Disney+ launched a Comic-Con@Home 2020 panel for their new scripted series The Right Stuff, which will explore the early days of the U.S. space program through the “Mercury Seven” — the military pilots who became the first NASA astronauts during the space race of the Cold War. “Competing to be the first in space, these ordinary men achieve the extraordinary, inspiring America to turn toward a new horizon of ambition and hope,” boasted Comic-Con International.
The first original scripted series from National Geographic for Disney+ promises to take a “clear-eyed look” at the newly-formed NASA. Set to release in late 2020, the series debuted a first look in a panel moderated by Former NASA Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison.
Yes, that Dr. Mae Jemison.
Jemison was not only the first African American woman selected for the NASA astronaut program — she was the first woman of color in the world to go into space. Watch the full panel right here:
Blast Off with Disney+’s “The Right Stuff” | Comic-Con@Home 2020
The panel revealed the first official clip of the series, introducing Alan Shepard to the uninitiated. Shepard, of course, went on to become the first American to travel to space and he remains on the short list of men who have walked on the moon.
“You gentlemen are accustomed to testing dangerous, unproven aircraft and yet somehow you’ve made it this far in one piece. Most of you have families. You have careers. You have lives. That could all come to an abrupt halt if you sign on to this endeavor. We want to take thirty-two of you to Lovelace Clinic for medical evaluations, but only seven of you will have what it takes. And those seven will be the Mercury Astronauts,” intone the recruiters in the clip.
Warning of the Russian advances, the clip sets the stage for America’s acceleration in space.
The original seven astronauts who flew for Project Mercury were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, and of course, Alan Shepard. Also known as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1, they were among America’s finest military pilots. Each of the trailblazers is now deceased, but their legacy lives on.
Snipers are considered one of the most dangerous warfighters in the battlefield — taking out targets from concealed and undisclosed locations while homing in on prey that has no clue that they’re in the crosshairs.
With many legendary snipers in the history books, Hollywood loves to make movies about the single-shot heroes who man the ranks of America’s martial might.
One of our guilty pleasures is seeing the good guys duke it out with the enemy — either in close hand-to-hand combat or from far off positions with surprise direct head shots from precision shooters.
So check out the Hollywood sniper shots that we often rewind, rewatch and relive the awesomeness time and time again.
1. The 2,100-yards-out
With so many badass moments we saw in the movie “American Sniper,” one single sniper shot stands out the most. This Clint Eastwood-directed war tribute features an epic duel — sniper vs. sniper — between Bradley Cooper’s legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his insurgent nemesis.
2. One shot, one kill, no exceptions
Hitting a moving target at distance is crazy complicated. But under the guidance of a Marine sniper — some of the best in the business — you’ll be able to get the confirmed kill as shown in 1993’s “Sniper” directed by Luis Liosa.
3. Right through the eye
Steven Spielberg knows how to tell an effective story, and he did just that directing 1998’s critically-acclaimed “Saving Private Ryan.”
After showing the world how American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, he successfully captured the moment of when Pvt. Jackson (played by Barry Pepper) takes out a German sniper with a perfectly aimed round right through his scope.
4. Female VC Sniper
In most cases, it’s not okay to cheer for the villain, but as Stanley Kubrick showed us in 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket,” female snipers can be just as efficient and deadly as the men.
This death shocked viewers as one of our beloved characters made a simple mistake — and paid the price.
5. Pop shot and catch
Sniping is sometimes a team effort – just ask the real Navy SEALs who filled the roles of 2012’s “Act of Valor” who killed the enemy while barely making a sound.
6. 5 Rounds = 5 targets
A sniper’s greatest tool is his power of concealment. Russian-born sharpshooter Vasili Zaytsev (played by Jude Law) used that knowledge as he whacked five unsuspecting Germans in 2001’s “Enemy at the Gates.”
Originally created as an antagonist to Spider-Man, Frank Castle, a.k.a. “The Punisher,” has remained fairly consistent throughout his comic story lines as well as his film and television adaptations. There’s no drastic character change. The Punisher finds evil. He kills evil.
Castle was a Marine Corps captain and scout sniper who witnessed the death of his family. He then vowed to eliminate crime using the best super power the Corps could give him — his deadly accuracy as a rifleman.
