History books will forever speak of the countless heroics and astonishing life of General George S. Patton. He’ll always be remembered as the Army officer who became an Olympian, the “Bandit Killer” at Columbus, the “Father of Armor” in WWI, and the liberator of Europe. It’s hard for anyone to stand in that shadow, but Helen Patton, his granddaughter, would have made him extremely proud.
Like every member of the Patton family, Helen has done many great things with her life while also carrying the torch for her father and grandfather. From attending ceremonies commemorating WWII anniversaries to heading up the Patton Foundation, which aids returning troops and veterans in need, Helen continues the Patton tradition of giving to our great country.
She also set out to fix a missed opportunity in history by hosting the soldiers of the 101st Airborne in a game of football. In 1944, there were plans for the troops to play what was dubbed “The Champagne Bowl.” These plans were cut short on Christmas Day because they needed in a march toward the Battle of the Bulge.
With Luxembourg firmly liberated for the past 74 years, Helen Patton played in integral role in hosting what was renamed the “Remembrance Bowl.” The game was played on June 2nd, 2018, in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France by men of the 101st. Patton told the Army Times,
“I felt that we should play the game that never happened for them. It’s a new way to commemorate. It’s a way to turn the page of history.”
The event will now be an annual tradition.
Helen Patton champions military history as well. She has produced two award-winning documentaries, one about General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing and another about the continued struggles of war long after troops return.
She also hosted an amazing TEDxTalk about her grandfather, which can be seen below:
An Indian pilot captured by Pakistani forces on Feb. 27, 2019, after his warplane was shot down in the disputed region of Kashmir has returned to India after being freed by Islamabad in a “peace gesture.”
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed into India at the Wagah crossing point on March 1, 2019, hours later than expected and sporting a black eye.
Varthaman’s release came a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement in a speech to Pakistan’s parliament on Feb. 28, 2019.
Pakistan’s military said its air force shot down two India Air Force jets in its airspace and captured a pilot on the ground in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Feb. 27, 2019.
India confirmed the loss of one of its MiG-21s and the capture of its pilot. It said it also foiled an attack by Pakistan warplanes over Kashmir and shot down one Pakistani plane.
Islamabad denies any of its aircraft were shot down.
The aerial confrontation came a day after India on Feb. 26, 2019, struck what it said was a militant camp in northeastern Pakistan in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed at least 41 Indian troops in the India-controlled part of Kashmir
A Pakistan-based group, the Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM), claimed responsibility for the Feb. 14, 2019 attack — the deadliest to take place during a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir.
India has accused Pakistan of having a “direct hand” in the attack and providing sanctuary to the militants.
Islamabad denies involvement.
India’s air strikes in Pakistani territory on Feb. 26, 2019, were the first since the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.
At least one US special forces soldier was killed and four US service members were wounded after an enemy attack in Jubaland, Somalia, according to a statement from US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
One US service member reportedly received sufficient medical care at the scene and three others were transported out of the area to receive treatment.
A coalition comprised of around 800 US, Somalian, and Kenyan forces came under attack by mortar and small-arms fire at around 2:45 p.m. local time, AFRICOM said. One coalition service member was wounded.
The coalition forces were conducting a “multi-day operation” to clear al-Shabaab — an Islamist militant group — from villages and establish a “permanent combat outpost” around 217 miles southwest of Mogadishu.
The role of US troops during the operation was to provide aerial surveillance and to provide other assistance to the coalition group. The US’s role in AFRICOM’s area of responsibility has come under heavy scrutiny following an October 2017 ambush in Niger that left four soldiers dead.
According to a military source, the slain Green Beret provided intelligence during a mission to build a joint base for Somali forces, The Daily Beast reported.
President Donald Trump offered his condolences following the announcement: “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of our serviceman who was killed and his fellow servicemen who were wounded in [Somalia],” Trump said in a tweet. “They are truly all HEROES.”
On June 11, 2018, the US military said it killed 49 members of al-Shabaab in three separate airstrike over a period of 12 days. The US said no civilians were killed during the strikes.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Reservists called up for active duty will soon qualify for increased Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits if they meet certain requirements.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” was passed by Congress and signed into law in August 2017. The Forever GI Bill expands education benefits for some members of the Reserve effective Aug. 1, 2018.
