How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of 'The Last Full Measure' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

When Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger posthumously received a Medal of Honor for his valor and sacrifice during the Vietnam War, retired Air Force Pararescueman SMSgt John Pighini was at the ceremony.

In March 1966, Pitsenbarger was killed in action after intentionally placing himself in harm’s way to rescue Army infantrymen pinned down by the enemy during Operation Abilene during the Vietnam War. He received the Air Force Cross for his actions, but the men he saved never forgot what his sacrifice meant.

After 34 years, his Air Force Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in a ceremony that took place on Dec. 8, 2000, just in time for Pitsenbarger’s father to accept the medal on his son’s behalf.

Nearly 20 years later, The Last Full Measure tells the story of Pitsenbarger’s heroism and the efforts it took to present him with the Medal of Honor, the highest military award in the United States of America.

The film recreates the moving Medal of Honor ceremony. John Pighini was there for that, too, which is how his filmmaking journey began.


This is the true story that inspired The Last Full Measure

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“We’d known about the movie for years — it took almost 20 years to get it done. They’d always told us [members of the pararescue community] we could be in the remake of the Medal of Honor ceremony,” Pighini recalled. While there he noticed some military details that weren’t quite correct — so he spoke up and found the director and crew willing to listen and make adjustments.

Director Todd Robinson quickly recognized that Pighini was a valuable resource for his film. Pighini served in Vietnam after graduating from his pararescue training program in November 1966. He would earn a Silver Star and a Distinguished Flying Cross for his rescue missions during the war. He would also serve as the first pararescue superintendent for the 24th Special Tactics Squadron and he now serves as vice president of the Pararescue Association.

So, he knows a thing or two about providing medical aid on the battlefield and combat in Southeast Asia.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

Todd Robinson, Jeremy Irvine, August Blanco Rosenstein, John Pighini on set for The Last Full Measure in Thailand, 2017. (Photo by Eddie Rosenstein)

His unique experience made him a particularly helpful resource for creating accuracy for the film. “I taught combat medicine so I was very much in tune with setting up exercises and working with people to ensure everything is done correctly. I was also involved in helicopter operations for so many years,” Pighini stated. He was brought on to film on location with the cast and crew as they shot the Vietnam scenes for the film.

Of course, anyone who has worked on a film knows that it isn’t always possible to be completely accurate. Budget limitations or storytelling choices will often take precedence.

“The important thing was that we told Pits’ story and it resonated with people. There are those who point out that we didn’t have the right helicopter, but there was only one 43 [Kaman HH-43F] and the guy just wouldn’t let it go so we used the Huey [Bell UH-1 Iriquois]. But the movie wasn’t about the Hueys, it was about Pits. It was about going down and saving lives, knowing full well what was coming his way that night. It was about our creed: these things we do that others may live,” Pighini reflected.

When I asked him about the idea of heroism, Pighini grew solemn. “Pararescuemen…it’s in your blood. Like nurses and doctors — when people want to help people, it’s a calling. To me, it was always about saving a life. I didn’t feel like I was being a hero. The guys that gave the last full measure…they’re the heroes.”

The Last Full Measure – Arrives on Digital 4/7 and on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand 4/21

youtu.be

‘The Last Full Measure’ Trailer

The Last Full Measure is available on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital and includes special features for fans of military history:

  • “The Women of The Last Full Measure” Featurette
  • “Medal of Honor Ceremony Shoot” Featurette
  • “The Others May Live: Remembering Operation Abilene” Featurette
  • “USAF Museum Screening with Veterans Pitsenbarger Family” Featurette
  • “The Music of The Last Full Measure” Featurette
  • “William Pitsenbarger Tribute” Photo Gallery
MIGHTY TRENDING

World War II Coast Guard veteran turns 100

Born in 1920, Anderson Washington just celebrated his 100th birthday. A Coast Guard veteran of World War II, he’s experienced a lot during his lifetime.

Washington grew up in New Orleans during a time of deep segregation. As a Black man, it was especially difficult for him and his family. When he was asked what it was like as a young boy growing up, he shook his head in sadness. “It wasn’t pleasant,” he shared. Washington said that he tries not to think of those times because they were so bad. He continued, “I try to avoid remembering certain things. So much unpleasantness that I try to block it all out.”


Later in his life during his early 20s, World War II broke out and he watched the United States join the fight after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Washington knew that he would most likely be drafted and wanted to retain some manner of control over where he went. “The day I enlisted was a couple of days after the segregated laws were changed in the military. I chose to join the Coast Guard rather than the Army, where I felt I was sure to have disadvantages,” he explained.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

Following basic training, Washington was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Comanche in 1942. Although often referred to as the “lifesaving service,” the Coast Guard was so much more than that. Much of the American public may not even realize how involved they were during World War II and how integral their service was to the nation. During the spring of 1940, Nazi Germany had taken over Denmark. Greenland, a Denmark territory, was then assigned to be a part of a defense system.

President Roosevelt put the Coast Guard in charge of it.

In Greenland, the Coast Guard was responsible for search and rescue operations, convoy assignments and defending it from Nazi invasion. One of the cutters assigned was Washington’s. One of the others, the Northland, was actually the first American unit to engage with the enemy during World War II. They would go on to support land, air and sea forces in all of the combat theaters during the war.

When Washington was asked what it was like to serve in the Coast Guard as a Black man, he was conflicted. “At the time, it was pretty bad with ups and downs throughout. Looking back, it was a good experience for me though. It was a great chance to see the world,” he said.

Washington was a Coxswain during his time in the service. “We were on troop transport, bringing troops overseas,” he explained. He remembers bringing soldiers and marines to places like North Africa and along various stops in Europe. In 1943, a German submarine launched torpedoes on the convoy his cutter was escorting. A torpedo hit the USAT Dorchester on her starboard side.

It exploded and sank almost immediately.

Washington’s cutter sped ahead alongside the Escanaba to rescue survivors. Together, they managed to save the lives of 229 men. Hundreds died in the water, mostly likely due to hypothermia. Four of the men that would perish aboard the Dorchester were Army Chaplains, who gave up their own life preservers for others. Reports later detailed this heroic act and how they came together in prayers as the ship sank.

The Coast Guard is often overlooked when discussions of the Battle of the Atlantic arise. But her fleet served a vital and important role in convoy escort and combat. Her warships not only protected allied convoys but sank enemies and captured their crews.

The Coast Guard even helped plan the naval operations for the D-Day Invasion of Normandy.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

In 1945, the war was ending. The Coast Guard captured the first enemy vessel once American joined the war and then she captured the last of them as it ended. Washington left the Coast Guard in 1946 and came home to a segregated United States. “It was miserable,” he said. Despite serving his country proudly during the war, he was still looked at as less than due to the color of his skin when he returned.

Washington would become integral in the fight for Civil Rights. “I was one of three plaintiffs who fought and sued to desegregate New Orleans,” he shared. He is the only plaintiff still alive from that successful suit today.

When asked what advice he would give to activists who are still fighting for social justice and equal rights, Washington got right to the point. “Any way you cut it or talk about it, it boils down to voting,” he explained. He encouraged those championing causes to find their platforms, use their voices and vote.

Washington never dreamed he’d make it to 100 years old.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the city of New Orleans and the United States Coast Guard came together to safely celebrate his big day. Washington also didn’t realize how many lives he had touched with his own. At his celebration, he was saluted by Captain Michael Paradise, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Base New Orleans and thanked for his dedicated service.

Washington is grateful for his long life and hopeful for the future for this country. He knows the best is yet to come.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army just figured out a way to recharge your radio with pee

So you’re in the OP, and you’ve identified the supply route that Chinese troops are using to resupply and reinforce their frontline troops. But the enemy managed to cut off your own resupply two days ago when a platoon slipped by undetected and set up to your rear. Now, you need to get the intel back to base and try to squirt home, but your batteries are dead. It’s okay, though, because, in this new future, you can just piss into the battery.


Well, you could do that if you were using a hydrogen fuel cell battery and have a tablet of the new aluminum alloy powder developed by researchers working with the U.S. Army. Don’t pee onto your current batteries. That will not work.

