The U.S. Congress is not a generally popular branch of government. In 2013, a Politico survey revealed that Americans preferred colonoscopies, brussel sprouts, and even Nickelback to Congress. However, there’s one member of Congress today who you simply have to respect for his impressive resume. He’s certainly no career politician.
Mark Green graduated from West Point in 1986 and commissioned as an Infantry Officer. He graduated from Ranger School and was subsequently assigned to the 194th Armored Brigade at Fort Knox. During that time, he excelled and worked his way up the junior officer positions from rifle platoon leader, to scout platoon leader, and finally battalion adjutant. After he attended the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Green served in the 82nd Airborne Division as a company commander.
Green continued to excel in his Army career and was accepted to the Army’s medical program to become a doctor. He attended Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University and earned his MD in 1999. Given his exemplary performance as an Infantry Officer, Green was subsequently selected to serve as the flight surgeon for the Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. As a Night Stalker, Green served in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the War on Terror.
In 2003, Green was part of Operation Red Dawn, the special forces operation that captured Saddam Hussein. Following the dictator’s capture, Green interrogated him for six hours. He recounted his incredible experience during this historic operation in his book, A Night With Saddam.
In 2006, Green retired from the Army as a Major. During his service, he earned awards including the Bronze Star and the Air Medal with V Device for Valor. After he left the Army, Green founded and served as the CEO of Align MD, a hospital emergency department staffing company. Staying in Tennessee after retiring out of Fort Campbell, he also founded two medical clinics that provide free healthcare to under-served populations in Clarksville and Memphis.
Green entered politics in 2012 when he was elected to the Tennessee State Senate. During his time in the state senate, Green again made history when he helped repeal the Hall Income Tax. It was only the second time in U.S. history that a state repealed an income tax.
In 2017, Green filed paperwork to run for Governor of Tennessee. However, when Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District became open, he redirected his efforts to the U.S. Congress. Since he took office in 2019, Green has continued to fight for his fellow veterans and their families. The first bill he introduced in the House was the Protecting Gold Star Spouses Act which allows spouses to continue receiving benefits during a government shutdown. He also advocated to include provisions in the NDAA for veterans subjected to toxic exposure while serving at the K2 Air Base in Uzbekistan during the War on Terror.
Over his 24-year career in the active duty Army and Army Reserve, Green demonstrated exemplary service. From a hard-charging Infantry Officer to a Special Forces doctor interrogating Saddam Hussein, Green seemingly did it all. With his transition from the battlefield to politics, Green continues to embody the Army values of loyalty, duty and selfless service.
With more than 6,000 ships and 150,000 troops involved, along with nearly 12,000 aircraft, D-Day stands as the largest amphibious assault in history. The Allies pulled together every resource available to breach Hitler’s Fortress in Europe, but they had to do so without America’s experts in amphibious warfare. The U.S. Marine Corps was busy pushing back the Japanese in the Pacific, island by island. Here’s how Eisenhower and his generals did it.
Planning for D-Day pits allies against each other
The demands of D-Day caused fights for resources. The Americans and British fought over when to make Normandy the priority while the Army was pitted against the Navy for resources, according to historical essays from “Command Decisions.”
The stress between the American and British leadership centered on an American belief that the British wanted to spend more time consolidating gains in the Mediterranean rather than pivot to France and open the new front in the war. The Americans thought that British leadership wanted to spend more time in Southern Europe to gain political power there, while British planners thought the focus should remain in the area a little longer to force Germany to move more reinforcements away from Normandy.
For the Army and Navy, the fight was over how shipbuilding assets should be used. The Army wanted more landing craft while the Navy needed shipbuilders focused on repairing and rebuilding the deepwater fleet that had been diminished by Pearl Harbor, submarine warfare, and escort duties for convoys.
Both problems were settled at the Cairo-Tehran conferences in 1943. British leaders assured the U.S. that they were committed to crossing the English Channel in 1944. The issue of new landing craft was settled due to two factors. First, the Navy had reduced need for new ships as German submarines were sinking fewer craft. Second, Churchill decried the shortage of landing craft, pledging his country would focus on constructing ships for the landing if the Americans would increase their effort as well.
