Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse - We Are The Mighty
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Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse

Being a military spouse is a job. A job that requires grace and standing on your head while sewing new rank onto your spouse’s 15 sets of uniforms. It’s a job that commands that you hold your head high while certain people question or scoff at the value of your position.


Let me tell you a story that you probably already know a little too well.

A young girl is told by her parents that she can do anything, that she can be anything she wants to be, as long as she sets her mind to it. She works hard in school and graduates at the top of her class. She sets her sights high and has high career aspirations.

In college, she meets the man of her dreams. This young man, too, has big dreams. His dreams involve serving his country and protecting their freedom. As college comes to an end, the young man receives orders to be stationed overseas and the young girl must make a choice – chase after the career that she has been working towards all these years or choose the man that has unexpectedly entered her life and has become her life. She chooses love. Five years later she takes a moment to reflect and decides that if she could go back in time, she would still make that same choice all over again. She would choose love. She would always choose love.

That does not mean that it has been an easy journey. Life as a military spouse has been a bumpy ride – a worthwhile ride, but a bumpy ride nonetheless. In the early days of being a military spouse overseas, I struggled with the transition from being independent to being a dependent. I no longer had an identity other than being a dependent. I had my husband’s social security number memorized better than my own. I couldn’t even pay my own cell phone bill without my husband present or a power of attorney.

I went through various stages of grief. At first I was angry. “Do you have any idea what I have given up so you can pursue your dreams?” Then I was sad. I would ask through tears, “What is my purpose?” After some time, I made it to acceptance. I understand that I am supporting the greater cause. Every choice that I have made until now has led me to this point. I am successful, but in a very different sort of way than I believed in growing up. Before, I thought success was measured in career status and income level. Now I understand that there are different kinds of success. I have a loving husband, a beautiful baby, and a home that we can call our own.

Every day military spouses everywhere are working hard, often in single-parent-type circumstances, to find a way to make our career goals fit into our unusual lifestyle. It’s a cost that’s difficult to comprehend before you experience it.

Giving up the dream job for a PCS.

Finding out your career field is nonexistent at a new duty station.

Not knowing how you are going to balance everything while he’s away this time.

Even though I am in the acceptance phase of my journey, it doesn’t mean that snarky remarks from others don’t hurt. Someone very close to me said the other day, “Enjoy your day at home. I’m on my way to work because I don’t have a husband that supports me.” Others have made comments about how it must be nice to be a stay-at-home wife (and now mom). While they would never say it to my face, I have heard people comment about other military spouses being lazy or not doing anything with their lives. These comments are usually made from a combination of both humor and misunderstanding. It’s time to stop making assumptions based on the surface-level appearance of each other’s situations. Every military spouse has a story and we have all made sacrifices to live the life we are living.

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Nepal was hit by a huge aftershock — these photos show the US military response

A major aftershock hit Nepal on Tuesday, bringing further damage to a country already devastated from a 7.8 earthquake that hit on April 25.


U.S. service members were already on the ground rendering aid, and Marine photographers took these amazing images in the hours after the 7.3 aftershock. Each photo’s description comes from the Marine who took the photo.

U.S. Marines help a Nepalese man to a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

A U.S. Marine helps carry a Nepalese man to a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

A U.S. Airman, Nepalese soldier and search and rescuemen from Fairfax County, Virginia, help a Nepalese man in a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen prepare for a search and rescue mission out of the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13. A UH-1Y Huey helicopter assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers, went missing while conducting humanitarian assistance after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake May 12.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

A Nepalese soldier carries a young earthquake victim from a U.S Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom helicopter assigned to Joint Task Force 505 to a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

U.S. Service members from Joint Task Force 505 unload casualties from a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

U.S. Marine Sergeant  A. B. Manning from Joint Task Force 505 carries a young earthquake victim to a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

NOW: The US military took these amazing photos in just one week-long period

OR: Team Rubicon is on the ground in Nepal

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This Iraq War vet and congressman treated the wounded during Alexandria shooting

Moments after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the U.S. House Majority Whip, was shot in the hip during an attack on a practice for the upcoming Congressional baseball game, an Iraq War vet was treating his wound.


