7 key facts about the USO's 80 years of service - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

The USO was formed on Feb. 4, 1941 as the nation prepared for the possibility that it would get dragged into another World War. Now, over 80 years later, the USO serves America’s warfighters with an estimated 10 million “connections” every year in the form of entertainment tours, homecoming celebrations, care packages, and more.


Here are 7 facts about how the USO got where it is today:

1. The USO began at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Photo: Courtesy USO, Inc.

With the “War in Europe” spreading in the early 1940s, President Roosevelt knew he might soon have a massive military that would need morale assistance. He asked six private organizations — the YMCA, the YWCA, the National Catholic Community Service, the National Jewish Welfare Board, the Traveler’s Aid Association, and the Salvation Army — for their help.

Rather than just draw straws or split up areas on a map, the six organizations combined into a sort of entertainment Voltron that focused on one demographic, the troops.

2. The first services were USO shows and free Coke, both of which continue today

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
The late Robin Williams performs for sailors in Bahrain in 2003. (Photo: US Navy Journalist 1st Class Dennis J. Herring)

As the Army and Navy grew in preparation for the war, the most urgent mission of the USO was giving service members the feeling and tastes of home. The USO began a partnership with Coke (that continues to this day) and started bringing in talented soldiers and entertainers to perform for crowds of troops.

3. The USO had a break in service

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Marilyn Monroe visited Korea in 1954. Photo: Department of Defense

In 1947 the occupying forces in Europe and Asia were shrinking and the USO was granted an “honorable discharge” from service by President Harry S. Truman. The Korean War kicked off in 1950 and the USO was back in service by 1951. It wasn’t until after American forces were withdrawn from Vietnam that the USO officially dedicated itself peacetime operations as well as wartime.

4. Bob Hope performed at the first USO center in a combat zone

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

While the USO is now known for setting up shop in combat zones, no large USO facilities existed in contested areas during Korea or World War II. The first was in Saigon, Vietnam where Bob Hope performed a Christmas Special in 1964. He would perform a Christmas special for U.S. troops nearly every year until 1973, most of them in Vietnam.

5. The USO is headquartered in the Bob Hope Building

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

Bob Hope had a long and enduring relationship with the USO. He first performed with them a few months after their formation and before World War II even started. He continued to headline tours and recruit other entertainers through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War in addition to smaller conflicts and peacetime performances.

In 1985 the USO moved into a new headquarters building that they named for the performer in recognition of his hard work and dedication to the organization.

6. Stephen Colbert’s stint in the Army was in partnership with the USO

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Photo: US Army

While a lot of people remember when Stephen Colbert “enlisted” in the U.S. Army in 2009, not everyone remembers that his week-long trip to Iraq was a USO tour. Colbert filmed his show from the country for that week and allowed Gen. Ray Odierno to shave his had.

7. The longest-running USO tour is a Sesame Street experience

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Photo: US Department of Defense

The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families started touring the world in 2008. In 2014, it celebrated a milestone as it reached its 500,000 military family member. The show was performed over 1,000 times at more than 140 military bases worldwide.

MIGHTY MOVIES

7 reasons ‘Top Gun’ should have been about Iceman

In 1986, Paramount released Top Gun, story about a hotshot Naval aviator named “Maverick” who had some extreme daddy issues. The film was action-packed with awesome dogfights and a classic rivalry.


Did you ever wonder how different Top Gun would have been if Iceman — Maverick’s only competition — was the star of the film?

We did and here are seven reasons why we think the movie should have been about Iceman.

1. We would have seen way more pen flipping.

There nothing more badass than a classic stare-down to start off an epic rivalry. But add in a slick gold pen being flipped through the fingers of a top-notch Naval aviator, and you have the coolest introduction to a character (pun intended).

2. There would have been way more classic insults.

Let’s face it, Maverick wasn’t known for his sh*t talking other than “flipping off” an enemy pilot while being inverted — but Iceman was pretty damn good at it.

“The plaque for the for the alternates is down in the ladies room.” — Iceman

3. Top Gun would have had way more sex scenes in it — and they wouldn’t have been in complete darkness.

Iceman wasn’t looking to hook up with an instructor — he was much more interested in every single girl that was near the base.

 

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

Iceman wears sunglasses at night — and he totally pulls it off. (Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

4. They would have finished the iconic volleyball game since Iceman is no quitter.

Need we say more?

