MIGHTY HISTORY

5 Facts about Dwight Eisenhower’s time at West Point

Earlier this month, cadets arrived at West Point for “R day” or reception day, though social distancing and mask policy prompted by COVID-19 made this tradition look different than times past. Dwight Eisenhower, the school’s most famous alum, went through his own R-day in 1911. Even though the general and, later, president, will forever be associated with the Academy, a closer review of the history shows Eisenhower and West Point weren’t a perfect match. Here are five facts about Dwight Eisenhower’s time at West Point you might not know.


(US Army)

1. West Point wasn’t Eisenhower’s first choice.

It’s true. The academy that features a statue of Eisenhower, a leadership development program named for him and a theatre named after him, wasn’t Eisenhower’s first choice. Eisenhower initially preferred the Naval Academy. That makes sense because when Eisenhower was evaluating schools in 1910-1911, the U.S. demonstrated its military power through the Navy. Alas, Eisenhower, 20 at the time of his application, was too old for the Naval Academy, so he gave West Point a try. After some effort, Eisenhower was accepted, and he arrived at West Point on July 14, 1911.

2. Eisenhower was forced to join the “awkward squad” in his first weeks at West Point.

When students arrive at West Point, they are called plebes and hazing quickly begins. Upperclassmen at West Point initiate new students into the Army culture through rigorous physical and emotional tests known as the “beast barracks,” which involve a great deal of drilling. Having grown up in a rough-and-tumble farming town in Kansas, Eisenhower had no problem with the physical end of the ordeal. But he just could not catch onto the marching tempo and was forced to join similarly challenged plebes in the “awkward squad” until he could get the timing right.

3. Eisenhower didn’t like the hazing at West Point. 

Eisenhower didn’t enjoy the beast barracks and did all he could to undermine the system of hazing. Years later he described the cadet instructors as “obnoxious and pestiferous.” Later in his plebe year, Eisenhower and a fellow cadet broke a minor rule. As punishment, an upperclassman ordered them to report in “full-dress coat.” Eisenhower took the order literally and showed up sans pants, an act of defiance that drove his tormenter mad. Years later Eisenhower savored how that upperclassman let out “the cry of a cougar.” Eisenhower recalled later in life that when he was an upperclassman, he shamed a cadet over a job the young man had held. After that incident, Eisenhower resolved to no longer harass plebes. Eisenhower was no bully.

4. Eisenhower broke the rules at West Point — a lot. 

Eisenhower constantly broke the rules and regulations at West Point. The list of his demerits runs nearly 10 pages. Biographer Carlo D’Este writes that Eisenhower “seemed to relish every opportunity to outwit an instructor or upperclassman.” Eisenhower’s willful disregard for the rules pertaining to dancing, for example, brought him to the attention of the commandant. Eisenhower ignored an order not to, in his words, “whirl” a professor’s daughter during a dance. His willfulness led the commandant to demote him, confine him to barracks and order him to walk 22 laps.

(Wikimedia Commons)

5. Eisenhower was almost denied a commission at the end of his schooling at West Point.

Academics at West Point in the early 20th century did not encourage independent thinking. Instead, lessons involved what Michael E. Haskew called “mind-numbing rote memorization.” That approach led Eisenhower to devote his energies to football, a sport he had played in high school. Two weeks after competing against the legendary, Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe, Eisenhower suffered a major knee injury. That injury and others almost led an Army doctor to recommend that the future general be allowed to graduate but not receive a commission.

Eisenhower said he was fine with that and thought about a life in Argentina. When the doctor suggested he be commissioned in the Coast Artillery, Eisenhower objected, so West Point officials eventually settled on a commission in the infantry. Eisenhower graduated in 1915 and was deployed to the Mexican border, one of the least sought-after deployments in that era. In his first few years, Eisenhower’s requests to see combat in World War I were repeatedly denied, and he was pressured to coach football. Only through dogged persistence was he able to build a career for himself outside the confines of stateside training.

The class that graduated in 1915 would be referred to as the “Class the Stars Fell On.” (Wikimedia Commons)

Ultimately, the best parts of college for Eisenhower were the lessons he learned about leadership and the friends he made among his classmates. Those classmates, collectively known as the “class the stars fell on,” eventually rose high in the ranks and formed a cadre of allies Eisenhower would call upon later. Eisenhower sharpened his skills as a leader and realized that humiliating people did not motivate them. The obligations of service – duty, honor, country – so ingrained over those West Point years inspired Eisenhower throughout his military career, highlighted by his command of the D-Day invasion, and a political career that concluded with two terms as President of the United States.

MIGHTY TRENDING

When she learned her 102-year-old grandma was dying, this bride pulled off the most heartwarming surprise

Stasia Foley lived a beautiful life. She was born on May 22, 1916, in Connecticut, right before World War I began. She vividly remembered being a teenager during the Great Depression and the hardship that came with it. She left school at just 13 years old to support her family. With five brothers and sisters, everyone had to pitch in. Stasia spent her days on a farm planting and harvesting crops to help feed her family.


Family was everything to her.

