A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it - We Are The Mighty
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A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Airmen 1st Class Diego Rojas-Rodriguez, far left, and Rolando Rodriquez, center left, speak to members of the 341st Comptroller Squadron mobile finance team at Malmstrom Air Force Base.


Where did the thrift savings plan come from and why do you need it?

In the beginning there was work; and then people died. Back in the day, American civilians simply worked until they couldn’t work anymore, and then they either relied on family to care for them, or they passed away. In the mid 1800s, a couple of companies took a look at the military’s retirement system and decided to give it a try.

The Thrift Savings Plan as we know it came into effect long after the civilian version of retirement due to the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986. The TSP is the public sector’s version of the 401(k) that was established under the Revenue Act of 1978.

But the TSP was not the military’s first pension plan. According to Pension Research Council, pensions for the military predate the Constitution, but the U.S. Navy and Army struggled to manage pension funds — so much in fact that the new government had to bail them out at least three separate times.

Despite early issues with managing pension funds, the Army and the Navy continued to offer them as a means to attract and retain men in the services.

Eventually corporate America got on board and started to adopt its own retirement system modeled after the public pension system offered by the American military.

The private pension system was designed to reward line workers (those who worked in factories or on production lines) for years of service to one company. This worked both to the advantage of the individual as many skills were not transferable outside of a specific industry, and to employers because it guaranteed most of their employees would be loyal to them.

There were two problems with the way the pension system was set up: companies had to figure out how much money every year to set aside based on the number of employees they had, and many companies mismanaged that money just as the military had a century prior.

Thus, the 401(k) Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, was born by an act of Congress in 1978. With this system, employers agreed to set a predetermined amount of money aside, and employees agreed to manage it themselves.

As a result of the remodeling of the private pension system, our modern day public pension (the Thrift Savings Plan) was designed nearly a decade after the private pension plan.

So why do you need a TSP? Regular military retirement pay was never intended to fully provide for normal retirement.

The TSP was designed to supplement retirement pay, and while it is optional for military members, it makes money sense to set aside funds throughout your career to supplement the retirement pay that was never intended to fully financially support you.

In short, the TSP makes sense, and you should have one.

For more information on the TSP, you can check out the Thrift Savings Plan website.

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This F-15E scored an air-to-air kill by dropping a bomb on an Iraqi helicopter

The first time the F-15 Strike Eagle saw combat was in the skies over the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. Although the F-15 C and D were incredibly lethal in air-to-air combat, the F-15E was primarily used to take out mobile Scud missiles and surface-to-air missile sites. It was the F-15E’s only air-to-air kill during Desert Storm that would become the most memorable.


On Valentine’s Day 1991, the offensive part of the First Gulf War was in full swing. U.S. Air Force Captains Richard “TB” Bennett and Dan “Chewie” Bakke were pilot and weapons system officer, respectively, on a Scud patrol. AWACS ordered their F-15E to hit Mi-24 Hind Gunships that were close to a U.S. Special Forces operation.

Bakke told the author of “Debrief: A Complete History of U.S. Aerial Engagements” that the F-15E’s radar became “intermittent” when they moved to strike. The pilot couldn’t get a missile lock on the targets because one the Hinds began to accelerate so fast. Bakke switched his thinking to a ground attack.

Since he could only see the rotors using his LANTIRN pod (the ground targeting system used by the Strike Eagles) Bakke used a laser-guided, 2,000-pound GBU-10 bomb on the helicopter as it began to lift off. The bomb when through the rotors and the cockpit, its fuse delay exploding the munition underneath the Hind, completely disintegrating the helicopter. The other helicopters bolted after that and more U.S. air cover came in to protect the ground force.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

After the Special Forces team was extracted, they confirmed the F-15E’s kill and sent Bennett and Bakke a “Thank You” via their headquarters based in Riyadh.

