How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

After the Second World War ended, Germany was split in two. The Allies took control over Western Germany while the communists shrouded the eastern half behind the Iron Curtain. Berlin, Germany’s capital, was also famously split in two. The city is nestled deep into the heart of Eastern Germany, leaving the West Germans living there to fend for themselves in a war-torn city without supplies.

Starting in June of 1948, the communists tried their best to cut West Berlin off from the outside world. In what was later dubbed the “Berlin Blockade,” the Soviets shut down all railway, road, and canal access to Western citizens. Just as quickly, allied humanitarian missions were carried out to get food and supplies to the starving people of West Berlin. Between June 24th, 1948, and September 30th of the following year, 278,228 air missions, collectively called “Operation Vittles,” delivered over 2,326,406 tons of supplies to keep the city alive.

But one man, Lt. Gail Halvorsen, went behind his commander’s back to deliver a little extra and help raise the children’s spirits. His personal mission was dubbed Operation Little Vittles.


How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

For this, the kids gave him the exceedingly clever nickname, “Uncle Wiggle Wings.”

(National Archives)

Lt. Gail Halvorsen arrived in Germany in July, 1948, and was given orders to fly one of the C-54 Skymasters into the city to ferry supplies. On his day off, he decided to walk around the airfield with a camera to get a couple good shots of aircraft taking off and landing. When he made it to the fence at the end of the runway, he noticed that a group of children were gathered to watch the planes.

They asked him all sorts of questions about the planes and their mission and, as a demonstration of good faith, he gave them the two sticks of gum he had in his pocket. The impoverished kids divvied the two sticks, splitting it evenly amongst the large gathering — they didn’t fight over who got the biggest piece. In fact, it was said that the kid missed candy so much that just smelling the wrapper was good enough.

Halvorsen was heartbroken. He promised the children that he’d return with more. He told them that he’d always “wiggle his wings” when he was flying overhead with candy.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Among all the fan mail and shipments of candy, Halvorsen also received plenty of marriage proposals from the ladies back home. Take notes, fellas.

(National Archives)

The very next day, he tied a bunch of candy to handkerchief parachutes and tossed it out of his plane to the kids waiting below as he took off. Halvorsen continued to do this every single day and, as he did, the daily gathering of kids grew larger.

His commanding officer, Lieutenant General William H. Tunner, heard of what he was doing and was reportedly upset. It wasn’t until every newspaper in the region (and back home) started reporting on the heroics of “Uncle Wiggly Wings” or “The Chocolate Flier” that the general officially allow Halvorsen to continue.

Soon enough, people began sending candy to Halvorsen’s unit. Folks back in the States started sending candy by the box, large candy makers donated to Halvorsen’s cause, and the West German children shared the bounty amongst themselves.

As Christmas, 1948, drew nearer, Halvorsen knew he’d have to do something big. By this point, candy makers had supplied him with 18 tons of candy and another 3 tons was given by private donors. In a single night, instead of tossing it to the kids gathered by the runway’s end, Halvorsen spread it across the entire city.

For one night, the spirit of Christmas was brought to the people of West Berlin. The kindness of Lt. Halvorsen, his crew, and the innumerable candy donors would never be forgotten.

To more on this story, listen to the silky smooth narration of Tom Brokaw below.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How the Germans are reusing these invincible Nazi towers

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

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


How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

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

(German Military Archives)

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

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

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

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

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

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

(German Military Archives)

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

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

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

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

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

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

A storehouse for art in Vienna, Germany.

(Photo by Bwag)

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

US may send more troops to confront the mysterious Iran threat

Amid reports that the US could send anywhere from 5,000 to 120,000 additional troops to the Middle East to confront Iran, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan offered the first public confirmation May 23, 2019, that additional manpower might be needed.

Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that the Department of Defense was looking at ways to “enhance force protection,” saying that this “may involve sending additional troops,” CNN reported.

Exactly how many troops could be headed that way remains unclear.


The New York Times reported a little over a week ago that the Trump administration was considering sending as many as 120,000 US troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions with Iran. Trump called the report “fake news” the following day but said that if Iran wanted to fight, he would send “a hell of a lot more troops than that.”

On May 22, 2019, Reuters reported that the Pentagon intended to move 5,000 troops into the Middle East to counter Iran. The Associated Press said the number could be as high as 10,000.