The Army’s powder is a “structurally-stable, aluminum-based nanogalvanic alloy.” Basically, when the powder is exposed to any liquid containing water, it releases hydrogen. In a hydrogen fuel cell, that hydrogen can then be split into its component proton and electron. The proton passes through a membrane to create a positive charge on the other end of a circuit, and that draws the electron through the circuit, powering the radio, vehicle, or whatever else you hook it up to.

At the end, the proton and electron recombine into hydrogen, combine with oxygen, and are disposed of as water in a low-temperature exhaust.

“This is on-demand hydrogen production,” said Dr. Anit Giri, a materials scientist at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. “Utilizing hydrogen, you can generate power on-demand, which is very important for the Soldier.”

It’s all environmentally friendly, cheap, and—more importantly for troops—leaves no exhaust that could be easily detected by the enemy. Depending on the exact makeup of the equipment, troops could even drink their radio or vehicle exhaust if they were using hydrogen fuel cells.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

New Jersey Best Warrior Competition. That radio is not fueled by pee. Yet.

(New Jersey National Guard Master Sgt. Mark Olsen)

And hydrogen is very energy dense, having 200 times as much specific energy as lithium batteries. But the military has resisted using hydrogen fuel sources for the same reason that auto manufacturers and other industries have been slow to adopt it: transporting hydrogen is costly and challenging.

While hydrogen fuel cell cars can be refueled at any hydrogen filling station as quickly as their gas counterparts, they can go twice as far. But the streets have more electric and gasoline-powered vehicles because it’s way easier to recharge and refuel those vehicles than to find a hydrogen station.

But with the new powder, the Army might be able to generate hydrogen on demand at bases around the world. And the technology is so promising that civilian corporations are lining up to use the powder here in the states.

According to an Army press release, H2 Power, LLC of Chicago has secured a license that grants it “the right to use the patent in automotive and transportation power generation applications related to ‘2/3/4/6 wheeled vehicles, such as motorcycles, all sizes of cars, minivans, vans, SUV, pick-up trucks, panel trucks other light and medium trucks up to 26,000 pounds and any size bus.'”

H2 Power is envisioning a future where existing gas stations can be easily converted into hydrogen fueling stations without the need for new pipelines or trucks to constantly ferry hydrogen to the station.

“The powder is safe to handle, is 100 percent environmentally friendly, and its residue can be recycled an unlimited number of times back into aluminum, for more powder. Recycling apart, only water and powder are necessary to recreate this renewable energy cycle, anywhere in the world,” H2 Power CEO Fabrice Bonvoisin said, according to a TechXplore article.

“For example, this technology enables us to transform existing gas stations into power stations where hydrogen and electricity can be produced on-demand for the benefit of the environment and the users of electric and hydrogen vehicles or equipment. We can’t wait to work with OEMs of all kind to unleash the genuine hydrogen economy that so many of us are waiting for,” he said.

The Army could pull this same trick at bases around the world. With a static supply of the aluminum powder, it could generate its own fuel from water and electricity. This would be good for bases around the world as it would reduce the cost to run fleets of vehicles, but it would be game-changing at remote bases where frontline commanders could create their own fuel, slashing their logistics support requirement.

They would need constant power generation, though, meaning the Army would need to invest more heavily in mobile solar or nuclear solutions to fully realize the advantages of their hydrogen breakthrough.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The 10 weirdest military mysteries

The world is full of mysteries and the military world is no exception. Each war has been accompanied by strange stories, potential double agents, secret messages and unsolved disappearances. Scary? Intriguing? You tell me! Keep scrolling to learn about the top 10 mysterious events in military history.


1. The foo fighters were more than a band name. 

Almost everyone has heard of the foo fighters, but few realize the origins of the 90s rock band name. In WWII, the foo fighters were a genuine concern. At night, American and British aircraft pilots frequently spotted bright lights in the distance. At first, they assumed the lights were Russian or German flyers. Until they began to move, that is.

The lights would change direction and speed away faster than any aircraft possibly could. Hundreds of reports were recorded, with some pilots even reporting dogfights with them. Since no one was able to figure out what the crafts were or who piloted them, they were given the nickname “foo fighters.” To this day, it’s one of the biggest military mysteries of WWII.

2. The Red Baron’s killer was never found. 

The Red Baron, a German fighter pilot during WWI, was so famous that even Snoopy knew of his aerial prowess. He was one of the most lethal fighters in history, with over 80 confirmed kills. He was a serious threat to the Allied forces throughout the majority of WWI, until he was mysteriously shot down.

A Canadian pilot named Roy Brown claimed to have shot down his plane, but the details of his story didn’t quite make sense. No one knows for sure who killed him, but whoever it was would have had their name in the history books. The Red Baron was such an amazing pilot that the Allies helped to give him a decent burial in France in honor of his skill.

3. A Hungarian soldier turned out to be a serial killer…and he was never found. 

During WWI, a man named Bela Kiss enlisted in the Hungarian army. He notified his landlord that he would be away for some time, and left for war. Some time later, the landlord heard that Kiss had died in combat, so he decided to rent the house to someone else. When he arrived to clean it out, however, he walked into a house of horrors. Several bodies were inside preserved in alcohol, all belonging to women who had disappeared.

It turns out, Kiss had been tricking women into marriage before killing them and taking control of their finances. Despite an extensive search, and a few reported sightings, he was never found.

4. A plane vanished out of thin air, starting the legend of the Bermuda Triangle. 

It’s hard to imagine that six planes could straight up disappear, but that’s what happened. On December 5, 1945, five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers, collectively known as Flight 19, stopped responding to the control tower while on a training flight. A Mariner flying boat was deployed to search for the missing planes, but the Mariner soon vanished too. While no bodies or wreckage was ever found, 27 men and six aircrafts were never seen again.

While many rumors cropped up over the years, the disappearance probably has nothing to do with the supernatural. The most likely explanation is that Flight 19’s leader, Navy Lieutenant Charles Taylor, got so disoriented that he led the planes out to sea until they ran out of gas and crashed into the Atlantic. The rescue sea plane is likely to have exploded, as flying boats were prone to catching fire. Still, after all these years the resting place of the planes have never been found.

5. A strange ad was placed in the New Yorker magazine. But who published it? 

Anyone can put an ad in the paper, but one published in the New Yorker was more than a little suspicious. The ad was for a real game called “Deadly Double,” but the copy gave a not-so-secret message: “We hope you’ll never have to spend a long winter’s night in an air-raid shelter, but we were just thinking … it’s only common sense to be prepared. If you’re not too busy between now and Christmas, why not sit down and plan a list of the things you’ll want to have on hand. … And though it’s no time, really, to be thinking of what’s fashionable, we bet that most of your friends will remember to include those intriguing dice and chips which make Chicago’s favorite game: THE DEADLY DOUBLE.”

A similar ad for the same product included the phrase, “Warning! Alerte! Achtung!” Okay, then. The dice shown in the ad’s images were even more strange. Instead of numbers 1-6, numbers like 7, 20 and 12, were shown. Some believe these bizarre ads were really a hint to American spies that an attack on Pearl Harbor was on the horizon. The creator’s widow has denied any suggestion that the game had any connection with spy activity, but it still seems a little fishy.

6. Lieutenant Colonel Pete Ellis predicted the bombing of Pearl Harbor over 20 years before it happened.

In 1920, Lieutenant Colonel Pete Ellis was a bit of an oddball in the Navy. He was known for being pretty solitary and working late into the night. When asked what he was doing in his office so late, he said he was working on “a special project.” A year later, he appeared to go mad. He gave a lengthy prediction of the future, including Japan’s attack on several islands on the Pacific, the targeting of Pearl Harbor, and the use of torpedo planes. Considering torpedo planes hadn’t been invented yet, he sounded crazy…except he was right.

All his predictions were dead on. After his prediction, he asked for a 90-day leave, which was personally approved by the Secretary of the Navy. He was given a sealed envelope and sent off to Europe, but he never arrived. He went to Japan instead, where he mysteriously died. A man who knew him travelled there to search for him…but he was found dead too! It’s a strange story with many loose ends, but it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know the details.

