Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

When Jessica Pearce Rotondi lost her mother to breast cancer in 2009, she had no idea of what she would gain: the chance to become a part of her military family’s history. The unexpected journey took her from her childhood home in Massachusetts to the lush mountains of Laos, where her airman uncle was shot down in 1972.


“Sending a loved one away and not knowing if they’ll walk through the door again is an incredible sacrifice,” Rotondi said.

It’s a sacrifice her mother’s family made multiple times. For not only was her Uncle Jack shot down alongside his AC-130 crew during the “secret war” in the neutral nation of Laos, her grandfather — Jack’s father — fell from the sky too, spending two and a half years in a German POW camp during WWII.

As “What We Inherit: A Secret War and a Family’s Search for Answers” so arrestingly confesses in its first sentence, Rotondi comes from “a family that loses children.”Rotondi spent a decade researching and writing her debut novel, a deeply personal family memoir and obscure history lesson released this April. Historical supporting evidence, it turns out, would be hard to come by.

Read more about Vietnam War vets traveling to find answers.

“Much about what happened in Laos has only recently been declassified. I embedded photographs of some of the reports and letters I found directly into the book, because I wanted to recreate that sense of expectation to show how the force of a single document can change a family’s hopes,” Rotondi, a Brooklyn resident, said. “Getting CIA officers, refugees and former soldiers on the record about their role in the war was a slow exercise in trust-building but led to some incredible conversations.”

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Before her mother’s death, conversation about Rotondi’s uncle and grandfather’s wartime experiences were few. A chance discovery of a hidden-in-the-closet file cabinet just hours after her mother’s passing launched Rotondi onto what would eventually become “What We Inherit.” It involved thousands of hours of research, sifting through redacted files, yellowed newspaper clippings and maps of questionable accuracy.

Rotondi, whose work has been published in the likes of The Huffington Post and The History Channel, traveled to Southeast Asia in 2013 to locate her uncle’s crash site. She was not the first family member to do so; she was simply retracing her grandpa’s steps through Laos as he obsessively searched for answers about his missing son years earlier.

The process of writing her family’s tragedies reminded Rotondi of the incredible strength of military families.

“I had the incredible privilege of speaking to other families of the missing for this book, and the biggest takeaway from them was the strength of the unspoken bond between military families,” she said. “I read somewhere that we never truly die until our name stops being spoken aloud. There is power in talking about our lost and missing veterans — especially with the next generation.”

What We Inherit,” a book worth reading, ensures that will never happen on Rotondi’s watch.

MIGHTY TRENDING

CIA director doesn’t trust Taliban during peace talks

In a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Jan. 29, 2019, CIA Director Gina Haspel was asked point blank if she trusts the Taliban to uphold promises they made to work with the Afghan government and never allow the country to again be a safe haven for terrorists.

“If there were an eventual peace agreement, a very robust monitoring regime would be critical,” she responded. “We would still need the capability to act in our national interest if we needed to.”


The peace talks, which began Jan. 21, 2019, are focused on settling the terms for a complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has said that significant progress has been made during the negotiations, according to the Associated Press.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Zalmay Khalilzad.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

On Jan. 30, 2019, the Taliban said in a recorded statement to AP that it had no intentions of creating a monopoly on Afghan institutions.

“After the end of the occupation, Afghans should forget their past and tolerate one another and start life like brothers,” Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman said in the statement.

Other major concessions to the US include promises that the group would not allow terrorist groups to plan attacks from Afghanistan, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But Haspel’s comments Jan. 29, 2019, reflect a troubling concern that a complete withdrawal of the 22,000 troops in the US-led coalition will allow the Taliban to regain control — a concern shared by former US ambassador Ryan Crocker.

“You will simply see the Taliban move in and retake the country,” Crocker told Foreign Policy. Even as the peace talks began, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a devastating attack against Afghan forces, giving credence to the concerns over the group’s sincerity.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Airman under investigation after homophobic rant on YouTube

The Air Force is investigating an airman after he posted a video on YouTube rife with homophobic slurs and insults.

A man in an Air Force uniform, identified only by the YouTube username “Baptist Dave 1611” ranted in a recent video, calling gay people “sodomites,” “vermin scum,” and “roaches” among other slurs, according to Air Force Times, which first reported the story June 26, 2019.

“The specifics of the situation are being reviewed by the airman’s command team,” said service spokesman Maj Nick Mercurio, confirming the incident. Mercurio did not provide any identifying details about the airman.


A screenshot from the video posted on Air Force Times showed the airman in his Airman Battle Uniform. The account has since been removed from the website.

“When you get these perverts on their own, they flee like cockroaches, like the roaches they are, the vermin scum, the pedophiles that they are,” the airman said in the video, as reported by Air Force Times.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Unidentified airman, “Baptist Dave 1611.”

(Screenshot from YouTube)

In the video, “Baptist Dave” also said he was influenced by Grayson Fritts, the Tennessee Knox County Sheriff’s Office detective who recently advocated for the arrest and execution of LGBTQ people. Fritts is also a pastor of All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville. During a sermon on June 2, 2019, Fritts said LGBTQ individuals “are worthy of death.” The video, originally released by the church, went viral on social media.

The Air Force on June 26, 2019, stressed inclusivity.

“The Air Force considers diversity to be one of our greatest assets,” Mercurio said in a statement to Military.com. “Therefore, airmen are expected to treat one another with dignity and respect. We do not tolerate behavior that is contrary to those values.”

