Pilot wearing 'Maverick' helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

A sharp-eyed aviation photographer caught a photo of a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet two-seat variant transiting through the Star Wars canyon, one of the most popular western U.S. low-flying areas, earlier this month during what appears to be filming of in-cockpit sequences for the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” movie.

The photo, posted to Instagram by Christopher Lohff (@lohffingfoto), shows the pilot/front-seater wearing the same HGU-68/P lightweight flight helmet with custom graphics as seen in previously leaked photos from the production of “Top Gun: Maverick”. The upcoming film, slated for release on June 26, 2020 in the U.S., is likely entering the final stages of its production phase before going to post-production and editing.


[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BvdEMuyAKOK/ expand=1]Christopher Lohff on Instagram: “Someone’s excited for the Top Gun sequel! This VFA-122 Flying Eagles F/A-18F pilot was sporting what I can only recognize as Maverick’s…”

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Another interesting detail in the photo is the appearance of an array of what appears to be four of the new Sony VENICE CineAlta video cameras on the coaming of the rear cockpit. The new Sony VENICE CineAlta is a full-frame, 36x24mm digital video camera that shoots at a maximum resolution of 6048×4032 and can be modified to shoot at even higher quality resolution. The cameras cost about ,000 USD each without lenses or upgrades for higher resolution.

The Sony VENICE CineAlta array seen in the F/A-18 appears includes four rearward-facing cameras in the aft cockpit of the F/A-18 with various focal length lenses including at least two very wide-angle lenses. The camera array is fitted to the top of the rear cockpit coaming at the top of the instrument panel with a custom machined mount.

These photos give a clue about what some of the in-cockpit sequences may look like when the film debuts next year.

Just before the photos from the western low-flying areas appeared on Instagram, the Internet was filled with “spy” photos of an F-14 Tomcat being used in filming for the upcoming movie. The appearance of the Tomcat suggests a retrospective sequence, some kind of “flashback” to the original “Top Gun” in this upcoming release.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BvkSnlkl6uJ/ expand=1]Skid Voodoo on Instagram: “Our Hero Tomcat should be returning to the San Diego Air & Space Museum Annex soon. Its service to the new film is coming to a close after…”

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The F-14 Tomcat that was sighted around Coronado Island and North Island NAS also showed up on the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) for some filming sequences. One sequence included the aircraft being stopped in the large net/arresting barrier used for emergency recoveries onboard ship. The F-14 used in the filming is likely Grumman F-14A Tomcat #159638, an aircraft previously on display at the San Diego Air Space Museum’s Gillespie Annex in El Cajon, California.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This hero was so deadly, they called him ‘Black Death’

In this modern world, earning a nickname is generally a piece of cake. Show up for work one day with a half-shaven face and you will quickly be slapped with one or two ‘loving’ and memorable nicknames that follow you for years.


In previous generations, nicknames were a bit harder to come by. Add in the legal segregation and racism that characterized the early 20th century and imagine what exactly had to be done for a black soldier to be known as “Black Death” by both friendly and opposing forces. It all stems from one night.

Related: 6 signs that you might be a veteran

Who is Henry Johnson?

Henry Johnson was born on July 15, 1892. On June 5, 1917, standing at approximately 5’4″ and weighing roughly 130 pounds, he enlisted in the 15th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard (colloquially known as the Harlem Hellfighters).

He joined them on deployment to France to augment the Fourth French Army and would go on to become the first black soldier to engage in combat during World War I.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon
Pictured: Henry Johnson (Photo from NBC News).

Why “Black Death?”

On May 14, 1918, Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts were augmenting the Fourth French Army, standing as sentries in Argonne Forest. Outfitted with French weapons and gear, Johnson and Roberts soon began taking sniper fire as German forces advanced.

Roberts was severely wounded trying to alert standby forces, leaving Johnson to fend off the German advance, essentially alone, using any and everything he could get his hands on. Johnson successfully held the German forces up long enough for American and French troops to arrive, forcing the Germans to retreat.

Johnson took bullets to the head, lip, sides, and hands, suffering 21 total wounds in all. Using a combination of grenades, rifles, pistols, buttstocks, and a bolo knife, Johnson killed four enemy soldiers and wounded another 20. Following the events of that night, he was known as, “Black Death.”

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon
A dramatization of Henry Johnson’s heroic and historic night.

Also Read: 7 more professional athletes you didn’t know were veterans

Vindicated

Johnson and the Harlem Hellfighters returned home to a hero’s welcome — a parade on Fifth Avenue and the adoration from their particular corner of the nation.

The good times wouldn’t last, however, as Johnson’s erroneously recorded medical records resulted in him not receiving a Purple Heart.

He would then bounce from job to job, sliding further down on his luck at every stop until he turned to alcohol. Johnson was dead less than 11 years after his heroic day.

Johnson was, eventually, posthumously awarded a Purple Heart in 1996, a Distinguished Service Cross in 2001, and, finally, the Medal of Honor in 2015.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army Private Henry Johnson. Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson accepts the Medal of Honor. (Photo by Pete Souza)

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘High-risk’ Marine colonel warmed burrito on aircraft exhaust duct

The ousted commander of a Marine Corps air station rearranged his pilots’ flight schedules to give himself more time in the cockpit and had a reputation of being a “big, angry colonel,” according to an investigation into complaints about him.