Shanahan dismissed these reports May 23, 2019, while declining to say how many more troops might be required. “I woke up this morning and read that we were sending 10,000 troops to the Middle East and read more recently there was 5,000,” he said, according to Voice of America, adding: “There is no 10,000, and there is no 5,000. That’s not accurate.”

The US has already sent the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, a task force of B-52H Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers, an amphibious assault vessel, and an air-and-missile defense battery to the US Central Command area of responsibility.

These assets were deployed in response to what CENTCOM called “clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region.” The exact nature of the threat is unclear, as the Pentagon has yet to publicly explain the threat.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s who would win a Russian vs. Chinese tank battle

Russia and Communist China have worked together a lot since the fall of the Soviet Union. Back in the 1990s, Russians sold the Chinese a lot of military technology, including the Su-27/30/33 Flanker family of multi-role fighters and Sovremennyy-class guided missile destroyers.


This wasn’t the first instance of Eurasian collaboration — the Soviet Union and Communist China were close in the 1950s, when Russia shared a number of jet, tank, missile, and ship designs. The two countries had a falling out in the 1960s, which culminated in the 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict. As a result, Communist China turned to the West for some military technology, including designs for the 105mm main gun used on the M60 Patton and on early versions of the M1 Abrams.  However, the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre quickly severed any Western connections, leading, eventually, to this latest round of acquisitions from Russia.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin
The T-14 Armata, Russia’s latest tank. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

But what if Russia and China had another falling out? Nearly 50 years ago, the two nations came close to all-out war — it could happen again. Today, while Russia’s military power has faded due, primarily, to the fall of the Soviet Union and ongoing economic struggles, Communist China’s armed forces have risen to a qualitative near-parity.

If the two were to face off, much of the ground fighting would involve tanks like China’s Type 99 and the Russian T-14 Armata. The Type 99 is a version of the Russian T-72. It carries a 125mm main gun that not only fires conventional tank rounds, but also the AT-11 Sniper anti-tank missile. It has a crew of three, a top speed of 50 miles per hour, and can go 280 miles on a single tank of gas. The tank also has a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a 7.62mm machine gun.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin
This is probably China’s biggest advantage: A Russian T-14 Armata will face several Type 99s. (VOA photo)

The T-14 Armata packs a 125mm gun as well, but unlike in Chinese designs, it is in an unmanned turret. The Armata also has a crew of three, a 12.7mm machine gun, and a 7.62mm machine gun. It can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and has an active protection system to defend against missiles and rockets.

Which country’s tanks would win this fight? It depends. Recently, Russia has been unable to field a force of its latest designs due to budget constraints. Communist China, on the other hand, has been thriving. In a one-on-one fight, the Russian Armata would have a technological edge, but tank warfare is rarely a one-on-one affair.

The Chinese Communists would simply overwhelm an Armata with sheer numbers.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

The 412th Test Wing, along with Air Force Global Strike Command and industry partners, held an expanded carriage demonstration with the B-1B Lancer bomber at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019. The demonstration showcased the feasibility of increasing the B-1B weapons capacity to integrate future advanced weapons.

The two potential programs — external carriage and long bay options — would allow the B-1B to carry weapons externally, significantly increasing its magazine capacity for munitions, as well as adding larger, heavier munitions, such as hypersonic weapons.

“The purpose of the demonstration was to show that we’re still able to move the bulkhead from the forward intermediate bay to the forward location; increasing the intermediate bay capacity from 180 inches to 269 inches,” said Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, AFGSC. “Additionally, we demonstrated that we can still carry weapons externally on six of the eight hard points, which increases our overall carriage capacity.”


Ross said the expanded capabilities will be conventional only, keeping the aircraft compliant with New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START.

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, chief of staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters Air Force, along with Gen. Tim Ray, AFGSC commander, and other government and industry partners, were briefed on the potential expanded capabilities and how they would be able to adapt to future requirements.

“It increases the magazine capacity of the B-1B. Currently we can carry 24 weapons internally. Now it can be increased to potentially 40 based on what type of pylon we would create,” Ross said. “This gets the B-1 into the larger weapons, the 5,000 pounders. It gets it into the hypersonics game as well.”