Mercurio cited Air Force Instruction 1-1 which outlines the service’s culture standards that all airmen must comply with.

“Our core values demand that Airmen treat others with genuine dignity, fairness, and respect at all times,” the AFI states under its code of conduct.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

(Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Hope Geiger)

“Each Airman is entitled to fair, scrupulous, and unbiased treatment, and each Airman has the obligation to care for, teach, and lead others. We must also maintain loyalty to the Air Force’s core values and standards and maintain professionalism and respect for others regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation. This respect for others not only involves personal interaction, but also extends to communications and interactions in social media and cyberspace,” it says.

Last year, the Pentagon introduced a new policy to deter misconduct and harassment among service members, defining harassment to include offensive jokes, stereotyping, violence, and discrimination.

Under direction from then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the Defense Department in February 2019 unveiled DoD Instruction 1020.03, Harassment Prevention And Response in the Armed Forces, which immediately superseded any past department policies on sexual harassment and unacceptable behavior for service members.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

(DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

The 23-page comprehensive policy updates the department’s definitions of harassment and proper response to attacks on individuals via social media, as well as misconduct on bases.

DoD says that harassment may include “offensive jokes, epithets, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, displays of offensive objects or imagery, stereotyping, intimidating acts, veiled threats of violence, threatening or provoking remarks, racial or other slurs, derogatory remarks about a person’s accent, or displays of racially offensive symbols.”

Discriminatory harassment — which is based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity), national origin, or sexual orientation — is addressed under the policy.

The reported YouTube video marks the latest in a string of incidents under investigation by the Air Force involving alleged inappropriate conduct by airmen.

In April 2019, the service said it was looking into Master Sgt. Cory Reeves of the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base Colorado after the group Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists accused Reeves of being a member of white nationalist organization Identity Evropa in an online post.

Weeks earlier, the Office of Special Investigations at the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, began investigating Airman First Class Dannion Phillips, who was identified in a Huffington Post report as being involved with Identity Evropa.

The Air Force did not have additional information on the status of these investigations by press time.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Interview with HISTORY’s Garry Adelman: ‘GRANT’ 3-night miniseries event starting Memorial Day

HISTORY’s six-hour miniseries event, “Grant,” executive produced by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and biographer Ron Chernow and Appian Way’s Jennifer Davisson and Leonardo DiCaprio and produced by RadicalMedia in association with global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) will premiere Memorial Day and air over three consecutive nights beginning Monday, May 25 at 9PM ET/PT on HISTORY. The television event will chronicle the life of one of the most complex and underappreciated generals and presidents in U.S. history – Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant: Official Trailer | 3-Night Miniseries Event Premieres Memorial Day, May 25 at 9/8c | History

youtu.be

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Garry Adelman has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg for more than a decade. Seen here holding the first Civil War photo he owned, given to him by his grandmother when he was 17 years old.


Garry Adelman is the Chief Historian with American Battlefield Trust. He is a Civil War expert, published author and the vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography. He appears on the forthcoming miniseries “GRANT” that will air over three consecutive nights beginning Monday, May 25 at 9PM ET/PT on HISTORY.

The American Battlefield Trust has preserved more than 15,000 acres of battlefield land, hallowed ground, where Grant’s soldiers fought.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Casey Crawford Copyright 2020

Leaders who lead from the front are very popular, however, even in today’s military there are officers who believe they’re above that. Grant was very hands on, how did he imprint that side of leadership onto his officers?

More than anything he was a product of his time. He would have learned at West Point and his war in Mexico in the 1840s that: Lieutenants, Colonels and Brigadier Generals are expected to recklessly expose themselves to danger at that time to inspire their men. It’s one of the roles of the civil war officers had to do this by possessing unbelievable personal bravery. He was cool under fire and by not being shy to roll his sleeves up to get a job done and remain cool under fire he inspired his troops to do the same.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Joe Alblas Copyright 2020

Maintaining order and discipline in the chaos of combat is paramount. Was there anything special about Grant’s training methods that turned raw recruits into warriors?

I’m not aware that Grant trained his troops in anyway, substantially different than other civil war commanders. What Grant did was give his soldiers victory.

“If you follow my example, if you stick to your post and do your duty, if you relentlessly pursued and attacked in front of you – I will give you victory- you will be part of that victory.”

That is the key to grant, more than any particular training he gave them. Again, leading by example and giving soldiers a purpose.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Casey Crawford Copyright 2020

When I was deployed to Afghanistan, my platoon had the luxury of having internet maybe twice a month. How did Grant facilitate communication between his troops and their loved ones?

A lot of people don’t realize but to be a great commander in the 19th century, as today, you do not simply possess the skills of strategy and tactics but rather you need to be an excellent communicator, which Grant was. You need to be an excellent administrator, which Grant was, and in the latter manner; Grant was keeping his troops fed, kept his telegraph lines open, by keeping the mail running, Grant kept his troops happy.

Those troops were able to communicate primarily by letter, sometimes by telegraph, to get important messages home and more importantly to receive letters from home – including care packages. Grant accomplished that through the greatly underrated attribute of being organized.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Joe Alblas Copyright 2020

Grant’s popularity grew among the civilian population following his victories on the field of battle, how did he feel about becoming a celebrity General?

