Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

During more than five decades of operational service, the Boeing B-52 heavy bomber has been the backbone of the strike capability of the U.S. Air Force. Its long range, ability to operate at high altitudes and capability to carry nuclear or precision-guided conventional ordnance to any point on the globe, has made it a key component of nuclear deterrence and U.S. National Security Strategy.


Development and design

Born of specifications for a new heavy bomber presented by Air Materiel Command in 1945, the first iteration of what would become the B-522, was the Boeing 464-40 created in 1946. This airframe was powered by turboprop engines, as jet engines were not yet seen as reliable or fuel efficient enough for long-range missions.

As development continued through the end of the decade, the project became the keystone for the fledgling U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command under the direction of Gen. Curtis LeMay. At his insistence, the XB-52 and YB-52, which had more operational equipment, featured 35-degree swept wings with eight Westinghouse turbojet engines.

The YB-52 first took flight in April 1952 and subsequent ground and flight testing lead the Air Force to order 282 of the new heavy bombers, beginning with the delivery of three B-52As and 10 B-52Bs by 1954.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Boeing YB-52 bomber in flight, with a bubble canopy, similar to that of the B-47.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

During the rollout ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Nathan Twining described the B-52 as “the long-rifle of the air age.”

The B-52 has since received many upgrades to communications, electronics, computing and avionics on the flight deck, as well as engines, fuel capacity and the weapons bay. These upgrades enable the B-52H to integrate into the new digital battlefield and precisely deliver a large array of weapons, from conventional, nuclear and smart bombs to conventional or nuclear cruise missiles, on targets anywhere in the world.The use of aerial refueling gives the B-52 a range limited only by crew endurance.

Further development included a reconnaissance variant, as well as a model used as a launch platform for 93 NASA X-15 missions to explore the boundaries of space. A B-52H is currently used for launching other research vehicles by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

A total of 744 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress aircrew depart the flightline after returning from an Operation Arc Light mission over Southeast Asia. Just as in earlier wars, the bombs painted on the fuselage showed the number of missions flown.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Operational history

In a conventional conflict, the B-52 can perform strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air, and maritime operations.

Throughout the Cold War, B-52s were a cornerstone of the Nuclear Triad, which was comprised of nuclear missile submarines, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and bombers capable of delivering nuclear bombs.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
(U.S. Air Force graphic by Maureen Stewart)

Throughout the Cold War B-52s were continuously airborne on alert patrols armed with nuclear weapons should hostilities erupt with the Soviet Union. These missions ended in 1991.

During the Vietnam War, beginning with Operations Arc Light and Rolling Thunder in 1965 and concluding with Operations Linebacker and Linebacker II in 1972, B-52s carried out various bombing campaigns.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers strike Viet Cong and North Vietnamese targets during operation Arc Light.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, B-52s flew over 1500 sorties and delivered 40 percent of all the weapons dropped by coalition forces. They struck wide-area troop concentrations, fixed installations and bunkers, and decimated the morale of Iraq’s Republican Guard.

They also bombed targets in Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force in 1999 and Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraqi Freedom in 2003, providing close air support through the use of precision guided munitions. They have most recently engaged in missions against ISIL targets in Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

All B-52s can be equipped with electro-optical viewing sensors, a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and advanced targeting pods to augment targeting, battle assessment, and flight safety, further improving its combat ability, day or night and in varying weather conditions utilizing a variety of standoff weapons, such as laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs, and GPS-guided weapons.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
A B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., takes fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, Sept. 18, 2015, in the skies near Spain. The refueling was part of exercise Immediate Response, which included a three-ship formation o
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Austin M. May)

Did you know?

  • The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory, including gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions.
  • Current engineering analyses show the B-52’s life span to extend beyond the year 2040.
  • B-52s also assist the Navy in ocean surveillance.
  • The lower deck crew of the B-52, the navigator and radar navigator, eject downward.
  • In 1972, a B-52 tail-gunner, Albert Moore, shot down a MiG-21 over Vietnam. It was the last recorded bomber-gunner to shoot down an enemy aircraft.
  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, 365 B-52s were destroyed under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The aircraft were stripped of usable parts, chopped into five pieces with a 13,000 pound steel blade and sold for scrap at 12 cents per pound.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Capt. Lance Adsit, the 20th Bomb Squadron aircraft commander, and Lt. Col. Erik Johnson, the 340th Weapons Squadron commander, fly a B-52 Stratofortress above the Gulf of Mexico, Oct. 13, 2016. Two B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and two B-1 Lancers from Dyess AFB, Texas, flew together and
(Photo by Senior Airman Curt Beach)

General characteristics – (source: AF.MIL)

  • Primary function: Heavy bomber
  • Contractor: Boeing Military Airplane Co.
  • Power plant: Eight Pratt & Whitney engines TF33-P-3/103 turbofan
  • Thrust: Each engine up to 17,000 pounds
  • Wingspan: 185 feet (56.4 meters)
  • Length: 159 feet, 4 inches (48.5 meters)
  • Height: 40 feet, 8 inches (12.4 meters)
  • Weight: Approximately 185,000 pounds (83,250 kilograms)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 488,000 pounds (219,600 kilograms)
  • Fuel capacity: 312,197 pounds (141,610 kilograms)
  • Payload: 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms)
  • Speed: 650 miles per hour (Mach 0.84)
  • Range: 8,800 miles (7,652 nautical miles)
  • Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,151.5 meters)
  • Armament: Approximately 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms) mixed ordnance: bombs, mines and missiles. (Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles)
  • Crew: five (aircraft commander, pilot, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer)
  • Unit cost: $84 million (fiscal 2012 constant dollars)
  • Initial operating capability: April 1952
  • Inventory: Active force, 58; ANG, 0; Reserve, 18
MIGHTY MOVIES

Linguists can get paid $53 an hour to teach High Valyrian from ‘Game of Thrones’

Calling all “Game of Thrones” linguists.

You could be turning your passion into profit by teaching like-minded Thrones fans the language of Essos.

That’s according to leading local services marketplace Bark.com who say that tutors can earn upwards of £40 ($53) per hour teaching High Valyrian, the language spoken by Daenerys Targaryen and Lord Varys.

The tuition service is available for fans across the US and UK, who can either sign up to be a tutor here or to hire tutors here.


