This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

As the Red Army pressed into Finland, their progress was continuously slowed. Their soldiers were being harassed by Finnish infiltrators before they could reach the frontline. Even the Soviet commando teams dispatched to hunt the evasive Finns were being cut down. The havoc that these raiders created led the Soviets to place a bounty on the unit’s leader – 3,000,000 Finnish Marks for the head of Lauri Allan Törni.

Born in Finland on May 28, 1919, Törni started his career of service early, serving in the Civil Guard (a volunteer militia) as a teenager. In 1938, he entered military service and joined the 4th Independent Jäger Infantry Battalion, a unit that specialized in sabotage, guerilla warfare, and long-range reconnaissance. When the Soviet Union carried out a surprise attack on Finland the next year and started the Winter War, Törni’s battalion was quickly brought to the frontline.


This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Törni after graduating cadet school in 1940 (Finnish public domain)

At Lake Lagoda, a body of water previously shared by Finland and the USSR, the Soviets attacked the Finns with superior numbers of infantry and armor. During their defense, the Finnish troops lost contact with their headquarters. Without hesitation or orders, Törni stealthily skied through the Soviet lines to re-establish communications. Upon his return to the Finnish lines, he took command of a Swedish-speaking unit of demoralized troops. Though he didn’t speak their language, Törni organized the troops with a series of gestures, shouts, and punches. For his bravery during this engagement, Törni was promoted to 2nd Lt. However, despite some Finnish victories and high Soviet casualties, the Winter War soon ended with a Soviet victory and Finland was forced to concede 11% of its territory.

In the months following the Winter War, Nazi Germany became a strong Finnish ally, and in June 1941, Törni went to Austria for seven weeks to train with the Waffen SS. During this training, Törni wore an SS uniform and swore an oath of loyalty to the Nazi party, both of which would haunt him for the rest of his life. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa, Finland made a push to retake the land they had lost to the Soviets in what became known as the Continuation War.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Törni in an SS uniform (Finnish public domain)

At the onset of the Continuation War, Törni was given command of a Finnish armored unit, employing captured Soviet tanks and armored cars. On March 23, 1942, Törni was skiing behind enemy lines to capture Soviet prisoners when he skied over a friendly mine. He recovered from his injuries, immediately went AWOL from the hospital and returned to the front. Törni’s unit was tasked with hunting Soviet commandos that had infiltrated Finnish lines, and eventually infiltrated Soviet lines themselves to attack headquarters and communication sites. Impressed with his ruthlessness and efficiency on the battlefield, Törni’s commanders allowed him to create a hand-picked, deep-strike infantry unit that became known as Detachment Törni.

Törni and his raiders conducted sabotage and ambush missions deep behind Soviet lines. Operating separately from the rest of the Finnish Army, Detachment Törni equipped themselves with Soviet weapons which both confused their enemy and made ammunition plentiful for the raiders. Their engagements often led to close-range, hand-to-hand combat in which they brutalized Soviet troops. Their reputation on the battlefield spread and resulted in the Soviet bounty on Törni’s head. For his leadership and bravery, Törni was awarded the Mannerheim Cross, Finland’s highest military honor, on July 9, 1944.

Despite Törni’s efforts and other Finnish victories, the sheer size of the Red Army could not be matched and the Continuation War ended in a Soviet victory in September 1944. Finland was forced to concede more territory, pay reparations, and demobilize most of their military, including Detachment Törni. Unhappy with this result, Törni joined the Finnish Resistance and went to Germany for training in 1945.

Törni went to Germany with the intention to return to Finland, train resistance fighters and free Finland from the Soviet Union. In order to conceal his involvement with the Nazis, Törni assumed the alias Lauri Lane. During his training, the Red Army had taken over all of Germany’s eastern ports. With no way to return to Finland, Törni joined a German Army unit and was given command as a captain. Though he spoke poor German, Törni used the same ruthless tactics he employed against the Soviets in Finland and gained a reputation for bravery, quickly earning the respect and loyalty of his soldiers.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Törni (center) as Finnish Army Lieutenant (Finnish public domain)

By March 1945, the German Army was all but defeated. To avoid capture or death at the hands of the Soviets, Törni and his men made their way to the Western Front where they surrendered to British troops. Imprisoned in a POW camp in Lübeck, Germany, Törni feared that the British would turn him over to the Soviets or discover his past connection to the SS and try him for war crimes. To avoid either fate, Törni escaped the camp and made his way back to Finland. While trying to locate his family, Törni was caught and imprisoned by the Finnish State Police. He escaped, but was imprisoned again in April 1946. Törni was tried for treason, having joined the German Army after Finland signed a peace treaty with the Soviet Union, and was sentenced to six years in prison.

During his time in prison, Törni made several escape attempts. Though all of them failed, he was released in December 1948 after Finnish President Juho Paasikivi granted him a pardon. Törni made his way to Sweden where he became engaged to a Swedish Finn named Marja Kops. Hoping to establish a career before settling down, Törni adopted a Swedish alias and sailed to Caracas, Venezuela as a crewman aboard a cargo ship. From Caracas, Törni joined the crew of a Swedish cargo ship bound for the United States in 1950.