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That time an Israeli pilot took on 11 MiGs and became the top scoring jet ace of all time

The name Giora Epstein might not ring a bell at first, but it is one you should know.


After all, he is the top-scoring jet ace of all time.

According to the Israeli Defense Forces web site, Epstein has 17 confirmed kills. The Jewish Virtual Library breaks them down as follows: two were MiG-17 “Fresco” fighters; one was a Mi-8 “Hip” helicopter; three were Su-7 “Fitter” ground attack planes; two were Su-20 “Fitter” attack planes; and nine were MiG-21 “Fishbed” fighters.

The site notes that Epstein’s first five kills were in the Mirage III, the rest in the Nesher (a “pirated” Mirage 5).

Eight of those kills came over two days during the Yom Kippur War.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Giora Epstein (USAF artwork)

It is an impressive total. To make it even more impressive, Epstein, who flew until 1997, was skunked in the Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot of June, 1982.

Perhaps his most impressive aerial feat was when he ended up on the wrong end of a 1-v-11 dogfight against Egyptian MiG-21s. According to the “Desert Aces” episode of the series “Dogfights,” Epstein’s flight of four Nesher fighters was jumped by over a dozen MiG-21s, just after Epstein shot down one of two Fishbeds that had drawn the assignment of being the decoy pair.

Epstein’s wingman shot down one MiG, but his engine was damaged by the exhaust from his Shafrir-2 air-to-air missile. Another of Epstein’s flight ran low on fuel, and headed back to base, while another of the Nesher pilots chased a MiG out of the main dogfight.

That left Epstein alone against 11 Fishbeds. It was not a fair fight… for the MiGs.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
An Israeli Nesher over the Golan Heights. Giora Epstein scored 11 kills in week using this plane during the Yom Kippur War. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Epstein shot down the lead MiG of the decoy pair, then managed to outduel the other five pairs of MiG-21s shooting two of the Fishbeds down. When he returned to base, having scored four kills that day, ground crew had to lift him from the plane. Four days later, Epstein bagged three more Fishbeds, giving him 11 kills in less than a week.

Yeah, that’s one badass pilot.

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101st Airborne Division soldier dies in training accident at Fort Polk

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it


A soldier with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) died Tuesday from injuries he sustained during a live-fire training exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

The Army is not releasing many details until the soldier’s family has been notified, unit spokesman Master Sgt. Kevin Doheny said in a May 11 press release.

Soldiers and emergency services personnel responded to the incident and transported the soldier to Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital on Fort Polk, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the release.

It wasn’t clear if the soldier was shot during the live-fire exercise.

The training death comes a day after the U.S. Navy announced a 21-year-old Navy SEAL trainee died last week during his first week of training in Coronado, California.

Seaman James “Derek” Lovelace was pulled out of the pool Friday after showing signs he was having difficulty while treading in a camouflage uniform and a dive mask, Naval Special Warfare Center spokesman Lt. Trevor Davids said.

Lovelace lost consciousness after being pulled out of the pool and was taken to a civilian hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Davids said. He was in his first week of SEAL training after joining the Navy about six months ago, Davids said.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Awesome memes from around the interwebs. Share your favorites on our Facebook page.


1. Look, when the Army started giving the Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle to more units, soldiers got excited about it (via Team Non-Rec).

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

2. Being a boot is hard (via Devil Dog Nation).

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Probably doesn’t even realize why his armor is so uncomfortable.

3. “Basic training is not nearly as much fun as I thought it would be.”

(via Air Force Nation)

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

4. Navy, this isn’t the reason we make fun of you …

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
… but it’s definitely a reason we make fun of you.

5. Do airmen do field exercises? If so, why?

(via Marine Corps Memes)

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
I mean, you park the planes at big ole bases anyway. Why go to the field?

6. You think your personnel manager is an a-shole?

(via Entertain Your Nerdy A–)

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Stormtroopers got you beat every time.