Bark.com says those who sign up to be High Valyrian tutor will be required to provide proof of their knowledge of the language.

The role will involve creating a variety of reading, writing and speaking exercises for students, alongside role-playing scenarios to enhance the learning experience.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

Daenerys Targaryen is a High Valyrian speaker.

(HBO)

Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com, said: “Game of Thrones is more than another hit show — it’s become a worldwide sensation! And with the highly anticipated final season fast approaching, the show is more popular than it has ever been. That’s why we’ve launched our latest service — High Valyrian tuition.

“At Bark.com, we love giving people different ways to earn and this is the latest service we’ve launched to do that. High Valyrian is a complex language and this is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who has worked hard to become fluent to share their knowledge — not to mention it would be a fantastic string to any fan’s bow!”

Though the High Valyrian dialect appears occasionally in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of fantasy novels, the author did not develop it beyond a few words and phrases. The actual language, which now comprises of around 2,000 words, was created for the HBO TV adaption by linguist David J. Peterson, who also fleshed out the language of the Dothraki.

Tyrion Speaking Valyrian and Banter with Jorah, Grey Worm

www.youtube.com

The Economist called Peterson’s take on Dothraki and Valyrian “the most convincing fictional tongues since Elvish,” which was created by J.R.R. Tolkien himself for Middle Earth.

New learners of the language will have to deal with verb conjugation and possessives but, fortunately, not a different writing system, which Peterson said might look something like “Egyptian’s system of hieroglyphs — not in style, necessarily, but in their functionality.”

Those wishing to get a head start on the competition can start learning High Valyrian in bite-sized lessons on Duolingo, taking courses which Peterson himself contributed to.

Those taking on the challenge of learning the fictional language will have to try harder than Tyrion Lannister, whose Valyrian was “a bit nostril” by his own admission.

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

Articles

5 real life games you can play to get ready for war

Most service members played Army when they were kids. And throughout our childhood educational years, we were presented with a host of games that stretch our minds and hone our analytical skills.


In the military, the goal isn’t much different — though the information is just delivered through alternative means like “death by PowerPoint.” And isn’t nearly as much fun

Related: 5 crazy games you played while in the military

So to avoid the boredom of paper and screens, we compiled a list of real life games you can play stateside that will increase your unit’s communication, physical stamina, and mental toughness.

1. Laser Tag

Running into a low-lit terrorist cell with weapons at the ready with your adrenaline pumping and still being ready to “expect the unexpected” while you clear the room can be incredibly stressful.

Dial back the dangerous nature of the mission and you could have a friendly game of laser tag.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

2. Treasure hunt

In grade school, we used to bury or hide objects at the playground, draw a detailed map where we left them and dare our friends to hunt down the prize — sounds easy.

Pretty much what land navigation is today minus the prize, it’s now your objective.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

3. Flag football

It was in the late 1860s that the football game kicked off between Princeton and Rutgers — and at the time, players typically played both offense and defense. This game requires plenty of communication and sets each player into different jobs and rolls.

While on patrol or in a convoy, if allied forces take contact from the bad guys, it’s up to the leader to “quarterback” the defensive strategy and instruct men how to bring the fight to the enemy.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
The Company Grade Officers Council goes for another touchdown during their flag football game at Eglin Air Force Base, (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

4. 52 cards

You can pull many different infantry games from a deck of playing cards. The main focus is to develop a game to build muscle memory. Assign an exercise or action drill for every suit in the deck and use the cards’ face value for the number of repetitions.

First one through the deck is the winner.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

Also Read: 5 things I wish I knew before deployment

5. Blindfolded tag

We conduct military operations at night, attacking the enemy once the sun goes down when they least expect it. There’s no better way to learn to fight if your night vision goes down while you’re stateside than blindfolded tag.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

 

MIGHTY HISTORY

How one commander tried to get his men to leak D-Day plans

British Lt. Col. Terence Otway and his men were to be charged with assaulting the Merville battery on June 6, 1944, at the height of the D-Day invasions of occupied France. For their mission – as well as the overall invasion – secrecy was of the utmost importance, so Otway wanted to ensure his men held that secret close and wouldn’t divulge anything under any circumstances.

So he turned to one of the oldest tricks in the intelligence-gathering book to test their mettle: using women to try to draw the information out of them.


Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

The Merville Gun Battery.

Otway and the British 9th parachute battalion were going to assault the series of six-foot-thick concrete bunkers that housed anti-aircraft guns, machine gun emplacements, and artillery from a special artillery division. In all, 150 paratroopers would attempt to take down 130 Germans in a hardened shelter. Since the assault would come just after midnight and well before the main landings, operational security was paramount. The Lieutenant Colonel decided to test his men to see if they could be trusted with the information.

According to the 2010 book “D-Day: Minute by Minute,” Otway enlisted the help of 30 of the most beautiful women of the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce and sent them out to the local pubs with the mission of trapping his men into divulging their secret plans. It was an important test; if the men of the 9th weren’t able to take down those guns, the entire landing might be in jeopardy.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

Otway in 1944.

But Otway would be pleased with the discipline of his men. Throughout the nights, they caroused as they always had, drinks in hand, singing the night away. But not one of Otway’s men ever gave up their secret. The attack would go on as planned. His 150 now-proven loyal men landing in the area by parachute and by glider that day in June. Even though the winds disbursed the fighters throughout a large area, they still managed to take down the gun site, albeit taking heavy casualties in the process.

After the Merville Gun Battery was down, the exhausted and depleted British paratroopers then moved on to secure the occupied village of Le Plein. Their assault on the guns cost them roughly 50 percent of their total strength – but they were able to accomplish their mission because of the total secrecy surrounding it from lift off to completion.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

New report shows the depths of the Army’s deployability problems

The US Army sent 62 of its generals to an “executive health program” at a military hospital in Texas, where they spent three days undergoing medical examinations and receiving healthcare, according to a new report obtained by USA Today.

The program followed a military-wide sweep of the Army’s top brass and reportedly showed that only one in five of its generals was ready to deploy during 2016.


The report highlighted the Army’s struggle to get its troops ready to deploy, which has become one of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ top priorities. Conducted at the order of former Secretary Chuck Hagel, the report was completed in 2017 after Mattis had taken over.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis.

(DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

The generals and admirals who lead the US military have also seen their reputation suffer after years of scandals, corruption and ethical lapses. An investigation, also by USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook, found that military investigators documented 500 cases of serious misconduct by admirals and generals over a four-year period.

Only 83.5 percent of Army soldiers were able to deploy, USA Today reported. Other service branches reported higher numbers around 90 percent, the report showed.

But among Army generals, fewer than 80 percent were ready to deploy.

The report suggests this may be due to administrative rather than health reasons; most generals became deployable after receiving updated blood tests and dental exams, according to USA Today. The report recommended that generals take time to complete required examinations and necessary treatment.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

How this school teacher became a war chief in WWII

Few people have lived a life as hardcore and fulfilling as that of Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow. He attended college and became the first member of his tribe to obtain a master’s degree. While working on his doctorate, he taught at the Chemawa Indian School. Then, World War II broke out and everything changed. Before he knew it, he was a full-fledged war chief.


Related video:

 

 

Medicine Crow started working at a naval shipyard in Washington before enlisting in the Army in 1943. He became an infantry scout assigned to the 103rd Infantry Division and was almost immediately sent to Europe. In keeping with Crow traditions, he went into battle donning red war paint under his uniform and a sacred eagle feather under his helmet- a chief in character just as much as battle prowess.

 

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
He embodied the warrior spirit.

(PBS: The War)

Also in line with tradition, he set out to complete the four required tasks in becoming the “War Chief of the Crow Indians,” a title reserved for only the most hardened warriors who have proved their worth with death-defying feats of combat. The requirements were as follows:

  1. Lead a successful war party on a raid.
  2. Capture an enemy weapon.
  3. Touch an enemy without killing them.
  4. Steal an enemy’s horse.

The first task was nearly inevitable for any competent platoon leader or sergeant, but Pvt. Medicine Crow didn’t have such a rank. After fighting hard on the western border of France, Medicine Crow proved himself fearless among his peers. He finally got an opportunity when his CO told him to stealthily clear out a German bunker with seven men and some TNT. He was told by his CO,

“If anyone can do this, it’s probably you.”

His CO was right. Not only did they cross German machine-gun and artillery fire, they got into the bunker and blew a hole right through the Siegfried Line without losing a single man. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions — and he completed the first of his four tasks. Rumor has it that after Medicine Crow destroyed the defenses, he jumped through the breach and was the first American GI to step foot into Nazi Germany.

 

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Medicine Crow’s success meant that it was much easier for the rest of the American troops to enter Germany though his breach.

(National Archive)

As the 103rd made its way into Germany, it wasn’t uncommon for forward scouts to get separated and flanked by the enemy. One night, Medicine Crow was alone when a Nazi soldier got the jump on him and charged headlong into combat. He charged right back, leading to a helmet-to-helmet collision that quickly devolved into a fist fight.

Medicine Crow beat the Nazi bloody and had his hands around the Nazi’s near-lifeless neck. The Nazi chose “momma” as his almost last words. Medicine Crow didn’t kill him. Instead, he took the German as a POW and confiscated his rifle, completing the next two tasks on his list.

The last task, to steal an enemy horse, seemed implausible on a battlefield dominated by tanks. Chief Medicine Crow got his chance, however, in early 1945 when his recon team found a camp for senior German staff officers. With them were nearly 50 thoroughbred race horses.

 

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
German troops relied on horses on the Eastern front, but they were very rare on the Western Front…

(National Archives)

Medicine Crow snuck into the camp in the dead of morning with nothing but some rope and his 1911. He tied the rope into a makeshift bridle and took the best horse of the group. He let out a mighty Crow war cry to herd the rest out of the corral, which woke the Germans. He had successfully gotten away with 50 horses and sang a traditional Crow war song as he returned to his men.

Joe Medicine Crow returned to his tribe after the war ended as a war hero and assumed the mantle of war chief. He was knighted in the French Legion of Honor, finished his doctorate along with three honorary PhDs, wrote almost a dozen books on military and Crow history, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 for his military service and work done to improve the lives of his people. Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow passed on April 3rd, 2016 at the age of 102 and was given full military honors.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress
Chief Joe Medicine Crow may have passed, but legends never truly die.

(U.S. Department of the Interior)

MIGHTY CULTURE

This journalist witnessed the rise of ISIS up close—and now he’s telling the story​

In 2007 I was a fresh-out-to-pasture journalist, trying not to lose my sanity as an Army wife and stay at home mom. I had worked most recently as a reporter for The Fayetteville Observer, but my husband, a Special Forces soldier, kept getting deployed. We couldn’t afford a nanny, and no daycare in town stayed open late enough to watch our son until I could get off work.


The Observer offered me an opportunity to write a blog and two weekly columns from home, and that’s how I came to meet Mike Giglio, a fresh-out-of-college writer for Charlotte Magazine, working on a story about military families at Ft. Bragg.

Giglio has written a book now, “Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate” – an open wound of a book, as raw and bleeding as the conflict itself.

But back in 2007, he came to my house, sat in my living room, made the requisite comments about the adorableness of my toddler, and interviewed me. He has since told me that I was the first person he had interviewed about war. He has interviewed many, many more people since. He wrote then:

Rebekah Sanderlin looks like an Army wife from a movie: the hero pulls out her picture in the opening scene, she has dark hair, engaging eyes, and a warm smile, she’s holding his kid, and you’re already hoping he makes it out of this thing alive.

12 years and as many deployments later, my husband and I are still married and, indeed, he appears to have made it out of this thing alive.

I followed Giglio’s career from a distance after that, watching as his byline hopped up to the big leagues and then across the ocean, first to London and then to Istanbul, and then right into the heart of war.

Now a journalist for The Atlantic, he spent four years living in Turkey and Syria, interviewing members of the Islamic State, their enablers, and legions of others who were pushing back against ISIS’ terror quest for power, embedding with U.S. military units as well as low-level groups of resistance fighters.
Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

(The Atlantic)

His book is part memoir, part chronicle. We see the early movements of ISIS in the form of sources and scoops that grow into defeats and victories. He is unflinching in the descriptions but avoids the war-porn tendencies lesser writers find irresistible. There are no heroes and no villains, only humans showing up, day after day. Characters come and go, lost to war and the swirling chaos of life. There are no neat and tidy endings. This is news – news never ends.

His sparse, direct, writing style is appropriately like chewing on broken glass. A book about ISIS shouldn’t be overwrought. There’s too much gore, too much horror, too much human misery, for a writer in love with adjectives. No one needs those adjectives.

Of an Iraqi Special Forces soldier, he writes:

“So when militiamen kidnapped Ahmed from a checkpoint in Baghdad one day, they didn’t just torture him. They put a circular saw to his forehead and tried to peel off his face. Then they put a hood over his head, shot him five times, and tossed his body in a garbage dump, thinking he was dead. Ahmed survived, though, and was found by an elderly man, who carried him to a hospital. When he recovered, he had gained his nickname – The Bullet, for what couldn’t kill him – and he returned to his turret.

These are not pages to read before bed.

Giglio is captured and nearly executed, and he survives being hit by a suicide bomber. He sets these encounters on the table, like an indifferent dinner party host, as if to say, “Here it is. Make of it what you will.” And, of course, there is only one thing to make of it: ISIS is even worse than you thought.

I read Mike’s book during the vacant, pedestrian, moments of my mom-life. Sitting in my daughter’s gymnastics class, reading about the young Syrian mother who watched helplessly as a wall collapsed on all four of her children during a bombing. In the front seat of my minivan, parked at the high school, waiting for that once-toddler-now-teenager, reading about a man whose seven siblings were all killed by ISIS. Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room while a friend’s wrist was being x-rayed, reading about ISIS fighters gathering body parts from numerous people into one duffel bag, only to leave the bag in the middle of a street.

I read about Mike, being zip-tied and beaten by a jeering mob in Egypt, before being thrown into a prison bus and carted to a sports arena, where sham trials and public executions were being held for political prisoners. And then the zip ties are cut from his wrists and he is inexplicably released. I think about the cub reporter I first met in my North Carolina living room, as eager for adventure as any young soldier.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

He is in Iraq, embedded with a battalion from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force (ICTF) in Mosul when the results of the 2016 election are announced, and Americans of all political persuasions are melting down. He writes:

“I wondered if, when a country was at war for so long but only a select few ever waged it, the rest of society began to go a certain kind of crazy. Some played at civil war while others vowed to flee to Canada as political refugees, and too many Americans seemed to want to pull a bit of conflict into their lives just when so many people around the world were risking everything to escape from it.”

And then he finally escapes it himself, perhaps for good, writing this about then-new President Trump’s premature declaration of victory over ISIS: “As in the past, America was looking to move on from the region before the war was really over – leaving much of Iraq and Syria in ruins and ISIS still a threat. This was an impulse I embodied, too. As Colonel Arkan had once explained, the thing about going to war far from home is that you can always walk away from it.”

If you’re lucky, Mike. Only the lucky get to walk away.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This ‘light tank’ is specially designed to support infantry

General Dynamics Land Systems has unveiled a new heavily armed, yet lighter-weight expeditionary armored vehicle as part of an effort to build a future Army war platform, a new combat vehicle being engineered to support maneuvering infantry — and ultimately change land war.

Called the Griffin III, the General Dynamics Land Systems offering is a 40-ton armored vehicle with both deep-strike technology and counter-drone sensors, Michael Peck, GDLS Director of Enterprise Business Development, told Warrior.

“This is a deployable tracked vehicle with the armor protection required by the Army,” Peck said in an interview.


While referred to by some as a “light tank,” Army officials specify that plans for the new platform seek to engineer a mobile combat platform able to deploy quickly.

The new vehicle represents an Army push toward more expeditionary warfare and rapid deployability; it is no surprise that two Griffin IIIs are being built to fit on an Air Force C-17 aircraft.

“In the future it will be important to get off-road. Mobility can help with lethality and protection because you can hit the adversary before they can disrupt your ability to move,” Rickey Smith, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9, TRADOC, told Warrior Maven in an interview in early 2018.

Smith’s emphasis upon how lighter-weight armored vehicles can address terrain challenges, and off-road mobility aligns with findings from analytical historical research performed years ago by the Dupuy Institute.

The research study, called “The Historical Combat Effectiveness of Lighter-Weight Armored Forces,” examined combat scenarios from Vietnam, The Korean War, the Persian Gulf War, and even WWII.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

U.S. Soldiers load the .50-caliber machine gun of an M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams main battle tank during a combined arms live-fire exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Nov. 19, 2015.

(U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)

Commissioned by the US Army Center for Army Analysis, the study concluded that heavily armed, yet lighter-weight, more maneuverable armored combat platforms could provide a substantial advantage to combat infantry in many scenarios.

“Vehicle weight is sometimes a limiting factor in less developed areas. In all cases where this was a problem, there was not a corresponding armor threat. As such, in almost all cases, the missions and tasks of a tank can be fulfilled with other light armor,” the study writes.

Drawing upon this conceptual premise, it also stands to reason that a medium-armored vehicle, with heavy firepower, might be able to support greater mobility for advancing infantry while simultaneously engaging in major combat, mechanized force-on-force kinds of engagements where there is armored resistance.

Current Abrams tanks, while armed with 120mm cannons and fortified by heavy armor, are challenged to support infantry in some scenarios due to weight and mobility constraints.

As Smith explained, bridges, or other terrain-oriented impediments preclude the ability of heavy tanks to support maneuvering IBCTs.

Smith also explained that Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs), expected to operate in a more expansive battlespace, will require deployable, fast-moving close-to-contact direct fire support.

Also, while likely not able to match the speed of a wheeled Stryker vehicle, a “tracked” vehicle can better enable “off-road” combat, as Smith explained.

Also, rapid deployability is of particular significance in areas such as Europe, where Russian forces, for instance, might be in closer proximity to US or NATO forces.

Tactically speaking, given that IBCTs are likely to face drones armed with precision weapons, armored vehicle columns advancing with long-range targeting technology and artillery, infantry on-the-move needs to have firepower and sensors sufficient to outmatch an advanced enemy. General Dynamics plans to model construction of eight new prototypes, is one of several industry offerings for the Army to consider.

Everything you want to know about the B-52 Stratofortress

Soldiers inspect an M1A2 Abrams tank.

(Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Battles)

While many details of the GDLS Griffin III have yet to be revealed, Peck did say the vehicle is engineered to accommodate built-in Active Protection Systems — sensors, fire control radar and interceptors used to detect, track and destroy incoming enemy fire, Peck said.

GDLS is pursuing a two-fold strategy with its Griffin III; the firm plans to work with the Army to adjust as needed and refine aspects of the platform, while also jumping in front of the Army’s current plan to build prototypes in the next few years.

The Army’s new lightweight armored vehicles are expected to change land war by outmatching Russian equivalents and bringing a new dimension to advancing infantry as it maneuvers toward enemy attack.

Long-range precision fire, coordinated air-ground assault, mechanized force-on-force armored vehicle attacks, and drone threats are all changing so quickly that maneuvering US Army infantry now needs improved firepower to advance on major adversaries in war, Army leaders explain.

All of these factors are indicative of how concepts of Combined Arms Maneuver are evolving to account for how different land war is expected to be moving forward. This reality underscores the reason infantry needs tank-like firepower to cross bridges, travel off-road and keep pace with advancing forces.

For the Army, the effort involves what could be described as a dual-pronged acquisition strategy in that it seeks to leverage currently-available or fast-emerging technology while engineering the vehicle with an architecture such that it can integrate new weapons and systems as they emerge over time.

An estimation of technologies likely to figure prominently in the Army’s future vehicle developmental process leads towards the use of lightweight armor composites, Active Protection Systems and a new generation of higher-resolution targeting sensors. Smith explained how this initiative is already gaining considerable traction.

This includes the rapid incorporation of greater computer automation and AI, designed to enable one sensor to perform the functions of many sensors in real-time. For instance, it’s by no means beyond the imagination to envision high-resolution forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensors, electromagnetic weapons, and EO-IR cameras operating through a single sensor.

“The science is how do I fuse them together? How do I take multiple optical, infrared, and electromagnetic sensors and use them all at once in real-time ” Smith said. “If you are out in the desert in an operational setting, infrared alone may be constrained by heat, so you need all types of sensors together, and machines can help us sift through information.”

In fact, the Army’s Communications Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) is already building prototype sensors with this in mind. In particular, this early work is part of a longer-range effort to inform the Army’s emerging Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV). The NGCV, expected to become an entire fleet of armored vehicles, is now being explored as something to emerge in the late 2020s or early 2030s.

One of the key technical challenges when it comes to engineering a mobile, yet lethal, weapon is to build a cannon both powerful and lightweight enough to meet speed, lethality and deployability requirements.

U.S. Army’s Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy specifically cites the need to bring large-caliber cannon technology to lightweight vehicles. Among other things, the strategy cites a lightweight 120mm gun called the XM360 — built for the now-cancelled Future Combat Systems Mounted Combat System. While the weapon is now being thought of as something for NGCV or a future tank variant — which seeks to maximize lightweight, mobile firepower.

Special new technology was needed for the XM360 in order to allow a lighter-weight cannon and muzzle to accommodate the blast from a powerful 120mm tank round.

Elements of the XM360 include a combined thermal and environmental shroud, blast deflector, a composite-built overwrapped gun, tube-modular gun-mount, independent recoil brakes, gas-charged recuperators, and a multi-slug slide block breech with an electric actuator, Army MCS developmental documents describe.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

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This Navy Admiral built ships and Disney parks

The Disney Company is known around the world for its ability to bring magic to life and make dreams come true. This is possible thanks to the work of their imagineers. Combining technical expertise with creative vision, the imagineers come from all walks of life to continue building Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. One of the most influential imagineers, and a close personal friend of Walt’s, was Rear Admiral Joe Fowler.

Fowler hailed from Maine and graduated second in the Naval Academy’s 1917 class. Following graduation and commissioning, Fowler immediately went to war as a navigator on submarine-patrol duty during WWI.

In the interwar period, Fowler found his calling for building and design. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a Master’s Degree in Naval Architecture in 1921. Afterwards, he was posted to Shanghai where he built gunboats. During this time, he roomed with future King of England, Edward, Prince of Wales, on a British gun ship steaming up the Yangtze River.

Fowler was later assigned to the Navy Department in Washington where he oversaw ship modernization efforts, including design changes to the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS Lexington (CV-2). He also supervised the construction and repair of submarines at the Portsmouth Naval Yard in his home state of Maine. During WWII, Fowler took command of the San Francisco Naval Shipyard where he oversaw the assembly and launchings of the Kaiser cargo ship fleet.

In 1948, Fowler retired from the Navy at the rank of Rear Admiral. He took his building and management expertise to the civilian market as a private consult. In 1951, he was recalled to active service during the Korean War to help streamline the military’s supply and acquisition chains. The next year, President Truman appointed Fowler as the civilian director of the Federal Supply Management Agency to eliminate waste in the military.

Fowler’s work and efficiency in federal service earned him praise by Congress. It also attracted the attention of Walt Disney who needed help turning an orange grove in Southern California into the happiest place on earth. Disney hated to hear “no” for an answer, and Fowler was a no-fail solution finder; the two men made a perfect team.

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Fowler (right) shows King Hussein of Jordan a map of future Disneyland attractions, April 1959 (Orange County Archives/Public Domain)

Disneyland’s construction was overseen by Fowler who kept the project on track while constantly incorporating every one of Disney’s new ideas. “Walt turned to Joe and said, ‘I’d like to part the water[fall on the Adventureland stage] and let the entertainers come out, and then have the waterfall close behind them,'” recalled fellow Disney legend Bob Matheison. “Joe never batted an eye. He just said, ‘Can do, can do.’ I know he had no idea how he was going to part the water, but he said it without hesitation—’Can do.’ And, by golly, he did it.” This affirmative spirit earned Fowler the nickname “Can-Do Joe.”

Following the opening of Disneyland, Fowler served as General Manager of the park’s operations. He went on to serve as a technical advisor on the ground-breaking and award-winning film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. However, Fowler’s biggest Disney challenge was yet to come.

When Disney went looking for a place to build his next Magic Kingdom, he brought Fowler along with him. With other Disney executives, they selected Orlando as the new build site. Fowler was given the enormous task of turning thousands of acres of swampland into more Disney parks. Following the groundbreaking in 1967, Fowler supervised the engineering and construction of Disney World. Naturally, the project finished on schedule in 1971.

