6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
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6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are a few of the biggest holidays we collectively celebrate here in the states.


However, when you deploy to the front lines of Afghanistan, those special holidays can feel like a normal working day — but troops still find ways to celebrate.

Related: The top 8 ways to throw an epic barracks party

So check out six awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan:

6. We hold gaming competitions

We may not have the latest X-box or Playstation, but we compete at whatever games we have laying around — even if we suck at them.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
Soldiers playing Risk.

5. Make an awesome cake from a combination of MRE goodies

Not bad, right? All of the ingredients come from what we collect from our MREs.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
We really know how to bake a cake on the front lines.

Just kidding! It looks more like this:

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
Real MRE cake. It still looks as good, right?

We pretend that it’s gourmet, though.

4. We slaughter and eat goat meat with the Afghan Army guys

We’re not going to show you how we go about killing our holiday dinner, just know that it’s tasty. Sharing meals really does bring people together.

3. Chemical light raves

Pro-tip for all my forward-deployed friends: crack the capsule and wait until the light is at its brightest, then spin those suckers around to create a cool curtain of lights. It’s a solid way to celebrate and forget you’re far away from home.

It’s also totally tactical.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
Think about getting some for your next deployment party.

2. Playing improv musical instruments

It’s amazing how good a homemade guitar actually sounds.

thyago phyllip Melo, YouTubeNote: This isn’t an Afghan homemade guitar, but it’s close enough to get the point.

Also Read: These 5 military leaders knew how to win wars and party hardy

1. We gather around a laptop for movie-night.

We may not have tons of holiday movies to choose from, but we make it work.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

Merry Christmas from your friends at We Are The Mighty. And to everyone deployed, stay safe out there and come home soon.

Articles

Hilarious Russian soldier proves that their chow halls suck too

A Russian soldier has reached across the Atlantic and shown that federation troops aren’t that different from their American counterparts — or at least their chow halls aren’t.


Specifically, he has shown that they also get stuck with crappy food and that the best thing they can do in response is to get a few laughs out of it.

He’s been gifted some mashed potatoes from the cooks that leave something to be desired. You know, like it would be desirable if the potatoes resembled food instead of glue:

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
Hey, Dairy Queen advertises that Blizzards can do this. (GIF: Facebook.com/smokesmoked)

The soldier has a pretty solid delivery and the video is a quick watch at 41 seconds, but you’ll need to be logged in to Facebook to see it below:


MIGHTY CULTURE

Folds of Honor helps Gold Star children with educational needs

Folds of Honor honors the sacrifice of military members by providing their loved ones with access to education.

Kelli Campbell lost her husband, Marine Maj. Shawn Campbell, in a military helicopter crash in 2016. At the time, their children were 11, 9, 6, and 2. The family had to move out of their base home in Hawaii, losing connections built within the military community that Campbell was a part of for 15 years. Their lives changed overnight.


When the family temporarily moved into her parents’ house, Campbell says she felt “set adrift, no longer able to make decisions for herself.” She had always homeschooled their children in the Classical Christian method, but she was unable to continue without her husband as her homeschool partner.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

(Military Families Magazine)

Placing her children in public school would require them to attend schools at several different locations. They would be thrown into new classes in the middle of the year when they had no prior experience attending school in a classroom. Then Campbell heard about Folds of Honor.

Folds of Honor helps Gold Star children like, the Campbells, find the education they need

“I was sitting on my parents’ floor, surrounded by library books and all the kids. I was panicking about school and their future and wondering how to move forward. My mom walked in and had gotten a phone call from a Classical Christian school who was giving my children an opportunity to attend and just be in class. My friend who had connected us to the school found Folds of Honor, called them that day and made it possible for my kids to enroll. That was our first step into this new life. I was handed not just education, but a community,” she said.

Folds of Honor was established in 2007 to support the education of children who lost a parent in military service. Lt. Col. Daniel Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot and a PGA golf pro, was traveling on a commercial flight when he observed the body of Army Cpl. Brock Bucklin being returned to his widow and son. Rooney and his wife Jackie were moved to help the Bucklin family, so they organized a golf tournament and raised ,000. He then asked the PGA to invite golfers to contribute id=”listicle-2647631995″ on a round of golf during Labor Day weekend. In one weekend, they raised id=”listicle-2647631995″ million.

Last year, Folds of Honor awarded 4,500 scholarships to military families, providing million in educational support.

Ben Leslie, Executive Vice President at Folds of Honor, says the organization has always remained focused on its mission of educational assistance.

“We believe it is our duty and honor to provide generational assistance for Gold Star children to go to private schools. A lot of families may struggle to find employment, or they may be stuck living in neighborhoods with lousy public schools. We believe in teaching people how to fish: If you give them an opportunity to learn, they will be able to teach their own kids and have new opportunities,” Leslie said.

For the Campbell kids, Folds of Honor filled an important gap. Campbell says Folds of Honor gave her a piece of freedom after her husband’s death.

“There is very little federal assistance for young children’s education. As soon as my husband died, everyone talked to me about college scholarships for the kids. It was a great blessing, but I didn’t need that yet, because I had a two-year-old in diapers,” she said.

“Honor their sacrifice, educate their legacy”

Campbell, who now works for Folds of Honor, says it is equally important that the organization shares the names and stories of fallen service members.

“Their motto is, ‘honor their sacrifice, educate their legacy.’ They honor them by sharing their stories and saying their names. That is huge for these kids. It isn’t easy to share, but I do it to help other families,” she explained.

Campbell choked up as she shared her husband’s legacy.

“Shawn loved people so well. The day he said goodbye to us, he prayed for our family, that we would love each other well. His favorite days were the ones when he interacted with younger Marines and was a leader to them,” she said.

