MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

With the long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel now delayed until the world is finished contending with the coronavirus, we’re left with no alternative but to revisit the 1986 classic for the millionth time, and as may come as no surprise to you, it still holds up. The story of Pete “Maverick” Mitchel has all the hallmarks of a modern blockbuster: fantastic action sequences, cheesy moments that make you smile despite yourself, and of course, topless volleyball.

There are, however, a few burning questions that set in as you watch Tom Cruise’s Maverick demonstrate very clearly that he should be immediately pulled from flight duty for the umpteenth time. The first is… Just who exactly are they fighting? The movie never clearly indicates whether the enemy fighters are Russian, Chinese, North Korean, or otherwise. As Brad Howard at Task & Purpose points out, even the red star on the tail of the enemy fighters doesn’t quite match any national Air Force… but it does match the color scheme utilized by the VFC-13 Aggressor Squadron. In other words, the terrifying enemy fighters may have been rocking aggressor colors because that’s exactly the role they fill in real life, just as they do in the movies.

With that mystery effectively solved, the next one to creep into your mind is… Wait a minute, are MiG-28s real?

When I was a kid, I knew the names of a handful of fighter jets, but practically nothing of the Mikoyan MiG production line. At the time, those little black MiG-28s just looked more acrobatic than the larger F-14 Tomcat, really emphasizing the idea in my mind that American pilots needed to be better than the competition in order to come out on top. It didn’t occur to me that Paramount Pictures probably didn’t get the Kremlin’s permission to borrow a few of their intercept fighters for what could arguably be called an American propaganda film.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
MiG-28s (Paramount Pictures)

The truth is, the MiG-28 that Maverick and Goose can’t tell you about (it’s classified) is not a real aircraft at all… it was made up specifically for the purposes of the movie.

Okay, so that’s not technically true: The aircraft you see depicted at the MiG-28 in “Top Gun” is a real aircraft, it’s just not a MiG. Heck, it’s not even Russian. It’s actually another fighter in the U.S. arsenal called the Northrop F-5 Tiger II.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Northrop F-5E Tiger II (WikiMedia Commons)
MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Deadly MiG-28s from “Top Gun”

The MiG-28 is supposed to be a twin-engine fighter that’s slightly slower than the F-14 Tomcat but considered to be far more maneuverable. In that regard, these fake MiGs are probably intended to stand in for the very real and similarly twin-engine Soviet MiG-29, which is indeed a bit slower than the F-14, but boasts a better thrust-to-weight ratio and is seen as more acrobatic. In video games based on the movie, the fictional MiG-28 is actually replaced by the real Mig-29, seemingly confirming its role as a stand in for the real jet.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Slovak Air Force MiG-29 (WikiMedia Commons)

On-screen, the small Northrop F-5 just looks more nimble than the larger F-14s, and with good reason. The F-5 measures up at just over 48 feet long, eight feet shorter than a real MiG-29, and more than 14 feet shorter than the F-14 Tomcat. Wingspan tells a similar story, with the F-5 (MiG-28) coming in at just under 27 feet, the MiG-29 at more than 37 feet, and the swing-wing F-14 measuring more than 64 feet. The decision to use the F-5 as a stand-in as the fictional MiG-28 definitely does the premise justice, making the MiG-28 and F-14 feel like two fighters with very different strengths on screen.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
“MiG-28” (Paramount Pictures)

The F-5 may fit the aesthetic bill of a smaller and more maneuverable fighter, but when compared to its real-life counterpart in the MiG-29, the F-5 doesn’t quite keep pace. The MiG-29’s top speed is Mach 2.5, whereas the designer imposter F-5 can only reach a still respectable Mach 1.63. The Mi-29 can also cover far more ground, with a range of 890 miles compared to the F-5’s 554.

In terms of armament, the real MiG-29 isn’t that far off from its fictional cousin. The F-5 boasts the same number of hardpoints (seven) and carries, among other weapons, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile for air-to-air engagements. According to the movie, the MiG-28 carries Vympel K-13 (NATO reporting name “AA-2 Atoll”) missiles, which are real Soviet missiles developed by reverse-engineering the America’s Sidewinder. Instead of a single 30mm cannon, however, the F-5/MiG-28 utilizes two 20mm M39A2 Revolver cannons.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

It wasn’t just filmmakers who saw the Northrop F-5 as a worthy stand-in for Soviet aircraft. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, F-5s served in multiple aggressor squadrons, including the 64th and 65th aggressor squadrons out of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Although, it’s worth noting that the F-5 was chosen not because of its similarities to the MiG-29, but rather because it was seen as a suitable stand-in for the older MiG-21. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps also both operated the F-5 at one point or another.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

The Count of Monte Cristo reboot: Featuring SF Soldiers in Afghanistan?