Heavy German defenses force the Allies to do the unexpected
The obvious points for an Allied force to invade Normandy in the 1940s were the large port at Pas-de-Calais or the smaller ports at La Havre and Cherbourg. German defense planners reinforced these zones to the point that invaders would either fail to reach the beaches or be immediately pushed back upon landing. Instead, the Allies created a plan to land at a beach instead of a port.
The final plan was to land between Le Havre in the east and Cherbourg in the west. The invading forces would spread from there while airborne troops would jump ahead onto key objectives, securing bridges, destroying artillery, and wreaking havoc on the enemy communications. The plan faced numerous challenges, though two stood out.
This would leave the Allies with relatively lightly-defended beaches, but a huge logistics problem once they had landed. Large ships would have no deepwater piers to pull up to and no cranes to remove supplies from cargo holds.
The Allies would ultimately get around this through the construction of “Mulberry Harbors,” prefabricated, floating piers protected by sunken World War I ships and caissons. The first piers were operational by June 14 and allowed vehicles and supplies up to 40 tons to drive from deepwater ships to the shore.
Weather delays D-Day but also saves it
The movement of supplies and soldiers to Britain had taken place over two years, culminating in a massive troop buildup in 1944. But the day of the invasion had to be set for small, three-day windows centered on proper tides and moonlight. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, set the invasion date for June 5, 1944 and trusted British Capt. James Stagg to make the weather decision for proposed invasion dates.
Stagg and the British meteorologists found themselves in disagreement with the Americans as to the weather for June 5. Stagg recommended delaying the invasion due to storms the British predicted, while the Americans thought a high pressure wedge would stave off the storms and provide blue skies. Luckily, Eisenhower only heard directly from Stagg and accepted his recommendation. D-Day was pushed to June 6.
The Germans, meanwhile, also predicted the storms but thought they would last for at least a week or more. With this weather forecast, the German high command went ahead with war games and pulled its troops away from the coastal defenses so they could practice defending the coasts. The head of German land defenses, Gen. Erwin Rommel, left to give his wife a pair of birthday shoes. The beaches would be more lightly defended and lack key leadership when the Allies arrived.
June 6, 1944: D-Day
Though the weather wouldn’t clear for hours, Stagg recommended to Eisenhower that he go ahead with the June 6 invasion. Just after midnight, the invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe began.
Prior to the beach landings, 23,000 American, British, and Canadian paratroopers dropped through heavy cloud cover to begin securing what would become the flanks of the main force at the beaches. They also struck at key logistics and communications hubs, allowing for the eventual push from the beach while also weakening the Germans’ ability to organize their counter attacks. Allied bombers struck targets on the beaches, preparing the objectives for the main force.
The landings on the Normandy coast began at 6:30 a.m. with the 8th Regimental combat team under Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt at Utah Beach. Soldiers at Utah experienced a successful, relatively light invasion. Over the next few hours, Allied troops were landing at Gold, Juno, Sword, and Omaha Beaches.
“As our boat touched sand and the ramp went down, I became a visitor to hell,” said Pvt. Charles Neighbor, a veteran of Omaha Beach. By nightfall, the other four beaches were held with forces pushing between two and four miles inland. At Omaha, Allied soldiers continued to fight against pockets of resistance.
D-Day cost the lives of 4,413 Allied soldiers and between 4,000 and 9,000 Germans. The remaining pockets of resistance on Omaha Beach were conquered on June 7, and the Allies began the long push to Berlin. The War in Europe would rage for nearly another year before Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945.
“My dad’s name is Chad J. Simon, he was a staff sergeant, and I can’t say I can remember anything about him, I just wonder if he was the one who taught me how to tie my shoes,” said Dylan, who lost his father when he was too young to remember. Also on the boat were three sisters, Alexis, Starr and Kylee, who lost their dad, Spc. Grant Dampier.
Camp Hometown Heroes is a non-profit organization dedicated to counseling kids ages 7 through 17 who’ve lost loved ones while serving in the military. According to Dylan, the week-long camp is raising money to spread the organization to other locations where it can continue to serve kids for free.
Two U.S. Army soldiers will finally be awarded the nation’s highest military award, nearly a century after they displayed incredible bravery during World War I.
