From the Marine Corps to 'Animal House' to 'Killing Reagan': Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson - We Are The Mighty
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From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

Actor and Marine Tim Matheson. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

Marine corporal and well-known TV and film actor Tim Matheson spent a morning with We Are The Mighty. He discussed everything from growing up in Hollywood, to his service in the Corps in the late 1960s and 1970s, to his starring in many great, classic films.

Matheson with Lucille Ball in Yours, Mine and Ours. Photo courtesy of Tim Matheson.

Matheson is notable to audiences worldwide for his performances in John Landis’ Animal House, Steven Spielberg’s 1941, Mel Brooks’s To Be Or Not To Be, with Chevy Chase in Fletch, as Vice President John Hoynes in the award-winning show West Wing and more recently as President Ronald Reagan in the TV movie Killing Reagan. He got his start in TV back in the 1960s on such series as Leave It to Beaver with Jerry Mathers; being the voice of Jonny Quest in Jonny Quest and guest-starring on Bonanza, The Virginian and Adam-12. His early film roles offered him the chance to work with Dick Van Dyke, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, Debbie Reynolds and Jane Wyman in such films as Divorce American Style; Yours, Mine, and Ours; and How to Commit Marriage. He starred with Clint Eastwood, David Soul, Hal Holbrook, Robert Urich and Kip Niven in the second installment of the Dirty Harry series Magnum Force.

Matheson voiced the title character “Jonny” (right-kneeling) in Jonny Quest. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Matheson described coming up in the industry as: “I learned on the job as an actor. I took classes when I was younger, but most of it was OJT. I’d get a day job here and a day job there. I sort of got the hang of it and it evolved into me learning my craft. The most interesting show I did was Yours, Mine, and Ours with Lucille Ball. It was like my first big movie and it was a big part with Henry Fonda, and he played a Naval Officer. It was based on a real story about this family. My character had a draft physical and then enlisted in the Marines. I think I was 18 and the day I was to shoot that scene. It was the day I actually had a draft physical. Passed it of course and became 1A, which means I am available to be drafted. Then I am wearing a Marine uniform (for the scene), I remember walking and didn’t know any of the etiquette or anything, I just knew I felt really strange wearing a uniform. I was actually out on the street. I had to walk from where I had lunch over to the studio, where someone yelled, ‘Hey Marine!’ I didn’t know what to do.”

Matheson with his co-star in Remember When. Photo courtesy of Tim Matheson

Shortly after that experience, Matheson enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and went to bootcamp at MCRD San Diego. He kept his identity incognito during his bootcamp experience so as not to stick out as the “Hollywood” type in his platoon. During boot camp, he was chosen to be a squad leader and he picked up PFC out of bootcamp.

Matheson told a story while marching on base by the base theater which was showing a film he had worked on. The base was showing Divorce American Style with Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds as they marched by. He thought, “Oh dear, I don’t want to blow my cover now!” He considers boot camp the toughest time of his life. He described it as, “One of those things that you hated every minute of it and yet when you look back at it you learn so much. I think mostly about yourself and what you can do and what you are capable of doing. I was a Hollywood actor. I had never really done anything physically, I could run … there were these kids in my squads who were from the south and played football; I remember one kid, in particular, that would just break down. He couldn’t run. He’d just say, ‘I can’t do it,’ and broke down in tears. I would tell him, ‘Listen, look at me, if I can do it you can do it. I’m telling you seriously, you are in better shape than me. It’s all here (points to mind)…Get your mind right,’ and we nursed him all through that. That is the training that everybody gets. You all have your breaking point and you all have to learn how to get beyond it.

“There is a reserve and a resource inside you can call upon when is necessary and you can go farther than you think you can.” The Marines offered him the opportunity to compete for a slot at OCS. He declined the offer and was happy with being enlisted. He was stationed at the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Chavez Ravine, which is close to Dodger Stadium. It is now the Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center and run by the LAFD. He would go to 29 Palms with his reserve unit in the summers. He was part of his unit’s press department that would put out a paper even though he served in an artillery unit. Matheson made good friends in the Corps and enjoyed going through training with fellow Marines. He said, “There is a bond there you created that will never, ever go away. You have gone through something together. You’ve supported each other. You are there for each other….such a memorable time.”

One of Matheson’s funniest moments in boot camp was during pugil sticks training. His platoon fought against one of the platoons that was mostly made of up inner-city tough guys from Chicago. The tough guy platoon had a recruit named “Melson”, who looked, sounded and acted like Mike Tyson. Melson was considered the baddest guy in all of the platoons. While waiting for his pugil stick match, Matheson realized he was about ten recruits back from the start in which case Melson was about seven back, so he was in the “clear” or so he thought. He had not been paying attention when he realized he was six back and Melson was six back. His fellow recruits had been peeling off and going to the back, so they didn’t have to face Melson. Matheson was too close to the front of the line to get out of it. At the time he weighed about 160lbs and Melson was, “formidable.” His DI’s suited him and wished him luck in the pugil stick bout. Matheson said, “I’m just gonna go for it, I’m not going to just jab him. So, I go out there, KABAM! I hit him as hard as I could. He (Melson) looked at me, he throws down the pugil stick and dives on me. We have helmets on and he starts pounding my helmet. Everybody is laughing so hard.” The DIs separated the two of them.  

Matheson found his way to the Corps through one of his industry friends, Mike Stokey Jr. Stokey’s family was in the Hollywood business as well. Matheson would take Stokey down to Camp Pendleton at times and his experiences of the Corps led him to pursue enlistment in the Marines. After boot camp, he did four weeks of ITR, which was that era’s infantry training. During ITR, the students of the school that ran the show were hardened street kids from Chicago. If other students didn’t go along with how things were being run, at night they would be chased through the billeting, likely en route to a beating of sorts. Matheson then went to radio school for his primary MOS of Field Radio Operator and was trained on the PRC-25.

