This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won - We Are The Mighty
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This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

In March 1967, U.S. Air Force Capt. Merlyn Dethlefsen and three other F-105 Thunderchief pilots were tasked to fly 50 miles north of Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam. Once there, they were to destroy the Thai Nguyen Steel Works.


The works were protected by a ring of 85mm anti-aircraft guns, surface-to-air missile batteries, and squadrons of MiG-21 fighters on patrol. Needless to say, the airmen were outgunned.

They went anyway.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Because Air Power is so metal.

“Thuds,” as F-105s were affectionately known, would go in ahead of fighter-bomber strike forces to strike SAM sites directly. They would purposely allow themselves to be targeted by the SAM batteries’ radar in order to track the source.

Then they would make their own strike runs at the SAM sites — a tactic known as the “Wild Weasel.”

What makes this mission particularly dangerous is not just that the Wild Weasel allowed himself to be tracked by SA-2 SAM batteries; the danger was also present for the Thuds who flew in behind him, who remained low enough to evade being tracked by the SAM radar and therefore became vulnerable to ground-based anti-aircraft fire.

During this mission, the batteries at Thai Nguyen were much more powerful than expected and took down two of the four Thuds immediately.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

This was not the first rodeo for the remaining pilots.

This was not their last rodeo either — eventually, Dethlefsen and his Electronic Warfare Officer, Capt. Kevin “Mike” Gilroy, would fly 100 missions over North Vietnam.

After their two wingmen were shot down, Dethlefsen and Gilroy evaded the MiG interceptors by flying deeper into the anti-aircraft umbrella.

Wild Weasels’ orders usually called for only one attack pass at enemy defenses, but some missions required two. Merlyn Dethlefsen, Gilroy, and their heavily-damaged wingman did far more than the two required passes.

With enemy MiGs chasing them down — and heavily damaged by anti-aircraft guns — they destroyed one SAM site with Shrike missiles and another with a strafing run of 20mm rounds and the Thud’s 750-pound bombs.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
And then they had a Coke on the flightline.

A follow-on strike by 72 fighter-bombers would finish the steel works off.

Both of the remaining aircraft made it back to base full of holes from MiGs and 85mm guns.

Captain Dethlefsen was awarded the Medal of Honor the very next year while Gilroy received the Air Force Cross.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Pacific battle was the worst 37 minutes in US Navy history

It was arguably worse than any 37 minutes of any other U.S. Navy defeat, including Pearl Harbor. At the Battle of Savo Island, Japan sank three American ships and killed over 1,000 U.S. sailors in addition to dooming an Australian ship and killing 84 Australian sailors while suffering 129 killed of their own.


This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

The Australian HMAS Canberra burns off Guadalcanal after the Battle of Savo Island.

(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

While more people, 2,403, were killed in the Pearl Harbor attack, those losses were inflicted over about 2 hours and 27 minutes. And three ships were permanently lost at Pearl Harbor while four would be lost as a result of Savo Island. It would later earn the battle and the area the nickname “Ironbottom Sound.”

On Aug. 7, 1942, the U.S. fleet was guarding landing forces at Guadalcanal. Australian Coastwatchers spotted Japanese planes bearing down on the landing forces, and the Navy redeployed its screening ships and carrier aircraft to meet the Japanese threat. The landings were saved, and U.S. Adm. William Halsey later said, “The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific.”

But the threat to the fleet wasn’t over. Japan needed the airbase it was building on Guadalcanal, and every new pair of American boots that landed on the island was a direct threat to the empire. So Japan slipped new ships through the St. George Channel and approached Savo Island where the U.S. was blocking access to the Guadalcanal landings.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

Japanese Vice Adm. Gunichi Mikawa

(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

The next day, August 8, Japanese ships hid near Bougainville Island and launched reconnaissance planes which quickly spotted the American fleet at the Solomons. The American fleet was split into three locations, and the Japanese commander, Vice Adm. Gunichi Mikawa, was hopeful that he could destroy one group before the other two could assist it. He targeted the ships at Savo Island.

His fleet slipped out in the wee hours of August 9 and launched their attack.

Now, it should be said that the American fleet had received some warning that Japanese ships were still in the area. A submarine and reconnaissance planes caught sight of the Japanese fleet, but their warnings came late and were misunderstood in the larger intelligence picture. Worse, when the commander of the screening force took his ship to report to his boss, he didn’t leave anyone officially in charge in his stead.

The fleet was ill-positioned to respond to an attack, and it was bearing down on them.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

The USS Quincy is illuminated by Japanese searchlights during the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942.

(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

The Japanese attack began at 1:42 a.m. The lookouts in the Japanese masts had already found and fixed a number of ships and fed the data to their fire control stations. Just as the first Japanese flares were about to burst into light, the American destroyer Patterson spotted them and sounded the alarm, “Warning! Warning! Strange ships entering harbor.” The Patterson pursued the Japanese column, getting some hits but failing to launch its torpedoes.

