14 images that humorously recall your first firefight - We Are The Mighty
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14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

Infantrymen train countless hours on immediate action drills, patrolling techniques and room clearing during their pre-deployment work up. The goal for every successful combat pump is to complete the mission and get your a** home safe.


While on a combat deployment, you made some epic memories — some good and some bad.

But one memory you’ll probably never forget is that first time you took enemy contact.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

Check out what many young troops go through during their first firefight.

1. After traveling for the past few weeks to get to your FOB, your platoon sergeant announces the squad’s first patrol heads out at first light — which is one hour from now.

The time has finally come. (Images via Giphy)

2. You head to your berthing area to “gear prep and check.”

Let’s rock this sh*t. (Images via Giphy)

3. What it felt like putting on all your tactical gear for the real thing.

He put on a pearl necklace. That’s classic. (Images via Giphy)

4. That badass feeling you had when you left the wire for the first time with your fireteam.

We’re here to chew bubble gum and f*ck sh*t up. (Images via Giphy)

5. How absolutely alert you were after every step you took.

You’re not getting me today ISIS. (Images via Giphy)

6. After several hours of patrolling with nothing cool happening — you’re freaking drained.

You were all worked up for nothing. (Images via Giphy)

7. Then, it finally happened. Crack! Snap! The enemy is finally engaging you, and it’s time to get your fireteam into the game.

Getting your teammates on the same page is vital. (Images via Giphy) 

8. Now that you handled all that, it’s time to fire off some rounds.

You wish you were that tough. (Images via Giphy)

9. After gaining a solid visual on the bad guy’s position, you jumped on your comm gear and called in a mortar strike.

Don’t worry, your mortarmen were much better than these dudes. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 33 images that perfectly portray your first 96-hour liberty

10. You felt like a beast when your mortar strike hits without having to make an adjustment.

Bad ass.  (Images via Giphy)

11. Then, a few enemy rounds zip past your head.

You didn’t expect that, but now you’re really pissed off. (Images via Giphy)

12. You order your fire team to open fire!

Take that you filthy sons-of-b*tches! (Images via Images)

13. When the bad guys pull-back because they can’t handle your fire superiority.

They can’t handle us. (Image via Giphy)

14. How accomplished and patriotic you felt after kickin’ their a**.

Semper Fi. (Images via Giphy)

Articles

This Marine could be the first combat-wounded veteran to climb Everest

The base camp on the Nepal side of Mount Everest sits at just below 18,000 feet. At this extreme altitude, oxygen decreases by half, and climbers can become light-headed, get headaches, and feel weak. Climbers also risk acute mountain sickness, hypoxia, and fatigue, as well as pulmonary and cerebral edema.


The Everest Summit is at 29,035 feet, 3,000 feet above what is known as the “Death Zone” of mountain altitudes: the elevation level where the oxygen in the air is insufficient to support human life. It’s at this altitude WATM interviewed Tim Medvetz, not on the actual mountain but at his Equinox training center in Beverly Hills. Here, Medvetz and Marine Corps veteran Charlie Linville have been training in a simulated altitude chamber, working on stationary bikes at atmospheres replicating Everest Base Camp.

This week, Medvetz and Linville departed for Nepal to begin their summit of the world’s highest mountain. Linville, an Afghanistan veteran and father of two, had his right leg amputated below the knee as a result of an IED explosion. If he summits the mountain, he will be the first combat-wounded veteran to climb Everest.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Tim Medvetz (center) and Charlie Linville (right) on a previous climb.

“This is what we do,” Medvetz says. “We concentrate on one Marine, one soldier, one vet, at a time. We feel that we can make a larger impact on one guy’s life rather than making a little impact on a lot of guys’ lives.”

Medvetz is a former member of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club and founder of The Heroes Project, a nonprofit with the mission to improve the care and protection of heroes through individual support, community empowerment and systemic change. One of the three ways they do that is the Climb for Heroes Initiative, supporting climbing programs for wounded veterans. The Foundation puts injured war veterans on some of the highest summits of the world.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Medvetz with the first combat wounded double amputee to make the summit of Kilimanjaro.

“One of the greatest things I’ve found with climbing the big mountains is that it brings them back,” Medvetz says. “It gives them that feeling of being on the battlefield again without getting shot at, so it’s a real big positive effect.”

The pair use the Beverly Hills based altitude pod to prepare. They started at 5,000 feet, which is like a visit to Denver. A few days later, they go to 8,000. Then 12,000. Every few days they would simulate higher and higher altitudes to stave off altitude sickness. They also slept in altitude chamber “bubbles” at home. The effort physically shows. During my interview in the chamber at a simulated 18,000 feet, Medvetz’ blood oxygen saturation steadied at 90 while mine dropped to 85. At sea level, the average saturation level hovers around 96. After 45 minutes of talking, I felt lightheaded and loopy.

“That’s your body literally falling apart,” Medvetz said. “You can’t just go to Base Camp. You get headaches, fatigue, and general wooziness before you pass out. There are only three cures: descend, descend, descend.”

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Linville training for altitude at home.

“I feel good this year,” says Linville. “There were so many nerves that were here before that are gone now. I’ve been working a long time to prepare for this.”

Tim Medvetz and Charlie Linville have known each other since before Linville had to have his foot amputated in 2012. Before that the Marine had 14 surgeries to try to repair the damage to his limb. That was the year Linville says his whole life changed.

“I called him [Medvetz] two hours later from the hospital that I was ready to train,” Linville remembers. “That drive speaks to Tim. I wanted to push myself as much as I could.”

The duo was set to climb another mountain, but the Marine didn’t feel like it was enough of a challenge. While at a fundraiser, he was speaking to a mutual friend. Linville told the friend that the mountain they were set to climb was okay but it wasn’t the challenge he was looking for.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Linville while deployed with the Marine Corps.

“That’s when Tim came to the realization that I was the right guy for Everest,” Linville says.

This will be the pair’s third attempt to summit the mountain. During their first attempt, a serac, a huge ice tower, separated from the Khumbu Icefall during an avalanche and killed 16 Sherpas. Out of respect to the Sherpas who are well known in the climbing community, they cancelled the trip after reaching 22,000 feet.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Medvetz on a previous trip to Everest

“This is going to be my 5th time on Everest,” Medvetz says. “The first time we climbed it, we had 11 guys that died. The 2nd time, 13 guys died. But this was the first time 16 all died or buried at once.”