While finishing up his time after radio school he was put on mess duty and then was sent to NYC to be on the “Ed Sullivan Show”. He shared, “…the Sergeant in charge of wherever I was….he said, ‘Matheson there is a car coming to pick you up tomorrow and you’re getting four days to go to NYC to do the Ed Sullivan Show for Yours, Mine, and Ours.'” Lucille Ball had called Bob Hope who then called HQMC to get Matheson permission to appear on the show. A car picked up Matheson and took him right to the airport. He had only one dollar in his pocket on the way to NYC; he didn’t have enough time to eat breakfast and couldn’t afford it arriving at The Plaza Hotel in the city. Until given some money, he was unable to eat. He said of being in NYC, “It was night and day different from being in training.” The Bee Gees were the guest of the week on the Ed Sullivan Show and he said, “It was a thrill to be on The Ed Sullivan Show (Matheson does his best Ed Sullivan impersonation).” Sullivan was filmed on Sunday and he was sent back to Camp Pendleton on Monday morning. By Tuesday he was back to swabbing the deck and he kept the visit to the show under wraps with Marines in his unit. He said of potential reactions, “Oh, here comes Hollywood, oh yeah, let’s get you down here. Scrub that toilet.” He made sure to fly below the radar most of the time, which made for a smooth enlistment.

Matheson looking gung-ho in his early Corps days. Photo courtesy of Tim Matheson.

When asked about Vietnam, Matheson shared, “I had mixed feelings about it and mixed feelings about what I should do, yet I did feel an obligation and sense of devotion to my country that I needed to do something. The Marine Corps Reserve was the perfect solution for me. If I am activated, at least I will be a Marine. With all due respect to the US Army, I did not want to be one of a huge number of people that was not seriously training. I knew the training in the Marine Corps was going to serve me well, so that if I ultimately ended up in combat I would be better prepared to handle it than I would if I had just been drafted and rushed through with the herd….it made me proud to be a brother of theirs (Marines that served and went to Vietnam), to stand alongside them and to feel that I had done a little bit for my country. And then it made me realize the obligation a citizen really does have in terms of service. It is so different today.” He said of the Corps, “I was proud to be part of that organization…I totally respected the price that was paid by all my brothers and sisters who did what they did and paid the ultimate price.” He shared, “It grew me up from being some kid in the valley…to seeing really what it was like to be trained and then shipped right over. Getting to know them when they came back or didn’t come back….You really learn the mettle of the men and women that you train with.”

Matheson retains a strong sense of pride, maturity and appreciation from his service. He carries over many values from his service such as, “Your word is your bond. It takes a team and you need leaders. Leadership was the thing I learned. I was a squad leader and then a guide at ITR. I learned how to take control and command. You couldn’t just stand in the back.” He credits the Corps with helping him ultimately become a director in TV and movies because of his leadership and initiative training. He believes running a film set is similar to running a military unit, especially in getting people to do things they don’t want to do yet need to be done. He was taught during automatic weapons training at Camp Pendleton if caught out in the open with no possible cover, to turn and to run toward the guns. His unit crossed paths in the chow hall with Navy SEALs and he was impressed with their toughness. “I had never seen any group eat as much and as fast as those guys. I thought we Marines were tough, and then I saw those guys! That was the first time I’d ever heard of SEALS. I never forgot them!”

Matheson is proud of his work with Clint Eastwood on Magnum Force. He said of Eastwood, “He was quiet, but filled with authority. He was the real deal.” He trained and qualified with the pistol for his role in the film. Matheson also did ride alongs with the police. He shared, “Clint always had a crew that just stayed with him through the years and they were the best.” Prop master Eddie Aiona on the film gave Matheson a .357 magnum to practice speed loading with to take back to his hotel room. Eastwood told Matheson of running lines and rehearsing before their scene, “No, I think there is something very special the first time that you hear those words and it should be on camera.” Eastwood’s comments surprised Matheson. He said of Eastwood, “He was the best listener I had ever worked with….he is totally listening to what I say and then I say what I had to say, and then he responded and changed one word that affected my next line…it was totally natural and totally spontaneous. I walked away at the end of that day saying, ‘This guy is the real deal; I mean wow.’ He was gracious to everybody and in public, he was very personable. Generally speaking, he had a way of moving around the city that you didn’t notice him. He just cut through all the blather. But if anybody stopped him, he would say ‘Hi’ and he would sign his autographs. He was the real deal and I just loved working with him.”

Matheson (left) with Eastwood in Magnum Force. Photo courtesy of rottonreelzreviews.blogspot.com.

When asked who some of his more memorable colleagues were, Matheson shared, “Certainly John Belushi on Animal House was one of my favorites. He was one of the greatest guys, tremendous actor, wonderful improv. I remember the scene in the cafeteria where he is eating his lunch and stealing the food — he did it in one take. ” Belushi invented a lot of his work on the spot. “He couldn’t have been more gracious and generous to me. It was my first comedy.” Matheson speaks of the rivalry between New York and Los Angeles actors with, “None of that with John. Belushi set the tone of the film. John was just generous and loving and supportive of everybody and just great. Heartbreaking that his multiple successes took his life…that was when drugs weren’t bad for you…he just couldn’t get away from it. It was just a tragedy that we lost him.”

Belushi and Matheson on the set of Animal House. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com.
Matheson with Chevy Chase in Fletch. Photo courtesy of moviestillsdb.com.

Matheson as a young actor got to work with many Vaudeville performers turned actors; Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope. “I learned a sense of discipline and how professional they were. Lucy was like a DI. I remember one scene with Lucille Ball where there were 11 kids around and there is a prop guy hiding under the sink … he has got to pop toast up that she’s gotta catch on a certain line. And at one point she looked around at everybody and she said, ‘Always rehearse with your props.’ It was just like a DI…it was one of those moments where this is what you do.” He is grateful for his good fortune in working with such greats and in the wisdom they imparted to their cast-mates.

Matheson with Bob Hope (seated-left), JoAnna Cameron (seated-center) and Jane Wyman (seated-right) in How to Commit Marriage.