A portion of Red Gold ketchup sales to be given to Folds of Honor

Folds of Honor has partnered with the company Red Gold to support military families in a creative way. This year, a new red, white and blue ketchup bottle from Red Gold is on store shelves. Not only does this increase awareness of the Folds of Honor mission, but a portion of proceeds will be donated to the military family scholarship funds.

Leslie explains that it is a natural fit for both organizations.

“Red Gold is grown and made in America, as a 4th generation American company. Red Gold’s commitment to helping and honoring our military is apparent. The bottle stands out on the shelves, and you can buy something that was made in America and supports military families.”

Campbell hopes that the partnership will drive attention to the Folds of Honor mission and the service member stories they highlight. Even though the bottles and single-use packets will be sold nationwide in chains like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Albertson’s, Campbell is most excited that it will be stocked in commissaries, because military families know what the folded flag means.

“That folded flag has so much weight to it: they say it only weighs 2 pounds, but it feels like much more to carry. Red Gold is coming along and helping families carry that weight.”

Visit https://www.foldsofhonor.org to learn more about Folds of Honor and how you can support its programs.

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

Humor

Top 7 things veterans should never do at their new job

You’ve got your DD-214 in hand, you’ve taken off the uniform for the last time, and you’ve likely set fire to the road as you head off to a new life beyond service. A new life, however, usually means a new job.


School is probably the most pressing thing on your radar but, eventually, you’re going back to work. You’ve been through some pretty gnarly stuff and you’ll be an incredible asset wherever you land. There are, however, some habits you may have picked up during your time in uniform that will not translate into the civilian workforce. Some of it is because, yes, “snowflakes” abound, but some of it just doesn’t quite fit in your new world.

Below are seven things you should never do at your new, post-service job.

Related: 7 of the top surprises veterans face going to school

1. Eat that leftover food in the fridge

Depending on what you did in service, this may not be a thing for you. If you were a shift worker, however, you know that leaving things in the fridge (marked or not) is a roll of the dice.

The bigger the fridge, the lower your odds. I, personally, hated that, but it is definitely a thing. Your new job likely won’t care that you thought Etta Mae’s meatloaf smelled too delicious to pass up.

Also, people do this kind of stuff:

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
No doubt in my mind, the response was written by the other veteran in the office. (Image via Reddit).

 

2. Be sarcastic

Yes, sarcasm is a tool. It is the release of the slow-burning rage that builds within the often misunderstood. It’s also a great way to be viewed as an asshole at your new gig.

Sure, in the military, when you’re outranked by someone much younger than you, you’re instinctually trained to react sarcastically. In the civilian world, that same kind of disconnect can be jarring for the already-adjusting veteran. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but even if your manager looks like a pimple-nosed teen, keep that sarcasm pent up.

 

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

Pictured: Veteran’s involuntary response when asked if they’ve ever shot a gun (Image from Hemdale Film Corporation’s Vampire’s Kiss).

3. Respond with aggression… to anything

Aggression is a great thing to have in a lot of military settings. Being aggressive and swift to act is what’s expected from pretty much the whole military.

At your new job? Not so much.

Sure, aggression is still useful and can get you through a lot of doors, but it can also rub a lot of people the wrong way. Try to dial it back a few levels whenever possible — and call it, ‘assertiveness.’

 

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
This is not the correct way to deal with the office dumb*ss. (Image from Universal Pictures’ Wanted).

4. Begin any email with, “per my last email”

We all know that whatever follows is intended to politely tell the recipient to go f*ck or unf*ck themselves. That’s probably not going to go over very well here.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
This is just the beginning of a line of pettiness that you should avoid. (Image by Reddit).

 

5. Initiate a “smoke session”

In the civilian world, this is literally abuse. It isn’t only a fireable offense, but depending on where you are and how they want to play it, you could end up having to talk to the other boys in blue. You’re definitely going to have a find a new way to motivate whatever subordinates you have.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
These days are definitely in your rearview mirror. (Image via Rally Point).

 

6. Tell any jokes you heard while serving

They just won’t get it. At all. They’ll laugh, uncomfortably, and then you’ll slowly stop receiving invites for post-work drinks from everyone but that other veteran in the office.

He’s more f*cked up than you.

Also read: 7 military things that somehow get you fired in the civilian world

 

7. Talk about the times you almost died

You don’t realize it, but you’ve got the 1000-yard stare going so hard when you try to paint the picture of your near-death experiences. It freaks the civilians out.

Save it for group — or drinks with that other veteran after a long day at your new job.

 

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
We all have, Jack. (Image from Cartoon Networks’ Samurai Jack).

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard team up to rescue fisherman in the Pacific

Earlier in October, the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard worked together to save the life of a 73-year-old mariner in the Pacific Ocean.

In the morning hours of October 2, the Lady Alice, an 84-foot commercial fishing vessel sent out an emergency message. It was sailing approximately 150 miles east of Hawaii when one of its crew got sick. The victim’s fellow sailors notified the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the 73-year-old man was suffering from what appeared to be a stroke.


Despite administering medication to the victim, his shipmates were concerned that his situation might deteriorate. It was then decided that a team of Pararescuemen would jump next to Lady Alice and provide emergency medical care to the man.

A few hours later, three PJs from the 129th Rescue Wing jumped with their gear from an Air Force HC-130 Combat Talon II and then boarded the fishing vessel. Upon assessing the patient, the Air Commandos determined that he needed more advanced care and that a medical evacuation was necessary. The Navy was then called in, and an MH-60 Seahawk chopper from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 transported the patient directly to the hospital.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

Pararescuemen assigned to the California Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing transfer a patient from an HH-60G helicopter to land-based medical facilities. This image shows an older rescue by the unit (U.S. Air Force).

