The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

While Poland is sometimes mocked for sending horse cavalry against tanks in World War II (it was actually horses against an infantry battalion, but still), the U.S. launched its own final cavalry charge two years later, breaking up a Japanese attack in the Philippines that bought time for the cavalrymen and other American troops.


The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

The jungles of the Philippines are thick, and fighting in them was treacherous.

(U.S. Army)

It came in April 1942 as part of the months-long effort to defend the Philippines from the Japanese invasion. The first Japanese attacks on the islands took place on the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack (though it was December 8 on the calendar because the international dateline falls between the two). Just two days later, the week of troop landings began.

The Americans on the Philippines weren’t ready for the fight, and U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur had to lean hard on his elite troops to protect the rest of the force as they withdrew to one defensive line after another. And cavalry was uniquely suited for that mission since it could ride out, disrupt an attack, and then quickly ride back to where the rest of the defenders had fortified themselves.

And so MacArthur called up the 26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts), a unit that had American officers and Filipino enlisted men on horses. And all of them were well-equipped and good at their jobs.

But, like the rest of the American forces there, they faced a daunting enemy. The Japanese invaders were nearly all veterans from fighting in Korea or Manchuria, but few of the American defenders had seen combat. And the Japanese forces were better armed.

So much so that, unlike Poland, the American cavalry really did once charge tanks from horseback. Oh, and it worked.

The cavalry scouts were exhausted from days of acting as the eyes and ears of the Army, but a new amphibious operation on December 22 had put Japanese forces on the road to Manila. The defenders there crumbled in the following days and completely collapsed on January 16, 1942. If the 26th couldn’t intercept them and slow the tide, Manila would be gone within hours.

The American and Filipino men scouted ahead on horseback and managed to reach the village of Morong ahead of Japanese forces. The village sat on the Batalan River, and if the cavalrymen could prevent a crossing, they could buy precious hours.

The jungles of the Philippines are thick, and fighting them was treacherous.

(U.S. Army)

But as they were scouting the village, the Japanese vanguard suddenly appeared on the bridges. The commander had no time, no space for some well-thought-out and clever defense from cover. It was a “now-or-never” situation, and the 26th had a reputation for getting the job done.

So, the commander, Col. Clint Pierce, ordered a charge.

The men and horses surged forward, pistols blazing, at a vanguard of Japanese infantry backed up by tanks. But the American cavalry charge was so fierce that the Japanese ranks broke, and they dodged back across the river to form back up. It was so chaotic that even the tanks were forced to stop.

“Bent nearly prone across the horses’ necks, we flung ourselves at the Japanese advance, pistols firing full into their startled faces,” First Lt. Edwin Ramsey, a platoon leader, later wrote. “A few returned our fire but most fled in confusion. To them we must have seemed a vision from another century, wild-eyed horses pounding headlong; cheering, whooping men firing from the saddles.”

And so the cavalrymen held the line, dismounting after the first charge but preventing the Japanese crossing.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Thousands of men died in the Bataan Death March.

(U.S. Army)

While the Philippine Scouts would be well decorated for their endeavors on January 16, and for other heroics during the defense of the Philippines, the story turns grim for them.

They took heavy losses that day before falling back to the rest of the American force after reinforcements arrived. And then they were isolated on the Bataan Peninsula. As the American forces began to starve, they butchered the horses and ate the meat. But even that wouldn’t be enough.

On April 9, 1942, the U.S. forces on the Bataan Peninsula surrendered to the Japanese. At least 600 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos were killed in the death march that followed.

That same month, the last U.S. Army horse cavalry unit turned in its animals in Nebraska.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pilot shot down by Pakistan returns to India

An Indian pilot captured by Pakistani forces on Feb. 27, 2019, after his warplane was shot down in the disputed region of Kashmir has returned to India after being freed by Islamabad in a “peace gesture.”

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed into India at the Wagah crossing point on March 1, 2019, hours later than expected and sporting a black eye.

Varthaman’s release came a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement in a speech to Pakistan’s parliament on Feb. 28, 2019.


Pakistan’s military said its air force shot down two India Air Force jets in its airspace and captured a pilot on the ground in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Feb. 27, 2019.

Pakistan returns captured Indian pilot

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India confirmed the loss of one of its MiG-21s and the capture of its pilot. It said it also foiled an attack by Pakistan warplanes over Kashmir and shot down one Pakistani plane.

Islamabad denies any of its aircraft were shot down.

The aerial confrontation came a day after India on Feb. 26, 2019, struck what it said was a militant camp in northeastern Pakistan in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed at least 41 Indian troops in the India-controlled part of Kashmir

A Pakistan-based group, the Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM), claimed responsibility for the Feb. 14, 2019 attack — the deadliest to take place during a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir.

India has accused Pakistan of having a “direct hand” in the attack and providing sanctuary to the militants.

Islamabad denies involvement.

India’s air strikes in Pakistani territory on Feb. 26, 2019, were the first since the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This film is the beautiful story of a WWII romance told through love letters

On May 8, 1945, Navy Seabee Andrew Del Regno sent a letter to his wife from the front lines of the Pacific Front of World War II. It was one of some 600 letters the couple sent each other over the course of the war. His wife, Helen Del Regno, who was home in Nyack, New York, received it much later — after the end of the war in Europe. The war against the Japanese Empire would continue until September of that year.