Stasia was highly athletic and was a part of the Hazardville R.C.A. Girls Baseball team, a team that would go on to win numerous championships. This eventually led her to being inducted into the Enfield Sports Hall of Fame. Throughout her life, she watched some of the sport’s giants play, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig in Yankee Stadium. Stasia received signed baseballs and loved to tell stories both about her time in the dugout and in the stands.

Stasia met the love of her life, Edward Foley, and married him on Oct. 8, 1938. Life was good, for awhile. World War II would soon come calling.

Edward was drafted into the Army as a medic on Feb. 7, 1942, and was quickly sent to Europe – right in the middle of combat. She missed him desperately and relied on infrequent postcards and letters from his stops throughout the war.

Edward assisted in the liberation of Auschwitz and Dachau Nazi concentration camps.

While Edward was gone, Stasia went to work for Colt Firearms in Hartford. The company’s workforce grew by 15,000 in three separate factories to keep with the demand for the war effort.

Eventually, the war ended and Edward came home safely toward the end of 1945. The couple had two children, Gail and Daniel. Stasia worked for aerospace companies and spent 25 years working for Travelers Insurance Companies until her retirement. Stasia and Edward were married 51 years before her soulmate died in 1989.

Stasia loved her family, especially her three grandchildren. One of her grandsons would go on to serve in the United States Coast Guard. Sunday dinners in her home, surrounded by all, were the highlight of the week. In 2001, Stasia’s son Daniel and his family moved to Texas. Eventually, Stasia moved in with her daughter, Gail and her husband, William.

When Stasia turned 100, she was still highly independent, active and as sharp as ever. She had just started using a cane at her family’s insistence. At 102, things started to slow down. Her granddaughter, Tara Bars, decided to make a legacy video.

“She had always been such an important woman in my life,” Bars explained. “I feel like the time in her life that she lived, she saw so much. Living through the wars, the Great Depression – it has always fascinated me but the fact that my Nana lived that, saw that, witnessed it and was part of it… Once that line is gone, it’s very difficult to ever figure out or hear those family stories,” she said.

Following the completion of that video, Bars saw how frail her grandmother was becoming. In December of 2018, congestive heart failure made its presence known, causing her once-independent grandmother to become weak and easily winded. Stasia was with her daughter and her husband in their Florida winter home when she was eventually put on hospice care. When the nurses met with her in the home, they asked her what her goals were.

She told them her dream was to go to Tara’s wedding.

“When I heard that, it just broke my heart to pieces because I just knew she wouldn’t make it,” Bars said in between tears. Bars’ wedding was set for June 1, 2019, and Stasia was medically unable to fly, with her health rapidly deteriorating. Bars said she turned to her fiancé one day in January and told him she was going to Florida.

She would make her part of her grandmother’s wish come true.

“I looked up photographers and the first one I talked to on the phone was Red Door Photography and they just made me feel like it was going to be perfect,” she shared. Bars then went on to book hair and makeup, keeping everything a secret from her family. She made up a story about needing one last interview with Nana for the legacy video so her aunt and uncle wouldn’t suspect anything. They got Stasia ready and downstairs – telling her there was a surprise. When the doors opened, her beloved granddaughter was waiting for her.

In the car as they were driving to the surprise, she told her grandmother that she knew how much she wanted to be at her wedding and so she decided to bring the moment to her.

The memory of Stasia’s face lighting up with joy is one Bars will carry with her forever.

They arrived at the location and Bars went to change into her wedding dress. She said as she came around the corner, she could see her grandmother sitting in the chair, her arms opening as soon as she saw her. “She held her arms out to me so I just plopped down right there. She kept hugging me and kissing me and telling me how beautiful I looked. It absolutely meant everything to me that it meant everything to her,” Bars shared through tears.

Bars said that as soon as the photography session started, something changed. It was like her grandmother became a young woman again, said Bars, “She was no longer the fragile and frail Nana I saw a moment before. Something inside of her just lit up, it was incredible.” She continued, “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my last day with her. Our hearts spoke together that day.”

Stasia passed away at 102; only 27 days after that beautiful photoshoot with her granddaughter in her wedding gown.

On her wedding day, Bars finally revealed the photoshoot surprise to her family. The tears and joy were overflowing. Her wedding photographer was there to capture the moment and shared it on social media. It went viral.

“Don’t be scared to show your love and express it. We’re losing this generation. Once they are gone you can’t go back,” said Bars.

In a world where everything moves so fast; take a moment to pause. Savor the special moments and people in your life. You never know how much time you’ll have left.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 reasons trench warfare sucked that Tolkien won’t show

Tolkien premieres today, a movie that looks at the horrors that legendary author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien endured in World War I and how it may have informed his writing of The Lord of the Rings and other fantasy novels. But while it’s easy to see some elements of World War I combat in the author’s novels, it’s pretty much certain that some elements won’t make it on to the big screen.


(Also, for what it’s worth, the Tolkien Estate has disavowed the movie ahead of its release, so go ahead and assume it’s not a terribly accurate picture of his life.)

Soldiers with the Royal Irish Rifles at Somme in 1916.

(Public domain, British Army)

Human waste overflowed and spread parasites

Yeah, Tolkien’s novels aren’t known for their graphic descriptions of waste management and disease prevention, so it’s unlikely the movie will have to address it much. But the sanitation challenges of trench warfare were overwhelming. Everyone poops, and millions of soldiers pooping in a line generates a lot of waste.