“One of the greatest difficulties when dealing with cases in the Pacific is distance,” said Michael Cobb, command duty officer for Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu in a press release.
“This is why partnerships with our fellow armed services are so important out here. The Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force all have different capabilities and through teamwork, we were able to aid a mariner in need.”

Throughout the operation, a Coast Guard HC-130 from Air Station Barbers Point provided regular weather updates and general support.

The 129th Rescue Wing is part of the California National Guard.

This is another successful non-combat rescue operation for the Air Force’s Pararescuemen. Recently, and in two separate incidents, PJs saved a man and his daughter and a teen hiker who had gotten lost in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

This rescue operation showcased the interoperability between the three services, an interoperability that becomes ever more relevant and important. Great Power Competition (GPC) is the era of warfare, in which Russia, in the shorter term, and China, in the longer term, are the main threats to U.S. national security.

China currently fields the largest navy in the world. Although the U.S. Navy is aiming at a 500-ship fleet by 2045, it will be some time before that strategic vision turns into an operational capability. As a result, inter-service cooperation and interoperability are of the essence to enhance the overall effectiveness of the military.

The victim was the master of the Lady Alice. In a ship, a master is responsible for navigation. The rank used to exist in the Navy as well (it was a warrant officer position) but has long been replaced by the currently active rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.

The rank of Master also appears in the popular film “Master and Commander,” starring Russel Crowe which takes place in the Napoleonic Wars. That version of the rank, which was between the rank of Lieutenant and Post Captain, was active in the Royal Navy during the Age of Sail and was given to officers who commanded a ship not large enough to merit a master or a captain (in rank).

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


MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

New report shows the depths of the Army’s deployability problems

The US Army sent 62 of its generals to an “executive health program” at a military hospital in Texas, where they spent three days undergoing medical examinations and receiving healthcare, according to a new report obtained by USA Today.

The program followed a military-wide sweep of the Army’s top brass and reportedly showed that only one in five of its generals was ready to deploy during 2016.


The report highlighted the Army’s struggle to get its troops ready to deploy, which has become one of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ top priorities. Conducted at the order of former Secretary Chuck Hagel, the report was completed in 2017 after Mattis had taken over.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis.

(DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

The generals and admirals who lead the US military have also seen their reputation suffer after years of scandals, corruption and ethical lapses. An investigation, also by USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook, found that military investigators documented 500 cases of serious misconduct by admirals and generals over a four-year period.

Only 83.5 percent of Army soldiers were able to deploy, USA Today reported. Other service branches reported higher numbers around 90 percent, the report showed.

But among Army generals, fewer than 80 percent were ready to deploy.

The report suggests this may be due to administrative rather than health reasons; most generals became deployable after receiving updated blood tests and dental exams, according to USA Today. The report recommended that generals take time to complete required examinations and necessary treatment.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Marine veteran is bringing something new to the Cannabis Industry: Integrity

We all have that friend who marches to the beat of their own drum. The one who challenges the stereotypes of how the world has always been or, even scarier, doesn’t care. These are the friends who don’t follow normal routines, who see life not just as doing work but as a chance to build something bigger than themselves. They are seemingly fearless.

For me, that friend is James Brobyn.


As a “Mustang,” a prior enlisted Marine, who worked his way to the Naval Academy and then into leading Marines in combat as an infantry officer, James has always taken risks. Even after he took off the uniform, he continued to pursue challenges that seemed too risky to consider, even for the most battle hardened. He helped the Travis Manion Foundation grow from a small family-led nonprofit into a nationally recognized powerhouse. He’s started businesses, closed businesses and started them again. James’ battles can be scary both to your health and to your finances but I’ve learned that my friend is not fearless. Instead, he finds his strength in a single word that defines who he is at his core: INTEGRITY.

In ancient Rome, the Legionnaires, not unlike Marines today, would conduct inspections before battle. Paramount in this ritual was their breastplate, the armour that protects soldiers from enemy arrows or swords. Legionnaires would spend countless hours polishing their breastplates and tightening straps. Not a single crack or chip was permitted. When a soldier passed inspection, he would pound his fist into the metal and yell, “Integritas,” (Integrity) for all others to hear. This was not only an affirmation that the armour was sound but also that the heart and soul it protected was of whole, pure character — ready to take on any challenge in battle.

James has called me into his battles both figuratively and literally many times over the last two decades. We served together in the Marines and deployed together to Iraq. He’s been my boss twice. He fired me once only to hire me back 10 years later. Another story for another time but I am grateful for everything he has taught me. Above all else, James is not afraid of hard work. In between these battles, James would disappear for a few months and then reappear with a phone call. Even to this day, he still starts each conversation with my callsign from Iraq, “White 1.”

Not long ago, James called me again. “White 1, I got something for you.” He paused. “I’ve started a cannabis company and I want you to come see what we’ve built.” Of course, I was intrigued but also weary. Cannabis is an industry tied with all kinds of risk. It’s legal in some states, not in others. It’s celebrated by some of my friends (especially veterans) and hated by others, including my own family. There is a stigma that cannabis is the Wild West, a gold rush of former drug dealers and shady investors trying to get rich in the grey area. It’s a world of multiple tribes jockeying for power. Honestly, it felt a little like James was asking me to go back to Iraq. I stuttered, “Is this legal?”

My friend could only laugh, “Yes, we’ve built our business with integrity from the ground up.” Two days later, I was on a plane to a cannabis farm in Michigan. What I saw changed my entire view of both James and the industry.

