Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

Robin Williams went on six separate USO tours from 2002 to 2013. Williams inspired countless other comedians and performers to pack their bags and head overseas to share their light with the world. There are hundreds of stories that surround the humanity of each and every visit Williams had.


Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(USO.org)

For example, take the time on the 2007 USO Chairman’s Holiday Tour, where Williams saw a group of soldiers waving at him from behind a fence across a grassy berm. A wave and a loud joke across the field would’ve surely made those soldiers day… But according to USO VP of Entertainment Rachel Tischler, “… he jumped across the berm and went running over to them. Obviously, our security team completely freaked out. Again – height of the war here. But he didn’t care. He just wanted to go over and shake their hands and thank them. And that is what he was like.”

That’s the thing with Williams. He didn’t just go overseas and perform a couple of comedy sets and dip out. That, in and of itself, would still be a beautiful act of service. But that wasn’t enough for Williams. He jumped the berm in everything he did.

“What was great about him on tour was that he always took the time to sit down and talk to people about what they were going through, what life on the base was like, about personal experiences,” Tischler said. “And then he’d get on stage and he’d be telling a joke about Mexican Night in the [dining facility].”

Robin Williams as troops “Retreat” at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

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Williams wasn’t just a loose cannon of human decency on USO Tours, either. He was also a respectful observer of military tacit codes. Just watch this video of Williams’s set being cut short by Taps at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

At the first sound of the beagle, you can almost feel his gut lurching to make a joke. Every single time that Williams had gone on stage, he was a comedic amoeba, calling out things happening in the present moment. He had conditioned himself to make a joke there. But he resisted. He pulled against his greater impulses, and respectfully lowered his head.

You can tell it meant something to him, as he said “I’m never going to forget that.” And what happened next is quintessential Robin Williams— he made a joke about the present moment that unified the entire camp.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

Holiday Tour, International Airport in Baghdad (2003)

(Mike Theiler. EPA.)

Unity is the central theme of Robin Williams USO tours, and that’s the legacy left behind. Every man and woman stationed who got to see him took a piece of Williams back with them. Williams loved it too, “There’s nothing I enjoy more than traveling with the USO and giving back to our troops in whatever way I can,” he said, “They work hard, sacrifice a lot and deserve to be treated like the heroes they are. The very least I can do is bring a smile to their faces.”

Many comedians have followed in his footsteps of unity since: Lewis Black, Louis CK, Ralphie May, and Stephen Colbert, just to name a few. As our country feels increasingly disjointed, it’s important to focus on the “Robin Williams” moments; we can reach across the aisle and truly connect with each other.

Whenever we feel distant from each other, we don’t have to shout from behind a fence. We can jump the berm.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the upgrade M2 Browning fans have been waiting for

The M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun — fondly referred to as “Ma Deuce” — is rightly seen as a legend, with over 80 years of service to the troops. This machine gun has outlasted attempts to replace it, including the XM312 in recent years. But if there is one complaint about it – yes, even legendary guns draw complaints – it’s that it’s too heavy and it only shoots about 635 rounds per minute.


Well, there’s not been much progress on the former. The M2 comes in at about 84 pounds, per GlobalSecurity.orgThe GAU-19 did a good job addressing the “slow” rate of fire, but it packed on 22 pounds. So, that and the GAU-19’s need for electricity rules it out as an option for grunts. But they still want to send more lead downrange.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
The GAU-21, also known as the M3M, can fire 1,100 rounds a minute. (Photo from FN America)

Thankfully, there is an answer: the GAU-21, also known as Fabrique Nationale’s M3M machine gun. This is a modified version of Ma Deuce that, according to a handout available at the Association of the United States Army’s expo in Washington, D.C., is able to fire up to 1,100 rounds a minute. Not quite the 1,300 of the GAU-19, but still very impressive.

