Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators - We Are The Mighty
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Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators

Last week rapper Nicki Minaj performed a concert in Angola, which is not necessarily a big deal except she reportedly received $2 million dollars for the show from Unitel, a mobile phone company owned by the family of Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos. Dos Santos has been in power in Angola for 36 years and is widely considered a dictator.


Minaj posted photos of herself with the President’s daughter Isabel dos Santos on her Instagram, saying:

“Oh no big deal…she’s just the 8th richest woman in the world. (At least that’s what I was told by someone b4 we took this photo) Lol. Yikes!!!!! GIRL POWER!!!!! This motivates me soooooooooo much!!!!”

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators

According to an open letter to Minaj from the The Human Rights Foundation, the Dos Santos family make their money through “exploiting Angola’s diamond and oil wealth to amass an illegitimate fortune while maintaining control over all branches of the government, the military, and civil society … it his policy to harass, imprison, or kill politicians, journalists, and activists who protest his rule.” Minaj performed the show anyway, which she has a right to do. There are no limitations for visiting or working in Angola.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
. . . unless you’re an Angolan diamond miner. Then you’re not allowed to stop working.

There is still the stigma of legitimizing what is one of the top most corrupt governments in the world (the most in southern Africa). But Nicki Minaj is not the first star to perform for a questionable government. Here’s a rundown of a few other A-listers who’ve been willing to make despot’s toes tap:

1. Jennifer Lopez -Berdymukhamedov’s Turkmenistan

“We wish you the very, very, happiest birthday,” Lopez said to Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov before singing to him at a huge celebration in his central Asian country.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Sparkly outfits are par for the course when serenading someone who built a gold statue of himself.

Human Rights Watch calls the Berdymukhamedov regime “one of the most repressive in the world, marked by new levels of repression.” Berdymukhamedov seized power in 2007 after the only person more mad than he is, Saparmurat Niyazov, died. (Niyazov changed his language’s word for bread to his mother’s name, renamed the month of September after the book he wrote, and once tried to build a permanent structure made out of ice in the middle of the desert). Berdymukhamedov proceeded to honor himself with a giant bronze and gold statue of his likeness in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat.

2. Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Usher, Bon Jovi and 50 Cent – Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya

Leaked diplomatic cables confirm Queen Bey and Company performed gigs at parties thrown by Qaddafi’s sons Hannibal and Mutassim in Italy and St. Barths. All four claim they donated their fees to earthquake relief in Haiti. Also, Lindsay Lohan was there.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
It was that kind of party.

Hannibal escaped Libya during the civil war that ousted his father. He was briefly taken captive in Lebanon this month but was set free soon after. Mutassim got his around the same time as his father, when he was captured by Libyan rebels outside of Sirte. The rebels stabbed him in the throat.

3. Nelly Furtado – Also Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya

Around the same time as Beyoncé’s work with the Qaddafi family came out, Furtado self-identified on Twitter. She was paid $1 million to perform for the family at an Italian hotel in 2007. (Which seems remarkable because few can name two Nelly Furtado songs without googling her, and the Qaddafis liked her enough to buy an entire concert.) Still, Furtado wasn’t Colonel Qaddafi’s true love. We all know who that was:

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Hint: It’s not the Cleveland Browns.

The singer promised to give the money away to an unnamed charity. In 2012, she released a song called Arab Spring.

4. Michael Jackson – King Hamad’s Bahrain

It’s hard to call a U.S. ally a dictatorship, but while half their bicameral legislature features elected officials, the other half is appointed by the King who can rule by decree. When the late King of Pop fled there in 2005 after being acquitted of child molestation charges, the Khalifa family provided for him in exchange for a private show and a recorded album.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
While we’re on the subject, can we talk about why some pop stars start dressing like dictators?

While the singer took the money from the dictator, he never made good on the promise of a performance or a recorded album, so maybe Jackson was performing a service by swindling the monarch.

5. Sting – Karimov’s Uzbekistan

In 2009, Sting performed for a man who’s best known for boiling his enemies alive. Islam Karimov’s rule was celebrated via a festival funded and planned by his daughter, Gulnara Karimova, the “Uzbek Princess.”

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Uzbek dictator Islam Karim shaking hands with one of the few guys on the planet who scare him.

The Uzbek regime is the dictatorship likened closest to North Korea. Karimov is so power mad, he sees his daughter’s popularity as a threat, jailing her and her family in her home. Sting accepted a $2 million payment for his performance. Sting refused to apologize, saying he believed that boycotts only isolate dictator-ruled countries. Karimov banned Sting’s music shortly afterward because the Police alum called him a dictator.

6. Lionel Richie – Qaddafi’s Libya. Again.

Richie was the first to perform for the dictator’s family inside Libyan borders, though it was a celebration of Qaddafi surviving a U.S. attack on his compound in Tripoli, in front of the bombed-out compound which Qaddafi never rebuilt. The singer has never spoken about the performance.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

7. James Brown, B.B. King, Bill Withers – Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire

Sese Seko put on a festival celebrating his rule in what he called Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1974. The dictator, who would go on to embezzle $5 billion, put up the cost of the Zaire 74 Festival, which was promoted by famed boxing promoter Don King as part of the build up to the Mohammed ali-George Foreman fight (dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle”).

