This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific - We Are The Mighty
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This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

When the 6th Marine Division stormed ashore at Okinawa on April 1, 1945 they knew they were in for a fight. Okinawa is a Japanese prefecture, therefore home turf, and would be ruthlessly defended.


But, their first month on the island was almost uneventful as the Marines swept across the northern part of the island.

All of that changed when they shifted to join the attack in the south.

The Japanese commander’s plan was to concentrate his forces in the hills of southern Okinawa and wage a war of attrition on the Americans that he hoped they could not withstand.

All along the front, American units took a beating from the Japanese. Slowly but surely though, they crept forward. This monumental effort broke the first defensive line, the Machinato line. This led the Americans to the next, and even more formidable defense, the Shuri line.

The Shuri line was the Japanese Main Line of Resistance. It ran from coast to coast across Okinawa roughly in line with Shuri castle.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Though barely 75 feet high and some 300 yards in length Sugar Loaf Hill was teeming with an entire Japanese regiment. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

All along the line, the Japanese defenders were chewing up entire American divisions. However, the worst of it would come for the 6th Marine Division at an unassuming little hill they called “Sugar Loaf.”

Though barely 75 feet high and some 300 yards in length the small hill was teeming with an entire Japanese regiment. The Japanese were dug into intricate tunnels with machine gun and mortar nests covering every approach with interlocking fire.

Artillery from Shuri heights behind Sugar Loaf added more devastation.

On May 12 Company G, 22nd Marines advanced on the hill. Confidence was high as they crossed the first 900 yards to Sugar Loaf’s slopes. Then all hell broke loose. The first two platoons were suddenly ripped apart and pinned down by heavy Japanese machine gun and artillery fire.

Capt. Owen Stebbins, and his XO, Lt. Dale Bair rushed forward leading the remaining platoon. Before they could even make the slopes, Stebbins and 28 other Marines were cut down.

Bair assumed command but was wounded instantly himself. Despite his wounds, he rallied his men and surged to the crest of Sugar Loaf. Blasting at the Japanese with only one good arm Bair inspired his men before Japanese fire repeatedly struck him. Continuing to fight through the pain Bair did everything in his power to suppress the Japanese. He was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

As the Japanese fire intensified, the few remaining Marines evacuated the summit. However, the fight was not over. G Company would assault Sugar Loaf and take the summit three more times that day before being forced to withdraw for the night.

Company G was down to 75 able-bodied men after only the first day. The next day other elements of the 22nd Marines captured the summit of Sugar Loaf only to be driven off.

On May 14, elements of the 29th Marines joined in on the attack and the combined effort managed to get two companies to the top of the hill. Withering fire from the Japanese forced them back down.

An attack in the afternoon by the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marines stalled and left Maj. Henry Courtney, the battalion XO, stranded on the slopes along with 44 other Marines. From his precarious position, Courtney surmised that their only hope was to assault.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Courtney was awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership in the assault on Sugar Loaf Hill. (Photo from USMCU.edu)

Leading the way through ferocious Japanese fire Courtney led his men through fierce combat. After gaining a better position, Courtney sent for reinforcements and ammunition. He then pushed forward to the crest of the hill, demolishing Japanese positions with grenades as he went. Observing a large force assembling for a counterattack Courtney pushed on and routed the enemy from the top of Sugar Loaf.

Courtney order his men to dig in and hold for the night. Unfortunately, accurate Japanese mortar fire mortally wounded him and determined Japanese resistance reduced his small force to only 15 men. Unable to hold they once again yielded the summit.

Courtney was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

May 15 was no better for the Marines. Company D, 29th Marines battled to the top before fighting a bitter engagement with the Japanese. A single platoon exhausted some 350 grenades and were down to eleven men before they retreated.

Elsewhere the 22nd Marines fought off a Japanese counterattack with vicious hand-to-hand combat.

On the 16th, the Marines renewed their assault. The 22nd Marines once again went up Sugar Loaf while the 29th Marines attacked Half Moon hill, a small landmass interconnected with Sugar Loaf’s defenses, from which they could provide supporting fire.

Sugar Loaf changed hands four separate times before the Marines withdrew. The final attempt seemed to be holding when they ran out of ammunition and had no choice but to forfeit the hill once more.

The first good news of the battle came on May 17 when a battalion from the 29th Marines finally secured most of Half Moon hill.

The next day, the Marines launched diversionary attacks all along the line and then snuck a unit of tanks and infantry between Sugar Loaf and Half Moon. These Marines then attacked Sugar Loaf from the rear and finally drove out the remaining Japanese defenders. This was the twelfth times the Marines had made the summit and they were loath to relinquish it.

