Perfectly Bound - How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together - We Are The Mighty
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Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

Chances are you have read a book that changed your mind, and possibly, your life. That is why most of us read, to learn something new, to be inspired, entertained, feel a closeness, or simply to transport us to a different place. I never anticipated how a book I opened last year would awaken my spirit in every way, offering generational and timeless truths. Moreover, it made me believe in fate again. 

However, there is a catch. This life-altering book and its promise can only be retold here—because there was only one that was accidentally printed. 

What Are the Odds? 

Although I published my book a few years ago, the story about it that came to life happened in January 2019. It began when I placed an order with my distributor to restock my stash of hardcovers that dwindled from holiday sales. I love being gifted a signed copy of any book, so I keep this purchase option on my author website too. As my husband says, reading a signed book is like eating outside—the food always tastes better. 

On my way out the door after the morning shuffle of grabbing jackets, bags and breakfast, a large box sitting in the foyer caught my eye. It was that resupply of books, having arrived the day before. Ever the multitasker, I grabbed a knife from the kitchen, slit the taped seam of the box and took the first copy on top of the stack. Stuffing it into my purse, I planned to drop this in the mail to fulfill the personalized order in my inbox and knock one more thing off my to-do list! Yet sitting in my Jeep in front of the post office later that day, the universe stood still when I opened the book to autograph it.

It was not my book. 

I snapped it closed—I was in utter disbelief—and stared at the paper jacket wrapped around the hardcover: The Frontline Generation: How We Served Post 9/11. Yes, that was my book cover. I removed the jacket, checked the gray cloth bound outside, which did have my last name and book title embossed on the binding. But when I opened it for a second time, this time slowly turning the first blank page at the beginning, I landed again on a cover page that was not the title of my book. I’m sure my lips mouthed the foreign words. 

Fearful Odds: A Memoir of Vietnam and Its Aftermath was the manuscript bound inside my hardcover, in its entirety, which was revealed after inspecting the first few pages individually, to fanning to the end with my thumb landing on acknowledgments. Speaking of odds, I thought, what are the chances that two different books are accidentally and perfectly combined during a print run? The fact that the two bound together just happened to be books written by two veterans—from two different generations, two different wars—seemed unbelievable. 

I returned to my home office, and after a few minutes of internet sleuthing, I discovered the other author—and he was alive! After digging up a phone number and being transferred through two secretaries, I was asked to hold. An older, warm inquisitive voice came through my iPhone. “Is this true? Our books are bound together?” Charles W. Newhall, the Vietnam Veteran and author whose book was combined with mine was the man on the other end of the call. I recounted the discovery, ending with, “Well, it appears to me I’m supposed to read your book.” He aptly replied, “And I yours. Let’s determine if we like each other and reconnect then.” 

I smiled in response, “Sounds perfect.” I liked him instantly. And I was glad to hear he went by Chuck, since funny enough, my husband, who is also a veteran, shares his name—talk about alleviating confusion! I emailed him a short video of our book. Chuck was equally amused and replied he had already placed his online order for my book. I planned to start Fearful Odds over the weekend, but a cryptic one sentence email from Chuck a few days later kept me up all night reading his book. 

“Just finished yours … much to discuss …” 

The Striking Differences, the Eerie Similarities 

Before the trending “OK, boomer” pejorative that mocks that crowd I’ll simply define here as those who won’t retire or stop running for public office, I had already (and unexpectedly) unearthed a deeper affinity for the Vietnam generation during my book tour. This unexplained connectedness made no sense to me then, nor did it as I began to read through the striking differences outlined in Fearful Odds. Chuck’s opening is the gut punch annihilation of 40 percent of his platoon the first few days in battle—casualties for the Global War on Terror are nowhere near those lost and immortalized on black granite in Washington DC. Make no mistake, though, every loss of life in combat is heartbreaking, even if it is one soldier from a battalion, as described in my book. 

Nevertheless, Chuck’s counterinsurgency fight in the A Shau Valley and the jungles of Vietnam are a bloody contrast to the unforgiving mountains and deserts in the Middle East, in particular the narrow dirt roads described in my memoir about Eastern Afghanistan. Also, consider that while Chuck endured enemy fire alongside those who were drafted, I served with an all-volunteer force when rockets pounded our bases. In the 1960s and ’70s, families talked about our foreign policy commitments around the kitchen table because someone they knew would have their number drawn. Post 9/11, America has continued to go shopping at the mall while the smallest number in our history—less than 1 percent—wears our nation’s uniform. 

These startling disparities of our times cannot be understated. I shook my head in disgust when reading about Chuck getting kicked out of a bar when he returned home—vulgarities and disrespect were hurled at him and another service member for simply wanting to buy their first stateside beer. When I walked through crowded airports upon my arrival, I experienced glares, too, but in another way. A stranger anonymously bought my lunch when I stopped to eat on my layover, passing along a simple message through the waiter: “Thank you for your service.” Let me say this: no post 9/11 veteran must go on a book tour to appreciate how differently we are treated from the Vietnam generation of service members. 

On a personal level, while the combat Chuck and I experienced was separated by nearly forty years, there were far greater chasms between the baby boomer Chuck and this Xennial (a person born between Gen-X’rs and Millennials). For example, the obvious—I am a woman, and he is a man. Raised in the southwest in tract housing where baseboards are not flush, I have a Nashville spark perhaps only matched by the maverick fire Chuck emits from his palatial, East Coast, private school upbringing. And as I stand on the doorstep of middle-age, middle class, and rising, Chuck is perched atop a breathtaking legacy that most would not even dare to dream. 

This is where the divergence in our stories end, overpowered by eerie similarities that still make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. 

Despite where each of us started, what we have in common was the unequivocal drive to start living as quickly as possible. Both of us share an unshakable reverence for tradition yet are clearly wired to defy norms and ask questions. Our yearning for adventure and thirst for knowledge can easily be romanticized as those who may be so bold to passion chase, speak up, take risks. The unflattering and imperfect side to ambition is present, too, as we both confide our edges with the reader. And, of course, our devotion to country and its higher ideals made the decision to serve in the military as natural as breathing. 

Yet it was what was revealed in the pages beyond our like constitutions that kept me reading throughout the night. 

For two absolute random books to be combined by mistake, both of our stories were set against the backdrop of serving in combat at the peak of military surges, for Vietnam and Afghanistan. Ironically, we were in the same unit too—he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, while I was attached to the Screaming Eagles four decades later. And he carried the weight and responsibility of lives—just as I did—as it was that we were both commanders. 

Marjorie K. Eastman in Afghanistan.