7. Ralph Sigler’s death doesn’t seem like an accident. 

Ralph Sigler, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia, arrived in America when he was eight. He enlisted in the Army in 1947 and got married to a German woman shortly after while he was stationed abroad. When his tour was over, he brought her back to the states and the couple had a child. Over a decade later in 1966, FBI agents arrived at his doorstep to let him know he had been randomly selected to participate in counterespionage. The family’s ordinary life was turned upside down overnight.

In the following years, Sigler fed a great deal of false information to the SVR, Russia’s intelligence agency. When he met Russian officials in person, he quickly earned their trust. He identified 14 SVR agents and over time grew worried that the Russians were starting to suspect something. The FBI approached him by this time, but Sigler made plans to retire from the Army

His first contact with Russian officials came in 1968 in Zurich, and he soon earned their trust. Authorities have speculated that Sigler’s work led to the identification of 14 SVR agents. He was given an estimated 0,000 in compensation, every last penny of which he gave to the Army.In the mid-1970s, Sigler worried that he was “getting in too deep” and the Russians were becoming suspicious, which may have led him to offer extra information under pressure. By this time, the FBI had approached him.

The situation grew complicated, and some American intelligence officers were suspicious of his loyalties too. He was forced to take a polygraph test, which showed he was extremely on edge. Concerned, the Army arranged for Sigler to stay at a motel. Sadly, he never left. His body was found in the motel room after he had been electrocuted by two motel lamps. While the Army ruled his death a suicide, most believe he was killed and possibly tortured by Soviet agents. In his last call to his wife, he ominously told her, “I’m dying. I never lied.” He was later awarded the Legion of Merit cross for his sacrifices.

8. During the Vietnam War, troops on both sides claimed to be attacked by large, ape-like creatures. Vietnam doesn’t have apes.

The Vietnam war was chaotic to say the least, but there’s one mystery that has never been explained. Troops from both sides often reported exchanging blows with a group of human-like creatures who had reddish hair and ape-like features. Strangely, there isn’t a single known species of ape in Vietnam.

Other soldiers reported an enormous snake around 100 feet long with a massive, three-foot head. In Vietnamese folklore, such a creature was known as a “Bull Eater.” For comparison, the largest snake ever recorded is a reticulated python named Medusa, who’s 25’2″ long. Either that was a massive exaggeration or a tall tale…or a 100-foot mystery monster is lurking in the jungle.

9. A Revolutionary War hospital dealt with plenty of death, yet no one knows where the dead were laid to rest.

During the American Revolution, there were obviously a lot of injuries. To serve these wounded soldiers, a hospital was built in the new town of Easton, Pennsylvania. Needless to say, 18th-century medicine wasn’t the best. While medical records were poorly kept, it’s safe to say that hundreds or thousands died there. The strange part is that there’s no record at all of where they were buried. Since there was no formal grave yard nearby, the easiest assumption is that somewhere around Easton, there’s a mass grave from the Revolutionary War that has yet to be found. If I lived in Easton, I might move.

10. What happened to Paul Whipkey?

Fast forward a few years to the 50s. Lieutenant Paul Whipkey was working in the Air Force at Fort Ord, California. He was one of the first to witness an atomic bomb test, and he was doing pretty well. When 1957 arrived, however, things began to go awry. Whipkey stopped acting like himself, dropped weight, and appeared to be constantly ill. He developed black moles all across his body and lost all his teeth. While he was at work, two men in suits frequently arrived to speak with him, and colleagues reported that he always appeared tense when the men left. On July 10th, he left on a trip to Monterey, but he was never seen again.

The events following are shrouded in secrecy. The army cleaned out his apartment almost instantly, and he was classified as a deserter. The army seemed reluctant to search for Whipkey, and in 1977 they destroyed all files on him, yet his status was updated from “deserter” to “killed in action.” Some believe he died on a secret CIA mission, but most people believe he suffered from radiation poisoning due to the atomic bomb detonation he witnessed. I guess we’ll never know!

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why top military leader goes to bed thinking about logistics in Europe

Since Russia’s 2014 incursion in Ukraine, NATO leaders have been focused on securing the alliance’s eastern flank.

But defending that boundary and deterring threats to member countries there takes more than just deploying troops. It means moving them in and out, and, if necessary, reinforcing them, and that’s something that’s always on US and European military commanders’ minds.


“I will tell you that when I go to sleep at night, it’s probably the last thought I have, that we need to continue to improve upon, and we are, from a road, rail, and air perspective, in getting large quantities of hardware and software from west to east on continent,” US Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, head of US European Command, said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

A US soldier guides an M1 Abrams tank off ARC vessel Endurance at the Port of Antwerp, Belgium, May 20, 2018.

(US Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jacob A. McDonald)

The US, which has drawn down its forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War, has put particular focus on both returning to Europe in force and on moving those forces around the continent.

This has included working at ports not used since the Cold War and practicing to move personnel, vehicles, and material overland throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

“We’re improving, but I will tell you, as a supreme allied commander of Europe and a commander of US EUCOM, I’m just not satisfied,” Wolters said. “It’s got to continue to get better and better and better, and we are dedicating tremendous energy to this very issue.”

“In US EUCOM, we have directors, which are flag officers that work for me, and they’re called J codes, and our J4 is our logistician, and he’s a Navy flag officer, and he’s probably one of the busiest human beings on the European continent,” Wolters added. “He gets to sleep about one hour a day, and his whole life exists from a standpoint of finding ways to improve our ability to move large quantities at speed from west to east in road, rail, and air, across the European continent.”

‘There will be some snags’

The renewed focus on moving US and NATO forces around Europe has highlighted the obstacles posed by varying customs rules and regulations, insufficient infrastructure, and shortages of proper transport vehicles.

Those would be challenges for any peacetime mobilization and led NATO to conclude in a 2017 report that its ability to rapidly deploy around Europe had “atrophied since the end of the Cold War.”

To correct that deficiency, NATO has stood up two new commands. One, Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, will oversee movements across the Atlantic. The other, Joint Support Enabling Command based in Ulm in southern Germany, is responsible for movement on the ground in Europe.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

US Army vehicles during a tactical road march in Germany, April 22, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Sharon Matthias)

“We’ve also recognized the need in NATO to improve in this area,” Wolters said. “Through NATO command structure adaptation … we elected to standup an entire new command called Joint Support Enabling Command, JSEC, and it’s run by … a NATO flag officer, and that commander’s sole purpose in life is to nest with all the nations to find ways to improve our ability to move large resources at speed from west to east across the continent.”

That will be on display during Defender Europe 20, the US Army’s largest exercise in Europe in 25 years, which will involve 37,000 troops from 18 countries — including 20,000 US troops deployed from the US — and take place in 10 countries in Europe.

Defender Europe 20’s actual drills won’t take place until next year, but, Wolters said, “it’s already started, because the benefit of a large exercise is all the planning that takes place beforehand.”

“The strategic message is we can demonstrate our flexibility and adaptability to lift and shift large forces to any place on planet Earth to effectively deter … and that’s incredibly valuable,” Wolters said.

But, he added, getting the logistics right on the ground may be the biggest obstacle.

“We want to make sure that from a border-crossing perspective and from a capability perspective in those 10 nations in particular that we’ve got it right with respect to our ability to lift and shoot and move and communicate with an exercise at speed,” Wolters said.

“There will be some snags along the way. We will find things that we’re not happy with. We will will after-action review those. We will find remedies in the future, and when we have another large-scale exercise we’ll demonstrate an ability to get through those snags … and we’ll just be that much quicker and that much faster in the future.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Los Angeles Clippers honor Pearl Harbor dead at USS Arizona memorial

Taking a break from their pre-season training camp in O’ahu, Hawaii, the LA Clippers basketball team, coaches, and staff paid their respects during a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial on Sept. 27, 2017.