Sgt. Henry Johnson, a black soldier assigned to the “Harlem Hellfighters” of the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, and Sgt. William Shemin, a Jewish soldier with the 47th Infantry Regiment, will receive the Medal of Honor (posthumously) on Tuesday. Ninety-seven years after they were denied the award due to discrimination, the pair of soldiers will finally be recognized in a ceremony at The White House.
While serving as a sentry in the Argonne Forest with another soldier on May 15, 1918, then-Pvt. Johnson came under heavy enemy fire after a raiding party of 12 German soldiers came upon his position. Despite receiving significant injuries, Johnson held off the Germans using grenades, a rifle, a knife, and even his bare hands.
“The Germans came from all sides,” Johnson told an interviewer after the war, according to The Daily Beast. “Roberts kept handing me the grenades and I kept throwing them, and the Dutchmen kept squealing but jes’ the same, they kept comin’ on. When the grenades were all gone I started in with my rifle.”
Johnson exposed himself to enemy fire and held back the German forces until they retreated, according to the U.S. Army.
On Aug. 7, 1918 in an area southeast of Bazoches, France, Sgt. Sgt. Shemin left the safety of his platoon’s trench and repeatedly crossed an open area to rescue wounded soldiers, despite the threat of heavy machine gun and rifle fire. Then after his officers and senior non-commissioned officers were wounded or killed, Shemin took command of the platoon and “displayed great initiative under fire” until he was wounded himself on Aug. 9, according to the U.S. Army.
Why did it take almost a century for Shemin to be recognized with the highest U.S. military award for valor in combat? Perhaps because of widespread discrimination in the military during that period of history; Shemin was Jewish.
“Anti-Semitism was a way of life in the Army in World War I,” said Mrs. Roth, who has been waging the campaign on behalf of her father’s honor since 2002. “They’re making a wrong right, 97 years later. The discrimination hurts, but all has been made right.”
Their recognition comes as a result of a 2002 move by Congress to review combat actions of Jewish and Hispanic veterans and ensure “those deserving the Medal Of Honor were not denied because of prejudice,” the White House explained to CNN. The act was later amended to review all possible cases of discrimination.
In March, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to 24 soldiers who had been denied the award due to prejudice, NBC reported.
The video shows a group of soldiers grilling some steaks at OP Vegas in the Korengal Valley, according to the description. But while they are cooking up their delightful meal, the bad guys decide to start shooting.
While many of the soldiers begin to fire back, at least a couple stick around for the more important task of not overcooking the steaks. “The steaks are fine, that’s all that matters,” one soldier says in the video.
Jeremy Butler is a successful CEO, Naval officer and husband. He’s also a Black man in America, a title that has impacted many pages of his story.
“I had intended to go to college and never really gave the military a thought. During my junior year though, I was studying in Europe and it just really opened my eyes – not only to the world – but that I just didn’t want a traditional job,” Butler explained. Although he would look into the Peace Corps, he ultimately decided he wanted to be a sailor.
The Navy recruiter continually asked him if he wanted to take the test to fly and be a pilot but Butler was adamant that he would be on a ship or nothing at all. He attended Officer Candidate School in 1999 and had full intentions of just doing four years and getting out.
But then 9/11 happened.
Butler was on a ship out of Washington on a counter-narcotics mission when America was attacked. “I was completely separated from the country for three months and really came back to this changed world — and it was jarring,” he shared.
Soon, he was stationed on a new ship in Japan. Butler shared that when he joined the Navy, it was the one place he had always wanted to be stationed. It wasn’t long before his ship was joining the fleet for a counter-strike mission aimed at Iraq. He and his crew escorted ships in and provided defense for the carriers and ships launching tomahawks during the invasion.
After finishing his deployment to Iraq and tour in Japan, Butler headed back stateside to teach at the Naval Academy. “It was a really incredible experience to teach those midshipmen about Navy life,” he said. He also got married and made the decision to come off active duty and go into the Navy Reserves.
Butler became a defense contractor, doing work for the likes of the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security but wasn’t feeling the fulfillment that wearing the Navy uniform every day brought. “As a reservist, I ended up mobilizing a couple of times, going to places like the Philippines and West Africa,” he said. Butler also spent a few years working in the Pentagon for the Navy in between all of that.
