Five things movies get wrong about grenades - We Are The Mighty
popular

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

Hollywood is infamous for screwing up just about every detail when it comes to the military, but one thing that especially grinds grunts’ gears is how they portray the use of grenades.

Grenades are extremely deadly tools of destruction that, honestly, are a lot of fun to throw — but they are too often misused in fiction. They’re easily one of the most tactically crucial weapons used in combat, but if you were operating exclusively on movie knowledge, you’d be in terrible shape (or shapes).

Here’s what Hollywood consistently gets wrong:


Five things movies get wrong about grenades
Underwhelming, isn’t it? (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dengrier Baez)

Explosion radius

In general, movies would have you believe that grenades are just a step beneath MOABs. The reality of grenades is much like the reality of that online date you’re about to go on. When you first see it in real life, your first thought is probably going to be, “that’s it?”

It’s not some huge, f*ck-off fireball, it’s just a poof of smoke and shrapnel.

You should probably still stay away from it, though — both the date and the grenade.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades
Notice the lack of rocket propulsion… (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose D. Lujano)

Projectile grenades are NOT rockets or missiles

When you see some badass in a military movie shoot a grenade launcher, it looks a lot someone shooting a rocket or a missile, but that’s not the case. Grenade launchers are indirect fire weapons. They operate on the same principle as a mortar or artillery gun — there’s an arc.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades
This is the right way. (Army National Guard photo by Spc. Chelsea Baker)

Pulling the pin with your teeth

Pulling the pin on a grenade is easy, but it’s not that easy. If you plan to pull the pin with your teeth, set up a dental appointment because you’re going to rip at least three pearly whites from your mouth.

Just slow down and pull it with your hand, Rambo.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades
This is “frag out!” (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ricky S. Gomez)

“Grenade!”

We’ve seen way too many characters in movies yell, “grenade!” when lobbing one out. That is not what you want to communicate down the line when you are the one throwing it. Yelling, “grenade” is reserved for alerting the rest of your unit that an explodey-boy has landed in your position — and anyone near you should get the f*ck out of the way.

The term you’re looking for is, “frag out!” Yelling anything else puts your boys at risk.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades
These window marks are from grenade shrapnel. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sarah Wolff-Diaz)

Kill/Casualty radius

One movie trope you may shake your head and cluck your tongue at is when a character jumps just outside of the explosion radius of a grenade and emerges unscathed. The fact is, even if you escape the explosion, your ass is going to be pumped full of metal. In real life, that bad boy has a casualty radius, which means you can still get wounded when you’re well beyond the explosion.

The kill radius of your typical fragmentation grenade is 5 meters, the casualty radius is 15 meters, but shrapnel can travel as far as 230 meters.

MIGHTY HISTORY

An actual giant served in the Civil War

Featured image courtesy of Lexington Herald Leader (kentucky.com)

The people of Letcher County, Kentucky are currently raising money to build a bronze statue of one of their most iconic civil war veterans, Martin Van Buren Bates. This statue is meant to celebrate more than just his military service, however. It is celebrating his international celebrity status as an actual giant.


Martin Van Buren Bates came from a well-known family in Letcher County. According to historical records, he was born in 1837, and by the age of 13, would weigh 300 pounds. Bates would continue to grow until he was 28 years old, measuring an astounding 7-foot-11 inches tall and weighing 500 pounds. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Bates at 7-foot-9 inches tall.

The point is he was a huge guy. Records of Bates, held at the Letcher County clerk’s office, claim that one of his boots could hold a half bushel of shelled corn—28 pounds of corn.

Bates began his career as a school teacher, but upon the outbreak of the Civil War joined the Confederacy fighting with the 5th Kentucky Infantry. He ascended to the rank of Captain due to his bravery and leadership on the battlefield.

Eventually, he was severely wounded in combat in the Cumberland Gap area, where he was captured and imprisoned at Camp Chase in Ohio.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

After the war he briefly returned to Kentucky, before leaving due to violence between former Union and Confederate soldiers. He headed to Cincinnati, where he would join the circus. While on tour with the circus in Nova Scotia, Bates met Anna Swan, who just so happened to be 7-foot-11 inches tall. The two fell in love and got married while on tour with the circus in Europe.

The wedding was a bit of a spectacle with thousands attending. England’s Queen Victoria even gave the couple diamond-studded gold watches as wedding presents. The couple moved to Seville, Ohio, where they purchased a farm and hoped to settle down after their lives in the circus. The couple had a son who only survived for 11 hours, but weighed 23 pounds 12 ounces, and a daughter who weighed 18 pounds, but also died at birth.

