in court since its inception.

Notable persons charged with offenses under the Act include communists Julius and EthelRosenberg and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who released documents that exposed the NSA’s PRISM Surveillance Program.

Featured Image: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, separated by heavy wire screen as they leave the U.S. Court House after being found guilty by jury. (Library of Congress image)

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American Sniper widow Taya Kyle outshoots NRA champion

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
Taya Kyle (Photo: TrackingPoint)


Can a rifle turn a novice into a world-class sharpshooter? Yes, based on the shootout scoreboard at a major fundraising event for the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation Saturday.

A sharpshooting showdown pitted a young American woman against the reigning NRA global champion … the novice crushed her opponent at the inaugural American Sniper Shootout Saturday in Mason, Texas.

The victorious novice shooter was Taya Kyle. Founder of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, she is the wife of U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, known as “the most lethal sniper in US military history,” author of autobiography “American Sniper,” and the inspiration for Clint Eastwood’s movie “American Sniper.”

TrackingPoint says that its Precision-Guided Firearms can transform inexperienced shooters into world-class marksmen. To prove this claim, the company put $1 million on the table in an ultimate shootout. If the NRA champion Bruce Piatt could outshoot novice shooter Kyle then he would take home the hefty prize.

But Kyle defeated the champion, with the proceeds from the event going to the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation – here’s how she did it.

The rifles?

Piatt competed with the current military rifles M4A1, M110, and M2010.

Taya Kyle opted for TrackingPoint’s new M600, M800 and XS1 firearms. TrackingPoint touts advanced technology to enhance the accuracy of first-round shots at any distance.

Kyle explained why she chose to be armed with TrackingPoint at the shootout. “The technology of the gun was developed based on conversations with Chris [Kyle] about what factors a marksman has to consider on with every shot,” she told FoxNews.com, via email. “The end result is technology that I know would have saved lives of friends we have lost and will save life and/or limb of those who put it all on the line for the 99% of us they choose to give their life for.”

The rifles incorporate a range of innovations like the company’s “RapidLok Target Acquisition.” As a warfighter pulls the trigger, the target is automatically acquired and tracked. The range is also calculated and measured for velocity.  Accuracy is enhanced because all this work is accomplished by the time the trigger is completely squeezed.

The showdown?

Kyle faced off against Piatt in a series of battlefield-simulated challenges.

The competitors had to take shots consistent with those warfighters must take in battle. It meant grappling with realistic challenges like shooting at targets placed at unknown distances as well as moving targets.

To win, both competitors also had to shoot in a range of positions, including prone and off-hand shots. They also had to tackle blind shots when the shooter takes shots while completely hidden without a direct line of sight to the target. The competitors also emulated Chris Kyle’s famous long-distance ‘Sadr city shot,’ which was featured in the film American Sniper.

And Kyle emerged the victor – by a lot. She made ALL of her shots from prone, kneeling, sitting and from cover…as in every single one – 100 percent.

How did the NRA champ fare? Piatt made 58.4 percent of the shots.

The challenges

There were 29 targets with a total of 10,140 points available.

Kyle scored a perfect 10,140. Piatt scored 3,040 points, making 58.4 percent of his shots. The scoring was weighted based on degree of difficulty.

In the challenges where the shooters took on targets without a direct line of sight while concealed from ‘enemy fire’ – Kyle made 100 percent of the blind shots while Piatt did not make a single one.

For practical application in war, this means the TrackingPoint technology has potential to allow American warfighters to stay concealed while still accurately taking on targets. The ability to stay concealed and still shoot accurately could help reduce the risk to warfighters.

Kyle explained further why the tech was developed. “Our first responders and military members regularly face situations most of us cannot imagine,” she told FoxNews.com via email. “They need every advantage for precision and efficiency to protect and serve while minimizing collateral damage and risk to themselves.”

Armed with TrackingPoint tech, Kyle was also able to make moving target and canted shots that Piatt did not.

The event

The day-long American Sniper Shootout was open to the public and also featured music from country singer Easton Corbin, Grammy winner Asleep At the Wheel.

The proceeds from the event benefit the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation. Kyle explained her inspiration for the event as “being able to simultaneously showcase the technology and raise money for CKFF to fulfill its mission … this event was an opportunity to take care of our warriors and their families on many different levels.”

For more information about participating next time, the event and the foundation visit www.chriskylefrogfoundation.org.

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The Yanks are sending their tanks back to Europe

The United States Army is shipping M1 Abrams main battle tanks back to Europe, part of an effort to reassure NATO allies in the wake of Russian actions in Crimea and the Ukraine.


According to reports by CBSNews.com and the BBC, the first vehicles arrived in Germany on Jan. 6, and they will be deployed to Poland and other Eastern European countries that formerly were Russian allies. These vehicles will be used by Armored Brigade Combat Teams that will rotate into Europe from the United States.

America’s Patton tanks saw combat from Korea to Desert Storm
Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, participate in a live-fire tank shoot firing the first ever rounds fired by a U.S. M1A2 tanks in Bulgaria at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, June 24, 2015. (US Army photo)

The first rotation is slated to begin sometime in 2017.

The Army once had all or parts of six divisions in Europe with NATO alongside two Armored Cavalry Regiments, grouped into the V and VII Corps in 1989, according to a NATO order of battle.

After budget cuts, that force had dropped to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker Brigade Combat Team, according to a 2015 Army Times report. That unit will be equipped with the M1296 Dragoon, a Stryker equipped with a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun.

The Abrams tanks sent to Germany are the M1A2 version. According to GlobalSecurity.org, these tanks have a 120mm main gun and 40 rounds of ammunition for that, a M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun, and two 7.62mm medium machine guns. The tanks have a crew of four and a top speed of 42 miles per hour.

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