“Going to the war zones and visiting the troops . . . and being able to pat them on the back and support them . . . has been a great joy, a great personal reward because you can see that you’re providing a service for somebody who’s providing a service for us, and it’s lifting them us in some way,” Gary Sinise says. “I make my living as an actor and all of this is simply something I do with the resources . . . and time that I have.”
Sinise started working with working with wounded warriors primarily as a function of his portrayal of Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump,” a vet who lost both legs during the Vietnam War. “That movie came out in ’92,” Sinise explains. “Then we had September 11, that terrible event, and we started responding to that in Iraq and Afghanistan — deploying to those places — and our people started getting hurt. And we had this whole new generation of Lt. Dans coming back from those wars. I wanted to very much get behind them and support them in some way.”
That desire wound up manifesting itself in myriad ways including the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Lt. Dan Band, which got its name from the fact all the troops were calling Sinise “Lt. Dan” when he’d visit them in theater.
Sinise pushes back on the idea that he’s living out some sort of rock n’ roll fantasy at midlife by playing bass guitar in a touring rock band, pointing out that he was a rocker in high school, which is, ironically, the thing that got him into acting. “I was standing in a hallway with the band members and we were looking kind of raggedy, sort of grubby band guys, you know. And the drama teacher walked by, and she told us to audition for ‘West Side Story’ because we looked like gang members. Two of us ended up going, and I got in the play.”
The Sinise family has military heritage, most notably that of his uncle Jack who was a navigator aboard a B-17 in World War II. Sinise arranged for Jack to have a ride in a vintage B-17 almost 70 years after his final war sortie in 1945, and the event was made into a short documentary that premiered at the GI Film Festival a few years ago.
Watch Gary Sinese talk to actor and Navy veteran Jamie Kaler about his support of wounded vets and the Lt. Dan Band:
Don’t miss Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band as they kick off the 10th annual GI Film Festival in Washington DC on May 21. Check out more information and get your tickets here.
Since the earliest days, humans have employed bioweapons both invisible and nefarious: killers on two legs, four, six, eight – and plenty with no legs at all. All of these agents of biological warfare, fresh with the fury of nature, have taken their turns inspiring terror in enemy forces, and turning the tide of unwinnable battles.
In the modern day, just as many bio-weapons have been employed by terrorists and monsters, “humans” who barely qualify for the title. Yes, history is filled with deadly organisms – viruses, bacteria, harmless looking flowers, and even playful sea mammals. All have seen their fair share of battle, and some were admittedly pretty awesome. But if this otherwise terrifying bioweapons list anything to teach, it may be that nature’s most brutal creations are those dogs of war called “man.”
In February 2000, the CIA went forward with a covert operation called Operation Merlin to stunt the nuclear development of Iran by gifting them a flawed blueprint of an actual nuclear weapon.
It all started when the CIA persuaded a defected Russian nuclear engineer (who was granted citizenship and a $5,000-per-month income) to hand over technical designs for a TBA 480 high-voltage block or “firing set” for a Russian-designed nuclear weapon. The designs would allow the holder to build the mechanism that triggers a nuclear chain reaction, one of the most significant hurdles to successfully building a nuclear weapon.
The plan was for the Russian to pose as a greedy scientist trying to sell the designs to the highest bidder, which was to be Iran. The Russian was sent to Vienna to sell the designs to the Iranian representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (that is, the UN body created to regulate nuclear technology).
The key to the plan was that the designs supposedly carried a serious design flaw the Iranians would be unable to recognize until they had already tried building the design.
When the Iranians tested the design, the bomb would fizzle, and Iran would have been set back years in its nuclear quest. At the same time, the US would be able to watch what the Iranians did with the blueprints and learn more about what they knew of nuclear technology.
It all sounded like a fine plan, except that it was wildly reckless and included huge missteps. The first was that, within minutes of looking at the plans, the Russian identified the design flaw. Granted he was more versed in nuclear designs than the Iranians to whom he was giving the designs, but CIA officers were shocked — they didn’t expect him to be able to find it.
