Recently, Brie Larson paid a visit to Nellis Air Force Base in preparation for the upcoming Marvel film, Captain Marvel, set for a 2019 release. Accompanying her was Staff Sgt. Don Wallace, an F-15 crew chief with the 57th Maintenance Group. Larson donned a flight suit, toured the base while learning the history of the F-15C, and met with Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, the commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis AFB.
Brig. Gen. Leavitt became the first female fighter pilot in 1993 after the Defense Secretary lifted the ban on women flying in combat — over sixty-one years after Amelia Earhart made her historic, transatlantic flight. Brig. Gen. Leavitt is a major, real-life inspiration behind the character, Captain Marvel.
A post shared by Don (@dwallace85) on Jan 18, 2018 at 7:04pm PST
Larson was said to be very friendly, down-to-earth, and eager to learn everything she could about the U.S. Air Force. She was very interested in learning on how G-forces act on a pilot during intense maneuvers and the mission capabilities of the F-15.
Larson was very accommodating with fans, taking photos with airmen and even getting on an airman’s FaceTime for a friend.
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Not many details about Captain Marvel are known other than it is set in the 1990’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and it will follow the comic book character, Carol Danvers. In the comics, Danvers is a fighter pilot who gains superpowers after an alien invasion. She’s also key member of The Avengers. Since the film is set in the 90’s and Samuel L. Jackson is confirmed to appear in the film, it’s safe to assume that this film will center around the superhero world between Captain America: The First Avenger and Iron Man.
“I know why you’re here. I know what you’ve been doing. I know because I was once looking for the same thing. I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us, the question that brought you here. You know the question just as I did:”
Will there be another Matrix film?
Looks like the answer is yes, fellow cyberpunk warriors. Yes, you bet your pleather-clad ass there will be.
I know, right?
There have been rumors for years, but Warner Bros. just announced that Lana Wachowski is officially set to write and direct a fourth film, starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in their dynamic and ground-breaking roles of Neo and Trinity.
“We could not be more excited to be re-entering The Matrix with Lana,” said Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich. “Lana is a true visionary — a singular and original creative filmmaker — and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing, and producing this new chapter in The Matrix universe.”
The Matrix 4 script was also written by Aleksandar Hemon (Sense8) and David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas).
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of The Matrix, which garnered four Academy Awards and birthed a franchise that has earned over id=”listicle-2639941881″.6 billion in the global box office. It is still considered one of the greatest science fiction films of all time — as well it should be. Have you watched it lately? It totally holds up.
“From a pathology point of view, it’s a fascinating virus,” says Dr. Nancy Jaax, a veterinarian and Army officer. She’s talking about the Ebola virus, a subject she knows a lot about, having prevented it from maybe spreading to the entire United States. “The opportunity to work with such a unique virus was irresistible to me.”
When Jaax came to the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in 1979, not much was known about Ebola. They knew it killed 90 percent of those infected, and that was about it. It was a Biosafety Level-4 pathogen: fatal to humans, easily transmittable (maybe even by air), with no effective treatments or vaccines. So when it showed up in a group of monkeys shipped in from the Philippines, it could have been really bad for the Reston, Va. lab where Jaax was working. Luckily, the Army has people like Col. Jaax working for it.
Jaax joined the Army with her husband in the late 70s to pursue her veterinary residency. Right away, her work in veterinary medicine was significant, as she and her team discovered the first diagnosed coronavirus in military working dogs. But dogs getting colds were the least of the Army’s research needs. Jaax wound up at USAMRIID in the veterinary pathology program. A few years into her stint there is when the macaques from the Philippines were found to have Ebola. It was her job to actually look for the virus under the microscope.
When she looked at the tissue sample of the dead monkeys, she actually found they had two highly-lethal contagions: simian hemorrhagic fever, which is not contagious to humans, and Ebola. They had to shut down the facility – except for those exposed to the viruses.
This was also my gut response. But luckily cooler heads prevailed.
The Reston Ebolavirus spread to all the facilities animals, who had to be put down. Unfortunately, it also infected a number of the USAMRIID workers who worked alongside Jaax. When they went to “depopulate” the facility, just under 50 people were found to have contracted the virus. The only thing was, unlike the other strands of Ebola, none of the Reston workers actually got sick or showed symptoms. In fact, their bodies didn’t respond to the virus at all. It came and went.