Advocates for the statue hope to place a bronze statue in a local park to commemorate Bates. The cost of the statue is an estimated ,000, but advocates argue it is important to remember the county’s history before it is forgotten.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Vodka made from Chernobyl grain is just what your party needs

The horrifying events of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster have once again caught the world’s attention thanks to the recent HBO miniseries and subsequent Russian propaganda campaign, but films aren’t the only thing creeping out of what locals call the “exclusion zone” these days.


Now, thanks to one unusual group of scientists and researchers with priorities a guy like me can respect, there’s also Atomik Vodka: an artisanal booze concocted using ingredients harvested from inside the radioactive fallout-ridden territory surrounding Chernobyl.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

Hopefully that burning in your throat isn’t cancer.

(Chernobyl Spirit Company)

After studying the amount of radiation that transfers from soil to crops within the Chernobyl exclusion zone, the team from the Chernobyl Spirit Company set about planting their own rye crops in the vast abandoned fields near the city of Pripyat, Ukraine (close to where the Chernobyl plant was located). They then watered their crops with irradiated water sourced from an aquifer that is also within the radiation exclusion zone.

Once the crops were ready for harvest, the team used the rye to make their new vodka, and even doubled down on its radioactive reputation by using pure water sourced from “below the town of Chernobyl about 10 km south of the nuclear power station” to dilute the vodka down to 40% alcohol, according to their website.

Once finished, the vodka is reportedly no more radioactive than the plastic bottle of Military Special we all acted like we weren’t taking swigs out of in the barracks when the First Sergeant came strolling around.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

The boar depicted on the label was actually spotted living in the exclusion zone.

(Chernobyl Spirit Company)

“The laboratories of The Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute and the University of Southampton GAU-Radioanalytical could find no trace of Chernobyl radioactivity in ATOMIK grain spirit,” their website claims.

Just to be safe, they also went ahead and sent their new booze to the Southhampton University in the U.K. for further testing. They also confirmed that radiation levels were well below safety limits (as even the Chernobyl Spirit Company acknowledges that tiny levels of radioactivity can be found in many common products).

The novelty of this vodka also comes with some good intentions. Part of the idea behind Atomik Vodka is finding new ways to invigorate the economy in the communities that surround Chernobyl. Of the many concerns facing these communities, radiation isn’t really among them.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

The Chernobyl Spirit Company includes this image of a “self settler” in her home in the Chernobyl area on their website explaining their process.

(Chernobyl Spirit Company)

“There are radiation hotspots [in the exclusion zone] but for the most part contamination is lower than you’d find in other parts of the world with relatively high natural background radiation,” Explains James Smith, a University of Portsmouth environmental scientist and founding member of the Chernobyl Spirit Company.

“The problem for most people who live there is they don’t have the proper diet, good health services, jobs or investment.”

Smith and his colleagues don’t imagine that the novelty of their vodka will make them rich. In fact, with plans to produce just 500 bottles per year, Smith says that he’s hoping the company pays well enough to make the business into a healthy “part-time job,” with an emphasis remaining on finding ways to bolster the standard of living for those residing in the region surrounding Chernobyl.

“Because now,” Prof Smith adds, “after 30 years, I think the most important thing in the area is actually economic development, not the radioactivity.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This critical Navy system you’ve never heard about is retiring

When the Navy announced plans to retire a system in August of 2018, not a lot of media outlets paid attention. Despite its failure to make headlines, the system that’s on the way out is actually one of the most important in the Navy. We’re talking, of course, about the Standard Automated Logistics Tool Set, or SALTS.

Developed in the space of just three weeks during the run-up to Operation Desert Storm, this system has been with the Navy for 27 years — and it makes sure that the personnel in the fight have what they need by rapidly moving data on required parts and available inventory to and from the battlefield electronically.


There is an old saying, “amateurs discuss tactics and strategy, while professionals talk logistics.” Think of it this way: How can the pilot of a F/A-18E Super Hornet be expected to blow an enemy MiG out of the sky if his radar doesn’t work? Yes, launching skilled pilots on the right mission at the right time is critically important, but nothing happens if the moving pieces aren’t in order. The fighters on a carrier, for instance, need spare parts to work (just like your car).

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

A F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Such operations would not be possible without enough spare parts.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate)

It’s not just the super-complex fighters. Even the M16 rifles and M4 carbines used by SEALs will need spare parts or replacement magazines (which are often ejected and left behind in firefights) — not to mention ammo. Then there are the many other needs of the Navy: Food for the sailors, fuel to keep ships and planes running, the list goes on and on.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

These magazines loaded with ammo for M16 rifles and M4 carbines — something Marines and SEALs need in abundance.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Turner)

SALTS enabled sailors on the front to handle Military Standard Requisitioning and Issue Procedures (MILSTRIP) in minutes as opposed to weeks or days. It also could fix some mistakes in seconds. Not bad for a solution that was designed and implemented in three weeks.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

The replenishment underway in this photo is one of many made possible by SALTS.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann)

SALTS, though, was running up against advancing computer technology and new cyber-security threats. There is a new system known as One Touch Support, or OTS, that will take over for SALTS. And yes, just like its predecessor, OTS isn’t likely to make headlines, but will play a crucial role for the Navy.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Civil War battle resulted in 120 Medals of Honor

In 1863, Union soldiers attempted to root out deeply entrenched Confederate soldiers at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Repeated assaults failed to breach the defenses, leading to over 100 troops committing acts that would later earn them Medals of Honor for valor — including 78 soldiers who took part in a nearly suicidal attempt to build a bridge under fire.