Fans immediately drew to his methodology, professionalism, and undying will to bring peace through warfare. And he quickly became a popular icon within the military community.
Everyone loves and knows him for his service in the Marine Corps, but what would it have actually been like to serve under Capt. Castle?
You would train. Hard.
When your commanding officer is sniper, airborne, underwater demolitions, and SEAL qualified, you and the rest of your Force Recon team need to get on his level.
The only time you’d get off would be for religious purposes (since he was a devout Catholic, even almost becoming a priest until he enlisted in the Marines.)
In the 43 years of Punisher comics, he’s been shown to be a master of damn near every weapon he has ever gotten his hands on. Hell, he even uses other heroes’ gear more effectively than they can.
The skull logo would become your new unit insignia.
Everyone would be as decked out as SEAL Team 3 in Capt. Castle’s logo.
Judging by Garth Ennis’ take on The Punisher’s time in Vietnam in the series Born, he was pretty loose when it came to uniforms.
Then again, either you’d be in his Force Recon team or he’d carry his “battle beard” standard over to your unit’s wear and appearance standards.
There wouldn’t be any turning a blind eye to one local warlord because they dropped the dime on a rival warlord who was also a terrorist. They’re both guilty in Capt. Castle’s eyes.
If you’re a sh*tbag Marine, he’d f*cking kill you.
Following the previously mentioned “Born” comic, we saw what Capt. Castle was like as a commanding officer.
In issue #2, after all of the chaos of battle, Castle finds one of his Privates sexually assaulting a wounded female enemy soldier. He puts her out of her misery. While the Private was cleaning himself off in a nearby river, Castle drowns him in the water saying that “we’re only here to kill the enemy.”
If you not only broke the law but also basic human rights, you’re no different than the pieces of sh*t he kills on a daily basis.
If you’re a good Marine, he would take care of you.
The only bright side (outside of a sick SOCOM battle beard, of course) would be that Capt. Castle takes care of his own.
He protects his own. He saves his fellow heroes and troops countless times. If he ever fails, well, the ones who killed you will be punished.
On Thursday, October 11, more than 14,000 free tickets will be presented to U.S. veterans and active-duty service members for Universal’s First Man — at more than 500 Regal locations nationwide.
Each of the first 25 service members (per location) with valid, government-issued ID who request a ticket will be given free admission to the 7:00 p.m. preview screening (or first show). First Man, from Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling, arrives in theaters nationwide on October 12.
“During his career as a Naval aviator, our dad flew 78 combat missions in the Korean War,” said Mark and Rick Armstrong. “The friendships he forged during those critical years remained deeply important to him all of his days. Freedom — much like landing on the moon — is an achievement that is hard fought and hard won, and it cannot be accomplished without the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their loved ones. We’d like to join Universal and Regal in thanking all our current and past veterans, as well as their families, for their brave service to this great nation.”
“As an Air Force veteran, I am proud to see this historical achievement from other veterans and NASA featured on the big screen. These military heroes are an incredible example of the courage and determination that allowed us to reach new heights in space exploration,” said Ken Thewes, CMO at Regal. “As a tribute to the courageous men and women in the armed forces, we are honored to offer complimentary tickets for active-duty military and veterans to be the first to see First Man at any participating Regal theatres.”
The promotion will be available at all Regal theatres playing First Man. Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and may be picked up at the Regal box office on October 11. Each guest must present a valid government-issued military ID to receive their ticket, with a limit of one free ticket for each military ID presented, while supplies last. This offer is valid for the 7:00 p.m. screening (or first showing) of the film on October 11, only.
“Neil Armstrong represents the best and bravest of humanity, and this film from director Damien Chazelle is stunning,” said Jim Orr, President, Distribution, Universal Pictures. “Early audiences have championed this new masterpiece, and we’re grateful that our partners at Regal have opened their doors to active-duty and retired service members with free tickets. We know these heroes will enjoy First Man, and we’re thrilled they’ll be among the first to experience it.”
There’s rarely a middle ground with military films. Either they’re masterpieces worthy of every accolade given or they’re so bad that troops turn them into drinking games, taking a shot every time something completely unrealistic happens.