The beleaguered and angry Marines mowed down the retreating Japanese.

The fight for Sugar Loaf Hill had cost the Marines over 2,600 causalities with nearly 1,300 more evacuated for exhaustion or illness. But, the Marines hard-won victory finally cracked the Shuri line and spelled the end for the Japanese defenders on Okinawa.

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This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War

Mark Bowden is one of the greatest investigative reporters of our age.


“Black Hawk Down,” his exhaustive work on the experience of U.S. troops in Mogadishu, brought renewed attention to the oft-forgotten story. It also resulted in the film, which remains a favorite of the military-veteran community.

His most recent book, “Hué 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam,” is just as exhaustive and compelling. The book is a master work, five years in the making.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Mark Bowden signs books while visiting the U.S. Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan)

The Battle of Hué was the longest and costliest fight of the entire Tet Offensive. On the morning of Jan. 31, 1968, a coordinated attack from 8,000 North Vietnamese Army Regulars, Viet Cong infiltrators, and Vietnamese civilians quickly captured much of the city in a single night.

American and South Vietnamese troops were woefully outnumbered in Hué. Facing the Communist forces there were the ARVN 1st Infantry Division and 200 of their American and Australian advisors at the MACV compound. By the time the sun came up that day, the Communists controlled the city south of the Huong River – except the MACV compound.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
A view from a Marine machine gun position on the outer Citadel wall of Hué City during the 1968 Tet Offensive.

The Marines from MACV would have to go on the offensive, fighting their way across the river to rescue the brilliant and highly-respected ARVN General Ngô Quang Truong and what remained of his 1st Infantry. Then they had to expel the Communists from the area.

Hué would become a case study in urban combat, the first time since the Korean War the Marines would fight in a city like that. The battle lasted almost a month, turning 40 percent of the city’s buildings to rubble and costing the lives of 380 ARVN troops, 147 Marines, 74 U.S. Army soldiers, 8,000 Communists, and more than 5,800 civilians.

It was also the turning point in American popular support for the war.

Bowden’s book covers the history of the war until that point, especially from 30,000-foot view from the White House and General William Westmoreland’s MACV Headquarters. What’s truly unique and fascinating about Bowden’s style is the personal narratives that drive the history of the story.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara was the architect of early Vietnam War strategy.

“Hué 1968” is a gripping tapestry of nonfiction storytelling, with personal stories of people on the ground woven into the history and politics of the war. The enemy is no longer a nameless, faceless mass of targets; the NVA and VC are characters in the story of the war in Vietnam, with names, families, and lives. With these stories comes the understanding of why the McNamara doctrine of “limited warfare” would never have worked against the Vietnamese.

The book gives the eyewitness account of a young Vietnamese girl who turns on the southern regime and becomes a Viet Cong operative just as much as it follows the junior enlisted Marine radio operator Jim Coolican, who was stationed at the MACV compound. Personal narratives from every side of the conflict continue like this throughout the book.

Bowden traces the details of a young VC as he traverses the Ho Chi Minh trail and moves to infiltrate the city. He even painstakingly documents the “logistics miracle” – as one U.S. Navy captain called it – of the Tet Offensive’s movement of men and weapons into South Vietnam.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
NVA and VC soldiers assault the city of Hué in South Vietnam, January 1968.

If you know the history of the Vietnam War, you know what’s coming in the Tet Offensive and it keeps you turning pages. No matter how familiar you are, you get to see the war from all sides – the NVA, the VC, ARVN leadership, American troops, American leadership, even Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap’s points of view are covered in remarkable detail.

The fall of Hué was the most successful attack of the entire Tet Offensive and even then the city was retaken by Feb. 24. Both sides bought into their own propaganda. The Communists believed that the South was ready to rise against the despotic Thieu regime and expel the Americans — they just needed a hand to get started.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Viet Cong forces climb on an abandoned U.S.-built Marine Armored Vehicle during the Battle of Hué.

The north came to depend on that uprising for the long-term success of the Offensive. The Americans and South Vietnamese were caught off guard because they thought the enemy was weak and could not launch an attack on that scale, let alone capture a city like Hué.

Until the Tet Offensive, a majority of Americans believed the war was going well and believed government officials who used statistics and body counts to insist that American involvement could soon come to an end. Body counts weren’t the metric used by the Communists. For the north, their success was defined by killing or wounding as many Americans as possible, destroying the ARVN, and inciting a popular uprising in the South.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Marines hold a Viet Cong flag they ripped down from the provincial headquarters in Hué.

