“Rambo” is one of the most recognizable military movie series of all time. The indestructible, bow-wielding Special Forces soldier was adapted for video games, comic books, animation, and much more. The series was a permanent fixture of the action movie genre during the 1980s and served as the inspiration for Chuck Norris’s “Delta Force,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Commando” and countless others.
Rambo is a guy’s guy with skills in all things badass: survival, weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, and guerrilla warfare.
As you may recall, Rambo is pulled back into war on two occasions by Col. Trautman and saved the day in both films. Key and Peel made this hilarious comedy sketch depicting what the Trautman/Rambo meeting would be like if it happened today.
Hollywood has been abuzz since it was announced that Joe Jonas will be making his big-screen debut in the upcoming Korean War movie, Devotion. Jonas follows his younger brother’s appearance in 2019’s Midway. Other cast members include Glen Powell (also appearing in Top Gun: Maverick), Jonathan Majors and Christina Jackson, who will be playing lead roles in the movie. Devotion tells the story of two naval aviators from very different worlds who were brought together by friendship and tragedy.
Ens. Jesse Brown, expected to be portrayed by Majors, was born into an African-American sharecropping family in Depression-era Mississippi. Working in the fields, he developed a love of flight after seeing local pilots fly overhead. Working toward his goal of flying, Brown graduated salutatorian of his high school and enrolled at Ohio State University. Despite working two jobs to pay for school, he maintained top grades in his classes. During his second year, he enlisted in the Navy Reserves and became a midshipman in the school’s NROTC program to participate in the V-5 Aviation Cadet Training Program.
In March 1947, Brown began his Naval Flight Officer training. He also married his girlfriend, Daisy Nix, in secret. Naval cadets were prohibited from marrying during training under threat of immediate dismissal. Despite this and racism from at least one instructor and several classmates, Brown completed his flight training in August 1947. He then trained to fly carrier-based aircraft and became the first African-American naval aviator to earn the coveted wings of gold in October 1948. After breaking this color barrier, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 32 (VF-32) flying the Vought F4U Corsair. By the time the Korean War broke out, Brown established a reputation in the squadron as a capable pilot and section leader.
In contrast to Brown’s upbringing, Thomas Hudner Jr., expected to be portrayed by Powell, had a privileged youth. The son of a grocery chain store owner, Hudner attended the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Inspired to join the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he entered the Naval Academy in 1943 and graduated in 1946. He attended Annapolis with future Admirals Marvin Becker, James Stockdale and Stansfield Turner, along with future President Jimmy Carter.
Although he initially served as a surface officer, Hudner was drawn by the challenge of aviation. After completing basic and advanced flight training, he earned his own wings of gold in August 1949. After a brief posting in Lebanon, he was also assigned to VF-32. It was there that he met and befriended Brown.
By the Korean War, the WWII-era Corsair was quickly becoming antiquated as a fighter. The new breed of jet fighters were faster and more lethal. However, piston planes the Corsair could deliver heavy ordnance in close air support roles better than their jet counterparts. Brown and Hudner flew these missions with the other members of VF-32 in Korea. Following the Chinese intervention in November 1950, VF-32 flew daily missions to support the encircled Marines at the Chosin Reservoir.
At 1338hrs on December 4, 1950, six planes from VF-32 took off the the USS Leyte. Known as Iroquois Flight, the group consisted of squadron XO Lt. Cdr. Dick Cevoli, Lt. George Hudson, Lt. JG Bill Koenig, Ens. Ralph McQueen, Lt. JG Thomas Hudner Jr., and Ens. Jesse Brown. On this flight, Hudner and Brown flew as wingmen. Hunting for Chinese troops, Iroquois Flight flew just 700 feet off the ground. At 1440hrs, Koenig radioed that Brown appeared to be trailing fuel.
The fuel line of Brown’s Corsair was ruptured by unseen ground fire. Fuel pressure dropping, Brown started to lose control of his aircraft. He dropped his external fuel tanks and rockets in preparation for a crash landing. Despite landing in the snow, the Corsair broke up so violently upon impact that the rest of the flight thought Brown to be dead. His leg pinned under the fuselage, Brown waved to his fellow aviators for help.
15 miles behind enemy lines in 15°F weather on the side of a mountain, Brown’s chances of survival were slim. Iroquois Flight put out a mayday call as the patrolled the area for any threats to their downed comrade. However, the crashed Corsair started to smoke from a fire near its internal fuel tanks. Seeing his wingman in trouble, Hudner intentionally crash-landed his own Corsair near Brown’s crashsite to rescue his trapped friend. He attempted to douse the flames with snow and tried in vain to pull Brown from the wreck. At around 1500hrs, rescue helicopter pilot Lt. Charles Ward arrived and joined Hudner’s efforts to free Brown. Despite the use of a fire extinguisher and an axe, the Corsair continued to burn as Brown remained trapped inside.