The CIA went forward with the plan anyway, handing the Russian a sealed envelope with the blueprints and instructing him to deliver them without opening the envelope. The Russian got cold feet and, of course, opened the envelope. Not wanting to be caught in the crossfire between the CIA and Iran, the Russian included a letter noting that the designs contained a flaw and that he could help them identify it.
The Russian dropped off the blueprints at the agreed location, without even meeting the officials from Iran, and fled back to the US. Within days, the Iranian official in Vienna headed home, most likely with the blueprint.
What makes the operation so reckless is that, according to former CIA officials to whom Risen spoke, the “Trojan horse” plan had been used before with America’s enemies but never with a nuclear weapon. Handing over any weapons designs is a delicate operation, and any additional information could result in the country’s accelerating its weapons program, not stunting it.
Between Iran’s stable of knowledgeable nuclear scientists, and the fact the country had already obtained nuclear blueprints from a Pakistani scientist, giving them even flawed designs was extremely reckless. According to Risen, nuclear experts say Iran could compare the two blueprints to identify the flaw and then glean dangerous information from the blueprints anyway.
Operation Merlin failed on all accounts. Add in the fact that four years later, the CIA screwed up again, revealing its entire Iran spy network to a double agent, and the US was flying blind on Iran during a period in which the country was most likely making serious inroads on its nuclear program.
Mysterious incidents affecting the health of American diplomats in Cuba continued as recently as August, the United States said Sept. 1, despite earlier US assessments that the attacks had long stopped. The US increased its tally of government personnel affected to 19.
The new US disclosures came the same day that the union representing American diplomats said mild traumatic brain injury was among the diagnoses given to diplomats victimized in the attacks. In the most detailed account of the symptoms to date, the American Foreign Service Association said permanent hearing loss was another diagnosis, and that additional symptoms had included brain swelling, severe headaches, loss of balance, and “cognitive disruption.”
At the State Department, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US was continually revising its assessments of the scope of the attacks as new information was obtained. She said the investigation had not been completed.
“We can confirm another incident which occurred last month and is now part of the investigation,” Nauert said.
US officials had previously said that the attacks, initially believed to be caused by a potential covert sonic device, had started in fall 2016 and continued until spring 2017. Last week, Nauert had said at least 16 Americans associated with the US Embassy in Havana had been affected, but that the “incidents” were no longer occurring.
The evolving US assessment indicated investigators were still far off from any thorough understanding of what transpired in the attacks, described by the US as unprecedented. As the bizarre saga has unfolded, the US has encouraged its diplomats to report any strange physical sensations. So it’s unclear whether some symptoms being attributed to the attacks might actually be unrelated.
Still, the fact there was an incident as recently as August suggested the attacks likely continued long after the US government became aware of them and ostensibly raised the issue with the Cuban government, creating even more uncertainty about the timeline and who was responsible.
Notably, the US has avoided accusing Cuba’s government of being behind the attacks. The US did expel two Cuban diplomats, but the State Department emphasized that was in protest of the Cubans’ failure to protect the safety of American diplomats while on their soil, not an indication the US felt that Havana masterminded it.
US investigators have been searching to identify a device that could have harmed the health of the diplomats, believed to have been attacked in their homes in Havana, but officials have said no device had been found.
One of the diplomats affected had arrived over the summer of 2017 to work at the US Embassy and was later diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, said a US official, who declined to specify the symptoms that led the diplomat to report the situation.
And in Canada, a government official said that the Canadian government had first learned in March 2017 that one of its citizens was affected. Ottawa had previously confirmed that at least one Canadian diplomat was involved, but had not revealed any timeline for when it occurred or came to light.
Both the US and Canadian officials demanded anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment publicly.