These soldiers would bury or otherwise dispose of the waste whenever possible, but buried waste was susceptible to floating free of its confines whenever it rained. This tainted water would pool in the trenches and spread disease and parasites like helminths, a type of parasitic worm.

Soldiers in a shell hole receive a message from a dog in World War I.

(National Library of Scotland)

Buried under exploding dirt

Troops in the trenches were generally below the level of the surrounding terrain. (It’s the whole reason they dug those trenches.) That protected them from machine gun rounds and reduced the threat of artillery, but it also meant that large artillery shells could move tons of dirt onto them, burying soldiers.

A corporal who fought at Flanders in 1915 was buried three times despite only being hit by shrapnel once. While he was lucky to be found and uncovered all three times, not all of his buddies were so lucky. Trench warfare opened up the possibility of being buried alive.

World War I wounded leave the battlefield at Bernafay Wood in 1916.

(Ernest Brooks, Imperial War Museums)

Treating the wounded

Tolkien likely has the guts to show hospitals in World War I, but the author wasn’t a medic, and so there would be little reason to depict it. But World War I hospitals in the front were terrifying. They had rudimentary sanitation procedures in place and were often overwhelmed by the sheer number of casualties.

During major battles, like when Tolkien took part in the Battle of the Somme, medical personnel couldn’t keep up with the number of wounded. Harold Chapin was assigned night duty in May 1915, but as he described it, that had no real meaning. The medical personnel worked almost 24 hours a day and still couldn’t keep up. One bombardier described waiting three days to get the shrapnel in his leg treated, not an uncommon wait.

Mind-numbing boredom and spotty communications with home

You know those recurring scenes in war movies where some soldier is reading news from home and the bad news causes them to frown for a moment before returning to work? Yeah, that’s actually glossing over it. See, letters could easily take more than a week to move from the trenches to a family in France. London would take a little longer. (Tolkein’s peers from Canada and America would often wait a month.)

That meant news of a sick relative in a letter might actually be already dead by the time the letter made it to the front. An overwhelmed lover lamenting the separation might have already written their Dear John follow up. And there was no guarantee that the soldier would be kept busy enough to prevent them from dwelling on potential catastrophes at home.

So, in addition to the horrors of battle, troops were left in a prison of their own mind, wondering what parts of their life back home survived.

A sergeant in a flooded out trench in World War I France. Floods like these spread disease.

(National Library of Scotland)

Extensive flooding

The movie might show a little water in the trenches, but most directors are happy with some wet ankles and splashes of mud. That is not what troops in World War I endured. No, they could be so wet for so long that their flesh rotted off. And the water could easily be a foot or more deep, too deep for soldiers to get dry just by dropping some wood into the trench or cutting a little shelf into the dirt walls.

In fact, in November 1915, a private wrote a letter home about his experiences that month when flooding got waist deep in his trenches despite their rudimentary defenses. It was so bad that, as both sides tried to fix their trench works, a German soldier came across No Man’s Land, shared a cigarette with the Brits, and went back east unmolested.

With that bad of flooding, no one could apparently be bothered to fight. The rest of the men on each side climbed out of the trenches to work and just ignored the people on the opposite side.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is why Fallujah is one of the Marine Corps’ most legendary battles

On Nov. 10, 1775, a man named Samuel Nicholas went to Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Penn. There he began a recruitment process to put sharpshooters on Naval vessels to protect them. He also wanted to create a landing force for some of the most intense battles in the Revolutionary War.


Those that signed became the very first United States Marines. Over the centuries, Marines gained status as their very own military branch and earned a reputation as one of the most hardened, violent, and distinguished fighting forces in military history.

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From here, it would be easy to go into the long and honorable history of the Marine Corps. Instead, it’s important to focus on a more recent Marine Corps birthday, one of which took place during The Battle of Fallujah. Though the Marine Corps’ birthday has landed on many the days of battles over time, Fallujah is the most recent and was called, “the biggest urban battle since the battle of Hue City in Vietnam.”

The Battle of Fallujah was the biggest battle of the Iraq War yet many don’t know about the battle itself, let alone a significant day in this battle. It marked some of the fiercest fighting the U.S. military had seen in some thirty years.

The city had been a stronghold for insurgent forces since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Different coalition forces tried to secure the city and bring order — to no avail; coalition troops backed out of the city and it quickly grew into a bastion for all enemy fighters in the area.

Marines were sent to start taking over the city in early 2004, but many political problems arose and the advance was stopped. They made quite a big push, but were quickly told to pull out. November then came, and the Marines were sent in again to liberate the city and eliminate the enemy from of every inch of it.

The 10th of November was three days into the second battle. By this time, the enemy inside began to mount a major defense – a complex, formidable one. I started the battle with an entire machine gun squad, until mortars rained down on a street where were pulling security. Once the smoke started to clear, only two of us were what remained of a seven-man machine gun squad.

Many Marines of 3rd battalion 1st Marines engaged in grueling house-to-house fighting. Our platoon crashed through a door of a house and engaged in one firefight after another. It seemed as if everyone was wounded from enemy small arms fire and indirect fire, like RPGs and mortars. Still, we all continued the fight, clearing houses of multiple enemy occupants. Some houses were even leveled to take out any enemy defenses and personnel who might have been hiding within. Why send in men when a single good Bangalore can do the job?