Col. Mark Coppess, the former commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan, abused his staff and officers for months “so he could achieve his personal objectives to fly,” a 351-page report into his behavior states. A copy of the investigation was obtained by Military.com on Aug 6, 2018.


Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

UC-35D in flight

(NAVAIR)

Coppess was relieved of command June 5 by Brig. Gen. Paul Rock, head of Marine Corps Installations Pacific. Rock lost confidence in the colonel’s ability to lead, the service reported at the time.

Some believed Coppess, an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter pilot, was aggressively trying to earn flight time in a UC-35 Cessna Citation business jet. Coppess, who could not immediately be reached for comment, requested that he be scheduled to fly three times per week, according to the investigation.

“Colonel Coppess would remove pilots from the flight schedule and replace them with himself,” one witness said, according to the documents. “… This looked like Colonel Coppess was trying to receive more fixed-wing time to set himself up for a career post-Marine Corps.”
Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

A Super cobra flies past USS Fort McHenry during a Search and Seizure (VBSS) drill

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson)

One witness said Coppess put his own time in the cockpit ahead of more junior pilots, adding that the colonel once said, “the captains can fly less. I’ve done my time.”

Others cited a poor command climate under Coppess and alleged abuse of authority and undue command influence. Five pilots interviewed during the investigation reported “personally being pressured to produce certain outcomes not in accordance with orders, [standard operating procedures] and directives” for Coppess’ benefit.

“He creates an atmosphere of fear and reprisal,” a witness told the investigating officer. “He is using his position, title, and rank to get what he wants for himself.”

Coppess denied using his position to unduly influence flight operations at Futenma, but acknowledged that he’d heard about the accusations from Rock.

A former operations officer at Futenma said scheduling staff had to route the weekly flight schedule through Coppess’ office before producing the daily schedules.

“He inserted himself into the schedule writing process,” the officer said. “… There is a perception of a ‘self hook-up’ concerning Col. Coppess’ flying.”

Coppess also told his Marines there was “no rank in the cockpit.” But those under his command didn’t always find that to be the case.

The colonel showed an unwillingness to accept constructive feedback from junior personnel, one witness said, adding they feared some might be unwilling to “correct procedural deviations and potential flight safety concerns due to apprehension about retribution from Col. Coppess.”

Pilots weren’t comfortable flying with Coppess, according to the investigation, and he was identified as a “high-risk aviator.” He had a reputation for being “difficult in the cockpit,” one witness said. Others said he was not experienced flying a fixed-wing aircraft.

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Coppess once “rose his flaps at a non-standard time,” according to a witness, and on another occasion “warmed a burrito on the exhaust duct of the aircraft.”

While there aren’t any Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization [NATOPS] prohibiting pilots from doing either, the witness said the acts were considered “different enough” for the aircraft commanders to raise the issue to a party whose name was redacted in the report.

Coppess did not address those incidents in the investigating officer’s documents, but did say that he supports naval aviation’s constructs for safety and standardization.

In a memo for a May command meeting, he urged other aviators to be straight with him about his aviation skills, despite his rank and position. The memo was included in the investigation, though it’s not immediately clear whether the meeting was held.

“It will help me in knowing and owning my weaknesses and seeking improvement,” Coppess wrote in the meeting memo. “… I fully intend to know and own my shortcomings as an aviator.”

Despite the deficiencies some witnesses described, several people told the investigating officer that Coppess was pressuring people in the command to make him a Transport Aircraft Commander, or TAC. One in particular said he was under “constant pressure” to make Coppess a TAC in the UC-35D.

“[He] is not ready and is a below-average copilot,” the witness said. “I was specifically told by him a few months ago that he will be a TAC, will be dual [qualified to fly both our UC-35 and UC-12], and that he will be an instructor in at least one of the planes.”

Coppess addressed those issues in an April 27 letter that was included in the investigation. Writing to a redacted party, Coppess said he recognized the standardization board’s role in nominating pilots for additional designations and qualifications. He did “not intend to influence members of the Standardization Board in their responsibilities,” he wrote.

“I apologize for the unintentional perception of undue command influence on the [board’s] role of nominating pilots for designations and qualifications,” he said. “That won’t happen again. When the [board] determines I’ve progressed in proficiency and I’m nominated, I will be ready for the TAC syllabus.”

He also invited the person to bring any fears of reprisal to his attention.

While at Futenma, Coppess racked up more flight hours than any other air station commanding officer in the Marine Corps during the same period, according to the investigation. His command did not immediately respond to questions about his current assignment.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @Militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These 6 military habits — kick ’em or stick with ’em?

Life without orders is like staring into the abyss — of choices. We all know finding a new groove is essential to success after the military, but which habits should die-hard, and which should you begrudgingly hang onto?