It is easy to dismiss all this coincidence up to a point. But with the turn of every page, there was more that fueled the mystery of our printing error. Our equal commitment and love for those who fought by our sides is palpable. Just the same is our shared lessons learned on leadership, where our quotes dance around the same virtues. Resolute beliefs were sown—views that span generations—that service members must only be sent to win wars, not fight them endlessly. And chills ran through my body when I read the names of his soldiers that were identical to mine—every generation has a Schmitty and a Mac. However, it was the “close call” that made me set down the book and take a deep breath—we both drove over a roadside bomb that did not detonate. 

Our stories together were culminating in timeless truths. Bound together, a new wisdom began to emerge. 

Homecoming 

chuck newhall
Chuck Newell in Vietnam

I was about halfway through Chuck’s memoir when I flipped ahead to study the photos in the center of his book. His piercing eyes were a marked contrast to my ready smile; nevertheless, I knew that gaze. I looked at the clock and groaned. It had been a long time since I pulled an “all-nighter.” Yet this next part of the story was about homecoming—leaving the military and establishing a new mission as a civilian. Or, simply, starting anew. The tired, catchy phrase transition overused by the post 9/11 military community was exactly the current chapter of my life. I had to keep reading. 

I anticipated sage insight from this warrior who had gone before me that would help guide me through the maze of my newfound wilderness. I was, again, astonished by our similar steps and struggles. 

Up to this point, both of our books also described how love shaped and empowered us. Particularly, the love we had with our spouses. Interestingly, we both highlight our R&R and the recharge it provided to finish our deployments. That said, he met his wife Marsi in Hong Kong in a Rolls Royce with a bottle of Dom Perignon, while my husband Charles picked me up in his Ford F150 with handpicked flowers, and we hid away in a townhome near the border of Kentucky. Call it coincidence, again, but Chuck and I both went on to business school, forged paths tied to entrepreneurship, and started our families. Charles and I had a son. Marsi and Chuck had two boys. 

During this period, hardships that transcend and transformative events shook both of us to our core. 

Life’s greatest battles are not necessarily reserved for those in combat. For years, I carried the burden as a spouse of a soldier, since Charles continued back-and-forth combat tours, juggling the fear of losing him and our ongoing pain of multiple miscarriages and infertility. Then, it happened on a Wednesday when the doctor told us our only child had infant cancer. There is a special kind of hell for moments in life like this. Chuck knew this all too well, and suffered greatly from Marsi’s bipolar disorder, depression and infidelity. On what was supposed to be just another cold, gray Saturday in winter, Chuck discovered Marsi’s body in the woods behind their house—she’d committed suicide. 

His account of this awful tragedy and aftermath is some of the most gripping and honest writing one could read. 

We may not all share the same experiences, but we do all have the same emotions. Chuck and I both recognized how the hardening from our past helped us overcome these crucibles. Every person has been through something—there are chapters in everyone’s lives that they would not want to read out loud. Even so, the human spirit is relentless. Resilience, grit, and courage is earned when you go through the tough times. Those reservoirs, faith, and professional help led both of us to new frontiers. For Charles and me, our little boy beat cancer and provides us never-ending happiness. For Chuck, a beautiful ray of sunshine named Amy brought his family back to life and has been by his side for thirty-seven years. 

Healing can be found in the gardens of life. 

In the gardens we meet 

Indeed, we had much to discuss. Amongst other things, our combined stories tackle assumptions and dispel the notion of what we are all capable of enduring and producing. Yet the greatest revelation occurred when we met face to face in the spring. 

Charles and I had planned a weekend road trip with our son to see the nation’s capital during the peak bloom of cherry blossoms. Since Chuck and Amy reside outside the Beltway, we coordinated a Sunday lunch before our drive back to North Carolina. We had chatted on the phone a few more times by now, delightful banter and, of course, divulging exclusive footnotes. I also learned Chuck’s book had a companion volume, Brightside Gardens: A Dialogue Between the Head and the Heart, which presents the emotional and visual impact of the Newhall’s exquisite fifty-four individual gardens on their private property. When we pulled into the driveway, Chuck walked outside to meet us in the courtyard. 

He stood defiantly tall and ready to give us a personal tour of the grounds, in particular, A Shau Garden. Clutching a cane to help steady the shaky encounters Parkinson’s mounts on his aging vessel, I walked straight in his direction. My instinct said the only appropriate greeting would be how one would embrace an old comrade. I gave him a hug. Customary introductions were exchanged once Charles and our seven-year-old son climbed out of the Jeep. Then we followed Chuck’s lead through the iron gates.

chuck newhall

My little boy skipped ahead as we inhaled the crisp early spring air and took in the beauty that surrounded us. It’s been said that you find meaning when you want or need meaning. Making sense of why I was walking beside Chuck, why our books were combined, was reminiscent in how his interwoven gardens urge you to not overthink nature. Accept remarkable turns of fate and allow them to touch your heart and ignite your spirit. Because when you stand amongst winter aconites, which Chuck planted in A Shau Garden to honor the fallen, one is reminded that the gift of each new day is rooted in both the joys and trials we face. 

Whatever your war, cultivate hard-earned wisdom and you will not only prevail, but thrive. 

Amy welcomed us as we approached the house, yet her glow and charisma was felt from the terrace. She reaffirms that our society should widen the definition of heroes. Our son immediately warmed up to her and their dear elderly pug, which was roaming through the ornate living room. We took a seat, and I finally presented Chuck with “our” book. He mirrored my response to this implausible printing error, looking over it slowly and carefully. And then, looking up at me and smiling. 

Not every story about war is a war story. 

Before we departed that day, Chuck and I made sure to exchange signed copies of our books. Overwhelmed by the surreal moment, I tried to inscribe a fitting note to him. Yet, for a person who is an author, I wrestled for the right words. Of all the personalized copies I have signed, this one was on a level all its own! Chuck finished what he wrote in his copy, closed the book, and handed it to me. 

chuck newhall

On our drive home, I found the treasure that awaited me inside his signed hardcover. 

Perfectly bound 

What are the odds that my book was combined with Chuck’s? Well, our books printed out of a warehouse that is part of the largest distributor of books in the world, Ingram Content Group. Despite proprietary confidentiality on the total numbers Ingram prints daily, it is safe to conclude our combined book is inimitable. I learned our books were not lined in the queue because we were the same genre or alphabetically close, either. And print errors of any kind are minuscule—Ingram boasts a Quality Efficiency Rating of 99.865%! 

The team at Ingram said they have never heard of a printing error like this. 