Five things movies get wrong about grenades

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Vicksburg.

(Library of Congress)

Vicksburg was the ultimate target of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign down the Mississippi. His assault started with a landing on the shore of the Mississippi on April 30, 1863, and he fought his way south in the battles of Port Gibson to Champion Hill and Big Black River.

Within weeks, Grant was outside Vicksburg, the city President Abraham Lincoln called, “the key to victory” and President Jefferson Davis called the “nailhead that holds the South’s two halves together.” The Confederates pulled back inside the “Fortress City.”

The defenders were crouched in a ring of forts with 170 cannons, many aimed at bottlenecks and approaches to the city. Grant hoped to take the city before the defenders could truly settle in.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

“First at Vicksburg” depicts the 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment which was the only unit to reach the top of the fortifications on May 19, but even they were later thrown back.

(U.S. Army)

He sent his infantry against an earthen fort named Stockade Redan on May 19, but they were repelled with 1,000 casualties. Grant spent the next two days coming up with a new plan.

He once again chose Stockade Redan, but the new plan called for two feats of combat engineering under fire. One feat was quickly erecting scaling ladders against the wall, a challenging but time-tested move. Before the ladders went up, though, a group of volunteers would need to cross a quarter-mile of open ground while under fire and construct a bridge across an 8-foot-wide ditch.

A call went out for 150 volunteers, only single-men need apply. They came and were split into three groups. The first group carried beams to span the gap, the second group carried the planks that would form the rest of the bridge, and the last group carried the scaling ladders.

These men were collectively known as “Forlorn Hope.” Their assault was part of a three-phase operation. First was a four-hour artillery barrage, then the bridge construction and ladder emplacement, and then an assault by a brigade up the ladders.

On May 22, the barrage ended at 10 a.m., and Forlorn Hope sprinted out of the woods and across the quarter-mile as fast as they could.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

The Siege of Vicksburg

(Thure de Thulstrup, U.S. Army)

But Confederate artillery and rifle fire quickly rang out, and an estimated half of Forlorn Hope was hit and down before they reached the ditch. The survivors quickly found that, with so few people still carrying the materials, they did not have enough pieces to construct the bridge.

They scattered, some attempting to take cover in the ditch or against the stockade wall as others ran back across the open field.

The assault went forward anyway. Three corps of Union soldiers attacked along the city’s defenses and all three eventually took some section of Confederate fortifications. But all three were pushed back amid bloody, close-in fighting and the Union turned tail with 3,000 casualties.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

The Siege of Vicksburg ends as Confederate leaders, near the center, walk out with a flag of truce to discuss surrender terms.

(Library of Congress)

Grant and his men were forced to conduct a siege that would drag on for six more weeks before the city finally surrendered. In 1894, 53 survivors of Forlorn Hope were awarded Medals of Honor for their heroism at Vicksburg, another 25 soldiers who took part in the failed effort would receive the same award in other ceremonies. Approximately 42 other Medals of Honor were awarded for actions during the siege and assaults, bringing the total to 120.

The Confederate forces had their own Medal of Honor, and Confederate Navy Capt. Issac Newton Brown received the medal for his actions on the CSS Arkansas while trying to fight past the U.S. Navy to relieve the pressure on Vicksburg.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The legendary engines that won World War II

Jay Leno has a truly historic engine that he wants to show you: A Merlin 1650-1 engine used in fighters like the P-51 Mustang and Lancaster Bombers used across Europe to drive Germany back toward Berlin.

The engine got its start before the war. It underwent initial testing in 1933 and first took to the skies in 1935. Early models generated about 800 horsepower but increasing requirements in the pre-war years caused Rolls Royce to keep redesigning it, giving it more power and reliability.


Five things movies get wrong about grenades

The De Havailland Mosquito was powered by two Merlin engines.

(Photo by Wallycacsabre, CC BY 2.0)

Aircraft manufacturers in England kept reaching for the Merlin for their new designs. In 1939, the first production Spitfire rolled off the line packing a Merlin Mk. II engine capable of 1,030 horsepower.

This engine would go on to be used in everything from the Lancaster bomber, which sported four of these beasts, to the De Havilland Mosquito and the P-51 Mustang.