But the Japanese guns were already trained on their targets, and the fleet had made it past the outer pickets, allowing it to attack from vectors and spots America hadn’t anticipated. Japanese ships pumped rounds into American vessels from just a few thousand yards. They dropped torpedoes in the water, hitting American and Australian ships before the ships’ crews could even make it to their guns.

The captain of the Australian HMS Canberra was killed in this first salvo, and his ship was rendered dead in the water.

The USS Chicago was hit with a torpedo, losing nearly its entire bow while the gunners continued to send disciplined fire at two targets in the dark, one of which might have been a Japanese ship.

The Japanese ships began to pull away from this fight at 1:44, just two minutes after they had opened fire. They had suffered no serious hits or damage and had crippled two cruisers and damaged a destroyer. The fight so far had been hidden from the rest of the American fleet, and Japan turned itself toward the Northern Force.

The turn was ill-managed, and the rest of the fleet now knew a fight was happening, if not the details. So Japan could not count on the same success it had managed in the opening five minutes. But the Northern Force still didn’t know the details of the fight, and had no idea that the Japanese were now in two columns about to attack.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

The USS Vincennes charged bravely into the Battle of Savo Island, but it was quickly targeted by Japanese forces and pummeled by two columns of assailants.

(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

The disorganized Japanese turn still left them well-positioned to launch their torpedoes and fire their guns.

The USS Vincennes, a heavy cruiser, sailed into the fray looking for a fight, finding it about 1:50. Remember, this is still only eight minutes after Japan fired its first rounds and torpedoes. And it did not go well for the Vincennes. It was still hard to tell which ships were friendly and which were foe. A gun team asked permission to fire on a Japanese searchlight, but the brass thought it might be an American ship.

Japanese cruisers slammed the Vincennes‘ port side with shells, breaking through the hull, setting an aircraft on fire, and creating fires belowdecks that interrupted firefighting equipment and threatened to set off the ship’s supply of depth charges, bombs, and other ordnance. More shells hit the bridge and main ship, and then torpedoes ripped through the port side followed just minutes later by a hit to starboard.

By 2:03, the ship was in flames and going down. The crew fled to the sea.

Around the same time Vincennes was bravely entering the fray, the cruiser USS Astoria spotted a Japanese ship and ordered its men to general quarters. But the first Japanese shells were already flying toward it, exploding as the men were still rushing to stations.

The Astoria commander made it to the bridge and was worried that his men were in an accidental fight with friendly forces. He ordered his ship to cease firing for vital minutes. It didn’t resume firing until 1:54.

The Japanese heavy cruiser Chokai kept sending rounds at the Astoria until the fifth salvo hit home, piercing the Astoria’s superstructure, midships, and then the bridge itself. The Astoria would hit the Chokai once before it was too damaged to keep fighting.

Meanwhile, the heavy cruiser USS Quincy was also under fire and would get the worst of it. Its commander also worried that it was suffering friendly fire, and the commander ordered his guns silent, and the ship lit up to identify itself. Japanese shells tore through an aircraft hanger and set a plane on fire. It was too hot for the crew to push overboard, and Japanese ships leaped on the chance to fire on a lit up target.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

The Japanese heavy cruiser Kako in 1926. It was the only Japanese ship lost as a result of the raid on Savo Island, sank on August 10 as the Japanese fleet left the engagement area.

(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

Shells landed just short of the Quincy, then just long, and then began raining down on it. Japanese torpedoes set off the forward magazine. The ship’s captain, Capt. Samuel Moore, ordered the surviving gunners to “Give ’em Hell,” just moments before the bridge was hit by an exploding shell. As he lay dying, Moore ordered the ship beached, but another officer realized it was already lost and ordered it abandoned.

As the Quincy, Vincennes, and Astoria began sinking, the Japanese fleet called off the attack, beginning its withdrawal at 2:15. It had suffered no serious damage, could see that at least three U.S. ships were sinking, had rendered the Australian ship Canberra dead in the water (it would be scuttled the next morning), and had ensured the deaths of just over 1,000 American and Australian sailors.

The battle had raged from approximately 1:40 as Japan positioned itself to 2:15 as Japan withdraw. Depending on exactly which incidents mark the start and end, it lasted somewhere between 30 and 50 minutes.

America did achieve on a parting shot, though. While the Japanese fleet was able to avoid the air screen sent to find it August 9-10, the U.S. submarine S-38 spotted them on August 10, and managed to bring down the Japanese Kako with a torpedo.


MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force’s massive expansion could be aimed at China and Russia

The US Air Force set out to return to Cold War numbers by growing nearly 25% and taking on hundreds more planes to form an additional 74 squadrons, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced on Sept. 17, 2018.

The US Air Force, which typically acquires aircraft only after long vetting and bidding processes, will attempt the radical change in short order to fulfill President Donald Trump’s vision of a bigger military to take on Russia and China.

In the US’s new National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Nuclear Posture Review, the Trump administration redefined the US’s foremost enemies not as rogue groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda, but China and Russia.


While the US has fought counter insurgencies against small terror groups and non-state actors nonstop since Sept. 11, 2001, the resurgence of an aggressive Russia now at war in Ukraine and Syria, and the emergence of China now unilaterally attempting to dominate the South China Sea, has renewed the US military’s focus on winning massive wars.