“You never expect a baseball field in America to feel like being back in a combat zone in Iraq, but this morning it did,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup tweeted. The Ohio Republican congressman later told an aide the only difference between the Alexandria shooting and Iraq was being “without his weapon.”

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Maj. Gen. Mary Link, commanding general for Army Reserve Medical Command, stands next to Congressman Bill Pascrell from New Jersey’s 9th district; Congressman Josh Gottheimer, from New Jersey’s 5th district; Dr. Ihor Sawczuk, Hackensack University Medical Center President; and Col. Brad Wenstrup (far right), commander of 7457th Medical Backfill Bn. (U.S. Army photo)

According to a report by WLWT.com, Wenstrup began to treat his wounded colleague after Scalise dragged himself off the field. Wenstrup had seen wounds like that before he had ever entered politics.

According to the official biography on his web site, that is because Rep. Wentrup is also Col. Wenstrup in the U.S. Army Reserve – and he’s has served in the Army Reserve since 1998, after his sister had a battle with leukemia. During a tour in Iraq with the 344th Combat Support Hospital, Wenstrup was a combat surgeon, which he described as “the worst thing that ever happened to me, and the best thing I ever got to do.”

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, right, a Sunset Parade guest of honor, exchanges greetings with a U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant during a parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., June 18, 2013. A Sunset Parade was held every Tuesday during the summer months. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tia Dufour/Released)

According to a profile at the University of Cincinnati’s website, Wenstrup was the chief of surgery at Abu Ghraib, the location of a scandal over prisoner treatment. He treated Iraqi civilians, detainees at the prison, and wounded troops.

“I remember one Marine we lost on the table, and the anesthesiologist saying, ‘I had breakfast with him this morning.’ Or having to tell a group of Marines their buddy didn’t make it. Those were the tough days,” he told the college’s magazine.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse

He had good days, too, including helping to treat a four-month old girl who had pneumonia. Eventually, the doctors figured out the girl also needed gluten-free formula, and raised over $400 to help make arrangements for a U.S. company to send the girl’s father the right baby food.

“Those were the good days,” he said.

Intel

This man honors the military by playing ‘Taps’ for his neighbors every day

Every time Don Brittain plays “Taps” at sunset his neighbors stand at attention.


One resident told CBSN, “When you hear the first note, everything in our house comes to a complete halt.”

Tacoma residents have made it part of their daily ritual. For Brittain, it’s his way of showing appreciation for our military.

“I want to support our guys who are over there fighting,” Brittain told CBSN. “I had polio as a kid, so I couldn’t serve. I would have served in a heartbeat.”

Watch Brittain move his neighbors with his beautiful rendition of “Taps”:

NOW: This American comedy legend defused land mines in World WAR II

OR: 94-year-old who served behind Nazi lines reveals the most terrifying thing he experienced

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The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

Pilots from the 317th Airlift Group, stationed at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, fly a C-130J Super Hercules at Polk Army Airfield, La. The 317th AG delivered U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, to Polk Army Airfield during a Global Force Readiness Exercise. The exercise exhibited the partnership between the Air Force and Army and their ability to execute personnel airdrop from a large formation.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Senior Airman Peter Thompson/USAF

The MC-130P Combat Shadow team performs the final checks before takeoff on Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 17th Special Operations Squadron sent off the final two Combat Shadows in the Pacific Air Forces to retire to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: Airman 1st Class Stephen G. Eigel/USAF

NAVY

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (April 22, 2015) The Navy’s unmanned X-47B receives fuel from an Omega K-707 tanker while operating in the Atlantic Test Ranges over the Chesapeake Bay. This test marked the first time an unmanned aircraft refueled in flight.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: Liz Wolter/USN

Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) participate in a swim call. Iwo Jima is the flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU), provides a versatile, sea-based expeditionary force that can be tailored to a variety of missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Megan Anuci/ USN

