Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal - We Are The Mighty
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Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

No one has ever claimed that life aboard a U.S. Navy ship was luxurious. Even on the most advanced warships on the planet life can still be cramped. Though today amenities are much improved, the sailors patrolling the oceans in World War II had a much different life than their modern counterparts.


For one thing, the submarines of World War II were much smaller. Though only about 60 feet shorter than a modern submarine, the Gato and Balao-class submarines the U.S. Navy operated in World War II had a displacement of only about one third that of modern Virginia class submarines.

In that small space, the submariners — some 60 to 80 in all — had to store themselves, their gear, and provisions for 75 days.

 

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Real World War II galley attire: T-shirt and apron over dungarees. This June 1945 snapshot is of George Sacco, a cook and baker in USS Cod (SS 224). (Courtesy of the USS Cod Submarine Memorial)

 

Each crewmember had only about one cubic foot of personal storage space aboard the sub. Each crewmember also had a bunk, scattered throughout the many compartments of the boat, including in the torpedo rooms. As many as 14 men crammed into the forward torpedo room along with 16 torpedoes.

A submarine of that size simply could not fit all of the necessary provisions for a long war patrol in the appropriate spaces. To accommodate, the crew stashed boxes of food and other things anywhere they would fit — the showers, the engine room, even on the deck until there was space inside to fit it all.

Also read: 27 incredible photos of life aboard a U.S. submarine

There was one upside though. Because of the dangerous and grueling nature of submarine duty, the Navy did its best to ensure that submariners got the best food the Navy had to offer. They also found room to install an ice cream freezer as a small luxury for the crew.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time or space to enjoy that food. Most of the time the men were lucky to get ten minutes to eat as the boat’s three “shifts” all had to pass through the tiny galley in a short amount of time.

The serving of food was often times also dictated by restrictions on the submarines movements. Submarines were under strict orders not to surface during the day when they were within 500 miles of a Japanese airfield in order to avoid aerial observation and attack. In the early days of the war in the Pacific this meant just about everywhere as the Japanese were in control of vast swaths of territory and ocean.

This meant that the submarines stayed submerged during the day and only surfaced at night. In order to compensate, many crews flipped their schedules doing their normal daily routines at night. The crews called this “going into reversa.” This allowed the crew to take advantage of the time the sub was on the surface.

This was important because once the submarine dove after running its diesel engines for hours, the boat would quickly heat up. The engine room temperature could soar to over 100 degrees before spreading throughout the sub. Combine that with the 80 men working and breathing and the air inside could quickly become foul.

The men knew the air was getting bad when they had trouble lighting their cigarettes due to the lack of oxygen (oh the irony).

To make matters worse, there was little water available for bathing and on long patrols most men only showered about every ten days or so. Laundry was out of the question. Because of these conditions submarines developed a unique smell – a combination of diesel fuel, sweat, cigarettes, hydraulic fluid, cooking, and sewage.

On older submarines, the World War I-era S-boats — often referred to as pigboats — the conditions were even worse. Without proper ventilation, the odors were even stronger. This also led to mold and mildew throughout the boat as well as rather large cockroaches that the crews could never quite seem to eradicate.

 

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
The USS Grayback was one of the WWII submarines lost to enemy action during the war. (Photo: National Archives)

 

If the conditions themselves weren’t bad enough, the crews then had to sail their boats into hostile waters, often alone, to attack the enemy.

Submarines often targeted shipping boats, but sometimes would find themselves tangling with enemy surface vessels. Once a sub was spotted, the enemy ships would move in for the kill with depth charges.

Of the 263 submarines that made war patrols in World War II, 41 of them were lost to enemy action while another eleven were lost to accidents or other reasons. This was nearly one out of every five submarines, making the job of submariner one of the most dangerous of the war.

A further danger the submarines faced was being the target of their own torpedoes. Due to issues with the early Mk. 14 torpedo that was used, it had a tendency to make a circular run and come back to strike the sub that fired it. At least one submarine, the USS Tang, was sunk this way.

Despite the dangers, American submarines performed admirably. In the Pacific, American crews sank almost 1,400 Japanese ships of different types, totaling more than 5.5 million tons.

They also rescued 504 downed airmen from the sea. Submarines also evacuated key individuals from danger areas, including the U.S. High Commissioner and President Quezon from the Philippines.

History: That time a surfacing Russian sub slammed into an American spy submarine

On special missions, submarines landed reconnaissance parties on enemy shores, and in a few cases used their 5″ deck guns to bombard enemy positions.

The bravery of the submarines was well-known in World War II. Presidential Unit Citations were awarded 36 times to submarine crews. Seven submarine skippers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions at sea.

American submariners in World War II set a tradition of duty and bravery that is carried on by American submarine crews today.

Articles

This is how triple-ace Robin Olds achieved his perfect victory over Vietnam

On January 2, 1967, U.S. Air Force F-4C Phantoms lured North Vietnamese MiG-21s into the kind of air-to-air dogfight they usually tried to avoid. The mission, called “Operation Bolo,” was an aerial trap designed by Colonel Robin Olds, a fighter ace and veteran who started his combat flying career during World War II. In spite of the fact that Bolo was flown in the some of the most heavily defended airspace ever attacked by U.S. forces, it wound up being one of the most successful deception operations in American military history.


Olds took command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in 1966. The unit he took over was short on aggression and initiative. Olds, then 44 years old, brought in another Air Force pioneer, Col. Daniel “Chappie” James, another World War II veteran and one of the Tuskegee Airmen, as his director of operations.  The command team, which would come to be known as “Blackman and Robin,” completely changed the culture of the 8th TFW. They were ready to take the war to the Vietnamese.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

After taking command of the 8th, Olds lost three F-4C aircraft to intercepting Mig-21s. He was frustrated with target restrictions from Washington and frustrated with the battlespace over North Vietnam. Ground observers and early warning radar provided by the Soviet Union would warn the VPAF what was coming. By the time attacking aircraft crossed the Red River, the MiGs were waiting for them. Olds wanted to use this tactic to his advantage.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

MiGs were in the air anytime U.S. aircraft were in the area.  Two to four MiGs would remain near the enemy’s base at Phuc Yen, while the rest attacked the bomber force along one intercept point on the southern side of the Red River and the other northeast of Thai Nguyen. The MiGs would attack the F-105 formations all along their route and generally avoid the F-4s.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
A right underside view of two Soviet MiG-21 Fishbed fighter aircraft in flight.

