In last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, they finally sealed the thermal exhaust port sized plot hole of how to destroy the First Death Star without “many Bothans” dying.
Jyn Erso, a former criminal turned rebel soldier, leads her team in the Battle of Scarif where they capture the blueprints — and vulnerabilities — of the Death Star, which helps Luke Skywalker eventually destroy the moon-sized weapon. Before she goes on that mission she’s given another: hunt down and locate Saw Gerrera for Capt. Andor to kill.
Makes sense in the logic of the series. The group labelled “The Rebel Alliance” is a ragtag group comprised of many different rebel groups to restore the Galactic Republic. Gerrera was an extremist who gave the Rebellion a bad name and needed to be removed so they could claim morale superiority over defeat the Empire and the Dark Side.
However, in Saw Gerrera’s final moments, he isn’t given the “good riddance” treatment as with most villain deaths — he has a sweet farewell. Nothing about his character was deserving of that moment.
Comparing him to all of the heinous and messed up things done by the real world Osama bin Laden isn’t too far of a stretch.
The Rebels aren’t exactly without blood on their hands. Remember, they were willing to blow up a Death Star — and everyone on it — three times.
Gerrera isn’t just a one-off character in the Star Wars canon. He’s appeared in novels, cartoons, and comics as well. In the novel “Rebel Rising,” Saw proves that he’s willing to do just about anything to achieve his ends — including gunning down thousands of innocent lives to get to just a few Imperials.
The Mujahideen did the same thing happened to Osama after the Soviet-Afghan War.
It’s very subtly talked about and most people gloss over it, but the book mentions that he trained Jyn Erso from a young age. She mentions the reason she left was because she couldn’t handle the fighting at age 16.
This is not unlike how the Taliban uses child soldiers to fight and plant IEDs. The Taliban knows that Americans and our NATO allies would hesitate before pulling the trigger on a child. So they use kids.
Just this scene in Rogue One
To set the scene: a group of soldiers are patrolling through an occupied desert city. Some on foot, others in the vehicle. An insurgent grenade is tossed in the crowded street, taking out a few. The insurgents pull weapons out of their robes and start gunning down the soldiers.
It’s true the soldiers cause collateral damage, but the insurgents intentionally kill innocent to get to the soldiers. The insurgents are not afraid to blow themselves up to kill a soldier or two.
Which am I talking about? The real life fight in Afghanistan or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?
Ron Meyer with Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President, Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast and Jared Lyon National President and CEO of Student Veterans of America (SVA) at an SVA Event. (Photo courtesy of: NBCUniversal)
From the U.S. Marine Corps to the Hollywood mailroom, becoming one of the founders of CAA to being vice chairman at NBCUniversal, Ron Meyer has experienced a lot since growing up in West L.A.
Annenberg Media: Tell me about your family and your life growing up?
Meyer: My mother and father escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. They both immigrated and met in Los Angeles. They were German Jews; my father was a lady’s dress salesman and my mother worked with him until she had me and my sister. We had a very simple life here in west Los Angeles.
Annenberg Media: What is the most distinct memory of your mother and your father?
Meyer: They were loving and supportive parents. My father traveled four out of six weeks so he was gone a lot of the time. My mother raised us on a full-time basis. They were great parents and we loved each other unconditionally.
NBCUNIVERSAL EXECUTIVES — Pictured: Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Annenberg Media: What challenges did you face at school and in the community?
Meyer: I created challenges for myself. We didn’t have money so that wasn’t really an issue as none of us in that neighborhood had money. I worked from the age of about 12-years-old where I delivered and sold newspapers. If I saw a shirt that I liked, I had to work to pay for it. I washed cars at every job you could imagine. I did what I had to do. I was in trouble as a kid but I created most of it, so that definitely made it more challenging for my parents to deal with me. I went to three different junior high and high schools. I spent very little time going to school and I was suspended a lot. I don’t think I ever spent a full day in high school. When I was 16, I legally dropped out. That is what led me to the Marine Corps.