The United States claimed a military victory in Hué but Hanoi would never be intimidated by a limited war. The prolonged violence and media bias against the war after the Tet Offensive eroded public support for it as well.

The U.S. began a strategic withdrawal from Vietnam the next year and left completely in 1973. South Vietnam fell to the Communists just two years later. Hué was just the beginning of the end.

Mark Bowden is an award-winning author and correspondent for The Atlantic. He is also a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. Filmmakers Michael Mann and Michael De Luca (who produced the 1995 heist movie “Heat”) purchased the rights to “Hué 1968” and plan to turn the book into a miniseries.

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Wing commander praises crew of wrecked B-52 for averting a larger catastrophe

The seven crewmembers of a B-52 that crashed at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, during a takeoff on May 19 were applauded by their commander for their actions in the crisis.


“We are thankful that the air crew are safe,” Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, 36th Wing commander, told Pacific Daily News. “Because of their quick thinking and good judgment in this emergency situation, the air crew not only saved their lives, but averted a more catastrophic incident.”

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
A B-52 takes off successfully. Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Brittany Y. Bateman

The plane was taking off on a routine training mission and was carrying only inert munitions, which limited the potential danger to nearby civilians or to emergency responders. Still, it had a full load of fuel and both Air Force and local firefighters had to quickly cordon off the area and battle the flames.

The mission was part of the Department of Defense’s continuous bomber presence in the Pacific. Guam is a small island but has played an outsized role in U.S. Pacific strategy because of its placement near both important sea lanes as well as areas of the Pacific that are claimed by multiple countries, including China.

The Air Force is now working to investigate the crash while also limiting the environmental effects of the spilled fuel and oil from the wreck.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
B-2 Spirits have also had mechanical issues while flying out of Guam. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

This is the second B-52 crash at the base in eight years. A 2008 incident tragically claimed the lives of six crewmembers. In addition to the B-52 incidents, a B-2 Spirit was damaged in Guam due to sensor failures and a B-1 was damaged when it struck emergency vehicles during an emergency landing in 2008. In 2010, another B-2 was damaged when a fire broke out in an engine compartment.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The US military once successfully used a psychic to locate a lost plane

During the Cold War, pretty much anything that would give the U.S. the upper hand vs. Communist Russia was considered worthy of research. Everything from catching satellites with airplanes to full airbases carved into Arctic ice. With this in mind, would it really surprise anyone that the CIA was concerned that a psychic gap existed between the U.S. and Soviet Union?


In 1972, the Agency started funding paranormal research in a program that would last more than 23 years. Called “remote viewing,” it was an ability some people supposedly posses enabling them to psychically “see” events, sites, or information from a great distance. The psychics were gathered to perform parapsychic intelligence and research operations.

A young airman named Rosemary Smith was given a map of Africa. She was told that sometime in the past a Soviet Tu-22 bomber outfitted as a spy plane crashed somewhere in Africa. U.S. intelligence services wanted to recover the top secret Russian codes and equipment the Tu-22 carried.

The plane went down in the Central African Republic. Despite orienting multiple satellites to locate the plane, the DoD kept coming up short. Using her remote viewing, the psychic pinpointed the wreckage, even though it was completely covered by the jungle canopy.

President Jimmy Carter admitted to U.S. media that that the CIA, without his knowledge, had consulted a psychic to find the missing plane. He told them the plane had been Russian, not American.

“The woman went into a trance and gave some latitude and longitude figures.” The former President said. “We focused our satellite cameras on that point and the plane was there.” When asked how he processed the news that a psychic located the plane, Carter replied: “With skepticism.”

The “Remote viewing” venture was part of the Stargate Project, a secret Army unit at Fort Meade, Maryland set up in 1978 in an effort to bridge the purported “psy gap.”

Overall, the project never gave the CIA any other real, meaningful information but was still funded until 1995 when the American public found out about the project from an episode of ABC’s news magazine show “Nightline.”

The finding of the Tu-22 is the only instance of a successful remote viewing. The project was the subject of the 2004 book and 2009 movie The Men Who Stare At Goats.

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The 6 most terrifying weapons of World War I

When the Great War began in 1914, the armies on both sides brought new technologies to the battlefield the likes of which the world had never seen. The destruction and carnage caused by these new weapons was so extensive that portions of old battlefields are still uninhabitable.