Our combined story was a harmonious call to action to live with conviction and for each other, to do so fearlessly, or otherwise said, find your frontline. One of Chuck’s favorite quotes captures this sentiment, which is actually the title of his third book that will be released later this year. When I saw Chuck and Amy again while passing through Baltimore for a conference, he handed me an early draft of Dare Disturb the Universe: A Memoir of Venture Capital. I would be captivated once more by the powerful details of his professional journey (he refers to it as a quest) that changed the world. 

As we were wrapping up our lunch, I joked with Chuck, “Our printing error really should be a movie.” Without missing a beat, he replied, “It absolutely should be—it could save lives.” I knew the depth of his statement, not just meant for those in the throes of some form of adversity, for those searching or listless. Every twist in our paths matter. And sometimes they are intertwined to awaken us and bridge our understanding of life.

The mistake of our combined book was a perfect symbol to that point, solving the mystery. However we are tied in, each of us is unique, destined, certain the way we are. And not singular. We are not alone. In a time where isolation and feeling disconnected are more pronounced, the fateful error of our combined book is a reminder that our stories, our world, is bound together. 

The providence of Chuck’s inscription exposed this epiphany: “It is so great—someone understands me.”

Articles

8 Presidents who actually saw combat in a big way

American Presidents are civilians by design, some with little or no military experience at all – and are unlikely to ever serve in a combat role while in office (unless they’re in office while aliens attack Earth). In the voters’ minds, military experience always seems to be a plus when considering who would be the next Commander-In-Chief. It probably helps  when they actually take the office.


Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Like Ike.

But not every veteran POTUS saw action. Eisenhower was a great logistical planner but never served in a direct combat role. George Washington’s combat record as a junior officer is spotty, but his decision-making capacity, strategic vision, and ability to inspire those around him were infinitely more essential to his legacy and to the history of the United States.

And then there were those whose service would affect the outcomes of battles, of entire wars, and of the nation itself.  Here are 8 presidents who actually saw combat in a big way:

1. Andrew Jackson (War of 1812, Indian Wars)

No president ever held a grudge like Andrew Jackson. This was a guy who fought 103 duels before he was ever elected President. Yet he only killed one man (in a duel, I mean).

When he was 13, he served as a messenger for a militia unit in the Revolutionary War. When captured, he refused to shine the boots of a British officer, who then used his saber to give the Young Jackson the scars that would be on his face for the rest of his life. That sort of thing stays with a young man.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Historians still argue about his relationship with Native tribes. No, really. Look it up.

 

As a general, his most famous military success was at New Orleans during the War of 1812. The British threatened the city under Jackson’s command. Jackson pulled together Army regulars, militia, sailors, Marines, citizens, Choctaw warriors, and a band of pirates under Jean LaFitte, to a force of 4,700 men. They held off 11,000 British troops and the Royal Navy fleet in a battle that couldn’t be won.

His victory would (eventually) put Jackson in the White House, where Old Hickory would be the first US President anyone tried to assassinate. An unemployed house painter pulled two pistols on Jackson but they both misfired, allowing Jackson to beat the would-be killer with his cane.

2. William Henry Harrison (War of 1812, Indian Wars)

Harrison was the commander of American forces at Tippecanoe, architect of Shawnee leader Tecumseh’s defeat, and gave the United States its first victory against violent religious extremists. Not bad.

Tecumseh and his brother, a “prophet” called Tenskawata, began using visions and magic to incite Natives in the Indiana territory against American settlers. In 1810, Tecumseh met then-Governor Harrison with 400 warriors to demand the rescission of a treaty. When Harrison refused, Tecumseh ordered his warriors to kill Harrison, who responded by drawing his sword. A Potawatomi chief intervened and Tecumseh’s warriors left for the time being.

When the war came, Harrison assaulted the tribes repeatedly – most notably at Tippecanoe, where the magical forces were defeated by actual forces.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Guns over Magic. Every time. 

 

Tecumseh made a comeback in the War of 1812, backed up by the British. Harrison quickly captured Detroit (for better or worse) and then invaded Canada. He defeated the British and got some vengeance against Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh was killed, the Americans burned a local settlement (built by pacifists probably to avoid getting their settlement burned down), and then went back to Detroit.

Harrison delivered the longest inaugural speech in American history without a coat on a cold, wet day, which resulted in the shortest presidency in American history.

3. Zachary Taylor (War of 1812, Indian Wars, Mexican-American War)

Taylor also cut his teeth fighting Tecumseh during the War of 1812, famously holding Fort Harrison with 20 men against 600 under the “inspiring” battle cry “Taylor Never Surrenders!” Turns out, he was pretty good at checking native tribes. He also fought them in the Black Hawk War and Seminole War.

By the time war with Mexico broke out, Taylor was a general and was widely known as “Old Rough and Ready.” He lost only 37 men against an army that vastly outnumbered his own, marched on the “impregnable” city of Monterrey, and captured it in four days. This wasn’t even his biggest victory.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
He also reportedly had a killer smile.

 

President Polk deliberately gave all but 4,650 of Taylor’s troops to General Winfield Scott to capture Veracruz in an effort to check Taylor’s growing popularity back home. Having learned of Taylor’s weakened army, Mexican General and dictator General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna sent his entire army of 15,000 to annihilate him.

As Taylor’s army turned the Battle of Buena Vista into a complete rout of the numerically superior Mexicans, his order “Double-shot your guns and give ’em hell” was used as a campaign slogan to catapult Taylor to the presidency.

He was so popular, he was elected as the Whig Party candidate despite disagreeing with almost every issue for which the party stood.

4. Franklin Pierce (Mexican-American War)

Franklin Pierce was so itchy to fight for his country, he turned down President Polk’s nomination as Attorney General. For this he gets a lot of respect. The first part of his military career, however, was less like Zachary Taylor’s and more like Ernest goes to Mexico.

He volunteered to join the Army as soon as war with Mexico broke out in 1846, despite the lack of New England regiments actually existing. When Congress authorized those regiments, he was appointed the Colonel in command and sent to Veracruz.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Seems easy to lead units that don’t exist.

 

When he arrived in Mexico, he was promoted to Brigadier General and linked up with General Winfield Scott at the Battle of Contreras. Everything was okay until his horse was startled, causing his saddle to jam his groin as hard as possible. The horse then fell into a crevice, pinning Pierce under it and forcing someone else to take command. He injured his knee the next day and fell so far behind his men, the battle was over by the time he caught up.

General Scott wasn’t going to let Pierce command his brigade at the Battle of Churubusco the next day, but he eventually did. But Pierce’s wounded leg hurt so much, he passed out on his horse in the middle of the battle.