The real nice thing is that the M3M does this and comes in at just under 80 pounds. That’s a four-pound drop from the baseline M2. Now, the 26-pound difference may not seem like much, but that’s 26 pounds that a grunt doesn’t have to carry, leaving them more space for ammo, rations, or extra first-aid supplies.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
A flight of F-86 Sabres over Korea led by Benjamin O. Davis. Their battery consisted of six M3M machine guns, known today as the GAU-21. (USAF photo)

The M3M can be used on aircraft (one notable user was the F-86 Sabre), land vehicles (often mounted on the same pintles as Ma Deuce), and on naval vessels. It was the secondary armament of the M1097 Avenger, and also was used on OH-58 helicopters. In short, this gun provides a lot of firepower without the weight.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

“1917” and “The Last Full Measure” will soon be coming to a theater near you. These military movies have been carefully crafted to capture an authentic look at life in the military. Fortunately, many military films and TV shows have been carefully crafted with the help of veterans like Dale Dye, Travis Wade, Jennifer Marshall, and Hiram Murray. They came on Borne the Battle to discuss the business of making military films in the current Marvel and Call of Duty era.


THE LAST FULL MEASURE Official Trailer (2020) Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson Drama Movie HD

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According to the panel, Hollywood often looks to veterans for military advising, but only recently has it begun to see the benefits of casting veterans as actors. The panel discusses professionally balancing the two roles on set.

Additionally, the panel talks how difficult it is to make military films. From getting the right actors at the right time to placating Hollywood execs. In the panel, Dye mentions why it is worth it to “herd cats” on set.

No Better Place To Die

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Finally, the panel lays bare that these films need the support of veterans. In the current superhero climate, veteran support of military films and TV series are what show Hollywood that these types of films have a large audience that wants to see these stories.

Tango Down OFFICIAL TRAILER #1

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This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Israel strikes Syria as Trump pulls out of Iran deal

Syrian state media is blaming explosions hitting the capital city of Damascus on Israeli missile strikes as the Israel Defense Forces sound the alarm in the northern part of the country — the part that borders Syria and Lebanon.


SANA, Syria’s government mouthpiece, says the strikes hit Syrian government forces in Kisweh, a city to the south of Damascus. The attack came just an hour after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the end of American participation in the Iranian nuclear deal. SANA also reports the Syrian military was able to shoot two more incoming missiles down.

Israeli officials said the attack came after detecting “abnormal movements of Iranian forces in Syria.” Israel never confirms or denies reports of its strikes on targets in Syria, which it has done numerous times since December of 2017.

The Iranian government has vowed to retaliate.

The Times of Israel reported a statement from Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who said the target of the strike was an arms and ammunition depot for Iranian-backed militias, namely Hezbollah. Kisweh was also the site of a permanent Iranian base, struck by Israel in the December 2, 2017, attack.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
A satellite image showing the results of an alleged Israeli airstrike on a reported Iranian base being set up outside Damascus, from November 16, 2017 and December 4, 2017.
(ImageSat International ISI)

The base is just 31 miles from the Israeli border. On Sunday, Iranian Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said Iran would retaliate for the December strikes and any new strikes when deemed suitable.

“If the enemy casts a covetous eye on our interests or conducts [even] a slight act of aggression, the Islamic Republic will give an appropriate response at an appropriate time,” Bagheri said according to Press TV, media associated with the Iranian regime.

In a statement, Trump cited the reason for pulling out of the Iranian nuclear agreement — signed in 2015 — was Iranian influence in the region, calling the regime an exporter of terrorism. The BBC reports the President calling the deal “decaying and rotten… an embarrassment.”

As for restarting production on enriching uranium, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said he would consult with other signatories to the deal, including France and Germany who vowed to remain committed to the agreement, before moving forward. In the meantime, he ordered preparations to begin.

“I have ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to be ready to start the enrichment of uranium at industrial levels,” he said in response to the American withdrawal.

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.


Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

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.

MIGHTY TRENDING

NASA renamed facility after brilliant ‘Hidden Figure’ Katherine Johnson

NASA has redesignated its Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in honor of the West Virginia native and NASA “hidden figure.”

“I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “It’s a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor.”