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators

8. Kanye West – Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan

The rapper was hired to perform at the wedding of Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev’s grandson. The former Russian Soviet Republic is sharply criticized by human rights organizations for its serious violations and deteriorating situation.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
If there’s any pop star who actually has a personality cult like a dictator, it’s probably Kanye.

Yeezy was paid a reported $3 million for his appearance, which was recorded on Twitter and Instagram. Kanye West was able to express himself at the mic, unlike the rest of Kazakhstan, a nation suffering a harsh and unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression and political plurality with the imprisonment of outspoken opposition and civil society activists.

9. Mariah Carey – José Eduardo dos Santos’ Angola

Yeah, same dictator, same place. Carey performed in Angola in 2013 at the behest of her manager, Jermaine Dupri, whom she would fire the next year.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators

This wasn’t the first time Carey performed for a dictator. In 2010, she publicly apologized for a 2008 New Year’s celebration performance, which is a nice segue to . . .

10. Mariah Carey – Qaddafi’s Libya

She was paid an undisclosed sum for performing for the Qaddafi family at a private residence in St. Barth’s. As part of  her penance, she reminded everyone how much money she regularly gives to charity even as she pocketed her payment and released a statement:

“I was naive and unaware of who I was booked to perform for, I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess. Going forward, this is a lesson for all artists to learn from. We need to be more aware and take more responsibility regardless of who books our shows. Ultimately we as artists are to be held accountable.”

Indeed.

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The real history behind Cinco de Mayo

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators


Like most national celebrations and holidays, Cinco de Mayo started with honest intent, connected to some important historical event, but was eventually commercialized into a booze-filled party absorbed by outside cultures. While a majority of people explain Cinco de Mayo as “the Mexican Fourth of July” in-between margarita sips, this isn’t correct either. As David E Hayes-Bautista, Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the School of Medicine at UCLA, told Time, “Cinco de Mayo is part of the Latino experience of the American Civil War.”

In the early 1860s, Mexico had fallen in immense debt to France. That situation led Napoleon III, who had flirted with supporting the confederacy, to send troops to not only overtake Mexico City, but also to help form a Confederate-friendly country that would neighbor the South.

“The French army was about four days from Mexico City when they had to go through the town of Puebla, and as it happened, they didn’t make it,” Hayes-Bautista says. In a David-and-Goliath style triumph, the smaller and less-equipped Mexican army held off French troops in the Battle of Puebla, on the fifth of May of 1862. (The French army returned the following year and won, but the initial Mexican victory was still impressive.)

Head over to Time to read more.

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26 best Navy SEAL porn names and movie titles

So, it turns out that a decorated Navy SEAL has been working a little side gig in adult films with his wife. The pair own a production company and have starred in at least a few films.


Look, we’re not here to judge, and they don’t appear to have ever used their military affiliation to boost their movies. But since the connection is now out in the open, we thought we’d suggest a few themed movie titles they could use, as well as some good names if any of his military colleagues want to help out his company.

(Please, give us your best entries on Facebook.)

Movie Titles

1. SEAL Team Dix

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Stevenson)

2. Zero Dark Horny

America’s greatest warriors conduct a quiet insertion into Alottabutt, Pakistan, and slay what they find.

3. Squid Muff Diving

These heroes are prepared to go down for their country.

4. In Glorious Bastards

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
(Photo: U.S. Navy Seaman Kyle Gahlau)

5. Pollywogs and Shellbacks

These new recruits are going to learn all about how Navy SEALs cross the equator.

6. SEAL Team 69

Sometimes it’s not enough to watch your brother’s back. You gotta watch his front, too.

7. American Sniper…of butts

We’re actually really proud of this one.

8. Neptune’s Spear

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Martin L. Carey)

These SEALs drive it deep.

9. The O Course

10. Sea, Air, and Labia

These commandos always go where it’s the hottest.

11. Sex Act of Valor

12. Motion of the Ocean

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shauntae Hinkle)

Whether they’re riding a rubber raiding craft, a Zodiac boat, or a nuclear submarine, these SEALs know it’s not the size of your vessel, it’s what you can do with it.

13. Amphibious Ass-ault

14. BUDS

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas/Released)

During the rigors of Hell Week, a group of candidates realizes that they can only rely on, and lie with, each other.

15. DEVGROPE

They’re always up for a special warfare experiment.

Next up: Porn Star Names

1. Squid McLovin

2. Master Chief Muff-Diver

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Photo: Public Domain

He doesn’t come up for air until the mission is complete.

3. Freak E. Frogman

4. Chuck Trident

5. Slip Rey Squid

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)

He always slides right in.

6. Fast Rope

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Harding)

He specializes in light bondage.

7. SEAL de Butts

8. Froggy Style

He knows the best way to complete the objective is sometimes to take it from behind.

9. Captain Cockswain

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eddie Harrison)

Always ready to take command.

10. Phil Cunt Splice

(Note: Cunt splice is an actual naval term, though most people now use the alternative term “cut splice” for obvious reasons.)