Okay, if that headline has you scratching your head, know that you’re not alone. When we first heard about this reboot, that’s exactly what we did too … until we unpacked it a little and decided that maybe, there might be something to this.

According to reports, Bear Grylls’ production company, The Natural Studios, is in talks with producers Ben Grass and Christophe Charlier to remake the classic novel.

Yeah, we’re talking about that Bear Grylls – former British soldier turned survivalist and television personality.


And yep, we’re talking about that classic novel written by Alexander Dumas and published in installments from 1844-1846.

If you’re not seeing the connection between SF soldiers, Afghanistan and the Count, don’t worry, you’re not alone. But if you put all the pieces together, it actually makes sense.

You might recall that Dumas’ book is all about revenge, but in case you skipped that week in high school English class, here’s a quick refresher. The book coincides with some important historical moments – the Hundred Days period when Napoleon returned to power after exile being one of them. Thematically, the Count of Monte Cristo is all about hope, justice, vengeance, forgiveness and mercy. It centers on a man who’s been wrongfully imprisoned, manages to escape from jail and amass a fortune, all with the plan of getting revenge on those who did him dirty.

Now we’re not quite sure what Grylls is planning to do to make this work for two SF soldiers, but we can definitely see how the premise lends itself well to a remake. What we do know is that the script focuses on the blossoming friendship and eventual rivalry between two SF soldiers who deployed together in Afghanistan.

One of the many challenges Grylls and his team will have to address is the sheer length of the book and how to best adapt that to the screen. Tom Williams will be writing the script, and while he’s no stranger to other military-themed productions, this is a huge undertaking, and not just because of the size of the novel.

The complexity (and some argue, the genius) of The Count of Monte Cristo is due in part to the slow burn of the novel. It develops and builds, and the pacing is slow, to the novel’s advantage — it helps us understand the main character and his motivations, and makes his revenge that much sweeter. But adapting that to film and too short attention spans might be challenging. One solution could be to cut some of the original version’s tangential plotlines, but Williams might find that leads to serious plot holes.

And in a three-act film, how much friendship can we genuinely develop between these two SF soldiers? That’s a serious point of contention and something that Williams and his team are going to have to explore closely. Speaking of characters, the original version features many characters – in part because Edmond Dantes has so many aliases and so many alternate lives. It will be interesting to see how this is approached in the film since it’s less than likely that SF soldiers have alternate identities. Equally interesting will see how the remake explores Dantes’ allies, the Danglars family, and the Villefort family – or if the team will simply omit these large family structures.

But, we’re sure Williams is up to the challenge, considering his script skills on display in Kilo Two Bravo. After all, that unflinching portrayal of a British unit’s deployment is what some argue to be one of the most authentic representations of deployment in the current film era.

Of course, Grylls isn’t the first to remake Dumas’ classic literary masterpiece. reinterpretations of the book have found their way to the screen for over 100 years. But, it’s been a few decades since we’ve seen a remake. The most recent film reboot is from 2002, directed by Kevin Reynolds, starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce.

Either way, we’re looking forward to actor selection for this film and seeing it enter the production phase.

Articles

Watch these chefs try to turn Army food into gourmet cuisine

The standard U.S. Armed Forces field ration is, above all other considerations, designed to make you emotional.


Sure, an MRE needs to be nutritious. Obviously, it also needs to be lightweight, packable, durable, quick, and easy to prepare. It’s got to have a long shelf life because who knows when it’ll be called up for active duty. And at the end of the day — and not just because it’s the end of the day — the damn thing ought to taste good.

After years of research and development, laboratory refinement, and testing in the field, the military has the MRE dialed to within an inch of its life. Private, does your dinner have “Vegetable Rotini” stamped on its olive drab shrink wrap? Yes? Then, by God, you can trust that when you just add water, the thing you find rehydrated on the end of your spork will resemble a rotini (Vegetable Class) to the highest degree achievable by military science.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Our host finds his feelings at the bottom of the feed bag. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl trusted in the prowess of the military’s culinary industrial complex. After all, he named his show after its signature offering.

When he visited the labs and testing facilities of the United States Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA, he was excited to spend some quality time covering familiar territory. What he didn’t count on was the depth of the emotional response that many of his interview subjects had to meals they’d eaten as soldiers in the field. And it turns out, that response is no accident.

We want it to be a quality meal that we provide to them. We don’t know if that’s going to be their last meal.