President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2018 an act of Congress calling for the redesignation. The facility’s program contributes to the safety and success of NASA’s highest-profile missions by assuring that mission software performs correctly. IVV now is in the process of planning a rededication ceremony.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

NASA’s Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia.

“It’s an honor the NASA IVV Program’s primary facility now carries Katherine Johnson’s name,” said NASA IVV Program Director Gregory Blaney. “It’s a way for us to recognize Katherine’s career and contributions not just during Black History Month, but every day, every year.”

Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in 1918, Johnson’s intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers led her to a distinguished career — spanning more than three decades — with NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Among her professional accomplishments, Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission in 1961. The following year, Johnson performed the work for which she would become best known when she was asked to verify the results made by electronic computers to calculate the orbit for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission. She went on to provide calculations for NASA throughout her career, including for several Apollo missions.

At a time when racial segregation was prevalent throughout the southern United States, Johnson and fellow African American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — who was later promoted to engineer — broke through racial barriers to achieve success in their careers at NASA and helped pave the way for the diversity that currently extends across all levels of agency’s workforce and leadership. Their story became the basis of the 2017 film “Hidden Figures,” based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and, in 2017, NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, dedicated the new Katherine Johnson Computational Research Facility in her honor. Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday on Aug. 26, 2018.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

Former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson is seen after President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.


Since its inception more than 25 years ago, NASA’s IVV Program has performed work on approximately 100 missions and projects, including: the Space Shuttle Program, Hubble Space Telescope, Cassini, Mars Science Laboratory, Magnetosphere MultiScale, Global Precipitation Measurement and, most recently, the InSight Mars Lander. The IVV Program currently is providing services to 12 upcoming NASA missions, including the James Webb Space Telescope, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and the Space Launch System. It also provides general software safety and mission assurance services, including support for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

For information about the Katherine Johnson IVV Facility, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/ivv

For more information about Katherine Johnson, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography

popular

How adrenaline gives you strength during combat

We’ve all read stories online about its potency and we’ve seen the Hollywood renditions of scientists synthesizing it to great effect. In the stories and movies, people experience unbelievable spurts of strength during crazy times because of this epic excretion. We’re talking about adrenaline.


During exposure to extreme pressure, the human body can produce the valuable hormone, also called “epinephrine,” via the adrenal glands. which are located above the kidneys.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

These bouts of hysterical strength all start when your body initiates robust activity. The glands release adrenaline into the bloodstream, causing muscles to surge with oxygen. This massive influx of oxygen sparks the human body with incredible energy and near super-human endurance.

This strength has been known to enable humans to lift several hundred pounds at a moment’s notice. After oxygen-enriched blood fills the flexing muscles, the blood must return to the lungs to become re-oxygenated — which causes us to breathe faster.

Although we have this stored energy just waiting to escape, our bodies protect us from using it until an extreme event presents itself. This way, we avoid tearing muscle fibers and sustaining other physical injuries caused by intense physicality.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
Lance Cpl. Alex Rowan, a combat engineer with 4th Marine Division, runs to take cover before the Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System detonates during the SAPPER Leaders Course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Krista James)

Now, during these massive rushes of adrenaline, the release of endorphins desensitizes our pain receptors. This makes sense of all those stories we’ve heard about soldiers who have been shot and don’t recognize the initial threat.

The University of Tokyo studied the effects of how strong one person could become as the adrenaline secretions pump through their veins. As a grip strength test began, university scientists fired a pistol in the sky. After the sound echoed, the strength of people being tested increased by roughly 10 percent — that’s a lot of strength gained in a short time.

It’s not comic-book-superhuman strong, but it’s pretty amazing.

Check out Buzz Feed Blue‘s video below to get a complete scientific breakdown and in-depth look at how adrenaline makes us stronger.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Marines offer former pilots up to $100K to come back to active duty

Attention Marine aviators: The Marine Corps needs you to return to active duty.

That’s the call the Marine Corps issued this week in its quest to get its former pilots to come back into the fold. The service is sweetening the deal by making selectees immediately eligible for bonuses of up to $100,000.


