Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Scottish actor Gerard Butler stopped by the Pentagon in October 2018 to promote his upcoming movie “Hunter Killer” by speaking to the press about how he worked with the Navy to research his role as an submarine captain.

Among the details he revealed about his time aboard the nuclear-powered attack sub USS Houston at Pearl Harbor was a peculiar aspect of how a crew reacts after someone falls overboard.

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but when you are doing a man overboard, rather than putting a man overboard, they throw a bag of popcorn into the water,” Butler told reporters.


“Then you spend the next — you have four minutes, because if you are in cold water, he’s not going to make it, and neither is the popcorn — because, actually, the bag breaks open,” he added. “So you spend the next four minutes maneuvering an 8,000-ton sub to try and get next to the popcorn so somebody can jump in and rescue it.”

There’s more than a kernel of truth to Butler’s anecdote.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Sailors stand watch on the conning tower of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee as it returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Feb. 6, 2013.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class James Kimber)

While it isn’t standard, most US submarines do use popcorn for man-overboard drills, Cmdr. Sarah Self-Kyler, a public-affairs officer for the Navy’s Atlantic submarine forces, told Business Insider on Oct. 16, 2018.

The popcorn and the bag it comes in are biodegradable. The bag, once the popcorn is popped, is also about the size of the human head and equally hard to see when its bobbing in the ocean, Self-Kyler added. It will also float for a short period, usually less than 10 minutes, and disappear, adding time pressure to the exercise.

Sometimes crewmen will tape two bags together, but once the popcorn is away, Self-Kyler said, it “most accurately represents what a man overboard looks like from a submarine.”

Though different subs will handle things differently, such drills are typically only done while entering or exiting port, as that is generally the only time subs are surfaced. Many crew members have to be involved to carry it out.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Sailors point to “Oscar,” a training dummy, during a man-overboard drill aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence, June 22, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Jessica O. Blackwell)

The popcorn, usually pulled from the sub’s general inventory, is popped in a microwave then sent to the top of the conning tower, where it gets thrown overboard.

At that point, Self-Kyler said, sailors on watch will shout that a man has fallen overboard and crew members in the control room will mark its location.

It then becomes the job of navigators and sub drivers on duty to steer the boat back to the location where the popcorn went overboard, “work[ing] together to pinpoint that location.”

Above deck, watch-standers have to keep their eyes on and fingers pointed at the popcorn the whole time, so as to stay focused on the very small object as the submarine manuevers to come back alongside it.

“Every watch-stander is required to be qualified on this kind of operation,” Self-Kyler said. They “have to show the captain they can drive the ship back to that bag of popcorn.”

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

A sailor throws “Oscar,” a man-overboard training dummy, off the port side of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan during a man-overboard drill, Jan. 14, 2017.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford)

In the event of a real man-overboard, the submarine would also send out an alert to all mariners in the area, telling them via a radio call to keep an eye out for a sailor in the water and relaying their last known position. The sub’s crew would also be mustered for a roll call to identify the missing crewman.

Bags of popcorn aren’t the only things submariners use for man-overboard exercises. They can also use cardboard boxes, Self-Kyler said, though whatever they use also has to be biodegradable. There are also specialized floats or mannequins that sailors use for search-and-rescue drills.

Navy ships do not use popcorn in their man-overboard drills, Jim DeAngio, a spokesman for the Navy’s Atlantic surface forces command, said in an email.

“They primarily use what is referred to as a ‘smoke float,’ a canister that, when dropped into salt water, activates itself,” De Angio added. “It floats and smokes and provides an object to target for rescue.”

A sailor going overboard is not a common occurrence, but it does happen.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

A Navy search-and-rescue swimmer rescues “Oscar” and brings him back to the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale, July 15, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox)

“In a man overboard situation, obviously, we want to recover the sailor as quickly and efficiently as possible,” DeAngio said.

A decade ago, the Navy introduced a Man Over Board Indicator for the float coats sailors working on deck are required to wear. A transmitter in the coat, a receiver in the ship’s pilot house, and a directional finder on a rigid-hull inflatable boat deployed to pick up the sailor were to be used in conjunction to make the rescue process a matter of minutes.

Aircraft carriers, which have open flight decks and carry more crew members than other Navy ships, have nets along the deck to catch sailors before they hit the water. They don’t always work though.

