This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

During the Civil War, the Medal of Honor didn’t carry the same weight it does among US troops these days. When it was first conceived in 1861, American troops getting medals for any reason was a new thing, even if it was for “personal valor.” More than 1,500 were awarded throughout the war. By 1917, however, the Medal of Honor achieved the status it was intended to carry in the first place, and 910 of those were rescinded to officially elevate the award. Since then, individual medals have been awarded, often long after the action for which they were won.

That’s how Alonzo Cushing was awarded his Medal of Honor for bravery before the enemy at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. It was presented to him by President Obama in 2014.


This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Every photo of Cushing looks like he is ready to personally end some Confederate lives.

Major Alonzo Cushing was a Union artillery officer who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point just a few short weeks after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. By the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Cushing was still a lieutenant in experience, but earned the rank of brevet major for his role at the recent Battle of Chancellorsville, in Virginia. The heavy toll the Union took during that battle must have weighed heavily on Cushing because he gave no ground to the enemy as long as he could still stand. He was also a veteran of Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. By then, he knew how important his role was.

On the last day of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg, the artillery battery commander was wounded three separate times. First, shrapnel from an exploding shell tore through his shoulder. This was not enough to deter Cushing. Even after his second wound, which cut through his lower abdomen and literally spilled his guts, he stayed at his post, holding them in. It was the third injury that would silence him forever. He was ordered to fall to the rear. Instead, he ordered his guns to move closer and moved with them.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

The Gettysburg Cyclorama, 1883.

(Paul Dominique Philippoteaux)

Cushing defied orders to abandon his position on Cemetery Ridge at the critical point in the battle. The massive bombardment of Cemetery Ridge that cut into Alonzo Cushing preceded a full frontal infantry assault that came to be known as “Pickett’s Charge.” The Confederate attack on the Union position at Cemetery Ridge was as close as the Confederate Army would ever get to defeating the Union, losing more than half the men who made the charge.

Also killed was Brevet Maj. Cushing. Because of his previous wounds, Cushing could no longer yell loud enough to be heard by the men under his command. His First Sergeant literally picked him up and repeated his orders to the men. As he gave orders, the 22-year-old Cushing was hit in the mouth by an enemy bullet and was killed. His gallantry in combat earned him the permanent rank of Lt. Col. and a burial at his beloved West Point’s cemetery.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

If looks could kill, Cushing’s is an 1841 Howitzer.

Just as Cushing’s First Sergeant wrote to his family about his bravery in battle, the Wisconsin native became the subject of a letter-writing campaign more than 100-plus years later. Residents of Wisconsin were more concerned with recognizing one of their favorite sons for his valor. It wasn’t until 2014 that Congress was finally able to act and the President was able to concur.

“His part of our larger American story — one that continues today,” the President said. “The spirit, the courage, the determination that he demonstrated lives on in our brave men and women in uniform who this very day are serving and making sure that they are defending the freedoms that Alonzo helped to preserve. And it’s incumbent on all of us as Americans to uphold the values that they fight for, and to continue to honor their service long after they leave the battlefield – for decades, even centuries to come.”

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for his gallantry during combat at Gettysburg July 3, 1863. Receiving the medal at the White House ceremony, Nov. 6, 2014, is Helen Loring Ensign, Cushing’s first cousin, twice removed.

Accepting Cushing’s Medal of Honor was a distant first cousin of the young officer. Also present was Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and 94-year-old historian Margaret Zerwekh. It was Zerwekh’s constant lobbying that made Cushing’s award a reality.

At 151 years, it was the longest wait of any Medal of Honor Recipient to receive the award.

Humor

That time a US hacker hijacked North Korean propaganda to play ‘the Final Countdown’

A socially conscious hacker known as “The Jester” put one over on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recently. To add to his long list of hilarious practical jokes with a social-conscious message, the hacktivist hijacked a propaganda-laden North Korean shortwave radio station.


His request? “The Final Countdown” by the 80s one-hit-wonder Swedish rock band, Europe.

(EuropeVEVO | YouTube)

He announced the feat through his Twitter account. In the past, The Jester has taken on jihadist websites, notably ISIS. He even retaliated against the Russian Foreign Ministry for attacking American targets, defacing their website with the message:

Comrades! We interrupt regular scheduled Russian Foreign Affairs Website programming to bring you the following important message,” he wrote. “Knock it off. You may be able to push around nations around you, but this is America. Nobody is impressed.