No one knows why. What they do know (and the reason we can all sleep soundly at night) is that the Army’s quarantine procedures worked as planned. None of the monkeys escaped into an Outbreak-like scenario. There was no worker with a small symptom who was nervous about it but decided to hide it so he could take the Metro to go to his kids birthday party. The virus stayed put, the monkeys were contained, and no one let the virus out of the facility.
That’s why we have procedures.
You can watch the story of Dr. Nancy Jaax and her experience with Ebola on NatGeo’s new miniseries The Hot Zone, a three-night special premiering Memorial Day, May 27th at 9pm on National Geographic.
We’re getting a little excited here. An out-of-left-field rumor is making the rounds that Michael Keaton might play Bruce Wayne again in the strangest way possible. That’s right, your favorite Batman and star of “Mr. Mom” might once again play an older version of the millionaire playboy who also likes dressing up like a bat.
On Oct. 21, 2019, We Got This Coveredsuggested that certain sources are claiming that Michael Keaton could play an older Bruce Wayne in a live-action version of “Batman Beyond.” What is “Batman Beyond,” you ask? Well, from 1999-2001 it was an animated follow-up to the beloved “Batman: The Animated Series,” and focused on a new young Batman in a kind of futuristic Gotham City. Instead of Bruce Wayne underneath the mask, it was a guy named Terry McGinnis. But, here’s the rub, in that storyline, Bruce Wayne was still alive: We was just an old guy who worked out of the Batcave as Terry’s Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Basically, in “Batman Beyond,” Bruce Wayne becomes like the new Alfred fused with Lucius Fox from the “Dark Knight” movies. So, if Michael Keaton played Bruce Wayne in a live-action “Batman Beyond,” that would mean he’d be whispering in a younger Batman’s ear from a sick-ass control room.
Most likely this is just a rumor, but then again, what if this is secretly part of the new Robert Pattinson film; “The Batman.” We all assumed Pattinson was playing Bruce Wayne, but what if he’s not? What if he’s a new Batman and Keaton is playing the old Batman?
It’s likely not true. But for now, we can dream.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
There has been a major split between lead singer Geoff Tate and the rest of the band in recent months, but a few years ago, legendary metal band Queensryche was tightly focused on “American Soldier,” the band’s take on the modern experience of war.
Here’s the first video they produced for the album:
Disney+ launched a Comic-Con@Home 2020 panel for their new scripted series The Right Stuff, which will explore the early days of the U.S. space program through the “Mercury Seven” — the military pilots who became the first NASA astronauts during the space race of the Cold War. “Competing to be the first in space, these ordinary men achieve the extraordinary, inspiring America to turn toward a new horizon of ambition and hope,” boasted Comic-Con International.
The first original scripted series from National Geographic for Disney+ promises to take a “clear-eyed look” at the newly-formed NASA. Set to release in late 2020, the series debuted a first look in a panel moderated by Former NASA Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison.
Yes, that Dr. Mae Jemison.
Jemison was not only the first African American woman selected for the NASA astronaut program — she was the first woman of color in the world to go into space. Watch the full panel right here:
Blast Off with Disney+’s “The Right Stuff” | Comic-Con@Home 2020
The panel revealed the first official clip of the series, introducing Alan Shepard to the uninitiated. Shepard, of course, went on to become the first American to travel to space and he remains on the short list of men who have walked on the moon.
“You gentlemen are accustomed to testing dangerous, unproven aircraft and yet somehow you’ve made it this far in one piece. Most of you have families. You have careers. You have lives. That could all come to an abrupt halt if you sign on to this endeavor. We want to take thirty-two of you to Lovelace Clinic for medical evaluations, but only seven of you will have what it takes. And those seven will be the Mercury Astronauts,” intone the recruiters in the clip.
Warning of the Russian advances, the clip sets the stage for America’s acceleration in space.
The original seven astronauts who flew for Project Mercury were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, and of course, Alan Shepard. Also known as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1, they were among America’s finest military pilots. Each of the trailblazers is now deceased, but their legacy lives on.
EDITOR’S NOTE:An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the operating system and capacity of the M1. It is a gas operated rifle that has an eight-round capacity.
This is his rifle. There are many like it, but “Ginger Dinger” is his.