While off the coast of Mobile, Alabama, Törni jumped overboard and swam to shore. He made his way up the east coast to New York City where he found work in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park “Finntown” as a carpenter and cleaner. In 1953, he was granted a residence permit and joined the U.S. Army in 1954 under the Lodge-Philbin Act which allowed the recruiting of foreign nationals into the armed forces.

Upon enlisting, Törni changed his name to Larry Thorne. He befriended a group of Finnish-American officers who, along with his impressive skill set and combat experience, helped him join the elite U.S. Army Special Forces. As a Green Beret, Thorne taught skiing, survival, mountaineering, and guerilla tactics. After attending OCS in 1957, he was commissioned as a 1st Lt. and was eventually promoted to Captain in 1960. In 1962, while assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group in West Germany, Thorne served as second-in-command of a high risk mission in the Iranian Zagros Mountains. The team searched for, located, and destroyed Top Secret material aboard a crashed U.S. plane. Thorne’s performance during the mission earned him a positive reputation in the Special Force community.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Thorne’s official Army photo (U.S. Army photo)

In November 1963, Thorne deployed to Vietnam with Special Forces Detachment A-734 as an adviser to ARVN forces. During an attack on their camp at Tịnh Biên, Viet Cong forces managed to breach the outer perimeter and nearly overran the U.S. and South Vietnamese troops stationed there. All members of the Special Forces detachment were wounded during the attack, including Thorne who was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for valor. The character Captain Steve “Sven” Kornie in Robin Moore’s book, The Green Berets, is based on Thorne and his courageous actions at Tinh Biên.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

A U.S. Army H-34 Choctaw similar to the one that carried Thorne on his final mission. (U.S. Army photo)

Thorne volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam and was put in command of a MACV-SOG unit. On October 18, 1965, Thorne led a clandestine mission to locate Viet Cong turnaround points on the Ho Chi Minh trail and destroy them with airstrikes as part of Operation Shining Brass. The mission was the first of its kind and the team was composed of Republic of Vietnam and U.S. forces. During the mission, the U.S. Air Force O-1 Bird Dog observation plane and the Republic of Vietnam Air Force H-34 Choctaw helicopter carrying Thorne went missing and rescue teams were unable to locate either crash site. After his disappearance, Thorne was presumed dead, posthumously promoted to the rank of Major and awarded the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross.

It was not until 1999 that Thorne’s remains were found by a Finnish and Joint POW/MIA Accounting Team. It was concluded that Thorne’s Choctaw had crashed into the side of a mountain while flying nap-of-the-earth. His remains were repatriated and formally identified in 2003. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 26, 2003 with full honors along with the remains of the RVNAF casualties from the crash. Thorne is the only former member of the SS to be interred at Arlington.

Though he was engaged at one point, Thorne spent most of his life committed to fighting communist forces. He left behind no wife and no children. His ex-fiancée would go on to marry another man. Instead, Thorne’s legacy is one of a warrior who ruled the battlefield. He was a scourge on the Soviets in Europe and a deadly threat to Viet Cong in Vietnam. His service and commitment to both his home country of Finland and adopted country of the United States stand as models for anyone willing to take up the profession of arms.

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6 stupid simple steps to achieving stronger pull-ups

For Marines, doing twenty solid pull-ups is literally good for your career. Each time your chin crosses the bar’s threshold is five more points added to your physical fitness test score. That’s huge for any jarhead looking to get promoted. Plus, they’re just a great measure of how strong you are.

Pull-ups are a great equalizer. Yeah, you may be able to lift a ton, but if you aren’t lean, all that extra weight can hold you down while trying to pull yourself up. And if you think you’ve got it made because you’re skinny, you’ll quickly remember how important it is to be strong as your body flails around below the bar like a worm on a hook.


It takes discipline to master this exercise classic. So, to help elevate you young Devil Dogs, here are a few simple steps that’ll make you more capable on the bar during a PFT — and throughout life in general.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Photo by Stew Smith

1. Stretch

Sounds like common sense, but very few people actually stretch on a regular basis. And if they do, chances are they’re not doing it very well. Understand that stretching leads to increased muscle control, enhanced range of motion, and improves circulation by upping blood flow to the muscles.

This is everything a body needs to perform and recover from exercise. It’ll make you feel better, both now and later.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

There’s no disgrace in a red face — but try to breathe a little.

2. Take it slow

How many times have you seen a Marine who said they can do sixteen pull-ups — but when they get on the bar, it’s a fury of swinging and kipping that ends in a red-faced warrior collapsing to the ground without having done a single real pull-up? One day, they’ll find themselves being monitored by Sgt. Strict and not have even one of those reps counted, leaving them with a less-than-mediocre score. Don’t be that leatherneck.