While no one knows who he is, The Jester is a self-proclaimed patriot hacker, who thinks Anonymous is a bunch of “blowhards” whose work amounts to a “hill of beans.” Evidence in The Jester’s work makes people believe he is either a military veteran or former military contractor — he even leaves a calling card for his work: “Tango Down.”

Either way, he’s on our side.

 

The North Korean radio station hit by The Jester is used to broadcast coded messages and often used as a warning post for outside media before the regime does something provocative. It also re-broadcasts programming from the appropriately-named Pyongyang Broadcasting Station… aka “Pyongyang BS.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why General William T. Sherman’s battle flag was never used in combat

Battle flags were a big thing during the American Civil War. Perhaps the most famous (and now most notorious) is the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. Often mistaken for the official flag of the Confederate States of America, the crossed stars and bars flag was flown for Robert E. Lee’s Army – and grew more popular than the actual Confederate flag.

The Union had its own battle flags as well. In fact every general, it seems, had their own battle flag, with some more popular than others. The Army of the Potomac’s battle flag was a swallow-tailed flag featuring a golden eagle and wreath on a magenta background. 

Custer had one. Sheridan had one. So did Burnside, Breckinridge and Cumming. Even the most famous Civil War general (or notorious, depending one which side of the Mason-Dixon line you’re on) had one. Except William Tecumseh Sherman’s flag never saw any fighting. In fact he created his flag as a symbol of peace.

To quickly recap, the Civil War career of Gen. Sherman, he had a nervous breakdown early on in the war. After being relieved of military command of Kentucky, he went home to Ohio to recover. He returned to duty that same year and was eventually placed under the command of his good friend, Ulysses S. Grant.  

This proved to be the entire South’s undoing. Not just the Confederate Army and not just the Confederate States or America: for the entire South, Sherman’s return to duty was the beginning of the end. As Sherman saw successes  on the battlefields of the south, he rose in rank. When Grant took command of the Union Army, he promoted Sherman to his old job.

battle flag
General Sherman’s 23rd Corps’ battle flag, created out of shredded confederate flags (Reddit)

It was this renewed Gen. Sherman who said such famous lines like: 

  • “War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.”
  • “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”
  • “You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end.”
  • “I am satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of this war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the South must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory.”
  • “I regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash — and it may be well that we become so hardened.”
  • and finally: “I will make Georgia howl.”

Sherman was basically the last guy anyone would want invading their country at the almost 100,000 angry Union troops, but that’s exactly what Georgia got. He proceeded to burn down large areas of the rebel state.

Sherman’s flag wasn’t created in the Civil War, though. He commissioned it in 1880, 15 years after the war’s end when he was General of the U.S. Army. His original flags was made of blue silk and was full of symbolism meant to represent the unity between states.

It featured a flying golden eagle with a white head in the center of the flag, it’s head turned toward the olive branch in its talons, a symbol of peace between states. Above the eagle were 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies, along with a shield covered by 13 stripes. It was a look back at the days when the country had unity of purpose. 

General Sherman died in 1891, and his flag was placed in the care of his daughter, Mary Elizabeth. She donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1918, folded in an envelope and warning the museum that it was in pretty rough shape. It stayed in the envelope until 2013, waiting for the right expert to restore it. 

This is the Smithsonian Institution, so of course they eventually found the right person for the job. Visit their website to see just how badly deteriorated it was and to see how the restoration effort preserved this part of American history.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pakistan’s new PM want an end to the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s former sports-celebrity-turned politician, Imran Khan, in his televised election victory speech July 26, 2018, pledged to tackle poverty and endemic corruption through a revamped governance system in the country.

Khan delivered the speech as about 90 percent of the results from July 25, 2018’s parliamentary polls already had been compiled. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PT) party was well ahead of its main rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of jailed former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.


Almost all the main rival parties have alleged the polls were rigged and manipulated in favor of Khan, allegations the independent Election Commission of Pakistan rejected.

Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Mohammad Raza strongly defended the voting process as free and fair. “These elections were 100 percent transparent and fair … there is no stain,” Raza insisted while speaking to reporters early July 26, 2018.

The commission admitted that its electronic reporting system collapsed shortly after vote counting began late July 25, 2018, causing unprecedented delays in announcing results.

Khan also promised to provide any assistance required to investigate the rigging charges, though he declared the polls as “the fairest in Pakistan.”

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Mohammad Raza

Analysts say partial election results suggest Khan’s party, with the help of smaller groups and independents, is poised to establish governments not only at the center but possibly in three of Pakistan’s four provinces.

Khan pledged in July 26, 2018’s speech to deliver on campaign promises, saying he would turn Pakistan into an “Islamic welfare state.”