World War I saw the first widespread use of armed aircraft and tanks as well as the machine gun. But some of the weapons devised during the war were truly terrifying.

1. The Flamethrower

 

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
German flamethrowers during WWI (Photo: German Federal Archive, 1917)

 

The idea of being able to burn one’s enemies to death has consistently been on the minds of combatants throughout history; however, it was not until 1915 Germany was able to deploy a successful man-portable flamethrower.

The flamethrower was especially useful because even just the idea of being burned alive drove men from the trenches into the open where they could be cut down by rifle and machine gun fire.

The terrible nature of the flamethrower, Flammenwerfer in German, meant that the troops carrying them were marked men. As soon as they were spotted, they became the targets of gunfire. Should one happen to be taken prisoner, they were often subjected to summary execution.

The British went a different way with their flamethrowers and developed the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector. These were stationary weapons deployed in long trenches forward of the lines preceding an attack. The nozzle would spring out of the ground and send a wall of flame 300 feet in the enemy’s direction.

These were used with great effectiveness at the Somme on July 1, 1916 when they burned out a section of the German line before British infantry was able to rush in and capture the burning remnants.

2. Trench Knife

 

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

 

Even with the advent of the firearm, hand-to-hand combat was still a given on the battlefield. However, with the introduction of trench warfare, a new weapon was needed in order to fight effectively in such close quarters. Enter the trench knife.

The most terrifying trench knives were developed by the United States. The M1917, America’s first trench knife, combined three killing tools in one. The blade of the weapon was triangular which meant it could only be used for stabbing, but it inflicted terrible wounds.

Triangular stab wounds were so gruesome that they were eventually banned by the Geneva Conventions in 1949 because they cause undue suffering. The knife also had a “knuckle duster” hand guard mounted with spikes in order to deliver maximum damage with a punching attack. Finally, the knife had a “skull crusher” pommel on the bottom in order to smash the enemy’s head with a downward attack.

An improved design, the Mark I Trench Knife, was developed in 1918 but didn’t see use until WWII.

3. Trench Raiding Clubs

 

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Crudely shaped trench club from World War I. (Photo: York Museums Trust)

Along with the trench knife the Allies developed other special weapons for the specific purpose of trench raiding. Trench raiding was the practice of sneaking over to enemy lines’ and then, as quietly as possible, killing everyone in sight, snatching a few prisoners, lobbing a few explosives into bunkers and high-tailing it back to friendly lines before the enemy knew what hit them.

As rifles would make too much noise, trench raiding clubs were developed. There was no specific design of a trench raiding club, though many were patterned after medieval weapons such as maces and flails.

Others were crude handmade implements using whatever was around. This often consisted of heavy lengths of wood with nails, barbed wire, or other metal attached to the striking end to inflict maximum damage.

4. Shotgun

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
U.S. Marine carrying the Winchester M97 shotgun.

 

When Americans entered the fight on the Western Front they brought with them a new weapon that absolutely terrified the Germans: the shotgun. The United States used a few different shotguns but the primary weapon was the Winchester M1897 Trench Grade shotgun. This was a modified version of Winchester’s model 1897 with a shortened 20″ barrel, heat shield, and bayonet lug.

The shotgun, with 6 shells of 00 buck, was so effective that American troops referred to it as the “trench sweeper” or “trench broom.”

The Germans, however, were less than pleased at the introduction of this new weapon to the battlefield. The effectiveness of the shotgun so terrified the Germans that they filed a diplomatic protest against its use. They argued that it should be outlawed in combat and threatened to punish any Americans captured with the weapon.

America rejected the German protest and threatened retaliation for any punishment against American soldiers.

5. Poison Gas

 

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
British emplacement after German gas attack (probably phosgene) at Fromelles. (July 19, 1916)

 

Of course any list of terrifying weapons of war has to include poison gas; it is the epitome of horrible weapons. Poisonous gas came in three main forms: Chlorine, Phosgene, and Mustard Gas.

The first poison gas attack was launched by the Germans against French forces at Ypres in 1915. After that, both sides began to develop their chemical weapon arsenals as well as countermeasures.

The true purpose of the gas was generally not to kill — though it certainly could — but to produce large numbers of casualties or to pollute the battlefield and force the enemy from their positions.

Gas also caused mass panic amongst the troops because of the choking and blindness brought on by exposure causing them to flee their positions. Mustard gas was particularly terrible because in addition to severely irritating the throat, lungs, and eyes, it also burned exposed skin, creating large painful blisters.