 –Stephen Moody, Director, Combat Feeding Directive

Watch host August Dannehl and fellow veteran Mike Williams, currently the Executive Chef of West Hollywood restaurant Norah, transform the military’s utilitarian ration MRE into a mouthwatering “Jambalaya Risotto with Duo of Duck.” 

Meals Ready to Eat can be seen on KCET in Southern California, on Link TV Nationwide (DirecTV 375 and DISH Network 9410), and online at KCET.org.

MIGHTY MOVIES

If only every vet could get a ‘Queer Eye’ episode

I wish every veteran could get a makeover from the Queer Eye Fab Five — and before you reach for your beers and bullets, hear me out: the military teaches us to suck it up and prepares us for the worst conditions on earth…and that gruffness becomes the standard of living even after we get out.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Not for us. Not for our families.

Just ask Brandonn Mixon, U.S. Army veteran and co-founder of Veterans Community Project, an organization that provides housing and walk-in services for service members in order to end veteran homelessness. Mixon literally builds houses for homeless vets.

The Queer Eye team decided to return the favor, helping Mixon finish his own home, upgrade his professional look, and learn to process his service-connected Traumatic Brain Injury. In spite of all the good Mixon does for his brothers and sisters in arms, Mixon confided to Karamo Brown that he feels like he’s failing in life.

“Who told you that you’re failing?” Brown pressed.

“I did.”

He’s not the only vet who feels this way.


Humor

7 life lessons we learned from ‘In The Army Now’

“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask,” and “The Santa Clause” were just a few of the hilarious movies that rocked theaters back in 1994.


But for veterans, one comedy stands out from the rest: “In The Army Now” starring former MTV Veejay Pauly Shore. It’s not known for being the most authentic military film ever, but it’s pretty freaking funny.

Shore, who plays “Bones,” is a complete slacker/electronics salesman who gets fired from his job and joins the Army reserves with his buddy specializing in water purification.

After doing sh*t ton of push ups in boot camp for being a goofball, the Glendale reservist gets called to action as a conflict breaks out in the African nation of Chad.

Related: 5 nuggets of wisdom in ‘Three Kings’ you may have missed

Peel back the layers and check out a few life lessons from the film that may reshape how you see this cult classic.

1. How to keep your retail job when the boss wants to fire you

Step 1: Humorously tell your boss why you can’t get fired.

He’s a crazy boy. (Images via Giphy)Step 2: Have one of your closest friends page you by name over the intercom system strictly for customer service reasons.
“Bones to the service floor. Bones to the service floor.” (Images via Giphy)Step 3: Sell an expensive product right in front of your boss.
Sell that sh*t. (Images via Giphy)Just don’t get busted like our friend Bones here.
Busted. (Images via Giphy)

2. Everything sounds great in the beginning

Joining the military is a life changing event. You should take more than just a few minutes to decide on the huge commitment. Have a buddy go with you to the recruiter’s office to play devil’s advocate on your behalf.

Wait! Think this through now.  (Images via Giphy)

3. Embrace the new military you

Those who are blind heading into boot camp will be issued a pair BCGs. Let’s face it, you’re not going to get a date for Saturday night wearing them, but having a strong personality behind those thick frame glasses couldn’t hurt — you’ll stand out more.

Fashionable. (Images via Giphy)

4. Finish the fights you start

Don’t even think about dropping your guard or risk getting the sh*t kicked out of you.

He dropped his guard. (Images via Giphy)

5. Don’t piss off your fellow troops

They just may kidnap you, tie you up and put you on display.

You know that had to hurt. (Images via Giphy)

6. Mind over matter

Things always seem to appear worse than they are at times. Especially when someone thinks there’s a scorpion on their back. That’s just crazy talk.

Calm down. (Images via Giphy)There really was a scorpion on his back. Oops!
Oh, sh*t!  (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 7 life lessons we learned from Gunny Highway in ‘Heartbreak Ridge’

7. Even the biggest slacker can become a hero

You can go from having an underappreciated job to winning a battle sooner than you think.

Bones saves the day. (Images via Giphy)What an amazing character arch.

Articles

Here are the names of the 3 Marines killed in Osprey crash off the Australian coast

The three US Marines who were killed in an Osprey crash off the coast of Australia on the evening of August 5 have been identified.


First Lt. Benjamin R. Cross, 26, of Maine; Cpl. Nathaniel F. Ordway, 21, of Kansas; and Pfc. Ruben P. Velasco, 19, of Los Angeles were killed after the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft in which they were riding crashed, according to a Marine Corps press statement.

The Osprey was trying to land on the USS Green Bay about 18 miles off the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, in Queensland, Australia, when it crashed, the Marine Corps and CBS said. The 23 other Marines on board the aircraft were saved.