VA may now consider more reservist service as qualifying time towards eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, including:
Major disasters or emergencies, as authorized under section 12304a of title 10, U.S. Code
Pre-planned missions of up to 365 days in support of combatant commands, as authorized under section 12304b of title 10, U.S. Code
The service must occur on or after June 30, 2008. The benefits are payable for a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
It’s important to note that serving time under title 10, U.S.C. 12304a or 12304b doesn’t automatically qualify for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The Post-9/11 GI Bill has a minimum service requirement of at least 90 days, although periods of service for separate missions can be combined to meet the 90-day threshold.
Here are some examples to help you understand this provision of the Forever GI Bill:
A reservist was called up to active duty and served in Afghanistan for one year in 2002. Then he or she was called up for three months in 2004, two months in 2005, and three months in 2010 under title 10, U.S. Code 12304a.
Forever GI Bill/Colmery Act allows more Reserve service to qualify for education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Prior to Aug. 1, 2018, those three months under 12304a were not creditable active duty service, so the person was eligible for the 60 percent tier with 17 months of creditable service. Now, thanks to this new provision of the Forever GI Bill/Colmery Act, the three months of service under title 10, U.S. Code 12304a can be added. The reservist now has 20 months of qualifying service and would be eligible for the 70 percent tier.
Or, let’s say a reservist had only 90 days of service under title 10, U.S. Code 12304a. He or she wouldn’t have qualified at all. With this law change, the reservist now has qualifying active duty and would be eligible for the 40 percent tier.
If you haven’t explored your options to use your education benefits, you can start by visiting the GI Bill Comparison tool. You can see how to maximize your education value and look up the college, training school, or even apprenticeship program you’re interested in attending. You can also see how much your GI Bill benefits will cover and if you’d have any out of pocket expenses.
If you have any questions, please call 1–888-GI-BILL-1 (1–888–442–4551). If you use the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), the Federal number is 711. You can also visit the Forever GI Bill page.
Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service delivers GI Bill® education benefits to Veterans, service members, and their families. Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped millions of Veterans pay for college, graduate school, and training programs.
Featured image: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leaders, and Democratic Members of the House join representatives from Veterans’ Service Organizations at an enrollment ceremony for the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act.
The US Air Force started the second phase of its Light Attack Experiment on May 7, 2018, putting the A-29 Super Tucano and AT-6B Wolverine aircraft through more testing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
Air Force officials have touted light-attack aircraft as a cheap option to address low-end threats, like ISIS or other militant groups, and free up advanced platforms, like the F-22 and F-35, to take on more complex operations.
Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein has described the light-attack aircraft as part of a networked battlefield, connecting and sharing information with partner forces in the air and on the ground.
“We’re looking at light attack through the lens of allies and partners,” Goldfein told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “A big part of the Light Attack Experiment is a common architecture and an intelligence-sharing network, so that those who would join us would be part of the campaign against violent extremism.”
Phase 2 of the experiment
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Ethan D. Wagner)
The latest phase of the Light Attack Experiment will be a three-month, live-fly experiment intended to gather more information about each aircraft’s capabilities, networking ability, and potential interoperability with partner forces, the Air Force said in a release.
The first phase of the experiment took place at Holloman in August 2017, with four aircraft. In February 2018, the Air Force announced that it had narrowed the field to the two current aircraft.
“This second phase of experimentation is about informing the rapid procurement process as we move closer to investing in light attack,” Lt. Gen. Arnie Bunch, the military deputy at the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, said in the release.
Fighter, attack, and special-operations pilots will take part in this phase of the experiment, working with test pilots and flight engineers from the Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. They will carry out day and night missions doing air interdiction, close air support, armed overwatch, and combat search and rescue.
Addressing the Air Force’s pilot shortage
Adding light-attack aircraft to the fleet would mean more airframes on which pilots could train in order to maintain their qualifications and prepare to transition to more advanced aircraft — helping address a pilot shortage caused in part by bottlenecks in the training pipeline.
(U.S. Air Force photo)
“If we can get light attack aircraft operating in permissive combat environments, we can alleviate the demand on our 4th and 5th generation aircraft, so they can be training for the high-end fight they were made for,” Bunch said in the release.