“The Marine Corps, like all services, has been challenged in the recent past with shortages in pilot inventory,” Capt. Joe Butterfield, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon, said. “… We designed the aviation bonus and Return to Active Duty opportunities to offset the deficits we have at the junior officer grades.”

Captains or majors who flew or commanded six Marine aircraft are eligible to return to active service, according to a service-wide message announcing the new policy. Aircraft include the AV-8B Harrier; F-35B Joint Strike Fighter; F/A-18 Hornet; MV-22 Osprey; KC-130 Hercules; and CH-53K King Stallion.

The Marine Corps wants the pilots to sign two-, three- or four-year contracts to return to active duty. Those selected will be automatically career-designated if they weren’t prior to leaving the service, and those willing to stay in longer could be given preference.

Return to Active Duty submissions are due by Nov. 6. Officers in the Selected Marine Corps Reserve, Individual Ready Reserve, and Individual Mobilization Augmentee Detachments could all be eligible. Aviators who had left the service completely could also qualify once they affiliate with a Reserve component, the administrative message states.

The service’s pilot crunch is largely due to challenges with producing new aviators while the Marine Corps is transitioning to new platforms, Butterfield said. The service is in the process of upgrading several of its aircraft as it transitions squadrons to the F-35 or CH-53K.

Going back on active duty could make pilots eligible for the Marine Corps Aviation Bonus Program for fiscal year 2021, which starts on Oct. 1. That bonus program, announced earlier this month, offers aviators in certain grades and communities expected to face personnel shortfalls up to 0,000 for another six years of service.

Since the Marine Corps wants former captains and majors to come back and fly for between two and four years, bonuses for those coming back in under those timelines would top out at 0,000.

The military has been struggling to retain pilots who’ve been able to pick up bonus options to go to commercial airliners in recent years. But the coronavirus pandemic has left some airlines struggling as travel declined, raising the possibility that military pilot retention will improve in coming years.

The Marine Corps has semi-annual Return to Active Duty boards, and since the start of the pandemic, Butterfield said the service has seen more applicants.

“We are aware of the pressures that come with current airline furloughs, and are offering this interim board with decreased obligations (24, 36, and 48-month) compared to previous RAD boards [with] 48-month obligations,” he said.

The Marine Corps didn’t answer questions about which of its platforms face the greatest shortages. The service has identified operational tempo and airline hiring as just two challenges the Marine Corps faces in keeping its pilots.

“This interim board gives the opportunity for those no longer on active duty to fly with the Marine Corps again and continue their service to the nation,” Butterfield said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Reports say President will withdraw all forces from Syria

Reporting from CNN and The Wall Street Journal indicates that President Donald J. Trump has ordered a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, and U.S. officials are already giving notice to international partners while preparing the logistics of the move.


The reporting came at the same time that the president took to Twitter to say, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement:

Five years ago, ISIS was a very powerful and dangerous force in the Middle East, and now the United States has defeated the territorial caliphate. These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign. The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders.”

U.S. troops have been in Syria for years, mostly operating next to rebel forces and Kurdish units working to tear apart ISIS’s claimed caliphate and then kill what fighters they could find. At the same time, U.S-backed fighters still frequently clashed with pro-government forces.

To a certain degree, this had created a proxy conflict as the U.S. backed rebel units and the conflict and Russia and Iran backed government forces. All sides could agree that ISIS had to be destroyed, but the U.S. had a very different idea from Iran and Russia of what the post-ISIS region should look like.

At one point in February, 2018, Russian mercenaries working for a Kremlin-linked businessman even directly attacked a base filled with U.S. special operators despite repeated warnings that they would be attacked. An estimated 100 mercenaries were killed and hundreds more wounded. No U.S. casualties were reported.

Under President Barack Obama, there were indicators that the U.S. would help shape the peace, ensuring that Iran didn’t gain a strong foothold in the country and potentially limiting Russia’s control after the war. Syria is very important to Russia as it has historically provided one of the only politically secure allies that Russia has had in the region.