Additionally, Matheson is grateful for having been able to work with great voice actors such as Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny), Dawes Butler (voice of Yogi the Bear, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, etc.) and Don Messick (voice of Papa Smurf, Scooby-Doo, Bamm Bamm Rubble, etc.). He got to see Mel Blanc perform a scene as two different characters/voices talking to each other, which floored Matheson. He said, “One of the finest actors I have ever worked with was Mel Blanc. Because he created the third-dimension voice, and you could see the character.” Matheson was a series regular on The Virginian, Bonanza and his own western with Kurt Russell called The Quest for a year each. His career was part of the waning time of western TV shows in the 1970s. He decided to start doing improv comedy to change the kind of parts he got which opened the door for doing Animal House, which opened even more doors for him.

Matheson with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball in Yours, Mine and Ours. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

He plans to keep on working as an actor with his current characters being more doctor roles now. “I must say the one thing I also learned from the Marine Corps was, ‘Get your ass in shape.’ I ran and ran and ran for years and did marathons until my knees started acting up. Now I am into spinning bikes and stuff like that. That was the main thing it instilled in me a sort of discipline; get up, work out…I see actors come to the set at 6:30 or 7 o’clock in the morning. They just woke up. I have been up for two hours, worked out because I want the blood flowing in my brain before I get to the dialogue — film is forever and pain is temporary so you are not embarrassed when your kids look at it in 20 years.”

Matheson as President Ronald Reagan and Cynthia Nixon as Nancy Reagan in Killing Reagan. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.com.

Regarding veteran stories in Hollywood, Matheson sings high praises of Rod Lurie’s work directing The Outpost. He said, “ I thought it was an exemplary piece of work.” Matheson has positive feelings for Eastwood’s film Letters from Iwo Jima, as well. He shared, “I thought that was a masterful film…that he just threw together….I actually liked it better than the other film (Flags of Our Fathers)…I just think that those personal stories like that show the valor, gumption, strength and what it takes to be a leader in the service.” He said of working with Steven Spielberg on 1941: “Steven was one of the most wonderful, giving….and was very collaborative and encouraged me and my directing life and was quite an inspiration. He is just one of those guys that thinks differently. He is a genius and I look at his films and just study them because I find I learn so much in simply watching how he does things.” Working with Lurie on Killing Reagan was a great experience for Matheson and he describes Lurie as, “What a gem…and a gift he gave to me and Cynthia Nixon who played Nancy…to create an environment for us to play in…it was a memorable experience….I hold him (Lurie) in the highest esteem.” He said of political candidates that have served in the military: “I want them in our government. I want them to run a lot of different things.” His faith in military service and the Corps is still intact.

Matheson in The West Wing as Vice President John Hoynes. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

The Corps provided him with the following leadership takeaways: “The buck stops with me and I should be there for people that need help….To create a team in whatever situation you are in to do it better.” He is most proud of his kids in life and making them into responsible adults. He is glad to be in a position to keep learning his craft and is grateful to share the screen with great artistic craftsmen.

Feature photo: Creative commons & TimMatheson.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia threatened Israel over its recent strikes in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin called his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on April 11, 2018, and warned the country against airstrikes in Syria.

The Kremlin released a statement verifying the call, and said Putin “emphasized the importance of respecting Syria’s sovereignty” and called on the Israeli Prime Minister to “refrain” taking action to that could “further destabilize the situation in the country and threaten its security.”


The two leaders discussed the recent aerial attack on military airbase in Homs, Syria, which reportedly killed at least 14 people. Russia has accused Israel of leading the strike, an allegation that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied.

Israeli officials confirmed the phone call, reported Haaretz, adding that Netanyahu said Israel would act to prevent Iran’s military presence in Syria. News of the phone call came as Netanyahu delivered a speech for Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoa) in which he brazenly threatened Iran not to “test Israel’s resolve.”

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
Vladimir Putin

On April 11, 2018, Netanyahu reportedly told his security officials in a closed-door meeting that he believes the US will order a military strike against Syria in retaliation for a suspected gas attack on April 7, 2018, that killed dozens of civilians.

Russia has aligned itself with Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad, and his government forces, and Israel is trying to curb Iran’s growing influence in Syria, and prevent Iranian fighters from attacking Israel’s border.

Netanyahu and Putin have maintained positive relations in the last few years, and have discussed preventing a military confrontation between their armies in Syria. But the recent call between the two leaders likely signals a growing divide in their approach to the regional conflict.

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Canada to buy Super Hornets as F-35 hits setbacks

The Canadian government is in negotiations to buy 18 Super Hornet fighter jets, a blow to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which was originally envisioned to replace Canada’s 30-plus-year-old CF-18 Hornet fleet.


Canadian officials will explore upgrading the country’s aircraft to the Super Hornet as an interim option before final decisions are made for an open competition — a process that could still include procuring the F-35 for its aging fleet.

Just not yet.

The Liberal Party of Canada, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Tuesday announced an urgent need for “a new squadron of interim aircraft” and turned to Boeing to recapitalize the country’s CF-18s.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
U.S. Air Force F/A-18Fs being refueled over Afghanistan in 2010. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said during a press conference in Ottawa that the overuse of Canada’s McDonnell Douglas-made CF-18 fleet “would carry risk this government is not willing to take” to sustain current supplemental operations in NATO and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

Competition to purchase an entirely new fighter jet will come at a later date, Sajjan said.

“The government will launch, in its current mandate, a wide-open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fleet,” he said.

Even though Canada has been in discussions for years to purchase approximately 60  F-35 jets, lawmakers have grown weary of setbacks in the stealth jet program.

In June, Trudeau called the aircraft one that “does not work and is far from working.”

In the latest setback, a Marine Corps F-35B based out of Beaufort, South Carolina, caught fire in mid-air last month. The service is investigating the incident.

In September, the Air Force ordered a temporary stand-down of 13 out of 104 F-35s in its fleet “due to the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” according to a statement at the time. Two additional aircraft, belonging to Norway and stationed atLuke Air Force Base, Arizona, also were affected.

The 13 F-35s, plus the two belonging to Norway, are back up and running, according to a story from Defense News on Friday.

In a statement Tuesday, Lockheed Martin said that although it is “disappointed with this decision, we remain confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada’s operational requirements at the most affordable price, and the F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than 4th generation competitors.”