The would-be government, he said, would not use the palatial prime minister’s residence in Islamabad and would use the space for other priorities as it focuses on good governance and economic challenges facing the country.

“I would be ashamed to live in such a large house. That house will be converted into an educational institution or something of the sort,” he said. “Our state institutions will be stronger, everyone will be held accountable. First I will be subjected to accountability, then my ministers and so on.”

Khan acknowledged while speaking to VOA on the eve of the election that the economy is the biggest challenge facing Pakistan.

“The only way we can overcome this is by revamping the way we do governance in this country, strengthening institutions and then spending it on our human beings,” Khan noted. This is “the rock bottom” for Pakistan, he warned.

“Never have we fallen so low as we have right now in terms of human development, in terms of the cost of doing business, in terms of our economy going down the drain. So, the challenges are huge but they can only be done … if we change the way we do governance in this country.”

Sharif’s party has been for months accusing the military of covertly helping Khan’s election campaign, charges both Khan and the military have strongly denied.

The PML-N’s electoral chances also have been shaken by Sharif’s conviction in absentia earlier this month on corruption charges involving expensive properties he and his family held overseas.

Sharif, who immediately was placed in custody after returning from Britain nearly two weeks ago, has denounced the verdict as politically motivated. He accused a covert military-judiciary alliance of trying to keep him out of politics and undermining the integrity of his PML-N party.

Khan and his party were instrumental in leading street protests and fighting legal battles to win the conviction in corruption cases against Sharif.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Imran Khan

Foreign policy

In his brief speech, Khan also spoke about how his party intends to deal with foreign policy challenges facing Pakistan.

Years of wars in Afghanistan have inflicted unprecedented sufferings on Afghans and they need peace, he said. The new government will make all possible efforts to promote peace in Afghanistan to ensure peace in Pakistan, Khan vowed.

“I also want to build relations with Afghanistan to a point where we have open borders just like those within the European Union,” he added.

Khan said he would seek a mutually beneficial and balanced relationship with the United States.

“We want to improve our relations with India, if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan is because of India and vice versa brings us back to square one. If they take one step toward us, we will take two, but we at least need a start.”

The election is just Pakistan’s third peaceful transition of power. The military has ruled the Muslim-majority nation of more than 200 million people for nearly half of the country’s 71-year-history.

July 25, 2018’s vote was disrupted by militant attacks and incidents involving gunfire between political rivals.

The deadliest incident occurred in Quetta, capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, where a suicide blast ripped through a crowed of political activists, voters and security personnel, killing more than 30 people. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the bloodshed.

The campaign leading up to the July 25, 2018 vote had been marred by violence that left more than 170 people dead.

This article originally appeared on Voice of America News. Follow @VOANews on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Brightest light in universe detected after mysterious space explosion

Two violent explosions in galaxies billions of light-years away recently produced the brightest light in the universe. Scientists caught it in action for the first time.

The explosions were gamma-ray bursts: short eruptions of the most energetic form of light in the universe.

Telescopes caught the first burst in July 2018. The second burst, captured in January 2019, produced light containing about 100 billion times as much energy as the light that’s visible to our human eyes.


Gamma-ray bursts appear without warning and only last a few seconds, so astronomers had to move quickly. Just 50 seconds after satellites spotted the January explosion, telescopes on Earth swiveled to catch a flood of thousands of particles of light.

“These are by far the highest-energy photons ever discovered from a gamma-ray burst,” Elisa Bernardini, a gamma-ray scientist, said in a press release.

Over 300 scientists around the world studied the results; their work was published Nov. 20, 2019, in the journal Nature.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

The Hubble Space Telescope imaged the fading afterglow of the gamma-ray burst GRB 190114C (center of the green circle) and its home galaxy.

(NASA, ESA, and V. Acciari et al. 2019)

50 seconds to capture the brightest, most mysterious light in the universe

Gamma-ray bursts happen almost every day, without warning, and they only last a few seconds. Yet the high-energy explosions remain something of a mystery to scientists. Astronomers think they come from colliding neutron stars or from supernovae — events in which stars run out of fuel, give in to their own gravity, and collapse into black holes.

“Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions known in the universe and typically release more energy in just a few seconds than our sun during its entire lifetime,” gamma-ray scientist David Berge said in the release. “They can shine through almost the entire visible universe.”

After the brief, intense eruptions of gamma rays, hours or days of afterglow follow.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

An illustration depicts a gamma-ray burst.

(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Telescopes have observed low-energy rays that come from the initial explosion and the afterglow.