11. Slick Seaman

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Listen to accused deserter Bowe Bergdahl tell his story publicly for the first time

This American Life’s wildly popular Serial podcast came to fame in 2014 with the story of Adnan Syed, a young man from Maryland who was convicted in 2000 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and high school classmate Hae Min Lee. Syed’s case was clouded with a number of possible discrepancies and suspicions not mentioned in his trial. The case was wild enough to merit retelling via the first season of the podcast, which earned the convicted Syed another hearing based on the new evidence.


The much-anticipated second season of Serial features the story of accused deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl is a U.S. Army soldier who spent nearly five years held in captivity by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani Network after walking away from his outpost in Afghanistan’s Paktika Province. His captors allege he was captured after getting drunk while off-base, while some of his fellow soldiers say he simply walked away from his post. Others say he was captured from a latrine. Bergdahl has, until now, mostly remained silent.

The episode opens with a vivid description of Bergdahl’s rescue and tells the story of his capture and rescue, laying out exactly what happened and why through the lens of host Sarah Koenig and filmmaker Mark Boal, with whom Bergdahl regularly speaks directly.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators

Boal, a producer and director whose work includes many war films, including “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Hurt Locker,” and “In The Valley of Elah,” spoke with Bergdahl about everything from his experience in captivity to “motorcycles, God, and how good spicy salsa is.”

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators

Through the context of Boal’s discussion with Bergdahl, Serial attempts to address how Bergdahl’s decision to walk away has “spun out wider and wider… played out in unexpected ways from the start.”

It reaches into swaths of the military, the peace talks to end the war, attempts to rescue other hostages, our Guantanamo policy. What Bergdahl did made me wrestle with things I’d thought I more or less understood, but really didn’t: what it means to be loyal, to be resilient, to be used, to be punished. – Sarah Koenig

Bergdahl reveals in his own words why he left that base in Afghanistan in 2009, which led to a massive search where other U.S. troops died trying to find and rescue him. His story is the same as it always was, he wanted to create a crisis to get a meeting with higher-level commanders to address what he saw were leadership problems in his chain of command, but Bergdahl doesn’t stop there. He wanted to show everyone he could be an outstanding soldier, the outstanding soldier.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
A still from Bergdahl’s capture video

“I was trying to prove myself,” he told Boal. “I was trying to prove to the world, to anybody who used to know me, that I was capable of being that person.”

After 20 minutes into his sojourn, Bergdahl realizes he’s made a huge mistake.

“I’m going, ‘Good grief, I’m in over my head,'” he says in the podcast.

Editor’s note: The producers will be interacting with listeners as the show progresses. Ask them questions via Tumblr, twitterFacebook and Instagram.

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This is how WWII, G.I. Joe and a decorated U.S. Marine shaped Transformers


Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Transformers is still going strong with a Netflix original series (Netflix)

 

Following the end of WWII, American troops occupied the Japanese islands as the nation entered into the process of reconstruction. A key element in reviving the Japanese economy was its once prominent toy industry. However, with few raw materials available after the war, toy makers were forced to resort to unconventional sources.

American GIs occupying Japan were fed heavily with canned rations. It was the metal from these cans that was recycled and used to craft Japanese robot toys. To highlight Japanese craftsmanship, these toys were often motorized with clock mechanisms that allowed them to walk and roll.

The popularity of Japanese robot toys increased through the 1960s and 1970s. With the expansion of television, the robot toys were paired with manga comics and anime cartoons that engaged children and promoted toy sales. Japanese robot-based entertainment like Astroboy, Ultraman, Shogun Warriors and Gigantor became increasingly popular in America.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Robot shows like Gigantor were also successful in Australia (Eiken/TCJ)

However, even the robots from the east couldn’t compete with “A Real American Hero” like G.I. Joe. High sales of the action figure in the states were enough to convince Japanese toy maker Takara to license G.I. Joe for the Japanese market.

Having gained respect in the Japanese toy world for their toy dolls, Takara wanted to branch out and make a toy line for boys. However, G.I. Joe’s iconic scar and grimacing expression were a bit too harsh and aggressive for post-war Japan. To market the toy to Japanese boys, Takara decided to make G.I. Joe into a superhero with superpowers. When the designers realized that G.I. Joe’s body wasn’t conducive to a superhero build, they resorted to type and made him into a robot. With a clear plastic body displaying his metal computer-like internals, G.I. Joe became Henshin Cyborg. Henshin meaning “transformation”, this was the first step towards what we know today as Transformers.

Following the 1973 oil crisis, the 11.5″ tall toy and all of its accessories became prohibitively expensive to produce. Like G.I. Joe in the states, Takara introduced the 3.75″ tall Microman. A mini version of Henshin Cyborg, the Microman toy line focused even more on transforming toys with robots that could change into sci-fi spaceships. Microman was so popular that it was marketed in the US under the name Micronauts.

By the 1980s, robot toys that transformed into exotic spaceships were losing popularity. To rejuvenate the robot toy concept, Takara introduced the Diaclone Car Robo and Microman Micro Change lines. Diaclone toys transformed from robots into 1:60 scale vehicles like cars and trucks while Microman toys transformed into 1:1 replicas of household items like cameras, cassette players and toy guns.