In response, Olds designed Bolo, the first offensive fighter sweep of the Vietnam War. Convinced of the superiority of U.S. pilots in air-to-air combat, he wanted to trick the North Vietnamese to read flights of F-4Cs as the slower, bulkier F-105s. Once the MiGs were in the air, the F-4s would break formation and attack on their own terms. To fool the radar and ground observers, the F-4s would fly in a 105 formation while using Thud call signs.

The SAM threat was mitigated by new ECM anti-radar pods. The jamming pods reduced the rate of SAM kills on F-105s to near zero, but the F-4s were still vulnerable because the pods didn’t fit on the F-4 bomb racks. Olds’ NCOs in the 8th TFW’s fabrication shop spent 36 hours fashioning makeshift replacement panels before Bolo so the F-4s could carry them. This was the first time F-4s ever carried the countermeasure.

Seven flights of F-4Cs would come in from Ubon in the West while seven more came in from Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam. The Ubon forces, led by Olds, would stay in a Thud formation until the last possible second. The Da Nang fighters covered all available airfields to keep the MiGs from landing (they were no longer be targetable on the ground due to orders from Washington) and keep them from making an escape to China.

Olds’ flight used the sign “Olds.” Chappie used the sign “Ford” because one of the planners thought Fords were “big, black, and fun.” The rest were “Rambler,” “Lincoln,” “Tempest,” “Plymouth,” and “Vespa.” They would arrive in the engagement area four minutes apart.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Olds at Ubon RTAFB

January 2, 1967 was an overcast day. Olds led the first flight into the area. At first there seemed to be no response, which would be devastating. The Americans could only attack MiGs in the air. But Olds didn’t know the cloud cover kept the MiGs on the ground for an extra fifteen minutes. With three minutes until Ford Flight’s arrival, Olds flight made a turn Northwest when MiGs started to come up from the cloud cover.

“Ok, Wolfpack! Go get ’em!” Olds roared.

The MiGs were trying a vise maneuver that blew up in their faces when the U.S. fighters left formation. The Americans took down seven  of the sixteen MiG-21s in the VPAF inventory without losing any Phantoms. Bolo was the worst single day for the Vietnam People’s Air Force. The operation’s success led to Seventh Air Force launching a similar operation three days later, mimicking a recon mission. Of the four MiG intercepting that ruse, two were shot down. VPAF fighters were grounded for several months for retraining.

Colonel Olds would score his fourth MiG kill in Vietnam on May 4, 1967, bringing his total to sixteen and making him a triple ace. He flew his last mission in Vietnam on September 23, 1967.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Navy’s carrier-based F-35s may not be ready for combat after all

The US Navy has declared its F-35Cs ready for combat, but the service’s own testing data says the stealth fighters designed to take off and land on aircraft carriers are nowhere close to ready, an independent nonpartisan watchdog reports.

“The F-35C is ready for operations, ready for combat and ready to win,” Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, commander of Naval Air Forces, said in February 2019 as the Navy announced that the fighter had achieved initial operating capability. “We are adding an incredible weapon system into the arsenal of our Carrier Strike Groups that significantly enhances the capability of the joint force.”


But the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit government-accountability group, warned March 19, 2019, that despite these claims, the F-35C, like the other variants, “continues to dramatically underperform in crucial areas including availability and reliability, cybervulnerability testing, and life-expectancy testing.”

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

An F-35C Lightning II carrier variant joint strike fighter.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Eli K. Buguey)

While still secretary of defense, Jim Mattis demanded last fall that the Navy and the Air Force strive to achieve a fleet-wide mission-capable rate of 80% for their fighters by October 2019. The Navy’s carrier-capable F-35 variant is apparently nowhere close to that target, having consistently achieved unacceptably low fully mission-capable rates.

The mission-capable rates for the Navy’s F-35Cs dropped from 12% in October 2016 to zero in December 2017, with figures remaining in the single digits throughout 2018, the oversight group reported, citing Navy documents. The US Navy, according to Military.com, also has only 27 of the required 273 F-35Cs, and the mission-capable rates do not apply to aircraft in testing, training, or depot.

“The fully mission capable rate for the full fleet is likely far below” the target set by Mattis, the watchdog concluded.

It said the Navy had opted to move forward with the aircraft “in spite of evidence that it is not ready for combat” and that it could “put at risk missions, as well as the troops who depend on it to get to the fight.”

The group’s analysis follows the release of a disconcerting report from the Defense Department’s director of operational, test, and evaluation in January that called attention to F-35 readiness issues, such as life expectancy, cybersecurity, and stagnant aircraft availability.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

Two F-35C Lightning II aircraft.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

“Fleet-wide average availability is below program target value of 60% and well below planned 80% needed,” the official report said. “The trend in fleet availability has been flat over the past three years; the program’s reliability improvement initiatives are still not translating into improved availability.”

The F-35 Joint Program Office responded to that report, saying the problems presented in the report were being “aggressively addressed.”

The JPO told Business Insider that as of January 2019, the mission capable rate for the Navy’s F-35C was 56 percent. “The Program Office has identified the enablers to increase our mission capability rates,” a JPO spokesman explained.

“We will continue to learn and improve ways to maintain and sustain F-35C as we prepare for first deployment,” the Joint Strike Fighter Wing commodore, Capt. Max McCoy, said as the Navy’s carrier-capable variant was declared “ready for combat” February 2019. “The addition of F-35C to existing Carrier Air Wing capability ensures that we can fight and win in contested battlespace now and well into the future.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US accuses Russia of violating Cold War weapons treaty

Russia is unlikely to meet U.S. demands for more verification on a missile system Washington says has violated a key Cold War treaty, the lead U.S. negotiator on arms control issues said.

Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson downplayed the meetings that U.S. and Russian officials had in January 2019 in Geneva about the dispute, which has pushed the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty to the brink of collapse.


And she downplayed an unusual public presentation made a day earlier in Moscow, in which Russian defense officials displayed elements of the disputed missile system, known as the 9M729 or SSC-8.

The Geneva talks weren’t “the normal bluster, propaganda, the kind of dramatics that we associate with some of these meetings,” Thompson said in a private briefing on Jan. 24, 2019.

Russian military presents 9M729 missile, which US claimed violates INF Treaty

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“But as I said before, we didn’t break any new ground. There was no new information. The Russians acknowledged having the system but continued to say in their talking points that it didn’t violate the INF Treaty despite showing them, repeated times, the intelligence, and information,” she said.