The US Navy and Marine Corps, with help from the Australian Defense Force, unsuccessfully searched for the three Marines until 3 am on the morning of August 6, the Marine Corps said.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Army Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.

Cross had been awarded with National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He was described by his brother as having “the highest moral character — just the most caring, compassionate, empathetic individual I’ve ever met. He would do anything for anybody that needed it, so selfless, devoted to his family, and devoted to his duty in the Marine Corps, ” according to the Oxford Hills Sun Journal.

Velasco had been awarded with the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and was said to have loved his family, girlfriend, and being a Marine, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Orday had also been decorated with National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, as well as the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Osprey formation during a recent test flight. Photo courtesy of USAF.

“The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family. To the families of the brave Marines we lost – there is no way for us to understand what you are going through,” Col. Tye R. Wallace said in the press statement.

“What we do know is that your Marines left a lasting impression on the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps, and the world. They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts. You will always be a part of the Marine Corps family, and you will remain in our prayers.”

Articles

The creators of ‘Taken’ send Navy SEALs on a treasure hunt in ‘Renegades’

When some renegade Navy SEALs discover the whereabouts of a treasure buried under 150 feet of water at the bottom of the Bosnian lake, they set out on a secret unauthorized mission to retrieve more than 300 million dollars of Nazi-stolen gold bars.


This action-adventure stars Sullivan Stapleton (300: Rise of an Empire), J.K. Simmons (Patriots Day), and plenty of hand-to-hand — and air-to-ground — combat. With the essence of 3 Kings, Renegades is a treasure hunt that takes you deep behind enemy lines.

Check out the trailer below with plenty of tank-on-tank contact — and watch out for headhunters.

Renegades dives into theaters Sept. 1, 2017.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The 9 most essential World War II books

From action-packed eyewitness accounts such as Guadalcanal Diary to devastating Holocaust memoirs like The Diary of Anne Frank and Night to the thrilling espionage tale of Operation Mincemeat, World War II is the subject of some of the most fascinating and influential nonfiction books ever written. Every year, seemingly dozens of new titles emerge to offer fresh perspectives and uncover fascinating details about the deadliest conflict in human history. These nine classics cover the war from the Eastern Front to the South Pacific and investigate its murky origins and complex legacies. Make your next great read one of these essential World War II books.


1. Hiroshima

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Vintage; Reprint edition

By John Hersey

Originally published in the August 31, 1946 issue of The New Yorker, this compassionate and richly observed portrait of six survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima caused an immediate sensation. It was the first–and only–time the magazine had devoted an entire issue to a single article. Newsstands sold out within hours, and radio stations interrupted their regular programming to broadcast readings of the complete text.

More than a year after the Japanese city was destroyed, Americans were getting the first full account of the horrors of nuclear warfare. Hersey described stone facades permanently etched with the silhouettes of vaporized people and soldiers whose eyes were melted by the atomic flash. Widely recognized as one of the earliest examples of New Journalism (the style of reporting made most famous by Joan Didion), Hiroshima profoundly impacted the debate over nuclear weapons and played a key role in the healing process between America and Japan.

2. With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Presidio Press

By E.B. Sledge

With brutal honesty and lucid prose, Eugene Bondurant Sledge provides a grunt’s-eye view of infantry combat in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Nicknamed “Sledgehammer” by his comrades, Sledge fought with the 1st Marine Division in the grueling battles of Peleliu and Okinawa. Using notes he secretly kept in a pocket-sized New Testament, Sledge describes the terror of life on the front lines and documents acts of savagery committed by both sides. But he also admires the courage of his fellow soldiers and pauses, when he can, to observe his natural surroundings–an interest that would lead to a later career as a biology professor. With the Old Breed was one of the main sources for Ken Burns’s documentary The War and helped to form the basis for the HBO mini-series The Pacific.

3. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
RosettaBooks

By William Shirer

First published in 1960, this National Book Award winner and New York Times bestseller traces the rise and fall of Nazi Germany from Adolf Hitler’s birth in 1889 to the end of World War II in 1945. As a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and one of “Murrow’s Boys” at the CBS Radio Network, Shirer reported from Berlin and Vienna in the years before the war and followed the German Army during the invasion of France.

After the war, he drew on his own experiences and a wealth of newly available documents, including the diaries of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and General Franz Halder and testimony from the Nuremberg trials, to write this 1,250-page volume. The book was a huge commercial success, selling one million hardcover copies and going through twenty printings in its first year. Although its scholarly reputation is often debated, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich remains one of the most influential tomes about World War II to this day.