The US Navy has announced similar plans to grow its fleet size by nearly a third and shift tactics to better challenge Russia and China.

But now the Air Force plans to grow in all directions at once, with more space, cyberwarfare, logistical support, drones, tankers, and combat aviation all at once.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

(US Air Force / Twitter)

What the Air Force wants

This chart shows how many new squadrons the Air Force wants and how they’ll be distributed. The Air Force announced a goal of 386 squadrons, up from 312. Depending on the airframe, a squadron can have 8-24 planes.

For the bomber squadrons, which include nuclear capable bombers like the B-52 and B-2, that number will grow only slightly and likely include the mysterious new B-21 Raider bomber, which no one has ever seen outside classified circles.

In the fighter jet department, it’s likely F-35s will comprise most of this growth. Aerial tankers and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, likely drones, will also see a big bump.

The Air Force hopes to build the force up to 386 squadrons by 2030, but has not provided any information on how it plans to fund the venture. The US Air Force has requested 6 billion for next fiscal year, already a six percent bump over the previous year. While Wilson promised to streamline acquisition, which famously can take years and cost billions, there’s real doubts about how fast the organization can move. The US Air Force started working on the F-22 in 1981. It first flew in 1997 and first went into combat in 2014. The F-35 started in 2001 and just last year experienced its first combat in Israel’s service.

Additionally, the move would require the Air Force to bring on about 40,000 new people at a time when the force has a near crippling problem with retaining top talent.

“We are not naive about the budget realities,” Wilson said at the Air Force’s annual Air, Space Cyber Conference. “At the same time, we think we owe our countrymen an honest answer on what is required to protect the vital, national interests of this country under the strategy we have been given, and so we believe this is, if not the perfect answer, it is an honest answer to that question: What is the Air Force we need?”

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

(China Defense Blog)

Growing China threat

Currently, China’s military is in the midst of building up a tremendous air force and navy while also threatening some of the US’s core interests and most promising technologies.

The biggest US Air Force defense projects involve stealth aircraft, like the B-21 and F-35. As of yet unpublished research on China’s military reviewed by Business Insider found Chinese fighter aircraft now number around 1,610 compared to about 1,960 US fighters.

China has made strides towards quantum radars designed to negate the US stealth advantage as well as a stealth fighter of its own, the J-20.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

How D-Day would go down today

The invasion of Normandy, known today as D-Day, was one of the seminal moments of history. It was a massive operation that included airborne drops, amphibious assaults, and a host of other missions. The fact that all of these moving parts were orchestrated using the (relatively) primitive technology of the time is an amazing accomplishment — one that culminated in a decisive victory for Allied forces.

But how would it all go down if it happened today?


This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

While the use of paratroopers would be similar to that of D-Day, today’s transports can deliver a lot more than just troops.

(US Army)

The overnight airborne drop

The airborne operation as part of a hypothetical, modern-day Normandy Invasion would be fairly similar to that of World War II. We’d still have paratroopers make their jump in the middle of the night, but there’d be a few key differences. Firstly, we’ve gotten a little better at putting paratroopers where they aught to be — this means more troop concentration and fewer “Little Groups of Paratroopers.”

Secondly, today’s paratroopers can drop alongside HMMWVs equipped with heavy firepower, like the M2 machine gun, the Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher, and the BGM-71 TOW missile. Additionally, each soldier now has either a M72 Light Anti-tank Weapon or the M136 AT-4.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

Today’s bombardment would intelligently target Nazi positions using advanced systems, like the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

(USAF)

The pre-attack bombardment

On D-Day, five battleships, including USS Nevada (BB 36), provided fire support for the massive operation. America no longer has any battleships in service. Today, the biggest guns would be on the Zumwalt-class destroyers, which can launch a variety of munitions.

However, the real heavy lifting would be done by Joint Direct Attack Munitions on the fortifications. On D-Day, Allied forces dropped a lot of bombs and fired a lot of heavy shells towards the Nazis in hopes of hitting something vital. Since then, our aim has improved. JDAMs can hit within 30 feet of an aimpoint. Laser-guided bombs are even more accurate.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

On the morning of D-Day, the first wave of the attack could very well be helicoptered by CH-53E Super Stallions.

(Photo by FOX 52)

The amphibious assault

Perhaps the most iconic element of D-Day was the amphibious landings. Higgins boats hit the shores en masse and under extremely heavy fire as Allied troops spilled out and onto the sand. Today, we’d likely use helicopters to get behind initial defenses. Heli-borne assaults would likely take place overnight, focusing on key objectives, like Pegasus Bridge.