The American Fiber Company (AmFI) is a multistate cannabis brand that delivers pharmaceutical grade products directly to consumers and wholesalers. It is also the result of a three year journey that took James and his team from Colombia to Canada to the United States. AmFi operates three dispensaries in Michigan; they’re the first company approved to import FDA certified 100% organic CBD oil into the United States and they’ve partnered with world class research facilities to ensure their products maintain the highest safety standards. My first question to James: “How the hell did you build all this?”

James reminded me, “We did the hard work. We built the framework. We run it the right way with Integrity.”

I recently chatted with James to understand more about his journey from combat to cannabis.

James: White 1.

WATM: Blue 1. (James’s callsign from 2006). Boom. All right. Comms are up. So here’s my thought and you tell me what you feel comfortable with. I would really like to focus on your journey from combat to the cannabis industry as well as some of the crazy things that happened along the way.

James: Ok. So before I answer that, what is your goal with the article?

I think to myself, “Dammit. How did he turn that one on me so fast?”

WATM: Good question. I like to highlight influencers in our space that are at the top of their game. It’s a series of interview questions so people can get to know others that are making moves in our world. So are you making moves?

James: (He laughs). Yeah, ok, I think that makes sense. So I guess from my standpoint, I’m most excited about how the journey got me to this point right now. Honestly, every skill from the Academy to leading Marines in combat to the Travis Manion Foundation are all being used to build something.

All those core values that we learned and were beat into us. Do hard work with integrity, do it the right way. That’s what’s really neat about it. When you put those principles to work every day and you teach people to abide by them, you build your own tribe and it works. People want to be a part of something. And that’s what’s kind of cool about this. That’s what’s really been the neatest part about the cannabis industry. It’s a rich kind of this weird, you know, fraternity that lets in all types of people, which is great.

WATM: When was the first time you got introduced to cannabis?

James: My God, I was a teenager. I grew up in Philly in the 80s and 90s. At 15, 16, 17, it was part of the culture. Honestly, it wasn’t about weed. I was just trying to fit in with the local friends. Normal teenage stuff. And I wanted to keep up with my older brothers but I made bad choices and eventually my dad kicked me out of the house.

WATM: Kicked you out?

James: Yep, at 19, but honestly he should have done it earlier. In hindsight, I just wanted to find my tribe and the outcome was partying. I had it in sports, but, you know, as soon as you start getting older and you leave high school you lose the camaraderie. A lot of people do. So I made bad decisions. We’ll leave it at that.

WATM: What about the decision to join the Marine Corps?

James: When I was at boot camp, I was like, what the hell did I do? I thought that, like, every day. But I think most people do. When I got my aircrew wings, it was scary to be Lance Corporal, but I had two pilots in my squadron that I flew with consistently. They told me about a program for helping enlisted Marines get into the Naval Academy. They changed my life.

WATM: Why do you think they focused on you?

James: In so many ways, they took an interest in me and my long term well-being. Not short term, not as some piece of equipment, but in me as a person. Once word got around that there was traction on my application, honestly, I had half the squadron helping me out. I even had Staff NCOs that were taking me on ridiculous runs to train me to get ready to go to the Naval Academy. I mean, I think they just saw I gave a shit. I showed up every day.

WATM: Is there anything about your time at the Academy that stands out? Any major lessons learned that you still use today?

James: You learn how to win there. I believe it. It comes down to two things. First is the honor code. I think you see it with Captain Crozier (USNA ’92) and the recent situation on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Your integrity is what you have. If you give it away, then you have no foundation. Nothing to build from. It’s a house of cards. Secondly, the Academy teaches you that you can do more than any other person out there. Without a doubt. I mean, you know, the amount of stuff you can get done in 24 hours there is ridiculous. I keep those lessons with me daily.
6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

​James with the Marines of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Iraq, 2006

Photo Courtesy of James Brobyn

WATM: You graduated in 2004, and we deployed to Iraq together not long after. What is there about leading Marines that stands out?

James: I loved my dudes. 2006 and 2007 were hard times to be in Iraq. We were given a mission to provide security for 30,000 people and not much more resources than what we had. That pretty much looks like a small business to me. It was the best entrepreneurship training that I’ve had. Honestly, combat is the closest thing to running a business in the cannabis industry. that I have found. You have to be nimble, understand uncertainty, take a look at risks and act. But at the end of the day, your plan never survives first contact. All you can do is surround yourself with good people.

WATM: How do you make the leap from combat to cannabis?

James: At first, I was just following cannabis related to veterans. There are a lot of positive benefits outside just the medical aspects. First off, dudes drink less, eat better and lose weight. There are multiple levels of benefit but I hadn’t thought about the business side of things until I met Dan Tobon, a former Army Sniper and Iraq veteran. We became fast friends. Dan had just started working on a project in Colombia where his family is from called NuSierra Holdings.

Colombia had approved export of cannabis products and it was anticipated at that time Canada and Australia would be able to import them, even THC products. So it was a big rush to get out of Colombia and go out to the commoditized cannabis world. Then we met John Leja, founder of PharmaCannis, who understood the retail side of the business and was trying to establish a packing facility in Toronto. I met John and Dan at a bar in Philly and they asked me, Will you help us out?I didn’t know much about cannabis but I knew we had supply and distribution so I said, ‘Sure. Let’s figure this out.’ I was on a plane to Toronto the next day.

WATM: There are so many stereotypes associated with cannabis, do you have a hard time getting over the stigmas or comparisons to a gold rush?

James: I learned alot from John and Dan about how to stop thinking of cannabis as a shiny object of gold that’s going to make everyone rich but as a commodity that’s going to be turned into an amazing consumer product. If you reframe cannabis that way, you can start thinking about designing a strategy where you can gain footholds into different parts of the supply chain that are completely compliant, legal, and then allow us to really take a good market share of the industry.
6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

James and the Author in a American Fiber Company grow facility

Photo Courtesy of James Brobyn

WATM: Was this venture your training for the American Fiber Company and setting up a cannabis business in the U.S.?