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, provides a brief on the expanded weapons load that a new B-1 configuration could carry during a B-1B expanded carriage demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, provides a brief on the B-1B expanded carriage at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Giancarlo Casem)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, explains a bulkhead modification to the B-1B bomber that allowed it to carry a notional hypersonic missile mock-up attached to a B-52H Conventional Rotary Launcher during a B-1B expanded carriage demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

US Air Force Airman 1st Class Osvaldo Galvez operates a jammer at RAF Fairford, June 2, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clayton Moore and Tech. Sgt. Micheal Lewis attach an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine to the bomb racks in a B-1B Lancer at RAF Fairford, June 2, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

US Air Force Staff Sgt. Sergio Escobedo closes the crew-entry ladder at RAF Fairford, England, June 1, 2018.

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

“I was very adamant about making that happen because it was something that I wanted to have happen the whole time I was flying it,” Ross said. “I was ‘full afterburner’ to make sure we got this thing to where we are at, and to hopefully continue on to make it a reality.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest memes for the week of August 24th

This is a proud week for the family of the Mullet Marine as he finally graduated out of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and is currently making his way to learn to be a motor transport mechanic.

Here’s to you, you glorious, mullet-having, Budweiser tank-top-rockin’ bad ass. You’re going to get hell for a while until you can prove that you’re going to be the best damn mechanic the Corps has ever seen. Don’t let any of that discourage you. People love that you showed up to San Diego “‘Murica AF.” Use that to your advantage.

Become the essence of what it means to be a Marine. That also means keeping your nose clean from UCMJ action. You didn’t ask for it but you’re unfortunately in a position where one slip up will find you in the Marine Corps Times. We all expect you to make mistakes and maybe buy a Mustang at 37% interest rate, but no one wants to see you fall from grace. The military community one day wants you to succeed.

In twenty-some years down the road, we want to read on your Wikipedia (or whatever the future version of Wikipedia is) that Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps “Mullet” got his nickname way back in the day he entered the Corps. But until then, BZ, Mullet Marine. BZ.

On that note, now that a meme has graduated boot camp, let’s get into some more memes:


How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

​(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Ranger Up)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Shammers United)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Navy Memes)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Military World)

When literally anyone asks me how anything works in the S-6.

It’s just like the drop test. I don’t know why taking a SINCGARS and dropping it from a few feet above the concrete makes it magically works. It just does.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

​(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

“How dare you betray us like that? We were supposed to get out and open a t-shirt/coffee/military lifestyle site together!”

Speaking of which, did you know that WATM now has a merch section? Wink, wink.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme via Ranger Up)

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

(Meme by WATM)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Royal Air Force intercepts Russian aircraft as NATO conducts war games

The UK Ministry of Defense said June 17, 2019, that the Royal Air Force had intercepted Russian fighters twice over the weekend, bringing the number of such encounters to eight since the British took over NATO’s Baltic air-policing mission on May 3, 2019.

On June 14, 2019, RAF Typhoon jets intercepted a Russian SU-30 fighter just north of Estonia, where two days prior the US and Spain performed an amphibious landing exercise as part of the Baltic Operations war games.

The British aircraft are stationed at Amari air base in Estonia, and this year’s BaltOps exercises run through June 21, 2019 out of the port of Kiel in Germany.


“We were scrambled to intercept a contact close to Estonian airspace in the early evening, between two periods of poor weather. Shortly after getting airborne we came alongside a SU-30 Flanker fighter aircraft. We escorted the fighter over the Baltic sea, around Estonia and passing over another Russian military transport aircraft in the process,” an RAF pilot on duty at the time said in a press release.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

The Royal Air Force responded to Russian fighter craft in Baltic airspace twice over the weekend.

(Ministry of Defence/Twitter)

On June 15, 2019, British pilots again scrambled to intercept a Russian SU-30 Flanker fighter and an Ilyushin IL-76 Candid transport aircraft headed from Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic coast, toward Finnish and Estonian airspace.

According to a pilot on duty, the RAF escorted the aircraft toward mainland Russia, working with the Finnish air force to complete the mission.

NATO aircraft have carried out the Baltic air-policing mission since 2004, when the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania joined the alliance. Those countries do not have combat aircraft.

The number of encounters between NATO and Russia aircraft in the region has increased in recent years. There were similar incidents in May 2019, when the US Air Force scrambled twice in two days to respond to Russian aircraft flying in the air-defense identification zone near Alaska.