At this stage, Apache and Cobra helicopter gunships would provide covering fire, using AGM-114 Hellfire missiles to knock out — or at least suppress — any German positions that survived the precision-guided munitions.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

A-10 Thunderbolts will roam behind the beach, bombing targets or dropping CBU-89 GATOR mines to tie up German reinforcements.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch)

Past the beach

All throughout a modern D-Day, there’d be deeper strikes. Aircraft like the F-15E Strike Eagle, the A-10 Thunderbolt, the Tornado GR.4, and the B-1B Lancer would be dropping bombs on German units further inland. Some of the bombs would be GATOR mine systems, which are, essentially, air-dropped minefields, to delay reinforcements long enough for American, Canadian, and British troops to consolidate a beachhead.

In short, the Nazis of World War II had a slight chance of stopping the Allies on D-Day. Today, there’d be no stopping it.

Humor

6 reasons airmen hate on Marines

There’s no best way to describe the rivalry between the branches of the American military to an outsider. It’s kinda like an inventive d*ck measuring contest mixed with elements of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Everyone talks about how they’re somehow the best while acknowledging their shortcomings.


We hate on each other for whatever reasons, but at the end of the day, we’re still on the same side.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
For example, the Air Force’s Maj. Jeremiah Parvin and the Marine Corps’ Master Gunnery Sgt. Richard Wells here. Parvin received the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for actions that saved the lives of Wells’ team during a 2008 deployment to Afghanistan. That’s how we do in real life.

And the rivalry doesn’t stop just because a veteran gets a DD-214. If anything, it gets worse. Just look at the Army-Navy Game. Are you ready to watch two irrelevant college football teams talk shit for weeks leading up to a game whose disappointment starts with ugly uniforms and usually ends with the Navy blowing out Army?

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
That’s what happens to the Army without air support.

Also: 6 reasons why Marines hate on the Air Force

It’s usually all in good fun. But if you didn’t serve, don’t join in – veterans from every branch will turn on you immediately. That being said, let’s take a look at few good reasons airmen hate on Marines.

6. Those stupid haircuts.

Nothing says “motarded” like a Marine’s haircut. You know those memes where a guy with a stupid haircut asks a barber to f*ck up his shit? You could make a book of those memes just walking around Camp Pendleton.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Seriously, wtf is that? An inverted Mohawk?

5. They take everything so seriously.

Look, I get it. A lot of Marines are going to see combat. Every Marine is a rifleman, sure. But don’t wait til you’re in the barracks drinking cheap beer, hanging with even cheaper locals to lighten up.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
You don’t have to marry the first stripper you see in Jacksonville is all I’m saying.

4. Calling us the “Chair Force.”

If you’re a Marine Corps legal clerk, maybe slow your roll on calling anyone “Chair Force.” On an Air Force base, you’d still be derided as a nonner, which is as close to POG as the Air Force gets.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Sometimes we roll the same way, it just doesn’t take an airman 13 weeks to get there.

Also, the Chair Force crack is so old, Marines are probably going to honor it with a plaque or memorial of some kind.

3. Their damn uniforms.

Look, no one is going to argue about Marine Corps dress blues — we acknowledge they’re pretty damn cool, but let’s talk about the MARPAT. There was nothing wrong with BDUs. We all wore them and they worked for 20 years. Then the Marines had to have their own cammies, because optics and whatnot.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Look at all our Afghan enemies’ optics.

Okay, say we get into a war with China or something, then those might be useful. Hopefully we never find out. The real beef with the uniforms is that they led to every service getting their own uniform, and the Air Force ended up in these:

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Cool tiger stripes — at least we’re not the Navy.

2. And what’s with celebrities wearing Marine uniforms?

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Way to represent the Air Force, Chuck. You’re dead to me. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Tia Schroeder)

1. Complaining about superior Air Force facilities.

We hear you. Marine Corps facilities are garbage compared to the Air Force. The truth is that most facilities are garbage compared to the Air Force, even civilian facilities are garbage compared to the Air Force.

But Marines should be complaining to the Navy about facilities. After all, it wasn’t an airman that put Mackie Hall next to Sh*t Creek. You either get indoor plumbing or the F-35, but you can’t have both.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
And the Air Force didn’t make that call for your leadership, either. Yut.

As for our chocolate fountains, I don’t know where that meme came from and I don’t care. If I wanted to eat from the garbage, I’d visit a Marine Corps chow hall.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Look at him. He either loves it or is just trying to struggle through another meal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

There’s only one thing I won’t hate on the Corps for though: Those recruiting commercials. F*cking epic.

(TheMilitaryProject | YouTube)
Articles

This War of 1812 veteran saw the Battle of Gettysburg from his porch – then joined it

These days it’s hard to think of a veteran who could have served from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. It’s happened, of course.


But imagine a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War fighting in the Civil War. That’s a span of more than 60 years — much longer than the 24 years that separated the beginning of WWII and the Vietnam War. Then again, during the 20th century, pivotal battles weren’t literally in our front yard.

An average 69-year-old might be happy to ride out his golden years from a rocking chair.

But not John Burns.

He fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War and even tried to work as a supply driver for the Union Army but was sent back to his home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He wasn’t too happy to be excluded from the war.

See, Burns already lived twice as long as the average American of the time and was ready to do more for his country. But Gettysburg was much further north than the Confederates could ever attack – or so he thought.