The Air Force has not committed to pursuing a contract for a light-attack aircraft after the experiment, however. Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, deputy chief of staff for requirements, told Flight Global that the Air Force hasn’t made a final decision, though he said service has reserved more than $2 billion over the next six years should it go forward with production.
Critics have said operating such aircraft, even in permissive environments, will expose pilots to more risk.
“The last time the US did this in Vietnam, oh boy, it really wasn’t pleasant,” Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for aerospace-consulting firm Teal Group, told Air Force Times in February 2018. “They took a lot of casualties, for predictable reasons. It’s low, it’s slow and vulnerable, and the air defense environment has become a lot more sophisticated.”
The A-29 Super Tucano is already in service with the Afghan air force, and Wilson said in 2017 that none of those aircraft had been shot down in 18 months of operations.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Seven United States Marines played a vital role in saving the life of a U.S. Airman with 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron in Okinawa, Japan Dec. 31, 2018.
The airman, whose name is being withheld out of respect for the family’s privacy, was involved in a motor cycle accident along Japan National Route 331. A group of Marines witnessed the accident and rushed to the scene as first responders.
Marine Sgt. David Lam, an assistant warehouse chief with 3rd Transportation Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group and San Jose, Calif., native was one of the first Marines on the scene, ordered the group of Marines to call emergency services and directed traffic along the busy road to allow ambulances to arrive.
“I never would have imagined myself being that close to an accident. It was an oh-snap moment,” Lam said. “I couldn’t fathom how quickly everything was moving.”
United States Marine Corps Cpl. Devan Duranwernet, a training non-commissioned officer with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion pictured here aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan, was one of seven Marines who acted quickly to save an U.S. Airman’s life following a recent motorcycle accident Dec. 31, 2018. Duranwert, a native of Charleston, S.C., started to support the injured airman’s body by stabilizing their head to ensure they didn’t move from being in major shock.
Assisting Lam were 1st Lt. Sterling Elliot with 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment; 1st Lt. Jose Diaz with 9th Engineer Support Battalion; Gunnery Sgt. Memora Tan with 1st Bn., 4th Marines and Cpls. Devan Duranwernet, Joseph Thouvenot and Gerardo Lujan with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion. Each Marine played a vital role in saving the airman’s life.
“Their quick actions and willingness to get involved are commendable and exactly the type of actions you would expect from all military members that may find themselves in this sort of situation,” said Air Force Maj. James Harris, the Squadron Commander with 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron.
Diaz, from Orlando, Fla., rushed to the injured to begin cutting off layers of clothing, which helped identify the airman’s wounds. He then ran to the neighboring areas to find large pieces of wood for splints to support any broken bones.
United States Marine Corps 1st Lt. Jose Diaz, the motor transportation platoon commander with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, pictured here aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan, was one of seven Marines who acted quickly to save a U.S. Airman’s life following a recent motorcycle accident Dec. 31, 2018. Diaz, a native of Orlando, Fla., ran to the neighboring areas to find large pieces of wood to create splints to support the airman’s broken bones and started cutting off the layers of the injured airman clothes to see all the wounds.
“I saw bones sticking out of the airman’s body and knew I would need some kind of splint to support the injuries until emergency services arrived,” Diaz said. “We took action and worked together [relaying on] past training and knowing we needed to help.”
Duranwernet, a Charleston, S.C. native, stabilized the injured airman’s neck and spine while providing comfort through the shock.
Emergency services loaded the airman on to a helicopter with assistance from Tan, a native of Orange County, Calif. Elliot, from Katy, TX, used the airman’s cell phone to call their command and accompanied the airmen to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.
United States Marine Corps 1st Lt. Sterling Elliot, the Operations Officer with 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, pictured here aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan, was one of seven Marines who acted quickly to save an U.S. Airman’s life following a recent motorcycle accident Dec. 31, 2018. Elliot, a native of Katy, Texas, stayed with the injured airman providing body support stabilization, he also flew back with the injured airman on the helicopter to the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa as an escort.
“I rode in the helicopter to give the airman a friendly face, to be there with them, to let them know everything was going to be okay,” Elliot explained.