Instead, practice doing very slow, very strict pull-ups. Count out loud or have a buddy count for you: One full second to pull your chin up and over the bar and three full seconds to lower yourself down to a completely locked-out, dead hang. Breathe and take it slow. Doing this will likely cut your repetitions by half, but don’t be discourage. Stay strict and your strength will increase exponentially.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

3. Now kip, baby, kip!

You’ve been humbled by your new number, now it’s time to spread your wings and fly!

When done properly, kipping pull-ups can help you break through performance plateaus, increase overall strength, incorporate back muscles that may otherwise go unused, and increase confidence by inflating your rep count.

The Kipping Pull-Up

www.youtube.com

Just be sure to wear gloves and do them properly, hands have been known to get torn up doing this exercise. Try alternating, week over week, between doing strict pull-ups and kipping to increase your overall performance.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Is this really necessary?

4. Add weight

When you start feeling comfortable with pull-ups, try adding weight. Start with an empty vest and add on gradually. Doing strict, traditional pull-ups with extra weight will make you feel as light as a feather come kip week and increase your number dramatically.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

5. Get some rack time

Sleep is an essential part of the recovery process. All that work you’re putting in will be for nothing if you don’t allow your body the opportunity to rest and repair from the internal, micro trauma taking place in your muscles. If you want to do twenty, then sleep eight — it’s that simple.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

photo by Cpl. Kirstin Merrimarahajara

6. Actually do them

Get a calendar. Make a plan. Do it.

No matter how well-crafted your routine may be, if it isn’t a part of your daily routine, then nothing will change. Being fit and strong is a lifelong endeavor that requires every bit of discipline and fortitude as anything else worth attaining. There may be better techniques and smarter methods, but there is no substitute for hard work. If you want to be able to do pull-ups, you must do pull-ups consistently and correctly over a long period of time without interruption.

Get motivated and go be great.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This soldier just stopped a robbery

While picking up parts for his vehicle at a local hardware store in Fountain, a horizontal construction engineer with Alpha Company, 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, recently encountered a unique situation.

“As I got closer to the store, I noticed that the manager was standing in front of the doorway blocking the entrance,” said Pfc. Adrian Vetner, a native of Umtentweni, South Africa. “A man was trying to get past the manager and he had power tools in his hand. He was clearly trying to rob the store.”


The robber was somehow able to get past the manager and ran toward the exit, Vetner said.

“At that moment, without hesitation, I ran — grabbed him — threw him to the ground and held him until the manager took over,” Vetner said. “I didn’t hesitate or think about it twice because at that moment I knew it was the right thing to do.”

Vetner’s personal courage and eagerness to help those around him didn’t stop there.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Col. Dave Zinn, left, commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, presents a coin to Pfc. Adrian Vetner, right, a horizontal construction engineer with Alpha Company, 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd IBCT, Jan. 9, 2019, at the brigade headquarters building on Fort Carson, for his recent actions in helping others.

(Photo by Capt. James Lockett)

Six days after stopping the robbery, Vetner was once again put in a situation where his assistance was needed, this time it involved a fellow soldier.

“I was on my way to work and it was snowing out, and I saw someone had broken down on the side of the road,” he said. “Their tire was laying down a couple feet behind him. I helped him get his new tire on by lending him my jack, made sure he was good to go and went on with my day.”

However, for Vetner, those actions were nothing out of the norm.

He credits his upbringing in a military family and his father, who is a retired colonel in the South African military, for his acts of courage and selflessness.

“I was raised to do the right thing at all times even when no one is watching,” he said. “Sometimes people get the wrong idea [about] military personnel, and if I can do little things here and there to change that mindset, I am happy to do so.”

Capt. Cory Plymel, who recently took command of Alpha Company, said hearing of Vetner’s actions made him feel proud to become part of the company.

“The fact that we have soldiers who live the Army values on a constant basis is very fulfilling,” Plymel said. “To see someone put those values into action and show what right looks like, especially in such a young Soldier, just shows how great our soldiers are.”

Plymel said he hopes that Vetner’s actions send a greater message, not only to junior soldiers but to all soldiers.

“I think it speaks volumes that someone who is not from the U.S. is serving this country and performing these acts of courage and kindness without thinking twice about it,” Plymel said. “It’s very humbling to see that and it speaks volumes about the soldiers we have in our Army regardless of where they are from.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

These 13 photos of US troops with enemy flags show some traditions never die

A military unit losing its colors is pretty humiliating — maybe even as bad as losing a battle. But it probably feels pretty good to be the one who captures those colors. And American troops have captured a lot of enemy flags over the years.


While the Geneva Convention demands all POWs be allowed to keep their personal belongings and protective gear, a “war trophy” like a captured flag doesn’t really apply.

But even if troops decide not keep trophies like an enemy flag, that doesn’t mean they can’t snap a quick photo – just as many have before and will likely do for many wars to come.

1. Civil War

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Union soldiers pose with Confederate flags that they captured in battle during the Civil War. Each was awarded a Medal of Honor for grabbing the enemy’s flag.

2. United States Expedition to Korea

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
U.S. Marines with a captured Korean flag from the Korean conflict with the Joseon Dynasty of 1871.