The engine was constantly upgraded with new superchargers and designs, increasing horsepower to 1,150 then 1,480 then 1,515. More importantly, the engines got upgrades in reliability and airflow, helping pilots win fights in altitudes low and high.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

The Lancaster bomber boasted four of the massive Merlin engines.

(Royal Air Force photo by Fleet Lt. Miller, IWM)

The low-altitude upgrades would prove essential during the Battle of Britain where English and German planes clashed in fights as low as 6,000 feet.

As it was, the Merlins suffered one big problem that came up during the Battle of Britain and other struggles: it used a carburetor while contemporary German engines were fuel-injected. This meant that the Merlin had a tendency to cut out during dives while the fighters they were opposing did not.

Still, the engine was a literal lifesaver for RAF pilots, and both the Brits and Americans wanted to buy more of them.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

A P-51 flies over Virginia. The P-51 was first built with an Allison engine but quickly transitioned to the Merlin with great results.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Ben Bloker)

Britain inked a deal with Ford motor company to start mass producing the engine on the American side of the Atlantic, but Ford later backed out of the deal. The offer was made to Packard, then a luxury car brand in the U.S., who turned out their first Merlin engines in August 1941.

It’s one of these early Packards that Leno is showing off in his garage. They were delivered across the Atlantic both in boxes and already installed in planes like the P-51.

The P-51 was originally ordered by the Royal Air Force in 1940 and sported an Allison engine that produced 1,200 hp, but proved unreliable above 15,000 feet. Since it was supposed to escort bombers, that was a huge issue. The switch to the Merlins greatly increased their power and altitude ceilings.

And, in a lucky coincidence, the Merlin changed the center of gravity of the plane, shifting it slightly back. The engineers added a fuel tank to the front to level it out, also increasing the plane’s range.

World War II buffs love the engine for its effect on the war, but gearheads like Leno can find a lot to love in the engine’s massive power output and throaty sound. As Leno points out in the video below, he actually bought two cars built around the Merlin engine — and both are massive hotrods.

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY CULTURE

Toast your service with one of these 7 veteran-brewed beers

It seems like every veteran entrepreneur opens a coffee shop, a t-shirt company, or a brewery. We ain’t mad atcha, especially if it’s a brewery.


This Veterans Day, raise a glass full of veteran-brewed goodness to toast all the great ones before us, those who have served with us and those yet to come. Here are 8 veteran-brewed beers to drink this Veterans Day (and hell, all year round):

Brotherhood Hazy IPA

Protector Brewery, San Diego, CA

What could be better than toasting the brotherhood than by buying a beer that gives back to it? A portion of every beer sold in the series is donated to the Navy Seal Foundation.

According to their website, this brew is fermented at a higher temp (72F) to blow up the fruity and juicy yeast strain esters. This series features a single hop profile of Azacca Hops to bring big citrus and tropical fruit tones. Protector is one of the fastest-growing breweries in SoCal and is owned and operated by a veteran Navy Seal.

W.A.S.P. Waffle Ale: A Breakfast Beer

Callsign Brewery, Kansas City, MO

Start your day right with a W.A.S.P. Waffle Ale that honors the Women Air Service Pilots (W.A.S.P.) from World War II. While it was brewed by women to honor women in uniform, this beer is for anybody who likes to be happy. With subtle caramel notes and a maple vanilla finish, Callsign promises you’ll be saying “leggo my beer.” We’ll drink to that.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Haint Blue Brewing Company, Mobile, AL

This Double Dry Hopped India Pale Ale with Citra is a crisp, flavorful IPA. You’ll want to save the cans for their awesome artwork, but you’ll want to drink all the beers, we promise.

Frogman Lager

The Bold Mariner Brewing Company, Norfolk, VA

The Frogman Lager is a fan favorite at this Norfolk brewery with a combination of caramel and bready-malt flavors and floral and earthy notes courtesy of the Bold Saaz hops. With 24 IBU, this is an easy beer to drink and an easier one to love.

KA-BAR Brown Ale

Railhouse Brewery, Aberdeen, NC

We give the KA-BAR Brown Ale two fierce knife hands. Their flagstaff beer, this is a rich, dark brown ale with notable nuttiness up front. It’s also described with a “slight roasty character and a hint of chocolate and toffee come through before ending with a subtle bitterness.”

While this beer is bottled, if you can make a trip to the taproom, it’s worth seeing in person: the tap handles for the KA-BAR Brown Ale come directly from the KA-BAR factory in New York.

Pineapple Grenade

Young Veterans Brewing Company, Virginia Beach, VA

One of our favorite beers to drink, the pineapple hefeweizen, is packed with sweet and tangy fruit flavors, perfectly complemented by spicy clove and hints of banana. This is one pin you’ll want to pull over and over again.