Thompson’s remarks were made nine days before a Feb. 2, 2019 deadline, when the United States has said it will formally withdraw from the treaty, and suspend its obligations.

“I’m not particularly optimistic” that Russia will meet U.S. demands to show it is complying with the treaty, she told reporters.

The 1987 treaty prohibits the two countries from possessing, producing, or deploying ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The agreement was the first of its kind to eliminate an entire class of missiles and is widely seen as a cornerstone of arms control stability, in Europe and elsewhere.

On Jan. 23, 2019, Russian officials held a public briefing for reporters and foreign diplomats in Moscow, where they showed missile tubes and diagrams of the missile in question — part of an effort to push back against the U.S. claims.

Lieutenant General Mikhail Matveyevsky, the chief of the military’s missile and artillery forces, said the missile has a maximum range of 480 kilometers.

“The distance was confirmed during strategic command and staff exercises” in 2017, he said. “Russia has observed and continues to strictly observe the points of the treaty and does not allow any violations.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova later accused U.S. officials of rebuffing Russian invitations to hold more talks on the question, something that Thompson disputed.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

“While seeking an uncontrolled arms buildup, Washington is actually trying to take down one of the major pillars of current global stability, and this could result in the most painful repercussions for global security,” Zakharova was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency. “It is not late yet for our American partners to work out a responsible attitude to the INF Treaty.”

Thompson said U.S. officials have proposed discussing a wider range of arms control issues on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting scheduled in Beijing.

The United States first publicly accused Moscow of violating the INF Treaty in 2014. After several years of fruitless talks, Washington began stepping up its rhetoric in late 2017, publicly identifying the missile in question and asserting that Russia had moved beyond testing and had begun deploying the systems.

“These are manned, equipped battalions now deployed in the field,” Thompson said.

Late 2018, Washington began providing NATO members and other allies with more detailed, classified satellite and telemetry data, as part of the effort to build support for its accusations.

Thompson said that in addition to providing detailed information on the dates and locations of the missile’s testing and deployment, U.S. officials had also given Russian counterparts a plan for a “verifiable” test of the missile’s range.

Moscow, however, countered with its own proposal, which she said wasn’t realistic because Russian officials were in charge of all aspects of such a test.

“When you go and select the missile and you select the fuel and you control all of those parameters, characteristics, you are controlling the outcome of the test,” she said.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This US Army sergeant started the Korean War by selling out to the KGB

For more than 60 years, only seven people on Earth knew that the Soviets broke U.S. military and diplomatic ciphers. One of those people was former KGB Berlin bureau chief and master Soviet spy Sergei Kondrashev. Kondrashev and his peers searched desperately for American code clerks as they came and went from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The KGB knew next to nothing about American ciphers, the code room in the embassy, or even the personnel who worked there. That changed in the early days of the Cold War.


Tennent Bagley was a CIA agent working around Eastern Europe, including Berlin. In the early 1990’s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, he was to be featured on a German television show to discuss Cold War intelligence with former KGB agents. In preparation for the show, he met Kondrashev, his direct KGB counterpart. Kondrashev told Bagley things that the CIA never knew, including the story of “Jack,” a U.S. Army Sergeant who single-handedly sparked off the Korean War.

 

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow (until 1979).

In 1949, the memory of World War II and the existential threat to Russia was still fresh in the mind of Soviet Premiere Joseph Stalin. Tensions with the U.S. were higher than at any time in recent memory. The Soviet Union needed a way to predict American behavior.

They thought they lucked out when Sgt. James “Mac” MacMillan, a U.S. Army code clerk in the U.S. embassy in Moscow, began dating a Soviet national, nicknamed “Valya.” Kondrashev was the intelligence agent assigned to Mac. He persuaded Mac to give him any details of the code room and of anything else he knew. In exchange, the KGB offered to set him and Valya up with an apartment in Moscow and money to start their lives.

It was only a few weeks after their first meeting that Mac defected to the Soviet Union. Kondrashev soon learned Mac’s knowledge of the American codes was limited and the Russians were no closer to breaking the codes.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Sergei Kondrashev in 1949.

The Russians watched the U.S. embassy intently. Based on the information provided by Mac, they knew what the code clerks looked like, but after Mac’s defection, the Americans were on alert. The KGB’s got lucky again when agents reported an Army clerk visiting a local apartment, staying long into the night, and then returning to the embassy a few nights a week.

They code named that clerk “Jack” and his Russian lover “Nadya.” Nadya was single, attractive, and had her own apartment. She was an employee of the U.S. embassy. Jack was also single, but was short, overweight, and losing his hair. The Russians also discovered he had a history of alcoholism and was known to be greedy. Nadya saw Jack as an opportunity to live abroad at a higher standard of living.

The KGB discovered Nadya had been approached, as an asset but the intelligence agency had more than enough contacts inside the embassy and dropped her as a contact. At the same time, they instructed the young woman to foster the relationship.

She set up the meeting between Jack and Kondrashev, who would be his KGB handler. After a number of meetings designed to assess Jack’s vulnerability, Jack began to offer useful information. Russian government code breakers also started attending the meetings. For the rest of Jack’s tour in Moscow, he met with the KGB, for which he was paid more than $100,000 and told that Nadya would be allowed to leave the Soviet Union and join him in the West.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

In addition to information about the code room, cipher machines, and code procedures, Jack also gave the KGB code schedules for when the deciphering procedures would be changed, broken and used cipher parts, and a print copy of the alphabet backward and forward (along with punctuation marks).  The KGB was able to reconstruct the American code machine by the end of 1949. They were now able to read all American communications destined for installations worldwide.

Stalin’s fear of a direct military confrontation with the United States guided much of the Soviet Union’s foreign policy in the years following the Second World War. For years, Kim Il-Sung, the founder of the Communist regime in North Korea, urged Stalin for support (read: “permission”) to invade South Korea and unify the peninsula under his rule. Stalin hesitated to give Kim the green light because he thought the Americans would rush to defend the South Korean regime.

Deciphered American military communiques convinced Stalin that the Americans would not be as willing to defend South Korea as previously thought. The secret messages revealed that the U.S. had moved combat assets to the Japanese mainland and would thus be ineffective in defense of the fledgling republic. Stalin gave Kim the go-ahead and North Korean tanks rolled across the border on June 25, 1950.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
U.S. troops fighting off a North Korean offensive on the streets while trying to recapture Seoul.