6. Artillery

 

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
8-inch howitzers of the 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery conducting a shoot in the Fricourt-Mametz Valley, during the Battle of the Somme, 1916. (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

 

Though artillery had been around for centuries leading up to WWI, its use on the battlefields of Europe was unprecedented. This was because of two reasons.

First, some of the largest guns ever used in combat were employed during the war.

Second, because the world had never seen such concentrations of artillery before.

Artillery shells were fired in mass concentrations that turned the earth into such a quagmire that later shells would fail to detonate and instead they would simply bury themselves into the ground. Massive bombardments destroyed trenches and buried men alive.

Artillery bombardments were so prolific that a new term, shell shock, was developed to describe the symptoms of survivors of horrendous bombardments.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The M45 ‘Meat Chopper’ butchered the Axis and a bunch of commies

In World War II, the United States had outstanding fighters like the P-51 Mustang and the P-47 Thunderbolt. Allies tossed in excellent aircraft as well, like the Spitfire.


But while the Allies won the air-to-air battle against the Axis, it doesn’t mean that the ground troops could forego ground-based air defense.

The U.S. had one weapon that they used for that role — especially front-line grunts. It was the M2 machine gun, known as “Ma Deuce.” One could do some serious damage, firing up to 635 rounds per minute according to the FN website.

Now imagine what four of these could do to troops — or anything short of an armored vehicle or bunker, come to think of it.

In World War II, the United States deployed the M45 Quadmount, with four M2s, each of which were fed by a 200-round drum of ammo. As an anti-aircraft weapon, it was fierce against prop-driven planes like the Me-109, the FW-190, and the Ju-87.

However, grunts often don’t see what a weapon was designed to do. They quickly can come up with “off-label” uses for weapons they are issued, and the M45 Quadmount — initially designed to kill Axis planes — soon was used on Axis ground targets.

The system soon got nicknames like “Meat Chopper.” The M45 mount was used on trailers, but also on the M16 half-track, where it was called the MGMC for “Multiple Gun Motor Carriage” — in essence, a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. One version was even tested on the chassis of the M3 light tank — but that version didn’t go into production.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
M16 MGMC. (Photo by US Army Signal Corps)

The M45 “Meat Chopper” didn’t leave when World War II ended. In fact, it managed to stick around for the Korean War and the Vietnam War — in both cases serving as a very deadly infantry-support platform.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

It’s memes day!


And do you have memes you want to see included next week? Hit us up on Facebook.

1. “Billy Mays here for the full metal jacket!” (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

2. Should’ve studied (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
If he had scored any lower, he might’ve had to join the Army.

SEE ALSO: The 17 most hardcore WWII Air Corps Bomber Jackets

3. You have your chain of command, the NCO support channel … (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
… and then you have the guys who actually make decisions.

4.  Junior enlisted can’t get no respect (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

5. When you’ve spend just a little too much time at home (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

6. A clean ship is a safe ship (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
You don’t want to see what happens when you skip painting.

7. “Mom, really, I love you. It’s just …” (Via Out Of Regs)

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

8. See? This is why you’re supposed to leave the post after you retire (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Come on. You’re caught. Just salute.

9. Sure. It’s funny when he shows up at berthing with all those tacos (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

10. Purell. Nearly as good as inspections at keeping recruits awake (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Veterans know to just mix dip with their energy drinks.

11. They’re going to take on a lot of water when they pull out of port.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Probably less likely to damage a World War II monument though.

 12. How about a date with democracy?

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

13. No matter how many times you tell them, this still happens.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Side note, does that pilot in the foreground know how to curl his fingers at the position of attention? Or does an NCO need to go correct him?

NOW: 9 things new chief petty officers do when they put on khakis

AND: Marines Improvise an awesome waterslide during a rainstorm

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Why the CH-53K King Stallion may be the world’s most expensive helo

The Marine Corps’ new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter is on track to surpass the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter in unit cost, a lawmaker said this month.


The still-in-development King Stallion is designed to replace the Marines’ CH-53E Super Stallion choppers, which are reaching the end of their service lives. But while Super Stallions cost about $24 million apiece, or $41 million in current dollars, the Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin King Stallion began with a per-unit price tag of about $95 million — and there are indications it could rise further.