“Much of what we’ve learned about GRBs [gamma-ray bursts] over the past couple of decades has come from observing their afterglows at lower energies,” NASA scientist Elizabeth Hays said in a release.

But scientists had never caught the ultra-high-energy light until these two recent observations.

On Jan. 14, 2019, two NASA satellites detected an explosions in a galaxy over 4 billion light-years away. Within 22 seconds, these space telescopes — the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope — beamed the coordinates of the burst to astronomers all over Earth.

Within 27 seconds of receiving the coordinates, astronomers in the Canary Islands turned two Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescopes toward that exact point in the sky.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

On January 14, 2019, the Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) observatory in the Canary Islands captured the highest-energy light ever recorded from a gamma-ray burst. This illustration of that event also shows NASA’s Fermi and Swift spacecraft (top left and right, respectively).

(NASA/Fermi and Aurore Simonnet, Sonoma State University)

The photons flooded those telescopes for the next 20 minutes, leading to new revelations about some of the most elusive properties of gamma-ray bursts.

“It turns out we were missing approximately half of their energy budget until now,” Konstancja Satalecka, a scientist who coordinates MAGIC’s searches for gamma-ray bursts, said in the release. “Our measurements show that the energy released in very-high-energy gamma-rays is comparable to the amount radiated at all lower energies taken together. That is remarkable.”

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

The large central H.E.S.S. telescope array in Namibia detected the light from a gamma-ray burst on July 20, 2018.

(MPIK / Christian Föhr)

Ultra-high-energy light came in the afterglow, not the explosion itself

The photons detected from a gamma-ray burst six months earlier, in July 2018, weren’t as energetic or as numerous as those from the January explosion.

But the earlier detection was still notable because the flow of high-energy light came 10 hours after the initial explosion. The light lasted for another two hours — deep into the afterglow phase.

In their paper, the researchers suggested that electrons may have scattered the photons, increasing the photons’ energy. Another paper about the January observations suggested the same thing.

Scientists had long suspected that this scattering was one way gamma-ray bursts could produce so much ultra-high-energy light in the afterglow phase. The observations of these two bursts confirmed that for the first time.

Scientists expect to learn more as they turn telescopes toward more gamma-ray bursts like these in the future.

“Thanks to these new ground-based detections, we’re seeing the gamma rays from gamma-ray bursts in a whole new way,” Hays said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Coalition bombings spike in Afghanistan, but stalemate drags on

The US and its coalition partners have dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in the first ten months of 2018 than any year in the past five years, the US military revealed Nov. 29, 2018.

Between January and October of 2018, the US-led coalition dropped 5,982 bombs in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel and Operation Resolute Support, significantly more than the previous years.

Coalition strike aircraft flew 6,584 sorties during that time, 783 of which involved the release of a weapon, the US Air Forces Central Command’s Combined Air Operations Center disclosed in its monthly Airpower Statistics report.


The Trump administration made airpower a priority for the war in Afghanistan. With the relocation of Air National Guard KC-135 refueling tankers from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar to Kandahar last fall, the US-led coalition has been able to increase the number of airstrikes against the Taliban and other enemy combatants.

In addition to the refueling tankers, a number of A-10C Thunderbolt attack aircraft, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, and MQ-9 Reaper drones were also shifted to Kandahar, Military.com reported Nov. 28, 2018.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

A U.S. Air Force MQ-9A Reaper.

The US and its coalition partners have made progress in the fight against ISIS, but while the number of bombs falling on Afghanistan is on the rise, the coalition continues to struggle to secure victory against a surging and brutal Taliban foe.

The Afghan government’s control of the country has been slipping over the past few years, falling from 72 percent in 2015 to just over half in the third quarter of 2018. In that period, Afghanistan lost 28,529 security force personnel, the Afghan president said in November 2018.

The US continues to suffer losses as well.

Five US troops were killed in November 2018, one to an insider attack, one to accidental friendly fire, and three to an improvised explosive device. Thirteen US service members have died fighting in Afghanistan in 2018, as US forces have largely shifted to advise, assist and training missions.

The Taliban “are not losing right now, I think that is fair to say,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. “We used the term stalemate a year ago and, relatively speaking, it has not changed much.”

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

“We do believe the Taliban know that at some point they do have to reconcile,” Dunford added, stressing that the key is to pressure the Taliban, which has also suffered heavy losses, to eventually negotiate.

Reporters from the Washington Post recently questioned President Donald Trump on America’s presence in Afghanistan. “We’re there because virtually every expert that I have and speak to say if we don’t go there, they’re going to be fighting over here. And I’ve heard it over and over again,” he replied.