When he and his wife were ready to leave Washington D.C. a few years later, they headed to New York City. It was there he began his work with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, in 2015. He moved up quickly within the organization, eventually becoming their COO and then, in 2019, their CEO. “It’s been an incredible journey and I found that it gave me that sense of fulfillment that I wasn’t getting in my previous civilian jobs,” Butler shared.
A year later, Butler was successfully leading the organization when the murder of George Floyd sent shock waves across the world. “It really brought me to a reckoning about who I am and to become much more outspoken about how life has been for me as a Black man in America,” he said.
The notion of racism wasn’t a new concept for him. Butler grew up in rural Illinois in a predominately white town. “I was in schools where people would regularly use the n-word and then look at me and say, ‘Oh, but I’m not talking about you,'” he shared. He was also frequently followed around in stores and the clerks would regularly check his pockets before he could leave.
It also wasn’t uncommon for people to stop him while he was with his white mother to ask if he was adopted. They never asked when he was with his father, an Army veteran, who is Black.
Despite these ongoing experiences, Butler thought everyone went through the same thing. It wouldn’t be until he was older that he would recognize it for what it was: racism. Though he knew it existed, he still attended good schools and had great opportunities. “I felt like I never had the right to be more outspoken about the struggles for Black people in America,” he said. Butler also noted that as a Black officer, he’s sure that his military experience was much different than that of an enlisted person of color.
IAVA struggled in the past to get legislation passed that targeted issues around race and gender, although it was always on their radar. After George Floyd’s murder, Butler was understandably angry. He felt strongly that he needed to use his voice and within the IAVA, the team encouraged him to do so – regardless of repercussions. The words he wrote were powerful. Here is a small excerpt from his statement posted to the IAVA website:
“When in uniform, I am thanked for my service. When in a suit, I’m treated respectfully as I walk into a store or restaurant, a customer worthy of gracious attention. But catch me on a weekend, two days behind on a shave, wearing a hoodie and I am now a threat. This is not me being sensitive. It is evident in the guarded reactions of fellow pedestrians rounding the corner and seeing me in their path. It is evident in the less accommodating reaction of the restaurant host when I walk in alone, hoping to catch a seat for a meal and a drink. It is evident in the expression of the department store clerk who sees me not as a possible sale but someone to be followed.”
Though Butler’s challenging experiences as a Black man and veteran aren’t ones he wishes on anyone, he does see hope on the horizon. His message to those who hear his story? Shore up on empathy.
“I think regardless of who you are personally, everyone should try a little harder to understand what it’s like for others,” Butler explained. “A rising tide raises all boats and I think that’s something a lot of people don’t understand. When we make things better for those who have the least, we are improving things for everyone.”
Some senior citizens retire to Florida. Marine Lt. Col. Art Nalls retired to the cockpit of his privately-owned AV-8B Harrier “jump jet.”
Once a naval aviator and test pilot experienced in roughly 65 different types of aircraft, Nalls made a fortune in the real estate development business after he left the service. But he never forgot his love of flying or the first aircraft he flew in the Marine Corps — the Harrier.
After attending an air show and rediscovering his passion for flight, Art purchased a Russian Yak 3 (Yakovlev Yak-3), only to soon realize that the enormous Soviet Star on the plane wasn’t exactly attracting the eyeballs at airshows. What the people wanted to see were our nation’s greatest planes. He noticed that the biggest star at any airshow was the Harrier Jump Jet, so beginning in 2010 Art Nalls began his quest to own one himself. Everything finally came together after discussing the possibility of owning one with the FAA (and receiving approval), and then finding a British Harrier Jump Jet for sale after Great Britain took them out of commission.
Although the video doesn’t mention the price he paid, the going rate for a Harrier is around $1.5 million. Then of course there’s the insane price of gas, which Nalls makes up by performing at air shows.
Sir Tom Moore made headlines during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic by raising money for the National Health Service Charity. On April 6, 2020, at the age of 99, Moore began walks around his garden with the goal of raising £1,000 in donations by his hundredth birthday on April 30. For his efforts, Moore made numerous media appearances and became a household name around the world. By the end of his 24-day campaign, he had raised over £32.79 million. On January 21, 2021, Moore was admitted to Bedford Hospital after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 and was treated for pneumonia. Sadly, he died on February 2, 2021.