 

3. Spanish-American War

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
U.S. troops capturing Spanish guns at Malate Fort in Manila, Philippines. (U.S. Army photo)

 

4. Philippine-American War

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
An American soldier with Filipino weapons and flag in Ocampo, the Philippines ca. 1901.

 

5. U.S. Intervention in Nicaragua

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

U.S. Marines holding the Nicaraguan rebel leader Augusto César Sandino’s Flag in Nicaragua, 1932. (Marine Corps photo)

6. World War II

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
U.S. soldiers with a surrendered Italian flag at Paestum, Italy. (U.S. Army photo)
This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima with captured Japanese flags. (U.S. Army photo)
This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
American Paratroopers pose with a captured Nazi flag after landing in Normandy. (U.S. Army photo)

 

7. Korean War

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
U.S. troops with a captured North Korean flag during the Korean War. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

 

8. Vietnam War

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Sailors from SEAL Team One captured this flag during the Vietnam War, circa 1970. (NARA photo)

9. Invasion of Grenada

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
1st Platoon, B Co, 1st Ranger Battalion with a flag from Cuban barracks captured during the invasion of Grenada, 1983. (photo by Bryan Staggs, who captured the flag and is standing in the front row, right)

 

10. Invasion of Panama

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
U.S. troops during Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama, in December 1989. (photo by Ron Busch)

 

11. The Iraq War

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rod Coffey holds the flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, in Diyala Province, Iraq, 2008. (photo from Rod Coffey)

There are, of course, many other photos of American troops with captured enemy flags that we can’t post here. There are photos depicting joint U.S.-Afghan forces taking down a Taliban flag. Photographer Scott Nelson also took a photo of U.S. troops with a captured Iraqi flag during the 2003 Invasion.

If you do decide take a battlefield souvenir, be sure to fill out your DD Form 603-1.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran’s latest war game practiced closing the Strait of Hormuz

Iran is expected to launch a major military exercise in the Persian Gulf intended to show it can close the Strait of Hormuz, according to CNN, citing two US officials.

“We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman,” Capt. William Urban, a spokesman for Centcom, said in a press statement. “We are monitoring it closely and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways.”


“We also continue to advocate for all maritime forces to conform to international maritime customs, standards, and laws,” Urban added.

The Strait of Hormuz is a sea passage into the Persian Gulf between Iran and Oman, through which about 30% of the world’s oil supply passes.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Iran’s fast-attack craft, the type repeatedly used to harass US Navy ships.

(Fars News Agency Photo)

President Donald Trump has lately been in a war of words with the leaders of Iran.

In June 2018, Trump threatened sanctions on countries that purchase oil from Iran, to which Tehran responded by threatening to shut down the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani , and even a powerful Iranian general, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani , have also been bickering back and forth over the past couple of weeks.

CNN reported that US officials viewed the expected Iranian military exercise as alarming for three reasons: It comes as rhetoric between the two nations heats up, it will be a larger exercise than previous ones, and Tehran usually holds such exercises later in the year.

The US thinks the Iranian military exercise will include about 100 naval vessels, most of which are small boats, as well as air and ground forces, CNN reported.

Iran has repeatedly used small fast-attack craft to harass US Navy warships over the past several years.

Nevertheless, these Iranian threats are most likely a bluff.

“In the event Iran choose to militarily close the Strait of Hormuz, the US and our Arabian Gulf allies would be able to open it in a matter of days,” retired Adm. James Stavridis previously told CNBC.

And Iran most likely knows this, prompting the question of whether Iran has other intentions.

James Jeffrey, a former US ambassador to Turkey who now serves as an expert at the Washington Institute, previously told Business Insider that Tehran was bluffing about closing the Strait of Hormuz to rattle markets and raise the price of oil.

“They’re doing this to spook consumers,” Jeffrey said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of November 2nd

Halloween on a Wednesday is the worst. Sure, it sucks for the kids who can’t stay out late trick-or-treating, but it’s terrible being stuck in the barracks knowing that you’ve got a PT test in the morning. You can’t drink, you can’t party, you can’t do whatever spooky thing you wanted to do.

Thankfully, the holidays are almost here and there’re plenty of long weekends to make up for it.

Here’re some memes for you to enjoy as you deliberate on how you’re going to blow the rest of your deployment savings during the next 4-day.


This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via PNN)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Sapper Zulu)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Shammers United)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme by Ranger Up)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

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This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

(Meme by WATM)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why making a cup of tea in a British Tank isn’t all that silly

Perhaps even more so than the queen, dry humor, and flavorless foods, Brits love their tea. There’s nothing more stereotypically British than tea. That’s why it’s absolutely hilarious to the rest of the military world that British tanks come standard with a device that can make tea.

That’s right. British tanks come equipped with a “boiling vessel” that, as you can imagine, is commonly used to brew up a cup of tea during the tankers’ downtime. But there’s more to this device than you might think. Yes, it’s there so tankers can fit teatime into their war schedule, but the boiling vessel can also used for a plethora of other things.