At the Tokyo Toy Show, Hasbro executives took notice of Diaclone, Microman Micro Change and the plethora of other Japanese transforming robot toys and wanted to develop their own toy line. A deal was struck with Takara and Hasbro lifted almost every one of their toy lines for the US market, including Diaclone and Microman Micro Change.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Diaclone transforming robot truck Battle Convoy (Takara)
 

To review, Hasbro licensed G.I. Joe to Takara in the 1970s. Takara turned G.I. Joe into Henshin Cyborg. Henshin Cyborg was shrunk down to Microman. Microman evolved into Diaclone and Microman Micro Change, both of which were licensed back to Hasbro. Things had really come full circle.

With all of these transforming robot toys, Hasbro turned to Marvel Comics to develop a backstory for the new toy line. Over a weekend, Marvel writers came up with the names and backstories for the first 26 Transformers as well as the plot for the first comic book issue.

Diaclone and Microman Micro Change robots were renamed and became Transformers as we know them today. Micro Car became Bumblebee, Cassette Man became Shockwave, Gun Robo became Megatron, Battle Convoy became Optimus Prime and the War for Cybertron between the just Autobots and the oppressive Decepticons was born. The first commercial for the Transformers toys introduced the now iconic jingle and the phrases, “Robots in disguise” and, “More than meets the eye.”

The 1984 release of Transformers was a huge success netting Hasbro 5 million in sales. The popularity of the franchise was due in large part to the Transformers cartoon, the star of which was the venerable Optimus Prime.

Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime, became so iconic that he was brought back to reprise the role of the Autobot leader in the 2007 Transformers film and its many sequels. Cullen, also known for voicing Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh franchise, crafted the voice of Optimus Prime with inspiration from his older brother.

Marine Captain Henry Laurence Cullen, Jr., known as Larry, was a decorated veteran of the war in Vietnam. While serving with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Capt. Cullen was awarded a Bronze Star with a V device as well as two Purple Hearts for his actions during Operation Hastings in June 1966.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Capt. Cullen was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery (Public Domain)

When his younger brother told him he was going to audition for the role of a hero in a cartoon series, Capt. Cullen said, “Peter, if you’re gonna be a hero, be a real hero. Don’t be one of those Hollywood heroes pretending they’re tough guys when they’re not. Just be strong and real. Tell the truth. Be strong enough to be gentle.”

With his older brother’s words echoing in his mind, Peter Cullen delivered the strong yet gentle voice performance that Transformers fans today will always hail as the one, true Optimus.

“He had a lot of influence on me, you know, and especially coming back from Vietnam. I noticed somebody different,” Cullen remembered of his older brother. “Going into that audition, Larry was with me. I mean, he was right there beside me. When I read the script, Larry’s voice just came out. He was my hero.”

From recycled ration cans, to a classic American action figure and an inspirational leader of Marines, the Transformers franchise has had a lot of American military influence to get to where it is today.

Featured image: (DreamWorks Pictures Paramount Pictures)

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This was the Vietnam War’s longest continuously serving Army ranger

Patrick Gavin Tadina served in the Army for 30 years. He spent a full five of those years fighting in Vietnam. If that wasn’t unique enough, Tadina, who would retire as a command sergeant major, would often do it dressed as the enemy. 

Tadina was a trim 5’5” native Hawaiian, a look that would allow him to conduct and lead long range reconnaissance patrols deep into Vietnam’s central highlands. He would sometimes join an enemy patrol dressed in their distinct black pajamas, sandals, and carrying an AK-47.

Patrick Tadina joined the Army in 1962. By 1965, he was in Vietnam with the famed 173rd Airborne Brigade Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. He also served in the 74th Infantry Detachment Long Range Patrol and Company N (Ranger), 75th Infantry. He was in the country for a full five years, until 1970.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Tadina, far right, as a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson in the late ’70s. (Catherine Poeschl/ Facebook)

With a trim figure and uniquely nonwhite American looks, he used his appearance to get the jump on enemy forces laying in wait for him in the jungle. He led American patrols dressed as the enemy so they wouldn’t have a chance to ambush his Rangers. When escaping from an enemy patrol, he could lead his pursuers into a friendly ambush. 

When spotted by Viet Cong fighters or North Vietnamese regulars, the enemy often had to take a moment to figure out who Tadina was and what he was doing in the jungles of Vietnam. On one occasion, this pause allowed him to warn his fellow soldiers of an ambush, but resulted in Tadina taking two bullets to the legs. 

Laying on the jungle floor in that firefight, he refused to give an inch to the enemy. He received a Silver Star for his actions that day. 

In five years of fighting in Vietnam, Tadina was shot three times but never lost a man who served under him. It’s estimated that 200 soldiers served with Tadina without a casualty. The legendary Ranger himself was awarded two Silver Stars, 10 Bronze Stars (seven with valor), three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, four Army Commendation Medals (two for valor), and three Purple Hearts. 

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
U.S. Army

The stories about Tadina abound on the internet. After his death, friends and fellow soldiers wrote their tributes and memories about the five years Tadina spent in Vietnam:

“Tad infiltrated an enemy hospital to free a POW,” wrote one Ranger. “He killed a guard with a silenced .22 but found the hospital deserted. Talk about balls and trade craft.” 