ARMY

Congratulations to the 2015 Best Sapper Competition winners, 1st Lt. Daniel Foky and Sgt. Brandon Loeder, assigned to 127th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Pictured below,Foky andLoeder in the lead during the poncho-raft swim event, April 21, 2015, on the first day of the competition. The 2015 Best Sapper Competition, held at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. took competitors across 50 miles in 50 hours of back to back events. The 46 teams came from as far as Alaska and Hawaii to compete.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: US Army

Soldiers, assigned to 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, load munitions onto an AH-64 Apache helicopter during an aerial gunnery exercise April 22, 2015, at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, in Pocheon, Republic of Korea.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: Sgt. Jesse Smith/US Army

MARINE CORPS

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, California – Reconnaissance Training Company Marines received an aerial view of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California during Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction training at San Mateo Landing Zone. The Marines, students of the Basic Reconnaissance Course, took turns being hoisted into the air by helicopter during the SPIE portion of their Helicopter Rope Suspension Training. During the course of HRST the students learn SPIE rigging, rappelling and fast rope techniques.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: Lance Cpl Asia J. Sorenson/USMC

ZAMBALES, Philippines – ZAMBALES, Philippines – Amphibious Assault Vehicles land ashore during a bilateral amphibious landing by the Philippine and U.S. Marine Corps, April 21, on North Beach at the Naval Education Training Center in Zambales, Philippines, as part of exercise Balikatan 2015

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: Cpl. Matthew Bragg

COAST GUARD

Petty Officer Jon Emerson helps three survivors out of a helicopter at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak. Earlier today, the men were rescued from a life raft 57 miles off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska, after their fishing vessel sank.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: USCG

Rough week? Here’s a dose of “Aloha” from Base Honolulu to get you through the rest of it!

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Photo: USCG

NOW: Legendary Gen. James Mattis has an inspiring message for all Post-9/11 veterans

OR: Watch JR Martinez and Noah Galloway talk ‘Dancing with the Stars’:

Mighty Moments

Paws of War reunites soldier with stray dog from rotation in Europe

US Army Sgt. Charity Webb was reunited with a puppy named Pup Pup that she had bonded with while stationed as a cook in Eastern Europe last fall, which was first reported by the New York Post. The almost impossible task was made possible by a nonprofit organization out of New York called Paws of War, and this isn’t the first time the group has accomplished such a mission. 

Robert Misseri, the founder of Paws of War, said the operation cost approximately $7,000 total, from finding Pup Pup, completing vaccines and any needed treatment through a local veterinarian, temporary foster care, travel costs, and many other factors. 

“When we arrive, the soldier can play a little role in locating their dog. We have to learn where that dog is [from the soldier]. We have to find that dog,” Misseri said, “and we have to get that dog safely to a veterinarian and then start the process to get that dog to America.”

Read Next: Fred the Afghan: How a Stray Dog Changed a Marine’s Life

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
Pup Pup was out of a litter born in the area where Sgt. Charity Webb was stationed, somewhere in Eastern Europe. Photo courtesy of Paws of War.

Locating a dog that a soldier bonded with overseas is no easy task, especially with COVID-19 restrictions severely complicating transport, but Misseri said it’s all worth it. 

“The soldier will feel like a failure, thinking that ‘deployment is up’ and that this dog will think that this person abandoned it,” said Misseri. “And the soldier will always wonder whatever happened to that dog — it’s not like that dog’s going to go into a good home or someone’s going to take over caring for it. It’s going to go back to struggling. So it is so important for both soldier and dog to get back here and reunite.”

Misseri explained that reuniting a dog with a soldier can significantly help a soldier’s mental health when they get home. He said he’d been in touch with soldiers in the past who had to leave their dogs behind overseas, and “it was just something that they could not get out of their head.” The grief from leaving their dogs worsened some soldiers’ post-traumatic stress symptoms, he said, adding that some soldiers experienced nightmares about it. 

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse

Webb told the Post that while deployed, she was missing her other dog back home and her family. Pup Pup helped her through all of that. 

“You miss your family, you’re missing Christmas, Thanksgiving, all of that, so it was good to have her occupy my time and my mind and not think about my time away and stuff, so she really did help with that,” Webb told the Post.