How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
LA Clippers’ Power Forward, Blake Griffin, greeted by soldiers. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Meranda Keller)

Service members from all branches of the military accompanied them at Merry Point Landing, located on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, to guide them through the hallowed grounds of the memorial.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

It wasn’t a publicity stunt — the only official photographer was on site was Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Meranda Keller. No news site has reported on this at the time of this article’s writing.

These players are genuinely here to honor resting place of the 1,102, of the 1,117 sailors and Marines who lost their lives Dec. 7, 1941.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
LA Clippers’ Center, DeAndre Jordan, given brief history of the USS Arizona by Senior Airman Garcia. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Meranda Keller)

While at the memorial, players were each guided by service members who would tell them of the history of the site and what happened on that tragic day.

After the tour, the Clippers spent time with the troops. They joked and took photos with members of the Armed Forces.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
LA Clippers’ Point Guard, Patrick Beverley, taking a photo with troops (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Meranda Keller)

 

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

With modern technology, US soldiers can learn the essentials of operating everything from grenade launchers to .50-caliber machine guns before they ever set foot on a firing range.


Soldiers with the New Jersey National Guard’s D Company, 1-114th Infantry Regiment recently conducted virtual-reality training on a number heavy weapons at the Observer Coach/Trainer Operations Group Regional Battle Simulation Training Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Capt. James Ruane, the company’s commander, explained the virtual-reality system to Insider, introducing how it works and how it helps the warfighter.

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New Jersey National Guard soldiers train with a heavy weapons simulator at the Observer Coach/Trainer Operations Group Regional Battle Simulation Training Center, Feb. 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

This virtual-reality system, known as the Unstabilized Gunnery Trainer (UGT), gives users the ability to operate mounted M240B machine guns, Mk 19 grenade launchers, and .50-caliber machine guns — all heavy weapons — in a virtual world.

“When the gunner has the goggles on, he’s able to look around, and it is almost like he’s in an actual mission environment,” Ruane told Insider.

The virtual-reality system is designed to mimic a heavy weapon mounted on a vehicle. In the simulated training environment, users can engage dismounted and mounted targets, as well as moving vehicles and stationary targets.

“It’s the same type of targets they would engage on a live-fire range,” Ruane said.

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A New Jersey National Guard soldier on a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

The “weapon” is designed to feel and function much like an actual machine gun or grenade launcher.

“When you pull the trigger and actually fire this thing, it moves,” the captain said. “It has the same recoil as a weapon system would. So it gives the gunner as real of an experience as you could have in a virtual environment.”

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A New Jersey National Guard soldier trains with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

To operate the gun, the user even has to load ammunition.

There are, however, limitations to the system that prevent it from being a perfect one-for-one training platform for the real deal.

For example, this virtual-reality training platform does not factor things like jams or barrel changes in, despite both issues being important parts of operating a heavy machine gun.

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New Jersey National Guard soldiers practice on a Virtual Convoy Operations Trainer, February 9, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

In addition to the single gunner training system, there is also a convoy trainer for three vehicle crew members and a dismount.

“In this setup, you have a driver, you have a vehicle commander, and you have a gunner,” Ruane told Insider. “You also have the ability to have a dismount, and all members of that crew are plugged into the same virtual system.”

“They are all wearing the goggles,” Ruane added. “They all have weapons systems attached to the [VR] system, including a dismount who would have an attached M4.”

“They operate like a crew,” he said, telling Insider that while the training, usually carried out over the course of a weekend, is focused on taking troops through the gunnery tables, the simulator can also be used to train forces for convoy protection missions and other more complex mission sets.

The training normally involves two vehicle crews, but it could be connected to other systems for training with a platoon-sized element.

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A New Jersey National Guard soldier trains with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

The company commander said he has seen marked improvements in performance since the introduction of the virtual reality trainer a few years back.

“I’ve definitely seen a dramatic improvement over the last five years,” the captain said.

“In the beginning, crews would have to go two or three times through gunnery,” Ruane, who has been with his company for five years now, told Insider, explaining that soldiers would make “simple mistakes.”

“Now,” he said, “crews are able to get through their engagements and get qualified as a crew” with some of “the highest scores that we’ve seen in the scoring cycle over the last five years.”

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New Jersey National Guard soldiers train with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

Ruane says virtual reality has enhanced their training in a big way.

“A lot of people think, especially some old-school military people, think that the virtual-reality stuff takes away from the actual live-fire ranges, when in fact this is actually an enhancer,” he explained, adding that “when you get out to the live-fire ranges, it is going to be muscle memory at that point, and it’s going to go flawlessly.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Venezuela’s opposition is planning a second day of protests

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for a second day of mass protests on May 1, 2019, to continue “Operation Freedom” — an attempt to overthrow the country’s socialist government.

He said the uprising was a “peaceful rebellion” and that President Nicolás Maduro “doesn’t have the support from the armed forces.”

On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, thousands of Guaidó’s supporters flocked to a military airbase in Caracas to help the opposition and a small group of rebellious soldiers oust Maduro.


But after a day of violent clashes, it seemed Guaidó was not able to garner support from high-ranking military officials to divide Maduro’s powerhouse army.

“We need to keep up the pressure,” Guaidó said in a video message. “We will be in the streets.”

Hoy dimos inicio a la etapa final de la #OperaciónLibertad.

www.youtube.com

The president, on the other hand, said that his troops had already successfully defeated “the coup-mongering right.” In an hour-long TV address on Tuesday evening he accused the opposition of fueling violence “so the empire could get its claws into Venezuela.” Maduro’s use of the phrase “the empire” is a reference to the US.

Maduro also ridiculed a claim by Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, that he had been planning on fleeing Venezuela for Cuba before being dissuaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pompeo told CNN that the socialist leader had a plane waiting “on the tarmac” Tuesday morning, but was talked out of the escape Putin.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

Nicolas Maduro on state TV.

(Screengrab/RT Youtube)

The US, one of many nations to recognize Guaidó as the rightful president of Venezuela, was quick to back the opposition in “Operation Freedom.” Several top politicians pledged their support on social media.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he was monitoring the situation. “The United States stands with the People of Venezuela and their Freedom!” he said.

John Bolton, the National Security Adviser, called out three of Maduro’s senior aides by name, reminding them that they had committed to supporting Guaidó.

But one of the named officers, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, fervently backed Maduro throughout the unrest, saying: “Loyal forever, never traitors!”

Protests on Tuesday erupted into violence. Opposition-backing soldiers exchanged live fire with Maduro’s military, Reuters reported. Shocking video also showed military vehicles ramming into anti-government protesters.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

A military tank rammed into opposition protesters.

(Screengrab/CNW)

A medical center near the main protest site in Caracas said it was treating more than 50 people for injuries, many from rubber bullets, The Associated Press reported. The NGO Provea said a man was killed during an opposition rally in the city of La Victoria, about 40 miles outside the capital.

Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported that 25 soldiers sought asylum in the Brazilian embassy in Venezuela.

Leopoldo López, a high profile opposition leader and mentor to Guaidó, also sought refuge at the Spanish embassy, according to AP. López was previously under house arrest, but said that military members backing the opposition had freed him on Tuesday morning.

The government is planning its own rally on Wednesday, Maduro said in his address. “Those who try to take [the presidential palace] Miraflores with violence will be met with violence.”

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-16 fighter pilot left dangling from electricity line

An F-16 fighter pilot got stuck dangling from a live electricity line outside a rural French town after the jet crashed and they ejected from the plane.

The Belgian Air Force jet crashed into a field after grazing a house with its wing in Pluvigner, Brittany, at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 19, 2019, The Associated Press and Le Parisien report.

Both pilots ejected safely and are believed to be alive, The Belgian Air Force confirmed on Twitter, writing: “The pilots left the plane using their ejectable seats.”


Photos posted to social media show what appears to be a pilot hanging from an overhead electrical wire.

A National Police spokeswoman told the AP no injuries were reported among residents in the area. Police have set up a 500-meter security perimeter around the crash site.

The owner of the house damaged in the crash told Ouest-France: “We were in the garden. We heard a great boom and a sound of tearing metal. Moments later, a second explosion and another tearing of scrap metal.”