That was the name ‘Gunny’ R. Lee Ermey gave his beloved M1 Garand rifle. It’s been heralded by General George S. Patton as “the greatest battle implement ever devised.”
In an era of lever-action or bolt-action rifles, nothing can compare the speed and accuracy of a semi-automatic that uses the high-pressured gas from the cartridge being fired to do all the work for you. All troops had to do was just pull the trigger, the spent shell is ejected, the next round is chambered, and you’re ready to fire again. At the time of it’s creation in 1936, this was an absolute game changer.
Once you pop in a eight round en-bloc clip of .30-06, the M1 Garand becomes one of the most reliable weapons any service member has been issued. It was issued to the U.S. Army in 1938 and has seen service in World War II, Korean War, and selectively used in a sniper variation for the Vietnam War.
Currently, it is still available for civilian ownership and is widely praised by collectors and marksmanship competitors.
The U.S. Military still uses the M1 Garand for ceremonial purposes by drill teams. It’s said that they are also very well balanced, spin easily, and present well.
Also, both pronunciations are widely accepted. As in it’s either “Gahr-rund,” as if it rhymed with ‘errand,’ or “gur-rand,” as if Tony the Tiger was trying to say ‘grand.’
Check out the video down below if you want to watch R. Lee Ermey sh*t talk during a shooting competition with British Rifle Expert Gary Archer in his show “Lock ‘N Load with R. Lee Ermey.”
*Writer’s Note: At first I mistakenly attributed the M1 Garand as a recoil operated rifle with a five round clip. This is not the case and I own up to my mistakes. Thank you to everyone in the comment section.
Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s supreme leader, may preside over the most propaganda-inundated, oppressed, and ruthless country on earth, but he’s not crazy.
In fact, under the Kim dynasty, North Korea has time and time again shown strategic thinking and cunning, essentially staying one step ahead of international efforts to curb the regime’s power.
North Korea has, for decades, gotten its way without a major military campaign, and without a single attack on Americans on US soil. North Korea will continue to get what it wants in a broad sense, though sanctions and isolation will slow it down.
And North Korea will continue to get what it wants, enjoying a growing economy, powerful nationalism, and ever-improving nuclear and missile capabilities.
But if North Korea ever, ever fires one of those missiles in anger, the US will return fire in devastating fashion before you can say, “Juche.”
“Their primary concern is regime survival,” a senior US defense official working in nuclear deterrence told Business Insider.
North Korean statements traffics heavily in propaganda, but all sides seem to sincerely believe the Kim regime cares deeply about its preservation, and has built the weapons for defensive purposes.
“The North Koreans having nukes is a bad thing and we don’t want it. But if we lose that one, we survive it,” said the official.
This statement from a currently-serving US official knowledgeable with nuclear deterrence is a rare admission that North Korea gaining a nuclear ICBM capability isn’t the end of the world.
It’s time to stop thinking of Kim as some dumb and “crazy fat kid” as Republican Sen. John McCain recently put it.
Kim’s thinking seems cold-blooded and ruthless to the US, but he’s not crazy, and he’d have to be to attack the world’s most powerful country.
Tell us a little about your background, from your service in the Navy to your career as a Private Investigator and finally to hosting Mysteries Decoded.
I graduated from high school in a town with one stoplight and really wanted to get out and see the world! The Navy recruiter was the first to call me and try to pitch the military. I told him he was wasting his breath and that I wanted to enlist…I might have been the easiest recruit he ever enlisted! I served in the Navy for five years and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and then separated honorably to attend college.
In 2014, after working in the entertainment industry for a few years, I went to Private Investigation school and opened my own company this year. The show came about because they were looking for a Private Investigator who ideally understood the world of television…and bam! Here we are. It’s a rare opportunity to be able to combine my two careers.
How did you feel about looking into a military establishment (Area 51)? Where is the boundary between military secrets and the people’s right to know? Or maybe even in this case, military secrets and Planet Earth’s right to know?
Area 51 was admittedly a difficult episode for me. My co-host on the show, Ryan, is a UFOlogist and a journalist without a military background (although very appreciative of veterans and their service). He heavily advocates for transparency. I understand the importance of keeping certain things under wraps for national security purposes.
There were also a few issues brought up in the context of the show that I was quiet about. I came across a few things during my service that are not common knowledge and it’s not my place to put them out for everyone to know. With that being said, if it is something outside of what I experienced while in the service, it’s fair game.