“The F-35 is combat ready and available today to meet Canada’s needs for the next 40 years,” the statement said.

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4 more fake enemies the US Army is trained to fight

Pineland, Attica, Krasnovia… the names of these countries may not mean much to most people, but over the years, they have been invaded by the U.S. countless times. If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of them until now, well, you kinda had to be there.


From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
Not the Centralia, Penn. Mine Fire that has been burning for decades. Don’t go there.

These are names Army planners give to fake enemies in simulated international situations. The idea is to prepare ground forces for incursions into unfamiliar territories filled with foreign populations who speak unknown languages. Everything from their name and external neighbors is made up, but might be loosely based on current relations… you decide.

1. Attica

U.S. troops deployed to help the Middle Eastern nation of Attica fight off an invasion from neighboring Ellisia. On top of bandits in the cities and countryside, the Army must be prepared to fight the radical Islamic Congress of Attica, the transnational Islamic Brotherhood for Jihad, and the malicious hackers of the Wolf Brigade.

The RIC wants to topple the government and install an Islamist government while the jihadis want to use Attica as a base for international terrorism. The Army must fight the Ellisians back to the border, while putting down the insurgency and supporting the Attican government. No big deal, right?

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
As long as they aren’t as goofy as ISIS.

This fictional situation is part of the bi-annual Network Integration Evaluation, an exercise designed to train the Army to counter the many forms of hostile forces the Iranian government is prepared to use in combat, from its regular army to special operations Quds Forces, to the paramilitary group Hezbollah. This exercise takes place from Fort Bliss, Texas to New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Testing Range. It also incorporates almost 4,000 troops from the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

2. The Circle Trigonists

The Trigonists were not so much a country as a political party. In the late 1940s, U.S. troops needed to train against both a foreign enemy and a home grown ally. The Army came up with a detailed, elaborate backstory for the Trigonists, who were a political party whose support poured from Germany into Austria (sound familiar?) in the post-WWII years. The detail of the Trigonists was so thorough, they had their own military rank structure and alternate history of the U.S. invasion. From 1946-1949 Trigonist “Aggressor Campaigns” sprung up in Florida, Kentucky, California, Maine and North Carolina.

The anti-Communist exercises were so large, it engulfed entire civilian populations. In a 1952 exercise, the 82nd Airborne played the opposing forces, capturing and occupying an entire Texas county. The Army would fight the Trigonists until 1978, when they were replaced by the Krasnovians.

3. The Red Army of Kotmk

Kotmk was a fake country made up of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Kentucky. In September 1941, a battle raged between Kotmk and the Army of Almat, an equally fake country made up of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
That also sounds familiar for some reason.

The battle was for control of the Mississippi River. Almat’s commanding officer, the U.S. Army’s Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, assembled a general staff to help him win. The Chief of Staff to Krueger’s advisors was one Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Young Ike had never seen combat but did an academic study of tank maneuvers in France during World War I. He applied his findings to the war against Kotmk, outmaneuvering the Red Army within three weeks. Eisenhower pinned on his first General’s star two months later.

4. North Brownland

In one of the more unfortunately named OPFORs, it took the Army 90,000 troops and 56 days to secure a nuclear weapons stockpile of an allied country’s failed state neighbor. “Unified Quest” took place in 2013, where the Army faced the problem of the “collapse of a nuclear-armed, xenophobic, criminal family regime that had lorded over a closed society.”

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
Why does it always look overcast in North Brownland?

The point of the exercise was to establish a command and control network and create a staging area in the territory of a friendly neighbor while performing the humanitarian assistance required to remove nuclear devices from civilian-populated areas. That’s a lot of effort and manpower to handle the downfall of the North Korean regime.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Bellingcat IDs poisoning suspect as Russian intel officer

One of the men accused of poisoning a former Russian spy in England has been identified as a high-ranking member of Russia’s intelligence service.

The UK in early September 2018 accused two Russian men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of attempting to assassinate Sergei Skripal with a military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury in March 2018. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the names were most likely aliases.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government has long denied having any knowledge of the attack, initially claimed that the two men’s names “mean nothing to us,” then said that they were civilians.


Petrov and Boshirov also appeared on Russian TV to say they were visiting Salisbury as tourists.

But according to an article by the investigative-journalism site Bellingcat, Boshirov is actually Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU, Russia’s intelligence service.

Chepiga, 39, had been assigned the alter ego of Boshirov by 2010, Bellingcat said. This was the name used in his passport when he traveled to the UK in early 2018.

Bellingcat said it confirmed Chepiga’s identity after speaking to multiple sources familiar with Chepiga or the investigation.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant also cited Chepiga’s acquaintances in his home village, Berezovka, saying of Bellingcat’s findings, “That’s him … 100% of it.”

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

Ruslan Boshirov, one of the men accused of poisoning the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

According to Bellingcat, throughout his career, Chepiga had been given multiple rewards for his services, including the title of Hero of the Russian Federation — the highest award in the state, typically given by the president to a handful of people in a secret ceremony, according to the BBC.

The award was confirmed by Chepiga’s military school, the Far Eastern Higher Military Command School.

It suggests Putin was aware of Chepiga’s identity, which would seem to disprove the Russian president’s claim that he didn’t know who Boshirov and Petrov were.

Bellingcat’s findings also cast doubt on Russia’s claims that Boshirov and Petrov were civilians and that the government had no knowledge of the Skripal attack.

The findings are also in line with the British government’s claim, citing security and intelligence agencies’ investigations, that Boshirov and Petrov were officers from Russia’s intelligence services.

May has also said that authorization for the attack “almost certainly” came from senior members of the Russian government.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, called Bellingcat’s findings “a new portion of fake news.”

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

Surveillance footage of Alexander Petrov and Boshirov in Salisbury, England, on the day Skripal collapsed.

Zakharova said on Facebook, according to a translation by Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency, “There is no evidence, so they” — the UK — “continue the information campaign, the main task of which is to divert attention from the main question: ‘What happened in Salisbury?'”

The UK has issued international arrest warrants for the two men, London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed in a statement to Business Insider. However, Russia does not extradite its nationals.