Fading in an out of consciousness, Brown, suggested that the two men amputate his pinned leg. Before the suggestion could be acted on, Brown fell completely unconscious. His last known words were to Hudner. “Tell Daisy I love her,” Brown said. Unable to fly in the dark, Ward was forced to fly his helicopter back to base before nightfall with Hudner, leaving Brown behind. He is believed to have died of exposure and his injuries shortly thereafter.
Despite Hudner’s pleas, the Navy prohibited further efforts to recover Brown’s body for fear of enemy ambushes. To prevent Brown’s body from falling into enemy hands, the crash site was bombed with napalm. The pilots forced to carry out the mission reportedly recited the Lord’s prayer as they watched their fellow aviator be consumed by the flames. Ens. Jesse Brown was the first African-American naval aviator killed in action.
Brown was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. For his efforts to save his wingman, Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor. Both men have had naval vessels named for them. A book and painting, both titled Devotion, capture the bravery and loyalty displayed that 4th of December. The upcoming movie retains this title and will finally bring the incredible story to the big screen. Devotion is currently in pre-production with no release date.
Mel Gibson has returned to the director’s chair after a 10-year hiatus with the WWII epic “Hacksaw Ridge.”
The film tells the tale of real-life Army medic Desmond Doss. Torn between his conscientious objection to violence and his desire to serve his country in its time of greatest need, Doss joined the Army as a medic but refused to carry a weapon.
Despite suspicion and contempt from his fellow soldiers, Doss repeatedly braved danger and even disobeyed orders to make sure his countrymen made it home alive. Doss received the Medal of Honor for his actions, one of only three conscientious objectors to ever do so.
Gibson is no stranger to the classic American war film, having previously starred in “We Were Soldiers” and “The Patriot.” “Hacksaw Ridge” is the actor’s first directing outing since 2006’s “Apocalypto,” but that film and 1995’s “Braveheart” proved Gibson is right at home capturing epic battles on film.
“Hacksaw Ridge” is now playing in theaters nationwide. Watch the trailer below.
While deployed to Iraq in 2007, the U.S. Army’s then-Captain Matt Gallagher started a blog called Kaboom that quickly became very popular … and controversial — so controversial, in fact, that the Army shut it down.
After he separated from the military, Gallagher compiled the best of the blog into his 2010 memoir, “Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War.” He has since written for the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and Boston Review, among others. Now, with an Master’s degree from Columbia, he’s writing fiction. This week saw the debut of his first work of fiction, “Youngblood: A Novel.”
The U.S. military is preparing to withdraw from Iraq, and newly-minted lieutenant Jack Porter struggles to accept how it’s happening—through alliances with warlords who have Arab and American blood on their hands. Day after day, Jack tries to assert his leadership in the sweltering, dreary atmosphere of Ashuriyah. But his world is disrupted by the arrival of veteran Sgt. Daniel Chambers, whose aggressive style threatens to undermine the fragile peace that the troops have worked hard to establish.
Irreverent but dedicated like a modern day Candide, Jack struggles with his place in Iraq War history. He soon discovers a connection between Sgt. Chambers and and a recently killed soldier. The more the lieutenant digs into the matter, the more questions arise. The soldier and Rana, a local sheikh’s daughter, appeared to have been in love and what Jack finds implicates the increasingly popular Chambers.What follows finds Jack defying his command as Iraq falls further into chaos.
Gallagher’s storytelling is compelling and his characters are vibrant. “Youngblood” immediately immerses the reader into the Iraq War, defying genre and perspective. We equally see the war from the soldiers who fought there and the Iraqis who lived it, while Gallagher weaves a narrative that is engaging, thoughtful, and thought provoking.
The 1997 science fiction classic, Starship Troopers, is a futuristic thrill ride filled with larger-than-life characters and heart-pounding situations. What separates this cinematic masterpiece, however, is the source material.
The directorial prowess of Paul Verhoeven and the military advising of the legendary Dale Dye (who also plays “General”) combined to create what has become one of the most watched, influential, and beloved military movies of all time. Here’s what makes it so freakin’ motivating.
The Federation’s mobile infantry division is basically the Marine Corps of the future. There’s an uncanny parallel between the two services’ leadership values, extreme enforcement of standards, and emphasis on combat readiness.
6. Volunteer spirit.
The Federation’s military service is an all-volunteer organization that believes in attrition. In the book, there is no pursuit or punishment for those who do not show up to ship out for basic training.
Those who feel this new way of life is not for them can simply sign form 1248 and take a stroll down washout lane.
5. Hands-on instructional style.
Senior drill instructors may demand total dedication and effort from their recruits, but they also instruct, inform, and cultivate an atmosphere of learning.