Misseri said they have located dogs in areas where locals and/or authorities will shoot them, or capture them and then put them down, or just outright mistreat them in abusive ways. 

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse

“For the puppies, they just kill them off because there’s so many strays,” Webb told the Post. “So we didn’t want them to get the puppies because we knew they’d kill them — there was no doubt about it.”

According to the Post, a fellow soldier told Webb about Paws of War, and she reached out for help. A financing issue was preventing them from getting Pup Pup back, but after the Post published the initial story, Misseri said they accomplished their goal of getting Pup Pup back in Webb’s hands on Feb. 24. The dog and the sergeant reunited at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Webb is stationed. Enough donations came in that there was enough to get a second dog to another soldier.

Misseri said Paws of War has reunited more than 100 soldiers with dogs that they had to leave behind when returning to the states.

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

Mighty Moments

“The Rock”: The last stage for the two female Navy SEAL candidates

They had just completed a punishing land navigation course up in the mountains east of San Diego during heavy snowfall. They lost another four students from cold casualties and poor navigation skills that had resulted in them getting lost in the snowy mountains after dusk. Now the 28 students were headed out to “The Rock” at San Clemente island 80 miles off the coast of California.

On the Rock, they would learn basic marksmanship skills, weapons cleaning and breakdown, how to build electric and standard demolition charges, small unit tactics, and then do all that in and out of the water. It was basically pre-school for what was coming when they would graduate and go on to the three months of SEAL tactical training and then onto more core training in their SEAL platoons.

Everything got tougher on the Rock. The class worked with bare minimum sleep, three-four hours a night, and was expected to be sharp on the firing line and demolition range.

Everyone was fired up and they could taste graduation: it was so close but so far away.

The students were mentally tough, their minds were honed razor-sharp like a blade. They could take almost anything at this point. And the instructors knew that they had essentially created Godzillas in the closet who were banging to be let out.

Olga and JJ were the top shooters in the class. It didn’t matter what weapon system, be it the HK.45, M4, or M60, they were deadly accurate, much to the surprise of their class.

The first time Olga felt the rumble of the big M60 in her hands she was hooked, like a heroin addict after shooting up dope for the first time, she couldn’t get enough. “I’m in love with this fucking machine gun,” she’d said to herself.

But she, JJ, and the rest of the class would face one of their biggest challenges in the weeks to come.

Every day, every minute, was a test for them. They were pushed harder and harder. The instructors knew they had to mold them into hardened steel because life in the Teams was harder.

“The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.”

Olga also loved this small remote California island off the coast of San Diego, a shame that she had to share it with the wannabe environmentalists that were more interested in sucking off the Navy and justifying their existence than they were about protecting local species.

When Olga stepped off the plane she could smell the musty odor of kelp and sea salt in the air. Looking down the declining slope off the runway she could see the dark shaded blue of the Pacific Ocean and the tip of the SEAL training base, the obstacle course, and the rifle range with smoke coming from the demo range.

The north side of the Rock and the northwest harbor was owned by Naval Special Warfare. It housed the BUD/S camp and the advanced training camp where the SEAL Teams rotated in and out. The SEALs had a demolition range, a 1,000-yard rifle, and pistol range just north of the runway, and the rough Pacific to play in. Northwest harbor was also home to a small seal lion habitat which attracted the “man in the grey suit,” as the instructors liked to remind the students. Sharks… and big ones.

To the south, there was a small town that housed mostly a few air traffic controllers, support personnel, and some Navy contractors. It had the island’s main pier, a chow hall, a small store, and “The Salty Crab”, a local restaurant and bar.

The main road ran down the center of the island, winding up and down small hills. The backside of the island to the south had incredibly jagged cliffs which the SEALs used to practice climbing, large surf operations, and rugged beach entries.

It was not for the faint of heart. San Clemente “The Rock,” 80-0miles off the California coastline was the perfect place for SEALs to train.

San Clemente was also used by the pilot community that practiced bombing runs on the south side of the island and landings and approaches on the main runway. The SEALs had the run of the island which was mostly barren with the exception of small shrubbery, cactus, and the island fox which was still hanging on despite the best efforts of the environmentalists to “fix” the delicate ecosystem. Their fixes turned into one fuck up after another.