4. Maus

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

By Art Spiegelman

This Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel recasts the Holocaust with Nazis as cats, Jews as mice, and Poles as pigs. Originally serialized in the alternative comics magazine Raw, the story moves back and forth between present-day Rego Park, New York and Nazi-occupied Poland. In New York, cartoonist Art Spiegelman tries to mend his fractured relationship with his father, Vladek, by drawing a book-length comic based on Vladek’s wartime experiences. In Poland, Vladek and his wife, Anja, endure forced relocation to the Sosnowiec Ghetto; the death of their first son, Richieu; and imprisonment in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Hailed by The Wall Street Journal as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust,” Maus elevated the critical reputation of comics and inspired countless artists, including Chris Ware, Alison Bechdel, and Marjane Satrapi.

5. The Longest Day

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Simon & Schuster

By Cornelius Ryan

Based on interviews with more than 1,100 D-Day survivors, The Longest Day is the definitive account of the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Ryan experienced the battle firsthand as a 24-year-old reporter for the Daily Telegraph. When the bomber he was flying in was hit and had to return to England, he jumped into a patrol boat and returned to cover the fighting on the French beaches. Fifteen years later, Ryan set out to tell “what actually happened, rather than what generals or others thought happened.” The result is a masterpiece of military history packed with novelistic details, from the U.S. paratrooper who won $2,500 at cards on the eve of the battle but deliberately lost it all so as not to run out of luck to Field Marshal Rommel’s reason for being 600 miles away when the invasion began–he was bringing his wife her birthday present.

6. In the Garden of Beasts

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Broadway Books

By Erik Larson

This #1 New York Times bestseller is the riveting story of William E. Dodd, the American ambassador to Germany from 1933 to 1937. Dodd, a history professor, was not Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first choice for the job, and he arrived in Berlin with little appetite for the endless socializing expected of a diplomat and little sense of the dangers posed by Germany’s newly-appointed chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

While Dodd struggled to find his place, his 24-year-old daughter, Martha, took to her glamorous new life with verve. Beautiful and sexually adventurous, her high-profile paramours included Rudolph Diels, the chief of the Gestapo, and Boris Winogradov, an attache to the Soviet Embassy who recruited her as a spy. Part political thriller, part family drama, In the Garden of Beasts brings fresh perspective to the question of why it took the world so long to recognize the threat of the Third Reich.

7. An Army at Dawn

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Henry Holt and Co.

By Rick Atkinson

While most American history buffs are well versed in the Allied push across Europe after the Normandy landings and the key battles for control of the Pacific, the North African campaign is a less familiar subject. Drawing on personal diaries and letters from soldiers as well as official documents kept in British, American, French, Italian, and German war archives, Rick Atkinson corrects the record in this Pulitzer Prize-winning history, the first volume in The Liberation Trilogy. From the amphibious invasion of Morocco and Algeria in November 1942 to the Allies’ watershed victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein and the US Army’s coming-of-age at the Battle of Hill 609 in Tunisia, An Army at Dawn seamlessly integrates big-picture military strategy with boots-on-the-ground perspective. Atkinson is particularly insightful on the clash of egos between the old-school British commanders and their upstart American counterparts.

8. Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Penguin Books

By Anthony Beevor

With more than one million casualties, the five-month siege of Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle of World War II and a decisive turning point in the fight for Europe. Antony Beevor, a former British Army officer, brilliantly balances the huge scale of the conflict with a soldier’s-eye view of some of the most horrific conditions in the history of modern warfare.

He begins with Operation Barbarossa, the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union that was plagued by bad weather, long supply lines, and difficult terrain, and analyzes how the Luftwaffe’s carpet bombing of Stalingrad helped to create the treacherous, rubble-strewn conditions that allowed Soviet snipers to wage a gruesome war of attrition. Most captivatingly, Atkinson portrays Stalingrad as the terrifying outcome of totalitarianism: Hitler lived in a fantasy world and refused to listen to German officers who tried to save the Sixth Army from complete destruction, while Stalin’s demands for total obeisance resulted in the executions of 13,500 Red Army soldiers.

9. Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Simon & Schuster

By Nicholson Baker

In this highly unusual and captivating work, novelist Nicholson Baker tells the story of the buildup to World War II in vignettes. Each short piece contains a fact or a quotation drawn from primary sources including newspaper articles, radio speeches, personal diaries, and government transcripts.