For the second attempt for Medvetz and Linville, they attempted from the north face of the mountain in April 2015. They arrived at the base camp and went into tents to get food. While they were there, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. The team, the Sherpas, and everyone else at the camp were stuck there. There, the damage was minimal, but 8,000 were dead with another 12,000 injured throughout the country. While most decided that they might as well press on to the summit, Medvetz and Linville didn’t feel right about it. As soon as the Chinese re-opened the road to Lhasa, the duo linked up with Team Rubicon’s Operation Tenzig, distributing food and first aid to villages in the Nepalese countryside that the Red Cross couldn’t access.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Linville and Medvetz with Team Rubicon in Nepal

“Charlie was just like, boom, right at it,” remembers Medvetz. “We hit the road with gloves on, right to work. Patching kids up, patching old people up, and in the end, it was more rewarding to be on the ground helping this country than standing on the summit of Everest.”

Medvetz has put wounded veterans on almost all the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, including Antarctica. Whether talking about Kilimanjaro to K2, the former biker believes the ability to overcome anything from a mountain to a war injury is all in your mind. He should, he survived a motorcycle accident in 2001 which left every bone in his body broken.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo courtesy of The Heroes Project

“I was a 250-pound Hell’s Angel who studied with the Gracie brothers in Brazil and was a bouncer in New York City,” recalls Medvetz. “And here’s this punk doctor telling me be lucky I’m alive, well you know, f*ck you. I’ll show you. Next thing I know I’m on a plane to Nepal and I’m going to climb Everest.”

It was the question “What are you going to do next?” that inspired the biker to help wounded veterans through the Heroes Project. He went to Balboas Naval Hospital in San Diego to meet someone to go on a climb with. Medvetz sat in the hospital for three hours, drinking coffee and watching wounded veterans, some missing limbs, come and go. He’d never seen anything like it.

“I pulled over off the 5 freeway at the first gas station and I must have smoked half a pack of cigarettes,” he remembers. “I decided I’m gonna do everything I can. I’m gonna make a difference. That’s how I started.”

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

Medvetz and Linville departed for their third trip to Nepal this week, April 6, 2016. Medvetz’

The Heroes Project has multiple fundraising events throughout each year, the first being “Climb for Heroes” in April, and another on September 11th at Santa Monica Pier. To donate to the Heroes Project, visit their website. But if you can’t make the events, the former biker has advice for both veterans and civilians.

“I guarantee you there’s some veterans in your local community,” he says. “Go shake their hand, man. Tell them welcome home and make them feel a part of your community. For veterans who want to do something like summit Everest or Kilimanjaro, convince yourself you can do something and you’re already halfway to the summit. Everything else will fall into place.”

Articles

The military is closing in on powerful exoskeleton technology

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Raytheon


For decades, the U.S. military and its private-sector partners have been working toward a technology straight out of science fiction: robotic suits.

And it’s no surprise. Exoskeletons could add to soldiers’ natural strength, letting troops lift seemingly impossible loads and dart across the battlefield at incredible speed.

Currently, the military is exploring creating an Iron Man-like specialized suit through the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) program. The suit would provide soldiers with enhanced mobility and protection, and it would most likely run on top of an exoskeleton base.

Today’s exoskeletons vary in utility, but they can allow soldiers to carry 17 times more weight than normal and march with significantly less strain on the body. With an XOS 2 suit, for example, a solider can carry 400 pounds but feel the weight of only 23.5.

Although robotic exoskeleton suits have been in development for over 50 years, things really started picking up speed in the 1990s, leading to more and more interest from the U.S military. Now, it’s a clear priority.

As former Air Force Chief of Staff General John Jumper said: “We must give the individual soldier the same capabilities of stealth and standoff that fighter planes have. We must look at the soldier as the system.”

Early 1960s: The Man Amplifier

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Youtube.com

Throughout the early 1960s, Neil Mizen developed the early stages of the Man Amplifier at Cornell University’s Aeronautical Lab. The suit was intended to have powered gears at the joints to provide additional support and strength.

Although it was hoped that the Amplifier would have military and scientific uses, Mizen could not master the system’s powered gear system, and the suit was never completed. Even so, his research went on to inspire future exoskeleton projects.

1965: The Hardiman Suit

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Wikipedia/Bruce Fick and John Makinson

One of the first powered iterations of exoskeletons was General Electric’s 1965 Hardiman Suit, which was co-developed with the U.S. military. The suit built upon the research done for the Man Amplifier.

The Hardiman was intended to lift 1,500 pounds; however, the suit never managed to act as a fully unified machine, and controlling it proved impossible.

Instead, research was focused on one arm of the suit. The arm managed to lift 750 pounds, but it weighed three quarters of a ton alone. The suit was deemed impractical, and the project was eventually abandoned.

1997: The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL)

In 1997, the Japanese research firm Cyberdyne started the earliest prototype of the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL). The South Korean and U.S. militaries offered to fund the program, but the company wanted to avoid military applications for its technology.

The first prototypes of HAL were created at Tsukuba University with the aim of assisting the disabled and elderly with their daily tasks. The original HAL systems were attached to computers, and the batteries alone weighed 49 pounds.

The HAL 5

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Wikipedia/Steve Jurvetson

In 2013, the fifth-generation HAL prototype, HAL 5, received a global safety certificate for worldwide medical use. It was the first powered exoskeleton to receive this certification.

The HAL 5 is a full-body exoskeleton that weighs a total of 22 pounds. The system functions by sensing bio-signals on the surface of the skin, causing the exoskeleton to mirror the user’s movement. The suit can function for about an hour and a half on a full charge. The suit was used by relief workers during efforts to clean up the partial meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, because the suit could allow workers to wear more protective gear and work longer shifts without tiring as quickly.

The Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX)

The Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX) entered development in 2000 with a $50 million grant from DARPA. The prototype allowed wearers to carry upward of 200 pounds while feeling no additional weight. The exoskeleton was even capable of traversing rough terrain for extended periods of time.

The BLEEX has been designed so that the legs can be easily removed from the back if the device loses power — thus transforming it back into a standard backpack.

Springtail Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle

In 2001, Trek Aerospace ran its first test of the now-defunct Springtail Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle. The Springtail was considered for military development and even allowed for vertical flight. But ultimately, the project was deemed impractical and never took off.

The Springtail was unique in that it would allow soldiers to fly and hover, effectively taking the role of a personal vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle. The Springtail had a maximum speed of 113 miles per hour and could fly for 184 miles and carry a payload of 358 pounds.

The LIFESUIT

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Youtube.com

Also in 2001, U.S. Army Rangers veteran Monty K. Reed set up North Seattle Robotics Group. The group opened the They Shall Walk non-profit, dedicated to developing LIFESUIT exoskeletons for the disabled.