Peter von Szilassy, an airman on the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2002, was blown by a jet blast in a bomb-disposal chute, one of the only areas without a safety net. He fell 90 feet into the Persian Gulf and was sucked toward the ship’s 66,000-pound propeller. But he was able to swim free and was picked up with little more than bruises.

Navy search-and-rescue swimmers go through rigorous training to be able to pluck sailors out of the water within minutes — a life-or-death time limit when the sea is freezing.

“When the three whistle blasts are broadcasted you have to be out there. It’s not about you. It’s about the person in the water,” Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Adam Tiscareno said in 2018.

“Whoever is out there, it’s their worst day. They don’t know if they’ll make it back.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

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

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

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

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

Hegseth hosting the Patriot Awards on Fox Nation.

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

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

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

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

Hegseth poses with a fellow soldier in uniform.

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

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

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

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

“It was like walking onto the surface of the moon,” Graham Elwood says of his first experience walking off of a C-17 in Afghanistan.

His experience was not unlike many of our own first times deploying to a far-off edge of the world. We take a long, long C-17 (or god help you, C-130) ride for seemingly endless hours. There are no windows. The plane is packed. Forget about an in-flight movie or looking out the window. And when you walk off, it’s invariably the middle of the night and you and the hundred or so people you’re with walk off the flightline in a single file.

From there, who knows? There’s a good chance the “hurry up and wait” has just begun. For civilians visiting war zones for the first time, it’s no different – except they have no idea how to speak the acronym language.

“They said ‘When your bird hits the LZ, find your POC, they’ll take you to the MWR tent then you can go to the DFAC,'” he jokes. “It’s like… what are you saying to me right now, man?”

Elwood is a Los Angeles-based comedian with appearances in comedy clubs across America, on college campuses, and even CBS’ Late Late Show. He’s also a veteran podcaster with shows like Comedy Film Nerds, and The Political Vigilante, and he’s a co-creator of the Los Angeles Podcast Festival.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

None of that prepared him for performing for U.S. troops deployed in combat zones. His first documentary, LaffghanistanComedy Down Range, is about his first time volunteering to go do just that. It’s amazing how fast you can go from playing the Hollywood Improv to playing Bagram Air Base.

Elwood’s film documents his personal journey from the sunny beaches of Southern California to the sun-baked moonscape of Afghanistan, where the military’s Department of Morale, Welfare and Recreation enlisted him to entertain the troops. Elwood’s psychedelic travels through a war zone are simultaneously hilarious, harrowing, and heartbreaking. His journey becomes unpredictably personal, creating a documentary that no one expected, least of all Graham.

For someone who admits he’s pretty far removed from the Global War on Terror, it all came home to him when went around the small firebases of Afghanistan. It was his first time in helicopters, driving in unarmored vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan, and seeing minefields. It got real for him for him real fast.

“What was said to me and what I’ve said to other comedians,” he says. “Well don’t go over there if you don’t want to be changed. It will change you. You have no idea. This is no joke.”

Now that Elwood has done a number of these shows and tours around deployed military bases, he looks back at his first experience in this episode of Mandatory Fun.

Nothing could adequately prepare him for performing a comedy act in Afghanistan. All the dive bars and sh*t holes he played as a young comedian is the best thing he could do to prepare. He was still freaking out but couldn’t help but put himself in the shoes of young troops.

“I’m here for two weeks,” Elwood says, “and MY family is freaking out. Imagine them and  their families and how much they’re freaking out.”

But they quickly realized that they need to be the comics. They were there for a reason: to give American troops fighting overseas a few laughs, a taste of a normal night, and a show to help ease their tension, even if it was only for a short time.

Mandatory Fun guest: Graham Elwood has been a stand-up comic for over 20 years working comedy clubs, colleges, TV shows, Holiday Inn Lounges, war zones, dive bars, and one time on the top of a double-decker tour bus in Chicago (not joking)

. You’ve probably seen him on the TV as the host of the socially relevant game shows “Cram” (GSN) and “Strip Poker” (USA), along with making the world a better place by appearing on shows like “Best Bodies Ever” on VH1. Don’t forget the time when he told jokes on “The Late Late Show” (CBS). He has also starred in the theatrical plays Speed the Plow, Light Sensitive, and Cash Flow, and co-wrote the one act play Brothers. Learn more about Elwood:

Mandatory Fun is hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Catch the show on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of March 27

No matter where you look, there’s only one thing in the news – COVID-19. And as a comedic military writer, I feel a certain sense of duty to help others by trying to put a smile on the faces of our community in these trying times.

Even as we speak, all five thousand plus service members onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt are to be tested for the Coronavirus as a precaution and won’t allow any sailors to leave while it’s docked in Guam. You read that right, folks. No one is going anywhere until the Navy gets its 5,000 seaman samples.


Stay safe out there, you dirty animals. Anyway, here’s some memes.

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(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

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(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

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(Meme via US Army WTF Moments)

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(Meme via Call for Fire)

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(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

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(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

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(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

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(Meme via ASMDSS)

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(Meme via Do You Even Comm, Bro?)

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(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

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(Meme via Army as F*ck)

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(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

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(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the last enemy ship sunk by the US Navy in combat

When the last Perry-class frigate, the USS Simpson, lowered her flag for the last time in 2015, it left only one ship in the active fleet which sank an enemy in combat. The USS Constitution sank an enemy ship, the British HMS Guerriere, during the War of 1812. The target sank by the Simpson was much more recent than that. She sank an Iranian patrol boat in the Persian Gulf in 1988.


There are just no more deepwater targets threatening the American Navy these days.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Russia’s garbage scow of a carrier can go sail off the edge of the world.

In 1988, the war between Iran and Iraq was winding down but could still break out in hot spots here and there. But the Iranian Navy’s most intense battle of the war came against the U.S. Navy, not Iraq’s. For the United States, it was the most explosive surface battle it faced since World War II. When the USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine in the Persian Gulf, the Navy launched Operation Praying Mantis, a massive retaliation that destroyed half the Iranian Navy and a number of the Islamic Republic’s oil drilling platforms.

The cost to the U.S. Navy was just two Marines, who died in a helicopter accident that day.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Iran’s oil platforms burning during Praying Mantis.

It was a long day for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy. U.S. Marines were raiding oil platforms with precision that would have made Chesty Puller proud. Naval aviators were dropping precision bombs down the enemy’s smokestacks. It was a free-for-all as the United States just unleashed the full power of the Navy in the Gulf. Frigates, gunboats, speedboats, and more all became target practice.

One of those targets was the Joshan, a Kaman-class fast attack craft that decided to run head-on against an entire surface action group. By itself.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Yeah, they all died.

Joshan engaged the USS Simpson and USS Wainwright after the latter ship’s skipper warned the Iranians that further movement would cause for the Americans to sink her. Her response to the warning was to fire a harpoon missile at the ships. Wainwright and Simpson evaded the missile using chaff and then turned their attention back to the Iranian gunboat.

It only took four missiles from the Oliver Hazard Perry-class missile destroyers to put the Joshan at the bottom of the Gulf.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force units return to Tyndall after storm damages

The Air Force announced the return of several key Tyndall Air Force Base missions, as the base begins its long-term recovery following Hurricane Michael.

“We will rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base,” said Vice President Mike Pence while at the north Florida base Oct. 25, 2018.

A number of important missions will resume at Tyndall AFB in the next few months and others will shift to other locations for the time being. All but approximately 500 airmen will return to the Florida panhandle within 1 to 3 months.

“We are focused on taking care of our airmen and their families and ensuring the resumption of operations. These decisions were important first steps to provide stability and certainty,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “We’re working hard to return their lives to normalcy as quickly as possible.”


Decisions include:

Units that will resume operations at Tyndall AFB:

• The 601st Air Force Operations Center will resume operations no later than Jan. 1, 2019.
• The 337th Air Control Squadron will resume air battle manager training at a reduced rate by Jan. 1, 2019. A full production rate is expected no later than summer 2019.
• Air Force Medical Agency Support team will continue their mission of medical facility oversight.
• Air Force Office of Special Investigations will continue their mission from usable facilities.
• 53rd Air-to-Air Weapons Evaluation Group will remain at Tyndall AFB.
• The Air Force Legal Operations Agency will continue their mission from a usable facility at Tyndall AFB.
• Air Force recruiters will continue their mission from local area offices in the Panama City, Florida, area.
• The 823rd Red Horse Squadron, Detachment 1, will continue their mission at Tyndall AFB.
• The Air Force Civil Engineer Center will continue their mission at Tyndall AFB.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

The courtyard of a student housing complex sits flooded with water and debris following Hurricane Michael on Oct. 10, 2018.

Units to be located at Eglin AFB, Florida, with reachback to Tyndall AFB:

• The 43rd and 2nd Fighter Squadrons’ F-22 Fighter Training and T-38 Adversary Training Units will relocate operations to Eglin AFB. Academic and simulator facilities at Tyndall AFB will be used to support training requirements, as well as Tyndall AFB’s surviving low observable maintenance facilities.
• The 372nd Training Squadron, Detachment 4, will relocate with the F-22 Fighter Training Units to Eglin AFB.

Units with insufficient infrastructure to resume operations at Tyndall AFB at this time:

• Personnel and F-22s from the 95th Fighter Squadron will relocate to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
• The Noncommissioned Officer Academy will temporarily disperse across four locations: McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee; Maxwell AFB – Gunter Annex, Alabama; Keesler AFB, Mississippi; and Sheppard AFB, Texas.

The Air Force is taking great care to ensure airmen and their families are supported when they return to the base. Officials are working to identify specific airmen required to remain at Tyndall AFB for mission needs or to assist with the longer-term recovery of the base.

“By the winter holidays and in many cases well before, we expect all our airmen — military and civilians — to have certainty about their options, so that everyone is either on a path or already settled,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.

“The strength of Tyndall (AFB) comes from its airmen and their families. It will take us a while to restore buildings and infrastructure, but returning our airmen and their combat missions to full strength — at Tyndall or somewhere else in the interim — will happen quickly,” he added.

As details are worked out, affected airmen will be contacted by their chain of command or the Air Force Personnel Center. In the meantime, airmen should continue to monitor the Tyndall AFB Facebook page and the Air Force Personnel Center website for additional details as they become available.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Our favorite military movies of the 2000s

It was the dawn of a new decade, and a new generation of war flicks that proved to take the world by storm. Yes, we’re talking about modern-day movies that turned into instant classics — that is, instant mega-million dollar producing classics. Films that are still household names today, and those that star big movie stars, either in the height of their fame or as they were just starting out in their career.

These movies brought a whole new generation to the movies and showed them (sometimes graphic) portrayals of how ugly war can be. All while our country itself was at the onset of a new war, all the way up to years deep in the process. 

Join us as we take a walk down memory lane in these not-so-long-ago war films that took over the 2000s and the start to the 21st century. 

The Patriot, 2000

This historical war movie tells the story of a man in South Carolina and his involvement in the Revolutionary War. Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, and Jason Isaacs star in the movie that, despite bad reviews, more than doubled its budget at the box office. The Patriot received criticism for its historical inaccuracies, most notably, its portrayal of British soldiers and other figures. 

Black Hawk Down, 2001

Based on a 1993 event in which an attempted rescue mission started the battle in Mogadishu, Black Hawk Down, the movie, is derived from the 1999 book of the same name. The film stars an ensemble cast of Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, and Tom Hardy. The movie took home two Academy Awards, for Best Film Editing and Best Sound. It was highly praised and is listed as a favorite by many film critics. 

Pearl Harbor, 2001

Another big release in 2001, Pearl Harbor shows a fictionalized version of the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII, directed and produced by action powerhouse team, Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer, respectively. The film received mixed negative reviews but is one of the highest-earning war films to-date, bringing in $450 million worldwide. The film earned Academy Award and Golden Raspberry nominations alike. Actors Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Voight, and Alec Baldwin star. 

Flags of Our Fathers, 2006

In the 2000s, Clint Eastwood helped create two films covering the Battle of Iwo Jima. The first, Letters From Iwo Jima, depicted the Japanese side of the 1945 battle and was directed by Eastwood. It received a limited release in the U.S. The American counterpart came with Flags of Our Fathers and was based on the 2000 book of the same title. Both stories cover the famous battle and subsequent flag raising made famous in Joe Rosenthal’s photograph. The film failed to profit at the box office, but remains a fan favorite.

Valkyrie, 2008

Named for Operation Valkyrie, a German national emergency plan, the film follows a real-life plot of German officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler and take over the territory. Tom Cruise starred, which initially caused problems with filming locations, as his religion, Scientology, is legally questioned by the German government. However, German media and film outlets remained positive about the film and its storyline. The film opened on Christmas Day and went on to earn more than $200 million. 

The Hurt Locker, 2009

This thriller film was made of an ensemble cast including Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Ralph Finnes, David Morse, and Guy Pearce. The story followed a team of Explosive Ordinance Disposal professionals and their mission while being targeted by insurgents. It was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Academy Award for Best Director, along with five others for the film, including: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay. The film also remains the only female-directed movie to win Best Picture and Best Director. It was listed as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the National Film Registry in 2020. 

Inglourious Basterds, 2009

Quentin Tarantino made waves with his war film, Inglourious Basterds, yet another plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. However, this film served a fictionalized account. The title was taken from the 1978 film, The Inglorious Bastards, which had its own unique plot. The movie starred a big-name cast including Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, and Diane Kruger. The film followed a screenplay that Tarantino had penned more than a decade before but struggled with concluding the storyline. He returned to the story years later and had it picked up by Universal Pictures. It went on to earn more than $320 million, his highest-earning film at the time. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Don’t be a victim of a military romance scam

Are you dating or talking online to someone who says they are a military member? Have they asked you for funds or documents? You might be looking for true love, but chances are good that you are the victim of one of thousands of military romance scams conducted every day.

U.S. military officials have warned those involved in online dating to proceed with caution when corresponding with someone claiming to be a U.S. military member serving in Syria, Afghanistan or elsewhere.


Officials and websites like Military.com receive hundreds of questions or allegations a month from victims who state they got involved in an online relationship with someone who claims to be in the U.S. military but started asking for money for various false service-related needs such as transportation costs; communication fees; or marriage, processing or medical fees.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

(Flickr photo by Mr Seb)

Victims of these online scams often think they are doing a good deed by helping a military member. Instead, they have given their money to a scammer, sometimes losing thousands of dollars, with very low possibility of recovery.

The U.S. has established numerous task forces to deal with this growing epidemic. Unfortunately, the people committing these scams are often overseas — using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes.

Are you being scammed? Here’s how to know.

Military romance scams: what to look for

There are a variety of words and phrases used by scammers to hook unsuspecting men and women into relationships. Here are some examples:

  • They say they are on a “peacekeeping” mission.
  • They say they are looking for an honest woman.
  • They note that their parents, wife or husband is deceased.
  • They say they have a child or children being cared for by a nanny or other guardian.
  • They profess their love almost immediately.
  • They refer to you as “my love,” “my darling” or any other affectionate term almost immediately.
  • They tell you they cannot wait to be with you.
  • They tell you they cannot talk on the phone or via webcam for security reasons.
  • They tell you they are sending you something (money, jewelry) through a diplomat.
  • They claim to be in the U.S. military; however, their English and grammar do not match that of someone born and raised in the United States.

Military romance scams: common questions

Scammers tend to use similar stories to convince men and women that they have a legitimate need. Military.com regularly receives questions about these claims. Here are common answers to those questions:

  • Military members and their loved ones are not charged money so that they can go on leave.
  • No one is required to request leave on behalf of a military member.
  • A general officer will not correspond with you on behalf of military personnel planning to take leave.
  • A general officer will not be a member of an internet dating site.
  • Military members are not charged money or taxes to secure communications or leave.
  • Military members do not need permission to get married.
  • Military members do not have to pay for early retirement.
  • All military personnel have medical insurance for themselves and their immediate family members (spouse and/or children), which pays for their medical costs when treated at health care facilities worldwide. Family and friends do not need to pay their medical expenses.
  • Military aircraft are not used to transport privately owned vehicles.
  • Military financial offices are not used to help military personnel buy or sell items of any kind.
  • Member of the military deployed to combat zones do not need to solicit money from the public to feed or house their troops.
  • Deployed military personnel do not find large sums of money and do not need your help to get that money out of the country.

Military romance scams: how to avoid them

You can avoid being taken for a ride by a military romance scam artist by practicing a few easy habits.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

(Flickr photo by Saws)

  1. Never send money. Be extremely suspicious if you are asked for money for transportation costs, communication fees or marriage processing and medical fees via Western Union.
  2. Do your research. If you do start an Internet-based relationship with someone, check them out. Research what they are telling you with someone who would know, such as a current or former service member.
  3. Communicate by phone. Be very suspicious if you never get to actually speak with the person on the phone or are told you cannot write or receive letters in the mail. Servicemen and women serving overseas will often have an APO or FPO mailing address. Internet or not, service members always appreciate a letter in the mail.
  4. Fact-check. Many of the negative claims made about the military and the supposed lack of support and services provided to troops overseas are far from reality. Check the facts.
  5. Don’t use a third party. Be very suspicious if you are asked to send money or ship property to a third party or company. Often, the company exists but has no idea or is not a part of the scam.
  6. Watch for African countries. Be very suspicious if the person you are corresponding with wants you to mail anything to an African country. While some U.S. troops are stationed there, they are few and far between. Someone claiming to be in a place where we have few troops is suspect. Many scams originate in Nigeria.
  7. Watch for grammar. Be aware of common spelling, grammatical or language errors in the emails.
  8. Be guarded. Be very suspicious of someone you have never met and who pledges their love at warp speed.

Military romance scams: how to get help

How do you get help if you are the victim of a romance scam or think you have found a scammer posing as a military member?

Unfortunately, if you’ve given money to a scammer, you’re unlikely to get it back since scammers are often located overseas and are untraceable.

You can, however, report it.

You can report the theft to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) (FBI-NW3C Partnership) on its website.

You can also report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the United States in their investigations. Report it online or by phone at 1-877-ID-THEFT.

Finally, report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission on Nigerian Scams by email at spam@uce.gov.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

popular

This is what a silencer for howitzers looks like

For those moments when you absolutely, positively have to train your artillery but you don’t want to wake the local population, accept no substitutes. Yes, artillery silencers are a thing.


Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Pictured without a gun to suppress. (photo from TheFirearmBlog)

These photos were taken at an artillery range in Germany. The vehicle using the giant suppressor is an M109G 155mm self-propelled howitzer. Apparently the locals don’t like the sound of freedom.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

The sides can be opened to allow the expansion of the muzzle blast. (photo from TheFirearmBlog)

A report from the Defense Technical Information Center reveals the U.S. Army has some silencers of its own, for both 105 mm and 120 mm to be used at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

Residents across Chesapeake Bay experience considerably louder noise than other nearby communities because the artillery’s blast sound is highly directional. Something had to be done.

The steel construction allows for it to be lifted into position and used when firing at a 30-degree elevation. But it cannot be attached to the turret, because tests showed it affected recoil and harm the turret barrel.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine
Looks like a weird hammer to me. How about you? (photo from TheFirearmBlog)

The Firearm Blog also found a patent for a potential tank silencer, which would attach to the muzzle of the tank’s main turret.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine
Seems cumbersome.

The holes on the silencer are kept as small as possible to keep the decibel levels lower, which is most effective behind and in front of the suppressor. The total cost of the construction is $100,000.

Silencers can reduce artillery noise by as much as 20 decibels, which may not seem like much, but is the difference between listening to your television and listening to your blender.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

One year and one week later: where military families stand following the housing crisis

As military spouses, we are all too familiar with the phrase “hurry up and wait.” When it comes to the health and safety of our families in our homes, enough is enough.


When we heard from our network that families were struggling with the safety and deterioration of their military homes, we mobilized the Military Family Advisory Network’s research process so that we could learn more. Our goal was simple: understand what is happening through scientific data. Good data can be powerful and hard to ignore.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

We created a survey that allowed us to take a deep dive into the issue, and we shared what we learned with the Department of Defense, Congress, and the general public. We made sure our data was actionable, because our priority is shortening the time between the identification of an issue and the deployment of a solution.

Sadly, it has been one year and one week since we released findings from our Privatized Military Housing Survey, and families are still struggling. It should not have taken a survey with nearly 17,000 military families sharing their experiences with us – many of which were severe – to drive change. The entire country heard about what was happening in military housing in the nightly news, in the paper, and on social media. Despite the overwhelming number of heartbreaking stories, the brave testimonies from military spouses, the news coverage, and the compelling data, families are still struggling.

Based on what we hear, we believe that those who are entrusted with fixing this issue are on the right path, but we also know that there is a long way to go. We understand that for the military families who have spent months in temporary housing or hotels, who have thrown away thousands of dollars’ worth of furniture due to water damage, have lived with pests, and worst of all, who are struggled with the health-implications that can be associated with mold or lead, actions speak louder than words. We understand that the trust between military families and housing offices (and those charged with oversight) continues to erode as families wait for a Tenant Bill of Rights and increased accountability.

We commit to keeping the pressure up and continuing to learn from families who share their experiences with us, and we commit to doing so in collaboration with everyone who has a vested interest in supporting our community. That is why MFAN created the Military Housing Roundtable. During our first meeting, we took a step back to answer a few key questions: What is happening that is causing families to choose to live in military housing? Do military families have other safe and affordable options? Or, do they feel stuck? Based on these questions, here’s what we know:

We need to bring together public and private agencies to ensure that military families have a central hub where they can get the information they need.

We need to explore what is happening in housing and rental markets near installations.

We need to educate families on the Service Member Civil Relief act, so they know their rights when they are signing a lease or need to move.

We need to teach families the dangers of mold and lead, show them where to look, how to safely navigate these hazards, and where to turn for help if they discover them in their homes.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Most importantly, we need to elevate the voices of military families, because as the last year has shown us, their experiences matter. MFAN is proud to have provided the microphone for these families through our research. We are honored to be able to create collaborative solutions with Roundtable attendees – which included nonprofits, military and veteran service organizations, subject matter experts on environmental risks, the Department of Defense, the military services, and businesses with a mission of supporting military families.

We are committed to rallying together to fix this because we all know one thing for certain: military families deserve a safe place to live, raise their families, and call home.

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General Petraeus returned to duty days after being shot in the chest with an M-16

There are a lot of reasons for soldiers to visit sick call. Sure, there are a lot of skaters among the ranks of U.S. troops, but most of the military is looking to stay away from doctors and stay in the fight — especially while deployed. No officer exemplifies this more than Gen. David Petraeus, who was shot in the chest due to a negligent discharge.

The doctors were not thrilled at the prospect of letting then-Lt. Col. Petraeus walk out of the hospital. Just days before, the colonel was participating in a live-fire exercise at Fort Campbell, KY when a soldier under his command tripped. The fall caused the soldier to fire his M-16 rifle, hitting Petraeus in the chest.

Of course, Lt. Col. Petraeus survived.


Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

“Ooh, good attempt, Private Dipsh*t. If you had tried that at the range, you might have a sharpshooter badge.”

I remember standing for a moment and then going down to my knees and slumping to the ground,” said Petraeus. “The next I recall was being worried about the effect on the unit and delaying training. So I instructed the leaders to just prop me up against a tree with a canteen.”

Then, like a true soldier, he instructed medics not to cut off his load-bearing equipment because it took him so long to get it together and put it on. Medics then tended to his wound just like it says in the Soldier’s Manual. They then airlifted him to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital where doctors were forced to tend to his wounds without anesthesia. He was later rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for more care. 

Despite having been shot, Petraeus couldn’t just languish in the hospital for months at a time. He was the commander of the Iron Rakkasans, not the Wet Paper Bag Rakkasans. He may not look like it at first glance, but the decorated Army officer is tough as nails and is willing to prove it. That’s exactly how he was able to leave the hospital soon after.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

“Come at me, son. My life has its own Konami Code.”

The surgeon that operated on David Petraeus that day in Nashville would later go on to work with Petraeus as a General. Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist helped save the young officer’s life and later took testimony from the general on how he intended to train Iraqi troops.

Before that, however, Lt. Col. Petraeus needed to get out of the hospital. To prove to his civilian doctors that he was fine and ready for duty, Petraeus did 50 pushups without resting – just days after being shot by a 5.56 round in the chest from 40 meters and then undergoing surgery to repair the damage.

(It) feels like a combination of the most enormous blow imaginable and being hit in the back with a massive hammer from the force of bullet exiting the body,” Petraeus told The Leaf-Chronicle.I was very fortunate that the bullet did not sever an artery… I was also very fortunate that the bullet hit over the ‘A’ in ‘Petraeus’ rather than the ‘A’ in ‘U.S. Army.’

MIGHTY CULTURE

Soldier set to become the first ever female Green Beret

For the first time ever, a woman is now “in the final stage of training” to become the U.S. Army’s first female Green Beret.


The female soldier, who has not been identified by the Army, is an enlisted member of the National Guard, and was one of only a handful of women to ever make it through the rigorous 24-day assessment all aspiring Soldiers must survive in order to earn a spot in the year-long Special Forces qualification course, commonly referred to as the “Q Course.” According to a spokesman for the U.S. Army, this Soldier is nearing completion of the Q Course, which means her accession into the role of Special Forces engineer sergeant is all but guaranteed, provided she doesn’t fall out of training due to injury or a sudden shift in her performance. There is also at least one other woman in the same Q Course, though the Army did not indicate whether or not she was expected to pass.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

U.S. Special Forces Green Beret Soldiers, assigned to 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Operational Detachment-A, prepare to breach an entry point during a close quarter combat scenario while Integrated Training Exercise 2-16 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Efren Lopez/Released)

The Army isn’t releasing any information about the Soldier that may soon earn the mantle of first-ever female Green Beret, citing security concerns and standard protocol.

This Soldier won’t be the Army’s first ever female to earn a role within a Special Operations unit, however. In 2017. a female Soldier earned her place in the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment, and more than a forty others have now completed Ranger School, which is widely considered to be not only grueling, but among the best leadership courses in the entirety of the U.S. Armed Forces. One of those women, Captain Kristen M. Griest, became the Army’s first female infantry officer back in 2016.

“I do hope that, with our performance in Ranger school, we’ve been able to inform that decision as to what they can expect from women in the military,” Captain Griest said when she graduated in 2015. “We can handle things physically and mentally on the same level as men.”
Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jason Robertson)

Although the title “Special Forces” is often attributed to all Special Operations units in popular culture, in truth, the title “Special Forces” belongs only to the U.S. Army’s Green Berets. Special Forces Soldiers are tasked with a wide variety of mission sets and often serve as physical representation of America’s foreign policy at the point of conflict. That means Green Berets are experts in unconventional warfare, training foreign militaries for internal defense, intelligence gathering operations and, of course, direct-action missions aimed at killing or capturing high value targets. Earning your place among these elite war-fighters means excelling throughout 53 weeks of arduous training centered around combat marksmanship, urban operations, and counter-insurgency tactics, among others.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why this schoolteacher grew a beard for a decade

On May 2, 2011, a Seattle-based school teacher shaved his face for the first time in a decade. It was one of those beard-growing events you hear about athletes doing or when people grow facial hair for a good cause. But the only thing special about Gary Weddle’s beard was when he started growing it, and the day he cut it, which all began on Sept. 11, 2001.


Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

The 9/11 attacks were the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil – and the whole country watched.

Gary Weddle was a 40-year-old middle school science teacher during the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Though the teacher, based in Ephrata, Wash., was far from the tragic devastation of the attacks, he was still devastated by the loss of life and the destruction of some of America’s most iconic structures. He told the Seattle Times that he couldn’t eat, shower, or shave in the days that followed. So to work through his grief, he vowed that he wouldn’t – shave that is – until the architect of the attacks was killed or captured.

The day he got to shave his beard came nearly a full ten years later, on May 1, 2011, when President Obama announced to the world that U.S. intelligence had found his hiding place in Pakistan and that U.S. Navy SEALs attacked it and killed the terrorist mastermind in a daring nighttime raid.

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

President Obama announced that U.S. Special Operators killed Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.

After nearly ten years of nothing about Bin Laden, Weddle thought he might be buried with the beard. And he hated it. The facial hair only served as a reminder of the destruction of that day, and the justice left unserved to the man who planned the whole thing. So when he heard about the SEAL Team Six raid on Bin Laden’s hideout, he went straight for a pair of scissors.

The then-50-year-old had begun to look homeless in his long beard. Some even remarked that the graying beard resembled the one sported by Osama bin Laden himself. But after 3,454 days with the beard, having taught some 2,000 students, it took Gary Weddle 40 minutes to emerge from the bathroom clean-shaven. The students he currently taught at Ephrata Middle School were only two years old during the 9/11 attacks, and no one who worked with Weddle ever knew him without the beard.

When he walked into work the next day with his new look, few recognized him – and those who did say he looked ten years younger.

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