5. Ulysses S. Grant (Mexican War, Civil War)

Grant famously became the general the Union needed to win the Civil War. He was forced to resign from the Army for drunkenness before the war. But when the South seceded, he raised a regiment of volunteers that he used to take the fight to the Confederates in the West.

Eventually, he commanded friend and General William T. Sherman to burn the South to the ground.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Not all alcoholics are lost causes.

 

He always showed this level of doggedness in his military career. During the Mexican War, he led cavalry charges despite only being a quartermaster. As a messenger, he braved the sniper-lined streets of Monterrey while hanging off the side of his horse, using it as a shield.

At the Battle of Chapultepec, he carried a howitzer to the top of a church steeple, a move essential to the final assault on Chapultepec Castle and to winning the war itself.

6. Rutherford B. Hayes (Civil War)

Not much is really said about Rutherford B. Hayes these days, but the former President has probably one of the most active war records of any Chief Executive. He was a Union officer during the Civil War, volunteering after Fort Sumter fell and serving in an active combat role until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

In September 1862, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was advancing northward into Maryland. The Union Army under General George B. McClellan met the divided Confederates in a series of three pitched battles. At the head of the lead regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes.

As Hayes’ 23d Ohio charged an entrenched Confederate position, a bullet tore through his arm, shattering the bone. After tying a handkerchief tourniquet around it (and presumably rubbing some dirt on it), he continued the attack.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Also the originator of the american icy stare.

 

While most Civil War veterans would lose an arm to such an injury, Hayes probably didn’t get an infection because gangrene was afraid of him. Instead, he spent the next two years skirmishing with Confederate forces in Tennessee and Virginia.

He had his horse shot from under him Battle of Kernstown, where he was then shot in the shoulder. He was also struck in the head by a spent round at Cedar Creek in 1864, the year he was promoted to Brigadier General and Brevet Major General.

He was elected to the Presidency by sheer force of will in 1876, despite not winning a majority of electoral or popular votes.

7. Theodore Roosevelt (Spanish-American War)

Colonel Roosevelt was an adventurer, explorer, scholar, author, historian, boxer, cowboy, big game hunter, and elected official. Teddy, as he hated being called, was also fearless and nearly indestructible even before he went to war.

Unfortunately for Spain, when the USS Maine was sunk in Havana harbor, Roosevelt resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to go and liberate Cuba. He and Colonel Leonard Wood raised the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment – known to this day as the “Rough Riders.”

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Speak softly and carry a big stick. Use it once in Cuba and let everyone else cower.

 

They distinguished themselves at the Battle of San Juan Hill. During the fight for nearby Kettle Hill, he lead the charge as the only man on horseback. Roosevelt moved from position to position as his men advanced up the hill, over open ground, against an entrenched enemy. When his horse was stopped by barbed wire, he walked the rest of the way.

The Americans reached the top of the hill fighting hand-to-hand to dislodge the Spaniards. In Spain’s defense, there’s no shame in getting dropped by a punch the face from Teddy Roosevelt.

Roosevelt would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for that action (he is still the only President with one), blocked at the time for political reasons – the most likely being that he was Theodore Roosevelt and everyone else was not.

8. Harry S. Truman (World War I)

Truman was initially denied enlisting into the Missouri National Guard because of poor eyesight – well past the standard for legal blindness.  Not one to let not being able to see keep him from killing Germans, he secretly memorized an eye chart and passed the vision test. He was even elected to be the lieutenant of his unit.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
I wonder if the other potential Lt. was named Dewey.

By the time he arrived in France, he was the captain of an artillery company. He was unpopular at first… until his unit was overrun by the Germans in the Vosges Mountains. His men started to break and run but Truman let rip a string of profanity so awful and venomous his men were actually more afraid of him than the Germans – and they stayed to fight.

His time in the mud didn’t stop there. At the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918, Captain Truman observed German artillery setting up to attack a unit out of his area of responsibility. An animal lover, Truman waited until the Germans moved their horses before lighting them up.

Lists

34 things military spouses wish they knew sooner

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Photo: US Army


No matter how familiar you are with the military culture, no matter how prepared you think you are to embrace it, when you say “I do” to someone who wears combat boots to work every day, there are things you will learn that may never have occurred to you. Some of us pick up on those things quickly, and some of us are still (after decades of this life) figuring things out on a daily basis. We asked a group of our incredible Military Spouse contributors to share some of the things they really wish they had known early on. We want to know, what would you add to this list?

Contributors: Stacy Huisman, MJ Boice, Erin Whitehead, Cassandra Bratcher, Morgan Slade, Kama Shockey, Ashley Frisch, Kate Dolack, Kiera Durfee, Davelda Edgington, Michelle Aikman