But this day felt different from any other day of the battle. That’s when many of us suddenly realized was it was the Marine Corps Birthday, “OUR” birthday. Instead of getting drunk and eating lobster and steak, we were doing the one thing every Marine trains for, thinks about, and begs to do.

We were celebrating our birthday in the heat of battle.

While Marines celebrate our birthday every year with exuberance and tradition, some of us remember Fallujah, the birthday that exemplified what it means to be a United States Marine.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Your issued M4 carbine could fire without a trigger pull

U.S. Army units have reported about 3,000 M4 carbines have failed a safety inspection because of a potential glitch in the selector switch that could lead to unintended discharges, Military.com has learned.

In March 2018, the Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command sent out a safety-of-use message to all branches of the U.S. military, advising units to perform an updated functions check on all variants of M16s and M4s after a soldier experienced an unexplained, unintended discharge.


The Fort Knox soldier’s M4A1 selector switch was stuck in-between the semi and auto detents. When the soldier pulled the trigger, the weapon failed to fire. The soldier then moved the selector switch and the weapon fired, the TACOM message states.

As of June 1, 2018, TACOM has received reports on about 50,000 weapons put through the updated functions check. Of that number, “about six percent,” or 3,000 weapons, failed, R. Slade Walters, a spokesman for TACOM, told Military.com.

An M4A1 just after firing.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Task and Purpose first reported the percentage of weapons that failed the check.

TACOM officials stress it is still early in the process and about 900,000 Army weapons still must be checked, Walters said.

Military.com reached out to the Marine Corps to see what its weapons inspections have found, but did not receive a response by press time.

TACOM officials emphasize that M16 and M4 variants “will perform as intended” if personnel follow the operator’s manual when using them.

“The additional functions check is to inform [TACOM] of the extent of this issue and determine the number of weapons affected,” the message states.

The M4A1 is now the Army’s primary individual weapon. The service is converting M4 carbines to M4A1s through the M4 Product Improvement program.

The M4A1 has been used by special operations forces for about two decades. It features a heavier barrel and a full-automatic setting instead of the three-round burst setting on standard M4s.

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

Articles

Famed P-51 Mustang ‘Berlin Express’ is returning to Europe

A World War II-veteran North American P-51B Mustang restored to look like the P-51B that flew through the Eiffel Tower during a dogfight in 1944 will soon make a tour through the United Kingdom.


According to a press release about the flight, the Mustang, dubbed “Berlin Express,” is currently making a 5,470-mile voyage to the airshows that will include stops in Maine, Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland before arriving at Duxford Airfield in England on July 4.

P-51B parked at an air base. (DOD photo)

The Mustang will appear at the Flying Legends Airshow on July 8 and 9, and then will take part in the International Air Tatoo on July 15 and 16 in Fairford, England. During that show, the “Berlin Express” will fly alongside the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

The pilot of the plane, Dan Friedkin, owns one of the largest private military warbird collections in the world. In addition to the P-51, he has also flown the F6F Hellcat, F4U Corsair, Supermarine Spitfire, F-86 Saber, and T-6 Texan, among other aircraft.

“The ‘Berlin Express’ is an iconic war plane that is symbolic of our country’s strong aviation history,” said Friedkin, who’s chairman and CEO of The Friedkin Group. “It’s an honor to pilot this aircraft in the Flying Legends Airshow as we pay homage to the brave men and women who have flown in the U.S. Air Force.”

Friedkin founded the Horsemen Flight Team — an aerobatic demonstration team that flies vintage warbirds — and the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, which honors the men and women of the U.S. Air Force.

P-51B Mustangs with the 361st Fighter Group. (DOD photo)

The P-51B being flown to England was originally designated 43-24837 before it was restored and painted to look like the original “Berlin Express.” The 43-24837 plane crashed in the U.K. after its pilot bailed out during a training mission on July 10, 1944.

The “Berlin Express” was famous for a dogfight in which its pilot, William Overstreet, Jr., was engaging a German fighter. During the battle, the Nazi pilot tried to evade Overstreet by flying through the Eiffel Tower.

Overstreet followed the Nazi, flying between the tower’s arches, and proceeded to shoot the enemy plane down. Despite heavy enemy ground fire, Overstreet made good his escape.

William Overstreet, Jr., who flew a P-51 through the Eiffel Tower to get a kill. (DOD photo)

In 2009, Overstreet was awarded France’s highest military decoration, the Legion of Honor, for the engagement. He died in 2013. The release did not mention whether or not there would be a repeat performance of the flight through the Eiffel Tower.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Here are 7 battlefield-tested tips from a US Army sniper on how not to lose your mind in isolation

On the battlefield, snipers often find themselves isolated from the rest of the force for days at a time, if not longer.

With people around the world stuck at home in response to the serious coronavirus outbreak, Insider asked a US Army sniper how he handles isolation and boredom when he finds himself stuck somewhere he doesn’t want to be.


Obviously, being a sniper is harder than hanging out at home, but some of the tricks he uses in the field may be helpful if you are are starting to lose your mind.