Area 51 is getting a lot of attention right now with the upcoming “raid” — what do you think people will learn if/when they show up to Groom Lake?
Honestly, I think most people will just chalk it up as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Most people are not planning to raid. I fear for those who do intend on crossing that gate because it’s undeniable the military is prepared. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and unfortunately, if necessary, lethal methods as well.
To be fair, people have been warned to not cross into the base. I hope everything stays calm and people abide by the law, but my feeling is you’ll always have a few people who either don’t understand the consequences or don’t care.
What is something you learned when shooting this episode?
I learned a lot more about Bob Lazar, the whistleblower who claims to have worked at S-4. When I first read his claims and his background, I was inclined to dismiss him. The more I learned and the deeper I dug, I realized there was much more going on than most people knew. He is perplexing and his story is one of a kind.
Mysteries Decoded | Cases And Cover-Ups Trailer | CW Seed
Mysteries Decoded | Cases And Cover-Ups Trailer | CW Seed
You’ve been investigating a lot of mysteries for this show. Have any of them given you second thoughts? What are some of the biggest insights you’ve gleaned?
I went into Lizzie Borden based off the research I conducted believing she did kill her parents and through the investigation, came to the conclusion it absolutely was her. In my opinion, it is the oldest documented case of affluenza. She killed her parents and moved to an estate in a more upscale part of town. The only thing that did surprise me was the paranormal things we experienced while in the house. I was not a huge believer in that, but there were too many things that happened for me to look the other way or explain it away — as much as I wanted to.
An upcoming episode, The Bermuda Triangle, was fascinating for me. I loved the scientific aspect of it. We spoke to physicists, Navy officials, historians, pilots, you name it. What we uncovered made me understand why certain things may have happened there. Other things, however, still remain a mystery. It was fascinating delving into the science behind the disappearance of ships and aircraft.
Often times with a few of these cases, someone coming forward could have led to an earlier resolution. I see this in day-to-day life as well and especially in my practice. It takes courage to be transparent and do the right thing, but too many people don’t want to get involved. Definitely come forward, whether it’s something that would shed more light on a subject, or in other scenarios — help right a wrong.
One last questions: are there aliens at Area 51?
I don’t believe there are aliens walking around at the base, no. But have they ever been here? Not sure. Are their bodies at Area 51? Can’t say that either. But I think it’s pretty odd to believe we are the only intelligent beings that exist in the universe…there are a septillion planets. Statistically, the odds are not that we are alone… 🙂
Americans love them some Navy crime drama. Nothing shows more evidence of that than the success of the Emmy-winning, long-running show, JAG. If the show’s 227 episodes weren’t enough proof, consider that this show also spun off an even more popular show, NCIS, and its own spin-offs.
That’s right, JAG has grandchildren.
But the show wasn’t going to survive on mundane drama — no one cares if Petty Officer Valle was late coming back from LIBO — it needed some real juicy crime drama. The show was among the first to use “ripped from the headlines” plots — and no one can garner headlines like the U.S. military.
The show ran from 1995-2005 and, along the way, it covered some very interesting moments in U.S. Navy history. Now, JAG has finally found a home on cable television on WGN America, so you can experience these classic episodes and many, many more.
“Valor” – Season 6, Episode 17
This episode from 2001 features a character who was found aboard a boat laden with explosives. Terrorists captured a U.S. Marine and coerced her into helping them use the boat to hit an American destroyer. The Marine in question is held as the JAG officers try to determine if she was forced to assist the terrorists or if she had been turned by them.
The terrorist plot depicted in “Valor” is based on the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole while it was refueling in Yemen’s port city of Aden. Unlike the boat in the episode, the boat that attacked the Cole was completely destroyed and had no potentially traitorous Americans aboard.
The real bombing killed both boat drivers, along with 17 sailors. The blast wounded 39 more U.S. troops.
“Defensive Action” – Season 1, Episode 13
In the 1990s, the U.S. was heavily invested in the Balkan Conflict of the former Yugoslavia, especially the areas around Bosnia. So it makes good sense that conflict found its way onto the show. On a mission to return a Hind helicopter to Serbia, a Navy F-14 Tomcat malfunctions and explodes and the Serbian Hind begins strafing the ejected pilots. The Tomcat’s wingman lights up the Hind, earning a court-martial in the process. One of those ejected Tomcat pilots survives and evades Serbian patrols on the ground until he’s eventually rescued.