Russia has been accused of jamming GPS signals during NATO’s Trident Juncture war games — the alliance’s largest since the end of the Cold War — in Norway in the fall. Russia denied that and on Saturday claimed that NATO countries at BaltOps were conducting “radio-electronic warfare” by interfering with navigational signals.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why beauty queens make tough-as-nails warriors

Cultural norms create a lot of stereotypes about the ideal warrior. We all know that warriors must be strong in both mind and body. Yet, there is still a perception that only men can fill military ranks while women, known as the “weaker sex” (except when it comes to childbirth), of course, must sit at home and wait.

Then, there’s the notion that even if a woman were a strong warrior, she couldn’t possibly also be attractive, right?


But wait! 2017’s Wonder Woman wasn’t just an exciting piece of fiction, it also challenged every stereotype we hold about today’s warriors. Its star, Gal Gadot, was Miss Israel, but she also served in the Israel Defense Forces, proving that beauty and being badass are not mutually exclusive.

Now, a cadre of millennial beauty queens who serve or have served in the military are exploding stereotypes and breaking barriers everywhere with a wave of their scepters (or maybe their 9mms). This is because warriors and beauty queens actually have a lot in common.

Physical and mental conditioning

On deployment, MREs are more likely on the menu than yogurt, fish, vegetables, and fruit. But while MREs might nourish you enough to get the mission done, they’re not exactly packed with beautifying supernutrients.

Allison (Alli) Paganetti-Albers, Miss Rhode Island USA 2005, former Army Capt., and host of WATM’s ‘Troop Soup,’ had to be lean for competition, but was required to stay within Army height and weight standards. She was restricted from going on a diet that would jeopardize her ROTC scholarship. Her first commitment was to her Army contract, so she chose to stay within those standards and won her pageant anyway.
How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

The toughness that comes from military training and experience translates into confidence on the runway. And the opposite is also true — pageantry helps in achieving military goals. Staying on task, thinking positive, turning off negative feelings, and pushing away fear of failure are all essential to thriving in the pageant world, and help build a strong discipline.

Teamwork and being part of something greater than one’s self

In the military, the team is everything. You depend upon the people to your left and right. The satisfaction of being part of a great military team is unmatched.

But aren’t queens just about themselves? Not really. Amazingly, the stereotype of extreme cattiness typically doesn’t exist.

Pageants should be part of something greater than self. There’s no room to tear each other down. If you don’t feel a sense of teamwork in pageantry, you’re doing something wrong. There must be a sisterhood and collaboration,” says Alexandra Curtis, Miss Rhode Island America 2015 and Rhode Island National Guard Sgt.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Another way beauty queens are about others is how they use their platforms. Besides her work with the ALS Association, Alexandra is very much into helping young women get into politics. She was inspired by women who blazed the trail before her by combining political office with Reserve and Guard careers. And her sister queens devote time to great causes, such as helping wounded veterans, visiting with active military members, and inspiring schoolchildren.

There’s an extra sense of community responsibility among these contestants because they’re military women. They feel they have to be good role models in both careers as they represent the country first, themselves second.

Goals and obstacles

When you’re serving, the goal is accomplishing the mission. In pageantry, the goal is winning the title. But both military and pageant careers require facing down hurdles — just ask Marina Gray, Miss Maine USA 2018 and National Guard Sgt. Marina broke out of poverty and neglect when she became legally emancipated from her parents at age 16. From that moment on, she lived on her own and supported herself.

She enlisted in the Guard as a way to help pay for college. Her love of the Maine Coast helped, but her outlook was most important. She grew up religious. “The best way to beat adversity is to be optimistic. Don’t ask ‘why me?’ Think: ‘It happened to me because I could handle it’. Things happen for a reason.”
How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Marina felt some discrimination from her male peers, not because for being a beauty queen, but because of her gender. She dealt with it by working even harder and became a 2015 Soldier of the Year, a 2017 NCO of the year, and earned various fitness awards. “I’ve faced much adversity in my life and the way I’ve overcome all my road bumps is what I think makes me a beautiful person. I think character shines much brighter than any shade of lipstick.”

Yes, these women are gorgeous, but don’t be fooled by their beauty. They’re also about grit and determination. In their commitment to the warrior ethos and pageantry, two seemingly different careers, queens and warriors are more alike than not. They’ve tossed a couple of grenades at the notion that you cannot be beautiful and talented and strong and brave at the same time
MIGHTY TRENDING

7 things veterans are sick of hearing from civilians

Most of the time, people have the best intentions when they’re talking to a veteran.