Gavin Williamson, the UK’s defense secretary, appeared to confirm Bellingcat’s findings in a tweet on Sept. 26, 2018 that he appears to have later deleted.

“The true identity of one of the Salisbury suspects has been revealed to be a Russian Colonel,” he wrote. “I want to thank all the people who are working so tirelessly on this case.”

A spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defense told Business Insider that Williamson’s tweet, which was posted on his constituency’s account, was unrelated to his role as defense secretary. Williamson’s constituency office did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

The British Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Defense, Foreign Office, and Metropolitan Police all declined to comment on Bellingcat’s findings.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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The F-35A has just been deployed

Combat-ready F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft arrived April 15 at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, demonstrating U.S. commitment to NATO allies and European territorial integrity.


“The forward presence of F-35s support my priority of having ready and postured forces here in Europe,” said Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of U.S.European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe.

“These aircraft, plus more importantly, the men and women who operate them, fortify the capacity and capability of our NATO Alliance.”

The aircraft are deployed from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and will train with European-based allies.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
An F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, takes off from Nellis AFB, Nev., Feb. 2, 2017, during Red Flag 17-01. This is the first F-35A deployment to Red Flag since the Air Force declared the jet combat ready in August 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

This long-planned deployment continues to galvanize the U.S. commitment to security and stability throughout Europe. The aircraft and personnel will remain in Europe for several weeks.

The F-35A will also forward deploy to maximize training opportunities, strengthen the NATO alliance, and gain a broad familiarity of Europe’s diverse operating conditions.

Fifth-Generation Fighter

“This is an incredible opportunity for [U.S. Air Forces in Europe] airmen and our NATO allies to host this first overseas training deployment of the F-35A aircraft,” said Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of USAFE and Air Forces Africa.

“As we and our joint F-35 partners bring this aircraft into our inventories, it’s important that we train together to integrate into a seamless team capable of defending the sovereignty of allied nations.”

The introduction of the premier fifth-generation fighter to Europe brings state-of-the-art sensors, interoperability, and a vast array of advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions that will help maintain the fundamental territorial and air sovereignty rights of all nations.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters from the 58th Fighter Squadron. (Photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen (Cropped))

The fighter provides unprecedented precision-attack capability against current and emerging threats with unmatched lethality, survivability, and interoperability.

The deployment was supported by the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. Multiple refueling aircraft from four different bases provided more than 400,000 pounds of fuel during the “tanker bridge” from the United States to Europe.

Additionally, C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy aircraft transported maintenance equipment and personnel to England.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This man went from Harvard to the Marine Corps — and then to standup comedy

Marine veteran James P. Connolly (Sirius/XM Radio, Comics Unleashed) hosted the 6th Annual Veteran’s Day Benefit Comedy Show “Cocktails Camouflage,” at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California in early November.
All funds raised were donated to Veterans in Film Television (VFT), a non-profit networking organization that unites current and former members of the military working in film and television and offers the entertainment industry the opportunity to connect with and hire veterans.
In this video, we get a few of Connolly’s jokes, along with the story of how he went from Harvard to the Marine Corps … to standup comedy.
MIGHTY TRENDING

NASA renamed facility after brilliant ‘Hidden Figure’ Katherine Johnson

NASA has redesignated its Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in honor of the West Virginia native and NASA “hidden figure.”

“I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “It’s a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor.”


President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2018 an act of Congress calling for the redesignation. The facility’s program contributes to the safety and success of NASA’s highest-profile missions by assuring that mission software performs correctly. IVV now is in the process of planning a rededication ceremony.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

NASA’s Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia.

“It’s an honor the NASA IVV Program’s primary facility now carries Katherine Johnson’s name,” said NASA IVV Program Director Gregory Blaney. “It’s a way for us to recognize Katherine’s career and contributions not just during Black History Month, but every day, every year.”

Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in 1918, Johnson’s intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers led her to a distinguished career — spanning more than three decades — with NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Among her professional accomplishments, Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission in 1961. The following year, Johnson performed the work for which she would become best known when she was asked to verify the results made by electronic computers to calculate the orbit for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission. She went on to provide calculations for NASA throughout her career, including for several Apollo missions.

At a time when racial segregation was prevalent throughout the southern United States, Johnson and fellow African American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — who was later promoted to engineer — broke through racial barriers to achieve success in their careers at NASA and helped pave the way for the diversity that currently extends across all levels of agency’s workforce and leadership. Their story became the basis of the 2017 film “Hidden Figures,” based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and, in 2017, NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, dedicated the new Katherine Johnson Computational Research Facility in her honor. Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday on Aug. 26, 2018.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

Former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson is seen after President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.


Since its inception more than 25 years ago, NASA’s IVV Program has performed work on approximately 100 missions and projects, including: the Space Shuttle Program, Hubble Space Telescope, Cassini, Mars Science Laboratory, Magnetosphere MultiScale, Global Precipitation Measurement and, most recently, the InSight Mars Lander. The IVV Program currently is providing services to 12 upcoming NASA missions, including the James Webb Space Telescope, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and the Space Launch System. It also provides general software safety and mission assurance services, including support for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

For information about the Katherine Johnson IVV Facility, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/ivv

For more information about Katherine Johnson, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 reasons why veterans are perfectly suited to become firefighters

After troops leave the service, many of us are left feeling like the skills we learned while on active duty don’t perfectly apply to the civilian world. While that couldn’t be further from the truth, the idea rings true in the back of many veterans’ minds. The truth is that countless employers around the country would scoop up a veteran in a heartbeat.

Now, whether the civilian job will match the high-energy, high-risk, high-reward aspects of military life is another question. But if you’re looking for your next challenge, your local fire department is usually taking applications.

The most rewarding part of serving was the ability to give back to your country and your community. Working in the fire department is another way for vets to take a hands-on approach to helping out.