Great military films take an in-depth look at actual service members and veterans and are written based on real experiences. The laughable, however, just take a quick glance at how other war films have done it and copy the wrong notes. This is how we end up with so many awful cliches that may work in a film, but would never happen in the real world.
1. Choice of mission
Many films use some variation of Mission: Impossible‘s “your mission, should you choose to accept it…” line. Sure, that works for Ethan Hunt — because he’s not a soldier and is able to make choices.
Troops don’t have that luxury. If the commander says it, that’s an order.
Using the TV series just to remind everyone Mission: Impossible existed before Tom Cruise.
2. Troops were secretly the bad guys all along
This one is most prevalent among movies set in some post-apocalyptic world. It turns out our reluctant protagonist now has to fight the “big bad” U.S. military because… uh… reasons?
Let’s take, for example, nearly every single zombie film. So, the world has already come to an end. At this point, the military would be too busy trying to restore order with some sort of martial law, but in the movies, the military is most concerned with figuring how to best weaponize zombies against their enemies (ignoring the fact that, if the world ended, the enemy was probably also ended by zombies). Once this revelation comes to light, everyone in the platoon is just totally cool with gunning down the protagonists.
Seriously, why are the only loyal and obedient soldiers evil?
3. Walking off post (while deployed)
To be completely fair to the modern war films that do this, yes: troops get more time off than most people think. We’re not on patrol every single waking moment of a deployment. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have the free time, ability, or desire to walk off-post to grab a beer.
There’s been one high-profile individual who’s done this and, uh, let’s just say that the military community doesn’t think highly of it.
Yeah, there’re many other things wrong with The Hurt Locker, but those have been pointed out a million and a half times.
4. Vehicles are always breaking down
It feels like whenever our heroes need to make a big break for it, the damn vehicle craps out on them.
Seriously, this cliche rears its head more often than a teenager trips as they try to escape Jason Voorhees. There are mechanics in the military and they dotake pride in their work.
Even great films can’t avoid cliches.
5. Saying the phrase, “with all due respect”
Characters find the courage within themselves to stand up to the high-ranking officer and say something that starts with, “with all due respect…” Suddenly, they’re given free reign to say whatever’s on their mind.
Nope. That’s a really quick way to get demoted. The line works in Talladega Nights because it’s not a war film. But even in Talladega Nights, they acknowledge that the line is, basically, worthless.
Ricky Bobby is basically every E-3 in the military.
6. Everything about the phrase, “if I told you, I’d have to kill you”
On film, how do show a spy tiptoeing around the fact that they’re a spy? Ah, yes! By having them almost tell someone in a bar — perfect!
Actual agents don’t even tell their families that they’re spies, let alone some random person at the bar. Thankfully, the granddaddy of all film spies, James Bond, doesn’t stoop that low.
It happens far more than you’d think.
7. No one is willing to fight until the protagonist gives a speech
It’s the darkest moment of the film. The good guys have nearly lost and the enemy is all around them. There’s only one person with the newfound courage to rally the troops. They stand in front of everyone and deliver a passionate speech. Those words inspire in everyone the courage they need to stand up and win. Our hero did it! Everyone lived and the bad guys lost. Roll credits…
Actual speeches before troops go out and “fight the good fight” usually involve safety briefs, radio frequencies, and contingency plans. In real life, nobody needs some Academy-Award winning speech before fighting the bad guys.
“Now that you mention it… Yeah, I do like freedom.”
*Bonus* Famous last words
To be completely real for a moment, I can almost guarantee the phrase “what the f*ck?” is a much more common set of last words than, “tell my wife… *cough* I love her.”
Hollywood makes plenty of military movies, but that doesn’t mean they are always accurate.
Military veterans can be especially judgmental in the accurate portrayal of military films — despite critical and audience acclaim — and some can be impossible to watch when they are filled with technical errors.
Whether its a low budget film you probably haven’t seen or a blockbuster film you love, here are 9 scenes in military movies where Hollywood got it completely wrong.
1. Rambo: First Blood Part II
Mistake: After rescuing the POW’s and getting them on the helicopter, Rambo uses an M72 light anti-tank weapon (LAW) to shoot at the Russian Hind Helicopter and no one on board his helicopter gets hurt.