After the Vietnam War, Tadina stayed in the Army. He would take part in the most significant combat actions in the post-Vietnam world. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Operation Urgent Fury in 1983 and with the 1st Infantry Division during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He retired from the Army in 1992. 

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Catherine Poeschl/ Facebook

In 1995, Patrick Tadina was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in Fort Benning, Georgia. Although he continued to work in the combat arms field in some of the post-9/11 world’s hotspots, he struggled with mental issues in his later years. 

He died in 2020 at age 77, still one of the Vietnam War’s most decorated enlisted soldiers and an unforgotten icon among the U.S. Army’s Rangers, past and present. Although Tadina has passed, his legend will never die. 


Feature image courtesy of Catherine Poeschl

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Navy looking for more lethal deck-mounted guns

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Joshua Adam Nuzzo | U.S. Navy


The Navy is seeking longer-range precision weapons for its deck-mounted “5-inch” guns to better destroy enemy targets, defend maritime forces on the move in combat and support amphibious operations.

Every Navy Cruiser and Destroyer is armed with “5-inch” guns to attack land and sea targets from the deck of a ship. In existence since the 70s, the weapon can be used to attack enemy targets or lay down suppressive fire so that maritime forces can better maneuver or reposition while in battle.

However, the 5-inch guns, called Mk 45, have a maximum effective range of only about eight or nine miles, and the current rounds lack precision so many rounds need to be fired in order to ensure that targets are destroyed.

A new Raytheon-developed GPS-guided Excalibur N5 round, however, can pinpoint target out to about 26 nautical miles, Paul Daniels, Raytheon business development, Excalibur, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“We’re more than tripling the max effective range of the Mk 45 five inch guns and providing Excalibur precision with less than 2-meters miss distances at all ranges,” he said.  “Think of the area that you can cover as a commander of a ship — that is about 8 nautical miles, 200 squared nautical miles around your ship to more than 2,000 square miles,” Daniels said.

The new round, which recently destroyed a target in a test at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., is being offered in response to a 2014 Navy Request for Information to industry for precision-guided technology for the services’ 5-inch guns.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Wikipedia

The initiative to develop longer range precision weapons is entirely consistent with the Navy’s often discussed “distributed lethality” strategy. The idea is to not only better arm the fleet with more lethal and effective offensive and defensive weapons but also enable the fleet to better “distribute” its forces across wider swaths of geography, Navy leaders explain.

Longer range weapons could increase the distances at which Navy forces could operate, be less at risk of enemy fire, and still hold an enemy at risk with precision-guidance technology.

The prospect of dispersing and aggregating forces will allow the fleet to better confuse potential adversaries and make it more difficult for enemy precision weaponry to pinpoint and attack U.S. Navy ships, Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, Director of Surface Warfare, said Jan. 12 at the Navy Surface Warfare Association National Symposium, Arlington Va.

“When we talk about distributed lethality, we are not backing away in any sense from the requirement to ensure the continued defense of our aircraft carriers, ensure the continued defense of our amphibious ready groups, ensure the continued defense of our logistics train,” Rowden said at the symposium.

The extended range of the Excalibur N5, Daniels explained, could prove valuable for amphibious Marine Corps forces in need of fire support while approaching shore.

“It is also a critical capability to support Marines ashore which is naval surface fire support. This is a longstanding capability gap the Marines have had. They want extended range and they want precision to support amphibious operations. Now they can use Excalibur to support their operations ashore,” Daniels explained.

Excalibur Modifications

The new Excalibur N5 emerged as a result of making several modifications to an Army 155mm precision-guided artillery round called Excalibur 1B; this weapon, in service now for many years, has been used more than 800 times in combat and successfully helped commanders complete attack missions during the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The round has been particularly effective against terrorist and insurgent targets, including force positions, IED-making facilities and enemy bunkers. Precision is of particular relevance in a counterinsurgency type of combat environment and battles against forces such as the Taliban or Iraqi insurgents.  In these types of scenarios, targets often quickly move, shift in close-in urban settings and at times deliberately blend in with civilian populations.

“We are leveraging all the technology and investment that has been developed by the Army and brining that to this Navy Mk45 five-inch gun. We are re-using 100-percent of the guidance and navigation unit from the Army projectile, 70-percent of all parts and 99-percent of the software,” Daniels said.

Nicki Minaj joins the dubious list of A-list pop stars who are cool with performing for dictators
Photo by Spc. Evan D. Marcy | U.S. Army

In order to produce the Excalibur N5 round, Raytheon engineers simple take the front end of the round off the production line of the existing Excalibur 1B round and re-use the technology for the new munition.

“It has all the electronics that make the projectile work. It is engineered so that the electronics can survive the extreme forces of gunfire. We are talking about upwards of 15,000 Gs. The Army has spent a lot of time and money developing a consistent weapon,” Daniels said.

The Army and Marine Corps 155mm artillery shell is configured to fire from a 6-inch barrel, whereas the Navy’s ship-based guns are 5-inch guns. As a result, the body of the Excalibur N5 round has been slightly tweaked in order to accommodate the Navy guns.

For instance, the “canards” or fins at the front end of the round that help guide and correct the weapon’s flight path, called “control actuation systems,” have been slightly modified for the new round, Daniels explained.