4. Gender equality.
There are no males or females in the mobile infantry: only troopers. Everything is equal. This includes opportunities for leadership, responsibilities, occupations, and even billeting and rain rooms. (showers)
3. Inter-service relations and fraternization policies.
Services work together in harmony to accomplish the mission. Whether you’re an officer or enlisted, there is a standing open-door policy for venting concerns.
2. Community outreach.
The mobile infantry may be an armed force with a primary mission of fighting the human race’s enemies, but they also take the time to make an impact on the community and set a positive example for the youth.
Lt. Danny Nee, a Marine Corps veteran turned firefighter saved a teenager’s life from a burning apartment building on Christmas Day.
His unit was responding to a call that morning when he was notified by onlookers of a woman hanging from a third-floor window. He called a ground ladder and told the woman not to jump, but then realized that the ladder would take too long to deploy and the firefighters were better off rescuing her from the interior.
They made their way through the building, broke through the apartment door and Nee went in with two other firefighters. Nee found the girl, gave her his gas mask and made it out of the building.
The suit, officially dubbed TALOS, or Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit, “was chartered to explore and catalyze a revolutionary integration of advanced technology to provide comprehensive ballistic protection, peerless tactical capabilities and ultimately to enhance the strategic effectiveness of the SOF operator of the future,” Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel III, commander of Special Operations Command, said recently.
The suit is a result of rapid prototyping between the Pentagon, academia, tech companies, and special operators coming together to build out the best platform.
Which means a focus on operator safety while maintaining freedom of movement.
The suit should offer helmets with heads-up display technology, while other prototypes may come with heating and cooling systems and sensors to monitor vital signs, according to DoD News.
This is a pretty early prototype, so there are definitely some changes to be made. But this video of where they are so far is pretty impressive.
Although some of our favorite films are pretty “out there” when it comes to pulling off some amazing feats, there are quite a few movie moments that Marines would love to train their asses off for and totally pull off.
In a hostage situation, shooting around the victim and nailing the assailant would come in quite handy — if we could master it. But we doubt we ever could.
How awesome would this be?
2. Shooting out the floor (Underworld)
In many cases, service members have to find clever ways to evacuate from a desperate situation. In 2003’s Underworld, Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale) shoots the floor out in order to escape from vicious werewolves.
This is a great idea; you know, if the physics were possible and humans could handle 20-foot drops.
If it worked for her, it should work in real life.
3. Inverting you fighter jet (Top Gun)
When flying in an aerial dogfight, there’s no better way to send the enemy an FU message like Maverick’s in 1986’s Top Gun. He managed to fly inverted and flip the bird to his rival flying ace.
This feat is near impossible, but “Mav” makes it look easy as hell.
They went ballistic!
4. Putting on a parachute in mid-air (Eraser)
In 1996, director Chick Russell took on a stunt that had audience asking, “How did they do that?” when U.S. Marshal John “The Eraser” Kruger threw a parachute outside of a speeding plane at high-attitude then retrieves the “chute” in mid-air.
We think that’s pretty badass.
Who wants to go skydiving?
5. The backbend bullet dodge (The Matrix)
At times, Marines fight in close quarters combat when charging in enemy territory, and, unfortunately, sometimes they get shot. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they could just dodge incoming rounds like Nero? We think so.
6. Shooting someone through their scope (Saving Private Ryan)
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 brilliantly captured the moment when Pvt. Jackson (played by Barry Pepper) takes out a German sniper with a perfectly aimed round right through his scope.
Although it’s reported Marine legend Carlos Hathcock made this historic shot, the myth has been both deemed both “busted” and “plausible” by the same people — the Myth Busters. Regardless, we want to be able to pull it off again, and again. Mostly for bragging rights.
‘A War,’ directed by Tobias Lindholm, is a Danish film nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film this year. The movie follows Danish Army infantry commander Claus Pedersen, played by Pilou Asbæk, as he leads his men in Afghanistan. Claus struggles with the complexities of rules of engagement during a firefight, and has to deal with the consequences of his decisions in a murky military trial back home.
This time, WATM’s Blake Stilwell was invited to meet with Lindholm to discuss the inspiration behind the film, the goals he hoped to accomplish with it, and the decisions he made for the filming process.
Seemingly forgotten in all this hoopla about the Army-Navy game is the United States Air Force Academy. What’s the deal? It’s not like the Air Force fields a bunch of slouches. In fact, the Air Force Academy Falcons have had a number of outstanding players, including 1987 Outland Trophy winner Chad Hennings and quarterback Dee Dowis, a 1989 Heisman finalist. In 1985, they were ranked #2 and came pretty close to a championship.