“By and large, at this stage in history, the American people are very, very supportive of veterans,” Brandon Trama, a former US Army Special Operations Detachment Commander, CivCom grad, and associate at Castleton Commodities International, told Business Insider.

Indeed, according to Gallup, the majority of civilians view each of the five branches either very or somewhat favorably.

“I’ve encountered numerous people when I transitioned who were willing to help me out, whether it was buy me a cup of coffee, give me thoughts on their career path, or put me in front of other people who may be able to point me in the direction of other opportunities,” Trama said.

But, according to the Pew Research Center, fewer Americans now have family ties to those who served.

And despite the good intentions of many civilians, there’s still a growing gap between the military and civilian worlds. So it’s important for civilians to remember that there’s a difference between reverence and understanding.

Business Insider spoke with veterans from several different branches of the military about transitioning back to civilian careers.

Here’s what they said they wished civilians would understand — and, in some cases, refrain from saying:

1. ‘We all owe you’

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

The military is widely held in esteem in the U.S. A whopping 72% of Americans have confidence in the institution, according to Gallup — compare that with the 16% of folks who have confidence in Congress.

But quite a few of the veterans Business Insider spoke with asserted that well-intentioned adulation can go too far.

Some advised civilians against overdoing it when thanking veterans for their service. These veterans also warned fellow ex-service members from letting any praise go to their heads.

“Stop thinking people owe you something,” Omari Broussard, who spent 20 years in the Navy, told Business Insider. “Nobody owes you anything.”

The New York Times reported that some veterans view being thanked for their service as “shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go.”

According to Broussard, it’s best for veterans — especially those who recently left the service — to not take the praise to heart, especially at work.

“When you get out, you’ve got to compete with the best,” the founder of counter-ambush training class 10X Defense and author of “Immediate Action Marketing” said. “Go get it. That may require you doing a lot more work than you think you need to do.”

2. ‘Do you have any friends that died?’

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Probing and ill-advised questions from civilians can make many veterans feel dehumanized and othered.

“People will ask me plainly, ‘Do you have any friends that died?'” Garrett Unclebach, who served as a Navy SEAL for six years, told Business Insider. “And then the second question they’ll ask me is, ‘You ever kill anybody?’ Two super inappropriate questions to ask people.”

Unclebach said people should remember they don’t necessarily have a full grasp on the issues an individual veteran is facing.

“People talk about PTSD and they don’t really understand it so I would tell you that some guys who have it are embarrassed by it,” the VP of business development at construction firm Bellator Construction said. “Everyone needs an opportunity to be human and be vulnerable.”

3. ‘I don’t really understand how your ability to go fight is going to add value to my organization’

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Edelman Intelligence’s study of 1,000 employers found that 76% want to hire more veterans — but only 38% said veterans obtain skills in the military that “are easily transferable to the private or public sector.”

Phil Gilreath, who served as a Marine officer for nearly 10 years, said this is a potential “stigma” veterans face in the business world.

“In reality, over 95% of what we do is kind of planning and operations and logistics,” he told Business Insider. “That absolutely translates to the corporate world, not to mention the things that aren’t necessarily quantitative, such as your leadership experience, your ability to operate in a dynamic, stressful environment that’s ever-changing.”

Gilreath is now director of operations at storage space startup Clutter and was previously a fellow at the Honor Foundation, a group that specifically helps Navy SEALs transition to civilian life.

He said veterans must enter the civilian world prepared to explain and demonstrate how exactly their skills cross over.

Evan Roth, an HBX CORe alum and former US Air Force captain who now works for GE Aviation, agrees.

“Not only does this involve creating a résumé that has readable — no strange acronyms — skill sets and experience, but also learning how to talk to companies in a way that demonstrates value,” Roth said. “Many members never practice how to give a 15-second ‘elevator pitch’ about how they can be valuable to a company, or in an interview they’ll tell a three minute ‘war story’ without tying it back to how this could be useful in the civilian world.”

4. ‘What the heck are you talking about?’

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Many branches of the military rely upon specific jargon and acronyms to get things done.

Randy Kelley, who served as a Navy SEAL sniper for 11 years, said this means things can get lost in translation for recent veterans.

“Just like in any other cross-cultural situation, it’s going to create a little bit of animosity, and create the division that sometimes can actually hurt the military guy,” the founder of wellness startup Dasein Institute told Business Insider. “They have to stop speaking to civilians like they understand what a PRT is. All these different things that were important to them in their last career are no longer relevant.”