  1. I wish I had known to give up on planning as soon as possible. The sooner you give in to having no set plan, the easier everything becomes.
  2. Honestly, I wish I understood what a valuable resource military spouses can be – instead of being afraid.
  3. I wish I had taken all those classes specifically for spouses a lot sooner.
  4. I wish I had known it was okay to ask questions sooner. And who would have the answers! (Hint: It is not usually the service member)
  5. I wish I had known to accept that my husband doesn’t and never will have a set schedule, so I can’t really plan much ahead of time.
  6. I wish I knew how unbreakable military spouse bonds could be.
  7. I wish I had immersed myself in our community sooner. I thought being a National Guard spouse meant being a loner in the military realm, but have come to find that there is a great deal of support and camaraderie.
  8. I wish I had realized that rank shouldn’t be a factor in friendships. We are all in the same boat and anyone who ever tells you they can’t be your friend due to rank isn’t a person you want to associate with anyway.
  9. I wish I had known that it is okay to have a life outside of the military and your military spouse friends.
  10. I wish I had become more involved in the local community, outside of the base, sooner.
  11. I wish I had worried less what others might think of me. If I want to wear a hundred shirts proudly displaying my spouses branch of service…then I will!
  12. I wish I had been more of a tourist at every duty station. There are so many local things I wish I had experienced in every place we lived over the years.
  13. I wish someone had explained what “hurry up and wait” really meant.
  14. I wish I knew that you CAN have a successful career you can take with you everywhere.
  15. I wish I knew we truly are like a family. We have our issues in this community, but when someone tries to attack one of us, we rise up and come to their defense…even we don’t personally know him or her.
  16. I wish that I had known that even though the mission comes first, I don’t always come last. (Understanding THAT little nugget might have diffused an argument or two over time.)
  17. I wish I knew that you can be eligible for unemployment when you lose your job due to transfer!
  18. I wish I knew not to buy expensive furniture in the first year of marriage – only to anxiously watch it moved six times in ten years. Needless to say my stuff is gently bruised, but the upside is discovering the world of IKEA!
  19. I wish I knew I didn’t always have to have a stiff upper lip.
  20. Actually, I didn’t know anything coming into this life and I am kind of glad that was the case! It allowed me to experience baptism by fire and I’m not sure I would have as much faith in myself as I do now if I hadn’t experienced it that way.
  21. I wish I had known to ALWAYS purchase refundable/transferable/changeable tickets, lodging, etc.
  22. I wish I had known how hard it can be to find a career again. I wouldn’t have worried so much and would have enjoyed the new experiences much more…instead of being on a constant job hunt.
  23. I wish I had started planning for retirement years before it is recommended your family does so.
  24. I wish I had taken the time to laugh more, and curse less, when Murphy came to visit. Again.
  25. I wish I had known from the beginning that our collective voices can move mountains and create significant change!
  26. I wish I had known moving overseas is not only harder, but exponentially so. And more complicated. And more expensive.
  27. I wish I had known that reintegration was going to be harder than the deployment itself.~I wish I had known that it was okay to ask for help…that it is not a sign of weakness.
  28. I wish I had known how fast it would go by!
  29. I wish I hadn’t felt the need to spout off my resume to every spouse I met when I first married into military life. It was a sign of insecurity, walking away from my career. Little did I know many other spouses had similar feelings.
  30. I wish I had given my friends who did not understand military life a little more of a break. I now know that you simply can’t understand if you haven’t lived it.
  31. I wish I had learned the signs of PTSD and Combat/Operational Stress sooner…and knew how to help my spouse get the help they deserve.
  32. I wish I knew how strong I would become.
  33. I wish I knew that my definition of “home” and “family” would change over time.
  34. I wish I knew that this life is like a roller coaster. We put on that harness and hang on for the ride, even if we beg for them to stop it sometimes, we barrel along a single track with no control over many parts. We may hit some walls hat are slow to come, then we barrel down. Others are abrupt, we feel our stomachs drop out at the low parts but we also get to throw our hands up in the air! We enjoy the thrill with the other riders then embrace each other when it’s over and say, “that was a wild ride, I would do it again with you guys any time.”

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This article originally appeared at Military Spouse Copyright 2015. Follow Military Spouse on Twitter.

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Watch this Spirit decimate an airfield with 80 JDAMs

The B-2 Spirit is perhaps the most expensive bomber ever built, costing over $1 billion per aircraft (when all the R&D costs are factored in). For that money, though, there is a lot of capability this plane brings.


For instance, the B-2 is capable of dropping precision-guided weapons, namely the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

The GBU-31 is a 2,000-pound bomb, with the smaller GBU-38 packing a 500-pound warhead. Either can use Global Positioning System guidance to hit within about 35 feet of a target. Let’s just say your day won’t go well after that, nor will you have any chance of future improvement.

Its stealth technology also means that the only warning someone has that a B-2 is overhead with hostile intentions will be when the bombs hit.

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A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, May 30, 2006. The B-2, from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., is part of a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

A few years ago, the Air Force ran one test of the B-2 with the 500-pound JDAMs. The plane was loaded with 80 inert versions of the GBU-38 and was sent to hit a simulated airfield in Utah. In addition to two runways, there were other targets simulated, including a SA-6 “Gainful” missile site, a SS-1 Scud launch site, an aircraft revetment, a hangar, and the other accoutrements that one finds around an airfield.

Think of it as a stealthy version of an Arc Light.

A video of the test not only shows the number of bombs a B-2 can carry, but it also shows just how accurate JDAMs are. Note, the runways are also thoroughly cratered, meaning any planes that survived the pass of the first B-2, will be kept at the field until the next strike arrives.

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A B-2 Spirit drops 32 inert Joint Direct Attack Munitions at the Utah Testing and Training Range.

Of course, America only has 20 B-2 Spirit bombers available, per an Air Force fact sheet. You can see the video of the strike below.

Mighty Moments

Living HERstory: Affirmations inspired by women heroes of our past

We all have heard the saying, ‘Empowered women, empower women.’ Many of us in the veteran space are seeing the manifestation of this mantra.  Women veterans are collaborating, celebrating and building a community to empower one another and those to come after us.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we pause to reflect on the legacy of women who have valiantly served this country. Two things women veterans should know: our history and our worth.  

We do that by remembering the women who paved the way, knowing what they accomplished and applying it into our hearts and minds.  Ladies, we have a brilliant, vibrant and strong foundation to emulate in our own stories.  We need to dig deeper past the traumas, setbacks and disappointments to see our worth.  

When we speak positively of ourselves, we discover our worth and we declare who we are. We are then empowered, so we can empower other women. Each of us has to make the choice to overcome, heal and thrive—so we too can leave our mark.

Here is a compilation of self-affirmations created from women military service women who left their mark on the world.  Affirmations are statements and positive reminders to motivate oneself or others.  Subconsciously one begins to believe a new truth of oneself in the world.  

Affirmations are key to helping one achieve goals, a healthy practice of positive thinking and establishing a growth mindset. Here are five incredible women of yesteryear with modern day affirmations to help you, sweet sister, reclaim your worth and smash your goals.

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Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together
Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

Kerri Jeter is the founder of Freedom Sisters Media, a place for content, connection and community for women beyond the uniform. She served in the Army for 12 years, exiting as a senior captain. www.freedomsisters.com

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Navy SEAL: Here’s how to stay fit when you have no time to workout

In the mid-90’s, Randy Hetrick was a Navy SEAL deployed on a counter-piracy mission in southeast Asia, holed up in a warehouse, trying to figure out how to stay in the kind of shape necessary to quickly scale the side of a freighter while wearing 75 pounds of gear. He had accidentally deployed with his jujitsu belt, which he combined with some spare webbing from parachute harnesses to DIY a “Cro-Magnon” version of what became the TRX suspension training system. Today, it’s a wildly popular piece of exercise equipment based on the principles of bodyweight resistance.


That’s a great invention story; it’s also directly applicable to a new dad, which Hetrick has been, twice. New dads have to figure out how to maintain some semblance of physical fitness despite a life of chaos. We asked Hetrick how to use what he’s learned when the “warehouse” is your house and the blood thirsty pirate is your sleep-hating little kid.

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The Schedule

Thirty-to-45 minutes spread out over the course of a day is more than enough time to kick your own ass. Hetrick suggests carving out 3 10-to-15 minute blocks a day. “There are seasons in life,” he says. “Be ok saying, ‘I don’t have time for an hour workout, so I’ll just do 10 or 20 minutes.”