7. They’re so sweet and so, so bitter.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Sure, you’re finally leaving, but that also means you’re putting your ruck back on.

8. Look, it’s fine to be a POG (via Army Nation).

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
If you’re not infantry, stop playing like you are.

SEE ALSO: 9 reasons it’s perfectly fine to be a POG

9. Why malingerers are always so happy:

(via Military Memes)

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Wouldn’t it be great if the malingerers were all secretly Hulk-level strong? Instead of useless?

10. When your service has A-10s and F-22s, it’s hard to take your M-16 seriously (via Air Force Nation).

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
But you should still carry it with you.

11. Which would you rather have:

(via Sh-t My LPO Says)

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
The next three years of your life? Or a free soda?

 12. Car bumper stickers tell a story (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

13. “Sgt. 1st Class Smozart will be leading the 155mm howitzer crew through the 1812 Overture.”

(via Military Nations)

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

NOW: Troops pick which Army job is best

OR: This is the ultimate special operations weapon

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This is why Trump’s announcement about 90 F-35s was a big deal

The F-35 is the most expensive military project in history. On Feb. 3, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that 90 F-35As would be bought.


According to a report by the Daily Caller, the $8.5 billion deal saved taxpayers almost $740 million in costs — a cost of $94 million per aircraft.

The F-35A is arguably the simplest of the three variants, taking off and landing from conventional runways on land. The F-35B, being purchased by the Marine Corps, is a V/STOL (for Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft that required a lift fan and vectored nozzle. The F-35C is designed to handle catapult takeoffs and arrested landings on the aircraft carriers of the United States Navy.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
The F-35. (Photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen. (Cropped)

The increased production of the F-35 has helped knock the production cost down. An October 2015 article by the Daily Caller noted that per-unit costs of the Zumwalt-class destroyers skyrocketed after the production run was cut from an initial buy of 32 to the eventual total of three.

Earlier this year, the F-35A took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nev., and posted a 15 to 1 kill ratio, according to reports by Aviation Week and Space Technology. BreakingDefense.com reported that the F-35A had a 90 percent mission capable rate, and that in every sortie, the key systems were up.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
An F-35A Lightning II parks for the night under the sunshades at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 18, 2016. The F-35’s combat capabilities are being tested through an operational deployment test at Mountain Home AFB range complexes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeremy L. Mosier)

So, with these details in mind, take a look at this video Vox released on Jan. 26 of this year, before the announcement of the contract, and before the F-35s did some ass-kicking at Red Flag.

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Meet the wounded Iraq war veteran being honored by ESPN

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it


Next month, as Hollywood and professional athletes gather in Los Angeles to celebrate the year in sports, U.S. Army Veteran and VA employee Danielle Green will be honored at the 2015 ESPYS with the Pat Tillman Award for Service.

“As a teammate and soldier, Pat believed we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves while empowering those around us,” said Marie Tillman, president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “Danielle has been unwavering in her aspiration to lift others suffering from the physical and mental injuries of war. In Pat’s name, we’re proud to continue the new tradition of the Tillman Award, honoring Danielle for her service as a voice and advocate for this generation of veterans.”

Green, who is now a supervisor readjustment counseling therapist at the South Vet Center located in South Bend, IN., said she was honored to receive the award and be a part of Tillman’s legacy of selfless service.

“It means so much,” she said. “You see so many negative stories revolving around suicide, PTSD and VA employees, but everyday my team and I work with Veterans who truly believe they are broken. We show them how much they have to offer, how they can heal and get them the help they need.”

Green has seen her share of adversity. In 2004, a little more than a year after leaving her job as a schoolteacher to enlist as a military police, she found herself on the rooftop of an Iraqi Police station in the center of Baghdad.

She recalls the heat and the uneasy feeling she had when the normally lively neighborhood turned quiet. Suddenly a coordinated RPG attack on the station from surrounding buildings left her bleeding out and in shock.