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Iceman even makes spinning a volleyball look cool. (Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

5. No one would have traumatized over Goose’s death.

It would have just been another accident from a “military exercise” resulting in a fatality. That is all.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
(Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

6. Iceman and Maverick would have totally got into a fistfight.

Do you really think Maverick could have beaten Iceman in a brawl? Well, if Iceman was the star of the movie, we probably would have found out for sure.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Iceman doesn’t back down from a fight unless it’s with the star of the movie. (Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

7. The Top Gun graduation would have been shown since Iceman did beat out Maverick.

We think it would have been cool to know how he got the gold pen he was flipping around his fingers earlier — he might have told the story during his plaque presentation.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Why is no one talking about the hot girl in the background? Oh that’s right, because Maverick needs attention. (Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

MIGHTY MOVIES

Apparently this is what it’s like to wear Batman’s batsuit

When Robert Pattinson was cast as the next Batman earlier this year, the internet did what it usually does when a new Batman is announced; freak out. But now, that the reality probably setting in for everyone that the former Twilight heartthrob is the next caped-crusader, what’s it going to be like? According to Pattinson himself, being Batman is apparently the best of times and the worst of times. Particularly for his ass.

On Sep. 3, 2019, Variety published a new interview with Pattinson in which the actor revealed, that yes he’s tried on the new batsuit and yes, it’s already changed his outlook on the world and that being in the iconic costume is “transformative.” Though, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get into the suit.


7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

Robert Pattinson.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“It’s maybe the craziest thing I’ve ever done in terms of movie stuff,” the former teen-vampire said. “You do feel very powerful immediately. And it’s pretty astonishing, something that is incredibly difficult to get into, so the ritual of getting into it is pretty humiliating. You’ve got five people trying to shove you into something. Once you’ve got it on, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I feel strong, I feel tough, even though I had to have someone squeezing my butt cheeks into the legs.”

So, basically, if you want to be Batman, you have to get used to people shoving a bunch of rubber all over your ass and legs. But, according to Pattinson, it’s worth it.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how submariners spend their artificial days

Comfort is one of the last things in mind when the U.S. Navy designs a submarine. There’s little room to walk around, restrooms and showers are kept as cramped as possible to make room for ordnance and mechanics, and the perpetual lack of sunlight and fresh air will make you forget what time of the day it is.

Add all that up and you’ll quickly realize being deployed for months on end on a submarine is enough to make most people go crazy with cabin fever — but the submariners of the United States Navy are legitimate badasses, so they make due.


We Are The Mighty is proud to support the release of ‘Hunter Killer,’ a submarine thriller starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman that hits theaters on October 26, 2018.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

An extra two hours of duty is nothing if it means not losing your freakin’ mind.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffrey M. Richardson)

There’s a certain flow that gets developed while underway. The lack of sunlight actually makes it easier on the human body to adapt to a new circadian rhythm, which makes splitting shifts a little easier. There’s a running joke among submariners that the only reliable way to tell the time it is by what the mess hall is cooking. If it’s waffles, it’s probably morning. If it’s leftovers, it’s definitely midnight.

The crew takes turns cycling through three eight-hour shifts: eight hours of sleep, eight hours of duty, and eight hours of free-time. Prior to 2014, submariners endured an 18-hour day that was split into three sections of six hours of each, but it was decided by the powers that be that shifting people off of a 24-hour cycle was a terrible idea for everyone’s sanity.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

This 15 sq. foot rack can be all yours for the low, low price of a one enlistment contract!

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffrey M. Richardson)

When it comes to sleeping, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the racks resemble coffins. Stacked two high and barely arms-width apart, the only way you can get any kind of privacy is via a tiny, little curtain. If you can get used to that, great. If you can’t, well, sucks to be you…

The space for your personal belongings amounts to all of a single drawer under your rack and a cabinet above your pillow. To everyone else in the military, that’s about a duffel bag’s load of stuff to last you an average of 90 days. What this means is that you’ll usually take changes of uniforms, the occasional personal memento, and that’s about it.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

Slackers, rejoice! You probably won’t be PTing that much while you’re underway. Just remember that PT standards still apply when you’re back on land, so there’s that…

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Khor)

After the submariner finishes their assigned watch, their time is their own until they head back to bed. They’ll often get called back for work or get stuck on some mind-numbing detail — but sometimes, it’s a nice break in the monotony.

Since you can’t really chill out in the living quarters if you’re lower rank, the preferred way to relax is to crowd into the mess hall and watch TV. New submarines are being fitted with internet access to give submariners something to do — but don’t expect speeds greater than old-school dial-up all the way down there. There are gyms on board, but you’ll have to stretch your definition of “gym” to mean two machines that are shared among the crew.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

(Lionsgate)

Life isn’t easy on a submarine. It’s not for everyone. But if you can endure the extensive training to earn your Submarine Warfare Insignia and knock out a deployment-at-sea in a cramped tin can, you’ve earned the right to be objectively cooler than (nearly) everyone else in the Navy.

We Are The Mighty is proud to support the release of ‘Hunter Killer,’ a submarine thriller starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman that hits theaters on October 26, 2018.