From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

Ever wonder why firefighters are always on the scene during emergencies? Because they’re often just as good as paramedics and are usually more readily available.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jack J. Adamyk)

The skillsets are a near-perfect match

If you look at the entrance requirements for becoming a firefighter, you’ll notice they’re all things satisfied for or by military service: Be 18-30 years old. Be able to pass knowledge-based and physical ability tests. Have a moderate amount of medical training (and be willing to learn more). Finally, you must earn certain third-party certifications, which you can pay for by using your GI Bill by going through an accredited associate’s degree program.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

Don’t worry, the mundane is still there… Paperwork and pre-safety checks and all that…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Eugene Oliver)

The workload is similar

There’s no doubt about it: firefighting is one hell of a job. Despite what pop culture teaches us, it’s not all about getting cats out of trees or high-stakes rescues from burning buildings. Firefighters are called in for nearly every emergency, from bad traffic accidents to responding to natural disasters, even when things aren’t on fire.

Many veterans find the average 9-5 job too mundane and could use a little bit of excitement. What better way to keep your life moving than by being on-call for an emergency 24/7?

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

You won’t get featured as “Mr. June” in the sexy fireman calendars without working for it!

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

The physical intensity is the same

All of those fireman carries you did back in the military make for a regular day as a firefighter. We hate to put it so bluntly, but most people just aren’t physically capable of cutting it in either field. The average weight of society keeps growing higher and higher, but the physical fitness required of firemen remains extreme.

Thankfully, the average day in the military does your body favors when it comes to applying for a role at the fire department. Why not put that body that Uncle Sam gave you to good use and help extinguish fires?

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

No one ever said being a firefighter was easy. But then again, no one ever dressed up as an accounts manager for Halloween.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock)

Both roles share a burden of responsibility

The life of a firefighter isn’t as glamorous as many are led to believe. There will be bad days. The kind of bad days that you won’t be able to fully explain to your friends and family because it hurts in a certain, unique way.

That pain is nothing new to veterans. Time spent in the military teaches you (implicitly) how to handle those hard times cand your experience with those coping mechanisms might just come in handy for your brothers and sisters working in the fire department.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

Oh, and just so you know, all of the firefighters in the images in this articles are military firefighters. Just goes to show how much crossover there really is between our two worlds.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

There’s that same sense of camaraderie

In the service, downtime is sacred. It’s where you get the know the guys to your left and right who will lay their life in the line just to make sure you get home. Honestly, it’s something that can’t be easily be explained to someone who hasn’t experienced it firsthand.

It’s a feeling that only comes with professions that can put you in harm’s way – and it’s something firefighters know well.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Britain revives its carrier warfare program with trip to U.S.

Britain’s newest and most powerful aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is on its way to America to train with F-35 jets for the first time.

The British Royal Navy’s £3.5 billion ($4.5 billion) aircraft carrier left the UK for America on Aug. 18, 2018, to start September 2018 training with F-35B jets based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, the Royal Navy wrote on its official website.


Crowds turned out to wish the carrier well on its 3,400-mile trip from Portsmouth, a city on England’s south coast.

www.youtube.com

The deployment is significant because it will mark the first fighter jet landing on a British aircraft carrier in eight years.

Shortly after leaving, the crew carried out their first relief effort: two baby pigeons were found on board, which had to be fed porridge through a syringe and returned to land in a helicopter, the Royal Navy said.

“While our focus for the deployment is getting the new jets onboard for the first time, we are also prepared to conduct humanitarian relief, should we be called upon to do so. We just didn’t think that would be quite so soon,” Lieutenant Commander Lindsey Waudby said.

The first landing on the HMS Queen Elizabeth will happen at the end of September 2018, according to the Portsmouth News. The jets are expected to perform 500 take-offs and landings over an 11-week period, the Royal Navy said.

The F-35B is designed to operate from short-field bases — like on the Queen Elizabethand has vertical landing ability.

It can also take off and land conventionally from longer runways at major bases.

Watch one landing here:

www.youtube.com

The jets will be flown by four F-35B pilots from the Integrated Test Force, a unit that includes British and American pilots.

On this mission, three British pilots — a Royal Navy Commander, a Squadron Leader from the Royal Air Force, and one civilian test pilot — will be joined by a Major from the US Marine Corps, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “As the US’s biggest partner in the F-35 programme, we jointly own test jets which are on track to fly off the deck of our new aircraft carrier later this year.”

He said the training will “strengthen our special relationship with US forces.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the third largest aircraft carrier in the world at 280 meters long and a weight of 65,000 tonnes. In total, there will be about 1,500 people on board, the Portsmouth News reported.

It is expected to be on active duty in 2021.

Before leaving for America the carrier was in Portsmouth, running helicopter tests using Chinook Mk 5 helicopters and Merlin Mk 2s:

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

An exclusive interview with ‘The Liberator’ creator and Executive Producer, Jeb Stuart

Jeb Stuart has been a motion picture and television screenwriter, director and producer for over 30 years, and is widely considered one of the great action screenwriters in film history. His first film, Die Hard, was nominated for four Academy Awards and voted the Best Action Film of All Time by Entertainment Weekly (2007). In a 2012 New York Times Magazine article, Adam Sternbergh wrote: “As a genre, the American action film…produced one bone fide masterpiece, Die Hard.” In 1993, Stuart’s suspense thriller, The Fugitive, was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. During his career he has worked on over 50 feature and television projects, which have collectively grossed over $2.5 billion dollars worldwide. 

Presently, he is the creator and showrunner of two Netflix Original series, The Liberator, a World War Two drama slated for release in the fall of 2020 and Vikings: Vahalla which is currently in production in Ireland. Stuart is a WGA Best Screenplay Nominee as well as a two-time Edgar Allen Poe Nominee for best movie screenplay. He has received recognition for his writing from the American Film Institute and is a recipient of the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship, administered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, of which he has been a member for over 25 years. Stuart received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.A. in Communications from Stanford University. He is a former member of the graduate faculty at Northwestern University, where he taught in the Writing for Stage and Screen Program. WATM had the chance to sit down with Stuart to hear more about The Liberator. 

(A&E)

WATM: History is full of stories of courage and uncommon valor; how did this story grab your attention to decide that it must be made?