The airman was given emergency medical treatment to stabilize their condition then transported to another location for follow-on treatment and recovery. According to 353rd Special Operations Squadron leadership, the airman is expected to make a full recovery.
Harris said the Marines were the only reason the airman was still alive. He explained that “if the Marines didn’t respond when they did or how they did the airman could have lost his arm or worse.”
Ask any kindergartener what Santa looks like, and they’ll probably tell you he has a red suit, a big, round belly and a long, white beard. The classic Christmas song “Must Be Santa,” written in 1960 by Mitch Miller, describes him in even greater detail, with a cap on his head and a cherry nose. That’s how most of us picture Santa Claus, and it’s no wonder – the American image of Santa has remained virtually unchanged for over 100 years.
Glance back through time, and a different picture of Santa appears.
In the 1800s and the centuries preceding it, Santa looked a lot more like a traditional saint. That is how the tradition of Santa started, after all. As the story goes, a poor man had three daughters. With nothing to offer as a dowry, his daughters had no hope of getting married. A kind bishop named Nicholas took pity on the family, dropping bags of gold down the chimney to provide a dowry for each daughter. For this good deed along with many others, Nicholas was dubbed the saint of children. (He was also the saint of sailors, but that’s another story.)
While I’m quite thankful that I don’t have to rely on an old man to throw gold into my fireplace to secure my future, St. Nicholas was the official inspiration behind modern-day Santa. As the popularity of St. Nicholas waned, his name evolved. First, he became Father Christmas in England, then the Christkind in Austria and Germany, then Kris Kringle. Finally, Dutch settlers invented the name “Sinterklaas,” aka Santa. Despite the new name, however, 1800s Santa maintained his saintly image. So what changed?
Political satire and the Civil War reinvented Santa.
Enter political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Known by many as the father of the American political cartoon, Nast began as a gifted artist from humble beginnings. At the age of 15, he began working as a staff artist for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, and a few years later for the New York Illustrated News. Finally, he moved on to create cartoons for Harper’s Weekly. At this point, it was 1862 and the Civil War had begun.
In Nast’s cartoons, he didn’t hesitate to make his political opinions known. He made his Union loyalties quite clear, and on January 3rd, 1863, Santa Claus helped send his message home. In a particularly festive piece of propaganda, Nast depicted Santa Claus decked out in stars and stripes handing out gifts to Union soldiers. If you look closely, you can see Union Santa clutching a puppet resembling the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, with a rope around its neck. In a Christmas Eve version, Nast drew a jolly Santa Claus climbing down the chimney to deliver presents, while a woman in the next frame prays for her husband’s safe return.
With these two simple illustrations, Nast cemented Santa as a sentimental Union symbol and reinvented St. Nick’s wardrobe in one go. While Nast refrained from making too many additional Santa-themed political statements, his jovial Father Christmas became an annual tradition. Although he skipped 1864, he published a new Santa illustration every holiday season for the rest of his years on staff at Harper’s. From then on, the tall, stately St. Nicholas was replaced with the stout, jolly old elf that we know and love today.
Soldiers from conventional and special operations units recently got the chance to test the Army’s new M17 Modular Handgun System.
Most soldiers who tested the MHS at Fort Bragg’s Range 29 on Aug. 27 were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, said OTC’s Col. Brian McHugh in a recent Army press release.
Testers were pulled from across the military, including soldiers of the Special Operations Aviation Regiment, based in Kentucky, and of the 3rd Infantry Division, based in Georgia. Some of the military occupational specialties involved include police, pilots, infantry and crew chiefs.
“We wanted to make sure that we have a huge sample to make sure that we’ve got this right — that the Army has it right,” said McHugh.
Modular Handgun System test for the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, conducted at Fort Bragg, Aug. 27.
The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million Jan. 19 to make the service’s new sidearm. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the MHS competition.
Army weapons officials have selected the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky as the first unit to receive the 9mm M17 MHS this fall.
Various service members will be at Fort Bragg over the next few weeks for testing of the MHS, which is based on the Sig Sauer P320, for the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, or OTC, based at Fort Hood, Texas, according to the press release. Testing will also be conducted by Sailors, Airmen and Marines.
Capt. Christina Smith with the Army’s Product Manager Individual Weapons, has traveled to different testing sites to ensure the system’s quality.