MIGHTY MOVIES

A stray dog named ‘Stubby’ was the most decorated dog of WWI

If your battle buddy fought in 17 major battles, saved an entire regiment from a chemical attack, and then pulled everyone out of an artillery barrage before he went back to find the missing and wounded, you’d probably feel pretty good about having him around. 


No wonder he was the only dog to ever receive a combat promotion.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

Yes, the aforementioned heroic NCO that saved upwards of a thousand American GIs on World War I’s Western Front was a bull terrier mutt named Sgt. Stubby. There was even a movie made about him in 2018, just in time for Stubby’s 100th anniversary of becoming a soldier. 

A private in the U.S. Army’s 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division named J. Robert Conroy smuggled Stubby to Europe along with the rest of the American Expeditionary Forces in 1918. Though not specifically trained to fight the Germans, Stubby was like any other soldier. He learned the bugle calls, the drills, and even a sort of pup-salute when called to attention.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
We couldn’t find a photo of that salute. It might be the only thing that’s too adorable for the internet.

Stubby was more than a mascot. His unit fought in four major offensives that are now enshrined in history books as pivotal battles of World War I: Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne. With 17 battles total, Stubby and the 102nd fought for a total of 210 days – more than any other American division during the war.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

He was able to sniff out mustard gas before it became a danger to his fellow troops – especially when they were sleeping. He earned his first combat promotion to Private First Class for just such an action. He even had his own gas mask when needed. Not to spoil the ending, but Stubby survived the war. That doesn’t mean he escaped unharmed.

At St. Mihiel, Stubby was wounded by shrapnel after an artillery barrage decimated the 102nd. He wasn’t out of the fight for long. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, he chased down a German spy hiding in nearby bushes and dragged the man back to the American lines. For his effort, his fellow soldiers awarded Stubby the Iron Cross – removed from his captured prisoner’s uniform.

After the war ended, Stubby was a hero. He was invited to the White House many times and met three Presidents: Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. As a soldier, however, his greatest honor was the gold medal awarded to him and his fellow soldiers from the 102nd from Gen. John J. Pershing himself.

Since Stubby was a stray, no one really knows how old he lived to be. But he died in Conroy’s arms in 1926, a life member of the American Legion, YMCA, and the Red Cross. After he died, his body was preserved by a taxidermist and sent to the Smithsonian Institution. You can see the actual Stubby at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., in uniform – along with all his medals and awards.

Watch the trailer of Stubby’s movie below, or see the whole movie on Hulu Premium.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

When Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger posthumously received a Medal of Honor for his valor and sacrifice during the Vietnam War, retired Air Force Pararescueman SMSgt John Pighini was at the ceremony.

In March 1966, Pitsenbarger was killed in action after intentionally placing himself in harm’s way to rescue Army infantrymen pinned down by the enemy during Operation Abilene during the Vietnam War. He received the Air Force Cross for his actions, but the men he saved never forgot what his sacrifice meant.

After 34 years, his Air Force Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in a ceremony that took place on Dec. 8, 2000, just in time for Pitsenbarger’s father to accept the medal on his son’s behalf.

Nearly 20 years later, The Last Full Measure tells the story of Pitsenbarger’s heroism and the efforts it took to present him with the Medal of Honor, the highest military award in the United States of America.

The film recreates the moving Medal of Honor ceremony. John Pighini was there for that, too, which is how his filmmaking journey began.


This is the true story that inspired The Last Full Measure

www.youtube.com

“We’d known about the movie for years — it took almost 20 years to get it done. They’d always told us [members of the pararescue community] we could be in the remake of the Medal of Honor ceremony,” Pighini recalled. While there he noticed some military details that weren’t quite correct — so he spoke up and found the director and crew willing to listen and make adjustments.

Director Todd Robinson quickly recognized that Pighini was a valuable resource for his film. Pighini served in Vietnam after graduating from his pararescue training program in November 1966. He would earn a Silver Star and a Distinguished Flying Cross for his rescue missions during the war. He would also serve as the first pararescue superintendent for the 24th Special Tactics Squadron and he now serves as vice president of the Pararescue Association.

So, he knows a thing or two about providing medical aid on the battlefield and combat in Southeast Asia.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

Todd Robinson, Jeremy Irvine, August Blanco Rosenstein, John Pighini on set for The Last Full Measure in Thailand, 2017. (Photo by Eddie Rosenstein)

His unique experience made him a particularly helpful resource for creating accuracy for the film. “I taught combat medicine so I was very much in tune with setting up exercises and working with people to ensure everything is done correctly. I was also involved in helicopter operations for so many years,” Pighini stated. He was brought on to film on location with the cast and crew as they shot the Vietnam scenes for the film.