The Ground Pounder Pale Ale

Service Brewing Company, Savannah, GA

“The foot soldiers of the Infantry belong to the oldest and proudest branch of the army, their boots ‘always ready, then, now and forever.’ Our Ground Pounder Pale Ale honors those that have worn out their soles preserving the freedoms we cherish.”

The Ground Pounder is all around a great beer. It has nice spice and citrus notes with some bold, piney hop and a little bit of caramel. And, just because we know the Army is always a little extra, there’s some lime and crushed black pepper in this bad boy.

No matter what you’re drinking this Veterans Day, raise your glass not only to those around you who have served, but give a little toast to yourself, too. Here’s to you – cheers.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Puerto Rico National Guard faces a perfect storm

A deadly pandemic, a Category 5 hurricane and two earthquakes. While this sounds like cataclysms from the Old Testament — it’s not. Puerto Rico has been dealing with a range of natural disasters for the past three years.

In the center of them all is the Puerto Rico National Guard, stepping up to the challenges each provides.


“It’s certainly showing that the Puerto Rico National Guard is a flexible and adaptable force,” Maj. Gen. José Reyes, adjutant general, said.

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the lives of just about every American. The mantra of elected officials has been, “Flatten the curve,” meaning stop the spread of the virus. PRNG is doing its part to accomplish that by conducting medical evaluations of everyone entering Puerto Rico.

Earlier this year, PRNG and other federal and state agencies started screening incoming passengers at the international airport in San Juan by installing 11 infrared cameras that measure a person’s body temperature.

If a passenger has a temperature of 100.3° or over, they are immediately taken to a triage area and tested for COVID-19.

This is a 24/7 operation with about 260 PRNG members participating — roughly 60 are assigned to each six-hour shift.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

Laiza Rivera, a medical student at Central Caribbean University, took the oath of office to become a 2nd Lt. in the Puerto Rico National Guard on April 2. Here she signs her enlistment contract as Gen. José Reyes looks on. Photo by First Sgt. Luis E. Orengo.

In addition to military personnel, 150 students from Puerto Rico’s four medical schools have volunteered for this mission as well.

This actually worked as an unintentional recruitment campaign when four of them decided to join the PRNG. One of them is 2nd Lt. Laiza Rivera.

The 27–year-old says she was going stir-crazy being home all day because of the lockdown so she decided to volunteer at the airport. Rivera, whose major is ophthalmology, was already in the process of joining but inspired the other three student-volunteers to join as well.

PRNG has similar operations at other ports of entry.

Annual training

PRNG’s ability to adapt is illustrated in its revised plan for annual training. Ordinarily, large groups of personnel would attend exercises at the national training center in California, as well as another location in Louisiana. Not this year. In an effort to practice social distancing, those exercises will be modified to be conducted in smaller groups at Camp Santiago in Puerto Rico.

Additionally, classes that would normally be held in a conference room have switched to video conferencing.

Hurricane Maria

In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

Under Reyes’ command, the island’s combined military forces provided its residents with just about everything they needed.

They provided MPs to the local police departments to maintain law and order; engineers cleared hundreds of miles of debris from roadways; and they conducted search and rescue operations in flooded communities and evacuated stranded citizens. The Army aviation unit conducted countless flights to and from the center of the island (its most rural and isolated area) to deliver food, water and emergency supplies.

Puerto Rico still hasn’t fully recovered from the hurricane and the 56 year-old general predicts that won’t happen for another 10 to 12 years.

Two earthquakes  

If the hurricane wasn’t bad enough, Puerto Rico was shaken by two major earthquakes in January. There were 10,000 people who either partially or completely lost their homes.

Reyes, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, presented a plan to Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced to relocate these refugees. PRNG then established five major camps, each with a capacity of about 1,700. In partnership with FEMA and other agencies, they relocated over 10,000 people in 56 days.

Hurricane season 

While no one can predict when an earthquake will occur, there is an established hurricane season for the Caribbean and it’s happening now.

Under Homeland Security Presidential Directives Nos. 8 and 9, states and territories are required to conduct preparatory training in response to the threats that pose the greatest risk to national security, including natural disasters.

PRNG is on it conducting emergency management exercises for hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics and even tsunamis with all 78 municipalities on the island. Until last year, exercises were only for Category 5 hurricanes. The new exercises anticipate all these disasters happening concurrently.

Puerto Rico has had a lot thrown at it over the past three years and, in theory, it all could happen again. PRNG will be ready if it does.

Additionally, Reyes knows Guard units from other states, as well as additional DOD personnel, has Puerto Rico’s back and will be there to support him.

Reyes came out of retirement to take on this command and he’s glad he did.

“It’s a tremendous honor to command the Puerto Rico National Guard, eight-five hundred strong, fully committed men and women with an unbreakable sense of service towards the people of Puerto Rico and our nation,” he said. “I’m very proud of each one of them.”