Reality: The back blast of the M72 light anti-tank weapon (LAW) can kill up to 130 feet. Rambo would have killed all the POW’s he just rescued and possibly destroyed the helicopter.
2. The Hurt Locker
Mistake: Sgt. First Class William James goes AWOL to avenge the death of his friend.
Reality: No soldier in their right mind would go AWOL in combat to avenge someone’s death. He would be prosecuted under the UCMJ. Of course, this is only one of many technical errors in “The Hurt Locker.” This meme pretty much sums it all up:
3. Heartbreak Ridge
Mistake: Gunny Highway shoots live rounds at the feet of his Marines during training.
Reality: Sure, realistic training is good for troops headed into combat, but shooting live rounds at troops is a serious offense and Gunny Highway would be prosecuted under the UCMJ.
Mistake: After learning the war is over, Marine Anthony Swofford says he never shot his rifle, to which his friend replies: “You can do it now.” He fires his rifle in to the sky and all the Marines follow by shooting wildly in the air.
Reality: Marines are professional and disciplined war fighters. Every one of these Marines would be brought up on charges under the UCMJ.
5. Full Metal Jacket
Mistake: The colonel salutes Joker first after speaking with him at the mass burial site.
Reality: No matter what branch of service, enlisted service members always salute the officers first, not the other way around.
6. Navy SEALs
Mistake: During an operation one of the Navy SEALs addresses a team member by his real name over the radio.
Reality: Real names are never used over the radio during any military operation.
7. Zero Dark Thirty
Mistake: Navy SEALs yelling orders during the Osama Bin Laden mission.
Reality: Unless absolutely necessary, verbal communication during a covert operation, let alone any mission, would not happen. Hand signals would be the primary way of communicating.
8. Top Gun
Mistake: Maverick flying inverted within 3 feet of the MIG while Goose takes a picture.
Reality: The tails of the fighter jets would be around 9 feet and a collision would be inevitable. There are many, many more problems with “Top Gun,” detailed here.
Reality: The ribbons and patches this “Colonel” wears makes him look more like a boy scout than a soldier. No branch of service allows service members to wear their ribbon stack on their camouflage uniform.
This was only the tip of the iceberg. What other scenes in military movies did you find were total Hollywood screw-ups? Leave a comment.
If 2020’s stay-at-home order told us one thing, it’s how much we rely on entertainers to keep us sane. Music, movies and online entertainment have been our lifeline to the outside world. Many of the celebrities who have kept us amused have also spoken out about the importance of recognizing the achievements of Black Americans — and that includes veterans!
Over 160,000 Black people are currently in the United States military, serving a critical role in keeping our country safe, and they’ve been doing so for a long, long time. In fact, many of the Black celebrities you know and love are veterans! Keep reading to learn about 10 of the most famous Black veterans…you might be surprised!
Born in 1956, Montel Brian Anthony Williams is best known for his work as a TV host and motivational speaker. His show, The Montel Williams Show, ran for 17 years, but that’s not his only claim to fame. Williams served in both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy. After enlisting in 1974, he attended a four-year officer training program, graduating with a degree in general engineering and a minor in international security affairs.
After completing Naval Cryptologic Officer training, he spent 18 months as a cryptologic officer in Guam. He later became supervising cryptologic officer at Fort Meade, eventually leaving the navy after achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
He earned several awards including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal.
Food Network personality Sunny Anderson grew up as an Army brat. Her family’s ongoing travels and her parents’ love of food gave her a chance to explore international cuisines, inspiring her future career. After graduating high school in 1993, she joined the United States Air Force, where she earned the rank of Senior Airman. She also worked as a military radio host in Seoul, South Korea, going on to work for the Air Force News Agency radio and television in San Antonio from 1993 to 1997.
Stanley Kirk Burrell, better known as MC Hammer, is one of the most well known American rappers of the late 80s. He rose to fame quickly both as a rapper, dancer and record producer, coming out with hits like “U Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit 2 Quit.” In addition to creating the famous “Hammer pants” and his successful entertainment career, Burrell served in the Navy for three years as a Petty Officer Third Class Aviation Store Keeper until his honorable discharge.