“It’s worth it to make sure you get the right product to the right soldiers,” she said.
Maj. Mindy Brown, test officer for OTC, said it is important to bring the test to Fort Bragg because the installation has the ranges to support realistic conditions.
“You are using real soldiers in a realistic environment,” Brown said. “These are the soldiers who would be using the weapon every day, so getting their feedback on the pistol is really what is important for operational testing.”
Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Custer, of 160th SOAR, appreciated being able to participate in MHS testing.
“It’s good. We don’t really get the opportunity to test the equipment in the unit we’re in,” he said.
What’s interesting about the release is it makes it sound like the Army is still not certain about the M17 MHS.
“If fielded, according to officials, the new modular handgun system, also known as MHS, will offer improved durability and adjustability over the current M9, as well as performance improvements.”
Program Executive Office Soldier officials, however, told Military.com that MHS is being fielded beginning in October.
When the SR-71 Blackbird was revealed to the public by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, the Soviets were caught by surprise. The fact was, the SR-71 couldn’t be caught by any air defense, rendered nearly invulnerable due to its blazing speed and high altitude. The Soviets, though, had a plane that could give it a close chase.
That plane was the MiG-25 Foxbat and it was originally designed to catch another deadly airframe, the B-70 Valkyrie bomber. The Valkyrie never entered service, but the Soviets still pushed the MiG-25, especially after the SR-71 was revealed.
After all, it was the only plane that had a prayer of catching a Blackbird — and even then, it was a very, very faint prayer.
The Soviet Union produced almost 1,200 MiG-25 Foxbats, as opposed to 32 SR-71 Blackbirds.
While the SR-71 was built in very small numbers, the Soviets built a lot of MiG-25s — almost 1,200 were produced. Some were exported to countries like Syria, Iraq, and Libya, but many remained in Soviet service. The plane had a top speed of 2,156 miles per hour (compared to the Blackbird’s 2,200 miles per hour) and its primary weapon was the AA-6 Acrid.
The AA-6 Acrid was huge, packing a 150-pound, high-explosive warhead. It had a maximum range of about 30 miles and could go at Mach 4.5. The Foxbat was originally intended to be a bomber-killer, but there was a huge air of mystery around this plane. That mystery was compounded by the outstanding performance of the reconnaissance variant prior to the Yom Kippur War. Soviet pilots flying from Egypt were able to evade Israeli F-4s. That alone prompted much concern in the United States.
The AA-6 Acrid is the primary weapon of the MiG-25 Foxbat,
(Photo by Jno~commonswiki)
The MiG-25’s emergence prompted the Air Force to start development of what became the F-15 Eagle. The two planes would face off the Middle East over Lebanon and Iraq, and the MiG-25 would emerge in second place.
Some sources claim an Iraqi MiG-25 was responsible for shooting down the F/A-18 Hornet piloted by Scott Speicher on the opening day of Desert Storm, but others claim that a SA-2 Guideline was to blame.
Learn more about this Russian answer to the Blackbird in the video below! Tell us, do you think the Foxbat could catch and kill the Lockheed legend?
One enlisted Coastie mutt – no disrespect, Sinbad was a “mixed breed” – earned a reputation that rivaled any sailor’s in any war before or since. He was one of only two non-humans to reach NCO status, even making Chief by the time of his retirement.
Sinbad was arguably the Coast Guard’s most famous mascot. He was enlisted into the USCG by Chief Boatswain’s Mate A. A. “Blackie” Rother of the Campbell. Sinbad was supposed to be a gift for Blackie’s girlfriend, but her building didn’t allow pets, so Rother took the dog back to the Cutter George W. Campbell.
A full-fledged member of the crew of the Campbell, Sinbad had to fill out his paperwork, wear his uniform, and was given pay commensurate with his rank. When World War II broke out in the Atlantic, Sinbad wasn’t about to play dead when it mattered most.
The dog wasn’t just for fun. He had a watch, a general quarters duty station, and his own bunk. Sinbad certainly didn’t roll over for anyone. When the Coast Guard wanted to use him as a PR tool in allied ports, the pup raised hell from Morocco to Greenland.