“I didn’t realize I was missing my left arm,” she said. “I just remember being angry at the fact that I was going to die in Iraq.”

She credits the quick response of her team and their proximity to the Green Zone to her survival. She believed her quiet prayers, asking for a second chance to live and tell her story, didn’t hurt either.

“I learned to really value life that day,” Green said. “You can be here today and gone tomorrow.”

In the course of a few days, she went from a hot rooftop in Iraq to Walter Reed Medical Center. For eight months the former Notre Dame Basketball standout worked with physicians, nurses and occupational/physical therapists to recover from her injuries. The southpaw’s loss of her dominant arm forced her to relearn daily tasks like writing, but through it all she continued to follow her dreams and found inspiration in those medical professionals around her. They never let her quit on herself, and while there was doubt and fear of what her life would be like after she was discharged from Walter Reed and the Army, she kept charting a path toward service.

After going back to school for her masters in counseling, and a short stint as an assistant athletic director at a college, Green found an opportunity to harness all of her experiences and assist fellow Veterans who were transitioning out of the military. By 2010, she had gone from being a patient to a catalyst for change for those seeking help at her local Vet Center.

“There was some doubt and self pity,” she said. “I’d sometime look down at my arm and wonder what the purpose of it all was … But now I realize the importance of what I can do for my peers. It’s challenging and rewarding, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

More from VAntage Point

This article originally appeared at VAntage Point Copyright 2014. Follow VAntage Point on Twitter.

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Iran commands a secret 25,000-man ‘foreign legion’ in Syria

Iran commands a 25,000-man army fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the head of Israel’s foreign affairs and defense committees.


Avi Dichter, who formerly served as Israel’s domestic intelligence chief, warned visiting Swiss parliamentary members that the massive army is purposely targeting the Syrian rebel opposition, as opposed to the Islamic State.

Also read: US General thinks Iran is behind the missile attacks on US Navy near Yemen

“This is a foreign legion of some 25,000 militants, most of whom have come from Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Dichter told the delegation Wednesday, as reported by Reuters. “They are fighting in Syria only against the rebels and not against ISIS.”

Dichter did not disclose his sources, but he does receive regular intelligence briefings in his role.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
The Iranian army marches in parade | Wiki Commons

Iran’s role in the Syrian conflict is as substantial as Russia’s, albeit much more covert. In lieu of massive bombing campaigns, Iran has recruited a large army comprised of mostly Afghan refugees.

The Hazara community is a small Shia Muslim sect in Afghanistan’s predominantly Sunni population. ISIS and Taliban attacks against the Hazaras forced many to flee to Iran, which also practices Shia Islam. Instead of welcoming the Hazaras, Iran converted them into an army, known as the Fatemiyoun division.

Typically, the Qods Force, a branch within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is responsible for foreign cover operations. Iran’s government recognized at the start of the Syrian conflict that a war in Syria would likely be unpopular. The Hazaras served as a convenient proxy.

Iran also utilizes Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist militias as a proxy for Assad. The Iran-Hezbollah relationship goes back decades, and the terrorist group is far better suited for counter-insurgency operations in Syria than the more conventional Iranian forces.

“The Iranians enlisted Hezbollah … to fight in Syria because the Iranian army is better suited to fight as an army against another army, while the Hezbollah militants are adept at fighting against terror groups,” said Dichter.

Dichter noted approximately 1,600 Hezbollah fighters have been killed fighting in Syria. The terrorist group is an arch-enemy of Israel, but that does not mean he is happy to see them dying on the battlefield.

“The fighting had made [Hezbollah] a better fighting force and more adept in conventional military warfare,” said Dichter.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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This is how North Korea plans to strike the US

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is on the cusp of having something his father and grandfather could only dream of — the ability to unleash a nuclear attack on the United States.


For anyone paying attention, the test launch of his country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile on the Fourth of July came as little surprise.