Burns was considered “eccentric” by the rest of the town. That’s what happens when you’re fighting wars for longer than most people at the time spent in school.

When Confederate Gen. Jubal Early captured the town, Burns was the constable and was jailed for trying to interfere with Confederate military operations. When the Confederates were pushed out of Gettysburg by the Union, Burns began arresting Confederate stragglers for treason.

His contributions to the Union didn’t end there.

On the morning of July 1, 1863, Burns watched as the Battle of Gettysburg began to unfold near his home. Like a true American hero, he picked up his rifle – a flintlock musket, which required the use of a powder horn – and calmly walked over to the battle to see how he could help.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

He “borrowed” a more modern musket (now a long-standing Army tradition) from a wounded Union soldier, picked up some cartridges, then walked over to the commander of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry and asked to join the regiment.

This time, he wasn’t turned away; but the 150th Pennsylvania commanders did send Burns to Herbst Woods, away from where the officers believed the main area of fighting would be.

They were wrong.

Herbst Woods was the site of the first Confederate offensive of the battle. Burns, sharpshooting for the Iron Brigade, helped repel this offensive as part of a surprise counterattack.

John Burns was mocked by other troops for showing up to fight with his antiquated weapon and “swallowtail coat with brass buttons, yellow vest, and tall hat.” But when the bullets started to fly, he calmly took cover behind a tree and started to shoot back with his modern rifle.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

He also fought alongside the 7th Wisconsin Infantry and then moved to support the 24th Michigan. He was wounded in the arm, legs, and chest and was left on the field when the Union forces had to fall back.

He ditched his rifle and buried his ammo and then passed out from blood loss. He tried to convince the Rebels he was an old man looking to find help for his wife, but accounts of how well that story worked vary. Anyone fighting in an army outside of a uniform could be executed, but the ruse must have worked on some level–he survived his wounds and lived for another 9 years.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the Civil War. The Confederates would spend the rest of the war – two years – on the defensive.

As the poem “John Burns of Gettysburg,” written after the war by Francis Bret Harte, goes:

“So raged the battle. You know the rest. How the rebels, beaten and backward pressed, Broke at the final charge and ran. At which John Burns — a practical man — Shouldered his rifle, unbent his brows, And then went back to his bees and cows.”

Burns became a national hero after the battle. When President Lincoln stopped in the Pennsylvania town to deliver the Gettysburg Address, he asked to speak with Burns and met the veteran at his home.

He was photographed – a big deal at the time – and a poem was written about his life. A statue of Burns was erected at Gettysburg National Military Park in 1903, where it stands today.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

The base reads “My thanks are specially due to a citizen of Gettysburg named John Burns who although over seventy years of age shouldered his musket and offered his services to Colonel Wister One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Colonel Wister advised him to fight in the woods as there was more shelter there but he preferred to join our line of skirmishers in the open fields when the troops retired he fought with the Iron Brigade. He was wounded in three places. – Gettysburg report of Maj.-Gen. Doubleday.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

How to earn a Medal of Honor for lifetime achievement

There are very few accomplishments in existence more highly regarded than the Medal of Honor. Actually, I’m not 100% sure that there is anything that would impress me or other former service members more than a Medal of Honor.


Although the recognition is typically bestowed following a singular, overwhelmingly courageous deed, there is a precedent for receiving a Medal of Honor for lifetime achievements. But what exactly needs to happen to receive the highest honor in the land, not for punctuating heroism but for extended, meritorious service?

Related: 5 ways winning an Oscar is easier than receiving a Medal of Honor.

How many have been awarded?

Throughout American history, there have been approximately 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients. 19 of those are dual recipients and a little under a third of all recipients were awarded posthumously. When compared to the millions of men and women who have served, those numbers are absolutely minuscule.

Even rarer a feat than being a double Medal of Honor recipient is receiving a Medal of Honor for lifetime achievement — there have only been two such recipients ever! Those two recipients are Sergeant Major Frederick William Gerber and Major General Adolphus Greely.

Frederick William Gerber

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Pictured: Frederick William Gerber, first engineering Sergeant Major. (Photo from Fort Leonard Wood)

Gerber was the very first Sergeant Major from the Army Corps of Engineers in history. He enlisted in the regular Army before the Mexican-American War and is credited with saving the life of then-Second Lieutenant George B. McClellan, who would go on to be General-in-Chief of the Union Army during the Civil War.

Gerber received the Medal of Honor in 1871, making him the first to receive the citation for accumulative service.

Adolphus Greely

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Adolphus Greely. Served from 1861 to 1908. Awarded Medal of Honor in 1935. (Photo from National Geographic)

Greely enlisted in the volunteer Army during the American Civil War and worked his way up to the rank of First Sergeant after about two years. He went on to receive a commission and work his way up to the rank of Major before being mustered out of the volunteer Army and almost immediately into the regular Army.

He would eventually achieve the rank of Major General just before retiring in 1908 at the mandatory retirement age of 64. His career highlight is the infamous Greely Expedition. The expedition yielded many invaluable meteorological, magnetic, biological, and oceanographic records, and ultimately ended with all but six of his crew members dead.