Decades later, their son, filmmaker Vic Del Regno, would meticulously compile those letters to tell the story of his parents’ undying love for one another in the background of one of the most turbulent times in American history, World War II. That effort culminated with the younger Del Regno’s hour-long documentary, Till Then: A Journey Through World War II Love Letters.


The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

The books have a different title, ‘Who Knew?’

(Photo by Vic Del Regno)

Vic Del Regno found his parents’ correspondence in the garage of their New York home. He had them compiled in leather-bound books to preserve them for posterity. Upon finding them, he was inspired to retrace his father’s service in the Pacific Theater on a trip that took him to legendary places in American military history, including Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands.

In the book’s introduction, Vic Del Regno writes that he wanted to capture “the deep loneliness and hardship many couples experienced during the war, caused by being separated by thousands of miles and long periods of time. This is a real life story, taken from the letters, that ties together the elements of love, betrayal, forgiveness, tragedy, and hope.”

The book, entitled Who Knew? A World War II Journey Through Love Letters, was changed because Del Regno wanted the film’s title to reflect how his parents signed off their letters, with a reference to a popular song of the era by the Mills Brothers, ‘Till Then.’

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

The Del Regno’s original correspondence, saved and bound in 12 notebooks.

(Vic Del Regno)

The letters pull no punches, documenting the war’s grim realities, along with the pain and hardships of a relationship torn apart by a seemingly unending, brutal war. Despite their dismal situation, you can also see the hope brought by each letter and the importance of receiving correspondence from home for a sailor deployed thousands of miles away.

Vic Del Regno wanted to capture the sacrifices made, not just by his parents or by the soldiers and sailors who fought the war, but by all Americans at a time when victory was anything but assured. He also hopes that it might shed some light on the struggles faced by those troops (and their families) who are fighting today’s wars overseas.

“It reaches the many sides of war experienced by those who have served and those who were left behind,” writes Jack Sprengel of the Seabee Museum and Memorial Park. “History repeats itself in many ways and this film tells a story just as important as the battle stories told.”

Vic Del Regno’s untiring work is emblematic of the motto his Seabee father shared with his fellow veterans:

“With willing hearts and skillful hands the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer.”

It took Vic Del Regno just five years and now, that labor of love – the letters of his parents – are preserved forever in the U.S. National Archives.

MIGHTY TRENDING

What happens if the US pulls out of the INF treaty

Experts and analysts are struggling to grasp the implications of the growing likelihood that the United States will withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. As U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton holds talks on the matter with counterparts in Moscow, RFE/RL takes a look at some of the more interesting reactions.


Political ploy?

While most Russian analysts have been slow to comment, state media in Russia have been putting forward the notion that U.S. President Donald Trump’s statements against the INF Treaty are not to be taken at face value.

The state RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unidentified “diplomatic source” in Brussels as saying Trump’s statement has “an election context.”

“Just days before the elections to Congress, he wants to show his electorate that he can make decisions that will upset the president of Russia,” the source was quoted as saying.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

The pro-Kremlin tabloid website Argumenty Nedeli quoted an unidentified “high-ranking Russian diplomatic-military source” as saying that Trump’s statement was a ploy to get the upper hand in talks with Russia on nuclear issues.

“The business president is simply raising the stakes before negotiations like he always does,” the source said. “Now a banal exchange of concessions both by us and by the Americans will begin.”

Thomas Graham, former specialist on Russia for the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, told the daily Kommersant that the withdrawal indications could just mean that Bolton, who has long opposed any arms-control treaties with Russia, has caught the president’s ear.

“Only time will tell if this decision is final,” he said. “In the administration there are high-ranking figures who support the treaty and who would like to continue working with Russia to regulate contentious issues.”

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

National Security Advisor John Bolton

(U.S. Embassy in Ukraine)

Russian violation?


Since 2014, the United States has argued that Russia has been in violation of the INF Treaty because it is developing an intermediate-range, ground-launched cruise missile that is provisionally known as the 9M729. The Trump administration said in 2017 that Moscow had begun deploying the new weapon.

Russia has denied that it was violating the treaty and has countercharged that some elements of a U.S. antimissile system in Europe violate it.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Russia fires an Iskander-K ballistic missile during Zapad 2017 drills. The 9M729 is said to be a variant of this missile.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

Writing for the Brookings Institution, former high-ranking U.S. diplomat Steven Pifer has argued that unilaterally withdrawing from the agreement in this way would be a mistake that would leave Washington to blame for killing a major element of global arms control.

Withdrawing from the treaty would also enable Moscow to deploy the 9M729 without any restraints, Pifer added. It could also further the erosion of U.S. relations with its allies in Europe, he said, noting that no European countries have expressed concerns over the 9M729.

Pifer concludes that a smarter approach would be to get on one page with Europe and urge NATO allies to raise the possible violation directly with Moscow. At the same time, Washington could take “treaty compliant” steps such as deploying additional bombers in Europe that would send a serious signal to Russia.

“The INF Treaty likely has entered its final days,” Pifer wrote. “That’s unfortunate. The Trump administration should make one last push, with the help of allies, to get Moscow back into compliance. And, if that fails, it should have ready a presentation that will win the inevitable fight over who killed the treaty.”

Demonstrating Russia’s alleged violations would probably require the United States to declassify some sensitive intelligence information, Pifer noted.

Stephen Sestanovich, a former U.S. National Security Council senior director for policy development under Reagan, writing in The American Interest, largely agreed with Pifer, saying that keeping the treaty is important because it “keeps Russian capabilities under legal limits.”