Reed had a parachute accident while in the military in 1986 that left him with permanent back injuries. During his recovery, Reed became fascinated with the exoskeletons in Robert Heinlein’s novel “Starship Troopers.” The LIFESUIT is in a late stage of development, and it has entered widespread medical trials.

XOS Exoskeleton

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Youtube.com

In 2000, Sarcos, an engineering and robotics firm in Utah, began designing the XOS Exoskeleton after receiving a grant from DARPA. DARPA accepted Sarcos’ exoskeleton design in 2006, and production of prototypes began that year.

The XOS had to stay connected to a power source to maintain movement. But the suit performed remarkably within this limitation: The XOS allowed users to lift significantly more weight than they could previously. Its actual-to-perceived-weight ratio was 6:1, meaning that a 180-pound load would feel like only 30 pounds.

A lighter, more efficient XOS

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Raytheon

In 2007, the defense giant Raytheon purchased Sarcos. In 2010, Raytheon-Sarcos released the XOS 2. The XOS 2 featured a host of improvements over the XOS.

The XOS 2 suit allows users to lift heavy objects at an actual-to-perceived-weight ratio of 17:1. The suit also required 50% less energy than the XOS, while also weighing 10% less than its predecessor.

The XOS 2 is also touted as being more precise, faster, and more portable than the XOS. The military is considering using the XOS 2 in its TALOS project.

The Human Universal Load Carrier

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Wikipedia

The Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) began development in 2000 with Berkeley Bionics, which later changed its name to Ekso Bionics. The HULC was a third-generation exoskeleton system, and it incorporated features from two previous Ekso Bionics prototypes.

The HULC was proved to augment the strength of its wearers, allowing them to lift 200 pounds without impediment. The HULC also lowered the wearer’s metabolic cost, meaning soldiers could march with a load while having a decreased oxygen consumption and heart rate.

The HULC’s Military Applications

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Lockheedmartin.com

In 2009, Ekso Bionics licensed the HULC to Lockheed Martin for research into possible military applications. Lockheed continued its development of the HULC along the same lines as Ekso Bionics, but it increased the functionality of the suit to match the military’s needs.

HULC is multi-terrain operational, supports front and back payloads, and has enough power to last for an eight-hour march before having to be recharged. HULC allows a user to perform deep squats or crawl while wearing it, and it supports upper-body lifting as well. HULC is one of the exoskeletons currently being examined by the military for possible use in its TALOS Iron Man suit.

The X1 Mina — NASA’s Exoskeleton

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: NASA

NASA announced that it was creating an exoskeleton as part of a partnership with the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. The X1 Mina Exoskeleton will have dual functionality. In space and low-gravity environments, the joints of the suit will be stiffer, providing the astronauts with exercise to combat muscle atrophy.

NASA also envisions that the X1 can be used by paraplegics and others with disabilities to provide support while walking. In this case, the X1’s joints can be loosened, providing support to the wearer without being physically taxing.

The Warrior Web Program — DARPA’s Exoskeleton Of The Future

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: DARPA.mil

DARPA began its Warrior Web program, aimed at creating a soft and lightweight under-suit that protects wearers’ joints and helps increase the amount of weight a soldier can easily carry while using less than 100 watts of power. One of the most promising designs has come from the firm Boston Dynamics.

The Warrior Web program has produced small exoskeleton-like clothing designs that are meant to be worn under normal uniforms. The overall goal of the program is to increase the endurance of soldiers by lessening the strain on their muscles.

Over the past 50 years, exoskeletons have gone from an unproven and even slightly fanciful technology to systems with medical and aerospace applications. They are becoming lighter, more energy-efficient, and more flexible — meaning that it is probably just a matter of time before the U.S. develops a practical military version.

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

‘Missing Man’ honored after going MIA in Vietnam

Thundering jets above Colorado Springs the morning of May 9 bid a final farewell to a native son who went missing 48 years ago on a mission to bomb the Ho Chi Minh Trail.


It was a sound that Capt. Roger Helwig loved. Helwig, who was born in Trinidad and raised in Colorado Springs, was a free spirit known for meticulous honesty oddly melded with a wild streak that drove him to seek adventure in the sky.

“He was a tremendous guy,” said retired Maj. Jack Schnurr, a flight school friend, after an Air Force Academy memorial for the captain.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
The F-4 flew bombing, combat air patrol, fighter escort, reconnaissance and the famous Wild Weasel anti-aircraft missile suppression missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Helwig loved the F-4 Phantom and new bride Carol in what some joking called equal measures when he flew off for his second tour in Vietnam in 1969.

“He didn’t have to be there,” Schnurr said. “He volunteered to go back.”

On his first tour overseas, Helwig flew in the second seat of the F-4, running the plane’s weapons systems and electronics as a GIB, the military acronym for “guy in back.”

After he came home, Helwig got more flight training and headed back to war as the guy in front.

He was a forward air controller, one of the legendary “fast-FACs” who ranged far and wide over Southeast Asia spotting targets for troops on the ground.

During his final flight, Helwig and Capt. Roger Stearns were 10 miles west of Vietnam on a mission to stop the flow of arms and troops that fueled the Viet Cong insurgency. Flights against targets in neutral Laos, though, were something the Air Force avoided discussing in public.

Also read: The last US troops killed in the Vietnam War actually died two years after it ended

Records say the two had just bombed a target, and the jet was trailing a mist of fuel before it exploded. Searchers later found shredded parachutes and the remains of a life raft, but they didn’t find Helwig or Stearns.

In 1990, a Defense Department team returned to the crash site and found Stearns’ remains. Helwig stayed missing until last summer.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Dog tags are primarily used for the identification of dead and wounded service members. (Photo: U.S. Army Human Resources Command Daniela Vestal)

His widow got a visit from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in August. Searchers had found a tiny talisman at the jungle site: Helwig’s dog tag.

“It was surreal when I held that in the palm of my hand,” Carol said May 9. “It was as if I was reliving the past.”

Dozens gathered at the academy May 9 to relive the past with her and tell stories about the 26-year-old pilot.

Lt. Col. Mike Newton, a chaplain, told mourners they need to remember Helwig’s courage.

“I have no idea what it took to fly 100 missions in Vietnam, each one of them harrowing,” Newton said. “But he strapped it on every time.”

Carol remembered the kind but kind of crazy young man she met when he was riding his motorcycle from Arizona to Washington, D.C.

She knew she was competing with a twin-engined jet for Helwig’s affection.

“He loved flying,” she said.

Helwig left no children to mourn him, but a wide array of friends came to the Air Force Academy cemetery to remember.

The academy supplied an honor guard, rifle team, and a bugler to play taps.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
The 24 notes of Taps lay heroes to rest. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy)

Air Combat Command offered up four F-15 Eagle fighters to blaze overhead in the missing man formation.