This is in reference to the rescue of U.S. Air Force pilot Scott O’Grady, who was shot down in an F-16C by Bosnian Serb SAM batteries. O’Grady evaded Serbian patrols for a solid week until he was rescued behind enemy lines by a force of United States Marines.
“Clipped Wings” – Season 3, Episode 22
During an exercise in the Mediterranean, an F-14 Tomcat collides with an Italian civilian helicopter, killing six people. The Italians demand to prosecute the pilot, and the Italian people are outraged. The pilot swears there was another aircraft he was avoiding when he ran into the helicopter.
In the real world, a Marine Corps aircraft did kill a number of Italian tourists as an EA-6B Prowler cut the cable of a cable car while flying lower than it should have been near Cavalese, Italy. The falling gondola killed all 20 people aboard, and the crew of the Prowler was put on trial for involuntary manslaughter, of which they were acquitted.
“Into the Breach” – Season 5, Episode 12
On April 19, 1989, a 16-inch gun turret aboard the USS Iowa exploded, killing 47 sailors and damaging the turret. The Navy concluded that one of the crewmen purposely caused the explosion. Congress, however, hated the Navy’s explanation and sent the GAO in to do an independent review. The GAO’s scientists found that an overram of powder bags was the likely explanation for the explosion.
In this episode, Harm and Mac are working an old case for law students in a mock trial — a case in which 29 sailors were killed when a disgruntled gun captain exploded his own turret. In the process of reviewing the old case, however, the two JAG officers find new evidence and new witnesses – enough to retry it.
“The Court-Martial of Sandra Gilbert” – Season 3, Episode 2
In this episode, Sandra Gilbert is a top-rated Cobra pilot who was suddenly grounded and charged with conduct unbecoming and disobeying orders when she begins an illegal relationship with an enlisted man, a Gunnery Sergeant. As it turns out, however, the Gunny is a married man. So, Harm has to defend Gilbert as the Corps tries to railroad charges against him.
A similar incident happened to U.S. Air Force Lt. Kelly Flinn, the first female B-52 pilot in Air Force history. In 1997, Flinn was discharged from the Air Force as a result of her adulterous affair with an enlisted subordinate’s husband, lying to Minot AFB officials about the affair, and then disobeying her superior’s order to break off the relationship.
As you can imagine, the media had a field day with the news.
So, if you’re in the market for heart-pounding drama and high-stakes operations, look no further than JAG.
You let us tag along on your convoy. You let us raid a house in the stack. You watched our ass while our head was in a camera viewfinder. You even let us eat your food. So when you ask us for some of the footage of the unit in action we’re happy to oblige.
When you want us to make a music video of it, no problem, even though we know using copyrighted music is illegal. We want you to keep letting us roll with you…and for you to keep saving our asses.
But then one of your officers tells us to use one of these eight songs and it makes us die inside.
1. Drowning Pool — “Bodies”
This is by far the most overused song ever paired with combat camera footage (with “Soldiers” a close second). And it’s not just commanders asking combat camera to do this. Civilians do this ad nauseam.
That video has more than a million views. A MILLION. I don’t understand the enduring popularity of this song, but if there’s a better or more obvious song about killing a lot of people, I haven’t heard it.
2. Saliva — “Click Click Boom”
A full 20 percent of YouTube is probably the same video footage of the military with this Saliva song — this Saliva song about how great the lead singer’s childhood was and how totally awesome it is that he’s on the radio now.
I wish Beavis and Butthead were around to rip on this band. Still, it does make it pretty easy to edit a video fast, even if I feel like a complete hack afterward.
The only lyric the casual listener probably understands for most of the song is “Bombs Over Baghdad,” so when you send it to your mom, she gets the point of the video, and can’t really hear about the struggles of Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s pre-stardom struggle.
4. Chad Kroeger ft. Josey Scott — “Hero”
The singers from Nickelback AND Saliva. Enough said. Good lord this song was so big in 2002-2003. You’ll be just as proud of a video featuring you clearing houses to this song as you are your trucker hat collection and your flip phone.