Nadya was not allowed to leave the Soviet Union due to the KGB’s fears of American counterintelligence discovering Jack. Kondrashev’s superiors in the KGB did not survive Stalin’s purges. The codes Jack divulged to the USSR were used to read American diplomatic and military communications until 1961.

Jack returned to the U.S.; his identity was never discovered as Kondrashev went to great lengths to not disclose information to Bagley that might be used to compromise Jack.

(Author’s note: Bagley documented these stories in his book, Spymaster: Startling Cold War Revelations of a Soviet KGB Chief.)

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35s join older jets in revolutionary carrier exercises

The US Navy hit a major milestone in its quest to make aircraft carriers a more deadly, potent force by sailing the USS Abraham Lincoln with F-35C stealth fighters training alongside F/A-18s for the first time.

The Navy’s F-35C represents the most troubled branch of the F-35 family. With the Air Force and Marines Corps F-35s coming online over a year ago, the F-35C sorely lags behind as it struggled to master carrier takeoff and landings.


The F-35C’s ability to launch off the decks of the US’s 11 supercarriers positions it as the replacement to the long-serving F/A-18 Super Hornet, and the first carrier-launched stealth fighter to ever take to the seas.

The USNI News reported on Aug. 28, 2018, that the F-35C has trained alongside F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, and E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes early warning planes.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

The new F-35C prepares to takeoff alongside an F/A-18E/F.

(USNI News / YouTube)

Rear Adm. Dale Horan, charged with integrating the F-35C into the Navy, told USNI News that unlike previous tests that merely saw carriers launching and landing the stealth jets, this time they’re “conducting missions they would do in combat, if required.”

Additionally, the crew of the carrier will become familiar with maintaining the F-35C while at sea.

Since the F-35’s inception, boosters have billed it as a revolution in aerial combat. Never before have stealth aircraft launched off aircraft carriers, nor have planes with such advanced sensors and capabilities.

In the future, stealth F-35s could relay targeting information to fighter jets and Navy ships further back from battle to coordinate the destruction of enemy air defenses without firing a shot.

The F-35s, with a stealth design and unprecedented situational awareness provided to its pilots, was designed to fight in highly contested air defense environments, which today’s decades-old fighter designs would struggle with.

The US’s move towards stealth platforms meant to challenge the defenses of top-tier militaries like Russia and China represents a broader shift towards strategic competition against great powers, rather than the usual mission of suppressing small non-state actors on the ground.

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Watch a video of the F-35C’s training below:

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

Articles

Here’s what’s wrong with the world’s most lethal combat plane

The US Air Force’s F-22 Raptor’s combination of stealth and performance makes it arguably the most lethal combat plane in the world, but it’s not without its weaknesses.


As War Is Boring’s David Archibald notes, the F-22 sorely lacks infrared-search-and-track (IRST) sensors, as well as cheek-mounted, side-looking radars.

Related: How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

Archibald credits these shortcomings to the plane’s design period, when the US Air Force placed a budget cap on developing the avionics for the Raptor.

This means that the Raptor is blind to the infrared spectrum, which has extreme value to fighter jets as all planes and missiles emit heat. The lack of side-looking radars limits how the plane can guide missiles flying at more than 90 degrees away from the plane’s nose.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
An F-22 deploys flares. | US Air Force photo

Meanwhile, Russia’s best competition for the F-22, the  Su-35 Flanker, does have IRST and cheek-mounted radars.

For the Flanker, the IRST provides a vital but limited tool against the ultra-stealthy F-22. As the Flanker has almost no hope of detecting the F-22 by conventional radar, it must rely on finding the F-22’s heat signature; but, as combat aviation expert Justin Bronk previously told Business Insider, looking for fifth-generation aircraft in the open skies with IRST is like “looking through a drinking straw.”

The lack of side-looking radars may prove to be a more enduring difficulty for the Raptor, however. Former F-22 Raptor pilot Lt. Col. David Berke told Business Insider that he’d avoid a close-in, turning fight if possible.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Sukhoi Su-35S (Su-35BM) multirole fighter at MAKS-2011 airshow. | Wikimedia Commons photo

“Just because I knew I could outmaneuver an enemy, my objective wouldn’t be to get in a turning fight and kill him,” Berke said.

However, cheek-mounted radars have utility beyond dogfights, and by requiring the pilot to point his nose at a target to guide a missile, the plane has essentially handcuffed the pilot who could be doing other tasks.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

One vet’s story about coming back from the brink of suicide

In 2017, I left the military after 14 years of service as an Army military policeman. I came to Texas with a debilitating back injury, PTSD, little financial security and Hurricane Harvey was looming in my future. Like so many that are in pain, I started to abuse alcohol and prescription drugs.

Then Hurricane Harvey hit: the catalyst that tipped the scales. With my savings already gone and no assistance from FEMA, my family was left living in a hotel room. Feeling like I couldn’t provide for my family only worsened my PTSD. But I couldn’t go to anybody – I told myself that other people need help more than I do and that my problems weren’t “that” bad. So I tried to deal with it on my own, but I was in too deep.


Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

(Military Families Magazine)

So deep, that in October 2017, I drove to the hotel I was living in, parked the car and pulled my pistol out of the glove compartment. I didn’t see any other options. At that moment, my fiancée came outside. I couldn’t let her see what I was about to do, so I put the gun away and followed her inside. There she handed me a check and I learned that somebody applied for a grant for me from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). It wasn’t necessarily the money that brought my head above water so that I could reanalyze the situation and take the next step forward — It was the fact that somebody cared enough about me to notice I was struggling and offer help.

From that point on, I knew that I wanted to help others. For those that know somebody who needs help, don’t sit by. Everybody has the power to make one small action that can change somebody else’s life, and in a time with so much uncertainty and fear in the world, we should all aim for that.

How can you help those in need?

So here are five small things that you can do today to help somebody in your life that may be struggling.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

(Military Families Magazine)

1. Notice changes.

In our fast-pace culture, its common to rush by people, even those you love, and not really notice how they are doing. Have they become quieter and more withdrawn or perpetually angry? That is often a big signal that they are struggling with something. Other top signals include changes to their hygiene, sleep, appetite and focus. But did you know that even positive changes are often indicators of mental or emotional turmoil?