I think Grant could have done without any of the celebrity he achieved. Some of that allowed him to get certain things done, especially when he became President of the United States. It helped him become President of the United States, however, if Grant could keep a low profile and getting the job done – in this case; winning the civil war – it was all the better for him. An example: He arrived to be the first general to receive a third star since Washington.

He’s going to become a Lieutenant General in the United States Army.

When he showed up to check into his room, nobody recognized him. They didn’t offer him a room, nothing special, until he wrote his name on the ledger then everybody knew he was Ulysses S. Grant. He didn’t go out of his way to make sure people knew that. I think he could have done without every bit of his celebrity.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

U.S. Military R.R., City Point, Va. Field Hospital


Brady, Mathew, 1823 (ca.) – 1896

These battles were brutal to say the least. What kind of medical care did Union troops receive?

Medical care in the Civil War really changed during the civil war. In fact, it is night and day between the beginning of the Civil War and the end of the Civil War.

Let me explain what I mean.

By 1862, both North and South recognized the inadequacies of their medical systems. By 1863, both sides had come to possess many of the systems that save lives today. In other words: Triage, trauma and our modern 911 system were all developed during the Civil War.

When they started asking questions: “What is that ambulance made of? What is in that ambulance? How many of each of those things are in those ambulances? Who stocks the ambulance? Who drives the ambulance? How does the ambulance know where to go with the wounded soldiers?

When they do get to a field hospital, who mans that field hospital? Who does the surgery? It was unbelievable the leaps and bounds these simple systems, created by a guy named Jonathan Letterman, made in preserving life during the civil war.

Let’s say I traveled back in time and watched a Civil War surgery being performed. Most were done with anesthesia, they didn’t bite the bullet and sawed through bone while people were perfectly awake, that was a very rare occurrence.

Nonetheless, I may be horrified by the lack of hygiene. I’d say, “Wash that saw!” and the doctor may stare at me and say, “Why?”

“Well, trust me here, you can’t see them but there are these little things that live on all of us. Some are good and some are bad. If the bad ones go in the wrong place you’re going to get really sick!”

They would absolutely lock me up in an insane asylum.

We now know things that the people of the Civil War didn’t. One thing they did know, though, was how to turn a wound into something they could treat. That’s why amputations are so common. They didn’t know how to treat internal injuries the way we do now, but they could cut something off and tie it off to give some chance of survival.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Casey Crawford Copyright 2020

During Grant’s presidency, he installed a network of spies in the South to combat the growing threat of the Ku Klux Klan. How did these spies gather actionable intelligence for, now President, Grant?

During the Civil War when Grant had something to accomplish he rarely went at it in just one way. Rather, he would think of five different ways to go and deal with a particular problem and maybe one of them would stick. In the case of dealing with the Ku Klux Klan, Grant did everything he could in Washington, through legislation, to enforce the rights of these relatively recently freed African Americans.

However, he also appointed someone he thought he could trust; Lewis Merrill, a very active, athletic cavalryman. He employed a large body of spies in order to try to infiltrate and spy on the Ku Klux Klan. [The Klan] was so persistent, Merrill once joked, “Just shoot in any direction and if you hit a white man, he’s probably part of the Ku Klux Klan.”

That’s how pervasive it was.

His employment of spies, including African American spies, helped preserve some of the lives of his soldiers and helped to ultimately mitigate the Klan and the domestic terrorism that ensued.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

President Grant vetoes the 1874 Inflation Bill, bottling the Genie of Butler.

Paine, Albert Bigelow Th. Nast: His Period and His Pictures (New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1904)

There is a divide between the portrayal of Grant versus the reality, such as the over blown perception of his drinking problem, which could be linked to his post-traumatic stress after the Mexican-American War and isolation in California – was there any real merit to the propaganda?

At one point, yes.

Ulysses S. Grant did in fact have a genuine drinking problem. Call it what you will, but it was really his enemies that took one aspect of him and constantly extenuated that as if it was a constant thing.

For instance, Grant had a drinking problem while out in California long before the Civil War so he must have one contrary to the evidence. If he won a battle, his enemies would still complain that he was a “butcher” because too many people died. Yet, by the time he died, he was loved by everyone – people of the south, the north, black, white, Native American, everybody.

Sadly that didn’t reflect in the 20th century interpretation of Grant. He’s a wildly popular figure who suffered at the hands of historians and only now are people reexamining him under a new light. We’re now more looking more critically at the claims of his drinking, him being a “butcher,” and the other terrible claims.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Casey Crawford Copyright 2020

Both Grant and Lee were heralded as both being some of the greatest military minds. Grant mentions to Lee at the Appomattox Courthouse that the two had briefly met beforehand during the Mexican-American War. Were there any other interactions between the two – even if it was just Grant seeing Lee from the edge of the formation?

Certainly not before the war. Grant would, of course, know of Lee when Lee was the commandant at West Point and he was a cadet. Lee, for his part, could not remember Grant from West Point and barely from Mexico. What I don’t think people realize is how much the two worked together in the post-war period to reconstruct the nation. They did correspond and they would meet at least once after that. I find that especially interesting. These commanders that rose to the top of their respective armies because of their skills would, to a certain degree, end up working together to reunite this nation after such a brutal war.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

If you could go back in time and offer Grant one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would tell him don’t change a thing except one: When President Lincoln offers to you to go to Ford’s theater on April 14th, 1865 – accept the invitation. Bring a side arm and the two toughest men to guard the door. With that, maybe the life of Abraham Lincoln could have been spared.