While it may seem like pulling a complete 180 is you “sticking it to the man,” he actually gave you a few good pointers.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

Cursing – kick it

Swearing like a sailor may be the language of choice across all branches of the military, but average America is not ready to wade through the sea of f-bombs to catch your intended meaning. They also, sadly, don’t see the value in violent bluntness or the off-the-cuff nickname you would love to metaphorically slap them with.

While it would be abso-bleeping-lutely great if everyone could just cipher through like the rest of us, one slip up from the old….mouth and you can kiss that job or promotion goodbye.

Stay training- for something that matters – stick with it 

The military is always training to achieve a specific goal or purpose. Your skills are constantly being sharpened, forcing you to become better than the day before. The discipline of living within a constant training cycle is a pace that throws many veterans for a loop after service.

As a civilian, you can pick what to train for, but the key to connecting who you are now to what you were before, could be remaining diligent in your training. Learn to cook like a chef or get a black belt; just do it with a clear date to make the cut.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

Wake up and grind – stick with it

We’re melding two habits into one here – keeping up with PT and waking up early. There are clearly more hours in the day and zero chances for your pants to stop fitting if you keep with the military way of working out.

No one loves frosty morning runs, but no one hates the endorphins high that you get before breakfast, either. Take comfort, and a feeling of camaraderie in the fact that you’re in the best company before dawn, powering through PT like a warrior.

Living paycheck to paycheck – kick it 

While there are many things to complain about in terms of military pay, there is one thing – a reliable paycheck, to count on. It would be great to believe that anyone past PFC would have a solid grasp on finances, that’s not the case.

Getting smart about not just how you’re spending, but what you actually need in terms of salary to support your lifestyle, is a requirement for success. Civilian life doesn’t come with BAS, BAH, and plenty of other little perks you don’t realize you have.

Take a hard look at your Leave and Earnings Statement well before you get out. If it looks like the grid of confusion, stroll yourself into one of the many free financial programs on post or online open to the military community.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

Contingency plans – stick with it

No one takes over a compound without a plan b, so why tackle an entire second career without one? If your squad leader didn’t drill it into your head hard enough, they’re important, and you must be prepared to activate the next on the list when or if things go south.

Waiting for orders – kick it 

Every day that you served, orders were waiting for you. The simplicity of a highly scheduled life is difficult to replicate, and after a short vacation from it turns out to be something most veterans miss.

Luckily, the military taught you what to do. Taking initiative in the absence of orders is battlefield common sense. Creating the mission (see above) and executing a series of orders, which, if followed, will achieve success, is how you make it one day at a time.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways to water your own military marriage lawn

We see you. Peering through the windows of your government-issued duplex at the neighbor’s waving flag, sizzling grill and luscious green patch of America. No amount of rent-controlled water allowance has produced grass so green on your side of things, despite the best of efforts. How is it that lawncare has suddenly become a relevant metaphor for marriage? Happily ever military didn’t tell you about the unspoken vow we all recite, to endure. To preserve during droughts, rebuild after landslides, and endure no matter where we’re planted.


Military marriage is about watering the lawn you have today, and sometimes, calling it for what it is and putting down a patch of turf to get by. Here to help is advice from spouses in it for the long haul.

We all pick fights when the schedule goes completely nuts.

“I’m guilty of misdirecting my anger at my husband, when really it’s the late nights and last-minute changes that I’m angry at,” says Kayla Narramore, United States Marine Corps spouse.

A good marriage requires balance, but all too often, everything you had planned gets scratched at the last minute. Remembering that unlike conventional jobs, when they’re coming home, what happens next, and how long they’ll be gone can all change at any given time. Analyze what, not who you’re frustrated with instead.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

Relying on friends is how we all get by

Your service member is your life partner, but your military friends are who you can depend on. Scheduling a kid-free hair appointment, catching the flu, or even a night out are all normal tasks spouses rely on each other to tackle, but all run the risk of being canceled without much notice. Try penciling in your spouse as the back-up, with a non-active duty person as the primary. Always hope that they can step up, but this insulated plan keeps a fight or feelings of being let down out of the equation.

Counseling is not only for quitters

Between deployments, training, and schools that last for months, it’s no wonder why the common state of marriage in the military a bit is out of whack. Cohabitating is hard for anyone. Yearly marital checkups should be as commonplace as yearly physicals. Sometimes a nasty cold needs to run its course and sometimes may require treatment. There’s no body or no marriage that lives its life with a completely clean slate.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

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We don’t love putting ourselves on hold either

“I’d love to open a bakery, but we move so often that’s nearly impossible,” explains Tiana Nomo, Army spouse when discussing her stress points. Coming to grips with what’s feasible versus possible is where spouses reframe their world in a positive light. While no one would blame you for feeling envious of their consistent career, remembering the bigger picture is helpful in eliminating circular arguments. Rehash the five-year goals often, to be a truer reflection of both parties’ interests.