Trust your gut. If somebody has become more social all of a sudden and they seem “fine” now, they probably aren’t really fine. Really taking the time to notice people in your life and be aware of any personality changes is the first step to being there for somebody.

2. Avoid giving advice and silver linings.

Once you start noticing the people in your life that may be struggling, it’s tempting to want to talk to them. But avoid giving advice and silver linings, as it can tend to make somebody shut down even more. You want to create space where they can open up to you, so check in often and just be there to listen – even if they don’t want to talk.

If they do want to open up to you, make an effort to hear the story from their perspective. Even if their struggle doesn’t make sense to you, avoid saying “it could be worse” or listing the reasons why they should be happy. Fight the urge to try and “fix” their problems. Sometimes, the best fix is to just lend a listening ear and to know when to refer your loved one to a professional.

3. Be proactive.

If you notice that somebody in your life could use a little tangible help, be proactive and offer it, rather than saying “let me know if you need anything.” While that may be a socially acceptable phrase, it puts all the pressure on the other person to reach out to you. We are often conditioned to see asking for help as a weakness, so the odds that they take you up on the offer are small. So if you notice a mom on your kid’s soccer team is constantly late for pickup, offer to drive her child home. If your sister’s health is poor, but she can’t afford to eat well, drop off a healthy meal once in a while. Apply for that financial aid for somebody. Your gesture doesn’t need to be big — It’s often the little things that help people the most.

4. Suggest volunteering.

Today, I travel around speaking and advocating for PTSD and suicide awareness. While sharing my story provides hope to others, it also continues to heal me. I have found that each time I recount my experiences, I release more of the burden of these stories. That’s why I continue to serve, and because of my service I have been named a spokesperson for the VFW’s newest campaign, #StillServing, which aims to bring to light the continued service of America’s veterans.

Remind your loved one that volunteering and serving others is a great way to foster their own healing. Invite them to go with you to a food bank or animal shelter as a way to get out of your head for a few hours.

5. Remember to care for yourself as well.

You can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure to take care of yourself as well. Do not blame yourself for not “doing enough” or not feeling comfortable talking to somebody about their experiences. Even following just one of the tips above can mean the world to somebody. It did for me.

I still don’t know who applied for that grant for me, but it changed my life. Today, I am in school working toward becoming a family law attorney, I speak on and advocate for PTSD and suicide awareness and I am a spokesperson for the VFW’s #StillServing campaign.

Chris Blevins is a veteran of the US Army, serving 14 years as a military police officer with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, he is an advocate for post traumatic stress disorder awareness and suicide awareness. He attends the University of Texas San Antonio where he is pursuing a degree in politics and law with the goal of becoming a family lawyer. He is a spokesperson for the VFW’s newest campaign, #StillServing and lives in San Antonio with his wife and four children.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.


Articles

Mercury 13: The first female astronaut candidates that time forgot

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Visiting the space center as invited guests of STS-63 Pilot Eileen Collins, the first female shuttle pilot and later the first female shuttle commander, are (from left): Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Rutley, Myrtle Cagle and Bernice Steadman. (Photo: NASA)


Dr. Randy Lovelace was a Harvard-educated flight surgeon with the U.S. Army who became a pioneer in aeromedicine and aviation physiology — particularly with the issues surrounding high-altitude flight. He was instrumental in developing the first oxygen masks and other adaptive equipment that allowed aviators to survive in low space.

In 1940 Lovelace met Jackie Cochran, a record-holding air racer who petitioned First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to use women as pilots on the homefront in a variety of non-combat missions. That idea turned into the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, better known as “WASPs,” during World War II. These female aviators served in crucial roles — test pilots, ferry pilots and maintenance check pilots — that freed up more male pilots to fight the battles that were raging across the globe. A few years later Cochran, by virtue of her friendship with Chuck Yeager, became the first woman to break the sound barrier. After that, she became the first woman to land an airplane on an aircraft carrier.

So when NASA started fielding candidates for what would eventually become the Mercury 7 astronauts, Lovelace and Cochran started a parallel effort that mirrored NASA’s rigorous testing — doable because Lovelace was a key player in designing the official program for the space agency. Along the way they asked another record-breaking female aviator, Jerrie Cobb, to join the effort. The three of them scrubbed the veteran WASP community — a population of over 700 pilots — and came up with 13 qualified females willing and able to go through their NASA-like testing.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Jerrie Cobb with Mercury capsule. (Photo: NASA)

Cobb dubbed the group “Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees” or “FLATs.” The 13 went through a series of stressful evaluations designed to see if they could hold up under the conditions in space. Ice water was injected into their ears to induce vertigo. Painful electric shocks were administered to test reflexes. Weighted stationary bicycles were used to rapidly push candidates to exhaustion. And that was just Phase I of the testing.

All 13 of the women passed Phase I, but because of family and job commitments, only three of them — Jerrie Cobb, Rhea Hurrle, and Wally Funk — were able to travel to Oklahoma City for Phase II. Phase II involved psychological evaluations — including one that had them sit in an isolation tank for an extended period. All three woman passed.

After Jerrie Cobb passed Phase III, which included actual flights in military jet aircraft, the rest of the FLATs were invited to follow suit. But before they could gather at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the designated location, U.S. Navy officials at the base sent a telegram to the candidates that informed them that support for the project had been withdrawn because the request hadn’t come through NASA channels.

That ruling infuriated Cobb, and in 1962 she flew to Washington, D.C., to petition lawmakers to make the FLATs program an official part of NASA. Her efforts led to Rep. Victor Anfuso, R-NY, convening public hearings before a special Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics. Cobb’s testimony introduced gender discrimination into the Hill’s conversation well before the Civil Right Act of 1964 made it illegal.

But the way forward for the FLATs was plagued by infighting among the principals more than unresponsive congressmen. Jackie Cochran, of all people, sensing she was losing clout among her peers, testified that setting up a special program to help women would hurt NASA. Cochran’s negative view was multiplied by the opinions of a handful of Mercury 7 astronauts, including John Glenn, who said that the absence of women in the program was “a fact of our social order.”

Glenn also pointed out that astronaut candidates were required to be graduates of one of the military’s test pilot schools, something women were not qualified to apply for in 1962, and NASA had already indicated it had no desire to waive the requirement by giving females credit for the massive amount of flight experience they had — in some cases many more flight hours than the Mercury 7 selectees. Although some in congress were sympathetic to the FLATs’ plight, Cobb’s Capitol Hill visit didn’t result in any meaningful support.

Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963. In response, “Life” magazine published an article criticizing NASA and American decision makers. The article included photographs of all 13 FLATs, which made the entire group of women public for the first time.

NASA did not select any female astronaut candidates until 1978. Astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983, and in 1995 Eileen Collins was the first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle. At Collins’ invitation, seven of the surviving FLATs attended her launch.

In 1995, while working on a film adaptation of the FLATs’ story, Hollywood producer James Cross coined the label “Mercury 13” for the FLATs. (Look for that title in a theater near you in the years to come.)

Articles

7 legends of the US Navy

During its 241-year history the U.S. Navy has had it’s fair share of swashbucklers, iconoclasts, groundbreakers, and innovators. Here are seven among the most noteworthy of them:


1. John Paul Jones

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

“The Father of the American Navy,” John Paul Jones rose to early prominence in the Revolutionary War period by taking prize ships and inflicting damage on the British in the waters off the North American coast. But he truly made his name when he sailed the Bonhomme Richard into British waters and engaged with the Royal Navy’s Serapis.

After a vicious engagement that seemingly had the American warship defeated and about to sink, the British captain asked JPJ if he was ready to give up. The American captain responded, “I have not yet begun to fight,” and he went on to lead Bonhomme Richard to a decisive victory.

Jones is buried in a crypt beneath the chapel on the campus of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

2. Stephen Decatur

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Stephen Decatur joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 19, following in his father’s footsteps. His first major task was to oversee the construction of the original six frigates, including the United States, which he would later command.

At the turn of the century Decatur was among a group of officers who convinced a timid President Jefferson to allow the fledgling fleet to sail over the horizon to make an impact on the Old World. He led a daring raid to burn the Philadelphia in Tripoli harbor after it had run aground, a mission that Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson himself called “the most bold and daring act of the age.” Word of the raid got back to the States and Decatur became a national hero.

Decatur was later killed in a duel with James Barron over a rumor that Decatur had besmirched Barron’s honor.

3. Alfred Thayer Mahan

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Mahan has been called “the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century.” His concepts of sea power, famously presented in The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783, had an enormous influence in shaping the strategic thought of navies across the world and contributed to a European naval arms race in the 1890s that culminated in the First World War.

Ironically, his skills in actual command of a ship were not good, and a number of vessels under his command smashed into both moving and stationary objects. He actually tried to avoid active sea duty.

Nevertheless, the books he wrote ashore made him arguably the most influential naval historian of the period, and his ideas still influence the U.S. Navy’s doctrine.

4. Chester Nimitz

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
After being court martialed for running a ship aground while he was an ensign (something no junior officer could survive today), Nimitz reinvented himself as a submariner, eventually becoming the U.S. Navy’s foremost authority on the construction and tactical uses of them. Along the way he commanded surface ships and subs alike, and he also stood up the nation’s first NROTC unit (at UCal Berkeley, which seems sort of ironic now).

Ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Nimitz became the commander of the Pacific Fleet, and he oversaw the “island hopping” campaign that carried the Allies to victory. In 1944 he was promoted to five-star. Nimitz signed for the U.S. when the Japanese surrendered aboard the Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay. His final tour was as Chief of Naval Operations.

By virtue of his five-star rank, Nimitz never technically retired and retained full pay and benefits until his death in 1966.

5. Jesse Brown

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
Brown was the first African-American aviator in the U.S. Navy, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the first African-American naval officer killed in the Korean War.

He flew 20 combat missions before his F4U Corsair aircraft came under fire and crashed on a remote mountaintop on December 4, 1950 while supporting ground troops at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Brown died of his wounds despite the efforts of wingman Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., who intentionally crashed his own aircraft in a rescue attempt, for which he received the Medal of Honor.

Because of Brown’s successes in breaking through barriers in the segregated U.S. military, the frigate USS Jesse L. Brown (FF 1089) was named in his honor.

6. Hyman Rickover

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
“The Father of the Nuclear Navy,” Rickover’s unique personality and drive created the “zero defect” culture of nuke power that exists today, one that has avoided any mishaps (as defined by the uncontrolled release of fission products to the environment subsequent to reactor core damage).

Rickover’s major career advances were made by going around his immediate chain of command and getting the support of the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who saw the potential of nuclear power. Rickover led the construction of the U.S. Navy’s first nuclear powered vessel, the USS Nautilus, a submarine.

For the next three decades Rickover held the nuclear Navy with tight reins, even insisting on personal interviews with every ROTC and USNA candidate who wanted nuke power. (Those interviews remain the stuff of legend because of the outrageous questions Rickover sometimes asked the young midshipmen about their academic records and personal lives.)

Always controversial and largely unpopular (especially with those who worked closely with him) Rickover was retired against his will after a record 63-year career, by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman who believed that Rickover’s accomplishments were in the past and that his grip on the community had outlasted its utility. Rickover went down swinging, including calling Lehman all sorts of names in the Oval Office while President Reagan was trying to show him the door.

7. James B. Stockdale

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
A year after being told by his superiors to keep quiet about the fact that he saw no enemy forces from the air the night of the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” that President Johnson used as the justification for the U.S. entering the Vietnam War, Stockdale was shot down over North Vietnam while flying his A-4 on a bombing mission.

He was held as a prisoner of war in the Hoa Lo prison (popularly known as the Hanoi Hilton) for the next seven and a half years. As the senior Naval officer, he was one of the primary organizers of prisoner resistance. Tortured routinely and denied medical attention for the severely damaged leg he suffered during capture, Stockdale created and enforced a code of conduct for all prisoners that governed torture, secret communications, and behavior.

In the summer of 1969, he was locked in leg irons in a bath stall and routinely tortured and beaten. When told by his captors that he was to be paraded in public, Stockdale slit his scalp with a razor to purposely disfigure himself so he couldn’t be used as propaganda. When they covered his head with a hat, he beat himself with a stool until his face was swollen beyond recognition.

He received the Medal of Honor for his leadership and courage during his time as a POW. When later asked what mindset got him through the trial he said the following: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force tests nuclear bomb that can penetrate fortified bunkers

The Air Force’s B-2 Stealth bomber has test-dropped an upgraded, multi-function B61-12 nuclear bomb which improves accuracy, integrates various attack options into a single bomb, and changes the strategic landscape with regard to nuclear weapons mission possibilities.