Articles

23 Photos of Drill Instructors terrifying the hell out of Marine recruits

Considered the toughest and most disciplined basic training of all military branches, Marine Corps boot camp is a 12-week transformation of civilian recruit to a United States Marine. Tasked with the daunting challenge of transforming recruits to Marines are drill instructors, each of which are the embodiment of the most highly-trained and disciplined Marines the Corps has.


With the recruits every moment from when they step on the yellow footprints to graduation, drill instructors challenge each recruit until they are all instilled with the long standing traditional Marine Corps values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. While earning the title Marine is the most proud moment a recruit will have, every Marine will never forget the terrifying moments they had courtesy of their Drill Instructors.

Here are 23 photos that capture those terrifying moments every recruit will have while earning the title United States Marine.

1. Civilians who have enlisted but have not yet been sent to boot camp are called ‘Poolees’ and will have functions with Drill Instructors where they get a taste of what boot camp will be like.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Sgt Reece Lodder/USMC

2. A receiving Drill Instructor gives instructions and orders to new recruits as they stand on the infamous yellow footprints at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Sgt. Whitney N. Frasier/USMC

3. The look a Drill Instructor gives to recruits just before they walk through the doors of MCRD can send a chill down their spine. In this moment, recruits realize their challenge to earn the title United States Marine is about to begin.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

4. When recruits call home to say they have arrived safely, their family has no idea that their future Marine could be surrounded by Drill Instructors.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

5. Some recruits have been known to lose all bowel control when receiving their first knife hand from a Drill Instructor.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

6. “Black Friday” is when recruits meet the Drill Instructors tasked with turning them into Marines. Their Senior Drill Instructor makes the recruits feel terrified of not living up to the high expectations and challenges he sets for them.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

7. Once the Senior Drill Instructor is finished setting his expectations, he has his DI’s carry out the plan for the rest of the day with speed and intensity.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

8. Drill Instructors are skilled at being able to break every recruit down mentally…

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Lance Cpl. John Kennicutt/USMC

9. …and physically.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

10. To recruits, it may feel like Drill Instructors hate them. They do.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

11. Drill Instructors make it clear that they will never allow you to quit on yourself … even if you do.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

12. There is no avoiding the wrath of a DI once their attention is focused on you.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Lance Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

13. Chances are your loud will not be loud enough!

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

14. No matter if across the squad bay or right in front of them, recruits can feel the glare of a Drill Instructor pierce through them.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

15. “Brimming” is an intimidation technique where Drill Instructors get so close to the recruit when they correct them that they can bounce the brim of their “smokey bear” campaign cover off of them.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

16. Although physically and emotionally exhausted, the last thing a recruit wants to do is fall asleep during a class and wake up to a DI in their face.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

17. Drill Instructors turn disciplining recruits in to an art form.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

18. Drill Instructors swarming. Basically, this is a recruits worst nightmare.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Lance Cpl. Aneshea Yee/USMC

19. Whether one foot away or 100 feet from a recruit, Drill Instructors will use the same high level of volume to get their point across.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

20. A Drill Instructor doesn’t seem impressed at the skill level of a recruit trying to hold an ammo can over her head during a Combat Fitness Test.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

21. There is no place a Drill Instructor won’t go to motivate their recruits.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

22. A guaranteed way to be scolded by a Drill Instructor is to have them discover you have an unclean weapon.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

23. As recruits progress through boot camp, they are subjected to inspections. The terror they feel is from the discovery of a flaw, no matter how subtle, in their uniform.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Lance Cpl. Aneshea Yee/USMC

But no matter how many terrifying moments recruits may endure, it is all worth it once their Drill Instructors hand them an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and award them the title United States Marine.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

(h/t Geoff Ingersoll at Business Insider)

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Japan was suckered into revealing Midway was a target

The Battle of Midway is remembered as one of the greatest naval victories in American history. The big moments — whether it was the heroic sacrifice of Torpedo Squadron 8 or dive bombers catching three Japanese carriers exposed and vulnerable — are well known. But those moments wouldn’t have happened without a single undersea cable and a brilliant idea.


In the weeks before the Battle of Midway, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was fighting his own battle — and it wasn’t with the Japanese. Instead, it was against bureaucrats in Washington who were proving to be the bane of Nimitz’s existence. With the attack on Pearl Harbor still fresh on everyone’s mind, a fierce debate raged over a single question: Where will the Japanese strike next?

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Wilfred J. Holmes (call him “Jasper”) was the man responsible for the gambit that led Japan to reveal Midway as their target.

Nimitz needed to know the answer to this question for two reasons: One, the Pacific Fleet was outnumbered — big time. Two, he wanted the bureaucrats in Washington off his back. If he followed their advice and things went wrong (as in losing Midway and/or the carriers), he knew who’d take the heat — and it wasn’t gonna be the folks in Washington. It was then that an intelligence officer, Jasper Holmes, came up with a plan.

Long before World War II, America laid an undersea cable to send messages across the ocean. Nimitz used this line to broadcast an unencrypted message, saying that the fresh-water condensers on the atoll were broken and they needed a shipment of H2O.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

The Battle of Midway, where Japan lost the heavy cruiser Mikuma and four carriers, was one of America’s greatest victories.