Olga overheard the instructors talking at lunch one day about how the Navy-contracted environmentalists had decided that the snowy plover bird needed more food supply so they started hauling in mice. Soon the mice had overtaken the island and were threatening the local human population because they carried a strain of Hantavirus called “Sin Nombre.”

The “Envirotards” brought in cats by the boatload and soon the cats had taken over, eaten most of the mice, and the snowy plover’s food supply. Then contractors were brought to the island to hunt and shoot the cats at night with big spotlights.

The whole thing was a fucking mess.

Olga believed in protecting the environment. She had heard the nightmare stories from her grandmother about the nuclear meltdown of Cherynobl and how it destroyed so many lives. But, she agreed with the instructors who mentioned they should have just shot the environmentalists if they really wanted to solve the problem.

The town was off-limits to the students. Just as well for Olga who was a huge cat lover and would have loved to punch one of the envirotards in the nose. It was better if she stayed on her side of the island, she thought.

Today she was excited because the class was shooting for expert pistol and rifle qualification. Olga was sure she’d have no problem but that didn’t make her less nervous.

The pistol qualification was first. She shot the Sig Sauer P226 9mm and scored near perfect.

Next was the M4 rifle qual. This was a little more challenging because the wind howled on the north end of the island and sometimes the air that blew up from the ocean swirled around the jagged rocks and found its way up to the range in gusts. All this meant that even at 200 yards it could affect the bullet a few inches even if the shooter was holding perfect iron sight focus.

Olga timed the gusts. At the bottom of her exhalations, she unloaded the full magazine.

She felt good about the rifle test.

She and Ty were the top shooters in the class and she felt compelled to remind her classmates that evening at chow, how most of the top snipers in combat were women so there should be no surprise.

“You’re insane but I like your kind of insane Olga,” said Wedge at the dining hall.

A few of their classmates were outside on the cold metal tables nicknamed “Seaport Village.” The real Seaport Village was along the bay’s edge in downtown San Diego and had shops and outdoor restaurants. Her classmates didn’t meet the minimum pull-up requirements to eat dry or had cheated with half-empty water canteens. Now they had to do 20 dead hang pull-ups with full kit, any less and it was a trip down to the beach.

She liked Wedge because he led by example. So few leaders do this, Olga thought.

They were so close to graduation but it seemed so far away on this crazy rock off the California coast.

To be continued…

Click here to read all the installments of The Reservation.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

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The incredible story of Maj. Jim Capers, a Marine hero still fighting for the Medal of Honor

Heroism

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse


Maj. Jim Capers fought valiantly in Vietnam, was severely wounded, and literally became a recruiting poster Marine.

But for more than 40 years, Capers and his supporters have been fighting for an award they believe he was wrongfully denied: The Medal of Honor.

“He was always the last man on the chopper,” former Sgt. Ron Yerman told Marine public affairs in 2010. “I was the second to last man. I’d get aboard and I’d nod. If I didn’t nod, he’d know that all the men weren’t there, and we wouldn’t leave.”

Now Capers’ case is receiving more attention after the publication of the story “The Hero Who Never Was” by former Marine journalist Ethan Rocke in Maxim Magazine. In the story and accompanying video, Rocke gives an excellent account of a Marine who took part in some of the most secretive and dangerous missions of the Vietnam war.

From Maxim:

Within minutes, the dog alerted again, and Capers noticed three NVA soldiers just a few feet away. He opened up on full automatic, dropping all three in a single stroke. Capers’ M16 jammed, but Team Broadminded had already initiated its well-rehearsed contact drill, unleashing a barrage of grenades and bullets as the enemy platoon scrambled. Capers, struggling to unjam his rifle, saw two more NVA soldiers emerge, full tilt in a desperate counterattack. He drew his 9 mm and gunned them down. Then he ordered his men to finish off what remained of the enemy platoon. When the battle was over, at least 20 NVA soldiers lay dead, their corpses obscured beneath a haze of gunpowder and smoke. From the surrounding vegetation, the screams of the wounded rang out.