Annenberg Media: What made you want to join the Marines and what was your military occupational specialty (MOS)?
Meyer: I used to box and I was told there was a boxing program in the Marines. There was an active draft back then, so I had a draft card at 17. I thought I was a tough guy and the Marine Corps seemed like a good idea. I found out that there was no boxing program after joining. It was a different kind of Corps; corporal punishment was allowed, and you could fight bare knuckles. They could put hands on you, and you could put hands on them. It was a different kind of world back then.
I was a rifleman, which was my main MOS. I worked in the motor pool and as a radio man. I was a driver as well.
Annenberg Media: What values were stressed at home?
Meyer: My parents were good, honest and hardworking people. I was taught an early lesson when we went to someone’s house for a visit. When I came back home, I had four or five quarters in my pocket. When I told my mother and made up some story, she was not having it. She made me go back down, return the quarters and apologize. My parents never tolerated stealing. They taught me my values that never changed throughout my life.
Annenberg Media: What drew you to film and media while growing up?
Meyer: When I was in the Marine Corps, I got the measles and I was quarantined. I had never read a book in my life at that point. My mother sent me two books: “Amboy Dukes” which was about kids in trouble and a book called, “The Flesh Peddlers” by Steven Longstreet about a young guy in the agency business. I thought when I got out, I didn’t want to be this jerk anymore so I went looking for a job in the agency business. I didn’t have any friends or connections in the business, I just knew about it as a viewer. When a movie came out on a Friday, I thought it was finished on Thursday. I had no concept of the process. It seemed like a good way to make a living. Agents were salesmen and my father was a salesman. I was going to be a salesman of some kind so selling talent seemed like a thing to look into, so I went after it.
Annenberg Media: What was it like starting at the Kohner Agency?
Meyer: It was a great experience and I was lucky to get the job. I was a messenger there for six years. It was a fun time to live in L.A. back then. It was hard work and I worked five days-a-week and then was on call on the weekends for Mr. Kohner. It really was the best time of my life. Hollywood was a lot of fun on the Sunset Strip with all the restaurants and bars. It was just great and looking back on the time it was very Andy Hardy-ish.
Ron Meyer with reporter, Joel Searls at NBCUniversal. (Photo courtesy of: Joel Searls)
Annenberg Media: What leadership lessons in life and from the service have helped you most in your career?
Meyer: The most lasting value comes from what the Marine Corps taught me, teamwork is everything. At CAA it was about teamwork and certainly here at NBCUniversal it is about teamwork. I felt that way at CAA, you were either for us or against us.
We are all in it together. If we succeed, we all succeed and if we fail, we all fail together. You can’t be pointing your finger as a leader. If you trusted the wrong people to do the job, then you must be responsible for it. As a leader you are in it more than anyone else. It is pretty basic: you treat people the way you want to be treated, you tell the best truth you can, you do what you say you are going to do. Once you are a team those are all the fundamentals. You do the best that you can.
Annenberg Media: What are the keywords that you live by?
Meyer: I wish I could say I invented it, but when I was very young, I saw a sign that said, “Assumption is the mother of all f***! ups.” If you assume something you are at risk, I have lived by that forever and I believe that. Don’t assume anyone else is going to take care of the problem or assume you know what someone else is thinking.
Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Tom Hanks and Ron Meyer at the APOLLO 13 premiere. (Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal/Alex Berliner)
Annenberg Media: What are your top three films while you have been at NBCUniversal?
Meyer: The films that I am most proud of being a part of are “Brokeback Mountain,” “United 93” and “Apollo 13.” I am proud of these films and they had a very important significance for me. “Apollo 13” was a perfect movie since we knew how it ended, but you were on the edge of your seat until the very ending. It entertained you and it made you care. “Brokeback Mountain” broke barriers that no one ever imagined before. It was two men falling in love with each other and the beauty of it. I was proud to be part of the studio that made it. “United 93” made you proud to be an American and it told a story of what people are capable of in the worst of circumstances. It was an extraordinary movie and it was the first post 9/11 film. There were no stars in it, and it was what really happened. I saw it with the families of the victims of Flight 93. It deserves to be a classic film and it is important for America. These are the three films that really stand out for me.