This song was supposed to be an uplifting anthem for the first Spider-Man movie but it’s the most depressing song I’ve ever been asked to use in any video ever. I bet if you asked Kirsten Dunst what the low point of her career was, it would be that she didn’t have the choice to be excluded from this music video.
5. P.O.D. — “Boom”
Another band who sings about how they’re a band now. If you haven’t noticed the trend, guitar riffs and shouting “boom” were super popular in the early 2000s.
P.O.D. is the MySpace of metal. They’re still around but no one knows why.
6. Toby Keith — “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”
This song is so cheesy, I’m actually surprised Chad Kroeger didn’t write it, but maybe there are some things even Pop Rock Jesus won’t do. Some of you might think this song is awesome but I doubt you’d play it at a party in front of all your friends.
Also Toby Keith got more awards and plaques from military units just for singing this song than some people got for actually enlisting after 9/11.
7. Godsmack — “I Stand Alone”
Forget for a moment that the frontman sounds like Adam Sandler’s impression of Eddie Vedder. This song’s lyrics read like they were translated from Nepali by Google Translate. Also, unless your unit is the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae (it isn’t), you definitely don’t stand alone.
8. AC/DC — “Thunderstruck”
Ok, this isn’t an awful song. I mean, I get why you might want six minutes of your squadron or platoon blowing things up to AC/DC. But, aside from the opening minute and a half or so, this is could be any AC/DC song. All AC/DC songs sound like this. That’s why we love them.
Nazareth — Hair of the Dog
To be honest, this request only happened once, but do you really think any young Marine is going to love watching themselves on a dismounted patrol to this song?
Why not just have me choose something from Chicago’s greatest hits? If I gave any grunt a music video of themselves with this song, they’d beat my Air Force ass so hard.
The opening scenes of Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn introduce viewers to a charismatic and devoted father deep in the joys of parenthood. Crawling on the floor, swimming and blowing out birthday candles with his toddler and infant sons, he is right where he should be. Until the day he isn’t. Through interviews, reports and a thoroughly researched investigation, the filmmaker poses some incriminating questions.
Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Was it the mechanic who told him his helicopter was cleared for flight two hours before it slammed tail-first into the ocean? Was it the manufacturer who produced the faulty wiring blamed for the explosion? Was it the upper ranks of the Navy who disregarded multiple letters of concern purportedly choosing flight hours over safety? How about the Congressional and Executive branches of our government that teamed up with arms manufacturers and focused on new bloated defense contracts instead of investing in the people and machinery already in place?
Van Dorn’s wife, Nicole, living in the shadow of her husband’s unnecessary death, is on a mission to find out. Catalyzed by her and others’ search for answers, this gripping 2018 documentary investigates events leading up to Navy lieutenant J. Wesley Van Dorn’s death one month before his 30th birthday. His untimely demise occurred during a training exercise when an explosion killing three of the five crewmen aboard caused the crash-prone helicopter to fall from the sky into frigid waters below. Van Dorn was not the only one who had expressed concerns about the safety of this aircraft, nor was he the only one to die in it as a result of misguided leadership and mechanical failure.
Written, directed, and narrated by Zachary Stauffer as his first feature documentary, this film offers a sobering look into chronic institutional failings that have resulted in 132 arguably preventable deaths. Diving unforgivably into one family’s agonizing loss, Stauffer invites us to ponder heavy questions while constructing a wall of outrage in his viewers. What is the price of a life? How many lives does it take before change takes place? When will avarice and the “just get ‘er done” attitude stop undermining the American defense establishment?
Built by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, the MH-53E Sea Dragon is the Navy’s nearly identical version of the Marine Corps’ CH-53-E Super Stallion. Since entering service in 1986, it has never succumbed to enemy fire but holds the worst safety record in the Navy’s fleet making it the deadliest aircraft in military history. The 53-E is a powerful machine used by the Navy for dragging heavy equipment through water to sweep for mines while the Marine version is used for transporting people and gear.
Stauffer explains that due to issues with these aircraft that cropped up even in their initial test flights at the manufacturer and in training missions, the Navy tried to get away with using less powerful helicopters and alternate minesweeping tactics but nothing was as effective as the relic Sea Dragon. Since they were fated to be replaced at some point, the higher ranks avoided investing too much into them so funding for spare parts and maintenance was lean. Members of Congress allegedly chose the path of greed and corruption when defense contractors offered them flashy new weaponry and vehicles as well as comfortable retirement packages. The upper echelons flourished while those training, fighting, and dying on the ground, as well as the American taxpayers, suffered needlessly as top-down decision makers claimed their hands were tied.