“Yes, Moscow will probably keep nibbling at the edges of the INF deal, but the only way it can launch a big buildup is by withdrawing from the treaty itself — something it clearly hesitates to do,” he wrote.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

A missile test in China in August, 2018.

(Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China)

China gambit

Sestanovich notes that U.S. military planners are concerned about the INF Treaty because it restricts Russia and the United States but leaves China free to develop the weapons it bans.

“Military competition between China and the United States will obviously be the Pentagon’s top priority in coming years,” he wrote. “But the idea that this need decisively devalues the INF Treaty seems — at the very least — premature.”

He says that for the foreseeable future, the United States and its allies deter China with a combination of air- and sea-launched weapons.

“It’s not impossible to imagine that over time we and our allies will come to think that medium-range, ground-based missiles — the kind the INF Treaty keeps us from having — would add meaningfully to deterrence of China,” he wrote. “But this is not a near-term prospect. In fact, virtually every U.S. ally in the region would reject the idea.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Cockpit video shows a Russian fighter running up on a US B-52 bomber

The Russian Defense Ministry released a video shot from the cockpit of a Su-27 fighter as it raced after a US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress heavy, long-range bomber.

Russian fighters were twice scrambled to intercept US bombers approaching the Russian border around the Black and Baltic seas, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, according to Russian media.

Three B-52 bombers from the US Air Force’s 5th Bomb Wing flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Eastern Europe in an unusual flight.


The US Air Force released its own statement on recent activities, explaining that “strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe.”


#Видео Стратегические бомбардировщики B-52H ВВС США были замечены накануне у государственной границы …

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The US and Russia frequently intercept one another’s bombers in Eastern Europe and over the Pacific.

In May 2019, Russian Tu-95 long-range bombers entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) twice in two days. The US scrambled F-22 stealth fighters and intercepted them. Afterward, the US touted its ability to deter and defeat threats.

Two months earlier, it was the Russians intercepting US B-52 bombers flying over the Baltic Sea during a short-term deployment to Europe. Russia accused the US of unnecessarily fanning tensions.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Their first battle: Truman rallies his men under artillery fire

Future-President Harry S. Truman was a hero in World War I who technically broke orders when, as a captain, he ordered his men to fire out of sector during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, eliminating German artillery batteries and observers in order to protect U.S. troops. But his first battle saw his men break ranks until Truman, shaking from fear, rallied them back to their guns.


The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II
Capt. Harry S. Truman’s ID card from the American Expeditionary Forces. (Harry S. Truman Library and Museum)

The fight came in the Vosges Mountains in eastern France. Truman had recently been promoted to captain and given command of Battery D, 129th Field Artillery Regiment. His battery was known as a smart, athletic, but undisciplined lot. He managed to wrangle influence over them.

But he was still untested in battle when his battery moved into position Aug. 29, 1918, and began their bombardment of German positions. The battery’s four 75mm guns sent rounds downrange, and it was great—at first. As Pvt. Vere Leigh later said, “We were firing away and having a hell of a good time doing it until they began to fire back.”

Truman had been in command for less than two months, and his men began to melt away under the cover of rain and darkness. Rumors that the German shells contained gas agents sent the men scrambling to get masks on themselves and their horses.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II
Truman’s map of the roads through the Vosges Mountains. (Courtesy Harry S. Truman Library Museum, Independence, Missouri, map number M625)

In all this chaos, it was easy for the artillerymen, especially the support troops, to run into the woods and rocks of the area. Truman was afraid himself and had to struggle to remain in place. He would later write to his wife, “My greatest satisfaction is that my legs didn’t succeed in carrying me away, although they were very anxious to do it.”

Truman was on his horse, trying to keep his unit organized and in place until he rode into a shell crater and tumbled with his horse to the ground. A soldier had to help get him out from under the horse, and Truman watched the fleeing men around him and had to decide whether to run as well.

But he did hold position, and he began insulting and cajoling his troops to get them back on the guns. “I got up and called them everything I knew,” he said. The language was surprising coming from the relatively small and bespectacled captain, but it worked. Gun crews began shifting back to their weapons, other troops got horses back in line in case the battery needed to move, and American rounds screeched through the air to thunder home in German positions.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II
“Truman’s Battery” depicts Battery D in battle in World War I. (Dominic D’Andrea)

Most of his men, of course, refused to admit if they ran. So the men began referring to it as the “Battle of Who Ran.”

Truman’s poise under fire helped endear him to the men, even if he had secretly been terrified. This would later help them stick together in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive when Truman ordered them to kill German artillery batteries and observers that were technically out of the division’s sector. Truman got in trouble for firing out of sector, but he protected his men and the armored units of Lt. Col. George S. Patton Jr. that Battery D was supporting.

Seems like the behavior should’ve been expected from the guy who managed to wrangle Battery D into a unit that would stand and fight.

MIGHTY MONEY

Six things to consider with the new payroll tax deferral

More than a million service members had an increase in their September mid-month pay because of the payroll tax deferral program set forth by President Trump. The presidential memorandum directs employers to stop withholding payroll tax until the end of the year to “support working Americans during these challenging times.”

While most civilian companies have declined to implement this directive, the federal government has given service members and civilian employees who make less than $4,000 biweekly or less than $104,000 annually no way to opt-out.

So how does this affect you and your family?


Six things military families might want to consider with the new payroll tax deferral

You will see a boost in pay – but there’s a BIG catch.