Riddle me this: Who would make a great contemporary Batman villain? That’s right! The dude from Looper who was also pretty great in nearly everything he’s been in; Paul Dano.
Though Jonah Hill was heavily rumored to play the Riddler (or the Penguin) in the new upcoming Matt Reeves-directed, and Robert Pattinson-starring film The Batman, it looks like there’s a new Riddler in town. On Oct. 17, 2019, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Paul Dano will be stepping into the role of the Riddler in the new caped-crusader epic. Dano will join Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman and Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon in the new film. Though the new film won’t be released until June, 2021, nearly everything about its production seems exciting. So far, even though certain corners of the internet complained about the casting of Robert Pattinson, nearly everything about his cast seems amazing.
The reason why Dano is such a great choice for the Riddler is there’s arguably not been a great Riddler since Frank Gorshin in the old ’60s Batman TV series. Sure, Jim Carrey was fine in Batman Forever, but he wasn’t truly unhinged the way the Riddler should be. Carrey was goofy. But Paul Dano can do unhinged. Paul Dano is like Shia LaBeouf if the latter was slightly more likable. He’s a great actor who doesn’t really get the credit he deserves. Go watch the movie Being Flynn right now and tell me I’m wrong. It’s great.
In addition to the already pretty solid cast, there doesn’t seem to be much that The Batman can screw-up. Let’s just hope they avoid even thinking about rebooting yet another version of the Joker. We’re all Joker-ed, out, right?
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
The actor Tom Cruise on May 31, 2018, tweeted a teaser for the long-awaited sequel to the movie “Top Gun” — and in doing so, he wandered into one of the most heated debates in modern combat aviation and delivered a savage burn to the F-35.
The original “Top Gun” film was nothing short of a revelation for the US Navy. People around the US and the world saw fighter jets in a whole new light, and naval aviation recruitment shot up by 500%.
A new “Top Gun” movie, now 32 years after the first, could again spike interest in combat aviation at a time when the US military struggles to retain and attract top talent. But for the most expensive weapons system in history, it already looks like a bust.
Here’s the poster for the new “Top Gun.”
Notice anything? The F-35C, the US Navy’s long overdue, massively expensive new carrier aircraft, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the F-18 Super Hornet, the F-35’s main competitor, can be seen.
The F-35 community was not thrilled.
“Everybody that’s flown a fighter in the last 25 years, we all watched ‘Top Gun,'” retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, who flew F-35s and actually attended the US Navy’s Top Gun school, previously told Business Insider.
“Damn shame,” Berke said in response to the new movie’s choice of fighter. “I guess it will be a movie about the past!”
While experts agree that the F-35’s carrier-based variant, the F-35C, and its vertical-takeoff sister, the F-35B, represent the future of naval aviation, they’re just not ready for the big time yet.
In short, it’s an embarrassment to the F-35 program that mounting setbacks have pushed it out of a potentially massive public-relations boost.
“It’s a capable aircraft,” retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies, told Business Insider of the Super Hornet. “It’s just last century’s design.”
He added: “It is a missed opportunity.”
Berke pointed out that the producers of the new “Top Gun” may have gone with the Super Hornet over the F-35 because the Super Hornet has two seats, which could facilitate filming and possibly on-screen dynamics.
The popular aviation blog The Aviationist also pointed out that Cruise is holding an outdated helmet and that the photo does not appear to take place at the US Navy’s Top Gun school. But Hollywood sometimes makes mistakes.
“Hollywood doesn’t build movies around what makes sense — they build movies around what makes money,” Deptula said.
But despite what might have come as a slight sting to F-35 boosters hoping a new film could help usher in what they call a revolution in combat aviation, both Berke and Deptula said they were looking forward to the film.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
It has been said that all men are created equal. If you have spent any time in uniform, then you know that just simply isn’t true. Some of us are just better, faster, smarter, stronger individuals.