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Sniper in position in the woods

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. John Bright

Remember your mission

As a sniper, “you’re the eyes and ears for the battalion commander,” 1st Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a veteran sniper from Texas, told Insider, adding, “There’s always something to look at and watch.”

He said that while he might not be “looking through a scope the whole time, looking for a specific person,” he is still intently watching roads, vehicles, buildings and people.

“There are a lot of things that you’re trying to think about” to “describe to someone as intricately as you possibly can” the things they need to know, he said. “Have I seen that person before? Can I blow a hole in that wall? How much explosives would that take?”

There is always work that needs to be done.

Break down the problem

One trick he uses when he is in a challenging situation, be it lying in a hole he dug or sitting in a building somewhere surveilling an adversary, is to just focus on getting from one meal to the next, looking at things in hours, rather than days or weeks.

“Getting from one meal to the next is a way to break down the problem and just manage it and be in the moment and not worry about the entirety of it,” said Sipes, a seasoned sniper with roughly 15 years of experience who spoke to Insider while he was at home with his family.

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Work to improve your position

“You’re always trying to better your position,” Sipes told Insider. That can mean a number of different things, such as improving your cover, looking for ways to make yourself a little more comfortable, or even working on your weapon.

Take note of things you wouldn’t normally notice

“What is going on in your own little environment that you’ve never noticed before?” Sipes asked.

Thinking back to times stuck in a room or a hole, he said, “There is activity going on, whether it’s the bugs that are crawling across the floor or the mouse that’s coming out of the wall.”

“You get involved in their routine,” he added.

Look for new ways to connect with people

In the field, snipers are usually accompanied by a spotter, so they are not completely alone. But they may not be able to talk and engage one another as they normally would, so they have to get a little creative.

“Maybe you can’t communicate through actual spoken word, but you can definitely communicate through either drawings or writing,” Sipes said.

“We spend a lot of time doing sector sketches, panoramic drawings of the environment. We always put different objects or like draw little faces or something in there. And, you always try and find where they were in someone’s drawing.”

He added that they would also write notes about what was going on, pass information on things to look out for, and even write jokes to one another.

Think about things you will do when its over

“One big thing I used to do was list what kind of food I was going to eat when I get back, like listing it out in detail of like every ingredient that I wanted in it and what I thought it was going to taste like,” Sipes said. He added that sometimes he listed people he missed that he wanted to talk to when he got back.

Remember it is not all about you

Sipes said that no matter what, “you are still a member of a team” and you have to get into a “we versus me” mindset. There are certain things that have to be done that, even if they are difficult, for something bigger than an individual.

He said that you have to get it in your head that if you don’t do what you are supposed to do, you are going to get someone else killed. “Nine times out of 10, the person doing the wrong thing isn’t the one that suffers for it. It is generally someone else.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the Navy is protecting ships from China’s threats

As China and the US continue to spar over trade and the South China Sea, a Chinese admiral made a bold threat to eliminate one of the US’s primary military advantages, its aircraft carriers — a gaping vulnerability that has concerned US officials as China’s military power grows.

“What the United States fears the most is taking casualties,” Rear Adm. Lou Yuan reportedly said in a speech at the 2018 Military Industry List summit on Dec. 20, 2018, adding that sinking one carrier could kill 5,000 US service members.


“We’ll see how frightened America is,” he said.

Lou, the deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, has academic military rank and does not command troops, but he has gained attention for his hawkish views on the US, as have other officials who’ve called on Beijing to take a more confrontational approach.

Lou said current US-China tensions were “definitely not simply friction over economics and trade” but rather over a “prime strategic issue,” according to Australia’s News.com.au, which cited Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

The US has “five cornerstones” that can be exploited, he said: its military, its money, its talent, its voting system, and its fear of adversaries.

China should “use its strength to attack the enemy’s shortcomings,” he said, according to News.com.au, continuing: “Attack wherever the enemy is afraid of being hit. Wherever the enemy is weak.”

Lou said China’s new anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles were able to hit US carriers despite the “bubble” of defensive measures surrounding them. The US Navy has 11 aircraft carriers.

The ranges of Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles, air-defense systems, aircraft, and warships.

(Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments)

Not indestructible but certainly defensible

China has clashed with its neighbors over its expansive claims in the East and South China seas.

The US has undertaken freedom-of-navigation exercises in the area to assert the right under international law to operate there — moves that have provoked close encounters with Chinese ships.

Reducing or blocking the US’s ability to operate in those areas is a key part of China’s efforts to shift the regional balance of power in its favor by undermining confidence in US assurances about security to its partners. (Russia has pursued similar efforts.)

Beijing’s development of ballistic missiles — like the DF-21, which can reach Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, and the longer-range DF-26, which can reach most US bases in the Pacific — along with air-defense systems and a more active navy have led to discussions about what the US Navy needs to do to operate in a contested environment, where even its all-powerful aircraft carriers could be vulnerable to attack.

The amphibious assault ship Boxer firing a Sea Sparrow missile during a missile-firing exercise in the Pacific Ocean in 2013.

(US Navy photo by Kenan O’Connor)

In analyses by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, “we determined that if the Navy pursues a lot of the air-defense capabilities that they’ve been talking about, and some of which have been in development or fielded, they should be able to dramatically improve the carrier strike group’s air-defense capacity,” Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at CSBA who previously worked on Navy strategy as special assistant to the chief of naval operations, said in December 2018 during a presentation at the Heritage Foundation.