Through the steady accumulation of detail, Baker suggests that Allied leaders were not as reluctant to enter the global conflict as most historians contend. He goes back to as far as 1920 to quote Winston Churchill on the proposed bombing of civilian targets in Iraq (“I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes”), then skips ahead to the prime minister’s preferred military strategy in 1941: “One of our great aims is the delivery on German towns of the largest possible quantity of bombs per night.” Turning to the American scene, Baker draws from sources suggesting that Franklin D. Roosevelt may have deliberately goaded the Japanese into bombing Pearl Harbor so the US could enter the war.

Some scholars were harsh in their judgment of Human Smoke, but by returning to the primary material, Baker rescues pacifism as an honorable concept and reminds readers that when military leaders rush to apply new technologies to warfare, it is often civilians who suffer the most.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

New ‘Bill and Ted 3’ movie casts wounded warriors as extras

Whoa! Wounded warriors have been cast as extras for the new “Bill and Ted 3” movie. The excellent news was first tweeted by CNN news anchor Jake Tapper on Aug. 13, 2019.

Tapper, a longtime Homes for our Troops’ supporter and mission ambassador, enlisted the help of friends, namely movie stars and entertainment icons, to arrange an extensive assortment of auction items to benefit the organization back in November 2018. One of the auction items was a tour of the “Bill and Ted 3” movie set.

But screen writer Ed Solomon wanted to do more for veterans than just a tour. He also cast several wounded veterans in the film, and Tapper thanked him on social media for the righteous move.


It’s still unknown what part these veterans will play in the upcoming film starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, but judging by the smiles on their faces the Hollywood experience has been epic.

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

Articles

This is why North Korea’s nuclear missile program isn’t as crazy as it seems

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.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Image from Wikimedia Commons

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.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

“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.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Military movies can show PTSD battles

Military movies can often remind Veterans of their service. They can also bring up painful memories of the past.


Air Force Veteran and Silver Star recipient John Pighini is someone who knows both sides of this issue. He recently worked as a technical adviser on a major motion picture that showcased the bravery of service members, but also brought up a painful past. These movies can sometimes show Veterans dealing with their own struggles: anger, paranoia, edginess, regret and survivor’s guilt.

Pighini saw those struggles on the big screen after working on the movie. “It feels like they take post-traumatic stress and they set it right in your lap,” he said. “Don’t go to this movie and not take a handkerchief or tissues with you. You will not make it through.”

PTSD in Veterans

These are the feelings Pighini knows all too well. He served as a pararescueman during Vietnam, which led to his role on the movie as a technical adviser. As members of Air Force Special Warfare, pararescue specialists rescue and medically treat downed military personnel all over the world. These highly trained experts take part in every aspect of the mission and are skilled parachutists, scuba divers and rock climbers, and they are even arctic-trained in order to access any environment to save a life when called.

Dr. Paula Schnurr, executive director for National Center for PTSD in VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, started studying PTSD in 1984. She said Vietnam Veterans are still dealing with effects because the lack of support when they returned from deployment.

“Vietnam Veterans, like Veterans of earlier wars, were expected to come home and get on with their lives,” she said. Schnurr added the publicly opposed war made Vietnam Veterans’ transition hard to come home.

The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, completed in 1988 by the Research Triangle Institute, was pivotal for Veterans and the medical community. At the time, it was the most rigorous and comprehensive study on PTSD and other psychological problems for Vietnam Veterans readjusting to civilian life.

The study findings indicated about 30% of all male and 27% of female Vietnam theater Veterans had PTSD at some point during their lives. At the time, that equated to more than 970,000 Veterans. Additionally, about one half of the men and one third of the women who ever had PTSD still had it.

A 2013 National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study showed that 40 or more years after wartime service, 7% of females and 11% of males still had PTSD.

PTSD symptoms may increase with age after retiring from work, or from medical problems and lack of coping mechanisms.

Having a mission

Having a mission can help Veterans deal with PTSD. While working on a recent movie, Pighini recalled the struggles he still deals with–50 years after his Vietnam service.

“The early days, we didn’t know what we had,” he said. “As we get older, we become more melancholy. We’re not busy and we’re not out there on the firing line.”

While filmed in Thailand, Pighini said the smells from Southeast Asia raised the hairs on the back of his neck. Despite the flashbacks, Pighini said he hopes viewers realize the importance of putting a spotlight on PTSD. He added movies also depict the courageousness of military members. In the movie he worked on, the movie told the story of an Air Force pararescuemen who lived by their motto, “That others may live.”

“That means you lay it out,” Pighini said. “You do whatever you need to do to save a life. It’s the ethos we have. It’s what we live by. If you have to lay down your life or one of your limbs or whatever it is, you do it. It means everything.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

How ‘The Boys’ comic book inspired a new hit superhero TV series

“The Boys” is a hit for Amazon Prime Video, which announced earlier this month that the series is one of the platform’s most watched shows ever. But the new superhero TV series wouldn’t exist if its source material hadn’t been saved from an early cancellation.