In May 1940, eight months after the outbreak of WWII, Moore was conscripted into the 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in Cornwall. He was selected for officer training and earned a commission as a 2nd Lt. on June 28, 1941. Afterwards, he was transferred to the Regiment’s 9th Battalion in India. Moore was an avid motorcyclist, having bought his first motorbike when he was just 12. He employed his passion and knowledge for bikes by establishing and running an army program to train motorcyclists. In recognition of his efforts, Moore was promoted to war-substantive Lt. on October 1, 1942 and then to temporary Capt. on October 11, 1944.
Moore went on to serve in western Burma (now Myanmar) during the war where he survived a bout of dengue fever. He returned to the UK in February 1945. As part of the Royal Armoured Corps, Moore spent the remainder of the war learning and instructing on the maintenance of Churchill tanks. He served as the Technical Adjutant of the Armoured Vehicle Fighting School in Bovington Camp, Dorset until he was demobilized in early 1946.
After the army, Moore put his leadership skills to use in a variety of managerial positions. He also continued his passion for motorcycles and raced competitively. Riding a Scott motorcycle, Moore won several trophies during his competitive career.
Moore’s walking goal in support of the NHS Charity was to complete one hundred 25-meter lengths of his garden. “I do [laps] each day, so that eventually I’ll get to 100, then after that I shall continue and do some more,” he told the BBC. With an honor guard from the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment watching over him from a safe distance, Moore reached his hundred lap goal on the morning of April 16, 2020 and said that he aimed to do another hundred.
On April 23, Moore was given the Pride of Britain award in recognition of his efforts. He was also made the first Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, Yorkshire on his 100th birthday. Moore received honorary doctoral degrees from Cranfield University and the University of Bradford. The England National Football Team’s Lionhearts squad made Moore an honorary member and captain, an honor presented to him by David Beckham. On July 17, Moore was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
With Sir Tom Moore’s passing, Britain has seen an outpouring of tributes to the pandemic hero. Buckingham Palace issued a statement that read, “The Queen is sending a private message of condolence to the family of Captain Sir Tom Moore. Her Majesty very much enjoyed meeting Captain Sir Tom and his family at Windsor last year. Her thoughts and those of the Royal Family are with them.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Moore for his military service and fundraising efforts and announced that the flag above 10 Downing Street would be flown at half-mast as a sign of respect.
Perhaps Moore’s greatest legacy is his spirit of persistence and optimism that so defines the British people, often referred to as the Blitz spirit. “Let’s all carry on and remember that things will get better,” he said. “We have had problems before—we have overcome them—and we shall all overcome the same thing again.”
When a soldier is wounded on the battlefield, medics get the call.
Medics are sort of like paramedics or emergency medical technicians in the civilian world, except paramedics and EMTs are less likely to carry assault rifles or be fired at by enemy forces. When everything goes wrong, soldiers count on the medics to keep them alive until they can be evacuated to a field hospital.
Ninety percent of soldier deaths in combat occur before the victims ever make it to a field hospital; U.S. Army medics are dedicated to bringing that number down.
To save wounded soldiers, the medic has to make life or death decisions quickly and accurately. They use Tactical Combat Casualty Care, or TCCC, to guide their decisions. TCCC is a process of treatment endorsed by the American College of Surgeons and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.
First, medics must decide whether to return fire or immediately begin care.
Since the Geneva Convention was signed, the Army has typically not armed medics since they are protected by the international law. But, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have mostly been fought against insurgencies who don’t follow the Geneva Convention and medics have had many of their markings removed, so they’ve been armed with rifles and pistols.
When patients come under fire, they have to decide whether to begin care or return fire. The book answer is to engage the enemies, stopping them from hurting more soldiers or further injuring the current casualties. Despite this, Army medics will sometimes decide to do “care under fire,” where they treat patients while bullets are still coming at them.
Then, they treat life-threatening hemorrhaging.