The Excalibur N5 could be operational within several years. The explosive in the weapon can detonate using three different methods; point detonate allows the weapon to explode upon impact, delayed detonate gives the weapon an ability to break through up to four inches of concrete before detonating – and “height of burst” detonate mode allows the weapon to use a sensor to determine it is near the desired target and explode in the air, Daniels said.

The weapon often lands on a steep vertical trajectory, allowing the kinetic energy of impact on a target to break the round through up to 4-inches of concrete before exploding, he added.

As part of its development of both variants of the Excalibur weapon, Raytheon has engineered the weapon with a dual-mode seeker which can alternate between GPS and laser guidance technology.

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Raytheon

During a recent weapons test, the Excalibur round was launched with GPS guidance and then, at a given point in its trajectory, it used its laser-guidance seeker technology to find a different target location while in flight.

“It handed off from GPS guidance to the laser guidance and destroyed the target at the very first test,” Daniels added. “This is important in a land attack circumstances because may there is an urban environment.”

Laser guidance technology could be particularly relevant in a fast-moving urban combat circumstance wherein targets might quickly move – and the utmost precision is called for.

When it comes to maritime targets, however, the Navy might be interested in what is called “millimeter wave” seeker technology, Daniels said. This guidance technology is able to help the weapon guide its way to a target in bad weather or conditions where a target could be obscured such as rough seas.

“The Navy would like to be able to fire in a maritime environment against things like fast-moving boats in bad weather in rough seas. They would potentially rather not have a laser designator but might prefer a fire and forget, millimeter wave approach. You can hand off from GPS guidance to a millimeter wave seeker,” Daniels explained.

The Excalibur round is also capable of functioning in a GPS jamming environment, although details about how this works are not publically available.

Leveraging Army technology is also a way to minimize costs in a budget constrained environment, Daniels said.

Costs of the round can vary depending upon the quantity purchased, however previous Excalibur rounds have sold for about $ 68,000 per round, sources indicated.

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This article originally appeared at Warrior Scout. Copyright 2016.

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5 things you learned about America while being deployed overseas

Being deployed overseas means time away from family, friends and embarking on a life-changing journey that will probably change the way you think forever.


You may not see it at first, but the longer you’re away, you’ll start to form your own opinions about the world around you — especially the home you left.

Related: 7 ways to surprise your spouses when they return from deployment

So check out what we learned about America from our time deployed overseas.

1. There’s no place like America

After the first few months, your fighting spirit usually tends to die out, then you really do begin to believe those classic words Dorothy from Kansas once spoke. This motivation is usually what gets you through the rest of the deployment.

America and its people are certainly flawed, but we love them anyway.

2. Bigger problems

Stateside you have all types of bills, some family drama and if you’re living in the barracks, room inspections.

Now that you’re deployed half way around the world, those issues still exist, but you put them on the back burner. Although combat stress can get pretty jarring, many prefer that headache over fighting heavy traffic.

3. Americans are true supporters

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Mail call doesn’t come around too often, but when it does, it’s like Christmas no matter the time of year. Many don’t have families back home to support them while they’re off fighting the bad guys. So Americans from across the U.S. often come together and pack up goodies and send them off to deployed service members around the world.

4. How good American air smells

Being stationed on a small patrol base, you incinerate all the trash you accumulate in a burn pit not far away from where you eat, sleep and stand post. The smell can be pretty nasty.

Come home after a year-long deployment and smell that good old fashion America breeze.

Also Read: 4 insane things service members can do to stay awake

5. How little stuff we need to survive

As Americans, we buy a lot of crap we don’t need but convince ourselves we do. Live for months on an aircraft carrier or on a patrol base and you’ll have maybe 10 square feet of personal storage — you’ll still get by just fine with a whole lot less stuff.

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Russia’s huge military upgrade hit another snag — and Putin is not happy

Despite suffering economic sanctions and the falling price of oil, Vladimir Putin is pushing forward with an estimated 20 trillion ruble ($351 billion) program to modernize the Russian military by 2020.


But the Russian defense sector is struggling to meet its goals.

“The objective reasons for the failure to meet state defense procurement orders include restrictions on the supply of imported parts and materials in connection with sanctions, discontinuation of production and the loss of an array of technologies, insufficient production facilities,” Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said in videoconference with Putin on Thursday, according to The Moscow Times.

Borisov said that navy guard ships, 200 amphibious aircraft, antitank missiles, radio equipment for surface-to-air missiles, and launchers for Tupolev-160 bombers are behind schedule.

Putin was not happy.

“I will especially emphasize that those who are delaying production and supplies of military technologies, who are letting down related industries, must within a short term … correct the situation,” Putin reportedly said.

“And if that does not happen, the appropriate conclusions need to be made, including, if necessary, technological, organizational, and personnel [changes],” Putin added.

The extravagant plans for military spending were drawn up before the ruble crashed and oil prices bottomed out, back when the government was expecting 6% GDP growth annually.

Nevertheless, Russia has continued with their hike in military spending, which is estimated to reach $29.5 billion in 2015, with around $4.4 billion to $4.7 billion going towards research and development alone.

The Moscow Times notes that Putin is looking to defense spending to bolster employment, investment, and technological development.