For those who are eligible, pay will go up 6.2 percent, which is the amount of payroll tax that is normally paid on wages. This raise in pay will continue through December 31, 2020.

The potential pitfall will come in the new year, between January and April 2021, which is when the taxes that are currently being deferred are slated to be paid back, possibly by taking out twice the normal payroll tax amount each pay period.

The payback will come at a particularly bad time, since most families struggle in the first few months of the new year, while holiday spending bills come due and they wait for their tax refunds.

Do you invest in the TSP, an IRA, or a 529? You may get a nasty surprise in January

While I am a big proponent of automatic investing through payroll deduction or bank transfer since it allows you to “set it and forget it,” this is one instance where a good savings habit could potentially trip you up.

But service members (and their bank accounts!) may be in for a shock if they have their “usual” contributions to the TSP and other investments withdrawn from their pay in January and then have the additional payroll tax deducted as well.

The annual pay raise may offset some of the pain, but it’s not confirmed yet

The proposed defense authorization bill would give service members a 3 percent pay increase in 2021, so this could help ease the pain of paying back extra payroll taxes next year. However, the final bill has not yet been passed by Congress.

Adjusting withholding doesn’t help.

There has been some talk on the internet about adjusting withholding taxes to somehow make up for the payroll tax. This is not a great solution, since the two taxes are not the same. If you increase your withholding, that’s going toward your future income tax bill, not payroll taxes, so it won’t offset January’s tax payback.

If you overpay in withholding tax, you will have to wait until you file income taxes to recoup it.

Save the extra, and save yourself some pain next January

The easiest way to make sure that repaying the deferred payroll tax isn’t a painful experience is to set the extra money aside. The DFAS website says that military members can estimate their payroll tax by taking their monthly base pay and multiplying it by .062 and repeating that process for the four months that the tax is deferred, September through December.

This money can then be saved in a separate, yet easily accessible account. Unfortunately, interest rates are currently very low, so you won’t earn very much interest in such a short time, but at least the money will be available early next year, when it’s due to be repaid.

Getting out? You still have to pay it back

Retired pay is not affected, since it is not earned wages. If a service member leaves the military before the taxes are repaid, they are still on the hook for repayment. Failure to repay these taxes in a timely manner may result in penalties and interest fees.

While it’s possible that service members won’t be required to repay the deferred tax, it’s best not to count on that: it would take action by Congress in order to do that. But if you’ve set aside the funds already, and it turns out that the amount is forgiven, then you will be well on your way to establishing an emergency fund or adding to your existing savings.

DFAS has a dedicated page on the Social Security Payroll Tax deferral. If military families have more questions or concerns, they should contact their installation financial readiness personnel or Military OneSource.

For more savings strategies and inspiration, follow us on social media and visit militarysaves.org and take the Military Saves Pledge, the start of your own personal spending plan.


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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons why peacetime training actually matters

It’s easy to complain about training for a sh*t deployment to Okinawa, Japan, when there’s an active war going on that you would rather be fighting in. Realistically, training exists for a reason. If there wasn’t a solid reason for it, you’d go straight from boot camp graduation to combat, but, after centuries of warfare all over the world, we’ve learned a thing or two.

We get it. You didn’t join the military in the post-9/11 era just to be sent to some stable country in East Asia, but you knew the deal when you signed the contract: Where you go and what you do when you get there is officially no longer your choice after you set foot on those yellow footprints.

But just because there’s a war going on doesn’t mean your “peacetime” training is pointless or worthless. Here’s why:


The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Just cause you use fake rifles now doesn’t mean you’ll be doing it that way forever.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brendan Mullin)

So you don’t get complacent

It’s been famously said — complacency kills. If you get too used to training against a fictional enemy to the point of no longer putting forth effort, you’re just going to start performing that way. If you’re slacking when real bullets are flying, there’s a good chance you’ll f**k things up.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

You don’t want to be the unit that goes to combat only to get whooped by the enemy.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal)

So you’re prepared for the next real mission

You don’t train like you fight, you fight like you train. If you train like sh*t, you’re going to fight like sh*t. If you take every training event as seriously as real combat, your unit will be better off for it.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Depending on where you’re at and what you’re doing, chances are a mistake in training won’t get someone killed.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Christian Ayers)

So you can learn from your mistakes the easy way

If you step on a simulated IED, you won’t lose your limbs — but you’ll sure-as-hell remember the mistakes you made that led you there. This is a little bit easier than waking up in a hospital room wondering what you could’ve done differently.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Train your boots like their life depends on it.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dylan Chagnon)

So you can prepare the next generation 

Even if you never go to combat while you’re in, you’ll still be responsible for training the FNGs as they fill the ranks. But here’s the thing — they’re going to stick around long after you’re gone and they’re going to train the guys after them. This cycle continues until, eventually, someone goes to war — and they’ll have generations of experience at their backs.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Those Korean Marines just might experience some real sh*t after you leave.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

So you can prepare other countries

If you get the opportunity to train with another country, keep in mind that they might be using the knowledge they gain from you on a combat mission in the near future. You can teach them to be just as lethal on the battlefield as you are and they’ll get the chance to prove it.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Rambo has some fight left in him in the trailer for ‘Rambo: Last Blood’

The trailer for “Rambo: Last Blood” has been released, and this time, John Rambo’s fighting right here at home. It’s been 37 years since the first Rambo film hit theaters, yet somehow the titular character remains a fan favorite among veterans young and old. At first glance, this new movie looks just like Rambo’s previous outings: ripe with gritty violence and fiery explosions, but just beneath the surface, the Rambo franchise offers America’s veterans a whole lot more.