The F-16 was travelling from an air base in Florennes, near Namur, to the French naval air base at Lann-Bihoué, Morbihan, and was not armed, local officials told French media.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

One missing after Russian dry dock sinks around only carrier

Four people were injured and one remains missing after Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, suffered damage when a floating dry dock sank while the vessel was leaving it, officials say.

The waterborne repair station’s sinking at an Arctic shipyard early on Oct. 30, 2018, was the latest in a series of mishaps involving the Admiral Kuznetsov, which lost two military jets in accidents off the coast of war-torn Syria in 2017.


The PD-50 dry dock had “fully sank” by 3:30 a.m. local time at the 82nd Repair Shipyard in the village of Roslyakovo near the port city of Murmansk, regional Governor Marina Kovtun said on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, one person has not yet been found,” Kovtun said.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

The Admiral Kuznetsov.

She said that two injured workers were hospitalized and two were treated without hospitalization.

One of the injured was in very serious condition, said Viktor Rogalyov, the head of the local Disaster Medicine Center.

She said that rescue divers from the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet were working at the site and that it was “hard to say” what caused the sinking.

Authorities said at least one crane fell when the dry dock sank, damaging the aircraft carrier.

Aleksei Rakhmanov, head of the state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation, said experts are assessing the damage but that “the vitally important parts of the aircraft carrier were not affected.”

The PD-50 was one of the world’s largest dry docks.

Russia sent the 305-meter Admiral Kuznetsov to the Eastern Mediterranean in 2016 as part of its ongoing military campaign in support of Syrian government forces in the Middle Eastern country’s devastating war.

An Su-33 military jet crashed while trying to land on the aircraft carrier there in December 2016, and a MiG-29 crashed a few kilometers from the vessel three weeks earlier.

A fire on board the carrier killed a sailor during a 2008-09 deployment, and an oil spill was spotted by the Irish Coast Guard near the vessel afterwards.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

10 Questions with M*A*S*H star and famed actor Jamie Farr

Jamie Farr hails from Toledo, Ohio, and remains grounded in his hometown roots. His work in Hollywood spans over half a century, which includes him as Klinger in M*A*S*H*, where his career started back in 1955 in The Blackboard Jungle which starred Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier. He was drafted into the Army soon thereafter and served abroad in Japan and Korea where he was requested to work for famous comedian Red Skelton on his tour to entertain US troops in Korea. He is most grateful for his career, military service and the stars he got to work with who include Bob Hope, Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Lucile Ball, Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke, Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, Charlton Heston, William Holden, Don Ameche and many more. 

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
Photo credit Jamie Farr.
  1. Can you tell us about your family and your life growing up?

My father came from Lebanon in the early 1900s with his brother. They initially settled in Cedar Rapids, IA.  My mother was born in Cedar Rapids where her family was from Lebanon as well. My grandfather and grandmother, her father and mother, had come from Lebanon to Iowa. My mother was a very smart woman even though she didn’t finish high school because she had to work to make her family sufficient monetarily. My mother could speak Arabic, sing and was a seamstress. My parent’s marriage was designated by my grandfather (maternal), which was normal, back then. She was married at seventeen and my father was a butcher for the Swift Meats Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They moved to Sioux City where my sister was born and then moved to Toledo because of the great Lebanese colony there. I was born in Toledo as Jameel Joseph Farah.

Our original family name was “Abboud” where his father’s name was “Farah Abboud.” At Ellis Island when they came over, they were going to say “Farah Abboud”, but the personnel at Ellis Island stopped them at “Farah” so they didn’t take the full name, just Farah.

My older sister was the one who got me into show business as she would take me to the movies growing up and read me fairy tale books. She was like a second mother where she was very artistic, could dance and sing although she never got into show business. She would take me out for my birthday and I could get whatever I wanted no questions asked about the price. I do miss her as she passed away a few years ago.

Our whole neighborhood was Jewish, Greek, Lebanese, Italian and so on. You never locked your doors and you never dated them because we all knew each other, so it would be like dating a sister. It was very family oriented and Sunday’s after church there would be big get-togethers for food. We put out card tables, folding chairs and table clothes with good food. If we were lucky enough, we would go to the movies and then come back for leftovers to listen to the radio. I loved listening to Lux Radio Theatre on Mondays and on Tuesdays we had Bob Hope at 9pm and Red Skelton at 930pm. I had a Crystal Set radio and would listen to Hope and Skelton when I was supposed to be asleep in my room. 

Growing up I slept on Murphy Bed at the time since I didn’t have my own room. I had to put the bed down every night in our dining room and thankfully I never got caught up in the bed like you would see in comedy movies and cartoons. We had an old-fashioned bathtub back then as well where Saturday night was your bath day. 

The Abijay family had 13 kids and the father left where the mother raised them herself. They had a three-story house where each child of the house was of a different age group it seemed. My older sister had friends in their family and so did I. It was a poor neighborhood where we shopped at the bargain basement floor of the department store. I never knew what it was like to buy new clothes on the fancy floors. 

We had a lot of famous people from my high school that made it big in show business including Danny Thomas (comedian), Andrew J Fenady (writer, producer), Georg Fenady (director/producer), Clifford David (Broadway actor), and Phillip Baker Hall (actor). We were all from the same neighborhood where it must have been in the water or the Buckeye beer! Although Lake Eerie was so polluted back then you could walk on it to Windsor, Ontario.  

My cousin was James Jabara, first American and USAF jet pilot ace, and then my uncle Bob served as a medic in WWII in the North Africa campaign. My Uncle served in the Coast Guard and I served in the US ARMY in 1957 to 1959 in NYC, FT. Knox, Ky, Fort Huachuca, Az, Japan and Korea. I was in Special Services and wound up with Armed Forces Radio at the FAR EAST Network in Japan and Korea. I remember WWII very well with several of the Gold Star’s in the windows of neighbors and friends. It was disheartening and distressing to the entire neighborhood because we all knew them. We were all growing up together and our families were all very close. We had Victory Gardens where we could have a little plot to plant vegetables. Everything was rationed back then. My mother and sister made a lot of homemade pies, pastries and cakes from the Middle East as well.

  1. What is the most distinct memory of your mother and your father?

I have so many of them with my parents there is not a distinct one exactly. They were very family oriented and taught us values to live by, which have lasted.

  1. What values were stressed at home?

You respected your family and never disgraced them. You didn’t have to be Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, but you never wanted your last name disgraced. Whenever people say your name there is honor and honesty that comes with it. You want a good reputation. You never lied, cheated or stole. You always made it yourself and did things yourself. You didn’t go around asking people for things. Nobody locked their doors. If people were ill, we would cook for them and take them food. It was very communal where they would help one another. 

The people from Toledo that made it in Hollywood stayed very much the same. They were all from that same neighborhood. We all talked about what was going on back home in Toledo and talking about things we did there or were going back to do. It is ironic having watched stars like Bob Hope and Red Skelton on the big screen and then coming to Hollywood to work with these people. I even got to work with Lucille Ball.

  1. What influenced you to join the US Army, what was your experience and what lessons did you take away from your service?

I was drafted into the Army and it was an inopportune time for me as my career was taking off. The last movie I could take part in before heading off to the Army was No Time for Sergeants where I played Lt. Gardelli. My hope was that the movie took awhile to come out because I was a private in the Army, but a lieutenant in the movie so people would think I was demoted. I reported the next day after filming wrapped to the Army recruiting station. 

Working on No Time for Sergeants was a lot of fun, especially with Andy Griffith and Mervyn LeRoy. Andy’s first movie wasn’t out yet which was a Face in the Crowd. Elia Kazan directed Face in the Crowd where he came on set of No Time for Sergeants to ask Mervyn if he could shoot a close up of Andy that he needed for his film. LeRoy granted the request where we all got to watch Kazan direct Griffith in a short close up scene, which was amazing. Kazan said a few things and words to Andy and then “action.” Kazan stepped back and let Andy do his work, one look here and one look there. It was amazing what Kazan could do with a few words to direct Andy. You could see Andy’s talent and that he was going to blossom. 