This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Not much of kettle, but I guess it gets the job done.

(Think Defense Co.)

In complete fairness to our allies across the pond, the boiling vessel is not a kettle installed exclusively for the sake of tea. It’s more of an electric thermos that’s designed for cooking in general. It’ll heat up anything can be put inside, not just hot water — soups, rations, coffee, you name it. And, so it doesn’t get in the way, it’s small enough to be tucked in the back.

So, if you put in some hot water (and clean any residual stuff out), you can theoretically use it for afternoon tea… if that’s your thing.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

It was also said that 37 percent of all tanker casualties during WWII occurred when they were outside of their vehicle. Any little thing to keep them inside, and alive, is a good thing.

(Imperial War Museum)

This little vessel is actually brilliant. All tanks are designed in a way that, should the worst happen, the tankers remain safely in their tanks until they get somewhere better to exit the vehicle. In case of a NBC attack, the tank is completely sealed from the outside world.

Which brings us back to the boiling vessel. There’s no need to exit the “luxurious” interior of the tank to heat up meals for the tankers or risk a potential fire hazard inside.

It might sound like a niche use case, but keep tankers in their tanks during meals was a very serious concern back in WWII. It was said that on June 12th, 1944, just six days after D-Day, a British tank brigade left their respective vehicles for a meeting and for some chow. When the Germans found out the Brits were completely exposed, they struck.

In a matter of 15 minutes, the British lost 14 tanks, nine half-tracks, four gun carriers, and two anti-tank guns at the Battle of Villers-Bocage — because they left their vehicles for just a moment.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

But, for obvious reasons, Americans aren’t as in to tea as the Brits…

(“Boston Tea Party,” W.D. Cooper, engraving, 1789)

The thing is, the Brits aren’t the only ones who have boiling vessels inside their tanks. Nearly every first-world nation has them. Abrams and Bradleys now come standard with them. They’re all fundamentally the same thing, just a fancy water heater that keeps troops safely inside their tanks.

MIGHTY HISTORY

These fighter pilots literally pushed their wingmen to safety

These fighter pilots demonstrated this commitment with unwavering loyalty and bravery.


On September 15, 1952, Air Force Capt. James Risner was escorting a flight of F-84 Thunderjet fighter-bombers on an attack on a chemical plant along the Yalu River. Flying his F-86 Sabre fighter jet, Risner engaged an attacking enemy MiG and chased it at nearly supersonic speed at ground level. Risner pursued the MiG across the Yalu River and into Chinese airspace. He landed several solid hits on the MiG with his .50-caliber machine guns which shot off the enemy jet’s canopy and set it on fire. Risner chased the MiG over a Chinese air base where it crashed into more MiGs parked on the ground. Throughout this engagement, Risner’s wingman, 1st Lt. Joseph Logan, was flying in pursuit and covering Risner’s six.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Risner poses in front of an F-86 (Photo by the United States Air Force)

As the flight headed for home, Logan’s Sabre was hit by enemy flak—fuel and hydraulic fluid gushed out of the wounded jet’s belly. Logan had only five minutes of fuel left; not enough to get him out of enemy territory. Refusing to abandon his wingman, Risner told Logan to shut his engine down and lined up behind him. He skillfully inched the upper lip of his Sabre’s air intake toward the tailpipe of Logan’s Sabre until they made contact. Despite fuel and hydraulic fluid obscuring his canopy and turbulence constantly separating the two aircraft, Risner persisted in his endeavor to push his wingman to safety.

After almost 60 miles of pushing, the two planes were finally over the ocean and in range of rescue swimmers. Logan called out to Risner, “I’ll see you at base tonight,” and bailed out of his stricken aircraft. Despite being a strong swimmer, Logan became tangled in his parachute shroud lines and tragically drowned off the coast of Cho Do Island. Having burned extra fuel to push his wingman, Risner’s Sabre ran out of fuel and he glided to a dead-stick landing at Kimpo Air Base. Over a decade later during the Vietnam War, two Air Force fighter jet crews would find themselves in a similar situation to Risner and Logan.

In 1967, Capt. Bob Pardo with Weapon System Officer 1st Lt. Steve Wayne and his wingman Capt. Earl Aman and his Weapon System Officer 1st Lt. Robert Houghton flew F-4 Phantom II fighter jets from Ubon Air Base in Thailand. On March 10, they were a part of a bombing run on a steel mill just north of Hanoi in North Vietnam. Heavy anti-aircraft fire cut through the skies, damaging both Phantom IIs. Aman and Houghton’s plane took a direct hit to the fuel tank and quickly lost most of their precious fuel. Without the range needed to make it to the KC-135 refueling tanker over Laos, Aman and Houghton would have to bail out over the unfriendly skies of North Vietnam. To prevent this, Pardo decided to push the stricken plane.