Greely was awarded the Medal of Honor for a career that began in the mid-19th century and lasted until the early 20th. It took nearly 30 years post-retirement for Greely to get his citation — just a few months before he passed in 1935.

Also Read: This is the Air Force’s lowest ranking Medal of Honor recipient

Will there be others?

The rules for the Medal of Honor have changed since the early 20th century and they are no longer authorized for non-combat actions. So, the simple answer is: no.

Since 1963, the prerequisite actions for a Medal of Honor have been redefined as someone having “distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” By virtue of this very definition, the chance that we see a modern service member — or any of our brethren from yesteryear — receive a Medal of Honor for lifetime achievement is slim.

Very, very slim.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Sorry, looks like this path is long gone.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Your issued M4 carbine could fire without a trigger pull

U.S. Army units have reported about 3,000 M4 carbines have failed a safety inspection because of a potential glitch in the selector switch that could lead to unintended discharges, Military.com has learned.

In March 2018, the Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command sent out a safety-of-use message to all branches of the U.S. military, advising units to perform an updated functions check on all variants of M16s and M4s after a soldier experienced an unexplained, unintended discharge.


The Fort Knox soldier’s M4A1 selector switch was stuck in-between the semi and auto detents. When the soldier pulled the trigger, the weapon failed to fire. The soldier then moved the selector switch and the weapon fired, the TACOM message states.

As of June 1, 2018, TACOM has received reports on about 50,000 weapons put through the updated functions check. Of that number, “about six percent,” or 3,000 weapons, failed, R. Slade Walters, a spokesman for TACOM, told Military.com.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
An M4A1 just after firing.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Task and Purpose first reported the percentage of weapons that failed the check.

TACOM officials stress it is still early in the process and about 900,000 Army weapons still must be checked, Walters said.

Military.com reached out to the Marine Corps to see what its weapons inspections have found, but did not receive a response by press time.

TACOM officials emphasize that M16 and M4 variants “will perform as intended” if personnel follow the operator’s manual when using them.

“The additional functions check is to inform [TACOM] of the extent of this issue and determine the number of weapons affected,” the message states.

The M4A1 is now the Army’s primary individual weapon. The service is converting M4 carbines to M4A1s through the M4 Product Improvement program.

The M4A1 has been used by special operations forces for about two decades. It features a heavier barrel and a full-automatic setting instead of the three-round burst setting on standard M4s.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

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Taliban kill 7, kidnap 6 along highway in western Afghanistan

Taliban rebels killed seven people and kidnapped another six along a highway in western Afghanistan, official sources told EFE Ingles July 12.


The incident, in which 10 rebels were also killed, took place on July 11 along a national highway near Farah, capital of a province by the same name, when the Taliban stopped several vehicles and captured more than 10 people, according to Nasser Mehri, spokesperson for the provincial governor.

“According to initial information, they killed seven of the kidnapped passengers,” explained Mehri, adding that five of the victims were former members of the Afghan security forces.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
The flag of the Taliban. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Mehri added the insurgents were planning to capture more people when the Afghan troops arrived and there was a shootout.

A police official from the province, who asked not to be named, told EFE that at least seven passengers are still being held hostage by the Taliban, and that security forces have launched a rescue operation in areas around the incident spot.

In 2016, the Taliban abducted hundreds of people from the country’s unsafe highways, including members of the security forces traveling in buses or in specific vehicles.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Intersection of Highway 1 and Route 606 in Delaram, Afghanistan. (Photo from Leonard J. DeFrancisci)

Afghanistan is witnessing its most violent phase since 2001, when the Taliban regime was overthrown with the help of the United States.

The situation has worsened following the end of NATO’s combat mission in 2015.

Since then, insurgents have been gaining ground in various parts of Afghanistan and currently control, influence, or are in dispute with the government over at least 43 percent of the territory, according to the US.

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13 radio calls troops really love to hear

Troops on the ground spend a lot of time talking on the radio to a variety of commands and assets: planes and helicopters overhead, their headquarters, and artillery lines, and as they do, they use certain brevity codes and calls to make these communications fast and clear.


Here are 13 of the codes troops really love to hear when they’re outside the wire:

1. “Attack”/”Attacking”

Ground controllers give an aircraft the go-ahead to drop bombs or fire other munitions on the ground with the word “Attack,” and the pilot replies with “attacking.” Troops love to hear this exchange because it means a fireworks show is about to start on the enemy’s position.

2. “Bird”

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Photo: US Army

The official meaning of “bird” is a surface-to-air missile, but troops sometimes use it to mean a helicopter. Since helicopters bring missiles and supplies and evacuate wounded troops, this is always welcome.

3. Bomber/CAS/CCA callsigns

While these callsigns change depending on which air unit is providing them assistance, troops love to hear any callsign from a good bomber, close air support, or close combat air pilot. These are the guys who drop bombs and fire missiles.

4. “Cleared hot”/”Cleared to engage”

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Photo: US Air Force

The ground controller has cleared an air asset to drop bombs or other munitions on their next pass.