This article originally appeared on Reserve + National Guard Magazine. Follow @ReserveGuardMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The spies who helped win the Revolutionary War

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

So wrote 21-year old Nathan Hale before being hanged for espionage by the British on Sept. 22, 1776. Hale had originally been encouraged to join the revolution by an old Yale classmate, Benjamin Tallmadge.

Tallmadge and Hale had been close during their time at Yale and often exchanged letters. Three years after their graduation, Tallmadge wrote to Hale, newly an officer in the American forces, saying, “Was I in your condition, I think the more extensive service would be my choice. Our holy Religion, the honor of our God, a glorious country and a happy constitution is what we have to defend.”


Hale agreed with Tallmadge’s sentiment and soon accepted an assignment to do more than just fight–he would spy from behind enemy lines. Although Hale’s venture into espionage ended rather poorly, Tallmadge’s revolutionary feelings did not subside. Soon, he would find himself at the center of the American Revolution’s most important spy ring.

The Culper Ring, founded and supervised by Tallmadge, operated from late October in 1778 until the British evacuated New York in 1783. Although the ring was active for all five of these years, its most productive period was between 1778 and 1781.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

Benjamin Tallmadge with his son, William.

After Tallmadge brought the ring together, it was led by Abraham Woodhull and Robert Townsend, codenamed “Samuel Culper, Sr.” and “Samuel Culper, Jr.” respectively. The codename “Culper” came straight from George Washington himself, a slight alteration of Culpeper County, Virginia where Washington had worked as a surveyor in his youth.

The ring was highly sophisticated, using methods still familiar today. Couriers, invisible ink. and dead drops were the norm. Some messages were hidden in plain sight, coded within newspaper advertisements and personal messages. Supposedly, one woman, Anna Strong, was even able to use the clothes she hung to dry to send messages to other members of the ring. Codes and ciphers were standard practice. These methods enabled agents to send Tallmadge apparently innocent letters. Tallmadge could pick out individual words to decode messages.

While Woodhull and Townsend ran the show, many agents, couriers, and sub-agents were also involved. Caleb Brewster, Austin Roe, Anna Strong and the still-unidentified ‘Agent 355’ all played vital roles. Other members included Hercules Mulligan and his slave Cato. Mulligan warned in January, 1779 of British plans to kidnap or kill senior American leaders including Washington himself. Cato delivered the vital message.

Other agents included Joseph Lawrence, Nathan Woodhull (Abraham’s cousin), Nathaniel Ruggles, William Robinson and James Rivington. So solid was the ring’s security that its very existence remained unconfirmed until the 20th century. Even Washington himself couldn’t identify every Culper agent. Its strict security preserved both the ring and the lives of individual members, boosting their confidence in themselves and each other.

The Culper Ring’s successes, what spies call coups, were many. They warned of a surprise attack on newly arrived French troops at Newport, Rhode Island. The forces, properly warned, were able to foil British plans to devastate their men while they recovered from their transatlantic voyage. The Culper spies uncovered British plans to destroy America’s nascent economy by forging huge amount of Continental dollars. Continental dollars were soon withdrawn from circulation, replaced with coins by 1783.

Without the Culper Ring, Washington may have fallen for a raiding operation meant to divide his forces. In 1779, General William Tryon raided three main ports of Connecticut, destroying homes, goods in storage, and a number of public buildings. Tryon was attempting to split off a portion of Washington’s forces to allow British forces to rout the Americans.

Washington did not ride out to meet Tryon. Instead, Tryon’s forces rampaged through civilian land and the general was criticized by both American rebels and those who supported the British as barbarous.

By far the Culper Ring’s most important coup was exposing General Benedict Arnold. Arnold, whose name has entered the American language as a metonym for treachery, was in contact with British spy Major John André and planned to surrender West Point to the British. The Culper Ring warned Tallmadge of a high-ranking American traitor, but lacked his identity. Tallmadge identified Arnold when André was captured and later hanged for his treason. Although Arnold escaped with his life, West Point remained safe from the British.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

Benedict Arnold in 1776

Abraham Woodhull’s sister Mary is sometimes credited with exposing Major André and thus Benedict Arnold. André (alias John Anderson) fled when he realized he was under suspicion. Unlike the Culper Ring’s, André’s security was lax. That cost André his life, Arnold his reputation, and ultimately helped cost the British Empire its American colony.

Stopped by three soldiers, André first tried to bribe them to let him go. Instead of taking the bribe, the soldier, now actively suspicious rather than idly curious, searched him and found incriminating papers. The letters proved conclusively that André was a British spy. The information contained in André’s letters was almost useless to the British; their commander General Clinton already had it. They were, however, extremely valuable to Tallmadge.