He has been racing to develop better and longer-range missiles and vowed this would be the year of the ICBM in his annual New Year’s address. He made good on that vow with the launch of the “Hwasong-14.”

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Photo released by the Korean Central News Agency

But that isn’t all he’s been doing.

Here’s a quick primer.

Closing the Gap

North Korea’s newest missile is called the Hwasong-14. Hwasong means “Mars.”

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Photo from KCNA

Experts believe the two-stage, liquid-fuel missile gives Kim the capability of reaching most of Alaska and possibly Hawaii. Some experts add Seattle and San Francisco. North Korea’s missiles aren’t very accurate, so big, soft targets like cities are what they would be aimed at.

Big caveat: Kim’s technicians still have a lot of work to do.

It’s not clear if this missile could be scaled up to reach targets beyond Alaska, like New York or Washington. Reliability is also a big issue that requires years of testing to resolve. And that liquid fuel makes the missile a sitting duck while it’s being readied for launch.

Diversifying the Arsenal

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Photo from Arirang News via YouTube

Along with a record number of tests — 17 this year alone — Kim has revealed a surprising array of missiles: Harpoon-style anti-ship missiles, beefed up Scuds, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and missiles that use solid fuel, which makes them easier to hide and harder to destroy.

Also read: Analysts say that despite North Korean missile test, Kim Jong-un is likely years away from an ICBM

David Wright, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said heightened activity over the past 18 months suggests Kim decided a couple of years ago to speed up and diversify.

The takeaway: North Korea is well on its way toward a fine-tuned arsenal of missiles that can strike South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

Pushing the Envelope

What’s next?

More sanctions, almost certainly. US President Donald Trump claimed “severe things” could be in the offing. The US has circulated a new list of sanctions in the UN Security Council and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley put the world, and especially China, “on notice” if it doesn’t toe Washington’s line.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

China, North Korea’s economic lifeline, has reduced its imports from the North, including a cutoff of coal purchases. It appears to still be selling lots of goods to North Korea, which may anger some sanctions advocates but generates a huge trade deficit that could spell destabilizing inflation for the North if left unchecked.

North Korea, meanwhile, needs to improve its nuclear warhead technology. Its Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site has been on standby for months. So a test is fairly likely. And there will be more launches.

As Kim put it, expect lots more “gift packages, big and small” for Washington.

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This is why German submarines attacked civilian vessels during World War I

In retrospect, Germany’s decision to attack merchant ships and carry out unrestricted submarine warfare seems incredibly stupid. They knew – or should have known – that killing citizens of a neutral country (specifically the United States) even unintentionally was a damn good way to get America in the war on the side of the Allies.


Well, it turns out that Germany was relying on submarines to throttle British commerce. When the war started, the Germans had their submarines play by what had been the accepted rules of warfare when it came to merchant ships.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
A German U-boat under fire during World War I. (Youtube screenshot)

You approached them, you got them to stop, and you allowed the passengers and crew to abandon ship before you sank the ship. When it came to warfare, it was reasonably civilized, given that you were sending those people from a relatively safe merchant vessel and into open lifeboats and rafts, with only oars and the ocean current for travel and not that much in the way of supplies.

As you might imagine, the folks on those merchant ships didn’t want to go through that kind of ordeal of they could avoid it. So, the British started by arming merchant ships. Soon the submarines were being fired on as they surfaced. The invention of the Q-ship made following the rules for submarines even more hazardous – and a good way for the sub to be sunk. When subs sank, the casualty rate amongst the crew often was 100 percent.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
A U-boat’ victim starts its plunge to the bottom of the ocean. (Youtube screenshot)

German sub commanders didn’t want to have that sort of end-of-life experience. Nor did their crews, for that matter. So, the Germans decided to carry out unrestricted submarine warfare where they shot the merchant ships on sight. And thus began the chain of events that would bring the United States into World War I on the side of the Allies.