We don’t always find fitting in easy 

“I had gone from working multiple fulfilling jobs to being alone, as a stay at home mom while my husband was deployed. My walls were up, to say the least,” says Anna Perez, Army spouse about her time at their first duty station. Military spouses may have one large common denominator but come together from opposite ends of all spectrums in career, life, expectations, and culture. The same can be said for the service member, however, with most of their days and time welded together, bonding appears to come more naturally than for the spouse. Without a secure network, it becomes easy for spouses to begin isolating themselves, even within their marriages. “I reached outside of the post, and into the local town where I found friendships and mentors who changed my outlook and career path,” says Perez who has her sights on becoming a lawyer.

Picking up on a theme? So much of military life is unpredictable, taking marital expectations through drastic ups and downs. Learning to love through potential decades of military service requires a strong tolerance for upheaval and a willingness to hang on, even if by one rooted strand.

Military Life

6 things platoon medics absolutely hate

Navy Corpsmen and Army medics are some of the best medical professionals in the world who go above and beyond to render care to sick and wounded troops in the line of duty.

Although the armed forces’ “docs” have earned tons of combat decorations throughout their proud history, not every part of the job feels valorous or glamorous. In fact, many docs must accomplish tasks they absolutely hate in order to do their job well. Here are just a few of unpleasant functions the job requires.


Taking care of a bad guy

The Geneva Convention requires that docs care for wounded bad guys, regardless of how they were injured. It’s no fun knowing you’re helping a guy who just might take a pot shot at you later.

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Not being in the safety vehicle during a mandatory hike

Realistically, there aren’t many troops out there who look forward to a mandatory conditioning hike.

Several miles into the excursion, when your feet are beyond swollen, you’ll start to curse (in your mind) when you see the smiling faces of personnel in the safety vehicles. They’re just chilling.

Sick-call commandos

We dislike those weak-minded troops who show up and waste the medical staff’s time. The truth is, so-called “sick-call commandos” fake illness to get out of responsibilities, taking time away from other people who need to see the doctor because they’re actually ill or injured.

No one like these guys.

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A troop showing up to sick call 5 minutes after its secured, but we still have to treat them

Monday through Thursday, having a sick or injured troop come in late isn’t a big deal. However, imagine it’s 1700 on a sunny Friday evening and someone who could technically wait until Monday morning shows up for treatment — not cool.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

Having to ‘bore punch’ a patient

If you’re not familiar what a “bore punch” is, you’ll want to ask the kids to leave the room before we tell you. Okay, they’re gone? Cool.

Bore punching is when the doc uses a giant cotton swab to take a sample from inside a male patient’s urethra to test for bacteria. It’s unpleasant for both parties.

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(Universal Pictures)

When a Navy Corpsman gets called a ‘medic’

There’s a perpetual debate on the differences between Corpsmen and medics. The truth is, they’re very much alike aside from the branches under which they serve. That, and Corpsmen are way more decorated… and sexy.

That said, they hate being called a “medics” instead of the proper term, which is “Corpsman.” “Doc” works, too.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Cockpit video shows a Russian fighter running up on a US B-52 bomber

The Russian Defense Ministry released a video shot from the cockpit of a Su-27 fighter as it raced after a US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress heavy, long-range bomber.

Russian fighters were twice scrambled to intercept US bombers approaching the Russian border around the Black and Baltic seas, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, according to Russian media.

Three B-52 bombers from the US Air Force’s 5th Bomb Wing flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Eastern Europe in an unusual flight.


The US Air Force released its own statement on recent activities, explaining that “strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe.”


#Видео Стратегические бомбардировщики B-52H ВВС США были замечены накануне у государственной границы …

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The US and Russia frequently intercept one another’s bombers in Eastern Europe and over the Pacific.

In May 2019, Russian Tu-95 long-range bombers entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) twice in two days. The US scrambled F-22 stealth fighters and intercepted them. Afterward, the US touted its ability to deter and defeat threats.

Two months earlier, it was the Russians intercepting US B-52 bombers flying over the Baltic Sea during a short-term deployment to Europe. Russia accused the US of unnecessarily fanning tensions.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

This veteran-backed NASCAR team is heading to Daytona

It’s shake and bake, veteran style. NASCAR is well known for being military friendly. When the green flag waves at Daytona this weekend, it will usher in the new NASCAR season with a really special story. The crown jewel event is the Daytona 500. On Saturday, the day before the 500, there is a race called the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 which ushers in the Xfinity Series season. One of the cars racing to win the 300 should be the favorite of all military supporters around the country.


The Our America Dream Team car won’t have the familiar sponsors you see on all the other race cars. Instead, they will feature veteran-owned businesses as the car trades rubber with all the cars on the track.

How is this possible? The team crowdfunded to raise money so they could race. In return for donations, veteran-owned businesses will be featured on the car racing around one of the world’s most famous race tracks during one of racings marquee weekends.

The car will be driven by Colin Garrett. Garrett said, “I’m so grateful for the support from everyone who’s backed the team. We’re excited that fans and military-owned small businesses will be able to see the car on the track and feel proud, knowing they had a hand in us racing. When I started racing, my dad said he wanted me to find a way to use it to make a difference, so I could look back on it and know I helped someone. I wasn’t quite 15 at the time and didn’t really get it, but now I do. Working with the military community is the perfect fit, and it’s cool that it ties in with my brothers’ Army careers.”