Stuart: The Liberator is based on the book written by Alex Kershaw. It was sent to me by Michael Lynne whose company Unique Features was working on a World War II project for the History Channel. I’m a huge reader, especially U.S. military history, and I thought this would be a great story for a couple of reasons: It deals with Italy primarily and it doesn’t get enough coverage in film and TV. It shows our troops learning to fight instead of the great battles such as D-Day and the French invasion that we know pretty well. 

The biggest issue for me, that I was really attracted to, was the diversity part of the story. That a group of native Americans, White cowboys and Mexican Americans could be brought together in an integrated unit in WWII. That really got my attention. The idea that Felix Sparks, a back-office 2nd lieutenant, who works his way up to Lt. Colonel over the course of 500 days is a pretty compelling story within itself. It’s a survivor story and of terrific leadership. That was the start and there was a lot after that but that drew my interest in the story.

WATM: What was your favorite character-building moment in the story?

Stuart: That’s a great question, Ruddy. You know, there are so many moments like that. I think my favorite moments are when the men are really having to pull together in combat situations. Anzio comes to mind, I wanted to tell a story that can show G.I.s under artillery. For most people watching this [war series], I was wondering if there was a way to capture the terrifying aspect of being in a foxhole under bombardment for minutes by the German 8.8 [cm] artillery that was just fearsome. 

We were able to do that with Trioscope. What it would feel like is not knowing where a shell would come down, then having American artillery corresponding, going over your head and raining down on your position in order to complete the task – guard the only road into Anzio. Should the Germans capture it, they would have a blank check to move support vehicles and tanks into Anzio. They probably would have driven the Allies back into the sea. 

So, this one unit is tasked with holding that road. An incredibly complex task that they should have been overwhelmed by. By pulling the chain as they do in episode two, by putting their own artillery down on themselves, they were able to stop the German advance long enough for the Americans to have a grasp on Anzio and counterattack. 

They did win the Presidential Unit Citation Award, which at the time was pretty new. Very few units have ever received that. That’s my favorite character-building moment for the series. 

(A&E)

WATM: Warfare is organized chaos, while in production, what was a moment that you experienced your team pulling together and getting the mission done?

Stuart: In that same episode after the Anzio battle, Spark’s unit had to move into a series of places called The Caves. Where these rag tagged pieces of units that were still left, took refuge in this circular mound that they had done more excavation. It was probably more of a mine than a cave and there were civilians in there. 

For me, that was the place where they gathered up. Having to recreate this, the audience will see a functioning Trioscope. Trioscope is a hybrid type of animation – we shot the show on a blue screen. When we cast out there, things like leaving the cave and going out into this bombardment under machine gun fire, all have to be imagined by the actor. It calls upon the actor to bring more to the table otherwise it’s just not going to have the feel. What we did a lot of the time is that Grzegorz Jonkajtys, our director, and L.C. Crowley, our producer back in Atlanta, they would put ear pieces into the soldier’s ears that they would pump in machine gun fire from the right or explosion is coming in or you hear the whistle of incoming shells.

After a couple of takes, Ruddy, (laughs) it doesn’t take long for an actor to suddenly start thinking ‘where is that coming from? How am I going to react?’ and they would react naturally. If a shell is coming you just get down, if a foxhole is available you get in, especially when it’s 20 feet from you. 

It’s incredibly disorienting for the actor, as it should be, as you’ve said organized chaos. It should shock you; it should surprise you. That fight or flight instinct and adrenaline pumping in and you react that way. I think it was an extremely successful experiment that worked for us. 

WATM: The military audience is always hungry for more, more, and more. They will watch content a million times over and always ask ‘what’s next?’

 Stuart: I am hoping what you’re saying is a follow up to The Liberator using Trioscope in another conflict such as WWI, Gulf War, Vietnam.

(A&E)

WATM: Yes, absolutely.

Stuart: It is great for this type of format. I hope we can do an anthology series which would be fun because trioscope allows us to recreate great battles, great units, great servicemen, great stories like that. You obviously need the great assets that go only with it like terrific directors and great animators. If you think of WWI and WWII, none of those tanks and planes really operate or exist today outside of museums and private collections. 

You couldn’t mount a show of any scale like you could in the 50’s and 60’s like Dirty Dozen or along those lines. You couldn’t do those kinds of things without recreating [vehicles] from scratch. This is an opportunity to find great soldier stories and tell them in a very convincing, authentic way through Trioscope, A+E Studios and School of Humans, and I have been in talks about what we can do together.

WATM: Is there anything that you would like to say to the military audience?

Stuart: The one thing I would like to really tell your audience at We Are The Mighty is that The Liberator has a terrific message but also just great entertainment. It’s the type of thing where everybody who is involved thought it was a very special project. It tells an important part of our military history. 

The veterans I’ve talked to, not just Vietnam veterans – my father was a WWII veteran, veterans of the Gulf War and such; the mental endurance that’s required to get through something like that are just as important today as they were 75 years ago. I think there is a lot of resonance in the story and we’re excited about it, we’re proud of it, and I hope people will tune in and watch it.The Liberator Premieres Veterans Day November 11, 2020 on Netflix.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Mandalorian’ season 2 episode 6 recap — ‘The Tragedy’

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

One of the most important rules of screenwriting is: never make your characters more dumb than your audience. It’s frustrating to watch characters make mistakes with very obvious and inevitable consequences. 

Between that and the ominous title of this episode (The Tragedy), know that you’ve been warned: spoilers ahead.

Din Djarin and Grogu the Yoda Baby arrive on Tython, an ancient Jedi location, where Djarin’s little ward is placed upon the seeing stone to make a phone call. A Force-barrier then arises around him as he enters a deep state of adorable meditation. 

Up in the skies, however, an old menace appears: the Slave I — Boba Fett’s Firespray-31 ship. We’ve known since Season 1 Episode 5 that Temuera Morrison would be playing the iconic bounty hunter; he also played the role of Jango Fett in the prequels, and as Boba was Jango’s clone/son, Morrison is a perfect casting choice. Fett returns with Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand with a reasonable request: they want Fett’s beskar armor that Djarin recovered from The Marshal

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Djarin was like, “No way, bro — that armor is for Mandalorians only,” and Fett was like, “Lemme explain, just take off your jet pack,” and Djarin was like, “Okay I’ll just put it down here and then I won’t f***ing pick it up again EVEN THOUGH I AM OBVIOUSLY GOING TO NEED IT SINCE I LEFT MY BABY ON THAT HILL UP THERE.”