The Campbell saw plenty of action. She once rammed an enemy U-boat and was also strafed by a Nazi aircraft in the Mediterranean. During a fight with U-606, the ship was severely damaged and the CO ordered that essential personnel only would remain on the Campbell. Sinbad stayed aboard ship.
Signing his enlistment papers with a pawprint, he served on Atlantic convoy duty with the rest of the Campbell crew. Just like a sailor, he had to be disciplined. One author wrote:
“Sinbad is a salty sailor but he’s not a good sailor. He’ll never rate gold hashmarks nor Good Conduct Medals. He’s been on report several times and he’s raised hell in a number of ports. On a few occasions, he has embarrassed the United States Government by creating disturbances in foreign zones. Perhaps that’s why Coast Guardsmen love Sinbad, he’s as bad as the worst and as good as the best of us.”
The precocious pup did earn medals, however. His awards include the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Navy Occupation Service Medal.
The crew loved Sinbad, even if no one really took responsibility for the dog. They said he earned his enlistment by drinking coffee, whiskey with beer chasers, and having his own shore liberty. He was reportedly the first off the ship at every port.
He would hit the bars hard, hopping up on empty bar stools, where his whiskey and beer habit was tended to by every bar in the area. He never paid for a drink but returned the ship “bombed” every night, with only an aspirin to tend to his hangover the next day. Sometimes his drinking led to a Captain’s Mast. He was demoted in rank for actions that generally made him a bad dog. These include:
• Missing a sailing in Italy; captured by the Shore Patrol.
Captain James Hirschfield told the media that as long as Sinbad was aboard, nothing bad could happen to the ship. In a nod to Capt. Hirschfield’s statement, a statue of Sinbad is on the deck of the current Famous-class Cutter Campbell. It is considered bad luck for anyone below the rank of Chief to touch Sinbad or his bone.
In his retirement days, the aging pup was sent to Barnegat Lifeboat Station in northern New Jersey, After 11 years of service. He slept, watched the ocean, and waited for Kubel’s Bar to open in the mornings until he died in 1951.
Usually as planes get older, they become less capable. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has been a decided exception to that rule.
In fact, as it gets older it get even more deadly.
Part of this venerable bomber’s ascent to a new level of combat capability is new electronics. The short version: The B-52 is becoming “smarter” through the addition of the Combat Network Communication Technology package, or CONECT.
According to a 2014 Boeing release, CONECT allows a B-52 to use intelligence in real time on moving map displays, the re-targeting of weapons in flight, and also gives the BUFF a state-of-the-art computing network. This makes the B-52 a much more flexible asset, meaning ordnance doesn’t have to be brought back if the target is gone for one reason or another.
In 1965, the Air Force modified most of the B-52D versions of the Stratofortress to carry a lot of conventional bombs. The modifications increased the number of bombs from 27 to either 84 Mk 82 500-pound bombs or 42 750-pound M117 bombs. These bombers proved effective, first in the bombing missions in support of ground troops, then during Operation Linebacker II.
When the modification program is complete, the B-52H bombers in service will be able to carry a dozen missiles like the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile on the wing pylons and eight in the bomb bay. In essence, each B-52 will be able to carry 20 weapons, as opposed to 12 — that’s a 66 percent increase in targeting capability.
It means fewer sorties, and less strain on a force that has just turned 65 years old.
That’s not a bad thing. You can see a video about the upgrades to the B-52 below.
One battle truly showed the world the fire that burns in the hearts of these soldiers. Put up against unfathomable odds and pushed to their absolute limit, the 101st stood their ground and turned the tides of war. This was the Siege of Bastogne.
There’s no unit in the United States Army that can boast an impressive relationship with destiny like the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division. The invasion of Normandy, the Battle of Hamburger Hill, the left-hook of the Persian Gulf War, and Operation Dragon Strike in Afghanistan would each make for a pretty feather in the cap of any unit — but it’s the 101st who heroically fought at all of them.
It had been six months since the invasion of Normandy. U.S. troops had mostly pushed the Germans out of France and back to the Ardennes Forest. The same soldiers who landed on D-Day found themselves still fighting, day-in and day-out. The tempo of war had pushed them much further than originally anticipated and supplies were running low.