Of course, anyone who has worked on a film knows that it isn’t always possible to be completely accurate. Budget limitations or storytelling choices will often take precedence.

“The important thing was that we told Pits’ story and it resonated with people. There are those who point out that we didn’t have the right helicopter, but there was only one 43 [Kaman HH-43F] and the guy just wouldn’t let it go so we used the Huey [Bell UH-1 Iriquois]. But the movie wasn’t about the Hueys, it was about Pits. It was about going down and saving lives, knowing full well what was coming his way that night. It was about our creed: these things we do that others may live,” Pighini reflected.

When I asked him about the idea of heroism, Pighini grew solemn. “Pararescuemen…it’s in your blood. Like nurses and doctors — when people want to help people, it’s a calling. To me, it was always about saving a life. I didn’t feel like I was being a hero. The guys that gave the last full measure…they’re the heroes.”

The Last Full Measure – Arrives on Digital 4/7 and on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand 4/21

youtu.be

‘The Last Full Measure’ Trailer

The Last Full Measure is available on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital and includes special features for fans of military history:

  • “The Women of The Last Full Measure” Featurette
  • “Medal of Honor Ceremony Shoot” Featurette
  • “The Others May Live: Remembering Operation Abilene” Featurette
  • “USAF Museum Screening with Veterans Pitsenbarger Family” Featurette
  • “The Music of The Last Full Measure” Featurette
  • “William Pitsenbarger Tribute” Photo Gallery
MIGHTY CULTURE

‘Mayans MC’ star Vincent Vargas ‘didn’t think it was fair’ that Adam Driver was bullied for serving in the war

Lockdown measures have meant that almost everyone is spending nearly all their time on Twitter. Those familiar with the social media platform would know that every new day during these difficult times sees a new celebrity being canceled. One of those celebrities was Adam Driver, for his supposed Islamophobic sentiments for enlisting.

On April 20, the hashtag #adamdriverisoverparty started trending on Twitter after a 2019 interview of the actor resurfaced. In the interview, Driver spoke about how he joined the Marines after 9/11 because he felt a deep desire for retribution against an invisible and unknown enemy.


“It wasn’t against Muslims,” he said. “It was: We were attacked. I want to fight for my country against whoever that is.”

What followed was a horde of Twitter users using Driver’s comments to accuse him of being Islamophobic and launching the hashtag. “#AdamDriverIsOverParty forget that ugly Islamophobic troll stream my amy adams fancam,” said one.

‘Mayans M.C.’ actor Vincent Vargas spoke to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) on what he thought about Driver being subjected to the cancel culture. He said, “I think right now, people are completely polarized and completely divided on opinions on everything in the world. I believe they took Adam Driver’s quotes on what he talked about, why he wanted to serve our country and turned it against him as if he [were] an Islamophobe.”

He added, “I just didn’t think it was fair to someone who [served] our country, someone who decided to join for whatever reasons that might be and then to turn around and try and damage his career because of unpopular opinions of other people. It’s a small demographic of individuals that use social media to essentially bully someone on their own opinion.”

Vargas also said that Driver’s 2019 interview might have resurfaced as people are bored of being on quarantine and stuck indoors. He added that Driver is “a brilliant actor,” and that he did not think “any kind of assumption of his character is going to ruin his career.” Vargas said, “Whatever they took out of context, that’s on them.”

He said, “For it to kind of blow-up again was kind of weird. I was almost amazed by it and kind of blown away that someone who serves in America, who [makes] the kind of entertainment that we enjoy that is mostly made in America — the land of opportunity that actors from other countries come to — was [bashed].”

Vargas believes that it’s “honorable and commendable” that Driver chose to serve in the war, whether “people believe in the [purpose of the] war or not.” He said, “[Driver] was trying to serve a greater purpose than himself.”

Vargas himself is a veteran. The actor enlisted for the military and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007 and did three tours. At the time, Vargas enlisted partly for financial reasons. He had a child he needed to support, but also because he wanted to do his part to help. He said, “I wanted to try and do it the right way and try and do special operations.”

The actor was part of both Operation Iraqi Freedom (the United States’ invasion of Iraq from 2003 to 2011) and Operation Enduring Freedom (what the Global War on Terrorism was called by the United States government).

Vargas was sent to learn Pashtu for several months so he could communicate with the Afghani population in the hills. He said he would check on them to see how things were going as well as to establish that “we’re here looking for terrorist fighters.”

Vargas said there was an interesting dynamic between the soldiers and the civilians of those countries. He told MEAWW, “Are we there for the right reasons? That’s a question to answer, but I’m here to do [the] job that has been asked of me by the military.”

On being asked his opinions on the civilian casualties during the United States’ operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vargas said, “I think we all know and [have] seen that there are civilian casualties in war all the time and it’s a super unfortunate thing to happen.”