First, he had Aman jettison his drag chute so that he could insert his fighter’s nose into the drag chute compartment, much like Risner did with the tailpipe of Logan’s Sabre. However, the aerodynamic properties of the two aircraft created a suction that threatened to pull Pardo and Wayne up into Aman and Houghton’s plane. Pardo then had the idea to push the Phantom II from its tailhook. Originally designed for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the F-4 Phantom II was equipped with a tailhook to snag arresting cables and land on aircraft carriers.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

An F-4 Phantom II’s drag chute in its compartment (Photo by David Wallace, Jr.)

With the tailhook lowered, it provided about 4 feet of standoff distance between the two planes—just enough to prevent the deadly aerodynamic interference. Pardo then maneuvered his F-4 under and behind Aman’s until the tailhook was resting on the front of his windscreen. Aman then shut down his engines as Pardo pushed to keep his wingman airborne. The stunt worked to slow the rate of descent of Aman and Houghton’s aircraft. However, every 15 to 30 seconds, the tailhook would slide off of the windscreen and Pardo would have to line back up and re-establish connection.

Pardo and Wayne were also struggling with a fire in their port-side engine, eventually having to shut it down. After 88 miles of pushing, both aircraft reached Laotian airspace at an altitude of just 6,000 feet.

Aman and Houghton ejected safely, but Pardo and Wayne had burned so much fuel that they were forced to eject just ahead of them. All but Wayne had to evade enemy forces on the ground before they were located by friendly forces and rescued. Pardo and Wayne were initially reprimanded for losing their aircraft and putting their own lives in danger. It wasn’t until 1989 that the military re-examined “Pardo’s Push”, as it came to be known, and awarded the Silver Star to both Pardo and Wayne.

Both Risner and Pardo persisted in their commitment to their comrades in arms. During the Vietnam War, Risner was shot down over North Vietnam and was imprisoned in the infamous Hanoi Hilton for seven years, four months, and 27 days. During this time, he and Navy Commander James Stockdale led the American resistance in the prison and organized the other POWs to present maximum resistance to their captors.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Risner answers questions at a press conference after he is released from captivity. (Photo by the United States Air Force)

After retiring from the Air Force, Pardo learned that Aman had developed Lou Gehrig’s disease and lost both his voice and mobility. He created the Earl Aman Foundation to raise money and buy his wingman a voice synthesizer, a motorized wheelchair, and a computer. The two men remained close friends until Aman’s death in 1998.

The bonds formed by these airmen in the crucible of aerial combat manifested in their refusal to abandon their wingmen and willingness to risk life and limb to save them. It is a commitment that is difficult to understand for people who have not experienced it firsthand, but Risner, Wayne and Pardo’s selfless actions help to demonstrate its power and magnitude.

Featured photo: Pardo’s Push (Painting by S.W. Ferguson/Retrieved from warhistoryonline.com)

Humor

5 military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe

We love movies! That’s why producers spend millions of dollars making them. Sometimes the films we watch are so compelling, audience members believe every moment that is spoon fed to them is the truth.


We’re all guilty of falling for it. Many movie goers get sold on the narrative as the story unfolds across the big screen — even to the point where the performances feel true to life — and the delicate line between truth and fiction becomes too thin.

Related: 7 life lessons we learned from watching ‘Full Metal Jacket’

So check out these military myths that Hollywood puts in their movies and want us to think actually happen — but don’t fall for it.

1. Vietnam veterans are crazy

Movies and TV shows love to feature characters that had tough military careers and reverted to drinking to suppress the memories. This does happen in real life from time-to-time, but not to everyone.

Most who served during that era use their military experience to propel themselves and inspire others.

2. You throw your clean cover after a military graduation

It’s a lot of work to not only find the cover you just flung into the air but clean the grass stains off too.

Does anyone have a tide pen? (Paramount)

3. Cinematic deaths

They just don’t exist — but we tip our hats to filmmaker Oliver Stone (an Army veteran) for capturing this epic movie moment in 1986s Platoon.

How many rounds do you think he took? (Orion Pictures)

4. That one guy who can save the day

In the military, you train as a team and you fight as one, as well.

The debate isn’t if one single person can save another’s ass during battle — that frequently happens.

What we call bullsh*t on is when that single motivator springs into action and becomes the final denominator and leads them to victory as the rest of his team remains pinned down and losing the fight.

They have the need for speed (Paramount)

5. No one gets concussions…ever

We’ve seen countless movies where people get blown up by various sources of explosive ordnance and seem to recover right away (just watch any 80s movie). Since we want to believe the good guys are as tough as nails, they will just brush off the injury and carry on.

It rarely happens like that.

In fact, the traumatic brain injury has been called the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Hearing a phone or bells ringing is one of the first signs of concussion (Sony)

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Hollywood honors the behind-the-scenes liaison who makes military movies happen

As Hollywood’s awards season wraps up with the Oscars, it’s easy to believe that Hollywood glamour and military might are like oil and water: Two very separate worlds that only intersect on the screen.

While Hollywood might love taking military stories and putting them up on the screen, the military involvement is usually all but forgotten when the red carpets are rolled out and the glitterati are all dressed up in their tuxedos and gowns with the flash bulbs popping.