At present, Clark said, carrier strike groups operating about 1,000 nautical miles from the Chinese coast using air-defenses assets like interceptor missiles, electromagnetic jamming, directed-energy weapons, and patrol aircraft could expect to hit about 450 incoming weapons, fewer than the at least 600 weapons the CSBA estimated China could fire to that distance.

“So if you shift instead to what the Navy’s talking about doing with its air-defense capacity by shifting to shorter-range interceptors like the [Evolved Sea Sparrow missile] instead of the SM-2 in terms of loadout, adopting directed-energy weapons, using the hypervelocity projectile … you could increase the air-defense capacity of your [carrier strike group] to the point where now you can deal with maybe 800 weapons or so in a particular salvo,” Clark said.

The USS Ronald Reagan conducting a live-fire exercise of its Phalanx Close-in Weapons System in the Philippine Sea in 2016.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke)

These estimates make numerous assumptions about the effectiveness of Navy air defenses and about how China deploys its weaponry. Moreover, the above scenarios end with the carrier strike group’s interceptor weapons expended.

To compensate for that and allow carriers to operate longer in contested areas, the Navy could use electromagnetic warfare to make enemy targeting harder or by attacking enemy bombers and missile launchers before they can fire, according to the CSBA report.

It wouldn’t be enough to eliminate China’s coastal missile batteries. With China’s and Russia’s improving ability to fire sub-launched anti-ship cruise missiles, changes are needed to the carrier air wing’s composition and operations to work at longer ranges and in contested environments, the report notes.

“There is approach that could yield a carrier strike group that is, if not indestructible, but certainly defensible in an area where it could be relevant to a warfight with a country like China,” Clark said at the Heritage Foundation. “This is the approach that the Navy’s moving down the track toward.”

Sailors on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Carl Vinson as it departed Naval Air Station North Island for a deployment in the western Pacific.

(US Navy photo)

‘Americans have gone soft’

Lou is in the hawkish wing of the Chinese foreign-policy commentariat, but his remarks invoked what appears to be an increasingly common perception of the US in Chinese thinking: The US is powerful but lacks resolve to fight.

“A far larger number of Chinese believe it than I think is healthy,” Brad Glosserman, a China expert and visiting professor at Tokyo’s Tama University, told Stars and Stripes in January 2019 in regard to Lou’s comments.

Many Chinese believe “Americans have gone soft” and “no longer have an appetite for sacrifice and at the first sign of genuine trouble they will cut and run,” Glosserman said.

Many in the US would dispute that notion. But this was part of the discussion of the aircraft carrier’s future in American power at the Heritage Foundation event on Dec. 11, 2018.

There is a “heightened national aversion to risk,” especially when comes aircraft carriers, according to Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain who now serves as vice president at the consultant Telemus Group.

Carriers have grown in cost and become regarded as a symbol of “national prestige,” Hendrix said at the Heritage Foundation event. He added that in light of the importance with which carriers have been imbued, political leaders may be averse to sending them into battle.

“There is, unfortunately, the heavy potential for conflict coming, but the nation is not ready for heavy battle damage to its navy and specifically not to its aircraft carriers,” Hendrix said. “We need to move these assets back into the realm of being weapons and not being perceived as mystical unicorns.”

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

MIGHTY GAMING

This is why becoming a Spartan from ‘Halo’ would actually suck

When you think about the Halo series of video games, you probably reminisce about a great story, an excellent multiplayer experience, and a slew of badass weaponry that makes us yearn for the future. If you’ve played even a single story mission, then you know about the Spartans: highly trained, augmented super soldiers designed to withstand any condition and defeat any enemy. In theory, it sounds pretty cool to be a Spartan. In reality, however, it’d suck. Majorly.

In the world of Halo, the SPARTAN-II program started as a way to combat insurrectionists and later became a way to stem the advance of the alien empire known as The Covenant. The goal was to pair advanced exoskeleton technology with a mechanically and biologically enhanced soldier.

But the process of creating a Spartan, were it to happen in real life, would be brutal, unethical, and extremely controversial. Here’s what a to-be Spartan would experience:


Still, the procedure was pretty unethical…

(Bungie)

Recruitment

Candidates, typically between the ages of 5 and 6, are kidnapped by Office of Naval Intelligence recruiters. These candidates are then flash cloned and the copy is sent home. Unfortunately, because the science behind flash cloning wasn’t totally sound, these clones would often die a week or two later, leaving parents mystified and grief-stricken.

How did ONI find candidates? Well, they gathered genetic information during a vaccination program. But if you’re thinking that’s just another reason not to vaccinate your children, just remember that this is what they got in exchange:

It might’ve hurt like a b*tch, but Spartans were nearly unbreakable. Fair trade?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Janessa Pon)

Skeletal augmentation

The first step in enhancing candidates is grafting materials onto bones to increase their strength. The goal is to make the bones of the candidates nearly indestructible, but those who undergo the process say it feels like their bones are all being broken.

The worst part is that this process only covers about 13% of the skeletal system so… maybe they could have just had some milk instead? Or maybe some grape juice?