Red Skelton was like a second father to me and was very instrumental in helping my life. I did his show and carried half the show with him live on CBS. They kept calling me back before I got into the Army. I took Basic Training at Fort Ord and my MOS was as a Broadcast Specialist. I was sent to NYC to the Army Pictorial Center, which used to be the old Paramount Studios and did training films for the US Signal Corps. Some of my fellow soldiers at the center had famous Hollywood parents to include the son of Charles Vidor (director) stationed there. I went on TDY to Fort Knox to do tank training films where I was a script supervisor and went to Fort Huachuca in Arizona for similar duty. 

I got shipped over on the pipeline and thought I would go to France. I worked on my French and practiced my introduction, “je m’appelle Jamie Farr” and then when ordered to Tokyo, Japan I practiced, “Watashi Wa Jamie Farr.” I was trained at the Pasadena Playhouse to break into the business and met Bob Furiga who was a fellow actor. We were both drafted at the same time and did our indoc training together and were even in the same squad at Fort Ord together. We were at the Army Pictorial Center as well and then went to the Orient together. My buddies mostly ended up in Korea. I served with the Far East network in  Japan. 

I served with Red Skelton as he had requested me to be his assistant through the Department of the Army. After Red’s son passed away, he wanted to do a tour to entertain troops and he wanted to do his shows with me. We flew on a United Nations airplane just me and him. I had VIP status which surprised me. We went to every encampment all the way up to the DMZ in Korea.

We opened up Armed Forces TV in Korea in a DC-3 airplane where we had all service branches and civilians on the plane. There was an extreme cold front that came in where everything was frozen, so we had to sleep in a luggage area with a pot-bellied stove there in Korea after we arrived. We slept with our clothes, boots and coats on because it was so cold. We were told in the morning that it was safe enough for us to fly back to Japan where we flew out over the Sea of Japan. It got to be below zero inside the plane during the flight and the two engines froze so they started handing out parachutes. We wouldn’t survive in the water because of hypothermia so it seemed kind of pointless. We started dropping and while we did, they pumped alcohol into the wings to get the ice to melt. As we dropped the ice began to break off the wings and propeller blades where we heard the pilots trying to start the engines.

I remember looking out of the window thinking, “I watched all those John Wayne movies of him in the military where how in the heck did I end up here?.” I was praying and finally we heard the ping of the engines starting. I don’t know how far above the water we were, but that was a scary moment for us in that plane.

I did two years of active duty, two years of reserve, and two years of inactive reserve. I came back to Hollywood and my father passed away. I went by CBS Studios to say goodbye to Red Skelton and he wouldn’t let me go and put me under personal contract and said, “I was one of us. A doctor of comedy..” He pulled out several hundred-dollar bills and told me to send those home to my mom. He said, “From here on in you are working for me and I will see you up at the house in the morning.” I went with Red for a whole year and helped him in his nightclub act at the Sands (Las Vegas), Fontainebleau (Miami Beach), Moulin Rouge (Los Angeles), and the Chez Paree (Chicago). I then branched out to get my career started again where Carl Reiner working on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” took a chance on me and put me as the Snappy Service delivery man. The part helped to resurrect my career again. 

Red Skelton gave me a St. Christopher medal to protect me when I went into the Army. I cherish it and wear it every day. Red was a very kind, conscientious and loving person. I also have a painting of Red’s as well and was one of his pallbearers at his funeral. Red’s third wife, Lothian Toland, asked me to be a pallbearer for his funeral. The four pallbearers were me, Bob Hope, Milton Berle and a stage manager that Red liked a lot. A few notes on Red are when his son Richard passed away from leukemia, he used to keep his room just the way it was when he passed away. It had a little train set and a few other things in it where Red would just stand there, look at the room and soak it in. On another note, Lothian’s father was Gregg Toland known for being the cinematographer of Citizen Kane

Red came from a different era where they could work on stage to be bad and then become good over time. Now you have to be really great right away and don’t have time to develop. George Buns used to say, “there isn’t a place you can be bad anymore.”

  1. What values have you carried over from the Army into acting and comedy? 

My values instilled in me by my family have stayed with me throughout my life. I try to be straightforward and honest in all my dealings. Zenith used to have an ad that said, “It has to be good because it has our name on it.” That is how I feel about my name and how it needs to be respected. I was an adequate soldier and whatever I did, whether producing shows for the Army or whatever, it was the best I could do. 

As an aside, a lot of my friends from the service have now passed on such as Paul Rausch, Bob Furiga, who later became an exec at ABC, and Bernie Papin. My friend Mort Goldstein became an exec at CBS and is still living. The older you get the phone doesn’t ring as much for your friends or the business.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
Farr in an episode of “The Red Skelton Show” with famous actor Peter Lorre. Photo credit Vimeo.
  1. What is the most fulfilling project you have done and why?

For TV it would be “M*A*S*H*” for TV and The Blackboard Jungle for film. The film had Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier with music featuring Bill Haley and His Comets which was filmed at MGM. I was watching MGM movies at the Lowe’s Valentine Theater in my hometown theater and 18 months later am working on an MGM film.  In high school I used to see shows at the Paramount Theater in Toledo, which has since been torn down and turned into a parking lot. It was one of the most beautiful theaters you could have ever seen. The touring version of “Guys and Dolls” came into town with Allan Jones playing the part Sky Masterson and saw the show as an usher. I couldn’t believe the music or characters in it where I wanted to play Nathan Detroit one day, which I did on Broadway. 

While on “M*A*S*H*” there was a guest actor, Jerry Zaks, on the show that had done the tour for “Grease.” He was having a rough time and I gave him a pep talk. Later on, he goes back to NY and becomes a successful director. A call comes out for “Guys and Dolls” and I ask my agent to get me an audition since Jerry was directing the show. I went downtown in Los Angeles, couldn’t sing a note, but still went to audition. The show was already cast with Nathan Lane as Nathan Detroit. My agent called me and asked if I would like to do “Guys and Dolls” as Nathan Lane is now leaving the show. Everyone remembered me from the audition and I went to NY to play Broadway. I only had two weeks and one rehearsal with the cast. I was never so frightened in my life. My chest came out of my body and across the room it was such an exhilarating and exciting thing to do. I did that show for almost a year and it was even exciting putting that on my resume.

Working with the Skeltons, the Berles, the Hopes and the Kayes was memorable and significant as well.

I played in “King Lear” at the Pasadena Playhouse as the title character, which was challenging. I learned all that Shakespeare for one performance. I did more theater at the Pasadena Playhouse as well and my first big play was “Mister Roberts” at the Los Palmas Theater. Craig Stevens was the lead actor and Harry Bernsen (father of actor Corbin Bernsen) produced the show. I earned my first Actors Equity card in that show thanks to Mr. Bernsen. I played the Navy guard that brings all the guys back when they are drunk in the play. I made the soap suds for Ensign Pulver as well. Did that for a whole year. I also did “Stalag 17” with John Banner, Tom Drake, Harvey Lembeck and Dennis Weaver. This was before Dennis Weaver did Gunsmoke and I was the understudy to Lembeck for the role of “Shapiro.” Theater trains you very well and teaches you a lot. 

A quick side note is, initially I was only on “M*A*S*H*” for one episode where my character was written by Larry Gelbart, creator of the show, for the episode. Larry’s father Harry Gelbart was the barber to the big comedians back then like Danny Thomas, Jack Benny, George Burns and a lot more. Harry would always tell his customers about his son and his comedy writing. Once when Harry was cutting Danny Thomas’s hair, Danny agreed to reading his son’s joke. Danny read them and found jokes funny and paid Larry for his material where Larry was just a high school student at the time. Larry ended writing for Sid Caesar and movies, most notably writing Tootsie which starred Dustin Hoffman. Larry’s pay back to Danny wrote my character as Lebanese and from Toledo where my character’s name came from his (Larry’s) childhood friend “Klinger” from Chicago, which is where Larry was from. 

I am not some handsome guy like Rock Hudson or a star carrying movies, so I am proud to have just been a working actor.

  1. What was your experience like in working with such talents as Red Skelton, Harvey Korman, Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swift, Gary Burghoff, Burt Reynolds, Bill Murray, David Alan Grier on such shows as MASH, After MASH, the Cannonball Run films, Scrooged, and The Cool Kids?