With fewer and fewer resources, those maintaining the Sea Dragon had to do more with less. They began cutting corners and developing bad habits. When voicing their worries in person or through over a dozen letters and memos to the upper ranks, they were “belittled, humiliated and cut down,” as one pilot explained. More than 30 years before Van Dorn’s crash, Sikorsky recommended replacing the faulty Kapton wires on all Navy aircraft. This was suggested not once, not twice, but three times before the Navy decided to start looking into the issue. Eventually they named Kapton as the highest ranked safety risk in the fleet and devised a long-term plan to replace it in phases but claimed to never have enough funding to refit all the wiring in the 53s. Only months prior to Van Dorn’s crash the Pentagon re-budgeted funding away from this critical project. Thus, problems that had been escalating over decades while the issue was known and actively overlooked perpetuated, yet the birds were still allowed to fly.
By the time Van Dorn signed on the dotted line in 2010, the run-down helicopters that required about 40 hours of maintenance for a single hour of flight time should have been retired. He and his wife made the decision together to request a spot in the squadron flying 53s because others told them it was an ideal position for a family man who wanted to be home for dinner every night.
Van Dorn was one of those who voiced his opinions about the safety of this aircraft. In an ominous voice recording foreshadowing his own death, he stated “If anyone should care about what’s happening on that aircraft, it should be me and the other pilots, I think. It makes sense to me, because I’m the one who’s going to get in it and have something terrible happen if it doesn’t go right.” His wife Nicole later explained that, “He felt that no matter what he said or what he wrote or who he complained to, nothing was changing.”
On a particularly cold morning in January 2014, Van Dorn’s own portentous sentiments were realized 18 nautical miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Chafing from a single nylon zip tie exposed naked wiring to a fine spray of fuel causing it to arc, sending a blast of fire into the cockpit. Hours later Nicole lay on her husband’s chest just before they pronounced him dead.
Dylan Boone, a Naval aircrewman and one of two survivors of the wreck declared, “You don’t expect to give up your life for this country because you were given faulty equipment.”
Dynamic cinematography combined with a subtly haunting score by composer William Ryan Fritch creates the backdrop for this solid investigative report. Crisp and flowing visuals paired with thrilling military footage complement the feelings portrayed by those interviewed. These primary sources include Van Dorn’s mother, wife, friends, and fellow airmen as well as a mechanic, pilots, a general, a Pentagon Analyst and a military reporter. Throughout the documentary they and the narrator explain the multifaceted issues connected to Van Dorn’s death and the trouble with the 53s from a variety of angles.
Woven skillfully together, a poignant story is told of decades of negligence that continues to result in tragedy. Wholesome home movies of a young involved father raising two sons with his lovely wife are contrasted with the aching void ripped into the Van Dorn family’s home after his death. Stirring visions of military life ignite the urge to join in viewers who have ever felt compelled to do so, whereas the deep frustration of stifled dreams and a scarred body and soul are almost tangible to someone who has been there before as hard truths are drawn out throughout the film.
Centering on the death of a handsome, beloved father, husband and seaman who was liked by all humanized an issue that might have otherwise been unrelatable. Utilizing the audience’s heartstrings as a focal point was a powerful way to bring attention to a predicament that could have been swept under the rug. Despite the fact that the C-53 airframes experienced serious accidents more than twice as often as the average aircraft and that internal investigations were performed with alarming results, the Navy continues to risk its servicemembers’ life and limb to keep these helicopters performing their critical mission in the air. With this in mind, this documentary might just put enough pressure on the Navy to make the changes necessary to save an untold number of lives.
Winner of the Audience Award in Active Cinema at the 2018 Mill Valley Film Festival, Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn is an intriguing and effective piece of military reporting presented in comprehensible terms for the layman. It is a successful examination of not only the serious failings of a controversial aircraft and the misled priorities keeping it aloft, but also hints toward the fact that anyone who brings up the disturbing issue of safety of these helicopters will be forced out of service. I would recommend this professional-level documentary, especially to anyone with interests in the military or national defense.