Such is the case with August O’Neil. Not only is he one of the world’s elite as an Air Force Pararescueman, he has multiple gold medals from multiple international events that he won after he lost a limb in Afghanistan.
His life is the stuff that movies are made about, literally. Here are the top five reasons you should know August O’Neil.
August O’Neil joined the Air Force in 2005 and graduated from his pipeline training in 2008. If you aren’t aware of the level of elite physical ability and mental capacity you need to become a PJ, here’s a quick rundown:
First, you have to pass what was once known as the Indoctrination Course. Indoc alone has a fail rate north of 80% and that is just the door to get through to more training. That ‘more training’ equates to literal years spent learning the job.
4. First amputee to return to USAF
After suffering such an injury, many of us would go to some dark places. O’Neil has made it his complete life’s mission to get back to his team.
As of late 2017, he was medically cleared and re-certified on many of his required tasks. O’Neil will likely be the first amputee ever to return to active duty in the Air Force.
Yes, that’s correct. With one functional leg and the other having been through 20 surgeries, he won five different medals.
For added sh*ts and giggles, O’Neil also won gold for Kayaking at the Valor Games in 2013.
2. Invictus Games
The Invictus games are right up there with the Paralympic Games and were created by Prince Harry. They are coming up on their third games this year and you can be certain that amazing things will happen there, too.
The games are aimed directly at the global injured veteran community, so it should be no surprise that O’Neil participates.
A feature film, That Others May Live, about O’Neil’s life from the moment he was injured to the present, has begun to gain some real traction. It is currently in pre-production with Paramount Pictures attached.
Many Russia-watchers are questioning or makinglight of the Foreign Ministry’s surprise appointment of Steven Seagal as a special envoy for humanitarian ties with the United States — but not the action-film actor himself.
“I take this honour very seriously,” Seagal tweeted late on Aug 5, a day after the Russian Foreign Ministry announced the appointment on Facebook.
Seagal, who has warm ties with President Vladimir Putin and was granted Russian citizenship in 2016, said he was “deeply humbled and honoured” by the appointment.
“I hope we can strive for peace, harmony, and positive results in the world,” Seagal wrote.
Seagal, 66, starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992). His films were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.
Seagal has vehemently defended Putin’s policies, including Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, along with criticizing the U.S. government.
Kyiv last year banned Seagal from entering Ukraine for five years, citing what it said were national security grounds.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement said that Seagal’s task will be to “foster the further development of Russian-American relations in the humanitarian sphere, including interactions in… culture, the arts, public and youth exchanges, and so forth.”
The position is not paid and will be similar to the United Nations’ goodwill ambassador positions, the statement said.
Throughout history, Native American warriors have given a wide mix of motives for joining the U.S. military. Those include patriotism, pride, rage, courage, practicality, and spirituality, all mingling with an abiding respect for tribal, familial, and national traditions.
This Veterans Day, explore the complicated ways the Native American culture and traditions have affected their participation in the United States military when The Warrior Tradition airs at 9 pm ET on PBS. The one-hour documentary, co-produced by WNED-TV and Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc., tells the stories of Native American warriors from their own points of view – stories of service and pain, of courage and fear.
Author’s note: If you haven’t seen “The Mandalorian” yet, go watch it and come back — spoilers ahead. For the rest of you: this is the way.
The internet has been buzzing about “The Mandalorian,” the “Star Wars” series that follows a Mandalorian bounty hunter (of the same tribe and iconic armor as Boba Fett) who finds a young, force-sensitive creature who looks like a baby Yoda. The series hasn’t just produced a slew of new memes, it’s crushed the ratings on several platforms — IMDB has it at an 8.9, and Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 94 percent on the Tomatometer (with an audience score of 93 percent).