James: 100%. In 2018, it felt like every state was its own country when it came to cannabis. Some were recreational, others were medicinal only and others, it was flat out illegal. We had a plan for how to set up a multi-state operation but it’s hard to work because every jurisdiction has its own rules. And you literally have to go into jurisdictions. You have to work with the locals. You can’t just pop in your model and make it work. You have to build from the ground up and it all came back to finding the right people. People with integrity. American Fiber established our first operations in Southwest Michigan.

WATM: You’ve mentioned integrity a lot. What does integrity really mean to you?

James: It’s not about just telling the truth. It’s about following through. It’s about doing what you say you’re going to do. Doing it the right way. Even if it’s hard — especially if it’s hard. That’s the key here because that’s how you normalize the industry. We work with the state and federal regulators to do the hard work that people don’t want to do.

WATM: Like becoming the first company in the U.S. to legally import full spectrum CBD oil?

James: That’s just one example. We never set out to be the first company in the world to import full-spectrum CBD oil out of Colombia into the US, but we figured out how to get it compliant with Customs and Border Protection. But we’ve also taken on other challenges that are just as hard. We’ve built a research partnership in Delaware with Fraunhofer Center for Molecular Biology so that we can figure out how to start collecting real data on health benefits so that we can go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, get approved by the FDA on certain products and continue to provide safe quality, cannabis products to our consumers. And that’s why it’s a long game.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

The American Fiber Company Team in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of James Brobyn

WATM: Is the long game paying off?

James: I think so. Take the current COVID-19 restrictions for example. Every state that had medicinal and recreational policies deemed cannabis business essential. I mean, yeah. Our team in South Michigan is out there every day serving patients curbside, delivery, and hopefully drive-through soon. We’re moving into a post-prohibition world right now and now it’s pretty exciting.

WATM: Where do you see American Fiber in that world. Maybe 5 years from now?

James: Oh, my God. That’s like 50 decades in this industry. Well, let me tell you what the ultimate goal is, and it’s how we’ve always tried to build a company. I always felt that we built a company that we could take public. Ultimately, I want American Fiber to be synonymous with all the values that make our people and country ready to face whatever challenge comes ahead. Hard work, commitment and integrity.

WATM: Integritas.

James: Exactly. Integritas.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

World War II Veterans honored, even as event cancelled

Although a scheduled Sept. 25 flyover of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was cancelled due to weather, event organizers still honored World War II Veterans and the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.


World War II Veterans honored, even as event cancelled

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World War II Veterans honored, even as event cancelled

More than 16 million Veterans served during World War II, some of whom participated in the events prior to the scheduled flyover.

One of those Veterans is 95-year-old Marine Corps Veteran Paul Hilliard. On his 13th birthday, Hilliard listened to Winston Churchill deliver his famous “Their Finest Hour” speech. During the speech, Hilliard said he took to heart Churchill’s message warning, “If we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age” if they didn’t defeat the German military. As a teenager, Hilliard said he ran outside his family farm, watching airplanes fly overhead. He would also read stories about SBD Dauntless dive bombers. The crews on those airplanes sank four Japanese carriers during the Battle of Midway.

Although he wanted to join earlier, Hilliard’s mother wouldn’t sign the paperwork for him to enlist. In 1943, the 17-year-old farm boy left for Marine Recruit Depot San Diego, celebrating his 18th birthday shortly after. He then went to Jacksonville, Florida, for training. Soon after, he deployed to the Pacific where he served as a radioman and gunner in the same SBD Dauntless dive bombers he read about a few years earlier.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

Paul Hilliard as a teenager.

Off to war

After boarding a ship, their first stop was Guadalcanal, following a major attack against the Japanese.

“We just stopped for a few hours,” Hilliard said. “They let us go ashore and get off that damn ship. First thing I did was take my combat knife and tried to open a coconut because I’d never seen a coconut before, and cut my finger so I could say, ‘I was injured on Guadalcanal,'” he joked.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan

Paul Hilliard, left, stands on an SDB Dauntless dive bomber with another crew member.

After a few stops, Hilliard ended up on Bougainville Island. Hilliard trained for a few months. Soon after, he left for Luzon in the Philippines. There, he flew combat missions as airborne artillery for Army units. Hilliard said he was so focused on missions, he didn’t even realize the impact. He said he found out several years ago when a retired Marine colonel handed him a book on Marine missions in the Philippines.

“I found out all sorts of stuff we were doing,” he said. “I had no idea. We had no TV, no maps and charts. When we took off, we didn’t know where we were going because we were flying for the Army. We were flying close support missions.”

Hilliard said the crews used to jokingly refer to the flights as “Columbus missions.”

“We didn’t know where we were going when we took off, we didn’t know where we were when we got there, we made a big mess, and we were extremely unwelcome,” he said. “When we got back to base, we didn’t know where we’d been, and we did it all at government expense.”

Hilliard’s next trip was a small island near Borneo, where they continued to fly close air support missions for the Army. In all, Hilliard flew 45 combat missions during the war.

Headed home

By July 1945 and with the war nearing an end, Hilliard headed home.

“They said, ‘You got 30 minutes to get in the truck, you’re going back to the States for reassignment,'” Hilliard said. He said the crews were so happy, they wanted to leave in a hurry.

“All I remember is one of the gunners said, ‘I don’t need 30 minutes. Give me 30 seconds to find my toothbrush. That’s the only damn thing I want here.'”

Hilliard then boarded a ship in Guam and headed back to San Diego. When he arrived, the combat Veteran was still only 20 years old—still too young to buy an alcoholic drink.