Tracy Lauren Marrow, AKA Ice-T, is a multi-talented entertainer with a tumultuous background. He had more than one run-in with the law in his youth, but after his daughter was born he decided to join the Army. Marrow served a two year and two month tour in the 25th Infantry Division.
Military life wasn’t for him, however, and he used his status as a single father to leave the Army and begin his career as an underground rapper. Since then, he has made a name for himself as a musician, songwriter, actor, record producer and actor, starring as a detective on Law Order SVU and hosting a true-crime documentary on Oxygen.
Jamaican-American singer, songwriter, activist and actor, Harold George Bellanfanti Jr is no stranger to hard work. He enlisted in the Navy at the start of World War II while he was still finishing high school. After an honorable discharge two years later, he focused on his music career, bringing Caribbean-style music to the US. One of his first albums, “Calypso,” was the first million-selling LP by a single artist.
He was also a passionate supporter of the civil rights movement, going on to advocate for humanitarian causes throughout his life. Since 1987, he has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and currently acts as the American Civil Liberties Union celebrity ambassador for juvenile justice issues.
Ever heard of Orville Richard Burrell? Don’t worry, I hadn’t either, but you probably know his stage name: Shaggy. Burrell was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1968. He began taking voice lessons in the early 80s, filling the streets with music. His talent was apparent early on, but in 1988 he joined the Marine Corps, serving with the Field Artillery Battery in the 10th Marine Regiment during the Persian Gulf War. He achieved the rank of lance corporal, and continued to sing while he did it. He went on to earn seven Grammy nominations, winning twice for Best Reggae Album.
James, better known as Jimi, Hendrix, began playing guitar in his hometown of Seattle at just 15 years of age. After enlisting for a short time in the Army and training as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, he continued his music career to become one of the most renowned guitarists of all time. His music career, much like his military career, was brief, but powerful. He earned a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which describes him as “the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.”
Berry Gordy Jr
American record, film, and tv producer and songwriter Berry Gordy Jr didn’t get his start in the music industry. He dropped out of high school to become a professional boxer, which he excelled at until he was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1950. He was first assigned to the 58th Field Artillery Bn., 3rd Inf. Div. in the Korean War, later playing the organ and driving a jeep as a chaplain’s assistant. When his tour was over in 1953, his music career took off.
He founded the Motown record label, which was the highest-earning African American business for several decades. Several of his songs topped the charts, and he’s known for helping budding artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Supremes achieve greatness.
2016 Invictus Opening Ceremony
Actor and film narrator Morgan Freeman is yet another famous veteran. He earned a partial drama scholarship from Jackson State University, but he turned it down to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. There, he served as an Automatic Tracking Radar Repairman, rising to the rank of Airman 1st Class.
After being discharged four years later, he moved to Los Angeles and studied theatrical arts at the Pasadena Playhouse. Considering he has since won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and many Oscar nominations, it looks like his hard work paid off!
James Earl Jones
Few voices are as iconic and recognizable as that of American actor James Earl Jones. Before launching his acting career, Jones served in the military, receiving his Ranger tab and helping to establish a cold-weather training command at the former Camp Hale. During his time in the military, he was promoted to first lieutenant. Following his discharge, he served his country in a different way, with over seven decades of theatrical excellence. In addition to winning numerous Tonys, two Emmys and a Grammy, he was presented with the National Medal of the Arts by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Nearly two decades later, President Barack Obama invited him to perform Shakespeare at the White House. Wow!
These Black veterans aren’t the only ones we should care about.
The history of African American military personnel is as old as our country itself. Countless Black Americans have made their mark on U.S. Military history, and they continue to do so today. Click here to explore the firsthand experiences of Black vets, or learn more about how to support them here.
The U.S. Army has always loved its fictional, star-spangled avenger and brother-in-arms, Captain America. Since he served in the Army, he received the benefits of being a Soldier. Logically, this would entitle him to back pay for the 66 years he spent frozen in ice.
Steve Rogers was scrawny kid who served his country in World War II. Because his heart was pure, he was given the super-soldier serum, thus becoming Captain America. To keep Captain America’s backstory of service as a World War II hero relevant regardless of era, Rogers was frozen in ice and thawed out years later.