Carol supplied her own touch. Bells played a last waltz for the man she loved — the theme song of Doctor Zhivago, the first film they had seen together.

And as the bells played, quiet voices whispered the song’s tale of love long lost but reclaimed.

“Somewhere, my love, there will be songs to sing. Although the snow covers the hope of spring.”

Military Life

These are the 10 best duty stations for beer lovers

Writer and documentary filmmaker Bill Carter was once quoted, saying, “There’s no such thing as bad beer. It’s that some taste better than others.” We couldn’t agree more. Sure, almost anywhere the military sends you, you’re going to be able to find beer. But if you’re like a few of us on the MILLIE team, drinking just any type of beer won’t do.


In the interest of our fellow beer-enthusiast military members, we’ve come up with a list of the top 10 duty stations (or areas with several duty stations) that are your best option for finding a local brewery. Our criteria for selecting these top duty stations were 1) the size of the base or area, and 2) number of breweries in the area. We kept it simple so you can decide on your own which brewery in these areas is “the best.” (This list was originally posted in 2018, so some new breweries may have come along since then!).

10. San Antonio – 11 breweries

The Alamo city, home to Joint Base Fort Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, and Randolph AFB, has a total of 11 breweries within the confines of this sprawling Texas city. While the Blue Star Brewing Company is the only one accessible on the famous Riverwalk, other breweries like the Alamo Beer Company, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, and Freetail Brewing Co., all have great beers and even better tasting rooms. Go for the beer, but stay for the atmosphere, the food, and the laid back vibe.

9. Anchorage – 12 breweries

 

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
When you’re running out of the cold after hours of shoveling, you really want that heater to start. (Photo: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. David Bedard)

Do people in Alaska still enjoy a beer, even when the temperatures are sub-zero? The answer is “yes.” And that goes for folks stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, too! Military families stationed here can enjoy suds from 12 local breweries. A popular option that includes reportedly fantastic food is Midnight Sun Brewing Co., which is located right off the Seward Highway. If you’re looking for something outside the gate (without the notorious reputation), try 49th State Brewing Co. Enjoy one of their eight signature beers or one of their many beers on rotation.

8. Camp Pendleton – 20 breweries

We’ve got a three-way tie for 6th through 8th place between Camp Pendleton, JBLM, and Hampton Roads. We know, we know: Camp Pendleton is so close to San Diego…so shouldn’t it be considered part of San Diego? Maybe. But in all of our research, people stationed at Camp P typically like to stay in the area and avoid the San Diego traffic. So if you’re stationed at this Marine Corps base, you can rejoice knowing there are 20 breweries to enjoy here that aren’t in San Diego. Bagby Brewing Company comes highly rated and is a short ways from Camp Pendleton South. Plus, its only a few blocks from the ocean!

7. Joint Base Lewis-McChord – 20 breweries

We probably don’t have to tell you there are a lot of breweries in Washington state. But you might not realize there’s a good handful of them right around Joint Base Lewis-McChord! We found a total of 20 local breweries that aren’t in the greater Seattle area. Narrows Brewing Company is right on the waterfront of the Carr Inlet in Tacoma, providing beautiful views while you sip your suds. Top Rung Brewing Company, located in Lacey, is a bit closer to base and has a reputation for being family friendly. Curious what the Pacific Northwest would taste like if it were captured in a bottle? Top Rung offers several beers that capture the essence of the area.

6. Hampton Roads – 20 breweries

Hampton Roads, which has one of the highest concentrations of duty stations in the U.S., is a great place for any beer lover. One of your first stops needs to be Young Veterans Brewing Company, which resides right outside of Naval Air Station Oceana and is….you guessed it….owned and run by veterans. If you’re looking for a brewery along the beautiful coastline, try Commonwealth Brewing Company located right outside of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek (we hear they have great sours) or Pleasure House Brewing near Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story (where you can bring your own food).

5. Hawaii – 26 breweries

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker/USN

We have another tie, and it’s for 4th and 5th place between Hawaii and Colorado Springs. Aloha beer drinkers! If you’ve received orders to Hawaii, the good news is your options of craft beer won’t diminish when you move to this tiny Pacific island. Right outside of the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is the well-known Kona Brewing Co., whose beers you can get in stores across the upper 48. Otherwise you’ll have to venture down into Honolulu to try most of the breweries closest to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. But if you’re stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, there are two great little brewing companies nearby, Stewbum & Stonewall Brewing Co., and Lanikai Brewing Company, that come highly recommended.

4. Colorado Springs – 26 breweries

We certainly shouldn’t have to tell you there are A LOT of breweries in Colorado. But if you’re lucky enough to get stationed in Colorado Springs, you actually don’t have to leave the city to find excellent local breweries. We found 26 breweries in the greater COS area, but that number is growing every day so keep your eyes peeled! As soon as you’re able, head over to Red Leg Brewing Company, which is owned and run by a veteran. The theme is Civil War Battlefields and features brews like Doolittle IPA and Howitzer Amber. It’s not to be missed. But if you’re looking to get away from the military theme, then it’s paramount you visit Bristol Brewing Company. This brewery is located in a renovated school (a local hotspot in the Springs with weekly events and a farmers market) and their flagship brewskis Beehive and Laughing Lab won’t disappoint.

3. Washington D.C. – 70 breweries

Getting stationed in the Washington D.C. area can bring about a mixture of emotions, but you can relax knowing you have a wide selection of breweries to check out here. Veteran-owned and operated Fair Winds Brewing Company is north on I-95 from Marine Corps Base Quantico and is almost right outside of the gate of Fort Belvoir! (If traffic along I-95 is particularly bad after work, some people stop here for a brew instead of sitting in their car for hours). If you’re a home brewer, this is a great place to bring in the recipe for your latest creation and enter it in a larger competition. Bluejacket is located in a century-old factory and is a stone’s throw away from Fort McNair, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and the Washington Navy Yard (we’re serious!). It regularly comes up in lists for “Best Breweries in Washington D.C.” so we recommend checking it out! Two other veteran-owned breweries in the greater D.C. area are Heritage Brewing Company and Honor Brewing Company (both of which are a hike from most area installations, but totally worth the drive).

2. Tampa – 85 breweries

It surprised us, too, when we learned there are 85 breweries in the greater Tampa area. And many of them are close to MacDill AFB. So there’s no way you won’t find at least one beer you love. If you want to grab a beer right after work off-base, then 81Bay Brewing Company is a great option (it’s right down the road and they offer 25 percent off for military in the tap room!). Their huge space is decorated with eclectic underwater themes, and they regularly have food trucks outside to accompany your beer selection. While stationed at MacDill you must visit one of the oldest and first breweries in Tampa, Cigar City Brewing Company. Their Jai Alai IPA and Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale come highly recommended and give you an authentic taste of Florida.