(US Navy)

The hope was that the Japanese would pick that message up and pass it on. They did — and the Americans were listening in. Surprisingly, the Japanese didn’t give pause as to why such an operational vulnerability would be revealed via radio broadcast. Nimitz had the proof he needed that Midway was, indeed, the next Japanese objective.

The rest was history. One of America’s greatest victories had come about because an American commander got the enemy to help him get Washington off his back.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why Neil deGrasse Tyson deserves to be the first Space Force Secretary

There is no living astrophysicist to have a place in the hearts of as many space nerds as Neil deGrasse Tyson. Hell, he even holds the honor of being named People Magazine’s sexiest astrophysicist in 2000, before making his mainstay in the public view with his works to promote scientific advancements and way before he helped declare Pluto the dwarf planet it actually is. ( It has an orbital pattern similar to a comet, it’s beyond the gas giants and lies in the Keiper Belt, and has a surface area just slightly bigger than Russia. Fight me.)

But he has also been a vocal supporter of the Space Force. Once you tear away all the jokes, fantasies, and memes that the internet’s generated the Space Force, you’re left with a very serious take on how to to best look into the future. If or when the Space Force becomes a reality, there’s no single human being better suited to become the first Secretary of the Space Force than Neil deGrasse Tyson himself.


Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Though he never served in the military and, obviously, not in the Space Force, but that’s never been a disqualifying factor for many of the armed forces’ secretaries.

(NASA photo by Bill Ingalls)

Tyson is no stranger to serving with the United States Government on issues regarding space. In 2001, he served on a government commission to help determine the future of the U.S. aerospace industry. He again served on the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, where he helped cement America’s commitment to once again be the pioneers of the final frontier.

He’s also no stranger to working with both the Air Force Space Command and NASA, the main two predecessors of the proposed Space Force. His work in the American Astronomical Society also places him as a top contender for the role.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

It’ll be perfect. Tyson could help prevent the film ‘Gravity’ from being a reality. Well, he’s also got plenty of choice words about the film’s scientific accuracy, but that’s beside the point.

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

His appointment would also bring legitimacy to the often-joked-about branch. The true gravity of the Space Force’s responsibility seems to be lost on much of the internet community. In response, Tyson has been making the rounds on the late-night circuit and internet talk shows to showcase the various, great benefits of maintaining a such a force.

As much as we all want to be the first space shuttle door gunner (and trust me, I’ll be the first in line at the USSF recruiter’s office if that job is announced within my lifetime), there are a million other things that the Space Force would realistically be doing.

Treaties bar any overt acts of war in space, but there’s a clause in there about defensive measures. If anyone were to launch a missile at any of the countless military or civilian satellites in orbit (a capacity both China and Russia have both bragged about possessing), there needs to be a way to stop them. Some kind of defensive force.

The Space Force would also act in situations where astronauts become stranded in space, much in the same way the Coast Guard does on the water. This isn’t a problem right now, seeing as there are only six people up there at this very moment, but when space travel becomes more of a reality for many people, it will become one.

There are no officially released statements that outline the details of how the Space Force will be created other than the briefings that say it will happen. Tyson has also never officially shown any interest in heading the Space Force outside of giving it his approval, but when the eventual shortlist of candidates surfaces, we’re hoping Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson tops it.

Articles

That time a Coast Guard icebreaker made a massive drug bust off the coast of Jamaica

Nope, that headline isn’t a mad lib. A Coast Guard icebreaker was sailing near Jamaica, the hot island in the tropics, and seized a boatload of marijuana.


The capture came in 1984 and represented the first narcotics bust for an Arctic icebreaker.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Northwind was based out of Wilmington, North Carolina, and spent most of its time breaking ice in the Great Lakes, Arctic, and Antarctic regions. But it was known to do some cruises in warmer climes, occasionally even the tropics.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
The U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Northwind in 1986, assisting Greenland in repopulating musk-ox herds. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

In 1984, the Northwind was operating in the Atlantic. It MEDEVACed a woman from a sailboat one day, put out a fire with the U.S. Navy on another, and captured 20 tons of marijuana on its own on another day.

The seizure came on Nov. 4, 1984. The Alexi I was sailing 240 miles from Jamaica when it was spotted by the Northwind and stopped. The Coast Guardsmen found 20 tons of marijuana onboard.

That had to be rough for the crew of the CGC Glover, which had made news three days before with a 13-ton record-setting bust. At the time, the Northwind’s was the largest maritime marijuana capture in history, breaking a 1976 record established by the CGC Sherman.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos
The U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Northwind was heavily armed for its class. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

The Northwind served for another five years after the incident but was decommissioned in 1989 and sent to the James River Reserve Fleet. The ship was later broken down for scrap.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Seasoned astronaut has a big problem with NASA spacesuits

NASA, you have a spacesuit problem.

That was the crux of a message delivered on Sep. 6, 2019 by Sandra “Sandy” Magnus, a seasoned former astronaut, during an official meeting of spaceflight safety experts in Houston, Texas, on Sep. 6, 2019.

Magnus brought up the issue on behalf of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), which held its latest quarterly meeting at Johnson Space Center. The group operates independently and is tasked with “evaluating NASA’s safety performance and advising the Agency on ways to improve that performance.”