Russia’s largest air base and naval base in the Middle East were in Syria even before the conflict in that country broke out, and Russia sent additional forces there as it attempted to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power despite accusations of human rights abuses and clear evidence that the regime used chemical weapons against its own people.

Some entities are reporting that gunfire has erupted at pro-regime checkpoints and bases in Syria as news of the U.S. withdrawal makes its way to those troops, indicating that Syrian troops and allies are celebrating the news.

The U.S. withdrawal will allow Iran, Russia, and Turkey to more heavily influence the peace process, possibly to the detriment of Kurdish forces who had hoped to secure a permanent country in lands they helped protect and liberate from ISIS-control. Kurdish forces have a long history of allying with the U.S., taking part in operations in Iraq and Syria that were closely coordinated with U.S. leaders.

The withdrawal announcement seems to have come as a surprise, even to senior leaders in the U.S. and partnered nations. Senator Lindsey Graham pushed back, saying that ISIS is not defeated and that a withdrawal would be a “huge, Obama-like mistake.”

CNN’s Manu Raju, a senior congressional correspondent, has been making the rounds at the Capitol while tweeting quotes from different leaders. Marco Rubio gave sentiments similar to Graham’s, reportedly calling the decision a great disservice to the country, making the U.S. a less reliable partner.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of August 9th

There’s no other way to put it. This week was full of horrific events and terrible news.

Yet, in the midst of all the bad that happened this week, there were some rays of goodness. Because that’s what memes are supposed to be about – making a joke and putting a smile on someone’s face after a sh*tty day.


As the saying of the Army’s short-lived resiliency training that my chaplain really awkwardly tried to make a thing goes: Let’s hunt the good stuff.

There are many children still here today because of the quick-thinking PFC Glendon Oakley. An all-veteran A Cappella group called Voices of Service performed a breathtaking rendition of See You Again on America’s Got Talent and made it to the live rounds. Across the country, many unclaimed veterans – deceased veterans without contactable next of kin – are having their brothers and sisters-in-arms attend their funerals.

The world’s too full of fighting and bickering over mundane BS. I’ll let someone else tell you that everything is on fire, but I say we just take a breather and remember that there is still some good in the world. Anyways, here are some memes.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Uninformed Veteran)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Not CID)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme by Call for Fire)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

MIGHTY CULTURE

The top 5 scams that hurt military families

It seems so urgent. You receive a call saying your deployed or traveling military member has lost their ID, needs cash, and has asked this trustworthy person to contact you. While you may recognize this to be along the lines of the Nigerian-prince-asking-for-money email, some other scams that hurt military families may be more difficult to spot.

Military members are often young and financially inexperienced, have reliable income, and frequently move around, a combination which may make them and their families seem like easy targets to scammers, especially since it might take them some time to notice an irregularity in a bill or credit report.

Can you spot a would-be scammer? Here are a few to watch out for, as you protect your loved ones, your personal information, and your wallet.


Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Jacob Barber)

1. Scams Preying on Deployed Families

What it is: Scammers contact the spouse or parents of a deployed service member and pretend to be someone in authority, claiming the military member has been injured/lost their wallet/is held up somewhere traveling. Using the fear that families already feel about their loved one or lack of knowledge about military processes, the scammer hopes family members will give up personal information to “prove who they are” or even cash.

Why it matters/what to do: The military won’t ever contact family members via phone or email asking for personal information or money. Military members won’t need cash from their families to travel to or return from deployment. Don’t let fear compel you to share your personal information with strangers.

2. Rental Scams

What it is: You’re due to PCS in a few months and have decided to start looking at homes online. You come across what seems like the perfect house for your family–a rental decorated with that farmhouse style that would meet Joanna Gaines’ approval, with four bedrooms, amazing upgrades, new appliances, and in the school district you’ve been hoping for…all with amazingly low rent! The kicker? The landlord pushes for a security deposit or money to hold the property before you or a representative can even view the home in person, because “it’s going to go fast.” And you need to send that money, like yesterday.Hurry!” they press, “I’ve already got someone else looking at it!”