1. San Diego – 135 breweries

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Get your nautical themed pashmina afghan ready. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black/Released)

 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that San Diego tops our list. This craft-beer mecca is considered by some to be the craft-brewing capital of the world. There are tons of breweries to try, but we recommend checking out some of the brands you can get across the country who got their start in this California city — places like Green Flash Brewing Co., Mission Brewery, Stone Brewing Company and Ballast Point Brewing.

Once you’ve stopped by the big hitters, award-winning Karl Strauss has multiple locations, one of which is located close to Naval Base Point Loma, NAS North Island, NAB Coronado, and Naval Medical Center San Diego. If you’re stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the number of breweries right next to base! AleSmith Brewing Company has several award-winning beers and is known for its highly sought-after brews.

While this list isn’t comprehensive (mainly because there are new breweries popping up all over the U.S. every month) we hope it inspires you to get into your community and try a local ale. Or gun for one of the above places as your next assignment! Cheers!

This post originally appeared on Millie.

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Here’s what warfare may be like in 2025

With the technology of war rapidly changing, military leaders will have to rewrite the books on tactics and strategy.


Here’s WATM’s take on what an infantry assault will look like in 2025, considering that by then we’ll have cyborg insects, powered body armor, and steerable sniper rounds.

The mission

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

A rifle platoon is tasked with assaulting a compound consisting of four buildings using only their own manpower plus a sniper team.

They will be wearing TALOS armor, an “Iron Man”-like suit which covers nearly their entire body, cools them off when necessary, and actively assists their movements to improve performance and reduce fatigue.

-15:00 — The platoon stages for the assault

The platoon moves into its assault and support positions. It has all of the troops it did in 2015, plus a drone operator.

Its weapons squads will be providing the base of fire, and are separate from where 1st, 2nd, and 3rd squads are preparing to assault. The sniper team is on overwatch, protecting the platoon from a nearby hilltop.

-5:00 — Drones are prepared for the operation

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Youtube.com

The drone operator activates his quadcopters. These small bots are capable of flying through buildings, creating 3D maps, providing surveillance, and lifting up to nine pounds. Four drones come from a special pack that the operator carries in place of a standard rucksack. Another eight come from two LS3 Mules moving with the platoon. The operator has 12 drones total, split into six pairs.

Weapons squad brings up video feeds from two of the drones on a tablet.

0:00-1:00 — The assault begins

At the platoon leader’s command, the platoon sergeant moves forward with 1st squad and initiates the breach into the enemy area. 1st squad fights the enemy personnel on the perimeter, forming an opening for follow on forces.

Simultaneously, the drone operator orders eight of his drones to fly to the target buildings ahead of the platoon.

Weapons squad begins laying down a base of fire. Weapons squad’s close combat missile teams begin searching for the enemy’s anti-drone, counter-rocket/artillery/mortar laser trucks.

They see the first laser truck between themselves and the compound. It knocks one of the advancing drones out of the sky, but the missile team fires two Javelin missiles at it. The laser swivels to counter the new threat and shoots down one missile in flight, but the second strikes the truck and destroys it.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Cpl. Ismael E. Ortega/US Marine Corps

Another drone goes down to laser fire when a still-hidden truck engages it.

1:00-4:00 — Breaching and mapping

Second and 3rd squad begin moving onto the objective as 1st squad forms and holds the breach in the enemy’s perimeter defenses.

Two drones are down, but the six remaining on target redistribute themselves to form three pairs. The first two pairs move into the the southernmost buildings on the compound and begin mapping from the inside. The robots move quickly to avoid enemy fire, dodging in and out of windows and flying close to ceilings.

One drone is taken down when an enemy soldier strikes it with his rifle butt and then immediately stands on the drone, holding it in place. The drone operator sees an alert and sends the self-destruct signal. A pound of C4 explodes inside a fragmentary case, killing the first soldier and wounding two others.

The other three drones send their maps to the advancing 2nd and 3rd squad leaders who relay key information to their men as they reach the entrances to the building. The drones then fly to the roofs and park themselves on the edges, looking for the other enemy laser.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: US Army Sgt. Joseph Guenther

4:00-5:00 — Striking the second laser and establishing an automated perimeter

One of the drones is spotted by the enemy laser team as it lands on the roof. The laser team waits for the drone’s rotors to stop spinning and then burns through its body, destroying it. The sniper team detects the beam on a sensor and uses it to spot the truck.

They radio the platoon sergeant and fire on the laser turret, cracking the glass and disabling the system.

With the counter-drone lasers down, the operator is free to signal the four drones that remained with the LS3 mules. The drones begin taking flares, mines, and sensors from the mules and deploying them at pre-programmed points around the objective.

The two remaining rooftop drones take off again and head to the third target building to begin mapping.

An Argus — a drone that can tell what color shirt the enemy is wearing from 17,500 feet overhead — heads to the battlefield.

5:00-6:00 — Securing the first buildings

Second and 3rd squad hit the first pair of buildings. Second squad knows to expect enemy casualties in the first room since the drone went off there. With the drone-generated maps, the squads know ahead of time where windows, doors, and most furniture are in the rooms. They take the buildings quickly and capture two enemy soldiers.

With the first buildings secure and no enemy personnel spotted around the perimeter, 1st squad attacks the laser truck and kills the crew. It then breaks into its fire teams and holds the captured buildings while 2nd and 3rd squads prepare to move on the second pair of buildings. The medic sets up a casualty collection point and begins treating the POWs. A Medevac is called.

6:00-8:00 — Hitting the second pair of buildings

The sniper team sees a man flee from the fourth target building and radioes the platoon leader. One spotter keeps an eye on the runner until the Argus comes on station and takes over, covering 15 square miles and tracking all people on the battlefield from 17,500 feet. The spotter returns to watching the remaining target buildings.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo Credit: LiveLeak (courtesy of PBS Nova)

The drones mapping the third target building are captured and the operator orders both to detonate. 2nd squad hits the third building with a mostly complete map while 3rd squad takes the fourth building more slowly. 3rd squad takes one casualty during the attack, a gunshot wound that catches a soldier through a gap in the stomach armor of the TALOS. The TALOS immediately squeezes the fibers in that part of the suit, putting pressure on the wound. It also alerts the medic, squad leader, and platoon leadership.