He further remarked that there is talk of peace, but added that he was unsure if that is a real possibility.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon Nov. 28, 2018, Mattis said the peace process is “picking up momentum,” but did not go into additional detail.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Britain deploys fighters to deter Russians over NATO

Two British Typhoon jets based in Romania have scrambled to investigate suspected Russian fighter aircraft operating near NATO airspace over the Black Sea.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said the Typhoons launched from the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base near the Romanian city of Constanta on Aug. 21, 2018, when two suspected Russian Su-30 Flanker aircraft appeared to be heading toward NATO airspace from the Crimea region.


There was no immediate comment from Russian officials.

Encounters between Russian and NATO warplanes have increased in recent years as Moscow demonstrates its resurgent military might.

Russia has also increased its navy’s presence in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and other areas.

Tensions are high in the region since Moscow’s 2014 takeover and illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, a move that led to Western sanctions being imposed against Russia.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Two British Typhoon jets were launched from an air base near the Romanian city of Constanta on Aug. 21, 2018.

The British Typhoons were operating in accordance with NATO’s enhanced air policing mission designed to deter “Russian aggression, reassure Romania and assure NATO allies of the UK commitment to collective defense,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

It quoted one of the Typhoon pilots as saying, “We had radar contact and shadowed the two aircraft as they flew through the Romanian flight information region, but we never got within visual range to see them.”

Airspace is divided into flight information regions, in which flight and alerting services are provided by a specific country’s aviation authority and differs from sovereign airspace.

The statement did not specify if the Russian jets flew into actual Romanian airspace.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

3 hard truths about what marriage is like after military life

I spent 10 years searching for joy in the moments that we weren’t together. I thought retirement would be easy, that the search would be over, and that the bond we shared prior to deployments would naturally realign us.


The truth is marriage takes work. I love this man fiercely and he loves me, but sometimes that is not enough. Here are three hard truths I’ve learned about marriage after the military and what living together really looks like:

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

live.staticflickr.com

I miss the goodbyes.

I miss the goodbyes. It feels like a betrayal to even write that, but the truth is that goodbyes and time apart became a familiar routine. Whether it was him leaving for training or deployment, or me packing up to head out for another medical trip for our daughter, goodbyes were a constant dynamic of our relationship. And so were hellos.

Perhaps that’s what I really miss, the hello. I miss that moment that you catch each other’s eye after months apart, that first kiss, that first reconnection. The honeymoon period is glorious, and perhaps I thought that’s what we were entering with retirement.

C.S. Lewis talks of a quieter love that enables us to keep our promise of commitment to one another. He says it is a deep unity that is “maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit.” He goes on to say that “It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

We are always together.

Prior to retirement, we both looked forward to hellos. Now we crave opportunities and outlets to explore separate interests. I dreamed about lunch dates and long slow days together. Those lunch dates and long slow days are typically in doctor offices and waiting rooms.

In the beginning, we approached retirement as a honeymoon period when we should have been looking to the bigger picture and the skills we developed during reintegration. Instead of being honest and open about our expectations and disappointments, my husband and I began to hold resentment that only led to more misunderstandings. We had forgotten how essential open communication is during the reintegration period and how living together holds challenges that are new to couples who have spent so much time apart.

We’ve learned to pause and re-access, to not sweat the small stuff, to communicate clearly, and to not be offended when the other one needs to recharge with friends or some much needed time alone.

The romantic notion of spending every waking moment together is great in short bursts, but that passion is not sustainable for the steady commitment of marriage. There will be moments where we don’t like each other. The truth is we are in it for the long haul. That includes hospital rooms, counseling appointments, financial planning, and an occasional rushed meal of ramen before shuffling out the door for one of the many kid events or late night Walmart runs for forgotten school projects.

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We will get through this

One of my favorite faith leaders is Fr. Richard Rohr who says, “Love and suffering are finally the same, because those who love deeply are committing themselves to eventual suffering, as we see in Jesus. And those who suffer often become the greatest lovers.”

I have found that the chaos and trauma that comes with life will either break or strengthen a marriage. Much like deployments and reintegration bring to the surface the underlying issues in the relationship, the difficulties that come with transitioning into civilian life can uncover problems you’ve stuffed down so deep you’ve forgotten they were there.

My husband and I statistically should have called it quits between our daughter’s cancer and military life. When I’m honest, I have to say that there have been times we almost did.