Rambo: Last Blood (2019 Movie) Teaser Trailer— Sylvester Stallone

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The Rambo franchise has always filled a unique role in the American cultural lexicon. Over the decades (yeah, decades), the franchise has shifted under the weight of popular sentiment across a wide spectrum of themes, delivering vastly different stories through the lens of the same main character.

From a troubled special operations veteran struggling to find his place in the “civilized” world, to a killing machine with a heart in the jungles of Burma, John Rambo’s character has long been a reflection of American fears about what war is, and more importantly, what it does to us. While Rambo may not offer us the most poignant approach to society’s ills, it has always been there like a cultural Rosetta Stone, translating contemporary fears into blockbuster action using the same visual language sold to the coveted blockbuster demographics that came before us. The world changes, but Rambo stays the same.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Okay, so maybe his knives get bigger.

(Orion Pictures)

In Rambo’s newest (and likely last) outing, the legendary character appears to have finally come home – working on a farm that, logic dictates, is close enough to the Mexican border to find the legendary warfighter squaring off against a powerful cartel. Unlike in previous Rambo films, which have shown the character traveling the world to fight the enemy, Last Blood brings the fight right to Rambo’s door. Of course, in keeping with the character’s (perhaps repetitive) journey, he seems reluctant to get involved at first, until an unseen catalyst forces his hand.

In many ways, the Rambo franchise has taken on its own sort of veteran journey, starting with the character’s struggle to find a place for himself after a war that gave him purpose, maturing into the story of a reluctant expert in his field, and now, proving that we veterans can still fight for what matters even as we get older. Rambo is indeed warrior-wish-fulfillment, but not in the ways its critics might imagine. The violence depicted in Rambo may be rad, but the violence isn’t the message, it’s the medium.

Rambo films are always about finding a purpose that’s bigger than yourself. Purpose, for many veterans, is exactly what we feel like we lack after we put up our boots for the last time. We may not see ourselves in John Rambo, but in the ludicrous universe these movies inhabit, we do see one of our own — struggling and winning, thanks to the same hard work, grit, and determination we prize in ourselves.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Unlike most veterans, John Rambo has always been able to pull off a bandana, though. ​

(Lionsgate)

While it may seem lofty (and even silly) to attribute such serious thought to a film with the almost comical title of “Rambo: Last Blood,” it’s just as silly to dismiss the lasting effect John Rambo has had on generations of moviegoers. The first Rambo film hit theaters three years before I was born and twenty-four years before I put on a uniform for the first time, but somehow, the movie weaseled its way into my brain, informing some of my expectations about service and its social and political costs. The movie gave Vietnam veterans like my father a melodramatic and passionate spokesman — because hard emotions don’t trade in nuance, and neither does Rambo. And it spurred a series of sequels, each tailored specifically to their times and the conflicts weighing on American minds.

Last Blood’s Rambo is no different; as an aging veteran offers us one more wish fulfilled, proving that even as we get older, we can still fight just like we always have, and we can still sacrifice for a cause that’s worthy.

Is Rambo realistic? Of course not. Is it ham-fisted storytelling? Absolutely.

Will I be there opening night? You bet I will.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Meet the Navy’s ‘Swiss army knife’

The rate of machinist’s mate has a long and proud history in the United States Navy. Established in 1880 as finisher, the rate changed names a couple of times before being settled as machinist’s mate in 1904.

According to the Navy CyberSpace website on enlisted jobs, “Machinist’s mates (non-nuclear) operate, maintain, and repair (organizational and intermediate level) ship propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment, and outside machinery, such as: steering engine, hoisting machinery, food preparation equipment, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, windlasses, elevators, and laundry equipment; operate and maintain (organizational and intermediate level) marine boilers, pumps, forced draft blowers, and heat exchangers; perform tests, transfers, and inventory of lubricating oils, fuels, and water; maintain records and reports; and generate and stow industrial gases.”

With such a wide array of skills and responsibilities, the machinist’s mates in George Washington’s engineering department prove the value and versatility of the rate to the ship and to the Navy as a whole.


The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Huizar samples liquid nitrogen in the cryogenics shop aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, October 14, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Seaman Krystofer Belknap)

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Machinist’s Mate Fireman Gopika Mayell checks a steam usage reading in one of the flight deck catapult rooms aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, June 14, 2012.

(US Navy photo by MCS 3rd Class William Pittman)

“The main ways that machinist’s mates and engineering department support naval aviation is through the catapult shop and [oxygen and nitrogen] shop,” said Huizar.

“The catapult shop makes sure that all of the machinery is up to date and fully functioning in order to operate the catapult that launch the jets. As for [oxygen and nitrogen], we create aviator’s breathing oxygen and we also have a cryogenic plant that creates liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen. The liquid oxygen is used as aviator’s breathing oxygen and the liquid nitrogen is used as gaseous nitrogen for the airplane tires because it expands and contracts less at various altitudes.”

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Duane Hilumeyer, left; Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Kexian Li, center; and Machinist’s Mate Fireman Jacob Tylisz close a valve to maintain accumulator steam pressure on a catapult aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Sept. 24, 2014.

(US Navy photo by MCS 2nd Class John Philip Wagner, Jr.)