“The Boys” comic book ran for 72 issues from 2006 to 2012. It was created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson, who had previously collaborated on “The Punisher Max” and had made names for themselves individually in the industry with such works as “Preacher” and “Transmetropolitan,” respectively.

Robertson told Business Insider during an interview Aug. 19, 2019, that “The Boys” was originally going to be set within the DC Comics universe that includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more.


But the book’s irreverent premise — a group of government operatives keep a check on superheroes who abuse their powers — didn’t quite mesh with the colorful and heroic adventures at DC. So Ennis and Robertson created their own group of “heroes” that satirized preexisting ones, such as the alien Homelander (think Superman) and the super-speedster A-Train (think The Flash).

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

The superhero team The Seven from “The Boys.”

(Dynamite Entertainment/Darick Robertson)

“We decided that it wouldn’t work if we tried to be too subtle about what the gag would be,” Robertson said. “I like the DC characters very much. I see a very distinct line between our characters and theirs. If you have the costume and the power but none of the character, you still don’t have Superman’s greatest power, which is self control. Homelander doesn’t even take the costume off. And that reveals a lot.”

“The Boys” launched at Wildstorm, a DC Comics imprint founded by DC’s now-copublisher Jim Lee that was set outside of the normal DC universe. Ennis and Robertson could tell their own story without sullying the reputation of DC’s flagship characters.

When the series was released, though, things changed.

“The problem was that Wildstorm was still a sub-company of DC Comics,” Robertson said. “If you look at the original first issue of ‘The Boys’, it was peppered with ads for Batman and other stuff. I don’t think they realized just how hard of a punch Garth and I we’re going to land … I think it made people nervous that we were doing such a raunchy book that was advertising other DC properties.”

And it was indeed raunchy. The first issue of “The Boys” featured graphic language, sex, and violence that would become hallmarks of the series.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

The cover to “The Boys” issue 1, released in 2006.

(Dynamite)

The Boys are saved

“The Boys” was canceled six issues into its run, despite strong sales.

“The comic was as big a hit as the show is now,” Robertson said. “For the world of comics, we were doing quite well. It was selling out. It was a weird time in the industry where it would sound like a laughable number now, but it was good then, especially for a creator-owned, mature book.”

Robertson said that DC would continue publishing the book if the subject matter were toned down, or it would offer it back to Ennis and Robertson for them to take it somewhere else.

Toning it down wasn’t an option.

“It was a gracious way to solve the problem,” Robertson said. “In another scenario, it could have been a nightmare and the book could have died.”

Robertson said that Ennis knew from the beginning how the series would end and had a five-year plan. But they suddenly had nowhere to go with their story.

“I had just bought a home, I had two children,” he said. “I had set up the next five years just to do this book, so I didn’t know what to do.”

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

(Dynamite Entertainment/Darick Robertson)

The feeling didn’t last long. Living in California and now out of work, Robertson took his family to Disneyland for a weekend after the cancellation in January 2007. The following Monday, his phone blew up.

“Everyone had found out we were canceled and every publisher I knew in the business was calling us saying they wanted the book,” Robertson recalled. “It was amazing. We just wanted to make sure we ended up at the place where we had the most control.”

Dynamite Entertainment ended up being that place. Mere weeks after the cancellation, the company announced it would renew “The Boys.” It returned that May with issue seven and Dynamite quickly released a collection of the first six issues.

“That’s another reason we parted with DC was because they were reluctant to publish the trade paperback, and that’s where the bread and butter is,” Robertson said. “Dynamite got that out immediately and it was the number one trade paperback as soon as it hit. It sold out and immediately went to a second printing.”

That’s when Hollywood came calling.

‘The comic and the film property followed similar lives’

By 2008, producer Neal Moritz, known for the “Fast and Furious” franchise, took notice of the book’s popularity. Robertson said Mortiz championed a film adaptation and shopped the project around to studios for years.

“I learned the hard way that getting an option is easy and getting something made is not,” Robertson said. “It’s the way Hollywood works. Having an option is lovely, but it doesn’t mean a project will go forward. So we got our hearts broken a few times, especially because the people that were coming on board were wonderful.”

One of those people was Adam McKay, who was then known for directing “Anchorman” and has since directed Oscar-nominated movies “The Big Short” and “Vice.”

Columbia Pictures was originally on board and then ditched the project. Paramount picked it up in 2012, but it never went forward there, either. A big-budget R-rated deconstruction of the superhero genre proved to be a hard sell.