Why it matters/what to do: This sense of false urgency should be a red flag. While it could be legit, it’s possible the person listing the property simply copied it from another listing, isn’t the actual property manager, and is using the compressed military move timetable to try to make a quick, dishonest buck.

Stick with reputable sites or trusted referrals. Better yet, wait until you arrive to tour the home yourself. If that’s impossible, see if you have a friend in the area who can Facetime you while touring the home or hire a MILLIE Scout to do the legwork (the company hires military spouses just for this purpose!). Get more details about online rental scams.

3. Tickets or High-Priced Items at a “Too Good to Be True” Discount

What it is: Crooks hide behind all the goodwill and discounts offered to military by many businesses around Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Putting ads on Craiglist or other sites, sellers offer “great deals” for active duty on everything from tickets for professional sporting events to home goods. The seller, of course, requires money to be wired first to hold the item at this phenomenal price (seeing a pattern here?) and then when the item is to be picked up or transferred, disappears.

Why it matters/what to do: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Stick to well-known business and sites when you see military or veteran deals around holidays, especially for big ticket items like cars or in demand concert or event tickets.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

(Photo by Jeff Drongowski)

4. Scams Targeting Extended Family

What it is: Along the lines of the scams targeting deployed family members, this one preys on elderly relatives of service members. One scammer contacted a soldier’s 84-year-old grandmother and asked her to wire money in order to assist him, with the caller claiming that her grandson had lost his ID card on his way home from Iraq and couldn’t get home without her help. Thankfully, she realized the request was not legitimate.

Why it matters/what to do: The military doesn’t require funds from family members to transfer wounded back home (another scam) or help with getting ID cards or other belongings. There’s a system in place that would not involve contacting the member’s spouse, parents, grandparents, or anyone else for money. Educated your elderly relatives about how the military handles emergencies and advise them to call authorities if they are contacted by a scammer or suspicious person.

5. Catfishing

What it is: Recently, I noticed a Facebook friend request from a high ranking service member I’m friends with, who I know is not on social media. I let him know and quickly deleted and reported it, since the photo showed him in uniform in his official photo. His comment about the situation was sad, “It happens all the time.”

Why it matters/what to do: Scammers assume identities of military members in order to befriend, lure, or get money from strangers. With many official military photos online, this is not difficult to do. In fact, over 30,000 military consumers reported identity theft in 2017.

Help protect your identity and those of people you know. Monitor your own social media for obvious duplicate accounts and let friends know if you see a duplicate account of theirs. Use identity theft protection and credit monitoring from reputable providers such as Lifelock or Experian to get real-time notifications of data breaches.

A New Meaning to the Phrase “Trust but Verify”

A couple of good rules to follow: never send money to an unknown entity, no matter how urgently they appeal, and never share your personal information over the phone or by email, even to an “official” sounding person. Family members, double check with the military member’s unit if you receive an urgent call regarding their situation.

As long as there have been phones and the internet, there have been people bent on using it for harm. While it can seem like a losing battle, staying vigilant about your personal information and trusting your gut will go a long way towards protecting yourself. Changing passwords frequently, monitoring your accounts regularly, putting a security freeze on your credit reports to prevent unwanted access to your information, and even not listing your birthdate on social media are some simple ways to thwart the scammers. Deployed members can put an ‘active duty alert’ on their accounts, which will notify businesses to take extra steps before offering credit in their name. For more ideas to protect yourself, see Consumer Report’s “Protect Your Identity.”

If you’ve been the victim of a scam or need to report suspicious activity, get more information from:

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Phone Scam Information

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Articles

This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War

Mark Bowden is one of the greatest investigative reporters of our age.


“Black Hawk Down,” his exhaustive work on the experience of U.S. troops in Mogadishu, brought renewed attention to the oft-forgotten story. It also resulted in the film, which remains a favorite of the military-veteran community.

His most recent book, “Hué 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam,” is just as exhaustive and compelling. The book is a master work, five years in the making.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
Mark Bowden signs books while visiting the U.S. Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan)

The Battle of Hué was the longest and costliest fight of the entire Tet Offensive. On the morning of Jan. 31, 1968, a coordinated attack from 8,000 North Vietnamese Army Regulars, Viet Cong infiltrators, and Vietnamese civilians quickly captured much of the city in a single night.