Major bleeding is one of the main killers on the battlefield. Before the medic even begins assessing the patient, they’ll use a tourniquet, bandage, or heavy pressure to slow or stop any extreme bleeds that are visible. If the medic is conducting care under fire, treatment is typically a tourniquet placed above the clothing so the medic can get them behind cover without having to remove the uniform first.
Now, they can finally assess the patient.
Once the medic and the patient are in relative safety, the medic will assess the patient. Any major bleeds that are discovered will be treated immediately, but other injuries will be left until the medic has completed the full assessment. This is to ensure the medic does not spend time setting a broken arm while the patient is bleeding out from a wound in their thigh.
During this stage, the medic will call out information to a radio operator so the unit can call for a medical evacuation using a “nine-line.” Air evacuation is preferred when it’s available, but wounded soldiers may have to ride out in ambulances or even standard ground vehicles if no medical evacuations are available.
Medics then start treatment.
Medics have to decide which injuries are the most life-threatening, sometimes across multiple patients, and treat them in order. The major bleeds are still the first thing treated since they cause over half of preventable combat deaths. The medics will then move on to breathing problems like airway blockages or tension pneumothorax, a buildup of pressure around the lungs that stops a soldier from breathing. Medics will also treat less life-threatening injuries like sprains or broken bones if they have time.
Most importantly, Army medics facilitate the evacuation.
Army medics have amazing skills, but patients still need to get to a hospital. Medics will relay all information about the patient on a card, the DA 7656 and the patient will get on the ambulance for evacuation. The medic will usually get a new aid bag, their pack of medical materials, from the ambulance and return to their mission on the ground, ready to help the next soldier who might get wounded.
Art can be an important outlet for people struggling with post-traumatic stress, and one Marine veteran in Oregon is proving it with his paintings.
“I was never creative and didn’t really have an interest in art,” Shane Kohfield, a Marine infantry machine-gunner who deployed twice to Iraq, told KGW-Portland. “I started doing this for something to do and then I felt the raw emotion.”
Kohfield, now a student at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Ore., returned from war with post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury. But he has maintained an incredibly positive attitude: “My head injury didn’t make me weak; it made me stronger than I could have ever imagined and has given me courage in the face of overwhelming adversity,” he wrote.
Kohfield uses an interesting method to create his abstract paintings: He spray paints across his canvas and then uses a spatula to blend the colors. His technique developed out of necessity, since his trembling hand prevented him from using a normal paint brush, according to KGW-Portland.
Before too long, Kohfield’s work got noticed. Pegasus Art Gallery in Corvallis now displays several of his paintings. Kohfield has sold three so far, for anywhere from $500 to $2,500, but he also gives many of his pieces away.
“People may have trouble getting to know me, but they have no problem connecting with my paintings. So in a sense, it’s them connecting with me.” Kohfield said.
Master Sgt. Raul “Roy” P. Benavidez was a young special forces linguist and medic when, in 1965, he stepped on a mine in Vietnam and was evacuated to the United States. He was told he’d never walk again. But, wanting to return to Vietnam, he began a nightly ritual of attempting to relearn how to walk despite explicit orders from his doctors.
A year later, his doctor was standing in Benavidez’s hospital room with medical discharge papers. The doctor made a deal with Benavidez that he’d tear up the discharge if Benavidez walked out of the room. Benavidez did one better by walking out of the ward.
Amazingly, this was not the most insane or heroic part of Benavidez’s life. That’s because, after returning to Vietnam, Benavidez volunteered to assist with the emergency extraction of a 12-man special forces team under extreme fire on May 2, 1968. He rode into battle on the fourth helicopter to attempt extraction, the first three having been driven back by withering small arms and anti-aircraft fire. The fourth bird also decided it couldn’t land, but allowed Benavidez to drop out of the helicopter 75 meters from the team.
Benavidez ran the 75 meters and was wounded three times in the process, including once in the head and once in the face. Despite his wounds, he began repositioning the wounded team members so they could lay down fire while also marking the location for aircraft to attempt extraction. When the bird arrived, he ran alongside, providing cover fire, as the helicopter picked up the wounded. Right as the helicopter and Benavidez reached the dead team leader, Benavidez was hit by small arms fire and grenade shrapnel while the pilot was mortally wounded and crashed the aircraft.