Fowler wore many hats during his time at Disney, some of them simultaneously. At one point during the Florida construction, he was senior vice president, engineering and construction, for Walt Disney Productions; chairman of the board of WED Enterprises, known today as Walt Disney Imagineering; and director of construction for Disney’s Buena Vista Construction Company. Fowler retired from the Disney Company in 1978, though he continued to consult on projects.

Admiral Joe Fowler was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1990. He passed away on December 3, 1993 at the age of 99. In true Disney fashion his legacy includes namesakes at the both Disneyland and Disney World. The dry dock at Disneyland’s Rivers of America is named Fowler’s Harbor and features a building named Fowler’s Inn. At Disney World, one of the ferries on the Seven Seas Lagoon is named the Admiral Joe Fowler.

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Fowler (left) and Disney welcome Disneyland guests aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia on the Rivers of America (Disney)
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This is why Corpsmen are better than Medics

“Pecker Checker,” “Silver Bullet Bandit,” and “Devil Doc” are just a few of the names to describe the most decorated rate in the U.S. Navy — the Hospital Corpsman.


We don’t like being called “medics” — if we wanted that title we would have joined the Army (shots fired).

With all that said, the military is known for its rivalry as each branch’s medical department wants to be defined as being the most dominant force. Although there will never be a clear winner, competing for the title is the fun part.

 

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We could brag all day about having the most Medal of Honor recipients, but that just wouldn’t be dignified. So here’s proof that the rate of Hospital Corpsman is the sh*t. Come at me.

Related: 5 key differences between Army medics and Navy corpsmen

Our awesome history is better

Back in the day, we were referred to as Surgeon’s Mates, Apothecary, and Loblolly Boy, among a few others. But it wasn’t until June 17, 1898, when President William McKinley signed an act of Congress that created the Navy Hospital Corps, which allowed enlisted personnel to assist surgeons with the wounded on the battlefield.

It was the Corpsman’s job to keep the irons hot while assisting the doctors with cauterizing patient’s limbs after amputation, as well as keeping buckets of sand at the ready to help the medical staff from slipping on the floor from all those massive bleeds.

Since those days, Corpsmen served right alongside the Marine Corps, fighting and patching them up; and that tradition has carried on through the eras as they continue to earn each others’ respect.

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Just some of the different types of Corpsman

With all the many types of Corpsmen out there these days, let’s start from the beginning.

In the modern era, the basic Hospital Corpsman earns the NEC “quad zero” or “0000” rating when they graduate from A-school, and can either head right out to the fleet or get additional orders for more specialized training called “C-schools.”

Some Corpsmen will go on to become laboratory techs, dental techs, or attend one of two the Field Medical Training Battalions.

Also known as field med, this tough training is a few steps down from Marine boot camp and is modified with medical classes catered to performing life-saving interventions in combat.

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Corpsmen conduct a field exercise in a M.O.U.T. (Military Operation Urban Terrain).

In field med, Corpsmen learn basic patrolling tactics and infantry maneuvers that will help when they deploy to combat zones with their Marine platoons.

After Corpsmen graduate that program, they earn the NEC “8404,” or Field Medical Service Technician.

In some cases, Corpsmen can request additional schools if they qualify and decide to re-enlist at the end of their active contracts. Many Corpsmen at the pay grade of E-5 request to attend “Independent Duty Corpsman” or IDC school.

Remember when I told you we were better than Army medics? Here’s what I meant:

After completing training, Independent Duty Corpsmen are allowed to take care of patients, prescribe medications and perform minor surgical procedures without the presence of a medical officer.

No Army enlisted personnel can do that. Write that down.

Unfortunately, with all the valuable training IDC’s go through, when they exit the Navy, they can take the knowledge with them, but the accreditation doesn’t transfer over to the civilian world. Bummer.

Also Read: 6 things corpsmen should know before going to the ‘Greenside’

We’re not Marines, but we’re often seen that way

It’s official; Corpsmen are not Marines — we’re sailors.

Because most of us have served at one time or another on the Marine side of the house, also known as the “Greenside,” many confuse us with Marines due to our stature and uniform.

The truth is, we don’t mind this because of the brotherly bond we’ve earned. If we’ve taken good care of our Marines, that bond will stretch far beyond our years of military service.

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An (FMF) Corpsman takes a look at his patient during sick call.

The FMF Corpsman

FMF stands for Fleet Marine Force.

Corpsmen can earn this pin after studying their asses off and answer a sh*t ton of questions about Marine knowledge.

It’s a lot to learn and can take a year to scratch the surface of everything you need to know. In some cases, Corpsmen end up learning more facts about the Marine Corps than Marines.

Plus, if you do receive the honor of getting pinned, it’ll make you look cool in front of your platoon.

It’s also a common practice that you pass down your FMF pin to an up and coming Corpsman who appears to have a promising career.

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The Fleet Marine Force Warfare pin. Semper Fi.

There are three different types of FMF pins and they all look the same. The Marine Air Wing, Logistic Group, and Division (infantry) all have different knowledge the Corpsman is tested on to earn the plaque.

The Division pin tends to be harder to earn since infantry Corpsmen spend a lot of time in the field without much time to study.

Another impressive aspect of being a Greenside Corpsman is that you’re entitled to wear most of the Marine uniforms except their legendary dress blues — provided you sign a “Page 2” document saying you’ll abide by all Marine Corps regulations.

This includes all uniform inspections and annual exercise tests.

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The modified Corpsman dress uniform. That’s badass, Chief — look at the freakin’ stack!

Watch the Corpsman tribute video below, and brothers, stay safe out there. We salute your hard work and dedicated to the Corps.

(USMARINE4545, YouTube)

MIGHTY HISTORY

This soldier took on enemy troops with the sword that took off his arm

(Above: Lieutenant George Cairns Winning the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Pagoda Hill, Burma, 13 March 1944 by David John Rowlands)

George Albert Cairns fought World War II in Asia for three years before the night of Mar. 16, 1944. This is the night he would lose an arm in a fight that would ultimately cost him his life.