This is nothing for a Spartan.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Darhonda V. Hall)

Muscular augmentation

It’s safe to say that casually flipping over a Scorpion tank requires some insane strength. So, as part of the SPARTAN-II program, all sorts of proteins are injected into candidates’ muscles. Sounds cool, right?

It might… until you hear that it feels like napalm is coursing through your skin and your veins are being ripped out of your body.

You have to be a little crazy to try and become a SEAL, but at least it’s your choice.

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon)

Attrition rate

The attrition rate for real-life special operations units is ridiculously high. Many don’t make the cut and, if you don’t, you’re out — but at least you’re not dead.

In the SPARTAN-II program, candidates that survived the augmentation process often died from physical side effects. Out of the 150 children that started out in the program, only 33 made it all the way through to the end, becoming the super soldiers who would go on to kick some serious alien hide.

Humor

These are the 43 best COVID-19 memes for the week of March 27

We published our favorite 63 COVID-19 memes not too long ago and the response was overwhelming. Turns out during these serious, scary and uncertain times, one thing is for sure: We could all use a good laugh. And one more thing that’s for sure: the memes just keep on coming. We bring you this week’s best COVID-19 sayings and memes.


1. This is why we can’t have nice things

It’s bad enough we cancelled March Madness. Can ya’ll just please follow the directions so we can have some summer?

2. And you thought finding love in the time of cholera was bad

At least it’s not you, it’s COVID-19.

3. 6 feet, damn it!

I always thought Pooh was the selfish one, breaking into everyone’s houses and stealing all the honey. Maybe it’s clingy Piglet.

4. That homeschool life tho

If you can teach fractions pouring wine, you can teach gym with chores.

5. I volunteer as tribute

You know you’re going to get voluntold anyway.

6. Spoiler alert: nowhere

I got so excited when I saw Absolutely.

7. Wasn’t me

It’s always the wife.

8. Dad joke

Oh, so punny. Sorry, not sorry.

9. The truth hurts

If only hoarding had an immunity boost with it.

10. I’d like to pass over 2020

Seems logical.

11. Puerto Backyard-O

Just be careful of the DUI checkpoint in the hall.

12. So full of hope

So full of $hit. 1

13. This little piggy

That’s the one who stayed home, Karen.

14. You put the lotion on the skin

But honestly, isn’t there a tinnyyyyy part of you that thinks it would be so nice to be touched by another human again?

15. The quarantine cut 

This cut will help you social distance like never before!

16. It ends with credits

After Tiger King, is there really anything left to watch?

17. Poetry in action 

We might need this on a t-shirt.

18. Allergies be like 

No, but seriously. You know you can’t sneeze without everyone panicking.

19. Blend and repeat

We call this breakfast.

20. No pants either way

Just don’t confuse the two.

21. Life lessons

Here Timmy, blow your nose. And breathe in.

22. Bad Boy vs. Death Row

These are important life lessons.

23. Stay-at-home order 

Except for everyone in the military.

24. Quarantine body

We might need to issue a lockdown on our snack cabinet…

25. Nobody wants bed bugs

Lice, too.

26. Show me the money!

Plumbing is an essential service. Hoarding is not.

27. Is today the day? 

And to think you might not even know for 5-14 days…

28. Another COVID-cut

You can always just shave it off…

29. Prince Charmin

The year of the hunter.

30. Hashtag no filter

No truer words were ever spoken.

31. Speaking of Matthew McConaughey…

At least he got thinner?

32. Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat

We know we’re mixing Disney movies, but that bidet is a whole new world.

33. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma

We know Carol Beskin is the real cause behind coronavirus.

34. United as one

That’s how the heartland does. ‘Merica.

35. April Fool’s 

Although, this might be footage of Florida over the weekend… #STAYHOME

36. Muscle atrophy

Too many leg days?

37. How we all feel 

Don’t forget to change out of your daytime pajamas into your nighttime pajamas.

38. Oh Kermieeee

Is Quarantini a breakfast beverage?

39. Pants are always optional 

Video chats should come with a 15 minute courtesy.

40. The difference a year makes

Just a healthy change in perspective.

41. Men are from Mars…

He probably does want to talk about it.

42. Two thumbs up 

“No, really, we don’t mind.”

43. We’ll never forget

The Purell. The panic. The year the world stopped.

Keep your sense of humor, wash your hands, stay home and stop the spread. And more than anything, we hope you and your family stay well.

Articles

Here’s what it takes to guard the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’

Every year, approximately 4 million people travel to Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our great country. Most gather in solemn awe at the historic site of “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” standing atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C.


If you plan your visit accordingly, you may get to witness the awesomeness that is the changing of the guard, which occurs every 30-minutes during the hot summer and every hour during the cold winter.

Related: This is the story behind the pre-inauguration wreath laying ceremony

In April of 1948, the 3rd US Infantry Regiment proudly took on the responsibility of guarding the tomb 24-hours day. Being a sentinel guard isn’t just about walking back and forth keeping a close eye out, it takes professionalism, honor, and most importantly commitment as one must volunteer for the role.