It’s unclear whether Canadians were intentionally targeted or whether there could have been collateral damage from an attack aimed at Americans, given that diplomats from various countries often live in the same areas of a foreign capital. US officials have said the Americans were targeted in their homes in Havana, not in the Embassy.
Canadian officials have been actively working with US and Cuban authorities to ascertain the cause. A Cuban attack deliberately targeting Canadians would be even more confounding, given that Canada — unlike the US — has long had friendly ties to Cuba.
The American Foreign Service Association, in describing the damage to diplomats’ health, said it had met with or spoken to 10 diplomats affected, but did not specify how many of the 10 had been diagnosed with hearing loss or with mild traumatic brain injury, commonly called a concussion.
Yet the confirmation that at least some diplomats suffered brain injury suggested the attacks caused more serious damage than the hearing-related complaints that were initially reported.
“We can’t rule out new cases as medical professionals continue to evaluate members of the embassy community,” Nauert said. She added that the embassy has a medical officer and has been consistently providing care to those who have reported incidents.
Asked for further details about what the US had learned about the cause or culprit in the attacks, the State Department said it had no more information to share.
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, typically results from a bump, jolt, or other external force that disrupts normal brain functioning, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Short- and long-term effects can include changes to memory and reasoning, sight and balance, language abilities, and emotions.
Not all traumatic brain injuries are the same. Doctors evaluate patients using various clinical metrics such as the Glasgow Coma Scale, in which a numerical score is used to classify TBIs as mild, moderate, or severe.
“AFSA strongly encourages the Department of State and the US Government to do everything possible to provide appropriate care for those affected, and to work to ensure that these incidents cease and are not repeated,” the union said in a statement.
QUANTICO, Va. — A Marine infantry squad with its own “Star Wars” drone. A combat unit in the field making its own spare parts with a 3-D printer. A truck that tells its operators when it needs maintenance.
These are a few of the innovative concepts a panel of senior Marine Corps leaders on Sept. 27 said were being developed or considered to help the Corps operate and, if necessary, fight in a future that could include a “great power war.”
The officers also discussed broader ideas such as the Marines finding ways to help the Navy achieve sea control in a heavily contested littoral environment and developing the capabilities to fight information warfare to match the newly threatening Russians.
Spot, a quadruped prototype robot, aids Marines in clearing a room during a demonstration at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Sept. 16, 2015.
The officials’ report to industry came on the opening day of the Modern Day Marine exposition at the historic “home of the Marine Corps.”
The focus of the report and the expo is innovation and a drive to move the Corps quickly into the future to respond to the rapid increase and global proliferation of advanced technology and an increasingly complex security environment.
Those themes will be highlighted by the unveiling of a new operating concept by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.
The panel listed a number of efforts already underway, including a rapid capabilities office designed to reduce the prolonged acquisition process. That is tied into an innovation center that has a website eliciting revolutionary ideas from Marines at all levels. They also mentioned a 10-year experimental effort called Sea Dragon and a drive to change basic organization in the Marine Corps Force 2025 initiative.
“What we see is how technology is changing so rapidly. That excites us, but also scares us a bit,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, the deputy commandant for combat development and integration.
To avoid falling behind potential adversaries, Walsh said, the Corps is changing, but “we have to go faster. The commandant is pushing us to go faster.”
Deputy Commandant for Programs, Plans and Operations Lt. Gen. Ronald Bailey noted the Russian capabilities in information warfare and warned “we have to be able to operate in that environment to be successful.”
Highlighting the need for greater use of robotic system, Bailey envisioned “every infantry squad having an R2D2,” a reference to the Star Wars drone.
Director of Combat Development and Integration Brig. Gen. Roger Turner said he is moving into phase two of the Force 2025 study that is developing the kind of Marine Corps needed for future conflicts with peer competitors or against “non-state actors” that could use asymmetric guerrilla tactics or high technology weapons.
“It is sobering to think we could be engaged in great powers war. … That is a major driver in Force 2025, that we’re not prepared to fight great power war,” Turner said.