NASA is racing to send people back to the moon, ideally landing the first woman and next man on the lunar surface in 2024, with its new Artemis program. (The last time anyone visited the moon was December 1972.) Naturally, ASAP had a lot to say about NASA’s ambitious new effort.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Astronaut Bruce McCandless II floats outside NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger.

(NASA)

Magnus, who flew to the International Space Station (ISS) twice and has spent more than five months in orbit, zeroed in on spacesuits required for the Artemis program’s missions.

“An integral system required to put boots on the moon are the boots,” Magnus said.

She added that spacesuits are essentially “one-person spaceships” that deserve similar levels of funding and scrutiny.

“They’re complex and they have stringent safety requirements, and are a critical component of not only the lunar program, but actually any potential exploration path that human spaceflight may engage upon in the future,” Magnus said.

NASA is struggling to keep its current spacesuits operational

Right now, NASA’s only operational EVA spacesuits are aboard the ISS. They’re each about 40 years old — and not getting any younger.

The panel previously reported that NASA is struggling to upgrade the suits, let alone maintain them.

“The problem does not lie simply in the fact that the suits are old; the fact that manufacturers of several critical suit components, including the very fabric of the suits, have now gone out of business,” ASAP wrote in April 2019.

This in part led to the cancellation in March 2019 of what was supposed to be the first all-female spacewalk.

NASA has been working on a new spacesuit system called the xEMU, which stands for “Exploration Extra-vehicular Mobility Unit.” The xEMU program is designed to both replace the aging relics that astronauts wear outside the space station and also pave the way for crewed exploration of the moon and Mars.

Magnus acknowledged that NASA has invested some money into researching, developing, and building prototypes, like the Z-2 spacesuit (shown at the top of this story). But she argued that the program isn’t moving fast enough.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

A prototype of NASA’s xEMU spacesuit program called the Z-2. The agency is designing new suits for astronauts to explore planetary surfaces.

(NASA)

“Up to this point there’s been a lack of priority placed on producing these next-generation spacesuits,” Magnus said.

She added that, while the xEMU project is now being managed by a division of the Artemis program called the Gateway — a small space station that would orbit the moon, and what astronauts may eventually use as a pit-stop for surface missions — ASAP feels the program needs to break out on its own and get more resources.

“In order to produce a safe and reliable lunar suit to meet the Artemis program’s 2024 deadline, and — because of the broad applicability, complexity, and critical safety aspects of spacesuits — in general, we think NASA needs to immediately create a formal, structured spacesuit program,” she said, noting that it should have “a well-defined budget, a schedule including critical milestones, and provide both the authority and responsibility to this entity to produce this critical piece of equipment.”

She added: “We believe anything less than full, robust program-level attention to this system reduces the potential to not only field the capability, but do so in a safe manner.”‘

‘It appears that Artemis is off to a great start’

But Artemis still needs to clear its first major hurdle, which it is the bureaucracy of federal budgeting.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in May 2019 that the agency needs a id=”listicle-2640265340″.6 billion “down payment” to get started in earnest on the program. A month later he added that landing on the moon in five years may require -6 billion annually — a total of -30 billion — on top of NASA’s existing yearly budget of about billion.

Despite that challenge, ASAP member George Nield, a former FAA associate administrator who led its Office of Commercial Space Transportation, was optimistic about the prognosis.

“It appears that Artemis is off to a great start. If Congress agrees to provide the needed funding, NASA may have a real shot at achieving the 2024 goal,” Nield said. “At the same time it will be important to remember what can go wrong along the way, and what things need to be done to ensure crew safety.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways parenting changes when your child joins the Army

I held on to my son until it was time for him to go. My heart felt empty as he walked through the departure gates on his way to Army Basic Combat Training (BCT.)

Although I was happy for him as he left to live his lifelong dream of serving our great nation, I felt lost with an emptiness that filled my heart. Despite the tears that streamed down my face, I was proud to see my son started his journey with strength and determination.

It’s far from easy to watch as your child embarks on a journey aimed at transforming them from civilian to soldier; where you won’t hear from them and don’t know what they’re doing.

As your child goes on this journey, you go on a journey too.


You may not have planned for this or even wanted it, and yet here you are, transitioning to becoming the parent of a soldier.

Parenting changes in unexpected ways when your child joins the army. Instead of feeling stranded in a place of sadness, let your child’s hard work, dedication, and patriotism, inspire you to be your best. Here are some ways that parenting changes when your child joins the army.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart/Released

1. You’re no longer in control.

Parenting never stops, but when your child joins the army a new set of challenges emerges. After spending 18+ years preparing them for life and protecting them, a parental shift happens.

One day they’re home with you, the next day they’re thousands of miles away with little communication.

The casual calls, endless chore reminders, and days spent together are sweet memories of another season of life.

Take a step back and realize how your role is different now. Instead of taking the wheel for them, your role may be to just be there for them, to support their decision to join the Army or to help keep them moving forward.

You may not hear from your Soldier as often as you like but that’s part of your new normal.

Instead of resisting it, lean into it. It can be truly wonderful if you let it. Just think: you raised a child with the passion, courage, and grit to do one of the most important jobs in our nation. Make sure your child knows that you have confidence in them as a soldier and defender of freedom.

Transition takes great effort and doesn’t happen overnight. Know how you are changing as a parent. Put your feelings to paper where you can look back in a few months or a year and see how far you’ve come on this incredible military parenting journey.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

2. You learn resilience.

Awful thoughts will undoubtedly run rampant through your mind. At some point, your Soldier will transition from BCT to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) or may deploy somewhere in the world.