Tomb Sentinels at the Changing of the Guard, Arlington National Cemetery. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Prospects are hand-selected after volunteering and undergo either a 2 or 4 week TDY to learn rifle precision, uniform maintenance, and marching, as well as to, memorize seven pages of knowledge. Verbatim.

Sentinel prospect practice drill marching together before heading out for their watch. (Source: 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment/Screenshot)

On average, 60% of the hopefuls will not graduate, but those who do complete the training will move on and become “Newman”.

Newmans assist sentinels prior to guard changes, maintain their uniforms, and must endure three more tests before earning their future position. The entire training takes six to nine months and has a fail rate of 90%.

Sentinels stand a 27-hour guard shift, walking their post a dozen times. Contrary to popular belief, they are allowed to verbally discipline tomb visitors.

Check out 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment‘s video for more behind the scenes of what it take to guard the tomb.

(3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, YouTube)
Articles

This is the latest on the sunken World War II graveyards in the Java Sea

The situation surrounding a number of Allied ships sunk in a series of desperate battles around what is now Indonesia 75 years ago is a mixed bag, a new report finds. Late last year, advocates worried that many of the wrecks had been looted by modern-day grave robbers, forever altering important monuments to World War II history.


At Tjilatjap, Java, Feb. 6, 1942, seen from USS Marblehead (CL-12), which was passing close aboard. Houston’s colors are half-masted pending return of her funeral party, ashore for burial of men lost when a bomb hit near her after eight-inch gun turret two days earlier during a Japanese air attack in Banka Strait. (US Navy photo)

According to a report by USNI News, recent sonar surveys show the wreck of the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30) is still in good shape, while there is inconclusive data on the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth.

Past surveys have revealed that other wrecks, including the Dutch destroyer HNLMS Kortenear, the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter and the British destroyers HMS Encounter have been stripped by looters.

The British destroyer HMS Electra, also sunk in the battles around Indonesia, has been “picked over,” while the Dutch cruisers HNLMS Java and HNLMS Dr Ruyter have had large portions of their wrecks removed. In one special case, the submarine USS Perch (SS 176), scuttled by her crew, has also been salvaged.

Reports last November claimed that all three Dutch wrecks were completely looted.

According to the United States Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command, only 368 personnel survived the sinking of USS Houston when she sank as a result of gunfire from the Japanese cruisers HIJMS Mogami and HIJMS Mikuma. Of those 368, only 291 survived roughly three and a half years in captivity.

At Darwin, Australia, probably on 15 or 18 February 1942. The destroyer astern of Houston may be USS Peary (DD-226). Among the ships in the background, to the left, are HMAS Terka and the SS Zealandia. (US Navy)

In a release, the Naval History and Heritage Command noted that the survey, conducted by the Australian National Maritime Museum and the National Research Centre of Archaeology Indonesia was the first survey to provide a full view of USS Houston’s wreckage, thanks to the use of remotely operated vehicles and multi-beam sonar scanning.

Past surveys had focused on sections of the ship, using underwater video cameras and still cameras to assess the status of the wreck.

“We’re grateful to the Australian National Maritime Museum and Indonesia’s National Research Centre of Archaeology for sharing this information with us,” Naval History and Heritage Command Director Sam Cox said in the release. “We take very seriously our obligation to remember the service of American and allied Sailors who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom.  We’ll do everything we can, and work with everyone we must, to safeguard their final resting places.”

MIGHTY FIT

Here’s what happens when veterans stop working out

Throughout all the years of our military service, many of us spent a good amount of time getting into and staying in top physical condition, which enabled us to better perform our jobs. From all those long miles we ran in formation to all the push-ups we counted during our assessment tests — our bodies were highly activated.

Then, something incredible happened. We received our DD-214s and got the hell out of dodge. Now, the fact that the CDC recommends that adults undertake moderately intense aerobic activity at least twice a week takes a backseat to the fact that we don’t have to do it anymore.


Unfortunately, due to a sudden change of priorities, many of our workout routines quickly dwindle away — and the change is felt immediately. After just seven days of inactivity, our bodies start to feel less fit, our muscles don’t feel as large, and it’s estimated we’ve lost approximately 5 percent of our VO2 max.

Capt. Dustin Benker runs on a treadmill at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Human Performance Laboratory to check his oxygen and carbon dioxide levels while he works out.
(U.S. Air Force photo by J. Rachel Spencer)

VO2 max measures the maximum amount of oxygen you utilize during an intense workout. This measurement is considered one of the best indicators of an athlete’s cardiovascular strength and endurance. A decrease here means less oxygen is available for generating energy.

Within the next few weeks, your VO2 max will have dropped more than 10 percent and you’ll begin to notice a loss in physical strength. Your myocytes (muscle cells) will start to shrink and your count of lipocytes (fat cells) will increase.

That’s not a good thing.

A closer look atu00a0your muscle (left)u00a0and fat cells.

After two-months of no aerobic activity, your VO2 max has dwindled a full 15 percent and, of course, you’re still losing myocytes and gaining lipocytes — which causes you to bloat.

Maintaining this low level of activity puts you at a greater risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and various cardiovascular diseases. It’s also a contributing factor to why veterans end up suffering from certain types of depression.

So, to all of our brothers and sisters in the veteran community: Try and stay active — not only will it keep you looking good, it’ll help you transition back into civilian life.