To no one’s surprise, Moff Gideon and his Stormtroopers show up, which gives us a nice the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend situation. Djarin, Fett, and Shand team up to take on the Stormtrooper assault — which does have some fun fighting sequences for Shand and some rather violent melee for Fett — but then we experience the first of our losses.

Gideon targets Djarin’s Razor Crest from altitude and destroys it. Not falling into Mon Calamari waters destroyed. Not crashing onto a frozen ice spider planet destroyed. Destroyed destroyed.

But not before Fett was able to sneak in and don his armor. The trio make quick work of the Stormtroopers and Fett RPGs the ships as they flee. 

This is where we experience our second loss. 

This is also where I continue to shout, “GET YOUR F***ING JET PACK, DUDE!” Who would run up a mountain when they could fly??

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson

At least now I know Bo-Katan will be back. (The Mandalorian, Disney+)

Moff Gideon unleashes his Dark Troopers, Force-sensitive combatants, who fly down to the seeing stone and snatch up Grogu. For a second I thought a Jedi would answer the little guy’s call and show up to defend him, but no, the tiny little guy is taken hostage by Gideon who shows off his (for now) Darksaber and calls that creepy scientist Dr. Pershing to recommence his experiments.

The episode ends with Djarin going back to Cara Dune for help. Oh yeah, and Jango Fett was a Mandalorian Foundling who fought in the Mandalorian Civil Wars.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Guys. Guys. Sound on. Turn your sound on. Heh. Hehehehehe. So silly.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China looks on as Trump and Kim decide to meet

China is voicing support for the possible U.S.-North Korea summit, despite concerns that it will be left out of talks that could dramatically alter regional security and political dynamics.


U.S. President Donald Trump surprised the world when he agreed to accept North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s offer to meet about ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Also read: South Korea’s plan to convince President Trump to visit North Korea

The rapid turn toward diplomacy could defuse building tensions over the North’s accelerated testing of missile and nuclear devices to develop a nuclear-armed long- range missile that can target the U.S. mainland.

The Trump administration has led a “maximum pressure” campaign that imposed tough sanctions on Pyongyang, and planned for possible military action, if needed, to force the Kim government to give up its nuclear program.

 

Chinese support

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was delighted with the progress being made to reduce regional tensions and facilitate direct talks between Trump and Kim.

The Chinese leadership has closely consulted the U.S. and South Korea on the prospects of talks. Lu Chao, a North Korea expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Science in China said Beijing has nothing to fear from being left on the sidelines of the upcoming summit between Washington and its ally in Pyongyang.

More: North Korea is so short on cash it’s selling electricity to China

“Beijing’s role will not be diminished. Neither will China’s interests be compromised if the U.S. engages in direct talks with the North Koreans,” said Lu.

The Global Times, China’s Communist Party newspaper, also reacted to the prospect of a Trump/Kim summit by urging the Chinese people to “avoid the mentality that China is being marginalized.”

Also anxiety

Yet other China scholars in the region worry that Trump’s diplomatic initiative could undermine Beijing’s influence and further strain already tense relaxations between Xi and Kim.

“There is evidently anxiety on the progress being made in the absence of its [China’s] influence all of a sudden,” said Seo Jeong-kyung, a professor with the Sungkyun Institute of China Studies in Seoul.

North Korea has still not reacted to Trump’s response, nor confirmed the offer for a summit that was communicated though a South Korean envoy that met with Kim in Pyongyang.

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chung Eui-yong, who led a special delegation of South Korea’s president. (Photo released by KCNA)

If the summit does happen, Trump would be the first head of state who Kim Jong Un will meet since he came to power in 2012. The North Korean leader has yet to meet with Chinese President Xi.

Even though North Korea is dependent on China for over 90 percent of its trade, relations between the two allies has been strained over Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The young leader of North Korea has also not cultivated friendly ties with China, and has repeatedly ignored Beijing’s calls for Pyongyang to refrain from provocative missile and nuclear tests.

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

In contrast, Kim Jong Il, the father of the current North Korean leader, often visited with the leaders in Beijing, despite his own disagreement with China over nuclear weapons. In the 2000s China led six party talks – that included the U.S., North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and Russia — to reach a denuclearization deal. But in 2009 Kim Jong Il walked away from these talks to resume his country’s nuclear development program.

President Xi’s frustration with past failure and with the young North Korea leader may also be part the reason why Beijing is willing to sit out the denuclearization talks this time.

“China wants to play some role, but the greatest obstacle is Kim Jong Un’s hostility against China,” said Shi Yinhong, a political science professor at Renmin University in Beijing.

Improving U.S.-North Korea relations could further estrange Kim from Xi. With a nuclear deal in place, the Trump administration would no longer need Beijing’s support on sanctions and could take a more confrontational approach to deal with Chinese trade issues and to counter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

Aligned benefits

From the Marine Corps to ‘Animal House’ to ‘Killing Reagan’: Exclusive interview with Tim Matheson
Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge, linking Dandong with North Korea.

For China, there are clear benefits to a North Korea nuclear deal. It would reduce the potential for conflict in the region and restore expanding cross border economic activity.

Rather than lead to confrontation with the U.S. on other issues, there is also speculation that Beijing could leverage its support of U.S. led sanctions to end Washington’s objections to China’s claims in the South China Sea, or to the “One China Principle” on Taiwan.

“There have been discussions about trying to obtain the cooperation of the U.S. to unify Taiwan into China, after securing a good deal with the U.S. on the North Korea issue,” said Seo Jeong-kyung, with the Sungkyun Institute of China Studies.

A nuclear deal would also increase pressure on the United States and South Korea to reduce their military presence and remove the THAAD missile defense shield that was deployed on South Korea in 2017.

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