Team owner Sam Hunt added, “It feels good to know we’re racing for something bigger than ourselves. We love racing, but the National Awareness Campaign makes it mean so much more.”

Lisa Kipps-Brown, the marketing strategist behind the team who took time to answer questions about the team.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

WATM: Where did the idea of “Our American Dream Team” come from?

Kipps-Brown: Two ideas converged to create “Our American Dream Team:”

  • The belief that hard work, talent, and ingenuity could compete at the professional levels of NASCAR was fostered by the families of driver Colin Garrett and team owner Sam Hunt.
  • At the same time, the Garrett family had been running a National Awareness Campaign throughout the 2019 NASCAR season to promote the free services offered by Racing For Heroes, a nonprofit founded by Army Special Forces CW3 Mike Evock (ret.). Their holistic services include mental physical health treatments, job placement, and motorsports therapy. Since over 25% of active-duty military are NASCAR fans and about 18% of NASCAR fans are Veterans, it’s the perfect platform to reach the military community.

We realized that the American Dream that we believe in and are chasing is often hard for those in the military community to achieve. Since we wanted to expand our National Awareness Campaign for 2020, helping those who have given so much achieve their own American Dream was the perfect fit to complement what we were already doing with Racing For Heroes. We decided to take a leap of faith and commit to crowdfunding the team to replace as much corporate sponsorship money as possible, which would free us up to promote issues important to the military community and companies owned by Veterans and military spouses.

WATM: Tell us a little about the team owner?

Kipps-Brown: 26-year-old Sam Hunt dreamed of starting a NASCAR team after racing throughout his childhood. After he graduated from college, the late J.D. Gibbs, whom Sam knew through his family, gave Sam his first two cars to help him get started. Sam started his team in 2018, living in his van behind the shop and couch surfing with friends to be able to afford the business. He and driver Colin Garrett started racing together that year in the KN Pro Series, and realized they had something special working together.

WATM: Tell us about your driver?

Kipps-Brown: Unlike most NASCAR drivers, 19-year-old Colin Garrett didn’t grow up racing karts or in a racing family. Yet, in just his third season of racing, he was historic South Boston (VA) Speedway’s 2017 Limited Sportsman Division Champion and broke the track’s qualifying speed record twice. In 2018 he started racing with team owner Sam Hunt in the KN Pro Series and continued racing Super Late Model. What started out as a 3-race deal with Sam turned into a great fit, and they raced KN together the rest of the 2018 season and all of 2019. In the fall of 2019, they decided they wanted to make the leap to the Xfinity Series.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

WATM: Do you have any connections to the military? Why did they partake in this endeavor?

Kipps-Brown: Both of Colin’s brothers are Active Duty Army, one currently deployed to Korea. One of Sam’s best friends is a Navy SEAL. I am a milspouse whose husband is retired Navy with 26 years of service, 3 of which were in the Vietnam War. Combating Veteran suicide and helping service members transition back to civilian life is an issue that’s personally important to them. Colin knows it could be his brothers who need help, and I have experienced how difficult the transition can be for Veterans and military families.

WATM: How hard was it to raise money?

Kipps-Brown: We knew it was a long shot, but we also had faith that we could do it. We believed in the loyalty of grassroots NASCAR fans and the power of large numbers of people who could give any amount. Nothing was too small. Our friends, family, and existing fans kicked it off for us, backing the team because they believed in us and our dream. We ended up raising enough to not only race in Daytona, but also pay for stem cell treatments for a Veteran through Racing For Heroes. Crowdfunding needs a crowd, though, and we’re really just now tapping into the power of the military community.

WATM: What were the biggest obstacles?

Kipps-Brown: Connecting with the crowd was by far our biggest obstacle. People are jaded, and for good reason. They’ve seen too many people use Veterans’ issues to further their own cause without giving anything back to the community. The most important connection so far has been when Stephanie Brown, founder of The Rosie Network, introduced us to Marine veteran Greg Boudah, founder of Jewelry Republic. Jewelry Republic, where Veterans buy jewelry, became a sponsor on the car for Daytona, and Greg has been instrumental in getting the grassroots movement going. He’s activated his network of vetrepreneurs like Chris (Smurf) McPhee (retired Green Beret – Green Beret Media) and Michael Whitlow (Marine veteran – Vetbuilder) to help us get the word out. Once people get to know us, they realize we’re part of the military family, that we’re not just asking for money, and we really do want to make a difference. When we get over that hurdle, everyone responds with excitement.

WATM: How many veteran businesses donated?

Kipps-Brown: We have about 50 Veteran Business Advocates so far. When a vet- or milspouse-owned business gives and provides their logo, we promote them on our website, tell their story on our Facebook page, and provide a Veteran Business Advocate badge for their website. It’s an opportunity for them to participate in a national NASCAR marketing campaign, something that would normally never be available to small businesses. There’s never been anything like this done before, and we have plans in the works for other ways of helping grow military-owned businesses. Stay tuned 🙂

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WATM: How did you get involved with this? What other outside help did they get.