It wasn’t a secret that the only hope for the Allies was the tiny shipping village of Antwerp, Belgium. Without it, any continued assault against the Germans would end immediately. Knowing this, the Germans devised a plan that would effectively cut the Allies off from Antwerp in one massive blitzkrieg through the Ardennes. If they could cut the Americans off from each other and their supplies, they’d be forced into a peace treaty in favor of the Axis. And the only thing stopping them was the collection of battle-weary soldiers sparsely populating the forest.
On December 16, 1944, after two hours of constantly artillery bombardment, the Germans sent in 200,000 fresh troops. So far, everything was going in the Axis’ favor, from the weather to the landscape to the element of surprise. The only thing the Americans could do was to hold up in Bastogne and St. Vith.
Two days later, on December 18, the soldiers of the 101st were completely surrounded in the town of Bastogne. They had little ammunition, barely any food, and most soldiers didn’t even have cold-weather gear. Reinforcements were inbound, but it would take a week for Patton to arrive. Most of the senior leadership was elsewhere, leaving the task of holding ground entirely on the shoulders of the troops.
A night-time raid by the Germans on the Division Service Area took out almost the entirety of the 101st medical company. By the time of the morning of December 19, Americans were outnumbered five to one — and so the Germans moved in.
On paper, this was a completely uphill battle. The only thing Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe could do was have his men form a 360-degree perimeter around the 333rd Artillery Battalion’s guns. Ultimately, this tightly controlled circle was the advantage they needed.
As the Germans prodded, trying to find a hole in Allied defenses, troops were be able to communicate with each other and quickly adjust, fortifying areas to meet their attackers. When the Germans pivoted and believed they’d found a new approach, the protected artillery guns opened fire. They’d regroup and try another approach, only to be met by American troops once again. This pattern continued on through the battle.
The fighting was intense but McAuliffe’s defense held like a charm. On December 22, General von Lüttwitz, the German commander, gave the Americans their demands:
“There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.”
McAuliffe’s response, in its entirety, was as follows:
“To the German Commander. NUTS! The American Commander.“
“This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.” – Churchill
This riled the Germans up even more. The Germans put all of their efforts into trying to wrest Bastogne from the 101st Airborne — at the expense of securing Antwerp. The American line was broken several times by panzers, but artillery shells would effectively pluck German armor out long enough for Allied infantrymen to retake their position.
On December 23, the skies finally opened up and the 101st started to bring in reinforcements and supplies via airdrop. It’s not an understatement to say that they were only holding on by the skin of their teeth. American P-47 Thunderbolts came to the rescue, relieving artillery who’d almost entirely run out of ammo. The panzers, which had been painted green and brown for summertime, stuck out like a sore thumb against the snow. The narrow passageways the tanks had to travel meant the tanks couldn’t escape the wrath of the Thunderbolts.
Throughout it all, the Battered Bastards of Bastogne endued. Patton arrived on December 26th, finally evening the odds and breaking off the Ardennes Offensive. But all of that couldn’t have been done without the ferocity of the Screaming Eagles holding down Bastogne.
Intense humidity, leeches, and snakes were just a few of the dangers our Vietnam Veterans faced while in the jungle — besides getting shot by bad guys. In all, 2.7 million Americans suited up for The Nam, and the average age of an infantryman was just 19-years-old.
And every single one of them at one time or another claimed the title of “f*cking new guy,” or “FNG.”
Patton, Schwarzkopf, and Mattis didn’t start out on day one of their military careers by making all the right decisions, they had to learn from their mistakes time and time again, adapting to them before ultimately succeeding.
Like every story, every man whose served has a beginning — a seed.
“I didn’t know squat, I wasn’t prepared for this,” Larry “Doc” Speed, a Combat Medic from 173rd Delta Company, explains in an interview about his first few days in the bush.
Entering the grunt world as an “FNG” is a stressful time in every new infantryman’s life.
Having to prove your worth from the moment you step onto the battlefield was just as difficult as shaking off those first dramatic moments of being pinned down by accurate enemy gunfire. Until you prove yourself, you’re just another blood bag with a name stenciled on a uniform.
“It’s a different world when you’re brand new, you’re just scared,” Jesse Salcedo, an M60 machine gunner admits. “It took three or four firefights before I could function before I could see the enemy.”