American and South Vietnamese troops were woefully outnumbered in Hué. Facing the Communist forces there were the ARVN 1st Infantry Division and 200 of their American and Australian advisors at the MACV compound. By the time the sun came up that day, the Communists controlled the city south of the Huong River – except the MACV compound.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
A view from a Marine machine gun position on the outer Citadel wall of Hué City during the 1968 Tet Offensive.

The Marines from MACV would have to go on the offensive, fighting their way across the river to rescue the brilliant and highly-respected ARVN General Ngô Quang Truong and what remained of his 1st Infantry. Then they had to expel the Communists from the area.

Hué would become a case study in urban combat, the first time since the Korean War the Marines would fight in a city like that. The battle lasted almost a month, turning 40 percent of the city’s buildings to rubble and costing the lives of 380 ARVN troops, 147 Marines, 74 U.S. Army soldiers, 8,000 Communists, and more than 5,800 civilians.

It was also the turning point in American popular support for the war.

Bowden’s book covers the history of the war until that point, especially from 30,000-foot view from the White House and General William Westmoreland’s MACV Headquarters. What’s truly unique and fascinating about Bowden’s style is the personal narratives that drive the history of the story.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara was the architect of early Vietnam War strategy.

“Hué 1968” is a gripping tapestry of nonfiction storytelling, with personal stories of people on the ground woven into the history and politics of the war. The enemy is no longer a nameless, faceless mass of targets; the NVA and VC are characters in the story of the war in Vietnam, with names, families, and lives. With these stories comes the understanding of why the McNamara doctrine of “limited warfare” would never have worked against the Vietnamese.

The book gives the eyewitness account of a young Vietnamese girl who turns on the southern regime and becomes a Viet Cong operative just as much as it follows the junior enlisted Marine radio operator Jim Coolican, who was stationed at the MACV compound. Personal narratives from every side of the conflict continue like this throughout the book.

Bowden traces the details of a young VC as he traverses the Ho Chi Minh trail and moves to infiltrate the city. He even painstakingly documents the “logistics miracle” – as one U.S. Navy captain called it – of the Tet Offensive’s movement of men and weapons into South Vietnam.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
NVA and VC soldiers assault the city of Hué in South Vietnam, January 1968.

If you know the history of the Vietnam War, you know what’s coming in the Tet Offensive and it keeps you turning pages. No matter how familiar you are, you get to see the war from all sides – the NVA, the VC, ARVN leadership, American troops, American leadership, even Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap’s points of view are covered in remarkable detail.

The fall of Hué was the most successful attack of the entire Tet Offensive and even then the city was retaken by Feb. 24. Both sides bought into their own propaganda. The Communists believed that the South was ready to rise against the despotic Thieu regime and expel the Americans — they just needed a hand to get started.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
Viet Cong forces climb on an abandoned U.S.-built Marine Armored Vehicle during the Battle of Hué.

The north came to depend on that uprising for the long-term success of the Offensive. The Americans and South Vietnamese were caught off guard because they thought the enemy was weak and could not launch an attack on that scale, let alone capture a city like Hué.

Until the Tet Offensive, a majority of Americans believed the war was going well and believed government officials who used statistics and body counts to insist that American involvement could soon come to an end. Body counts weren’t the metric used by the Communists. For the north, their success was defined by killing or wounding as many Americans as possible, destroying the ARVN, and inciting a popular uprising in the South.

Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams
Marines hold a Viet Cong flag they ripped down from the provincial headquarters in Hué.

The United States claimed a military victory in Hué but Hanoi would never be intimidated by a limited war. The prolonged violence and media bias against the war after the Tet Offensive eroded public support for it as well.

The U.S. began a strategic withdrawal from Vietnam the next year and left completely in 1973. South Vietnam fell to the Communists just two years later. Hué was just the beginning of the end.