Also read: Israel looking to buy most advanced version of F-15 Eagle

Citing a 2016 Selected Acquisition Report from the Government Accountability Office, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., said the CH-53K estimated unit cost had increased about 14 percent from the baseline estimate. Information provided directly from the Marine Corps to House lawmakers this year, she said, indicated that the choppers were now expected to cost 22 percent more than the baseline estimate, or $122 million per copy.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Lockheed Martin photo

“The Marine Corps intends to buy 200 of these aircraft, so that cost growth multiplied times 200 is a heck of a lot of money,” Tsongas said during a March 10 hearing before a House Armed Services subcommittee. “And even if there is no additional cost growth, it seems worth pointing out that $122 million per aircraft in 2006 dollars exceeds the current cost of an F-35A aircraft for the Air Force by a significant margin.”

The most recent lot of Lockheed Martin F-35As cost $94.6 million apiece, down from over $100 million in previous buys. The Marine Corps’ F-35B and the Navy’s F-35C, modified for ship take-off and landing, remain slightly over $120 million apiece.

Related: The F-35 may be ready for prime time

Previously the Marines’ Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey held the distinction of being the priciest rotorcraft in the air, at some $72 million apiece. The Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel, a planned replacement for the Marine One presidential transport fleet, did at one point reach a $400 million unit cost amid massive overruns, but the aircraft never entered full-rate production, and the program was officially canceled in 2009.

But the Marines’ head of Programs and Resources said the service is prepared to shoulder the cost of their cutting-edge chopper.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
The Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion helicopter is revealed during the Roll Out Ceremony at the Sikorsky Headquarters. | US Marine Corps video by Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans

Speaking before the committee March 10, Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas noted that the Marine Corps expected the unit cost to drop to below $89 million when the aircraft enters full-rate production, sometime between 2019 and 2022. As the F-35A unit cost is expected to drop as low as $85 million in the same time-frame, the two programs will remain close in that regard.

“That’s still very expensive; we’re working very hard with the program office and the vendor to keep the cost down and to drive value for the taxpayer,” Thomas said. “In terms of, can we afford it, we do have a plan without our topline that would account for purchases of the new aircraft we desire.”

Related: The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was

A spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, Erin Cox, said in a statement provided to Military.com that the King Stallion program was now on track and meeting goals.

“The CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter, as previously known and reported, overcame developmental issues as are common with new, highly complex programs and is now completely on track and scheduled for Milestone C review leading to initial low rate production,” she said. “The program is performing extremely well.”

Tsongas pointed out that the Marine Corps is now spending three times as much on aviation modernization as it is on modernization of ground vehicles, despite being at its core a ground force. Thomas called the spending plan balanced, noting that the service had active plans to modernize its vehicles, but the realities of aviation costs and the urgency to replace aging platforms required more outlay on aircraft.

The first CH-53K aircraft are expected to reach initial operational capability in 2019. They are designed to carry an external load of 27,000 pounds, more than three times the capacity of the CH-53E Super Stallion, and feature a wider cabin to carry troops and gear.

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The US is supplying weapons to Kurdish fighters in Syria

The United States started to deliver weapons to Kurdish fighters closing in on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, the Pentagon said.


Spokesman Eric Pahon said the May 31 weapons delivery to the Syrian Kurds included small arms and ammunition. It marks the beginning of a campaign to better equip Kurdish allies that the U.S.-led coalition believes are the best fighting force against the Islamic State, even though arming them has infuriated NATO ally Turkey.

Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists. The U.S. has promised to mete out the equipment incrementally, based on the mission, to ensure weapons aren’t used by Kurdish groups in Turkey.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
ISIS has a history of targeting Kurds and their allies. (Dept. of Defense photo)

On May 30, Kurdish-led fighters in Syria closed within about 2 miles (three kilometers) of Raqqa, where they expect to face a long and deadly battle. Roadside bombs and other explosive devices are believed to be planted along their routes and inside the city.

U.S. officials have said the weapons deliveries will include heavy machine guns, ammunition, 120mm mortars, armored vehicles and possibly TOW anti-tank missiles. They said the U.S. would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

Separately May 30, the Pentagon ratcheted up threats against pro-Syrian government forces patrolling an area near the Jordanian border where the U.S.-led coalition is training allied rebels. Officials described the pro-government forces as Iranian-backed.

The U.S. dropped leaflets warning the forces to leave the area and American military officials said the same message was conveyed in recent calls with Russian commanders. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the leaflets told the pro-government forces to leave the established protected zone, which is about 55 kilometers around an area where U.S. and coalition forces have been operating.

Related: US to arm Syria’s Kurdish fighters despite Turkish protests

Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. bombed Iranian-backed troops who were in that same area of Syria and didn’t heed similar warnings to leave.