As he said on his call-in show in March, “without a doubt, this program will be fulfilled,” adding that, “Our goal is to make sure that by that time, by 2020, the amount of new weapons and military technologies in our armed forces reached no less than 70%.”

Given that Russia’s troubles will likely continue — sanctions will likely remain in place as fighting in eastern Ukraine continues and oil may drop as Iranian oil hits the market — Putin’s big push may meet a harsh reality sooner than later.

“Russia has already spent more than half of its total military budget for 2015,” Russian economist and former rector of the New Economic School in Moscow Sergei Guriev wrote in May. “At this rate, its reserve fund will be emptied before the end of the year.”

On Thursday, Deputy Defense Minister Borisov said that 38% of Moscow’s defense purchases planned for this year have been completed.

Michael B. Kelley contributed to this post.

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

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The fascinating history of the crime-ridden Kowloon Walled City

Within the borders of British Hong Kong, Kowloon Walled City was an anarchic and highly inhabited Chinese enclave. Chinese government fortifications were turned into a British enclave in 1898 after China leased the New Territories from China. Due to the Japanese conquest of Hong Kong during World War II, the city’s population exploded. Around 50,000 people lived inside the city in 1990. The area was under the influence of local mafias from the 1950s through the 1970s, when trafficking of women and illegal drugs were common.

Administration intentions to destroy the Walled City of Hong Kong were revealed in January 1987 by Hong Kong’s authorities. The destruction started in March 1993 and was complete in April 1994, following a lengthy evacuation procedure and the handover of sovereignty from China to Britain. Walled City Park was established in December 1995 and encompassed the erstwhile walled city’s landmass. This has allowed for several ancient monuments from the walled city to be conserved. Its yamen structure and fragments of its southern gateway were also preserved.

Colonial History

The City was established as an installation during the Song Dynasty (960–1279) to handle the salt trade. A few security officers were posted in 1668, but little more happened for decades. About 1810, Chinese troops evacuated Tung Lung Fort as well as built a small coastal fort. Hong Kong Island was surrendered to Britain by the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, under the throne of Daoguang, the Qing Emperor. Therefore, the Qing authorities made it mandatory to upgrade the castle concerning the conduct over the territory and prevent future British influence. The construction of a strong defensive wall and other upgrades were finished in 1847. 1854 saw insurgents conquer the walled city as during Taiping Rebellion, only to be recaptured days prior. It used to be Lai Enjue’s citadel, and is now the “Dapeng Association House” within the walled city.

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Children of early 20th century Kowloon Walled City residents playing on the yamen cannons (Wikimedia Commons)

China proclaimed its intention to recapture the walled city in 1945, following Japan’s capitulation. “Revised Framework Program for Restitution of Governance” was prepared by patriotic Chinese authorities in November 1946. It featured a school, a police department and other services. Regarding the Chinese Civil War, many refugees fled to Hong Kong, then by 1947, the city’s walls were occupied by more than 2,000 people. It was 1948 when the British made an unsuccessful plan to persuade them out of the walled city.

Diplomacy

China’s Ruling party decided to send a policy statement to the British ambassador on January 8, 1948. Ashton stated, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs presently officially recognize to the British Embassy which, in conformity with the terms of such Agreement, China relishes sovereignty well over the City of Kowloon and though they have hardly any willingness of giving up this purview at any time.” The range of options was examined by the British Foreign Office on 4 February 1948, notably converting Kowloon Walled City into a Nationalist Chinese Consulate-General. However, the Chinese have agreed not to seek to execute that authority in practice. Furthermore, the British Foreign Ministry suggested that a public garden administered by the local corporation of Kowloon Leasehold landmass provides such a prospect.

Demolition

It was reported on January 14, 1987, that both governments’ officials had agreed to demolish the city’s walls. By March 10, 1987, keeping up with the news that such a walled city would just be turned into park land, the Secretary for District Administration petitioned that the Urban Council offer to assume the responsibility of the land after its destruction. The Urban Resource Center questioned the necessity for it “besides one more park” from a planned and operational standpoint, so this council decided to approve the state’s offer on the provision that the state pay for park establishment.

It took four months to implement. On March 23, 1993, annihilation of the walled city was launched and ended in April 1994. The next month, construction set about on Kowloon Walled City Park.

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Aerial view of Kowloon Walled City Park, 2018 (Wikimedia Commons)
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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

Senior Airman Jordan Webber, a KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., checks gear is where it needs to be shortly before a refueling mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 18, 2015, during exercise Red Flag 16-3. The exercise is one of four Red Flag exercises at Nellis AFB, with this iteration focusing on multi-domain operations in air, space and cyberspace.

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U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri

An HH-60 Pave Hawk returns from an exercise mission July 12, 2016, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., as part of Red Flag 16-3. The exercise is one of four Red Flags at Nellis AFB, with this iteration focusing on air, space and cyberspace operations. 

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U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri

ARMY:

Soldiers assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard — The Nation’s First, use smoke to conceal their movement during an exercise at theJoint Readiness Training Center, Operations Group,Fort Polk, Louisiana, July 15, 2016.