Early summer 2018, the Air Force dropped a B61-12 nuclear weapon from a B-2 at Nellis AFB, marking a new developmental flight test phase for the upgraded bomb, Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Hope Cronin told Warrior Maven.


“The updated weapon will include improved safety, security and reliability,” Cronin said.

The B61-12 adds substantial new levels of precision targeting and consolidates several different kinds of attack options into a single weapon. Instead of needing separate variants of the weapon for different functions, the B61-12 by itself allows for earth-penetrating attacks, low-yield strikes, high-yield attacks, above surface detonation, and bunker-buster options.

The latest version of the B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb, which has origins as far back as the 1960s, is engineered as a low-to-medium yield strategic and tactical nuclear weapon, according to nuclearweaponsarchive.org, which also states the weapon has a “two-stage” radiation implosion design.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

B61 Thermonuclear Bomb.

“The main advantage of the B61-12 is that it packs all the gravity bomb capabilities against all the targeting scenarios into one bomb. That spans from very low-yield tactical “clean” use with low fallout to more dirty attacks against underground targets,” Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists, told Warrior Maven.

Air Force officials describe this, in part, by referring to the upgraded B61-12 as having an “All Up Round.”

“The flight test accomplished dedicated B61-12 developmental test requirements and “All Up Round” system level integration testing on the B-2,” Cronin said.

The B61 Mod 12 is engineered with a special “Tail Subassembly” to give the bomb increased accuracy, giving a new level of precision targeting using Inertial Navigation Systems, Kristensen said.

“Right now the B-2 carries only B61-7 (10-360 kt), B61-11(400 kt, earth-penetrator), and B83-1 (high-yield bunker-buster). The B61-12 covers all of those missions, with less radioactive fallout, plus very low-yield attacks,” he added.

The evidence that the B61-12 can penetrate below the surface has significant implications for the types of targets that can be held at risk with the bomb.

By bringing an “earth-penetrating” component, the B61-12 vastly increases the target scope or envelope of attack. It can enable more narrowly targeted or pinpointed strikes at high-value targets underground – without causing anywhere near the same level of devastation above ground or across a wider area.

“A nuclear weapon that detonates after penetrating the earth more efficiently transmits its explosive energy to the ground, thus is more effective at destroying deeply buried targets for a given nuclear yield. A detonation above ground, in contrast, results in a larger fraction of the explosive energy bouncing off the surface,” Kristensen explained.

Massive B-2 Upgrade

The testing and integration of the B61-12 is one piece of a massive, fleet-wide B-2 upgrade designed to sustain the bomber into coming years, until large numbers of the emerging B-21 Raider are available. A range of technical modifications are also intended to prepare the 1980s-era bomber for very sophisticated, high-end modern threats.

The B-2 is getting improved digital weapons integration, new computer processing power reported to be 1,000-times faster than existing systems and next-generation sensors designed to help the aircraft avoid enemy air defenses.

One of the effort’s key modifications is designed to improve what’s called the bomber’s Defensive Management System, a technology designed to help the B-2 recognize and elude enemy air defenses, using various antennas, receivers and display processors.

The Defensive Management System is to detect signals or “signatures” emitting from ground-based anti-aircraft weapons, Air Force officials have said. Current improvements to the technology are described by Air Force developers as “the most extensive modification effort that the B-2 has attempted.”

The modernized system, called a B-2 “DMS-M” unit, consists of a replacement of legacy DMS subsystems so that the aircraft can be effective against the newest and most lethal enemy air defenses. The upgraded system integrates a suite of antennas, receivers, and displays that provide real-time intelligence information to aircrew, service officials said.

Upgrades consist of improved antennas with advanced digital electronic support measures, or ESMs along with software components designed to integrate new technologies with existing B-2 avionics, according to an Operational Test Evaluation report from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The idea of the upgrade is, among other things, to inform B-2 crews about the location of enemy air defenses so that they can avoid or maneuver around high-risk areas where the aircraft is more likely to be detected or targeted. The DMS-M is used to detect radar emissions from air defenses and provide B-2 air crews with faster mission planning information — while in-flight.

Air Force officials explain that while many of the details of the upgraded DMS-M unit are not available for security reasons, the improved system does allow the stealthy B-2 to operate more successfully in more high-threat, high-tech environments — referred to by Air Force strategists as highly “contested environments.”

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, May 30, 2006.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Many experts have explained that 1980s stealth technology is known to be less effective against the best-made current and emerging air defenses — newer, more integrated systems use faster processors, digital networking and a wider-range of detection frequencies.

The DMS-M upgrade does not in any way diminish the stealth properties of the aircraft, meaning it does not alter the contours of the fuselage or change the heat signature to a degree that it would make the bomber more susceptible to enemy radar, developers said.

Many advanced air defenses use X-band radar, a high-frequency, short-wavelength signal able to deliver a high-resolution imaging radar such as that for targeting. S-band frequency, which operates from 2 to 4 GHz, is another is also used by many air defenses, among other frequencies.

X-band radar operates from 8 to 12 GHz, Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, sends forward and electromagnetic “ping” before analyzing the return signal to determine shape, speed, size, and location of an enemy threat. SAR paints a rendering of sorts of a given target area. X-band provides both precision tracking as well as horizon scans or searches. Stealth technology, therefore, uses certain contour configurations and radar-absorbing coating materials to confuse or thwart electromagnetic signals from air defenses

These techniques are, in many cases, engineered to work in tandem with IR (infrared) suppressors used to minimize or remove a “heat” signature detectable by air defenses’ IR radar sensors. Heat coming from the exhaust or engine of an aircraft can provide air defense systems with indication that an aircraft is operating overhead. These stealth technologies are intended to allow a stealth bomber to generate little or no return radar signal, giving air dense operators an incomplete, non-existent or inaccurate representation of an object flying overhead.

Also, the B-2 is slated to fly alongside the services’ emerging B-21 Raider next-generation stealth bomber; this platform, to be ready in the mid-2020s, is said by many Air Force developers to include a new generation of stealth technologies vastly expanding the current operational ranges and abilities of existing stealth bombers. In fact, Air Force leaders have said that the B-21 will be able to hold any target in the world at risk, anytime.

The Air Force currently operates 20 B-2 bombers, with the majority of them based at Whiteman AFB in Missouri. The B-2 can reach altitudes of 50,000 feet and carry 40,000 pounds of payload, including both conventional and nuclear weapons.