Workouts 1 & 3: Perform these at home and focus on the upper body, lower body and core. That’s easy to do, since Hetrick only recommends bodyweight exercises (as opposed to weights), which naturally overlap multiple muscles and joints into single exercises. He also recommends time-based, as opposed to rep-based, sets: one minute of work with 30 seconds of recovery. Since you’re already too tired to do the math: that’s about 6 exercise for a 10-minute workout and 10 for a 15-minute one.

Workout 2: You can do this one at work and it doesn’t require sweating profusely and then going about your day like some gross re-enactment of 4th Grade gym class. Just spend these 10-15 minutes doing “mobility movements” (that’s “stretching” to you) and none of your co-workers will know you’re halfway through a Navy SEAL’s daily workout.

The Exercises

“It’s what you do in life,” says Hetrick of bodyweight exercising. “You’re lunging, you’re squatting, you’re bending, reaching and twisting.” It’s also highly efficient, since it requires more oxygen, pumps more blood and burns more calories than single muscle weight work outs. It turns out, you (particularly you with some very portable TRX straps) are your own best piece of gym equipment.

Exercises Without TRX

Exercises With TRX

With a suspension training system like TRX, it’s easier to go from movement to movement and execute actions that integrate multiple joints and muscles at once. When you buy the system, you get access to various workout tools, but here are a few of Hetrick’s favorites:

  • Squat rows integrate more muscles into the repetition.
  • Atomic pushup work arms and back while burning the crap out of your core.
  • Pledge curls, which use both arms simultaneously across the body — one to the opposite shoulder and the other to the opposite armpit, switching on each rep.

Whether your use TRX or not, the important thing to remember is that keeping your jiggly bundle of joy from turning you into a sad tub of goo doesn’t require a lot of stuff.

Mobility Movements

Most men — and particularly new fathers — need help opening the hips and back. Men’s hips are naturally tight (since they don’t push little people through them), and most fathers’ backs are a wreck due to the aforementioned jiggly bundle of joy being unable to pick itself up off the ground. With these stretches, move into tension for 30 seconds, then ease off for 10 seconds and give each movement around 2 minutes.

  • Hip hinge: Spread your feet, bend at the waist, and let gravity stretch your hamstrings and decompress your spine.
  • Seated hamstring: Legs apart, lean forward.
  • Figure four stretch: Try this one laying down and then try it standing.
  • Cobra pose: The basic building block of hot yoga mom workouts is great for opening shoulders and abs.

The Running Alternative

As a SEAL, Hetrick used to run for miles with a 75-pound backpack. So, lugging a kid in a baby carrier gives him happy little flashbacks. “The kid instantly falls asleep, you’ve got a load hanging off you, and can go off for as brisk a walk as you want. Anyone who tries power walking with a [kid] quickly discovers it’s just as taxing as jogging with no load.”

And even though Hetrick can’t guarantee your kid will actually fall asleep in the carrier (as opposed to, say, screaming hysterically from the moment you put them in one), his main point is that exercising — even with new kids — is within your grasp. “It can be an opportunity to re-prioritize and create a new routine. Replace the 30 minutes of happy hour time with 10 minutes of suspension training or other exercise, and you’ll be better for it,” he says.

After all, “You can’t do happy hour anymore, anyway.”

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9 awesome historical photos of Armed Forces Day celebrations

Armed Forces Day is a holiday where few can put their finger on its history, but most people agree the armed forces are pretty great and just roll with it. The day was originally called for by then-Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. Johnson was trying to finish consolidating the military branches into the newly-formed Department of Defense under the 1947 National Security Act and its 1949 amendment, but the public had seen the branches as separate entities until this point.


So, Johnson asked the branches to stop endorsing days for each force and instead embrace a day to celebrate all branches together. The Army, Navy, and Air Force all switched from their own day to Armed Forces Day. The Marine Corps joined Armed Forces Day but still celebrates its own day on November 11, the birthday of the first United States Marine Corps. Today, the Coast Guard is also celebrated during the festivities but maintains its own day, August 4.

1. 1950: The First Armed Forces Day

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Photo: defense.gov

Armed Forces Day was established in 1949 and the first celebration was set for May 20, 1950. This photo from the first celebration shows a specially rigged jeep being used for recruitment during a parade.

2. 1951: Presidential review

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Photo: defense.gov

Parades, along with air shows and displays of military equipment, would continue to be a part of celebrations. In 1951, this photo was taken of soldiers saluting President Harry Truman during a march down Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.

3. 1956: Engineers build a castle with portcullis

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Photo: defense.gov

This exhibit was constructed at Bolling Field — now Bolling Air Force Base — in Washington, D.C. The red castle constructed by the Marines is a symbol of the combat engineers.

4. 1960: Old cavalry and new

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Photo: defense.gov

At Fort Devens, Massachusetts, the Army displays its most current cavalry with its oldest. Tanks have come a long way since then, but fighting on horseback has come around again.

5. 1961: Touring the “Flying Banana.”

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Photo: defense.gov

Civilians tour the H-21 cargo helicopter in this photo from 1961 Fort Devens, Massachesetts Armed Forces Day celebrations. Nicknamed “the flying banana” the H-21 began to be phased out the same year this photo was taken. The CH-47 replaced it and is still the Army’s main lift helicopter.

6. 1968: “Frog men” display their skills for Armed Forces Day TV episode

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Photo: defense.gov

In 1968, “The Mike Douglas Show” did a series of episodes celebrating the military branches. In this photo, an underwater demolition shows how they conduct high-speed pickups to retrieve swimmers from the water. UDTs were the predecessors to the modern Navy SEALs.

7. 1973: American Armed Forces Day in England

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Photo: defense.gov

America’s Armed Forces Day is celebrated by the armed forces regardless of their geography. In this photo, a child plays in the cockpit of an F-4 fighter during an open house at Bentwaters Air Base, England.

8. 1976: Air assault over the Washington Monument

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Photo: defense.gov

A medical evacuation team prepares to rappel during a demonstration over the Washington Monument in D.C.

9. 2000: Blue Angels demonstration

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Photo: defense.gov

Air shows have been a part of Armed Forces Day since the first celebrations in 1950. They’re still a great crowd pleaser and the Navy’s elite Blue Angels always put on a great show. This photo is from an open house at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

NOW: The 8 most famous US military recruiting posters of World War II

AND: The most important guy in military aviation history you’ve never heard of

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These Afghan moms are taking up arms to fight the Taliban and ISIS

As radical terrorist groups continue to wreak havoc around Afghanistan, a group of women are taking up arms against them.