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You need to see this GoPro video of Marines in the jungle

Everyone remembers the 1980s war movies with their action-packed jungle sequences and grunt lifestyle. “Full Metal Jacket,” “Hamburger Hill,” “Apocalypse Now,” and others were products of the most recent conflict at the time — the Vietnam War.


Related: Here’s the way-funnier version of what the Marine PFT is really like

Today, movies like “Black Hawk Down,” “American Sniper,” and others represent the wars of this generation. It seems like the only jungle fighting Americans get into nowadays is in video games. But just because U.S. troops aren’t involved in a jungle conflict right now doesn’t mean its troops don’t train for it.

Armando Nava, a Marine and fitness enthusiast stationed in Okinawa, Japan, captured his jungle warfare training on his GoPro camera. The video, “Military Real Life FIRST PERSON SHOOTER | Jungle Warfare Experience,” is exactly what you’d expect.

It captures the aura of most first-person shooters — the instructional phase.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

Then it’s off to repelling off a cliff …

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

… crawling through mud …

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
NavaTheBeast, Youtube

… and grabbing some field chow.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

After chow, it’s off to crossing the jungle on this bridge made out of rope …

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

… and back on this minimal version.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

There’s nothing like passing out in a woobie after a long day of training.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

But don’t be the first to fall asleep.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

Nava’s video of Marines in the jungle captures the side of the Corps only some would understand. Surely if GoPros existed in the 1980s, the soundtrack would be “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N Roses, but the bangin’ electronic dance music paired with his footage perfectly represents modern times. We’re fans. Keep it up, Nava.

Watch:

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West Point’s Class of 1915 is one the stars fell on

Over the years, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has graduated thousands of officers who have gone on to do great things with their lives. Two Presidents of the United States and 75 Medal of Honor recipients are West Pointers. But no single class has been quite as successful as the Class of 1915.


The Class of 1915 was comprised some of the most famous names in the history of the U.S. Army, including Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. There were 164 graduates that year and over one third, 59 total, went on to become generals, spawning the nickname ‘The Class the Stars Fell On.”

All told, two of them were named as five-star Generals of the Army, two others became four-star generals, seven made lieutenant general, 24 pinned on two-stars, and 24 made brigadier. To top it all off, Dwight Eisenhower was elected as the 34th President of the United States.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
And was the only guy who could make this group of people feel inferior at the 10-year reunion.

There were a number of factors that affected the outcome for this class. The first was the timing of their graduation. With the Punitive Expedition in 1916 and America’s entry into World War I in 1917, the Class of 1915 found themselves in combat early in their careers.

Second, a career as a military officer was rather nice for the times, compared to other jobs. With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, resignations became exceedingly rare, even if promotions were non-existent.

Finally, with the rapid expansion of the armed forces for World War II, this class of officers quickly moved into high level command positions due to their experience and seniority. The first among the class to reach the general officer ranks was also the first Puerto Rican and Hispanic to attend and graduate from West Point, Luis R. Esteves.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
Also, a feather in his cap at the reunion.

The two highest ranking members of the class were Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. Eisenhower quickly gained a reputation for his planning and administrative abilities and in just three years’ time would advance from the rank of brigadier general to General of the Army, a five-star rank, as the commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. During World War II, he planned and led the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Normandy. Bradley would enter the war with Eisenhower in North Africa and quickly receive promotions as well. Bradley took charge of the Twelfth Army Group, consisting of four field armies and over one million men, the largest group of American soldiers to ever serve under a single field commander. Bradley would not receive his fifth star until the Korean War, when he served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The class also had two four-star generals in Joseph McNarney and James Van Fleet. McNarney was originally commissioned in the infantry but then attended flight school. Under his recommendation, the Army Air Forces became an autonomous component of the Army. He would eventually become the Supreme Commander of the Mediterranean Theatre. James Van Fleet was also commissioned in the infantry and during World War II he commanded both the 4th and 90th Infantry Divisions as well as III Corps. During the Korean War, he commanded the Eighth Army. He was also one of, if not the, most decorated officers of the class, having earned three Distinguished Service Crosses, three Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it
James A. Van Fleet, who beat the crap out of Germany, North Korea, and old age.