In the emerging combat environment, Turner said, naval force will “really have to fight for sea control,” and his office is looking for ways that the Marine Air Ground Task Force deployed with an amphibious force can contribute to sea control to enable power projection in a contested environment.
Assistant Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics Brig. Gen. Terry Williams described efforts under way to achieve “hybrid logistics” that would reduce the burden of pushing supplies and support into isolated combat units by improving their ability to provide their own water, recharge batteries and use less fuel.
He said use of 3-D printing could allow deployed units to produce their own spare parts and “sense and response” maintenance would allow vehicle maintenance to be conducted only when needed and would avoid unnecessary work.
Marine Corps Systems Command chief Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader described a number of ways to reduce the weight of combat forces, including shifting to “active protection” systems for tactical vehicles, instead of the “passive protection” of armor plating, and changing the combat gear carried by ground units. Active protection would use small munitions to intercept anti-armor missiles.
He said other efforts were ongoing that might provide different combat equipment for the different jobs performed by Marine infantry units, such as riflemen, machinegunners or mortar crews.
At 68, the Air Force may be technically the youngest branch of the five services, just a fraction of the Army’s age, but the service’s roots are well over a hundred years old. Here are 10 men who became legends in that time:
1. Eddie Rickenbacker
A race car driver turned self-taught pilot, Rickenbacker joined the military immediately after the United States entered World War I. In less than a year, he earned a promotion to an officer’s rank and shot down his fifth enemy aircraft, earning him the title of “Ace.” A year later, he was in command of his entire Aero Squadron. By the time of the November 11, 1918 armistice, Rickenbacker racked up 26 aerial victories, a record he held until World War II. His tactic was to charge right at enemy flying squads, whatever the odds, winning every time. Rickenbacker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with six oak leaf clusters, the Croix de Guerre with two palms, the French Legion d’Honneur, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor.
2. Billy Mitchell
General William “Billy” Mitchell is known as the “Father of the Air Force.” He was a turn-of-the-20th-century pilot who advocated for a separate, independent Air Force. He argued that airpower would be a revolution in modern warfare, but was dismissed as a radical by his peers. Mitchell became an Army aviator at a time when he was considered too old to go through pilot training. He paid for lessons himself and led more than 1,400 planes against the Germans during the World War I Battle of St. Mihiel. His experience flying planes in combat led to his idea of a separate Air Force, even demonstrating the power of airplanes against naval battleships. When he criticized the War Department for incompetence and negligence, he was sensationally court-martialed. He resigned his commission instead of accepting a humiliating sentence.
3. Henry “Hap” Arnold
A protégé of Gen. Billy Mitchell’s, Hap is probably the only airman on this list who needed to overcome a fear of flying to reach his legendary Air Force status. Arnold oversaw the expansion of the Army Air Corps in the years between World War I and World War II to its position as the world’s largest Air Force. He oversaw development of intercontinental bombers, radar, airlift capabilities, and the use of nuclear weapons in modern air combat. His wartime job was so stressful, he experienced three heart attacks in three years, but survived to become a five-star General of the Army, which was later changed to General of the Air Force after it became an independent branch in 1947. He remains the only person to ever hold the rank and title.
4. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr.
Though Chappie did not see combat until the Korean War, he was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, training pilots in the Army Air Corps’ 99th Pursuit Squadron, the famous Red Tails. In Korea, he flew 101 combat missions and then another 78 missions as vice-commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing during the Vietnam War. In the 8th TFW, he served under none other than then-Col. Robin Olds, including during Operation Bolo, the highest single MiG sweep ever. The duo were so successful their men nicknamed the team “Blackman and Robin.” During his command of the U.S. Air Force Base in Libya, he stared down Muammar Qaddafi in a stand-off, admitting later that he almost shot the dictator with his .45. Chappie became the first African-American to reach the rank of four-star General and the third person of African descent to reach the highest ranks in the Western world.