The Afghan National Police have resorted to arming and training local women to fight the Taliban and Islamic State militants. In many cases, the women had lost their sons, husbands, and other loved ones to the ongoing violence.

“If we fear [ISIS] and the Taliban today, our future will be ruined tomorrow,” one unnamed woman told Al Jazeera.

Female members of the Afghan National Police train the local women in small arms and basic tactics, specifically in the northern reaches of Afghanistan.

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Army photo by Sgt. Chloé Barnes.

“Every week, around 40 or 50 people join,” said Najiba, a female police officer.

Some Afghans do not approve of women fighting in the army or police, but the increasingly desperate situation has forced the security forces to take desperate measures. Afghan forces only control or influence approximately 60 percent of the country’s districts, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

ISIS’s Afghan branch, known as Islamic State-Khorasan province, holds significantly less territory, but the group has been able to engage in several deadly terrorist attacks across the country.

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Army photo by Sgt. Chloé Barnes.

“It’s been forced on us,” Gen. Rahmat of the Jowzjan province police told Al Jazeera in an interview. “It’s not a woman’s job to fight. But that’s the situation now. Women have joined the police and army, too.”

Fighting the Taliban and ISIS is a risky proposition for the women, but many see it as their duty. Sara Khala, one of the women training to fight the militants, lost her son to the Taliban, forcing her to care for his orphaned children.

“I have to take revenge for him,” she told Al-Jazeera. “I’ll cook dinner and give it to them. Then I’ll go wherever the Taliban and Daesh are. I’ll take my gun and fight them.”

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This Yazidi boy survived three years of ISIS captivity

Among the Iraqis freed in the US-led coalition’s liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State this month was Emad Mshko Tamo, a Yazidi who was separated from his family and trained as a soldier by the terrorist army for the past three years.


Wounded from shrapnel and covered in dust, the emaciated former captive shook hands with the Iraqi soldiers who freed him. He accepted a bottle of water and held it in his lap, sitting in the front seat of a truck that was to take him to a hospital for treatment.

Emad is 12 years old.

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Yazidi refugees. (UK DFID photo by Rachel Unkovic)

While the Iraqi government celebrates its victory over the Islamic State in Mosul, aid organizations report that hundreds of civilians remain trapped in the Old City and the humanitarian crisis in Iraq continues to mount, with 3 million refugees and almost 1 million displaced people from Mosul.

“In the last week of fighting, 12,000 civilians were evacuated, [and] their condition was the worst of the entire war,” Lise Grande, the lead coordinator of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, said July 17 during a press conference.

“Many were elderly, disabled. There were separated children. They clearly did not have sufficient water, they hadn’t had sufficient food, and the overwhelming majority of the civilians who came out were unable, even on their own, to cross the front line to safety. They had to be helped,” said Ms. Grande, adding that the levels of trauma in Mosul are among the highest anywhere.

The Iraqi army next will move to liberate the cities of Tal Afar, Hawija, and western Anbar province, and humanitarian organizations are preparing for an even larger crisis.

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Women and children wait at a processing station for internally displaced people prior to boarding buses to refugee camps near Mosul, Iraq, Mar. 03, 2017. (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne)

Among the concerns are those for orphaned children and those separated from their families. Ms. Grande was unable to provide estimates but said the numbers are large and will require specialized care for months and even years to come.

Emad’s story is a bright spot in an otherwise dark saga, said Dlo Yaseen, an Iraqi-Kurdish translator who helped the 12-year-old while he was being transferred between hospitals from Mosul to Irbil.

Terrorists kidnapped Emad in the summer of 2014 from his village near Sinjar. He was one of thousands of victims of the Islamic State’s campaign of genocide against the Yazidi people — a Kurdish minority whose religious tradition, which mixes aspects of Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism, is regarded as apostasy by the Islamic State.

The militants reportedly executed thousands of Yazidi men and boys and at least 86 women, and kidnapped and sold Yazidi women into sex slavery — among other crimes against humanity. An independent survey and analysis of survivors, family members, and civilians estimates that 3,700 Yazidis were slain or died during the summer assault, and that of the 6,800 who were kidnapped, 2,500 are still missing.

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An ISOF APC among the rubble in Mosul, Iraq. (Photo by Mstyslav Chernov)

In Mosul, when the Iraqi soldiers realized that Emad was Yazidi, they called the only Yazidi soldier in their unit, Mr. Yaseen said. The soldier recognized Emad’s family name and was able to locate his relatives in Dohuk, a Kurdish city in northwestern Iraq.

Shrapnel from Iraqi army mortar fire had wounded Emad. Although Islamic State captors tried to treat him, he was still suffering. Personnel at a field hospital decided that he would be transferred to a larger hospital in Irbil for surgery.

In the meantime, five of Emad’s uncles traveled the few hours’ drive from Dohuk to Irbil for the reunion. They also brought news of Emad’s mother, who had traveled to Canada a few months earlier with two of his siblings. Emad and his mother were able to talk via Facebook chat.

Yazda, an international Yazidi aid organization, corroborated Emad’s story, saying his mother was resettled in Canada with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees after the government’s decision to take in Yazidi survivors.

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Emad Mshko Tamo. (Photo from Dlo Yaseen via Facebook)

Shortly after Emad’s rescue, Mr. Yaseen posted a photo of him on Facebook: “A Yazidi boy rescued under ISIS and rejoined his relative.”

The photo is striking — Emad is composed, sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, his face turned toward the camera. He is covered in grime — a large and dirty blue T-shirt is the only clothing covering his twig-like frame. His blond hair sticks up at all ends, his face is covered in white dust, but his lips are red and stained with blood. His expression is calm, a slight furrow to his brows as they arch upward.

“I asked him, ‘How do you feel now that you are rescued?'” said Mr. Yaseen. “He said, ‘I’m happy. I’m going to go to my house, my family. I will be happy.'”
Mighty Moments

America’s oldest WWII veteran lived to 112

The oldest veteran in American history lived until 112, and he smoked 12 cigars a day that entire time.


Richard Overton, an Army veteran of World War II enjoyed whiskey for much of his later years, which he spent in Austin, Texas.

When Overton turned 109 his Austin neighborhood threw him an early birthday party on May 3, consisting of burgers, milkshakes, and of course cigars.

“I smoke at least 12 Tampa Sweet cigars a day,” Overton told The Wall Street Journal.

“I’ve been smoking cigars since I was 18 years old,” he added to ABC. “I have over $100 worth of cigars now.”

A celebrity in his own right, Overton had a long line of well-wishers attend his “Mighty Fine at 109”-themed celebration. Among the guests was the mayor of Austin, Steve Adler.