5. “Danger close”

The term means that bombs, artillery, or other big booms are being fired in support of ground troops but that the weapons will fall near friendly forces.

While danger close missions are exciting to see in movies and troops are happy to receive the assistance, soldiers in the field usually have mixed feelings about “danger close” since an enemy that is nearly on top of them is about to die, but they’ll also be near the blast.

6. Dustoff

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Photo: Staff Sgt. Corey J. Hook/USAF

Service members on the ground don’t like needing a medical evacuation, but they love it when the “Dustoff” bird is en route and when it finally lands. It’ll take their wounded buddy off the battlefield and will typically replenish the medical supplies of their corpsman or medic, making everyone safer.

7. “Engage”

Fire control uses “Engage” to let operators of a weapons system know that they’ve been cleared to fire. This could open up the mortar section, gun line, or other firing unit to attack the enemy.

8. “Good effects on target”

A bomb or artillery rounds have struck the target and destroyed it, meaning something that needed to die has, in fact, died.

9. “Hit”

This is said by the ground controller or artillery observer to let a plane, artillery section, or other weapons platform know that it successfully dropped its munitions within a lethal distance of the target. If the target survived anyway, the ground controller may say “Repeat,” to get more rounds dropped or may give new firing directions instead.

10. “RTB”

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Photo: US Navy Lt. Chad A. Dulac

It stands for “return to base” and troops love it because it means they get to head home and take their armor and packs off.

11. “Shot”

The artillery line uses “shot” to say that they’ve fired the rounds requested by the forward observer. The FO will reply with “shot out” and listen for the word “splash,” discussed below.

12. “Speedball”

This is the unofficial term for a small resupply dropped from a plane or helicopter, typically in a body bag. Troops short on ammo, water, batteries, etc. will request them. Medical supplies aren’t generally included in a speedball since the helicopter can just kick a normal aid bag out the door.

13. “Splash”

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp

The firing line tells an observer “splash” five seconds before a round is expected to hit the target. When the observer sees the detonation from the round, they reply with “splash out” to let the artillery unit know the round hit and exploded. The FO will then give the firing line adjustments needed to hit the target or confirm that the target was hit.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China doubles down with anti-ship missiles in the South China Sea

Anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems were stationed on Chinese outposts in the contested South China Sea, in yet another signal that China intends to cement its presence on the disputed islands.

Sources familiar with US intelligence reports said the weapons systems were installed on three fortified outposts in the Spratly Islands, west of the Philippines, according to a CNBC report.


The YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles would provide China the ability to engage surface vessels within 295 nautical miles of the reefs; and the HQ-9B surface-to-air missiles are expected to have a range of 160 nautical miles, CNBC reported.

“We have consistently called on China, as well as other claimants, to refrain from further land reclamation, construction of new facilities, and militarization of disputed features, and to commit to managing and resolving disputes peacefully with other claimants,” a Pentagon official said to CNBC. “The further militarization of outposts will only serve to raise tensions and create greater distrust among claimants.”

“These would be the first missiles in the Spratlys, either surface to air, or anti-ship,” Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Reuters.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
An anti-ship cruise missile.
(Photo by Jeff Hilton)

“Before this, if you were one of the other claimants … you knew that China was monitoring your every move. Now you will know that you’re operating inside Chinese missile range. That’s a pretty strong, if implicit, threat,” he said.

China’s increased military presence in the region comes amid another maneuver, one which exacerbated concerns among the US military and its allies. US officials said that in early April 2018, intelligence officers detected China was moving radar and communications-jamming equipment to the Spratly Island outposts.

“This is not something that the US will look kindly on or think they can overlook.” Stratfor military analyst Omar Lamrani told Business Insider editor Alex Lockie, when asked about potential moves to jam communications channels. “The US will likely seek to counter this in some way,” he said.

Hotly disputed, $3.4 trillion shipping lane

Six countries, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, are contesting at least part of the chain of islands, reefs, and surrounding waters in the South China Sea. Located between Vietnam and the Philippines, the natural resources and trade routes that pass through the Spratly Islands are a lucrative venture for the countries — around $3.4 trillion in trade is reportedly transported through the South China Sea every year.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
CSIS/Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

China has been one of the most prominent claimants to territory in the South China Sea since the 1980s. It currently has around 27 outposts throughout the islands and has continued to outfit them with aircraft runways, lighthouses, tourist resorts, hospitals, and farms.

According to some experts, the creation of civilian attractions in the region signals that China is undertaking a two-pronged approach in attempts to legitimize its ownership — by arguing it has a vested interest in the region, both militarily and otherwise.

In April 2018, US Navy Adm. Philip Davidson, nominated to lead the US’ Pacific Command, said Beijing’s “forward operating bases” in the South China Sea appeared complete.

Davidson said China could use the bases pose a challenge the US and “would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants.

“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” he said.

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

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Forget Godzilla, Russia is building this new sea monster

Godzilla may be king of the monsters, but during the Cold War, he’d find the Caspian Sea a little crowded.


Now, Russia is building a new Caspian Sea Monster.