On the chopper back to Khe Sanh, the team was subdued. “There was no backslapping,” Capers recalls. “For us, death and killing had become business as usual.” They’d be back in the jungle in just a few days.

That was just one story among many. Team Broadminded engaged in numerous combat engagements throughout its time in Vietnam, culminating in the vicious fight that would ultimately earn Capers the Silver Star.

On April 3, 1967 near Phu Lac, a large enemy force ambushed Capers’ nine-man patrol with claymore mines and small arms. They were immediately pinned down, and every member was wounded — including Capers, who took more than a dozen pieces of shrapnel to his abdomen and legs.

“Despite his wounds, Capers directed his team to lay down suppressive fire to gain fire superiority and set up a hasty defense,” reads a Marine Corps news release. “He called for mortar and artillery strikes against the enemy, directed the treatment of the wounded and called for the team’s evacuation, ensuring all his men made it out alive.”

Read more of Capers’ incredible story at Maxim

NOW READ: This single Afghan battle resulted in 10 Silver Stars and an Air Force Cross

Mighty Moments

Women positioned to make history as Air Force’s first ground special operators

A female Airman has passed Air Force special warfare selection and is now beginning the arduous process of training to become a combat controller. There are currently three other women who are working through the Air Force’s 76-week special operations training pipeline, with one officer potentially positioned to make history as the branch’s first-ever female ground special operator in the near future.

The Air Force special operations career fields are known for their very long—some would say too long—pipelines. The four career fields (Pararescue, Combat Control, Special Reconnaissance, and Tactical Air Control Party) have one of the toughest selection processes in the entire special operations community, with high levels of technical expertise on top of the physical demands.

Right now, the Combat Controller pipeline lasts 76 weeks and has 10 separate steps that go as follows:

  • Special Warfare Preparatory Course (8 weeks)
  • Special Warfare Assessment & Selection (4 weeks)
  • Special Warfare Pre-Dive Course (4 weeks)
  • Special Warfare Combat Dive School (5 weeks)
  • Air Force Survival School (3 weeks)
  • Airborne School (3 weeks)
  • Military Freefall School (4 weeks)
  • Air Traffic Control School (11 weeks)
  • Combat Control Apprentice Course (8 weeks)
  • Special Tactics Training (26 weeks)

According to the Air Force Times, there are four female Airmen currently at various stages of the pipeline.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
(DoD photo)

Sandboxx News understands that last summer, a female officer and Air Force Academy graduate finished the Combat Diver portion of the pipeline, which is arguably one of the toughest parts of the whole selection and training process and is now nearing the end of the tunnel. If she graduates, she will become the first-ever female ground special operator in the Air Force’s history.

Interestingly, the female special tactics officer candidate went through the Army’s Special Operations Underwater Operations School (SFUWO) instead of the Air Force’s dive school. Sandboxx News understands that approximately 15-20 Air Force personnel go through the Army’s combat diver school every year despite the Air Force Special Operations Command having its own course.

“Any airman or recruit aspiring to enter special warfare career fields, regardless of gender, will be accessed and qualified using the current validated standards,” Marilyn Holliday, a spokesperson for the Air Education and Training Command, told the Air Force Times.

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
A female Airman recently passed the assessment & selection as a female officer prepares to graduate as the first-ever woman to pass a special operations pipeline in the Air Force’s history (AFSOC).

Combat Controllers specialize in air traffic control, joint terminal attack control, and airfield and landing zones surveys, among other mission sets.

According to the Air Force, combat controllers “deploy, undetected, into combat and hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance in the joint arena.”

However, they are most often attached to other special operations units. For example, the Delta Force squadron that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, had at least one combat controller from the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron attached to them.

The 24th Special Tactics Squadron is the Tier 1 unit of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and often sends operators as attachments to its Army (Delta Force) and Navy (SEAL Team 6) counterparts.

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

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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

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
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

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
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

Op-ed: The true cost of being a military spouse
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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This US Army general was rescued from Vietnam as a young boy

Brig. Gen. Viet X. Luong, who now oversees the training of Afghan forces, was only 9 when his father, a major in the South Vietnamese Marines, told the family that Saigon would soon fall to the North Vietnamese and they must escape.