Post war

Discharged in 1946, Hilliard used his GI Bill to attend college. He later founded an oil corporation and served as president of the Louisiana Independent Oil and Gas Association.

Hilliard joined The National World War II Museum‘s Board of Trustees in 2006. A self-proclaimed history junkie, he has funded the acquisition of several aircraft and artillery pieces for the museum, including an SBD Dauntless dive bomber.

Over the years, he also used VA for various benefits throughout his life. In addition to his GI Bill, Hilliard said he bought his first home with the assistance of a VA home loan in 1951. He also receives his medication through VA.

“They’ve been so good to me,” he said. “I’ve got nothing but the highest regard for them [VA].”

Flyover serves a reminder

Hilliard said the flyover is a reminder to the American public on the 75th anniversary of the war ending.

“I think it reminds people who we are and what we’ve done,” he said. “America has been a force for freedom. How many countries have sent huge forces overseas to help people? I think it’s a great sign of appreciation and recognition for America and what it’s done for the world.”

One of the pilots scheduled to fly was Mark Reynolds. He pilots a North American PBJ-IJ B-25 Mitchell named “Devil Dog,” which has a giant bulldog with a Marine Corps hat on its head. Reynold said piloting the warbirds is personal. His dad was a Korean War-era Veteran who passed away. Reynolds previously carried the flag from his father’s casket on a flight. He said he started flying the missions for fun, but the focus changed.

“I thought it would be just fun, but it’s way past that,” Reynolds said, noting he likes to hear World War II Veterans’ stories. “That’s what’s kept me in it. This is a lot of fun. We know what those guys did.”

About the flyover

Originally scheduled for May, organizers postponed the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover due to COVID-19. The second attempt saw cloud cover over the National Capital Region Sept. 25-26, cancelling the event.

The warbirds were supposed to fly in historically sequenced formations representing the war’s major battles – from Battle of Britain through the final air assault on Japan and concluding with a missing man formation.

More than 20 different types of vintage military aircraft flew into D.C. for the scheduled event. Multiple organizations and individuals whose mission is to preserve these historic artifacts in flying condition provided aircraft. Some of the historic aircraft included the P-40 Warhawk, P-39 Airacobra, P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, B-25 Mitchell, B-17 Flying Fortress and B-29 Superfortress.

2020 Arsenal of Democracy Flyover – Live (Saturday 9/26)

www.youtube.com

Watch the online tribute

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.


MIGHTY CULTURE

What you need to know about POW/MIA Recognition Day

Written on the flag that commemorates U.S. service members that are being held as prisoners of war or have gone missing in action is a promise: You are not forgotten.

Unfortunately, those who aren’t directly affected by a loved one or military coworker who is a POW or MIA likely only actively remember these service members at important functions, with the setting of the POW/MIA table. That being said, there is a less well-known moment to take time to remember those who served and have not yet — or may never — make it home.

In 1979, Congress and President Jimmy Carter passed a resolution declaring the third Friday in September to be the date in which we, as a nation, remember those whose fates remain unknown.


The remembrance day is not just to honor those who have been lost fighting for the United States, it’s also to assure current and future service men and women that the people of the United States and its military will do everything they can to find those who were captured or went missing. And we will bring them home.

A 2005 Congressional Research Service report documented tallies of American military members who were captured by the enemy and notes those who died in captivity. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, who never stops searching and trying to identify the repatriated remains of those missing in action, also keeps a tally.

The following is an accounting of all those who’ve been captured or have gone missing since World War II.

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American airmen held in a Nazi Stalag Luft POW Camp during World War II.

World War II

As of 2005, Congress reported 130,201 service members were imprisoned during World War II, 14,072 of which died. There are approximately 73,014 from World War II who are still missing, but those numbers are incomplete at best due to limited information from the time period.

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Americans captured by Communist forces in the Korean War.

Korean War

Of the 7,140 service members who were imprisoned during the Korean War, 2,701 of them died as a result of their captivity. There are still 7,729 missing in action.

In 2016, the DPAA accounted for 61 missing from the Korean War. Recently, President Trump’s efforts to repatriate remains from North Korea yielded the return of 55 sets, two of which have been identified.

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Americans held by North Vietnam during the Vietnam War were marched through the streets of Hanoi.

Vietnam War

Roughly 64 prisoners of war held by the enemy during the Vietnam War died as a result of being held captive out of a total 725 held prisoner. An estimated 1,603 are still unaccounted for from the conflict in Southeast Asia.

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Pfc. Jessica Lynch (left) was captured by Iraqi forces after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Her friend, Pvt. Lori Ann Piestewa (right), was killed in that action.

Conflicts Since 1991

Since 1991, a further 37 servicemen and women have been captured by the enemy during various conflicts, including the most recent in Iraq and Afghanistan. None are still in captivity, but six are still missing from those conflicts.

This brings the total number of American missing from conflicts since World War II to a whopping 82,478. A full three-fourths are believed to be lost in the Asia-Pacific region of the world, with 41,000 presumed lost at sea.

You are not forgotten.

Humor

5 reasons why King Leonidas would make the best platoon sergeant ever

In 2006, a film about how 300 Spartan warriors, led by a king known as Leonidas, went to war against a massive Persian army debuted in cinemas across the globe.


The film was an instant success. Suddenly, it was a universally accepted fact that Spartans kicking the crap out of someone is a reliable way of ending a dispute. The story follows King Leonidas, a man bred to be a warrior king from the moment he was born, as he leads his loyal army against Greece’s enemies.

Though extremely outnumbered, Leonidas valorously leads his mean up against the odds and ends up dying alongside them in battle — which is totally unheard of today.