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The National Guard photo by Sgt. Harley Jelis

Soldiers, assigned to 25th Infantry Division, load an AH-64 Apache helicopter onto a United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster during an emergency deployment readiness exercise as part of exercise Arctic Anvil at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, July 21, 2016. The exercise was designed to test the readiness of U.S. Army Alaska and their ability to quickly prepare vital air assets for deployment. As emergent demands continue to increase, Army readiness continues to be the Army’s number one priority.

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U.S. Army photo

NAVY:

SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 21, 2016) Sailors take a lunch break from the high operational tempo of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). U.S. Navy Aircraft carriers, like Reagan, serve up to 18,150 meals a day. Ronald Reagan, the Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) flagship, is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elijah G. Leinaar/Released

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 17, 2016) – Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) board an MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced) on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8). Makin Island is conducting integrated training with Amphibious Squadron Five and the 11th MEU off the coast of southern California in preparation for an upcoming deployment.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Devin M. Langer/Released

MARINE CORPS:

A Candidate with Alpha Company, Officer Candidate School conducts the Combat Course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 20, 2016. The mission of OCS is to educate and train officer candidates in order to evaluate and screen individuals for qualities required for commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha/Released

Marines assigned to Maritime Raid Force, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct a fast rope training exercise during a deployment on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) July 5, 2016. 22nd MEU is conducting Naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Koby I. Saunders/Released

COAST GUARD:

The cutter and crew returned to their homeport in Virginia Beach earlier this week after a 55-day deployment through the Eastern Pacific Ocean in support of the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

The newest Fast Response Cutter Joseph Tezanos, scheduled to be commissioned in August, took a test run off the coast of Key West, Florida, today. The cutter was named after a WWII hero who became the first Hispanic American to complete the service’s Reserve Officer Training Program.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo

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Here’s the technique Navy SEALs use to swim for miles without getting tired

With the beginning of summer, pools all over the US are opening for recreational swimming — but in the Navy, recruits are getting ready for the brutal Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, or BUD/S, that will turn some of them into Navy SEALs.

In the SEALs, where recruits of the elite special operations unit are pushed to their limits, there is no room for inefficiency. So it developed a more efficient swimming stroke: the combat swimmer stroke.

The stroke combines the best elements of breaststroke and freestyle to streamline a motion that not only reduces resistance on a swimmer’s body, but makes the swimmer harder to spot underwater.

Here’s a sample of the stroke:

Unlike freestyle, the combat sidestroke calls for the swimmer to stay submerged for most of it.

To do the combat swimmer stroke, dive in or kick off as you would in freestyle, but at the end of your glide, do a large, horizontal scissor kick instead.

Now comes the unique part — as the horizontal scissor kick tilts your body so that one arm is slightly higher than the other, pull that arm back while leaving the other outstretched.

Turn your face up toward the surface as you pull that arm down, take a breath, and begin to pull down your other arm. Another scissor kick, then reset your arms. You should not switch your orientation or the order in which you pull back your arms.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

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That time those combat cameramen won an Oscar for covering the Battle of Tarawa

There were a lot of big name winners at the 17th Annual Academy Awards in 1945, Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, and… the United States Marine Corps. That’s right, USMC Combat Cameramen won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short for their coverage of the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. Tarawa was unique because of the coverage COMCAM operators were able to give the battle.


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First Row: Tech. Sgt. Carlos Steele, Cpl. Jack Ely, Sgt Ferman H. Dixon, Staff Sgt. John F. Ercole, Cpl. E. Newcomb, and Sgt. Ernest J. Diet. Second Row: Pvt. Chris G. Demo, Sgt. Forrest Owens, Cpl. Jim R. Orton, and Cpl. Raymond Matjasic Back Row: Sgt. Roy Olund, Capt. Louis Hayward, Marine Gunner John F. Leopold, Staff Sgt. Norman Hatch. Pfc. William Kelliher was not present for the picture.

November 20-23 1943 saw a thousand Marines die fighting to take the tiny, two mile wide island of Tarawa from Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. Two thousand more Marines were injured. 4,700 Japanese died defending the island with only 17 surrendering to U.S. forces. Hundreds of Korean slave laborers also died.

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Obie Newcombe, USMC Camerman

Combat Camera Marines with the 2nd Marine Division were along for the ride and after the battle, edited With the Marines at Tarawa, a twenty minute short film designed to bring the story of the battle to Americans on the home front. The goal was to give people as close to a first hand experience of the horrors of war as film could get them.

In an eleven minute newsreel from the Army-Navy Screen Magazine designed to be viewed by servicemen, Marine Corps Combat Cameraman Norm Hatch narrates the footage he filmed during the battle of Tarawa.

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USMC Combat Camerman Norm Hatch filming Bonneyman’s assault.

The narration was clearly written by a screenwriter (this is WWII propaganda, after all), and it includes a short skit as a premise for the story, but the combat footage is heavy and graphic at times.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=222v=LnRvmCxSFMA

The end may seem out of place, but the quick construction of the airfield at Tarawa is a reminder of the importance of the battle and the need for the island’s strategic position. It’s also a good reminder of what Marines can do when called upon: The Japanese admiral commanding Tarawa boasted the Marines couldn’t take Tarawa with a million men in a hundred years.

It took 18,000 Marines only 76 hours.

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