In order to convert each gas into liquid form, the air expansion engine lowers the temperature of the air to reach negative boiling points, separating oxygen and nitrogen from air.

The air in the expansion engine is frozen to negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit to separate nitrogen, and negative 297 degrees Fahrenheit to separate oxygen.

Air separation is vital to the mission of George Washington, regardless of where the ship finds herself in her life cycle.

According to navy.mil, “O2N2 Plants Bring Life to Airwing Pilot,” O2N2 plants provide oxygen to the aviators, nitrogen to the air wing, and gas forms of both for use throughout the ship.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Robert Howard, front, Machinist’s Mate Fireman Austin Martin, center, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Glen Spitnale, test a package conveyor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Aug. 5, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS 3rd Class Kaleb J. Sarten)

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Brandon Amodeo performs maintenance on a pressure regulator in emergency diesel generator room aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sept. 16, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS Seaman Apprentice Trent P. Hawkins)

The current refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) environment enables them to put their skills to the test in. Sailors from engineering department, such as Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Larissa Pruitt, auxiliary division leading petty officer, have provided significant support to accomplishing major ship milestones while in RCOH.

“The machinist’s mate is like the Swiss army knife of the Navy,” said Pruitt. “Since being in the shipyards, we have repaired all four aircraft elevators, started the five-year catapult inspection, restored fire pumps to support Ready to Flood operations, and refurbished the air conditioner and refrigeration units.”

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Teran Vo, left, and Fireman Billy Price perform maintenance on a deck edge door track in the hangar bay aboard aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Nov. 4, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi)

As a rate that has been around for roughly 140 years, machinist’s mates will continue to make an impact throughout the surface fleet and the naval aviation community. The hard work of the machinist’s mates ensures that George Washington will have a successful redelivery to the fleet.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron are immortalized in Band of Brothers

Staff Sgt. William “Wild Bill” Guarnere and Pfc. Edward “Babe” Heffron’s stories were immortalized on screen by HBO’s miniseries Band of Brothers. The 2001 TV show follows the exploits of the famed Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division which both men served in during WWII. Despite growing up just a few blocks from each other in South Philadelphia, Guarnere and Heffron did not meet until WWII and Easy Company brought them together in Europe. Their meeting is depicted in Band of Brothers’ third episode, Carentan.

Following their meeting, Guarnere and Heffron became close friends. They fought together in Holland during Operation Market Garden and in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. Guarnere lost his right leg during the latter battle while trying to drag another friend, Staff Sgt. Joe Toye, to safety after he lost his own right leg. Both Guarnere and Heffron survived the war and left the Army in 1945.

Afterwards, Guarnere and Heffron returned to their hometown of South Philly. Despite the loss of his leg, Guarnere worked odd jobs until he secured full disability from the Army. He became an active member of numerous veterans organizations and presided over many of Easy Company’s reunions. Moreover, he was best man at Heffron’s wedding in 1954 and was godfather to Heffron’s daughter. Heffron worked for Publicker Industries and later as a clerk and cargo checker on the Philly waterfront. Both men gave interviews and provided guidance on the making of Band of Brothers. Heffron even has a cameo in the fourth episode, Replacements, as a Dutch man waving a small flag as the troopers enter Eindhoven. Together, they later wrote a book about their experiences with Easy Company in Europe. Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Brothers Tell Their Story was published in 2007.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II
Heffron (center-left) and Guarnere (center-right) on the set of Band of Brothers with the actors that depicted them (HBO)

The two men remained close friends until Heffron’s death on December 1, 2013. A bronze statue called “Babe” was erected in his honor in 2015. The statue stands in front of Herron Playground at the corner of 2nd and Reed in South Philly. A portion of Heffron’s and his wife’s ashes are encased in a bronze heart inside of the statue. Guarnere passed away just a few months after Heffron on March 8, 2014. In 2019, the “Babe” statue was joined by “Wild Bill”, a second bronze statue that depicts Guarnere. The two friends and brothers in arms are reunited and immortalized in bronze in their hometown.

The statues, and Band of Brothers itself, pay tribute to the brave men that they depict and remind people today of their sacrifices. “Generations of Philadelphians will now be able to visit these statues dedicated to war heroes and close friends who bravely served their country,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “They’ll be able to remember and honor Wild Bill and Babe as well as the many active duty and veteran soldiers who have risked their lives to keep all of us safe.”

Band of Brothers characters honored as statues
“Wild Bill” (left) and “Babe” (right) with flags and wreathes for Veterans Day (Miguel Ortiz)
Articles

5 of the most legendary soldiers of United Kingdom’s Special Air Service

In the world of special operations, the UK’s Special Air Service (SAS) is as good as they come. They are the British government’s elite counterterrorism unit, specializing in rescuing hostages, covert reconnaissance and generally taking the fight to unsuspecting bad guys all over the world. 

Formed during World War II, they were the blueprint for the U.S. Army Delta Force, Israel’s Sayaret Matkal, and almost any other special operations force the world over. After World War II, the elite SAS served in nearly every UK military action around the world, from hunting down communist rebels in Malaya to the Troubles in Northern Ireland and from the Falklands to the Global War on Terror. 

In that time, the SAS has experienced its share of victories and setbacks, but its story only grows with each mission. With each mission there are always standout soldiers who overcome incredible odds in the face of the enemy – and become legends even among special operators. 