Related: 6 DC comic heroes who served in the Army

1. He leads from the front

Many so-called “leaders” actually lead from the rear, which means they issue an order, watch their men do all the dangerous sh*t, and then take all credit for it.

King Leonidas was in front of all the battle formations and would often step forward, on his own, to kill as many people as possible.

That’s what we call a freakin’ leader.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
(Warner Brothers’ 300)

2. He f*cks the enemy up on the spot

King Leonidas wasn’t out to win any hearts or minds. Instead, he intended to rip out your heart and put a blade through your mind.

If you come around his FOB and talk sh*t, he’ll Spartan kick you in front of everybody.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
(Warner Brothers’ 300)

3. He is the same person at home as he is with his men

Some troops in high positions shed their aggression when they get home — not King Leonidas. In fact, he started training his son in hand-to-hand combat while he was still wearing diapers. That’s what we call “startin’ em off early.”

4. He knows a sh*tty soldier when he sees one

Leonidas knows talent when he sees it. He plainly dismisses a fellow Greek’s plea to fight the Persian empire because he wasn’t physically capable of fighting like a true Spartan. Real leaders don’t want you on their team if you can’t keep up with the rest of the hard-chargers.

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
(Warner Brothers’ 300)

Also Read: 5 ways your platoon would be different with Rambo in charge

5. He knew military strategy

Leonidas develops a master plan to use the land to his advantage and take out a vast Persian army with only 300 men. The idea works, too, until that dude who he denied earlier snitches him out like a punk-a**. It happens.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The key to conversation: Vulnerability is not a weakness

Have you ever been lost for words in how to approach a serious conversation? As military spouses, we may feel vulnerability is a bad thing, but it’s crucial to have meaningful, heartfelt conversations. Have you ever shared legitimate fears, hoping for a safe space to find relief, and were met with jokes or platitudes? Here are a few ways we weave vulnerability into our conversations.


Please, Sir, can I have some more?

Asking for what you need might sound demanding, but this request allows the other person to know what you’re looking for to support you better. Ideas for phrase starters could look like: “I’m looking for encouragement…advice…a reminder I’m not crazy and can do this,” Sometimes as listeners, we advise because we want to help when the other person is just looking to vent or verbally process. Knowing this information beforehand gives the listener insight into how to respond in a way that nourishes each of you.

Let’s take it to the next level

What do you do when you want to have a serious conversation and do not want to be brushed aside or met with sarcasm? Using this ‘level’ tool, you can set the tone for discussion beforehand.

  • Level 1 is everyday chat, light-hearted fun.
  • Level 3 is, ‘I want you to take me seriously and hear me out; please don’t make light of this.’
  • Level 5 is divorce talks or a year-long unaccompanied tour announcement. A high stakes all-hands-on-deck conversation.

By stating the level, you give the person you are hoping to talk with an understanding of where you are mentally.

Hurry Up and Wait

Be prepared to wait if you ask for a level 3+ conversation. If they are in the middle of a project, they may need to get back to you later to give you proper attention. Adding more care to our conversations is a gift. Providing clarity on the topic helps them mentally prepare as well. For example: “Hey, hun, I’d love to have a level 3 about your deployment next week, we need to make a plan,” or, “Hey, mom, level 5, I’m four months into a one-year deployment, with three kids. I’m not okay. I need help.”

When we share the topic of conversation and use an easy tool like levels, we can let people know the seriousness of our feelings before the discussion even starts. Using these tools can change the conversation from one of frustration to one of vulnerability and met hearts.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

NASA space camp goes virtual

It’s been more than 50 years since Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, taking those famous first steps. When Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Education Manager Dee Maynard envisions an astronaut walking on the planet Mars for the first time, she hopes that the first words spoken will be: “I took the first step of this journey at Camp KSC®!”  

“We hope that kids who enroll in camp want to pursue a career that’s going to be part of the space program,” Maynard said. The feedback staff receives is that the camps do just that. 

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, known worldwide as the epicenter of America’s space program, is located in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The center offers a variety of STEM educational initiatives, including field trips, educational programs, overnight adventures, and camps to inspire the next generation. 

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In a typical year, KSC runs 10 camps and sees nearly 2,000 student-participants over the summer. Due to the pandemic, for the first time since the camp’s inception in 2003, in-person educational activities were halted. Rather than be deterred, Maynard and her team did what NASA does best. They improvised. 

As a result, two virtual experiences for kids ages 7 through 12, the three-day Virtual Camp KSC® and five-day Space After School, were born. 

Typically, NASA staff spend nine months crafting their in-person curriculum, which includes a heavy emphasis on tactile experiences and technology. Maynard says that there have been numerous challenges, including retooling the curriculum and deciding which materials would be both age-appropriate and practical for in-home use. 

A large part of in-person camp includes exploring the space center complex. In the virtual environment, the staff has made a point to host the sessions at a different location each day, including The Apollo/Saturn 5 Center, Space Shuttle Atlantis, and Planet Play, KSC’s newest facility, a high-tech indoor playground that explores deep space, to ensure that campers get the best experience possible.

“It’s still camp and we want them to learn but have fun in the process,” she said.

One of Maynard’s favorite experiments is called packing the payload bay. Campers use a toilet paper tube to make a model of a payload bay with doors that open and shut. For an engineering and design challenge, campers have to design a satellite that will fit in the bay, but when you deploy it, it is bigger than the bay. 

“As we are cutting up the toilet paper tube, we are doing math. We are doing fractions and, kids you didn’t even know it! They are just having fun,” she said. 

6 awesome ways troops celebrate the holidays in Afghanistan
Dee Maynard, of Camp KSC, demonstrates an experiment as part of virtual camp.

Plans are underway for in-person camp this summer but, according to Maynard, the virtual camp is here to stay. Families from all over the country, and even a few international locations, have been able to participate. 