It has all the familiar, nostalgic elements of “Star Wars” — spectacular scenes in space, fun action-adventure, weird creatures, the conflict of good and evil, and, of course, the force. However, “The Mandalorian” also includes a host of cowboy movie tropes, which adds a freshness to the story. It’s not like any old Western we’ve seen — after all, it’s set in space with little alien wizards. It’s also not a repeat of other “Star Wars” stories because it’s basically an old Western set in a fantasy universe.
We can’t publish an article on “The Mandalorian” without showing “the child” at least once.
(Photo courtesy of Disney+)
In order to understand old Western films, we need to understand where they came from. Many of the old Western tropes are American, but some are borrowed from older Japanese cinema. The obvious connection is the Japanese classic “Seven Samurai” being remade into the American cowboy classic “The Magnificent Seven.” While this is the most famous connection between the two genres, it’s not the only one. The music, the stories, the filmmaking techniques — watch any film by Akira Kurosawa and you’ll see elements of the Western left and right.
“The Mandalorian” borrows from both.
It makes sense to begin with the Mandalorian’s religion — his weapons. Our protagonist carries around his handheld blaster and a disintegration rifle (known as a modified Amban Rifle). These are clearly the equivalent of a revolver and a rifle, the cowboy’s typical loadout in most Westerns. Mando generally draws and fires his blaster from the hip, just like the classic Wild West draw. Any bigger weapons brought onto the battlefield are typically large, mounted weapons — the equivalent of the evil antagonist breaking out a Gatling gun mounted to a train or on a tripod. The lasso is another quintessential tool for the cowboy of old Westerns — depicted in “The Mandalorian” by his grappling line. Mando wraps a few enemies up in his “lasso” throughout the story, hog-tying his targets.
Several specific moments also call directly back to the films of the Wild West. For example, the classic “horse whisperer” scene where Mando tames and breaks a blurrg. He is bucked and thrown as the wise, old man watches from the edge of the corral. Finally, our hero mounts the beast and they ride into a few sunsets together.
We mentioned that the Japanese film “Seven Samurai” was the direct inspiration for “The Magnificent Seven” — both films feature bandits who are hell bent on raiding a village, forcing the townspeople to enlist the help of some elite warriors to train them and defend them against the next onslaught. Sound familiar? This same story played out in a chapter of “The Mandalorian” with some unique, sci-fi twists — we don’t remember an AT-ST in “Seven Samurai.”
The comparisons are obvious.
(Photo courtesy of Disney+.)
On top of congruent storylines, one of the most significant ways that Japanese cinema inspired old Westerns was with its music; “Star Wars” also features some of the most iconic music in film history. Ludwig Goransson’s score of “The Mandalorian” fuses the two by combining elements from old Westerns (and perhaps old Japanese films) like the heavy beating of drums with “primitive” sounding percussion, bizarre flutes, and interesting stringed instruments. The hollow melody of the main title would be just as at home if it was played over a lone gunslinger in the Wild West, riding off to save a small town from nefarious bandits. The score cloaks the Mandalorian himself in a shroud of mystery.
Start with some old Japanese film score elements, mix in a bit of Ennio Morricone, then top it off with heavy sprinkles of classic “Star Wars” sweeping scores — and you’ve got yourself a soundtrack fit for the halls of Mandalore.
“The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” (left), and “The Mandalorian.”
(Photos courtesy of United Artists and Disney+.)
The setting and wardrobe also highlight the connection of this magical, dystopian science-fiction narrative to the Wild West. Most of the events in “The Mandalorian” are set in barren places — not on the lavish planet of Naboo or the bustling cities of Coruscant, but out in the lawless desert where guns and criminals abound. And Pedro Pascal (the Mandalorian) sports a cape eerily similar to how Clint Eastwood wears his poncho in classics like “A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Instead of high-tech visors, many of the inhabitants of these barren locations wear old-school goggles, and they wear their blasters low on their hip just like the cowboys we know from the Old West. The Mandalorian even keeps rounds strung across his chest — one wouldn’t expect the need for that in a science-fiction universe, but it all falls in line with the classic Western aesthetic.