He added, “It’s obviously not something I condone or support but I also know that there’s this crazy thing that happens in the fog of war and it’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate that a lot of terrorist acts happened in our country and some civilians, innocent people, and bystanders get hurt in those as well. When you have a country at war, those things are to be expected and it’s not a good thing. It’s not something to be proud of, but it is something that we have to acknowledge exists.”

Vargas plays the role of Gilberto “Gilly” Lopez on FX’s ‘Mayans M.C.’. Crucially, he also serves as a technical advisor on the show. Vargas tells us that it is just him and Tyler Grey (of ‘SEAL Team’) who are veterans who served in active combat duty who work as actors on mainstream television today.

Vargas said, “I believe it’s kind of my place to make sure that veterans are represented in the right light and not to be bashed on for serving our country. Think about Hollywood. In the 50s and 60s, it was [run] by veterans who served in Vietnam and before that in World War 2.”

As the technical advisor, Vargas helps make sure that everything done on the show regarding law enforcement, military, and border patrol are authentic. When the writers want to include material on those aspects, Vargas, makes sure that it is something that is correct and “valid toward the truth.”

While it may seem that veteran representation in Hollywood is aplenty, veterans often lament that their on-screen counterparts are often portrayed in extremes. Veteran Chris Marvin told the New York Times that veterans were being stereotyped by what he believes has become the dominant image on television and in Hollywood today: the “broken hero,” as he puts it, “who once did incredible things but is now forever damaged and in need of help.”

“The truth is, 99 percent of us are neither heroic nor broken,” Marvin said. “We are people — people the public has invested in who have a lot of potential. And it’s time to get over the pity party.”

Marvin believed that the portrayals may color the public’s perceptions, causing people to think that veterans are more likely to be unemployed and to commit suicide than their civilian peers, which he insisted is not true.

This article originally appeared on Meaww. Follow @MeawwOfficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

11 classic banned books written by veterans

Every year a coalition of organizations, from pro-library groups to anti-censorship associations, come together to celebrate “Banned Books Week.” It’s a celebration of the right to read and the right of access to information. At the same time, it’s a challenge to libraries and schools to re-examine the titles they try to keep off the shelves.


7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Maybe Henry Jones said it best.

The list of frequently banned books is surprising, especially considering the effect some of these books had on American history, including Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harrier Beecher Stowe, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.

We can celebrate Banned Books Week by catching these legendary titles, written by combat veterans and banned by people who wouldn’t understand them anyway.

1. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was an ambulance driver for the Allied Powers during World War I, working on the Italian Front. He tried to enlist as a regular infantry troop, but was turned down due to poor eyesight. He was wounded in action by shrapnel from an Austrian mortar round – but never stopped his front line duties.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Fact: Jody got to Hemingway’s love back home.

Related: 10 ways Ernest Hemingway was a next-level American warrior

A Farewell to Arms is the author’s book about his experiences in the Great War. The novel, first released serialized in 1929, was considered overly violent and borderline pornographic at the time. If anything, read this book because F. Scott Fitzgerald sent Hemingway 10 pages of notes on it and Hemingway told Fitzgerald to kiss his ass.

2. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Then-Private First Class Vonnegut was captured by the Nazis during the WWII Battle of the Bulge. He, along with boxcars full of fellow POWs, were taken to the German city of Dresden and forced to work in the city – until it was firebombed by the Allies. Vonnegut and a few others survived the devastation, in what looked like a different, horrifying new world.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

Slaughterhouse Five is named after the underground bunker in which he waited out the bombing. The book is the story of a man who became “unstuck in time,” floating back to the past at seemingly random times. It has become the PTSD flashback story and one of the most banned books of all-time.

Once called “depraved, immoral, psychotic, vulgar, and anti-Christian,” the Indianapolis-based Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library sends dozens of free copies to districts which ban the book.

3. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer was from an affluent family. He was drafter after graduating from Harvard and drafted into the Army as a typist in 1943. He did many things, including communications, cooking, and even recon. He saw a lot of action doing recon patrols in the Philippines and his experience became The Naked and the Dead.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Mailer at 21.

Mailer’s book follows an infantry platoon fighting the Japanese in the Philippine island of Anopopei. The book was deemed so obscene, it was banned in Canada. CANADA. Though popular, the book is really long and detailed.

4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

At age 19, Heller enlisted in the Army Air Corps. It was 1942 and WWII was in full swing. Heller actually enjoyed his military service as a bombardier on a B-25. He  flew the required 60 missions over Europe on the Italian Front, just like John Yossarian, the main character.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Heller flying in a B-25 Mitchell Bomber during WWII.

Catch-22 became so popular for lampooning the bureaucracy of the military, the term stuck and is now in common parlance. It was the other language in the book that caught the ire of towns and districts in the United States for being obscene – as if fighting in WWII was supposed to be clean.