“We have not had a camp yet where we didn’t have kids asking: ‘How do I become an astronaut?’ How do I become an engineer?’ That is our big thing, watching kids decide that this is worth pursuing. Because even if they decide that they don’t want to be an astronaut, they still have gotten involved in those STEM fields and gotten excited about it. 

“As a classroom teacher for many years, one of the things that I always heard was: ‘Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.’ And that’s how we want to tell the NASA story. We want to involve them in the NASA story,” Maynard concluded. 


Our experience at virtual camp

As part of writing this story, my children and I were so excited about Virtual Camp KSC®  that we decided to try it out for ourselves. 

Process: 

We enrolled online and paid our fee of $65. The week before camp, a kit arrived containing camp supplies and our instruction manuals. Note: families with more than one child can purchase additional kits for $25. We received a Zoom link and instructions, including a list of household materials needed for each lesson. 

Activities:

Our sessions included: Launching and Landing, where we built and launched a tube rocket, a chemical rocket with a parachute, a foam glider, and a lunar lander; Exploring Deep Space, where we used chemistry and physics to build different models of the solar system; and Living and Working in Space, where we performed experiments to gain a better understanding of the challenges of living on another planet.

Highlights:

What can you build with a paper towel tube, cardboard, scissors, tape, rubber bands, and a yardstick? A NASA rocket that you can fly across your living room. I’d advise shooting it across your yard instead. 

My children particularly loved mixing vinegar and baking soda in a film canister and watching it explode. We were smart enough to follow instructions and do this experiment outside. Another favorite was crafting our own galaxy by mixing glue, water, and glitter. The three days flew by, and while I won’t be headed to space anytime soon, who knows, maybe one day my kids will. 

More information: 

To learn more about camps and education at Kennedy Space Center, visit https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/camps-and-education

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

6 unexpected parenting lessons from ‘Ghostbusters’

Whether it’s Halloween or just a Tuesday night in July, there’s never a bad time to watch one of the greatest movies of all time: Ghostbusters. In 1984, this sci-fi-comedy changed not only the way we thought about films, but also the way we thought about making jokes about slime. Ghostbusters made us feel funky, taught us that bustin’ can make you feel good, and most of all, that nobody ever made them like this.

But, unexpectedly, the original Ivan Reitman-directed 1984 film — starring Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Dan Ackroyd, and Annie Potts — also imparted some sneaky life-lessons, that, when looked at from a certain way, are actually parenting lessons in disguise. Yes, Ghostbusters 2 famously had a plotline involving a baby in it, but you actually don’t even need to leave the confines of the first movie to find the best-hidden parenting lessons in Ghostbusters.


Here are six lessons from Ghostbusters that will help every parent have the tools and the talent to deal with all types of ghoulish personalities your children might take on. In Ghostbusters you choose the form of the destroyer, but parents know that we’ve already chosen the form of our destroyer: it’s our kids.

Onto the list!

6. “Slow down. Chew your food.”

When Venkman mentions he wants to take some of the petty cash to take Dana to dinner, Ray tells him that the Chinese food they’re eating represents “the last of the petty cash.” Venkman responds by saying, “Slow down. Chew your food.” The parenting lesson here is obvious: Remind children to chew their food, but also, make sure you have enough money set aside for date night, otherwise, shit’s gonna get depressing.

5. “I’ve worked in the private sector — they expect results.”

In an early scene, just after the Ghostbusters lose their grant from Columbia University, Ray accuses Venkman of having no real-world experience relative to running a small business. “You’ve never been out of college,” he rants. “You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector, they expect results.” Basically, what Ray is saying about going into business for yourself is exactly like parenting. You have no idea what it’s like until you’ve done it, and your children kind of just expect you to know what to do.

4. “If there’s a steady paycheck, I’ll believe anything you say.”

When Winston applies for a job with the Ghostbusters, Janine rattles-off several pseudo-science concepts to gauge whether or not Winston is ‘buster-material. Winston doesn’t care about any of this stuff, but he also needs the job. This is a super important lesson for parents trying to figure out their career after children turn everything upside down. Don’t be too proud to take a weird job, even if everyone you work with thinks UFO abductions are real and the theory of Atlantis is totally legit. Just make sure the conspiracy theories your co-workers enjoy are fun.

3. “What about the Twinkie?”

When thing parents realize when their kids start to speak is that their communication skills are not as good as they thought. Basically, as far as your kids are concerned, you’re speaking like Ray or Egon, using complex language they don’t understand. But, then there’s this excellent analogy from Egon: “Let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning’s sample, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long weighing approximately six hundred pounds.”

This is great! Use food analogies to describe complex things! Everyone gets it!

2. “Don’t cross the streams!”

We all know this one. Egon tells Ray and Venkman to avoid crossing the proton streams because crossing the streams “would be bad.” The explanation doesn’t really make sense. We never really know why in the fake science of Ghostbusters that crossing the streams is bad. It doesn’t matter. Some things just need to be rules even if your children (or, in this case, Venkman) don’t understand them.

1. “When somebody asks you if you are a god, you say YES!”

You don’t always need to be literal when you’re a parent to young children. And if they are asking you questions about your own authority, it’s best to probably just default to making them think you’re all-powerful. In other words, discipline starts with the illusion that the buck stops somewhere. It’s probably a bad idea to tell your children that you are an actual god (unless you are, and in that case, hello Zul!) but, it probably doesn’t hurt to show confidence whenever possible. Ray’s mistake with Gozer wasn’t so much that he admitted he wasn’t a god, it was that he was kind of a putz about it.

Tell the truth, but if your children ask you if you are the one in charge, you say YES!!

Here’s where you can stream all versions of Ghostbusters.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

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