Harvey was great and we got to work with Danny Kaye, who also was great. I used to watch all of Danny Kaye’s movies where he could sing, dance, act and do mimicry. I was a big fan of Sid Caesar growing up and he was one of our writers on “The Danny Kaye Show.” Carl Reiner was very helpful to me in my career as well. Harvey was brilliant and trained in Yiddish comedy by Menasha Skulnick in NYC.

Alan Alda, Gary Burgoff, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swift, Harry Morgan, William Christopher, and David Ogden Stiers were all great to work with. You could not have asked for a better cast than the one on “M*A*S*H*” and we had such excellent material as well. We are still in touch even this long after the show. We lost Gene Reynolds (producer of the show), Harry Morgan, McLean Stephenson, Larry Linville, and Bill Christopher were all wonderful people and highly talented. We dearly loved Harry as the patriarch of the show. The egos didn’t get into the way on the show where the story was not about me it was about the particular scene we were doing. 

We had some great guest stars on the show as well to include Laurence Fishburne, Ron Howard, Brian Dennehy (Marine) and Burt Young (Marine) during our run. Harry Morgan was a dear friend of famous actor and veteran Jimmy Stewart as well. Harry would tell stories to me about working on films with Jimmy. Harry introduced me to Ralph Bellamy where we became friends. I got to meet Jimmy one time as well, which was great. 

The cameos I do now have people coming up to me all the time telling me they watched “M*A*S*H*” with their family and how much it meant to them. I am overwhelmed by young people that have taken to the show. It is amazing I happened to be on a series that was the best show you could do. The writing was so good and so were the production values. Audiences came to know us on the show as family. It was like watching “I Love Lucy” where we got to the audiences. 

Burt Reynolds was a lot of fun to work with. He was very loyal to his acting friends. Charles Durning (Army) did projects with Burt and had his friend Ossie Davis (Army). Burt was like the John Wayne players where he had the same people in his movies like Ward Bond or Paul Fix. Doing his movies was like being at a party. It was a party every single day and didn’t know what was going to come next. Hal Needham (Army) was the director of the Cannonball movies which even made it more fun.

We had Roger Moore (Royal Army) in The Cannonball Run where he would come out of his trailer in the early morning in Florida where we were filming with a white suit on, a beautiful Havana cigar, and a flute of champagne with no hair missing and not a bead of perspiration where he looked like he was out of GQ. We used to hate him for how perfect he looked and was disgustingly handsome. 

Dom DeLuise was a lot of fun to work with. The best was working with Dean Martin (Army) and Sammy Davis, Jr. (Army). I loved Dean where he had a great sense of humor and cared about the project. We had Charles Nelson Reilly, Telly Savalas(Army) and Frank Sinatra in the Cannonball movies as well. We all got along on the films and there were no egos that got in the way of the production. 

I got to work with Don Ameche, Bob Hope, Yvonne De Carlo, Stella Stevens, Jayne Meadows and Frank Gorshin in A Masterpiece of Murder. Don was a great actor to work with. 

Over my career I have had the opportunity to work Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Ed Wynn, Charlton Heston, William Holden, Van Heflin, Glenn Ford, Walter Brennan, Jim Hutton, Dorothy Provine, Rod Steiger, Victor Buono and so many more. My gracious, what a wonderful career I have had.

I worked with Bill Holden on “The Blue Knight”, which was the first TV miniseries. Robert Butler directed it and he used to work with John Frankenheimer. I was having trouble with the studio at the time trying to get a raise.. I asked Bill about what I should do in my situation. If I fought back I could be written out of a show, like a script where my character Klinger steps on a land mine and is done. My agent was at a smaller agency not like a William Morris where he could be blacklisted as well from selling his clients. You used to call the man who set the budget the “hatchet man.” Bill said he had this problem with Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures when he was under contract there. Bill said, “You have to take it out of the agent’s hands and put it into your hands. If you want that raise you need to go ask yourself, but just don’t point a gun at their head.”

Well that gave me the idea of getting a fake pistol from the prop department from “M*A*S*H*”, which I did. It was like a cartoon after I got the prop pistol and  finished filming for the day on stage nine on the lot. I hid behind a bush and then went behind a tree and could see the “Hatchet Man’s” office. He faced away from the window in his office toward the door. I went around into the executive building and kicked the door open. I said to him, “This is how it’s going to be my raise and that!”, where he said, “You’re crazy! You’re crazy!”, and I said, “That’s right I am and I am going to get my section 8.” Well at any rate he laughed and he saw what I was doing. I did get a raise from that instance. 

Bill Holden was a terrific actor and a really nice guy. I miss him a lot. He was working on the film The Towering Inferno which was just across the way from us on set with “M*A*S*H*” where he would come over just to say “hi” to me. If I was at Oblatt’s Deli across from Paramount eating at the counter, I would get a big bear hug from someone behind me which turned out to be Bill. He would be there shooting a movie and would come across to the deli to find me there.

Fred MacMurray was a great actor to work with where we did “My Three Sons” together. We got to know each other very well. Many people make him out to be all fluff and not much there, but his work in Double Indemnity and The Caine Mutiny showcases his talent. He did a lot of comedies on the big and small screen where he was so versatile. There was much more to him than what people may think.

A lot of my actor friends used to make fun of John Wayne where Wayne is one of the best movie actors around. When he says, “Follow me” in a movie whether it is the cavalry or the Marines you are going to follow him. He has that command about him. He may not be able to do Macbeth, but what he does he is 100% believable. He is one of our greatest film actors ever. 

I was in acting class with Clint Eastwood back in the 50s with where our teacher was named Jack Kosslyn (who later appeared in Eastwood films during the 1970s). He was cleaning pools during the daytime and I was cleaning chinchilla pens at a farm in Burbank for my side work. He did pretty good for himself. 

Being in “The Cool Kids” meant a lot to me and getting to perform for a new generation is great.

  1. What leadership lessons in life and from the Army have helped you most in your career?

Remain humble and it is a team effort. It is about the ensemble. 

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
Farr(center) on an episode “The Cool Kids.” Photo credit IMDB.com.
  1. As a veteran, how do we get more veteran stories told in Hollywood?

We need to and have the veteran stories around, but some people in charge may not want to produce our stories. They don’t seem to be interested in the heroics of our people. When I see Audi Murphy in a film, I can’t believe what he has done for our country. Gary Cooper as Sgt. York is an excellent film with heroics. Some of the executives today don’t want to popularize the heroism because of cynicism and negativism towards our service people. There are stories to tell, but the executives and producers put too much “seasoning” into them to make the stories something they are not. If you can keep the story simple and show these military characters doing what they did then you can have a good project.

When my country called on me, I went even though it was detrimental for my career at the time. I knew if your country needed you at the time, then you went and did whatever they asked you to do. As President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” A similar saying was written years before by the Lebanese American writer Khalil Gibran which I am familiar with. This is what the immigrants in our neighborhood did, we had community and cared for each other and our country. 

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
Farr with his wife Joy at the Air Force One exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Photo credit Jamie Farr.
  1. What are you most proud of in life and your career?

This is not an easy business where people should be grateful for whatever they have done. It is not just given to you and you have to earn it. Some people that are absolutely brilliant talents never get anywhere. Some people are average and make it to the top of the industry. All I can say is what a lucky guy I am. 

Farr wanted to personally thank all the servicemen and women serving to keep this country safe and are living up to the values of why this country was born. 

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
Farr’s park dedication ceremony in Toledo, OH. Photo credit Jamie Farr.
Lists

Here are the best military photos for the week of April 20th

The military is always evolving and new things happen every day. With each changes comes a new set of challenges and new opportunities to succeed. Thankfully, there are many talented photographers in the community that capture these struggles and triumphs.