Although a number of the class distinguished themselves in combat in World War I, many members of the class did not, and would not, see combat until World War II, where they would truly distinguish themselves. A total of thirteen men from the class would command divisions during WWII. In Europe, Generals Leland Hobbs led the 30th Infantry Division, earning the nickname ‘Roosevelt’s SS’ from the Germans and were considered by S.L.A. Marshall to be the number one infantry division in theatre.

Lt. Gen. John Leonard, who received a Distinguished Service Cross in WWI, would lead the 9th Armored Division throughout the war and during their daring taking of the Remagen Bridge.  In the Pacific, Joseph Swing, who would eventually become a Lieutenant General, commanded the 11th Airborne Division. Swing was instrumental in saving the airborne divisions by chairing the Swing Board and showing their utility in the Knollwood Maneuver.

In the air, Lt. Gen. Hubert Harmon would command the Sixth and Thirteenth Air Forces and go on to be the first Superintendent of the Air Force Academy. Another Lieutenant General, George Stratemeyer, would command the air forces in the China-India-Burma Theatre of Operations.

A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

Many of these officers retired shortly after World War II but a few continued to serve. The longest serving member of the class was Lt. Gen. Hubert Harmon who retired in 1956 after 41 years of service. The last surviving general of the class was James Van Fleet, who died at the age of 100 in 1992. Although the number of graduates each year at West Point is now significantly greater than it was in 1915 it is highly unlikely that there will ever be another class to achieve such greatness.

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These hilarious USAF ‘Freestyle Friday’ videos will start your weekend with a laugh

Most outsiders may not know about an Air Force tradition that gives the hard-charging crew chiefs of some of the most high-tech airplanes in the world a chance to show a little personality.


You might have seen some funny videos or gifs here and there featuring Air Force maintainers directing taxiing aircraft with the flair of a funny dance or outrageous outfit, and you might have wondered how they got away with it without their commander coming down on them like a ton of bricks.

YouTube user Kyle Gott 

What you’re seeing is “Freestyle Friday,” a military version of “casual Fridays” where Air Force crew chiefs – the tactical aircraft maintainers who coordinate the maintenance and care of the world’s most expensive airframes — are allowed to have a little fun on the job.

YouTube User alexwannberg
YouTube User alexwannberg
YouTube User alexwannberg 

Crew chiefs have one of the hardest jobs in the Air Force; one that requires a lot of training, long hours, and a lot of responsibility to make sure the planes are in tip-top shape for their dangerous missions. There’s a reason the crew chief often gets his name on the nose of a plane with the pilot’s.

YouTube User AirmanSnuffie 

Some consider Air Force crew chiefs and maintainers the “grunts” of the Air Force, and no one should be surprised when they have a little fun on the flightline during Freestyle Fridays to blow off a little steam.

YouTube user Jeff Wilms 

The ground crews work in extreme heat and cold, depending on their duty station, with little rest between shifts, and sometimes multiple launches and recoveries per day.

YouTube User juukbox 

Crew chiefs have to deal with exhaustion from a high operational tempo, hearing loss from the jet noise on the flightline, and may sometimes feel a little underappreciated by the rest of the maintenance group.

YouTube User Chris Bosley 

Like most enlisted folks with this level of responsibility, they’re known for blunt talk and a no-nonsense attitude. They take care of the planes they’re charged to maintain very seriously. So it’s no surprise they’re known to be hardasses for doing things their way.

YouTube User jw040789 

But while crew chiefs work hard, they play hard too and are often the genesis of some hilarious nicknames for the airmen that work with them.

Happy Freestyle Friday from We Are The Mighty!