We all hold the skills necessary to make this new world of retirement life work. It’s simply a matter of repurposing the skills we’ve been learning throughout our military journey.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Finland and Norway prepare to fly without GPS

Disruptions to Global Positioning System signals have been reported in northern Norway and Finland in November 2018, overlapping with the final days of NATO’s exercise Trident Juncture, a massive military exercise that has drawn Russia’s ire.

A press officer for Widerøe, a Norway-based airline operating in the Nordics, told The Barents Observer at the beginning of November 2018 that pilots reported the loss of GPS while flying into airports in the northern Norwegian region of Finnmark, near the Russian border, though the officer stressed that pilots had alternative systems and there were no safety risks.


Norway’s aviation authority, Avinor, issued a notice to airmen of irregular navigation signals in airspace over eastern Finnmark between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7, 2018, according to The Observer.

The director of Norway’s civil aviation authority told The Observer that organization was aware of disturbances to GPS signals in that region of the country but there is always notice given about planned jamming.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Finnish military personnel in formation at the Älvdalen training grounds in Sweden, Oct. 27, 2018.

“It is difficult to say what the reasons could be, but there are reasons to believe it could be related to military exercise activities outside Norway’s [borders],” the director said.

Aviation authorities in Finland issued similar notices in early November 2018, warning air traffic of disruptions to GPS signals over the northern region of Lapland, which borders Finnmark.

A notice to airmen from Air Navigation Services Finland warned of such issues between midday Nov. 6 and midnight on Nov. 7, 2018.

ANS Finland’s operational director told Finnish news outlet Yle that the information had come from the Finnish Defense Forces but did not identify the source of the interference. “For safety reasons, we issued it for an expansive enough area so that pilots could be prepared not to rely solely on a GPS,” the operational director said.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Canadian army sappers await attack after constructing makeshift barricades near Alvdal in central Norway during Exercise Trident Juncture, Nov. 4, 2018.

(NATO photo by Rob Kunzing)

Electronic warfare

The cause for the disruptions to GPS signals is not immediately clear, but the reports came during the final days of NATO’s exercise Trident Juncture, which involved some 50,000 troops, tens of thousands of vehicles, and dozens of ships and aircraft operating in Norway, in airspace over the Nordic countries, and in the waters of the Norwegian and Baltic seas.

All 29 NATO members took part, including Norway. Also participating were Sweden and Finland, which are not NATO members but work closely with the alliance. Moscow has in the past warned them against joining NATO.

While NATO stressed that Trident Juncture was strictly a defensive exercise — simulating a response to an attack on an alliance member — Russian officials saw it as hostile, calling the drills “anti-Russia.”

Much of the exercise took place in southern and central Norway, but fighter jets and other military aircraft used airports in northern Norway and Finland. (US Marines stationed in Norway also plan to move closer to that country’s border with Russia.)

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Russian armored vehicles participating in Zapad 2017 exercises.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

GPS disruptions related to military activity have been reported in the Nordics before.

Norwegian intelligence services said in October 2017 that electronic disturbances — including jamming of GPS signals of flights in the northern part of the country — in September 2017 were suspected of coming from Russia while that country was carrying out its Zapad 2017 military exercise.

Reports of similar outages were reported around the same time in western Latvia, a Baltic state that borders Russia.

Electronic warfare appeared to be a major component of Zapad 2017, with the Russian military targeting its own troops to practice their responses to it. “The amount of jamming of their own troops surprised me,” the chief of Estonia’s military intelligence said in November that year.

Norwegian and Latvian officials both said the jamming may not have been directed at their countries specifically. Latvia’s foreign minister said Sweden’s Öland Island, across the Baltic Sea from Latvia, may have been the target.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

Ships take part in a photo exercise in the Norwegian Sea as part of NATO’s exercise Trident Juncture, Nov. 7, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Lyle Wilkie)

At the end of 2017, Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told media that he was not surprised that Russian jamming activity had affected Norway.

“It was a large military exercise by a big neighbor and it disrupted civilian activities including air traffic, shipping, and fishing,” he said, referring to Zapad 2017-related disturbances, adding that Norway was prepared for it.

Similar disruptions were detected in Norway near the Russian border in 2018. Norwegian authorities said the interference was related to Russian military activity in the area and that they had requested Russia take steps to ensure Norwegian territory was not adversely affected.

Russia has invested heavily in electronic-warfare capabilities and is believed to have equipment that can affect GPS over a broad area. Northern Norway and Finland are adjacent to Russia’s Kola Peninsula, which is home to Russia’s Northern Fleet — its submarine-based nuclear forces — and other Russian military installations.