André’s captured messages were in Benedict Arnold’s handwriting, making it suddenly clear who was leaking high-level information. Arnold fled for his life, going to England, then Canada. After alienating a number of business partners in New Brunswick, Arnold returned to England. André was not so lucky to escape the American forces–he would make a useful reprisal for the hanging of Tallmadge’s dear friend, Nathan Hale. Caught dead to rights by the Culper Ring, André would soon be dead, period.

Hale had been hanged on Sept. 22, 1776 at the tender age of 21. He died bravely, with composure, courage and dignity. André faced the gallows equally bravely on Oct. 2, 1780. Before his death he received a visitor: Colonel Tallmadge.

The two spent part of their time together talking. At one point André asked Tallmadge whether his capture and Hale’s were similar. Tallmadge, remembering his dead friend and perhaps feeling guilty at encouraging him to take a more active revolutionary role, replied, “Yes, precisely similar, and similar shall be your fate…”.

The British evacuated New York in mid-August, 1783. On Nov. 16 of the same year, Washington himself visited to mark the seventh anniversary of the American retreat from Manhattan. While there he met someone to whom he and his new nation owed a personal and national debt: Culper agent Hercules Mulligan.

This article originally appeared on Explore The Archive. Follow @explore_archive on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia plans to fire missiles during huge NATO drill

The Russian Navy plans to test missiles in international waters off Norway’s coast, Norwegian and NATO officials say, as the Western military alliance conducts its largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Oct. 29, 2018, the alliance was informed last week about the planned tests.

“Russia has a sizable presence in the north, also off Norway,” Stoltenberg told the Norwegian news agency NTB.

“Large [Russian] forces take part in maneuvers and they practice regularly,” he added.


Russian officials did not immediately comment on the planned missile tests, which come amid persistent tension between NATO and Russia, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatists in an ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine but accuses the alliance of provocative behavior near its borders.

A spokesman for Avinor, which operates Norwegian airports and air-navigation services, said Russia had informed them about the tests in a so-called NOTAM, a notice to pilots about potential hazards along a flight route.

The spokesman, Erik Lodding, told the dpa news agency that it was “a routine message.”

The tests are to take place from Nov. 1-3, 2018, west of the coastal cities of Kristiansund, Molde, and Alesund.

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

“There is nothing dramatic about this. We have noted it and will follow the Russian maneuvers,” Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said.

On Oct. 25, 2018, NATO launched its Trident Juncture exercise, which Stoltenberg has called a “strong display” of its capability, unity, and resolve at a time of growing danger in Europe.The live-field exercise is set to run to Nov. 7, 2018.

It involves around 50,000 soldiers, 10,000 vehicles, and more than 300 aircraft and ships from all 29 NATO allies, plus partners Finland and Sweden.

The aim of the drills stretching from the North Atlantic to the Baltic Sea is to practice the alliance’s response to an attack on one of its members.

Russia held large military exercises called Zapad-2017 (West-2017) in September 2017 in its western regions jointly with Belarus, which also borders several NATO countries, and last month conducted massive drills across its central and eastern regions.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch the USS Constitution fire a cannon for the Marines birthday

The United States Marine Corps turned 244 on Nov. 10, 2019. To celebrate, the Devil Dogs probably did whatever it is Marines do after their respective Marine Corps Balls. The U.S. Navy, often called the Marines’ Taxi Service, laid aside sibling rivalry for the day, and fired a shot from the oldest warship in the Navy and the only active ship to have sunk an enemy in combat, the USS Constitution, in their honor.

They even let a Marine pull the trigger.


The Constitution was first laid as a 44-gun frigate in 1794, outfitted with 24-pound long guns and 32-pound carronades. In combat, she would carry around 54 guns. The carronades would be on the spar deck, a long 18-pound “chase” gun would be mounted forward, and 30 24-pounders would be loaded on the gun deck. The guns on her gun deck, like the one fired by the Sergeant of Marines in the above video, are not her original guns. In 1883, Constitution became a housing ship for sailors in the port of Boston, and her guns were removed. They were soon replaced, however, with replica guns.

Her centennial refit saw 55 replica guns made for the ship by the end of 1931. Cast in the Charleston Navy Yard in 1929, these are the guns aboard her today. Two War of 1812-era carronade replicas were placed aboard in 1981. All her guns were restored and refurbished during Constitution’s 21st-Century restoration.

The only problem with the ship’s new guns is that they were never intended to be fired. It wasn’t until 1976 that the Constitution’s commanding officer decided it would be a novel idea for the oldest active warship in the U.S. Navy to be able to give a salute from its era. Two of the 24-pound long guns were sent to the Naval Ordnance Station in Louisville, Ky. to be retrofitted to fire a saluting charge in time for the United States Bicentennial Celebration.

The Marines aren’t the only ones who receive a salute from the USS Constitution. Past recipients include anyone from Chief Petty Officer selectees to Queen Elizabeth II. The day after the Queen received the salute, she boarded Constitution for a tour with Prince Philip. It was the only time a reigning British monarch ever stepped foot aboard the ship.