5. Animal Farm by George Orwell

Orwell didn’t just write books against Fascism, he went out and did something about it. During the Spanish Civil War, he twice traveled to Barcelona to join the fight against the Franco regime. He was shot in the throat by a sniper and barely survived. This made him unfit to fight for Britain in WWII.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
George Orwell with his Fascist-hunting gun.

Orwell, despite fighting with Communists in Spain, saw the Soviet Union as a tyrannical dictatorship and wrote Animal Farm to criticize Stalin and his regime. The book also closely follows the events of WWII and predicted the coming Cold War. Animal Farm was banned in the Eastern Bloc until 1989.

6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Of course A Clockwork Orange was written by a veteran, and of course someone tried to ban it. Burgess was a veteran of the UK’s Royal Army Medical Corps and spent much of the war in Gibraltar. Even though he disliked authority and regularly pranked his fellow orderlies and made a general mockery of the rules, he was often promoted.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
I couldn’t find a photo of Burgess in uniform.

His book is set in a dystopian England, and is the violent story of a teen named Alex and his gang. The book’s true focus is about free will and how much humans are born prone to destruction versus how much they’re taught. This book is violent even by today’s standards.

7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien served in World War I France as a member of the Lancashire Fusiliers. His experiences at the WWI Battle of the Somme would not only come to color his descriptions of combat in The Lord of the Rings, it would also come to describe the worlds he created in Middle Earth.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
More than a million people died at the Somme and you can read about it in The Lord of the Rings.

Related: How Tolkien’s war experience shaped ‘The Lord of the Rings’

While the descriptions of war were from personal experience, he went out of his way to inform people that there was no real-world analogy to his work. Sauron did not represent any world leader and there was no ring to rule them all. The book was banned for being anti-Christian and anti-religious – despite the idea of a King returning being foremost in Tolkien’s mind.

8. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

Author William Styron was once a United States Marine, serving much of World War II stateside. In 1944, he was sent to the Pacific for the planned invasion of mainland Japan – but the Atomic Bombs ended that idea. His book The Long March is reflective of his time training as a U.S. Marine, especially being called up to fight the Korean War.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
The author as a United States Marine.

Sophie’s Choice was banned in a number of countries, including Poland, the Soviet Union, South Africa, and a number of localities in the U.S. for explicit sexuality and drug use.

9. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh was 36 years old at the outbreak of World War II, but used his connections to get a commission in the Royal Marines. He fought in West Africa, North Africa, and the evacuation of Crete from advancing Axis forces, among other missions, inluding escorting Winston Churchill to a meeting with Yugoslavian leader Marshal Tito.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Lieutenant Waugh in WWII.

Though set in WWII England, the book doesn’t have much to do with the war. The principal reason for it being banned is because of the matter-of-fact depiction of homosexual characters. The book makes no judgement on whether it’s right or wrong, just that it exists.

10. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Golding joined the Royal Navy in 1940, spending much of World War II at sea, attacking submarines and battleships, even taking part in the sinking of the German ship Bismarck.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Golding with an epic Navy beard.

His experience prompted him to say, “I began to see what people were capable of doing. Anyone who moved through those years without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey, must have been blind or wrong in the head.”

So a book about children exposed to the worst of human nature is hardly a surprise coming from a man of such experience. The book is banned for its violence and language (even though it’s necessary for the theme of the book) – and is often accused of racism.

11. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Salinger joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and stayed through the end of the second world war. He was on Utah Beach in Normandy on D-Day, drank with Hemingway in Paris, was at Hürtgen Forest, and it was his unit that first encountered the Dachau Concentration Camp.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Salinger landed at Utah with the second wave.

The whole time, he carried a typewriter with him. When he couldn’t type, he wrote. And what he was writing was the Catcher in the Rye, a book that saw more military action than most of the guys on this list. And like other entries on the list, it was banned or challenged for vulgar language, sexual references, blasphemy, undermining of family values and moral codes, and promotion of drinking, smoking, lying, and promiscuity.

Intel

‘A War’ shows the complexities of ROE while trying to win hearts and minds

‘A War’ is an Oscar-nominated Danish film that deals with what happens in the field and on the homefront when warfighters are made to fight with restrictive rules of engagement. As much as the film is a story about one officer’s experience (and how his choices under fire potentially affect his family) it is also a commentary on the nature of the limited wars that members of NATO and ISAF have found themselves involved in since 2001.


The war in Afghanistan has been specifically challenging with respect to ROE. The enemy isn’t another nation-state. Some areas are more secure than others, but overall there are no front lines. Add to that the overall mission of convincing the local populace that modernity and following a western model of rule of law is the better choice over the savage and unmerciful nature of Sharia law and the draconian elements that come with it. The ability to win “hearts and minds” is heavily leveraged against avoiding collateral damage while attacking the enemy.