5. Robin Olds
Olds joined the military through The U.S. military academy at West Point, an all-star linebacker for the football team who was anxious to get into the fight raging in World War II Europe. His legacy was larger than life. He was a triple ace fighter pilot with 16 kills in WWII and married Hollywood actress Ella Raines. He stayed in the Air Force when it became independent from the U.S. Army and then commanded a fighter wing during the Vietnam War. He is remembered by the Air Force today during “Mustache March,” for the distinctive mustache he wore in Vietnam, sported as a way to boost morale among his men and thumb his nose at the media.
6. Curtis LeMay
LeMay was the youngest four-star general in American military history. He served with four stars longer than anyone ever had — a big deal for a general who didn’t go to a service academy. He earned the nickname “Iron Ass” for his stubbornness and shortness once his mind was made up. When he did speak, the stout, cigar-chomping, stone-faced general had a reputation for his outspoken manner. He is not always remembered fondly by history, as seen through the silver screen depiction of him as Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, but LeMay led the U.S. military through some of its most trying times.
LeMay’s leadership revolutionized the tactics and effectiveness of the 8th Air Force in World War II Europe, giving the Allies the decisive edge over the Nazi Luftwaffe. In the Pacific Theater, LeMay’s strategic planning crippled the Japanese war effort. He saw the U.S. through the Berlin Airlift and Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union would not have gone to war with a man who was famous for saying “If I see that the Russians are amassing their planes for an attack, I’m going to knock the shit out of them before they take off the ground.”
7. Chuck Yeager
Charles Elwood Yeager began his Air Force career as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces. His time as an aircraft mechanic probably gave him a good idea of what planes could handle, information he would need later down the line as a USAF test pilot. He entered the enlisted flying program in 1942 and became at test pilot at war’s end. Two days before he famously broke the sound barrier, he broke two ribs and had them treated at a veterinarian’s office rather than risk losing that flight by going to an Air Force doctor.
8. William H. “Pits” Pitsenbarger
“Pits” was a U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper from Piqua, Ohio during the Vietnam War. He joined the Air Force right after high school and became a Pararescueman right after basic training. Less the a year after receiving orders to Vietnam, he set out on a mission to extract Army infantry casualties in the jungles near Cam My. He dropped into the trees, tended to some wounded and then loaded them onto his helicopter. When it came time for Pits to be extracted, his helicopter was hit by small arms fire and had to leave. Instead of leaving with the helo, Pits stayed with the infantry. For an hour and a half, he tended to the wounded, built improvised stretchers, and redistriubuted ammo. When everyone was set, Pitsenbarger joined the firefight. He was killed by a VC sniper during the night.
9. John L. Levitow
Levitow was a Loadmaster on board an AC-47 “Spooky” Gunship during the Vietnam War. In an engagement with Viet Cong guerillas in February 1969, Levitow and the plane’s gunner started deploying flares during an bank when the gunship was hit by VC mortar fire. The entire crew was wounded by shrapnel and the gunner dropped a flare inside the gunship. Its fuse burned next to 19,000 rounds of ammunition which would surely take out the gunship when it exploded. Levitow, despite not being able to walk and fighting the plane’s 30-degree bank, crawled over to it, hugged the flare close to his body, and crawled to the rear toward the cargo door, dropping it out just before it ignited. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions and now the top graduate of all Air Force Enlisted Military Education courses receive the “John L. Levitow Award” for exceptional performance.
10. George Everett “Bud” Day
Though he retired an Air Force Colonel, Day started his military career as an enlisted Marine, joining in 1942 at age 17. After World War II, he went stateside to earn a law degree. At the onset of the Korean War, he joined the Air National Guard and was activated the next year. He flew combat sorties as an Air Force fighter pilot throughout the Korean War. He stayed in the Air Force through 1967, flying combat missions over North Vietnam. He was shot down, captured, tortured, beaten, and sent to the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” A year later, he was sent to “The Zoo,” a punishment camp for the most defiant POWs. At his most defiant, he would stare down his guards, singing the Star-Spangled Banner in their face. He was released in 1973, and returned to a flying status a year later.