It seems we’ve been forgiven for the whole HMS Guerriere incident.

MIGHTY MOVIES

7 of the best hand-to-hand fight scenes, ranked

Audiences across the globe love to grab their popcorn, sit down in front of the big screen and watch an intense action film that is so vivid they forget they’re spectators in a narrative story. With all the explosions and epic dialogue film directors pride themselves on recording, taking the story to the next level with a hand-to-hand fight scene just might be what an action-packed movie needs to become legendary.


Although great hand-to-hand fight scenes are complicated to produce, a few films managed to pull the epic close-quarter battles off.

Here are a few that happen to get them right.

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

www.youtube.com

Black Mamba vs Cobra Head in ‘Kill Bill: Vol 1’

When moviegoers showed up to the theaters to watch one of Tarantino’s first films, they knew they were going to get clever dialogue and a whole bunch of “f” bombs. Little did they know, two non-martial artists (Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox) were about to treat the audience to a badass hand-to-hand fight scene that would get temporarily interrupted by a young girl.

Since both women are warriors, they continued to battle it out, even with a little girl in the house.

www.youtube.com

Bringing a knife to a pen fight in ‘The Bourne Identity’

Before this film, Matt Damon wasn’t known for doing many action films, unless you count the third act of Steven Spielberg’s war epic Saving Private Ryan, which he had done four years prior.

However, once Damon stepped in the role of a government spy who had lost his memory, audiences were pleasantly surprised by the Good Will Hunting star as he got down-and-dirty for his dope fight scene.

www.youtube.com

Neo vs Agent Smith in ‘The Matrix’

We don’t think we have to setup how f*cking cool this movie is, so we won’t, but whoever the hell thought Keanu Reeves could scrap it out like a Kung Fu master was beyond everyone.

If you thought you could predict that, well, then you’re a liar.

The scenes where Neo took on Agent Smith were over-the-top outstanding and proved that Johnny Utah from Point Break could save the world as the chosen one.

www.youtube.com

The hammer beating in ‘Old Boy’

In 2003, Chan-wook Park directed a gritty film about a man who was kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years before being let go, only to learn that he must find his captor within the next five days.

If you haven’t seen this film, watch it this weekend. You’re missing out. But if you don’t have time, at least watch this single shot fight scene where the protagonist beats the sh*t out of everyone with a hammer.

www.youtube.com

Tony Jaa breaks everyone’s bones in ‘The Protector’

The Protector stars Maui Thai legend Tony Jaa, whose character has his childhood elephant stolen from him and he embarks on a violent mission to retrieve his best friend.

This brutal action flick pulls no punches as Jaa honestly kicks the sh*t out of everyone he encounters, especially a room full of bad guys — who he eliminates in a matter of minutes.

www.youtube.com

Jackie Chan fights a warehouse full of thugs in ‘Rumble in the Bronx’

If we need to introduce how badass Jackie Chan is, then you need to get out more. The Kung Fu legend has choreographed some of the coolest looking fight scenes ever. His unique personality and fighting ability look like poetry in motion.

In 1995’s Rumble in the Bronx, Chan takes on a warehouse full of New York thugs and uses his environment as a weapon to defeat his troubled aggressors.

www.youtube.com

Bruce Lee goes up against Chuck Norris ‘Way of the Dragon’

What else can we say besides legend vs. legend? It’s cinematic hand-to-hand combat at its very best. We’re done talking about it. Watch it for yourself.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

See what happened when world’s top snipers competed

The finest snipers in the US military, as well as local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies, have been battling it out against teams from across the US and around the world in the annual International Sniper Competition.

The Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment came in first, the Colorado Army National Guard took second, and Sweden’s 17th Wing Air Force Rangers came in third. There were also some surprises in the rankings.


Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photo by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

According to the Army, teams must complete “a gauntlet of rigorous physical, mental and endurance events that test the range of sniper skills that include, but are not limited to, long range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance and reporting abilities, and abilities to move with stealth and concealment.”

Source: US Army

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Snipers play a critical role in combat, with missions including “precision fires on enemy personnel and equipment, intelligence gathering, counter-sniper operations, infiltration and overwatch of [named areas of interest], occupation of and operations in support by fire positions, ballistic interdiction of IEDs, and disruption of enemy operations.”

Source: US Army

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

“Working together in this venue is a great way for us to share ideas, build rapport, and train our forces,” Brig. Gen. David M. Hodne, the US Army Infantry School commandant, said at the closing ceremony, “After all, the purpose of the International Sniper Competition is to improve our collective lethality.”

Source: Fort Benning Public Affairs Office

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

US Army teams dominated the competition. One surprising result: The US Coast Guard’s Special Missions Training Detachment edged out the US Marine Corps’ Scout Sniper instructors.

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information