All of that distills down into an ROE matrix that requires the warfighter in the field to accept risk. This primary mission is keep the locals safe; it’s not keep your troops safe. And it’s not kill the enemy at all costs.

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service
Scene from the Danish film ‘A War.’

In all-out warfare unflinching ROE can be established, stuff like “if it flies it dies” and “everything east of this longitude is hostile.” In limited war the steps are complex and nuanced, almost like trying to build a case in a courtroom. Only a battlefield is no courtroom.

In limited war the fact your unit is under attack doesn’t give you carte blanche to defend yourself. “Positive ID” must be established. You have to be able to prove you know where the bullets are coming from before returning fire rather than destroying whole city blocks. You have to be able to tell “the pepper from the fly shit,” as they say.

Complying with this PID methodology gets harder when troops start dying around you. At that point you’re apt to do whatever it takes to make it stop.

And once the shooting does stop and you’re back in the antiseptic light of day, you will be judged on your conduct. You’ll be judged by those who weren’t there, and who probably never have been or ever will be there.

Such is the essence of the Post-9/11 conflicts. The harm into which we’ve sent our most recent generation of warriors is distinct from those who fought before them, and the respect they’re due is unique and equal.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The final Black Widow trailer is here

The new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Black Widow, comes out this May. The standalone film will revolve around the Avenger Natasha Romanoff, otherwise known as the Black Widow.


The former assassin turned superhero has a dark and mysterious past that has been alluded to several times during the MCU run. Now, fans get to dive into that story and learn what made Black Widow and why her past haunts her.

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The new trailer also featured more of the movie’s villain, the Taskmaster. The Taskmaster has the ability to learn and mimic the fighting style of anyone he faces. In the first trailer we see him take aim with a bow and arrow which means he must have gone up against Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye.

But in the new trailer, we see other Avengers mimicked by the Taskmaster. At the 1:12 mark, we see Taskmaster give the ole Wakanda Forever salute, prompting fans to wonder if there will be an appearance by Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, also known as Black Panther.

Also, we see Taskmaster pull out a very iconic tool of one of the Avengers.

That’s right, he uses (pretty proficiently) a shield as a weapon just like Captain America.

Taskmaster is considered Marvel’s ultimate copycat In the new #BlackWidow trailer you can see him: – Studying Natasha’s moves in ‘Iron Man 2’ – Throwing a shield like Cap – Mimicking Black Panther – Shooting a bow and arrow like Hawkeye http://fandom.link/taskmaster pic.twitter.com/NMUXG7FNKd

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Speaking of the Captain, the movie features his old Soviet counterpart. Played by Stranger Things star David Harbour, the Red Guardian has a big role in the movie as one of Black Widow’s family members. The premise of the movie seems to be that the Taskmaster has taken control of the Red Room (used to create Black Widow assassins) and Black Widow and her family must do battle to stop him. Rounding out the superhero family are Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh.

The movie is supposed to be set after Captain America: Civil War, and has Romonoff alone and dealing with a sinister force that is using her past against her. She must battle both the Taskmaster and her past in order to prevail.

It sounds like this will be another great Marvel action flick!

Black Widow hits theaters on May 1st, 2020.
MIGHTY MOVIES

Russell Crowe got drunk and bought a dinosaur skull from Leonardo DiCaprio

If you have the money, do you hesitate when presented with the opportunity to buy a dinosaur skull for your children? The answer should be unflagging YES. YES YOU SHOULD. And yet, we think there’s a more important — very quick — follow-up question to ask before buying said dinosaur skull. It’s a question a child would ask, but a question that a well-meaning father (like the beloved star of Gladiator Russell Crowe, for example) might forget to ask. And that question is: What kind of dinosaur skull?


On June 20, 2019, Vulture reported that Russell Crowe has been telling the tale of the time he got shit-faced on vodka and bought a real dinosaur skull from Leonardo DiCaprio. “I bought it for my kids, and you know, cut myself a little bit of slack here, there was a bunch of vodka involved in the transaction and it happened at Leonardo’s house,” Crowe told Howard Stern. So far, so good, right? If you had the kind of income Crowe has, you’d do this for your kids, too, right? I mean, my kid is two-years-old, and she already loves dinosaurs. But, also relevantly, like all cool children who love dinosaurs, my two-year-old can already distinguish between types of dinosaurs. This is a super-power most little kids have, and it makes them all seem like they know more about the world than they actually do. My daughter can tell the difference between a stegosaur, a triceratops, and yes, even a pachycephalosaurus. Guess who probably can’t remember the importance of these distinctions? Yep, you guessed it, a shit-faced Russell Crowe!