Mark Bowden is an award-winning author and correspondent for The Atlantic. He is also a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. Filmmakers Michael Mann and Michael De Luca (who produced the 1995 heist movie “Heat”) purchased the rights to “Hué 1968” and plan to turn the book into a miniseries.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Green Berets are using flamethrowers to help with NFL team building this season

“Peak performance” is a term thrown around every locker room in the NFL, but achieving true excellence in any sport is a process based on a variety of factors — both physical and mental. As a result, players and coaches often debate whether an extra workout or strict adherence to a specific diet is the most important variable in achieving results on the field.

In short, achieving peak performance among a team of athletes is incredibly challenging. This year, some NFL teams are giving consideration to a new variable: trust, and they’ve turned to an unlikely ally for help — the Green Berets.
Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

Captain Jason Van Camp (left) as a Green Beret in Iraq

U.S. Army Green Berets are some of the military’s most elite soldiers and their mission is almost always impossible. Tasked with infiltrating deep behind enemy lines, Green Berets link up with local forces and train them for battle. Instead of kicking down doors, they train indigenous forces to kick the doors down for them. They can always expect to be faced with limited resources and, even worse, limited time, but Green Berets have a special skill that’s fostered from the very first day of their training: They focus on people first and live by a principle that “humans are more important than hardware.”

This strict belief in a humans-first mentality is why some NFL Coaches are turning to former Green Beret Jason Van Camp and his team of Special Operations veterans from Mission 6 Zero, a management consulting company that combines Special Forces with Science. Over the past seven years, Jason and his Mission 6 Zero team has worked with NFL and MLB teams to improve their performance both on and off the field by focusing on trust as the foundation of team building. This is a mission that Jason and his team know very well. They’ve helped foreign allies around the world achieve peak performance in some of the most austere environments. Now, instead of working deep behind enemy lines, these Green Berets are embedded in locker rooms across the league, training players, coaches, and front office personnel.

In the process of driving Mission 6 Zero to an elite level, Jason and his team decided to create Warrior Rising, a non-profit organization that helps veterans start or accelerate their own businesses. The Minnesota Vikings (one of the NFL teams that Mission 6 Zero advises) offered to sponsor a fundraising event in Minnesota to support Warrior Rising’s vetrepreneurs. The fundraising event was attended by Vikings players and coaches and intended to be a team bonding experience focused on trust.

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful team, but there are thousands of factors that can degrade trust within organizations, including fear, communication problems, family issues, values conflicts, and more. The veterans with Warrior Rising know that a lack of trust is what can lead a convoy into an ambush — or a turnover in the Redzone — but before Jason, a former West Point football player himself, and his team can help the NFL, they start their work by listening.

This tactic is essential, especially in today’s NFL where any action, from an off-handed comment in the locker room to an overt gesture like kneeling, can have an impact that extends far beyond the playing field. Jason explained his approach to We Are The Mighty,

“Working with an NFL team is very similar to being a Green Beret in Iraq or Afghanistan – you must master the art of communication in order to succeed. Proper communication leads to trust. Trust is an amazing weapon, but before you step out into battle, you need to understand the barriers that are keeping your teammates from trusting each other.”
Once the Green Berets have an understanding of the issues facing the team, that’s when they develop a full training plan to turn up the heat — literally — by using flamethrowers. Yeah, you read that right: flamethrowers, because there’s nothing quite like using pressurized-fuel weapons to build trust among teammates.
Looking back on the USO tour legacy of Robin Williams

Jason briefs the Minnesota Vikings on there next training exercise.

Jason and the Green Berets’ logic is simple – get comfortable being uncomfortable. A little shared danger, adrenaline, and communication about team issues can help burn down (sorry) the obstacles between peak performance. Jason believes that,

“Having a talented roster alone does not make you a great coach. Great coaches create an environment that allows their players’ talents to flourish.”

In preparation for the 2018 Season, Jason and his team have used their unique approach to team-building with the Minnesota Vikings. As the season starts, we’re all excited to watch how the Green Berets’ trust training will translate into touchdowns.

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