Benavidez again recovered the wounded and placed them in a defensive perimeter. He began circuits of the perimeter, distributing ammunition and water. As the enemy increased its pressure on the team, he began calling in airstrikes.
Another aircraft arrived to attempt extraction and Benavidez — despite his own serious injuries — ferried the dead and wounded to the waiting helicopter until he was clubbed from behind by an enemy soldier. He engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the soldier and killed him, but sustained bayonet wounds. While ferrying the last of the wounded to the bird, he engaged two additional enemy soldiers, killing them and protecting the helicopter.
Then, just to prove being wounded 37 times in six hours of combat ain’t no thang, he did a final sweep of the perimeter to ensure no wounded men or classified material was left on the battlefield.
Finally, Benavidez allowed himself to be pulled from the fight. Upon arriving back at the base, he was declared dead by two doctors. As the second one was zipping up the body bag, Benavidez proved he was alive by spitting in the doctor’s face, much like he had been spitting in the face of death for the previous six hours.
It would be nearly 13 more years before Benavidez was awarded the Medal of Honor, primarily because it was thought that there were no surviving witnesses to testify to his actions. After a team member who did survive, Brian O’Conner, heard Benavidez was still alive and that a witness testimony would allow him to be awarded the nation’s highest military honor, O’Conner provided a 10-page report to satisfy the requirement.
On February 24, 1981, President Ronald Reagan presented the Medal Of Honor. Before reading the citation, he told the crowd, “If the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it.”
The reading of the citation and Benavidez’s story, in his own words, is available in the video below.
Medevac crews have the dangerous job of flying into gunfights in unarmed helicopters to provide medical care to wounded troops. It’s a race against time, and it’s nothing short of astonishing.
The video starts with a crew racing across Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in a Black Hawk helicopter in response to wounded Marine. The terrain makes it difficult to spot ground forces, so they bank and turn to avoid the ground fire, that may, or may not be there.
Green smoke signals the helicopter, which also serves as the chosen landing spot by the Marines huddled just a few yards away. The helicopter doesn’t just land, however; it circles around the troops to assess the danger. Once it finally lands, the Marines rush the wounded corporal to the Black Hawk for evacuation while others stand watch.
Even with a circling pass around the Marines, the medevac crew in the helicopter drew fire from three sides. Watch how the rescue unfolds in this short three-minute video:
“I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work. The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it. I promised myself that if I ever got away from it, it wasn’t going to be that way anymore.”
Bob Ross is known for producing beautiful landscapes, his soft-spoken demeanor, and bushy facial hair. Whenever anyone mentions the joy they get from painting, it’s tough not to think of Ross smiling at a camera and filling hundreds of canvases with happy clouds, secret trees, and accidental bushes. Even if you aren’t a student of art, putting on an episode of “The Joy of Painting” will lull anyone into a total state of serenity. What many people don’t know is that one of the biggest influences on Ross’s persona and painting technique was the twenty years he spent in the Air Force, especially his time as a drill sergeant.
Born Robert Norman Ross and raised in Orlando, Florida, his first career move was enlisting in the Air Force at the age of 18. He was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska which is where he saw snow and mountains for the first time. In order to paint as much as he wanted, he developed quick-painting techniques including wet-on-wet oil painting. Ross credited William Alexander with teaching him the wet-on-wet technique, which enabled him to paint 25 to 30 thousand paintings over the course of his lifetime.
During his twenty years in the Air Force, Ross reached the rank of Master Sergeant. He often commented in “The Joy of Painting” that his landscape choices were influenced by his time in Alaska. ”I developed ways of painting extremely fast,” Ross said. ”I used to go home at lunch and do a couple while I had my sandwich. I’d take them back that afternoon and sell them.” Ross eventually discovered that he could earn more selling paintings than he could in the Air Force and quit.
Upon his return to civilian life, Ross launched his famous program, “The Joy of Painting.” Each episode could be filmed about as quickly as he could paint, and he did the entire thing for free. His main source of income stemmed from the Bob Ross Foundation which sold art supplies and taught painting. Ross subsequently earned widespread fame and success but kept a low profile. He passed away in 1995 from lymphoma, but his legacy endures.
Here’s a short video of Bob Ross painting a landscape: