Go behind the scenes with the military side of "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" - We Are The Mighty
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Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”


“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” was an ambitious project for Tina Fey to undertake for a couple of reasons: First, it’s a drama and not a comedy. Second, she plays a journalist embedded with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, which means the movie tees up a lot of military details that Hollywood has a history of getting wrong — much to the chagrin of the military community.

But fortunately for Ms. Fey, the production team behind “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” knew a few things about making a movie that deals with military subjects, not the least of which was understanding how to navigate the Pentagon’s approval process.

“Because of this script we had a need from the beginning to get the U.S. military to support the project,” producer Ian Bryce said. “The military does quite well to make these movies great.”

Bryce approached the Department of Defense’s director of entertainment media, Philip Strub, a guy he’d worked with before on other military-related movies. Strub had some reservations about whether “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” ultimately presented the U.S. military in the right light.

“But we talked it through,” Bryce said.

Ultimately Bryce was able to convince Strub that “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” was an accurate, positive portrayal of the American military experience, and so the effort got the green light from the Pentagon for direct U.S. military support. The crew wound up using Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico to replicate Bagram Air Force Base as well as the surrounding lands to replicate the wilds of Afghanistan.

The movie features Air Force pararescue airmen and their assets including H-60 helicopters and CV-22 tiltrotors. And although access to the real people and machinery made the shoot easier (and provided a greater guarantee of accuracy), Bryce pointed out that it still took a great deal of coordination to get the job done while honoring the fact that making movies wasn’t the U.S. Air Force’s primary duty.

“We recognized and embraced the fact that we were guests on a military facility,” Bryce said. “They are doing much more serious stuff.”

Watch:

The digital HD version of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” has just been released  and contains special features including an interview with the author of the original book, in-depth looks at life in Afghanistan and how war correspondents cope with stress, and deleted scenes. Look for the Blu-Ray version on June 28.

Check out more about “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” here and here.

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10 fabulous military Halloween costumes for your kids

Halloween is just around the corner and if your children are anything like mine, the focus of the month is what costume they’ll be wearing. This year, skip the Superman and Elsa outfits and help them dress like real American heroes: their parents. Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to teach your little ones about the incredible breadth of military career choices, while having fun dressing up like mom or dad.


10 Great Military Themed Halloween Costumes for Kids

1. Dress uniforms

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Regardless of your occupation, there is nothing sweeter than your little guy or gal dressed in your branch’s best. Take this opportunity to teach them some of the traditions with your service. Whether it’s what the empty table at a dining out represents or the history behind who gets the first piece of cake at a birthday ball, this costume selection could serve as an excellent conversation piece between you and your child. Not to mention, adorable. Find it here.

2. Aviator 

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Is there anything more comfortable than wearing a flight suit to trick or treat the neighborhood? Use this opportunity to teach your child about the different aircraft and their respective missions. Whether your son wants to fly Seahawks or Strike Eagles or your daughter Chinooks or Super Hornets, let your little aviator pick his or her favorite aircraft and patches. Bonus: have a name patch made for your son or daughter with a call sign.

3. Paratrooper 

For your little daredevil, the perfect costume might be the perfect career choice. This Halloween, let your son or daughter join the elite, complete with a deployed parachute to help him or her soar. Here’s how.

4. Rescue Swimmer 

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

After a summer of swimming, your son or daughter might think they’re ready to take on the open seas. Grab some scuba gear and read Mayday! Mayday! A Coast Guard Rescue to learn more about what rescue operations look like in a storm.

5. Doctor or Nurse 

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

This year, skip the Doc McStuffins costume and teach your children about the incredible humanitarian missions our services’ doctors and nurses perform. Whether it’s sailing aboard the USNS Comfort to Latin America or treating patients in Landstuhl, your little caregiver can certainly dress the part with a stethoscope and kit or even go back in time to World War II, with this costume.

6. Chef

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

For your budding baker, get a chef’s coat and hat, sew on some patches to look like this military chef and let your son or daughter help prepare Halloween treats. Teach them the history of the White House Mess and the science behind MREs.

7. K-9 Handler

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Perfect for your animal lover — put a harness on your pup, ACUs on your kiddo and hit the town. No dog in your house? This costume would be complete with a stuffed German Shepherd. For your K-9 enthusiast, read Lionel Paxton’s Navy Seal Dogs to learn even more about these incredible animals.

8. Special ops

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

For your hide and go seek lover, the kids ghillie suit is perfect for ghouling. Watch the fun as your child ducks from house to house trying not to be seen. Be sure to add a chem light so that at least you can spot your camouflaged cutie. Bonus: no one will notice if this costume gets dirty.

9. Toy Soldier

This impressive do it yourself costume is the perfect outfit for your little soldier in Army green! Check out these step-by-step instructions for what will be, without a doubt, one of the most unique costumes walking down the street.

10. Rosie the Riveter

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

There’s nothing like a Halloween costume to provoke a discussion about the important roles spouses, families, and community members have in supporting our troops. This year, teach your child about Rosie the Riveter and the contributions the home front made for the war efforts.

Whether your child dresses like Rosie or a rescue swimmer, a pilot or a paratrooper, use this holiday to celebrate the vast opportunities and capabilities within our military.

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Today in military history: The American Civil War Ends

On June 2, 1865, the final Confederate armies officially surrendered, effectively ending the Civil War, which had begun four years earlier on April 12, 1861, when Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln quickly called upon loyal forces to quell the Southern insurrection, which would become the bloodiest war in American history.

While General Robert E. Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, in Appomattox, Virginia, other Confederate forces remained in the field. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston followed suit and surrendered on April 26, 1865, near Durham Station, North Carolina. 

Finally, recognizing the cause as being lost, General Edmund Kirby Smith negotiated the surrender of his forces as well. On June 2, in Galveston, Texas, he signed the surrender before fleeing to Cuba by way of Mexico. 

Although a force of Native Americans under Confederate Brigadier General Stand Watie, a Cherokee chief, didn’t formally surrender until June 23, General Smith’s surrender is considered the official end of the Civil War.

Featured Image: Julian Scott, 1873, Surrender of a Confederate Soldier. (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.)

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15 photos that show how the Coast Guard fights drug smugglers and pirates

It’s ironic that the Coast Guard’s derogatory nickname is “puddle pirates” since it’s one of the few agencies in the U.S. that actually gets called on to fight modern pirates.


Anti-piracy, along with anti-narcotics missions, are often handled by the Coast Guard’s Law Enforcement Detachments, or LEDETS, and Tactical Law Enforcement Teams, or TACLETs.

These Guardians are deployed on Coast Guard cutters as well as U.S. or allied Navy ships. From there, they are sent to board and search vessels where the crew are suspected of committing a crime, generally piracy or the smuggling or drugs, humans, or money.

Here’s how the Coast Guard catches the bad guys on the high seas:

1. Once Navy or Coast Guard intelligence has identified and approached a suspect vessel, LEDET or TACLETs move in.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson

2. The law enforcement teams are vulnerable while bunched up on their craft, so they have to approach quickly and carefully.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson

3. The team members control the suspect crew while they search for evidence of illegal activity. If nothing is found, the crew is released.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson

4. In this case, the crew was arrested on piracy charges and their craft was destroyed. Ships can also be towed to port when necessary.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson

5. Larger vessels can pose a greater danger since the teams are forced to scale the side of a potentially hostile craft.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: courtesy US Coast Guard

6. The Coast Guard practices with partner law enforcement agencies and other military forces to make the boarding as quick and safe as possible.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: courtesy US Coast Guard

7. If the crew fights the boarding, the Coast Guard TACLET or LEDET members are prepared to defend themselves and force their way in.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: US Coast Guard PA2 Allyson Taylor Feller

8. Larger vessels allow more room to hide illegal activity, but the Coast Guard has learned to search thoroughly.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: courtesy US Coast Guard

9. They’ve had a lot of experience, after all.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: courtesy US Coast Guard

10. Particularly enterprising smugglers have created special vessels, like “Go-fast boats” or submarines to smuggle illicit goods.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: Youtube/U.S. Coast Guard

11. The Coast Guard maintains mobile labs that can be used to test suspect substances. (Like powdered substances hidden in garbage bags crammed into secret compartments are ever flour.)

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: US Coast Guard PA1 Telfair Brown

12.  Any evidence collected is moved off the vessel to facilitate prosecution later.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: courtesy US Coast Guard

13. When the Coast Guard cutters return from long tours, the total evidence collected can be literal tons of drugs.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: US Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Luke Pinneo

READ MORE: A single Coast Guard ship captured 15 tons of cocaine this year

14. Sometimes, the traffickers ditch their boats in an attempt to escape.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: courtesy US Coast Guard

15. The drugs are cast out, forcing the Coast Guard to search for and recover as much evidence as they can before it dissolves or sinks.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: Courtesy US Coast Guard

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This vet taught himself to play the piano in Saddam Hussein’s bombed out palace

In December 2003, Michael Trotter, Jr. was a soldier stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. His unit was camped out in one of Saddam Hussein’s bombed-out palaces when his commanding officer discovered a piano and suggested Trotter, who enjoyed singing, check it out.


“You had to crawl over soot and rut and rock and rubble from the war to get to this piano; it was like one of those dramatic movie scenes,” Trotter told Real Clear Life.

It’s common for troops to play the easier-to-transport guitar while deployed, but not many get the chance to tickle the ivory. Trotter didn’t know how to play piano, but he began to teach himself. Music became an outlet and an escape from the stress of combat.

When his friend, Army Captain Robert C. Scheetz, Jr., was killed by an IED, Trotter wrote a song called “Dear Martha,” which he then performed at Scheetz’s memorial service. Trotter would go on to sing at many more memorials, providing solace for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Dear Martha” is about the letters written between loved ones divided by war. Trotter recorded the song with his wife, Tanya Blount, as part of their musical duo, The War and Treaty, which explores the concept of creating music out of darkness and despair to find peace, tranquility, and a higher purpose.

While this video doesn’t include any visuals, you can hear their tranquil notes and haunting harmonies by clicking play below — and you really, really should:

(The War and Treaty | YouTube)
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This is al Qaeda’s job application (seriously)

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo: Youtube.com


Al Qaeda asked its aspiring recruits to fill out an application in order to join, according to documents the US government seized at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and released on May 20th.

The application asks for basic information (name, age, education level, criminal history), but includes more terrorism-specific queries, like “Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?” and “Who should we contact in case you became a martyr?”

The form was released as part of the declassification of a trove of documents seized during the May 1st, 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Abbottabad in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

Here’s the form:

Al Qaeda Application

This is one letter a recruit sent to Al Qaeda, saying he “admired the activities, beliefs and bravery of the mujahidin”:

Al Qaeda Letter

Bin Laden, the terrorist responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks on the US, was killed by a team of Navy SEALs in 2011.

Al Qaeda was known for vetting recruits who wanted to join. Those who wanted to get into the core organization often needed a recommendation from someone already inside.

When Al Qaeda was first created, the group noted in a memo that there were four requirements for membership — swearing allegiance to the emir and being obedient, obtaining a personal referral from a member of Al Qaeda’s inner circle, and displaying “good manners,” according to the recent book “ISIS: The State of Terror,” which also discusses Al Qaeda’s origins.

More from Business Insider:

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

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This Spitfire shot down near Dunkirk just flew again

During the famed and perilous evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II, brave pilots, sailors, and citizens fought tooth and nail to rescue soldiers trapped on the French beach from the German Luftwaffe as it attempted to wipe them out.


One of the pilots, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson, was shot down in a Spitfire MK1 N3200 on May 26, 1940, the opening hours of Operation Dynamo. Stephenson spent most of the war as a prisoner of the Germans, eventually staying at the famous Colditz Castle after numerous escape attempts from other prisons.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
A Spitfire Mk. 1A flies in 1937. (Photo: Royal Air Force)

But his aircraft, hit through the radiator and with other damage to the body, was left on the beach near Calais, France. The Spitfire plane became a popular photo destination for German soldiers who would often take small parts of the aircraft with them as souvenirs.

By the time the Allies liberated Calais in 1944, no one was too worried about digging what scrap remained out of the beach. And so the plane continued to sit, slowly becoming more and more buried by the mud and sand on the beach.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
The restored Spitfire Mk. 1A taxis to the runway at an air show in England. (Photo: YouTube/Imperial War Museums)

It wasn’t until 1986, over 40 years after the war ended, that the plane was recovered — and it wasn’t until the new millennium that someone decided to actually restore the old bird.

Thomas Kaplan, an American investor and philanthropist, backed the 14-year restoration project and gifted the plane, now back in flying condition, to the Imperial War Museum.

Now the plane is housed at the same hangar on the same base that it flew from that fateful day in 1940, but it has a much different mission. It serves as a flying history exhibit for the museum, soaring over air shows and allowing visitors to hear what the original Spitfires sounded like in combat.

Learn more about the history of the plane and see it in flight in the video below:

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch CIA Chief of Disguise break down iconic spy scenes

Joanna Mendez, former Central Intelligence Agency Chief of Disguise, watched spy scenes from a variety of films and television shows in order to break down how accurate they really are. From Jason Bourne finding his cache of passports and foreign currency to Carrie Mathison’s (Homeland) half-assed “disguise” through airport security, Mendez doesn’t hold back in her opinions and expertise.

During her 27-year career, her position in the CIA’s Office of Technical Service involved providing operational disguises and alias training in hostile theaters of the Cold War from Moscow to Havana. Her duties included clandestine photography and preparing CIA assets with the use of intelligence-collecting equipment like spy cameras, as well as processing the information brought in.

Think “Q” — James Bond Q, not Star Trek…

Now retired, Mendez continues to consult with the U.S. Intelligence community as well as lecture with her husband Antonio Mendez, also a retired intelligence officer, with whom she has published several books about their covert experience including Spy Dust, which reveals “the tools and operations that helped win the Cold War,” and Argo, which would become an Academy Award-winning film of the same name that told the story of “the most audacious rescue in history.”

In the video below, Mendez lets her critiques fly. Check it out:


Former CIA Chief of Disguise Breaks Down 30 Spy Scenes From Film & TV | WIRED

www.youtube.com

“Carrie’s disguise, which basically consisted of dying her hair…was absolutely ineffective. She’s still Carrie…but with dark hair. She could have cut her hair and restyled it. She could have changed her makeup. She could have put on sunglasses to hide that crazy-eyed look she has…” claps Mendez.

She then jumped to a scene from Alias where Jennifer Garner nails her disguise. “She didn’t just dye her hair — she dyed it outrageously red and then adopted the whole persona to go with it. We could have used that as a training film!” she laughed.

Mendez moves on to Matthew Rhys’ character in The Americans. “He was never trying to look good. He came really close to projecting ‘the little gray man’ that we would talk about at the CIA. You wanted to be forgettable,” she commended.

Mendez then moves on to a “quick change,” the name for a move where an agent clandestinely changes his appearance in 37 seconds. She commented on Mission Impossible III, and in particular discusses why Tom Cruise’s “priest” would have been ethically off-limits.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

From Megan Fox in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Ansel Elgort in Baby Driver, Mendez breaks down the “quick change” further — and also warns against stealing.

The video covers blending in with the crowd in James Bond — and CIA inventions that helps its agents remain discrete; being assigned a new identity in Spy; cultural customs in Inglorious Bastards; and life-like masks that cover the entire face in order to give the appearance of a completely different face.

The video is highly entertaining, not just because it grabs clips from iconic pop culture favorites (Austin Powers and Sherlock Holmes make appearances) but also because Joanna Mendez has a great, wry humor (“we never tried to disguise ourselves as furniture at the CIA…”).

Watch the full video above and find out what the CIA really thinks about black cat suits and seducing the enemy!
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This badass was a Legionnaire, OSS officer, US Marine, and Hollywood heartthrob

Most people would be grateful to experience any one of the occupations listed above–French Foreign Legionnaire, wartime spy, US Marine, or Hollywood heartthrob, but because Pierre (Peter) Julien Ortiz was not “most people,” he chose to immerse himself in all four.


The man who would become the most-decorated member of the Office of Strategic Services and one of the most decorated US Marines in World War II was born in New York City in 1913, to a French father who had a strong Spanish background, and an American mother.

The young Peter–once described as “tall, handsome, urbane, and sophisticated”–had many influential connections in French society and was a student in Grenoble when he decided to trade the tranquil life of a college student for something more exciting–a five-year enlistment in the French Foreign Legion. He enlisted in 1932 in the name of his Polish girlfriend.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo courtesy of the CIA

Peter rose from private to sergeant and was offered a permanent commission as a second lieutenant–if he would re-enlist for five years and agree to eventually become a naturalized French citizen.

He refused and instead returned to the United States. Peter had, however, made quite the impression–he had fought with the Legion in several engagements in Africa with the indigenous Rif tribesmen, had been wounded in 1933, and came home with a chest full of medals, including two awards of the Croix de Guerre.

Upon his return, he joined his mother in California, serving as a technical advisor for war films until the outbreak of World War II in Europe, which–since the United States was still neutral in 1939–prompted Peter to return to the Legion in October of that year, as a sergeant.

 

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
The French ‘Croix de Guerre’. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

 

By May 1940, he had received a battlefield commission but became a POW in June 1940 during the Battle of France when he was wounded while blowing up a fuel dump.

When he learned that some gasoline had not been blown up before the Germans arrived, he commandeered a motorcycle and returned to the area, drove through the German camp, destroyed the gasoline dump, and was returning to his own lines when he was shot in the hip, making him easy to capture.

Only the skill of a German POW camp surgeon kept him from being paralyzed.

Shifted between POW camps in Germany, Poland, and Austria for 15 months, he attempted escape on several occasions, finally successful in October 1941, fleeing to the United States by way of Lisbon, Portugal.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo licensed by Wikimedia Commons

Debriefed by both Army and Navy intelligence officers, he was promised a commission–as he had been by both the Free French and the British in Portugal. He longed to wear a US military uniform.

By June 1942, after a visit with his mother and hearing nothing about the commission, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps and was sent to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp.

Predictably, his numerous French military decorations caused him to stand out in formation, so much so that the Chief of Staff at the Recruit Depot wrote the USMC Commandant about Peter, enclosing copies of his French military awards, along with his application for a commission.

On August 1, 1942, Private Ortiz became 2nd Lt. Ortiz and became an assistant training officer at Parris Island.

Then dispatched to join the 23d Marines at Camp Lejeune, NC, he was–in a decision that only makes sense to military veterans–sent to jump school, despite already being a highly-decorated combat veteran and long-time paratrooper.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo licensed under Wikimedia Commons

Peter’s native French language capability, combined with his French Foreign Legion experience attracted the attention of influential senior Marines, one of whom wrote, “The rather unique experiences and qualifications of Lieutenant Ortiz indicate that he would be of exceptional value to American units operating in North Africa.”

And so it was–on December 3, 1942, now-Captain Ortiz was ordered to Tangier, Morocco for duty as the assistant naval attaché. In reality, his mission was to organize Arab tribesmen to observe German forces on the Tunisian border.

In a personal encounter with a German patrol, which he dispersed with the liberal use of grenades, Peter was wounded again, and spent time recuperating in an Algiers hospital, wearing his newly-awarded Purple Heart medal.

Peter Ortiz returned to the United States to recuperate in April 1943 and the next month was assigned to the Naval Command of OSS; one of only 80 USMC officers who served in the OSS during the war.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo licensed under Wikimedia Commons

By July, he was in London pending assignment to France. His mission was to evaluate the strength and capabilities of the local resistance movement in the Vercors area of the Haute Savoie, a region in southeastern France, and then organize and arm the Maquis in preparation for the long-awaited D-Day assault.

The mechanism used to achieve this goal was an inter-allied team of British, French, and American agents, known as UNION–Colonel Pierre Fourcaud represented the Free French forces, former schoolmaster Col. H.H.A. Thackwaite for the British Special Operations Executive, and Peter Ortiz for the OSS/Special Operations as the US representative.

Team members parachuted into France in civilian clothes, per Special Operations Executive standard practice, later changing into their uniforms: the first Allied officers to appear in uniform in France since 1940.

Peter and his teammates found a challenging situation on the ground–a shortage of money and transportation, poor security, few military supplies, and a general lack of willingness on the part of politically-divided resistance groups to work together.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Haute Savoie, France. Photo licensed by Wikimedia Commons

In May, the group was withdrawn to England pending reassignment.

Promoted to Major and awarded the first of two Navy Crosses he would earn, Peter returned to France on August 1, 1944, as the head of a mission known as Union II, an OSS Operational Group.

Rather than engage in espionage and intelligence collection, the heavily-armed OGs were to engage in “direct action,” meaning sabotage and preventing retreating German units from destroying key installations.

Accompanying Peter–code-named “Chambellan”–were five Marines, a Free French officer carrying false papers identifying him as a Marine, and an Army Air Forces captain.

In a chance encounter in Albertville with several hundred troops of the German 157th Alpine Reserve Division, Peter and his small team were soon overwhelmed.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Aware of several recent incidents of German slaughter of French townspeople and faced with the threat of German reprisals, Peter decided only surrender would spare the local populace from the wrath of the German forces.

Following his surrender on August 16, Peter was dispatched to the naval POW camp Marlag / Milag Nord, located in the small German village of Westertimke, near Bremen, in northern Germany.

He made repeated attempts to escape, until Apr 10, 1945, when the camp was hastily evacuated and he was able to slip away as a column of Spitfires attacked the retreating Germans.

After hiding for 10 days, Peter and two fellow POWs decided they would be better off back in their POW barracks and so returned there on April 27–two days before the camp was liberated by the British 7th Guards Armored Division.

The freed Peter was then transported to Brussels and back to London, where he was awarded his second Navy Cross.

Records of the OSS indicate that Peter was actually nominated for the Medal of Honor instead of a second Navy Cross, one of the few ever so honored: no OSS member has ever been awarded the Medal of Honor.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Photo licensed by Wikimedia Commons

With the war over, Peter returned to “Tinseltown,” to work as a technical advisor to the movie industry again – and also as an actor.

Peter was good friends with fellow OSS veteran and renowned Hollywood director John Ford, and played minor roles in several of Ford’s John Wayne films, including Rio Grande, in which he played “Captain St. Jacques.”

As one biographer noted, however, “He wasn’t the greatest of actors, and he never really liked seeing the movies he was in.”

He continued in the Marine Corps Reserve, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In April 1954, with Indochina heating up, he wrote a letter to the USMC Commandant, offering his services as a Marine observer there; the USMC response was ‘current military policies will not permit the assignment requested.”

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Publicity still from Rio Grande (1950). Photo from Wikimedia Commons

 

In March 1955, the 41-year-old highly-decorated Marine who had already lived several lives’ worth of excitement, retired and was promoted to colonel on the retired list as a decorated combat veteran.

He was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the French government, another in a long list of awards, including his two Navy Crosses, the Croix de Guerre with five citations, the Legion of Merit with a combat “Valor” device, and selection as a Member of the Order of British Empire (Military Division).

Peter moved to Prescott, Arizona, where he succumbed to cancer at the Veterans Medical Center on May 16, 1988, at the age of 75. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery , his graveside service attended by military representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the French Foreign Legion. He was survived by his wife and his son, also a US Naval Academy graduate and USMC Major.

The wide swath that Peter cut during his life ensured that he would be remembered, at least by some, afterwards.

In 1994, commemoration ceremonies were conducted in each of two French towns where Peter fought–invited to the ceremonies were his wife, their son, and two of the enlisted Marines under his command in France.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Centron, France, from above. Photo from Google Maps

One of the two towns, Centron, unveiled a plaque naming the town center “Place Peter Ortiz.”

As side tribute, during the CBS coverage of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Albertville, Charles Kuralt narrated a 20-minute segment on the fascinating life of Peter Ortiz. He has been featured in several USMC publications and in at least one monograph– Ortiz: To Live a Man’s Life by Laura Homan Lacey and John W. Brunner, and a 1958 magazine article by Walter Wager entitled ” They Called Him the Widow Maker–the Fantastic Saga of Pete Ortiz : WWII’s Most Incredible Spy.”

As late USMC historian Benis Frank has written, “Peter Julien Ortiz was a man among men. It is doubtful that his kind has been seen since his time.”

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Marines will get upgraded personal water filters

The Marine Corps is investing in a next-generation water purification system that will allow individual Marines to get safe, drinkable water straight from the source.


The Individual Water Purification System Block II is an upgrade to the current version issued to all Marines.

“With IWPS II, Marines are able to quickly purify fresh bodies of water on the go,” said Jonathan York, team lead for Expeditionary Energy Systems at Marine Corps Systems Command. “This allows them to travel farther to do their mission.”

Finding ways to make small units more sustainable to allow for distributed operations across the battlefield is a key enabler to the Marine Corps becoming more expeditionary. Developing water purification systems that can be easily carried while still purifying substantial amounts of water is part of that focus.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Master Sgt. Kevin Morris prepares the Individual Water Purification System II for safe, drinkable water straight from the source. IWPS II is an upgrade to the current IWPS issued to all Marines. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

The current system filters bacteria and cysts, but Marines still have to use purification tablets to remove viruses. That takes time – as long as 15 minutes for the chemical process to work before it is safe to drink. IWPS II uses an internal cartridge that effectively filters micro pathogens, providing better protection from bacterial and viral waterborne diseases.

“IWPS II will remove all three pathogens, filtering all the way down to the smallest virus that can be found,” said Capt. Jeremy Walker, project officer for Water Systems. “We have removed the chemical treatment process, so they can drink directly from the fresh water source.”

IWPS II can also connect to Marines’ man-packable hydration packs.

“The system is quite simple and easy to use,” said Walker. “The small filter connects directly with the existing Marine Corps Hydration System/Pouch or can be used like a straw directly from the source water.  The system has a means to backflush and clean the filter membrane, extending the service life. The system does not require power, just suction.”

The current system was fielded in 2004 and used by small raids and reconnaissance units in remote environments where routine distilled water was unavailable. Since then, the system has been used in combat and disaster relief missions.

Also read: Here’s the Army’s awesome new gear to protect soldiers

IWPS II is expected to be fielded to Marines in fiscal year 2018.

“IWPS II will be especially helpful for deployed Marines in emergency situations when they are far from their base to ensure they have a source of water without resupply,” said Walker.

IWPS is one of the many water systems fielded by MCSC’s Combat Support Systems. To read more about the capabilities fielded by CSS click here.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Avengers’ directors just undid that major ‘Endgame’ twist

One of if not the most dramatic moments in Avengers: Endgame is the scene in which a shieldless Captain America wields Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer that Odin enchanted so that only the worthy are able to lift it. There’s an entire scene in Age of Ultron showing the other Avengers trying and failing to pick it up. Or at least that’s what we thought was happening.

In a new interview, Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo were asked why Cap is able to pick up Mjolnir in Endgame but not in Age of Ultron. What changed between the two films, about nine years of Marvel Cinematic Universe time?


Anthony replied: “In our heads, he was able to wield it. He didn’t know that until that moment in Ultron when he tried to pick it up. But Cap’s sense of character and humility and, out of deference to Thor’s ego, Cap, in that moment realizing he can move the hammer, decides not to.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Lifting Thor’s Hammer – Movie CLIP HD

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There is a brief moment in that Ultron scene in which the hammer appears to move ever so slightly and a look of panic flashes across Thor’s face, so it’s not as though Russo’s explanation comes completely out of left-field. The problem is simply that his version is just not as interesting as the prevailing theory.

Many thought that in Ultron, Cap couldn’t quite pick up the hammer because he was keeping a huge secret from Tony. In Captain America: Civil War he was forced to admit that Bucky was the one who killed the Starks. So by the time that scene in Endgame rolls around, he is worthy of wielding Mjolnir. It’s a nice arc that makes narrative sense and puts adherence to a moral code, the foundation of any good superhero story, at the forefront.

And now the Russos have deflated it. Because as nice as it is to be humble and not show up your friends, it’s not nearly as interesting as telling your friend that you’ve been keeping the identity of his parents’ murderers a secret.

J.K. Rowling learned the hard way that fans don’t particularly like it when architects of elaborate fictional worlds make statements outside of their work that alters their experience.

So while theorizing about this stuff is fun, creators have to know that when they do it comes from a place of authority that can have the effect of erasing fan speculation. That robs fans of the fun of speculating themselves and, as in this case, it can provide a less interesting “answer” to the most exciting questions the work in question raises.

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

Articles

Here’s what embassy guards carry in case things get hot

The upcoming movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” highlights the veteran security team who protected the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya during the 2012 attack. Below is a list of weapons the defenders used to valiantly defend the compound:


1. Western assault rifles

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A US Navy SEAL aims his SCAR during training. Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Martin L. Carey

 

Private security contractors who are alums of elite US military units often prefer the same weapons they carried in the service such as the SCAR-L or M4 assault rifles that fire 5.56mm rounds. If they want to up the caliber a little, they can go with the SCAR-H or M14, which both use a 7.62mm round.

2. AKs of varying types

Contractors and their companies can’t always get the import/export licenses they need to bring weapons into their area of operations, so companies sometimes source weapons from local vendors.

Obviously, this results in a number of contractors carrying Kalashnikovs. This was especially prevalent in the early 2000s in Iraq when the State Department started hiring private companies for overseas security but hadn’t yet begun issuing them the needed licenses to import weapons.

3. Grenade launchers

 

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A soldier fires the M320 grenade launcher. The M320 can be slung under an M4 or M16 or carried as a standalone weapon. Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman

While private military contractors are generally associated with lighter weapons, they’re sometimes authorized mass-casualty inflicting systems like M203 or M320 grenade launchers. The grenade launcher at Benghazi was one of the defenders’ most effective weapons.

4. Shotguns

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The Saiga-12 Shotgun. Photo: Wikimedia/SpetsnazAlpha

Shotguns can be loaded with buckshot to cripple all enemies in a confined area or slugs to immediately shutdown a single target. They also allow contractors to quickly “unlock” doors if they need to evacuate their client.

5. Light machine guns

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Characters in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi carry modified M249s like their real-world counterparts did. Photo: youtube/Paramount Pictures

When their contract and laws allow, contractors like an automatic weapon as much as any uniformed shooter. Triple Canopy guards in Iraq used the RPK which is similar in appearance to the better known AK-47. At Benghazi, contractors carried a modified version of the M249 known as the Mk 46.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

RSVP here to attend a free screening of “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” at ATT Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on Jan. 13.

MIGHTY MOVIES

What ‘Narcos’ and ‘Sicario’ get right (and wrong) about drug cartels

ProPublica senior reporter Sebastian Rotella, author of “Rip Crew,” lays out what popular TV shows and movies like “Narcos” and “Sicario” get right and wrong about Mexican drug cartels. Following is a transcript of the video.

Sebastian Rotella: I’m Sebastian Rotella. I’m the author of the novel Rip Crew and I’m a senior reporter at Propublica.


“Sicario” was a, was a good movie, and some of the things it portrayed were very accurate, for example that shootout at the border, if you remember in “Sicario” when they’re at the border crossing, stuck in traffic, that has happened, and something that I was very worried about when I was covering the border, because you know that is a sort of a prime vulnerability moment when you’re stuck in that traffic at the border.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

There were other things in, for example, in “Sicario” that I thought pushed the envelope, the sort of gratuitous and casual torture taking place on US territory, that in my experience, you know, it happens very rarely, I’m really not aware of it. And that isn’t because there aren’t particularly Latin American law enforcement and intelligence and military units that work with the US that engage in that kind of activity, but it tends to happen precisely in those countries. You know, the idea that you would bring someone into the US to do that and expose yourself to all kinds of potential prosecution and scandal, that did not ring true, for example. So it really depends.

I think “Narcos” is quite well-researched. What happens is, and I’ve done this having written fiction, and having been involved in projects where you move this stuff to the big screen, things have to be simplified, they have to be made dramatic, they have, you lose nuance, and oftentimes, they’ll be things that happen in real life that I think would make for good, it would be good on, on a TV show or a movie, but they’re harder to portray because oftentimes they happen out of ineptitude.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Right, I mean the scary thing sometimes about this world is the combination of that, how lethal, but sometimes how inept or how unsophisticated some of these actors are, that factor that is hard to portray in the best series this question of ineptitude of the mix of sophistication and coincidence and sort of human flaws, I think when that is draw out in series, that is when they’re at their best, because I think that is very human and that is very real. There is still a sense of the drug lords in Mexico. You know people talk a lot about Chapo Guzman, who was just captured.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Chapo Guzman

The thing about Chapo Guzman is he was kind of the last of the drug lords of his style, and one of the reasons that Mexico was so violent, and the drug violence and drug corruption has gotten so bad is precisely because the generation of drug lords like Chapo Guzman has kind of died out, and the people who run most of the cartels now, the cartels are adamized and fragmented for one thing. And the other thing is what you have is a phenomenon, is as the drug lords like Chapo Guzman have faded out, the trigger men, the gun men, who pretty much resolve everything through violence have risen.

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

So it’s not to say that Chapo Guzman and the Arellano-Felix brothers whom I covered in Tijuana years ago and others, weren’t violent. They were bloodthirsty and sadistic, but they also had a sense of when to corrupt, rather than kill, when to do packs, when to, how to, how to, how to approach this as a, as a business, as a violent business, but a business, none the less. Whereas the drug cartels like the Zetas, and some of the remnants of other cartels that have risen, the Zetas were former commandos in Mexico actually military men who took over and created their own cartel. Pretty much they resolve everything through violence, so people think about a drug lord sort of sitting on a throne somewhere and running this vast empire and it’s much more a series of smaller, very anarchic, dangerous, chaotic empires, that are, you know, that have been splintered and fractured and that unfortunately has created more violence and not less.


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

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