8:00-12:00 — Treating the wounded

The squad leader orders a fire team to move the soldier to the casualty collection point. The medic is low on medical supplies but knows he has a patient with a gunshot wound through the abdomen coming in. He requests additional supplies to the CCP from the drones and the drone operator confirms it as a top priority.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: US Army Spc. Jordan Fuller

Two quadcopters with the Ls3 mules grab an aid bag from a mule’s back and fly it to the medic’s position, arriving at the same time as the patient. The medic grabs an injector of ClotFoam from the pack and tells the TALOS to relax the pressure on the wound. He places the injector into the hole formed by the bullet and fills the soldier with foam that will stop bleeding, hold the damaged organs in place, and be easily removed in surgery. He alerts the platoon sergeant that the patient is ready to be medically evacuated.

12:00-15:00 — The runner returns with friends

The Argus operator radios the platoon leader and tells him the runner is returning the the battlefield with two friends in a vehicle with a mounted machine gun.

Weapons and 1st squad are establishing the platoon perimeter and the platoon leader alerts them and the sniper team to the inbound threat.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth

A missile team moves to the expected contact side, but the sniper team already has eyes on the target. Knowing the vehicle will be moving quickly and bumping on the road, he loads EXACTO rounds. He leads the target and fires. The vehicle speeds up while the round is in the air, but the sniper continues to mark the target and the round turns in the air, finally ripping through the driver’s neck. With the vehicle stopped, the snipers quickly dispatch the other two fighters.

23:00 — Medevac and site exploitation

The medic gets his patients onto the Medevac bird and the platoon begins site exploitation. Their exploitation is protected by a drone that can watch the surrounding 15 square miles for threats, static defense placed by their drones, a sniper team with steerable rounds on overwatch, and their platoon perimeter.

NOW: 6 pieces of gear you won’t believe the military used

OR: 7 Post-9/11 heroes who should have received the Medal of Honor — but didn’t

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Chris Kyle’s widow appeals $1.8 million defamation award to Jesse Ventura

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight


Attorneys for Taya Kyle have asked a federal appeals court judge to toss a lower court’s $1.8 million defamation judgment awarded to Jesse Ventura, AP is reporting.

The former Minnesota governor emerged victorious in his lawsuit against “American Sniper” Chris Kyle in July 2014, in which he alleged Kyle lied in his book and in subsequent interviews that he had punched Ventura because he made disparaging remarks about troops in Iraq. The jury sided with Ventura in the matter.

Chris Kyle died before the verdict in Feb. 2013, and the $1.8 million judgment was passed on to his estate.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

Though the jury sided with Ventura, Taya Kyle’s attorneys argue that Ventura’s side acted improperly by telling them the book’s insurance would be “on the hook” for the damages, and not the estate.

From CBS Local Minnesota:

Taya Kyle’s attorney argued that line from Olsen’s closing argument is one of the reasons the appeals court should throw out the award and order a new trial. And on this issue in their questioning, the appeals court appeared to side with Kyle. Chief Judge William Jay Riley even said, “In my experience that was over the line, tell me why we shouldn’t grant a mistrial over that.”

Thirty media companies, including the Washington Post and the New York times, have filed a brief in support of Taya Kyle, arguing the $1.8 million award is excessive and that mistakes were made during jury instructions. In their arguments, Ventura’s attorney stressed that the jury believed Ventura’s witnesses and did not believe Kyle’s.

CBS Local reports there is no time limit for when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals could make its ruling, but they are usually made within a few months.

“It’s my name and my reputation that I’ve spent 40 years building,” Ventura, a former Navy SEAL, told the Star-Tribune. “If they order a new trial, we’ll go at it again.”

A member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 3, Chris Kyle is considered the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, with more than 160 confirmed kills. He wrote about his life, training, and multiple deployments as a Navy SEAL in his book “American Sniper,” which inspired a movie of the same name released in 2014.

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The Navy is testing a drone to hunt the world’s quietest subs

The US Navy is currently testing a robotic ship that would be able to autonomously hunt enemy diesel submarines.


14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Darpa.mil

Originally conceived as a DARPA project, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) is designed to hunt the next generation of nearly silent enemy diesel submarines.

Diesel submarines are quickly proliferating around the world due to their low cost. Russia recently announced that it has launched the world’s “quietest submarine.”

To accomplish its submarine-hunting mission, the ACTUV project is structured around three primary goals: the ability to outmatch diesel submarines in speed at significantly less cost than existing systems, the system’s ability to safely navigate the oceans in accordance with maritime law, and the ability to accurately track diesel submarines regardless of their location.

Tests of the ACTUV have been promising. Defense One reported in March that during six weeks of testing off the coast of Mississippi the ACTUV was capable of autonomously avoiding randomly moving vessels while navigating around natural obstacles.

The next major test for the ACTUV will be having the drone attempt to trail a submarine while other vessels attempt to block it.

Although diesel submarines are not capable of carrying out open ocean operations for as long or as quickly as nuclear submarines, diesel submarines still present the US with an asymmetric challenge. Significantly cheaper and more quiet-running than their nuclear counterparts, diesel subs can enable navies around the world to harass military and civilian transport along coastal routes.

The threat of diesel submarines could increase, as Franz-Stefan Gady notes at The Diplomat, as the next generation of these vessels will feature propulsion systems and lithium-ion batteries, making them even quieter and harder to detect.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Russian International News Agency (RIA Novosti)

The technical challenges are steep: “Picking up the quiet hum of a battery-powered, diesel-electric submarine in busy coastal waters is like trying to identify the sound of a single car engine in the din of a major city,” Rear Admiral Frank Drennan said in March 2015.

By creating the ACTUV, the US Navy will be able to more accurately track the proliferation of enemy diesel submarines. The transition to using drones for such missions will also ultimately save the Navy considerable resources and manpower.

“Instead of chasing down these submarines and trying to keep track of them with expensive nuclear powered-submarines, which is the way we do it now, we want to try and build this at significantly reduced cost,” DARPA program manager Ellison Urban said at a National Defense Associate Event in Virginia.

“It will be able to transit by itself across thousands of kilometers of ocean and it can deploy for months at a time. It can go out, find a diesel-electric submarine and just ping on it.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

NOW: There’s going to a ‘Top Gun 2’ – with drones

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week of Aug. 26

We search through page after page of funny military memes so that you can just check in every week and see the 13 funniest.


You’re welcome.

1. Everyone knows the “choke yourself” scene is coming up next, right?

(via Dysfunctional Veterans)

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
It may go a little differently this time.

2. Coast Guardsmen are masters of puddles from the surface to the greatest depths (via Military Memes).

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Even if those depths are too shallow for the buoy to actually be over the diver.

3. The candy isn’t worth it and the cake is a lie (via Military Memes).

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Don’t do it!