Kipps-Brown: It’s really been me, Colin’s dad, and the staff of my web marketing strategy company, Glerin Business Resources. I started working with Colin and his dad in November of 2018. A couple of months after that Racing For Heroes happened to contact me, wanting to hire me to develop a National Awareness Campaign for them.

When I visited them at Virginia International Raceway and saw all they do, I was literally in tears. I couldn’t believe the extent of their free services, and the fact that they were holistic was even better. I remembered how hard it was for my husband when he retired, losing that sense of mission and knowing he was part of something that made a difference. I just couldn’t bear the thought of taking money away from their programs. I called Colin’s dad, Ryan, as soon as I left, and he readily agreed to roll Racing For Heroes into the work I was doing with them.

Just after that, he and I began working with Steve Sims, author of Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen, as our business coach. Steve’s encouragement, input, and challenging us to think differently were instrumental in the evolution of the team.

I think the fact that this whole campaign started with a call from Racing For Heroes is so cool; it’s really an organic effort that was constantly changing throughout the season. We’re proud that a movement that started in a small, rural town in Virginia has gone national and is becoming a disrupter in the racing industry.

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WATM: Tell us about the race the car will be in?

Kipps-Brown: The NASCAR Racing Experience 300 is the most prestigious NASCAR Xfinity Series of the year. The 300-mile race is held at Daytona International Speedway the day before the Daytona 500, and is broadcast live on TV and radio.

WATM: Are there future plans for any other races?

Kipps-Brown: We intend to race as many Xfinity races on the national stage this year as we can fund, and we plan to be prepared to run the full 2021 season. Colin will also be running NASCAR Super Late Model and Late Model at the grassroots level, like his home track South Boston Speedway. The smaller tracks actually give him a better opportunity to interact directly with fans, which is great for helping communicate the free services available.

The NASCAR Racing Experience 300 rolls out at 2:30 p.m. EST this Saturday, February 15th. Tune in and cheer on the Our America Dream Team!

More information on the team and its cause can be found here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of September 7th

There’s just something about the non-payday weekend after that sweet holiday break. Last weekend, everyone had some grandiose plans about getting out of town or spending three full days in a drunken haze. This weekend is different.

Sure, it’s another two days of having little expected of you — with the exception of what your first sergeant tells you at the obligatory safety brief. But it doesn’t feel like you’re getting some awesome time off compared to last week. So, I guess it’s time to actually do all that stuff you told yourself you’d do with your extra free time last weekend…

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Take a break from your chores or those SSD classes you keep telling your supervisor you’ll eventually do and enjoy some memes.


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(Meme via The Lonely Operator)

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(Meme via Shammers United)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via CONUS Battle Drills)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(N. Robertson)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via Space Force Actual)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via Military World)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme by Ranger Up)

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY MOVIES

This what happened with the Game Boy that works after being blown up

The term “military grade” gets tossed around too frequently on consumer products. It evokes feelings of durability and strength, whereas troops laugh at it because to them, it often means “lowest bidder quality.” Then there are consumer products, like the Nokia 3310, that are strong — but not that strong.


None of that compares to the Gulf War Game Boy.

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Seriously. This is how you make a product Military Grade.

The story begins with a U.S. Army medic stationed with the 44th Evacuation Hospital named Stephan Scoggins. He was a Police Officer from Oklahoma City and deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm. The barracks he was at was bombed and the fire destroyed much of the living area. No one was harmed, but nearly all of his belongings were destroyed, including his Nintendo Game Boy — or so he thought.

Scoggins then wrote to Nintendo Power hesitantly hoping for a replacement. So he sent it in while still deployed.

The technicians that received the Game Boy didn’t expect much. The front had been destroyed and the Control Pad and A and B buttons were melted down. They deemed it a “lost cause,” but just as an experiement, they put in a copy of Tetris and changed out the destroyed battery pack.

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To be fair, the back was in slightly better condition.

After that, the Nintendo Game Boy gave it’s iconic “Ping!” sound. The Start and Select buttons worked just fine and if you pressed kinda hard enough, you could get it to work. The screen was heavily damaged, but you could still make out what was being played.

They sent Scoggins a replacement Game Boy. The Gulf War Game Boy has become a gaming relic of the era and still to this day is on display on the second floor of the Nintendo NY in Rockefeller Center. Ever since then, they just slightly repaired the screen and keep it on a constant power supply to show the world how strong Nintendo products really are.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Chapter 13: The Jedi is best episode of ‘The Mandalorian’ yet

It’s right up there with Rogue One as one of the greatest Star Wars stories yet. From Jedi lore to fan favorite characters to stunning visuals, this is the kind of episode we’ve been waiting for from The Mandalorian. 

Spoilers through Season 2 Episode 5 ahead.

We’ve suspected for a while now that Rosario Dawson would make her appearance as Ahsoka Tano in this episode and we were not disappointed. Episode writer and director Dave Filoni nailed this episode, beginning with the foggy outskirts of Calodan on the planet Corvus. The brownness of the forest wastes mixed with the white blades of Ahsoka Tano’s lightsabers made for an incredible display of her abilities.

And her character.