I wasn’t as excited as my son when he deployed; he thought of it all as a big adventure while I cringed at the thought of him flying high in his helicopter over the Afghanistan Mountains.

Holding on to his enthusiasm through my range of emotions, and looking at this as an adventure was my first step to building resilience.

Embracing change and learning to adapt as a parent of a Soldier is one way to build resilience and manage your emotions. Resilience gives you the ability to cope with stressful situations (there will be some) and carry on with your life. You can’t change the fact that your child is now a Soldier, one of the few who chose to defend our country. Nor can you change where they go next. But you can learn resilience, become more confident in your ability to deal with tough emotions, and find joy in your journey.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo courtesy of 2nd Cavalry Regiment

3. You find new ways to enjoy the holidays.

Christmas brings with it sweet memories, family gatherings, and lots of food. It’s always a happy occasion, except for that first year my son joined the Army. He would be celebrating at his first duty station in Germany, while we all missed him terribly at home.

In subsequent years, we found new ways to celebrate. We’ve had Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas tree, gifts, and holiday decorations in the middle of November or birthdays celebrated a month before or after the event.

Don’t forget technology, which creates new ways to enjoy your Soldier. You can engage with your loved one, whether it’s a text message, phone call, or video and open up communications in a positive way.

Is it the day that is more important or the gathering of loved ones to celebrate events? Learning to enjoy celebrations on days other than the event is a unique way to celebrate. After all, any time you can gather with your Soldier is time for celebration!

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

4. Oh, the places you’ll go.

That first 9 weeks of basic training seemed like forever. With over 2,000 miles between us, how would I ever see my son? As the years passed, the miles expanded as his duty stations took him to Germany, South Korea, and far-flung states.

Let the adventure begin! With passport in hand, I visited my Soldier son in every country and state he lived in. We traveled through Europe and had a grand time experiencing new places and cultures.

Keep an open mind about the places you can visit and explore with your Soldier. The best part is your child can be your tour guide as you trek off together with enthusiasm and curiosity, creating new grown-up memories.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart

5. You see your child in a different light.

When my son left for basic training, I clung to our past relationship where I was the mom and protector. Clearly that wasn’t going to work.

As time progressed, it dawned on me one day that my son is a Soldier. He spoke to me about his passion for defending our freedoms and how much it meant to him. As I slowly began to understand him as a grown man and Soldier, I began to see, appreciate, and respect this side of him.

You may not realize it but your Army Soldier is a skilled and highly-trained warrior, ready to defend our nation on a moment’s notice. That’s a lot to take in but it’s true.

No matter how much you want your child to be five years old again, they’re not. They left their childhood behind and went out into the world armed with all the loving ingredients you instilled in them. When you look at them as grown-up, you give way for a new relationship to blossom—one that includes the sweet memories of yesteryear and new adventures of today.

New Beginnings

Throughout a successful 15-year Army career, my son’s story isn’t finished and neither is mine. Every “see ya later” hug at an airport is another building block towards mental toughness and staying ready for the changes ahead (and there will be many.)

When your child joins the Army, your parent-child relationship adapts and grows as both your lives change over the years. I wouldn’t change a thing about being the mom of my Soldier son. From the people I’ve met, to the things I’ve learned, and the places I’ve been, this army mom life has been amazing.

You control your journey or your journey controls you. Enjoy the adventure!

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The newest underwater drones can do what submarines can’t

The Marlin is an unmanned underwater vehicle that is currently used in a variety of applications, but primarily for searching for stuff.


You may be wondering – why would you use an unmanned vehicle underwater? After all, we’re paying through the nose for nuclear-powered attack submarines. Why can’t they do they job? It’s a very good question. One of the big reasons is that nuclear attack submarines are primarily designed to sink enemy ships and attack. This requires that they be built very differently.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

The Marlin can be deployed from the surface or from underwater.

(Photo by Lockheed)

Unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs (also called drones) are very useful for looking for things on the ocean floor. First of all, you can send them into hostile territory or a dangerous area (like a minefield), and really you just have to worry about the accountants if the drone hits the mine. Second, they can spend a lot of time searching, because they don’t need to take breaks to feed themselves or sleep or other time-consuming human endeavors. Third, because they don’t have to haul around the stuff that humans need to survive and function, they can be a lot smaller.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

The Marlin Mk 2 can operate at depths of up to 1,000 feet, and has a top speed of four knots.

(Photo by Lockheed)

According to information obtained from Lockheed at the 2018 SeaAirSpace expo in National Harbor, Maryland, two versions of the Marlin are available or in the works. One, the Marlin Mk 2, is able to operate at depths of up to 1,000 feet and operate for up to 24 hours. It has a top speed of four knots. The Marlin Mk 3 is much larger, has a minimum endurance of 20 hours, a top speed of five knots, and can operate at depths of up to 4,000 feet. They can be deployed from a surface vessel or from underwater.

These days, when you are searching for something in the ocean, it can take a lot of time. And unlike the character from Finding Nemo, these Marlins won’t give you some snarky sass.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 of the worst errors the living made at the Battle of Winterfell

If you haven’t yet seen the third episode of the final season of Game of Thrones, then stop reading this, go watch it, then come back and finish reading this. If you have, and you were reasonably frustrated for most of the episode, then this posting is for you. Be sure and comment about the tactical and strategic decisions you would have made. They can’t be much worse than the brain trust running Winterfell right now.