He said it’s best for veterans to drop such phraseology in a civilian setting, and for civilian employers to understand where veterans are coming from.

“Veterans have to take the time to learn the jargon of the new environment and drop military acronyms,” Kayla Williams, a US army veteran who now works as the director of the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told Business Insider.

But, in the case of recent vets, it’s better to be understanding and ask for clarification, rather than just writing someone off because they’re still relying upon a military style of communications.

5. ‘You must want to go back into security-related work’

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

 

Not all veterans automatically want to work for a defense contractor.

James Byrne, who served as a US Navy SEAL officer for 26 years, said it’s important not to encourage veterans to “mentally lock themselves into the belief” that their skills only transfer to security-related industry.

When he first returned to civilian work, he said some well-intentioned civilians encouraged him to pursue a gig as a security guard at Walmart — simply because they couldn’t envision his abilities translating elsewhere. Today, he’s the director of sales and business development at solar tech company Envision Solar

“The sky’s the limit,” he told Business Insider. “You’re only stopped by your imagination of what you can do and what you can work with your network and yourself and your education and your soft skills and hard skills. There’s no limit to what you can do and how you can do it.”

6. ‘You must be glad to be back’

 

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin
How did she even see him?

 

The process of leaving the military can be disorienting for some veterans. It’s patronizing to assume someone is in a better place just because they’re no longer in the service.

Former US Marine Corps rifleman and Victor App founder Greg Jumes told Business Insider he struggled with addiction and lived out of his car for a time after he left the military.

“When you get out, you’re surrounded by a group of people and you don’t know what the hell their deal is,” he said. “You just kind of feel all over the place and that kind of brings you back into a state of isolation.”

He said it’s crucial for military servicemembers interested in leaving to plan ahead.

“You have to plan,” he said. “You have to find where you should be moving to. You have to start networking before you get out.”

7. ‘You must have gone through so much’

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Never assume you have an idea of what a veteran’s experience was like.

“The narrative that has been established for returning veterans has been unhelpful,” retired Green Beret Scott Mann, who served in the Army for 23 years, told Business Insider. “The narrative has been ‘the island of misfit toys.’ We’re broken.”

Today, Mann runs a leadership training organization MannUp and the Heroes Journey, a non-profit devoted to helping veterans transition. He said it’s harmful to have a perception of veterans as “damaged goods.”

“That could not be further from the truth, in most cases,” he said. “There are cases where some people need care for the rest of their lives. Most of the veteran population are high functioning and we actually need them in our communities and businesses leading in the front, putting those skills into play.”

Remember, there’s a ton of diversity when it comes to the experiences military servicemembers have across the five branches — and even within those branches.

“What I did in the Navy is probably unlike with the other 99% of people did in the Navy,” Charles Mantranga, Navy veteran and implementation manager at tech firm Exitus Technologies, told Business Insider. “It’s pretty hard for people to understand it, really.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

The bloody history of the Bloody Mary cocktail

It’s probably not a surprise that “Bloody Mary” is a real person, also known as Mary I of England, who earned her moniker for violently attempting to restore Catholicism to England. In her five-year reign, she had almost 300 religious dissenters burned alive for their beliefs. But that’s not how the cocktail earned its name. The bloody part of the drink actually comes from the Russian Revolution.

Sorry folks, there’s just not much blood when burning someone at the stake.


How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

Simpsons did it.

After the Bolsheviks – Marxist-Leninists who would soon form the Soviet Union – toppled the Russian Czar in 1917, not everyone was particularly thrilled. In fact, many people were so not thrilled that they were forced to flee in fear of taking a bullet for the Soviet cause. One of those refugees was Vladimir Smirnov, who had a name so Russian, you might think I’m making it up. I’m not. The young Smirnov had his entire family fortune taken away by the Red Army.

If that name sounds familiar to you, you’re onto something – Smirnov moved to the Ottoman Empire, Poland, and France where he began making vodka under the more Western-friendly spelling of his name, Smirnoff.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

You definitely know that name.