We can neither confirm nor deny that a resurrected George Washington is a part of the Pentagon’s plan. | Artwork by Jason Heuser (Sharpwriter) | DeviantArt
The Defense Department, known for having a plan in place for any disaster scenario, has created a detailed strategy for a possible zombie apocalypse, Gordon Lubold reports for Foreign Policy.
The strategy, known as “CONPLAN 8888,” is an unclassified document that lays out how the military would best respond to a potential zombie apocalypse. The plan’s overall purpose is for the military to undertake operations to “preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde.”
CONPLAN 8888 follows a three-step approach to ensuring these goals by 1) maintaining a defensive perimeter to protect human life; 2) conducting operations that will eradicate zombie threats; and 3) aiding civil authorities in restoring law and order.
Of course, the Pentagon does not actually believe in the likelihood of a zombie apocalypse. Instead, the plan was developed by military trainers who realized that a zombie survival scenario could be a useful and effective training tool.
A disclaimer at the beginning of CONPLAN 8888 states that, “because the plan was so ridiculous, our students not only enjoyed the lessons; they actually were able to explore the basic concepts of plan and order development … very effectively.”
A military training plan based on a fictional scenario also does not carry the risk of political fallout. A training plan marked “Nigeria,” for instance, could cause a political firestorm if leaked, while a program for the zombie apocalypse could not be misconstrued as real.
Currently, CONPLAN 8888 includes defense against the full zombie spectrum, ranging from zombie chickens to pathogenic zombies, in a variety of populated and non-populated areas.
The controversy surrounding Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl continues to mount as rumors of a possible desertion charge against him spread — rumors as cloudy as the stories that surround his 2009 disappearance and capture.
Despite the fact that the Pentagon concluded in a 2010 investigation that he had simply walked away from his unit while serving at Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, the truth behind the circumstances of his capture remains murky.
Some of his fellow soldiers call him a deserter, saying he planned to walk away the whole time. They also blame him for the deaths of soldiers killed while looking for him in the days following his disappearance.
Bergdahl was freed by the Taliban in May 2014 in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees, a swap that only added to the controversy in that the Obama administration seemed to be negotiating with terrorists and also seemed to be attempting to make a feel-good story out of something that had dubious elements.
A smattering of detail emerged – some of it courtesy of his parents who ended their silence at a high-profile Rose Garden ceremony heralding his release – including a notion that as Bowe Bergdahl’s enlistment went along, he increasingly viewed himself as a conscientious objector.
But there’s a big difference between a conscientious objector and a deserter. In fact, military history shows that true conscientious observers would never desert.
Earning valid conscientious objector status in the U.S. military has always been a tough thing to accomplish. During the Civil War, the first American war to introduce forced conscription, objectors, like anyone else, could pay a $300 fine to hire a substitute.
During World War One, objectors were able to serve in noncombat roles. Those who refused were imprisoned in military facilities. The World War Two-era United States military was slightly more accommodating, allowing conscientious objectors to serve in the numerous, various New Deal work programs that were still necessary to the war effort.
Most of these programs were gone by the time of the Vietnam War, but COs could still find other ways to serve without violating their religious or social beliefs.
And some have demonstrated that being a conscientious objector doesn’t make you a slacker or a coward. In their stories one can see that true followers of their consciences would never use CO status as an excuse to shirk their duties.
Here are four examples of conscientious objectors who made their way to the front and served with valor:
1. Sergeant Alvin York
Alvin C. York (aka “Sergeant York”) had to fight to get conscientious objector status. His subsequent acceptance of the Army’s decision is an integral part of the mythos of the man.
After a life of drinking and fighting, a religious experience led York to renounce his lifestyle and turn to fundamentalist Christianity. The doctrine of his newfound faith included a rejection of secular politics and a devout pacifism. He even began to lead the prayers of his local church.