Like the military, for every high-profile celebrity, there’s a couple hundred crew members supporting them, from the always present agents and assistants, to the camera and lighting crews, and even the guys who drive the trucks and cook the food every day on set. Just as any admiral or general could never win a battle without the hard work of the brave men and women in their command, every big-name actor and director also owes their celebrity on the work of the often under-appreciated crew behind the scenes.

One of those valuable yet often under-appreciated components is that provided by the US military, which could fill an article on its own, but we’ll leave that for another day.

Among the many awards offered by Hollywood this year, one award deserves special recognition.

The California On Location Awards recognizes the contributions of the logistical backbone of Hollywood: the location professionals and public employees responsible for making filming possible. Without the contributions of location managers and public employees, Hollywood could never venture off the studio lot, and it’s the location managers who negotiate with the city, state, and federal employees in order to facilitate access to public roads, gritty alleys, exquisite mansions, alien landscapes, and the tanks, aircraft carriers, and military transports required to give any military-based project the level of realism viewers expect.

One man has been responsible for providing much of the military hardware seen on screen.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

Phil receives his award from the California On Location Awards.

(Courtesy of Kent Matsuoka)

That man is Phil Strub, the recently retired Department of Defense’s Entertainment Liaison. A former Navy cameraman and Vietnam vet, he used his GI Bill to earn a film degree from USC, and was appointed to the Entertainment Liaison Desk at the Pentagon in 1989 following the phenomenal success of Top Gun; not only for Hollywood, but for DoD as well.

As the Department of Defense’s point person for any project wishing to use US military assets on screen, Phil has provided a constant bridge to Hollywood for almost 30 years. From his first project, Hunt For Red October to the new Top Gun, Phil has been a true asset to Hollywood and America.

This year, the COLAs recognized Phil’s contributions to Hollywood with its Distinguished Service Award. Presented by David Grant, Marvel’s VP of Physical Production, he praised Phil’s efforts on their films, from the first Iron Man to the eagerly awaited Captain Marvel.

While Hollywood loves to honor themselves for their own contributions, this award is a testament to Hollywood’s appreciation of all that DoD and the brave men and women who serve can provide, and for that reason, was one of the most important, under-reported award given out this year due to the morale value such awards have in sustaining Hollywood’s continued relationship with its government partners.

If there’s one thing the military does well, it’s recognizing the immense value of each and every member of its chain of command. Whether it be the individual qualification certificates, promotion ceremonies, retirement shadow boxes, or the fruit salad of ribbons on a soldier’s chest, they make a point of recognizing every individual from the lowest enlisted recruit to the five star brass, and understand that such recognition is important to unit cohesiveness and morale.

It’s a lesson Hollywood would do well to remember. It’s not just the big names that deserve recognition, but the hundreds of lesser known craftsmen behind the scenes who also deserve their 15 minutes of fame. Without them, the big names wouldn’t have anything to celebrate.

popular

6 ways the infantry prepares you to be in special ops

Special ops have earned their prestige. There is no denying that these men are absolute badasses; relentless warriors with no room for quit.


SOF teams are often described as surgical tools for the Department of Defense to use when a less overt maneuver is required. Conversely, America’s infantry is used when the U.S. wants to figuratively and literally kick down the enemies’ front door and punch them in the face.

But I digress. Here’s how infantry and special operations teams are alike.

Related: 7 tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors

1. Being physically fit

Special operations are known for being extremely fit — the reputation is well deserved. However, the military, in general, is expected to maintain a high level of fitness and the infantry holds their personnel to an exceptional standard.

 

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
Buddy push-ups as far as the eye can see… (Photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry)

2. Attending advanced training

Infantry units are trained to excel in the most austere environments. All units send their troops to advanced schools and, depending on their upcoming area of operations, soldiers and Marines will receive advanced, specialized training to expand the capabilities of the unit as a whole.

3. Showcasing tactical prowess in combat

Locate, close with, and destroy the enemy using fire and maneuver.

No matter your status, the tactics for room clearing, close-quarters combat, fire, and maneuver are all about mastering the basics. There is no shortage of expertise among the U.S. infantry who are winning America’s battles.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
Amphibious landings en masse? No problem.  (Photo by Phan Shannon Garcia)

4. Utilizing inter-service augmentation

A major component of SOF’s arsenal comes from calling in accurate fire from Army/Marine artillery, Navy guns, and Air Force strikes.

Coincidentally, forward observers within infantry units possess the same radios and they use them for communicating with the artisans of mass destruction from all branches.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
JTACs all around. (Photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

5. Possessing the ability to f*ck sh*t up

SOF surely kicks the enemy’s ass. Infantry does as well — with way more guys, munitions, and, when Congress allows it, they don’t leave until all enemies are either dead or have surrendered.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
Knock, knock, knocking — soon you’ll be at heaven’s door. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall)

Also read: 7 ways ‘Starship Troopers’ is the most outstanding moto film ever

6. Prioritizing mission accomplishment

The mission is number one for everyone in the military, regardless of job. It’s the reason we are here.