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

From back to front: Ankylosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Quetzalcoatlus, Triceratops, Struthiomimus, Pachycephalosaurus, and the unnamed dromaeosaurid and caenagnathid now named Acheroraptor and Anzu respectively.

The dinosaur skull Crowe bought from Leo was a Mosasaurus. A what? That’s right, it’s that underwater dinosaur that was a big deal in the first Jurassic World movie. Now, I’m not saying this kind of dinosaur isn’t cool per se, but it’s certainly not 30K cool, and I bet my daughter would be disappointed we missed some mortgage payments over this particular dino skull.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) – Mosasaurus Attack Scene (1/10) | Movieclips

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A T-Rex? A Triceratops? I mean, I think anyone could understand. But, a dinosaur that looks like a glorified crocodile? This seems like the real mistake here.

The lesson here is very clear. If you’re making late night drunken purchases of the remains of prehistoric creatures, you should, by all means, think of your children. But, more importantly than that, if you want that purchase to matter, think like a child.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha

Here’s a quick look at a few of our favorite stories of the week:


In early April 2016, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Charlie Linville departed the U.S. with The Heroes Project founder Tim Medvetz. Their destination was Nepal and their third attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the top of the world. Semper Fi!

The Syrian Democratic Forces coalition launched a new campaign to advance toward the ISIS capital at Raqqa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYcqrT0nU0I

To say that Gurkhas are simply soldiers from Nepal would be a massive understatement. They are known for their exceptional bravery, ability, and heroism in the face of insurmountable odds. A great example is Dipprasad Pun, who singlehandedly held his post against more than 30 Taliban fighters.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why we’re pumped about the new ‘Overlord’ film

There’s a special place in our hearts for zombie films. It’s a fun little escape to the smokepit conversations every troop has while deployed, like, “who would your zombie apocalypse team be?” And, “where would you go looting first?” Obviously, the only correct answers are your squadmates and the nearest gunshop, respectively, but I digress.

Zombie films have a strange place in the cinematic landscape. The ones that embrace the campiness of the genre tend to be more successful financially and the lower the budget of a zombie film, the more fun (or funny) it’ll probably be. This is part of what made the veteran-made Range 15 so enjoyable to other veterans who enjoy that special, corny magic typical of zombie films.

It was recently announced that J.J. Abrams is set to produce the upcoming film Overlord. From the looks of things, it’s going to be a zombie film set during the events of the Battle of Normandy — also known as Operation Overlord.


7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

Kind of like the Norwegian film ‘Dead Snow.’

(Euforia Films)

There is a bit of historical precedent for the film. The Nazis never created zombies (obviously), but their fascination with the occult and fringe sciences has been well documented. Hitler, in addition to being a mass-murdering f*ckhead, was obsessed with everything occult in trying to get an edge. This ranged from having officers study Nordic runes to sending troops into Tibet in search of Shangri-la and all sorts of messed-up stuff to create their so-called “übermensch.”

There is no historical record of the Nazis ever trying to reanimate the dead in any Frankensteinian or Lovecraftian manner, but it isn’t too far of a stretch to play on Hitler’s “thousand year army” dream to include “thousand year soldiers.”

7 key facts about the USO’s 80 years of service

The biggest homage has got to be given to the 1985 film, ‘Re-Animator.’

(Empire International Pictures)

Judging by the trailers, this film seems like it’s going to be an homage to both the war and zombie genres of film. Of course, fans have been quick to point out the similarities between it and Call of Duty‘s Nazi Zombie mode or Return to Castle Wolfenstein, if you want to actually want to get your gaming history right. In the film’s defense, it’s actually making far more references to the mutated Nazi monsters and transformation scenes in An American Werewolf in London.

It’s also interesting to note that this is the first rated-R film for both Bad Robot and J.J Abrams. It’s been said numerous times by Abrams himself that the film is not going to be a part of the Cloverfield franchise. While he’s known for his misdirection, it seems like he’s telling the truth, you know, since the Cloverfield alien was from space and this film is set in Nazi-occupied France.

The film also has plenty of great actors attached who have an impressive action-feature resume. Jovan Adepo of The Leftovers, Jacob Anderson of Game of Thrones, Bokeem Woodbine of The Rock and Riddick, and Wyatt Russell from the Black Mirror episode ‘Playtest’ are all co-leads against Pilou Asbæk’s (Euron Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) evil Nazi scientist character.

Overlord is going to be directed by Julius Avery, the director of the Australian indie film, Son of a Gun. Billy Ray, the writer of Captain Phillips, and Mark L. Smith, screenplay writer for The Revenant, co-wrote the script.

The film is scheduled for release on November 9th, 2018, but you can watch the trailer below right now.

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