He was a British officer, a lieutenant overseeing a joint British-Indian special operation reconnaissance force. The chindits, as they were called, were experts in long-range recon patrols and raiding operations in the Japanese-held jungles of southern Asia. On the night in question, he and his fellow chindit troops were operating in a region controlled by neither side when they ran into a Japanese contingent of troops. Suddenly, the hills came alive with a small arms exchange.

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Cairns after joining the British military.

The British allies had unknowingly dug in right next to a fortified Japanese position.

Cairns’ commanding officer, Brigadier General Michael Calvert, later wrote a couple of books about their time in the Burmese jungles. He describes a pagoda, sitting on top of a nearby hill. Both sides made for the structure, no bigger than two tennis courts. On the hill before the pagoda, Japanese and British troops shot each other, threw grenades into the group, and fought each other with both fixed bayonets and hand-to-hand.

Brigadier Calvert described the scene as a carnage-filled hackfest, like ancient battles fought on open ground, except now with columns from the South Staffordshire Regiment and 3/6 Gurkha Rifles fighting Japanese infantry.

Though Calvert led the attack, he saw Lt. Cairns engage a Japanese officer, who cut his arm off with his sword. Cairns killed the Japanese officer and picked up the dead man’s sword. He then began to slice his way through the Japanese forces.

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Artist’s depiction.

One eyewitness description has Cairns and the Japanese officer on the ground, choking each other. That’s when the witness says Cairns found his bayonet and stabbed the enemy officer repeatedly before getting up and leading his men to take the hill.

The Japanese broke eventually, with 42 Japanese killed and a number of wounded. Lieutenant Cairns himself died the next morning.

With three living witnesses, Cairns was recommended for the Victoria Cross, the UK’s equivalent to the Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, that recommendation was lost when the general carrying it was shot down. Cairns was awarded the medal eventually. In 1949, King George VI awarded the VC to Cairns posthumously.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Navy’s F11F was so fast it could shoot itself down – and did

By the 1950s, the Cold War was in full swing, and the Soviets appeared to have an edge in fighter plane technology. The USSR debuted a new plane, the MiG-15. This new fighter had a design that no one had yet seen flying. Its swept-back wingspan allowed it to achieve speeds approaching the speed of sound. It was also incredibly effective against all the fighters of that age. The Navy needed to figure out how to beat it to protect its carrier.

They turned to defense contractor Grumman, who soon turned its designs inside-out and trying to take the new MiG down.


And they started with the F9F Cougar.

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Looks cool on a carrier, looks worse getting shot down by MiGs.

(U.S. Navy)

What came of the project was the F11F Tiger, which incorporated the latest and greatest in naval aviation technology and tactics into the basic designs of the carrier-based F9F Cougar. The Cougar has a windswept wing design of its own, as the MiG-15 had completely outclassed straight-wing fighters in the skies over Korea. The Navy wanted some fighters who could protect its ships in aerial combat. Grumman began its effort with the F9F Cougar but went back to the drawing board and came out with the Tiger, a supersonic fighter that could be launched from a carrier and bring the fight to the MiGs.

Unfortunately, its high top speed is how the F11F Tiger became the first fighter to shoot itself down.

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The F11F

(U.S. Navy)

On Sept. 21, 1956, test pilot Tom Attridge began a shallow dive in his F11F. As he did, he fired two short bursts from the aircraft’s four 20mm cannons, and thought nothing of it – until he got to the end of his dive, and the bursts began to shoot up his aircraft. He started at 20,000 feet and then went into a Mach 1 dive as he fired. He accelerated with afterburner and at 13,000 feet, fired to empty. He continued his dive. but at 7,000 feet, something struck his canopy glass and one of his engine intake lips. The aircraft began to lose power, and Attridge headed back to base to land it.

But in order to make it back without shattering the canopy, he had to slow down his Tiger to a crawl, and the engine would only produce 78 percent of its normal power. He wouldn’t make it back to base at that rate. Two miles away from the runway, the engine went out completely.

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(U.S. Navy)

Attridge didn’t bail out – test pilots are crazy – in the slowed aircraft, he settled into some trees. Despite some injuries, he exited the plane once on the ground and was picked up by a rescue helicopter. The plane, as it turned out, was hit in the windshield, the right intake, and the nose cone by its own rounds. The low pitch of the plane and its trajectory, combined with the trajectory of the bullets and the speed of the Tiger’s descent at half the speed of sound right into the guns’ target area, meant that the plane would easily catch up with its own burst of 20mm fire.

The pilot shot himself down in about 11 seconds.

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Here’s how a little girl who lost her Marine dad taught the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the full cost of war

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General Dempsey talking to the troops in Iraq. (Photo: CBS News)


Like most general officers commissioned right after the Vietnam War ended, Gen. Martin Dempsey’s firsthand experience of dealing with combat losses came relatively late in his career. During the summer of 2003, then-Major General Dempsey was commanding “Task Force Iron” in Iraq when the post-invasion lull ended and the insurgency began going after American troops.

“We started taking casualties,” Gen. Dempsey recounted. “And during the morning briefing, after we talked about the high-level mission items and what we called ‘significant incidents,’ we’d flash up the names of the fallen and have a moment of silence.

“The names were up there on the screen and then, whoosh, they were gone,” he said. “After about two or three weeks of the same thing, I became really uncomfortable with that. One minute it was there and real, and then the next minute it was somebody else’s problem.”

Gen. Dempsey attended a number of the memorial services held at the forward operating bases downrange for those killed in action.

“They were both heart wrenching and inspirational,” the general said about the services. “To see the love that these soldiers had for each other made me take my responsibilities that much more seriously.”

But as he greeted the battle buddies of the fallen, Gen. Dempsey wasn’t sure what to say to them that would help at those moments. “I had nothing,” he said. “I mean, I’d say, ‘hang in there’ or ‘we’re really sorry about what happened’ . . . I felt so superficial.”

Then it hit him one morning after he was just waking up in his quarters in Baghdad. “A phrase was echoing in my head,” he remembered. “Make it matter.”

He did two things immediately after that: First, he had laminated cards made for every soldier who had been killed to that point. The cards were carried by all the general officers in theater as a constant physical reminder of the human cost of the war. In time the number of casualties became so great that it was impractical to carry the cards at all times, so he had a mahogany box engraved with “Make it Matter” on the top and put all but three of the cards inside of it. He would constantly rotate the three he carried in his pocket with the ones in the box.