According to a tweet by the Russian embassy in South Africa, the Chaika A-050 is slated to enter service by 2020. The A-050 is what is known as an “ekranoplan,” or ground-effect vehicle. The Soviet Union pushed these airplane hybrids during the Cold War, largely because they offered a unique mix of the capabilities of ships and aircraft.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
A Ekranoplan, or ground-effect vehicle. The Soviet Union pushed development of these Caspian Sea Monsters during the Cold War. (Youtube Screenshot)

According to militaryfactory.com, the Lun-class ekranoplan is one such example. It had a top speed of 342 miles per hour — slightly slower than the B-29 Superfortress — which could go 358 miles per hour. However, the Lun carried six SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles, which are limited for use on surface combatants like the Sovremenny-class destroyer and Tarantul-class missile boat. The Lun could climb to as high as 24,000 feet.

According to a 2015 report by Valuewalk.com, the Chaika A-050 will travel at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, with a range of 3,000 miles. It will be able to carry at least nine tons of cargo or 100 passengers. However, a Sputnik News report indicated that the Russians could install the BrahMos missile on the new ekranoplan.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won
A model of the BrahMos II, Russian-Indian hypersonic missile under joint development.

The BrahMos is a version of the SS-N-26 Oniks surface-to-surface missile that has been installed on a number of Indian Navy vessels. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the BrahMos has a top speed of Mach 2.8 and a range of 500 kilometers. The missile carries a 300-kilogram warhead, and can hit surface ships or land targets. The missile can be used by submarines and surface ships.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is the drill book America used before the ‘Blue Book’

Ah, the vaunted Blue Book, known throughout the U.S. Army for being the first drill guide for American land troops. It is more properly known as Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, and it was authored by Baron and Inspector General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, but it wasn’t actually the first drill manual for American troops.


This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

Revolutionary War re-enactors.

(Lee Wright, CC BY-SA 2.0)

See, von Steuben came to the Americas in 1778, nearly three years after the battles of Lexington and Concord and over 19 months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. So, von Steuben was falling in on an American army that already existed. Clearly, someone had some idea of how to drill them before that, right?

Of course. The most recent drill guide for colonial militia before 1778 came from Great Britain, The Manual Exercise as Ordered by His Majesty in 1764. The bulk of this focused on how enlisted soldiers should stand, march, and use their weapons for orderly combat.

Included in the short work was a two-page primer, Instructions for Young Officers, by British Maj. Gen. James Wolfe. Wolfe was a hero of the British empire and had distinguished himself against the French in Canada.

A 2006 re-printing of the text is available online as a PDF, and the first section is a sort of “by-the-numbers” breakdown of poising, cocking, presenting, firing, and then re-loading the “firelocks,” another word for the firearms of the day. If you think it’s odd that “aiming” wasn’t part of that process, good catch. But that wasn’t a big part of an infantryman’s job at the time.

Muskets and similar weapons had entered the hunting world hundreds of years before the American Revolution, but most weapons still weren’t horribly accurate. So rather than “aiming,” soldiers before and during the Revolution “presented” their weapons. Basically, they pointed the weapons in the direction of the enemy formation. Good enough for imperial work.

(Note: While the 2006 PDF is based on the 1764 manual, only Section 1 was in the original manual. If you decide to read it, understand that sections 2-8 were written in the modern day for use by re-enactors in the Tenth Regiment.)

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

A 1740 Austrian drill manual shows rather than tells how troops would perform key actions.

(U.S. Army)

But even before 1764, colonial forces were using a manual of arms that was likely more useful for many young militiamen than the king’s manual. The Austrian Infantry Drill from 1740 is made up almost entirely of illustrations that show rather than tell how troops should ride in formation, march, fix bayonets, etc.

In a surprising bit of honesty, it even shows troops maintaining the line as troops on either side collapse in combat. It is crazy optimistic in showing only three people having fallen during at least one full exchange of gunfire, but, still.

At a time when as much as 15 percent of the population was unable to read, these illustrations would have been quite valuable. For them, it wouldn’t matter that the descriptions were in a foreign language. They can tell from the pictures which illustrations were showing the fixing and unfixing of bayonets, shouldering and unshouldering arms, and so on.

This Air Force pilot took on an entire anti-aircraft complex – and won

The cover page of a printed “Blue Book,” Baron and Inspector General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben’s Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States.

(U.S. Army)

But the techniques in these books weren’t widely used, known, and understood when the American Revolution started, and they were far from comprehensive. Baron von Steuben’s Blue Book addressed a lot of things missing from the older guides.

For instance, chapter one of the book details what equipment was needed for soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers. Chapter two defines what leaders’ roles would be, and chapters three and four details what men were needed for an army company, regiment, and battalion.

It goes on from there, detailing how to recruit and train troops, how to employ a company in training and combat, and more. So, even militiamen who had taken advantage of older drill guides, like those from 1764 and 1740, would find plenty of value in von Steuben’s manual.

It remained the training guide for U.S. troops until 1812, and soldiers are still quizzed on some details of the manual today during soldier and promotion boards.