Three years later, the United States would enter World War One and Alvin York would register for the draft, as any dutiful American did. He applied for conscientious objector status, even appealing after his first request was denied.
By the time he arrived in France, York had come to believe God meant for him to fight and to win and that God would protect him as long as was necessary. One night, he and three other NCOs led thirteen privates to infiltrate the German lines and take out the machine guns. Somewhere along the way, one machine gun opened up on York and his compatriots, killing or wounding nine of the sixteen men. York didn’t even have time to take cover. He stood his ground and picked off the whole crew.
While he was taking out the German gun, another six Germans went over the top of their trench and charged at the lone American with fixed bayonets. York, having exhausted his rifle’s ammunition, pulled his sidearm and dropped all six before they could reach him. The German commander surrendered his entire unit to York. 132 men in total were led back to the American lines by York and his six surviving privates. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for this action.
York became one of the most decorated doughboys of the Great War and returned home a hero. A movie was made about his exploits, for which Gary Cooper would win an Oscar for the title role of “Sergeant York.”
York attempted to re-enlist in World War Two, but was too old for combat duty, instead becoming a Major in the Army Signal Corps.
2. Desmond Doss
If ever there was an example more different from Sergeant York’s, it’s the story of Desmond Doss. Drafted as a medic during World War II, Doss was a devout Seventh Day Adventist.
In today’s military, he might not ever have made it past basic training. He refused to train or work on Saturdays. He wouldn’t eat meat. He wouldn’t carry a weapon. Even in the face of taunts and threats from other members of his unit, he stood fast to his beliefs. His commanding officer tried to get him a section eight discharge, meaning he was unsuitable for military service, but Doss refused to accept this discharge because it amounted to being called “crazy” due to his beliefs.
But Doss wasn’t useless. He wanted to serve; he just wasn’t willing to kill to do it. He even worked overtime hours to make up for his Saturday Sabbath. Still, his fellow soldiers threatened to kill him as soon as they got into action. It was Doss’ dedication to saving lives that would earn him the love and respect of his unit. Doss would do anything to save his men, from going into the open field, braving snipers, or dodging machine gun fire. From Guam to Leyte to Okinawa, Doss repeatedly braved anything the Japanese could muster to pull the injured to the rear.
It was at Okinawa where Doss entered Army history. As his unit climbed a vertical cliffside the Japanese opened up with artillery, mortars, and machine guns, turning his unit back and killing or wounding 75 men. Doss retrieved them one by one, loading them onto a litter and down the cliff.
A few days later, in the mouth of a cave, he braved a shower of grenades thrown from eight yards away, dressing wounds, and making four trips to pull his soldiers out. The last time, a grenade critically injured him. He treated his own wounds and waited five hours for a litter to carry him off.
On the way back, the three men had to take cover from a tank attack. While waiting, Doss crawled off his litter, treated a more injured man, and told the litter bearers to take the other man. While waiting for them to come back, he was hit in the arm by a sniper and crawled 300 yards to an aid station. He was the first true conscientious objector to earn the Medal of Honor.
3. Thomas Bennett
Bennett was a student at West Virginia University in the Fall of 1967 as the war in Vietnam was heating up. He was committed to his country but was also deeply religious. His Southern Baptist beliefs kept him from killing even in the name of patriotism. Still, Bennett enlisted as a combat medic in 1968 to save the lives of his countrymen who would fight as he couldn’t.
He arrived in South Vietnam in 1969. A month later, Bennett’s bravery earned him a recommendation for a Silver Star. Two days after that, his platoon was dispatched to assist an ambushed patrol. They immediately came under fire from an entrenched enemy column with automatic weapons, mortars, and rockets.
As the point men fell wounded, he ran toward them and tended their wounds as he pulled each of them to relative safety. For the rest of the night and into the following day, he ran from position to position, aiding the wounded and pulling them back to safety. He ran just a bit too far trying to get to a man wounded ahead of the unit and was killed by an enemy sniper.