A reporter friend was able to get them papers to evacuate through Tân Sơn Nhứt Airport.

Arriving just as it came under artillery and rocket bombardment, Luong recalls laying on the ground, listening to the groans of the wounded and praying for salvation. U.S. Marines flew the family to the USS Hancock where, as Saigon fell, Luong decided to join the U.S. military.

Hear the full story at NPR 

OR: These are a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander’s favorite books

Articles

Medal Of Honor Hero Kyle Carpenter Just Gave An Inspiring Speech That Everyone Should Read

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Former Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter gave a powerful speech to his fellow veterans of the Battle of Marjah recently that everyone should take the time to read.

Also Read: 4 Reasons Why Going To War Gives Veterans An Edge Over Their Civilian Peers 

Carpenter, who received the Medal of Honor last year for jumping on a grenade to save his friend’s life during the battle, told his fellow Marines that “it’s your medal” at a reunion on the five-year anniversary of Operation Moshtarak last week at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

“With this short amount of time I have to speak to you tonight, I couldn’t possibly sum up the historical battle of Marjah,” Carpenter said in his speech, according to a transcription from Hope Hodge Seck of Marine Corps Times. “I am comforted, though, by the fact that the men in this room don’t need a summary because you were right there beside me. You felt the incredible heat of a 100 percent humidity day and the cool waters of a muddy canal. You felt the weight of 100 pounds of gear, ammo and water at your back, the weight of knowing as Marines we are and forever will be the first line of defense for our loved ones, our nation and above all, freedom.”

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Kyle Carpenter and Nick Eufrazio

The Battle of Marjah involved 15,000 American, Afghan, Canadian, British, and French troops in the largest joint operation up to that point in the Afghan war. The effort to wrestle the key town of Marjah from the Taliban took NATO forces nearly 10 months, according to ABC News.

“I stand here today extremely proud of you all. I’m proud of the job you did in the face of what most cannot even fathom. I am more than honored to call you friends, fellow Marines and brothers,” Carpenter said. “You stand as an example for others and for what’s best for not only our nation but the rest of the world.”

In his speech, Carpenter did not reference his incredible example from Nov. 21, 2010, when he jumped on a grenade while providing rooftop security at a small outpost. “I only remember a few moments after I got hit,” Carpenter told me previously when I interviewed him for Business Insider. “But nothing before.”

He was severely wounded — as was his friend Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio — but both survived. While Carpenter lost his right eye and took shrapnel throughout his face and lower body, his recovery has been nothing short of remarkable.

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Photo: The White House

Carpenter continued (via Marine Times):

Be proud of who you are. Be proud of what you did in that country. You are alive today and have been blessed with this opportunity of life. Don’t waste it. Live a life worth living, full of meaning and purpose, and one that will make the fallen who are looking down on us proud.

Marines, I’m proud to have worn the same uniform as you.

Never forget that when no one else would raise their right hand, you did. You sacrificed and became part of our nation’s history and our Marine Corps legacy for taking part in the historical battleground of Marjah. Thank you so much. I really do appreciate it.

Marine Corps Times has the full speech. It’s definitely worth a read.

NOW: This Hero Saved Six Soldiers From A Burning Vehicle While He Was Drenched In Fuel 

OR: 10 Photos That Capture The Military Experience 

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Meet the 34-year-old Green Beret who just joined the Seattle Seahawks

One of our favorite stories from this year’s NFL Draft is Nate Boyer.


Boyer is a 34-year-old Army Special Forces veteran who was offered a contract as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks. He served six years in the Army and five years with the University of Texas Longhorns football team. He was considered one of the best college long snappers for the past three seasons, according to Texas Sports. Even while he was playing for the team, Boyer served in the Texas National Guard during summers.

Here is Boyer’s remarkable story, leading up to his selection by the Seattle Seahawks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7N5dY8_K0s

NOW: 5 sports stars who saw heavy combat in the US military

OR: Watch J.R. Martinez and Noah Galloway talk ‘Dancing with the Stars’

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