1. Lt. Col. David Stirling

Stirling (Wikimedia Commons)

As an officer in the No. 8 Guards Commando, Stirling first saw action at the capture of Rhodes,  and the Battles of Crete and Litani River. It was while fighting these pitched battles that he realized a small team of special soldiers could be much more effective, doing extreme damage with minimal casualties. The story of how he pitched the idea of creating the Special Air Service is worthy of an article of its own, but by 1941, the SAS was operating in North Africa.

Using stripped-down Jeeps and a new kind of demolition bomb, Stirling and his new SAS were wreaking havoc on Axis airfields across North Africa. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel dubbed Stirling the “Phantom Major,” and was able to capture the British officer. After a series of escape attempts with mixed success, Stirling was finally captured for good and sent to Colditz Castle in Germany, where he spent the rest of World War II.

2. Sgt. Talaiasi Labalaba

In 1972, the SAS were sent to Oman to train the Sultan’s soldiers to fight a communist insurgency from neighboring Yemen. Defending a small fortification near the port city of Mirbat were nine SAS troopers with small arms and a Browning machine gun. The SAS soon realized that 300 communist fighters were making their way toward the house, but they weren’t close enough for the British troopers’ small arms to be effective.

 Sgt. Talaiasi Labalaba ran out of the house to a 25-pounder artillery gun some 200 meters away and began to fire it at the oncoming human wave. While operating the gun was a six-man job, Labalaba managed to fire off a round every minute by himself, as bullets whizzed by. After an hour of firing the gun, Labalaba was wounded and another trooper, Sekonaia Takavesi, came to his aid. Labalaba and Takavesi fought on for two and a half hours, until the gun was out of ammo. 

Labalaba and two others were killed in the defense of Mirbat, but they held their ground because of Sgt. Labalaba’s skill with artillery.

3. Lt. Col. Robert Blair “Paddy” Mayne

Paddy Mayne (Wikimedia Commons)

Mayne was an early member of the Special Air Service, one of the UK’s most decorated soldiers of World War II and picked up where David Stirling left off. Initially the head of an anti-aircraft battery, the Irishman was transferred to the Royal Ulster Rifles and then No. 11 Scottish Commando. There, he invaded Vichy-held Lebanon and Syria. His skills in combat saw him transferred to what was then called the “parachute unit,” but would soon be known as the Special Air Service. 

His first combat with the SAS came during night raids in North Africa, destroying aircraft, fuel supplies, and ammo dumps in 1941. He was soon placed in command of the SAS, fighting behind enemy lines in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, and even into Germany. His exploits in the war earned him four Distinguished Service Orders, the French Legion d’Honneur on Croix de Guerre.

4. Lt. Jock Lewes

Jock Lewes is many things, but first and foremost, he’s the SAS trooper who discovered that explosives used by Stirling and his men in North Africa weren’t as effective as they needed to be. The bomb he developed used diesel oil and plastic explosives to make sure Axis planes and vehicles could never be used again. The Lewes Bomb, as it came to be called, was used throughout the war to devastating effect.

Lewes was one of the first men to volunteer for Stirling’s new SAS unit and was killed by enemy aircraft while raiding an Axis airfield in Libya in 1941.

5. Staff Sgt. John McAleese

Scotsman John McAleese is one of the UK’s most decorated soldiers of all time. He’s one of the rare SAS soldiers who saw fame while serving, as the world watched the UK’s response to terrorists taking over the Iranian Embassy in London. For six days, the British government lay siege to the embassy. On the sixth day, they killed a hostage and the SAS were called in. 

The world watched live as McAleese and his blue team followed the red team into the embassy by blowing their way into a first-floor window. In 17 minutes, the SAS killed all but one of the terrorists, losing only one hostage. McAleese also served in the Falklands War and earned medals fighting the Irish Republican Army during the Troubles. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Is jiujitsu the best step toward police reform? One LAPD veteran thinks so

Several shootings involving police have occurred this year, bringing on an outpouring of civil unrest in the form of widespread protests or riots, and cries for reform to reduce police brutality and institutional racism.

“Defund the police” has become a common refrain throughout the US and has grown in popularity in several cities. New York City shifted approximately $1 billion away from the New York Police Department. The Seattle City Council approved a 14% decrease in the Seattle Police Department’s budget.


A main focus of the discussions surrounding police reform has been to call standards in law enforcement training into question. Both sides of the debate have proposed suggestions — from banning chokeholds to preventing police from carrying firearms.

Coffee or Die spoke with Mark Mireles, a veteran of both the US Marine Corps and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), about what he believes would help law enforcement in situations that lead to the use of lethal force.

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Mark Mireles by his squad car during the 1992 Rodney King riots in LA, to the rear of the Foothill police station, the epicenter of the Rodney King beating. Photo courtesy of Mark Mireles.

Mireles served as a Marine for four years in the 1980s. He worked as an LAPD police officer for 28 years before retiring and entering the private security industry.

His nearly three-decade-long career in the LAPD unfolded across Los Angeles’ most violent years. Mireles has engaged criminals in all varieties of hand fighting, less lethal deployment, and lethal deployment. Three times he earned the Medal of Valor, which is the highest award for personal bravery bestowed to LAPD’s officers.

Mireles trained under the legendary Jean Jacques Machado and is a third-degree black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ). Mireles also holds a black belt in judo, which is the parent art of BJJ. He won the World No-Gi Championship in the masters black belt ultra-heavy division in 2019. He is also a four-time Gold Medalist in the World Police and Fire Games in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, and earned All American honors in the Olympic-style Greco-Roman wrestling.