66 years is a long time to spend frozen. Fan theories have surfaced regarding how much, exactly, he would be owed when he finally came to. This caught the attention of an Army spokesman who clarified that, if he were real, Rogers would have received back pay.
(‘Captain America #25’ by Adam Hughes)
In the comics, this was answered briefly and never mentioned again in Captain America #312. He’s given a check for “almost a million dollars,” which he tries to refuse. He then decides to use the money to set up a hotline through which citizens can reach him for help — because Captain America is that kind guy.
Marvel’s sliding timeline is confusing, so it’s hard to fact-check that amount. After all, based on comic continuity, it’s only been about 15 years since Spider-Man was bitten (and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man premiered 16 years ago — feel old yet?), so let’s take the writer’s word and move on. Things get more interesting, however, if we focus on the current, Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Cap and calculate his back pay.
(‘Captain America #312’ written by Mark Gruenwald with Art by Paul Neary)
A Redditor, Anon33249038, the user who grabbed the attention of the previously mentioned Army spokesman, did the math to include the Army’s 1945 O-3 pay grade (including biannual raises) all the way up to the start of 2011’s The Avengers. His total amount owed would be a staggering $3,154,619.52, adjusted for inflation.
The spokesman pointed out many missing variables in the equation, including the fact that Rogers’ $313.50 was paid quarterly instead of monthly, misinterpreted pay scales, and any unaccounted for promotions while Capt. Rogers was listed as missing until he was dropped from roll. Which is confusing because he was presumed dead until Nick Fury found him just before The Avengers.
The more accurate amount, given all the variables, comes from the folks at Nerdist. Since he was never officially promoted to Major, the time-in-service pay increases stop at 18 years, and calculating pay monthly for 66 years at the same rate, adjusting for inflation, gives you a grand total of $4,692,152.56 owed to Captain America. They reached this by adjusting his $375,474.00 for inflation until 2011.
However, DFAS has never had to deal with a 66-year gap for a frozen-in-time, super-serum-infused hero having to adjust each paycheck for inflation. But, when the military gives back-pay, they don’t usually factor inflation or yearly increases.
The solution is much simpler than everyone made it out to be. If he were to be paid at the current rate, $6,039.00 per month, his total amount is a similar $4,782,888.00 in just base pay alone. Granted, Captain America would probably turn that check down, just like in the comics… if the VA didn’t try to renegotiate it down to an “almost a million” first.
Military simulators are always a huge hit within the gaming community. Flight simulators give gamers the opportunity to sit in a (simulated) cockpit. First-person shooters imitate the life of an infantryman. World of Warships and World of Tanks give the gearheads out there a chance to pilot their favorite vessels.
And then there’s the game that’s taken gaming world by storm lately: Fortnite. It features a 100-player, battle-royale mode that has players duke it out until only the best (or luckiest) player survives. At first glance, it seems like a standard PUBG clone — until you realize that a huge part of the game is about, as its name implies, building forts.
Underneath its goofy graphics and RNG-laden (random number generator) loot system is actually a fairly intricate game. The overall premise is simple: Land somewhere, scavenge materials to build, find loot, build stuff, fight the enemy, move toward the objective, and build more stuff.
Then, it suddenly hits you.
What separates the skilled players from the 10-year-old kiddies screaming memes into their headsets is the ability to construct a dependable, defensible position. In order to be successful in Fortnite, you have to quickly build and rebuild secure bases that can’t easily be destroyed while giving you the ability to get up high and view the battlefield.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley J. Hayes)
This is not unlike the essence of what a real combat engineer does in real life: Deploy somewhere, get hand-me-down materials from the last unit who was in Afghanistan, build stuff, fight the enemy, continue the mission, and then build more stuff.
Granted, you’re distilling an entire career into a 20-minute long video-game match, but the parallels are there — but real engineers have more fun. Building stuff is only half of the job description; using explosives to take out enemy positions is when the real fun begins.
War can be hell…and war can be absolute boredom. There are few better ways to pass the time than by playing cards. Anyone who served in the military and made it past basic training probably ended up in a game of cards with their fellow troops.