A lot of old Westerns are films about rugged individualism. They follow rough characters who have to navigate their way through an even rougher world. The protagonist then finds at least one redeeming aspect about the unforgiving, desolate landscape on which they fight — something precious among the thorns. Upon that discovery, the cowboy or lawman or mercenary finds that their ability to fight, to be strong, to kill — it all suddenly has meaning — it suddenly turns into the ability to protect a village, a woman, a friend… or a child.
Jon Favreau has taken a beloved franchise and breathed new life into it by fusing it with these classic elements from old Western films, and it’s been a wild success. Audiences around the world have expressed how thrilled they are at this new installment of “Star Wars,” and I, for one, can’t wait for the second season.
Embedded With Special Forces in Afghanistan | Part 2
The HBO series “Game of Thrones” (or GoT for short) is based in the mythical world of Westeros and Essos, continents of the Known World. Westeros is where most of the storylines in the show take place. The continent of Westeros is broken down into Seven Kingdoms made up of nine regions: The North, The Iron Islands, The Riverlands, The Vale of Arryn, The Westerlands, The Reach, The Stormlands, The Crownlands (King’s Landing), and Dorne.
Essos is located east of Westeros and separated by the Narrow Sea. Each location has its own unique geography and culture.
Many U.S. military bases, located both domestically and overseas, have similarities to the fantasy world of GoT. Here is a list of military bases that could parallel them:
Fort Drum, NY (Castle Black and The North)
Just like The North in GoT, the winters at Fort Drum are cold and harsh. Along with the large amounts of snow each year, Fort Drum, home of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division, is located near the Canadian border.
For those familiar with the show, Castle Black, located on the Wall, is the headquarters of the Night’s Watch, a military order charged to guard the Wall that separates Westeros from creatures who are Beyond the Wall such as the White Walkers. Although we hope our Canadian neighbors don’t turn into mythological undead ice creatures anytime soon, one thing is for sure with the North and Fort Drum: “Winter is coming.”
Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan (The Vale of Arryn)
The Vale of Arryn is home to the Mountains of the Moon, a large mountain range with some of the tallest peaks in all of Westeros. Bagram Air Base is located surrounded by impressive snow-capped mountains ranging as high as 25,000 feet.
In GoT, the Mountains of the Moon are also home to mountain clans who reject and resist the House Arryn (the governing body in Vale). Sounds familiar.
Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (The Riverlands)
The Riverlands is a fertile region known as the Kingdom of the rivers and the hills. It’s located in the center of the continent.
Offutt Air Force Base, home to the 55th Wing, is sandwiched between the Missouri and Platte Rivers in the rolling hills of southeastern Nebraska. The base is smack dab in the middle of the Continental U.S. Both regions may be prone to flooding.
The Pentagon (King’s Landing)
King’s Landing is the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, and the site of the Iron Throne, where the King sits. The Pentagon is the headquarters of the Department of Defense, and it probably has some very impressive office chairs. Both places wield great power and can at times be ruthless. Just seems logical.
Fort Knox, KY (The Westerlands)
Westerlands is rich in gold with mountain ranges and home to the port of Lannisport. Although Fort Knox does not have the exact geographic characteristics of The Westerlands, Knox does have plenty of gold being the home of the Knox US Bullion Depository used to store the U.S. gold reserves.
West Point (Old Town)
Old Town located in a region called the Reach is the oldest city in the Seven Kingdoms. West Point is the oldest active military installation founded in 1802, and home to the U.S. Military Academy, the nation’s oldest military service academy.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (The Iron Islands)
The Iron Islands is a group of seven rocky islands off the Western coast of Westeros. Despite being the smallest region in the Seven Kingdoms, the people of the islands enjoy great mobility due to their ships and superb naval skills.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is located in Hawaii and is the only U.S. state comprised of islands just like The Iron Islands. The base is a strategic location for operations in the Pacific theater and serves as shore side support to surface ships and submarines for the U.S. Navy Fleet.