The Bloody Mary as we know it today has its roots in Paris, where Russians escaping the bloody revolution in Moscow made their way around 1920. With them came vodka and a thirst for it, so a bartender at a New York-style bar called Henry’s began to toy around with this newfangled liquor. Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot didn’t think it tasted like much at all. Another fresh new flavor the bartender discovered was America’s newfound love for canned tomato juice. Petiot wasn’t the first to put the two together, not by far. But he did mix the spices into the drink for the first time. And the “Bucket of Blood” was born.

Americans loved it and christened it the perfect hangover cure. When Prohibition ended in the United States, Petiot moved to New York and began slinging drinks at the St. Régis Hotel’s King Cole Bar. But then it was called the “Red Snapper,” and its vodka was steeped in Black Peppercorns for six weeks before serving.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

After all the drinking they did after Prohibition, they were probably hungover for a year.

But the rest of the town called it a Bloody Mary. When they started isn’t exactly clear. When it gained its celery garnish isn’t either. If they had thought of putting bacon in it, they probably would have. These days, there are many variations on the classic cocktail, but when you want something done right, you need to go to an expert. If you need plumbing work, call a plumber. The power goes out, call an electrician. If you need advice on how to make a drink, ask Papa Hemingway:

“To make a pitcher of Blood Marys (any similar amount is worthless) take a good sized pitcher and put in it as big a lump of ice as it will hold. (This to prevent too rapid melting and watering of our product.) Mix a pint of good Russian vodka and an equal amount of chilled tomato juice. Add a tablespoon full of Worchester Sauce. Lea and Perrins is usual but can use AI or any good beef-steak sauce. Stir. (with two rs) Then add a jigger of fresh squeezed lime juice. Stirr. Then add small amounts of celery salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper. Keep on stirring and taste to see how it is doing. If you get it too powerful weaken with more tomato juice. If it lacks authority add more vodka.”
MIGHTY CULTURE

See a decommissioned ship get beat down by Army, Navy

A YouTuber has come out as a former member of the Army Testing and Evaluation Campaign and revealed that, as he departed the command, he was allowed to film all the events surrounding his last mission including the U.S. Army and Navy and the Japanese Self-Defense Force slamming a ship with missiles, rockets, torpedoes, and grenades.


The Future of War, and How It Affects YOU (Torpedo/Missiles vs Ship) – Smarter Every Day 211

www.youtube.com

The YouTube channel SmarterEveryDay is ran by Destin Sandlin, and he’s best known for videos about things like how tattoo guns work, how Houdini died, and how an AK-47 works underwater. If that sounds like a broad portfolio, the stated mission is to “explore the world using science. That’s pretty much all there is to it.”

He hasn’t talked about his Army connection on the channel much in the past, so most viewers were probably surprised when they saw the new video titled The Future of War, and How It Affects YOU. Destin revealed at the start of the video that he’s a member of ATEC and that U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Gen. Robert B. Brown wanted to talk with him after the sinking exercise to discuss “Multi-Domain Operations.”

If you just want to see the former USS Racine get hit by explosives, the video above is linked to start just a little before the fireworks. Harpoon anti-ship missiles give way to rockets, a Naval Strike Missile, an Apache strike, and finally a Mk-48 torpedo.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

After that, Destin has a short talk with a member of the Army’s Asymmetric Working Group about how engagements like the sinking reflect these multi-domain operations, fighting that starts in at least one domain, like the sea, but quickly comes to incorporate assets from the other domains: land, air, space, and cyber.

In the case of the ship sinking, missile launchers on the land engaged the ship on the sea by firing their weapons through the air. And the Japanese Self-Defense Force linked into U.S. sensors and systems through links in the cyber domain. In actual combat, the former USS Racine would’ve been tracked from satellites in space.

Brown, true to the promises at the beginning of the video, has his own extended conversation with Destin about how the U.S. needs to prepare for multi-domain operations to shoot, move, and communicate into the future.

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.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

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

These pilots fought back at Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941 is a date which will live in infamy. The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor took the lives of 2,403 Americans, wounded 1,178, and served as the catalyst for America’s entry into WWII. Multiple factors like Japanese misinformation, American focus on the war in Europe, and the fact that the attack took place on a Sunday contributed to the high loss of American life that day. Despite the surprise nature of the attack and the low state of readiness of American military forces in Hawaii, American servicemen fought back valiantly. With the sky littered with Japanese aircraft, American aviators did their best to get airborne and repel the attack. Though 14 Army Air Corps pilots tried to take off, most were shot down as they taxied. However, a few of them managed to get airborne and take the fight to the skies.