According to Syrian and U.S. officials, the bombing killed several soldiers and destroyed vehicles and other weapons and equipment.

Davis said the U.S. has seen the militias operating in the desert around Tanf. The area has been considered a “deconflicted” zone under a U.S.-Russian understanding.

“Hundreds” of pro-government forces are in the region, Davis said, but he was unsure how many are actually inside the zone.

Pentagon officials said they were not certain if those troops are Syrian, Iranian, Hezbollah or from other militias fighting on Assad’s behalf. At the Tanf military camp near the Jordanian border, U.S. special operations forces have been working with a Syrian opposition group in operations against IS.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time the Greeks sent ammo to the enemy so they’d stop stripping the Parthenon

One of the many reasons to fight to rid yourself of dominance by a foreign power is the preservation of your culture. For the Greeks, this happened very literally. In the 1821 Greek War of Independence, the Greeks went so far as to send lead to the Ottoman armies so they could make bullets and stop stripping the Parthenon for lead.


It’s fair to say that some Greek gave his enemy the bullet to kill him and his buddies. That’s how important a cultural icon like the Parthenon is.

Greece was under Ottoman rule for a few centuries by the time they declared independence. But even after almost 400 years, the Greeks were not about about to forget that they aren’t Turkish.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
If you ask if kebab is Greek or Turkish, you might start another war.

Greek culture is strong and many, many independence movements had come and gone before this one. But by the 1820s, the Ottoman Empire was in the throes of a very slow decline. This was Greece’s best chance and they took it. Uprisings began all over Greece. Eventually, a makeshift Greek navy formed and managed to keep Ottoman reinforcements away.

Cities in Crete and Macedonia soon followed and Turkish garrisons in major cities came to find themselves surrounded by unhappy — and often armed — masses. When the Greeks were forced to lay siege to the Parthenon, they were very careful not to destroy any of the antiquities or the site itself.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Which is not what usually happens. Ask the Trojans.

The defending Turks were on high alert. They started breaking down the walls in the Acropolis, hoping to break down the lead shielding and melt it into bullets. That when the Greek attackers either offered to send them lead to make bullets or just sent them ammo so they would stop destroying it.

Ottoman principalities then joined the effort to suppress the revolution. Mehmet Ali of Egypt sent land and naval forces to put the Greeks back in their place. By 1826, it looked bad, very bad. That’s when Western Europe came to help.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Which is not what usually happens. Ask the Indians.

England, France, and Russia all had an interest in the Empire’s continued decline and opted to help liberate the birthplace of Western Civilization. They all sent naval forces into the region, but it was France’s sizable contribution of a ground force that pushed the Egyptians out of the region, brought the Sultan to the bargaining table, and negotiated Greek independence in 1832.

Articles

7 gifts for the moto veterans in your life

Christmas is right around the corner and time is running out to get something great. Here’s a quick primer for anyone still shopping for that special veteran.


1. Toys

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
GIF: Youtube/RCSparks Studio

You can take a second to pretend your grown, bad-ss service member doesn’t love toys if you need, we’ll wait. All done? Cool. On the upper end of the price spectrum there are remote-control tanks that fire pellets while on the lower side model A-10 Warthogs are available.

2. Vintage gear

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Any World War II gear could be cool, but a motorcycle would win Christmas. Photo: Wikipedia/Terry Whalebone

Most vets embrace the history of their unit, making vintage military items a great gift. Soldiers and Marines may appreciate this antiqued compass or sailors could go for a telescope. Airmen can try the classic bomber jacket.

3. Military movie memorabilia

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Photo: Youtube screenshot/MBS-MoviesBestScenes

Speaking of bomber jackets, Maverick’s jacket from Top Gun is available for movie buffs and movie weapons can be fun. Of course, getting the actual movies can be a great gift too.

4. Rucks and other bags

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Photo: US Army National Guard Master Sgt. Paul Wade

Former soldiers and Marines hate their heavy rucksacks while they’re marching around the desert, but love gear bags for everything from camping to running around town.

Surplus stores will usually have the real deal while good military-inspired bags are available all over the place. Make sure to match camouflage patterns to the service member. Marines don’t want to wear Army digital, soldiers don’t want to wear MARPAT, and no one wants to wear aquaflage.

This is especially important if the veteran is still in the service. The military branches usually only allow black bags or those with matching camouflage to be worn while in uniform.