National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA (Dorne)
Dorne is a vast desert land isolated from the rest of Westeros. The NTC, located in the Mojave Desert, is much like Dorne because it is very far from large populated areas.
Military personnel who rotate through NTC feel they are in the middle of nowhere, much like the people of Dorne they feel isolated from the Seven Kingdoms.
Camp Pendleton, California (Vaes Dothrak)
Located in the Essos continent, Vaes Dothrak is a warm land ruled by a fierce tribe of warriors called the Dothraki. Camp Pendleton, located near San Diego, is home to the famed I Marine Expeditionary Force. Both forces need to rely on a great fleet to cross large bodies of water.
The US Air Force’s latest recruiting tool is probably the closest you can get to jumping out of a military plane without having to leave your living room.
Called “Air Force Special Ops: Nightfall,” and jointly developed by the service and GSDM, its longstanding creative partner, this video game aims to demonstrate a key component of a number of special operations jobs to the general public — namely, jumping out of perfectly good aircraft at altitudes so high, you’d suffocate without specialized gear.
Using Sony PlayStation’s virtual reality headset, players find themselves immersed in a graphics-rich environment where they jump from planes and make their way to drop zone markers using their parachutes.
In the game, you enter the shadowy world of Air Force Special Operations Command as a recruit undergoing training. Players can choose to enlist as special operations weathermen (yes, that’s a real thing), pararescue jumpers, or joint terminal attack controllers.
In real life, each and every one of these specialties within AFSOC is trained to serve on the ground alongside infantrymen of the Army, Marines and special operations troops, gathering environmental data, directing airstrikes, and rescuing downed aviators.
While everything in the game is geared towards realism, you’ll probably be very thankful that you don’t have to go through any of the grueling training PJs or combat controllers undertake in their pursuit of joining AFSOC’s elite units. First-person shooter fans might be slightly disappointed – there won’t be any shooting involved.
But for what the game lacks in machine guns and grenades, it makes up for with the experience of a combat jump. Players get a taste of high altitude low opening jumps from an MC-130 Commando II, the Air Force’s special operations version of the C-130 Hercules.
Daytime operations are easy enough in themselves, but night ops… that’s where you earn your keep.
In fact, the game is so realistic that your night vision goggles will likely wash out and possibly blind you for a few seconds when they’re turned on for the first time — just like a real airman.
All jokes aside, however, the game has already been well-received from airmen who’ve given it a whirl.
“It is so realistic I could almost smell the airplane and feel the wind,” says active duty combat controller Master Sgt. Brian Hannigan. That’s high praise, considering Hannigan’s line of work and real-world experiences as a member of AFSOC.
And echoing real-life HALO training, the instructors can be very critical, especially if you fail a jump by opening your parachute too early, too late, land outside the drop zone or steer off course.
This isn’t the first time the US military has attempted to use video game as a recruiting tool. “America’s Army,” a first-person game that puts you in the boots of a soldier from basic training to deployment, was actually hailed a success when launched in 2002.
With the advent of virtual reality systems, the Army actually turned its game into a training tool, which is still used today.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Air Force’s venture into video games will turn out to be a hit or a miss, but if you’d like to judge that for yourself, you can download a copy for free via PlayStation’s store.
Marine Corps drill instructor and Hollywood actor R. Lee Ermey was robbed of an Oscar for his legendary portrayal of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 classic “Full Metal Jacket” and snubbed by the Academy’s Oscar “memoriam” montage.
But while the Academy may not have thought his contribution worth recognition, we know the Gunny knew a thing or two we should all remember about military service.
Ermey had a long career. As well as his iconic role in “Full Metal Jacket,” where he improvised most of his dialog, and that long run on “Mail Call,” he played iconic roles as the police captain in “Se7en,” the voice of Sarge in the “Toy Story” movies, the mayor in “Mississippi Burning” and a chilling serial rapist in a 2010 episode of “Law & Order: SVU.”