The Navy, the Pentagon, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin declined to participate in this well-researched film. Major funding to make this documentary possible was provided by supporters of the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and Investigative Studios.
After viewing this film, you can decide for yourself who killed Lt. Van Dorn. Regardless of the answer, his unwarranted death will not have been completely in vain if it successfully carries out his final mission: righting the deep and longstanding problems with the CH-53 helicopters, thus preventing the death and destruction of countless others just as it ultimately took him.
In the final episodes of the Mandalorian Season 2, the writer dives deep into the inner conflict Din Djarin “The Mandalorian” feels when he is confronted by meeting Mandalorians outside of his sect, who don’t follow the extreme code of rules that he has been taught from a very early age. While we see these interactions early in the series, this exchange is perfectly illustrated through the rest of the season, as the Mandalorian tries to rescue baby Grogu from the hands of Moff Gideon.
In Episode 15: The Believer, as the Mandalorian and Mayfield make their way to the Imperial base, Mayfield points out how he and the Mandalorian are alike.
“Seems to me like your rules start to change when you get desperate. I mean, look at ya. You said you couldn’t take your helmet off, and now you got a stormtrooper one on, so what’s the rule? Is it, you can’t take off your Mando helmet or you can’t show your face? ‘Cause, there is a difference. Look I’m just sayin’, we are all the same. Everybody’s got their line they don’t cross until things get messy. As far as I’m concerned, if you can make it through your day and still sleep at night, you’re doing better than most.”
As a veteran who has gone to war, this line in particular, stuck out. So much of who I was and what I believed about the world changed during my deployment overseas. In a way, I was lucky on my deployment: I saw a small amount of combat and come home with everyone who arrived in Afghanistan with me.
But the dynamics inside the wire (on the base) were not so calm. Why physically I wasn’t hurt, emotionally my shift toward being part of a team and trusting others was shattered. It was a weird circumstance because at the same time the lies and distrust were happening on the base. I then had to leave the base and go on missions off base while relying on the same people who were working hard to manipulate and undermine who I was.
It isn’t something we talk about enough as veterans. So many people believe the only danger of going to war is when you leave the base and go and fight. But besides the incoming rockets that make living on base not safe, so many of us have had to deal with the hurt and pain that happened to us by our fellow soldiers: the people who are supposed to protect us.
As I transitioned out of the military, three years after coming home from my deployment, I was part of the Transition Assistant Program and we took part in mock interviews. In my interview, the interviewee asked me if I liked to work alone or in a team. I said alone. When he dug into why, I said I didn’t trust people. His initial reaction was to explain to the people in the room with me how that answer could lead to being destroyed in an interview. But when he followed up with questions and began to understand what happened to me during my deployment, his tone changed. And after the interview session was over and we were dismissed, he came up to me and apologized for how I was treated on my deployment … and gave me personal advice on how to answer questions he had asked in a civilian interview I may face in the future.
He was a veteran and understood the deep betrayal that can happen when you are in a situation where your life could end. It is something that we need to talk about more. But even as a writer it is a topic I steer away from — just putting the words on paper makes me pause to re-read, and then stop again to ensure the deep hurt is ready to be shared with the world.
I even wonder how this truly relates to The Mandalorian. How did those final episodes bring up something in me that reminded me of the pain I have kept hidden? I think it is the inner conflict and struggle that was portrayed so well.
What do you do in life when everything you have been led to believe is questioned or unhinged? What do you do when your training fails you? And you learn that even when you follow the rules and are in a “safe” place, you are still at risk for everything falling apart.
This is one of the questions I believe so many veterans face, along with others like, Why did I live and my friend die? Why didn’t I go on the mission where everything went wrong? Why did I decide to leave the office right before a rocket destroyed it?
Deep inner conflict. Often hidden from the discussion. And things we live with inside of us wondering how this can be. How do I move forward now?
I think to move forward we have to be brave and tell our stories in a safe place. I found healing through a 12-step program where I could talk openly about the deep pain and not be expected to provide answers of how this made me feel. Instead, bringing the pain inside of me to light helped it not trap me in the pain I had hidden in the darkness for so long. Speaking it out loud allowed me to move forward. To find hope and to be able to start trusting people again.
There is healing and hope after struggling through the pain of war. But we first have to be brave and bring that pain out of the darkness and into the light.