SEE ALSO: Pentagon considers lifetime access to Exchange for vets

4. Worst way to start an NCOER:

(via Humor During Deployment)

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

5. “Your wedding photos had a fake T-Rex? Ours had actual operators.”

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Sort of makes the groom look underwhelming, though.

6. Notice that the Jetsons wore Flintstone-style clothing? That Marine-uniform envy is real (via Pop Smoke).

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Marine Corps: Worst gear, best clothes.

7. A-10 musicals are my favorite soundtracks (via Pop Smoke).

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

8. “Then you’ll see! Then you’ll all see!”

(via Sh*t my LPO says)

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Except they won’t see, because you’ll be in the chief’s mess and they’ll still be out without you.

9. “But if you can run 5 kilometers so fast, why did you use an Uber to get to the hotel?”

(via The Salty Soldier)

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
How many incentive days off do you think an Olympian gets for a silver medal? Bet he had duty the very next weekend.

10. The only Pokemon I was ever interested in:

(via Sh*t my LPO says)

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
That’s a lie. I loved dragons as a kid and played the game solely to raise a Charmander to Charizard.

11. The green stop sign is a pretty useful tool of chaos:

(via The Salty Soldier)

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
It’s usually employed by Blue Falcons.

12. It’s more alarming but also funnier when you realize that this kid is a firefighter on base:

(via Team Non-Rec)

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

13. “This street looks familiar.”

(via Sh*t my LPO says)

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
Would’ve thought a Navy career would have more water. And booze.

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Here’s how Patton earned the nickname ‘Old Blood and Guts’

Legend has it that Gen. George S. Patton earned his “Old Blood and Guts” nickname for having a lust for battle without regard for the lives of his troops.


Related: 11 quotes that show the awesomeness of Gen. George Patton

But the reality of Patton’s genius is quite the opposite; he produced more results in less time with fewer casualties than any other general in any army during World War II, according to Patton biographer Alan Axelrod in the American Heroes Channel video below.

“He wanted his officers who he trained to know what they were going to expect in battle,” said Axelrod. “He [Patton] said to them, ‘you’re going to be up to your neck in blood and guts.’ This made quite an impression, and it stuck and from that point on, he was known as ‘Old Blood and Guts.'”

Still, high operational tempo and strict adherence to the rules pushed his men to the breaking point and hurt morale in the ranks. A common GI saying about Patton was, “our blood, his guts.”

The general’s low point came in August 1943 when he slapped two shell-shocked soldiers under his command for crying. For this, Gen. Eisenhower deemed him too undisciplined to lead the Normandy invasion, so he placed Patton in charge of a “ghost army” at Pas de Calais, France.

14 images that humorously recall your first firefight
George C. Scott as General Patton reenacting the infamous slapping of a shell-shocked soldier in Patton, 1970.

He was a decoy, and the Nazis took the bait; after all, they considered Patton the Allies’ best commander. Even weeks after D-Day, the Germans continued to wait for Patton’s crossing at Pas de Calais amassing troops for the fight.

This American Heroes Channel video demystifies Patton’s “Old Blood and Guts” nickname and shows the genius behind his relentless war tactics.

Watch:

American Heroes Channel, YouTube
MIGHTY MOVIES

Army veteran and Fox & Friends Weekend co-host to present 2nd annual Patriot Awards

Pete Hegseth is set to host Fox Nation’s 2nd annual Patriot Awards on Friday, celebrated virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s not all he does. 

Although well known as the co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend, he is also a proud Army National Guard combat veteran with a passion for service and holds a deep love for his country. “I love the Patriot Awards because it’s the one award show in America that celebrates what we should be celebrating,” he explained. Hegseth shared that the show honors people like service members and law enforcement but also unsung heroes — ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 

One thing that Hegseth feels really sets this award apart from others is the highlighting of values and honoring of everyday Americans serving their communities. “These people didn’t do these things because they thought they would get an award or because they thought they would get recognition which I think makes it all the more special,” he said. “We think it’s exactly the kind of thing that people want to be hearing right now.” Not only does the Patriot Awards want to showcase these stories but they hope to inspire viewers to recognize that they too can make a difference. 

Hegseth hosting the Patriot Awards on Fox Nation.

Hegseth appears to be a complete natural in front of a camera but his path to becoming one of the most recognizable faces on television started with wanting to serve his country. The seed was planted within him as a young boy watching small town parades showcasing veterans but it kept growing as he got older. After graduating from Princeton in 2003, he was commissioned into the Army National Guard as an infantry officer. A year later, he was called to active duty and deployed to Guantanamo Bay where he was an infantry platoon leader. Despite finishing his deployment and being able to return home to the states, he volunteered to deploy to Iraq. 

When Hegseth returned from that deployment in 2007, he spent a lot of his time as an advocate on veterans issues. He was a frequent commentator on national talk shows and even testified before Congress. Hegseth was one semester away from completing his master’s degree in 2011 when he deployed to Afghanistan. 

During his time in service, Hegseth was awarded the Bronze Star twice. After 12 years, he left the Army National Guard as a major, although he still remains part of the Individual Ready Reserve. “What motivates me is love of country and wanting to fight for it. It’s why I signed up to join the military in the first place… when I got out, like a lot of vets, I was like, what do I do now?” Hegseth said. Looking for purpose, he spent some time running advocacy groups and continued to speak on veterans issues. 

Slowly, Hegseth began gaining traction and recognition for segments he was involved in on television. “Eventually some producers at Fox & Friends said, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about asking questions instead of answering them?” Hegseth said with a smile. Although not sure how it would pan out, he gave it a shot. “It’s not the same but once you’ve been shot at or been there on missions, you can handle a couple of tough questions on live television.” The rest is history. 

Hegseth poses with a fellow soldier in uniform.

Being a combat veteran in television is a rarity, but something that Hegseth takes pride in. “I never wanted to be on TV; that was never my goal. But here I am and I want to use it to serve the country that I love so much,” he explained. He does this through his continued advocacy and co-hosting the Fox & Friends Weekend show, but even more so on the streamed special series Modern Warriors, airing on Fox Nation. Modern Warriors highlights the experiences and lives of post 9/11 veterans, giving them the opportunity to truly share their truth. Although it really allowed him to dig deep into their stories, Hegseth wanted to do more. So, he wrote a book.