He received the Medal of Honor, the second conscientious objector to receive the U.S. military’s highest level of recognition.
4. Joseph LaPointe, Jr.
Joseph LaPointe, Jr. was an average guy from Ohio, a mailman who got married at twenty years old. He was also a devout Baptist. Drafted in 1968, he declared himself a conscientious objector, but still opted to serve in the Army, taking the role of field medic with the 101st Airborne.
He arrived in Vietnam in June of 1968. By the next year, he was in the area of Quang Tin, having earned a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. On June 2, he landed on a cavalry patrol as they came under heavy fire from a nearby bunker. Two men in the lead were wounded immediately.
As the patrol took cover, LaPointe ran forward to help. He shielded the men with his body as he performed first aid. He was injured twice before dragging the men to cover. He continued to protect the two men with his own body until a grenade killed all three.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says that it is “amending its regulation” on the copays that veterans pay for medications they receive that are not for service related conditions.
Currently, veterans pay $8 and $9 for a 30-day (or less) supply of prescriptions.
The VA says that the new system will “keep outpatient medication costs low for Veterans.”
Dr. David J. Shulkin, the VA Undersecretary for Health, said “Reducing their out-of-pocket costs encourages greater adherence to priscribed outpatient medications and reduces the risk of fragmented care that results when multiple pharmacies are used.”
The new system tossed out the old way of determining costs, which was based on the Medical Consumer Price Index.
Three classes of outpatient medications have been designed to help curb the costs.
Tier 1 is for preferred generics, and will cost veterans $5 for a 30-day or less supply.
Tier 2 is for non-preferred generics, which includes over the counter medications, and will cost veterans $8 for a 30-day or less supply.
Tier 3 is for brand name medications, and will cost veterans $11 for a 30-day or less supply.
The new system will go into effect February 27th, 2017, and only apply to medications that are not for service connected issues.
Veterans who are former Prisoners of War, catastrophically disabled, or are covered by other exceptions will not have to pay copays.
Veterans who fall into Priority Groups 2-8 will have a $700 cap on copays, at which point the copays do not apply. To find out which Priority Group you fall into, check out the VA’s list of Priority Groups in their Health Benefits tab (here).
According to 38 U.S.C. 1722A(a), the VA is compelled to require veterans to pay a minimum copay of $2 for every 30-day (or less) supply of medications which are prescribed for non-service related disabilities or connections, unless there is an exemption for the veteran. 38 U.S.C. 1722A(b) gives the VA the authority to set the copay amount higher and to put caps on the amount veterans pay.
A government official says a Jordanian soldier faces murder charges in the shooting deaths of three US military trainers at a Jordanian air base.
He says the soldier will be tried by a military court, starting June 7th. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.
The US Army Green Berets were killed November 4 at the Al-Jafr air base in southern Jordan. They came under fire as their convoy entered the base.
Jordanian officials initially said the trainers sparked the shooting by disobeying orders from Jordanian soldiers.
The slain Americans were 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, of Kirksville, Missouri; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe of Tucson, Arizona; and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Kerrville, Texas.
Military humor is famously dark and mean, and we’ve got the videos to prove it. From MRE bombs to machine gun wake-ups, here are 9 of the best military prank videos on the internet. Feel free to share your favorites on our Facebook page.
Warning: There’s some foul language in nearly every video. Use discretion with your volume settings.
1. MRE bomb wake-up
2. Funny but dangerous grenade prank
4. Flash bangs are not toys.
5. The spoon prank, but with soldiers.
6. Airman gets a physical over the phone.
It’s hard to hear the audio in this video due to a bunch of drilling, but the story is that the airman has been convinced he can get a physical over the phone as long as he gets his heart rate up for the doctor’s stethoscope to hear through the phone. His giggling staff sergeant was obviously not convinced.