There is a movement gaining momentum for law enforcement officers to be trained in Brazilian jiujitsu. This form of martial arts has been around for centuries and has been used by a wide variety of professions, from your average security officer in a mall to the most highly trained US military special operations soldier.

Bad Guy Can’t Handle Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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BJJ is defined by GracieMag as “a martial art of Japanese origin in which one essentially uses levers, torsions and pressure in order to take one’s opponent to the ground and dominate them. Literally, jū in Japanese means ‘gentleness,’ and jutsu means ‘art,’ ‘technique.’ Hence the literal translation by which it’s also known, the ‘gentle art.'”

Mireles explained why he believes law enforcement officers should receive the best training possible in “handcuffing, arrest and control, defensive tactics, and I’m talking about outside of less lethal” because “officers — and this is nationally — put their hands on people every single day, but they get the least amount of training for that.”

He highlighted two recent examples that drew international attention: the Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting of Jacob Blake and the Atlanta shooting of Rayshard Brooks. One major factor he pointed out in both situations is that the police officers involved failed to fully control the suspect with their first physical contact.

In BJJ, there are multiple levels of proficiency deemed by the color of belts. Beginners are white belts, followed by blue, purple, brown, and black. Black belts are considered masters of BJJ.

“If the officers were trained in tactics to a blue belt level, they would have been successful, I believe,” Mireles said about the Atlanta and Kenosha incidents. “To thwart the problem by being able to take the suspect and control them and take them down to the ground rather than getting into these extended tussles.”

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Mark Mireles won a silver medal in judo during the 2017 World Police and Fire Games. Photo courtesy of Mark Mireles.

Mireles believes the primary mission of law enforcement is to “save and preserve human life, and to do everything that you can to do that.” BJJ is a practical approach to add as an additional step in the escalation of force before an officer has to resort to their pistol in a use-of-force event. Mireles specified there are obvious circumstances where an officer goes straight to their pistol or police rifle during active shooter or hostage scenarios.

In Mireles’ view, the officers involved in the Rayshard Brooks shooting did an “above and beyond job on verbalization” in their attempts to keep Brooks calm during the encounter. He added that there is a lot of speculation as to whether the officer should or should not have returned fire after Brooks shot the Taser at police, but he wants to focus on the point where the Atlanta officers could have stopped the situation from reaching the deployment of lethal force.

He believes that hand fighting — anything involving physical contact from the forearms to the hands — is critical for officers to know. Handcuffing a suspect is performed by law enforcement daily, and it’s at that point when suspects fight and/or try to run away, according to Mireles. In his opinion, BJJ teaches you how to manipulate the hand to control a person’s body, and this hand manipulation is crucial during the process of handcuffing a suspect or during other physical contact. This is when the Atlanta officers could have stopped the escalation from going further.

The Kenosha Police Department shooting of Jacob Blake is a similar situation in which the officers on scene lost control during an arrest attempt. Over his 28-year career, Mireles has implemented his experience in martial arts and has been involved in events just like those leading to the Kenosha and Atlanta shootings.

Las Vegas POLICE Officer Uses JIU-JITSU to Control Larger Suspect (Gracie Breakdown)

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“I would offer, and I could be wrong, but these officers in Atlanta and Kenosha — in that time where they’re trying to hold on to the suspect — that they don’t have, they could have much better training in hand fighting to better control their suspects,” said Mireles.

He said his experience helped him gain control of suspects he was pursuing, preventing a further escalation of force. Mireles believes BJJ would possibly have helped these officers from having to resort to lethal force. He added that from what he could see and according to the state laws in Wisconsin and Georgia, these officers were justified in their use of lethal force.

Mireles combined his law enforcement, military, and martial arts experience to start a BJJ academy, where 70% of his attendees are either police officers or firefighters. He has received positive feedback from his trainees on how directly applicable the training is and how it has helped them in their careers. To Mireles’ knowledge, very few police academies actually train their cadets in hand fighting or BJJ.

Something that Mireles teaches at his academy is what he feels is the only way to approach a suspect who is resisting arrest. He said, “You’re trying to get a noncompliant person to become compliant through verbalization, but when it comes time to use force, that force has to be decisive and explosive.”

The last horse charge of American cavalry was in World War II

Mireles taking on his Russian competitor during the 2017 World Police and Fire Games. Photo courtesy of Mark Mireles.

Mireles described a blue belt in BJJ as “life insurance” for officers. “It’s going to go a long way on the street, and if it’s not your thing, do it anyway, because it’s life insurance,” he said. “If you love your wife, your significant other, your kids, you have to do everything you can to make sure that you go home safe at the end of watch, and hand-to-hand combat skills are very important to do that.”

“Going home safe” doesn’t just mean being physically safe; it also means protecting your job and reputation when it comes to policing. Mireles believes the use of BJJ to prevent an escalation to less lethal or lethal force with a suspect resisting arrest is a way to ensure that.

Setting up a national, standardized level of hand-fighting training for the entirety of law enforcement would be a difficult and time-consuming task. Mireles recommends that law enforcement officers join their local BJJ gyms and start learning on their own personal time while waiting for their department to implement training procedures for hand fighting.

“If you’re a true professional, you’re going to do everything to push yourself to the highest level of proficiency, and that’s only going to occur through training,” said Mireles. “Invest in your survival rate, both literally and through civil liability, by training in hand fighting.”

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

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