Here are some of those moments from this past week:

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

Air Force:

A crew chief from the 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, prepares one of the unit’s F-16 “Fighting Falcons” to shut down after the aircraft arrives at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 19, 2018, in preparation for the Thunder Over Louisville air show on April 21. The Kentucky Air Guard is once again serving as the base of operations for dozens of military aircraft participating in the show, providing essential maintenance and logistical support.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

Medical Soldiers participating in Eager Lion 2018 carry a simulated casualty on a litter to a UH-60 Blackhawk. The 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, Charlie Company, along with the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment, Assault Helicopter Battalion conduct a medical evacuation validation for Exercise Eager Lion 2018 from King Abdullah II Air Base in Az-Zarqa, Jordan, April 14, 2018. Eager Lion is a major Exercise with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, designed to exchange military expertise and improve interoperability among partner nations.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Army:

Field grade officers and noncommissioned officers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division arrive to their first destination as part of a Mungadai exercise at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on April 17, 2018. The Mungadai is used as a Bronco Brigade leader development program is to create disciplined, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ernesto Gonzalez, Operations Group, National Training Center)

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 1ST Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, fire an M777 Howitzer during Decisive Action Rotation 18-06 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., Apr. 16, 2018. The National Training Center allows units to integrate indirect fire into live fire training exercises, enhancing training for Army BCTs.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(U.S. Navy photo courtesy NSWG4 Public Affairs)

Navy

Special Boat Team 20 personnel execute the insertion of two Combatant Craft Assault vehicles using the Low Velocity Airdrop Delivery System during a training exercise April, 19, 2018.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams)

Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided- missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) fire a .50-caliber machine gun during a bi-lateral interoperability live-fire gunnery exercise with the Finnish guided-missile patrol craft Hamina (PTG 80) April 17, 2018. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is on its fifth patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau)

Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps Rct. Vivienne Herrera, with Platoon 4016, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, stands with her fellow recruits after completing an obstacle during the Crucible at Parris Island, S.C. April 20, 2018. The Crucible, a 54 hour day and night test of endurance, is the final and most demanding step before earning the title of United States Marine.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally)

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua P. Main, a rifleman assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 2/6), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fires an M203 rifle at a simulated target during a combat mastery shooting range as part of Eager Lion 18 combat rehearsal, in Jordan, April 17, 2018. Eager Lion is a capstone training engagement that provides U.S. forces and the Jordan Armed Forces an opportunity to rehearse operating in a coalition environment and to pursue new ways to collectively address threats to regional security and improve overall maritime security.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Kaczoroski)

Coast Guard

A Coast Guard Station Islamorada 33-foot Special Purpose Craft—Law Enforcement boatcrew prepares to rescue a family of four from the water Sunday, April 15, 2018 in Blackwater Sound near Key Largo. The boatcrew took the family to Gilberts Marina with no reported injuries.

MIGHTY TRENDING

16 facts you never knew about the American flag

It’s time to get out your stars and stripes – it’s Flag Day! June 14, 1777, is the date that Congress officially chose the design for our flag, and Americans have been pledging their allegiance to it ever since. While you’ll only get the day off work if you live in Pennsylvania, the state where the flag originated, the holiday’s history and meaning are important to know. Whether you’re reading this on Flag Day or any other day, these facts are fun enough to learn all year long.


How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
upload.wikimedia.org

1. Betsy Ross may not be the flag’s real designer

Betsy Ross is often cited as the designer of the first American Flag, but we have little evidence to support that claim. Her grandson presented statements by his own family in 1870, but beyond that, there’s no proof. Some historians want to transfer the credit to Francis Hopkinson, who was named as the flag’s designer in journals from the Continental Congress.

2. The celebration of the flag was invented by a teacher

In 1885, a 19-year-old teacher named Bernard J. CiGrand asked his class to write an essay on the symbolism of our flag. He spent the following half-century trying to make Flag Day a national holiday.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
live.staticflickr.com

3. There have been 27 official versions of the American flag

On the American flag, the stripes represent the 13 original colonies, while the stars represent each state. Since there weren’t always 50 states, there weren’t always 50 stars. Each flag was similar, but with a different number of stars. If you visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, you can see the remnants of the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that inspired the national anthem.

4. The colors of the flag have important meanings

Red, white and blue were chosen to represent, respectively, valor, liberty and purity. The colors also have specific names; “Old Glory Blue,” “Old Glory Red”, and white. Just plain white.

5. The current version of the flag was designed by a student

In 1949, 17-year-old Robert G. Heft created an updated flag for a class project, and the poor kid only got a B-. Luckily, that didn’t dissuade him. He submitted his idea to President Eisenhower when Alaska and Hawaii gained statehood. Our of over 1500 submissions, his design was chosen.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’

6. The flag has rules of its own. Lots of them.

According to the U.S. Flag Code:

– The flag shouldn’t be flown in bad weather.
– It should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
– No other flags should be placed above it.
– When flags from two or more nations are flown, they should rest on separate poles at the same height. They should also be about the same size.
– It must be flown at every school and during all school days.
– If flown at night, the flag should be illuminated.
– Flags can be burned if they become damaged and can no longer be flown.
– And many more.

7. You can’t sign your name on it

Despite what flag-signing politicians would have you believe, The Flag Code strictly prohibits adding any markings or drawings to the flag.

8. … or put it on a t-shirt

Every 4th of July, half the country is decked out in stars and stripes. As it turns out, we’re not really supposed to do that. The Flag Code actually specifies that the Stars and Stripes should never be used on clothing, bedding, or decorations. Considering how much Americans love our flag merch, that’s one rule we’ll probably keep breaking for a long, long time.

 

9. Flying a flag upside down isn’t necessarily disrespectful

At least not in the way you’re thinking of. An upside-down flag isn’t usually a signal of protest, rather, it’s a signal of distress. On your next cruise, if you see someone frantically waving an upside-down flag on a nearby island, he’s probably not a rebel. He’s stranded.

10. Burning a flag isn’t technically illegal

Historically, unlike flying a flag upside down, burning the flag WAS done as an act of protest. The Flag Protection Act of 1968 made this illegal, but the act was revoked 20 years later. The Supreme Court ruled that the government couldn’t limit citizens’ First Amendment rights, making it legal to do whatever you want to a flag with no legal consequences.

11. Indestructible flags exist

Historically, enemies of the United States have burned or defaced our flag to make a statement. (That’s why messing with the flag is a really, really bad idea, even if it’s not illegal!) To protect defaced flags from being used as a propaganda tool by enemies, a Green Beret veteran has designed an all but indestructible flag. Made out of kevlar and Nomex, the new materials ensure the flag can’t be burned or torn while still allowing it to fly naturally. Here’s how to order your Firebrand Flag today.

How a Vietnam War PJ joined the crew of ‘The Last Full Measure’
upload.wikimedia.org

 

12. Using the American flag in burial ceremonies isn’t just for veterans

While draping the flag over the coffins of government officials and veterans is common practice, it’s not their exclusive right. Anyone can adopt this tradition if they like it!

13. Old Glory was the nickname of a specific American flag 

We now refer to any ol’ flag as Old Glory, but that wasn’t always the case. It started with a sea captain named William Driver, who nicknamed the flag on his ship “Old Glory” when he saw it flying on his ship’s mast back in 1831. It was such a good nickname that it stuck for good.

14. After 9/11 we held our flag a little closer

National tragedies are known for bringing our country together. According to Karen Burke of Walmart’s Corporate Communications, their stores sold 115,000 flags on September 11, 2001, compared to only 6,400 flags in 2000. In the following year, they sold a whopping 7.8 million US flags- around triple the sales of the previous year.

15. There are 6 American flags on the moon

…but only 5 are standing. Over the course of many moon expeditions, six US flags have been planted. The wind generated by the landing and takeoff of a shuttle, however, dislodged the original flag placed there by Neil Armstrong during the first-ever moon landing.

16. ‘Gilligan’s Island’ directors respected the flag.

During the opening sequence of the first season of the show, the American flag is filmed at half-staff. This was done to honor President Kennedy, who was assassinated the day the pilot episode was filmed.

You don’t have to walk to the moon to honor our flag. Kick off the Flag Day festivities by learning how to properly fold a flag, learn more about its history, or try one of these tasty, patriotic treats!

Which fact was your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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