“Everyone was terrified of it,” Robertson said. “It’s funny, because the comic and the film property followed similar lives. McKay was on board and we were sure it would happen any day, but we just couldn’t get any studio to give the green light. For me it would be life-changing so I just kept hoping it would happen, and it never did.”

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

Karl Urban and Jack Quaid in “The Boys.”

(Amazon Prime Video)

Flash forward seven years and “The Boys” has finally found a new home at Amazon, just on the small screen instead of the big screen. But even the TV series faced a climb.

Showrunner Eric Kripke told Business Insider last month ahead of the show’s premiere that it was originally set up at Cinemax, but the company dropped it because it was too expensive. Then Amazon swooped in with what Kripke called “that sweet, sweet Bezos money.”

“There’s a lot of production value, but in the same respect, there’s never enough money,” Kripke said. “We didn’t have anything close to a ‘Game of Thrones’ budget or anything like that. We’re not even half of what that number would be. But when you don’t have all the money in the world, you get there through blood and tears.”

And “The Boys” TV show has already avoided the temporary fate of the comic. There will be no early cancellation. Amazon renewed the series for a second season before season one even debuted.

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

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MIGHTY MOVIES

This veteran rock anthem is everything you need right now

Patriotic rock band Madison Rising and the Navy SEAL Foundation announced a unique partnership with the release of Madison Rising’s new song, “Men of Steel.” Madison Rising is donating 50% of the proceeds from the song to the Foundation in support of its mission of service to the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community.

“Men of Steel” is a new rock anthem that pays tribute to all those who serve.

The song is a special collaboration that started when Madison Rising approached the NSF in 2019 about a potential partnership. “I had always wanted to figure out a way to have music support our mission at the Foundation, and Madison Rising was an ideal partner to make that happen,” said Chris Irwin, Director of Partnerships for the NSF in a press release.

As a result, Madison Rising worked with the Navy SEAL Foundation to write a song about teamwork, camaraderie and the service member experience, that directly supports those it honors. “By donating half of all proceeds on this song to the Foundation, Madison Rising is committing itself to not only raising awareness about our mission, but also raising funds to help us execute that mission,” Irwin stated.

Madison Rising’s mission is to honor veterans, first responders, and active-duty military members by making great rock music that reinforces true American values. This collaboration with the Navy SEAL Foundation is the latest initiative in support of that mission. The band is led by Rio Hiett, a retired Master Sergeant who served in the Air Force, “Madison Rising is on a mission to honor our military however possible and we know this song will have an incredible impact on the community,” he said. The band is well known for hard-charging, patriotic performances at venues including NFL games, NASCAR, and other special events.

“I started singing back in high school with producer and friend, Andrew Lane, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama,” Hiett told WATM. “This is where the love of performing and creating was started and as he went on to become a Grammy Award winning part of Atlanta’s and L.A.’s R B movement, I chose the route of military service.

I spent 20 years as an Air Force AMMO troop, having served half on active duty and half in the air guard.” Hiett served in several operations, including Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. “I spent nearly 3 years deployed to the AOR and lost that time with my oldest son Dante’,” Hiett said. “I felt he endured the impact of the deployments far more than anyone else in the family. From the moment I became the frontman for Madison Rising, I had always wanted to have my son be a part of something meaningful. He plays the drums and this was an incredible opportunity to have him be a part of a song [Men of Steel], that has the potential to go a long way in the veteran community.”

Hiett continued, “We were able to team up with Chet Roberts of 3Doors Down and record the song down in their studio in Nashville at Rivergate Studios. SEAL Chris Irwin was also a huge part of the track as it was brought forth from his original idea as we collaborated, rearranged/rewrote, then recorded. So at this point in time, I am incredibly proud of this song, the meaning behind the song and how it was created, but mostly that my son is a huge part of something so amazing.”

Men of Steel: Official Video Release

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Madison Rising has shared the stage with rock legends Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Toby Keith, Weezer and many others, and they have a large following among veterans and first responders.

About the Navy SEAL Foundation:

The Navy SEAL Foundation’s mission is to provide immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community and its families. The Foundation stands behind these warriors and their families by providing a comprehensive set of programs specifically designed to improve health and welfare, build and enhance resiliency, empower and educate families, and provide critical support during times of illness, injury, or loss. Like the community it serves, the Navy SEAL Foundation is a high-performing organization committed to excellence. It has received eight consecutive 4-Star ratings from Charity Navigator and it is one of less than 70 charities, from among more than 9,000, to have earned a perfect score of 100 for financial health, accountability and transparency, placing it in the top 1% of all rated charities.

For more information, please visit: www.navySEALfoundation.org.

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