For anyone who has not seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano was assigned by Master Yoda as the apprentice and Padawan learner of Anakin Skywalker. She served in the Grand Army of the Republic, fighting against enslavement and oppression across the galaxy. She faked her own death during Order 66 and, among other notable adventures, she confronted Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, and Darth Vader — her old Jedi Master.  

So it was no surprise that she would now be taking on an Imperial tyrant known as Morgan Elsbeth, who threatens to torture and kill civilians if Tano refuses to comply with Elsbeth’s orders. Tano, instead, gives Elsbeth one day to give her the information she seeks before disappearing into the mist.

The next morning, Djarin and his little charge arrive on Corvus and enter the city. Elsbeth tries to hire him to kill Tano, thinking a Mandalorian would jump at the opportunity to take out a Jedi. She offers a spear made of pure Beskar Steel as payment.

Without accepting her offer, Djarin asks where Tano can be found. 

After a pretty cool confrontation (Beskar vs. Lightsaber — fun!), Djarin announces that he’s been sent by Bo-Katan — but it’s the moment that Tano sees the Yoda Baby that really makes things interesting. Remember, Tano knew Master Yoda; she recognizes the Child’s species. She’s then able to communicate with him and she learns many things.

First and foremost, his name is Grogu. He was a Jedi Padawan during the purge of the Jedi, when he was secreted away for his protection. After he was captured by the Empire, he suppressed his powers in order to hide and survive.

Tano senses much fear in him and decides not to train him. Instead, she tells Djarin that his connection with the child is strong and they should let Grogu’s abilities with the Force fade. Djarin, still mission-oriented, insists that the Yoda Baby be returned to the Jedi. He offers to help Tano free Corvus from Elsbeth in exchange for taking the child.

They make an excellent team, swiftly taking out Elsbeth’s forces — along with a few small hero moments from brave civilians — very in line with one of the best themes of Star Wars wherein any one person can make a difference. Tano fights Elsbeth in a cinematically fantastic scene, demanding to know where her mysterious master is. Upon her victory, we also learned the name of said master: Grand Admiral Thrawn. 

To which I gleefully shouted, “Oh sh**!”

Because when I was a nerdy middle-school kid, you better believe I was reading Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire and the Thrawn trilogy. Though those books have since been decanonized, Thrawn was re-imagined in Star Wars: Rebels, where he served as the final main antagonist. He was last seen disappearing into hyperspace with the Rebels protagonist, Ezra Bridger — and Tano was last seen setting off on a quest to find him (along with the Mandalorian Sabine). 

It would seem that Disney is, very cleverly, opening doors for live action films or series about not only Bo-Katan, but Tano, Ezra, Sabine, and of course Thrawn, as well. 

In the end of this episode, Tano still refuses to teach little Grogu — but she does tell Djarin of a sacred Jedi site where Grogu can choose his own path, and perhaps call out through the Force to one of the few remaining Jedi. Oh, and she gives Djarin the spear.

Lists

5 reasons bourbon is the most American drink of all time

Bourbon is a liquor that has a place in your hand all-year round. Whether it’s sipping a mint julep on a hot summer’s day or spiking the egg nog (like George Washington might) to make Christmas with the family that much more fun (or bearable), there is just never a bad time for a bourbon beverage.


Despite being named for a house of French kings, there are myriad reasons why we should take a moment to take stock (literally and figuratively) of America’s distinctive, home-grown, and distilled liquor.

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And if you want to get technical, those French Bourbon kings helped George Washington and the Continental Army create America, so show some respect.

Bourbon’s all-American status goes well beyond the fact that it’s an American-born corn-fed whiskey created by a Baptist minister in Kentucky — although I can’t think of a more American birth for anything.

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Unless you can figure out how to get cheese, baseball, and apple pie in there, too.

A 1964 act of Congress made bourbon the official spirit of the United States of America, or as they put it, “America’s Native Spirit.” Which says a lot, both about America and the U.S. Congress… and probably the people who voted for them.

It should be noted that many, many great bourbons are Kentucky-based but it isn’t necessary for a bourbon to be made in Kentucky for it to be considered a bourbon. This is not champagne we’re talking about. The necessary qualifications for a whiskey to be a bourbon are as follows:

  • It’s made with 51 percent corn.
  • It must be aged in a new white oak barrel, with the inside charred before adding liquor.
  • It can’t have any color or flavor additives
  • Bourbon must be between 80 and 160 proof (40-80 percent alcohol)
There are real reasons why bourbon is a product that could only have been American-made. So, put that vodka-soda down, comrade, and get a bottle of Evan Williams for the coming July 4th holiday. Your friends and family will thank you.

Now if you want to drink bourbon like a sailor, try the classic Whiskey Smash!

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American Oak repels British cannonballs while making an excellent liquor flavor. Amerigasm.

1. Those oak barrels are only found in North America.

Bourbon must be aged in a new American White Oak barrel every time. These barrels are never reused by bourbon makers. I think they’re shipped off to Scotland so they can age scotch whisky in them with peat moss and haggis or whatever. No, America’s bourbon only uses them once — by law (no joke) — and they’re mostly found only in America.