Infantry, just like SOF, has cultivated a culture dedicated to defending America’s interests, the country itself, and, most importantly, its people. Regardless of how they do it, all servicemen and women understand the priority: doing the hard job that needs to be done.

Podcast

6 military movies you need to watch in 2018


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, the crew discusses what military movies veterans need to see in 2018.

Since all veterans have their own idea of what makes a good military movie, Blake, Tim, and even the new WATM contributor, Sean chime in what they think makes a solid war film.

Is having a war film based on a true story more important than having epic explosions? Or a movie where the real heroes of the day play themselves make for a better cinematic experience?

Related: This is why it’s so damn hard to play a veteran, according to an actor

1. 12 Strong

Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, the film chronicles one of the first Special Forces teams to deploy to Afghanistan after the attacks on 9/11. The SF team joins forces with the Afghan Northern Alliance and rides into battle against the Taliban on horseback.

12 Strong brilliantly captures how difficult it is for ground troops to work and fight alongside Afghan freedom fighters against the insurgents due to the language and cultural barrier.

The film stars WATM friend Rob Riggle, Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena, and Michael Shannon.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
A partner has formed. (Screenshot from Warner Brother’s 12 Strong)

2. The 15:17 to Paris

Directed by Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, the film focuses on the American soldiers who discover a terrorist plot on a train headed to Paris.

Interesting enough, the three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack play themselves in the film alongside actress Jenna Fischer — and we like Jenna Fischer. 

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies

3. Tough As They Come

Starring and directed by Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone, the film tracks Travis Mills (played by Marine veteran Adam Driver), a quadriplegic soldier returning from Afghanistan after his horrific injury.

Back in the U.S., Mills has to reconcile with his stepfather while coping with his new life using prosthetic legs and arms.

You may recall that Mills’ book was a New York Times bestseller.

4. The Last Full Measure

Directed by Todd Robinson, the film showcases a Pentagon investigator who teams up with a few veterans of “Operation Abilene” to persuade Congress to award deceased Air Force medic, William Pitsenbarger, the Medal of Honor 35 years later.

Pitsenbarger is accredited with saving over 60 ambushed service members in one of the bloodiest campaigns of the Vietnam War.

The film stars Sebastian Stan, William Hurt, and Samual L. Jackson.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) speaks with Tulley (William Hurt) Airman William H. Pitsenbarger Jr. heroics. (Screenshot from Warner’s Brothers The Last Full Measure).

5. Ruin

Directed by Justin Kurzel, the film chronicles a nameless ex-Nazi captain who navigates the ruins of post-WWII Germany to atone for the crimes he committed during the war by hunting the surviving members of his former SS Death Squad.

Gal Gadot is rumored to have a role, but additional information hasn’t been released.

6. The 34th Battalion

Directed and produced by Luke Sparke, the film follows four friends from Maitland, New South Wales who join the 34th Battalion to serve on the Western Front. The film depicts the experiences of the unit, which was recruited in 1916.

This Green Beret spent his life fighting communists in three different armies
The first teaser poster The 34th Battalion. (IMDB)

Also Read: This Green Beret will change what you know about action movies

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Guest: Former Marine Chef and WATM Contributor Sean Dodds

MIGHTY GAMING

How these guys make the weapons from our favorite video games

Video games are known for over-the-top weaponry. In the universe of games, a seemingly tiny blonde dude can easily swing around the giant Buster Sword (see: Final Fantasy VII) and a kid with a mask is given free reign to swing around a ridiculously shaped, dual-bladed sword (see: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask).

In real life, getting your hands on these incredible weapons is a much more painstaking endeavor than simply showing up at a store and dropping a few rupees or a couple hundred gil. Tony Swatton of Burbank, California’s Sword and Stone and the crew over at Baltimore Knife and Sword take pride in forging authentic, legitimate versions of pop-culture’s finest weaponry. Together, they formed the web series, Man at Arms: Reforged, which you can find on YouTube.

Let’s set the bar extremely high right off the bat with a look at their work on a Warhammer 40K Chainsword:

Swatton is a self-taught blacksmith who got his start working on Steven Spielberg’s Hook and has been creating weapons and armor for film and television ever since. His work can also be seen on the official World of Warcraft channel in a series called Azeroth Armory.


The show expanded to Maryland and added Baltimore’s Knife and Sword crew at the start of the second season. Since then, the channel has achieved internet stardom by bringing the viewers along for the ride as they create some of the most interesting weapons from film, television, and gaming. Behind each weapon is a very long, methodical process. Each weapon takes as long as 200 hours to forge, which is distilled down into a single 10-minute video segment.

They’re also not afraid to take on historical recreations, such as a 400-year old Chinese Dandao:

Each project requires a unique approach but, in general, they employ plasma cutting to get the desired shape out of steel, mold the intricate details out of clay for a bronze cast, spend days perfecting every minute detail, and then finally assemble, sharpen, and test their new weapon.

They create content based off of YouTube comments, so if you can think of an awesome weapon that isn’t in their nearly 150-video-long catalog, leave a suggestion!

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