Strategically, their premise was flawed. They hinged their success on killing the Night King, something they could only do if he revealed himself, if they could kill him at all. Everyone else was expected to just fall back to a series of positions, expecting to be overrun. This plan fell apart immediately, except for the plan to fall back expecting to die – that part went just as they all thought it would.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

“Now you guys will at least see what is about to kill you.”

They deployed their maneuver forces first.

Not only did they send the Dothraki horde against the undead, the Dothraki were sent charging in head-strong against an enemy they couldn’t even see. The Dothraki have zero experience fighting in the dark, in the cold, or against an army that isn’t already afraid of them by the time they arrive. There was no reason to send them into the fighting first or to rely on them to do much damage to an overwhelming undead wave.

Reliance on maneuvering troops in an overly surrounded stronghold is what ended the French Army in Indochina, and it almost ended the army of the living.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Why are you not using this superweapon? You know the Night King will.

They made little use of air superiority.

Everyone talks about these dragons as if they’re going to level the playing field or give Daenerys Targaryen the perpetual upper hand. And if I were a ground troop at Winterfell, I would have felt pretty good about the dragonfire death from above we had at our disposal. So what were Daenerys and Jon Snow waiting for? Dany was the least disciplined person on their side anyway, so once the plan went out the window, the dragons should have been playing tic-tac-toe all over the undead horde.

The enemy dragon didn’t show up until halfway through the battle and was using undead dragonfire like it was the key to beating the living because it was.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

If only they had some source of unlimited fire that not only killed the enemy but also lit the battlefield…

They had no eyes on the battlefield.

Every time the dragons lit up part of the enemy, it not only took enemy soldiers off the battlefield but it gave them living targets for their artillery and archers. A huge chunk of Winterfell’s defenders were barely used because they couldn’t see the incoming enemy. The Dothraki rode straight into the swarm, quickly overrun by a force they couldn’t fight because they couldn’t see them.

The only time the living army had any kind of chance or was able to use their natural abilities to their advantage was when they could see the enemy to shoot at them. Ask Theon Greyjoy and the crew from the Iron Islands as they stood around defending the group project’s least productive partner. They made every arrow count. If Arya Stark hadn’t actually killed the Night King, then Melisandre would have to be Winterfell’s MVP – she actually gave the defenders light to see.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

Another Tarley being recruited by the Night King.

They failed to plan for the enemy’s reserves.

All the Night King had to do was raise his arms by 90 degrees to bring in an entirely new wave of fresh troops to finish off whoever was left standing among the living. No fewer than 10 of the Winterfell defenders knew this, but failed to relay that message. Would it be so hard to take a swing at a corpse with your dragonglass just to make sure you don’t have to fight your friend later on?

Still, everyone was surprised and overwhelmed when the Night King raised the dead. Especially those who decided to hide out in a crypt.

Author traces family’s MIA journey through Laos

You know things are going badly when the Air Force has to pick up weapons.

The living still somehow managed to underestimate their enemy.

As Jon Snow ran up behind the Night King, the enemy leader stopped, turned, and raised another army of the dead. Jon Snow seemed very surprised by this. Why wasn’t the Night King giving him the one-on-one duel of honor Jon Snow knows he deserved? Because the Night King doesn’t care about things like that. All he does is win. He has no problems with winning a lopsided fight, even if he never has to fight it himself.

Jon and Daenerys thought they could just swoop down and kill the night king with dragonfire, despite there being a huge lack of evidence that he could be killed at all, let alone with fire. Then they assumed he would just reveal himself and allow himself to get splattered with fire. In their plan, every minute they didn’t know where the Night King was hiding or flying, there were hundreds of troops fighting for their lives and souls. Every minute their dragons weren’t spewing fire on anything else, the Night King was heavily recruiting for the White Walker Army Reserve.

Thank the old gods and the new for Arya Stark. Somewhere, CIA agents from the 1960s are nodding their heads in approval.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The best snipers in America will compete on Tim Kennedy’s new show

Green Beret Tim Kennedy is hosting a new show where active duty snipers from the military, law enforcement, and federal agencies compete in a series of challenges based on real combat situations.

And it looks tactical AF.


Kennedy is an active, Ranger qualified, Special Forces Sniper with multiple combat deployments, including Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also earned a reputation for being a competitive shooter, winning and/or placing in multiple military shooting and sniper competitions.

Plus, he just seems cool.

www.youtube.com

One thing is clear: the viewer can expect a lot of firepower from this show (hashtag pew pew hashtag tacticool). Pitting sniper against sniper, these guys cover sniper weapon systems both common and less-known. Come for the competition, but stay for Kennedy’s history lessons:

www.youtube.com

The competition covers everything from the sniper’s pistol (if you’re wondering why a sniper would carry a pistol, watch the video above) to traditional sniper load-outs to special forces vs. police capabilities. In other words, it looks to have everything you never knew you needed in a weapons show.

5.11 Tactical teamed up with History to create a series of web videos leading up to the debut of Sniper: The Ultimate Competition, and they don’t disappoint.

Check out their full playlist below and, when you’re done, be sure to hunt down the debut episode of Sniper: The Ultimate Competition that was just released.

www.youtube.com