Second, from that point forward when he would address the soldiers in units that had experienced losses, he’d simply say, “Make it matter.”

“They knew exactly what I meant,” Gen. Dempsey said.

****

Five years after Gen. Dempsey’s introduction to the challenges a two-star leader faces during periods of significant combat losses, Marine Corps Major David Yaggy, a veteran of three combat deployments, was an instructor flying in the rear cockpit of a Navy T-34C trainer on a cross-country flight between Florida and South Carolina when the airplane went down in the hills of Alabama. Yaggy and his flight student at the controls in the front cockpit were both killed in the crash.

The day of that crash is burned into the memory of Maj. Yaggy’s widow, Erin. She first heard from a realtor friend that a helicopter had gone down, and she immediately went online and saw a report that, in fact, a T-34 had crashed in Alabama. Fearing the worst, she put her 18-month-old daughter Lizzy in a stroller and went for a walk, in denial and hoping to avoid any officials who might show up to tell her that her husband had been killed.

During the walk, she received a phone call from her cousin. “Where are you?” she asked.

“I’m at your house,” he replied. That was all he said.

Erin ran home pushing the stroller, in her words, “like a crazy person.” When she arrived she caught a glimpse of a uniform, and she broke down, hysterical. “That didn’t go so well,” she said.

She had a long period of vacillating between shock, anger, and sorrow. “I felt like other people wanted me to cry,” she said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want permission to cry, I just want him here.”

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Lizzy Yaggy visiting the Arlington National Cemetery gravesite of her father. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The sister of the flight student killed with Erin’s husband convinced her to get involved with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), and she wound up making the short trip from Baltimore to Washington DC to attend her first Good Grief Camp — the organization’s signature gathering — when Lizzy was four years old.

****

General Dempsey had just taken over as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army when his aide briefed him that he was scheduled to address the TAPS Good Grief Camp attendees gathered in a hotel ballroom across the interstate from the Pentagon. Although the general had heard of TAPS and was armed with the requisite three-by-five cards filled with talking points provided by his staff, when he got there he realized he wasn’t fully ready for what he was walking into.

“I walked into this room with 600 kids all wearing big round buttons with images of their parents, and I knew I was ill-prepared,” Gen. Dempsey said. “It was emotionally overwhelming. It’s hard enough meeting a single family that’s had a loss. It’s another thing altogether meeting 600 families.”

Gen. Dempsey started his appearance with a question-and-answer session, and after a couple of innocent ones like “do you have your own airplane?” and “do you like pizza?” a little girl dramatically shifted the mood by asking, “Is my daddy an angel?”

“I was stunned,” Gen. Dempsey recalled. “How do you answer that question?”

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Lizzy Yaggy greets Gen. Dempsey during TAPS Good Grief Camp. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The general thought for a few moments before calling an audible of sorts. Fearing that he could well break down if he tried to talk he decided to attempt something else.

“I knew I could sing through emotion instead of trying to speak,” he said.

So he answered that, of course, her father was an angel — like the fathers of everyone there — and that the entire group should sing together because singing is joyful and the fact that their fathers were angels should bring them great joy.

Then he launched into the Irish classic, “The Unicorn Song,” including a lesson in the proper hand gestures required during the chorus. Soon the entire room was singing.

After his appearance, General Dempsey asked Bonnie Carroll, the founder of TAPS, if he could meet the little girl who’d asked the question and her family, so Bonnie introduced him to the Yaggys. The general was immediately struck by Lizzy’s spark, and, as Erin put it, Lizzy was drawn to the man with lots of silver stars on his Army uniform who’d raised her spirits by singing with all of the kids.

“His timing was perfect,” Erin said. “Before [General Dempsey’s singalong], Lizzy had just said, ‘I don’t want to talk about daddy being dead anymore.’ Her attitude changed after she met General Dempsey.”

****

At the following year’s Good Grief Camp, they began what blossomed into a tradition: Lizzy introduced him as the keynote speaker.

“She stood up and said, ‘this is General Dempsey.  We love him, and he loves to sing, and he makes us feel good,'” the general recalled. “And she finished with, ‘and now my friend, General Dempsey.'” With that, once again, General Dempsey had to fight back tears as he faced hundreds of military survivors.

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Lizzy introducing Gen. Dempsey at the TAPS Gala for the first time. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

General Dempsey and his wife Deanie stayed in touch with the Yaggys, exchanging email updates and Christmas cards. The third year Lizzy introduced the general he’d taken over as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon’s senior-most position. Before they got on stage together she gave him a little box with an angel-shaped medallion in it, saying, “You’re my guardian angel.”

The general was deeply moved and wanted to return the gesture, but all his aide had in his possession was a ballcap with the numeral “18” on the front of it, signifying the 18th CJCS. He wrote in black ink on the bill: “To Lizzy — From your chairman friend. Martin E. Dempsey.”

“It was so cute to see her wearing that hat for the rest of the night,” Deanie Dempsey said. “Here was this little girl in this long green dress with a ballcap on.”

“She wore that hat all the time after that,” Erin said. “She even took it to bed with her.”

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Lizzy wearing her favorite hat, a gift from the 18th CJCS. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The entire time General Dempsey served as the chairman he only had two things on his desk in the Pentagon: The mahogany “Make it Matter” box full of the laminated cards that profiled those who were killed under his command in Iraq and the guardian angel medallion Lizzy gave him.

****

When it came time for the general to retire, the Pentagon’s protocol apparatus sprang into action — after all, a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff change of command is like the Super Bowl of military ceremonies. As the officials were coordinating all the moving parts, including the details surrounding President Obama’s attendance, they were surprised to learn who the outgoing chairman wanted to introduce him. They pushed back, but the general was insistent.

The day arrived and at the appropriate moment in the event, a little girl on the dais confidently strode by the dignitaries and political appointees and the President of the United States and stood on the box positioned behind the podium just for her.

And without any hesitation, Lizzy Yaggy delivered her remarks to the thousands in attendance, and finished with, “Please welcome my friend, General Dempsey . . .”

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Lizzy hugging now-retired Gen. Dempsey at this year’s TAPS Good Grief Camp in DC. (Photo: TAPS.org)

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