5. Books

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Photo: Courtesy Adam and Brian Makos

Bookworms always have a lot of great options from the military. The new novel “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War” generated a lot of buzz this year, and Marine Phil Klay’s “Redeployment” is a brilliant collection of short stories. Former paratrooper Michael MacLeod’s memoir, “The Brave Ones” follows a 41-year-old enlistee in the War on Terror from recruitment through two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

WATM has previously covered quadruple amputee and 82nd Airborne Division veteran Staff Sgt. Travis Mill’s new book, “Tough as they Come” as well as history writer Adam Makos’ “Devotion,” the true story of a Medal of Honor recipient who crashed his plane behind enemy lines in Korea to try and save his best friend.

6. Swag

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Photo: NavyChief.com

Troops love them some stickers, t-shirts, and other swag so that everyone knows how cool they are. Nearly all units and branches are represented at shops like cafepress.com, but check first to see if the service member’s unit sells items directly.

Purchases made from a unit typically support that unit’s morale fund, helping them pay for events at home and overseas. There are also vet-owned companies that make awesome military gear like Grunt Style, Ranger Up, and Article 15.

7. Weapons

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Photo: Public Domain/Nicolas von Kospoth

Uncle Sam’s gun clubs love their weaponry, both in the professional sphere and at home. Obviously, match the gift to the vet. If they don’t already have a knife or gun, maybe get something else off the list.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The story of Sammy Davis inspired the war scenes in ‘Forrest Gump’

Before joining the Army, Sammy Davis worked at the restaurant inside his hometown bowling alley. As he was working, he watched a clip of Roger Donlon receiving the Medal of Honor for his bravery. That brief moment inspired him and, after he graduated from high school, Davis enlisted in the U.S. Army.


Sammy Davis was the son of a proud artilleryman and, like many teenagers, wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. After completing his artillery training, David requested to serve in Vietnam and was soon shipped out. Once there, he served as part of a field artillery crew that provided close support to the men serving in the infantry.

On Nov. 18, 1967, Davis’ unit was airlifted to Cai Lay, Vietnam, where an Army major informed them that they were 100-percent certain the enemy was to attack that day.

 

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
Cai Lay, Vietnam. (Medal Of Honor Book YouTube)

So, the men armed their 155mm Howitzer and fired their weapon in conjunction with the allied forces already on the ground. Just before dark, the enemy broke contact, causing the artillery crew to ease up on their massive weapon’s trigger. Later on, Davis heard the sound of mortars sliding down the tubes nearby. The only problem was that no Americans on deck had a mortar system to prep.

The battle was about to begin anew.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
A 155 mm Howitzer similar to what Davis had in Vietnam.

The enemy’s mortars rained down on top of the allied troops. Then, out of nowhere, they just quit. An eerie feeling blanketed the area. Something was bound to happen, but no one knew when the full attack would commence.

Then, suddenly, a barrage of whistles rang out. The attack was on and allied forces were ready. Wave after wave of bombardment destroyed the area as American troops courageously fought off their opposition. During the chaos, David was knocked unconscious by heavy artillery fire, suffering severe blast wounds from the lower torso to his mid-back (including his buttocks).

Davis awoke to the realization that he was about to be overrun. So, he picked up his rifle and got back into the fight. Davis then reloaded his Howitzer and fired that sucker.

The flame lit up the sky.

Then, Davis heard someone shout, “don’t shoot, I’m a GI” from a nearby river. Davis spotted found one of his brothers-in-arms across the river and realized he needed help. Despite his own wounds and inability to swim, Davis used an air mattress and paddled to the other side of the river and discovered a foxhole with three more wounded men inside.

Sammy Davis managed to carry the three severely wounded men to safety — at one time. On Nov. 19, 1968, Davis received the Medal of Honor and his citation inspired source materials for the 1994 film, Forrest Gump.

Check out Medal of Honor Book‘s video below to listen to the courageous story from the legend himself.

Articles

Step into the boots of British soldiers with 360-degree view

British Army recruiters have embraced 360-degree videos, where the viewer can decide what direction they want to look at any given moment, and are using them to let potential recruits see different army jobs.


“Army Urban Ops” follows a squad as the men clear a series of buildings. It is the most watched of the 360-degree videos despite the big yellow blank adapters.

The tanker video is also great. The default view is down the gun as a Challenger II Tank races through the countryside, but swipe your finger on your phone or click and drag with your mouse to look left and see another tank firing its cannon and machine guns.

This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific
GIF: Youtube/ARMYjobs

The airborne version puts the viewer into the middle of a paratrooper drop and a mountaineering one allows them to climb along a narrow ridge with soldiers.

Check them all out at the ARMYjobs Youtube page.

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