The aircraft, which entered service in the 1980s, has flown missions over Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. In fact, given its ability to fly as many as 6,000 nautical miles without need to refuel, the B-2 flew from Missouri all the way to an island off the coast of India called Diego Garcia — before launching bombing missions over Afghanistan.

Featured image: A B-2 Spirit dropping Mk.82 bombs into the Pacific Ocean in a 1994 training exercise off Point Mugu, California, near Point Mugu State Park.

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

Articles

Another open letter to Colin Kaepernick from a (more understanding) military veteran

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal
(Photo: thesource.com)


EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of We Are The Mighty.

Thank you for using your platform to highlight a societal ill that needs our national attention and action to address and improve matters pertaining to equal justice under the law. Many will take issue with the manner of your “protest” and may never entertain the issue at the heart of your statement. These fellow Americans may have a concern about the nature of your protest rather than the substance of your protest.

Related: An open letter to Colin Kaepernick from a military veteran

I applaud you for risking the sure backlash and knee-jerk disdain sure to come for any American who dares to highlight an issue during the National Anthem. Because you are not a professional protestor, your methods may be crude and course. Because you are a professional athlete, your words may not convey the precise intent of your protest. But because you are an American, you have the right to express your thought or voice in a manner available to you. Some will offer advice on how to protest in a manner that is less upsetting to them and their sensibilities.

This misses the point of social protest. It is to awaken those very sensibilities and highlight the moral deficit in our social fabric. There are not many avenues or ways for a social minority to highlight an issue to the majority. Our shared history, our American history is replete with examples worthy of outrage and protest that caused no action or discussion by the majority.

A notable example is the story of Emmet Till. Many are not aware that the injustice endured by the murder, disfigurement, mutilation and hatred visited on a 14-year-old boy and his family, were the chief impetus to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In short, this 14-year-old boy was kidnapped from his home and killed. The assailants were known and a mock trial held. No convictions were given.

Your protest method is not innovative but has been shown to be effective in generating discussion. A similar example is Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Many will accuse you of nefarious motives and unpatriotic underpinnings. Many will look to dissect your background for failings to lessen your protest moment. Many will discount your intended message because of your delivery (manner and voice). And many will never look to address the intent of the protest because that is hard and dismissing is easy.

In addition, not having a difficult discussion is easier than acknowledging a perspective not shared. Said another way is that the experiences that are not shared by the majority are often deemed non-existent. My nation, our nation, needs to continue the work to improve our social fabric and the actions of its institutions and agents to better provide equal justice. America, in its history, has made great strides in integrating many cultures, religions, and traditions.

America has led the world in demonstrating democracy in action. America has often led the world in being a champion for human rights and dignity. America is the greatest nation in this world and remains a beacon of hope for many people enduring deep levels of oppression.

While your manner of protest is not what I or many others would choose, I support you in this effort to highlight the need for a national engagement on the issue of equal justice. To those reading this letter, this is a call for us work together to discuss the issue, understand the perspectives/history and bring ideas and solutions to improve our America. I love my country and stand ready to serve again. This is the work needed to push us forward in making our nation a “more perfect union.”

Arthur Billingsley is a retired Navy commander, graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School with a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. He’s currently working as an IT professional in northern Florida.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Don’t let height standards get in the way of becoming an Air Force pilot

Those who aspire to one day become a U.S. Air Force aviator must first meet several requirements, including height, before they are considered for pilot training. For those who fall outside of the Air Force’s height requirements, height waivers are available.

“Don’t automatically assume you don’t qualify because of your height,” said Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander. “We have an incredibly thorough process for determining whether you can safely operate our assigned aircraft. Don’t let a number on a website stop you from pursuing a career with the best Air Force in the world.”


The current height requirement to become an Air Force pilot is a standing height of 5 feet, 4 inches to 6 feet, 5 inches and a sitting height of 34-40 inches. These standard height requirements have been used for years to ensure candidates will safely fit into an operational aircraft and each of the prerequisite training aircraft. “We’re rewriting these rules to better capture the fact that no two people are the exact same, even if they are the same overall height,” Wills said.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

U.S. Air Force Maj. Nick Harris (left) and Capt. Jessica Wallander, instructor pilots with the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., stand side-by-side to illustrate the varying standing heights of Air Force pilots to dispel the myth that there is one height standard for all Air Force pilots.

(US Air Force photo)

“Height restrictions are an operational limitation, not a medical one, but the majority of our aircraft can accommodate pilots from across the height spectrum,” Wills said. “The bottom line is that the vast majority of the folks who are below 5 feet, 4 inches and have applied for a waiver in the past five years have been approved.”

The waiver process begins at each of the commissioning sources for pilot candidates, whether the U.S. Air Force Academy, Officer Training School or Reserve Officer Training Corps. For those who do not meet the standard height requirements, anthropometric measurements are completed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, or at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“We have a great process in place to evaluate and accommodate those who fall outside our published standards,” Wills said. “If an applicant is over 5 feet, 2 inches tall, historically they have a greater than 95% chance of qualifying for service as a pilot. Applicants as short as 4 feet, 11 inches have received waivers in the past five years.”

Anthropometric measurements include sitting eye height, buttocks to knee length and arm span. The anthropometric device at Wright Patterson AFB is the only device accepted by the Air Force when determining waiver eligibility. A specialty team conducts the measurements at U.S. Air Force Academy.

Life aboard WWII submarines was brutal

Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, Nineteenth Air Force commander, stands side-by-side with a Nineteenth Air Force pilot to illustrate the varying standing heights of Air Force pilots to dispel the myth that there is one height standard for all Air Force pilots.

(US Air Force photo)

Waiver packages are then coordinated through a partnership between the Air Education Training Command surgeon general and Nineteenth Air Force officials, who are responsible for all of the Air Force’s initial flying training.

“As part of the waiver process, we have a team of experts who objectively determine if a candidate’s measurements are acceptable,” said Col. Gianna Zeh, AETC surgeon general. “Let us make the determination if your measures are truly an eliminating issue.”

The pilot waiver system is in place to determine whether pilot applicants of all sizes can safely operate assigned aircraft and applicants who are significantly taller or shorter than average may require special screening.

“Some people may still not qualify,” Wills said. “But, the Air Force is doing everything that we can to make a career in aviation an option for as many people as possible. The waiver process is another example of how we can expand the pool of eligible pilot candidates.”

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

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