Modern Warriors will be out on shelves on November 24, 2020 and it’s a body of work that Hegseth is excited to get out into the world. “The book is really a series of interviews. It’s 15 chapters, 15 modern warriors. It’s mostly in their own words,” he explained. “You meet the human side of these guys…They were really honest in the challenges they’ve seen and how our country takes regular dudes from regular places and gives them extraordinary training. Then they send them off to the most dangerous places in the world and bring them home and effectively say ‘good luck’…you know you are signing up for that, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Hegseth was very vocal about recognizing the impact that being a soldier had on his life. It’s his hope that his story will inspire others to step forward and use their voice, even when it’s uncomfortable. Hegseth’s words of advice are simple — in those moments of overcoming adversity and stepping out in courage, other patriots are just waiting to support you. 

To watch the Patriot Awards live on Friday, November 20 at 8pm Eastern, subscribe to Fox Nation. You can also catch the encore presentation on Fox News Sunday, November 22.

MIGHTY MOVIES

NASA astronaut breaks down space scenes from film & TV

Retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott experienced two spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space on both the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. She was the 10th woman to perform a space walk and, just for funsies, she painted the first watercolor in space (it’s now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum).

In the video below, Stott breaks down scenes in classic space films, from Total Recall to Gravity to getting sucked into space in Alien: Resurrection. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if an astronaut’s helmet cracks in space or what happens when a member of the crew is exposed to the vacuum of space (“there was a case of a guy who was doing a spacesuit test and somehow got exposed to the vacuum; he reports that he felt the boiling of his spit on his tongue…” she shared, to my horror), Stott has answers. 

In Total Recall, a cracked helmet results in convulsions and eyes popping out of their sockets, emitting a laugh from Stott. “The helmet itself is really very durable. We try our best to avoid contact with anything, because they can scratch, too. When we do space checks, we’re always talking about doing a glove check or a crew member check where you look each other over and make sure you don’t see anything that might be a problem,” she explained. “But overall, the suits and helmets overall are really very durable and have done a great job of protecting us in space.”

She had a lot of great things to say about the realism in Gravity, although “there’s definitely not as much chatter as what you’re hearing [in the film]. We try very hard to keep it to what the tasks are about. We might be playing music inside the shuttle but that’s not something you’ll hear throughout all the comm that’s going on.” 

She described how choreographed a space walk is, down to five minute increments. For safety, there’s always someone inside the shuttle during a space walk, as well.

“The thing that stands out the most to me is that you’d never have George Clooney, or any other crew member, just jet-packing around while the space walk was going on,” she clarified.

NASA astronaut Nicole Stott describes the real jet packs astronauts wear on a space walk. (YouTube screenshot | Wired)

She went on to describe emergency procedures (and why unexpected debris in space is rather unlikely), as well as what she described as one of the greatest fears of any spacewalker: spinning out into space. She also commented on astronaut training, including simulation and virtual reality. 

Stott giggled a bit before breaking down the ludicrous speed in Spaceballs, comparing it to the 17,000 miles per hour (5 miles per second!) that the Space Shuttle travels. 

The topic of training came up again with the Armageddon training montage. “The underwater work looks just like what we would do if we were training to do a space walk. Thankfully, in space, it’s easier to move around in those suits! You just have to figure out how to stop if you start moving too fast!” she recalled with a bit of wistfulness in her voice. 
Check out the video above for more Armageddon and everything from pulling G’s in Interstellar to the artificial intelligence of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘A Call to Spy’ film tackles WW2 espionage

Virginia Hall was one of the most successful espionage operatives of World War II, earning not only the contempt of the Gestapo, but also the Distinguished Service Cross — the only civilian woman to be so honored. As a spy, she organized agent networks, recruited the local population of occupied France to run safe houses, and aided in the escape of Allied prisoners of war.

Oh, and she did it all with a wooden leg named ‘Cuthbert.’

Hall’s story is coming to the big screen in the feature film A Call To Spy, written and produced by Sarah Megan Thomas, who also plays “the limping lady” herself alongside Stana Katic (Castle, Absentia) as Vera Atkins and Radhika Apte (Andhadhun) as Noor Inayat Khan. 

A Call To Spy features the unsung spies of Winston Churchill’s Secret Army — including their personal sacrifices, particular challenges and dangers, and social barriers that still resonate today.

Watch the trailer right here:

Virginia Hall was recruited by British spymaster Vera Atkins to report on German troop movements and recruit members for the resistance in France. Posturing as an American news reporter, she encoded messages into news broadcasts and passed encrypted missives to her contacts.

She signed up with the U.S. Office of Strategic Service and in 1944 she organized missions to sabotage the Germans. She is credited with more jailbreaks, sabotage missions, and leaks of troop movements than any other spy in France.

In a conversation with Thomas, I asked why she was drawn to tell this particular story. “I loved James Bond. I loved Dunkirk and 1917. But by and large, if a woman is in a military film, the story involves a romance — and I know they have more significant roles than that,” she told me. “I studied World War II spies extensively and finally uncovered the women in Churchill’s Secret Army. For my film, I decided to concentrate on women who were part of the mission before it became a success.” 

In studying women’s roles in particular during World War II, Thomas was surprised to discover just how many untold stories there actually are.

“In 1941, we were losing the war. Americans hadn’t yet joined the Allies. Women were recruited as an experiment. They were sent in because they were inconspicuous, they were unexpected. And it turned out they were very good spies,” Thomas observed.

“I was also surprised at how different the women were. Their only commonality was that they spoke French — but they came from all walks of life,” she explained. As women are featured more and more in stories previously centered on men, audiences are seeing the spectrum of personalities and strengths they have to offer.

A Call To Spy won the Audience Choice Award at Whistler Film Festival and the ADL Stand Up Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Thomas’ previous Sony Pictures Classic film Equity, a film about women on Wall Street, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Thomas created the concept, co-wrote the story, produced, and starred in the film alongside Anna Gunn.

“It’s important to tell all stories. It’s important to tell original stories. There are so many interesting stories yet to be told, and with the female lens we’re starting to see change happening. It’s exciting for diverse voices everywhere,” she told me.

A Call To Spy shares the 2020 challenge of being released during the COVID-19 pandemic. For an independent filmmaker, it came with a whole new host of challenges to solve. “We don’t have a $50 million press budget — we need word of mouth,” she explained. The film screened successfully and won awards at festivals before the pandemic, but afterwards Thomas and her team had to pivot.

She’s been following her own advice for emerging filmmakers: “Just do the work. It’s a difficult profession no matter what level you’re at — don’t let that be daunting. The right people will say yes at the right time.” Thomas is currently working on a mini-series that is a spin-off of the film.

“Audiences can expect a thrilling and entertaining spy film, but I also hope after they watch that there’s something to discuss on a personal level. How many people would put their lives on the line with such difficult odds? Right now we’re at a global crossroads — what sacrifices are we willing to make for each other?” she pondered.

Distributed by IFC films, A Call To Spy is currently available in some theaters or for streaming online.

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