“You are just one of the treasures that we have in this city,” Adler told Overton during the celebrations.

Born May 11, 1906, Overton was most likely the longest-living veteran, although it is impossible to verify because not all veterans are registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He served in the South Pacific during the war before selling furniture in Austin after his discharge and later working in the state Treasurer’s Office, according to The Chronicle.

“I’ve gotten so many letters and so many thank yous and I enjoy every bit of it, but I’m still going to enjoy some more,” Overton told The Chronicle.

The Houston Chronicle described Overton’s lifestyle in November 2013: “He drives and walks without a cane. During a television interview in March, he told a reporter that he doesn’t take medicine, smokes cigars every day and takes whiskey in his morning coffee. The key to living to his age, he said, is simply ‘staying out of trouble.'”

“I may drink a little in the evening too with some soda water, but that’s it,” Overton told Fox News. “Whiskey’s a good medicine. It keeps your muscles tender.”

Overton admitted that he didn’t truly know what to credit for his long life. “You have to ask God about that. He brought me here and he’s taking care of me, and nothing I can do about it,” Overton told the Post.

However, his neighbors had a few ideas of their own as to how Overton kept chugging along.

“Whiskey and cigars and never stop moving,” a neighbor told Fox affiliate KTBC.

In addition to his somewhat unorthodox habits, Overton stayed busy throughout the day — trimming trees, helping with horses, and never watches television, according to Fox.

Paul Szoldra contributed to this report. 

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This Green Beret’s heroism was so incredible that Ronald Reagan said it was hard to believe

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.

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These are the crazy Air Force pilots who fly into hurricanes

When the Wild Weasels were formed, one of the candidates was said to have remarked of the mission: “You’ve got to be shitting me!”


Well, if you think pilots flying up against surface-to-air missile sights define crazy, you haven’t heard of the Hurricane Hunters – and these folks have been busy.

With Hurricane Harvey set to hit the coast of Texas with at least two major military bases in the bullseye, tracking its movement has been important. One of the ways the data is gathered is by flying into the storm to help determine how strong the storm is, and where it may be headed.

This is often done by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, attached to the 403rd Wing, based out of Keesler Air Force Base near Biloxi Mississippi.

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According to a release by the 403rd Wing, WC-130J Super Hercules weather reconnaissance planes have already made 10 flights into Hurricane Harvey, presently a Category 2 storm slated to reach Category 3 when it makes landfall in Texas.

Each plane has a crew of five: a pilot, co-pilot, a weather reconnaissance officer, a navigator, and a loadmaster.

During the flights through Harvey, the Airmen made dozens of passes through the eye of the hurricane, braving the strong winds in the center of the storm. On each pass, a device known as a “dropsonde” is released, providing data on dew point, pressure, temperature, and of course, wind speed and direction.

That data is sent out immediately to the National Hurricane Center.

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Master Sgt. Erik Marcus, 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron loadmaster, loads a dropsonde into a dropsonde cannon during a flight into Hurricane Harvey Aug. 24, 2017 out of Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)

“As the Hurricane Hunters, our data is time sensitive and critical for the [National Hurricane Center],” Maj. Kendall Dunn, 53rd WRS pilot explained. “This storm is rapidly intensifying.”

You’d think these pilots would be full-time Air Force, but you’d be way off. These gutsy crews who brave the wrath of nature are with the Air Force Reserve – meaning that many of them are taking time off from their regular lives to serve their country. You can see them in action monitoring Hurricane Harvey in the video below.

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12 rare and amazing photos from the ‘War to End All Wars’


The Great War – World War I – raged through Europe and the Middle East 100 years ago. These are some of the most unbelievable photos of troops and tech from the “War to End All Wars.”


Losing incredible photos to history could happen for any reason. Perhaps there were so many, these were rejected by publications, locked away in a box for us to find a century later. Or maybe they were just the personal keepsakes of those who fought the war. Whatever the reason, we can marvel at what wartime life was like, both in and out of the trenches.

Soldiers on all sides are more than just cannon fodder. These photos show people’s hearts, souls, and personal beliefs. They show the innovation on the battlefield – the gruesome killing power of the world’s first industrialized war. They also show the efforts made to improve technology that could save lives by ending the war.

Most of all, it shows that we who fight wars are still human, no matter which side of the line we maintain.

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1. This listening device.

Before the advent of radar, aircraft had to be located by hearing the direction from which the aircraft approached. The horns amplified sound and the tech would wear headphones to try to pinpoint the location of the incoming enemy.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

2. Holy rolling.

German infantryman Kurt Geiler was carrying his bible when a four centimeter piece of shrapnel embedded itself in the book, likely making a lifelong Christian out out of Geiler.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

3. Lady Liberty takes 18,000 soldiers.

This depiction of the Statue of Liberty was made to drive war bonds and is made up of 18,000 troops – 12,000 just for the torch, which is a half mile away.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

4. Realities of war.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affected troops even 100 years ago. Called “shell shock” at the time, up to 65,000 troops were treated for it, while thousands of others were charged with cowardice for it. Blasts from shells would leave lesions on the brain, resulting in symptoms similar to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) experienced by post-9/11 veterans.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

5. This Austro-Hungarian war face.

This war face would make Gunnery Sergeant Hartman proud. It looks like William Fichtner’s great-grandfather.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

6. These Italian troops mummified by the cold.

The next time you complain about being in formation in the winter, remember it could always be worse. These Italians froze in the Alps, fighting Austrians.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

7. This gay couple flaunting DADT before it was controversial.

Proof that DADT was garbage in the first place.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

8. This pigeon is ready for your close up.

Both sides used animals for reconnaissance and communication. Pigeons were especially useful for their homing ability and attitude.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

9. This woman looks ready to take the whole German Army.

There’s so much so-called “great man history,” that we often forget about women’s contributions. Women worked in many industrial areas during the Great War. Look at this photo and realize most of you couldn’t chop wood all day on your best day.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

10. This incredibly brave little girl.

Where are this girl’s parents? This is 1916, and child rearing was slightly tougher back then, but that’s still unexploded ordnance. (Europeans still find unexploded bombs from both world wars.)

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

11. This is the “Ideal Soldier.”

This propaganda photo depicts what the French public thought the ideal French soldier looked like.

Perfectly Bound – How a printing error tied a Vietnam and post-9/11 Veteran together

12. These Vietnamese troops who did not fit #11’s profile.

A total of 92,411 Vietnamese men from what was then called French Indochina were in the service of France and were distributed around Europe, of which around 30,000 died.

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