“If your offensive military capabilities rely on GPS, guess what the adversary will try to do?” Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said in response to the latest reports of GPS interference in Finland.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The longest tank-to-tank kill was fired from three miles away

Britain’s Challenger-1 tank was originally designed to be sold to the Shah of Iran, but with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, that sale was cancelled. Britain developed the tank for its own use instead, and it’s a good thing it did. The Challenger 1 became one of the most effective tanks in the history of armored warfare. 

The British didn’t even realize what a powerful weapon system they built until it was battle-proven in combat fighting Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in desert combat. The Challenger was about to make combat history. 

In 1991, the United Kingdom deployed 221 of its Challenger tanks to Saudi Arabia as part of the Gulf War. The Challengers were its contribution to the Coalition to oust Iraq from nearby Kuwait, Operation Granby. During Desert Shield, the UK’s 1st Armoured Division was the easternmost unit of the famed “left hook” that outflanked the Iraqis in Kuwait while protecting the invasion force’s main flank.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
A British Challenger 1 main battle tank moves along with other Allied armor during Operation Desert Storm.

The chief concern of British commanders were the Iraqi’s Soviet-built T-72 tanks. The British made special modifications to their tanks that would increase its survivability in desert combat. They even flew out engineers from Vickers, the company that manufactured the Challenger tanks, to make the modifications. 

On the morning of Feb. 24, 1991, the ground campaign of Operation Desert Storm was launched and the British 1st Armoured Division rolled along with it. Over the course of the next two days, British Challenger tanks knocked out an estimated 300 Iraqi tanks. Their fears over the T-72 were overblown. The Iraqi Republican Guard wasn’t even present, having been withdrawn before the battle. 

According to some historians, Iraq’s main battle tank was no match for the Challenger. With improved reactive armor and some carrying powerful depleted uranium shells, the Challenger easily cut through its enemies. Moreover, the Iraqis were totally unprepared for a tank of its ability, with one Iraqi commander claiming he’d never seen a Challenger until it was rolling up to his doorstep that February morning. 

To top off its offensive and defensive capabilities, the Challengers also featured an advanced global positioning system and a Thermal Observation and Gunnery System that allowed it to see at night, through smokescreens and in the poor visibility of the battlefield caused by massive oil fires, lit by retreating Iraqi troops. 

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
A Challenger 1MBT Mk 3 (Simon Q, Flickr)

The Challenger 1’s most significant tank kill came at this time, and has been (mostly) well-documented. A Challenger with the callsign 11B fired at an Iraqi main battle tank from a distance of more than 5,100 meters – just above three miles – with an armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot round, the longest tank-on-tank kill ever. 

Although the 5,100 meter distance is what is often recorded in history books, at least one British tanker who was in the battle says the kill came at only 4,700 meters, just shy of three miles. If he’s right, It would still be the longest tank-on-tank kill and would be no less impressive, considering the tank’s operation range is 1,200 meters, more than a third of that distance. 

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
A British Army Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank (MBT), the command tank of the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards 

Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army failed to take out a single Challenger 1 tank and the only ones that didn’t make it through the entire battle did so because of technical issues, not due to enemy action.

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.


This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

(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.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

(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.


Military Life

5 of the rarest unofficial US Navy ‘certificates’

The Navy has plenty of interesting and unique milestones for its sailors to strive for. Though they never appear on official paperwork and not all of them have ceremonies, they’re a fun bragging-rights challenge that sailors can use to flex on the uninitiated (aka ‘pollywogs’).


By accomplishing one of several feats, sailors are inducted into an unofficial ‘order’ and, with that order, typically comes eligibility for a specific tattoo. While not every order is represented by a tattoo, sailors with these markings are either full of sh*t or are undeniably badass.

Check out these 5 unofficial Navy ‘certificates’ for the seasoned sailor.

5. Shellback variations

The shellback is simple enough: a sailor on official duty “crosses the line” of the equator. A golden shellback is more impressive; it means they’ve crossed at or near the International Date Line. Even rarer, crossing at the Prime Meridian grants you access into the Order of the Emerald Shellback.

There is also the ebony shellback for crossing the Equator at Lake Victoria (which is almost entirely in Ugandan waters) and a top-secret shellback for submariners who cross the equator at a “classified” degree of longitude.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
So, if you see a Shellback tattoo, they’re either a Navy vet or they just really like turtles. (Image via Imgur)

4. Order of the Sparrow

To be initiated into this order, one must sail the seven seas. While the ancients had a different idea and classification of the term, “seven seas,” it is used in context of sailing the seven largest bodies of water. They are the four oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian), the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Checking a few off a sailor’s list isn’t hard — stay in long enough and you’ll get them. The challenge is getting on a voyage that goes through the last one you need.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
Not to be confused with a swallow tattoo for every 5k nautical miles… or the Disney Pirate. (Image from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean)

3. Order of Magellan

This order goes out to every sailor that completes what Ferdinand Magellan couldn’t well, alive anyways, circumnavigating the world.

The Navy doesn’t really care or recognize fun ceremonies like these. They typically have a mission to set out, so we go from point A to point B efficiently. There is some leeway for morale purposes, which is why most ship Captains don’t mind taking some time out to go through the “Golden X.” Circumnavigating the world, on the other hand, requires a specific mission to do so.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor

2. Order of the Square Rigger

Square Riggers just need to serve on a ship with square rigs.

Sounds simple enough — until you realize there’s only two left in the entire Armed Forces. One in the Navy, USS Constitution, and one in the Coast Guard, USCGC Eagle. Serving on either of those ships requires you to be the best of the best at looking pretty for tourists.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
Still the only active ship that sank another enemy ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Rooney)

1. Double Centurions

While the Century Club exists for pilots who’ve made their 100th carrier landing or flown through hurricane winds over 100 mph, you’ll need to double it to get into the Double Centurions.

It’ll take a long time to reach that number and hurricane hunters usually aren’t willing to fly in CAT 5 winds that could shred their aircraft in seconds.

Usually…

(YouTube | News7)

Humor

5 reasons why ‘Saving Private Ryan’ should have been about Pvt. Ryan

In 1998, Steven Spielberg put forth what’s considered one of the best war movies of all time, Saving Private Ryan. The filmmaker brings audiences inside the life of an infantry squad as they maneuver through the bloody battlefields of World War II.


Saving Private Ryan follows a squad of Army Rangers whose sole mission is to locate one soldier and bring him home after his brothers were discovered to be killed in battle.

Despite the film’s title, the movie doesn’t center around the eponymous Pvt. Ryan, but rather the men who bear the struggles of war to find him.

Related: This is what the pilots from ‘Top Gun’ are doing today

So, check out five reasons why we think Saving Private Ryan should have been about Pvt. Ryan.

5. The Ryan brothers getting separated

After the audience learns that 3 of the 4 Ryan brothers have died in battle, General Marshall is informed that they were all separated due to the Sullivan Act.

Watching the Ryan brothers as they get split up, knowing it might be the last time they would ever see one another, would’ve been an exceptionally powerful scene.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
These Army officers discuss the news of Pvt. Ryan’s dilemma and formulate a plan to get him out. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

4. The paratrooper’s perspective

At one point in the film, Capt. Miller learns about all of the mis-drops that affected airborne soldiers, including Pvt. Ryan. How awesome would the footage have looked with Spielberg behind the camera, capturing the paratroopers’ perspectives on inaccurate drops?

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
Lt. Colonel Anderson informs Capt. Miller of his new and incredibly difficult mission — find one man in the whole damn war. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

3. The first battle over the bridge

Cpl. Henderson debriefs Capt. Miller on their bloody encounters with the Germans while babysitting the bridge. Some of us would have rather seen that intense footage as opposed to watching one of our favorite medics pass away as a result of an avoidable firefight.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
Cpl. Henderson debriefs the Rangers on their bloody encounters with the Germans. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

2. Humanizing Pvt. Ryan

Let’s face it, Pvt. Ryan isn’t our favorite, but we understand why he didn’t want to leave the only brothers he had left. But, a few minutes before the Germans show up to fight, Pvt. Ryan tells Capt. Miller a funny story of the last night he and his brothers were together.

Actually seeing the Ryan brothers all together, causing a ruckus, would bring some comic relief to an otherwise dark film.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
Ryan laughs as he remembers a funny story of the last time he was with his brothers. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

Also Read: 5 things you didn’t know about Sgt. Elias’s death scene in ‘Platoon’

1. “Earn this”

Toward the end of the film, Capt. Miller brings Ryan in close and tells him to “earn this.” These simple words have a significant impact on Pvt. Ryan’s life moving forward. But, outside of bringing his family to Capt. Miller’s grave, we don’t know how Ryan lived out his days.

Centering the film around Pvt. Ryan and showing a montage his successful, post-war life could help give us closure.

This soldier waited 150 years to receive the Medal of Honor
Capt. Miller and Pvt. Ryan watch the P-51s fly through the battlespace right after a hectic firefight. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

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