They’re easy to carry: small and lightweight, they fit into a rucksack, duffel bag, or Alice pack without having to sacrifice any piece of essential gear. Plus, they’re cheap. It just makes sense that the troops and playing cards would pair so well together.
Wartime decks have been used to help soldiers in the field learn about their enemies and allies, to identify aircraft, and even teach a little about American history. Even in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, American forces used playing cards to identify the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Playing cards themselves can be traced back to 12th century China. Some scholars think they made their way to Europe through Italian traders. The cards (and maybe even the games) predate the United States. But Americans have their own love affair with cards, and the military is no different.
Early special decks were released depicting Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and (John Quincy) Adams as the kings of the deck. By the time of the Civil War, playing cards were in every American camp, Union or Confederate.
Since troops in the Civil War spent a lot of time in camp and had easy access to decks, alcohol, and firearms, a cheater could make the game go very badly for himself. The war actually shaped the way playing cards are printed, so players could hold a tighter hand.
Another innovation of that era was the design on the backs of cards. Before then, most were made with plain backs, ones that were easy to mark and see through. The new back designs made short work of that problem.
In 1898, the Consolidated Playing Card Company created a cheap deck and poker chips for troops deploying to the Spanish-American War. For World War I, the U.S. Playing Card Company released special decks just for a few specialties of service in the Great War, namely Artillery, Navy, Air Corps, and Tank Corps. The German High Command in WWI considered the game so important to morale, they called the cards kartonnen wapens – cardboard weapons.
Many playing card factories converted to war production during World War II, but that certainly didn’t mean no decks were printed. The aforementioned cards used to identify aircraft, known as “spotter cards,” were essential to the war effort.
During the Vietnam War, playing card companies sent deployed soldiers and Marines special decks comprised of just the ace of spades, believing the Viet Cong considered the symbol to be a deadly serious omen.
Watch below as magician Justin Flom recounts the oft-told story of a Revolutionary War soldier and his deck of cards, which acts as his bible, calendar, and almanac. Be sure to watch til the end for a magician’s tribute to American troops overseas.
Within our military community, the tools of rehabilitation and reintegration of veterans of our nation’s wars changes each year.
One of the most popular ways to take a mental break for the post-9/11 generation comes from video games. They’ve become an interactive hobby that allows you to turn your brain off for a while, focus on the story, and receive positive stimuli as you progress through the levels.
Simple mobile games like Candy Crush reward the players with in-game text that display positive messages or the opposite end of the spectrum; Dark Souls, where the challenge is the reward. These are all benefits in a world where some veterans live in constant fight-or-flight mode.
Gaming also provides an outlet for those who suffered brain trauma. Rhythm games like Guitar Hero or puzzle games like Portal are an excellent tool used by Army Therapists to work on and measure progress.
But do shooter games that take place in the setting of modern conflict played by those who fought there help?
YouTuber “Clients Incoming” — an Army combat veteran whose channel is dedicated to digital marketing strategy — said it best. In his video “Treating PTSD with Video Games” he says, “The adrenaline rush of being in the fight, knowing that death hangs in the balance, is not something you can recreate outside of combat.”
“More importantly, what I get out of the gaming experience in games like [Battlefield 3] is the team aspect,” he adds. “And if you’re with a group of guys that know what they’re doing and know how to approach the situation tactically and they communicate really well. That’s an awesome ride.”
Online gaming provides a platform for our veterans to interact with each other again. I’ll admit I don’t call the guys from my old unit as much as I’d like, but I’m always able to catch them online for a round or two of Playerunknown’s Battleground.
Things always pick up just like it was the last day we were all drinking in the barracks together.
What are your thoughts? Do you use video games as a therapy or a way to reconnect with your buddies? Let us know in the comment section.
On April 8, 2019, Marvel previewed the first clip from “Avengers: Endgame” on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The video begins with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), realizing that Thanos has used the stones again.
Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), jumps in to insist they team up and “get him” and use the stones “to bring everyone back.” She says it’ll be different this time because now, she’s involved.
James Rhodes, aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), gets annoyed and asks Captain Marvel to explain where she’s been all this time.
“There are a lot of other planets in the universe,” she responds. “And unfortunately, they didn’t have you guys.”
Bruce Banner, aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), seems very apprehensive about the plan, but what else is new?