2nd Lt George Welch and 2nd Lt. Kenneth Taylor spent the evening of December 6th at the Wheeler Field officers club and an all-night poker game. The next morning, as the two men discussed the idea of an early morning swim, they were alerted to the attack by the sound of distant gunfire and explosions. Miles away from their airfield at Haleiwa, they phoned ahead to have their Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk fighters fueled and armed before they hopped into Taylor’s Buick and raced toward the fighting. Reaching speeds of 100mph on their dash to the airfield, the two men were attacked by Japanese planes who attempted to strafe them on the ground.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin
2nd Lt. Kenneth Taylor (left) and 2nd Lt. George Welch (U.S. Air Force)

When they reached the airfield, their P-40s were only partially loaded with ammunition. Despite this, and with Taylor still wearing his tuxedo pants from the night before, the two men took off. They engaged a formation of Nakajima B5N2 Kate torpedo bombers and shot down two each. However, one of Welch’s .30-caliber guns jammed and Taylor was hit in the arm and leg by a tail gunner, and the two returned to the airfield.

As they refueled and rearmed, their mission was debated. “We had to argue with some of the ground crew,” Welch recalled. “They wanted us to disperse the airplanes and we wanted to fight.” As their planes were refitted and Taylor was advised to remain grounded to have his wounds treated, a second wave of Japanese planes appeared. With Welch’s jammed gun still not cleared and Taylor refusing medical treatment, the two men took off again. Soon after, Taylor caught the attention of a flight of Mitsubish A6M2 Zero fighters. Welch managed to shoot one of the Zeros off of Taylor’s tail before pursuing an Aichi D3A Val dive bomber out to sea and shooting it down.

Welch and Taylor are officially credited with six kills during the attack on Pearl Harbor. “We went down and got in the traffic pattern and shot down several planes there,” Taylor recalled. “I know for certain I shot down two planes or perhaps more; I don’t know.” Taylor later appeared before Congress to testify during an investigation into the attack.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin
Welch and Taylor after receiving their Distinguished Service Cross medals (U.S. Army)

For their actions, Welch and Taylor both received the Distinguished Service Cross. Though General Henry “Hap” Arnold recommended both men for the Medal of Honor, the honor was denied by their commanding officer because they had taken off without permission.

The other three aviators who managed to take off, 1st Lt. Lewis Sanders, 2nd Lt. Philip Rasmussen (who was still in his pajamas), and 2nd Lt. Gordon Sterling, were at a slight disadvantage compared to Welch and Taylor. Though their Curtiss P-36 Hawk fighters were very similar to Welch and Taylor’s P-40s, the P-36 had a less powerful radial engine. Still, the three men managed to get airborne. “We climbed to 9,000 feet and spotted Japanese ‘Val’ dive bombers,” Rasmussen recounted in a 2002 interview. “We dived to attack them.” Sanders is credited with one enemy aircraft kill. Sadly, after this initial attack, Sterling was shot down and drowned after getting out of his plane.

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin
The Curtiss P-36A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force depicts a pajama-clad Rasmussen (U.S. Air Force)

Rasmussen, who witnessed Sterling’s death, charged his guns only to have them malfunction and begin firing on their own. In an incredible stroke of luck, a Japanese plane flew into the uncontrolled burst of fire and exploded. Rasmussen got his guns back under control and, after shaking two Zeros off his tail, managed to score one more kill. That was when he felt his aircraft get hit.

“There was a lot of noise,” Rasmussen recalled. “He shot my canopy off.” Rasmussen’s P-36 had lost its hydraulics and tail wheel. Nursing his badly damaged plane back to the airfield, he managed to land without his brakes, rudder, or tail wheel. It was later discovered that two 20mm cannon shells had lodged themselves in the bulky radio behind the pilot’s seat which saved Rasmussen’s life.

2nd Lt. John Dains, 2nd Lt. Harry Brown, and 2nd Lt. Malcolm Moore also managed to get airborne at Pearl Harbor. Moore did not score any kills during the attack and Dains’ suspected kill remains unconfirmed. Brown, however, is credited with the final American kill of the attack.

Of the 29 Japanese planes shot down at Pearl Harbor, these men were responsible for 10. Though America’s war in the Pacific began with a badly bloodied nose, men like Welch, Taylor, Sanders, Rasmussen, and Brown gave the Japanese a taste of what was to come.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information