So, why do the Falcons get so little spotlight compared to the Black Knights and the Midshipmen? Well, one small consideration is geography: While the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy at Annapolis are both on the East Coast, the Air Force Academy is in Colorado Springs — way out west. Geography matters in rivalries. Do you think the Bears and Packers would have the biggest rivalry in NFL history if it weren’t for proximity? The Air Force is simply too far away to build a lasting rivalry with the other branches.
Also, the Air Force Academy is a (relatively) recent addition. Their football team started in 1955, a full 65 years after Army and Navy began their rivalry. All great sports rivalries develop over time. Bears-Packers? 96 years. Harvard-Yale? 142 years. Army-Navy? 120 years. You can see the trend.
We’ve got one last theory for you: the competition for the Commander in Chief’s Trophy. This trophy is awarded to the service branch’s football team that emerges victorious over the other two in a given season. The Air Force Academy has earned this trophy outright 20 times and retained it once due to a service-wide tie. The Navy has 15 wins and has retained it three times and the Army’s won 6.
Maybe all the Army and Navy fans are busy trying to forget that the Air Force Academy Falcons win so often. Air Force might not be in the running for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy this year, but when Army and Navy face off, remember that there’s a third, formidable team waiting in the wings.
The United States Postal Service is intrinsically linked with the military. Military mail operates as an extension of the USPS and the postal service is one of the largest employers of veterans in the country with over 97,000 as of 2020. What many people may be surprised to learn is that the iconic right-hand drive mail trucks used by the USPS was manufactured by Grumman (now Northrop Grumman), the same defense contractor that made iconic Navy fighter planes like the F6F Hellcat and the F-14 Tomcat. However, the postal fleet of Grumman Life Long Vehicles have exceeded their service life. On February 23, 2021, the USPS announced that Oshkosh Defense had been awarded the design and manufacture contract for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle to replace the LLV. “[It’s] the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in three decades.”
The Grumman LLV was manufactured from 1987 to 1994 and was intended to have a lifespan of 24 years. Built at Grumman’s Montgomery, Pennsylvania plant, over 140,000 LLVs are in service with the USPS. The truck has also been exported and is used by Canada Post. Despite their intended lifespan, the majority of LLVs have been in use for over 27 years due to a service life extension program in 2009. The USPS has introduced vehicles to augment the LLV like the Dodge Caravan Cargo minivan, but a dedicated replacement was needed.
The NGDV contract includes an initial $482 million investment and calls for the delivery of 165,000 U.S.-built vehicles over a 10-year period with the first deliveries in 2023. Oshkosh Defense is no stranger to government contracts. The company currently supplies the majority of the military’s wheeled vehicles. These include the FMTV, HEMTT, JLTV (the Humvee replacement), and M-ATV, just to name a few. Like the improvements that these vehicles featured over older military vehicles, the NGDV promises to feature a number of improvements over the LLV.
Designed to meet 21st century needs, the NGDV will be larger, taller, and include airbags and air conditioning. It will also be equipped with back-up cameras, a forward collision warning system, automatic front and rear braking, and blind spot detectors. The NGDV will remain right-hand drive, but will feature an enlarged windscreen to improve visibility. These additions are huge improvements over the LLV and will greatly increase the safety and working conditions for the letter carriers that operate them.
Another issue with the LLV was its fuel efficiency. Despite an average EPA fuel economy of 17 mpg, the actual average fuel economy reported by the USPS is 10 mpg. This is due to the extensive stop-and-go nature of residential mail delivery. To address this, the NGDV will be available with two different engines. The first is a low-emission traditional internal combustion engine. The second is a battery-powered motor. To futureproof the NGDV, vehicles fitted with internal combustion engines will be able to be retrofitted with electric motors in the future. This will allow the USPS to slowly adapt its fleet as electric vehicle infrastructure grows while still meeting the needs of routes that electric vehicles wouldn’t be able to reach until then.
The LLV is expected to remain in service past the NGDV’s introduction in 2023. Total replacement of the LLV by the NGDV is not yet forecated. In the meantime, Oshkosh Defense is working to finalize the NGDV’s design and tool a dedicated assembly plant. If you’ve ever wanted a surplus Grumman product, but couldn’t afford an F-14, a retired LLV might be your best bet.
World Wrestling Entertainment, better known as the WWE, marked Memorial Day this year by sharing some of their best Tribute to the Troops moments. Tribute to the Troops is a recurring WWE program that hosts wrestling matches specifically to entertain service members deployed around the world.
One of the most popular clips they shared came from a 2003 fight between John Cena and Big Show. The match was held in Baghdad less than two weeks after American soldiers captured Saddam Hussein. It was the first WWE Tribute to the Troops and featured some great action performed in front of soldiers celebrating their victories over the Iraqi military.