When the U.S. Navy needs to patch up Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, they use white oak from a grove specifically for the ship, called “Constitution Grove,” at a Naval timber reserve at Naval Weapons Support Center in Crane, Indiana.

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Both of them always make faces that imply 120 gallons was not enough.

2. Bourbon fueled the exploration of the United States.

Lewis and Clark didn’t take water with them on the expedition to map the Louisiana Purchase, but you can be damn sure they remembered to bring 120 gallons of bourbon to fuel their two-year trek to the Pacific Ocean.

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America runs in your veins, whether you like it or not.

3. American icons f*cking love bourbon.

What did Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Harry Truman, Walt Whitman, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Jack London, Mark Twain, Anthony Bourdain, and John Wayne have in common? No, they weren’t all taken over by the reptile aliens and replaced: They loved American bourbon.

When Grant’s critics appealed to Lincoln to try and have him fired for his drinking, Lincoln offered to send Grant’s preferred brand to all his other generals — and you can still buy Grant’s favorite bourbon today. President Truman began every day of his life, even as President, with a glass of the hard stuff.

Even Winston Churchill loved American bourbon, which can be partly explained by the fact that the British bulldog’s mother was American born.

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Fear of the President of the United States leading an Army into your hometown: keeping people from being tarred and feathered since 1794… Probably.

4. The young U.S. Army ran on booze, not its stomach.

An army still needs to eat, but how do you pay for the food that fuels that army — or, specifically, the U.S. Army? It was excising taxes on distilled spirits for the fledgling United States that bought the guns and grub that defeated the British and put down rebellions (including the rebellion against the taxes) in the country’s early years. Rum and whiskey can also take some claim for this, but it was bourbon that kept the country together in the war to come.

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

The face you make when you used to be a bartender but now you’re President during the Civil War.

5. It was the glue that saved the Union.

When the border state of Kentucky remained in the Union, it allowed Abraham Lincoln to use taxes on distilled spirits to pay for much of the Union war effort. The Confederacy prohibited bourbon production because it wanted to use the corn to feed troops and the copper stills to make cannon.

Bad call.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 of the best tank scenes, ranked

Hollywood filmmakers go to extreme lengths to produce bouts of nail-biting hand-to-hand combat and on-screen firefights. These sequences are exceptionally thrilling and, with the right choreography and camera movements, can be lifelike and intense.

Now, add in a monstrous armored vehicle, like a tank or two, and you’ve officially kicked your movie up a notch. Sure, some films do a great job of showing a tank destroying everything in its path, but few are able to tell a story in a way that makes the well-protected vehicle into its own unique character.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy-MKdRwhHs

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When James Bond takes the controls in ‘GoldenEye’

In 1995, James Bond teamed up with a survivor of a destroyed Russian research center to stop a former agent from taking over a nuclear space station. To rescue one of the notable Bond girls (this time, Natalya Simonova), 007 tactically acquires a Russian tank.

Next, our favorite British spy makes smashing a Russian tank through a brick wall and steering it down the streets of St. Petersburg look easy. If you can suspend your disbelief a little, this is an awesome scene.

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Speedster cars versus a beast of a tank in ‘Fast & Furious 6’

The Fast and the Furious franchise isn’t known for its military authenticity. That being said, moviegoers expect over-the-top action and director Justin Lin provided: this time, in the form of a cool tank scene that literally popped out of nowhere. Suddenly, the film’s heroes must improvise a way to take down a well-armed tank using their clever wit and outstanding driving skills.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9bymLD8yvQ

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Sticky bombs against a couple of tanks ‘Saving Private Ryan’

There’s probably nothing scarier than being out-manned, under-supplied, and having to fight a tremendous force of German soldiers headed your way. But, in 1998, a squad of Army Rangers took on that near-impossible task head-on in Saving Private Ryan.

During the film’s memorable final battle, the young squad had to defeat not one, but four tanks before they broke through their defenses using what they called “sticky bombs.” It’s an incredible scene.

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Indy takes on a Nazi tank while on horseback in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’

If any Hollywood director appreciates a solid tank battle, it’s the legendary Steven Spielberg (it’s no coincidence that he’s made this list twice). In this scene, Hollywood’s most exciting archaeologist must battle a group of Nazis riding in tanks while on horseback.

We know, those odds aren’t exactly fair, but Indiana Jones (somehow) pulls through and wins this epic duel, rescuing his father in the process.

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The parachuting tank in the ‘A-Team’

While trying to clear their names, four brave Soldiers, better known as The A-Team, take over a massive cargo plane that happens to have a fully loaded tank in the back. Now, before the plane gets blown up, the crew deploys the tank and attempts to direct it toward a safe landings via a few parachutes .

This original idea makes for a great cinematic experience for the audience, and it’s for that reason (not military authenticity) that it successfully touched down on our list.

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The tanks battles in ‘Fury’

If you set out to make a modern day film dedicated to the brave tankers of World War II, you’ll need to include some epic battle scenes to truly do the story justice. In 2014, director David Ayer did exactly that in Fury.

If you want a taste of the intensity, check out the scene below.