Ermey also had a wicked sense of humor, one that allowed him to play the over-the-top movie director Titus Scroad in the cult TV series “Action” and the lead kidnapper in the “Run Ronnie Run,” the bizarre comedy from “Mr. Show With Bob and David” guys Bob Odenkirk and David Cross.
He left us on April 15, 2018, and he’s now at rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
So what did his TV and movie appearances teach us about service? Here are nine great examples.
1. Once a Marine, always a Marine.
In his “Full Metal Jacket” rants, Gunny Hartman tells his recruits that their Marine Corps training had permanently changed them. They’re no longer mere men: They’ve become Marines.
“Today, you people are no longer maggots. Today, you are Marines. You’re part of a brotherhood. From now on, until the day you die, wherever you are, every Marine is your brother. Most of you will go to Vietnam. Some of you will not come back. But always remember this: Marines die. That’s what we’re here for. But the Marine Corps lives forever and that means you live forever.”
2. You gotta break someone before you build them up.
Few civilians understand the bonds of trust required for a military unit to function and even fewer can grasp the process that goes into tearing down the idea of the individual so a person can be truly absorbed into the group. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman can help you with that.
“If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that that day, you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings! You are nothing but unorganized grab-ass-tic pieces of amphibian shit! Because I am hard, you will not like me! But the more you hate me, the more you will learn! I am hard, but I am fair! There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops, or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless. And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not packed the gear to serve in my beloved corps. Do you maggots understand that?”
Gunny Hartman may have been talking about Pablo Picasso’s 1939 portrait of Dora Maar.
3. Modern art is not good art.
Hidden in Gunny Hartman’s psychological tear down are some important observations about other parts of our world. He’s also an art critic.
“You’re so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece!”
Truthfully, Gunny Hartman’s material is closer to Don Rickles than Steve Martin but Steve’s the one who said, “Comedy is not pretty.”
4. Comedy is not pretty.
He’s a talented insult comic.
“Well I’ve got a joke for you, I’m going to tear you a new a–hole.”
Ask yourself: “Is my toilet clean enough that I could invite the mother of Our Savior to use my bathroom?”
5. A clean toilet is a holy toilet.
He’s concerned that our religious icons have a good bathroom experience.
“I want that head so sanitary and squared away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in there and take a dump.”
What’s YOUR major malfunction?
6. A great catchphrase works in any situation.
Ask anyone who grew-up in a household where dad always asked “What’s your major malfunction?” Every Single Time they did something he didn’t like.
7. The Heart is the Deadliest Weapon.
He even operates on multiple levels. He may SAY a Marine is the deadliest weapon but listen closely: The threat really comes from a Marine’s cold, cold heart.
“The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle. It is your killer instinct which must be harnessed if you expect to survive in combat. Your rifle is only a tool. It is a hard heart that kills. If your killer instincts are not clean and strong, you will hesitate at the moment of truth. You will not kill. You will become dead Marines. And then you will be in a world of s***. Because Marines are not allowed to die without permission. Do you maggots understand?”
8. Everyone Needs Mail.
Ermey did his part on his long-running History Channel series to educate a generation of Americans who knew nothing about the military. He also reminded everyone that communication is critical for men and women who are serving their country. If you want to remember Ermey, write a letter, send an email or make a phone call in honor of his service.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
So check out these military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true:
1. Michael Bay explosions
Michael Bay is widely known for his amazing camera moves and is hands down one of the best action directors out there. He has mastered the ability to move audiences through the battle space while providing them with an intense adrenaline rush…
…but he needs to work explosions because they look like fireworks.
Here’s a real man’s explosion:
Okay, so this one is a nuke explosion — but you get the point. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)
2. Cleaning bathrooms with toothbrushes
After speaking to a few Annapolis graduates and other military veterans, no one can recall seeing a Midshipman cleaning the bathroom using a toothbrush. It could have happened a long time ago, but not in the last few decades.
3. Taking off on your own
War is very dangerous. Leaving your squad to go run down the enemy by yourself through a sea of maze-like structures for a little extra payback is highly improbable.
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.